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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 Lord Grantchester Lord Grantchester Shadow Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 5:15 pm, 24th October 2018

My Lords, my noble friend Lady Quin has spoken eloquently on the effect of the Bill on future generations of Northumbrian pipers. Like her, we cherish musical tradition and would not wish the music played by pipers and enjoyed to cease. I pay tribute to the department for organising a visit by a member of its team to assess the instrument and thank her for meeting the society. However, as has been reported back to the department, some of the pipes have problems under the Bill. It is my hope that the Northumbrian Pipers’ Society itself can take on a role in seeing that instruments are recycled to new pipers through bequests and other measures, and that new instruments avoid the provisions of the Bill. It would be difficult to create a new exemption for Northumbrian pipes. As the House will later see, we have tabled Amendment 78 to report on the effects of the Bill on musical instruments more generally. Evidence provided through the consultation, including from the Musicians’ Union, showed that the vast majority of commonly played and traded instruments, including violins, pianos and bagpipes, comprise less than 20% ivory.

Turning to Amendment 2 and others in this group, we do not support what they wish to achieve, which amounts to a reduction in the provisions and effectiveness of the Bill, which is a commitment of both parties to introduce a ban on the sale of ivory. The Bill includes limited exemptions to the ivory trade that are sufficiently narrow to ensure that they will not contribute to the poaching of elephants. The carefully crafted clauses represent the culmination of a productive collaboration between NGOs, law enforcement, museums, art dealers and musicians. It is Labour’s view that the Bill strikes the right balance. I call on all the proposers of amendments in this group to withdraw or not to move their amendments so that future generations can enjoy living in a world with elephants.

The Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference, held earlier this month in London, underlined the importance of the UK putting in place a near-total ban on UK ivory sales as soon as possible. This legislation builds on the resolution agreed at the 2016 Conference of the Parties to CITES to phase out domestic ivory markets and will give the UK greater credibility in continuing to press other key countries in south-east Asia with a history of ivory trade to commit to closing their markets and to implementing strong domestic ivory bans. China closed its ivory market in 2017. Ivory poaching is now the fourth-largest crime sector after arms, drugs and trafficking. I remind your Lordships’ House that 20,000 elephants are killed each year, or some 55 a day.

I turn to Amendment 24 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, which seeks to remove registration as a precondition of allowed sales of de minimis objects. The noble Lord raised concerns about proportionality and others have followed with remarks on both the registration fee and administration involved, which would necessitate photographing, measuring and examining the object for any distinguishing features before uploading the information to a database. I am sure the noble Lord would accept that photographing, measuring and examining the object for any distinguishing features would be part of any normal process of listing an item for sale at an auction house or on an online marketplace. It is our view that registration is necessary for enforcement. The proposed system places a small administrative responsibility and a small financial cost on the seller, who, in turn, will gain from the exemption to the ban on dealing in ivory. Crucially, by registering an item through the system, the applicant will be confirming that, to the best of their knowledge, all the information provided is correct and the item therefore meets the exemption. The APHA, the regulator and the police will have access to the registration system to enable them to carry out any enforcement and monitoring action necessary. The APHA will also carry out spot checks on items registered to check for accuracy and compliance. This is also a key and necessary part of the regulations.

Amendment 22 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, would remove the size criterion for portrait miniature exemptions. The noble Lord will recall from our previous consideration of this issue that the Government added the category of portrait miniatures to the list of exemptions in Committee in the other place. Emma Rutherford, a representative of Philip Mould & Co, an expert on portrait miniatures, gave evidence on how the exemption for portrait miniatures could be refined to add a size limit, and agreed that the suggestion of six inches by eight inches would be sensible. This is 320 square centimetres, which would allow between 90% and 95% to be exempt. The Government have moved considerably on many of these features and I therefore call on the House to reject these amendments.