Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill - Second Reading

– in the House of Lords am 10:59 am ar 16 Mehefin 2023.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Baroness Fookes:

Moved by Baroness Fookes

That the Bill be now read a second time.

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

My Lords, I declare my animal welfare interests as set out on the register. It will therefore be no surprise to know that I warmly welcome the opportunity to take the Bill through its proceedings in the Lords, it having been ably monitored by Henry Smith MP in the House of Commons. Although it is in the form of a Private Member’s Bill, it has government backing, and in fact it implements a commitment made in the 2019 Conservative manifesto—although I have no doubt that that will not endear it to some colleagues around me on these Benches.

To deal briefly with the terms of the Bill, it bans the import of any animal trophy into the UK, with a slightly different arrangement for Northern Ireland. It defines precisely what a trophy is and restricts the ban to the lists set out in the wildlife regulations, which go back to the convention on trade in endangered species. There are two lists, the first of animals in danger of extinction, and the second of those getting close to that point. The Bill also arranges for an expert committee of three to be set up by the Secretary of State. He is under an obligation to do so, but, so far as I can judge, he has no obligation to ask it to advise him. That was added during the Commons consideration.

It is of course important to make clear that the Bill does not prevent any hunter from this country going to any country in the world and, subject to whatever regulations there may be in that country, killing an animal for whatever purpose he thinks necessary. What is prohibited is bringing back any part of an animal to this country as a trophy.

Of course, some of us may have had rather romantic notions about intrepid hunters risking life and limb, trekking through wild country in pursuit of a quarry. That is not what happens today. A business called a hunting outfitter either owns or obtains a lease on land for hunting and then sets up a comprehensive service, which will include lodges for overnight accommodation and food. It will provide every kind of expert equipment or weapons that may be needed, local guides and, I gather, transport to a suitable location where the animal may be found. Furthermore, to the best of my knowledge and belief, most of these outfitters are run by white people of European origin, not by indigenous people from Africa. Let us make no mistake: for those few who enjoy its fruits, this is big business. I can quite understand why they will make every attempt possible to get rid of any threat to that business.

Those who watch the wonderful wildlife films we now see, and have access to the much greater information that science has provided about the wonderful interrelationship of animals and the threats that greatly interfere with it, will wonder why anyone should want to bring back trophies of slaughtered animals that, let us face it, are in grave danger. In this Bill we are not dealing with animals that are plentiful. However small a part the Bill may play, we have to try to ensure the conservation of these precious species.

I know that many of those who speak today will describe various reasons why this is of benefit to the local community and for conservation purposes. I remain to be persuaded. No doubt, a great deal of this information will be provided to me—we shall see. As far as I can see, the impact that hunters have is even greater than taking out species already under threat. One of the problems is that hunters will naturally want for trophy purposes the best that can be found. Do not tell me that they will be content with culling some poor weak animal; they will want the lion with the most wonderful mane, the elephants with the biggest feet or tusks, or the horns of whatever it may be. The likelihood is that they will take out the best of the species, which unbalances that very delicate ecosystem, as we have seen having a devastating effect all too often.

There is some evidence that because elephants are shot for their large tusks, the elephants that remain are now producing elephants with smaller tasks—evidence of the way in which genes can be manipulated. There can also be other untoward effects, for example when a major, dominant bull elephant is killed. That leaves young males without what might be called the father figure or the controlling figure, and they can run amok. Again, that can destroy a delicate ecosystem.

I could continue with numerous examples of this, but I hope that others of my persuasion will be able to produce their own very relevant examples. I am concerned about the fact that many people in Africa do not share this view of trophy hunting. I would like to bring to your Lordships’ attention a letter that I think has widely circulated in the House; I will quote from it. It is a letter with 103 signatories, people who live or work throughout Africa. They include wildlife conservation experts, advocates, community representatives and people with detailed knowledge of what they are talking about. They write to

“express our steadfast support for the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill, sponsored by the Rt. Hon. Baroness Fookes, and to urge you to give the Bill your full support”.

Very tellingly, they go on:

“We are well aware that a small number of UK-based academics have been extremely outspoken in the UK media in their defence of trophy hunting in Africa and their associated opposition to this Bill. Although they purport to speak for Africa, they present grossly over-simplified and unsubstantiated arguments, and it is critical for Honourable Members of the House of Lords to acknowledge that they do not represent the views or experience of many scientists and community members living and working throughout the African continent. In addition, many international scientists have voiced their concerns about trophy hunting”.

They are speaking about Africa, of course, but it is important to note that the Bill would also apply to other parts of the world. Notably, Canada, which allows trophy hunting, has polar bears at threat of extinction for other reasons, to do with climate change, so it seems utter madness to allow such trophy hunting of these particularly endangered bears.

I am aware that many others want to speak, so I conclude by saying that I believe that the Bill is important and long overdue, and I commend it to the House. I beg to move.

Photo of Baroness Jones of Whitchurch Baroness Jones of Whitchurch Llafur 11:10, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, I am pleased to have the opportunity to support this Bill today and to thank the noble Baroness. Lady Fookes, for being such a doughty campaigner on animal welfare issues over the years. As we discussed on the Shark Fins Bill, the Government’s method of bringing in animal welfare legislation through a series of Private Members’ Bills is not the most desirable approach. Nevertheless, I have a great deal of admiration for the noble Baroness and I am sure that she will steward this Bill through the House with the utmost care and efficiency.

This is a Bill that has considerable cross-party support. The commitment to ban the import of hunting trophies appeared in both the Labour and Conservative 2019 manifestos. The Bill also has huge public support. The British people have made it clear in numerous polls that they do not want the UK to contribute to the suffering and inhumane killing of declining and endangered wild animals in overseas trophy hunts any more. For example, recent polling shows that nearly 90% of people support a trophy hunting ban, with 76% wanting a ban applied to all species. There is huge distaste and abhorrence for the spectacle of people killing magnificent animals for fun and then glorying in the display of body parts.

This so-called sport, with its roots in colonialism, has no place in a modern, compassionate society, and those who continue to partake in this activity, as we saw with the killing of Cecil the lion, are held in contempt by the vast majority of British people. The people involved in this sport are contributing to the decline of some of the world’s most endangered species. For example, wild lion populations have dropped to only 20,000 individuals and the previous population of 20 million African elephants has now reduced to just 400,000.

The argument that killing more of these animals somehow helps conservation flies in the face of common sense and does not withstand detailed scrutiny. If we are serious about conservation, we should be developing alternative plans that preserve the declining species and help communities through tourism and alternative forms of employment. The fact is that trophy-hunting tours feed relatively little back into the local economy and there is relatively little trickle-down to those in the local communities. In terms of economic impact, it is estimated to make up only 0.03% of GDP across eight trophy-hunting nations in southern Africa. It is not a sustainable way to bring new investment to local communities.

In addition, we have the spectacle of animals being bred in captivity simply to be shot by inexperienced hunters. This is a long way from the conservation aspirations that some in the sector claim as their purpose. In fact, there is no requirement for hunters to be experienced or proficient at using a weapon, leading to many animals being wounded and dying a long, slow death. The fact is that trophy hunting is a popular practice of a few wealthy game hunters, who are creating specious arguments to try to preserve their reviled sport.

This Bill is one step towards a full ban on the import of animal trophies. However, the UK has always been a world leader in conservation and animal welfare and the Bill represents another step forward in setting an example for other jurisdictions to follow. I therefore very much support it and hope that it can proceed through this House and make it on to the statute book unamended.

Photo of Lord St John of Bletso Lord St John of Bletso Crossbench 11:14, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, while I personally dislike trophy hunting and for the last 20 years have been a trustee of Tusk Trust, which is one of the largest conservation charities in Africa, I have some reservations about this Bill as currently drafted. I am grateful to the Library for its research note and for the briefing that we had from Professor Amy Dickman and others.

The noble Baroness, Lady Jones, made a good point about canned hunting, which is what I take personal exception to. By canned hunting, I mean when wild animals, mostly lions but often cheetahs, leopards and others, are bred, in a confined area from which they cannot escape, for trophy hunting. This is particularly prevalent in South Africa. In fact, almost 83% of trophies exported from South Africa are captive-bred or non-nature species with neither a national conservation management plan nor adequate data on their wild populations.

I have read a lot of research showing that properly regulated trophy hunting incentivises hunters to participate in conservation programmes and has contributed substantially to wildlife protection. I know that those figures have been queried by the noble Baronesses, Lady Fookes and Lady Jones, but my point is simple: responsible wild trophy hunting has provided income for wildlife conservation and employment opportunities for local communities.

Rather than a blanket ban on the export of trophies, which covers 6,000 species, I would encourage more enhanced sustainable hunting practices and implementing far stricter regulations. A paper released this week by the Global Conservation Forum claims that not one species covered in the Bill will be threatened and that removing trophy hunting revenue without any alternative option will only harm conservation and livelihoods. It is well known that there is insufficient donor finance to sustain these wildlife areas.

Most of what I am saying today refers to Africa and I take on board the good point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, about wild polar bears. Currently, trophy-hunting concessions cover and protect a vast landscape of rich biodiversity. In Africa, one-fifth more land is conserved under local trophy hunting than in national parks. Those in favour of the Bill as drafted would no doubt argue that the benefits and revenue of trophy hunting can be easily replaced by photo tourism. I am afraid that this is factually incorrect. Almost 90% of African protected areas with lions are already significantly underfunded. If we accelerate the demise of wild trophy hunting without putting in place sustainable revenue that will continue to protect areas, this landscape is likely to be lost to wildlife due to increased settlement and cultivation. I would appreciate the Minister expanding on the role of the advisory board on hunting trophies in Clause 4 of the Bill.

In conclusion, while I do not like the practice of trophy hunting, the evidence shows that properly regulated and managed wild trophy hunting plays an important role in wildlife conservation. We need to explore alternative conservation strategies with more investment in habitat protection, anti-poaching measures, community-based conservation initiatives and education awareness programmes to safeguard wildlife. The Bill as drafted falls far short of these objectives.

Photo of Lord Bellingham Lord Bellingham Ceidwadwyr 11:18, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, it is a pleasure and privilege to follow the noble Lord, who knows a lot about southern Africa, and we should respect his views enormously.

