Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons am 11:20 am ar 22 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 11:20, 22 Mawrth 2024

I am not going to take any interventions, because Members have made so many already and we do not want to restrict the debate on the ultra low emission zone, but I will refer to some of the points that my hon. Friend rightly raised in a moment.

It is important to recognise that the import ban will not prevent a UK resident or citizen from participating in hunting while they are overseas. Trophy hunting can and will continue around the world. It is right that each country should be able to decide how best to manage its own wildlife, and the Bill does not change that. That point was highlighted vociferously by my hon. Friends the Members for Christchurch and for North Herefordshire, but it has to be remembered that we are not preventing that. Countries around the world on both sides of the debate have had regular opportunities to discuss this issue and raise their points. Indeed, we have had letters from the Presidents of Botswana and Namibia—the high commissioner was written to just yesterday.

It is important to keep in mind the contribution that the UK trade in hunting trophies makes. Annual imports of hunting trophies to the UK are very few in number—on average, there have been 73 a year over the last 10 years. Even so, it is essential that we play our part to ensure that communities around the world benefit from conserving the wildlife that they live alongside. That was reflected in the agreement of the hugely important global biodiversity framework. There is now a strong and essential focus on how, as a global community, we finance biodiversity, conservation and restoration work. Members will be aware of just how much the Government are doing on that front, with our huge £93 million Darwin initiative and our £30 million Darwin Plus initiative. All of that focuses on biodiversity and conservation, working with locals and indigenous peoples.

Penultimately, let me run through some of the provisions in the Bill. The Bill will ban the import of hunting trophies from specific species, with the explicit aim of ensuring that imports into Great Britain do not place unnecessary pressure on species that are at risk. For those species, an import ban without exemptions will be the most effective protection, as it will provide clarity and address the conservation concerns arising from trophy hunting.

Clauses 1 and 2 make provision for the import ban, which will cover trophies brought into Great Britain from animals hunted after the legislation comes into force—there are strict, clear lines about anything that happens before that. The definition of a hunting trophy in clause 1 is:

“the body of an animal, or a readily recognisable part or derivative of an animal, that…is obtained…through hunting…for the hunter’s personal use”.

That is how hunting trophies are defined in our current controls under CITES.

Clause 2 applies the import ban to all species listed in annexes A and B of the wildlife trade regulation. The wildlife trade regulation implements the convention on international trade in endangered species—CITES—in Great Britain. Annexes A and B are broadly equivalent to appendices I and II of the convention, and include species that the global community has agreed to protect through trade restrictions due to their conservation status. They cover a great number of species threatened by international trade, such as big cats, all bears, all primates, hippos, rhinos and elephants. As a result, the Bill will end the permit system for imports of hunting trophies derived from those species. There will be no provision for exemptions to the import ban.

Clause 3 is about movements from Northern Ireland. The clause states clearly that the import ban will

“not apply in relation to the removal of qualifying Northern Ireland goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.”

Clause 4, which was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch, establishes an advisory board on hunting trophies. The clause states:

“The role of the Advisory Board is to advise the Secretary of State on any question relating to this Act”.

Clause 5 simply covers the Bill’s extent, application, commencement and short title.

Let me quickly discuss the impact assessment, as I did not allow any interventions. We heard some views about the impact assessment and what the Government will do about it, but there are two sides to that. The impact assessment presented both sides of the debate, but it also highlighted that trophy hunting can lead to population declines and that over-hunting threatens more than 30% of endangered mammal species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The impact assessment also noted that trophy hunting quotas are inappropriate, unscientific, excessive and over-reliant on opinions, and that the management of such quotas is based on poor-quality data. Similarly, a report by the University of Oxford found that the damaging effects of the unsustainable trade in hunting can extend beyond hunting areas.

I hope that I have answered some of the questions. This has been a very positive and lively debate on both sides of the House. I thank the right hon. Member for Warley for bringing the Bill back to the House, and reconfirm that the Government are fully committed to supporting it.