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Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill

Volume 832: debated on Tuesday 12 September 2023


Clause 1: Import prohibition

Amendment 1

Moved by

1: Clause 1, page 1, line 1, at end insert—

“(A1) This section has effect in a calendar year only if, before the end of the previous calendar year, the Secretary of State has made a statement in writing to the effect that, in the Secretary of State’s view, its operation will not cause unintended and perverse consequences for wildlife conservation and for communities in areas outside Great Britain where hunting takes place.”

My Lords, this Bill has very little effect in or on the UK, but it potentially has huge effect in every country of the world where trophy hunting takes place. As was made very clear at Second Reading, many of the reasons for this Bill are emotionally, rather than scientifically, based. The position of the proponents of the Bill is entrenched.

The Joint Nature Conservation Committee, better known as the JNCC, is a public body set up by Parliament that advises the Government and devolved Administrations on UK-wide and international nature conservation. It is very relevant to this Bill. On its website it states:

“As the UK’s statutory advisor on international conservation matters, we have a long history of experience in this area. We play a leading role in providing high-quality evidence and technical advice on the development and implementation of international nature conservation agreements, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity … the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats … and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)”.

Thus, the JNCC performs a similar role for the Government in respect of animals as does Kew in respect of plants. Crucially, it provides scientific advice to the UK CITES management authority, Defra, as to whether imports are likely to be detrimental to species survival or not. Its views are of the utmost importance and its advice should be followed, unless there is good reason not to. It has given independent advice to the Secretary of State, who has ignored it. Although she was warned it would happen, in doing so she has undermined its credibility and the standing of the UK in international conservation. If its own Secretary of State does not heed the advice of the JNCC, why should any other nature organisation in the world do so?

To me, the most striking pieces of independent advice and damning criticism that the JNCC has given the Secretary of State, and which she has ignored, are: Defra has no interest in the efficacy or the impact of legislation; the consultation on the Bill was expressly designed to create a political mandate for action; Defra and the UK will need to own the negative consequences of any ban, as well as taking the plaudits from those in favour; and an outright ban is likely to have unintended and perverse consequences for wildlife conservation and the viability of communities reliant on hunting revenue.

It is the last piece of advice by the JNCC that inspired this amendment. I am grateful to it, and to the freedom of information laws in this country which have allowed its advice to be made public. My amendment would require the Secretary of State to be advised each year about the unintended consequences of trophy hunting that the JNCC believes will occur, and to publish their judgment. If it is found that there are unintended consequences, Clause 1 would cease to have effect.

In moving Amendment 1, I confirm that I have no interest to declare. I do not own a hunting trophy and agree that some criticisms of trophy hunting, when it is not carried out to the highest standards, are justified. When it is badly managed, trophy hunting can be unsustainable. It can lead to local level overexploitation of some wildlife species and illegal killings. When it is badly managed, it can affect the social structure, behaviour and genetics of some species. It can affect other wildlife and tourism. Some benefits that should reach local communities do not, and it can engage in unethical practices which affect wildlife conservation. However, these criticisms do not apply to all trophy hunting and one should not throw the good out with the bad.

Let me mention some of the benefits of well-managed trophy hunting that justify my amendment. The most important is that as a result of trophy hunting, land is set aside for wildlife. The greatest pressure on wildlife is from human population growth, with its demand for food and the increasing expansion of agriculture and urban development in former wild areas. To avoid this pressure, the remaining wild areas must provide jobs, resources and other financial benefits.

In Tajikistan, trophy hunting conservation initiated by NGOs and the local community started in 2008, and now about 420,000 hectares of land is managed by local, traditional hunters from a community living an almost subsistence existence. Around 300 jobs have been created and 20,000 community members benefit indirectly. Sadly, all too often with human beings comes organised crime. That crime, poaching, has facilitated a dramatic decline of elephants and rhinoceros in parts of Africa and southern Asia, reversing decades of conservation achievements. Poaching is indiscriminate as to age, sex or species and in most cases leads to a painful and lingering death for the animal, whereas trophy hunting can be selective, with a clean and quick death. Poaching in the hunting areas of Tajikistan is now almost non-existent. The numbers of Asiatic ibex and markhor have increased and the decline in the population of snow leopards has been reversed. There is a much more stable food supply for the community.

In neighbouring Pakistan, in Gilgit-Baltistan, there are now more than 50 designated community conservation areas, covering more than 30% of the total land area—about 21,750 square kilometres. As a result of the community-based trophy hunting programme there, the population of Astore markhor, which is the national animal of the country, increased from 1,900 in 2012 to 2,800 in 2016. Similarly, in Balochistan, the population of Sulaiman markhor, which is an endemic sub-species that had a highly threatened status because of the Afghan war and the tribal area system—which had no solid implementation of wildlife laws—doubled between 2000 and 2011 to over 3,500. As a result, markhor were upgraded to near-threatened species by the IUCN in 2015. For anyone interested in conservation that is a remarkable success story, due to trophy hunting.

Trophy hunting helps to conserve over 1.3 million square kilometres of land in Africa, which is approximately the size of France, Germany and Spain combined. It is also a fifth more than the combined area of the national parks there. If these vast areas of land were not used for wildlife conservation, in all likelihood they would see alternative and less conservation-friendly land uses.

Another important benefit is that trophy hunting earns money for conservation. It provides economic benefits to government organisations, wildlife agencies, local communities and landowners. Trophy hunting is the major source of livelihood for the communities in the far-flung mountainous areas of Pakistan. Village-based conservancies have been formed there and the money obtained from trophy hunting has been distributed through them. Eighty per cent of the revenue generated through trophy hunting goes into local communities, most of it being spent on public welfare works, while 20% of the total revenue generated goes to government departments, which usually pay the local watchers and staff salaries from it. In the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan a total of $1.35 million has been generated between 2017 and 2020, while in Balochistan, since 1989, trophy hunting has brought in a total revenue of nearly $1.75 million, of which about $1.4 million has been given to the local communities, with almost $300,000 paid to the Government there. These are substantial sums of money, especially when one considers that the per capita income is less than $1,000.

In Mexico, bighorn sheep were reintroduced to the island of Tiburón in 1975. The island is owned and managed by the Seri Indians. When numbers grew above the carrying capacity for the island, the surplus stock was either licensed for trophy hunting or young animals were sold for translocation. Between 1998 and 2007 the Seri, who controlled the process, raised $3.2 million. The funds provided much-needed income locally and were reinvested in Seri community projects, the management of the bighorn sheep population, and the maintenance of the island in an undisturbed state.

In Canada, the polar bear hunts form part of a larger indigenous co-management system in which Inuit communities participate because they choose to. Legally, they can hunt what they want so the choice is very deliberate, because they believe in co-operation. The USA tried to help polar bears by reducing hunting through a trophy imports ban, but totally ignored the fact that local communities can legally harvest their quota of bears regardless. The result has been a considerable loss of income to the Inuit community in these small, remote areas, where there have been very limited ways of generating income.

For most hunters, bringing a trophy back is important. If one is prevented from doing that, either the hunt will not take place or, if it goes ahead, the hunter will not have to pay a trophy fee. In many places, the trophy fee makes up a significant part of the revenue and its loss would weaken the economic model of that area. Thus, the effect of the Bill will be to undermine, and perhaps stop, trophy hunting, with a consequential loss of revenue for conservation and local communities.

My noble friend talks about loss of income. One of the points put forward by proponents of the Bill is that that loss could be made up through ODA and the aid budgets of different countries. Does he agree that it would not be a good use of overseas aid to make up for the money that is going to these communities as a result of trophy hunting?

My Lords, I totally agree with my noble friend on that point. One also needs to bear in mind that the local communities do not want aid. They want actually to be able to look after themselves, generate their own income and manage their populations without being given handouts by countries. They need help but do not need the type of money my noble friend has just referred to.

Another benefit from trophy hunting is that other wildlife that is not targeted for hunting is also protected, as are the local flora and fauna. I mentioned the trophy hunting of the markhor and ibex, and I add the argali sheep. Research has shown that, because those animals are now licensed to be shot, not only have their numbers increased but the wildlife population has also grown overall. This means a greater supply of food for the snow leopards and, consequently, more are found in hunting reserves in Tajikistan than outside them. Having a greater supply of food means there is less conflict with humans and their livestock. In hunting areas in Pakistan, the number of retaliatory killings of carnivores such as snow leopards, wolves, bears and foxes has been reduced, and tolerance has increased because of the economic benefits of trophy hunting.

The status of the snow leopard, formerly listed as “endangered”, has been upgraded to “near threatened” by IUCN. Similarly, well-managed trophy hunting areas have led to increases in the black rhino and wild dog populations in Zimbabwe and the grizzly bear populations in the USA. An often-overlooked benefit of more wildlife is that there is steadier and more controlled meat provision to local communities, where many are undernourished and on poor diets. The trophy hunting ban in Botswana led to less meat being available, more poaching and a new illegal trade in bush meat. In trophy hunting areas, the local flora and fauna are much more likely to survive, as these are areas of pristine, intact habitats, and they are not subject to the ravages suffered by land overgrazed by farmers desperate to eke out a living.

Benefits from trophy hunting can go to the communities that live alongside wildlife, and this can reduce human-wildlife conflict, increase tolerance of wildlife and improve livelihoods. It can help change attitudes towards wildlife, from it being seen as a threat and nuisance to it being seen as a useful resource. Another of the benefits of trophy hunting has been improvement in education, especially in the Gilgit-Baltistan region I mentioned. The literacy rate has increased from 10% to more than 70% in the last two decades. Girls’ education has become paramount in the area. The women are now taking part in the decision-making within the family, whereas, before, they were unable to have a say in any matter. Child and early marriage of girls has been reduced because of an increase in the literacy rate, and most of the girls now get higher education from universities. What a benefit for the local community there has been.

In marked contrast, where a ban on hunting has been imposed, there is evidence that both wildlife and the local population have suffered. In Botswana, there was a reduction in community benefits which included income, employment, funeral insurance, scholarships and housing funds for the needy and elderly. The ban led to a loss of $700,000 of income and 200 jobs in the Okavango Delta.

I will mention one final benefit of trophy hunting: it can conserve traditions and allow the traditional indigenous use of resources. Trophy hunting is not new nor a relic of the colonial era, as is so often misleadingly suggested. All around the world, it has been depicted in ancient rock art. African chiefs kept such trophies and gave them as gifts. It incites a sense of closeness with nature and ancestors among the local people, and it has led to numerous traditions for people around the world. Polar bear hunting in Canada must be guided by indigenous people using traditional methods. Hunters must be transported by non-motorised means, which means a sled pulled by a dog team. It is not an exaggeration to say that polar bear hunting helped keep this Inuit cultural tradition alive after the introduction of snowmobiles.

The arguments for and against trophy hunting are not black and white but heavily nuanced: there are merits and demerits, and each case is different. We will do our fragile planet no favours by backing one prejudiced point of view that appears to be led far more by a radical animal rights agenda than by a conservation one—

I am extremely grateful to my noble friend for giving way. I entirely agree with him that this must be evidence-based legislation, and a lot of a misleading and mischievous false information has circulated around this subject for some time. Does he share my surprise that the Minister for Environment and Tourism in Botswana felt obliged to issue today a press release, which I think was circulated to all noble Lords, refuting the allegations made by the acting CEO of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, Dr Adam Cruise, concerning trophy hunting in Botswana? Is that not precisely the sort of misleading information—rather arrogant and high-handed to a country such as Botswana—that we should avoid?

My noble friend is absolutely right, and I am sure that the source of that misinformation will not be a surprise to him or anyone else. It is a regular source of misinformation, and it was quite correctly shot down in flames by the Botswanan Government.

My noble friend raised an important point, on which I will end. We should use the Bill to improve conservation by getting rid of bad trophy hunting practices, while at the same time keeping the good and improving standards and welfare for all. I beg to move.

My Lords, I commend the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, for bringing the Bill to the House and championing it. For the Green group, I express my strongest possible support for the Bill as it stands—and opposition to all the amendments.

I have been in your Lordships’ House for nearly four years, and I have to admit that I was rather surprised when I looked at the misnamed “grouping of amendments”. I have never seen this before: it is a list of 62 amendments in 62 groups. It is surprising that people who might perhaps regard themselves as champions of the traditions of the House have produced something that has not been seen in recent history—and I checked with someone who has been around the House for much longer. It could keep this House going for several days. Those who would champion the traditions and progress of the House appear to be heading in the opposite direction with this.

It is interesting to look at the gender balance of the names on the amendments: every single one is male. There is something to be said there. Only the other day, I had a conversation with a noble Lord about how it has often been put forward that, if we could hand over some countries in the global south to the women, and let the women run things, they would look different. That might be an interesting case study tonight.

