Nellie the elephant packs her trunk


          Yesterday was a day when Parliament asserted itself against the executive. Nellie is saying Good bye to the circus, if Parliament has its way.

          Conservative MPs had been placed on a  three line whip to vote down Mark Pritchard’s motion. The government favoured better regulation of circus animals. Mr Pritchard favoured a ban.

           It appears that some of the new intake of MPs  went into the Chamber to say they too suported a ban, whilst others decided to leave Parliament in preference to voting against a motion they sympathised with. The whips sensibly decided to remove the three line whip against the motion, and it duly passed unopposed.

           Mr Pritchard’s speech in the chamber told us of the pressures he had been under to change his motion. It was an interesting moment in  the evolution of this Coalition government, when the government had to accept it was  better not to  test the mood of the Commons.


  1. norman
    June 24, 2011

    The government knows this is an EU competency so doubtless after taking advice from lawyers instigated the whip but then it would appear odd to be whipping a motion that, to all appearances, condones what a lot of Britons would view as cruelty to animals.

    1. Mike Stallard
      June 24, 2011

      I do not know where you are getting your facts from and would be genuinely pleased to find out.

      1. norman
        June 24, 2011

        Posted this before I saw the link had already been posted multiple times below. Sorry for the spam.

  2. lifelogic
    June 24, 2011

    Certainly time for Parliament to asserted itself against the executive but perhaps on rather more important issues.

  3. Acorn
    June 24, 2011

    As there was no formal vote, does “That this House directs the Government” commit the government to anything?

    Reply: Parliament regards that as an instruction to Ministers. Ministers are worried about EU law. There will be more to come on this matter.

  4. DaveK
    June 24, 2011


    How do these events tie in with Dr Norths comment:

    “legislation on the welfare of circus animals is an occupied field under EU law, which means that while there is no specific EU legislation on the issue, the UK cannot itself pass legislation without the approval of the Commission. This, it would be most unlikely to get, as the Council is already on the case with a declaration on animal welfare, as part of its general policy review on this issue.

    That it is an occupied field is demonstrated by Commission Regulation (EC) No 1739/2005 of 21 October 2005, laying down animal health requirements for the movement of circus animals between Member States.

    As to an outright ban on “ethical” grounds, there are the underlying treaty principles of the free movement of services and freedom of establishment. This means that, under internal market provisions, even if the British government could ban UK registered circuses from using wild animals (which it cannot), it could not prevent enterprises from other member states from displaying performing wild animals. ”

    His conclusion is that the motion was an error, but to me, if the above is correct it has again shown the government is powerless against the EU. Maybe the headline should read “EU prevents animal loving UK from protecting defenceless fluffy creatures (Boo Hiss)”. Is that what Number 10 wanted to avoid?

    Good show on QT last night.

  5. Brian Tomkinson
    June 24, 2011

    Whilst you are congratulating yourselves on looking after circus animals, I fear you won’t be so exercised, but will revert to type and succumb to the will of the whips, over issues which have a profound effect on the British people.

  6. Norman Dee
    June 24, 2011

    Isn’t just a shame that some of the so called Eurosceptics don’t really feel as strongly about Europe as they pretend to. If they showed the backbone of Mark Pritchard about the European Union then we might get something done, but the truth is keeping their jobs and muttering platitudes to do so is all they care about. So where are all the strong MP’s when you need them ? Anyone who has ever declared antipathy to the Union should look at this and ask themselves why they are in Parliament.

  7. Scottspeig
    June 24, 2011

    While I’m not convinced of all his ideas and policies, Mark Pritchard has for me shown that he is definately a man we want as an MP.

    Makes you wonder at the way the Commons is run when he felt threatened about it and that there was a 3 line whip on this issue! I’d have thought 3 line whips would only occur on manifesto issues…

    Time to remove the whips office?!?

  8. Murray
    June 24, 2011

    Three cheers for parliament. Let the people speak!

  9. Cliff. Wokingham.
    June 24, 2011

    A rare, good day for democracy in this country.
    We have now the third presedential style PM in a row and, in my opinion, the backbenchers do need to do this kind of thing more often and hold the cabinet to account and impose their own will, as many of those backbenchers are closer to the people and not cocooned in the ivory tower that is the cabinet.
    I was horrified, but not surprised, by the alledged underhand tactics employed by number Ten and if the “Godfather” sanctioned them, this is even more of a blight on our democratic process.

