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Ivory Bill - Report

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:15 pm on 24th October 2018.

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Photo of Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 5:15 pm, 24th October 2018

My Lords, I rise briefly to speak against this group of amendments, and I shall not repeat arguments made at length at Second Reading and in Committee. I have tremendous respect for the noble Lord, Lord De Mauley, and his obvious passion for antique ivory and for others who have spoken in this debate, but I fear that I am not persuaded by their arguments.

It is essential in ensuring the success of the Bill when it passes into law that the restrictions and exemptions are very limited. To increase the exemptions to 20% for furniture and other objects and to 30% for musical instruments and to have unlimited size on pre-1918 portrait miniatures risks driving a coach and horses through the Bill. Any widening of the criteria will increase the market for ivory objects, weakening the entire purpose of the Bill by allowing trade in many additional items containing significant amounts of ivory. Similarly, moving away from the de minimis cut-off should be rejected. Registration of ivory-bearing items is fundamental to ensuring that items sold commercially meet the criteria set out in the Bill.

Having listened to the arguments made in Committee and this afternoon, I acknowledge that there is no meeting of minds over the rationale for the measures in the Bill. The Government and those of us who support the Bill believe that these restrictive measures will help to protect the elephant. Those who oppose it do not believe that this will happen and are therefore not prepared to support these measures. This is regrettable in the extreme. Everything that we know about CITES supports the Government’s Bill. We do not support making the Bill more flexible in terms of exceptions. I urge your Lordships to reject this group of amendments.