I was the original sponsor of the Bill, because I thought that it was well-intentioned and could be made to work. I put my name down and was its sponsor, but I reached the conclusion that it had flaws, which is why I withdrew my name from the sponsorship; hence my noble friend, who made an excellent speech, is sponsoring the Bill. The Bill is well-intentioned. I do not think that anyone can complain about stopping practices of canned shooting, as the noble Lord pointed out, or internet shooting, when you go online and select your target—you may be in America or 1,000 miles away. Everyone agrees that any big game hunting that impacts on endangered species should be curtailed.

On the other hand, the Bill will have unintended consequences. It sets out to enhance sustainability and improve conservation, but it could do the reverse. My starting point is very simple. The Secretary of State, the Minister and the noble Baroness sponsoring the Bill have all said that it is perfectly morally acceptable for stalkers and big game hunters from this country to go to African countries and hunt in the countryside. They also agree about hunting for the Alpine ibex in countries such as Sweden or Austria, hunting markhors in Pakistan or hunting red deer and roe deer in Scotland. No one is saying that is wrong. If the noble Baroness thinks it is wrong I will give way to her, but I do not think she does. As long as the hunting or stalking is sustainable, you have a shootable surplus within the herd, there is a habitat and conservation element, there is local employment, there is a humane killing of the quarry and the meat goes into the food chain—if those criteria are all met—I think we agree that this type of activity is perfectly acceptable.

Trophies are a separate part of the argument. Many hunters will go hunting or stalking because of a love of the countryside and a passion for the sport but are not interested in the trophy, while some hunters will want to bring the trophy back. If the hunting or stalking is sustainable and meets those criteria, and if taking the trophy back home will lead to money going into the local economy through taxidermy or the antlers being mounted on a plaque, local jobs will be created and there will be more money for sustainability and conservation.

A key point is what local communities think about this. I saw the letter in the press yesterday, written by the six heads of mission from southern African countries —South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. They made it crystal clear that many estates in their countries rely on a particular revenue model based on sustainable hunting. When I was Africa Minister 10 years ago, in the coalition Government, I had the privilege of going to all those countries and many more in Africa. I spoke to many Foreign Ministers, Conservation Ministers, Environment Ministers and Presidents. They all made the point very clearly: “Please let us judge this issue, because we represent those communities”. If we put our feelings on this before those of the communities, many of the communities that have jobs around big game hunting and conservation will look at alternatives such as more intensive farming, which will eat into the countryside and have a negative impact. They might also be less keen to control poaching. So getting the communities on side is imperative. There were comments from honourable Members in the other place that the animals should come before the communities in Africa. Frankly, I find that condescending, patronising and insulting.

There is a way forward. The Bill started out well intentioned. It has unravelled substantially because of the number of experts who have come up with very strong arguments to improve it. We need to move to a licensing system whereby we use the advisory board on hunting trophies and bolt on to it a certification scheme run in partnership with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, so that in some cases people will be able to apply for a certificate and bring their trophy back. We would then have a Bill that does what everyone wants it to do—curb a small number of bad practices but allow conservation and sustainability to carry on in African countries, which we should not lecture.

Photo of Baroness Twycross Baroness Twycross Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Education) 11:24, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, I am pleased to support the Bill and thank the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, for taking it through this House and no doubt withstanding some wrong-minded positions through the course of this debate.

My starting point is that it is almost incomprehensible to most people in 2023 that it is not already against the law to import hunting trophies. For the reasons laid out by the noble Baroness in her excellent introduction, the Bill makes absolute sense. As my noble friend Lady Jones said, this was in both the Labour and Conservative manifestos at the last election. The noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, also outlined the nature of the hunting sector. As she said, it is big business, and opposition to it is about supporting that big business, which has no place in a modern society. Trophy hunting can have adverse impacts on the biology and ecology of targeted species. It risks increasing in-breeding within species by removing reproductive-age animals from the population. I urge the Government not to be swayed by those who wish to see us retain an outdated practice. I was sorry to hear that the noble Lord, Lord Bellingham, has changed his mind.

Those who wish to undermine the Bill suggest that hunting brings much-needed revenue to communities that need it. They pretend that, far from damaging conservation efforts, it does the opposite. They pretend that it is essentially a good thing. If it is such a good thing, why do the vast majority of the population of the countries where this practice continues not support it? As Members will be aware, 68% of people in South Africa are against trophy hunting. We know that in Botswana, banning trophy hunting benefited threatened species such as elephants and brought prosperity to local communities. The ban contributed to the creation of jobs and opportunities by investment in photo safaris instead. There is no real evidence that trophy hunting helps conservation. Most of the money created by the trophy hunting industry never reaches conservation programmes, and nor do local households benefit to any great extent.

Like others, I want a commitment from the Government that they will not back away from their support for the Bill. If they fail to support it, they will essentially be supporting a practice that was described by Members from all sides in the other place as neocolonial. The Government should support the Bill for its considerable animal welfare and conservation considerations and to avoid this country looking like it is failing to move on from attitudes from previous centuries.

In the other place, questions were raised about implementation and how this was going to be enforced at the border to avoid smuggling. This will be key to ensuring that the Bill is not just in statute but is effective. Can the Minister tell the House what training the Government intend to put in place for Border Force? Will they prevent companies advertising and promoting trophy hunting tourism in the UK?

Above all, will the Minister commit to wholeheartedly rejecting the specious and inaccurate claims that have already been made and are likely to be made during this debate in support of the continuation of this vile and totally outdated practice, and will the Government honour a manifesto commitment by supporting the Bill?

Photo of Lord Mann Lord Mann Non-affiliated 11:27, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, I would like to speak about male obsessions. I am currently trying to climb every Munro in Scotland, a male obsession that is a tradition of this House; consider the noble Lords, Lord Smith of Finsbury and Lord Elder. This summer the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, is about to complete every Munro top—282 Munros and another 300 bits of Munros—in great glory. Why do we do it? We do it because it is there. If any land-owning Scottish Peer of the realm has an obscure bothy that I could borrow, I might get to every one myself in the not-too-distant future. It is a benign obsession, although if I used an urban tradition and tagged my name on rocks on the top of every Scottish hill and mountain—“Lord Mann was here”—it would be seen not as benign but as a problem. Doubtless some quasi-privileges committee would throw me out of here for bringing the House into great disrepute, and rightly so.

Those obsessions are unstoppable. There is a football programme on sale today. Only one is known to exist in the world. It was discovered under floorboards in Leeds recently—a Leeds City 1906 programme. There will be men—I know them—bidding for that. Owning every Leeds United home programme since 1955, I would quite like to have it myself. My wife will be delighted to know that I will not be bidding, because there would be a bit of a domestic if I spent the £5,000 or £10,000 that would doubtless be required to fulfil that obsession.

However, if a Billy Bremner stocking tag from 1974 became available, a large number of people would attempt to purchase it—that is the nature of obsession— and they are not all men of course. I have never actually seen women buying at a football programme collectors’ event, but there will be one or two; it is not entirely men, but there is a psychology to collecting.

I will go to Wrexham at some stage to maintain my membership, which is an entirely theoretical membership, of the 92 Club. I have been to 91 of the 92 Football League clubs and Wrexham has just rejoined the Football League. I have not been there, but I will go, as will others. That is an obsession.

The trophy hunting mentality works in exactly the same way. It cannot be satiated; it is not possible. Those who are collecting will continue collecting not just in Africa but worldwide—the snow leopard or anything else that moves and breathes—because they feel they have to. If I was to take that spray can and tag every Scottish mountain, we would have to use our laws to stop me. That is precisely the logic of this Bill: some people cannot help themselves, so we have to do so for the better good of society and the planet.

Photo of The Earl of Erroll The Earl of Erroll Crossbench 11:31, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, this is a well-intentioned but mistaken Bill, which tweaks the heartstrings of many people who do not live among nor manage animals in the wild. They seem to think that a wild animal will live a long, peaceful and contented life if left alone. I am afraid that that does not happen in the real world.

Wildlife must also be kept in balance for the sake of the habitat, or the habitat can be destroyed. I have certainly seen that happen in Africa, many years ago, when elephants wiped out the Maasai Mara for several years and it took some time to recover. So culling will take place: it is part of good wildlife management.

Often, older males who are past their prime and excluded from the herd, group or whatever can die unhappy, cantankerous and alone, while trying to upset the dynamics of the group. Those are the ones that one often wants to cull. They can also make for more interesting trophies, because of their age and seniority, so why not convert the cost of culling to an income and take money from rich people to help conservation?

A hunting safari will employ more local people per tourist, with its few visitors, than big national park photo tourism will ever do. It will also probably employ more experts, who need to know more about the habitat and habits of the animals being hunted. Most of that hunting money will also go straight back into the local economy, because it is being paid directly to the people who manage groups that run safaris. The suggestion is to replace it with government grant aid, which will go in at the top while administrative filters, or whatever you want to call them, leach out a lot of the money so that only a little trickles down into the local area. At least that is the experience of many places.

The noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, mentioned quite correctly that there is already the perfectly good Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, known as CITES. It has been in operation since 1975. This prevents the import of a trophy from any country where that animal is endangered. Very few species are endangered in every country; you cannot aggregate numbers across continents. In certain areas, there are problems with oversupply and other places are undersupplied. An example that was given to me was of a trophy hunter who might go to Chad to shoot something that is endangered there. First, CITES would not give them permission to import the trophy. Secondly, why would you go to Chad to shoot an endangered lion, when you can shoot better specimens elsewhere? I do not think that happens very often, but I may be wrong. I stand to be corrected.

Poaching, usually done cruelly, has an impact on the gene pool of these animals that is an order of magnitude more serious than that of a few controlled hunters. I am very surprised by the idea that trophy hunting will hugely affect the gene pool because of the number of hunters.

There are an awful lot of experts—and we have been sent this stuff, as well; there are a lot of international signatories to these things—who say that hunting purely for trophies is not a key threat. I have met several representatives from concerned African countries who do not think we should be interfering in their economies and are against the Bill.

Local population management and control is often essential, so why not allow the preservation of an interesting head or trophy? Another interesting thought occurred to me: could there be a new trade or business out there of 3D printing accurate, scanned replicas of trophies? They could then be legally imported or even sold as an NFT.

Photo of Lord Selkirk of Douglas Lord Selkirk of Douglas Ceidwadwyr 11:36, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, last year I made inquiries as to whether the Government were going to show more urgency in honouring their 2019 manifesto commitment to ban the import of hunting trophies acquired from endangered animals. Delay inevitably meant that many more animals, whose future was already under threat, would die unnecessarily and their body parts would continue to be allowed to form degrading and inhumane displays on the walls and floors of various buildings in this country. I am therefore delighted to offer strong support to Henry Smith’s Private Member’s Bill, to which Ministers have given a fair wind to help its passage through Parliament.

