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Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill

Volume 729: debated on Friday 17 March 2023

Consideration of Bill, not amended in the Public Bill Committee

Before we get on to proceedings, I remind Members of the differences between Report and Third Reading. The scope of Report stage debate is the amendments that I have selected. The scope of the Third Reading debate to follow will be the whole Bill as it stands after Report. Members may wish to consider those points and then decide at which stage or stages they want to try to catch my eye.

I would also say that it is in the hands of the hon. Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope) to get this Bill through as quickly as possible so that he has no worries.

New Clause 1

Duration of this Act

“(1) Sections 1 to 4 expire at the end of the period of 5 years beginning with the day on which this Act is passed, subject to subsections (2) and (3).

(2) Subject to subsection (3), if the Secretary of State considers it reasonable to do so, the Secretary of State may by regulations substitute the date specified in subsection (1) of this section with a later date.

(3) The date specified in regulations under subsection (2) may not be more than 5 years later than the date substituted.”— (Sir Bill Wiggin.)

This new clause would cause the provisions of the Bill to cease to have effect 5 years after the Act is passed. The Secretary of State would have the power to extend the expiration date by up to 5 years.

Brought up, and read the First time.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

New clause 2—Implementation and monitoring

(1) Within three years of this Act being passed, the Secretary of State must lay before Parliament a report on its implementation and the effectiveness of its provisions.

(2) The report must include an assessment of the impact of the Act on the conservation of animal species to which the import prohibition relates.”

New clause 3—Report on impact on Northern Ireland

(1) Within two years of the passing of this Act, and every two years thereafter, the Secretary of State must lay before Parliament a report containing an assessment of the impact of the provisions of this Act on Northern Ireland, including any significant changes in the number and nature of hunting trophies being brought into Northern Ireland.

(2) Each report laid under subsection (2) must make a recommendation as to whether further legislation should be brought forward in response to the report.”

This reporting requirement would ensure that the Secretary of State has to assess the impact of the provisions of this Act on Northern Ireland and make a recommendation about whether further legislation is needed.

New clause 4—Advisory Board on Hunting Trophies

(1) The Secretary of State must appoint an Advisory Board on Hunting Trophies (“Advisory Board”).

(2) The Advisory Board appointed under subsection (1) may have up to three members.

(3) The role of the Advisory Board is to advise the Secretary of State—

(a) on any question relating to this Act which the Secretary of State may refer to the Committee,

(b) on any matter relating to the import to Great Britain of hunting trophies derived from species of animal which appear to the Secretary of State to be, or to be likely to become, endangered.

(4) In appointing members of the Advisory Board, the Secretary of State must have regard to their expertise in matters relating to the import of hunting trophies.”

Amendment 6, in clause 1, page 1, line 2, after “where”, insert—

“(aa) The hunting trophy has been brought from a country which is a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES)—”

(i) without the appropriate documentation in respect of CITES having been presented at the port of exit, or

(ii) in breach of the export licence regulations of that country,”

Amendment 12, in clause 1, page 1, line 2, after “where” insert—

“(aa) the hunting trophy is brought from a country other than Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe,”

The six countries specified in this amendment have made representations to the UK Government highlighting inter alia their good record in bio-diversity conservation and that they are home to more than half of the world’s lions, buffalos, elephants, rhinos and many other species.

Amendment 7, in clause 1, page 1, line 9, leave out “hunted” and insert “killed”

Amendment 8, in clause 1, page 1, line 9, leave out from “after” to end of line 10 and insert “1 June 2023”

This amendment would ensure that any imported hunting trophy hunted after 1 June 2023 would be covered by the legislation.

Amendment 2, in clause 1, page 1, line 10, at end insert—

“(e) the animal was hunted less than ten years before the day on which it is brought into Great Britain.”

This amendment would allow the import of hunting trophies where the animal was hunted more than ten years before it is imported.

Amendment 4, in clause 1, page 1, line 10, at end insert—

“(1A) The Secretary of State must by regulations provide for an exemption from the prohibition under subsection (1) to apply in cases where a hunting trophy can be shown to have been obtained in a way which contributed to the conservation of—

(a) one or more species of flora or fauna, or

(b) one or more natural habitats.

(1B) Regulations under subsection (1A) must provide for a certification system to allow for the identification of hunting trophies to which the regulations apply.

(1C) A statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (1A) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.”

Amendment 27, in clause 1, page 1, line 10, at end insert—

“(1A) The Secretary of State must by regulations provide for an exemption from the prohibition under subsection (1) to apply in cases where, in respect of a hunting trophy—

(a) an export permit, or

(b) an import and an export permit has been granted in accordance with the requirements of the Principal Wildlife Trade Regulation.

(1B) Regulations under subsection (1A) must provide that no exemption applies to any hunting trophy obtained through the hunting of an animal in an enclosure from which it was unable to escape.

(1C) A statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (1A) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.”

Amendment 9, in clause 1, page 1, line 13, leave out “hunting” and insert “killing”

Amendment 24, in clause 1, page 1, line 15, after “use”, leave out “(which does not include consumption)” and insert “as an ornament”

This amendment prevents animals hunted for purposes other than as ornaments (for example, educational or scientific purposes) being included in the definition of hunting trophy.

Amendment 10, in clause 1, page 1, line 18, leave out subsection (3)

Amendment 11, in clause 1, page 1, line 21, leave out subsection (4)

Amendment 3, in clause 1, page 2, line 2, at end insert—

“(5) Within three months of the passing of this Act, the Secretary of State must publish guidance for customs officers on the identification of hunting trophies.”

Amendment 25, in clause 2, page 2, line 4, leave out from “to” to end of line 8 and insert—

“(a) Any animal or species which has been certified by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) as being threatened with extinction or might be threatened with extinction if trade was not regulated, and

(b) any animal or species the commercial trade in which is regulated by CITES and in respect of which there has been a breach or suspected breach of the applicable regulations.”

This amendment would simplify and clarify the animals and species to which the import prohibition relates by making direct reference to criteria certified by CITES and the consequence of non-compliance with CITES regulations. This reflects current law and practice.

Amendment 13, in clause 2, page 2, line 5, leave out “Annex A or B of the Principal Wildlife Trade Regulation” and insert—

“Schedule 1 of the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act 1976, as enacted”

Amendment 1, in clause 2, page 2, line 6, leave out from “Regulation,” to end of line 20

This amendment would remove the power of the Secretary of State to vary by statutory instrument the species to which this Act applies.

Amendment 14, in clause 2, page 2, line 8, leave out paragraph (b)

Amendment 23, in clause 2, page 2, line 8, at end insert—

“(c) an animal of any species, where that animal has been hunted in a confined enclosure.”

This amendment would outlaw the import of any hunting trophy obtained through the practice known as ‘canned hunting’ irrespective of the species of that animal.

Amendment 15, in clause 2, page 2, line 8, at end insert—

“(1A) This Act does not apply to captive-bred animals.”

Amendment 26, in clause 2, page 2, line 8, at end insert—

“(1A) For the purposes of this Act, “animal” does not include fish or birds.”

