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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 Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lord Gardiner of Kimble The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 6:30 pm, 24th October 2018

The amendments in this group arise from the recommendations made by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee in its report on the Bill. I thank the committee for its report, which has been extremely helpful in developing further how key parts of the Bill are to be implemented. The committee made a number of recommendations suggesting that negative resolution regulations, instead of guidance, should be used to set out certain matters.

First, Clause 2(3)(c), which allows for “other matters” that may be taken into account when deciding whether a pre-1918 item is of outstanding artistic, cultural or historical value, will be amended to be set out in regulations. “Other matters”, in this context, are in addition to consideration of the rarity of an item and the extent to which it is an important example of its type. Such matters might include an item’s religious significance, scientific importance or whether it has previously been on public display.

The Government agree with the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee that in this case, guidance would not be an appropriate method of detailing the other matters that prescribed institutions—museums with expertise in ivory items—should take into account when providing advice on whether items are of outstanding artistic value and importance. As the committee notes, setting out regulatory requirements in guidance can mean that a person can have an element of choice about whether to follow them. This is not the Government’s intention and we therefore accept the committee’s recommendation.

Amendments 7 and 11 also replace powers to set out in guidance additional information that those applying for an exemption certificate under Clause 2 and those registering items as exempt under Clause 10 must include in their applications. This is in addition to that set out in the Bill under Clause 3(1) and Clause 10(1). Work on the implementation of the Bill has revealed that it already lists all the information we will need to issue exemption certificates and handle registration applications. We therefore accept the committee’s recommendations with respect to Clauses 3 and 10 by requiring additional information requirements to be set out in regulations rather than guidance, should a future Government need to do this. While important details will be set out in regulations, the Government will still produce guidance that will help applicants navigate their way around the application processes for both the exemption certificate and registration regimes.

Amendments 14 and 38 remove Clause 4(8) and Clause 11(5) from the Bill. These provisions allow guidance to be used to set out how applications for exemption certificates and registrations must be made. Guidance may, for example, require applications to be made electronically or online. The Government have decided to allow maximum flexibility with regard to how applications may be made and will therefore be removing these powers from the Bill because they will no longer be necessary.

Applicants for exemption certificates and those registering items as exempt will be able to apply online or download forms to be completed in hard copy for postal submission. They will also be able to telephone or email requests for copies of forms to be sent to them by post. This is to reflect the diversity of persons that may wish to submit applications, which may range from private individuals without internet access to large auction businesses.