I understand what the noble Baroness is saying, but is she really implying that those people, such as myself, who put down amendments have no right to express an opinion on this, and that their views are valueless because they are not female?

I would love to see a true balance of gender in contributions in your Lordships’ House, as I would love to see a balance of membership in it. Of course, we are a long way from that point here and in the other place.

Something else that joins the people expressing views here tonight in terms of moving the amendments is that these are a small number of people who appear to think that hunting is a sport. It might be something like a sport if you gave the elephants, lions and birds guns but, until you do that, it is a slaughter—and that is what is being supported by the proposers of amendments to this very modest and heavily supported Bill.

It is noticeable that the amenders and the people sitting in the Chamber tonight are all largely sitting on the Benches on one side. But this was a 2019 Conservative manifesto promise—to ban imports of hunting trophies for endangered species. The intent for such legislation was in the Queen’s Speeches in 2019 and 2022. A 2022 public opinion survey showed that 80% of the British public support a ban on the imports of hunting trophies. Again, for those champions of tradition who say that we are the unelected House and that we should not stand in the way of the will of the House of Commons, the Commons passed this Bill with only minor amendments in March 2023.

I want to pick up just one point expressed by the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, who spoke about closeness to nature. We are talking about imports of these trophies into the UK. Practices of indigenous people embedded in local landscapes is one thing; a UK dentist or aristocrat bringing back a trophy from Africa is something else again. So I ask everyone proposing amendments to this Bill to search their conscience to ask themselves what they are really doing in the Committee this evening.

My Lords, I express my support for the amendment moved by the noble Earl, Lord Caithness. I support it as the first amendment because it highlights straightaway the need to put conservation at the heart of this Bill—not simply disgust at the idea of trophy hunting, but conservation. I hope that the Government will take account of this and of the arguments that they will hear this evening on both sides and that they will be able to bring an improved Bill back to the House.

I was struck on reading back through the Second Reading speeches, which unfortunately I mostly missed, at how widespread the disgust is at this practice. I share it, as I have never shot anything or hunted anything, and I cannot imagine why people want to do this. But of course the point of this Bill is not to express disgust at this; it is to improve the prospects for animals that are being hunted. To do this, we have to look at the broader context. Particularly in Africa, we have a situation of huge rising demographic pressure and huge rising demand for the products of poaching, especially as those countries that believe in traditional medicine get richer, and the pressure on poaching for the ingredients for traditional medicine becomes more severe year by year. We can make sense of this Bill only by looking at that wider context and looking at whether it takes account of those pressures.

In the earlier debate, there was a certain amount of, “Well, we all pick our experts, don’t we?” Of course, we do all pick our experts to some extent—but I am sure that noble Lords would agree with me that this is not a reason not ever to listen to experts. I was extremely struck by the recent letter to the Times, signed by almost 200 different experts, who were very clear in their request that our Government

“should support an amendment whereby hunting trophies are permitted only if”—

I would say if and when—

“they demonstrate clear benefits to both conservation and local livelihoods, fulfilling the government’s manifesto commitment and helping, rather than harming, conservation.”.

I do not know whether any noble Lords have ever been involved in trying to put together a letter to a newspaper, but when you get one that is signed by almost 200 people from a very wide range of countries and associations, you have to feel that there must be some major arguments and major concerns that need addressing. Just to name some randomly, we have: Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, the Frankfurt Zoological Society and the charity Stop Rhino Poaching; and we have experts from Kew, Oxford and Cambridge. Those are experts that we need to take some account of.

I was also very struck that, in fact, our Government internally recognise that hunting is not necessarily at odds with conservation. In fact, the Minister made this point himself at Second Reading, pointing out that

“some of the richest wildlife habitats that we find anywhere on these islands are sustained through the activities of people who hunt for sport”.—[Official Report, 16/6/23; col. 2245.]

I want to emphasise the need to take account of expert opinion, and the need to look at the context within which trophy hunting takes place. This does not mean that there is no place for this Bill. As the noble Earl has said, there are nuanced arguments. But when there are so many people arguing that we need to amend and improve this Bill, we should take these recommendations seriously and make sure that conservation is at the heart of this Bill. I therefore support the amendment.

My Lords, I believe that most reasonable people, and certainly most noble Lords taking part today, support wholeheartedly the objective of conservation that the noble Baroness was just talking about. We always want to protect our shrinking wildlife on this planet, so it is always helpful to start on the areas on which we agree, and that is one of them. But the perception on which this Bill is based is that a number of the world’s most endangered and iconic species are threatened with extinction by excessive hunting, and that by prohibiting the importation of trophies taken from these animals we will set an example to other countries and, perhaps more importantly, prevent the decline in the numbers of those species.

The argument on the other side is that the income derived from hunting for these trophies—the trophies themselves do not matter, of course—improves conservation in a number of different ways. The most obvious way—and I think that my noble friend Lord Caithness mentioned it—is that, in hunting areas, the habitat is being protected. That is the most important thing, because it is loss of habitat that is the greatest threat to wildlife. On the other side of the coin, we have learned in the course of this Bill that trophy hunting is not actually a threat to any endangered species at all—it is other things that threaten them, but not trophy hunting. None of the animals that would be covered in the two annexes to which this Bill will apply when it becomes an Act are at all threatened in any way, shape or form by trophy hunting. They are threatened by other things, the most important of which is loss of habitat; that is, to some degree or another that is open to debate, protected by trophy hunting. If you have a concession, a piece of land on which you are conducting your hunting business, you are obviously going to protect it because otherwise it damages your business. That is widely demonstrated.

It is often said that this House has an expert on almost every subject. I have to confess that I am not an expert on the subject before us this evening, although I have some experience of conservation here in the United Kingdom, and I have a passion for the wilder parts of the world, some of which I visited, and the creatures that live there. I have never shot game in Africa or in other parts of the world—the Far East, or whatever—so I, too, have no direct interest to declare in this Bill.

It is clear that opinion is divided in the Committee, as it is everywhere, on which side of the argument one falls—and that is quite normal. What is interesting to me, as the noble Baroness touched on, is what has happened during the course of the passage of this Bill, in its passage to the other place and in the several months since it came here first in June—rather a long time ago. I have been involved in a lot of Private Members’ Bills over the past 35 years that I have been in this House, and I cannot remember any on which such an extraordinary deluge of information has been poured on our heads and through our letterboxes. Of course, some of it is very good and some of it is not so good—that is a fact of life.

We have had an extraordinary amount of high-quality information provided by academics. Two speakers have already referred to the letter from academics that appeared in a newspaper. I have tried to get letters into newspapers, and it is very unusual to do so. Getting 10 Peers to sign one brings herding cats to mind, so getting 150 academics from across the world—which must also be a bit like herding cats—to sign a letter is extraordinary. These were not just any old people. It is a pretty impressive list. I do not remember it happening before.

I also do not remember another piece of legislation that does not really affect this country at all but does affect others. The way some people speak, you would think that hunting is a minority activity. Actually, 99% of the countries in the world have hunting; those that do not are the minority. It is normal in most parts of the world and cultures. I have never come across a situation where more affected countries have been so vociferous in their opposition to a Bill that affects them. I do not remember the British Government—although I am sure there is a case of it—enacting a piece of legislation like this, which has an economic, social and cultural effect on other countries, without asking or meeting them and completely ignoring their views. It is quite extraordinary.

The countries most affected by this—the southern African countries that have hunting—have, like the academics, been unanimous in their opposition. Two groups took the trouble to get on an aeroplane and come over here. Can noble Lords imagine the Minister jumping on a plane because of something happening in the South African Parliament and dealing with a group there? We had a Minister, heads of wildlife departments and an MP come to this House because they were so horrified by what would happen. The evidence we were given was extraordinary, detailed and backed by hard, peer-reviewed research.

One thing that affected me most was that one of the people who came here, an MP from a constituency in Botswana that I could not begin to pronounce, on the edge of the Okavango, told us: “It seems to me that British parliamentarians care more about animals than they do about our people. I go to funerals of my constituents who are killed because they live alongside wildlife. Their cattle are killed and their crops are destroyed. Four or five constituents every year, usually children on their way to school, are killed by animals”. That is a fact of life when humans live alongside wildlife.

We have debates about rewilding in this country—sometimes very sensible and sometimes not quite so sensible—in which people say that we do not want wolves in England because they are too big and might kill our sheep and dogs. It is quite right that we have those impassioned arguments, but can you imagine saying to someone in Surrey, “We’re going to put a couple of prides of lions outside Esher and a herd of buffalo in the Surrey Hills”? They would not be very happy about it. These people live alongside these animals all the time. This MP was saying that it looked like we cared more about the animals that we do not have to live with than his constituents who do. We need to take that very seriously.

As my noble friend has said, trophy hunting is a major force for conservation. The 1.3 million square kilometres in Africa is one-fifth more land than all the national parks combined. We need to think carefully, because this is big stuff. Trophy hunters obviously want to continue hunting, so they preserve their quarry in those areas and actively protect the habitats and other related animals around. More importantly, the communities are therefore incentivised, economically and in other ways, to accept the animals, which are undoubtedly difficult to live with, and prevent poaching. If they have no value to those people, if they are a negative and not a positive, how on earth can we expect them to protect them? Surely, the object of this Bill is to protect them, so we need to incentivise those people. Trophy hunting is one of the main ways at the moment to do that.

Trophies can account for up to 50% of the revenue derived from hunting, as I think my noble friend mentioned. If you remove the ability to take away the trophy, you take 50% of the income away, for no real gain to anybody. After all, trophies in themselves are not important. What matters is how we manage the wildlife and the consequences to them, not the trophy. Although we have been told that you do not really need hunting and could replace it with photo tourism, we need to be clear that the overwhelming evidence we have received is this: of course you can increase photo tourism, but that will not work in the areas in which there is trophy hunting, because they are different. There is not the infrastructure and they are not the sort of places that are good for photographic tourism anyway. It simply will not work. We were told that not just once or twice but by all the evidence we received, which was detailed and explained why.

The evidence we received on the other side of the coin, which said that you could do tourism there and do not need trophy hunting, gave no specific examples at all. I found it extraordinary that I got from the JNCC—many of your Lordships will have too—nine detailed pieces of peer-reviewed research demonstrating where trophy hunting occurs, how and why it is important and the numbers, while we did not receive a single piece of specific evidence going the other way that we could rely on.

Welfare has come up in this debate. This is not a welfare Bill, but a conservation one. It is important to note that the two are different subjects. I am not a naturalist or an expert in these things, but I can give noble Lords a fact which I know to be completely true: 100% of wild animals will die. Some 99% of them will die of injury, illness, starvation, lack of water, competition with others and being predated upon—not a very nice one—while probably less than 0.01%, a tiny number, will be killed by trophy hunting.

I can also assure noble Lords that, of all the deaths that wild animals undergo, probably the one with the least welfare concerns is to be shot by a bullet. No wild animals die in their beds or have palliative care. None is surrounded by its relatives when it leaves this planet. They all die nasty, painful and long-suffering deaths. That is what nature does. The only ones that have a short, quick death are those that are hunted. A welfarist wanting to improve the welfare of animals—which is not the point of this Bill—cannot object to this on those grounds. I see the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, shaking her head, but this is a fact. If she thinks I have got something wrong, I invite her to come in on it, because this is pretty factual.

I said at the outset that we cannot all be experts on every subject that comes before this House, although some noble Lords seem to think they are from the frequency with which they bend our ears. We must therefore rely, to a certain extent, on the information we are given. We have to decide, sift it and look at the reliability of its sources. As I have said, I have been extremely impressed by the evidence that has come to us supporting the conservation points of this Bill and making it clear that, as drafted, it does not have the conservation benefits we would want.

Before the noble Lord moves on, will he also reflect on one point? We have indeed, as he rightly pointed out, been inundated with extremely interesting and very knowledgeable briefings from both sides of the argument. The overwhelming conclusion of those people who are concerned about the Bill, do not want to stop it in its tracks but want to improve it, is that they feel very strongly indeed that, with the right amendments, the Bill could in fact be fit for purpose and could command widespread support, particularly among those countries in southern Africa that he referred to.

I am grateful to my noble friend. He is absolutely right: all those countries that we have all had letters from said that they would support the Bill if it had a proper conservation amendment in it, as is on the Order Paper today. We have had fascinating information. To me, the most fascinating information—I think it has already been referred to—was the stuff from the JNCC, the Government’s official adviser on conservation. It was consulted over a period of time by a number of Ministers as the Bill was formed over a period of years, drafted and redrafted. I have seen, and I am sure that your Lordships have, too, lots of advice from different committees, groups and people to Ministers. I do not think I have ever seen a more categorically strong piece of advice from a government advisory body saying, “No, this Bill as you have drafted it at the moment will have severe conservation problems and deficits”.

