Amendments made: 3, page 21, line 1, at end insert
“so as to include ivory from an animal or species (whether extant or not) that is not for the time being covered by that subsection”.
See the explanatory statement for Amendment 4.
Amendment 4, page 21, line 2, leave out subsection (3).—(David Rutley.)
The effect of Amendment 3 and this amendment is that regulations amending Clause 35(1) will be able to add ivory from any species of animal, including those that are not currently endangered and those that are extinct.
Queen’s consent signified.
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
What a pleasure it is to move the Third Reading motion for this important Bill. It is a simple but vital piece of legislation with a clear purpose: to help save one of the world’s most magnificent animals, the elephant, from the brink of extinction at the hands of ruthless ivory poachers. The ban on the sale of elephant ivory items of all ages, with only limited exemptions, will be the strongest in Europe and among the strongest in the world. The introduction of the Bill has reaffirmed the UK’s global leadership on this critical issue, and reflects our commitment to making the abhorrent trade in ivory a thing of the past. By seeking to ensure that ivory is never seen by the poachers as a commodity for financial gain or by potential customers as a status symbol, we will protect elephants for future generations.
The Bill has been improved today by amendments made on Report that took account of the evidence put forward by expert witnesses in Committee. This is my first time taking a Bill through the House as a Minister, and I am grateful for the positive way in which Members have engaged with it as it has progressed; I hope that that spirit will continue. We can all be rightly proud of the Bill. Let me take this opportunity to thank all the non-governmental organisations, the museums, the antiques sector and the enforcement bodies for their contributions and written evidence taken and received in Committee evidence sessions.
The Minister mentioned museums. On Second Reading, I raised the question of Northumbrian pipes made since 1975 using CITES-approved ivory. I understand that in Committee, despite these pipes’ unique and beautiful nature, it proved impossible to give a specific exemption for pipes made since 1975, but will the Minister meet me to discuss how we might find a way to use the local community or to set up some sort of fund, so that these pipes, which are owned by families, will not be lost to the musical traditions of Northumberland and will find a repository that can be passed on to future generations?
That issue was also raised by Liz Twist. My hon. Friend is a formidable local champion and I will of course meet her to discuss how the Government can look into ways to continue to keep that rich part of her community’s heritage very much alive.
I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way. I have not involved myself in the passage of this Bill, but I was intrigued by what consideration had been given to probate valuation. If someone is the owner of a Giambologna cup made of ivory, which is potentially worth millions, and which could have an exemption certificate granted to it, but they never apply for one and they die and they hand it over to a future generation, I assume that its value will be zero for that purpose.
Guidance will be given to help people understand the implications of this measure. We are making sure that the new regulator does their job formally to help the antique trade understand all the implications, and there will also be a public engagement exercise. My right hon. and learned Friend makes an important point, but I am sure that it will be further scrutinised in the other place as this Bill makes progress.
Let me return now to some remarks that I had previously wanted to get through, which is that we have had good debates on clause 35 both in Committee and on Report. The widening of the power to extend the definition of ivory to include that from non-CITES species will be important, for example, if the prohibition in elephant ivory increases pressure on other ivory-bearing species and continues to fuel demand, or if the continued trade in other forms of ivory provides cover for the illegal trade of elephant ivory. This could well include ivory from the unfairly maligned warthog and the extinct mammoths. This will come as some relief to my hon. Friend Simon Hoare, who is no longer in his place, and to my hon. Friend Mrs Latham. The widening of the power will also include other endangered species that Members have mentioned with such concern, including hippos, narwhals, walruses, killer whales and sperm whales. As I said on Report, the Government are committed to action.
We have today announced that we intend to consult on extending the ban to include other ivory species, and will seek to start the consultation process and to gather evidence on, or as soon as practicable after, Royal Assent. This process will ensure that if we do extend the scope of the ban, it will be robust, defensible, enforceable, and compliant with the European convention on human rights.
Will my hon. Friend explain to the House how long he expects the consultation to last and what the sequence of events would be that we might arrive at some new legislation to protect these endangered species?
We will seek to do this as speedily as possible. A consultation normally lasts about 12 weeks, but, clearly, that work needs to be further reviewed, and then we can move things forward. I think that my hon. Friend can use his own process of deduction to work out that we can move this further and quicker than would have been set out by the Opposition’s amendments.
