“(1) Within 12 months of the coming into force of section 35 of this Act, the Secretary of State must lay a draft of an instrument containing regulations under section 35(2) before each House of Parliament.
(2) As soon as practicable after laying a draft of an instrument under subsection (1), a Minister of the Crown must propose a motion to approve the draft instrument in each House of Parliament.
(3) The instrument laid in draft under subsection (1) must amend section 35(1) so as to include ivory from a hippopotamus, killer whale, narwhal, sperm whale, or walrus in the definition of ivory in that section.”—(Sue Hayman.)
This new clause creates a duty to, within 12 months of this section coming into force, lay an instrument in draft which would include in the definition of ivory all the ivory-bearing species listed in an Appendix to the CITES, and to propose to each House that the draft instrument be approved.
Brought up, and read the First time.
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:
New clause 2—Report on the international ivory market—
(2) The report must as far as practicable analyse the impact of this Act on the demand for ivory in the United Kingdom and in other countries.
(3) The report must consider—
(a) the impact on nations or communities that generate income from ivory of—
(i) the provisions of this Act, and
(ii) international agreements related to the ivory trade,
(b) the work of the Department for International Development in—
(i) reducing the global demand for ivory, and
(ii) mitigating any negative impact of the provisions of this Act on nations or communities that generate an income from ivory.”
This new clause would require a report to be laid before each House of Parliament on the international ivory market, including how the Department for International Development is working to reduce global demand for ivory.
Government amendments 1 to 4.
I rise to speak to new clauses 1 and 2 in my name and in those of my right hon. and hon. Friends. Labour’s new clause 1 seeks to expand the definition of ivory to cover the species included in the convention on international trade in endangered species. Members from both sides of the House have voiced their support for the principle of extending the Bill beyond elephants. This is, after all, the Ivory Bill, not merely the elephant ivory Bill. It is not every day that an Ivory Bill comes around, so who knows when this House will have a similar opportunity to take action? Today provides a unique opportunity to enshrine protections for all ivory-bearing species, particularly those listed under CITES, which are some of those most at risk.
This broadening of the definition of ivory is not just because many CITES species are at risk of becoming endangered, but to stop the focus on banning just elephant ivory and so pushing poachers towards other forms of ivory, including hippo, narwhal, killer whale, sperm whale and walrus ivory. As the Born Free Foundation has stated:
“It would be a tragedy if we worked really hard to save elephants and other species were collateral damage in the process… We recognise that the trade is entrepreneurial and will move to wherever there is an opportunity.”
Both the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Born Free Foundation stated in their evidence to Members that an extension of the definition of ivory would be welcome, provided that it did not delay the passage of the Bill. During the evidence session, Will Travers of the Born Free Foundation said:
“From 2007 to 2016—just under a decade—78,000 hippos and hippo products were exported by CITES parties. Hong Kong imported 60 tonnes of hippo ivory between 2004 and 2014… Those are not insignificant by any measure—they are enormously significant.”––[Official Report, Ivory Public Bill Committee,
As I have said on the record, the Opposition are keen for this legislation not to be unnecessarily delayed, but we must also ensure that it is the best it can possibly be. There appears to have been a rush to push it through at any cost before the international wildlife conference in October, despite the advice I have been given that this is not achievable: it will not get through all the legislative stages in time for the conference. Will the Minister clarify whether the target has been to get it in place before the conference? Will he provide an explanation to the House as to why the Government have sought to oppose sensible and necessary amendments to the Bill on the basis of not wishing to delay it?
As the right hon. Gentleman will see, I shall be doing just that later in my speech. That is a very important point, and we do support the Bill.
Will the Minister look again at the arguments the Government made against Labour’s attempts to broaden the scope of the Bill in Committee? One of the arguments was that such an amendment could be challenged under the European convention on human rights. As I said in response in Committee, this is clutching at straws, and it is directly in opposition to the legal advice that I have sought, so I want to put this argument to rest once and for all.
According to the legal advice I have taken, primary legislation can be challenged only on human rights and EU law grounds. I have been informed that in the case of human rights, the argument would have to rest on article 1 of protocol 1 on the peaceful enjoyment of property, which is also subject to a public interest caveat. On that basis, we can justify the inclusion of other creatures—such as on the grounds of endangerment —in the same way as elephants. This is the legal information and advice that I have received, and I wish to put it formally on the record.
In fact, it is arguable that the omission of other species makes the Government more susceptible to legal challenge, not less, as the Government have already recognised the need to protect other ivory-bearing species, but have chosen not to do that through this legislation. If Ministers are going to continue to push this argument, may I ask that a copy of the legal advice they have received is made available to Members in the House of Commons Library?
Despite the fact that the Opposition feel that these other ivory-bearing species could legally be incorporated in the Bill, if needed, we have, in the spirit in which this entire legislative process has been conducted, listened to the concerns set out by the Minister in Committee, and we have revised our original amendment into new clause 1 in order to address the concerns that the Government raised in Committee. New clause 1 would simply mandate the Government to introduce secondary legislation on other CITES ivory-bearing species within a 12-month timeframe. Given that the Government have said that they understand the merit of widening the scope of the measure to include other species, it should not be a problem for them to commit to doing so in the Bill. New clause 1 would allow a consultation if necessary, while at the same time ensuring that secondary legislation is introduced and that the issue cannot slip off the agenda indefinitely.
We cannot wait until those other species are in danger or until the problem has been displaced before taking action. We have the opportunity to take action today. Does the Minister agree that leaving out those species in the first place was an oversight, and does he recognise that other species, particularly the hippo, are at risk of being poached as an alternative to elephant ivory?
New clause 1 goes beyond vague promises and warm words of support. We have seen how a commitment to banning ivory has drifted in and out of consecutive Conservative manifestos and how Government commitments on animal welfare issues such as the banning of wild animals in circuses have been allowed to drop off the agenda. We must not allow the same thing to happen in this case.
New clause 2 seeks to focus minds and action on the international nature of the illegal wildlife trade. We simply cannot tackle the global trade in illegal ivory on our own. The illegal wildlife trade has grown rapidly in recent years and is now estimated to be the fourth largest transnational illegal trade, worth over £15 billion a year. The illegal wildlife trade drives corruption and has been linked to other forms of organised crime, such as arms, human trafficking and drugs. The effective tackling of this illegal trade requires international co-operation. In the spirit of the international wildlife crime conference that Britain will host in October, new clause 2 sets out a clear responsibility for the Secretary of State to provide to the House a report on cross-departmental efforts to tackle this trade and the poverty that drives it in the communities that are affected.
New clause 2 has some merit, but it seems that it simply requires the Secretary of State to report within 12 months. It says nothing about an annual report on what the Government are doing to help to combat the trade and what targets have been achieved. Why have the Opposition alighted on a single one-off report?
The new clause was tabled after we looked at what has happened since China banned ivory in January. Everyone was very excited about that, and believed that it would have a swift impact on ivory poaching. The evidence before us shows that more than six months on, it has not had very much impact. Rather than sitting here being very pleased with ourselves for introducing an ivory Bill, which I am sure we will do, we need to make sure that what we produce is effective in the communities where ivory is being poached. The idea of having a report in 12 months was to see whether what we are doing is having more effect than the Chinese ban. If not, the Government would have an opportunity to review the legislation.
Indeed, the logic of what the hon. Lady says is that these things take time to have an impact. A one-off report in 12 months might not truly reflect the changes that the Government’s legislation will have in, say, two to three years. An annualised report is something worth looking at.
If the right hon. Gentleman would like an annualised report and would like to discuss with the other place how that can be pursued after he has supported our proposal, I am sure that that is something that can be considered.
Of course there is merit in studying whether or not these measures work, but new clause 2 asks a very narrow question. Ivory is just one of many illegally traded products. There are all kinds of forestry products, as well as pangolins—1 million a year are traded. Rhino horns are traded to the detriment of that species. The ban is just one of many hundreds of initiatives that tackle the illegal wildlife trade. Why focus on one of hundreds of products, and one strand among hundreds of strands of work that we need to tackle the illegal wildlife trade? It seems reductionist, and probably not the best use of money or time.
In the same spirit, surely the hon. Gentleman would support new clause 1, which expands the scope of species that are covered. We could say that the Government have a narrow focus in looking only at elephants.
I look forward to hearing the Minister speak, and to a commitment that the ban will extend to other species. My concern about new clause 1 is twofold. First, I am not a lawyer, but I share worries, based on what I have heard, that we might unsettle the Bill by making it susceptible to judicial challenge. Secondly, the new clause looks only at CITES species that bear ivory, but there are other species that bear ivory. The warthog would be decimated if it became the legal option for people who wanted ivory, and the mammoth is a concern. Yes, I know that the mammoth is extinct, but it has become an enormous source of laundered ivory. There is a legitimate mammoth trade, as the hon. Lady knows, and it is used as an excuse or opportunity for smugglers to trade elephant ivory under that cover. That is a clumsy way of putting it, but it is a loophole that has been exploited mercilessly. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister, when he makes the commitments that I am looking forward to, will make a commitment to extend the ban, subject to consultation, to all forms of ivory.