If we want the Bill to be a good model of conservation and to help the wildlife we all want to help, it needs to have in it certain measures, and those measures are in an amendment of mine that we will look at later this evening: Amendment 34. In the meantime, Amendment 1 from my noble friend Lord Caithness is very interesting because it would give the Secretary of State the ability to look in advance at what the results are going to be. It would give him or her a duty to do that and to see whether the Bill is going to do the good that some claim it will or the harm that others claim. As such, I would be very happy to support my noble friend’s amendment.

My Lords, as we move through the early stages of this debate, I think it is important, first, that collectively, as a House, we recognise that there is a wide range of opinions not simply within this House but without it. I think it is right that we conduct this debate in a tone and a manner that does not denigrate anyone’s opinion. I think that what is held is held very passionately by a number of people and that both the movers and the opponents of the amendments are doing so in a very sincere manner.

I take exception particularly to one thing that the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, said: I think that every Member of this House has the complete right, irrespective of gender, to put forward whatever they feel to be in the best interests of legislation and to contribute to this debate. It will not come as a great surprise that I do not intend to undergo a course of gender reassignment or self-identification. As a DUP Peer, I think, to be fair, we have a reputation: we are not regarded as a particularly woke bunch, or indeed as people who would be naturally inclined to a left of centre approach to things. It therefore may come as a bit of a surprise that this may be the first time in my number of months in this House that I find myself, not necessarily in terms of tone but in terms of content, largely in agreement with the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, and commending the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, for her actions in bringing this forward.

There will be others who speak in this debate who come with a greater level of expertise, and we can all trade statistics and representations that have been made to us. I have to say that I think the case for this amendment and from some of the opponents of the Bill has been heavily oversold. Trophy hunting does not create, as the impression has been given, some great utopia for society that will cure all our ills. It seems from the supporters of this amendment to simultaneously both preserve the ancien régime of indigenous peoples while at the same time being the principal driver of social progress within these countries: it seems to be the close correlation, if not the main motivation, behind female emancipation and education. If people are making the case for this amendment, it is important that it is not oversold.

I believe that trophy hunting makes an economic contribution to these countries, but there are some statistics that suggest that this is fairly minimal. As for the idea that this is being done as some form of benevolent social welfare for some of the residents, we know that, at the end of the day, for those on the ground this is making a very small contribution. The trickle-down effect is very limited. The range of these amendments would make the Bill much more complex and open to legal challenge than would otherwise be the case and create a regime which would enhance the level of uncertainty within the Bill.

I appreciate that the job, particularly in Committee, is to see what improvements can be made within the Bill. I have to say that, generally speaking—and I do not want to prejudice any of the arguments that will be made—it would appear that most of these amendments come from people who are vehement opponents of the Bill. That is a perfectly legitimate position, but let us not pretend that the intention of the amendments is particularly to improve the Bill. I think their impact would be to create the death by a thousand cuts of the Bill and to create a range of loopholes across the Bill that that would fundamentally weaken its purpose.

While I mention loopholes, I have not put down an amendment, but it may be useful if the Minister, whenever he is summing up towards the end, could deal with one loophole in the Bill that I think needs to be closed. In another place, my colleagues raised the issue of why Northern Ireland was excluded from the Bill. The argument was made that it would be in some way incompatible with the single market, to which Northern Ireland is apparently still subject. Leaving aside constitutional issues that I have some concerns about, I have to say that as an argument there has been a level of misinformation there. Irrespective of whether you are in favour or against these amendments, the single market is not an excuse for Northern Ireland’s exclusion, as four countries within the EU have either enacted very similar legislation or are in the process of doing so. So I urge the Government to consider this again.

For me—this may be a simplistic approach—this is about the signal that we send out as a civilised nation. Trophy hunting and taking back those trophies to the United Kingdom is something that is no longer part, if it ever was, of a virtuous, civilised nation. Therefore, I urge the Committee not only to reject this amendment but to oppose the amendments throughout the Bill, which will not necessarily improve the Bill but will act as a device, bit by bit, to water it down.

My Lords, I must take issue with the noble Lord, Lord Weir, because I do not think that these amendments that some of us are proposing this evening are designed to wreck the Bill. On the contrary, the conversations I have had with my colleagues, who take this issue very seriously, are all about improving the Bill, which is why I will support the amendment of the noble Earl, Lord Caithness. I think there is a better amendment coming from the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, but I think this is a good amendment and this is the role of the second Chamber.

Without giving too much away, some of us have been lobbied quite hard over the past few days about the Bill and told, for instance, in that famous Whips’ argument, “If you don’t accept this, you will get something much worse”. Well, if we accepted that as a serious argument, there would be no point in having this revising Chamber at all: we would just accept all bad legislation coming from the other place and roll over and have our tummies tickled. We might as well stay away. The point of this House, if it is to have a point at all, is to examine legislation, reject bad legislation and, where necessary and feasible, improve the legislation. So, I utterly reject the noble Lord’s comment that this is designed to wreck the Bill.

I have various declarations to make. My first declaration is that I have no desire to shoot an animal in Africa, nor to bring a trophy home. In fact, I believe that if my wife were to wake up in the morning and find a kudu head at the end of the bed, she might react in the same way as if it were the severed head of a horse, to use an analogy from a film—which is quite a dangerous thing to do and was recently done rather poorly by President Biden.

However, the point is not whether I want to import trophies here from Africa or elsewhere. I set aside my own personal views and want to look at the legislation as it stands. The other two declarations I should make is, first, that I consider the Minister to be a close friend of mine—I do not know whether he will consider me in the same light after this—and I am afraid that for him it is a question of the cab rank principle of KCs that he has to accept whatever brief is coming his way. However, he is nothing but a serious conservationist, and I slightly wonder what is going through his mind privately—but we will not dwell on his grief: he will do this job in the entirely professional way that he handles so much of his brief, which seems to be a brief without beginning and without end.

However, the second and more serious point I want to make—this is a proper declaration—is that I am the deputy chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, which is designed to grow intra-Commonwealth trade. We heard in the previous Statement about the rise of Africa and how the African Union will now be represented at the G20, and Africa is coming of age. Everyone is looking at Africa. Hopefully, the British Government and our allies will look a bit more closely and try to fill the void that has been left by some countries to stop the Wagner Group, China and others exploiting that magnificent continent.

I am therefore very conscious of the role of the Commonwealth and of the perception that in some way the Commonwealth is a hangover from colonialism and the British Empire. Manifestly it is not; you only have to look at the most recent accession countries to the Commonwealth to see that they have absolutely no historic connection with this country whatever. However, it is there, and we should accept that there is that lingering suspicion. I am therefore enormously sensitive and immediately alert to the possibility that anything we say or do in this country about developing countries, particularly in Africa, could be conceived or misconceived as some form of neocolonialism. I know there is a temptation, and the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, from the other side tried to paint this as an all-boys club gathering—I was rather amused that the next, excellent speaker was the noble Baroness, Lady Wolf, which put paid to that rather cheap accusation.

The point is that Africa is watching. As the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, said, we had a delegation of Ministers from some African countries. As a Minister I certainly would never have gone to an African country in the same way they came here to make these points. They came all this way to talk about what they wanted to do in their own communities, with their own experiences, and not the great principle of whether trophy hunting is morally right or repellent—which some people feel, and I absolutely accept that—but what it means to their local livelihoods and their local population. We should factor that in.

It makes me feel extremely uncomfortable that here we are, sitting on our well-upholstered behinds in the lovely gilt and leather confines of the House of Lords, telling people in Africa, in this century, in this day and age, how they should go about making their living. What an appalling idea that we could think that we could replace what they are trying to do by making this illegal, destroying that part of their livelihood and saying that we will replace it with aid. That is not what aid is meant for. It is not meant to make populations dependent; it is meant to liberate people, to encourage them to get up, do their own thing to the best of their ability and trade their way out of poverty. I will never vote for anything in this House which has an adverse effect on the livelihoods of people in those countries. We should think very carefully before we start telling those people what they should be doing.

My Lords, I am sorry that I was not able to speak at Second Reading; I found out that it was scheduled only after the speakers’ list had closed. However, I have read the Hansard for that debate.

Like others, I am now struggling to find a rationale for choosing which amendments to support and which to oppose. This is difficult, as the Bill is flawed. Its stated aim, found in the impact assessment, is

“to ensure that imports of hunting trophies to the UK are not placing additional pressure on species of conservation concern”.

This muddles up two completely different objectives, the promotion of conservation and limiting import of trophies. The link between the two is tenuous. Acting on trophies will do precious little to promote conservation. As the Bill applies only to imports into the UK, it will do nothing to curb the appetite of the legendary Minnesota dentist.

In my view, the thirst for trophies is really a basis for bragging rights. “Look at me, how brave I am and how skilful—I have killed this magnificent beast who could as easily have killed me.” However, these days, bragging rights can equally be secured by photos or videos, so even if trophy imports are banned, hunting will continue. We should not just think that there is something called trophy hunting; there are trophies and there is hunting. Instead, we should concentrate on the conservation objective: what animals are killed, where, by whom, and with what impact on the long-term health of herds.

This brings us to the key question of whether we believe commercial hunting is beneficial for conservation —I exclude here the detestable practice of canned hunting. A case has been made that it is beneficial. It brings money through licence fees into government coffers and it brings income, employment and, as has been mentioned, meat to local people. However, perhaps the greatest benefit is that the commercial hunting franchises can afford to put many more vehicles and trackers into the hunting areas to report on illegal hunting.

However, this positive narrative is valid only when some conditions are satisfied. First, wildlife authorities must be professionally staffed and capable of assessing herd numbers, herd health, and so on, and hence able to calculate how many animals could be killed each year without damage to the long-term health of the herd. In southern Africa, the area I know best, this condition is largely satisfied; indeed, there are many competent and committed wildlife scientists.

The problems develop downstream from that. Once scientists have made that calculation on what the offtake should be, the number of licences should always be based strictly on it. Sadly, however, this is not always the case. A Minister or a President can send a message to the director of wildlife saying that it would be very helpful in clinching a deal if some big investor were given, say, a leopard licence.

There is also the problem of the governance and behaviour of the safari franchises. Do they stick strictly to the number of licences and to where hunting is permitted? A typical arrangement in southern Africa is that there is a park or game reserve where no hunting is allowed, surrounded by game management areas where hunting is allowed. However, if a fine specimen appears just over the border of the park, it can be shot and recorded as having been killed in the hunting area. Also, the hunters will set up what is called a machan, which is a bait with a kind of hide just on the edge of the park to try to lure the key specimens outside. I also doubt that the safari companies are immune to pressure from their clients. If the Minnesotan dentist has a fine beast in his sights and is told that it cannot be shot because that is now the prime breeding male, the complaint will be, “I’ve paid $50,000 for this”, pressure which it is difficult for the professional hunter to resist.

I come down on the side of those who see too many negatives in professional hunting—too many things to be corrected—which outweigh the positives. However, the way to turn this around is to concentrate on reinforcing the integrity and governance of wildlife regulation and not by banning the import of trophies into the UK, which will achieve nothing.

Where do I stand on the amendments before us? One possibility is to support those which are clearly aimed at promoting the conservation objective, such as that tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft. The alternative is that the Minister listens yet again to the arguments which have been made. For example, at Second Reading, the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, described this as

“a well-intentioned but mistaken Bill”,

the noble Lord, Lord Remnant, called it

“a triumph of emotion over reason”,

and the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, said it was

“completely pointless and nothing more than symbolic”.—[Official Report, 16/6/23; cols. 2219-32.]

The Minister could then return on Report to say that the Government now accepted that the arguments against the Bill were too strong and that they would therefore no longer support it. It would then become simply a Private Member’s Bill, which could wither on the vine as so many others do, and maybe some thought could be given to what kind of Bill might be helpful.

I live in hope, but if the Minister would like to discuss this further, with me or any other critic of the Bill, I would be happy to meet him to share my experience of 40 years of travelling to and from southern Africa, including many of the game areas.

Finally, a word of caution on the reference of the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, to older males who are past their prime and excluded from their herd or group, and who can die unhappy, cantankerous and alone while trying to upset the dynamics of the group. I wondered whether he was referring to this House, but I think in the end he was referring to the animals.

My Lords, funnily enough, that is a very good note on which to start. I will come to the specific amendment in half a second. But one of the things people do not realise is that the whole thing about trophy hunting—by the way, I do not go in for it at all, but I know something about herd management from deer in Scotland; not that I manage myself, but I know people who do—is that you do not want to shoot a young male coming along because it has a magnificent pelt. You want it to develop into a full-blooded animal, and when it is just past its prime that is when you cull it, for exactly that reason: the dynamics of the crotchety old male which is causing disruption. The noble Lord is absolutely right. If you are managing the whole thing properly to improve whatever it is people wish to hunt, it will be done in a much better and more sustainable way for nature as well.

