Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:35 am on 17th March 2023.
“(1) Sections 1 to 4 expire at the end of the period of 5 years beginning with the day on which this Act is passed, subject to subsections (2) and (3).
(2) Subject to subsection (3), if the Secretary of State considers it reasonable to do so, the Secretary of State may by regulations substitute the date specified in subsection (1) of this section with a later date.
(3) The date specified in regulations under subsection (2) may not be more than 5 years later than the date substituted.”— (Sir Bill Wiggin.)
This new clause would cause the provisions of the Bill to cease to have effect 5 years after the Act is passed. The Secretary of State would have the power to extend the expiration date by up to 5 years.
Brought up, and read the First time.
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:
New clause 2—Implementation and monitoring—
(1) Within three years of this Act being passed, the Secretary of State must lay before Parliament a report on its implementation and the effectiveness of its provisions.
(2) The report must include an assessment of the impact of the Act on the conservation of animal species to which the import prohibition relates.”
New clause 3—Report on impact on Northern Ireland—
(1) Within two years of the passing of this Act, and every two years thereafter, the Secretary of State must lay before Parliament a report containing an assessment of the impact of the provisions of this Act on Northern Ireland, including any significant changes in the number and nature of hunting trophies being brought into Northern Ireland.
(2) Each report laid under subsection (2) must make a recommendation as to whether further legislation should be brought forward in response to the report.”
This reporting requirement would ensure that the Secretary of State has to assess the impact of the provisions of this Act on Northern Ireland and make a recommendation about whether further legislation is needed.
New clause 4—Advisory Board on Hunting Trophies—
(1) The Secretary of State must appoint an Advisory Board on Hunting Trophies (“Advisory Board”).
(2) The Advisory Board appointed under subsection (1) may have up to three members.
(3) The role of the Advisory Board is to advise the Secretary of State—
(a) on any question relating to this Act which the Secretary of State may refer to the Committee,
(b) on any matter relating to the import to Great Britain of hunting trophies derived from species of animal which appear to the Secretary of State to be, or to be likely to become, endangered.
(4) In appointing members of the Advisory Board, the Secretary of State must have regard to their expertise in matters relating to the import of hunting trophies.”
Amendment 6, in clause 1, page 1, line 2, after “where”, insert—
“(aa) The hunting trophy has been brought from a country which is a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES)—”
(i) without the appropriate documentation in respect of CITES having been presented at the port of exit, or
(ii) in breach of the export licence regulations of that country,”
Amendment 12, in clause 1, page 1, line 2, after “where” insert—
“(aa) the hunting trophy is brought from a country other than Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe,”
The six countries specified in this amendment have made representations to the UK Government highlighting inter alia their good record in bio-diversity conservation and that they are home to more than half of the world’s lions, buffalos, elephants, rhinos and many other species.
Amendment 7, in clause 1, page 1, line 9, leave out “hunted” and insert “killed”
Amendment 8, in clause 1, page 1, line 9, leave out from “after” to end of line 10 and insert “
This amendment would ensure that any imported hunting trophy hunted after
Amendment 2, in clause 1, page 1, line 10, at end insert—
“(e) the animal was hunted less than ten years before the day on which it is brought into Great Britain.”
This amendment would allow the import of hunting trophies where the animal was hunted more than ten years before it is imported.
Amendment 4, in clause 1, page 1, line 10, at end insert—
“(1A) The Secretary of State must by regulations provide for an exemption from the prohibition under subsection (1) to apply in cases where a hunting trophy can be shown to have been obtained in a way which contributed to the conservation of—
(a) one or more species of flora or fauna, or
(b) one or more natural habitats.
(1B) Regulations under subsection (1A) must provide for a certification system to allow for the identification of hunting trophies to which the regulations apply.
(1C) A statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (1A) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.”
Amendment 27, in clause 1, page 1, line 10, at end insert—
“(1A) The Secretary of State must by regulations provide for an exemption from the prohibition under subsection (1) to apply in cases where, in respect of a hunting trophy—
(a) an export permit, or
(b) an import and an export permit has been granted in accordance with the requirements of the Principal Wildlife Trade Regulation.
(1B) Regulations under subsection (1A) must provide that no exemption applies to any hunting trophy obtained through the hunting of an animal in an enclosure from which it was unable to escape.