    May I congratulate you for your sane and commonsense views expressed last night on Question Time. The panel left a lot to be desired in my opinion; A cabinet glove puppet fluent in government speak and never giving an opinion or answering a straight question. The Labour MP spoke some sense at times but, why on a so called political debate, did we have a day time TV presenter and a comedian? I would have thought there were enough comedians in the audience.
    Incidently, regarding Quetion Time, I often find the texts sent by the public more sensible and entertaining than the contributions by the panel and left wing audience however, last night, I was saddened by the number of nasty, anti JR posts that the “text picker” let through. I have never seen so many texts that attack personally a panel member in all the years I’ve watched Question Time.
    Again John, well done for your contribution.

    1. rose
      June 25, 2011

      Could this avalanche of hostile texts have been because David D set the tone with his spiteful remarks towards our well-mannered and sweetly reasonable cybertutor?

      1. rose
        June 25, 2011

        And I don’t mean David Davies.

  10. Denis Cooper
    June 24, 2011

    According to Richard North this is an EU competence, hence the warnings about unspecified “legal challenges” to the ban proposed by Pritchard.

    However leaving aside both this issue, and the EU involvement in it, I’d like to see a backbench motion denouncing the excesses of the party whips and setting limits to their activities.

    Possibly through a change to the House of Commons Standing Orders?

    Could such a motion directly have that effect?

  11. APL
    June 24, 2011

    JR: “… when the government had to accept it was better not to test the mood of the Commons.”

    A motion of supreme irrelevance. According to Richard North, animal welfare is an EU competence.

    Attempt to embed html link

    Why is it our MPs don’t seem to know that? It is after all what you are all paid for!

  12. Eric Arthur Blair
    June 24, 2011

    Awesome! What a strong Parliament we have! No longer will the executive be able to defy the will of the people!

    Goodbye all those who subverted our constitution!

    Goodbye all those who committed treason!

    Goodbye European Union!

    Goodbye ‘man made global warming’ fraud.

    Goodbye IMF, Trilateral Commission, United Nations, Goldman Sachs…

    Goodbye uncontrolled immigration, enforced multiculturalism, goodbye police state…

    Welcome back the supremacy of common law!

    Welcome back Habeas Corpus, Magna Carta, Bill of Rights!

    Oh… hang on a minute.

    Eeek. Seems I got a tad over-excited. Our newly masculine House of COmmons has stood up to the Executive alright…

    …on the issue of circus elephants.

    Chuck that performing seal another kipper will you, dear politician? It’s about all you can do, now that most of our laws come from Brussels.

    1. Bazman
      June 24, 2011

      Lists Viz.
      Constitution. Britain does not have.
      European Union!
      ‘man made global warming’ fraud.
      IMF, Trilateral Commission, United Nations, (named investment bank -ed)
      uncontrolled immigration, enforced multiculturalism, goodbye police state…Police State? Not yet as they say.
      ‘man made global warming’ fraud. Hyphens?
      supremacy of common law!
      Habeas Corpus, Magna Carta, Bill of Rights!
      It makes you want to be prosecuted.

      1. Bazman
        June 24, 2011

        …on the issue of circus elephants.

    2. lifelogic
      June 24, 2011

      Spot on – but do seals actually like smoked fish? Are the performing seals not really just the MPs themselves?

  13. Winston Smith
    June 24, 2011

    Parliament is definitely a circus and there are far too many clowns acting as MPs. Of all the issues, Bail-outs, the EU, Immigration, Govt debt, Crime, Pensions, the Welfare State, Education, Libya, Afghanistan…. the list is endless, we have a Conservative MP exposing the pretence of Cameron’s cuddly image and becoming a political martyr over a few circus animals. No wonder the Country is a mess.

  14. D K McGregor
    June 24, 2011

    Seen you on the tellly last night , good performance . Your day will come.

    1. forthurst
      June 24, 2011

      I watched this after having read these blog comments as I do not normally waste my time with TV news broadcasts. I found it most saddening the honest burghers of Yorkshire had been so clearly misled as to why we find ourselves in Afghanistan, and for that matter, Iraq and Libya. The BBC and others can be congratulated for successfuly misleading the public in hiding frm them who their real enemy is, those who planned and executed 9/11 and planned and executed wars of choice throughout the middle east.

  15. Mark
    June 24, 2011

    Behind the charade, I gather that the issue is a reserved competence for the EU, and that therefore raising it was a challenge to that authority. It is otherwise quite absurd that Parliament should waste time on such a debate over the welfare of a small number of animals (less than 50) that is already covered under existing legislation: if every 50 people – never mind other animals – who had a special case could get parliamentary time in this way, parliament would never achieve anything useful.

    Far better to have raised the issue of reserved competences being abused by Brussels on more serious matters, such as carbon reduction, bail outs, immigration control, welfare for immigrants etc.

    reply: We often do raise those matters in Parliament as well. The problem is as I have often tried to explain we do not have a majority on those, or anything like it.