It comes back to what the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, said. The essential message is financial incentive. This is what I got from the delegates from Africa who came over, whom I also met. They want to be able to manage these things in order to get the funding, and incentive and local buy-in from the low-level population to support this in order to get the conservation side right. That is the trouble: it is all very well pouring aid in from the top, but sometimes it does not get anywhere near the bottom. It is much better to have stuff coming in to give the ordinary people on the ground an incentive to try to work in an environmental and conservation way. The objective is to conserve properly: you get your herd profiles right and then you do some hunting.

The reason this amendment is so important is that it is about the unintended and perverse consequences. The Bill says that you cannot import trophies

“on behalf of the hunter”,

meaning the person who killed the thing. If you think about it, if you are managing a herd, you will have deaths at all age profiles in the herd, and people are going to hunt for meat. Many of the animals that have been taken out for meat will have horns and other bits that are useful for creating mementos for tourists. I should love some reassurance that this is not banning the production of tourist mementos which are not trophies—they are not the thing that the person paid a fortune to go to kill, but what you might call by-products of the results of it. I am afraid you will have culling going on in the herd, and there will also be animals that die, so why cannot their body parts be made useful, for greater sustainable use?

These are not plastics, poisoning the planet; they are naturally produced things. It will be much better to make all sorts of products and ornamental things from them than from fossil fuels. If one of the unintended consequences of the Bill is that it prevents all use of all animal body parts, it really should be examined again. We are just wasting a whole natural resource there, and I am a great believer that we should be using natural products, not artificially produced plastic products, which are killing the planet.

The main thing is that we have to get the financial incentives in the right place, to incentivise at the bottom level, and we also need to use all the animal stuff. This great fiction that people just go out to shoot a few trophies and that these will be animals in their prime is not really how it should work.

My Lords, I can see that this could be a very constructive Bill, particularly if we got back to our manifesto promises—to refer to what the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, said. The manifesto pledge was to ban imports from trophy hunting of endangered animals and, when we come to my Amendment 4, that is something I will enlarge on. This Bill goes a great deal further than that and, in doing so, as my noble friend Lord Swire said, it starts to create a very inappropriate relationship with the Governments of countries where trophy hunting takes place. We ought to be working with these countries to help them conserve the wildlife which they have—and which we would be terrified to have.

We in this country cannot even contemplate the return of the lynx, never mind the wolf. As for bears, certainly not, although they used to live here—never, not allowed. The pigs that escaped in the great storm are relentlessly persecuted. We have no concept of what we are asking these people to do in living alongside elephants, hippopotamus and rhinoceros, let alone lions and the other big predators. We should have such respect for and understanding of them, and we should be working really closely with them to enable that symbiosis to continue. If they are telling us that trophy hunting is part of that, we can ask them how they can grow through this and go beyond that, as well as offer real support in getting photographic tourism going and working on how we bring that idea back to the UK—not that it is the easiest, when we are all being told that we cannot fly any more. It ought to be a process where we are working closely with African Governments, not having them come here to protest what we are doing. This ought to be a process we are in together.

Would my noble friend reflect on one specific point around all this? When we started out on this Bill, all those months ago, I do not think any of us believed for one moment that the importation into this country of, I think, two lions’ heads a year and 115 trophies a year would give rise to so much interest and concern from those countries in southern Africa that he mentions. Surely now they have made their point so clearly and powerfully, we should really take that on board, and therefore consider the amendments they support to improve the Bill.

I would have thought so.

We need to be rational about conservation. Conservation often involves killing. It is one of the reasons why the RSPB is not as successful as it should be in preserving wildlife; it is not good at controlling predators. Humans create predators—foxes live in towns, and the number of crows is enormously increased as a result of human activity. Together, they make wildlife extremely difficult to maintain, unless you do something about the predators.

We should understand that our nature as hunters and the role that we have taken on as the top predator carry with them responsibilities. In looking at what is going on in a community in Africa with a lot of wildlife, if we do not collaborate in providing it with income—something that makes that symbiosis profitable for them—that community will choose a different balance. That balance will be the balance we have chosen for ourselves here: “Let’s not have anything that causes us inconvenience”. We here are the example of what we wish Africa to become, as symbolised in this Bill. We want wildlife eliminated, or at least restrained only to parks, and not part of people’s lives.

We should revise our thinking on this and, as my noble friend says, go back to our friends in Africa, work out how we can do this well and support what they are doing. If that involves trophy hunting, and that results in good conservation, that is something we should support for as long as it is necessary—though I have not, and never hope to, taken part in it myself.

My Lords, we have been debating this amendment for some considerable time. There is a concern that we will not be able to get to the amendment with the real meat in it, so I will do my bit now.

I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, on her stamina and determination to do everything she can to protect animals from cruelty, harm and death no matter where they live. She has a reputation for being a doughty campaigner and is to be congratulated on agreeing to sponsor this Bill through the Lords. I have no interests to declare. I am not an animal expert but I have read the briefings.

This is a Bill that has government support. Originally, the measures would have been in the kept animals Bill, which was abandoned in favour of introducing various measures through Private Members’ Bills. This should have shortened the time taken to get measures on to the statute book. The glue traps Bill in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, was one such Bill; the Sharks Fin Bill in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, was another.

I apologise for not being present at Second Reading due to other commitments, but my noble friend Lord Rennard covered the ground very thoroughly at the time. Although not perfect, this Bill is short and to the point and bans the import into Great Britain of a trophy from an endangered animal that has been hunted. This trophy can be any part or derivative of an endangered animal that has been obtained by hunting.

We on the Liberal Democrat Benches fully support the aims and objectives of this Bill, as I believe do the Labour Benches. However, from the number of amendments that have been tabled, it is obvious that this Bill does not have unanimous support on the Government Benches. But it does have overall support across the whole House, as the hunting of wild game animals, while a sport that attracts those with unlimited resources to spend on their pursuits, is abhorrent to the vast majority of the Chamber and the general public.

Turning to Amendment 1, the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, gave—at length and very knowledgeably—the rationale for his amendment, which would in effect ensure that the Bill is not able to progress. The effect of this amendment is, first, to grant the Secretary of State alone the power to decide whether a legal prohibition applies that is beyond the scope of the proposed prohibition, which is intended to be a blanket ban. Secondly, the proposal is not a standard clause retained in conservation or animal welfare legislation. On that basis, we do not support this amendment.

I regret and apologise for the fact that I am not able to stay until the end of this evening’s business, which I suspect will be long-winded and repetitious. What we have before us this evening is a Minister of great integrity, knowledge and compassion alongside four female Members of the House from different political parties all attempting, on behalf of their parties, to enable the aims and objectives of this Bill to move towards ending animal trophy hunting by preventing the importation of those trophies into Great Britain.

I regret to say that, ranged on the other side, we have some of the landed gentry of the country—mostly hereditary Peers—doing their utmost to filibuster and talk the Bill out. They are entitled to express their views, of course. I generally have great regard for the contribution made to the work of this Chamber by the hereditary Peers, but I fear that, this evening, they will not do their reputation among their colleagues or the public at large any favours at all. Despite the words of the noble Lord, Lord Swire, the opposers of this Bill will take the opportunity this evening to attempt to kill it off by filibustering to ensure that there is no Report stage due to a shortage of time. They do this because they know that if the Bill got to Report, none of their amendments would be passed and they would be roundly defeated.

This tactic was used to talk out the hereditary peers by-elections Bill, despite what the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, said, and came mostly from a section of the Conservative Benches. The noble Earl, Lord Caithness, would have us believe that trophy hunting is of great benefit to all, including the animals. I take completely the point about conservation and economics but the view of the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, that the trophies themselves do not matter at all is breathtaking.

The hunting trophies Bill was in the Conservative 2019 manifesto. Although supporting the Conservative manifesto is not my main aim in life, I and my colleagues do support this Private Member’s Bill and are passionate about protecting endangered wild animals from the revolting practice of being killed for their body parts. In whatever way those opposing this Bill may argue their case, they are unlikely to get support from the Liberal Democrat Benches.

My Lords, after that speech, I should begin by declaring a few non-interests. I am not a hereditary Peer. I am not a landowner unless you count a small garden about half the size of this Chamber on the Hampshire/Berkshire border. I am not a trophy hunter, nor do I oppose the import of all trophies.

However, I speak in support of my noble friend Lord Caithness’s amendment. I go back to where he started, namely with the markhor—that is, Capra falconeri, the screw-horned goat that is the national animal of Pakistan. Last year, I was lucky enough to see the extraordinary landscapes where these animals live in Baltistan, Chitral and Hunza; there are also isolated pockets of them in Afghanistan and India. In fact, they were thought to be extinct in India as recently as the 1990s and were in the most extreme category of UN extinction watch as recently as the end of the last century—that is, until their numbers were revived through the carefully targeted sale of a very small number of hunting licences, the revenue from which is reserved to local communities. Those communities then have every incentive to preserve habitats and are in effect turned into so many gamekeepers that they ensure that no animals except the elderly, post-reproductive males marked for culling are in danger. The result of that change is that the markhor has rebounded immensely.

It is not the case that trophy hunting is always a tool of conservation. That is why I say that I am not against the whole concept, but I want to speak in favour of the distinction that this amendment makes. Let me give an obvious example from the other side. There is no evidence that the ban on whale hunting has had a detrimental effect. On the contrary, the recovery of whale numbers has been one of the unremarked miracles of the past couple of decades. We have seen an amazing bounce-back in the number of humpbacks and bowheads although, sadly, we have not yet seen the same for blue or gray whales.

Even there, there is a habitat aspect to things. A lot of whales are killed because they swallow fishing gear that has been discarded or get in clashes with vessels. However, I am not going to argue—I do not think that anyone else will—that a hunting ban there is ineffective or that a trophy ban would make a difference but, where we are talking about habitats, it is vital to give local people an incentive to conserve that habitat. I cannot put it better than my noble friend Lord Lucas just did: it is easy for us to be sentimental at a distance about lions, tigers, elephants and so on because we do not have to live next to them. Without any incentive to preserve their numbers, local people will naturally see them as, at the very least, competitors for resources but also as a danger. Without the right incentives, they will have every reason to hunt them to extinction, as I am afraid human populations have done to large mammals on every continent going back to our hunter/gatherer days.

This amendment draws a distinction, giving the Secretary of State a last-ditch power to decide where there would be an unintended consequence for conservation. By the way, I would love to have a general power to stop unintended consequences of legislation. Almost always you get the most unintended consequences from Bills that have been passed in response to some public campaign. People have not thought through all the implications and we hear exactly the arguments that we are hearing tonight, that the public demand this law. If you are presented with, as a general proposition, the idea that we should not kill magnificent animals, then of course, everyone will agree with that—I would, and I hope that everyone would. However, we are looking at ways in which to modify this legislation so as not to have a detrimental effect on conservation.

I do not want to be accused of filibustering, so I will keep this very brief and close by saying that, as I understand it, that is precisely the reason why we exist here as a second Chamber. What function do we have if not to act as a break on the necessary radicalism of the popularly elected House? Being here, we have the privilege to look beyond the headlines and to consider in full the implications and the potential unintended consequences of laws that have been drafted in a knee-jerk way. This legislation is precisely an example of such lawmaking. Therefore, it seems to me the proper role of this Chamber to approve it and to take out the parts of it that would have the most harmful impacts.

My Lords, we have heard some very strong speeches, though many have had a rather tenuous connection with any particular amendment. I and others would like to speak to Amendment 34, which is much the most important and seeks to strengthen this Bill, if that might be allowed.

I understand the noble Lord’s point about wanting to speak to a specific amendment, but he will have to wait until we get to the group that Amendment 34 is in.

Can I invite the noble Lord, Lord Hannan, to support our amendments tomorrow, since he clearly laid out what this House does? Some amendments tomorrow exactly cover the kinds of issues that he was talking about.

Clearly, the Bill deals with a very passionately felt issue, with strong views on both sides of the argument. That has come across today in Committee and previously. The debate was introduced by the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, with his Amendment 1. However, before referring to that, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, for introducing this Private Member’s Bill and for her excellent introduction at Second Reading. We offer our strong support to this Bill. I remind noble Lords that the ban which has been debated has widespread public support and clear cross-party support in Parliament.

There are many amendments in front of us today, but our concern around Amendment 1 is that the effect of the noble Earl’s proposal would be to grant to the Secretary of State alone the power to decide whether a legal prohibition applies, where it is within scope. We do not think that is the correct way to go forward with any legislation. We have said with regard to many Bills that the strong Henry VIII powers being given specifically to Secretaries of State is not how to go forward with legislation. Also, the proposal is not a standard clause retained within conservation or animal welfare legislation, as the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, mentioned. That is specifically why we would not support Amendment 1.