I am extremely proud of my cousin, Dr Iain Douglas-Hamilton, a zoologist and expert on wildlife who was a founding father of the charity Save the Elephants, which is based in Kenya. Of course, local residents must be allowed to defend their families and their rural livelihoods against any threatening or dangerous wildlife, but the preservation of biodiversity is now a great global concern. Elephants, for example, are afraid of African honeybees, so creating fences formed from beehives is one innovative way of preventing them from damaging crops and antagonising local farmers. The charity’s aim is to secure a future for elephants in harmony with people, and it has played a vital role in stopping the illegal trade in ivory.

By banning the import of hunting trophies from animals whose future on this planet is of concern, we are not telling other countries what they should do or how they should act to conserve their wildlife. This legislation applies to the territory of Great Britain, and passing the Bill is our way of making a contribution to the preservation of the amazing variety of animals, with which we share this earth. We are telling the world that we will not facilitate the taking of an already endangered animal’s life for pleasure and we will not help a hunter bring home some sadistically obtained souvenirs.

The great moral wrong of trophy hunting must not be justified because some of the money paid to indulge this repulsive practice is reportedly used to help fund local conservation policies. Indeed, there are arguments over how much of such money actually reaches local communities.

A poll in 2020 showed that 80% of the British public support a ban on the import and export of hunting trophies. Those who inflict pain and death on animals for fun or pleasure stand against the tide of history. Future conservation policies cannot be based on disreputable foundations.

There has to be a better way. We must encourage the kind of visitors who care about the welfare of the animals and who travel to Africa and other countries. These are the ecotourists who pay to learn more, in particular about Africa’s wonderful diversity of wildlife, and who want to hear from local conservationists as to how they can help to ensure a future for these animals, while photographing and recording their activities. The honourable Member for Crawley, when introducing his Bill, stressed that in a recent poll

“only 16% of people in South Africa supported trophy hunting, and that 74% wanted the Government to focus on nature tourism and photo safaris instead”.—[Official Report, Commons, 25/11/22; col. 573.]

—shooting with cameras, not guns. That is the kind of responsible wildlife conservation strategy which we should all support.

I would like to end with a story of Androcles, a slave who had escaped and who met a lion in the cave. The lion was in tremendous pain. Androcles took the large thorn out of the lion’s paw and subsequently met the lion again at the arena. The Roman emperor was astonished to see that the lion refused to kill Androcles, having remembered that he had helped him a great deal. As a result, the Roman emperor pardoned Androcles from slavery and also freed the lion. Surely that compassion and lasting friendship are the noble values that should uphold conservation policies, not bringing pain, death and damage to our precious planet. Indeed, we should all support this Bill.

Photo of Lord Robathan Lord Robathan Ceidwadwyr 11:41, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, it might amuse my noble friend who has just spoken that I played the lion in the Bernard Shaw play, “Androcles and the Lion”, when I was about 10. I was not very good, actually.

I was going to make a speech to ask whether the bien pensant, well-meaning people in this country should know more about this than the people who live in Africa and in those communities? It was illustrated by the letter that was in the Times yesterday. I saw my noble friend the Minister a couple of nights ago and told him I had a medical appointment, and he said: “Nothing trivial, I hope?” His hopes are fulfilled. The result is that I cannot be here for the wind-ups so I cannot ask questions, and will not make a speech.

Photo of Lord Lilley Lord Lilley Ceidwadwyr 11:42, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, I was going to say what a privilege it was to follow such a brilliant speech from my noble friend, but I am sure we all know how brilliant it would have been.

I will try to be brief; I find the idea of shooting a noble animal and displaying its head, tusks or hooves on the wall in one’s home somewhat repugnant. But if I did wish to ban this practice—and the fact that it is repugnant does not necessarily mean it should be banned—I would begin by banning it at home, and stopping the export of trophies from this country, thousands of which are exported every year to other countries. This Bill does not do that; it leaves us free to do these things within our own country and export these things to other countries but simply bans the importation of trophy animals from abroad, in practice from developing countries.

I respect the passionate animal lovers in this place, not least my noble friend Lady Fookes, who automatically supports any measure to protect animals. But it is another aspect of this Bill that I take issue with. I have been struck time and again, since I have been in this place, by the residual imperialism of the attitudes that prevail. Now, one might expect that there might be a certain nostalgia for empire to linger on in the right but, although we hear incessantly from our liberal intelligentsia about the need to decolonise our minds, institutions and history, and lay down and check our white privilege, it is above all on the progressive left—who I confidently predict will support this Bill unanimously—that these neo-colonialist attitudes linger on and who most need to check their own white privilege and decolonise their minds. This Bill absolutely epitomises that; it assumes that Africans do not know what is in their own interests and cannot run their own countries, and that we have a right to tell them how to do so.

In Bleak House, Dickens ridicules this sort of thing as “telescopic philanthropy”, a misguided and patronising obsession with far-off problems about which his anti-heroine, Mrs Jellyby, knew little. Indeed, in some ways this Bill is worse than Mrs Jellyby’s telescopic philanthropy; she may have ignored poverty at home, but at least she wanted to relieve it abroad. But some of this Bill’s advocates are guilty of telescopic misanthropy; they are solely interested in signalling their virtue to their friends, even though the result of their actions can only be to impoverish people far away and put at risk the survival of the creatures they claim to want to protect. They accept that it will deprive some poor people of their income. One very thoughtful letter I have had from an advocate of this Bill said “Oh, it’s only £200 million that will be lost”, but £200 million goes a long way in a poor country. But that is tough—if they lose their income, it makes liberal white people feel good, and they patronisingly tell Africans who lose their jobs that they can still rely on our aid programmes, which makes white liberals feel better still.

The Bill’s advocates also ignore the fact that it will remove the incentive to protect and conserve these animals from the two great threats they face—poaching and habitat loss—and that therefore some species will be made at greater risk of extinction as a result of this Bill than would otherwise be the case. It is time we recognise that our former colonies are sovereign independent countries; they are the best judges of their own interests, and they have every interest in preserving endangered species. It really is time we help the intelligentsia in this country rid themselves of their liberal imperialism, lay down their white man’s burden, and focus on problems which are our own responsibility.

Photo of Lord Swire Lord Swire Ceidwadwyr 11:47, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, it is a very great pleasure to follow on from some of the speeches we have had so far in this debate today, not least the noble Lord, Lord St John—I second him in his praise for Tusk, an organisation for which I have raised money in the past and of which I know he continues to be a trustee—and the noble Lord, Lord Selkirk, about his cousin Iain Douglas-Hamilton, who I met in Kenya some years ago. I am aware of his work; he was, of course, one of the founders of Save the Elephants. I listened closely to what they said.

I was going to say that I have no dog in this fight, but I thought that might set a hare running. What I will say is that I have absolutely no desire to kill any of these particular animals myself, nor do I particularly like seeing photographs of pot-bellied Texan dentists with sets of improbable teeth kneeling next door to their fallen prey like Cecil the lion. We must all agree that the optics of that sort of behaviour are atrocious. But good legislation looks at unintended consequences not at headlines.

I was taken by the fact that paragraph 37 of the Explanatory Notes to the Bill talks about the financial implications of the Bill. Well, here is the problem: it only alludes to the financial implications of the Bill so far as it affects the United Kingdom. Of course, the financial implications of this Bill are surely about the negative consequences to the finances of those countries which would be affected were this Bill to become law. I note that my noble friend Lady Fookes quoted a letter, which I have just read online, from a whole raft of people across Africa and wider afield. But she did not refer to the letter in the Times—yesterday, I think it was—from the high commissioners and ambassadors from Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania, which makes a very different argument.

I gently ask my noble friend whether she has had any discussions with these high commissions and ambassadors, and if not, why not? Frankly, it is condescending to tell these countries how to run their internal affairs and to second-guess them as they struggle to keep poaching under control, very often risking the lives of their game rangers in so doing. What nobody has said so far today is what happens if these animals are not in some sense controlled. If there is no economic interest in preserving them, they run amok, running down crops, endangering lives and villages and becoming prey to even more poaching. That is the reality, so anyone who genuinely cares about animal welfare and the survival of species rather than favourable headlines must, by definition, oppose this Bill.

The British public will be rather amazed that we are debating this with the cost of living crisis, Ukraine and so forth, and I suspect a lot of them are, like me, made uneasy by the somewhat high-handed and neocolonial tone of this Bill. I think they expect better of us, as do those countries that will be affected by it, to which we should say, “We stand with you, we support you, we hear you and we will learn from you. We will work with you, not against you, to help put in place the best possible protocols which enhance conservation.” That should be our aim. I rather regret to say that this no doubt well-intentioned Bill does not achieve that. Regrettably, it suggests that if it were to become law, it would ensure the precise opposite.

Photo of Lord Remnant Lord Remnant Ceidwadwyr 11:51, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, it is with some diffidence that I venture out of my natural habitat of the financial services jungle into the open savannas of this debate, especially following the erudite words of my noble friend Lord Swire. This is a debate not so much on the narrow topic of the importing of hunting trophies but on trophy hunting itself, as several noble Lords have indicated today. Any such ban will affect the practice of hunting abroad, which will in turn have a far-reaching impact on conservation efforts. I believe that this will be a profoundly negative impact. I am no supporter of trophy hunting in and of itself, in fact I find it distasteful, but we have to look beyond the narrow picture to the wider canvas.

I am concerned that if this Bill were to be enacted in its current form, it would represent a triumph of emotion over reason. We must respect the rights of countries and conservationists to determine for themselves how best to manage their own wildlife resources. All of them require significant funding to achieve their objectives. The challenges facing the people and wildlife in Africa are greater than ever. We are losing animals and indeed species much faster than the natural extinction rate, and this is caused almost entirely by human activity. This will only worsen as the human population continues to grow and consume ever more natural resources.

The poaching and illegal wildlife trade is the fourth most lucrative international crime after drugs, arms and human trafficking. As a result, the African elephant population, for example, has fallen by more than 30% in the past seven years largely due to poaching. Trophy hunting reduces this threat as the operators generally invest significantly in antipoaching activities which protect both hunted and non-hunted species. Habitat loss represents the greatest threat to the majority of wildlife. The survival of many African species is dependent on healthy habitat, and the demands on land will only intensify with the rapidly increasing population. Arguably, the ultimate conservation challenge is finding a solution that benefits both people and wildlife. The revenue from trophy hunting helps incentivise landowners to maintain land as wildlife habitat, rather than to convert it into agricultural use or for urban or industrial development.