Amendment 16, in clause 2, page 2, line 9, leave out subsection (2)

Amendment 17, in clause 2, page 2, line 14, leave out from “instrument” to end of line 17 and insert—

“under sub-section (1)(a) unless a draft of the Instrument has been laid before and approved by a Resolution of each House of Parliament”

Amendment 18, in clause 2, page 2, line 18, leave out subsection (5)

Amendment 19, in clause 3, page 2, line 22, leave out Clause 3

Amendment 20, in clause 4, page 3, line 3, leave out from “force” and insert—

“at the end of the period of two months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed”

Amendment 28, in clause 4, page 3, line 4, at end insert—

“(2A) The Secretary of State may not make regulations under subsection (2) in respect of section 1 until—

(a) an impact assessment of trophy hunting on conservation projects, wildlife management, livelihoods and tourism has been carried out and published in respect of each country to which Section 1 applies, and

(b) a public consultation has been conducted on each impact assessment.”

Amendment 21, in clause 4, page 3, line 7, leave out subsection (4)

Amendment 22, in clause 4, page 3, line 10, leave out subsection (5)

It is good to see you in the Chair, Mr Speaker.

New clause 1 concerns duration and would cause the Bill’s provisions to cease to have effect five years after it is passed. In 2019, we stood on a manifesto commitment to ban imports from the trophy hunting of endangered animals. I therefore propose that the sunset clause be added for the simple purpose of ensuring that the Act, should it prove unsuccessful in protecting endangered species, can be withdrawn. If, on the other hand, after five years, the Act does in fact prove successful in achieving the stated aims of our manifesto commitment, the Secretary of State would have the power to extend the expiration date by up to five years.

I have been concerned throughout the progress of the Bill that it is not motivated by a desire to see African wildlife flourish and prosper. If it were, it would have paid heed to the scientific evidence provided by experts in conservation. British conservationists Professor Amy Dickman and Adam Hart have argued that 90% of protected areas with lions are severely underfunded. Removing trophy hunting without providing suitable alternative revenue will expose those underfunded protected areas to further risks, such as poaching. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list, trophy hunting is not considered to be a threat driving any species to extinction. Instead, trophy hunting generates revenue for anti-poaching and habitat conservation. It has been recognised as a positive tool for conservation in multiple species—including black rhino, white rhino, argali, macaw, some populations of lion, and white-tailed deer—and maintains extensive areas of wildlife habitat.

High commissioners from Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe argued in a letter to the Minister of State in the Foreign Office:

“Well-managed trophy hunting—the prevailing model in all our countries—contributes to reductions in habitat loss and poaching. It has proved a demonstrable conservation tool for multiple species, including endangered ones such as black rhinos.”

Maxi Louis, the director of NASCO, the Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management Support Organisations, wrote in a letter to my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Henry Smith):

“Take away those employed to protect wildlife in the reserves and poachers move into the vacuum. This quickly leads to huge losses of endangered animals. Yet what really angers us is how these animals die. Snaring leads to appalling injuries and pitifully slow deaths. Poisoning is traumatic, lions vomiting for hours, as they pass away.”

She wrote that

“when Botswana had a temporary ban on paid hunting there was a 593% increase in fresh elephant carcasses being found.”

Professor Amy Dickman, a conservation biologist and director of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at the University of Oxford, has also argued that the Bill will facilitate an increase in poaching. She has described her distress while carrying out fieldwork in Africa, where she witnessed the horrendous aftermath of a lioness trapped in a poacher’s snare, a decapitated hyena and a leopard with its paw mangled in a trap, all of which had suffered more painful and prolonged deaths from poachers than from a hunter’s bullet.

The concern held by both conservationists and African community leaders is that, by enforcing the removal of the vital source of revenue supplied by trophy hunters to these communities, we open the floodgates to poachers, who will cause far more cruelty and pain to the animals and pose a far greater threat to endangered species. The opinions and evidence from these experts do not fill me with a lot of confidence that the Bill will achieve its stated aim, nor does the misinformation that is being touted by the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting.

I have tabled new clause 1 to ensure that the Bill is not a classic case of virtue signalling at the expense of African wildlife and the conservation efforts of African people. If, five years down the line, the Act proves to be ineffective, as I suspect it will, at conserving endangered species and has led to an increase in poaching, it seems right that provision should be made for the Act to be withdrawn. If the supporters of the Bill are so confident that it will achieve the desired result of protecting endangered species and not encouraging poachers, who I believe are a greater threat to these endangered species than well-regulated hunting, why not include this sunset clause in it?

All of it. One of the problems I will come to in a moment is that, where we are asking people to stop trophy hunting, we are not necessarily replacing that with funding. In one area, which I look looking forward to telling the House about in a moment, we do provide funding, and we are encouraging local people to protect their wildlife and build businesses, particularly for the women, but they are arguing that, by withdrawing trophy hunting, we are cutting the legs off that effort. There are real contradictions here, which is why it is such a difficult subject.

Can my hon. Friend confirm that Vernon Booth, a conservationist and wildlife consultant in Zimbabwe, writes in today’s Daily Mail that

“Revenue from trophy hunting contributes 25 per cent of the income of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority”?

I have no reason to disagree with that, and it demonstrates what a thorny issue this is.

It is worth remembering that this Bill is designed to stop the importing of trophies, rather than prevent the banning of hunting. I have tabled new clause 2 on implementation and monitoring, which is similar to new clause 1 in that its intention is to assess the practicality and effectiveness of the provisions of the Bill. It would require that

“Within three years of this Act being passed, the Secretary of State must lay before Parliament a report on its implementation and the effectiveness of its provisions”,

with that report including an assessment of the impact the Act has had on the conservation of endangered species.

As the UK is a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, we should follow its recommendations before restricting trophy hunting. Those include sound analysis of the conservation role of trophy hunting, meaningful consultation with affected Governments and communities, steps to address poor practice and implementation of feasible, fully funded alternatives that generate equal or greater conservation benefits. Since I do not believe that those steps have been adequately taken, it is only right that new clause 2 be adopted, to ensure the effectiveness of the Bill in promoting conservation of endangered species, measured three years after its implementation.

If there is such confidence that the Bill will contribute to the conservation of such species, I see no reason for there to be any objection to a post-implementation review being undertaken that examines the impact on species abroad. In order to test the efficacy of the legislation, and whether it has achieved the desired goal of improving the population numbers of endangered species, I hope that the House will consider the new clause, which will ensure we continue to keep the effectiveness of the Bill under review until it is enacted.

New clause 3 is a reporting requirement for the Secretary of State to assess the impact of provisions on Northern Ireland. It was put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope), who has been a tremendous ally in this. If I were to occupy a foxhole, perhaps in Ukraine, I could ask for no finer colleague to join me than he. So I want to thank him for tabling that. Clause 3 makes it clear that, although the Bill extends to Northern Ireland, it does not actually apply there. I wonder whether he would therefore agree that, considering the delicate nature of the Northern Ireland protocol, requiring a Secretary of State to provide the House with as much information as possible on the impact of the Bill on imports would be a sensible measure.

