Tortoises (Import)

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th April 1951.

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Photo of Mr Henry Hynd Mr Henry Hynd , Accrington 12:00 am, 19th April 1951

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the high rate of mortality of tortoises if subjected to transport during their hibernating season, he will consider the desirability of introducing an order prohibiting their importation into this country between 1st September and 30th April.

Mr. H. Wilson:

The import licensing powers conferred on the Board of Trade under the Import, Export and Customs Powers (Defence) Act, 1939, are intended primarily to safeguard the balance of payments, and I do not think it would be appropriate to use these powers for such a purpose.

Photo of Mr Henry Hynd Mr Henry Hynd , Accrington

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this is a serious matter? Has his attention been called to the recent incident at Plaistow involving over 200 tortoises and the one in October, 1950, at Peckham, involving some 6,000 tortoises? Is he aware that the Zoological Society of London strongly supports the efforts to get a close season, as suggested in my Question?

Mr. Wilson:

I am sure that the whole House will share the regret of my hon. Friend about these incidents, but I must reiterate that this is not a question which can be dealt with by import licensing powers. If it were to be dealt with at all, it would require special legislation.

Photo of Lieut-Commander Joseph Braithwaite Lieut-Commander Joseph Braithwaite , Bristol North West

Are not the tortoises likely to arrive at their destination more rapidly if they travel under their own steam, rather than by nationalised transport?

Photo of Sir William Darling Sir William Darling , Edinburgh South

Why does not the right hon. Gentleman stop the importation of tortoises altogether? Surely they are not indispensable.

Mr. Wilson:

I do not see why such a control should be applied. If the people of this country require tortoises I do not see why they should not be imported. The matter raised by my hon. Friend could be dealt with in other ways.