§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 11.8 a.m.
§ Miss Harvie Anderson (Renfrew, East)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
I am fortunate in having been successful in the Ballot for Private Members' Bills and to have this opportunity to introduce a Measure which I believe to be of world-wide interest and importance. I confess that I find myself rather far from my natural habitat this morning and, indeed, among wild animals, though I hope that this will prove not to extend beyond those in the text of the Bill.
The object of the Measure is to restrict the importation of rare animals. It has been agreed by many experts throughout the world, as I am sure hon. Members will agree, that such legislation is desirable as part of the world-wide attempt to curb illegal traffic in rare animals. By passing such legislation, the House will provide an importing country, which we are, with legislation which will obviously strengthen that in operation in exporting countries, and so provide a double check.
In support of this belief I can do no better than quote a resolution passed at the seventh General Assembly of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the Survival Service Commission, and the Fauna Preservation Society at Cracow, on 24th June, 1950.
It reads:Believing that a major threat to the existence of some rare animals is their illegal exportation from the country of origin, followed by their legal importation to other countries…warmly approves the action of those countries which have restricted the importation of such animals,…now resolves that the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources should urge all Governments who do not yet restrict the importation of rare animals in harmony with the export laws of the countries of origin, to do so now and thereby support the efforts of those countries to preserve the animals in danger of extinction.This resolution was passed unanimously by several countries. I should 1404 like to quote the list which is remarkable. They are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Finland, France, French West Indies, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mali, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Rhodesia, Nyasaland, the United Kingdom, the Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Uganda, the Union of South Africa, the United States, the U.S.S.R., Venezuela and Yugoslavia.
The resolution seems to have commanded a remarkably wide measure of support, representing many points of view, as I hope the Bill will do in the House. The Bill seems to me desirable on both humanitarian and scientific grounds. As I hope to show, there are in the Bill considerations for the Minister of Science and other Government Departments, and certain background information has been and will continue to be provided by voluntary bodies.
I am seeking in the Bill to set an example in this field, because I believe that there is widespread abuse in the United Kingdom and that we are facing a situation in the Western world where comparative affluence has encouraged the acquisition of animals as a status symbol without heed to the fate of the animal or to its scientific value, not to mention that there are various things which we like in this country, including turtle soup, elaborate skin coats, and white monkey skin rugs.
I have copies of dealers' lists offering a wide variety of animals at prices up to £400 in considerable numbers, and some of these are known to be very rare. It is wise to remember that many trappers are content to work on a one-in-ten survival basis. Reputable zoos would be unlikely to acquire their animals from such lists and the Bill would go a long way to keep rare animals off these lists.
A report from a conference of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Survival Service Commission, held in Nairobi on 12th and 13th September, 1963, sets out the following memorandum from Dr. Boonsong Lekagul:There exists today in South-East Asia a large clandestine and quite profitable business based on the export of rare species from their countries of origin. Due to various 1405 local conditions and the fact that foreign animal dealers pay very high prices for these rare animals, it is almost impossible for the relevant export regulations to be enforced locally. The problem of the illegal export of the orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) is most critical, but many other rare and endangered animals are involved. We have very incomplete local records concerning the extent of this illegal trade and the countries where the animals are eventually sold, It is fairly certain, however, that a very significant proportion of these animals are eventually sent to Europe and North America, It must be assumed that some of these are shipped to Great Britain the number, of course, would be virtually impossible to determine locally.This is reasonable evidence of the problem with which we seek to deal. Such legislation as exists in this country which might be effective towards this purpose has been passed to control disease or pests, for example the Diseases of Animals Act, 1950, and there is also such control as is imposed by quarantine regulations.
In 1962, my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Sir H. Linstead) introduced the Sale of Reptiles (Restriction) Bill. It is a point of interest that he subsequently withdrew the Bill because, as a result of its introduction, representatives of tortoise importers met him and agreed to stop importing under-sized tortoises. As those contributing to the agreement represented 95 per cent. of importers my hon. Friend's action was very successful. In 1962, when the Bill was introduced, 46½ tons of tortoises were imported from Morocco. Many of these were under-sized, despite efforts by the Moroccon Government to control the trade at their end. About 6½ tons were imported from Tunisia. All of these came from one exporter because Tunisia had also tried to control the trade. Ten tons were imported from the Balkans in 1963, but these were in better condition.
A great deal remains to be done because present legislation covers only a limited field. The Bill before us today is much more extensive in scope. If I may say so without presumption, it is neither hasty nor ill-timed—a judgment which I have heard expressed in connection with other recent legislation. It is approved in principle by the Fauna Preservation Society, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, whose distinguished chairman is Mr. Peter Scott, the Nature Conservancy, the Royal 1406 Zoological Society, whose council authorised Sir Zolly Suckerman to write saying so, the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, and the R.S.P.C.A., whose representative has done so much to help with the Bill.
Many have worked on the provisions of the Bill and Ministries have been generous in their advice. It is right to make a special reference to the Fauna Preservation Society and to Colonel Boyle, until very recently its distinguished secretary. Collectively, here—and I say this with great respect—we probably have less knowledge than Colonel Boyle has been able to forget while still remaining a world-wide authority of international repute. I think that it is true to say, however, that in a Bill with technical implications, many of them scientific in nature, it is difficult to reconcile the immense knowledge of experts outside the House who have limited parliamentary knowledge with hon. Members who have some knowledge of the ramifications of world-wide animal life and trading.
To go a little further, the distance between back bench and Front Bench has stretched rather far for comfort at some stages of discussion of the drafting. I am, however, greatly encouraged by the extent of the approval and help offered and by the knowledge of how much has been done towards this aim by other countries which will strengthen such legislation as we enact, just as ours will strengthen theirs.
I should like to quote one or two examples to show the range of interest in this matter. India, in 1961, prohibited the import of rhinoceros trophies from Nepal. Hoag Kong has refused permits to import orang utan since April, 1962. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, about 50 young orang titans, which are rare animals, are held today in Singapore, a matter which, I hope, some other hon. Member will mention in greater detail later. These and similar matters have the backing of the Secretary of the Regional Working Group for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in Tropical South-East Asia, whom I have already mentioned.
I should perhaps refer to Africa where the export of lemurs is controlled by Madagascar. The Director of 1407 the Wild Life Conservancy in Pieter-maritzburg reports a provision allowing the prohibition of imports. The United States of America has a strict code relating to imports, which incidentally also covers birds. If I may be permitted to make this explanation, I should say that the reason birds are not included in the Bill is that suitable legislation already exists in the Act which was introduced by my noble Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir) in 1954. The code in the U.S.A. became public law in 1960, and I believe that is the only country in the world which has effective import laws. This Public Law No. 86–702 of the 86th Congress established that precedent.
Among those whose active interest I should like to record is Professor Osman Hill, of the Emory University, Georgia, and the Professor of the Association for the Preservation of Flora and Fauna in Brazil.
The size of the problem is difficult to estimate, but the numbers of animals going through the airport hostel for animals in London is startling. I wonder how many people in this country realise that the R.S.P.C.A. Hostel at London Airport handles thousands of animals per month, some of them very rare and scientifically very valuable. It would be appropriate to pay tribute to the work which is done there. I have the return for the last three months showing the number of animals going through, but, unfortunately, it is too long a list to include in the record. It shows the wide range of work, and the expertise which has had to be built up rather quickly in this matter, which is going on very close to one of our main travelling points and of which many of us have very little knowledge.
§ Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)
Would the hon. Lady tell us whether it is right that a great many, perhaps the majority, of these animals in this hostel are in transit to other countries? If that is so, can she tell us whether she is satisfied that the Bill in its present form will prevent these wild animals continuing to pass through this point in transit?
§ Miss Harvie Anderson
I think that the hon. Member is correct and that a 1408 number of these animals are in transit. I have noted on my list the destinations of these animals for the whole of last year. It is equally true to say that a considerable number remain in this country. That is why I have included in my earlier remarks evidence to show that it is the belief of exporters in South-East Asia that a considerable number come to the Western world and a number remain in this country.
Also, no one country can make effective legislation in this respect, and what we are doing today is to play our part in what we hope to be a world-wide attempt, following the first effort by the United States, to make effective import laws. However, I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's point.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
Could the hon. Lady assist us a little more? Is the Bill intended to catch the animals in transit? Is that intended to be a landing within the meaning of Clause 1, or do they have to pass through the Customs before they fall within the purview of Clause 1?
§ Miss Harvie Anderson
The intention is that they should pass through the Customs because that is the place where they would obviously be identified. I think that special arrangements have got to be made for the transit of animals which do not come within the scope of the Bill. The Bill applies to those animals which are destined for this country.
§ Dr. Alan Glyn (Clapham)
Surely the short answer is that an import licence is not required for something which is going through transit.
§ Miss Harvie Anderson
I thank my hon. Friend for making that point. I think that there are rather more lawyers in the House today than I would care to see.
The Bill seeks to cover the overall aim, the restriction of the import of animals into this country, from the legal aspect and the practical point of view. This is something to which I shall come in a moment.
Clause 1 sets out the need for licensing in relation to animals which are destined to stay here. Subsection (2) is designed to permit common sense to operate in dealing with animals which 1409 may be as large as a rhinoceros. It is not difficult to imagine the complications which could arise if one were to try to legislate too finely for the disposal of animals of that size. Clause 2 lays down—
§ Mr. Fletcher
Before passing from Clause 1, would the hon. Lady explain what is intended to happen to an animal such as a rhinoceros which is imported without a licence and is then seized by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise?
§ Mr. F. A. Burden (Gillingham)
I am sorry to interrupt my hon. Friend, but this might be helpful. The Bill confines itself to the control of rare animals which are named in the Schedule. Therefore, it is restricted to that extent.
§ Miss Harvie Anderson
I appreciate that the rhinoceros is in the Schedule and that is why I mentioned it. I intended to mention the question of disposal in a moment. I intended to give this explanation in relation to the Schedule, but perhaps I should make it while we are on this Clause.
On the question of disposal, it is clear that common sense must be used. Adequate arrangements for the disposal of a rhinoceros must be made through a zoo. The actual disposal arrangements must be made, as they are at present, by people who can control the animals adequately. I cannot see anybody other than the London Zoo effectively controlling a rhinoceros.
Clause 3 gives the Secretary of State for Education and Science power to vary the Act. This is very important because once an animal becomes extinct—this is worth remembering, although it seems rather obvious—nothing can bring it back. Therefore, the purpose of Clause 3 is to vary the Schedule with as little delay as possible so that the action does not come too late.
The penalties set out in Clause 5 seem modest. Of course, they should be read in conjunction with the penalties specified in the Customs and Excise Act, 1952. Taken together, they should be effective, especially when one remembers that the profit made from the trapper stage would obviously have to be for- 1410 feited at the same time. This makes the penalty rather different from what it appears in the Bill.
While the definitions in Clause 6 may explain themselves, I think that the definition of the word "rare" as "few and far between" or "seldom found" is preferable to the phrase "in danger of extinction" meaning "becoming extinct" or "wiping out" which would seem to me to make the entry point of any Bill too late. I make that point now because I realise that this has been and perhaps still is a matter of difficulty.
§ Mr. Paget
Before she leaves that point, could the hon. Lady tell us what "importation" means under the Customs and Excise Act, 1952?