    1. lifelogic
      June 24, 2011

      You do not have a majority nor, I suspect, with the parts structure, and current selection system for new MPs will you ever have.

  16. Steve Cox
    June 24, 2011

    So could some sensible and intelligent back-bencher now table a question, or maybe an EDM, on why Mr Osborne is so relaxed about inflation, and why the Bank is failing to do anything material about it, and experiencing no negative consequences for its abject failure? Perhaps said sensible and intelligent back-bencher might also query why certain members of the Bank and its MPC appear to be wasting their time on fantasies about deflation, instead of manning up and facing the current REAL problem of slow motion bank robbery and rapidly declining real standards of living for many (most?) people? We do pay these “experts”, after all, so there must be some accountability to the public for their 5 years of failing to do their job adequately. Finally, this sensible and intelligent back-bencher should also point out clearly the failure of fiscal stimuli, especially QE, to materially help the British economy, and perhaps suggest that we face up to the truth that we are not as rich as we thought we were, that we do not work hard enough, that we have far too much red tape, that we are encumbered by a mountain of EU regulation, that we pay ourselves too much, and that without major structural changes we face a future much worse than Japan’s lost 20 years, as unlike them we are not a solvent country. Printing money and playing with the inflationary fire is utter stupidity. Root and branch changes, far more profound than anything most people have envisaged, are required if we are to go on enjoying the lifestyle that we have become used to. Mr King is the lunatic running the asylum and Mr Osborne has a very narrow set of blinkers on. This is no way to run what is still a major economy, even if it is slipping down the world ranking almost as fast as prices are increasing. Deflation, what a joke! The Bank and MPC are evidently staffed by morons.

    1. Caterpillar
      June 24, 2011

      Well I think the majority of these comments are fair, and I suspect that there are more than a few others in the country that do, one only needs to plot CPI (the actual index not the annual rate) from Dec 2003 to the present. The first 4 years are essentially a 2% policy, from then on there is a 4% policy – the very fact that Sir(?) MK seems to believe that because he says there is not a problem, and the media do not plot the graph or discuss it, that there is no way that the people can recognise it is ludicrous. Until recently I used to lean towards the “MPC are evidently staffed by morons” view, but more recently I have begun to believe that this might be the real Plan A of govt and BoE (afterall not even a moron could believe destroying the currency would not have deleterious effects).

      [The Chancellor might suggest 2% annual change in CPI plus rebalancing as the economic direction, together with tackling the structural deficit but I no longer believe this. I do not believe this because, as we have seen there is no support for rebalancing between saving and squandering, and there is no effort to reform (think forests, NHS) to bring about a reduction in government spending. There is also apparent glee in keeping the house price bubble supported even if it means that market does not operate – it would upset voters to reduce in nominal terms. I believe the plan is to run inflation at 5%+ so house prices adjust in real terms not nominal, upset unions over pensions but offer recompense in terms of a high wage increase and some redundancy (so nominal Total Managed Expenditure can go up but, with inflation and redundancies, go down in real terms), keep the government itself from a solvency trap by QEing, and keep London the focus of the economy by a weak pound (international market for property and international salaries by just increasing Sterling pay). Do the Govt care about the ethics of destroying virtuous/prudent savers’ lives? The evidence would suggest no. The only indication of some concern about this might be to begin to put institutions in place to monitor future bubbles, it is not to collapse the current propert bubble as learning feedback.

      If the Govt truly wished to fix at least the structural deficit, promote growth (which is hindered by inflation) and rebalance the economy then – it would keep inflation under control and even prefer below target or negative (deflation is not necessarily bad), it would allow the housing market to work and to re-adjust in nominal terms, it would tackle G-T by reform – quite simply there is no evidence of this, we just have U-turns by the Govt and the BoE “holding its nerve”, if it were really holding its nerve interest rates would be several per cent, possibly even above inflation!]

      But I think it is a dream to believe that there are MPs (or even journalists) that will tackle this. The only time that one might tackle it would be in the month that the powers have already decided that they will raise rates. I cannot believe that any MP wishes to upset the swing voter who has enjoyed either direct state benefits or equivalently mortgage equity withdrawal.

  17. forthurst
    June 24, 2011

    This is the type of issue our representatives love to get their canines into. For one thing, they can purport to comprehend and emote about it, whereas for most topics, they are reliant on the whips to think for them as they themselves may lack the application or intelligence to do so. The 2006 Act relating only to vertebrates (most MPs, thereby excluded) provides specifically for “protected animals” defined as being “of a kind which is commonly domesticated in the British Islands” whereas it should clearly have related to all such animals living in captivity irrespective of species thereby providing extended cover for all circus animals etc.