It is simplistic to suggest that you can just replace this revenue by funding from other sources, such as photographic safaris, because in many cases this is simply not an option in places suitable for trophy hunting. Related to this is the conflict between humans and wildlife. The clearance of land for settlements and agriculture not only results in loss of habitat for wildlife but forces wild animals into close quarters with humans. Retaliatory, or even pre-emptive, killing of lions by the local population has become one of their greatest threats. However, because it generates income, trophy hunting increases the willingness of local people to tolerate dangerous and destructive animals. The income funds not only physical barriers and deterrence but enhances human understanding of the importance of wildlife and how to avoid conflict.

In summary, when local communities, conservationists and other stakeholders see economic benefits to co-existing with wildlife, conservation can, and indeed does, succeed. However, conservation in general is largely underfunded, and wildlife authorities in many countries have insufficient budgets to manage protected areas and the species within them. Whether we like it or not, trophy hunting makes significant contributions to those budgets. Any benefits accruing from the enactment of this Bill will be marginal compared with the serious harm it will do to conservation efforts worldwide. These damaging and doubtless unintended consequences must be avoided. As this Bill progresses, I hope that my noble friends Lady Fookes and the Minister, who always displays total mastery of his brief—possibly up until this morning—will recognise the concerns of many noble Lords and strongly support an approach to achieve this.

Photo of Viscount Trenchard Viscount Trenchard Ceidwadwyr 11:56, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow my noble friend Lord Remnant. I always agree with what he says about financial services, and I am happy to say that I also agree with what he has said today. I respect the motivation of my noble friend Lady Fookes in introducing this Bill. I know she believes sincerely that it will prevent the overexploitation of endangered species, thereby assisting the stabilisation of populations of such species. However, I think that my noble friend is misguided because in the main, trophy hunting is beneficial to local communities in many African countries. It is also much better that affected countries be left to decide for themselves how they manage trophy hunting, and that we should not be seen to interfere.

Furthermore, the Bill would clearly be counter-productive. In Namibia, for example, trophy hunting contributes 20% more to the national economy than the whole small livestock farming sector. It just is not true that it is necessary to ban licensed and managed hunting in order to save species from extinction. Of the 73 CITES-listed species of animals which have been imported into the UK in the past 22 years, none is seriously threatened by trophy hunting. On the contrary, properly managed, licensed hunting assists the good management of wildlife. In the case of many species, culling a quota of older animals is helpful, even essential, for the sustainability of the herd as a whole. It is exactly the same with deer stalking in Scotland, from which many thousands of trophies are exported every year. Does this Bill not show us in rather a hypocritical light? I am sure that many animal rights activists would like to ban deer stalking, but I am certain that the result would be a marked deterioration in the quality and number of healthy wild deer roaming Scotland’s Highlands.

I have observed that the keenest participants in field sports are, in the main, the same people who care most for their quarry, the animals. Salmon fishermen have contributed significant resources towards improving our rivers and trying to rescue the Atlantic salmon. If salmon fishing with rod and line were banned, it would do nothing for the salmon or the quality of our rivers. The same logic applies to game reserves in Africa. This Bill would certainly make many managed game reserves economically unsustainable, and the result would be an increase in poaching, less management and less observation of wildlife herds, because the income from photo-tourism and other alternative sources does not begin to approach that which many communities receive from trophy hunting.

I am opposed to this Bill, which I consider unnecessary and, in its effect, harmful to nature. It is also meddling where we should not meddle. There may be ways in which it could be made less harmful, and I would support those, but the best thing my noble friend could do for the future of the species covered by the Bill would be to withdraw it. I have heard that a number of ambassadors and high commissioners from affected countries have expressed concerns about the impact of the proposed ban on the livelihoods of their rural communities and on the conservation of wildlife, even in national parks and game reserves in those countries.

I want to ask my noble friend two questions: first, does she want to ban deer stalking in the United Kingdom? Secondly, how many approaches from ambassadors and high commissioners wishing to meet her to discuss the Bill has she received and how many meetings has she held as a result? She said in her introductory remarks that she remains to be persuaded and that she expected to receive much information today. As my noble friend Lord Swire has also asked, why does my noble friend not meet the representatives of countries affected by the Bill? They are the people best qualified to tell her the facts as they are. I look forward to her winding up and to the Minister’s reply.

Photo of Lord Lucas Lord Lucas Ceidwadwyr 12:01, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, I am a practical person and, for me, the practical benefits for wildlife outweigh any considerations of my sensibilities. My judgment is that this Bill as it is will damage conservation; I therefore support the suggested direction of amendment that my noble friend Lord Bellingham proposed.

The flow of money is important to conservation; we can see that in this country. Let us take the example of the long-standing RSPB reserve Lake Vyrnwy in Wales and the RSPB’s recent application for many millions of pounds of funding. The RSPB says that, unless it gets all this money in this area of Wales, red grouse, black grouse, hen harriers and waders will all become extinct—and I can understand why. It takes a great flow of money to achieve effective conservation. By contrast, the RSPB, as reported in its publication today, is heavily opposed to driven grouse-shooting—but if you go on a well-managed driven grouse moor, as I had the privilege to do this spring, it is a place alive with waders and, indeed, as a properly managed moor, with raptors too. It is a buzzing ecological community, and that is managed because of all the effort put in to maintain grouse-shooting.

In contrast to the RSPB seeing hen harriers as dying out in Lake Vyrnwy, the picture in England is that we have gone, since 2017, from 10 chicks fledged to 190 chicks fledged due to the collaboration between Natural England and grouse-shooting. The high principles and purity of the RSPB are leading to the hen harrier dying out; the “killers” and their policies are leading to it flourishing. That seems to me to be an interesting parallel to what we are being asked to consider in this Bill. We may not like trophy hunting, but the proceeds of trophy hunting, flowing into a well-managed conservation effort, are immensely beneficial to wildlife.

We are asking African people to live alongside lions and elephants and yet, considering the debates in this country on the reintroduction of the European lynx—a little baby cat—we ought to understand what we are asking of these people. It is not just, “Be nice”; it is, “Do something that will have an immense impact on your life”, or, in many cases, “Put your life in danger”. People are killed with some regularity by the wildlife in these areas outside reserves. We are asking people to take a huge responsibility. For us, 30 by 30 is nice—it just means more butterflies—but when you talk about more big game and letting it thrive, you are talking about a big impact on your life. We must support the efforts these countries are making to make conservation possible. We must respect what they say is necessary and what they say works and find ways of supporting that.

We might deprecate the people who trophy hunt—it is not something that I wish to do myself—but very many of us watched the first episode of the recent Attenborough series where the white-tailed eagle was hunting the goose. The experience of that is so close to the experience of hunting an animal oneself that I could not separate it. We are built as hunters; we are not descended from rabbits. We are hunters, and that which is expressed as pleasure by trophy hunters is in most of us. We ought to recognise that; they are not something apart but an expression of one aspect of humanity.

I hope we will be able, without too much argument, to amend this Bill to allow whatever structures we think appropriate in this country to collaborate with conservation structures and Governments abroad and allow trophies to be imported from those countries where we are absolutely clear that this is making a substantial contribution to conservation in those countries.

Photo of Lord Reay Lord Reay Ceidwadwyr 12:06, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the wise words of my noble friend Lords Lucas and a great privilege to participate in the debate on this Bill brought forward by my noble friend Lady Fookes, for whom I have great admiration—and I am not just saying that as I happen to be her Whip. Her passion for the welfare of animals is well recognised.

On the topic of hunting after sporting trophies, I am sure the House would join me in extending the best of wishes to Ben Stokes and his England cricket team as they commence today their bid to regain the Ashes urn.

I support the intentions of this Bill to protect endangered wildlife but fear that, as currently drafted, the unintended consequences will have detrimental effects on conservation efforts, not to mention livelihoods, in Africa and elsewhere. As we have heard from several noble Lords, regulated trophy hunting plays a significant role in funding conservation initiatives, particularly across the African continent. Hunters who legally acquire permits contribute substantial amounts of money to local communities and conservation organisations. These funds are used to support anti-poaching patrols, assist with habitat protection and benefit the overall management of wildlife areas.

A ban on the importation of hunting trophies will inadvertently deprive these communities of a vital source of revenue. This loss of fee income, jobs and indeed animal meat, will severely impact conservation efforts, leaving wildlife populations vulnerable to poaching and habitat destruction. Without adequate resources, Governments will struggle to employ game rangers, invest in surveillance technology and implement effective wildlife management strategies.

This is precisely what happened in Botswana after the Government introduced a hunting ban a decade ago. The policy resulted in the displacement of communities due to income reduction and the destruction of habitat caused by the absence of land management. It was evident that not only does photo tourism fail to fill the income gap but it tends to take place in more accessible landscapes. Thankfully, the Government there recognised the damage caused and reversed the ban, and mammal numbers have improved. Kenya, on the other hand, has lost 70% of its wildlife since hunting was banned in 1977.

The main threat to wildlife globally is the conversion of land from wildlife habitat to agriculture or industrial development. Revenue from trophy hunting helps to incentivise landowners to maintain land as a wildlife habitat. When carried out under strict regulations and quotas, trophy hunting can also contribute to and enhance the preservation of species. By targeting older post-reproductive males, hunters can play a role in population management, ensuring the genetic diversity and long-term survival of species. This has been demonstrated in various African countries, including Namibia, where well-regulated hunting programmes have resulted in a more abundant elephant population.

The Bill would be more acceptable if it permitted the import of trophies from places where it could be shown that hunting makes a positive contribution to conservation and local livelihoods. That would be in line with the approach taken by the US authorities. Import certificates could be granted by the JNCC, the UK Government’s scientific advisory board for nature conservation.

The UK Government, in response to the potential harm caused to the livelihoods of communities affected by the Bill, have suggested that aid should be used to mitigate the loss of income. History and experience demonstrate that such aid is rarely, if ever, delivered to the right place. Aid initiatives often fail to create jobs, frequently fuel corruption and render the recipient state dependent on foreign donors.

This legislation also creates certain inconsistencies. An elk hunter in northern Europe, for instance, where hunting is highly regulated and state quotas ensure that numbers do not get too high or too low, would be banned from importing elk antlers into the UK. However, as we have heard, a red deer stalker in Scotland is rightly allowed to export stag antlers from this country.