I am also grateful to my hon. Friend for tabling new clause 4, which seeks to introduce an advisory board on trophy hunting. It is a helpful step forward, and I am glad that we have had productive talks with the Government on it. The Government recognise that it would be sensible to include that in the Bill. In principle, I support the introduction of the advisory board, whose role would be to advise the Secretary of State on matters relating to the import of hunting trophies to Great Britain.

If the aim of the Bill is to prevent the hunting of endangered animals, then expert advice on hunting trophies that have been derived from a species of animal that appears to be or is likely to become endangered is very welcome. It is vital that we keep the focus on the endangered species at the heart of the Bill, since that is the aim.

Much of the information that has been presented on Second Reading has been analysed by Dr Dilys Roe and Professor Adam Hart. They found that, out of over 150 statements made by MPs in support of the ban, 70% were factually incorrect or misleading. It is likewise with much of the public campaigning and lobbying that has been done by high-profile actors and celebrities, who have very little expertise in this matter.

I think some of the statistics that I have been sent around the Bill have been produced, on both sides, from a position of bias. Is it not the case that we should not pander to a table that we have been sent that is obviously from a hunting lobby or animal rights activist? We need to get to somewhere sensible, in the middle, where we can consider the issue. A lot of my hon. Friend’s points are obviously using the statistics from one side, but dismissing those of the other.

To be fair, I have not used many statistics, because I fully agree with my hon. Friend. This was analysis done on statements made by Members in the debate, myself included. If 70% were factually incorrect or misleading, then who judges that? Obviously, the people to judge it are experts and the experts should be peer reviewed, acknowledged and acceptable to everybody. That is why new clause 4, which I think is important, allows the Government to have access to agreed experts. That will be much more helpful and factually useful, and may take some of the emotion out of what is a very emotional subject.

We are all united in this House in trying to protect endangered African wildlife. I have seen a lot of it out in the wild and I applaud those efforts. What there is disagreement about is the best way to do that. There are all these statistics that there is debate about. I have lots of statistics that I will not bother quoting because no one will believe them.

If the argument is that trophy hunting needs to continue to provide funding for conservation efforts, and that is the only reason to allow it to continue, should not pressure be put on this Government and internationally to ensure there are other routes of funding conservation efforts? It cannot be right that the main way to fund the conservation of endangered species is to allow the killing of endangered species.

I am mindful that new clause 4 should not stray beyond what it does, which is to try to get a team of experts to advise the Government, so that my hon. Friend’s valid point is part of the calculation by the Secretary of State. There is public campaigning and lobbying by high-profile actors and celebrities who have very little experience in these matters, and their voices seem to speak louder due to their fame than those of the African community leaders and scientific experts who have objected to the Bill. We need to take the heat and anger out of this debate and get back to the expertise, the science and the result of protecting species, which, as my hon. Friend rightly says, the whole House wants.

If this Bill receives Royal Assent, the Government should have to consult with experts in conservation to ensure the aim of the legislation is respected. I would be most grateful if the Minister could provide some assurance to the African community leaders who have objected to this Bill in their letters to the Government that their expertise on this matter is respected and will be incorporated into such an advisory board. That would ensure positive consultation is maintained with the countries most affected by the Bill, mainly in Africa, who have thus far taken offence at MPs telling their democratic countries how to manage their wildlife without listening to what they have to say. I wholeheartedly support the introduction of that new clause to ensure an ongoing and productive consultation between the Government and the people who will be on the receiving end of the effects of the Bill.

I confess that I am a little confused by the hon. Gentleman’s argument about us seeking to undermine the role of African leaders, because it is my understanding that the Bill proposes to ban imports here—not a ban on trophy hunting in those countries, but a ban in this country on imports; is that not the case?

I absolutely agree with the hon. Gentleman’s understanding. Unfortunately, it is not quite as straightforward as that. The purpose of the Bill reaches beyond what the UK imports and exports because we already have a permitting system that allows us to manage that, so this is more than that. This is a proper ban. The people who are expected to be on the receiving end are the people who would benefit from new clause 4 being added to the Bill, which would give an opportunity for them to consult.

Amendment 6 aims to limit the ban on trophies that are in breach of the convention on international trade in endangered species permit requirements. Amendment 12 —I am again grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch for tabling it—exempts Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe from the ban, based on their conservation records.

I will try to make some progress because I believe the Government have been exceptionally helpful on this and the amendment that most matters is amendment 1. If I can just get to that part of my notes, I will seek to enlighten the House as to why—

Happy St Patrick’s Day, Mr Speaker. I was reflecting that perhaps the animals hunted as trophies are not the only endangered species around here: there are several of them on the Government Benches as well, in the shape of Conservative Members of Parliament.

I hope the hon. Gentleman recognises that many of our constituents feel very passionately about these issues—it would be unfair to suggest otherwise—and that the scope of the Bill is, as the hon. Member for Stretford and Urmston (Andrew Western) has said, limited to the bringing of these trophies into the United Kingdom. No one is trying to tell sovereign Governments what they should be doing in their own countries, but we should take cognisance of what is being brought into this country, and many constituents in Glasgow North whom I have heard from are extremely concerned about the practice of trophy hunting and the trade in such trophies, and it is important that we recognise that strength of feeling. It is good that the hon. Gentleman is introducing these amendments in a constructive manner because the last thing constituents would want to see is parliamentary game playing and undermining of the private Members’ Bill system.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his typically helpful intervention, which allowed me to shuffle my papers. I agree with him: the people who are concerned about the topic of this Bill are kind-hearted. They want to make sure that animals are safe and protected, and they have a very good vehicle to express that in the form of the Bill tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley. The problem is that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and none of us in the whole House wants to see any reduction in the habitat of endangered species, or the success of their recovery. Therefore, I hope that the Bill will not undermine that, as I fear, and that instead we can come together and agree a Bill that will be able to pass through the House.

To that end, amendment 1 is a most important amendment, because it seeks to restrain the Secretary of State’s powers—I know that this Secretary of State is tremendous, but I cannot predict who it might be in the future. Therefore, the amendment would restrict the Secretary of State’s actions to the species listed on the face of the Bill—the ones that we are all concerned about. It would remove their power to vary by statutory instrument the species to which the Act applies. It would close the loophole that grants the Secretary of State the power to extend the Act to animals that are not considered endangered. I am concerned that that power could go beyond our 2019 manifesto commitment to ban the import of hunting trophies from endangered animals, which our constituents voted for.

I thank the Government for engaging with me so positively on this matter. I believe that we can move forward constructively if we adopt amendment 1, which would keep the scope of the Bill limited to species listed in annexes A or B of the principal wildlife trade regulation. Under that regulation, all CITES species are listed in four annexes, according to their varying levels of protection. Annex A, which includes all CITES appendix 1 species and some CITES appendix 2 species, lists the most endangered species: those that are either threatened with extinction or so rare that any level of trade would imperil the survival of the species. They include the hunting leopard, Indian lion and black and white rhino, apart from those in South Africa where numbers are higher.