(1C) A statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (1A) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.”
Amendment 9, in clause 1, page 1, line 13, leave out “hunting” and insert “killing”
Amendment 24, in clause 1, page 1, line 15, after “use”, leave out “(which does not include consumption)” and insert “as an ornament”
This amendment prevents animals hunted for purposes other than as ornaments (for example, educational or scientific purposes) being included in the definition of hunting trophy.
Amendment 10, in clause 1, page 1, line 18, leave out subsection (3)
Amendment 11, in clause 1, page 1, line 21, leave out subsection (4)
Amendment 3, in clause 1, page 2, line 2, at end insert—
“(5) Within three months of the passing of this Act, the Secretary of State must publish guidance for customs officers on the identification of hunting trophies.”
Amendment 25, in clause 2, page 2, line 4, leave out from “to” to end of line 8 and insert—
“(a) Any animal or species which has been certified by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) as being threatened with extinction or might be threatened with extinction if trade was not regulated, and
(b) any animal or species the commercial trade in which is regulated by CITES and in respect of which there has been a breach or suspected breach of the applicable regulations.”
This amendment would simplify and clarify the animals and species to which the import prohibition relates by making direct reference to criteria certified by CITES and the consequence of non-compliance with CITES regulations. This reflects current law and practice.
Amendment 13, in clause 2, page 2, line 5, leave out “Annex A or B of the Principal Wildlife Trade Regulation” and insert—
“Schedule 1 of the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act 1976, as enacted”
Amendment 1, in clause 2, page 2, line 6, leave out from “Regulation,” to end of line 20
This amendment would remove the power of the Secretary of State to vary by statutory instrument the species to which this Act applies.
Amendment 14, in clause 2, page 2, line 8, leave out paragraph (b)
Amendment 23, in clause 2, page 2, line 8, at end insert—
“(c) an animal of any species, where that animal has been hunted in a confined enclosure.”
This amendment would outlaw the import of any hunting trophy obtained through the practice known as ‘canned hunting’ irrespective of the species of that animal.
Amendment 15, in clause 2, page 2, line 8, at end insert—
“(1A) This Act does not apply to captive-bred animals.”
Amendment 26, in clause 2, page 2, line 8, at end insert—
“(1A) For the purposes of this Act, “animal” does not include fish or birds.”
Amendment 16, in clause 2, page 2, line 9, leave out subsection (2)
Amendment 17, in clause 2, page 2, line 14, leave out from “instrument” to end of line 17 and insert—
“under sub-section (1)(a) unless a draft of the Instrument has been laid before and approved by a Resolution of each House of Parliament”
Amendment 18, in clause 2, page 2, line 18, leave out subsection (5)
Amendment 19, in clause 3, page 2, line 22, leave out Clause 3
Amendment 20, in clause 4, page 3, line 3, leave out from “force” and insert—
“at the end of the period of two months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed”
Amendment 28, in clause 4, page 3, line 4, at end insert—
“(2A) The Secretary of State may not make regulations under subsection (2) in respect of section 1 until—
(a) an impact assessment of trophy hunting on conservation projects, wildlife management, livelihoods and tourism has been carried out and published in respect of each country to which Section 1 applies, and
(b) a public consultation has been conducted on each impact assessment.”
Amendment 21, in clause 4, page 3, line 7, leave out subsection (4)
Amendment 22, in clause 4, page 3, line 10, leave out subsection (5)
It is good to see you in the Chair, Mr Speaker.
New clause 1 concerns duration and would cause the Bill’s provisions to cease to have effect five years after it is passed. In 2019, we stood on a manifesto commitment to ban imports from the trophy hunting of endangered animals. I therefore propose that the sunset clause be added for the simple purpose of ensuring that the Act, should it prove unsuccessful in protecting endangered species, can be withdrawn. If, on the other hand, after five years, the Act does in fact prove successful in achieving the stated aims of our manifesto commitment, the Secretary of State would have the power to extend the expiration date by up to five years.
