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Ivory Bill - Report

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 24th October 2018.

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Photo of Lord Cormack Lord Cormack Conservative 5:45 pm, 24th October 2018

My Lords, I do not think there is anyone in your Lordships’ House who would find a bad word to say about my noble friend Lord Gardiner. He is rightly popular in all parts of the House; he is assiduous, diligent and personable. In every sense, he is someone we can all like. However, he has a touching faith in certain people from certain countries, and a touching faith in his ability to create an unbureaucratic system. I beg to differ. I do not want to make a long speech; I made a very short one in moving this amendment, and my noble friend has made a fairly considerable response—for which we are grateful, of course. The fact of the matter is that he fails to understand that you can be passionate about preserving elephants—as I think every Member of your Lordships’ House is—but at the same time see that this Bill is riddled with anomaly, and has many faults.

As for miniatures, why let 5% or 10% “get away”? Why not have a clause that covers and preserves all miniatures? And why have this obligation to register everything? It will create a great bureaucracy. No elephant in 2020—or 2019, when this Bill comes into force—will be saved by the insistence on registering a chest of drawers with ivory escutcheons made in 1790 or 1810. No elephant will be saved by insisting that, if a miniature comes above the stipulated size, it cannot be sold. The noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, and I know we will never agree on this. She talked about miniatures and failed to accept the point made by my noble friend the Duke of Wellington, who said that their ivory content is of no substance or value at all—never mind the fact that it is generally 200 years old. It is the work of art, or the likeness of the person depicted, that gives value to the miniature, not the thin bit of ivory on which it is painted.

We could have a much better and less bureaucratic Bill if only these simple points were registered and accepted. I know that my noble friend is obdurate. I know, from talking to the Secretary of State—who is always courteous, but is inflexible on this—that my noble friend really has no leeway when he stands at the Dispatch Box. However, I would like to test the opinion of the House.

Ayes 20, Noes 323.