HC Deb 27 October 2003 vol 412 c24WS
Mr. Hancock

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make it her policy not to grant authorisations for exports to the Circo Atlas Circus in Portugal; and if she will make a statement. [132441]

Mr. Morley

The Department grants export licences for the movement of wild animals under two entirely separate areas of European legislation, namely the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and legislation relating to animal health and welfare.

Under CITES legislation, export permits are not issued for movements within the EU. Therefore, providing a specimen is legally acquired, is captive bred and has a certificate for commercial display, it can be moved freely within the EU and no paperwork would be required from UK authorities.

From an animal health perspective, animals may only be exported to destinations (including circuses) in EU member states if they meet the requirements of EU legislation relating to animal health and welfare. Where animal health rules are not harmonised under EU legislation, health conditions are agreed between the veterinary authorities of the exporting and importing member states. These health conditions are set out in official documents, known as export health certificates. They are issued by Defra's local Animal Health Divisional Offices and are signed by a veterinarian. Once signed, the document must accompany the animals to their destination. The suitability of a destination within the country of import is entirely a matter for their authorities and is not a matter for Defra.

Our records do not show any direct movements from UK to Portuguese circuses. However, animals may have been moved from the UK to Portugal via a third country.

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