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Illegal Timber Trade

Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2003

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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what assessment the Government have made of legislation under EU directive 97/2001 on money laundering to tackle proceeds from the illegal timber trade; and if he will make a statement; [111035](2) what assessment has been made of the use of existing UK legislation to target illegal timber imports, with particular reference to legislation on stolen goods, fraud and forgery; and if she will make a statement. [111036]

The Government have contributed to a study on measures that the EU could take to control illegal logging and trade in illegally sourced timber products. The study indicated that UK's money laundering legislation under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 could be used as a possible measure by which the proceeds of illegal logging entering the UK financial system could be identified and persons involved convicted. However, this would require illegal logging in other countries and associated trade to be defined as criminal offences under UK law.The study also indicated that some forms of illegal logging could be targeted under the Theft Act 1968 that applies to goods that have been stolen abroad as well as within the UK. For this to be effective, there must first be a request by a court or prosecuting authority in the country of origin for the suspected stolen goods to be seized and criminal proceedings initiated or a person arrested for the offence. Therefore, using UK legislation in this regard is dependent on the activities of enforcement agencies in the countries of origin of illegal limber. Provided these actions have been taken, sale within the UK of timber known to be illegally sourced may be considered an offence.