Let me conclude by thanking once again and paying tribute to the Secretary of State for his determination to introduce this Bill. I have also mentioned the important work that the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend Dr Coffey has done in taking this Bill forward, ahead of its introduction in this House. It is also important to recognise the contributions from my hon. Friend Zac Goldsmith and from my right hon. Friend Mr Paterson who set out his long-held ambitions to take this work forward. I also wish to pay particular tribute to those members of the Bill Committee who sat through various evidence sessions and made very important contributions during the Committee stage, including Sue Hayman. She made some characteristically thoughtful and considered contributions, even though we did not quite agree on some of the procedural matters. We are grateful for that constructive approach not just from Members of this House, but from representatives from conservation non-governmental organisations, from the musicians sector, from the arts and antiques sector, from the enforcement agencies and from others. I also wish to extend my thanks to our wonderful and hardworking Bill team, our private offices, our Parliamentary Private Secretaries, and the Whips who, like warthogs, can get overlooked at times. I also wish to thank the Clerks and other parliamentary staff for their sterling work and support on this issue.
It has been a real honour to take the Bill from Second Reading through to today, particularly knowing that there has been such strong support from all parties across the House. I wish the Bill safe and speedy passage through its remaining stages in the other place.
I just want to reiterate that Labour is not opposing the Bill. We have sought to strengthen it in Committee and today, and I trust that the Minister and Conservative Members who sat on the Bill Committee would agree that we have demonstrated out earnest desire and efforts to do so.
It is good that there is clear, widespread, cross-party recognition that this comprehensive ban on the sale of ivory is needed. I thank the Bill Committee Clerk, Gail Poulton, for her tireless work with Members, for supporting me and my team and for her expert guidance. I also thank all members of the Committee from both sides of the House, including the Minister, for participation in a good-natured and thorough debate throughout. In particular, I thank my hon. Friends the Members for Bristol West (Thangam Debbonaire) and for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Luke Pollard), and my hon. Friend Anna Turley, who is no longer in her place, but was wearing a marvellous elephant dress earlier. I thought I was doing well wearing ivory-coloured clothes, but there we are. I also thank my hon. Friends the Members for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy) and for Blaydon (Liz Twist), and my hon. Friend Alex Sobel for his introductions to Obi-Wan narwhal. I thank all those hon. Friends for their support, time and dedication over the last few weeks. I also thank all the different organisations that have given us their time and expertise.
I would go as far as to say that there has been agreement in principle from all parties in the House for the premise behind the vast majority of the Labour amendments in Committee. All we were doing was seeking to increase transparency, remove conflicts of interest and clarify the definitions in the Bill. I will just highlight a few key concerns that came up in Committee.
We discussed an annual register of items exempted for having artistic, cultural or historical value. This was strongly supported by conservation groups during the Committee’s evidence hearing, and would ensure public confidence in the ivory ban and that any exemptions applied were fair. Despite not supporting our amendment, the Minister provided an assurance in Committee that steps would be taken to ensure the utmost transparency and public confidence. In time, it would be interesting to have more detail on those assurances. We also asked for assurances regarding the potential abuse of replacement certificates, as the Bill currently includes no limit on those. Again, it would be interesting to hear from the Minister more about how any potential abuse could be eliminated.
The Committee heard that the National Wildlife Crime Unit has only 12 members of staff to cover its whole area of operations, right across the UK, and that this number includes administrative staff as well as enforcement officers. This level was a cause for concern in Committee, given the expanded responsibilities of the unit under the Bill. The Minister mentioned the potential for this being dealt with in the autumn statement—I think that is actually the Budget now, but it moves so often—so we would be grateful if the Minister acknowledged that these concerns exist so that they can then be addressed at that point.
The Committee also heard how the internet plays a central role in the sale of ivory products. I would be grateful if the Minister outlined plans for proactively policing and monitoring this online activity, and mention what kind of resources would be needed.
This Bill is a welcome step forward for the future of global elephant populations. I look forward to working with colleagues right across the House to ensure that we continue to do everything in our power to stamp out the global ivory trade and preserve these iconic animal species for generations to come.
A number of people still wish to speak, and we have 15 minutes remaining.
I rise to speak in support of the Bill’s Third Reading. This is a day of celebration for all animals that have horns.
I detected a slight bit of grandstanding about who should take credit for this Bill—I understand all that. Sue Hayman shared with the House the details of the terrible attack on Bella the rhino, and I absolutely understood the point that she was making. For my part, I could not care less who gets credit for the Bill; I am just delighted that it is happening. I think that the credit goes to all the women and men who have not just come to the party now, but have been campaigning on this issue year in, year out. They are the ones who should be congratulated.