Annex B includes all other CITES appendix 2 species, as well as some other species, but predominantly those threatened by commercial trade. For instance, the African elephant, the African lion, some white rhinos, some brown bears, and the American black bear would fall into that classification. Granting the Secretary of State power to vary by statutory instrument the species to which the Bill applies would allow species that are not listed in CITES and are not endangered to fall within the scope of the Bill. That was brought to my attention on Second Reading, when the Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Taunton Deane (Rebecca Pow), said:

“The Government intend to table an instrument that covers those species of concern”—[Official Report, 25 November 2022; Vol. 723, c. 585.]

—an instrument that would cover other animals, which really disturbed me. The British people did not vote for an indiscriminate ban on shooting any animal that the Secretary of State might choose to name. They voted to protect endangered species, and that is what I hope the Bill will do.

I do not think that I need to go on. If the Government are willing to accept amendment 1, I can pause and allow some of my friends and colleagues to contribute. If the Minister would like to intervene, I would be delighted to know whether amendment 1 is acceptable to the Government; otherwise, we can talk about amendment 14, which leaves out the power of the Secretary of State to specify animals or species to which the prohibition applies. Of course, that does a very similar job to amendment 1.

I would like to confirm that the Government are minded to accept both new clause 4 and amendment 1, for reasons I will go into later in the debate. I am pleased to understand that my hon. Friend will not, I think, move the remaining 30 amendments that have been tabled.

I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend the Minister. She has been about as helpful as any Minister I have ever had the pleasure of working with, and I am sure the whole House will join me in celebrating my ability to not press my amendments, apart from the two that she has just mentioned.

Just to clarify the point, the Bill is limited to the United Kingdom. It would affect only this country and not other countries. I call Henry Smith.

It is a privilege to speak in this debate and consider the amendments and new clauses tabled by my hon. Friends the Members for North Herefordshire (Sir Bill Wiggin) and for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope). I am grateful for the constructive way in which they and the Government have consulted on them. I am happy that new clause 4 will be accepted, as it would establish an advisory board on how a trophy import ban will operate when it becomes law. Amendment 1, which would remove the Secretary of State’s discretion to add species, will also be accepted.

New clause 4 covers many of the concerns that my hon. Friend the Member for North Herefordshire set out. I trust that across the House we want to see the best conservation of endangered species around the world, whether that is in Africa, North America, parts of Asia or elsewhere. The Bill is about banning the importation of endangered species’ body parts into this country not only from Africa, but from around the world. I note that my hon. Friend will not press the amendments on the sunset clause, on monitoring and on how the Bill would work in respect of Northern Ireland, but new clause 4 covers many of those concerns.

I am glad the hon. Member mentions the issue of Northern Ireland. I raised the point in Committee that with EU law applying in Northern Ireland, the importation of trophies could be done through the Irish Republic into Northern Ireland and then across to Great Britain—a back-door way of circumventing the important provisions of the Bill. What assurances have we had that that back door can be firmly locked so that trophies cannot come through Northern Ireland into the rest of the United Kingdom?

The detailed response to that needs to come from the Minister, not from a simple backwoodsman Back Bencher, but I have had assurances from Ministers that Northern Ireland will not become some sort of back door or stepping stone for the introduction of trophies from endangered species into Great Britain. The Windsor framework, subject of course to its agreement by the House next week, and the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 should cover those concerns, but I defer to the Minister, who will no doubt address that question shortly.

In conclusion, I am happy to support new clause 4 and amendment 1. I am grateful that the other 30 amendments and new clauses will not be pressed. I hope that we can move on to ensure that this legislation protects the most endangered species in the world, and that Britain plays its full part in doing that, and that it can proceed to its next phases both here today and later on in the other place.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Henry Smith) for supporting new clause 4. The background to that has been explained—there are diametrically opposed expert opinions on what would be a good hunting trophies ban and what would not be. It is important that the debate should be informed by the facts and the science.

I hope that by accepting new clause 4, we will give some solace to Dr Dilys Rose, the chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s sustainable use and livelihoods specialist group, and Professor Adam Hart, a member of that specialist group. They wrote to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 22 February, setting out their concerns for the Bill and the risk of the United Kingdom Government ignoring the scientific evidence and actively harming conservation globally. They said that for the sake of wildlife all over the world, now it is time to listen to quieter, more informed voices. Setting up such an advisory panel will facilitate that. I am delighted that the Government have indicated that they will support that.

There is agreement about the objectives but not the means by which those objectives should be achieved. The objective is to protect endangered species and encourage their revival. We have made a lot of progress today, but I draw attention to my new clause 3. I have made it clear that I will force it to a vote. It would deal with the problem that the Bill fails to deliver in full on the Conservative party manifesto commitment to ban the import of hunting trophies from endangered animals to the United Kingdom. The Bill’s title makes it clear that it is limited to prohibiting the import of hunting trophies into Great Britain. Northern Ireland is excluded from its scope, which has prevented me from tabling amendments to extend the Bill to the whole of the United Kingdom.

That aspect of the debate featured in a report on page 14 of yesterday’s Daily Telegraph and a commentary by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who asked what was the point of election manifestos if MPs do not vote for what is in them. Eduardo Goncalves, the founder of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, has said:

“We are aware of trophy hunters from Northern Ireland who are shooting threatened species…and are bringing their heads and bodies back home. This needs to be stopped.”

He went on to say:

“Exiting the EU made it possible for the UK to introduce world-beating legislation to ban hunting ‘trophies’. It would be a travesty if the Bill were not to apply to the whole of the UK because of unfinished business with Brexit.”

Given that Mr Goncalves feels so strongly, it is a pity that he did not criticise the limiting long title of the Bill when it was introduced on 15 June last year. He is, however, correct to highlight that under the Northern Ireland protocol and the proposed Windsor framework, the European Union’s single market rules will still apply in Northern Ireland, raising fears that Northern Ireland could become a back door to get the trophies to rich clients in Britain and dodge the ban. He says:

“Hunting trophies could be stopped from entering Northern Ireland overnight with the stroke of a pen…The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland would need only to issue a Ministerial Decree stating he”—

or she—

“will no longer sign import permits”.

I would be interested to hear from Ministers in the Department what they think about that suggestion. If it is correct, surely it could also apply to the whole United Kingdom, thereby making this legislation totally redundant.

I ask the Minister to comment specifically on the assertion that France and the Netherlands have used ministerial decrees to ban trophies because single market rules prevented them from legislating. Is that correct? Is it also correct that Belgium and Finland are considering doing the same? Would it be possible for the United Kingdom to do likewise? We try not normally to legislate by decree, although I notice that the President of France is trying to do just that in his own country at the moment.

I am a bit sceptical about what can be done to deal with the problem that the legislation does not apply to the whole United Kingdom. My new clause 3 would therefore require the Government to report on the implications for Northern Ireland of what is happening, so that in due course Parliament will be properly informed as to whether legislative action is needed to address any loopholes or avoidance. I am disappointed that the Government are not prepared to accept the new clause.

I put a challenge to the Government. What solution does the Minister have to the Daily Telegraph headline “Brexit loophole allows import of hippo heads and stuffed tigers”? Quite a lot of people will want a clear answer to that question, but I do not think it is forthcoming in the Bill, which applies only to Great Britain and not to Northern Ireland.

