HC Deb 01 March 1999 vol 326 cc518-9W
Mr. Baker

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what criteria are used in assessing the suitability of people to be appointed to Government Zoo Inspectors' List A and Government Zoo Inspectors List B; [73725]

(2) what plans he has to assess the continuing suitability of those on the Government Zoo Inspectors Lists A and B. [73726]

Mr. Meale

[holding answer 26 February 1999]The requirements for selecting zoo inspectors are set out under Section 8 of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981. The list of inspectors is compiled after consultation with the British Veterinary Association, the Federation of Zoological Gardens and other bodies. The list consists of two parts: the first part contains the names of veterinary surgeons and practitioners who have experience of animals of the kinds that are or may be kept in zoos; the second part contains the names of other persons who are in the Secretary of State's opinion competent to inspect animals in zoos, to advise on keeping them and on their welfare, and to advise on the management of zoos generally. The Secretary of State may, after the required consultation, vary the list of inspectors by adding or deleting names.

Following the Government's review last year of the operation of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 we plan to revise and update the current list of zoo inspectors. A new advisory body, the Zoos Forum, which we will be establishing shortly will also have an important part to play in reviewing the current list of inspectors and advising on further nominations for appointment.

Mr. Baker

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what standards his Department uses to determine whether a(a) circus and (b) zoo elephant has been excessively shackled; and if he will make a statement; [73727]

(2) what guidance he has given Government Zoo Inspectors on action to be taken in respect of elephants which have been excessively shackled. [73728]

Mr. Meale

[holding answer 26 February 1999]All zoos in Great Britain are required to comply with theStandards of Modern Zoo Practice issued by the Secretary of State under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981. The Standards do not at present specifically cover shackling. We announced a package of proposals in September last year to modernise the British zoo licensing system, and this included a review of the Standards, which is currently under way.

Local authorities are responsible for the issuing of licences and other executive functions under the Act. In considering whether to issue a new or renewed licence under the Act, local authorities may attach any conditions or recommendations which they consider necessary or desirable, having regard to the Standards. Local authorities may also refuse to grant a licence, or to revoke an existing licence, if a zoo is not meeting required standards. The Act provides for inspections of zoos by teams of experts to ensure that the arrangements for accommodation, staffing or management are adequate for the proper care and well being of zoo animals.

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has the lead responsibility in Government for the regulation of circuses.

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