§ Miss Harvie Anderson
I should not dream of trying to explain to the hon. and learned Gentleman an expression about which I would judge him to be far better informed. I am sure that he will give us the benefit of his knowledge at a later stage and explain his interpretation of the word.
I come now to the Schedule. It may seem like a random choice, but, in fact, the list is taken from that recommended by the Survival Service Commission. The form of the list has been kept to its simplest because it will be the layman who will have to interpret it. It would be unreasonable to expect Customs officials to identify rare species. It is far more practical for them to identify animals broadly, calling in a zoo or other expert who could control the animal in the event of forfeiture and make a detailed identification.
I have with me an alternative schedule which has been under consideration. I do not propose to read it. It gives the full Latin names and descriptions of the animals concerned. I do not imagine that many hon. Members, even hon. and learned Members, could identify very accurately the yellow toed mouse from its Latin description, and I think it reasonable therefore, to assume that Customs officials should not be required to have such highly specialised knowledge. This is why I said earlier that common tense must enter into the making of the Schedule.
§ Mr. Richard Marsh (Greenwich)
I appreciate the point which the hon. Lady is making about keeping the Schedule 1411 as simple as possible, but is there not a danger that it is so wide in certain respects as to make it difficult to know what it means? To take a typical example, is the inclusion of the lemur intended to cover the whole lemuroid family? Does it include, for example, the slow lemurs like the potto, which is far from rare? If it does not include the whole lemuroid family, on the other hand, it leaves out other slow lemurs which are extremely rare. I cannot work out exactly what it is intended to include and to exclude.
§ Miss Harvie Anderson
It does, in fact, include the whole lemur family. It includes the lemurs which the hon. Gentleman mentioned and also the rarer lemurs which I have listed here. I hesitate to say this in the presence of my hon. Friend the Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan), who knows rather more about this than I do, but, if I understand the lemur order or family correctly, it has considerable scientific interest because the lemur's brain is in certain respects most akin to the human brain.
§ Mr. David James (Brighton, Kemptown)
I think that the dilemma is this. If one gives a specific description such as the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Marsh) suggests, as I understand him, one has then to deal with hundreds of species which would be most difficult to identify. Therefore, the easiest way out of the dilemma is to give a generic description and let common sense dictate whether a particular animal belongs to a species on the rare list or one on the common list.
§ Mr. Marsh
I am trying to find an answer to my question. I have taken the particular example of the lemur, and it is a very broad description. Is it intended to confine it to the Madagascar true lemur, or is it intended to take in lemurs generally? The whole lemuroid family contains a great many lemurs. It includes the African galago, the bush baby, which is on sale in any pet shop in the country, and certainly could not be described as rare.
§ Miss Harvie Anderson
There are 16 lemurs which, I understand, are to be the subject of particular attention under the provisions of 1412 the Bill. Hon. Members are having some difficulty in identifying them or differentiating one from the other, so I judge that Customs officials would have equal difficulty. What would happen if a lemur came to this country, and its identification were difficult, would be that the Customs official would call in an expert to determine to which of the 16 varieties the particular animal belonged.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
I do not want to criticise the Bill at all, because I am grateful to the hon. Lady for raising this important matter. I do not think that it matters whether it is a badly drafted Bill if we have a worthwhile discussion on the subject. On the other hand, I should be glad if she would tell us how she drew up the Schedule, on whose advice it was drawn up, or who drew it up for her.
§ Miss Harvie Anderson
I should not like to quibble with the hon. Gentleman about that. This Schedule has been drawn from the advice of the Survival Service Commission. One must take some authoritative source for this purpose, and I think that that source gives as good and as independent judgment as one can find. I realise that there has been discussion on the contents of the Schedule and on the method by which it was drawn up, but we must remember that it will have to be interpreted by laymen, and this has always seemed to me to be the point of greatest importance. I hope that hon. Members will contribute their views about alternative drafting of the Schedule in order to give greater ease of interpretation and, perhaps most important, more effective administration.
I apologise for having spoken at some length. I hope that what I have said will encourage the House to regard the Bill with favour and I hope that in due course its provisions will make a contribution to the solution of a problem which, if age-old, seems even more pressing in modern times.
§ 11.36 a.m.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
I repeat that I have no desire whatever to indulge in criticism of the Bill My hon. Friends may think it proper to call attention to some of the obvious deficiencies in it. I confine myself to 1413 congratulating the hon. Lady the Member for Renfrew, East (Miss Harvie Anderson) on using her fortune in the Ballot to introduce a Measure calling attention to a subject of very great importance which we rarely have an opportunity to discuss. If the Bill was drafted by a biologist, this is a welcome change and, perhaps, an example worth following.
The date of my limited knowledge of natural history is indicated by the fact that I still use the words "natural history" and have not got accustomed to the new nomenclature. The hon. Lady has initiated a discussion on a subject of real importance. It is true that a great deal more attention has been given to it in the past few years than ever before, and many societies have played an honourable part, it is not a new problem. The hon. Lady said that the question of legislation about it had been considered for some years, but, as far back as in the sixteenth century the Spanish royal family prohibited the wearing of chinchilla furs by the common people, not that they were likely to have them, anyhow. At that time, one wanted at least a patent of nobility to be able to wear a chinchilla fur.
This brings me to one of the problems. Quite properly, the hon. Lady says, "Let us stop the importation of rare animals for commercial purposes". As I understand, she does not desire to put any special limitation on the importation of animals to preserve them, in appropriate circumstances, when they can be preserved. We have, of course, already reached a stage when some species, like the golden hamster, live only in captivity. This is a serious matter.
I had hoped that the reference to the Galapagos Islands would have led the hon. Lady to give us a short theological dissertation about the Galapagos iguana. This creature manifestly has important theological connotations. Indeed, the reference to it has very interesting connotations in connection with a speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) a day or two ago, on a wholly different subject. My hon. Friend attributed to Swift—I am not quite sure whether he was right—the quotation 1414 about the physician who not only invented diseases, but invented the remedies as well. In 1835, when Darwen arrived in the "Beagle" and saw the Galapagos tortoise and iguana, he realised, that these wretched animals really "bust" the whole theory of evolution as at that time about to be adumbrated.
Therefore, having invented his theory, someone had to invent the remedy and geologists had to formulate the theory that the Galapagos had once been part of the mainland, to explain the existence of this whole series of rare species. I shall refer to it by the more pronounceable name and delightful name of Encatadas.
I had the opportunity last night to refresh my memory by reading the book Vanishing Animals.
§ The Minister of State for Education and Science (Sir Edward Boyle)
Surely it is going rather far to talk about the theory of evolution before 1835. The theory which Darwin "bust" was not so much the theory of evolution as the theory of immutability.
§ Mr. Hale
Yes. This is a subject on which I should be happy to talk, because I have fairly strong views about it. I am agnostic about most things and quite agnostic to some of the theory of evolution, anyhow.
Philip Street was the author of "Vanishing Animals", which was published a few years ago. In his conclusions, he says that we have to educate the African to the importance of wild life. That might have been true a few years ago, when Africa was preoccupied with many other subjects. I had the opportunity of getting very near to the Serengeti without being able to get in because of the wrong sort of weather, a few weeks ago. The work being done in Africa shows that the African is be coming immensely aware of the importance of the preservation of wild life, not only from the immensely important biological aspect, but also because of a perfectly reputable self-interest, too, because the national parks will become part of a system of travel and visiting and part of the tourist possibilities of the future.
I hoped, too, that the hon. Lady would have told us that her Arabian 1415 oryx had been born in captivity recently and indeed was christened with a Scottish name—Ian. That is actually in distant Arizona, for the antelopes are almost invariably desert animals. This is something of very real importance because the Arabian oryx has started to become extinct with immense rapidity and in deplorable circumstances. The motor car has made shooting the oryx in the wealthy oil areas of Arabia so simple that people can go out and shoot one in an afternoon and drive back without any of the normal discomforts of safari. It is good to know that the present Sheikh of Kuwait assisted in sending the oryx to America, which shows that there is an increasing awareness of the problem out there.
However, I suggest to the hon. Lady that we could do much more. She has a good deal of influence with the Government and will probably exercise more after the news of the day, because they need more and more advice and consolation from their back benchers at the moment.
U.N.E.S.C.O. has tried to do a very great deal in this matter. Indeed, many world organisations have tried to do a great deal. Much of the emphasis has come from the United States and the care of the Galapagos Islands fauna began in the New York Zoological Society 35 or 36 years ago. Hon. Members will recall that that body carried out experiments because of the very special problems of those islands.
The hon. Lady will know that the common iguana and its eggs are used as food, and this has been the case for a long time. But the Galapagos tortoise was slaughtered for oil and Darwin described the horrible process in his Voyage of the "Beagle". As I say, the New York Zoological Society carried out experiments. I think that over 100 species were taken to new habitats in the hope of developing and preserving them. So far as I remember, the experiments substantially failed.
Herman Melville describes the 25 sand heaps, I think, coming out of the sea looking like extinct volcanoes. They are still referred to as the Encatadas of the Pacific. This extraordinary area, with its immense variety of rare species, should be the subject of very special 1416 world attention. U.N.E.S.C.O. has made proposals and has even suggested concentration camps for animals. I hope that as a result of this debate our representatives at U.N.E.S.C.O. will become increasingly aware of the necessity of giving the fullest measure of support to the proposals which the hon. Lady has in mind.
I am never sure what is the meaning of "genus" and "species" and, therefore, I will use the word "type". There are only three types of Galapagos iguanae in any other part of the world, apart from those which have been transferred to institutions and preserved in zoological institutions. Tennessee Williams made the destruction of the Galapagos tortoise the moving leit-motif of his play "Suddenly Last Summer". He described the pathetic march of the tortoises to the water and the clouds of predatory birds waiting to destroy them. Nature is its own predator.
I do not know how many hon. Members saw those very moving pictures of the blind turtles who had been affected by the bursting of the hydrogen bomb in the islands, who had lost the one instinct which preserved them—the instinct that taught them where the sea was. They were lying there unable to move in the right direction, becoming extinct, because someone had been trying out a method of destruction.
Incidentally, under the hon. Lady's definition of animals, homo sapiens could be included. This is rather unfortunate, because at two o'clock this morning Mr. Frank Byers was making observations on television about an almost extinct species, the Liberal voter, which suggested that they acquired an additional virility by becoming fewer. This is not, so far as I know, biologically correct. It would be unfortunate if it were assumed to be so.
I do not know why the Minister of State for Education is present today. I do not know how this subject comes within his Department, but I am happy to see him here. I trust him with this subject very much more than I would trust some of his colleagues. My authority for these propositions is Sir Alan Herbert. He had a long dissertation about the political responsibility for the whale which remains clearly in my mind. I think that, finally, the whale 1417 was determined to be a fish and went to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food after having been referred to the War Office as a target.
However, whatever Minister is responsible for this matter, I hope that as a result of this debate action will be taken to ensure that we press the view at U.N.E.S.C.O. that this is a problem of world importance, of great scientific significance and of great human value. If there is any chance of making the Galapagos Islands a special preserve of natural historians, it could be something quite new in the way of national parks, although obviously, being geographically 480 miles from the shore, it is not likely to be the object of tourism. However, it could be an animal and biological preserve. I do not know why the hon. Lady excludes birds.
§ Miss Harvie Anderson
Because my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir) put through a Private Member's Bill in 1954 with much the same object, relating to birds.