I will not go into all my other amendments, but I do think that the compromise that is now emerging should be of some help to our friends in the six African countries that have expressed outrage in their letter to the Government about the implications of the Bill for those countries. In this House we make much of the importance of soft power. I think we need to start thinking more about what we can do to engage positively with the countries in Africa that abstained in the recent United Nations General Assembly vote calling for Russia’s immediate withdrawal from Ukraine: Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Uganda.

In my view, we need to work much more closely and positively with the Governments of those countries, instead of letting them think that they are alienated or that we view them as subject to colonial control, which is the essence of the complaint that has been made to the Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell), and the Foreign Secretary. Let us see whether we can work with those countries, listen to them and try to understand them. We might then find it easier to prevent them from falling into the hands of Chinese and Soviet influence, which they seem to be tempted by at the moment because they are being neglected. This compromise has great potential to improve relations between our country and those countries in southern Africa, based on a better understanding of the need to protect wildlife in a sustainable way that fits in with local economies.

This is an historic day for me, because it looks like the Government will accept one of my amendments. I will not say anything else in case they change their mind.

I thank all colleagues, both those who have spoken in today’s debate and those who have played their part in making this legislation possible. I particularly thank my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Henry Smith), who has demonstrated such diligence, professionalism and courage, because there are strong and credible arguments across this debate.

I will be brief, because we have an awful lot to get through. As I said, I support new clause 4, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope). I commend the principle of receiving expert advice on this matter, especially given the credible and variable discussions, and recognising that, in some cases, money from trophy hunting supports conservation. On Third Reading, I will set out what we are currently doing and how we will continue to support countries.

I also support amendment 1, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for North Herefordshire (Sir Bill Wiggin). In doing so, I stress my support for the internationally agreed system, under CITES, for identifying, listing and protecting species that are endangered, threatened or potentially at risk from international trade, including the trade in hunting trophies. The reference to annexes A and B covers around 6,000 species, among them iconic species that we know are targeted for trophies. Of course, this ban goes beyond CITES, which is the right thing to do and is why we are here.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

New Clause 4

Advisory Board on Hunting Trophies

“(1) The Secretary of State must appoint an Advisory Board on Hunting Trophies (“Advisory Board”).

(2) The Advisory Board appointed under subsection (1) may have up to three members.

(3) The role of the Advisory Board is to advise the Secretary of State—

(a) on any question relating to this Act which the Secretary of State may refer to the Committee,

(b) on any matter relating to the import to Great Britain of hunting trophies derived from species of animal which appear to the Secretary of State to be, or to be likely to become, endangered.

(4) In appointing members of the Advisory Board, the Secretary of State must have regard to their expertise in matters relating to the import of hunting trophies.”—(Sir Christopher Chope.)

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

Clause 2

Animals to which the import prohibition relates

Amendment made: 1, page 2, line 6, leave out from “Regulation,” to end of line 20.—(Sir Bill Wiggin.)

This amendment would remove the power of the Secretary of State to vary by statutory instrument the species to which this Act applies.

Third Reading

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I am extraordinarily grateful to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, and to all hon. and right hon. Members who have been present today to ensure that we support the conservation of some of the world’s most endangered species—not only iconic species from Africa, such as lions, giraffes and rhinoceroses, but those from other parts of the world, such as polar bears in North America. To be clear, the territorial extent of this Bill is Great Britain. It is about disallowing the importation of the hunted body parts of endangered species.

As my hon. Friend knows, I support the Bill, and it is great news that it will be passed today with so much support. His point is critical, as there has been a lot of false information. This Bill is about our territorial rules. It is not about telling other countries what to do, and it is not colonial. It is saying what we will allow into our country; it is entirely up to other countries what they want to do. This is about us and this House.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his intervention, and he anticipates some of the remarks I was about to make. This Bill is about the values we in Britain have: we do not want to be part of a trade in the body parts of endangered species. We are not telling other countries how to run their trade, conservation or hunting policies, although we may have a range of personal opinions on that. It is important to remember that. This is about those CITES appendices I and II species, almost 6,000 species of flora and fauna, that are endangered. We hope that this legislation, when enacted, can play a part in conserving them.

My hon. Friend has been generous in allowing amendments to the Bill. Has he received any assurances from my hon. Friends the Members for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope) and for North Herefordshire (Sir Bill Wiggin) that, as he has accepted the amendments, they will not divide the House on Third Reading? As he knows, I support the Bill and hope it goes through without a Division.

I love the way the House is listening carefully to this debate. I can confirm that there is no need to divide the House. This measure is a manifesto commitment and we are fulfilling it. We have improved the Bill and I am tremendously grateful to the Government for their help.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that contribution. He rightly says that this legislation is a manifesto commitment. Indeed, it is one that all major parties in this House have signed up to, and that is an important point to stress. I sincerely hope that the other place will hear what this elected House has said on this legislation.

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on the work he has done to get the Bill thus far and I hope it goes through today. Perhaps he will join the rest of us in congratulating those many campaigners all around the country who have worked so hard to draw attention to the issue of trophy hunting and ensure that we have such a good attendance here today. That in itself becomes an education to people, in understanding that we can play our part in the conservation of beautiful and endangered species by passing this Bill today.

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his contribution. He is right to say that a clear majority of people in this country—opinion polls show between 80% and 90% support—want to see this legislation go through. The people of this country care passionately about conservation and the environment, and protecting endangered species. It has taken a long campaign by many people, from many different backgrounds, to ensure that this legislation has come before Parliament. I reiterate my hope that that will be heard across Central Lobby, in the other place, when this legislation leaves this House later this morning, as we hope it will, and goes there for consideration, because time is of the essence to help protect endangered species.

There are many excellent private Members’ Bills before the House today, so I do not want to take any more time and delay them. I am grateful to everyone who has supported this legislation—

Timing is everything in life. Will the hon. Gentleman join me in commending Eduardo Goncalves for founding the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting and revealing the sordid world of killing sentient animals for entertainment? There is massive support in my constituency for the Bill and I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on introducing it.

I am grateful for that message of congratulations and for highlighting Eduardo and the campaign efforts he has led for so many years to achieve this conservation effort.

I have a quick point to make. I find it distasteful to have heads on walls, but I believe those heads that are already on walls and rugs that are already down are not affected by this Bill at all.

This legislation takes effect from when it is passed and receives Royal Assent; it is not retrospective in that sense. With that, I ask Members to support the Bill on Third Reading.

I wish to make only a brief speech. My party is totally committed to the Bill. In fact, I was pleased to be a sponsor and to have served on the Committee. My one disappointment is that, because of the Government’s existing arrangements with the EU—past and future EU law will apply to Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland remains part of the EU single market—this Bill cannot apply to Northern Ireland. That means that those who wish to go trophy hunting and reside in Northern Ireland can bring their trophies back. To be part of the United Kingdom, but yet to find a law which, although supported by more than 86% of the UK population, cannot apply in one part of the UK is an offence; it is offensive to me and it is offensive to many of my constituents who wrote to me asking me to support this legislation.

