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,
c. 9, Q12.]
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.