The noble Lord, Lord Trees, tried to speak to Amendment 34. I would like to make a point about the groupings. Degrouping every amendment from the proposed government groupings to deliberately frustrate the progress of this Bill is pretty poor and undermines a manifesto commitment of the party that those noble Lords say that they support. They are part of this Government. They sit on the Government Benches. This is pretty poor behaviour on their part, and I want to put that on the record.

Moving to the Bill, I will speak broadly as a lot of issues have been debated even though they are not directly related to the noble Earl’s amendment. We know that France and Australia have banned the import and export of lion-hunting trophies and that in 2016 the Netherlands banned trophy imports of many species.

Some of the main arguments have regarded hunting as supporting conservation and local communities. Evidence has been presented to many of us 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.

We also know that trophy hunting has a history of mismanagement and that quotas have been based on inadequate data. There has also often been a lack of transparency about the way it takes place. We do not believe that there is sufficient evidence that trophy hunting always contributes to conservation, in the way that a number of noble Lords have implied.

We also believe that the economic benefits generated from trophy hunting have often been overstated. Often, only a small portion of any revenue actually reaches local communities or conservation programmes. If such funds do not reach local communities, they are entirely negligible to the conservation efforts compared with the damage that can be inflicted by the industry through the irreversible loss of key natural resources. Here, I am talking about how trophy hunting can disrupt the delicate balance of ecosystems. It is common for hunters to find the largest or strongest male; removing those particular individuals can bring about social instability within animal populations. It can affect their reproductive success and overall health, and this imbalance can have cascading effects on the ecosystem as a whole. So, although it has been claimed that a small amount of controlled trophy hunting does not harm populations, we are concerned that there is evidence that shows that the opposite is true.

Hunting also directly competes with and undermines sustainable and economically important revenue generation from alternative means. This was debated at length at Second Reading: initiatives such as ecotourism and photographic safaris actually bring in revenue and are alternative ways for these communities to raise funds. They can then input those costs towards conservation and effective anti-poaching work, and they can provide jobs for local people.

I am concerned that not enough attention has been given to how trophy hunting can be used as a cover for illegal poaching. There is some regulation, but not enough to prevent this from happening. We know:

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

There have also been calls for licensing exemptions to allow the import of certain trophies, which is similar to a model that I mentioned at Second Reading that was awarded under the United States endangered species Act. Again as I said at Second Reading, it is disproportionate to include this in legislation, because it would bring in extra costs and administrative burdens, as well as creating a risk of judicial review. No Government want to go down that route.

One of the things that I want to put across is my personal view that trophy hunting is cruel. I know that not everybody in the Room agrees, but that is my personal opinion. It is not particularly helping to save our planet. If we are talking about conservation, we should be looking at it as part of the broader way that we conserve and manage our planet and all the challenges that it faces. It is our responsibility to address this, because we are looking at losing animals of great importance to our ecosystem.

Killing animals for sport is unnecessary and cruel. It makes us question our responsibilities towards other living beings on the planet and challenges the notion of whether we should conserve through killing. Society is changing, as well. There is growing pressure on Governments to evaluate their positions on practices such as trophy hunting. I genuinely do not understand why anybody wants to go to a beautiful place with fabulous animals to kill something, chop its head off, bring it home and stick it on the wall. I really do not get it and genuinely do not see why you have to do that for conservation.

As we have heard, the Government committed to banning all trophy imports: it was a manifesto commitment. While we applaud and salute the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, for the enormous amount of work that she has done on this, it is a great pity that the Government failed to bring this forward as a government Bill, as expected. They committed to banning trophy hunting and I hope they will still look to do that, because it is time that the UK banned this awful practice.

My Lords, we have already spent a considerable time on this first amendment. I take what I think is a minority view about the purpose of Committee: it is to look, in detail, at amendments to improve a Bill or reject various parts of it, as the case may be. Speeches should be closely argued on the amendment concerned, or the amendments if they are grouped, and they should be concise. The time spent on this amendment has been miniscule in comparison with the time spent on what were, in effect, Second Reading speeches. I am sorry, but I deplore that as a Committee issue.

I turn then to the actual amendment. It gives the Secretary of State the requirement, not just once but each year, to make

“a statement in writing to the effect that, in the Secretary of State’s view, its operation will not cause unintended and perverse consequences for wildlife conservation”.

I once chaired the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, and I was always very wary of giving the Government, Secretaries of State or anybody else unfettered discretion to do things. This seems to me to fall into that category, because there is not even a whiff of parliamentary scrutiny. For that reason, I am very much opposed to this and, as I wish to be concise, I will sit down and leave the Minister to speak.

My Lords, I thank the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, for tabling and moving this amendment, and the other Peers who have proposed amendments. However, I must say that the Government are disappointed that the House has not thus far been able to agree a way forward for this important legislation. My experience is that there is always a deal to be done, and I hope we may yet find some way forward. I was interested to hear the words of the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, whose experience in these matters is hugely valued. I will take up any opportunity to find a way forward.

I thank my noble friend for giving way; I am most grateful. I too would like to have found a way forward, which is why I made clear what my proposal was on 16 June at Second Reading. I am very sad that my noble friend Lady Fookes has declined to discuss it with me. I asked on three occasions, but she felt she could not—that is her right, of course. I also rather regret that over two and a half months, the first squeak I heard out of the Government was last week, and no proposal or ability to find common ground was offered. The only direct approach I had was yesterday, 24 hours before Committee. That is no way to find agreement; nevertheless, my door is open and I look forward to agreement, because most of my noble friends here do not wish to kill this Bill. We would like to see a good Bill on the statute book.

I thank my noble friend and understand the point he makes. Like other noble Lords, I commend my noble friend Lady Fookes for her commitment to this Bill and her hard work to support it.

I shall set out the Government’s position on the Bill and speak to the issues raised by a number of amendments. First, as noble Lords will know, the Bill before us would deliver our manifesto commitment to ban the import of hunting trophies from endangered animals. I recognise that this is a controversial proposal in this House, and I accept that there is a range of views and evidence on trophy hunting, including that it can be beneficial in conservation terms and for local livelihoods if well managed. The Government’s position, having listened to a number of different sides and gone through all the options, is that an import ban is the best way forward. An import ban would address the public’s concern about imports of hunting trophies, delivering a policy that is clear, comprehensive and practical to implement and enforce.

This is why we have a problem with the so-called “smart ban” amendments put forward, such as Amendment 14, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Hamilton of Epsom and the noble Earl, Lord Caithness; Amendment 19A, tabled by the noble Earl, Lord Caithness; Amendment 34, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft; Amendment 39, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas; Amendment 40, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Robathan; and Amendment 41, tabled by the noble Lords, Lord Bellingham and Lord Roborough. What is being proposed in those amendments is effectively a licensing system based on criteria about conservation impact or wildlife management practices and regulations. That is, broadly speaking, what we already have in place. The effect of these amendments would be to negate the purpose of the Bill.

There are a great number of amendments which deal with items in scope of the ban, concerning changes to the definition of a hunting trophy or the species, items or conditions under which a hunting trophy would be subject to the ban. This includes Amendments 3 to 7, 9, 10, 12, 15 to 18, 20 to 28, 31 to 33 and 35 to 38, in the names of the noble Earls, Lord Leicester and Lord Caithness, the noble Lords, Lord Lucas, Lord Hamilton, Lord Swire, Lord Robathan, Lord Reay, Lord Howard of Rising and Lord Roborough, and the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard.

The definition of a hunting trophy used in the Bill, in Clause 1, is consistent with the definition agreed by CITES and is already used by our authorities for CITES controls. Our current controls would continue for imports that are not hunting trophies. There is already provision in the Bill for consideration of imports for scientific or educational purposes, for example for the import of items for personal use that were not obtained through hunting. The scope of species is clear and comprehensive. Annexes A and B of our wildlife trade regulations implement appendices 1 and 2 of CITES in Great Britain. They cover species at risk from international trade, including elephants, giraffes, rhinos, big cats, bears, primates and hippos.

In future, the import ban would apply to any species newly listed or uplisted to the annexes. I say to my noble friend Lord Swire, who was generous in his words for me, that this Government in no way seek to dictate to other countries—the range states of this species—how they wish to manage wildlife. By covering all animal species in annexes A and B, we are closing down the possibility of permitting an import of a hunting trophy from these species into Great Britain, but if a species is not trophy hunted, legal trade would not be affected by this Bill.

A number of amendments relate to the advisory board: Amendments 2 and 42 to 58, in the names of the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, the noble Lords, Lord Swire, Lord Lucas, Lord Mancroft, Lord Reay, Lord Bellingham and Lord Roborough, and the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard. Among these are amendments to expand the role of the advisory board or add to the requirements regarding appointments or administration. The advisory board, as noble Lords know, was added in the Commons and it would ensure that the Secretary of State has a clear route to commission expert advice on this issue once the legislation is in force. As drafted, the clause affords the Secretary of State flexibility in commissioning advice, and the design of the board is proportionate and efficient. This will ensure that the advisory board is a way for the Government to get the right advice, rather than establishing a more complicated or far-reaching body than is required.

A number of amendments are concerned with the implementation or enforcement of this legislation or its legal clarity, including Amendment 1 in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, and Amendments 8, 11, 13, 19, 29, 30, 59, 60, 61 and 62 in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Robathan, Lord Lucas, Lord Mancroft and Lord Reay, the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, and the noble Earl, Lord Leicester.

If I could just address the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Weir, I entirely understand the point he makes, but under the Windsor Framework, EU rules on trade in endangered species, as he says, continue to apply in Northern Ireland. It is a point worthy of note that strict controls on hunting trophy imports are already in place in Northern Ireland and no permits for importing hunting trophies have been issued since 2018.

I can assure the Committee that we have carefully considered how an import ban would work, and our approach builds on our current CITES controls. We have confidence in these controls, so I am confident that the Bill as drafted can be enforced efficiently and effectively.

Amendment 1, put forward by the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, is, I suggest, not necessary. The Government already have a full range of tools to keep legislation under review and repeal that which is not fit for purpose. This amendment would undermine the implementation of the import ban by compelling a continual review process.

In summary, the Government are confident in the approach and drafting of the Bill before us. For that reason, I will not be supporting Amendment 1, nor any of the amendments tabled. I hope I can persuade the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, to withdraw this amendment.

My Lords, I would like to thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate, and I thank the many noble Lords for their support for my amendment.

I was particularly interested in the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Weir of Ballyholme, and the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, because I do not think that either of them actually listened to what I said. They came with pre-prepared speeches—the usual claptrap they produce when it comes to trophy hunting. I mentioned all the disadvantages of trophy hunting and said that I was trying to improve the conservation of animals. If the noble Lord does not like my examples, well, I am sorry, but at least he has not challenged the efficacy of them. I think that would have been a more helpful and constructive approach than just spieling out the usual generalisations, which we have become use to accepting from the proponents of the Bill.

My noble friend Lady Fookes gave one of the most remarkable replies from a sponsor of a Bill that I have ever heard in over 50 years in this House. She did not comment at all on any of the information that I gave, which contradicted a lot of what she said at Second Reading in generalisations. I gave specific examples which she has not contradicted—so I presume that she accepts them but does not like them.

May I intervene? I did not deal with any of those issues because I regarded them as a Second Reading speech. I am not going to answer that kind of thing. I hope the noble Earl will not take it that I agree with everything he said, because I do not. I was trying to keep to what I believe is the purpose of a Committee stage.

I think we all fully accept that my noble friend will not meet anybody to discuss this Bill and will not discuss it. That is very clear.

I respect the position of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman of Ullock, who said that it is cruel to kill any animal. I do not agree with her, but I respect her position. I wonder whether she might just consider the very fine deer herds in this country, such as in Richmond Park. They are only fine deer herds because of culling and because beasts are shot and taken out in order to continue and improve the herd. If we did not have that, we would not have the very fine deer herds we are privileged to have in this country.

My noble friend Lord Benyon said he was disappointed that no compromise had yet been found. There is a compromise. The Government have ignored the compromise and the advice of the JNCC, which is the specialist advisory body. There is no need for an advisory board. If the Government would look again at my noble friend Lord Mancroft’s amendment as a suitable vehicle to get the benefits for conservation and for local people that can be achieved, there would be a sensible way forward. Given the support I have had, I would like to test the opinion of the Committee.

Amendment 2

Moved by

2: Clause 1, page 1, line 2, at beginning insert “Subject to section 4,”

My Lords, this is a very simple amendment. It makes Clause 1 subject to Clause 4, which relates to the advisory committee, which we will come on to discuss in some detail. I think it is a very flawed clause of the Bill, which needs amendment. The point of this amendment is simply to make certain that the advice will be understood and taken on board by the Government when it comes to the implementation of Clause 1 of the Bill.

