CHRISTCHURCH MP Christopher Chope, inset, has been criticised for blocking the passage of a bill to ban the use of wild animals in circuses.

The Wild Animals in Circuses bill was due for a second reading debate in the House of Commons on Friday last week, but its passage was blocked by the Conservative MP, who told the Daily Echo he didn’t have a strong opinion on its content.

Mr Chope said the bill – introduced by Labour MP and former minister Jim Fitzpatrick two months ago – had been proposed out of sequence.

“The EU Membership Costs and Benefits bill should have been called by the clerk before the circuses bill, so I raised a point of order,” he said.

Mr Chope said the bill was “at the bottom of the list” for discussion – as determined by ballot – and therefore had been proposed to go through for a second reading without a debate.

“I don’t think any bill should go through on the nod like that,” he said.

“I had a lot of bills yesterday, almost all of which were objected to. I don’t complain about that.”

He said the government ought to bring in its own bill on the issue so it could be “debated properly”.

The bill, which is supported by MPs from the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green parties, is now due to be considered again on Friday, November 21.

Poole resident Elaine Douglas contacted the Echo to ask why the MP had blocked the bill.

“I think it should go through as soon as possible, I think most people do,” she said.

“The idea of having performing animals in circuses is a little strange nowadays.”

Wildlife charity Animal Defenders International said on Friday that it was “dismayed” that the passage of the bill had been blocked for a fourth time, noting that it had the same wording as draft legislation published by the Government last April.

Its president, Jan Creamer, said: “By blocking this incredibly important bill, these majestic animals are being condemned to a lifetime of misery.”