I have been concerned throughout the progress of the Bill that it is not motivated by a desire to see African wildlife flourish and prosper. If it were, it would have paid heed to the scientific evidence provided by experts in conservation. British conservationists Professor Amy Dickman and Adam Hart have argued that 90% of protected areas with lions are severely underfunded. Removing trophy hunting without providing suitable alternative revenue will expose those underfunded protected areas to further risks, such as poaching. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list, trophy hunting is not considered to be a threat driving any species to extinction. Instead, trophy hunting generates revenue for anti-poaching and habitat conservation. It has been recognised as a positive tool for conservation in multiple species—including black rhino, white rhino, argali, macaw, some populations of lion, and white-tailed deer—and maintains extensive areas of wildlife habitat.
High commissioners from Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe argued in a letter to the Minister of State in the Foreign Office:
“Well-managed trophy hunting—the prevailing model in all our countries—contributes to reductions in habitat loss and poaching. It has proved a demonstrable conservation tool for multiple species, including endangered ones such as black rhinos.”
Maxi Louis, the director of NASCO, the Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management Support Organisations, wrote in a letter to my hon. Friend Henry Smith:
“Take away those employed to protect wildlife in the reserves and poachers move into the vacuum. This quickly leads to huge losses of endangered animals. Yet what really angers us is how these animals die. Snaring leads to appalling injuries and pitifully slow deaths. Poisoning is traumatic, lions vomiting for hours, as they pass away.”
She wrote that
“when Botswana had a temporary ban on paid hunting there was a 593% increase in fresh elephant carcasses being found.”
Professor Amy Dickman, a conservation biologist and director of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at the University of Oxford, has also argued that the Bill will facilitate an increase in poaching. She has described her distress while carrying out fieldwork in Africa, where she witnessed the horrendous aftermath of a lioness trapped in a poacher’s snare, a decapitated hyena and a leopard with its paw mangled in a trap, all of which had suffered more painful and prolonged deaths from poachers than from a hunter’s bullet.
The concern held by both conservationists and African community leaders is that, by enforcing the removal of the vital source of revenue supplied by trophy hunters to these communities, we open the floodgates to poachers, who will cause far more cruelty and pain to the animals and pose a far greater threat to endangered species. The opinions and evidence from these experts do not fill me with a lot of confidence that the Bill will achieve its stated aim, nor does the misinformation that is being touted by the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting.
I have tabled new clause 1 to ensure that the Bill is not a classic case of virtue signalling at the expense of African wildlife and the conservation efforts of African people. If, five years down the line, the Act proves to be ineffective, as I suspect it will, at conserving endangered species and has led to an increase in poaching, it seems right that provision should be made for the Act to be withdrawn. If the supporters of the Bill are so confident that it will achieve the desired result of protecting endangered species and not encouraging poachers, who I believe are a greater threat to these endangered species than well-regulated hunting, why not include this sunset clause in it?
How much, in percentage terms, of the budget to protect wildlife comes from trophy hunting?
All of it. One of the problems I will come to in a moment is that, where we are asking people to stop trophy hunting, we are not necessarily replacing that with funding. In one area, which I look looking forward to telling the House about in a moment, we do provide funding, and we are encouraging local people to protect their wildlife and build businesses, particularly for the women, but they are arguing that, by withdrawing trophy hunting, we are cutting the legs off that effort. There are real contradictions here, which is why it is such a difficult subject.
Can my hon. Friend confirm that Vernon Booth, a conservationist and wildlife consultant in Zimbabwe, writes in today’s Daily Mail that
“Revenue from trophy hunting contributes 25 per cent of the income of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority”?
I have no reason to disagree with that, and it demonstrates what a thorny issue this is.
It is worth remembering that this Bill is designed to stop the importing of trophies, rather than prevent the banning of hunting. I have tabled new clause 2 on implementation and monitoring, which is similar to new clause 1 in that its intention is to assess the practicality and effectiveness of the provisions of the Bill. It would require that
“Within three years of this Act being passed, the Secretary of State must lay before Parliament a report on its implementation and the effectiveness of its provisions”,
with that report including an assessment of the impact the Act has had on the conservation of endangered species.
As the UK is a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, we should follow its recommendations before restricting trophy hunting. Those include sound analysis of the conservation role of trophy hunting, meaningful consultation with affected Governments and communities, steps to address poor practice and implementation of feasible, fully funded alternatives that generate equal or greater conservation benefits. Since I do not believe that those steps have been adequately taken, it is only right that new clause 2 be adopted, to ensure the effectiveness of the Bill in promoting conservation of endangered species, measured three years after its implementation.