§ Mr. David James
Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that birds have a unique capacity in that they import themselves?
§ Mr. Hale
I have chased an emu in Australia, but one hardly expects to find them roosting on the Victoria Tower. There is a great number of bird species which need preservation and protection on these lines.
I do not think that the Bill as drawn is particularly likely to achieve its object. I dare say that the hon. Lady may have had some false information about the date of the General Election, which probably suggested that the Bill could not make much progress on a time limit. Again, I thank her for raising the sub- 1418 ject, which is a matter of real importance.
§ 11.53 a.m.
§ Mr. David James (Brighton, Kemptown)
For once I find myself in almost complete agreement with everything said by the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale). I do not want him to run away with the idea that this is entirely a publicity exercise in the interests of wild life. It is our hope and intention to get a valuable bit of legislation on to the Statute Book.
I think that we all owe a debt to my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, East (Miss Harvie Anderson) for the manner in which she has introduced the Bill. Perhaps I may deal with its background. The Bill, I hope, will do something to set aright our appalling record in relation to the other species with which we cohabit this world.
Since the time of Christ, approximately 100 mammals and 100 birds have become extinct, and the sinister thing is that of those hundreds about 68 per cent. were during the last century and 38 per cent. during the last half century. This is a process which, unless we do something to arrest it, is accelerating, How has this come about? Why is it almost invariably, although not exclusively, die fault of homo sapiens?
The first fault is that of man the warrior. The most vivid illustration is the distribution of the lion. We know that in Grecian times there were lions, because they attacked Xerxes' baggage trains in B.C. 480, but the Peloponnesian War probably drove the lion out of Europe. A few hundred years and the Crusades were probably responsible for driving the lion out of the Middle East, and the Indian Mutiny saw virtually the extinction of the Asiatic lion in the Indian sub-continent. Indeed, we know from Lord Roberts' memoirs that one officer, as though there was not enough slaughter going on during the siege of Delhi, actually found time to shoot 300 lions around Delhi during the siege. Now we are left with only a paltry 200 lions, carefully preserved in the Kathiawar Peninsula.
The next cause of wild life's downfall has been man the cultivator. When the Americans started extending over the Middle West, in the middle of the last century, the bison or buffalo, as they 1419 are called there, were so innumerable that they were reckoned by the square mile and not by the number of beasts, yet within 40 years the American buffalo had been reduced from this vast proportion to a herd of 900; and only then were the requisite steps taken to preserve this wonderful creature.
Now we get to the rather more sordid aspect of man commercially. The humpbacked whale has been rendered almost extinct, notwithstanding every attempt by international agreement on this subject. It was in 1819 that Edward Branspiel first saw the Antarctic and reported that there were very attractive seals in profusion around its coasts. Within four years, those seals had been so reduced that it has never been worth the sealers' while to go back. I spent three consecutive summers in the Antarctic and only once saw a fur seal, to such an extent had they been reduced.
Then there is man the poacher. Ivory has been the classic lure. Unfortunately, throughout the world there is a totally unwarranted belief that the horn of various animals acts as an aphrodisiac. The result has been that the number of white rhino, in Uganda, has gone down from a suspected 350 in 1955 to only 80 at the present time.
The position of the Sumatran rhino is even worse. Its numbers are down to 20. It was recently written thatIt is most important that no significant disturbances be made—trapping for zoos, for instance, until there is enough knowledge of the animals' ecology to predict the effects on the remaining rhinos with some certainty. Where so few individuals remain, even an apparently slight disturbance may mean the difference between survival and extinction.That is the sort of advice which, I have no doubt, will be taken into account in the operation of the Bill.
I urge anyone who feels critical about the niceties of it—the composition of the Schedule, and so on—to realise that this is what we are fighting for. We are fighting for only 20 Sumatran rhinoceros. We can, I hope, let some of our parliamentary and even political niceties go by default in the face of this target.
Then there is woman the adorner. Although no one seriously suggests that the crocodile and the leopard, in particular, are in danger as yet, the inroads 1420 being made upon them are becoming extremely serious. It takes between five and seven leopard skins to make a coat. At present, leopard skins are being exported from East Africa at the rate of about 50,000 a year. This, incidentally, is already having a deplorable effect upon the local economy, because one of the leopard's functions is to keep down the baboon. Baboons are increasingly doing enormous damage to crops, and, therefore, a great deal of human suffering and starvation is caused by the fashion trade in the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Marsh
I accept entirely what the hon. Member has said, but is it not one of the worries that the Bill will do nothing to prevent that. It would prevent the importation of the live leopard, but it is not the importation of the live leopard to this country which is the threat to the leopard. It is rather the importation of pelts.
§ Mr. James
That is true. My hon. Friend and I have done our best to consider the possibilities of including skins and trophies within the scope of the Bill. It proved technically impossible, if for no other reason than that it is extraordinarily difficult to gauge the age of a trophy, a head, a skin, or something else. Therefore, while, with the best will in the world, we would liked to have done this, it would have proved impossible.
Happily, however, I am not as inhibited as is my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer about his Budget plans. My budget plans are to see whether we cannot get the most swingeing tax upon the skin of any wild animal which is used for clothing purposes. That seems to me to be the only way to tackle this problem and, possibly, the hon. Member will support me in this attempt.
Fortunately, this grim picture has a brighter side, and that is how fantastically species can recover provided that they are caught and the danger is recognised in time. To be fair about this, let us go both sides of the Iron Curtain. In 1945, the number of key deer in Florida was down to only 25, yet it is now up to more than 200. By the same token, the European bison has miraculously—because there were only 30 of them at the outbreak of war—survived the Second World War. The Soviet and 1421 Polish authorities have taken such enlightened steps that it is back to a population of over 200.
§ Mr. James
I think that I am right in saying that bison are not included as such because this is the only instance in which there would be a case for prohibiting the import. The control exercised by the Russian and Polish authorities is, however, so strict and admirable that there is no need to supplement it from this end, particularly when Customs officers would not find it easy to distinguish between the European bison and the North American bison. That is a sufficiently good reason.
My point is that if 25 can make the whole difference between survival and otherwise, a Measure such as this, which, admittedly, picks up only a small proportion of world cases, can in itself be vital in ensuring that the species survives.
Fortunately, while, regrettably, our country has taken the lead in the destruction of wild species, we have also taken the lead in their preservation. The Fauna Preservation Society, on whose council I have had the honour to serve for five years and which celebrated its sixtieth anniversary the other day, was alone in the field for nearly half a century. It has since been joined by the World Wildlife Fund, an international organisation which was set up in 1961 with Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands as its president. The first of the national appeals, which, I am glad to say, was the British appeal, was launched, with Prince Philip as patron, in November of that year. Other national appeals are now starting throughout the world.
The relationship between the World Wildlife Fund and the Fauna Preservation Society is, I am glad to say, extremely happy. The World Wildlife Fund is predominantly a fund-raising and research body. The Fauna Preservation Society is an operational body. We had partnership at its best in the operation in which the Fauna Preservation Society conceived the need for Operation Oryx. It was the World 1422 Wildlife Fund which put up the money. Incidentally, the Royal Air Force was able to contribute immensely by the convenience with which training flights happened to be going to the right places at the right moment.
I should like to expand upon that fascinating operation. The oryx—which is probably the origin of the unicorn because its horns are close together—was thought to be down to probably not more than seven wild animals in the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. This is a classic case in which conservation necessitates export instead of prohibiting it. By using modern sedative techniques, an expedition was successful in capturing three of these animals, which were taken over to Nairobi. They were joined by a fourth, which was most generously given by the London Zoo. The Sheikh of Kuwait himself gave another female and happily, as the hon. Member for Oldham, West has said, on 26th October last Tan was born in America to Mary, who was the female from the London Zoo. We believe that on this base a free herd of oryx can be built up.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I understand the case that the hon. Member is making for preservation of certain of the animals listed in the Schedule, such as the Arabian oryx, which may become extinct. Is he, however, making the same case concerning the anthropoid apes, the numerous species of chimpanzees and the monkeys, which are numerous both in this country and, I believe, throughout the world?
§ Mr. James
I was coming to that.
The distinction which I wish to draw is that a Bill of this nature must be highly flexible, because in some cases, such as that of the oryx, the survival of the species depends upon extracting it from its environment and taking it to another. The classic case of this having been successful was that of Pere David's deer, which was smuggled out of China to this country by a French missionary of that name in about 1865. When, in the Boxer Rebellion, the last of Pere David's deer was killed in the royal park outside the Peking Palace, there were, happily, a herd of 250 in Bedfordshire, at 1423 Woburn Abbey, which have been able to keep the species intact.
We must, therefore, consider both sides of the picture. That is a case in which one wants to get the animal removed from an environment which for some reason is unsatisfactory. The other type of case is that in which far and away the best hope lies in keeping the creature in its environment and not exporting it for zoo purposes.
§ Mr. Paget
I am interested in the distinction which the hon. Member is making between the rare animal that will breed here and the rare animal that will not. If rare animals breed here I should have thought that their changes of survival would be considerably increased if they came here and bred, because their very rarity makes it likely that they will be given the maximum opportunity to breed. I do not find any distinction between these two in the Schedule.
§ Mr. James
The point is well taken. Obviously, an animal which can breed with profit in this country is precisely a case in which a licence to import would be given to a reputable zoo, but not, I hope, to a "pop" singer as a status symbol.
I will not deal with all the possibilities of the classic case of the apes, because that would bore the House. While, however, it is true that orang utans breed in captivity, it is equally true that they are down probably to about 800 in their natural state and it is estimated that only one in ten of those captured ultimately reaches this country. Therefore, one loses more on the swings in removing them than one gains on the roundabouts in getting the one out of ten to this country.
§ Mr. Marsh
Surely the concern of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) is that licences are not needed to introduce into this country extremely rare animals when their import would result in an enormous waste of animals who are captured speculatively in the hope that markets might be found. This is certainly true of some of the anthropoid apes. The markets would not then be available. If a licensing system such as is proposed were introduced, clearly 1424 there would be no purpose in the speculative capture of anthropoid apes.
§ Mr. James
I am grateful to the hon. Member for making the point. I hope that he will underline it when he makes his speech. The balance of advantage in every case can be seen only on its merits. In a case like that of the orang utan, nine of which are killed for every one captured, probably the balance of advantage lies in leaving it where it is.
To explain what is happening with orang utans, I should like to quote from a report by an American professor whose name, I regret, I do not have. He states:There are two distinct methods of capture. If firearms are used, a female is shot and the young taken. Hunters without guns first locate a mawas in a tree; they then fell the surrounding trees, leaving the animal isolated. When it has eaten everything—leaves, fruit and bark—and is suffering from thirst, the unfortunate animal is forced to the ground. The men dash out, two of them grabbing an arm each while one takes hold of the back of the head. The arms are tied behind the back and the animal is thrust into a sack and removed.That is the speculative trade which we wish to cut down.After capture, the animal is given almost no attention. It is looked on as a source of money and there is no thought of showing it any kindness. I saw nine mawas in captivity, in addition to six in the zoo at Pemangsiantar, and nearly all of them were imprisoned in a wooden box or crate of such a size that it was impossible for the animal to stand up.In two instances there were two animals in a box so small that they had to spend the whole time in a crouched position with their arms round each other. Another mawas which stood about 3 ft. high spent the whole time on a wooden shelf in a cage which measured 9 ft. high and 3 ft. square with the front enclosed by one-inch bars. They are nearly all fed on boiled rice, bananas and perhaps some pineapple; with this unnatural diet their stomachs become very distended, and, unable to move or keep clean, they become sick and as often as not die. I also saw one siamang that was kept tied on a short rope in a garage. This smelt of oil, petrol, and urine from the adjacent house and the poor animal could walk nowhere except on the oily floor or the smooth drums.This is how the speculative trading is being built up. The latest reports from Singapore suggest that there are 60 speculative animals in the pipeline, and it is this trade which my hon. Friend seeks to put an end to.
