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Ivory Imports/Exports

Volume 447: debated on Tuesday 13 June 2006

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many elephant products have been seized by HM Revenue and Customs in each year since 2000, broken down by (a) type of item and (b) country of origin; (76212)

(2) how many offences have been committed under the Customs and Excise Management Authority Regulations relating to ivory seizures since 1997; and what (a) the nature of the offence and (b) the penalty was in each case.

Details of seizures made by HM Revenue and Customs of endangered species (as listed under Council Regulation (EC) No. 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora) between 1999 and 2004 are available on the UK CITES website at www.ukcites.gov.uk/news/tradestatistics.htm The 2005 figures are due to be published here shortly.

The records list countries of origin or export. Elephant products are likely to be listed under the headings “Ivory” or “Parts and Derivatives”. However ivory seizures will only be recorded as elephant ivory where they have been declared as such either by a passenger or in accompanying documents.

The published statistics only list ivory as a separate heading with effect from 2002. Prior to this ivory is included under the Parts and Derivatives heading. Statistics on ivory seizures before 1999 are set out in HM Customs and Excise annual reports. The 1997 and 1998 annual reports list 11,907 and 51,675 seized CITES items as Parts and Derivatives.

Offences committed since 1997 breach either the import or export prohibitions contained in Council Regulation 338/97. These offences render ivory liable to forfeiture and it is, therefore, seized under the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979. In addition to seizure, the penalty for these breaches is the non-restoration of the ivory unless a valid retrospective CITES permit has been obtained from DEFRA.

Most seizures made are from private individuals returning to this country or on occasion as gifts sent to them via the post. Some of these individuals will not even be aware that ivory imports are banned in the EU, especially if they have seen ivory goods openly on sale in some international airports.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his Department has revised data collection methods for ivory imports and exports since 2002 to include weight, number of items and description of items. (76716)

Data on imports and exports are collected using a standard European classification. Details of the classification can be seen on HM Revenue and Customs’ trade statistics site uktradeinfo.com. There have been no changes to the description or requirement to collect value and weight for ivory products since 2002.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the approximate financial value is of ivory imported into the UK since 2003, based on declarations made to HM Revenue and Customs. (76717)

The following table includes the approximate financial value is of ivory imported in the UK since 2003 based on declarations made to HM Revenue & Customs.

Imports into the UK of Ivory, 2003-06

Commodity

Statistical value (£000)1, 2

2003

Ivory: ivory powder and waste

6.49

Worked ivory and articles of ivory

17.87

2004

Ivory: ivory powder and waste

2.45

Worked ivory and articles of ivory

0

20053

Ivory: ivory powder and waste

0

Worked ivory and articles of ivory

0.62

20063, 4

Ivory: ivory powder and waste

Worked ivory and articles of ivory

0

Totals

Ivory: ivory powder and waste

8.94

Worked ivory and articles of ivory

18.49

1 Value of goods plus costs incurred up to the UK border 2 Data include estimates of Below Threshold Trade Allocations 3 Provisional 4 2006 data are for January to March Source: HM Revenue & Customs—Overseas Trade Statistics