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[Mr Joe Benton in the Chair] — Wildlife Crime

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:13 pm on 10th October 2013.

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Photo of Barry Gardiner Barry Gardiner Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 2:13 pm, 10th October 2013

I am very happy to accept what the hon. Gentleman says. He is, of course, right that there are many and complex reasons why a species may become extinct in the UK. However, the fact is that the species that I am talking about is on the brink and is being persecuted by some irresponsible gamekeepers. That is absolutely clear.

I welcome all that the game industry is doing in terms of distraction feeding and so on; it is making serious efforts. However, some irresponsible gamekeepers shoot raptors and they have a vendetta against hen harriers in particular. That must stop and the way to achieve that is through vicarious liability.

We are pressed for time and I want to leave the Minister enough time to respond to the debate. Four key points have been raised today by colleagues. First, which chief constable is currently responsible for the national wildlife crime unit? We need to know that, because the person we all thought was responsible has been suspended. Secondly, will the Minister give an assurance that the NWCU will continue beyond 2014, and will he consider incorporating it into the Department’s three-year funding cycle as part of its base budget and stop this nonsense of one-year roll-on? Thirdly, will he commit to running a more effective convention on international trade in endangered species regime domestically, under the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997? Fourthly, there has been an impassioned plea to stop the illegal slaughter of elephants, as Zac Goldsmith pointed out. Incidentally, I just say to him that the pangolin is a scaly anteater; it is Manis manidae. However, it is a mammal, even though it has scales. The hon. Gentleman pointed out, quite correctly, the connections with al-Shabaab, Janjaweed and the Lord’s Resistance Army. This is big business, and it is big criminal business. For that reason, I heartily endorse his remarks and hope that the Department will take this issue very seriously indeed. If it does not, its staff will look very silly next year at the meeting next February to discuss international wildlife crime, which we are hosting.