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Ivory Sales

Volume 635: debated on Thursday 25 January 2018

4. Whether the Government plan to have their proposed ban on ivory sales in place by the illegal wildlife trade summit in October 2018. (903538)

The Government’s consultation closed on 29 December. We had more than 70,000 responses, so we are considering them carefully. We want to act at pace—that is why officials are preparing legislation—but we need to be careful that we give due consideration to all the responses so that we introduce appropriate legislation that will end the scourge of elephant poaching in Africa and other parts of the world.

Wildlife crime is a threat to conservation and animal welfare at home and abroad. Wildlife and Countryside Link’s report has revealed that enforcement officers are hindered by a lack of proper recording and reporting processes. As we prepare to host the IWT summit, and considering the progress that my hon. Friend has referred to regarding the trade of ivory products, what assurances can she give me and the all-party group on endangered species, of which I am the chair, about the measures being taken by the Department to address the matter?

The UK Government have been active in taking practical action to reduce demand and strengthen enforcement. We are investing in schemes around the world to reduce this pernicious trade. DEFRA and the Home Office continue to fund the national wildlife crime unit to tackle wildlife crime here in the UK. Actionable intelligence is key, and I assure my hon. Friend that we will continue to make this a priority.

I support the noble aim of both the Secretary of State and the Minister in this regard, but the hon. Lady will be aware of concerns among antique dealers about the ramifications for products that contain historical ivory. Can she offer any assurance to assuage their concerns that the sale of ivory that has been in antiques for generations will be allowed to continue?

We are considering the matter carefully, but we need to have a comprehensive ban. In the consultation, we put forward a suggestion on several exemptions, and we are looking through the responses to that particularly carefully. Nevertheless, it is important that we recognise that having ivory as a valuable object just because it is ivory is something that we simply do not want in this country or around the world, which is why we are taking strong action.