It is a shame that the hon. Gentleman did not serve on the Bill Committee, because he could have supported our amendment 12, which proposed much of what he has just said.
Looking at how we tackle the illegal trade effectively, hon. Members will agree that we need international co-operation, as I have said. In debate and in Committee, hon. Members have said that we need to look at how we work effectively with the Department for International Development in the communities where poaching takes place. Poverty and corruption drive the trade. We have seen in recent days a terrible example of that with the poaching of Bella, a 20-year-old white rhino with a young calf. Bella was dehorned a week before she was shot dead by poachers at Kragga Kamma game park in the Eastern Cape in an effort to make her less of a target. However, hunters sliced her face to extract the small amount of horn that remained. The grisly discovery of the mutilated carcase of a dehorned rhino, killed for less than one centimetre of horn stump, lying next to her calf underscores the depths of South Africa’s poaching problem. It also underscores the fact that poachers kill for very little ivory, which is why it is important to extend the scope of the Bill.
“In my view, there is a common linkage with our clear objectives in overseas development, which are to deal with poverty and to provide opportunity...If we are not investing in the protected areas where elephants and other species live, we are not doing a great service either to the species we wish to protect or to the people who live literally downstream from those protected areas.”––[Official Report, Ivory Public Bill Committee,
International leadership and commitment are needed from DEFRA. I sincerely hope that the Minister will agree to support new clause 2, which would make meaningful the commitment to international action on the illegal ivory trade.
Government amendments 3 and 4 bear an uncanny resemblance to amendment 12, which Labour tabled in Committee, as I mentioned. Labour does not seek to oppose the Government amendments, as it is proper and right that the Secretary of State should have the discretion to include additional species, whether they are CITES-listed or not, at a later date depending on the evidence at the time.
I would like to make clear the difference between Government amendments 3 and 4 and Labour’s new clause 1. They are entirely different and in no way contradict one another. Government amendments 3 and 4 seek to provide powers for the Secretary of State to add CITES and non-CITES listed species to the definition in future if the Secretary of State so wishes. The amendment does not compel or require the Government to do so and it does not specify a timeframe. It is therefore important that both Government amendments 3 and 4, as well as new clause 1, are adopted today to protect the most at risk CITES species as a priority within the next 12 months, as well as providing the Secretary of State with the discretionary powers to include species at an future time if necessary.
This House is united in its determination to clamp down on the ivory trade. Labour’s 2017 election manifesto made a clear commitment to a full ban on ivory sales and I welcome the Bill today. It is an important step forward in protecting elephants and starting to tackle this appalling trade. The Committee stage was conducted in a spirit of working hard and being constructive together. I recommend both Labour’s new clauses and the Government amendments to the House. We need to close any loopholes in the Bill that might further endanger the walrus, narwhal, sperm whale, killer whale and hippo. I have tried hard to work constructively with the Minister. I ask that he take our concerns and our new clauses very seriously. I urge the whole House to support Labour’s new clauses 1 and 2 today.
It was a pleasure to serve with Sue Hayman and her colleagues and with my right hon. and hon. Friends on the important Bill Committee. It is great to see the Bill on Report. Since before the days of Hannibal the elephant has been important, totemic and ritualistic in our psyche and in our history. We want to ensure that the elephant, and man’s relationship with that supremely powerful and totemic animal, has not just a present but a future.
From time to time, I toy with trying to win the lottery. If I did, one of the things I would do is take my children on safari in Africa to see, among other animals, elephants. My children are quite young, so I think to myself that I will do that in 10 or 12 years’ time when they are a bit older. I just hope that the elephants will still be there. That, of course, presupposes that I win the lottery. I fundamentally believe that the Bill will have an important role to play in helping to deter the trade, making it morally reprehensible to trade in ivory and to poach, and to act as a beacon of excellence for other countries to follow.
I do not particularly like to be tied into other agendas and the timetable of other agendas, but I have been entirely persuaded, in Committee and on Second Reading, by the comments and assurances given by my hon. Friend the Minister from the Dispatch Box about the importance of getting the Bill through cleanly and swiftly to ensure it hits the statute book at an appropriate time and in a form whereby it can be cited at the important conference in autumn.
The hon. Member for Workington will know that I share entirely what she says, but she will not, I am sure, also be surprised to hear that I will vote against her new clauses. Clause 35, which we discussed at some length in Committee, is clearly able to deliver what the hon. Lady and many of us on the Government Benches seek. I take entirely her point and it is not contained in the Government amendments. One of the great joys of being a Parliamentary Private Secretary, such as I am, is that one is not allowed to table in one’s own name amendments to proposed legislation or to sign such amendments. I still have concerns, however.
Clause 35(3) refers to animals or species only on the CITES list. CITES is clearly a recognised international forum that deserves a huge amount of respect and great weight must be placed on its findings. However, I say politely but with a certain degree of firmness to those on the Treasury Bench that we should not be restricted solely to species recognised by CITES. My hon. Friend Zac Goldsmith, who has led this debate in so many ways, alluded to the warthog. This seems an appropriate time to rest an argument on the wise words of Flanders and Swann, to whom one should always turn in moments of stress and anxiety. It is probably before your time, Madam Deputy Speaker, but you might remember the song, “The Warthog (The Hog Beneath the Skin)”:
“The jungle was giving a party
A post hibernation ball”—
I’m not going to sing it—
“The ballroom was crowded with waltzing gazelles, gorillas and zebras and all.
But who is that animal almost in tears
Pretending to powder her nose?”— it is not my hon. Friend Alex Burghart—
“A poor little warthog who sits by herself
In a pink satin dress with blue bows.
Again she is nobody’s choice and she sings in a sad little voice:
No one ever wants to court a warthog
Though a warthog does her best.”
I do not want to see us almost in tears as a result of a drafting error that restricts ourselves only to CITES. It may be that CITES does not respond to what I regrettably predict will be a fall in the warthog population, if that is the only form of ivory still able to be traded legally because it cannot be covered by the requirements of clause 35. I therefore urge my friends on the Treasury Bench to consider the small deletion of the word “only” in clause 35(3).
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond Park, I too am not a lawyer—a fact that I usually rejoice in—but I suggest that the deletion of clause 35(6)(b),
“extant on the day on which this Act is passed”, brings into the compass of the Bill mammoth. My hon. Friend is absolutely right. What we should be trying to endeavour to encourage across the world, not just here as a legislature, is the decommoditisation of ivory. The fact that it comes from a species that is extinct to my mind is immaterial, because one is still saying that it is fine to trade in it. My anxiety is that a perverse response, totally counter-intuitive to that which the Bill hopes to achieve, could be that the provisions expedite elephant poaching, because if the argument is that it is fine to trade in an extinct species, there could well be an impetus to drive the elephant to extinction merely to legitimise the trade in its ivory products.
The hon. Gentleman has invested a lot of thought into the decommoditisation of ivory, as though that would be the silver bullet. Does he think that it is the silver bullet or that other action is needed to combat ivory poaching?
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. It would be a terrible fallacy if we as legislators fell into the trap of thinking that something will stop all because we make it illegal. The Bill sends a very clear signal and closes down an important market in the ivory trade. However, if the hon. Gentleman is pointing to the work that our troops can do through the Ministry of Defence, or the work that Department for International Development and other organs of the state can do to better educate, to help economies in the developing world to grow, to realise and maximise the value of safari-type tourism, and to help to train people and give them the skills to go out with confidence to combat those who seek to kill elephants and other species merely for their ivory, he is absolutely right and I agree with him entirely. The Bill of itself will not achieve our aim, but I am absolutely convinced that it will play an incredibly important part when viewed as part of the wider and more colourful mosaic of tools that we have at our disposal.
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that we have to address the demand particularly in countries that on the surface adhere to the rules but allow trading below that to carry on and in some cases encourage it?
The hon. Gentleman makes a strong point and he is absolutely right. From that position, notwithstanding the cited but not referenced legal advice that the shadow spokesman, the hon. Member for Workington, mentioned, I would argue that precisely because of the need to send a clear message to other countries who are either subject to or perceived to benefit from the ivory trade, the most important thing that we can do is have the legislation in a really advanced state to take to this important conference in the autumn as an example of best practice and what can be done in the legislative process.
Well, there we are—my knowledge of north Wales Labour MPs is getting even better. This segues into the hon. Gentleman’s point. I would much prefer to see pressurised resources in DEFRA, the MOD and DFID, concentrated on deploying as much as we possibly can to arrest and frustrate the ivory trade and poaching, rather than the bureaucratic complexities that, in essence, underpin new clause 2 about having the report on the international ivory market. Apart from having a report to keep open a door or prop open a broken window, I am not entirely sure what the report of itself would do and what sits at the heart of the new clause.
Of course, I support the amendments proposed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.
As always, my hon. Friend is very assiduous. I wonder whether he noticed today that we have announced that we intend to consult on extending the ban to include other ivory species, and we will seek to start the consultation process and gather evidence as soon as practicable or on Royal Assent. Does he not believe that that shows our clear commitment to taking action in this very important area?