It is very depressing that the Government have turned their back on and totally ignored the information from their advisory body, the JNCC. It has set a bad precedent. It has undermined the JNCC and has reduced the efficacy of the Government’s work on conservation abroad. It is a very damaging decision that the Secretary of State has taken, against normal precedent. I hope therefore that, by my simple amendment, at least the consideration of the advisory board will be taken a little more seriously by the Government than they are taking advice at the moment. I beg to move.

My Lords, I have already set out the Government’s position on this matter in my response to an earlier group. I have no further comments to make, and I will not be supporting this amendment. I hope that the noble Earl will withdraw it.

My Lords, I am grateful for all the support around the Committee I have received on that one. In view of the brief but factual reply from my noble friend the Minister, I am happy to withdraw this amendment.

Amendment 2 withdrawn.

Amendment 3

Moved by

3: Clause 1, page 1, line 3, leave out “an” and insert “a wild”

My Lords, I apologise that I was unable to attend Second Reading. I was very keen to do so but unavoidably had to attend an important meeting at home. I refer to my interests as set out in the register. That includes my family’s management of Holkham National Nature Reserve, one of the most prolific in terms of conservation success in the land. I also stalk red deer in Scotland but have never hunted in other parts of the world.

This Bill will provide the legislative framework for understanding when someone commits a criminal offence. Therefore, in order to be fair and to avoid multiple legal challenges, clarifications around the definition of animals impacted by the Bill and the hunter himself or herself are required. Without clarity around these definitions, the Bill in its current form raises challenges for import and export agents preparing documentation relating to the importation of a hunting trophy into the UK and for Border Force officials tasked with enforcing the new legislation.

The purpose of my amendment is to highlight the extent to which the Bill has expanded in scope from the original manifesto commitment, which addressed endangered species—perhaps 10, in the recent UK context—to over 6,200 species, and the extent to which this highly disproportionate approach will create a far greater administrative burden than seems necessary. Amendment 3 would ensure that the new words “a wild” precede “animal”.

The Bill is clearly meant to be about conservation. That much has been made clear by the Government, who have stated that it was to be enacted in order to protect the world’s threatened species. If the Bill is about conservation, then it should be about wild animals, as the hunting of domestic, non-wild or captive animals is not a conservation concern. Such a ban does not, therefore, advance the intention of the Bill. This is not a small matter. There are many cases where animals are killed in situations which would not be classed as wild. The killing of tigers in South Africa is one such example. While very many of us would find that morally repugnant, it is clear that this Bill is about conservation and that the killing of a tiger in South Africa has no detrimental impact on wild tiger conservation in Asia.

If this is not about conservation and the killing of wild animals but more about welfare, then we should presumably take this time to address the killing of livestock in this country. It is worth remembering that, every year in the UK, approximately 2.6 million cattle, 10 million pigs, 14.5 million sheep and lambs, 80 million fish and 950 million birds are slaughtered for human consumption. Given that people can live perfectly well without meat, and plenty do, it is hard to argue that that kind of killing is not done only for the pleasure of people eating meat, but it clearly dwarfs by many orders of magnitude the average of 90 to 115 wild animals which are imported annually to the UK. The Bill, then, is clearly meant to be about conservation and therefore wild, rather than non-wild, animals.

Although it should be about conservation, in reality it can be tricky to find what is actually wild and what is not. We can see this complexity in our own wildlife legislation. Mark Avery has discussed this matter with regard to pheasants, which, for example, are determined as livestock when bred in captivity but, as soon as they are released, are deemed to be wild. This kind of complexity also applies to the kind of animals we see discussed all the time in the trophy hunting debate. Lions, for example, are one of the most high-profile species mentioned, especially since the killing of Cecil the lion. However, when is a lion a wild lion?

In South Africa, for example, there is a complex scenario where lions may be captive, managed or wild. According to credible organisations such as Panthera, South Africa has between 2,700 and 3,200 wild and managed lions, split roughly 50/50. The wild animals live in national parks such as the Kruger National Park; managed lions inhabit private reserves such as Phinda and Tswalu, and are managed in the name of keeping the gene pool diverse. Others are captive; the South African Predator Association keeps track of captive lions and captive breeding facilities, but not everyone who breeds lions in South Africa needs to be a member, and not everyone who is provides statistics. According to an article in National Geographic, the 2015 estimate was of around 7,000 lions in captivity.

Ideally, the animals covered by this Bill should also be wild animals which are native to that country. There are many cases where exotic animals cause immense concern in terms of their impact on nature biodiversity, particularly in Australia. One trophy-hunted non-native species in Australia is the camel, which needs to have its population controlled after feral populations were established by explorers and colonisers. Another example is the tiger, as I mentioned before. Although prohibited in a country in which tigers naturally occur, tiger hunting does happen in South Africa. Between 2002 and 2011, 17 tiger trophies were exported from South Africa—although, mercifully, none to the UK.

My Lords, I support my noble friend’s amendment, which makes a great deal of sense. I think it is also just worth pointing out that he touched on a pertinent point: everyone is concerned about endangered animals. A lot of people feel strongly about animals in the wild, but what we have heard this evening, and what is obviously apparent, is that not all of these animals are wild. There are canned lions and the shooting of animals in enclosures. When I researched this, I was surprised that animals can be shot on the internet: you go online, pay your subscription—whatever it is—and then line up the crosswires on your computer to shoot an animal in an enclosure. I think most of us find that pretty distasteful and unnecessary, which is why there is a distinction between animals kept in artificial conditions and those that are completely wild. So I absolutely agree with what my noble friend said.

This goes to the essence of one of the points that many of us have made: the Bill is well intentioned. I have to say that I really resent some of the comments made this evening about how people on this side of the House—I am not a hereditary Peer, by the way—somehow want to sabotage the Bill. We do not. Surely the essence of any Committee stage is to improve a Bill. So, although some complain about the number of amendments—at the last count, it was over 60—and say that they are somehow unhelpful to the Government, egregious and wrong, I argue that this is actually the Chamber at its very best, trying to improve a Bill. It went through the other place very quickly, without any amendments, and it came here. We had a substantial debate on it, and a huge amount of information came our way over the summer and the latter part of the spring, from experts around the world, to help us to improve it. Surely that is the House taking this matter seriously. My noble friend’s amendment is one of many small but technical amendments. I really do find it hard to accept the idea that this is an all-male group of refuseniks living in a colonial world that is somehow trying to turn the clock back. We are actually acting in the best spirit of this House. We need time to get Bills like this right, and it may require a lot of technical amendments to be looked at, discussed and voted on.

It is incredibly important that we listen to the experts, who have not only commented on the generality of the Bill but picked up on some of the points regarding animals that may be wild or tame—that obviously goes to the core of my noble friend’s specific amendment. The Joint Nature Conservation Committee, which was mentioned, gave us evidence, but there are many other bodies, which I will come to at a later stage of the Bill. It is also worth mentioning that, when there is so much consensus among international bodies, we have to stop and take note. The International Union for Conservation of Nature made a strong case for the conservation arguments and highlighted the point about wild animals, as opposed to those kept in captivity. The Government have referred to that organisation in a favourable light on other occasions, but now they appear to be ignoring it.

There are other bodies as well. There is the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the IUCN, which is a global conservation authority. What is interesting about the advice that it has given your Lordships’ House and the Minister and the Government is that it is obviously not particularly comfortable in supporting trophy hunting. In fact, I would say that it is probably instinctively against it. But it is pragmatic. What it said was that trophy hunting was a possible threat to nine of the 6,200 species covered by the Bill, whereas it offers a very clear benefit to 25% of the wild species to which the noble Earl, Lord Leicester, referred.

Then you have the specific Governments who have given evidence to Members of this House and put arguments and sent letters to them, including Botswana’s Minister for the Environment and Conservation, who made it very clear that the

“importation ban of legally harvested wildlife trophies will negatively impact wildlife authorities, including Professional Hunting Associations and Community-Based Support Organizations”

and conservation bodies. What is relevant to this is that, recently, representatives of the community-run conservation areas in the four African countries that make up the Kavango-Zambezi trans-frontier conservation area—the so-called KAZA—stated that the Bill would have a “highly detrimental effect” on the protection of wildlife and the way of life of these communities. The way of life of the communities is something that is highly relevant to this specific amendment, which is why I support the noble Earl in his amendment.

My Lords, I want to make a comment about this and ask a question of my noble friend on the Front Bench. The noble Earl is quite right that we should differentiate. This is a conservation Bill and we do not conserve domestic animals—we conserve wild animals. So the argument that they should be wild is entirely correct.

There is a technical point that I should know the answer to and do not, so I shall ask my noble friend on the Front Bench. We in this country have different laws for wild and domestic animals; we do not treat our wildlife in the same way as we treat our domestic animals, for very good and sensible reasons. The law relating to them is different. But there is a reference to a wild animal that is “captive”—although I cannot remember the right word. I apologise to your Lordships, because I should remember it, but I have forgotten this legislation, which I used to know very well. There is a definition of a wild animal that is enclosed, or captive, or whatever it is—and when it becomes enclosed or captive, domestic welfare law applies. It is a different law. What I do not know, and I ask my noble friend, is whether that law applies abroad, under English law. If it did, canned lions in Africa would be subject to domestic law, because they would be captive wild animals, and the whole thing would apply completely differently. I do not think that they are really wild animals.

There is a difference between domestic and managed wild animals. We do not have any managed wild animals in this country, so it would not apply to us. I am not clear, but there are differences here and the law would apply differently if UK law were applied to, for example, canned lions in Africa. I am just not clear what the answer to that question is, and it would be helpful to know it.

For the record, I do not like this amendment and am opposed to it, as it restricts the scope far too much.

My Lords, I do not wish to add to what I said earlier, but my noble friend has asked me something specifically. There are considerable concerns about the hunting of captive bred animals, including what is termed “canned hunting”. Such trophies should not be exempt from the import ban. The concept of what most of us imagine canned hunting to be is one that excites all our wrath and indignation about a practice that, in risk terms, is like shooting a cow in a field. I entirely understand, and I think that everybody is keen to find a way in which to differentiate it.

We could find ourselves dancing on the head of a legal pin here. What is an enclosure? There could be a small enclosure the size of this room, which would of course be ridiculous; there are also hunting concessions that are fenced in and, effectively, a managed population of animals. I do not want to get into that debate or make legislation that would create circumstances in which a court would be sought to adjudicate that legal definition. Therefore, I cannot recommend that this Committee supports this amendment, and respectfully urge the noble Earl to withdraw it.

My Lords, I thank those noble Lords who have taken part in this debate, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Bellingham, who highlighted many examples around the world, and the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, who highlighted the importance of differentiating between wild and captive animals. However, like my noble friend Lord Caithness, I will not seek to divide the Committee on this issue. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 3 withdrawn.

Amendment 4

Moved by

4: Clause 1, page 1, line 3, leave out “an animal” and insert “a species classed as threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List”

My Lords, in search of this rather elusive rapprochement which my noble friend on the Front Bench referred to, I suggest that we bring the scope of this Bill closer to what was in our manifesto —endangered species—broadening it slightly to “threatened” species, since that was mentioned when this Private Member’s Bill was launched. These definitions belong to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list, which has nine categories, with “threatened”, “endangered” and “critically endangered” being the top three.

If we covered these species only, we would fulfil what we said we would do in our manifesto, would do what the proposer of this Bill said in another place that it was intended to do, and would avoid the huge burden of it covering the enormous variety of species that it does, with the administrative difficulties that would result. As a way forward, to fulfil our commitments and produce something effective and sensible, I urge this amendment on my noble friend. I beg to move.

My Lords, I compliment my noble friend on his amendment, which has the great benefit of substantial simplicity and great logic behind it. I urge the Minister to look at it. This may be the compromise that we are looking for and could come back to on Report.

Everyone agrees that we are very concerned about endangered species; no one can say for one moment that they are not. However, under the very wide drafting of this Bill, less than 4% of the species it covers are trophy hunted anywhere in the world. I do not know whether noble Lords knew that. Only 1% of species covered by it have been imported to the UK since 2000. Some 79% of hunting trophies are from species that are stable, increasing and abundant, which is quite a compelling figure.

As I pointed out earlier, on average two trophies of wild lions and 115 trophies in all are imported into the UK every year. We are talking about a very specialist, niche issue here, yet we have all those unintended consequences, which I shall talk about at a later stage—maybe if my noble friend Lord Mancroft’s amendment is reached later this evening or on another occasion, and certainly on Report.

One must look in the round at what everyone is trying to achieve and what the Conservative manifesto set out to achieve. My noble friend is quite right that the manifesto said:

“We will … ban imports from trophy hunting of endangered species”—

the emphasis being on endangered species. That is what we signed up to. What we did not sign up to was something that went much wider, and that is exactly why the Bill needs to be improved.

