Amendment 4

Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill - Committee – in the House of Lords at 9:00 pm on 12 September 2023.

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Lord Lucas:

Moved by Lord Lucas

4: Clause 1, page 1, line 3, leave out “an animal” and insert “a species classed as threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List

Photo of Lord Lucas Lord Lucas Conservative

My Lords, in search of this rather elusive rapprochement which my noble friend on the Front Bench referred to, I suggest that we bring the scope of this Bill closer to what was in our manifesto —endangered species—broadening it slightly to “threatened” species, since that was mentioned when this Private Member’s Bill was launched. These definitions belong to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list, which has nine categories, with “threatened”, “endangered” and “critically endangered” being the top three.

If we covered these species only, we would fulfil what we said we would do in our manifesto, would do what the proposer of this Bill said in another place that it was intended to do, and would avoid the huge burden of it covering the enormous variety of species that it does, with the administrative difficulties that would result. As a way forward, to fulfil our commitments and produce something effective and sensible, I urge this amendment on my noble friend. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Bellingham Lord Bellingham Conservative

My Lords, I compliment my noble friend on his amendment, which has the great benefit of substantial simplicity and great logic behind it. I urge the Minister to look at it. This may be the compromise that we are looking for and could come back to on Report.

Everyone agrees that we are very concerned about endangered species; no one can say for one moment that they are not. However, under the very wide drafting of this Bill, less than 4% of the species it covers are trophy hunted anywhere in the world. I do not know whether noble Lords knew that. Only 1% of species covered by it have been imported to the UK since 2000. Some 79% of hunting trophies are from species that are stable, increasing and abundant, which is quite a compelling figure.

As I pointed out earlier, on average two trophies of wild lions and 115 trophies in all are imported into the UK every year. We are talking about a very specialist, niche issue here, yet we have all those unintended consequences, which I shall talk about at a later stage—maybe if my noble friend Lord Mancroft’s amendment is reached later this evening or on another occasion, and certainly on Report.

One must look in the round at what everyone is trying to achieve and what the Conservative manifesto set out to achieve. My noble friend is quite right that the manifesto said:

“We will … ban imports from trophy hunting of endangered species”— the emphasis being on endangered species. That is what we signed up to. What we did not sign up to was something that went much wider, and that is exactly why the Bill needs to be improved.

I urge the Minister not to reject this amendment out of hand. Maybe he could say to my noble friend, who has already made two intelligent, well-balanced and well-received interventions this evening—he is to be applauded for that—that he will take this amendment away and look at it, because obviously, the way things are going, Committee on the Bill has some way to run, and then we have Report as well. We can come back on Report.

I certainly remember from my time as a Minister that there were nights in Committee when we would go through Bills at great length and suddenly inspiration would strike and a gem would come up from a parliamentarian, such as we have seen from my noble friend. I think the Minister should take the amendment away, look at it and come back on Report. I certainly support my noble friend.

Photo of Lord Moore of Etchingham Lord Moore of Etchingham Non-affiliated 9:15, 12 September 2023

My Lords, I shall just add to that, supporting the noble Lord, Lord Bellingham, and the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, because it helps to answer an important point that the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, raised earlier, which is that the convention in this House is that we try to implement, or not to impede, manifesto commitments. What is clear about the Bill as it is drafted, unamended, is that it is not really expressing the manifesto commitment; it is much more confused and goes much wider. What we are getting here, as we try to amend it, is something closer to the original intentions.

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative

My Lords, I think that is a very helpful intervention. There are some noble Lords who think this is the manifesto commitment; I do not think it is. This goes significantly wider than the manifesto commitment. More than that, I have sat and watched lots of manifesto commitments go round and round over the years and I have very rarely seen one that went through in pure form. One of the arts of politics is compromise: if you want to get your business, you make compromises. The Government do that every day in different areas, and so they should—that is how it works. This is an area in which we could make that compromise.

I am looking at the lists. There are, I think 6,200 species that we are banning from bringing in as trophies, and it is important to remind ourselves of the trophies, because we have probably not seen many of them on the walls. I have seen a few trophies, but I have never seen 2,076 corals on a wall. I have seen some fish, but I do not know that I have ever seen any cartilaginous fish, but there are 154 of them on the list—we are banning those, apparently. I think it is a sensible move to ban the trophy hunting of poison dart frogs—that is something we should have done years ago and I cannot imagine why we have not. Here we are, getting round to it, and there are quite a few other things on this list.