My hon. Friend has pointed to my effective oratorical default, which is that I never, ever write a speech. I scribble notes on bits of paper and then get terribly confused—sometimes it is a shame and sometimes it is a blessing. In concluding my remarks on new clause 1, I was going to say—again, this militates against the need for it—precisely the point that my hon. Friend made from the Dispatch Box. He and our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State have made incredibly clear their enthusiasm and appetite for expeditiously moving forward to include species such as the narwhal and others, which we are keen to see included.
My hon. Friend Mrs Trevelyan and I have an affection for the narwhal, which might even be described as an obsession. I think it is probably best to keep that to ourselves—we do not need to go into the whys and wherefores of it. However, not only have Ministers and the Secretary of State indicated the appetite to make full use of clause 35(4), but were there ever to be a change of Government—pray God that this is at such an interval that my hon. Friend and I will probably have hung up our boots—I rather get the impression that a Labour Government would also be as keen to exercise the scope of clause 35(4), so trying to put this in the Bill in a new clause is irrelevant.
In conclusion, I recognise the enthusiasm and determination that the DEFRA team have shown on this Bill. I also put on record my thanks for what I think is the unsung work of my right hon. Friend Mr Paterson and my right hon. Friend Andrea Leadsom—the current Leader of the House, if I have got her constituency wrong—who did so much work when she was the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. I also thank the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend Dr Coffey, because only due to circumstances beyond her control was she not able to bring to the point of delivery that which she had been involved in from the moment of conception. She should take enormous pride in the Bill, because it is something that is important for the House to do. Although there was some disagreement about pace and tempo during the Bill Committee and on Second Reading, the unanimity of view does credit to this place. Too often, it is seen through the rather narrow microcosm of Prime Minister’s questions, but when this place gets it, when it understands the need to do something, there is, I suggest, no finer example of the practice of politics. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to play a part, albeit a very small one, in bringing the Bill to this stage.
I congratulate everybody who has helped to get this important Bill to this point, including the many campaigners and organisations who have pushed for it over the years, and I thank the civil servants and the Clerks who have worked so hard and all those who gave their time to give evidence to the Bill Committee. It was a pleasure to be part of that Committee, and I echo the words of Simon Hoare: it was Parliament at its best, working constructively and collaboratively across party lines to ensure that this groundbreaking Bill was as good as it could be.
The Bill matters deeply because the illegal wildlife trade has grown rapidly in recent years. It is now estimated to be the fourth-largest international illegal trade and worth over £15 billion per year. The illegal wildlife trade drives corruption, undermines the rule of law, threatens sustainability in developing countries and has been linked to other forms of organised crime, such as arms, drugs and human trafficking. The number of elephants in the wild has declined by almost a third in the last decade, and around 20,000 a year are still being slaughtered owing to the global demand for ivory—an average of around 55 a day.
There are now approximately 415,000 African elephants left. In the last decade, their numbers fell by about 111,000, mainly owing to poaching. While the UK is not one of the countries of most concern in terms of its contribution to the global illegal ivory trade, there is recent evidence that our legal ivory market is still being used to launder illegal ivory, and ivory is being shipped legally and illegally to Asian countries. TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, surveyed the UK ivory market in 2016 and found that while ivory sales had declined since 2004, the UK was still a net exporter of ivory. There was also some discrepancy in the numbers: the UK reported that only 17 raw tusks were exported to other countries, but importing countries reported 109 tusks that had come from the UK. UK ivory traders were also unclear on the laws around the legal ivory trade. The Bill is therefore vital and long overdue, and I am delighted to have been a member of the Committee and to be speaking on it today.
I want to focus my comments on two areas that I do not believe have been suitably progressed during the passage of the Bill. First, I will speak to new clause 1, in the name of my hon. Friend Sue Hayman, and the issue of widening the scope of “ivory” to cover species besides elephants. I recognise the amendment the Secretary of State has brought forward, about which we will no doubt hear more, and which will allow the scope of the Bill to be widened in the future, but I cannot help feeling we have missed an historic opportunity to do so here and now.
As I mentioned in Committee, there is a phrase used by medical students: first, do no harm. It is something that we ought to abide by in this place when passing legislation. I have a real concern, backed up by evidence, that by limiting the Bill to elephant ivory, we may have a disproportionate impact on another species, as poachers and dealers look elsewhere to feed their markets. Just as I did in Committee, I wish to speak, in particular, about the noble hippopotamus—known, of course, as the river horse—and to support my hon. Friend’s comments about the hippo.
The number of hippos in the world has crashed by 95% in the last 30 years—that is inconceivable—and that is widely acknowledged to be a knock-on effect of the increasing restrictions on the trade in elephant ivory. Since the convention on international trade in endangered species imposed the ban in 1990, 30,000 tonnes of hippo teeth have been exported from Africa. For example, a few years ago, in the Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there were 29,000 hippos, but now there are just 1,300. The hippo is vulnerable and on the red list of threatened species, and there is deep concern that it is being poached and hunted for its teeth as loopholes are closed around elephant ivory.
In 2014, some 60 tonnes of hippo teeth were exported to Hong Kong from Africa and from there were sent on to European countries. If the purpose of the Bill is to close markets that are driving the trade, and given that there is clearly a strong integrated global trade in hippo teeth that has a huge effect on the species, it is vital that we take this opportunity to send out the message that we in this country do not believe that hippos should be killed or poached for their teeth and ensure that we do not, through the Bill, have a damaging impact on the hippopotamus.
I accept that the Government have tabled amendment 3 to allow them to widen the scope in the future, but I have not heard any arguments either in Committee or today that have convinced me that we cannot broaden the scope now. On the point about the conference in the autumn, if the Government were to accept our new clause today, or in the Lords, we would still hit that timetable—there would be no delay in the process. My hon. Friend the Member for Workington has clearly set out the legal position showing that the Government are on safe ground and that there would not be sufficient means for a challenge. We are missing a vital opportunity. The arguments about delays to the legislative process do not stack up. The Government should come on board and support our new clause. I sincerely hope that any delay in broadening the scope arising as a result of having to wait for secondary legislation will not have a devastating knock-on consequence for the hippo and other species.
I welcome the fact that the Government amendment does not limit the animals that may be covered in the future simply to those registered as “protected” in CITES. I believe that they were won over by the excellent representations that my hon. Friend Kerry McCarthy made very powerfully in Committee, when she said that we should look at this through the prism not just of protecting endangered species but of our moral obligation. We ought to be driving out poaching and the hunting of animals for the use of their body parts because it is morally reprehensible, whether the animals are endangered or not. I am grateful that the Government have taken that on board.
I am taking a leap here, but I do not think that any Conservative will have disagreed with anything that the hon. Lady has said. It seems to me that the only real difference between the Opposition and the Government—and this is a question, not a statement—is a matter of process. The aspirations are almost identical. The Government’s commitment is to go further than new clause 1 by going beyond the CITES species, but on that there is no disagreement between the two parties. The only issue, really, is whether the Opposition are willing to trust the Government to honour the pledge that we have just heard from the Minister, but that is it. This is not about the issue; it is a matter of trust and process. Does the hon. Lady agree with that?
Absolutely. I think the principle of trust is important, and I hope we would support the Government on that, but for me this is about timing. The issue is not whether it will happen, but the fact that it could be six months or a year before the Bill is passed. In the meantime, especially if the Bill proceeds successfully and is widely heralded, there will be a great deal of awareness about the crackdown on the ivory trade in this country. What concerns me is the knock-on effect in the next six months to a year on the trade in hippo teeth, which could be a direct consequence of the Bill. I therefore do not want any delay caused by the wait for secondary legislation. In principle, however, the hon. Gentleman is absolutely right: we are going in the same direction.
I thank my hon. Friend for her references to my contribution in Committee. Let me also express my admiration for her elephant-patterned dress.
On the question of whether another Bill will be introduced, is it not the case that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which does not normally handle an awful lot of legislation, has so much on its plate at the moment, what with the agriculture Bill, the fisheries Bill and so many other strategies—the need to consider agriculture subsidies, for instance—that the chances are that this will get pushed to the bottom of the pile if it is not dealt with soon?
My hon. Friend has made an extremely important point, and one that is close to my heart. My private Member’s Bill to increase the punishment for animal cruelty was published in December, but we are still waiting for it to come before this place. There is a huge backlog in legislation, and I think it is dangerous to wait.
I apologise for intervening again, but may I take up that last point? Subject to consultation—and it is inconceivable that those consulted would oppose the proposals; we have to assume that they would pass the test of public opinion—these changes could be introduced very quickly and easily by means of a statutory instrument. This does not require primary legislation; it would be a very simple procedure, and the measure would go through unopposed.
I will not support the new clause because I think that the Government’s commitment goes further, and, fundamentally, I have no reason to disbelieve the promise that the Minister has just made. The Government will consult on extending the ban, and I have no doubt that the British people will respond to that consultation properly and positively. The statutory instrument will then be introduced. There is no reason for any Conservative Member to question what I think has been an impeccable track record on the part of DEFRA over the last year.