If there is such confidence that the Bill will contribute to the conservation of such species, I see no reason for there to be any objection to a post-implementation review being undertaken that examines the impact on species abroad. In order to test the efficacy of the legislation, and whether it has achieved the desired goal of improving the population numbers of endangered species, I hope that the House will consider the new clause, which will ensure we continue to keep the effectiveness of the Bill under review until it is enacted.
New clause 3 is a reporting requirement for the Secretary of State to assess the impact of provisions on Northern Ireland. It was put forward by my hon. Friend Sir Christopher Chope, who has been a tremendous ally in this. If I were to occupy a foxhole, perhaps in Ukraine, I could ask for no finer colleague to join me than he. So I want to thank him for tabling that. Clause 3 makes it clear that, although the Bill extends to Northern Ireland, it does not actually apply there. I wonder whether he would therefore agree that, considering the delicate nature of the Northern Ireland protocol, requiring a Secretary of State to provide the House with as much information as possible on the impact of the Bill on imports would be a sensible measure.
I am also grateful to my hon. Friend for tabling new clause 4, which seeks to introduce an advisory board on trophy hunting. It is a helpful step forward, and I am glad that we have had productive talks with the Government on it. The Government recognise that it would be sensible to include that in the Bill. In principle, I support the introduction of the advisory board, whose role would be to advise the Secretary of State on matters relating to the import of hunting trophies to Great Britain.
If the aim of the Bill is to prevent the hunting of endangered animals, then expert advice on hunting trophies that have been derived from a species of animal that appears to be or is likely to become endangered is very welcome. It is vital that we keep the focus on the endangered species at the heart of the Bill, since that is the aim.
Much of the information that has been presented on Second Reading has been analysed by Dr Dilys Roe and Professor Adam Hart. They found that, out of over 150 statements made by MPs in support of the ban, 70% were factually incorrect or misleading. It is likewise with much of the public campaigning and lobbying that has been done by high-profile actors and celebrities, who have very little expertise in this matter.
I think some of the statistics that I have been sent around the Bill have been produced, on both sides, from a position of bias. Is it not the case that we should not pander to a table that we have been sent that is obviously from a hunting lobby or animal rights activist? We need to get to somewhere sensible, in the middle, where we can consider the issue. A lot of my hon. Friend’s points are obviously using the statistics from one side, but dismissing those of the other.
To be fair, I have not used many statistics, because I fully agree with my hon. Friend. This was analysis done on statements made by Members in the debate, myself included. If 70% were factually incorrect or misleading, then who judges that? Obviously, the people to judge it are experts and the experts should be peer reviewed, acknowledged and acceptable to everybody. That is why new clause 4, which I think is important, allows the Government to have access to agreed experts. That will be much more helpful and factually useful, and may take some of the emotion out of what is a very emotional subject.
We are all united in this House in trying to protect endangered African wildlife. I have seen a lot of it out in the wild and I applaud those efforts. What there is disagreement about is the best way to do that. There are all these statistics that there is debate about. I have lots of statistics that I will not bother quoting because no one will believe them.
If the argument is that trophy hunting needs to continue to provide funding for conservation efforts, and that is the only reason to allow it to continue, should not pressure be put on this Government and internationally to ensure there are other routes of funding conservation efforts? It cannot be right that the main way to fund the conservation of endangered species is to allow the killing of endangered species.
I am mindful that new clause 4 should not stray beyond what it does, which is to try to get a team of experts to advise the Government, so that my hon. Friend’s valid point is part of the calculation by the Secretary of State. There is public campaigning and lobbying by high-profile actors and celebrities who have very little experience in these matters, and their voices seem to speak louder due to their fame than those of the African community leaders and scientific experts who have objected to the Bill. We need to take the heat and anger out of this debate and get back to the expertise, the science and the result of protecting species, which, as my hon. Friend rightly says, the whole House wants.