I know that I am speaking in the House at the moment, where we sit opposite one another, but may I congratulate my Government, and particularly the Secretary of State, for at long last dealing with this issue and achieving something? The hon. Member for Workington tabled amendments to the Bill but, having worked it out, I think that following the consultation we can deal with the whole process within a year, which is quicker than would be the case under the Opposition’s approach. Our Australian neighbours, who are not in the World cup, are following our lead on this matter, and the Government’s plan to launch the Ivory Alliance 2024 will share our position further with other countries throughout the world. This is a great day for Parliament and a great day for the animal kingdom.
This is a truly historic day. We have worked extremely hard in Committee and at the Bill’s other stages to bring the legislation to this point. I thank everybody who has been involved for working so well together. The Bill is historic because its purpose is to ensure that elephants and other at-risk ivory-bearing species survive and are effectively protected for generations to come. That is important for us, for our constituents right across the United Kingdom, and for future generations—our children and grandchildren, and beyond.
I am extremely proud to be able to speak today and commend the work that has taken place. I particularly thank the Minister for his careful consideration of these matters in Committee and today. He has worked very consensually. I also thank the shadow Minister for working very well. Across the House, we have all aimed to strengthen the Bill as much as possible to make sure that it has the maximum impact, because its impact is what is important and what we are aiming for. I would still like some assurances about funding for the national wildlife crime unit, because we must make sure that the legislation is enforceable in the UK, and about how colleagues in DFID will work with the communities that will be affected.
I pay tribute to the environmental and animal welfare agencies and groups that have been so involved in this for so long: the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Tusk, Stop Ivory and the Born Free Foundation, to mention just a few.
People think that we spend our time in the House debating the same issues repeatedly, going round and round in circles—often quite literally—but the very best work is undertaken in cross-party form with significant cross-party agreement. This Bill is a perfect example of Parliament acting consensually in the interests of all people. I am proud to have played a part and to represent the SNP on this historic matter.
I would like to put on record how pleased I am that this Bill is going through the House today, and very speedily—I am grateful for that.
At a reception at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office the other day, I watched a very sad film about Sudan, the last male white rhino, who, very sadly, died in March. There are two females left, but it looks as though they are going to die out. I do not want to attend a reception where we mourn the loss of the last elephant, so we must do all we can to protect them.
It is crucial to elephants that this Bill ushers in a vital change to bring us into line with other developed economies around the world that have already introduced their own bans. For too long, we have been overshadowed by the USA, China, France and some of the other biggest global ivory trade markets, which have already introduced comprehensive bans. I am pleased that we will now be part of that positive movement, because we have been absent for far too long.
I am delighted that the Bill will introduce a total ban on the sale of ivory, including, most importantly, antique ivory, because the antique ivory market in the UK is surprisingly large. Some so-called antique ivory is faked—it is aged and stained to look antique. We cannot allow that to happen, and that is why I am delighted that this Bill will be passed.
What is more, we must push for a global ban. In the aftermath of the Chinese ban, Ginette Hemley, the senior vice president of the World Wildlife Fund, said:
“This ban alone won’t end the poaching of elephants. It’s equally critical that China’s neighbors follow suit and shut down ivory markets across Asia.”
So let us in the UK lead the way with this Bill, and let other European countries follow us. I am very pleased with the Bill and I support it.
It is rare that a Bill receives almost universal support, so it is terrific that it has been supported by Members on both sides of the House, despite a few amendments.
In the interests of time, let me cut to the crux of the matter: those awful, dangerous people who horrifically murder 20,000 or so elephants every year and are out of control. They will now see action being taken, with Britain playing its role as a leader in the world. We must act, and I am pleased that we are acting, because history will judge us on the action we take to protect these animals today and in the months ahead.
As we have heard, it is not only elephants that are endangered, so I was reassured by the Minister’s confirmation that the Government intend to go further and to carry out a consultation. I know that Members on both sides of the House are grateful for that confirmation and will welcome an extension to species alive and extinct. We will watch the Government closely to ensure that that happens as soon as possible.
We are beginning to win this argument—and we must win it. There must no longer be any excuses for these murderers. There is so much money at stake, and they must not be allowed to sidestep our laws through little loopholes here and there and claim that their elephant ivory is from somewhere else. I thank all Ministers involved for taking this swift, smart action. I commend the people in my constituency who have said that they want this action and Members on both sides of the House who have called for it. Animals deserve the Bill. I am pleased that we are getting on and delivering it.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.