The hon. Gentleman is right—the principle of the Government’s amendment, which broadens the CITES endangered species definition, is important and we support it—but I do not understand why the hon. Gentleman cannot support both. They are not mutually exclusive. We would really like to press on with this today, and there does not seem to be any reason for hesitation—other than work and effort, I am afraid.
Finally, let me say something about resources. In Committee, I was shocked by the lack of resources to back up the Bill. The Border Force CITES team at Heathrow has only 10 members of staff, although it is currently dealing with more than 1,000 seizures a year. The police National Wildlife Crime Unit has only 12 members of staff, despite dealing with all forms of wildlife crime from deer poaching to thefts of birds’ eggs, and no funding has been allocated to it beyond 2020. I think it reckless and irresponsible for the Secretary of State to introduce the Bill without having secured or committed resources to ensure that it can be properly enforced. There is a danger that this important Bill will be rendered hollow and unenforceable, and I hope that the Government are working to address that and give us some funding commitments.
Absolutely, but that is a separate issue. I am talking about enforcement in this country. Thousands of cases a year pass through Heathrow, and the police must investigate every single item that is found in a suitcase. As we heard in Committee, there must be months and months of investigation of very complex cases of a cross-border and international nature, and that requires proper resources.
I hope that the Government have listened wholeheartedly to our recommendations, but I welcome the Bill. We have worked on it collaboratively and in strong partnership, and I think that there is little in it with which any Member can disagree. It is a landmark Bill, and I hope that it will have a significant impact on not only the elephant population, but many other species.
I congratulate the Minister, the Secretary of State and the Opposition and everyone who worked so hard in Committee to get the Bill this far. We are all under time pressure, as the shadow Minister said; it is vital that this ban is in law by the time we have the conference, so that we can regain the leadership we had on this huge international issue.
I listened carefully to the shadow Minister’s speech, and I am in complete agreement with the intention. In fact, I mentioned the advice we got from the Born Free Foundation when I spoke on Second Reading, pointing out, importantly, the reduction in numbers. The hon. Lady cited the numbers; I have seen the figure of a reduction in hippo numbers of 25%, and she is absolutely right about what would happen if we only limit one type of ivory. Hippos spend a very happy life stationary; they are sitting targets in large pools of water. They have a very nice lazy time, but they would suffer terribly. That is just one species that would be hit, as I have mentioned.
My hon. Friend Zac Goldsmith has been vocal in his interventions so far and I congratulate him on all the work he has done in recent years. On the same day as Second Reading we wrote a joint letter to the Secretary of State, with a number of other Members, pointing out that the definition of ivory in the Bill as it stands is simply too narrow. Clause 35(1) says that
“‘ivory’ means ivory from the tusk or tooth of an elephant.”
We pointed out in our letter that we were worried about other species such as hippopotamus, narwhal, killer whale, sperm whale and walrus as well as extinct species such as mammoth, which are being literally mined in Siberia by unscrupulous dealers. We also recommended, in very much the same sentiments as the hon. Lady has expressed, that we should name these ivory species, and possibly list them on—this was my phrase—the face of the Bill. So we wrote to the Secretary of State, and I am delighted that DEFRA has looked at this. I think that is what the hon. Lady is trying to achieve with her new clause 1.
I am not particularly fussed which of the mechanisms is used, either my idea of this being on the face of the Bill—for which we have not actually tabled an amendment—or the hon. Lady’s new clause 1, the downside of which is that it states:
“Within 12 months of the coming into force…the Secretary of State must lay a draft of an instrument”.
What we heard from the Minister just now is interesting, and I think we will hear from him again shortly. Apparently it is on the DEFRA website that what is now being proposed is that the consultation could begin immediately we get Royal Assent—it could even be on the same day. What I like about the new Government amendment 3 is that it goes much wider: we are not limited to CITES or a shortlist of species, which is what I was going to propose. Amendment 3 is better, as it is a much wider definition, and, as I understand it, it could go through faster. I have told this House on many occasions over the last 21 years that I am not a lawyer, but, as I understand it, without a formal consultation, this legislation could be prey to a legal challenge, whereas a statutory instrument, properly constituted, and after consultation and going through the human rights requirements, could probably be got through in about 12 weeks if it was pushed through. Therefore, it seems to me that we are all trying to achieve exactly the same aim, which is to seek to protect a number of other species that are not mentioned at the moment. Clause 35(1) is very narrowly drawn and is purely about elephants, and living elephants.
I am impressed by the arguments, therefore, and I hope we are going to hear from the Minister on this. He has had a go at me informally, and I appreciate his ringing me at home about this last weekend. I hope we will hear from him that the DEFRA lawyers have gone through this in some detail and that under his arrangement we will scotch any chance of a legal challenge as it will go through the human rights requirements and the consultation will be absolutely clean. What is good and clever about it is that it is so wide that it encompasses the dead animal, the mammoth, which is a big advantage. So I will be strongly supporting the Government on this. As I said, I am in total agreement with the Opposition’s intentions. I think that what I and my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond Park wrote is probably the least good proposal, and happily it has not been put down as an amendment.
The right hon. Gentleman mentioned a whole list of animals that might be included, and we also had a full discussion about this in Committee. It was only when the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds spoke to me this week that I realised that one species that had not been mentioned was the helmeted hornbill. I had no idea that there was a market in red ivory from the hornbill. Has that species come up in any of his considerations, and does he think that it should be put forward for protection as well? It is protected under CITES.
I am being told via a sedentary intervention that that is not ivory. This is an interesting issue, but surely the good point about Government amendment 3 is that it is very widely drafted, so that a lot of species and a lot of animals could be included. I think that that is a good thing. What the Opposition new clause is proposing, and what we were originally proposing in our letter, is actually narrower and less effective.
I shall sit down now, because it will be much more interesting for the House to hear what the Minister has to say, but this information is on the DEFRA website, and if we could get a statutory instrument out and get started on consulting on the day of Royal Assent, that would be the most rapid method. I think we all agree that we want to give the widest possible protection to the widest number of species, and that seems to be the right route to take.
I want to thank and pay tribute to my right hon. Friend for having taken this issue from somewhere near the bottom of the agenda four years ago and catapulting it to the top at the first illegal wildlife trade conference in 2014. That was really seismic, and it moved the dial on this issue unlike anything that had gone before. Does he agree that the 2018 conference in October will be an opportunity to go further still, not just by demonstrating our own commitment but by getting other key countries—particularly Asian countries such as Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, as well as members of the European Union—to make the same commitment that we are making here in this House today? This needs to be a global challenge, not simply a British one.
I thank my hon. Friend for his kind comments. It would be invidious of me not to mention my two other Cabinet colleagues at the time. One is now the right hon. Lord Hague of Richmond, and when I came back from Lewa in Kenya, he was as sharp as a tack and immediately got the point of the problem. DEFRA and the Foreign Office worked extremely closely to put the conference together. I also want to give credit to my right hon. Friend Justine Greening, who was really helpful from the DFID point of view. She saw the necessity for long-term sustainable economic activity in these areas, where there is a real danger of the value of wildlife not being appreciated. The advantage that I saw in Lewa, which I touched on at Second Reading, is that having rangers and properly protected wildlife creates a virtuous circle by bringing stability to the cattle industry, where the locals have been poaching each other’s cattle for centuries.
My hon. Friend the Member for Richmond Park mentioned the conference, and he was right to say that it is vital to get the Bill through in time for that. I went to the FCO a couple of days ago, and I was delighted to see the preparations for the conference. More than 70 countries have been asked so far, which is marvellous. I think we had 42 countries at the previous one. It is really important to get across how much co-operation there is between all sorts of countries that we could not possibly expect to be co-operating so closely. When I was in Moscow, the Minister there stressed how well the programmes with the Chinese Government were going on protecting the snow leopards in the Amur mountains. We got co-operation across the board at the conference, which was a unique event, and I very much hope that this autumn’s conference here will have a similar boost and a similar impact. However, we can only go to it and look people in the eye if we have got this legislation through.
I hope that I am not stating the obvious, but I just wondered whether my right hon. Friend agrees that a good place to start this best practice would be within the Commonwealth.
Absolutely. Commonwealth members made several helpful contributions at the conference, and they will be invited again. The Commonwealth is a good vehicle for this, because this is about stopping both supply and demand, mainly in Asian countries, and some of our Commonwealth colleagues could be helpful at both ends of the trade.
I really want to hear from the Minister but, based on what he has told me informally and from what I have seen on the DEFRA website, I will be supporting amendment 3, because it will deliver the fastest route to our aim. I think it would also be sensible for the Opposition, having listened to the debate and been convinced by the arguments, to withdraw their amendments so that we can get on to Third Reading.
It is a privilege to speak once again on the Bill, which the Scottish National party welcomes. We also welcome Government amendments 1 and 2 to clause 6, and Government amendments 3 and 4 to clause 35.