If this Bill receives Royal Assent, the Government should have to consult with experts in conservation to ensure the aim of the legislation is respected. I would be most grateful if the Minister could provide some assurance to the African community leaders who have objected to this Bill in their letters to the Government that their expertise on this matter is respected and will be incorporated into such an advisory board. That would ensure positive consultation is maintained with the countries most affected by the Bill, mainly in Africa, who have thus far taken offence at MPs telling their democratic countries how to manage their wildlife without listening to what they have to say. I wholeheartedly support the introduction of that new clause to ensure an ongoing and productive consultation between the Government and the people who will be on the receiving end of the effects of the Bill.
I confess that I am a little confused by the hon. Gentleman’s argument about us seeking to undermine the role of African leaders, because it is my understanding that the Bill proposes to ban imports here—not a ban on trophy hunting in those countries, but a ban in this country on imports; is that not the case?
I absolutely agree with the hon. Gentleman’s understanding. Unfortunately, it is not quite as straightforward as that. The purpose of the Bill reaches beyond what the UK imports and exports because we already have a permitting system that allows us to manage that, so this is more than that. This is a proper ban. The people who are expected to be on the receiving end are the people who would benefit from new clause 4 being added to the Bill, which would give an opportunity for them to consult.
Amendment 6 aims to limit the ban on trophies that are in breach of the convention on international trade in endangered species permit requirements. Amendment 12 —I am again grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch for tabling it—exempts Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe from the ban, based on their conservation records.
I will try to make some progress because I believe the Government have been exceptionally helpful on this and the amendment that most matters is amendment 1. If I can just get to that part of my notes, I will seek to enlighten the House as to why—
I will be delighted to give way while I am shuffling my papers.
Happy St Patrick’s Day, Mr Speaker. I was reflecting that perhaps the animals hunted as trophies are not the only endangered species around here: there are several of them on the Government Benches as well, in the shape of Conservative Members of Parliament.
I hope the hon. Gentleman recognises that many of our constituents feel very passionately about these issues—it would be unfair to suggest otherwise—and that the scope of the Bill is, as Andrew Western has said, limited to the bringing of these trophies into the United Kingdom. No one is trying to tell sovereign Governments what they should be doing in their own countries, but we should take cognisance of what is being brought into this country, and many constituents in Glasgow North whom I have heard from are extremely concerned about the practice of trophy hunting and the trade in such trophies, and it is important that we recognise that strength of feeling. It is good that the hon. Gentleman is introducing these amendments in a constructive manner because the last thing constituents would want to see is parliamentary game playing and undermining of the private Members’ Bill system.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his typically helpful intervention, which allowed me to shuffle my papers. I agree with him: the people who are concerned about the topic of this Bill are kind-hearted. They want to make sure that animals are safe and protected, and they have a very good vehicle to express that in the form of the Bill tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley. The problem is that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and none of us in the whole House wants to see any reduction in the habitat of endangered species, or the success of their recovery. Therefore, I hope that the Bill will not undermine that, as I fear, and that instead we can come together and agree a Bill that will be able to pass through the House.
To that end, amendment 1 is a most important amendment, because it seeks to restrain the Secretary of State’s powers—I know that this Secretary of State is tremendous, but I cannot predict who it might be in the future. Therefore, the amendment would restrict the Secretary of State’s actions to the species listed on the face of the Bill—the ones that we are all concerned about. It would remove their power to vary by statutory instrument the species to which the Act applies. It would close the loophole that grants the Secretary of State the power to extend the Act to animals that are not considered endangered. I am concerned that that power could go beyond our 2019 manifesto commitment to ban the import of hunting trophies from endangered animals, which our constituents voted for.
I thank the Government for engaging with me so positively on this matter. I believe that we can move forward constructively if we adopt amendment 1, which would keep the scope of the Bill limited to species listed in annexes A or B of the principal wildlife trade regulation. Under that regulation, all CITES species are listed in four annexes, according to their varying levels of protection. Annex A, which includes all CITES appendix 1 species and some CITES appendix 2 species, lists the most endangered species: those that are either threatened with extinction or so rare that any level of trade would imperil the survival of the species. They include the hunting leopard, Indian lion and black and white rhino, apart from those in South Africa where numbers are higher.