The proposed Bill will have severe consequences for international conservation efforts. By cutting off a significant source of funding, the legislation will weaken anti-poaching measures, hamper wildlife management and jeopardise the livelihoods of local communities. It is crucial that we recognise the importance of sustainable hunting practices and work towards collaborative solutions that balance conservation goals with the needs of local communities. We should strive to protect and conserve Africa’s and other continents’ remarkable wildlife heritage for generations to come.

Photo of Lord Hamilton of Epsom Lord Hamilton of Epsom Ceidwadwyr 12:12, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, this is a very bad Bill because, while we all support what it is trying to achieve, which is to ensure that endangered species of animals do not become extinct, it will actually achieve the opposite if it takes effect in the way that is intended.

I am going to talk about Africa. I shall start at the beginning. Population growth is finally stabilising in this world. It will probably top out at about 9 billion. One of the reasons for that is that, with better health services in China and the one-child policy, it looks as if the Chinese population is not growing any more, and India is closely following. The exception to this is Africa, where, for many reasons—I suspect it is the inadequacy of health services as much as anything—populations are still growing exponentially. I shall therefore concentrate most of my remarks on what is happening there. There are trophy hunters who export trophies from countries such as Pakistan, Turkey, Mongolia and indeed of course the United Kingdom. As many people have mentioned, we export a large number of trophies, mostly from people who have shot red deer.

I would love to be able to say that I am not a trophy hunter and it has never appealed to me as something I want to do, but actually I have shot a significant number of red stags in Scotland and have on occasion taken their horns down to England, where I live. I therefore suppose I have to qualify as a trophy hunter—it is quite difficult to say that I am not one—but it has certainly never appealed to me to shoot a magnificent beast in Africa. But, of course, it does bring significant income into those countries.

As we know, the growing populations of many of these African countries mean that the demand for land is getting greater all the time. You preserve endangered species from the predations of man only by having conservation areas, and they cost serious money to maintain. Indeed, where the whole essence of a conservation area breaks down in civil war, of which Africa has had far too much experience, invariably what happens is that poachers run wild, the predations of man get much worse and endangered species decline as a result. So we must do everything we can to ensure that as much finance finds its way into these areas as possible. For that reason, if we have qualms about trophy hunting in these areas, we should suppress them, because it is channelling funds into areas of Africa where they are most desperately needed—and where in many cases the populations of endangered species are actually growing rather than shrinking, which is an essential requirement if we want to ensure that they do not become extinct.

A noble friend of mine who has now left this House produced a special breed of pig. He always said that if you wanted to keep a special species of pig, the best thing to do was to eat it. I am afraid we have a very complicated relationship with animals, because we do eat them in prodigious quantities, and for that they have to be slaughtered. We cannot get away from that contradiction, with which we live in this country, and our complicated relationship with animals, because at the end of the day we have to manage wildlife in a way that keeps them in existence and enhances their prospects of living on this planet with us. If we do not do that, we will lose everything.

Photo of Lord Hannan of Kingsclere Lord Hannan of Kingsclere Ceidwadwyr 12:16, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, consider the tale of two African countries. In the late 1970s, as we have just heard, Kenya banned the hunting of elephants and the sale of tusks and saw an upsurge of poaching to such a degree that elephants were almost wiped out in that country. At almost exactly the same time, Zimbabwe—or Rhodesia, as it still was for a couple more years—made elephants the property of whoever’s land they were roaming on, with the result that there was an upsurge in numbers because, as Aristotle teaches, that which no one owns, no one will care for.

It can take an effort of will in a country like this to imagine what it is like to live next to some of these large mammals. We encounter them even before we go to school. They are presented to us in the first books that we see as toddlers, smiling, colourful and anthropomorphised. Then we come across them later as teenagers in documentaries, endangered, handsome and gracious—but of course that is not exactly how they seem when they are next door to you. A lion might carry off a child. An elephant will trample crops and possibly push over your dwelling. Rhinos and hippos are more dangerous still. Even the giraffe, which looks so graceful when we see it on television, competes for scarce water resources with local herders. So, if we want to preserve these animals and their habitats, we have to give local people an incentive to treat them as a renewable resource—in other words, to give them an incentive financially by being able, in a licensed and qualified way, to sell tusks, hides and, yes, hunting licences.

When South Africa decided to do something about the decline of white rhinos, it became almost the only place in the world where numbers stopped falling; 80% of white rhinos, which were nearly extinct in the rest of Africa, are now found in South Africa because it used trophy hunting and the revenue therefrom as a way of incentivising local people to become custodians—each to become a gamekeeper, if you like.

Last year I had the great privilege of spending some time visiting the northern parts of Pakistan, with beautiful, austere landscapes where there is an unusual mountain goat called the markhor, which has amazing screwdriver horns like a drill. It is a most magnificent animal. In the 20th century it was this close to extinction, with fewer than 500 left. The Pakistani authorities then began to auction a very small number of hunting licences, three or four a year. They now fetch immense sums: $500,000, or upwards of that in some cases. That money is reserved for the local communities. The people in those communities then make damn sure that no one comes near any of those animals, except the elderly post-reproductive ones that are marked for hunting. People who previously had no incentive to look after the numbers have, if you like, all become rangers in a way that overstretched Governments are not able to do. We made it everybody’s business.

This, it seems to me, is a question which pits aesthetics against intellect. It pits how we feel about something, our sentiment, against what we think is most in the interests of endangered species. Like my noble friend Lord Swire, I do not particularly like the image of American dentists squatting by fallen lions. Maybe it is that we all have a problem, on some deep psychological level, with dentists—I do not know. But it is not fundamentally for us in this House to consider the aesthetics; it is for us to consider the effects. Above all, surely that is why we are here: as a check on the radicalism of the popularly elected Chamber. It is exactly our job to think about the effects rather than simply about the headlines.

There is a difference between saying, “I disapprove of this thing”, or even “I find this thing unspeakably ugly”, and saying, “Therefore this thing should be banned”. That is not just a semantic difference. The difference between those two things contains the entirety of what we mean by a free society.

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Ceidwadwyr 12:21, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, it is always a privilege, and a very exciting one, to follow my noble friend Lord Hannan. I never know where his speeches are going to take us, but they never disappoint.

This is a very short Bill and it contains only one measure, which is to prohibit, as we know, the importation of hunting trophies. Trophy hunting is perceived by the Bill’s sponsors as a threat to a number of important species and they consider that prohibiting the import of their trophies will reduce the amount of hunting and thus assist in conserving those species—it is pretty simple. The restricted species, as we know, are set out in annexe A or B of the principal wildlife regulations, as described in Clause 2.

Annexes A and B includes over 6,000 species. As I am sure your Lordships will know, they include 2,000 corals, 585 lizards, 300 hummingbirds, 299 frogs and 96 molluscs—I could go on. None of these, by the way, are hunted. In fact, only 53 of the species have been imported in the last 20 years, amounting to about 100 trophies per annum. Just to put that in perspective, it is estimated that 96 elephants are poached every day.

The Bill, if enacted, will have so small an effect as to be of no practical benefit whatever. Not to put too fine a point on it, it is completely pointless and nothing more than symbolic. In addition, while some of the animals from which those 100 trophies come are endangered, none of them are endangered by trophy hunting. There is also the law of unintended consequences. Opponents of this Bill have argued that there is a significant negative consequence that far outweighs any miniscule benefit. They have produced substantial evidence that the revenue derived from trophy hunting safeguards habitat and pays for the prevention of poaching. The Bill’s supporters, on the other hand, argue that the revenue is insignificant, does not achieve these benefits and, when it reaches local communities, it is of no consequence.

Your Lordships always have to sift through the evidence and weigh up the arguments. No politician can know everything; one of the skills we have to develop is sifting through the information we receive. In the last few days, as my noble friend Lady Fookes said in opening this debate, we received a letter from the Humane Society International UK—an offshoot of the Humane Society International, which is a leading animal rights organisation. It raises a lot of money and is a lobbying organisation, but it is not engaged in conservation. I am sure all your Lordships looked carefully at the signatories. There were apparently government officials and conservationists, but I could not find many of those. I saw several human rights activists, some pastoralists—I am not sure what they are—a teacher and one chap who rather bravely described himself as a scholar. The most well-known signatory is Dr Ian Khama, the former president of Botswana, who was indeed responsible for banning trophy hunting in 2014, but that ban was lifted by Botswana’s present Government in 2019. The acting Botswana high commissioner, who was kind enough to come to this House to brief us the other day and meet colleagues, has made it clear that his Government do not support this Bill.

The reason why so many African countries and the leading conservationists from Oxford University, the University of Gloucestershire and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which is the world’s leading organisation in the monitoring of species and advises Governments, including our own, are so concerned about the Bill is simple. Their opinion, which is supported by research, hard evidence and examples, is that the income from trophy hunting does have a significant effect in protecting habitat, deterring poaching and incentivising local communities to accept wild animals as a beneficial resource. Without trophy hunting, habitat where hunting currently takes place will be lost. In its place, there will be increased development, particularly of agriculture, along with an increase in human/wildlife conflict and a rapid rise in poaching. It is those, rather than hunting, which threaten the survival of species.

It is clear the Government accept that there is likely to be a drop in income if this Bill proceeds because, in her letter to the Namibian high commissioner on 25 April, the Defra Minister, Trudy Harrison, wrote:

“As you will know, DEFRA has a suite of programmes aimed at protecting and restoring nature, contributing to poverty reduction in developing countries, and supporting local communities … This funding far exceeds any financial benefits for conservation that may currently be derived from the small number of hunting trophies imported into the UK”.

When he comes to wind up the debate, will my noble friend the Minister confirm that it is now the Government’s policy to enact measures to create poverty in developing countries and then simply substitute grant aid for the lost income? I find that very difficult to believe.

There have been some pretty unpleasant accusations about post-imperial policies, about patronising attitudes towards former colonies and even a racist tone in some of the comments made. I find those deeply uncomfortable, but I also find it difficult to ignore or deny them. What I can do is to quote a letter from the official representatives of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe to my right honourable friend Andrew Mitchell on 25 May. They said:

“While respecting the Minister’s opinion, we regret to inform that we take exception to this position that it is tantamount to subjecting those likely to be adversely affected by the Bill, to a beggar-like dependency on external support for their livelihood. We do not find it appropriate to relegate these proud, hard-working communities who have successfully forged a coexistence with nature to a position of surviving through aid”.