Secondly, there is a danger. The fact is that UK law cannot apply in part of the United Kingdom. The stark reality is that, as a result of Northern Ireland remaining part of the EU single market and EU law still applying there, Northern Ireland could become a backdoor for those who wish to circumvent this legislation. People could bring their trophies into Northern Ireland and, because there is frictionless trade from Northern Ireland to GB, could then take them into Great Britain. I would like to hear from the Minister on this matter, which was raised in Committee. I understand that the promoter of the Bill was not able to provide an answer on this, because it is a matter that the Minister should have been addressing. I would like to have an assurance on this. My preference of course is that Northern Ireland’s position within the United Kingdom is fully restored, by neither the protocol nor the Windsor framework. In the absence of that, I would like to hear from the Minister what steps she intends to take to ensure that this very important, well-supported, worthwhile piece of legislation cannot be circumvented because we have left part of the United Kingdom half in the European Union.

I wish to put on record my strong support for the Bill. As a former environment editor of The Observer and of The Times, I have written a lot about the conservation of African endangered species, and, as a private individual, I have seen them a lot in the wild. I can absolutely confirm that the charismatic megafauna of Africa are one of the true glories of our planet, and conserving the endangered species there is one of the greatest challenges that we face as a planet.

Whatever the arguments about trophy hunting—whether or not it provides money for conservation—it surely cannot be right that protecting these endangered species relies on allowing rich people to kill them. That is not a long-term sustainable solution. I urge the Government, working with international partners, to do all that they can to ensure that conservation efforts across African countries and other areas where there are endangered animals are properly funded and are not reliant on rich people killing endangered animals.

I am pleased to see the Bill return to the Chamber for its final Commons hurdle. The hon. Member for Crawley (Henry Smith) has done an outstanding job and is a dedicated advocate for the cause. I wish to thank organisations and individuals for their continued work on the campaign to see the Bill pass, and for the briefings that they have provided.

I have been disappointed to see the persistent lobbying from certain interest groups against this legislation, often intentionally based on misinformation and on hiding behind the transparent and false veil of conservation. I spoke in some detail on Second Reading about the misrepresentation of those purporting to be conservationists and I do not wish to repeat myself today. However, it does not take much scratching at the surface to see that what many of these lobbyists are looking for is the conservation of hunting for sport, rather than anything environmental. When we look at who is funding their deeply biased works, it becomes all the clearer.

On Second Reading, I argued that trophy hunting was an ugly relic of the colonial era. Let me now add that trophy hunting and poaching are, in fact, illegal for locals in these countries. It is ironic that those who seek to protect the highly profitable western white trophy hunting tourist industry might find themselves under the spotlight of that very same colonial accusation. In that context, I pay tribute to a man who has seen at first hand the positive impact of hunting bans to protect his country's beautiful wildlife: the former president of Botswana, Ian Khama. He has urged Members to support the Bill today,

“to halt the reckless, cruel destruction of nature’s wildlife by nature’s enemies”.

I would further add that the UK Government and, more important, the UK public have every right to decide that they do not want these macabre, mangled animal body parts to enter the country or to circulate here for profit. Preventing that is what the Bill will ultimately achieve. As we have heard, it will not change the law in other countries, or outlaw hunting there. Polling has shown unequivocally that the British public, including many of my constituents, support an outright ban on trophy imports, and do not support proposals for a partial ban or “smart bans”.

In 2020, the Government consulted on banning the import of hunting trophies. Their subsequent policy statement said:

“Within the consultation, we asked whether exemptions should be considered, for example for conservation reasons. We note the strength of sentiment from those who did not support exemptions, and there will be no exemptions for hunting trophies from species in scope of the ban.”

It is clear that some of the exemptions that some Members were trying to include in the Bill were not in keeping with public feeling—the public feeling that the Government were able to test through public consultation It is also clear that including any exemptions to a ban would undermine the very purpose of the legislation. Where we allow loopholes to exist, we also allow people to find ways of exploiting them.

I think it is fair to say that participants in this “sport” come from one main demographic—rich white men, and sometimes rich white women—and it is those in that same demographic whom the proceeds benefit. They are seeking to protect their financial interests at the cost of the existence of some of the world's most beautiful animals, the conservation of natural resources of wildlife in Africa, and Africa’s communities. I therefore urge all Members on both sides of the House to throw their full support behind the hon. Member for Crawley and his Bill, which is a critical and overdue change for the better.

Order. Could everyone who is trying to catch my eye please stand up? It is a bit confusing if only one Member does so.

I will keep my comments fairly brief. I was enjoying the debate until the hon. Member for Rutherglen and Hamilton West (Margaret Ferrier) “poked the bear”, so to speak. Let me also say how nice it was to hear from the former leader of the Labour party, the right hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn). We would like to hear more from him, more frequently.

Like the right hon. Gentleman, I am very sensitive about racism, and I spoke out against the Bill because I fundamentally believed that it was a neo-colonial attempt to control the conservation management programmes of African democratic countries. I know that not one of us here today is a racist or has that really nasty streak of wanting to judge people by the colour of their skin, but we must be desperately careful not to signal to emerging countries that we know best.

Representatives from Angola, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia who are involved with conservation activities in KAZA—the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area—have asked:

“What right do they have to impose restrictions that will damage our wildlife and our people?”

The UK Government support KAZA through funding, yet ethical hunting is part of the ambitious “five African nations conservation endeavour” to provide habitat and connectivity for wildlife across borders in an area measuring more than 110 million acres, which is double the size of the United Kingdom. The Bill will therefore have a contradictory effect on our policy directed at supporting African conservation efforts, which is why I am so grateful to the Government for accepting new clause 4.

On Second Reading, the UK was described as a world leader in nature conservation, but a global league table of efforts to conserve mega-fauna—large animals—puts pro-hunting Botswana, Namibia and Tanzania first, second and third in the world. In contrast, the UK is 123rd, so it is important to get this right. Many hon. Members watch David Attenborough on television. He recently described the UK as one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, so perhaps we should adopt a more humble approach to countries with far more impressive conservation records—rather than insulting Africans, we should be consulting them on the issue.

I am grateful to the Government for recognising that. I am also grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Henry Smith), who passionately cares about animals, as I do. We have to debate our differences of opinion in the Chamber to make sure that everybody comes on that journey to a better future for our children and our planet.

I rise to support the important Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Henry Smith) to ban United Kingdom imports of trophy hunting trophies. I begin by declaring a personal interest: this was a particular passion of our great friend, the late Sir David Amess. I knew him for more than 20 years in Parliament, although he was elected far earlier than me, on 9 June 1983—coincidently, as I understand, the same day as my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope). I must confess that I am not an expert on the subject, but I know that my late friend desperately wanted such legislation to pass, so I hope that the House will understand my simple motive for being here.

It is good to be supported in the task by his excellent successor, my hon. Friend the Member for Southend West (Anna Firth), who is in her place beside me. Among those closely watching the debate on this crucial Bill will be members of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, led by its redoubtable founder Mrs Lorraine Platt, who has campaigned tirelessly on this issue and many others related to animal welfare for years. She was also a great friend of Sir David, and I know that she and her organisation will wish the Bill well. It is almost as if he was with us today.