I urge the Minister not to reject this amendment out of hand. Maybe he could say to my noble friend, who has already made two intelligent, well-balanced and well-received interventions this evening—he is to be applauded for that—that he will take this amendment away and look at it, because obviously, the way things are going, Committee on the Bill has some way to run, and then we have Report as well. We can come back on Report.

I certainly remember from my time as a Minister that there were nights in Committee when we would go through Bills at great length and suddenly inspiration would strike and a gem would come up from a parliamentarian, such as we have seen from my noble friend. I think the Minister should take the amendment away, look at it and come back on Report. I certainly support my noble friend.

My Lords, I shall just add to that, supporting the noble Lord, Lord Bellingham, and the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, because it helps to answer an important point that the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, raised earlier, which is that the convention in this House is that we try to implement, or not to impede, manifesto commitments. What is clear about the Bill as it is drafted, unamended, is that it is not really expressing the manifesto commitment; it is much more confused and goes much wider. What we are getting here, as we try to amend it, is something closer to the original intentions.

My Lords, I think that is a very helpful intervention. There are some noble Lords who think this is the manifesto commitment; I do not think it is. This goes significantly wider than the manifesto commitment. More than that, I have sat and watched lots of manifesto commitments go round and round over the years and I have very rarely seen one that went through in pure form. One of the arts of politics is compromise: if you want to get your business, you make compromises. The Government do that every day in different areas, and so they should—that is how it works. This is an area in which we could make that compromise.

I am looking at the lists. There are, I think 6,200 species that we are banning from bringing in as trophies, and it is important to remind ourselves of the trophies, because we have probably not seen many of them on the walls. I have seen a few trophies, but I have never seen 2,076 corals on a wall. I have seen some fish, but I do not know that I have ever seen any cartilaginous fish, but there are 154 of them on the list—we are banning those, apparently. I think it is a sensible move to ban the trophy hunting of poison dart frogs—that is something we should have done years ago and I cannot imagine why we have not. Here we are, getting round to it, and there are quite a few other things on this list.

To tell the honest truth, the words “sledgehammer” and “nut” come to mind. Look at these creatures. There is an echidna here—I am not sure quite what it is, but it is on the list. We have banned that, and, my goodness, that is a good day’s work, is it not? Kangaroos, wallabies and possums are on the list. Frankly, this list of 6,200 is completely absurd and ridiculous; we should reduce it to the creatures that are genuinely likely to become trophies and make it more reasonable. After all, the poor customs people who are meant to be dealing with this have not got a hope. There are 975 reptiles on it and—goodness me, that is lucky—we have banned 96 molluscs. I have had sleepless nights over mollusc hunting.

I agree that this list is a bit absurd. We should try to reduce it. It is an area where we can compromise without causing any concerns, and I hope your Lordships will look at this very seriously.

My Lords, your Lordships will probably not be surprised that I do not agree with my noble friend Lord Mancroft on this. I prefer the fact that there is a wider scope with the wildlife trade regulations annexes A and B. If they do not cause a problem, nobody will worry about that. I was amused by my noble friend Lord Mancroft and his molluscs, but I really do not think it is of any significance whatever. However, what I do notice is that as we go through the various amendments, a little bit here and a little bit there is chipped away, and if they were all accepted, we would see something very different indeed. Therefore, I stand by the Bill as it stands.

My Lords, I set out earlier my thoughts on these amendments. My noble friend Lord Lucas is a very intelligent and assiduous parliamentarian and raises an important point. But I suggest that this amendment is not necessary, because the species in scope are provided for in Clause 2. Notwithstanding what my noble friend Lord Mancroft says, that is for the simplicity of the functioning of the Bill, so I hope I can persuade my noble friend Lord Lucas to withdraw his amendment.

I will just add on that last point: surely we should stick to the manifesto commitment, which is on endangered species. That is what we said in the manifesto. Maybe the Minister could stand up again and answer that point. Widening it in this way in Clause 2 to the 6,200 species goes far wider than what we committed to in 2019.

My Lords, to follow that up, it seems strange that my noble friend the Minister lamented that there was not a compromise on the Bill—that was when he started his reply to me on my first amendment. The Bill as presented before us is much wider than the manifesto commitment. Surely this would be an area in which a sensible compromise, achieving the aims of those of us who wish to improve the conservation of animals throughout the world and what the Government seek to do, is a possibility. If my noble friend was serious in saying that he laments the lack of a compromise, he ought to tell us where he thinks a compromise might be.

My Lords, one of the reasons I enjoy being in this House is that we have to achieve compromises in so many things. I try to work across the House to try to get half a loaf rather than no loaf at all. Here we are trying to achieve something that is workable. Annexes A and B of our wildlife trade regulations implement appendices 1 and 2 of CITES in Great Britain. They cover species at risk from international trade, listing nearly 6,000 species, as has been mentioned. These include elephants, giraffes, rhinos, big cats, bears, primates and hippos. By covering all animal species in annexes A and B of the wildlife trade regulations, we are removing any possibility of permitting the import of a hunting trophy from these species into Great Britain. Estimates of the number of species that are trophy hunted vary, but they are in the hundreds rather than the thousands. The Bill would apply to hunting trophies from all annexe A and B species. That is clear and comprehensive, avoiding confusion about what is or is not covered. Current rules on importing hunting trophies similarly apply to all annexe A and B species.

My Lords, I am naturally disappointed in that, but I shall not give up during the course of rest of this Committee trying to find other ways in which we might reach a compromise and a way forward.

I reassure my noble friend Lady Fookes that I view these amendments as alternatives—different ways of dealing with what I regard as a Bill that has gone too far. I do not wish it to die a death by a thousand cuts; I wish it to flourish as an effective and important piece of legislation. I think it needs improving but, given the Minister’s response, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 4 withdrawn.

Amendment 5

Moved by

5: Clause 1, page 1, line 3, leave out “an animal to which this Act applies” and insert “a species classed as threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List and where that list records trophy hunting as a threat to that species”

My Lords, I beg to move the amendment standing in my name. I do not wish to repeat everything that has been said before; it is getting late, and I am sure many people, like me, would rather go home. But I will say a few general points about this. Unfortunately, because of a medical appointment, I could not speak properly at Second Reading. I also say to the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, that I find it strange that men are not allowed to have an opinion on this. I note that there are six women on the Opposition Benches, against one man. Does that mean that their opinions carry more weight than that of men? I hope not; I was quite keen on equality rather than discrimination. I am just saying, as the noble Baroness has intervened from a sedentary position, that on the Opposition Benches there is just one man.

I just intervene to say that the noble Lord is the opposition; we are the other side, as far as I can see, this evening—so I think the nomenclature is wrong.

This is a Private Member’s Bill, not a government Bill, apparently, and on the Opposition Benches we have five to one—sorry, six to one; maths is not necessarily my strong point.

I am grateful to my noble friend for giving way. The noble Lord opposite makes a very interesting point. What the Government are doing today is passing socialist legislation, which is an odd thing for a Conservative Government to be doing. It is supported entirely on the Labour and Liberal Democrat Benches and clearly has very little support on our Benches. It is an odd thing for the Government to do. I dare say that if there was ever a day when the parties on the other side got into government—I think it is very unlikely—I suppose they would pass right-wing legislation, but I do not know.

Anyway, to go back to the matter in hand, I would say that, when I and several other noble Lords here met a delegation from countries from sub-Saharan Africa, as I recall, there were two female African Ministers who came to talk to us—so it is not purely men who take a view on this.

Just for clarification, when these Ministers and MPs took all the trouble to come from Africa to put their point over, is my noble friend aware of how many of those who support the Bill actually had the politeness to meet them?

Yes, I am indeed aware: none. Which was a pity, and it was especially a pity that my noble friend Lady Fookes did not come to hear what had to be said by people who actually know a great deal about the issue because they live with it.

I said I would make some general points because I was unable to speak properly on Second Reading. I have a farm in Leicestershire. I farm for conservation, in my opinion—conservation and subsidy, but the latter is not doing so well at the moment. It is covered in birds and hares. I also shoot, but I only shoot birds and animals that I can eat. I certainly do not want to shoot trophies, such as described by the proponents of the Bill; indeed, I find it rather distasteful. But that is not really the point.

My first point is that this Bill is neo-colonialist. I find it extraordinary that the left backs it, because we are trying to tell independent countries in Africa and elsewhere how wicked their policies are. The second point is that we are ignoring the wishes of these countries, especially those from sub-Saharan Africa. To suggest that we replicate the money that is made from trophy hunting with overseas development assistance is basically treating Africans—nations and others—as supplicants. It is an arrogant zeal that pushes this forward. We are treating them as people who are unable to manage their own wildlife, or indeed their economies, without us telling them what to do.

As we have just heard, this is a terrible Bill in so many ways. It is absurd. I do not think that anybody has ever hunted a mollusc as a trophy, but there it is. It is almost unenforceable and is pretty unintelligible. My noble friend the Minister, for whom I surprisingly have great respect, talked about dancing on a legal pin. Well, should the Bill come to a court—I hope that it never does—there will certainly be the possibility of dancing on legal pins here.

I just want to clarify one matter. I actually feel quite strongly that we need to improve this Bill. Therefore, we need to see it on Report. Earlier, the Minister said something really significant; it was the first time that I have heard the Government say that they want a compromise. He said that he does not want the Bill in its current form but wants an improvement to it. We are teasing out different possibilities. I certainly disagree with him on that point, but we want this Bill to go through Committee and on to Report—just as an improved Bill that is, as the Minister said, fit for purpose, serves the manifesto promise that we made and, crucially, answers the very real questions on the submission of those five or six African countries.

I am grateful to my noble friend because I will come on to a compromise in a minute.

This Bill is of course a manifesto commitment left over from 2019. It was probably put in, rather surprisingly, by a former Prime Minister to placate somebody close to him. As somebody who was a Member of the House of Commons for 23 years, I can promise those who talk about 86%—or whatever it is—of people asked about trophy hunting not approving of it that this is not something that exercises most people on the streets of London, Manchester Blaby or Leeds. Furthermore, the Bill ignores the advice of the Government’s own body, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

I go back to what my noble friend just raised. Let us have a compromise that promotes conservation—I am absolutely a conservationist on my farm—fulfils the manifesto commitment to ban the importation of endangered species and listens to the Africans and others who oppose this Bill. Let us not listen to the arrogant zeal of activists.

I turn to the specific amendment. It goes to the heart of the issue, which is conservation, and asks us to listen to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list, which concerns species that are seen as threatened by trophy hunting—if they are. The Minister just mentioned CITES. Let us stick with that, then; that would be something useful, although I do not think that you are allowed to trade in anything that is on a CITES list anyway. Let us stick conservation at the heart of this Bill, not the sort of patronising, arrogant zeal that we see from a lot of people on this. I beg to move.

My Lords, I rise to speak in support of my noble friend Lord Robathan’s Amendment 5. I declare an interest, as stated in the register, as a partner in a sporting estate in Scotland.

I note my noble friend the Minister’s earlier words. However, I echo other noble friends in the Chamber: this is a critical amendment that would return the Bill closer to the original Conservative Party manifesto commitment and ban imports from the trophy hunting of endangered animals. When Henry Smith proposed this Private Member’s Bill, he stated:

“The world’s wildlife faces an extinction emergency of extraordinary proportions. We have to do everything we can to support conservation”.

We now understand that we all support that, but I am familiar with the high importance of hunting, which can involve taking trophies in financing conservation efforts and in the protection and restoration of habitats and ecologies that support the species being hunted.

In this country, it is of limited national economic benefits, but it can make a material impact at a local level in relatively disadvantaged communities. When we look overseas—to countries in Asia and Africa, for example—the impact is much greater. Revenues from hunting can be the key financial support for conservation efforts. I understand that hunting may be distasteful to many, but conservation efforts funded by that hunting are universally welcomed. What right do we in this rich country have to cut off that funding and send a signal to the rest of the world that they should do likewise? Why should we make decisions that put out of work people around the world whose interests are also best served in ensuring a surplus of these species, potentially turning hunters into poachers?

The globally accepted definitive authority on threatened species is the IUCN red list. This classifies species into nine categories according to their level of endangerment, from “not evaluated” to “extinct”. The amendment identifies “threatened”, which incorporates “critically endangered” and “vulnerable”. That is one more than the manifesto commitment. Dr Challender of Oxford University, and colleagues, showed that less than a quarter of the 73 CITES-listed mammal species that have been imported as hunting trophies since 2000 fall into the “threatened” definition and 60% are of “least concern”. The same work showed that nearly 80% of imports were from countries where populations of the hunted species were stable, increasing or abundant.