Nevertheless, against my better judgment, I am persuaded by the conservationists I have spoken to and the representatives of the various African Governments that the Bill probably should proceed to the statute book, with only a small but hugely important tweak. In Committee, I will seek to move an amendment which has been described as the “conservation amendment”. It would allow that, if there was a demonstrable conservation benefit—I stress, a demonstrable conservation benefit—from the hunting, a trophy could be imported. It would require a permit from the JNCC, which is the Government’s scientific adviser and currently issues all the CITES permits. It has already confirmed that it has the capability and resources to do this. This would allow the Government to surpass their manifesto commitment.

This simple amendment will address the concerns of those scientific conservationists who have been critical of the Bill. I believe it will also satisfy the African, eastern European and Asian Governments who have been unanimous in voicing their concerns. It will turn the Bill from one that will do much more harm than good into one that will genuinely advance the conservation of vulnerable species. I look forward to meeting my noble friend Lady Fookes and the Minister to work with them to get this Bill on the statute book in a way that we can all support.

Photo of Baroness Sanderson of Welton Baroness Sanderson of Welton Ceidwadwyr 12:28, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow my noble friend Lord Mancroft and I am very pleased to hear that he would like the Bill to reach the statute book, for I rise to speak in support of it and of my noble friend Lady Fookes.

I am not going to go over the arguments as to whether trophy hunting is important for conservation. As we have heard already, plenty have used the science to say that it is and others have used it to say that it is not. Frankly, I very much doubt that either side will change its mind by listening to the evidence put forward by the other. Instead, there is another and more fundamental question to consider. It is whether we really believe that, in this day and age, trophy hunting can be seen as a reasonable endeavour, even in the name of conservation, as its supporters claim.

Many in this Chamber have talked about how distasteful this is as a practice. We have not actually spelled out the reality, so I will take a minute and go through what it means. A group of men, sometimes women, will pay to go on what seems, on the face of it, to be a standard safari. There is a nice lodge, a glass of wine and plenty of time to relax in between game drives, but there the similarities end. You do not have a guide on these drives; you have a PH—a private hunter—and there is a difference. A safari guide has to learn how to interpret and be respectful of the wilderness and its wildlife. They are the link between nature and guest. A private hunter just has to know how to hunt. What they really need to do is make sure that, if their clients miss, they can tell them where to shoot next. In truth, that is the only tricky bit. It is called hunting but very often there is no chase, and it does not take great skill.

I asked the South African wildlife journalist and academic Dr Adam Cruise, who is here today, to tell me a bit about it, as he has been on many of these hunts. He explained:

“The animals are used to the vehicles and the elephants and the lions don’t run anyway. It’s as simple as going out, seeing the zebra, say, getting out of the jeep, taking a few steps and shooting the zebra—if they get it wrong the first time, which they often do, the PH is there to guide them ... bit lower, bit higher … while the animal writhes on the floor. It can often take them 10 or 15 minutes to die but when the job’s finally done, the staff clean off the blood, the client has his picture taken, jumps back in the jeep and the team will either put the animal in the back if it’s small enough or chop off the head if it’s a lion or an elephant and leave the carcass behind.”

He went on to talk about one hunt he was on:

“A lot of the animals are bred for the purpose so even something like a rhino can be quite tame—”

Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Ceidwadwyr

My Lords, I wonder if my noble friend would be so awfully kind as to give way? What she is saying is very interesting, of course, but she is talking about canned hunting in South Africa. That is not the subject of this Bill.

Photo of Baroness Sanderson of Welton Baroness Sanderson of Welton Ceidwadwyr

I am not talking about canned hunting. I am talking about the experience of an academic and journalist who has been on many different types of hunts, including canned hunting. I am not talking only about that, so if my noble friend would let me finish, I would be grateful.

It is reasonable that, if we are going to talk about this, we talk about the reality of it. Dr Curtis went on one hunt where the rhinos were grazing around the chalets. He asked the client, “Which one is next on your list?” Pointing at Dr Curtis’s hand, which was stroking the rhino’s head because it was so tame, the client said, “That one”. I take the time to speak about this because, when I hear such things, I just think that there has to be a better way.

I would say to my noble friend that I am not some woke warrior. I do not think that this can be compared to a grouse shoot. I am not even a vegetarian, and maybe there is hypocrisy in that. However, I think that the killing of these magnificent animals for no purpose whatever is sickening. We have some children here today. My godchildren will not go to a zoo because they do not like to see wild animals caged up; they would rather watch Attenborough on television. The world is moving on.

As has been said by many in this Chamber, nobody here wants to go on these hunts; they want to support conservation, and I appreciate that. However, I point out that only 11 of the 54 countries in Africa allow trophy hunting. It is true that some of them do not have the game to support it, but Kenya does—admittedly in reduced numbers, as my noble friend Lord Reay has pointed out—as do Malawi and Ghana. They face the same problems with habitat and want to protect their communities. They want to support them but they do not want trophy hunting on their land. Does this not rather disprove the point that trophy hunting is a necessary evil? It is not; it is a choice.

In this country, we are doing something smaller in scope. Some noble Lords have argued that it is so small that it is nothing more than virtue signalling. Others have said that it is not small at all and that its impact is quite damaging, and that it is not up to us to tell other countries what to do. On the latter point, I agree that it is not up to us to tell other countries what to do, but we can, as a country, take a stance. I think we can take a stance on this pathetic sport. That is not virtue signalling; it is the right thing to do.

Photo of Lord Howard of Rising Lord Howard of Rising Ceidwadwyr 12:34, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, many heartfelt arguments have been put forward in favour of the Bill, and I respect them greatly. My sympathies are with the animals. I have been hugged by a fully grown tiger, walked with gorillas and had close contact with other large animals. I have no wish at all to ever hunt one, let alone import a trophy, but, however much anyone might be emotionally in favour of the Bill, I do not believe that it will contribute to the preservation of wildlife.

As was said, there is clear evidence that, where controlled hunting of wild animals is permitted, there is considerably enhanced conservation—more wildlife and more habitats. The payments for hunting are such that it enables an area to be properly patrolled and for the animals to be properly protected and not overhunted. As was said, it is obvious that, where this income and livelihood exist, steps will be taken to ensure that animals are preserved so that they continue.

I had first-hand experience of this when I lived, for a year, one mile away from the northern part of the Kruger National Park, over 100 miles away from the nearest tarmac road. Within the boundary of the heavily patrolled park, where there were strict controls on entry, there was very limited poaching. Outside of that boundary, poaching was rife, not just for trophies but for the meat, which was considered highly desirable by the local residents.

There is also the question of whether we in this country should take action that could go against how the Governments of other countries wish to run their affairs. Representatives of countries where hunting is permitted are here today, and I hope that they will realise that not everyone wishes to impose their own values on the countries concerned but are happy to leave them to manage their own affairs. It might be possible to understand and sympathise, but there is a clear danger of the loss of the species. Under the present rules and the way things are managed, there is no danger of such a loss. As many pointed out today, allowing big-game hunting in a controlled fashion works to preserve the animals concerned.

Photo of The Earl of Caithness The Earl of Caithness Ceidwadwyr 12:37, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, this has been a fascinating debate. I have no interest to declare except that I have a passion, just as great as that of my noble friend Lady Fookes, for nature, conservation and biodiversity. As I had no knowledge of what trophy hunting was really about, I sought to educate myself over the past months. What were my conclusions? First, there is far too much focus on Africa alone. Secondly, rational discussion is impossible—the sides are too embedded—but I will come back to that. Thirdly, no one really seemed to understand what we are talking about with this Bill.

As some have said today, the Bill talks about just over 6,000 species, but the only species that have been mentioned are lions, elephants and markhors. What we import is 0.1% of the 6,000 species subject to CITES control. It is therefore no surprise that my noble friend Lady Fookes did not wax lyrical about the tree snail, because it is extinct—it is still protected by this legislation but we are talking about a past species. Another conclusion that I came to is that canned hunting should be banned, and one good thing we could do is alter the Bill so that it reflects that wish.

During the numerous conversations I have had with both sides on this, I was sad that so many of the arguments are contradictory and how much they change as soon as facts are provided. I am in good, detailed discussions with the Born Free Foundation at the moment, and have received another letter from Dame Virginia, which is highly contradictory; I will reply to it as soon as I get time to get back to my computer. Having contradictory arguments does not help the case of those who wish to stop trophy hunting.

I will pick up some points that have been mentioned. My noble friend Lady Fookes mentioned the letter. It was very sad that the so-called experts said that the case for trophy hunting is

“promulgated by certain conservation scientists, many of whom have proven funding ties to the trophy hunting industry”.

That is not an accurate statement. Also, those in glass houses should not throw stones. A lot of the pro-trophy-hunting NGOs fund scientists. I believe that our scientists, whether they are funded by one side or the other, in large or small part, are above being influenced by that organisation.

My noble friend also talked about elephants producing smaller tusks. There are a lot of problems with the number of elephants killed—96 a day—while we import, under CITES control, about six year a year. What a huge difference.

The noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, talked about the derisory 0.06% of GDP. That is twice what the UK fishing industry brings into this country. I am sure that my noble friend the Minister would be very happy to say goodbye to the fishing industry using the same argument as the noble Baroness.

The noble Baroness, Lady Twycross, fell back on an argument that has been put to me so many times: that, as soon as one is challenged on fact, one relates back to an ethical argument on a moral issue. The moral issue is that there should be no shooting. When I put that argument in relation to red deer in Scotland to the NGOs, they do not want to discuss it with me.

My noble friend Lord Selkirk talked about ecotourism. Tell that to those in Tajikistan. They do not have a wildebeest migration that brings in 300,000 people a year; they do not have the roads that my noble friend Lady Sanderson thinks that one can get access to; they do not hunt in the way that you do in a tame place in Africa, where you can walk for miles and might not get a shot at all. I am glad that my noble friend Lord Hannan referred to the markhor. It is by local conservancy set-ups and hunting in Tajikistan that the snow leopard is thriving in a way that it has not done before. That is because there is now enough food for it.

We know there are three basic ingredients to good biodiversity management: habitat, feed and predation. We in this country are talking about increasing and making wild belts as the green lungs for our national parks. The hunting conservancies in parts of the world are those green lungs that we wish to establish—1.3 million square kilometres, one-fifth more than national parks. We do not want to destroy that.

Trophy hunting is not, and has been proved not to be, a major threat. Habitat and prey loss and conflict among people are much more important, and the Bill does nothing to help with that.