I implore the House not to approach the Bill in too niggardly a spirit.
§ Mr. Fletcher
It is not to be inferred from what the hon. Gentleman is saying, is it, that many of these animals would be destined for this country?
§ Mr. James
All we can do is to put our own house in order and set an example to others. It would be a formidable lead to the rest of the world if the United Kingdom, which, as we know, has for long been the centre of a Commonwealth of countries in which there is a great number and variety of animals, were to say that in certain circumstances it would resist this trade and these practices.
§ Mr. James
However, I do ask that we do not approach the Bill in too niggardly a spirit, because the problem with which it deals is a world problem, involving the extinction of species, and as now we talk of being as dead as the dodo, let us hope that our grandsons will not be able so to talk about the giraffe, or the panda, or the koala bear.
§ 12.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Marsh (Greenwich)
One thing which has worried me so far about this debate is the surprising lack of sympathy—indeed the extent of the niggardly approach—shown by some of my hon. and learned Friends on this side of the House. I would have thought that this is a Bill which one could clearly have supported. I have had the bitter experience of being given the job of preparing one's own Bills, and I have very great sympathy with any other hon. Member who does so. I have found myself being shot at by lawyers, but none the less—
§ Mr. Paget
My hon. Friend will forgive me. He really should not refer 1426 to his colleagues as niggardlly critics because they try to see if they can make the language do what it was intended to do. If in fact the Bill does not do what it is intended that it should do, surely it is a good thing to try to see that it does.
§ Mr. Marsh
More intelligible to the lawyers, probably. But I take the point.
However there is real need for some serious attempt to be made to preserve from deliberate extinction certain species of animals which still exist, and I think it is a good thing for the House of Commons to have the opportunity to deal with such a Bill as this, a small Bill, not a particularly dramatic Bill, but, none the less, one about which some feel quite strongly.
I cannot help wondering, though, whether the Bill achieves what it sets out to achieve. I raised a couple of questions with the hon. Lady the Member for Renfrew, East (Miss Harvie Anderson) during her speech, about the Schedule. I appreciate the difficulties which exist in preparing a Schedule of this type. Either one prepares an enormous Schedule running to pages and pages, or, alternatively, one produces a very short and specific Schedule, as this one is in parts, which restricts the Bill, I would have thought, unnecessarily. Or there is the third possibility that one uses generalised definitions which are so wide that one could as well prohibit the importation of animals anyhow. I am not at all sure, personally, that I would not prefer to see a Bill which called for a licence to be provided for the importation of wild animals anyhow no matter whence they came, but it might be that the quantities of such animals might be so vast that 1427 the licensing machinery would be enormous and unnecessarily complex.
Against that, I think a great deal of suffering and a great deal of damage is done to animal populations in various parts of the world precisely because animals are imported very frequently by very small importers indeed who have neither the facilities nor the interest to do the job properly, and while I would not expect hon. Gentlemen opposite to be too enthusiastic about any Bill which pushed traders out of business, I cannot help feeling that pushing out of business all small animal importers would be a very good thing. I think there is a surprising degree of support on the other side of the House for this proposition as a result of hon. Gentlemen opposite having debated the Resale Prices Bill so long.
I think that that is one objection I would have to the Schedule, but since we have the Schedule I would say that I do not think there is any question at all that the destruction of anthrapoid apes is quite appalling and the point which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. David James) made was a very real one indeed. The danger to these animals lies in very poor people trapping them, because if they can catch two or three and find a buyer for them the prices paid are extraordinarily high. If there were a licensing system for importation, and it were known that a licence to import should be granted only for a bona fide zoo and for specific purposes—not merely to provide another attraction for little boys to pay threepence or sixpence to see—it would, I think, go a very long way indeed to stamping out this wholly disgraceful business. So far as that goes, I see no difficulty at all.
I raised the question of the lemurs because I think that this is a fascinating group altogether, but here I am not quite sure what the Schedule means by "lemur". Usually when we talk of lemurs we mean the Madagascan lemur, but even there there is a number of varieties, the ring-tailed lemur, the crowned lemur, the rough lemur, and so forth. Then there is the slow lemur—
§ Mr. David James
Could I help the hon. Member? The Schedule is generic 1428 and not specific. If he will bear that in mind all his difficulties will disappear.
§ Mr. Marsh
If that is so, this becomes an extremely wide Bill indeed.
Some of the lemurs are extremely rare. The Angwantibo, a slow lemur, is almost entirely—perhaps, completely—confined to the Cameroons. This animal I should very much like to see included, but we can take the example of the other classic slow lemur, the potto, which no one could describe as rare by any means. It is found throughout Nigeria, Angola, and right into Kenya.
§ Miss Harvie Anderson
Apart from being able to read the list which the hon. Member has read, and which could read in similar terms, if lemurs generally were introduced would he be good—I certainly would not be—at identifying one type from the other? We are seeking to make the job reasonable for Customs officials. We have chosen to define areas rather than to produce a list which would entail 16 different varieties which are considered rare on expert advice, assuming that Customs officials could identify any of the 16 rather than identifying the more common varieties. While it seems reasonable for the expert to be called in for final identification, the Customs official could identify generally in the same way as we ourselves would do.
§ Mr. Marsh
I appreciate that point, but this is a Bill to prohibit the importation of rare animals, and it would in fact prohibit animals which by no sense are rare. I should like the importation of all rare animals prohibited except under licence, but the Bill does not do that. It speaks of certain animals such as the lemur and applies a standard to it which it does not apply to others. Where the real difficulty lies is with an animal such as yet another of the Slow lemurs, the African galago, the "bush baby", which is on sale in every little pet shop and is imported in vast quantities. This Bill seeks to prohibit the importation of a whole family of animals as distinct from a particular type of animal.
§ Mr. Marsh
I agree, but if it is to be done on these terms it will be over a 1429 very large field indeed. I think it most unfortunate that the bush baby is so popular. It has nice big eyes and is a furry little creature which hangs upside down in the middle of the day. It is most attractive to parents who want to give it to children at Christmas-time. This is most unfortunate because these animals are by no means so ideal as pets as might be supposed.
If there is to be prohibition in a particular field, why not apply it to wild life in general? Why draw a distinction between a particular field and a vast importation of animals, some of which are extremely rare and would not be imported except by zoos because they are very delicate and difficult to keep, but not for others? I am not making a criticism of this, but what we have been discussing is the principle of some control and it is a principle I certainly support at any time. The question of the bush baby and many other animals raises another problem. Do we proceed to protect a species of wild life when it is in danger of becoming extinct, or is it not better to try to prevent it reaching that stage much earlier? If we take that line our attention is attracted to the importation of animals in general rather than waiting until an animal is almost extinct and then proceeding to care for them when the damage has already been done.
Several hon. Members have referred to the Arabian oryx. Perhaps 15 or 20 years ago, certainly before the war, it could have been transferred to various parts of the world and preserved. It was not until a lot of trigger-happy sheikhs were running around, not only shooting the animal from fast-moving cars, but using sub-machine guns and spotter aircraft for the hunting, that much notice was taken. We waited until there were very few of these beautiful animals alive. Then, and only then, did we proceed to try to do something about it.
There is a whole range of creatures in similar circumstances. The hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown has dealt with man in his various guises in relation to the animal kingdom, man the warrior and so on. He left out one aspect to which hon. Members on both sides of the House should pay more attention, man the snob, particularly the food snob. We should consider the price 1430 paid for the green turtle to be made into soup for the Lord Mayor's Banquet, a delicacy which is eaten regularly at that function. Is it worth slaughtering vast quantifies of turtles in order to provide this delicacy? Difficulty may be found in distinguishing between various varieties of turtle and we might find difficulty in distinguishing between soup made from the fresh turtle or tinned turtle.
§ Sir Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)
This is an interesting argument, but if it were carried too far we would have no kidney soup either.
§ Mr. Marsh
There is a difference between breeding animals for domestic food purposes and slaughtering wild animals in barge quantities in this way. So far as I know, the green turtle is not at the moment in danger of extinction, but it is impossible to get information of the numbers which still exist in the world. The only way in which we can get any son of assessment is by figures relating to the export of turtle eggs. In the seven year period 1929 to 1936 the average egg yield of green turtles per annum was 2,184,095. In the seven year period 1948 to 1954, the annual yield—mostly from Sarawak—was 1,581,132. In the years 1955–1961, the latest period for which I could find figures, the yield had declined to 1,038,129. Here in an industry which is very important financially, in which one assumes that people are rearing for egg production large numbers of green turtles, one finds a decline from 2,184,095 to 1,038,129.
While hon. Members opposite are supporting Bills to preserve wild life we could take steps without legislation to preserve wild life in this connection. As a small example, at the Lord Mayor's Banquet there could be a different form of soup. I quote as an example, with the greatest respect, the Duke of Edinburgh, who has been mentioned in connection with the very real help, financial and otherwise, to wild life preservation. But I cannot help feeling that he outweighed a great deal of financial and prestige assistance by shooting rare tigers in a fashion which could not be described as sporting by any stretch of the imagination.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I dare say that the hon. Member can pass to another topic. We need not argue about it.
§ Mr. Marsh
I will leave that particular topic if it is out of order, Mr. Speaker, but I think that it is relevant to say that it is not enough merely to pass legislation saying that one cannot import wild animals and believe that in doing so one is salving one's conscience entirely and that one can then go off and eat something which someone else has destroyed.
§ Mr. Marsh
I never tasted that pie. The only reference I have ever found to it was in Reynolds News in a column written by one of my hon. Friends. But there is no shortage of kangaroo. The difficulty there is one of control rather than maintenance.
This problem raises several points. I will not pursue the point I was making because you began to feel, Mr. Speaker, that it was out of order. But difficulties arise in a host of ways. The hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown spoke about leopards. Leopards are not likely to be in great demand, but it is nonsense to prohibit the importation of live leopards while at the same time permitting the importation of very large quantities of leopard pelts. It is taking hypocrisy to extremes to say that one cannot import one leopard but that one can import 200 leopard skins.
The rhinoceros has also been mentioned. It would be tragic if this magnificent creature became extinct, but that seems likely, certainly in the case of the Asiatic rhinoceros. The threat to the rhinoceros is much greater from the demand for the rhino horn than from the demand for the live animal. I do not know whether we could impose even more stringent penalties in some areas over which we have control where the rhinoceros is found.
§ Mr. John Silkin (Deptford)
I have been following my hon. Friend's argument with great interest. I can understand his arguing that mock turtle soup 1432 would be much better than real turtle soup at City of London banquets. He is certainly also on a strong point when he talks about the importation of skins despite the protection which we may try to impose through the licensing of the importation of the animals themselves. But is not this much more an educational problem than a legislative problem? That is my difficulty on this issue.
