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Ivory Bill - Report

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:30 pm on 24th October 2018.

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Photo of Baroness Jones of Whitchurch Baroness Jones of Whitchurch Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 6:30 pm, 24th October 2018

I find it ironic that the noble Lord talks about sweeping statements. The fact is that we talked about having a complete ban on online sales. Indeed, colleagues on the Lib Dem Benches proposed that in Committee; it is perhaps sad that they have not brought it back on Report. The noble Lord, Lord Cormack, will also know that the reason we are here today is because we already had a ban, which was meant to constrain what auction houses and so on were doing. It was then found that illegal pieces were passing through the auction houses.

I am not saying that the Bill is perfect; it is not, but it is a considerable step forward from the previous legislation. The Government would not be pursuing the Bill, with our support, if they did not feel that the evidence was compelling and overwhelming. The noble Lord, Lord Hague, is absolutely right: we have to close down the domestic ivory market, not for its own sake but because this is part of an international movement. Only when we all share the same broad objectives internationally will we actually be effective in all this.

I was quite offended by some of the comments from the Benches opposite in the previous debate, which somehow implied that there was a conspiracy among some African countries on this issue. I do not see it on that basis. I too attended the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference and the Minister was absolutely right. There were Heads of Government there and people in various senior positions from all round the world, including the African nations. They were absolutely passionate about needing to protect the elephants and protect their economic interests in the longer term, and therefore to close down the illegal ivory trade. Until we all understand why that is necessary, we will not be able to make much progress on this. On that basis, I therefore urge noble Lords to reject all these amendments.