Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons am 10:06 am ar 22 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Henry Smith Henry Smith Ceidwadwyr, Crawley 10:06, 22 Mawrth 2024

It is a great privilege to follow John Spellar. I pay tribute to him, and to many other Members from across this House who have worked so hard, not only in supporting my Bill when it was before the House last year, but in campaigning to end the importation of hunting trophies—the body parts of endangered species —to this country. It has been a fantastic effort. As we have heard, the Bill enjoys the support of well over four fifths of the British public. Indeed, there was a commitment to do what the Bill proposes in a manifesto on which I stood for election four and a half years ago, and I understand that that commitment has been reflected in the manifestos of many other parties represented in this House.

Last March, the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill that I introduced passed through this elected Chamber unanimously. As we have heard from my hon. Friend Sir Christopher Chope, we accepted compromise amendments to make sure that it reflected as many views as possible. When it went to the other place, a very small minority of peers acted discourteously in the way that they sought to block the legislation. That is why we have had to bring it back, and I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Warley for doing so.

I mentioned the widespread support for this legislation in this country, but it is also extremely popular in other parts of the world. Southern Africa has been mentioned. Last year, I was in a number of southern African countries where there is a clear desire among the majority of people to make sure that such legislation is enacted in this country—and, as the right hon. Gentleman said, in other countries as well. Hunting for trophies is not a natural practice for people in southern Africa; it is a colonial import to the continent from the time of colonisation. It is not native. The ending of this practice enjoys widespread support across the world.

As the right hon. Member for Warley said, the practice that we are discussing is not unique to Africa. Claims have been made that somehow this is racist legislation that tells countries around the world how to act and conduct their hunting policy. Let us just remind ourselves that this Bill is import legislation; it says that we in this country, by a clear majority, choose not to allow the importation of body parts of endangered species slaughtered by hunters to Great Britain; that is the territorial extent of this Bill and what it is designed to do. Nevertheless, it would send a strong signal that these practices are deeply damaging to conservation, as he eloquently said. Damage is done to the gene pool by taking out the top animals in a pride of lions, or the big tuskers from a herd of elephants. That is beginning to damage the ability of those animals to survive. Let us remind ourselves of what this Bill is about. It is not about banning hunting, although I might have a view on that; it is about protecting endangered species before it is too late.