Annex B includes all other CITES appendix 2 species, as well as some other species, but predominantly those threatened by commercial trade. For instance, the African elephant, the African lion, some white rhinos, some brown bears, and the American black bear would fall into that classification. Granting the Secretary of State power to vary by statutory instrument the species to which the Bill applies would allow species that are not listed in CITES and are not endangered to fall within the scope of the Bill. That was brought to my attention on Second Reading, when the Minister, my hon. Friend Rebecca Pow, said:
“The Government intend to table an instrument that covers those species of concern”—[Official Report,
Vol. 723, c. 585.]
—an instrument that would cover other animals, which really disturbed me. The British people did not vote for an indiscriminate ban on shooting any animal that the Secretary of State might choose to name. They voted to protect endangered species, and that is what I hope the Bill will do.
I do not think that I need to go on. If the Government are willing to accept amendment 1, I can pause and allow some of my friends and colleagues to contribute. If the Minister would like to intervene, I would be delighted to know whether amendment 1 is acceptable to the Government; otherwise, we can talk about amendment 14, which leaves out the power of the Secretary of State to specify animals or species to which the prohibition applies. Of course, that does a very similar job to amendment 1.
I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend the Minister. She has been about as helpful as any Minister I have ever had the pleasure of working with, and I am sure the whole House will join me in celebrating my ability to not press my amendments, apart from the two that she has just mentioned.
Just to clarify the point, the Bill is limited to the United Kingdom. It would affect only this country and not other countries. I call Henry Smith.
It is a privilege to speak in this debate and consider the amendments and new clauses tabled by my hon. Friends the Members for North Herefordshire (Sir Bill Wiggin) and for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope). I am grateful for the constructive way in which they and the Government have consulted on them. I am happy that new clause 4 will be accepted, as it would establish an advisory board on how a trophy import ban will operate when it becomes law. Amendment 1, which would remove the Secretary of State’s discretion to add species, will also be accepted.
New clause 4 covers many of the concerns that my hon. Friend the Member for North Herefordshire set out. I trust that across the House we want to see the best conservation of endangered species around the world, whether that is in Africa, North America, parts of Asia or elsewhere. The Bill is about banning the importation of endangered species’ body parts into this country not only from Africa, but from around the world. I note that my hon. Friend will not press the amendments on the sunset clause, on monitoring and on how the Bill would work in respect of Northern Ireland, but new clause 4 covers many of those concerns.
I am glad the hon. Member mentions the issue of Northern Ireland. I raised the point in Committee that with EU law applying in Northern Ireland, the importation of trophies could be done through the Irish Republic into Northern Ireland and then across to Great Britain—a back-door way of circumventing the important provisions of the Bill. What assurances have we had that that back door can be firmly locked so that trophies cannot come through Northern Ireland into the rest of the United Kingdom?
The detailed response to that needs to come from the Minister, not from a simple backwoodsman Back Bencher, but I have had assurances from Ministers that Northern Ireland will not become some sort of back door or stepping stone for the introduction of trophies from endangered species into Great Britain. The Windsor framework, subject of course to its agreement by the House next week, and the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 should cover those concerns, but I defer to the Minister, who will no doubt address that question shortly.
In conclusion, I am happy to support new clause 4 and amendment 1. I am grateful that the other 30 amendments and new clauses will not be pressed. I hope that we can move on to ensure that this legislation protects the most endangered species in the world, and that Britain plays its full part in doing that, and that it can proceed to its next phases both here today and later on in the other place.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend Henry Smith for supporting new clause 4. The background to that has been explained—there are diametrically opposed expert opinions on what would be a good hunting trophies ban and what would not be. It is important that the debate should be informed by the facts and the science.
I hope that by accepting new clause 4, we will give some solace to Dr Dilys Rose, the chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s sustainable use and livelihoods specialist group, and Professor Adam Hart, a member of that specialist group. They wrote to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on
There is agreement about the objectives but not the means by which those objectives should be achieved. The objective is to protect endangered species and encourage their revival. We have made a lot of progress today, but I draw attention to my new clause 3. I have made it clear that I will force it to a vote. It would deal with the problem that the Bill fails to deliver in full on the Conservative party manifesto commitment to ban the import of hunting trophies from endangered animals to the United Kingdom. The Bill’s title makes it clear that it is limited to prohibiting the import of hunting trophies into Great Britain. Northern Ireland is excluded from its scope, which has prevented me from tabling amendments to extend the Bill to the whole of the United Kingdom.