Photo of Lord Rennard Lord Rennard Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol 12:44, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, I shall begin my contribution with six words very rarely used by me on these Benches: I support the Government on this. There are some people, including some here, who have been busy praising Boris Johnson in the manner of Shakespeare’s Mark Antony’s funeral oration following the murder of Julius Caesar. They ignore the line

“The evil that men do lives after them”, and heap praise upon him for his election victory in 2019. But as the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, said, they should all remember that this Bill was part of the manifesto commitment of the Conservative Party in that election. As the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, confirmed, it was in Labour’s manifesto to support a Bill such as this. I can confirm that my party’s manifesto supported a ban on the importation of hunting trophies, albeit with reservations.

We should all note that the Bill was supported without opposition in the House of Commons, where a substantial majority of MPs was elected on the basis of the Conservative manifesto. The Daily Mirror reported this as, “Victory over cruel hunters”, and it was. The Times, in an editorial in 2019 said:

“Killing lions bred in captivity for fun is heinous and should be stopped”.

It is four years since Cecil the lion was killed by a Minnesota dentist, prompting an international outcry against big-game hunting. The public are firmly behind the Bill. A survey of 2,000 adults found that 86%, almost nine in 10, were in favour of banning trophy imports as soon as possible, rising to 92% of Conservative supporters. Anyone who wants to see film illustrating the cruelty of the industry can see videos on Twitter, using the hashtag #BanTrophyHunting, or find them on YouTube.

It is important to understand that only around a dozen African countries currently permit trophy hunting, and that the contribution of trophy hunting to their GDP is minuscule. It means that the economic productivity of these blocks of land is actually very low, and that hunting is not an economically sustainable land-use solution.

We have heard expressions of support from all parts of the House today for the welfare of wild animals. The International Fund for Animal Welfare told me this week that it is opposed to trophy hunting. It believes that it cannot be justified as a conservation measure and that the economic contribution from trophy hunting cannot be shown to adequately protect endangered wildlife and local livelihoods compared to alternative positive conservation measures.

It is very misleading to suggest that hunting businesses are about supporting poor people in Africa. A survey by the United Nations and a pro-hunting group found that hunting companies contributed only 3% of their revenue to communities living in hunting areas. The issue is not about charity but about profits. Millions of dollars are being spent on lobbying to protect those profits—profits that are derived from cruelty, not sport. As the noble Baroness, Lady Twycross, said, it is big business.

We have heard several noble Lords today say that they support the aims of the Bill but consider that it requires some form of amendment. I simply say that I have sat here on many Fridays supporting Private Members’ Bills seeking to end the ludicrous process of holding by-elections for new hereditary Peers, but they have all been thwarted as a result of unnecessary amendments being tabled. We should all be aware that any amendments passed by your Lordships’ House would also need to be agreed by the House of Commons, and that no more sitting Fridays are scheduled in the Commons for such business to be considered. Therefore, any amendments passed in the Lords would have the practical effect of killing the Bill.

The noble Lord, Lord Robathan, albeit very briefly, and the noble Lord, Lord Lilley, suggested that this Bill is about colonialism and is an issue for the liberal intelligentsia, but they ignore what Conservative voters actually care about. The views of Conservative voters forced their own party to scrap plans to repeal the Hunting Act during the 2017 general election.

I draw the attention of the House again to the letter from 103 wildlife conservation experts, scientists, government officials and community leaders who live or work in different parts of Africa, in countries such as Botswana, Tanzania, South Africa, the DRC and Zimbabwe. They urge all of us to back an import ban on the prizes of what they call the “morally reprehensible colonial relic” of trophy hunting.

Will the Minister confirm today that business managers in the Commons will guarantee time for any Lords amendments to the Bill to be considered? If not, we will know that any talk about amendments is really talk about killing the Bill, as well as killing animals for fun.

Photo of Baroness Hayman of Ullock Baroness Hayman of Ullock Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government) 12:51, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, for bringing this forward today and Henry Smith MP for steering it through the other place. This is clearly an issue on which there are strong feelings. It is clear from this debate that there are strong views on each side and, frankly, I do not think there is much room to come together in the middle. When the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, was talking about old cantankerous males, I wondered whether he was actually referring to some Members of the House of Lords—let us hope not. I thank the noble Baroness for her very powerful introduction to this Bill; her passion for animal welfare brings her huge respect across the House.

I remind noble Lords, as others have done, that the proposed ban has widespread support from the public and, as we have heard, clear cross-party support in Parliament. As noble Lords have said, it was in the manifestos of major parties. Action against this terrible sport—if you can call it a sport—has already taken place across the globe. France and Australia banned the import and export of lion hunting trophies in 2015 and the Netherlands banned trophy imports of more than 200 species in 2016. The noble Lord, Lord St John of Bletso, talked about canned hunting in South Africa. A few years ago, as I am sure he is aware, South Africa unveiled plans to terminate its multimillion-dollar lion-breeding industry, which supplies lions for trophy hunts as well as for tourism and traditional medicine. If there is one point of agreement in this debate, it is how appalling canned hunting is.

I will pick up some of the main points that have been discussed. We have discussed that hunting supports conservation and local communities. We believe that trophy hunting can have detrimental effects on wildlife populations, especially when conducted irresponsibly or without proper regulation. Some endangered or threatened species may be targeted by trophy hunters, exacerbating their decline and hindering conservation efforts. Trophy hunting has a history of mismanagement, with quotas based on inadequate data, unsustainable hunting quotas and a lack of transparency. The economic benefits generated from trophy hunting have also often been overstated, with only a small proportion of the revenue actually reaching local communities or conservation programmes. Such assertions are data-deficient and have been shown to be false whenever even the most basic interviews with communities and independent analysis are conducted. If such funds reach local communities, they are entirely negligible for conservation efforts compared to the damage inflicted by the industry through the irreversible loss of key natural resources.

There has been much talk about evidence and experts, on both sides of the argument. From my reading and research, the argument that trophy hunting is necessary for conservation funding does not seem to stand up to scrutiny. Surely, it is simply counterproductive to the overall idea of conservation. Why do you need to shoot something you are trying to protect?

Trophy hunting can also disrupt the delicate balance of ecosystems, as noble Lords have mentioned during the debate. We have heard that removing key individuals such as dominant males can lead to social instability in animal populations, affecting their reproductive success and overall health, and that this imbalance can have a cascading effect on the ecosystem as a whole.

There is a wide variety of targets a trophy hunter may focus on. However, the most common targets are the African big five: the African elephant, the Cape buffalo, the African leopard, the African lion and the black rhino. Four of these majestic animals are currently considered to be endangered. In the sport of trophy hunting, it is also common for hunters to find the largest and strongest male. A number of noble Lords have talked about the impact this can have on the gene pool for such species, leaving each generation weaker and making it more difficult for them to survive in the long term.

Although hunting groups will claim that controlled trophy hunting does not harm populations, that evidence seems to show that the opposite is true. Approximately 600 African lions are killed every year on trophy hunts, including those in populations that are already declining from other threats. The adult male lion is the most sought-after trophy by wealthy foreign hunters; shooting an adult male, such as Cecil, can generate a one-off trophy fee of around $15,000.

Let us have a further look at the economics. In its report Big Game Hunting in West Africa, the International Union for Conservation of Nature says:

“Returns for local populations, even when managed by community projects … are insignificant, and cannot prompt them to change their behaviour regarding poaching and agricultural encroachment. The number of salaried jobs generated (15,000 all over Africa) is low considering that 150 million people live in the eight main big game hunting countries, and that hunting takes up 16.5% of their territory.”

Hunting also directly competes with and undermines truly sustainable and economically important revenue generation from alternative means such as ecotourism and photographic. The noble Baroness, Lady Sanderson of Welton, gave some examples of this. Just because the alternatives for economic development may not necessarily work to begin with does not mean that more work should not be done and they should not be invested in and developed for the future. There is no reason why they cannot generate revenues to cover the real cost of conservation and effective anti-poaching work, as well as providing well-paid permanent jobs for local people without causing harm to animals.

Poaching has been mentioned at length in this debate. We need to recognise that trophy hunting, as well as being cruel and unjustifiable, in my mind, can act as a cover for illegal poaching. While a certain amount of regulation does take place, it is not enough to prevent trophy hunts being used as a cover for poaching. According to a report entitled The Myth of Trophy Hunting as Conservation, by Save African Animals,

“Opening up even a limited legal trade creates a smokescreen for poachers which is almost impossible to police.”

Let me draw a comparison with whaling. Before the whaling moratorium was introduced in 1986, legal quotas were widely used as covers for poaching, driving some species near to extinction. The same is now happening with the trophy hunting of endangered species.

We have also heard about the idea of a licensing exemption—that has been talked about quite considerably. The noble Lord, Lord Bellingham, introduced that element in his speech. I may be wrong, but this appears to propose a model that resembles licences for trophy imports awarded under the United States’s Endangered Species Act. I think it would be disproportionate to include this in the legislation, as it would introduce considerable cost and administrative burdens, as well as creating the risk of judicial review. Indeed, a director for the US Fish and Wildlife Service explained that it faced challenges during a recent lawsuit. He said:

“The International Affairs Program currently has a backlog of applications and insufficient staffing and resources to keep up with the very high workload and backlog. Staff time also must be spent defending against multiple lawsuits filed in federal court concerning the Service’s administration of permits to import sport-hunted elephant trophies and other permitting responsibilities”.

Surely this is not a situation we should seek to emulate.

Moreover, a system to assess whether import permits should be issued for hunting trophies from threatened species according to certain criteria would be heavily, if not exclusively, reliant on data and reports from exporting countries, which have proven time and again to be unreliable. It is of particular note that a letter we discussed mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, signed by African experts, said:

“Trophy hunting has a history of mismanagement with quotas based on inadequate data”— as I have said.

There seems to have been an element in this debate of picking and choosing which experts you want to believe. It is not reasonable for the people who signed that letter to be completely dismissed, just as we need to listen to other arguments being put forward. I do not believe that trophy hunting is helping to save our planet; it is driven by the trophy hunters’ desire to kill and then boast about it. As inhabitants of our planet, it is our responsibility to address this, as losing animals of such great importance would be a terrible loss. In my personal opinion, trophy hunting is cruel, inhumane and unjustifiable. It is also morally objectionable. Killing animals for so-called sport or as a form of entertainment is unnecessary and cruel. It also raises questions about our responsibility towards other living beings and challenges the notion of conservation based on killing. I have never been able to understand why anybody would want to kill a beautiful creature then pose for a photograph with a dead animal, let alone bring its head home.