We are working towards implementing stringent measures to protect and conserve populations of elephants and other endangered species for future generations. The survival of the species is the most important thing and must be realised, so the Bill must be as strong as possible. I thank members of the Bill Committee who worked together so consensually towards the same aim: protecting ivory-bearing species and populations of elephants. We have the same aims and aspirations; this debate has just been about how we reach the final outcome that we all desire. The general public are absolutely behind the Bill, and we must take our lead from their good common decency and sense. The consultation received 70,000 responses, so we must act decisively in their name.
The SNP also supports new clause 1, which would require the Secretary of State to introduce a statutory instrument within 12 months of the Bill becoming law to extend its scope to include hippos, killer whales, narwhals, sperm whales and walruses. Such action is integral to affirming the UK’s commitment to stopping the trade of all inhumanely obtained ivory.
We heard compelling evidence in Committee about the unscrupulous nature of ivory poachers. They will stop at nothing, leaving no ivory-bearing species safe. They trade in death. They undermine poor and vulnerable communities in developing parts of the world, moving from species to species to make their money. Protecting elephants is critical, but the SNP believes that the Bill does not go far enough due to the possible impact on other species and further knock-on effects. Those other species also require protection from the actions of unscrupulous individuals.
Reports indicate that hippo teeth, which are also ivory, are being auctioned in Tanzania and that demand for ivory also poses a threat to Malawi’s hippos. Hippo teeth represent a cheaper and easier option. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, demand for them increased after the 1989 ban on the international trade of elephant ivory. I recently read that a killer whale that was beached in Vancouver—near where some of my family live—had its teeth removed by unscrupulous ivory thieves. It was an 18-year-old killer whale called J32 that had been nicknamed “Rhapsody”. Such people will go to any lengths.
Turning to narwhals—the sea unicorns—Queen Elizabeth I spent £10,000 on a narwhal tusk, which is the equivalent of around £1.5 million today. The average price today is between £3,000 and £12,000, and narwhals are considered to be near-threatened. It is important that we support new clause 1 to ensure that poachers do not move from species to species.
The SNP also supports new clause 2, which would require the Secretary of State to lay a report before each House within 12 months of the Bill becoming law detailing the state of international ivory markets and the steps taken by the Department for International Development to reduce demand for ivory. That is extremely important, because we are in a race against time. We will need to know that the Bill is having the desired impact—and quickly—so that we can amend or adjust the processes in place to save the species we desire to save.
The race against time means we must work, via DFID, with the communities that are most affected. We must determine, through a whole-Government approach, to tackle this trade and to ensure that we do our utmost to protect populations. Jobs and livelihoods are integral to populations affected by poaching. There must be alternatives to poaching, because we heard in Committee that people living in poverty in such areas tend to be caught up in poaching activity just to feed their family. If they have no alternative, there will be little for them to do other than to try to continue poaching unabated.
Through DFID, we must look to ensure that we leave no one behind, and that we protect jobs and livelihoods as alternatives for these communities. We must also work with rangers and conservation agents, who have a direct impact on tourism, to ensure that there are opportunities for growth and development in the countries affected.
SNP Members want the strongest Bill possible. We want to work consensually with Members on both sides of the House, we want to ensure there is a whole-Government approach and, most of all, we want to ensure that we proceed in a timely manner. The utmost goal of this legislation is not a conference at the end, but the survival of a species.
It is important that we come together to ensure that this happens for our children and grandchildren. My children visited the elephants two years ago. They still speak today about their experience of seeing baby elephants wandering. We want to ensure that that can continue and that this magnificent species continues to wander across our savannahs.
The 2015 SNP manifesto included a commitment to support further animal welfare measures with a global focus, including action to end the illegal ivory trade, so I commend new clauses 1 and 2 and the Government amendments to the House in order to achieve the most stringent legislation possible.
Order. Just for guidance, may I say that if colleagues can stick to about seven minutes each, we will get everyone in? The Minister is yet to speak.
I am pleased that the Bill has made progress in Committee, building on the Government’s proactive work. As I have said before, I am pleased not only because of my interest in this area—that was why I founded the all-party group on endangered species with Members on both sides of the House—but because, like Opposition Members, many Conservative Members were elected on a manifesto promise to tackle the international wildlife trade and to press for a total ban on ivory sales. That was in the first manifesto I stood on. It is a manifesto promise I intend to keep, and I wish to highlight the last point in that specific wording. While the Minister is to be commended for bringing forward this much-needed Bill, in an unrelentingly positive manner, to protect these strong, smart, gentle endangered animals from murder—that is what it is: some 20,000 elephants are murdered each year for their ivory—we must protect many, many more species.
As I said on Second Reading, clause 35 is unnecessarily narrow. I can accept that the explicit exemptions, such as those on portrait miniatures or musical instruments, are necessary, fair and proportionate, but an over-narrow definition of ivory is not. This is not just a technical matter; it is a matter of principle. It is not just about ensuring that the Bill covers every type of ivory and is extended to another category of item. It cuts to the fundamental principle of the ban: protecting endangered species now. If all a poacher has to do to sell the ivory they have recently butchered from an elephant is to declare it as ivory from a hippopotamus or from a long-dead mammoth, that is simply not good enough. Members can be certain that those profiting from the illegal wildlife trade will know the loopholes inside out. Worse, as Anna Turley set out, such an approach may lead to poachers targeting those other species—hippos, walruses, narwhals and others—perfectly legally so that they can then sell that ivory under this Bill, as it stands. In effect, poachers would target those species by default for extinction. I am sure none of those outcomes is the desired intention, which is why I am pleased that the Government seem to be moving in the right direction.
I do not raise these points to criticise Her Majesty’s Government. Quite the contrary: I absolutely commend the Minister for his commitment to action on this, and I believe he will seize the opportunity to do the right thing, particularly as Government amendments 3 and 4 suggest that the Government are listening and want to expand the Bill’s scope through secondary legislation. That is why I will support the Government’s amendments, if anyone was to oppose them—I am encouraged to hear that they seem to have universal support across the Chamber—but I have concerns about the shadow Minister’s new clause 1, given its unnecessarily narrow focus on CITES and the species with us today. The measure could result in those who wish to do these animals harm using the loophole of simply saying, “That is mammoth ivory.” I am sure that that is not the shadow Minister’s intention, however, and I welcome her support for Government amendments 3 and 4 as they are the way of delivering the change we want.
I encourage the Minister to bring forward the consultation as soon as possible after Royal Assent, as he has indicated already. I encourage him to make that consultation as wide as possible and to include as many species as the Government need to be aware of. I hope that the Government will then act as swiftly as possible to bring secondary legislation to this place at the appropriate time.
I want to speak to new clause 2, although on new clause 1, and given the speech we just heard from Mr Jayawardena, I must say that I entirely agree that we should broaden the species to which the Bill applies, because it is about saving our wildlife, planet and ecosystem. None of those things operates in isolation. Our ecosystem is holistic and we must protect it as one. I would therefore hope that any changes made by new clause 1 would make the provisions as broad as possible.
I am delighted that the Leader of the Opposition and our shadow Front-Bench spokesperson have tabled new clause 2. I know that it has been brought forward with the notion of trying to gain cross-party support, however, because I do not think it goes far enough at all.
A year ago, when I had the fortune to meet Angolan MPs, I raised this issue with them. It is a case in point that while legislation to ban ivory was passed in 2016, those MPs had no idea that they had passed the legislation. When legislators do not know that they have passed legislation, we know we are starting off with a bit of a problem.
In 2018, poaching in Angola is as virulent as it was prior to the legislation. The rate of poaching has simply continued. Action has been taken and poachers have been prosecuted in cases involving considerable amounts of ivory, but by the time they are caught, the elephant is unfortunately dead. The elephant population is, of course, declining. Figures from National Geographic suggest that before the civil war, in around 1975, there were 200,000 elephants in Angola, but there may be just 2,000 left. According to more accurate figures from the general elephant census, which was conducted in partnership with Elephants Without Borders, there were some 70,000 elephants in southern Angola before the war but there are now around 3,400. That is a colossal cull of this wonderful animal over 40 years. I stress that the issue affects many animals but, in the short time I have, I wish to concentrate on elephants.
According to Elephants Without Borders, in 2015, for every 10 live elephants that the census recorded, it found four carcases. That is incredible. Fifty-five elephants are being killed every day and the population is down by 111,000 in the past decade. The way in which they are killed paints a picture of what this cruel industry is about, how it operates and how poachers act with impunity. They use AK47s, and it requires many AK47 rounds to bring an animal down. We have all seen the horrific pictures of elephants that have not been killed, but are alive and suffering while their horns are hacked off. It is truly appalling.
The great elephant census did not just cover Angola. Between 2009 and 2016—just seven years—Tanzania has seen an elephant population decline of 60%, almost all of which is due to poaching. In the same seven-year period, Mozambique has seen a 48% fall in its elephant population. The National Academy of Sciences has said that 100,000 elephants were killed between 2010 and 2012. These statistics paint a picture of incredible carnage and an incredible reduction in elephant numbers. I, for one, am sad. We must take firmer action.