That aspect of the debate featured in a report on page 14 of yesterday’s Daily Telegraph and a commentary by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who asked what was the point of election manifestos if MPs do not vote for what is in them. Eduardo Goncalves, the founder of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, has said:
“We are aware of trophy hunters from Northern Ireland who are shooting threatened species…and are bringing their heads and bodies back home. This needs to be stopped.”
He went on to say:
“Exiting the EU made it possible for the UK to introduce world-beating legislation to ban hunting ‘trophies’. It would be a travesty if the Bill were not to apply to the whole of the UK because of unfinished business with Brexit.”
Given that Mr Goncalves feels so strongly, it is a pity that he did not criticise the limiting long title of the Bill when it was introduced on
“Hunting trophies could be stopped from entering Northern Ireland overnight with the stroke of a pen…The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland would need only to issue a Ministerial Decree stating he”— or she—
“will no longer sign import permits”.
I would be interested to hear from Ministers in the Department what they think about that suggestion. If it is correct, surely it could also apply to the whole United Kingdom, thereby making this legislation totally redundant.
I ask the Minister to comment specifically on the assertion that France and the Netherlands have used ministerial decrees to ban trophies because single market rules prevented them from legislating. Is that correct? Is it also correct that Belgium and Finland are considering doing the same? Would it be possible for the United Kingdom to do likewise? We try not normally to legislate by decree, although I notice that the President of France is trying to do just that in his own country at the moment.
I am a bit sceptical about what can be done to deal with the problem that the legislation does not apply to the whole United Kingdom. My new clause 3 would therefore require the Government to report on the implications for Northern Ireland of what is happening, so that in due course Parliament will be properly informed as to whether legislative action is needed to address any loopholes or avoidance. I am disappointed that the Government are not prepared to accept the new clause.
I put a challenge to the Government. What solution does the Minister have to the Daily Telegraph headline “Brexit loophole allows import of hippo heads and stuffed tigers”? Quite a lot of people will want a clear answer to that question, but I do not think it is forthcoming in the Bill, which applies only to Great Britain and not to Northern Ireland.
I will not go into all my other amendments, but I do think that the compromise that is now emerging should be of some help to our friends in the six African countries that have expressed outrage in their letter to the Government about the implications of the Bill for those countries. In this House we make much of the importance of soft power. I think we need to start thinking more about what we can do to engage positively with the countries in Africa that abstained in the recent United Nations General Assembly vote calling for Russia’s immediate withdrawal from Ukraine: Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Uganda.
In my view, we need to work much more closely and positively with the Governments of those countries, instead of letting them think that they are alienated or that we view them as subject to colonial control, which is the essence of the complaint that has been made to the Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Mr Mitchell, and the Foreign Secretary. Let us see whether we can work with those countries, listen to them and try to understand them. We might then find it easier to prevent them from falling into the hands of Chinese and Soviet influence, which they seem to be tempted by at the moment because they are being neglected. This compromise has great potential to improve relations between our country and those countries in southern Africa, based on a better understanding of the need to protect wildlife in a sustainable way that fits in with local economies.
This is an historic day for me, because it looks like the Government will accept one of my amendments. I will not say anything else in case they change their mind.
I thank all colleagues, both those who have spoken in today’s debate and those who have played their part in making this legislation possible. I particularly thank my hon. Friend Henry Smith, who has demonstrated such diligence, professionalism and courage, because there are strong and credible arguments across this debate.
I will be brief, because we have an awful lot to get through. As I said, I support new clause 4, tabled by my hon. Friend Sir Christopher Chope. I commend the principle of receiving expert advice on this matter, especially given the credible and variable discussions, and recognising that, in some cases, money from trophy hunting supports conservation. On Third Reading, I will set out what we are currently doing and how we will continue to support countries.
I also support amendment 1, tabled by my hon. Friend Sir Bill Wiggin. In doing so, I stress my support for the internationally agreed system, under CITES, for identifying, listing and protecting species that are endangered, threatened or potentially at risk from international trade, including the trade in hunting trophies. The reference to annexes A and B covers around 6,000 species, among them iconic species that we know are targeted for trophies. Of course, this ban goes beyond CITES, which is the right thing to do and is why we are here.
I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Clause, by leave, withdrawn.