We have heard that society is changing, and it is. Societal attitudes towards animals and conservation are evolving, and there is growing pressure on Governments to re-evaluate their position on practices such as trophy hunting. The noble Lord, Lord Selkirk of Douglas, talked about it as a moral wrong, and I agree with him, so I am proud to support the Government today and hope that the Minister will be able to address many of the concerns, because it is time the UK joined others around the globe and banned the importation of hunting trophies for good.

Photo of Lord Benyon Lord Benyon The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 1:03, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, I speak in support of the Bill on behalf of the Government and thank noble Lords on all sides for the quality of this debate. I pay tribute to my noble friend Lady Fookes and my honourable friend Henry Smith in the other place for their progress with the Bill thus far.

It is clear from the debate and from the noise around it that trophy hunting is a controversial issue. There are those who point to the evidence about the potential benefits of well-managed hunting and those who point to the evidence of harm or poor practice. The Bill is about imports to Great Britain. The import ban will, of course, not prevent a UK resident or citizen from participating in hunting while overseas. Trophy hunting will continue around the world, and it is right that each country should be able to decide how best to manage its wildlife. The Bill does not change that, but it is also right that we listen to the British public, and there is a clear and strong message to bring an end to the import of endangered animals taken for the purpose of trophies. The Bill before us will therefore fulfil our manifesto commitment to do just that and, in doing so, it would help us to better protect some of the world’s most endangered species.

On the Bill itself, Clauses 1 and 2 together make provision for the import ban; it will cover trophies brought into Great Britain from animals hunted after this legislation comes into force. The definition of a hunting trophy in Clause 1 is:

“the body of an animal, or a … 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—the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. This means other types of item will continue to be subject to our current controls—for example, under CITES. Trade in those other types of items will not be affected by the Bill.

Clause 2—and this leads to the point raised by my noble friend Lord Mancroft—means that the import ban will cover all species listed in Annexes A and B of our wildlife trade regulations, which implement Appendices 1 and 2 of CITES in Great Britain. The annexes cover species that the global community has agreed to protect through trade restrictions in the light of their endangered status. The Commons narrowed the scope of the Bill by making an amendment to remove a power for the Secretary of State to add the species that would be covered. To use Annexe A and B listings with no additions or variations is the best way for the Bill to address imports from endangered species. As a result, the Bill will end the permits system for imports of hunting trophies from these species. There are no provisions for exemptions to the import ban for hunting trophies from those species.

Clause 3 is about movements from Northern Ireland to Great Britain. Let me be clear that we will do as much as we can to ensure that Northern Ireland is not used as a stepping stone for imports to Great Britain. The EU wildlife trade regulations continue to apply in Northern Ireland under the Windsor Framework. Our CITES authorities will carefully scrutinise permit applications for Northern Ireland to ensure that imports meet the strict requirements set out by those regulations to ensure that trade is sustainable and legal. We also have controls in place for movements of endangered species from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, and those controls will apply to all hunting trophies in scope of the Bill.

Clause 4, added on Report in the Commons, is about the advisory board on hunting trophies—and some comment was made on this. My colleague speaking in the other place welcomed the principle of receiving expert advice, and I agree. For example, we already receive advice on international wildlife trade issues from the JNCC, which is the UK’s scientific authority for CITES. We are aware there is an unclear reference to “Committee” in Clause 4(3)(a), which a number of noble Lords have raised with me. That will be corrected to “advisory board” on printing. There is no need for noble Lords to make an amendment in this regard, and I put on the record that the Government have no concerns about the drafting.

Lastly, Clause 5 considers extent, application, commencement and short title. The import of endangered species is a reserved matter, and consequently there is no need for a legislative consent Motion, which saves me the embarrassment that I indulged in on an earlier piece of legislation today. I was always told that it is crucial on the Front Bench to make everyone think you know what you are doing, but clearly I failed on that occasion. However, I am grateful for the engagement of the Scottish and Welsh Governments on these issues.

On some of the comments raised in this debate, the difficulty with issues such as this is that it becomes an argument of “I see your experts and raise you mine”. Undoubtedly, there are a plethora of experts of varying degrees, scientists and not scientists, bringing their sway into this argument. They can be prayed in aid by different sides of the argument, and everyone has to make a judgment on that.

With regard to the eloquent words of the noble Lord, Lord St John, I think the whole House agrees with him about canned hunting. However, I urge noble Lords not to go down a rabbit hole that tries to define it. The repulsive prospect of an animal being contained in a small enclosure and shot with none of the danger that one would find shooting even a cow in a field is abhorrent to all of us. However, if one tries to define that in law, one starts to say, “How big an enclosure?” There are some wildlife conservancies that are contained but which are to an extent false ecosystems, because animals cannot move within and without them. However, I think we all share the noble Lord’s and others’ abhorrence of certain hunting practices that may be defined in that way.

I understand the points raised by many noble Lords, but I do not quite know whether to commiserate the noble Lord, Lord Mann, on Leeds or to congratulate him on Wrexham—maybe both. But he made a very interesting point.

The point about UK exports was raised. The Bill is about imports of hunting trophies from endangered species and animals abroad. We are taking action to address the public’s concerns over that. We have appropriate controls in place to protect our wildlife and to manage hunting in this country; we will not be amending any of our legislation or regulations on hunting in this country.

The noble Earl, Lord Erroll, and others raised issues about support for communities in countries that may be affected by this legislation. I know that the letter from my honourable friend the Minister that was referred to may have been misconstrued. I urge noble Lords to delink this legislation from all the other provisions we make to support countries to maintain their environment and wildlife. That is an ongoing commitment of support, whether through ODA or a variety of different international fora. For example, our £90 million Darwin Initiative and Darwin Plus are hugely appreciated in these countries for the work that they do to protect wildlife. The £30 million action on illegal wildlife trade and the £100 million biodiverse landscapes fund, which works across six landscapes and multiple different countries’ borders to protect wildlife, are nothing to do with this legislation. That is ongoing and our support for our friends, whether in Africa or elsewhere, will continue. The UK is fully committed to practical, meaningful support for conservation and for developing sustainable livelihoods based on wildlife. Our official development assistance will not replace trophy hunting and that is not what it aims to do.

My noble friend Lord Lilley made an impassioned speech, and I just say that we have appropriate controls in place to protect domestic species. According to CITES data, the UK has recorded only seven exports of hunting trophies from annexe A and B species in the past 10 years. Of these, two trophies were from barasingha deer, which were hunted in this country. The barasingha is not native to this country and is kept in private collections. Other trophy exports recorded by the UK were re-exports, originally from other countries.

My noble friend Lord Swire asked about impact. We recently published an impact assessment for the Bill, which discusses the impact of this reform on the UK, in line with the usual practice. Our impact assessments discuss some of the difficulties in evaluating the wider impacts of the Bill; it is complex and difficult to assess the impacts of further action on UK imports.

My noble friends Lord Reay and Lord Hannan and a number of others spoke about Kenya. I know a bit about Kenya and the declines in wildlife are for more complicated reasons than may have been prayed in aid in this debate. Differences of animals’ abundance will occur within particular parts of countries, and there are parts of Kenya where animal abundance is being restored in remarkable ways. I join with my noble friend Lord Selkirk in paying tribute to Iain Douglas-Hamilton, whom I know, and his daughter Saba and other members of his family, for the remarkable work they have done with Save the Elephants.

The noble Lord, Lord Rennard, asked whether there will be time to deal with amendments. I cannot give him that assurance. I do not know and have not spoken about that in detail, but in the process of this Bill we will seek to tease that out.

For my final point, I am grateful for the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, but I urge a little caution because, domestically, some of the richest wildlife habitats that we find anywhere on these islands are sustained through the activities of people who hunt for sport. They do that off their own back, out of their own pocket and often with little impact on the public purse. We need to be careful with the language that we use and make sure that we support those who deliver wildlife hotspots up and down the country.

This Bill to ban imports of hunting trophies has come from the other place with cross-party support. It is here with the Government’s full support. I urge noble Lords to lend their support as it makes its way through the House. We know from repeated rounds of consultation that the public expect us to deliver on this commitment. In closing, I thank my noble friend Lady Fookes for her efforts in leading this important Bill.

Photo of Baroness Fookes Baroness Fookes Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords) 1:15, 16 Mehefin 2023

My Lords, I have been called many things in my time, but to be referred to as a neocolonialist is a new one for me. I would have thought it would be applied more appropriately those who wish to perpetuate the trophy hunting culture, but I will leave that aside because we have had a long debate. There have been wind-up speeches from the Front Benches and, of course, from the Minister, who was almost doing my work for me, so I will not detain the House too long.

However, I want very firmly to challenge the view that the revenue gained from trophy hunting contributes greatly to local communities. My understanding is that very little percolates down to them, and that is something I stand by.

I was also challenged on why I was not meeting the high commissioners whose letter appeared in the Times yesterday. They are joint signatories to a letter. One of them is the high commissioner for Tanzania. Tanzania is engaged in a bitter dispute with its own people, a Maasai tribe who are being forcibly evicted from their lands. They have even sought help by coming to Europe as a delegation and going to various European countries and the European Parliament. So if trophy hunting is of such benefit to local communities, I wonder why the Maasai are taking that action. I suggest that there are far better ways of dealing with the problems of cohabiting with animals, crops and so on. There is no time now, but there are plenty of opportunities and plenty of examples whereby careful, thoughtful management of land can get animals and people to cohabit.

Photo of The Earl of Caithness The Earl of Caithness Ceidwadwyr

I was told on the question of the Maasai that it also involved ecotourism.

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

I have no knowledge of ecotourism. My concern was that they were being forcibly evicted from their land in a way they did not wish. Beyond that I cannot comment.

I can see that there will be no great meeting of minds on this one, so let us be quite frank about it. I believe that the Bill has a modest and useful part to play, and I am encouraged in this by a letter I received this morning from the former President of Botswana, Lieutenant-General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama. He writes: “My experience based on facts over 23 years as head of the Defence Force, as Vice-President and then as President, are that hunting contributes to the decline in wildlife populations as hunters in several cases also poached. They corrupted the system to obtain higher quotas of animals to shoot. They seriously undermined the gene pool of male lions, elephants and other species by only shooting the most magnificent species in each category”. He adds that he believes that photographic safaris contribute far more in the creation of employment, revenue streams and so forth. I accept that is not possible everywhere in Africa, but I think we should be looking far more to schemes which allow animals and people to cohabit.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.