Elephants Without Borders has suggested that not only legislation is required. We must take protective action. The two must go hand in hand, but the legislation must be tough, and new clause 2 does not go far enough. We must do more. I welcome the fact that DFID staff are out in Kenya, providing some support for the protection of elephants. Perhaps that is the beginning of a future in which we protect the animals on this planet, along with the biology of the environment that we need to sustain the planet from which we draw life.
We need legislation, but we also need active protection. Legislating in this place simply does not go far enough; it is time for international laws and international action. It is time for the United Nations to step up and begin to put in place a framework that protects our planet and these animals. It is time that we not only pass legislation, but take direct action on protected areas. Instead of just providing armed forces for humanitarian purposes, it is about time that we and the United Nations provided forces for environmental purposes. The time has come for us, both as legislators and those active in the field, to take this issue seriously.
I finish by congratulating the British Army on what it is doing out in Kenya, but we need more of it. I support new clause 2 as a beginning, but it is the beginning of a long road, because a lot more needs to be done.
This is a very important debate. In listening to speeches from across the House, I was struck by the fact that I had never seen the House so united in terms of the purpose and seriousness of this legislation. The real differences—if there are differences—are about the manner of dealing with this and how we get the best results. That is very encouraging.
If one were to look at the number of elephants, one would be truly horrified. There were something like 1.2 million in 1980. Today, from the figures that I saw, there are a little over 400,000. Over 38 years, we have seen a two-thirds reduction in the number of wild elephants, so the species is undoubtedly in danger.
As a consequence, one can see why the Government have come up with this legislation. Initially, it was a very narrowly focused Bill, essentially designed to stop the trade in ivory with respect to elephants and the killing of elephants by poachers. One can understand exactly what the narrow scope of this legislation was. It was right for the people who have been campaigning on this issue to suggest that the narrow focus on elephants should be widened. Obviously, ivory comes from a range of sources. People have talked about mammoths and the teeth of hippopotamuses. It was inevitable that the legislation as drafted would be perhaps attacked or scrutinised on the basis that the focus was too narrow. I fully understand that.
What has happened in the past couple of days is that the Front-Bench team has listened to the debates and to the various representations. I saw on Twitter—I do not use Twitter very much, by the way—that the Environment Secretary has suggested that the next phase should be a much wider consultation than that proposed in new clause 1 by Opposition Front Benchers. That must be the right approach because, under the new clause, as Members have mentioned, mammoths are not included. We know that the way people claim that bits of ivory come from mammoths hides a multitude of sins and a great deal of criminality. That is another issue that is often overlooked in this debate—it has been mentioned once or twice.
The communities in which elephant poaching takes place, and the people who are driving this trade, are often linked with organised crime and with other very unsavoury elements in the countries of Africa in which the elephant and ivory are found. This has been going on for decades. One need only read accounts from Stanley in the 19th century to see how poachers—mass murderers, my hon. Friend Mr Jayawardena suggested—have been perpetrating these crimes for decades. It has to stop. The reason that this is an interesting and important piece of legislation is that it marks, I think, the first time, or one of the first times, that a western country—or certainly an advanced economic country—has taken this issue very seriously.
As we go forward, after the international conference at the beginning of October, we will have to be even more focused and even more rigorous in our approach to the ivory trade. As people have observed, just banning the ivory trade with respect to the elephant will not be good enough. We have to take a holistic approach. We cannot simply say that ivory from the elephant should be banned and not legislate for other animals and other sources of ivory. The broader approach is obviously the best one, but legislation is difficult in any broad approach. We have to get the right terms and the right drafting. I am not sure that new clause 1 is necessarily the best way of trying to address this problem, which is why I will vote against it if it is pressed to a Division. I think that Government amendments 3 and 4 are a bit broader and more flexible. As we have discovered today, there have been later announcements suggesting that a broader approach—even broader than that proposed in new clause 1—is for the best.
It is a real credit to this House that something as sensitive as this Bill has brought forward a wide, courteous and informed debate. It is a real honour to be able to participate in the passage of this legislation.
It is a great privilege to speak in this debate, which is of so much interest to many of our constituents, right across the UK. I would like to talk about four things. I will speak in support of new clauses 1 and 2, but first I will refer to a couple of other issues that we discussed at some length in Committee. It would be helpful to hear the Minister’s response regarding those issues, but they will not be fresh ones to him; this is well-trodden ground.
The first issue is that of cyber-security. This is an important matter, as has been acknowledged. Much illegal trading is done over the internet. In Committee, we discussed the need for proper measures to deal with that and heard about the difficulties in tracing that. Does the Minister have anything to say on that? If we are to make this legislation effective, it is important that we deal with the issue of cyber-security and cyber-trade.
The second issue is that of enforcement, which we also discussed in Committee. When taking evidence, we heard from Inspector Lou Hubble—head of the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit—who spoke particularly about cyber-security. She saw the need for additional resources to deal with the cyber-trade in ivory. Goods that are often presented not as ivory, but as bovine, bone or other sources are really difficult to track down. I wonder whether the Minister has anything to say about that.
Let me turn to new clause 1. It seems that we all agree that we need to extend the legislation to include other sources of ivory. We are all concerned that, if we ban elephant ivory and strengthen the measures against that, we may displace the trade and find that other species are affected. That is why I am keen, as are other colleagues, that we broaden the description of ivory in the Bill. I heard the Minister saying that an announcement had been made on this, and it is good to see that there is change and movement in this area—we all agree that that is important—but I still support new clause 1. Will the Government consider going that bit further and supporting the new clause?
We are keen to see that action is taken now and not deferred. From our perspective, new clause 1 would improve and strengthen the Bill.
New clause 2, which is also in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Workington, calls for a report on the ivory trade in 12 months’ time. It is important that we have a mechanism for reviewing how the Bill is operating in practice within a period of a year, so that we can ensure that it is doing what we want it to do: reduce the slaughter of endangered species and other species covered by the Bill. It is also important that we ensure we can take steps to strengthen the legislation in the future if that is necessary, so I support new clause 2.
We have had an important discussion of this Bill over the past few weeks. It has been a great honour to speak on something that is so important to so many of my constituents. It has also been very good to see how the House works very constructively together on occasions where there are particularly important and historic matters for us to discuss, as in this case. I am very grateful to the Government for listening so constructively to many of the points that I have made, some on behalf of my constituents and some on my own reading of the Bill, and for answering a great many of them. I will address those in the course of my brief comments.
I do not support new clause 1 because I think the Government have proposed a better way of doing this. I say that for two reasons. They have been covered already but bear repeating. The first is the fact that the Government amendment goes further. New clause 1 deals only with CITES-listed species. Liz Twist rightly raised a concern that we all have—I raised it on Second Reading—about species displacement, for want of a better phrase. The new clause, if anything, makes that more likely because it does not cover species that are not on the CITES list, such as the warthog. We need to ensure that we can go further. There is much more freedom in the Government’s approach, which is to add species whether they are endangered or not and whether they are extant or extinct. Their amendment will also cover the mammoth, which, as we have heard, is being mined, and closes a loophole whereby mammoth ivory can be passed off as elephant ivory. It is a much better way of doing this because it goes further.
Secondly, the Government’s amendment goes faster because we can deal with the matter by secondary legislation. I entirely understand what the Opposition are trying to do through new clause 1, but the big, overriding problem is the procedural one. If a challenge is raised to the primary legislation on the human rights ground, we may run into difficulty on the whole Act, and that would be a great shame. I have thought very hard about this. As a lawyer, I am naturally of the mind that I do not like legislation that is rushed through, because rushed laws are often bad laws. I would instinctively prefer that we took more time and got it right. In this case, however, there is very much a need to move quickly, given that the conference is coming up, and given all the heartbreaking stories that we have heard today and throughout the Bill’s passage, including during the evidence session.
It is very important that we make it clear that the ivory trade is no longer acceptable. It is also very important that we make it clear that Britain is a world leader on this. We have heard about the great work that is being done by the Army—I pay tribute to that—and through DFID. We can look at doing a lot more to expand that work. I very much welcome that.
For those reasons, we need to get this Bill on to the statute book as soon as possible, despite the fact that that goes against my natural instinct whereby I prefer to slow things down and take more time to make sure that there is not a hiccup further along the line. I am sensitive to the concern about everything being pushed into the long grass and the further expansion never happening, but I am very encouraged by today’s announcement by the Secretary of State that he will now be consulting on this. It seems to me that the Government have approached this in entirely the right way.
I have had a number of concerns about the Bill as it has gone through. Constituents have raised concerns with regard to the antique trade and those have been answered. I am grateful to the Minister for doing so, in full, and at relatively short notice. I had some concerns about the definitions aspect of clause 35. The Government’s amendments deal with those concerns because they mean that we do not have to worry about a particular species once the secondary legislation has been brought in to expand the species list further.
We can now move forward quickly with legislation that sets a positive, leading path for Britain as a nation. I wholeheartedly welcome that. I thank the Government very much for listening to all of us who have expressed concerns and for answering those concerns. I very much welcome the Bill and the Government’s amendments to it.