    Am I the only person who is rather more concerned about the deliberate destruction of this country by those who have voted away our autonomy as a nation, who have deliberately flooded the country with peoples whose habitual behaviour is alien, antipathic and in some cases predatory, to have given such undeserving people special protections under the law which we in practice cannot enjoy, and who have allowed our armed forces to be used as unpaid mercenaries to promote the interests of a foreign nation whose behaviours have been rightly the subject of numerous UN resolutions?

  18. Bernard Otway
    June 24, 2011

    Completely agree with you,I don’t even like Zoos,having lived in South Africa for 30 years
    I have been all over the rest of africa as well,and have been to Kruger many times as well as all the rest in South Africa,in fact Umfolozi was only an hour away from me in Natal.I also have a very good friend who is the chief Helicopter pilot for the Kwazulu parks board,and has done all the game relocation work for the last 25 years.When you stand at a high point in say Kruger and know that you are looking at somewhere as big as Wales,then you get a warm feeling in your heart knowing it is as nature intended,I highly recommend all of you to go and see for yourselves,not one will come back unmoved,I still remember the First time I saw a full grown bull Elephant, I got the biggest goose bumps of my entire life ,still get them now,Nothing can compare to the Real wilderness,it always brings tears to my eyes.

  19. Bob
    June 24, 2011

    Mark Pritchard sounds like a principled man – maybe cast Iron Dave should take a leaf from his book.

  20. Andrew Shakespeare
    June 24, 2011

    What a shame our MP’s couldn’t have done likewise when the Commons debated Mark Reckless’ motion against the bailouts last month.

  21. electro-kevin
    June 24, 2011

    Better regulation of circus animals ?

    I think the trainers have their animals very well regulated. If only our kids could be so obedient.

  22. Daniel
    June 24, 2011

    Hi Mr Redwood,

    Indeed a good day for Parliament – whilst I understand the need for the whip it seems democracy does much better without it.

    Watched you on QT last night and enjoyed your performance. Could you do us all a favour and collude with some of the other traditional conservatives and retake the Conservative party and steer it back to the right please!?

    1. norman
      June 24, 2011

      I’m afraid that would be up to me and you, not John Redwood, and unlike John Redwood me and you have little inclination to participate in political matters. The Conservative Party has, what, 70-100k members now? If every conservative joined the Conservatives and stood up against ‘all of x’ lists and people who only get appointed because they are friends with some higher up and instead insisted on voting in candidates we could steer the course of British politics.

      It will never happen but there’s no point in asking a handful of MP’s for miracles.

      I still have John Redwood’s book ‘I don’t like Politics…’ on my to-do list but it’s not on Kindle and I have gone off traditional paper books.

      Is this book still worth a read in today’s environment?

      Reply: Yes, the political world I describe there is still around in many features

  23. Neil Craig
    June 24, 2011

    I wish our politicians thought they had better things to do than banning people’s pleasures.

  24. Bazman
    June 24, 2011

    What was all that about? The last circus I went to with animals was when I was a child in the seventies. I have been to two this year and was under the impression that animals were already banned? Should have debated harsher penalties for animal cruelty like the ones in the papers recently where some field animals have met sadistic deaths at the hand of idiots for their own entertainment. Where are these crimes leading even if you don’t care about a few cows, sheep and horses?

  25. Chris
    June 24, 2011

    What most fail to pick up on is the fact that Mr Pritchard received “threats” and/or “incentives” from high up, to drop the motion. This is not what government should be about; bullying MPs into abandoning their principles. It doesn’t exactly say much for those higher up, either; just goes to show what sort of people we have running the circus….er….show.

  26. Dennis Boater
    June 24, 2011

    Of all the things to debate,we go for elephants in circuses.What about the real elephant in the room–the EU and unfettered immigration.

    Reply: These are often debated you will be pleased to hear. You should always remember the UK voted for a pro EU Parliament in 2010.

    1. Neil Craig
      June 25, 2011

      I don’r remember the people of the UK being given much option. On that basis the people of the USSR always voted for communism – technically true but meaningless.

      Who should people who don’t want the “ever closer union” have voted for?

  27. simon
    June 24, 2011

    Can we expect a “U” turn?

  28. Norman Dee
    June 24, 2011

    If, as it looks like in this pseudo government, you are not going to get back into an office deserving of your talent. What have you got to lose from doing a “Pritchard” now and then on the EU and various other areas of special incompetance this so called conservative lead government has set up ?

    Reply: I have voted against EU integration, higher budgets and bail outs with several colleagues. We could not win because Labour did not agree with us but helped the Coalition.

  29. Alison Granger
    June 25, 2011

    The only surprise is that U Turn Dave didn’t give in quicker.

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