§ Mr. Marsh
I think that the problem is both educational and legislative. There is certainly a need for education to get people out of some of these status symbols. Much damage to rare animal life arises purely through slaughter for status and not for food. I can understand the starving native shooting a rare animal or a poor native who pulls down an elephant because ivory is profitable. But I find quite unacceptable the slaughter of animals purely for prestige purposes.
That is a very real factor. The classic example is the osprey, which was almost wiped out by vanity and prestige. An attempt to change the attitude by education had virtually no success at all in that case. It was only legislation, and the very strong penalties imposed by it, which prevented the osprey being wiped out altogether.
The same sort of situation has arisen with various forms of bird life. All of us were horrified by what was done recently in Scotland by a group of louts. The attempt to educate people to preserve almost extinct wild life has had very little effect. Heavy penalties and legislation might have far more.
One must continually return to the question of why so many types of creatures have been omitted from the Schedule. If we include some, why do we leave out others? My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) mentioned the Galapagos iguana. This is a fascinating creature—not to look at, but because of its background. I quite understand why it is included in the Schedule. But it is not the only such animal.
In talking about animals there is a tendency to discuss the big impressive ones or the attractive ones and to leave out those which are no less fascinating if not so attractive. For instance, 1433 the Japanese dormouse is not included. It is a drab little creature but extremely rare. The most fascinating thing about it is that, although it is almost extinct and confined wholly to Japan, none the less there is clearly a very close relationship between the Japanese dormouse and the Central European garden dormouse.
Then there is, in Europe, the tur, which also is not included in the Schedule. We now have only three species of tur left. The European tur is probably extinct in the Pyrenees. The Caucasian tur is confined to the East and Central Caucasus. The Western tur, I believe, is fast becoming extinct. Yet the tur is not included in the Schedule either. Another example is the tricuspid pangolin, an intriguing and amusing animal of which only a few are left and perhaps the most interesting of the pangolins.
The first step is to get a realisation in the country that the situation is serious. As has been pointed out, we can only exercise control within our own country. But Britain is a very important market in terms of the importation of wild life. We cannot just put the responsibility on to other Governments, and I would like to see a situation where we at least accepted the principle that we must not deprive posterity of these creatures so capriciously.
I recall flying across the Wanki Game Reserve in Rhodesia at about 100 feet. The hon. Member for Clapham (Dr. Alan Glyn) was with me and we saw a whole herd of elephants suddenly move off. One magnificent male elephant, ears flapping, put his head down and prepared to do battle with the four seater aircraft coming towards him. It was a most magnificent sight.
The prospect that our children should be denied even the possibility of seeing this sort of thing, except in books or pictures, is very sad. We ought not to judge the standard of civilisation of any society merely by the number of refrigerators and washing machines and the amount of candy floss which it is capable of producing. These things which we have been discussing are a part of life and a part of the world in which we live, and a declaration by the House of Commons that it thinks 1434 that they are worth talking about and preserving is of considerable importance.
§ 12.40 p.m.
§ Sir James Duncan (South Angus)
I must congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, East (Miss Harvie Anderson) on her good luck in the Ballot and on selecting this subject for a Private Member's Bill. As has been said, it is somewhat beyond the normal scope of her activities, and in this connection she might be described as a rara avis. Nevertheless, it is not so rare as all that, because, as the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Marsh) has said, there are educational, cultural and scientific aspects of the Bill and my hon. Friend is well known in Scotland for having been closely connected with educational matters in the past. I am delighted that she has had and has taken the opportunity of introducing the Bill.
I have not been consulted about the Bill and I can, therefore, look at it from the outside, as it were. It has three main objects. It is first a propaganda exercise in the interests of the preservation of rare animals throughout the world. If this discussion can have any effect in other countries, both importing and exporting, it will have been well justified.
Secondly, it is an example to others. I should like there to be similar legislation in all other importing countries and parallel legislation in the exporting countries. The hon. Member for Greenwich complained about leopard skins, but if there were a prohibition on the export of leopard skins from Kenya or Uganda we might achieve our object that way rather than through Customs methods with high tariffs on importation.
§ Sir J. Duncan
I shall have to have notice of that question.
The third object of the Bill is that it is an attempt by the British Parliament to take practical action which some people have thought to have been long delayed. I think that we are right to 1435 take this action now and it is of considerable importance in the interests of the world's rare animals. The Bill is well worth while on those three grounds, and I hope that other countries interested in this subject, or who can be induced to be interested, will take similar or parallel action according to their circumstances.
There is no doubt, as my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. David James) has said, that there are various reasons for the virtual extinction of some animals. As a member of the Wild Life Council, he knows far more about this than I do. The House will agree that his speech on the various animals he has studied was extremely interesting. Whether it be the inability of the species to survive through being built or constructed the wrong way, or unable to metamorphose itself to meet survival, like the old saurians, or the ichthyosaurus, or Pliosaurus, or whether it is the greed of man, as with the case of the dodo, which was made extinct by the greed of Western man, or whether through fashion, as in the case of the osprey, there is a case for action to be taken in all countries to preserve what is left and to try to rebuild what can be rebuilt if it has not gone too far.
I speak this morning as a member of the Council of the London Zoo. Incidentally, it is not Royal but is the Zoological Society of London. I have been interested in the subject ever since I became a member of the Council. I can assure the House that we entirely support the principle of the Bill and hope that it will get a safe passage. We shall continue to co-operate as closely as possible in giving advice and help to the Minister for Science, who will be the licensing authority for importation if the Bill is passed. I hope that the Bill will be successful and, if it is a question of additions to the Schedule through Statutory Instruments, I can assure my right hon. Friend that he will have every help from us.
The word "niggling" has been used about the Schedule, but I am not sure that the hon. Member for Greenwich was not a little niggling himself. The Bill has to go through Committee when we shall have to discuss the Schedule. 1436 We must have some body of scientific advice and such a body is mentioned by my hon. Friend.
§ Sir J. Duncan
I agree, and my hon. Friend's reasons for this method of approach in the Schedule have been twice explained to the hon. Gentleman. This method is to be a warning to dealers all over the world that they will not get a licence for the animals in the Schedule and that licences for animals in the Schedule, perhaps with the exception of the bush baby which is a particular species of lemur, will be given only to zoos or scientific bodies.
I now turn to the policy which should be adopted by all countries and which is adopted by the Zoological Society of London. This matter has already been mentioned. The question is whether it is right and in what circumstances it is right and in respect of what animal it is right to try to keep them in their own habitat and to prohibit their importation altogether for zoo or any other purpose, or whether it is better to take them out of their habitat and try to breed and re-breed an extension of the species elsewhere. There ought to be certain lines which everybody should be encouraged to follow.
I offer these suggestions to my right hon. Friend and to the House, because my right hon. Friend will have to administer the licensing system. First, every possible attempt should be made to preserve the species in the wild state, that is to say, not to get the numbers reduced to such an extent that some severe action has to be taken. If, in spite of those attempts, the wild life population appears to be doomed, then we have to decide which way to go—perhaps try to have a national park with the country concerned so interested in it that it can, through game wardens and other means, protect the species in its natural habitat. I think that it would probably be better to keep animals such as the orang utan in national parks and allow their importation into any country in the world only 1437 on licence for a particular zoological purpose, and not at every zoo by any means.
The next consideration is that the loss to the wild life population by taking specimens and the disturbance involved is far outweighed by the probability of being able to establish a breeding population in captivity.
The next one which the London Zoo applies is that zoological gardens should not buy smuggled animals. This is very important, because it has been done in the past. Sometimes it has been done with the best intention in the world to try to protect the animal, but I think that if that principle were established by all the zoos in the world—and there is an international conference on zoos it would help to prevent the illegal trade in these animals. When considering the position of vanishing species zoological gardens should deal direct with Governments rather than with professional animal catchers.
If those items of policy were agreed by all the zoos in the world and operated by the Government by means of the licensing system authorised under the Bill, I believe that we should get much better control than we do now.
As an outsider, it seems to me that the Schedule could well be extended, but there is limited time available to us in the House to get the Bill through. Under the normal processes, we have until about the end of July to get the Bill on to the Statute Book. If there were a long Committee stage, there would be a danger of not getting the Bill through another place as well as through this House. I hope that the Statutory Instrument procedure allowed for in the Bill will be recognised by those who wish to include more animals, so that each animal can be considered on its merits after due consideration of the points that I have been trying to put on policy, and also so that we can get the whole ecological background of, for instance, the Sumatran rhinoceros, instead of trying to deal with the matter off-the-cuff in Committee upstairs.
I hope that the House will give the Bill a Second Reading. I congratulate my hon. Friend on introducing it, and I hope that it will have a safe passage on to the Statute Book.
§ 12.54 p.m.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
As a niggling lawyer, who has been referred to, I wanted to begin by saying something to justify the stance of the niggling lawyer when it comes to legislation.
I believe that when we legislate it is of some importance that we should make our intentions clear. It is true that on Second Reading one should seek to ascertain what one intends to do, and leave the precise language to be corrected in Committee, but there are a number of aspects on which I am not at all clear what the hon. Lady intends to do. For instance, I asked her whether she intended to deal only with animals that were imported here to be kept here, or whether she intended to deal with animals in transit; animals which came here by air in transit to somewhere else. I did not get a clear answer as to her intentions.
The Bill itself says thatthe importation into the United Kingdom of any animal included in the Schedule to this Act is hereby prohibited.I should have thought that without more ado those words would have covered transit. However, I looked at the Interpretation Clause to see whether that gave me any assistance in the matter. It says:importation' has the same meaning as for the purposes of the Customs and Excise Act. 1952.I then looked at that Act to see whether I could find a definition of importation. About 120 words are interpreted in the Interpretation Clause, but not the word "importation". What is interpreted is "importer". It says that an importer:in relation to any goods at any time between their importation and the time when they are delivered out of customs charge, includes any owner…I should have thought that importation involved the period between their arrival and their release from Customs, and that, therefore, Clause 1 included the transit period.
§ Dr. Alan Glyn
Surely the short answer is that a thing is not imported until it has actually passed through Customs. If it is in transit it is not imported. Until such time as it has been Custom cleared, it is not eligible for importation into this 1439 country, and, therefore, as I read this—though I am not as expert as the hon. and learned Gentleman is in these matters—it could only include something which was permanently kept in this country.
§ Mr. Paget
I am interested in that, because that is the point that I am raising. As a lawyer, I think that I take exactly the opposite view. For instance, for veterinary reasons we forbid the importation of cattle. That prohibition certainly covers importation in the sense of bringing to this country, not of releasing from Customs, and at the moment I know of no definition of importation—though perhaps someone may produce one for me—which says that something is imported only at the point at which it comes out of Customs. For instance, I think that an offence of importing pornography is committed before the pornography emerges from Customs.
§ Mr. Burden
We know that the hon. and learned Gentleman has extreme knowledge of this subject, but is not the position rather the same as that of goods which are consigned to this country by a firm and then held in bond by the Customs authorities until certain formalities, including the payment of duty, are carried out? In other words, although a person may have imported them they do not become his property until he has carried out certain formalities. They are still subject to seizure and are held by the Customs authorities until the necessary formalities have been complied with.