To tell the honest truth, the words “sledgehammer” and “nut” come to mind. Look at these creatures. There is an echidna here—I am not sure quite what it is, but it is on the list. We have banned that, and, my goodness, that is a good day’s work, is it not? Kangaroos, wallabies and possums are on the list. Frankly, this list of 6,200 is completely absurd and ridiculous; we should reduce it to the creatures that are genuinely likely to become trophies and make it more reasonable. After all, the poor customs people who are meant to be dealing with this have not got a hope. There are 975 reptiles on it and—goodness me, that is lucky—we have banned 96 molluscs. I have had sleepless nights over mollusc hunting.

I agree that this list is a bit absurd. We should try to reduce it. It is an area where we can compromise without causing any concerns, and I hope your Lordships will look at this very seriously.

Photo of Baroness Fookes Baroness Fookes Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

My Lords, your Lordships will probably not be surprised that I do not agree with my noble friend Lord Mancroft on this. I prefer the fact that there is a wider scope with the wildlife trade regulations annexes A and B. If they do not cause a problem, nobody will worry about that. I was amused by my noble friend Lord Mancroft and his molluscs, but I really do not think it is of any significance whatever. However, what I do notice is that as we go through the various amendments, a little bit here and a little bit there is chipped away, and if they were all accepted, we would see something very different indeed. Therefore, I stand by the Bill as it stands.

Photo of Lord Benyon Lord Benyon The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

My Lords, I set out earlier my thoughts on these amendments. My noble friend Lord Lucas is a very intelligent and assiduous parliamentarian and raises an important point. But I suggest that this amendment is not necessary, because the species in scope are provided for in Clause 2. Notwithstanding what my noble friend Lord Mancroft says, that is for the simplicity of the functioning of the Bill, so I hope I can persuade my noble friend Lord Lucas to withdraw his amendment.

Photo of Lord Bellingham Lord Bellingham Conservative

I will just add on that last point: surely we should stick to the manifesto commitment, which is on endangered species. That is what we said in the manifesto. Maybe the Minister could stand up again and answer that point. Widening it in this way in Clause 2 to the 6,200 species goes far wider than what we committed to in 2019.

Photo of The Earl of Caithness The Earl of Caithness Conservative

My Lords, to follow that up, it seems strange that my noble friend the Minister lamented that there was not a compromise on the Bill—that was when he started his reply to me on my first amendment. The Bill as presented before us is much wider than the manifesto commitment. Surely this would be an area in which a sensible compromise, achieving the aims of those of us who wish to improve the conservation of animals throughout the world and what the Government seek to do, is a possibility. If my noble friend was serious in saying that he laments the lack of a compromise, he ought to tell us where he thinks a compromise might be.

Photo of Lord Benyon Lord Benyon The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

My Lords, one of the reasons I enjoy being in this House is that we have to achieve compromises in so many things. I try to work across the House to try to get half a loaf rather than no loaf at all. Here we are trying to achieve something that is workable. Annexes A and B of our wildlife trade regulations implement appendices 1 and 2 of CITES in Great Britain. They cover species at risk from international trade, listing nearly 6,000 species, as has been mentioned. These include elephants, giraffes, rhinos, big cats, bears, primates and hippos. By covering all animal species in annexes A and B of the wildlife trade regulations, we are removing any possibility of permitting the import of a hunting trophy from these species into Great Britain. Estimates of the number of species that are trophy hunted vary, but they are in the hundreds rather than the thousands. The Bill would apply to hunting trophies from all annexe A and B species. That is clear and comprehensive, avoiding confusion about what is or is not covered. Current rules on importing hunting trophies similarly apply to all annexe A and B species.

Photo of The Earl of Caithness The Earl of Caithness Conservative

I wonder whether my noble friend would give consideration to answering the question I put to him.

Photo of Lord Lucas Lord Lucas Conservative

My Lords, I am naturally disappointed in that, but I shall not give up during the course of rest of this Committee trying to find other ways in which we might reach a compromise and a way forward.

I reassure my noble friend Lady Fookes that I view these amendments as alternatives—different ways of dealing with what I regard as a Bill that has gone too far. I do not wish it to die a death by a thousand cuts; I wish it to flourish as an effective and important piece of legislation. I think it needs improving but, given the Minister’s response, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 4 withdrawn.