On 2 October 2019, in a Westminster Hall debate on trophy hunting imports, Sir David said:

“I recognise that there is no easy solution; 200,000 endangered animals are put at risk each year, which is an awful lot to deal with. It is so depressing that as soon as someone comes up with an idea to stop trophy hunters, these evil, wicked people get ahead of the game and find some way round the legislation.”

I do not mean to provoke my hon. Friend the Member for North Herefordshire (Sir Bill Wiggin), because he and I came into this place on the same day in 2001, but Sir David went on to say:

“I do not minimise the difficulty the Government face, but I simply cannot comprehend why anyone would pay up to $72,000 to travel across the world and shoot a beautiful animal. As I have said at business questions, I have seen numerous adverts for trophy hunting, with some companies even advertising price lists by trip length…by animal on offer and by trophy fee. Such adverts should be completely banned from all platforms in the United Kingdom.”—[Official Report, 2 October 2019; Vol. 664, c. 345WH.]

I hope that, in this deliberately brief contribution, I have made my point. David was cruelly taken from us in absolutely tragic circumstances, but his memory lives on. He was an amazing champion for animal welfare. I hope it is not presumptuous, but I am honoured to stand here today perhaps in lieu of him, supported by his worthy successor my hon. Friend the Member for Southend West, to make the case for this vital Bill. If he were here, he would thank her and the entire House for what we are about to do, so I humbly say thank you as well.

I rise also as the Member for Southend West, not only to extend my congratulations to my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Henry Smith) for his brilliant leadership in bringing this important Bill to its final stages in the House of Commons, but also to remember the late Sir David Amess’s decades-long advocacy on this issue. I thank my right hon. Friend the Member for Rayleigh and Wickford (Mr Francois) for his contribution and what he said about Sir David.

I know Sir David would have supported this Bill and he would have been cheering my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley on at every stage of its passage. It has been my huge honour to support the Bill at every stage, not just in Sir David’s honour and legacy, but because it is the right thing to do.

Sir David was very kind to me from the first day I came into Parliament and he encouraged me to work on animal welfare matters. It is very appropriate that Eduardo Gonçalves’ latest book, “Saving Sally: Trophy Hunters, Secrets and Lies” is dedicated to the memory of Sir David.

I thank the hon. Lady very much for that contribution, which I will pass on to Lady Amess and the family.

Through this Bill we are asserting that these wonderful, magnificent animals—elephants, lions, rhinos, leopards and so on—some of them on the brink of extension, are worth so much more than a mere trophy on the mantelpiece. Trophy hunting is a relic of the past. It has no place in modern Britain. We are standing up as one in this House against those who seek to destroy wildlife and asserting our leading role as an advocate for wildlife protection.

I will be brief, because I know many hon. Members would have loved to speak in the debate today. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Henry Smith) for this Bill and to my hon. Friends the Members for North Herefordshire (Sir Bill Wiggin) and for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope) for doing something that has enabled this important Bill to safeguard animals to go through. We have seen an outpouring of support for the Bill across the nation, from hon. Members, the Government and the general public. I pay tribute to them all and thank them. I am sure that, like me, many hon. Members have cancelled constituency events to be here to support the Bill; I support it wholeheartedly and I thank the House for supporting it too.

It is a real pleasure to be able to speak so soon in this debate—I am not sure we thought we would get here so quickly, but I am pleased that we have. The Labour party is strongly committed to a ban on hunting trophy imports, reflected by the number of colleagues here on a Friday—and on all sides of the House, in fact. It was a manifesto commitment of ours in the last election and I am delighted to say that we shall support the Bill today.

I pay tribute to the late Labour MP for Waveney, Bob Blizzard, who was one of the founders of the campaign to ban trophy hunting. This Bill is part of his legacy. I thank his partner Jane Evans and his friend Eduardo Gonçalves, who have worked tirelessly on the campaign and have been a particular help to me. I also echo Members across the House in their tribute to Sir David Amess and his work on this matter.

Like the hon. Member for Crawley (Henry Smith) and people across the country, I was shocked and horrified at the killing of Cecil the lion by an American trophy hunter in 2015 and at the needlessly cruel manner in which Cecil died. He had been left to drown in his own lung blood, simply because the hunter wanted to win a special prize for shooting a lion with a bow and arrow. However, I was even more shocked and horrified to learn that, since 2015, British trophy hunters have brought more than 100 trophies of lions from Africa into the UK. Indeed, what British hunters are doing is arguably worse than what Cecil suffered, because he lived in the wild in Zimbabwe and was 13 when he was killed; some British trophy hunters, on the other hand, fly to Africa where they shoot tame lions that have been hand-reared since they were born merely to become a hunter’s trophy.

It turns out that lions are not the only African animals British hunters are shooting: they are shooting as trophies many other threatened species in Africa and around the world, and all this has happened since 2015, the year when the world supposedly woke up to the horror of trophy hunting—the year when we all thought the killing of Cecil would bring us to our senses and put an end to this horror story once and for all.

How wrong we were. We consider ourselves a nation of animal lovers, and rightly so. However, the things British trophy hunters do should shame us all. Here are the prizes that just one British trophy hunter has won from Safari Club International: the hunting achievement diamond award, for shooting animals from 125 different species; the animals of Africa gold award, for shooting at least 61 different African animals; and the global hunting gold award, for shooting 50 different animals on five different continents. The British hunter in question has gone on to win over 30 more of these awards.

Safari Club International, which handed out those prizes, has a branch in Britain. It has been actively working to undermine and block the Bill that we are considering today. It has spent over £1 million on a disinformation campaign—other Members have mentioned that. Investigations by the Washington Post revealed it to be the work of an ally of Donald Trump who was revealed to have set up a number of fake news groups to promote extreme right-wing causes and who tried to create an astroturf campaign.

Africans are as shocked and horrified at trophy hunting as we are. They are vehemently opposed to people jetting in from around the world to wipe out their wildlife and natural heritage for so-called “sport”. A very recent poll in South Africa, the hub of the African trophy hunting industry, showed that, even there, fully 68% of people are against trophy hunting.

Many of us recently received a letter from the former President of Botswana, Seretse Khama Ian Khama, who banned all trophy hunting in his country. He told us how banning trophy hunting not only benefited threatened species such as elephants—Botswana is now home to one third of all of Africa’s elephants—but brought prosperity to local communities, created more jobs and opportunities for local people and improved living conditions through investment in photo-safaris instead.

The example of Kenya, which banned trophy hunting in the 1970s, should be applauded and encouraged. While lion, elephant and rhino populations are falling throughout much of Africa, their numbers are all increasing in Kenya. It is of economic benefit to the people as well. Just compare the conditions of the Kenyan Maasai with those of neighbouring Tanzania, where trophy hunting is still legal; 20,000 Tanzanian Maasai are homeless due to land clearance.

It is time to act. We can say that it is wrong for British people to kill animals for pleasure and mementoes. We can set an example. Writer and poet Benjamin Zephaniah perhaps put it best when he said:

“We human beings have a responsibility to look after this planet and its animals. We need to put trophy hunting in the dustbin of history, alongside the slave trade, female infanticide, and witch-hunting.”