§ Mr. Paget
Certainly, many things are imported in bond and cannot be released from the Customs until the bond is cleared, but I think that they are none the less imported and that they have been imported by the person who puts them in bond. If we were to forbid the importation of whisky I think that the prohibition would apply to bringing it in, apart from releasing it from bond. Under the prohibition legislation of the United States that was certainly the case.
§ Miss Harvie Anderson
I should have thought that this point could be argued later. What I wanted to make clear 1440 was that between 3,000 and 4,000 animals a month pass through London Airport, and that if we were to interpret these provisions in the way that the hon. and learned Member suggests a substantial task would have to be carried out. On the other hand, it could be argued that if we licensed every animal, including those in transit, we should be doing a good job. Nevertheless, I think that if we did so we should be placing an unnecessary burden upon those whose duty it is to enforce the legislation.
§ Mr. Paget
What I am trying to do at the moment is not to be niggling, but to ascertain what is the intention. If the intention is that only those animals which are brought in permanently should be covered, appropriate language can doubtless he found. Although I am not certain of this, and may well be wrong, if it can be shown that there is some special interpretation of the word "importation" which I have not yet discovered in this immensely voluminous Act, it appears to me that the language used in the Bill covers animals in transit. I certainly would like to see them covered, because unless they are I doubt whether we shall be able to do very much good—certainly in relation to the speculative trade.
Singapore has been mentioned. The difficulties of disposing of animals captured speculatively in that area might be considerably increased if they could not be moved through Britain, which is one of the distribution areas. On the other hand, if we merely provide that they cannot be sold in Britain I doubt whether we shall materially reduce this speculative trade. We all have a general language, which we used in normal circumstances. It is sufficient for our ordinary purposes. But in every field of specialisation ordinary language is found to be inadequate, and so—whether it be in gardening, zoology, the law or any other such field—a special technical language or jargon has been evolved. It has a quite proper and legitimate purpose. It provides a precision which general language does not provide.
It is for that reason that I am always extremely suspicious when I hear the use of general language in a technical 1441 field, be it the law or otherwise, justified on the ground of simplicity. The result is generally precisely the opposite; all that we are really doing is to conceal the complications because we are not prepared to take the trouble to define them. To use imprecise language is mental laziness, and I discover that, in some measure, in the Schedule. It is not good enough to use words which have been rejected by zoologists because they do not provide the precision necessary for their purpose, merely in order to simplify a zoological problem. Nor, by doing so, shall we simplify the difficulties of the Customs officials.
We have a Customs declaration. A form is put before an importer and he has to make a declaration whether the animal in question falls within the terms of the Schedule, which may be a long Schedule and may define with precision precise species which it is wished to exclude. There are people—members of the society which is promoting the Bill, for instance—who are highly interested in this Bill's efficacy. If these rare animals are brought here they are brought for a purpose. That purpose is probably zoological. It is usually intended that the animals shall be exhibited.
If animals of this sort turn up here members of the Society who are interested in them will see them and ask. "Was there a licence for these?" It will not be very long before the importer who has signed a false declaration finds himself in trouble. Normally, the man at the Customs will not be put to the trouble of having to deal with the problem of defining whether, say, the lemur that it is sought to import is a prohibited or unprohibited form; he will accept the importer's declaration. If he has real reasons for doubt he will send for an expert, just as, in connection with jewellery, antiques and many similar articles, experts are sent for.
§ Mr. Fletcher
Does not my hon. and learned Friend agree that in the case of many goods imported into this country, especially goods of a chemical and highly specialised nature, anyone who is familiar with the operation of the Customs Act knows that whole schedules exist defining in the most elaborate language not only what can be imported but what the rates of duty 1442 are. No layman, and very few Customs officials, can be expected to understand these highly technical schedules.
§ Mr. Paget
I entirely agree, and I would have thought that precisely the same argument applied in this case. If we want the Bill to be effective we should have a Schedule that really defines its purpose, That Schedule should be much longer than the present one if the Bill is to be any contribution towards preserving animals which are in danger of extinction.
§ Miss Harvie Anderson
May I interrupt the hon. and learned Gentleman once again? I have here a schedule which is precisely of the type for which he has been asking. This one has been very carefully considered by a great many people, and the consensus of opinion to date is that it is unreasonable to expect the Customs official to interpret the schedule, as I said earlier in reply to the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Marsh). As I say, this is the judgment to date. It may not be the hon. and learned Gentleman's judgment, but I should be very happy to let him study the schedule. It is a highly technical document and one which I should have thought it unreasonable to expect Customs officials to interpret.
§ Mr. Paget
I have been trying to point out that one does not expect a Customs official to interpret it in the ordinary way any more than one expects him to interpret the very long and complicated schedules with regard to chemicals to which my hon. Friend referred, or, indeed, as far as antiques or a whole series of things are concerned. What the Customs official gets is a declaration from the importer, and, in the ordinary way, he accepts that declaration. These rare animals are not worth importing except for exhibition, and if an importer is cheating he runs a very great risk of being caught when exhibiting the animals. I do not think that the suggestion that one cannot expect every Customs official to be a zoologist is any more applicable than the proposition that one cannot expect him to be a chemist or an antique expert. However, this is an argument which we can arrive at later.
1443 Frankly, I would be prepared to accept a very much wider schedule. To use a term of jargon, I would agree to exclude the importation of ferae naturae without licence, and ferae naturae means wild by nature. It is a term of law which has been explored and defined by the courts, so that the courts will know exactly what it means. The definition will be found in the judgments on it, and I really do not see any justification for importing wild animals in captivity without a licence. I would be only too pleased to see a provision prohibiting wild animals from being brought out of their natural habitat to this country unless an importer could justify doing so and could produce a licence. That is something which I could support.
On the other hand, the Bill is aimed at a very much narrower purpose, of simply preventing the extinction of particular species by discouraging their capture and by closing one particular place from which they might otherwise be imported. I should have thought that to believe that by closing the British market one would set an example which was likely to be followed either by the American Congress or by General de Gaulle was slightly optimistic.
§ Mr. Paget
I should have thought that that might be a considerable assistance to see how they did it. As far as the Americans are concerned. I think that we might get a bit further. I am grateful to learn that point, but, none the less, I think that if we are confining ourselves to that purpose we require a schedule of definition such as the hon. Lady says she has up her sleeve, if I may put it that way.
Finally, I want to make one point which I think is of general interest. It is said that whilst we have been responsible—or, rather, people of British origin have been responsible—in various 1444 parts of the world for a lot of extermination of wild life—and I am sure that that is true—we have also taken a leading part in preservation. That certainly is not more so than in these islands. I know of no place in the world remotely comparable to these islands in the maintenance of wild life in highly cultivated areas. If we go to areas of similar cultivation in France and Germany we will not hear a bird sing.
The level of wild life which we have maintained in cultivated areas in these islands is quite astonishing. This, curiously enough, is linked with sport. It is not a coincidence that the hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. David Jones) who has been one of the active promoters of this Bill is also, I think, a member of the committee of the Field Sports Society.
My hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood) may find it a curious paradox that field sports and preservation should be linked in this manner. None the less, it is true. We certainly should not have deer living in the wild if they were not hunted. In fact, we cannot legislate to prevent a farmer protecting his crops. Every deer would be fired on, generally with bird shot because that is what the farmer would have, and very soon the deer would all die in agony. The sense of the neighbourhood, the fact that shooting deer in these areas is considered bad sportsmanship and unneighbourly or whatever else one might call it, is, paradoxically enough, sufficient to bring about this sort of preservation.
§ Mr. Hale
I venture to interrupt my hon. and learned Friend, with whom I am usually in complete agreement, about deer. The New Forest is a Royal forest and deer are preserved there because arrangements have been made for their preservation. There are also estates which make a tax-free profit from visitors which also help the deer. This is a very small island. We are talking about animals all over the world.
On the question of definition, what the judges could recognise was not an iguana, but a clearance sale. That is the animal which they could identify at sight a couple of days ago. On 1445 definition, we are still, of course, ploughing through the mystery of whether a lemur really means a lemuroid and whether an iguana really means a pleurodontal lizard.
§ Mr. Paget
I think that my hon. Friend's intervention would have been more relevant to the point I was making earlier. It is certainly not particularly relevant to the point I am making now. In any case, the preservation of the deer in the New Forest is controlled by the Royal New Forest Buck Hounds. In a curious way we have the idea that it is unsporting to shoot birds which are not game birds. That does not apply in France, Germany or America and in the cultivated areas in those countries the birds have all disappeared.
The fox might certainly have joined the animals in this country which have or are being completely exterminated. One never knows where one is going in this business. I recall a sequence of events which occurred in the Midlands, during the war. The fox was nearly exterminated. As a result of that, the rat moved out into the hedgerows from the farmyards where, previously, the foxes had hunted them down. As a result of that, the hedgerow birds were raided and greatly reduced in number. As a result of that, the control on the caterpillars which fed on the oakleaves became reduced and the result of that was that we had dead oak trees right through the area. Curious things happen when one interferes with an established balance and it is almost impossible to know exactly where one is going.
For these reasons I have reservations about the Bill and I am wondering whether it is likely to go very far in fulfilling its purpose. I would have liked to have seen a wider Measure and I am convinced that it will have to be far more closely defined at a later stage if it is to be workable.
§ 1.22 p.m.
§ Mr. F. A. Burden (Gillingham)
I will not attempt to follow the pronouncements on the legal aspects of the Bill by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), but I must take him up on the point he made about conservation and sporting interests in this country going very much together. This has been evident in the spread of 1446 Canada Geese in Britain and Peter Scott has found that the people most responsible for extending this species here have been the wild fowl groups, who have been creating sanctuaries for Canada Geese and so enlarging the populations of that species.
It is obvious from this debate that whatever differences there may be there is general agreement that something on the lines of this Measure is required. Hon. Members generally are wholeheartedly in support of legislation of this sort, although they may consider that the Bill has certain defects.
No one will deny that large numbers of wild animals are imported into this country every year and that some of them are totally unsuited to life in captivity unless they are given expert and unremitting attention. Some of them are so rare as to be in imminent danger of extinction—and that is the type of animal which the Bill is particularly designed to cater for. Bearing this in mind, we must consider whether it would be desirable and advisable to introduce legislation to prohibit the importation into this country of any wild animals, particularly when removing them from their natural state might place them in danger.
Among the animals named in the Schedule is the orang utan. This animal is not only in danger of extinction but considerable cruelty is imposed upon it in man's efforts to market it. Thus it is not only in the interests of the survival of this species that control should be extended but that the present cruelty meted out to it should be prevented. The Bill will be welcomed by all who are interested in the preservation of animals which are threatened with extinction, largely, it must be stated, through man's folly and avarice.
The duty of the committee envisaged to be set up under the Bill will, I hope, not be confined to consultations only on the question of whether or not a licence should be issued for the species named in the Schedule. Just as important, the committee should keep in touch with changes that take place in animal populations, the threats to the various species and should have the power to suggest to my right hon. Friend that new species should be included in the Schedule. In other words, the committee should be able to advise 1447 the Minister as well as being asked by the Minister to give advice. I hope that my right hon. Friend will give an assurance that he places that interpretation on what will be the activities of the committee.