The amendment brings in the concept of trophy hunting itself as a threat to the species being hunted. Analysis of the red list by Challender, Dickman, Roe and Hart showed that

“legal hunting for trophies is not a major threat”

to any of the species imported to the UK as trophies since 2000. In fact, the analysis concludes that trophy hunting is not listed as a threat to the survival of any species. The positive impact of hunting on threatened species is well illustrated by Michael ‘t Sas-Rolfes and Dr Emslie in their article in the Conversation:

“South Africa and Namibia are the two countries with the most African rhinos. In 1970, before legal hunting was introduced, they jointly held about 1,950 white rhinos … That number had risen to about 16,600 by 2017 … the biological and socio-economic benefits generated by these hunts … can boost conservation performance through enhanced population growth and funding”.

Returning to the Challender analysis, only 10 endangered species have been imported to the UK as hunting trophies since 2000, including ranched animals, which would not have been bred without hunting as an objective. Therefore, I question why this Bill is identifying over 6,200 species. How will our Border Force cope with this burden of determining which species or subspecies an animal part may be from and whether it is a trophy, has been hunted, or where the importer lives? How much simpler and more targeted to rely on IUCN red list designations.

This is an important amendment, returning the Bill to its original intention and supporting conservation efforts globally. Further to comments on earlier groups, these amendments, and this one in particular, are carefully designed to turn a damaging, emotionally driven Bill into legislation which genuinely will support conservation.

My Lords, I support this amendment. We have been told that the motivations behind this Bill are the manifesto commitment and public opinion. I am not particularly enthusiastic about either of those things, but there is no doubt that this amendment does return the Bill to the manifesto commitment that was given. If that is what the Government are hanging their hat on, as they appear increasingly to have done during the summer, then they should accept this amendment. If they say, “Well, we can’t do that because that will return the Bill to the House of Commons”, well, they have had the timetable for this Bill, as they have for any Bill, in their gift throughout, so it is their fault and not ours that we are debating it at this late hour.

A point was raised earlier about public opinion. We have had “public opinion” thrown at us—that 80% or 90% of people support this. The reality is that the people support it because they think it is a conservation measure. When it is explained to them—as it has been by the IUCN, with its rather more nuanced and in-depth research into public opinion—that actually, it does not help conservation, less than 50% support it. The number goes right down.

The polls that put it up at 80% or 90% are the usual incredibly biased animal rights polls, which we have seen for 20 or 30 years in this country. They say, “Do you want to rip a small animal to shreds and enjoy every minute of it, relishing in its blood?” You get 99% on that one; if you have these sorts of ridiculous questions, of course you do. The reality is that we should not and must not run our country by public opinion poll.

I was in the House of Commons for 23 years. I do not know if I achieved anything useful; I did try. During those 23 years, I got an enormous amount of correspondence—letters and latterly emails. To my certain knowledge, I did not get one letter, email or even telephone call worrying about hunting trophies.

Well, it was lovely to have that domestic entertainment, but the point I was trying to make is that we should not be basing serious legislation on rather dubious public opinion polls. In-depth research is useful, but the ballot box is the real thing that we do. I do not think we should be doing this on public opinion polls, but we have an opportunity to take the Bill back to the original manifesto commitment, if that is what everybody is so obsessed about.

I notice, however, that most manifestos have God knows how many items in them which nobody takes any notice of at all. They discard them at will when they are not interested in them, then grab them and hang their hats on them when they think they are very important. I must admit that my noble friend Lord Robathan is absolutely right, in that I do not see queues of people going around Parliament Square waving placards because of this Bill or issues like it. There are more important things on their agenda.

It is interesting that the noble Lord, Lord Robathan, said no one asked him about this. My noble friend Lady Anderson and I were in the House of Commons more recently than he was, and we had a great number of letters on this issue. On the other hand, it could be that only socialist ladies get them.

The noble Baroness may well be right, because I was in the House of Commons until 2019 and I got no letters on this subject. I was on the Hunting Bill committee when I first came into the House of Commons and I got a lot of letters about that, mainly because all the evidence was being ignored in favour of prejudice.

If we are all making confessions, I was not in the House of Commons and I never had a letter, but I had a bomb delivered to me in this House from the very nice animal rights people. I also had some threatening letters describing precisely what they were going to do my six year-old daughter, when they followed her to school here in London. Luckily, special branch was very helpful about that. So I am delighted that I did not get any letters, but I know an awful lot about the people who send them.

My Lords, I want to pick up a few points that have come out of this debate on the amendment so ably moved by my noble friend Lord Robathan, supported by my noble friend Lord Roborough.

I return to the point about manifesto commitments, without being completely repetitive. We said in our manifesto that we would ban the import of trophies hunted from endangered species. This is a Private Member’s Bill, but it has government support. The Government were originally going to bring it. Maybe the Minister could help me here when he winds up this debate: if the Government had brought in either a clause in the captive animals Bill or a free-standing government Bill on trophy hunting, would it have referred only to endangered species? At what point in this discussion was the definition of endangered species extended to the 6,200? Was that Henry Smith, the MP for Crawley, going a bit off-piste and substantially widening the Bill? Do the Government support that?

I come back to the point the Minister made a few moments ago, when he said that he was keen to find a way forward. That is absolutely the spirit in which we should be entering this whole discussion. I served under the noble Baroness, Lady Fookes, as an MP, when she was Deputy Speaker, and she was very strict about MPs staying in order. That is why I think it is important that we stay in order on these amendments. On this particular amendment, I absolutely do not want to go beyond what the two noble Peers have said already.

Before going on to one of the points that they have made, I would just say to the noble Baroness that surely it is better to have something at the end of this—a Bill that has the opportunity of going through Parliament and that achieves maybe 70% of what she would like to see—rather than nothing at all. That is the art of compromise. The Minister understood and accepted that a moment ago, and I very much hope that the noble Baroness will too, on reflection, perhaps later in Committee. I do not know how late we are going to go tonight; I think we are perfectly happy to go all night, until perhaps 10 am or 11 am tomorrow morning. We may draw stumps, or maybe we will come back to Committee at another point, but the Bill will come back on Report. I hope that the Minister has time for some very serious reflection, and to have a look at this specific amendment, or maybe the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas.

I will pick up on one point that the noble Lord, Lord Robathan, made about those African Governments and conservation bodies in the SADC region and in east Africa—I think Tanzania was one of the countries that signed that letter. I had the privilege of serving twice in the Foreign Office, latterly as the Minister responsible for Africa and the UN. I had the opportunity to visit all of those countries in southern Africa, and a chance to speak to most of the Heads of Government, most of the Foreign Ministers and most of the Environment Ministers. Unlike in this country, where we change Ministers every six to nine weeks, in most of those African countries the Foreign Ministers and Environment Ministers stay in place for many years. I have kept up my contacts in all of those countries, and I try to travel to them when I can.

I can tell noble Lords that, further to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Robathan, the strength of feeling among those African countries is quite extraordinary; I have been really and truly blown away by it. As I said earlier, we are talking about two trophies of wild lions being brought into this country every year and 115 hunting trophies—probably four or five people who are absolute fanatical hunters are bringing in the bulk of them. This is the minute scale of this issue in this country, and yet it has generated this huge pushback from these African countries, where they are really angry about what our Parliament is trying to do—they have said that to me very clearly.

The noble Lord mentioned the delegation that came over in the summer—the two Ministers and the Back-Bench MP from Botswana, and the heads of different conservation bodies. The letter to our Prime Minister from the heads of mission of the SADC countries, plus Tanzania, was interesting and compelling. What they were saying—and the noble Lord, Lord Swire, summed it up very well—was: “Please trust our judgment about what is best on the ground locally in our country”. I think they have also said—they have certainly said so to me—that they do not want the Bill to go through in its present form but would accept an amended Bill.

We have here an amendment, put forward by the noble Lord, very similar to the amendment from a moment ago by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas. Will the Minister, when he sums up, rather than just going back to what he said originally—that he is not prepared to take any amendment—commit to go away and really think this through carefully? We can then come back, if not in Committee then on Report, and put in place an amendment that will keep everyone here in our Parliament and most people in Africa happy. It will actually show that we have listened to them, care about their interests, and have made a small but important change.

My Lords, I too will be very interested in my noble friend the Minister’s reply to this amendment. It gets to the kernel of the argument, and actually teases out whether or not this whole Bill is about conservation or something completely different.

This amendment is suggesting that it would apply to

“a species classed as threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List and”—

critically, where that list records trophy hunting as a threat to that species. It does beg the question: if it does not record trophy hunting as a threat to that species, and if the animal is not on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list, why are we gold-plating legislation which would be perfectly palatable to most of us, and at whose behest?

My Lords, having listened to the debate so far, I think that this amendment is slightly closer to Amendments 14 and 33, which are in my name, so it might be for the benefit of the House if I say my remarks now rather than repeating them at a later stage—if such a thing happens.

The Government have not told us why the present licensing system does not work. I think it is important for us to recall and think about how the present licensing system works. If anybody wants to import a trophy into the UK from a species that is listed in CITES appendix 1 or 2, there is a requirement for an export certificate from the country and an import certificate from the UK. The issuance of these certificates is based on a science-based assessment that there will be no harm to the species—that is worth stressing. In CITES terms, this is called a non-detriment finding, or NDF.

In the UK, implementation of CITES happens domestically via the principal wildlife trade regulations referred to in the Bill. The two annexes of the wildlife trade regulations that are referred to, annexes A and B, are broadly aligned with the CITES appendices. In the UK, the JNCC, as I have said before, is the relevant public body for overseeing imports of animal species, including hunting trophies. For any species listed on annexe A, JNCC is required to determine, first, that the import will not have a harmful effect on the conservation status of the species or on the extent of the territory occupied by the relevant population of the species—this is the NDF—and, secondly, that the import is taking place for one of the purposes referred to in CITES Article 8(3): that is, for research, for education, for breeding aimed at the conservation of the species, or for other purposes that are not detrimental to the survival of the species concerned.

The JNCC has interpreted other purposes that are not detrimental as including hunting trophies—as long as trophy hunting is part of a careful species management plan that should, as appropriate, be based on sound biological data collected from the target populations; clearly demonstrate that harvest levels are sustainable; be monitored by professional biologists; be promptly modified if necessary to maintain the conservation aims; demonstrate that illegal activities are under control; produce significant and tangible conservation benefits for the species; and provide benefits to, and be in co-operation with, the local people who share the area with, or suffer by, the species concerned.

For species on annexe B, the measures are less strict since, by definition, the species on this annexe are less threatened by trade, and no certificate is required other than for six exceptions: the African lion, African elephant, argali sheep, hippopotamus, polar bear and white rhinoceros. For these species, the UK has the equivalent stricter measures that it applies to annexe A species, meaning that import permits are required—including an NDF. Thus, if a hunting trophy has been issued with an import certificate by JNCC, we can be confident that this is because due process has been followed: a non-detriment finding assessment has been conducted and the assessment has indicated there is no risk to species survival.

This Bill is about conservation and preventing the further endangerment of threatened species. The system in place under CITES already performs this function through a process that has been agreed multilaterally by over 180 countries. The Bill does not need to concern itself with those species that are not under annexes A or B. I have an amendment coming up to delete annexe B. However, the amendment before us is a better one and I would be very happy to support it should it be taken to a Division. However, if it is not, I give notice to my noble friend the Minister that I will wish to divide on my amendment in due course.

My Lords, as I said earlier, I spoke at some length on the first amendment and covered many of these points. However, to address this precise amendment, it would narrow the scope of the ban to species considered threatened on the IUCN red list. Where this assessment identifies trophy hunting as a threat, it would remove the power for the UK Government to determine species in scope, which the Bill currently does through annexes A and B of the wildlife trade regulations. This amendment contradicts Clause 2, which clearly sets out the species in scope of the import ban and would remove the power for the UK Government to determine species in scope. With that in consideration, I respectfully ask my noble friend to withdraw his amendment.

My Lords, I note that almost all the speeches have been in favour of this amendment. That is because it is about conservation. I am a conservationist—I think everyone who has spoken is a conservationist—but this Bill, which my amendment aims to improve, is not about conservation. I find that very distressing—I really do.

The two noble Baronesses on the Front Bench said that they had letters from people supporting a trophy Bill when they were in the Commons. They may have done, but I remember a rather dreadful organisation called 38 Degrees, which ran campaigns the whole time. I discovered that some of my constituents who wrote to me and emailed me on standard responses that were given by 38 Degrees had not even sent them themselves; they were sent for them. We all know how campaigns can work.

I am disappointed that the proposer of the Bill and the Minister do not think that we need to highlight conservation in this Bill. I was not going to divide the House because it is time for my bed; I am getting rather old.

House resumed.

House adjourned at 10.09 pm.