I welcome the passage of this Bill, not least because I will not have to move my own Bill next Friday. However, is there a danger that we might be slightly complacent, given how far advanced we are in the parliamentary calendar? The Bill will pass with overwhelming support in this House. The question is whether some of those elements my hon. Friend has been describing may try to exercise delay in the other House. Has he sought any assurances from the Minister that the Government will ensure that that does not happen and that, if necessary, they will provide extra parliamentary time?

I thank my right hon. Friend for his intervention. I have had fruitful discussions with the Minister, who I am sure will respond to his point when she speaks, but I know the Government are as keen as we are to see this Bill on the statute book: there is no division between our parties on this.

I will conclude by finishing my quote from Benjamin Zephaniah:

“Let’s support the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill.”

I hope we can get this Bill through shortly.

10.48 am

I thank all Members who have contributed to the debate, and I also thank those Members who, sadly, are not able to contribute to the debate but have been instrumental in enabling this day to happen. In particular, I refer to our hon. Friend the former Member for Southend West. He was taken far too soon, and his contribution to this place was more than many of us will ever make; my right hon. Friend the Member for Rayleigh and Wickford (Mr Francois) set that out eloquently. The former Member for Waveney also cannot be here to debate a subject that was so important to him. And, dare I say it, Cecil the lion has not died in vain. It is an emotional day for all of us, for many reasons, but I am pleased to be here to support the Bill, and I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Henry Smith) once again for his efforts in getting it to what is nearly the final stage.

The right hon. Member for Warley (John Spellar) raised his concern, and I cannot say it is not also my concern. I want this Bill to pass through the other place, as I know other Members here today do. I am grateful for the meeting I had this morning with the hon. Members for Oldham West and Royton (Jim McMahon) and for Leeds North West (Alex Sobel) to discuss how that might be possible, because it is of such significance to all parties across the House.

It looks as though we have more time in the parliamentary calendar running up to the autumn, but can the Government send a clear message to any who might be tempted to cause disruption and delay in the other place, to ensure that there is sufficient parliamentary time for this measure to go through in this Session?

The right hon. Gentleman invites me to make promises on timings that I simply cannot make. However, some of the concerns that have been raised today and that will be raised in the other place relate to how we will support the countries affected by this ban on the import of trophies, so I would like to briefly set out the work the Government are undertaking. It includes £90 million for the Darwin initiative and Darwin Plus, to address biodiversity challenges and support local communities; £30 million for action on illegal wildlife trade; and the £100 million biodiverse landscapes fund, to work across six landscapes to protect and restore critical terrestrial ecosystems.

I do recognise that some of the income from trophy hunting has contributed to the protection of habitat and the prevention of poaching, but bringing in the body parts of endangered species, as clearly set out in CITES I and II lists, is not the way forward. This Government recognise that, and this country recognises that, and I am clear that it is time for change. It is what the public expect, and we know that because over 85% of respondents to the consultation made it clear, but this will remain controversial. That is why we were willing to accept new clause 4, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope), which will set up an advisory board to the Government, and to respect the work that CITES does internationally, which is why we were willing to accept amendment 1, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for North Herefordshire (Sir Bill Wiggin).

My hon. Friend makes an important point. There is cross-party support for the Bill, with Members on both sides of the House wanting it to proceed well in the other place. Does she agree that, now that this concession has been made—a generous concession, I might add—to curtail significantly the regulation-making powers in clause 2, there is nothing for their lordships to object to? Normally, they object to so-called Henry VIII powers, but those have been completely removed, so it should be possible to expedite the progress of the Bill in the other place.

My right hon. Friend is correct. We have accepted this amendment because we want the Bill to progress in not only the Commons but the Lords.

The import ban will cover all species listed in annexes A and B of the wildlife trade regulations, broadly aligned with appendices 1 and 2 of CITES. That extends to around 6,000 species, including those mentioned in the House.

I take the opportunity to recognise again the concerns that have been raised about Northern Ireland, and the risk, referred to by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson), that Northern Ireland would become a backdoor. He queried how we would make progress and clearly set out that he very much wants to be part of the UK. Let me reassure the House that we will do everything we possibly can to ensure that Northern Ireland will not be a backdoor for so-called trophies from endangered species to enter Scotland, England or Wales. Northern Ireland will not be a stepping stone for imports to Great Britain.

In Committee, we discussed the workings of the Bill, and how it operated alongside the Northern Ireland protocol and the UK internal market. Since then, the Government have published the Windsor framework.

I hope that I made it clear that my concern is not only that Northern Ireland could become a backdoor, but that it would be exempt from the legislation so people who engage in trophy hunting could operate freely in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland protocol does not stop it and the Windsor framework does not stop it. Can the Minister give us an assurance that the Government will take action to stop imports coming into Northern Ireland—full stop—just as they would be banned from the rest of the United Kingdom?

I would like to put on record that our current controls on imports will continue to apply to Northern Ireland, under the current CITES controls, in line with the Northern Ireland protocol and the Windsor framework. We will continue to scrutinise import permit applications carefully, ensuring that they will not be moved onwards. Movements of hunting trophies from Northern Ireland to Great Britain will be subject to the import ban, unless they are qualifying Northern Ireland goods, in line with the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020. But we will continue to review this and continue to work with my right hon. Friend as we make progress.

The Minister says that the Government will seek to do this using the CITES legislation. If that were the case, there would be no need for the Bill. The Bill is required because additional action is needed to stop people going and cruelly hunting down animals in other parts of the world and bringing them back as trophies to the United Kingdom. I want to know how the Minister intends to ensure that Northern Ireland trophy hunters do not have licence that they do not have in other parts of the United Kingdom.

My right hon. Friend makes a convincing point, but it should be recognised that this is a Brexit opportunity. We would not be able to make this progress across Great Britain if we were still in the European Union. It is not ideal; I would be the first person to state that clearly. We want to make further progress. We will make further progress, I am sure. I will continue to meet with those in Northern Ireland, as will my officials.

Does the Minister accept that, apparently, the Netherlands, despite being within the European Union, has imposed a complete ban on trophy imports? If the Netherlands can do it, why can it not be done in respect of Northern Ireland?

Madam Deputy Speaker, you will excuse me from being drawn into that wider argument. To return to the crux of this debate, since the Bill Committee, we have published the environmental improvement plan, setting out our goal in the UK, across our country, to see thriving plants and wildlife, and how we are going to achieve that. The UK is supporting other countries to take action, working together with a shared commitment to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030, as we agreed at the UN nature summit COP15 in Montreal last year.

I know that we want to get a great many other Bills through today, so I will close. I thank and commend my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley for his relentless determination. I thank other Members from across the House, particularly the hon. Member for Neath (Christina Rees). She and I have met and I know that she feels passionately about this subject, and I was pleased to work with her. I thank my hon. Friends on the Front Bench, who have worked collegiately to ensure that this House passes the Bill—I am incredibly grateful for that. I am pleased that Members have contributed not just today but previously.

We are sending to the rest of the world the strong message that we in this country demonstrate where we can our support for endangered species across the world, as set out in CITES, and we do not accept their body parts being used as so-called trophies to be brought back into this country.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.