I spent three days on the Public Bill Committee carrying out detailed scrutiny. Although we did not always agree on the detail, I valued all the contributions from Committee members, who clearly believed strongly in eradicating the global ivory trade. We have a further opportunity today to make this a better Bill.
I want to start by raising a question that I asked the Minister in Committee, but which he might answer differently today. We had a detailed discussion about musical instruments and the rule that if less than 20% of an antique musical instrument is ivory, it can be sold. We heard from the Musicians Union that many retired musicians sell their instrument collection because it is not an industry in which people have a pension. I raised the issue of guitar picks made from mammoth ivory. The Minister quite rightly pointed out that they would be exempt because they are made from mammoth ivory. However, with amendment 3, there is a potential for mammoth ivory to be covered by the Bill. That changes the status of those guitar picks. I wonder whether the Minister will give a new response to that question today.
However, that is not the substantive part of my speech. I am in favour of the new clauses tabled by my right hon. Friend Jeremy Corbyn, and in particular new clause 1. I will restrict my comments to the protection of other horned animals, and in particular the monodon monoceros, more commonly known as the narwhal, as I did in Committee. I do not have time to go into depth on the hippo, killer whale, sperm whale, walrus or warthog.
After returning home from the Committee, on which I served for three days, I was asked at the dinner table by my children what I had done that week in Parliament, and I said, “Have you heard of the narwhal?” My 10-year-old son immediately broke into song. Following the example of Simon Hoare, I will allow Members to hear the narwhal song:
“Narwhals, narwhals, swimming in the ocean
Causing a commotion coz they are so awesome”.
It goes on:
“Like an underwater unicorn
They’ve got a kick-ass facial horn
They’re the Jedi of the sea.”
Who could disagree with that?
If Members were not aware of the narwhal, I am sure they are now fully clued up and join every 10-year-old in the land who has impeccable knowledge of the narwhal. That knowledge is not new, however. Narwhals were known as sea unicorns for many centuries before exploration of the Arctic, and their tusks were one of the most valuable commodities in pre-industrial revolution Britain. Queen Elizabeth I is said to have spent £10,000—equivalent to £1.5 million today—on a narwhal tusk, which was placed with the Crown jewels.
Although narwhal horns are no longer so valuable, they are valued at between £3,000 and £12,000, and a double tusk can fetch as much as £25,000. The International Union for Conservation of Nature considers narwhal hunting still to be a major issue. In Canada and Greenland, narwhal hunting is still permitted, and between 2007 and 2011 an average of 979 narwhals were hunted a year. The Inuit as a native tribe have hunted narwhal for centuries, using them as a source of both food and income. In addition to the global trade in tusks and teeth, a Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society study found that shops in Japan were selling ground narwhal tusk as a tonic to treat fever. Shop counter prices for that medicine varied from $540 to $929 for 100 grams. Numerous reports have been produced, and there is an evidence base from non-governmental organisations.
CITES, which we have heard much about today, says that the main threats to the narwhal are hunting and climate change. The majority of narwhals live in and around Greenland’s territorial waters. Export of narwhal products was banned in Greenland in 2006, but narwhal products are legally traded within Greenland. Only subsistence hunting should take place. CITES says that there is a significant trade in narwhal tusks and parts, but not sufficient data to track it. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society is concerned that the hunting of narwhal has already become unsustainable. Narwhals have been over-harvested in Canada and Greenland. The society said:
“The annual hunting in western Greenland...significantly exceeded the quotas recommended by those scientific bodies of regional and international organisations charged with narwhal management.”
Laws in Greenland are being broken. Surely we should align our laws with theirs.
I am not sure whether the Minister is aware that the Inuit people are permitted to sell narwhal derivatives, including the horn, within the European Union. On one Canadian website I could have ordered a narwhal tusk from my desk here in Parliament for around $70 an inch that could be legally sent to the European Union. There are restrictions on what can be imported without permits and penalties for contravening import rules. I thank the Minister for his letter in which he outlined the restrictions on imports from Greenland, which I deem sufficient, but he does not mention Canada, where restrictions are not so tight. I want to repeat what I asked him in Committee: will he clarify his views on narwhal horn trade from Canada?
As I have said, narwhals are also affected by climate change. While I understand the need for haste with elephants, narwhals face more than one threat, so it is important to include narwhals in the scope of the Bill, rather than for this to be covered under clause 35. Why wait when action can be taken in the Bill today?
I will speak briefly because time is marching on, and I did not have the privilege of serving on what I believe must have been a fascinating Public Bill Committee. Coming to this quite new, I urge the Opposition to drop their proposal to push new clause 1, which I do not think the Government are supporting. I completely understand where they are coming from, and had the Government not come up with their latest proposal, I would in fact have supported new clause 1. However, I believe the Government’s proposal trumps what the Opposition are suggesting. It is unfortunate, when we are trying to send a unified message to those in the world who are watching these deliberations, that there is or is perceived to be some artificial division between us, when I do not think there really is one. I therefore urge the Opposition to look again at withdrawing new clause 1.
It is important to get the Bill through without the threat of judicial review or—I am not a lawyer—any other kind of legal challenge. We must aim for the wildlife conference in October, and it is absolutely critical that we enable the Bill to be passed before then. At the wildlife conference, which is designed to protect the elephant, I hope, as a former Minister for Asia, that we will cover Indian elephants, because we tend to concentrate more on Africa than elsewhere. I saw a programme the other day about what is happening to elephants because of logging: there is no use for them, and they are therefore abused, killed or whatever. I hope that the wildlife conference, rather than just discussing the issue of elephants being killed for their ivory, also looks more holistically, as it were, at the role of an elephant in such communities and at how we can better support them.
As I say, I have come to this quite late, but I believe there are still outstanding issues. I am sure those issues will be addressed in tremendous detail in the other place, not least the subject of compensation for some collectors, the measures on antiques and the proposals put forward by the antiques trade, which I think need to be looked at again, as well as the charges to exemption certificates. I am sure such points have been well articulated in Committee, and I have absolutely no doubt that they will be looked at more closely again in the other place; the point of the other place is to look at such issues in great detail.
I believe the principle of what the Government are seeking with the Bill is absolutely right. It is one of those rare occasions when the House is unified on something that will have huge popularity well beyond the Chamber.
Am I right to say, as a summary of the position of those involved in the antiques trade, that they find that the Bill is tough but fair, and that they would not like it tightened up any further? For speed, should we advise those in the other place not to spend too much time changing the Bill? Speed is of the essence in getting it through before the conference.
Yes, I agree with my right hon. Friend. I would say that there are legitimate concerns that still need flushing out, but I do not think anything should be done that will prevent the passage of the Bill in time for the wildlife conference. There are genuine concerns about how tight the legislation is in some respects, and about how people may be inadvertently affected. I believe that legislation is only as good as the thought that is given to it, and there is nothing worse than implementing bad legislation. The legislation has to stand the test of time, and I believe the Government are trying to achieve that. I am sure that any serious points raised in the other place will be addressed suitably, but my right hon. Friend is, as usual, absolutely right that we must do nothing to prevent the swift passage of what is, in most respects, an excellent Bill.
This has been another outstanding debate on a very important subject, and I am very grateful for all the contributions that have been made.
On Second Reading, I was heartened to hear the support from all parties for the Bill. I thank all the Committee members for their important contributions on this issue, and for the suggestions on how we can refine the Bill. Progress has been swift, and it is crucial that we continue that pace of progress on the Bill, as has been set out in numerous speeches.
I would like to give a warm welcome back to the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend Dr Coffey. As always, the Department will benefit from her keen intellect and boundless energy in moving forward with so many important initiatives, of which this Bill is not the least. It is good that she is in her place on the Front Bench today.
We have not really discussed the intention of Government amendments 1 and 2, which seek to provide a definition of a pre-1918 portrait miniature for the purpose of the exemption in clause 6. The amendments adds a size restriction to the definition so that portraits with a 320 sq cm surface area qualify for exemption. That is the maximum area of the visible surface of the ivory “canvas”, irrespective of the size of the frame. In Committee, Emma Rutherford, a representative of Philip Mould & Company, who is an expert on portrait miniatures gave evidence on how the exemption for portrait miniatures could be refined to add a size limit. The Government listened to that expert evidence and to views expressed in Committee and have introduced proposals that set maximum dimensions for portrait miniatures. We have discussed this, but we have chosen to exempt portrait miniatures because the value of these popular items is due not to their ivory content but to their historical importance, the delicate painting and their luminosity.
Let me now move on to important subjects that have been discussed at length today. We should focus our attention on Government amendments 3 and 4 and discuss matters raised in debate. I shall then come on to discuss new clause 1. As has been said, amendments 3 and 4 will extend the power to make secondary legislation so that the definition of ivory could include that from any ivory-bearing species.
Sue Hayman, in a characteristically considered contribution, asked whether the focus on elephants was initially an oversight. Non-governmental organisations, particularly during the evidence session, underlined the need to focus on elephants as an urgent priority. There was no oversight—there was a clear focus to start with—but that is not to say that we should not move on and look at other species.