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, East (Miss Harvie Anderson) on bringing forward this tangible response to the resolution passed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature which met at Cracow in 1960. Representatives from 32 countries were there and were convinced by a commission which was concerned with the survival of endangered animals of the necessity for the survival service. They were also convinced that the major threat to some animals was the illegal exportation from their native country followed by their importation, perfectly legally, into another country. Although some countries had done their best to enforce regulations and restrictions, there were considerable difficulties because these animals were slipping through the restrictions they had imposed. Clearly this traffic can only be satisfactorily halted by the strictest possible control at the point of sale.
The Bill fits into the general plan envisaged in a memorandum written by Dr. Boonson Lekagul of the Regional Working Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in South-East Asia. He stated:There exists today in South-East Asia a large clandestine and profitable business in the export of rare species of animals which are forbidden by local laws to be exported. Due to local conditions and the fact that foreign dealers pay very high prices for these rare animals, it is almost impossible for the relevant export regulations to be enforced locally.He continued:The problem of the illegal export of the orang-utan is most critical, but many other rare animals which are endangered are involved.He went on to state that although local records of illegal trading in these animals were incomplete, a significant portion of this trade had eventually gone to Europe and North America. He concluded with words to which I should like to draw my right hon. Friend's attention in case he should have any serious reservations about the Bill. He said:I would like to congratulate very highly Her Majesty's Government for considering this 1448 very necessary legislation and especially to thank those persons who are responsible for formulating and sponsoring the Bill.I should like to add my own congraulations, especially to my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, East and my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Kemp-town (Mr. David James) who made such interesting and enlightened speeches this morning.
It is clear that whatever the shortcomings of the Bill in its present state, if my right hon. Friend will lend himself to improving it and will make up his mind that it is an essential Measure, it will control the importation of these rare animals into this country, and to that extent it will be greatly welcomed. But in my view—and the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) made this point as well—it is nothing more at this stage than the first vital link in what I hope will be a series of similar Measures, certainly in European countries.
§ Mr. Hale
The hon. Member will know that Greenland has been one of the worst offenders, but if one considers the geography and government of Greenland it is clear that it is utterly impossible to deal with this matter at source in that respect. The hon. Member mentioned South-East Asia. The Gobi Desert remains unexplored and it may well have species still to be discovered. Therefore, it is really a case for international collective action.
§ Mr. Burden
We are in complete unanimity on this point, and so I think is the House generally. I hope that this example which my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, East is setting will be followed by all enlightened countries, thus closing the markets to illegal trade in animals. I believe that thus only can the future existence of these animals be assured. I was happy to see my right hon. Friend nod his head, indicating that he will give his blessing to the Bill, but I have heard that there are some reservations. I hope that they are drafting reservations which will improve the power of the Bill and not emasculate it.
§ Sir E. Boyle
I meant to indicate my blessing for the principle of the Bill and, more important, to indicate that the Government will do what they can to see that a suitable Bill on this subject is placed on the Statute Book.
§ Mr. Burden
I am sure that the House is most happy at that intervention. Some of the points made by hon. Members opposite, including the hon. and learned Member for Northampton, can be cleared up in Committee. No doubt we shall have his wisdom and experience as a lawyer to help us.
I was also encouraged to see present this morning my hon. Friend the Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) who is also a member of the British Zoological Society. I hope that when my right hon. Friend brings forward his Bill and it receives the assent of the House the British Zoological Society will ensure that its terms are made known to every zoological society with whom they have an association. I can safely assume that the R.S.P.C.A., which is extremely interested in the Bill and of which body I have the honour to be a member, will do its best to ensure that similar societies abroad interested in animal welfare are acquainted with it.
The hon. Member for Oldham, West suggested that U.N.E.S.C.O. should be made aware of it. I am happy to see present my hon. Friend the Member for Wembley, South (Sir R. Russell) who, I believe, is a member of the Council of Europe. I hope that he will do his best to draw attention to the Bill there. I can assure my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, East that the Parliamentary Animal Welfare Group will do whatsoever it can to ensure that similar bodies in other Parliaments are acquainted with this Measure. I have the confident hope that they, too, will recognise the need for action and will help to forge the complete chain that will control what is undoubtedly a most reprehensible traffic in Nature's rarities.
Reference has already been made to that interesting body, the Survival Service Commission. Whatever steps my right hon. Friend may take, I hope that every effort will be made to ensure that the message is spread. I see that Mr. Peter Scott of the United Kingdom is the chairman of that body and that it has representation from Sweden, France, Denmark, the U.S.S.R., Indonesia, South Africa, Thailand, Australia, Kenya, Germany, Malaysia, Guatemala, Switzerland, Holland and so on. I therefore believe that because of this asso- 1450 ciation of interest a really good Bill from this House could do a tremendous amount to stop the destruction of rare animals.
I not only think that all hon. Members are grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, East for bringing this Bill forward but I feel sure that if she accomplishes nothing else whilst she is a Member of the House she will have created for herself a living monument which will remain for a considerable time.
§ 1.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)
I should like to add my thanks and congratulations to the hon. Lady the Member for Renfrew, East (Miss Harvie Anderson), who has used her good fortune in the Ballot to introduce the Bill, and to thank her for the very instructive and attractive way in which she introduced it to the House and dealt with so many of the problems that have interested in particular hon. Members who have subsequently taken part in the debate.
As the hon. Member for Gillingham (Mr. Burden) has said, we hope that by the Bill we, shall be able to produce a good Measure which will make a valuable contribution to the subject in which we are all keenly interested, that is the conservation of rare wild animals. It may well be that the debate itself, and the opinions which have been voiced on both sides of the House, may make an even greater contribution to the ultimate object than the Bill itself. I do not want to disparage what the Bill can do, but, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) and others have pointed out, there are limits to what we in this country can do by passing even the most perfect piece of legislation.
I think that there are some defects in the Bill as it stands to which I shall draw attention in a moment, because I am as anxiously as other hon. Members are that the Bill should be improved and that while we are tackling this subject we should try and make the best possible job of it. I do not apologise for coming a little later in my remarks to some matters which will have to be ventilated in Committee. I say that for this reason. There are occasions in 1451 Second Reading debates when it is appropriate to leave over until the Committee stage matters which ought to be dealt with only in Committee, but there are other Bills—and I think this is one—in which, perhaps, only a relatively few Members are interested, on which it is a valuable exercise to indicate in the Second Reading debate some of the points which will have to be discussed in Committee.
Particularly when we have a Private Member's Bill of this kind, introduced without the normal opportunities of Ministerial and Civil Service expertise, there must necessarily be some defect. That is no criticism of those who promoted the Bill, but it seems to me to be important that those matters should be kept well in mind in the Second Reading than that they should be left to be raised in Committee or on Report.
A great many of those who have taken part in this debate have regaled us from their great scientific knowledge about the problems of rare animals, both at the present time and in recent years—problems of importation and the scientific problems that have been associated throughout the years with this matter. I do not pretend to have any specialised knowledge in zoology, but I have always been interested in the changing relationship between homo sapiens and animals. Whereas I think that in this enlightened age there is, perhaps, a very natural tendency for us humans to think, as a matter of course, how superior we are to all other animals, I would remind the House that that has not always been the case.
There are those who are interested in pre-history, who have possibly had the opportunity of seeing the cave paintings at Lascaux, now, unfortunately, temporarily closed, or at Altemara. I am now not talking of remote pre-history, of Neanderthal man and that sort of epoch, but of more recent history of Paleolithic times when man, as shown in those cave paintings, had already developed a great creative art, with artistic qualities of a high order. In those days, man's relationship to the animal world, as represented by those cave paintings, was such that he did not despise the animal kingdom. On the contrary, he venerated the animal king- 1452 dom. He appears to have thought of animals as being superior creatures to himself.
After all, most of the animals with which man was familiar—the bison, deer, and so on, apart altogether from the lion and the other animals—had much greater physical capacity than man, as they have today. They can run quicker, they have more strength, more natural fighting power and so forth. It is only because of man's cranial capacity, his brain power, that he has been able to elevate himself to a position in the world in which he can dominate all other members of the animal kingdom.
As recently as Paleolithic times it looks as if man had a tremendous respect for the animals with which he was associated, who were much quicker and stronger than he was and with whom he was in contact at a time before he had developed, as he did later, the weapons and mechanism which have subsequently enabled him to use them for purposes of food, transport and so forth.
Therefore, I regard as important the cause which the hon. Lady and her supporters have at heart in trying to conserve all kinds of animal life both for the purpose of their intrinsic value and for the purpose of study—not only zoological study but, as the Minister of State pointed out, the whole study of evolution. I certainly hope that in this country we shall play a maximum part in international effort to see that there are no further grounds for fearing the extinction of any of these rare species.
My only regret on this aspect is that there are limits to what we can do by legislation. This is fundamentally not a question of restricting imports into this country, but of controlling exports from other countries. That is the ultimate objective, and I hope that directly and indirectly we shall be able to make a contribution to this end. I am worried at the failure of countries which have export regulations to enforce those regulations with sufficent stringency. I notice, for example, in the article by Mr. Boyle in The Times of 28th March that there is a growing demand for exotic pets, and the article points out that some animals at present, particularly the orang utan, can command a market price of as much as £350.
1453 Mr. Boyle saysthat orang utans come only from Borneo and Sumatra and that no export permits have been granted to the trade for many years. Mother orangs are shot and their babies smuggled to the Asian mainland. Casualties among the babies are so high that for every baby orang to reach Europe or America, four or five orangs, mothers and babies, have been sacrificed.That is a very disturbing state of affairs. The only ultimate solution is to prevent this smuggling which goes on in those countries in defiance of the export regulations.
Mr. Boyle illustrates one of two particularly horrible examples of traffic in rare animals, one in which 37 mountain gorillas were captured in the Congo. Apparently, there was some question of its legality. Unfortunately, although some were removed to Uganda, practically nothing is known of the fate of those 37 gorillas.
While there is no doubt about the motives and intentions of those who have promoted the Bill, we must as legislators concern ourselves to see whether this Bill is appropriate to secure the object for which it has been designed and how it can be improved.
I am a little troubled about the Title of the Bill and how it fits into our general legislation. It is a Bill to restrict the importation of rare animals, and it contains a number of amendments to the Customs and Excise Act, 1952. Basically, our Customs and Excise legislation is not designed to restrict or prohibit the importation of goods into this country; it is designed chiefly to ensure that Customs duties are exacted on commodities of various kinds, and for this purpose it is necessary to have very far-reaching Customs and Excise rules and regulations. It is possible by other legislation to prohibit or restrict the importation of goods into this country, for example, obscene literature. It is quite proper that the Customs authorities should be in charge under legislation of that kind designed for social purposes, not for financial or fiscal purposes.
Two questions trouble me on Clause 1. I do not apologise for returning to the first of them, because it raises a matter to which the hon. Lady gave some thought and has given further thought during the debate. I refer to the question whether the Bill is intended to deal 1454 with animals in transit. This is a matter of tremendous importance. From the quotations which I have read and from the speeches of hon. Members, it is clear that there is an international traffic in these rare animals, or sonic of them. High prices are offered for rare specimens. We have discovered also that only a fraction of the rare animals coming to this country actually remain here.
It is now common ground that the premises at London Airport and the R.S.P.C.A. hostel there are used as a depository, the equivalent of a bonded warehouse or place of clearance, where these animals are detained in transit before proceeding to their ultimate destination, rather like passengers in some circumstances. Human beings are sometimes put into a transit lounge before they go on to their ultimate destination.