We have heard passionate speeches expressing concerns about other species, from Anna Turley about hippos, and from Dr Cameron. I do not think anyone will forget the speech by Alex Sobel, and his legendary narwhal song. We will have to find the words and start humming them in the bath, or something.
As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made clear on Second Reading, it is important that, as a result of this ban, the trade in ivory does not move to other species. That is why we included a power in clause 35(3) to allow other ivory-bearing species listed under CITES to be brought into the scope of the ban.
May I repeat my thanks to the Minister for listening to the concerns that I have expressed about that provision in particular? Does he agree that the key point is that we need to move quickly to protect elephants, but after that we need maximum flexibility so that the Government can protect other species, whatever they are, as and when required?
My hon. Friend has been consistent throughout the process about the need to push forward, as have many colleagues on both sides of the House. Absolutely—we need pace, and I will come on to how we will ensure that we move forward as quickly as possible in the weeks and months ahead.
Indeed I will. My right hon. Friend has made an important point. Of course, we want to move fast, but we want whatever legislation we introduce to be compliant. We want to make sure that it is effective and enforceable legislation, and I will come on to explain more about that.
We have listened carefully to the views put forward by expert witnesses in Committee and by Members on both sides of the House, and we have made it clear that we should not wait for ivory species to become endangered before we can take action. The amendments will therefore allow us to prohibit dealings in ivory from CITES species, as is currently the case under the existing drafting of clause 35 and, additionally, any other ivory-bearing animal or species, including those that are endangered—for example, warthogs, my favourite animal.
Quite right too. The amendments also cover extinct species, such as mammoths. We believe that extending clause 35 to allow warthogs to be brought into the scope of the ban is important due to the risk of displacement. That has been talked about by several people, including my hon. Friend Robert Courts. We also recognise that mammoth ivory is sufficiently similar to elephant ivory that its continued sale could perpetuate the demand for elephant ivory.
I would like to thank my hon. Friend Simon Hoare, of warthog fame, and my hon. Friend Mrs Latham—we will not forget her contributions in Committee on mammoths—for their determined commitment to these species. The Government are clear that we should work together for the Bill to move swiftly through Parliament and that we should not allow the Bill to be derailed. Quick passage is important as in October the Government are hosting the fourth Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference, referred to by Members on both sides of the House, at which we will bring together global leaders on this issue. The conference will build on previous efforts, address the underlying systemic issues that facilitate the illegal wildlife trade, and demonstrate a step-change in the fight against this criminal trade. Our aim is to make significant progress with the Bill before the conference.
It was a great privilege to serve on the Bill Committee. Britain’s global leadership on this issue is absolutely essential. Does the Minister agree that the strong message we are sending out by passing the Bill in a timely manner and widening the scope to other species, will lead to change in countries across the world?
I thank my hon. Friend for his contribution in Committee. He makes an important point. We want to highlight our commitment to tackling illegal wildlife trade. The Bill, and the extension we are talking about today through the consultation, will be important in sending out a clear signal to other countries, and not least the EU as it looks at its own ban.
As referenced on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs website, the Government are clear that introducing protections for other ivory-bearing species is important. That is why we announced today our intention to consult on proposals to extend the ban to other ivory-bearing species on or as soon as practicable after Royal Assent.
I was not on the Bill Committee, but I have been following the Bill closely, as have other members of the all-party group on endangered species. Can my hon. Friend confirm that the consultation would allow the Government to move further and faster than would have been possible under new clause 1?
Absolutely. It is our intention to move further. We are all agreed on that. As I will set out, we believe categorically that this will be faster. I think that that is the sort of speed people want to see as we move forward in the weeks ahead.
What capacity is there within DEFRA post conference—I appreciate it is currently fantastically busy—if other countries want to dip into the collective expertise of both Ministers and officials on how to deliver and devise this sort of legislation? Who will be available? We should be a centre of excellence and a resource for information and knowledge.
That is another excellent point. DEFRA officials work very closely with their counterparts in other countries. The conference in October will be a perfect opportunity to bring parties together. If further co-operation is required they will be ready to do that, but there is important work to do in the UK as well.
The Government want to ensure that if in future we decide to extend the scope of the ban, any legislation which applies to ivory-bearing animals or species is robust, proportionate, defensible, enforceable and, importantly, compliant with the European convention on human rights. This means that we will ensure that we gather and analyse evidence on the market for ivory from the other species. We therefore think that it is vital to consult on any proposals and gather views and evidence from stakeholders and the public. That would support an analysis that will focus on the impact of the measures—
As I said in the DEFRA announcement—I am pleased that my hon. Friend has given me the opportunity to underline this—the consultation would start on or as soon as practicable after Royal Assent. The commencement of the Bill will be around six months afterwards. Importantly, the consultation will take place at the point of or close to—as soon as practicable—Royal Assent. We will then move forward with the consultation and, assuming that the evidence shows that it is right to put forward the statutory instrument and include certain species that we have talked about, we can then move forward on a quicker timescale than has been set out—[Interruption.] From a sedentary position, I heard the hon. Member for Workington suggesting that we do it straightaway, which is a lovely thought and I understand her intention. However, the key thing that I am trying to stress is pace. Let us make sure that the Bill is compliant as well. I say gently to Opposition Members—I know that they are committed to pressing the new clause to a vote—that we want to make sure that the Bill is compliant, and given the focus and commitment that we have all given to the Bill, it is not right for there to be any risk, not just to the future of the delegated powers, but to the Bill as a whole by putting such provisions in it. That is what I ask Members to consider as we move to the vote.
We have already talked about new clause 1, but let me just add further weight to the arguments around it. It is clear that this new clause will place the Secretary of State under a duty to lay an affirmative procedure within 12 months of clause 35 coming into force. It would extend the prohibition on dealing elephant ivory to ivory from CITES-listed species, so it does not go as far as the approach that the Government have set out.
As I said, the Government intend to consult on the extension of the ban and to conduct analysis of the impact that this may have on individuals and business. The new clause, however, presupposes or prejudges the outcome of that important work and would remove the opportunity for the public to provide evidence. It would oblige the Government to extend the prohibition to CITES species, even if the evidence does not support it. For some or all of the species listed in the new clause, that could mean that the regulations may not be compliant with the European convention on human rights and could be challenged on that basis. Given that explanation, I very much hope that in her concluding remarks the hon. Member for Workington will consider withdrawing her new clause.
During the debate, a number of other issues have been raised and I will turn briefly to some of them. Anna Turley has made points about resources and cyber-security. I assure her that this is obviously a key area of focus and priority for the Government. The National Wildlife Crime Unit and Border Force do a fantastic job and we are committed to making sure that they have the resources to take this work forward. Of course, the Office for Product Safety and Standards, the regulator, will have additional resources, and working together with the enforcement agencies, will ensure that the ban is enforceable and is done so well.
Alex Sobel made the point about plectrums. If they are made of mammoth and assuming that the ban extends to mammoths, they would be prohibited, but clearly, they can still be used. They can be passed on and bequeathed; they just cannot be sold commercially. He makes an excellent point about narwhals. We have exchanged correspondence and we encourage other nations to take such commitments seriously. I will gladly meet him separately to talk about Canada.
The hon. Member for Workington talked about the need for a report. We talked about this in Committee at great length. I understand why she wants a report, but the Government do not believe it to be their job to produce one, because other organisations can do so more independently, and of course there would be a cost involved as well. I therefore ask her not to press her new clause 2. With that, I thank hon. Members for their contributions on Report.
We have had an excellent debate this afternoon, and it is great that hon. Members right across the House have welcomed and supported this important Bill. I thank the Minister for our constructive discussions in Committee and today and warmly welcome the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Dr Coffey, to her place.
I take issue with what some hon. Members have said about Government amendments 3 and 4 meaning that new clause 1 is not required. Our new clause would amend clause 35(1), whereas the Government amendments amend subsections (2) and (3), so they are not mutually exclusive. If we are to make the Bill as strong as it can be today and achieve as much as we can, I see no reason why the House cannot support both new clause 1 and the Government amendments. We would then today have the strongest Bill possible. I am a little disappointed, therefore, that the Government do not want to support the new clause.
I will come to that point, but I am aware that I only have a minute and half left.
Having made those comments, I strongly welcome the Minister’s commitment to seek to start a consultation process on widening the scope of the ban to other species if the House does not support the new clause today. The Opposition have pushed strongly for this right from the beginning, and I welcome the fact that he has listened to us. On the issue Robert Courts raised, I talked about the consultation in Committee, and I must again draw Members’ attention to the fact that I am an associate of the Consultation Institute. I have taken further advice from the institute, and it has reiterated that the consultation could be carried out both swiftly and efficiently as a supplementary consultation without giving rise to any issues of legal challenge. It is happy to support the Government in achieving a very solid consultation. None of us in the House wants to see any legal challenges to the Bill. If the Minister would like me to put him in touch with the institute—if he thinks that would help—I would be more than happy to do so. With that, I ask the House to support new clause 1.
Two hours having elapsed since the commencement of proceedings on the programme motion, the debate was interrupted (Programme Order, this day).
The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair (
The House divided:
Ayes 256, Noes 305.