The figures given in the article in The Times are these:During 1963, the following wild animals…passed through the hostel: 28,800 monkeys, mostly for research; other primates, including apes and baboons, 600".I need not deal with birds. If we merely stop the importation into this country of rare animals destined to stay here, we do nothing to stop the international traffic in the larger number of animals we are trying to preserve from extinction, from illegal exportation from their countries of origin and from being the subject of this unfortunate speculative trade.
§ Miss Harvie Anderson
I think that it would be unfortunate if we got this point out of perspective altogether, although I agree that the question of destination is important. The figures have been analysed, and it is clear that a considerable portion of the traffic is in animals which come to this country and remain here.
I draw attention to the dealer's list I have in my possession, to which I referred earlier. It is a three-page list of animals imported into this country, in other words, animals which would be subject to the licensing procedure which we propose, and on this list alone, which is one just taken at random from one dealer, there are five rare animals included. I think that there would be some value to be derived from the Bill as drafted even if we were not to extend it to the question of transit, although 1455 I do not close my mind to that possibility.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I was not for a moment disputing that there is some value in the Bill as it stands, but it seems to me that it could with advantage to our ultimate purpose be extended to deal with those rare animals which at present pass through this country in transit.
I quite appreciate that, if we were able to check these transit operations, it might well be that they would be diverted to Amsterdam, Geneva or some other international airport. I mention this probable result because it is important that we should explain to other countries what we are doing and encourage them to pass similar legislation themselves dealing not only with importation within their borders, but also with transit operations. Unless we are able to close the gap completely, we shall not succeed in attaining our ultimate objective.
I am disturbed about another aspect of Clause 1. I hope that the Minister, because of his earlier experience at the Treasury, will be able to throw some light on what seems to be an obscure provision in subsection (2). The subsection provides thatWhere by virtue of this section any animal has been seized as liable to forfeiture under the Customs and Excise Act, 1952, the Seventh Schedule to that Act…shall not apply, but, if the Commissioners of Customs and Excise are satisfied that the animal has been imported in contravention of this section the animal shall be deemed to have been only condemned as forfeited…".I think that that must mean "condemned only as forfeit", but we will pass that.
Why is the Seventh Schedule of the 1952 Act not to apply? What is the effect of saying so? The Seventh Schedule to the 1952 Act is a very important part of the whole procedure under which the Customs authorities are able to forfeit and deal with goods which are illegally imported, imported without payment of the proper duty or imported on a false declaration. Prima fade, the rules laid down in the Schedule seem to be of general application. They are very sensible provisions, providing that the Customs authorities, if they are not satisfied about something may seize it and detain it before passing it on to the true owner, the importer. They have 1456 to give notice that they have made a seizure and the importer is entitled to claim. He may have to pay some duty, and so on. Also, proceedings can be taken in court for condemnation.
We all know—the Minister perhaps better than anybody—that from time to time goods which are imported are the subject of proceedings in a court initiated by the Commissioners for condemnation. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they do not. In some cases, the Commissioners have to pay a penalty and in some cases the importer is able to obtain the release of his goods on making a payment under paragraph 16 of the Schedule.
§ Miss Harvie Anderson
I said earlier that common sense had to prevail. The reason why the Seventh Schedule to the 1952 Act was not thought applicable was that it dealt with certain animals. We therefore thought that if we put in a provision concerning liability to forfeiture this would be more realistic. This was the point that I was trying to make when illustrating the difficulty of dealing with a rhinoceros. It would be difficult to deal under the Seventh Schedule with animals which either need special care or are of considerable size. The procedure suggested here was thought to be much more practical.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I appreciate the difficulty of applying the Seventh Schedule as it stands, but we must be clear about what we put in its place. There is provision in the Seventh Schedule for dealing with living creatures. Paragraph 16(b) says:if the thing seized is a living creature or is in the opinion of the Commissioners of a perishable naturethe Commissioners maysell or destroy it.I am glad that they will have neither the right to sell nor to destroy any rhinoceros or Galapagos marine iguana which might hereafter be imported without a licence. But what are they to do with it?
The Bill says that…the animal shall be deemed to have been only condemned as forfeited…Condemned to what? Forfeited to whom? What is to happen to the animal? Take a rhinoceros, monkey, 1457 orang utan or marmoset which somebody has brought into this country without a licence, perhaps with the best possible intentions.
I spent quite a lot of time, years ago, with some of the chimpanzees at the Zoo. They are some of the most friendly animals that one could wish to meet. I remember that there was one called "Peggy" for which I had a particular affection. What is to happen to a chimpanzee which an hon. Member or one of his friends has brought in or which has been sent to him without a licence? Is that chimpanzee to be "condemned as forfeited"? Surely he will not be able to send it back, like the Home Secretary has sent back the Williams family to South Africa. That would be not only inhuman, but quite absurd. Will the Commissioners be able to sell it? Are they to hand it to the Zoo? Suppose that the Zoo does not want it. It is then to be forfeited.
I have no doubt that the hon. Lady's intentions are very good. She may be right to exclude the Seventh Schedule, but I think that she must be more specific in saying what is to happen to the animal which comes in without a licence. Financial penalties may be imposed, and properly so, on anybody who seeks to import a rare animal without a licence. But we must still deal with the question of what is to happen to the rhinoceros or orang utan which is brought in without a licence.
§ Dr. Alan Glyn
Surely the answer is that it would go to one of the zoological institutions in this country.
§ Mr. Fletcher
If it was a rhinoceros, the Zoo would probably be glad to have it. But suppose that it was a chimpanzee, or one of those monkeys which one sees on the organ grinder's barrow.
§ Mr. Fletcher
If the hon. Member will look at the Schedule he will see that the first item is "anthrapoid ape". I have done a little research. I know that there is a Colobus monkey and a uakari monkey, apart from the marmoset and tamarin. But when the commissioners come to interpret the Schedule they will find that a certain number of monkeys 1458 that I associate particularly with organ grinders are caught by it.
§ Mr. Marsh
I apologise for interrupting my hon. Friend because this is a fascinating discourse. I cannot work out whether we are in the middle or at the end of it or approaching both ends. He is particularly worried about anthropoid apes and monkeys. He has spoken about orang utans. It would not be difficult to get rid of one of those if he had one. If he does have one, I could find a home fox it. However, the ordinary common monkey is not affected by the Bill.
§ Mr. Fletcher
Then let us return to the chimpanzee. A large number of chimpanzees come into this country. Suppose that a chimpanzee is imported without a licence. What is to happen to it?
§ Miss Harvie Anderson
I think that the hon. Member is making heavy weather of this. He has referred to the anthropoid ape. There are six anthrapoid apes which would justify the withholding of a licence. Those outwith the six varieties would get the licence. Any one of the six would be sufficiently rare to be, presumably, reasonably welcomed by a reputable zoo. Certainly it would be sufficiently rare for there to be room for it to be housed at the London Zoo. This would be the logical outcome of its being impounded.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I am grateful to the hon. Lady, because that has helped to clear up my doubts on this Clause. All that I would ask her to do is to examine in Committee whether the language of the Clause can be improved so that the intentions of the Bill are carried out and to ensure that we do not pass legislation by which ore of these unfortunate chimpanzees could be condemned through no fault of its own.
§ Mr. Marsh
We had an argument earlier about whether the Schedule may be too wide in some respects, but the intention of the sponsors of the Bill is that an animal covered by the Bill is covered only because the demand for it is so high that it is in danger of being rendered extinct. The anthropoid ape is a classic example. If anybody was foolish enough to try to import an anthropoid ape without a licence and thereby 1459 to lay himself open to the penalty of imprisonment or a fine—it would not be particularly difficult to dispose of a chimpanzee, gorilla or orang utan—there would be no problem in getting rid of it, and it is precisely because of that that there is a need to protect it.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I am obliged to my hon. Friend. Obviously he knows much more about this matter than I do, but I would point this out, which he apparently has overlooked. In addition to the animals specified in the Schedule, subsection (1) of Clause 3 gives the Minister for Science power by order to add any animal to the Schedule. It is not restricted to rare animals. It is not even restricted to wild animals. It could apply to tame animals. In fact, it is not even restricted to animals. It includes human beings. If the hon. Lady looks at the definition of animal in subsection (2) of Clause 6 she will see that she wants "animal to mean "any living vertebrate". Man is a living vertebrate.
I an not suggesting that even the present Home Secretary would be so ill-advised as to seek to make an order intended to deport anthrapoid apes. This is something for which the purpose of the Bill was never intended. If we are to legislate we must see what the words that we are putting in the Bill mean.
§ Mr. Marsh
My hon. Friend seems to see the Bill as a sinister plot to reintroduce slavery. There are about 750 vertebrates in the world and there is no particular reason why the Minister for Science, although I appreciate that he is capable of almost anything, should choose homo sapiens as the one he would include.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I am not suggesting that. I am asking that the language of the Bill should be clarified so that it accords more than it does with the promoter's intentions. There is no point in asking the House to pass a Bill couched in language which goes far beyond what it is intended to legislate about.
This is a serious objection and something which the hon. Lady should consider in Committee. She should not want to define "animal" as widely as this. We want to restrict it to wild animals or even rare wild animals, and not make it 1460 wide enough to cover tame pets. This argument reinforces, I think, what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) said, that we must be more careful of the contents of the Schedule. The hon. Lady has referred to a list of three foolscap pages in which the names of the animals intended to be covered with their respective genus and species.
§ Mr. Burden
The hon. Gentleman is making rather heavy weather of this. In general, the Bill has been received with what might almost appear to be acclamation. These are Committee points. No one is denying that the Bill might need some revision in Committee. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will at that time bring to bear the full knowledge of his legal understanding that he wishes to impose on us now.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I have said that I shall. I have already said that, because I am an ardent supporter of the Bill, which we all hope will receive a Second Reading today, and it is because we think that it does not go far enough, and that in some respects it goes too far, that I want to see its language improved. I do not think that I should have to wait until the Committee stage. I may not be a member of the Committee. I do not feel obliged to wait for the Committee stage to draw attention to what seems to me to be a defect in the Bill which should be be improved in Committee.
I shall not elaborate on what my hon. and learned Friend said. I was about to say that I support his view that it would be much better, however lengthy the Schedule, to set it all out in precise language. If one looks at the Customs legislation and the various Schedules to it, with which the Minister is so familiar, he will find tht every day in a whole variety of fields the commissioners have to interpret highly technical language and they are able to do so because they are supported by the import declarations that are made. Precisely the same principle should apply here. I would hope that we shall see on the Notice Paper before the Committee the alternative Schedule that the hon. Lady has mentioned, I apologise for speaking for so long, but I thought that those points ought to be made. I certainly support the Bill.
§ 2.8 p.m.
§ Dr. Alan Glyn (Clapham)
At this late stage I shall not detain the House long, but, as the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) referred to the Colobus monkey, I thought that he might like to have a description of it. It is handsome, shy and haughty, looks like a little wizened man in a white cloak, his face covered with shading.
This is one of the animals which we seek to protect. The hon. Gentleman did not seem to realise that what we are seeking to do in the Bill, which is a very simple Measure, is to try to play our part in the preservation of those animals which throughout the world we should like to see preserved. It does not apply, as I read the Bill, to the class of animals to which he referred. It does, in fact, restrict itself as is suggested in the Long Title to the importation of rare animals. As I see the Bill, it achieves that object.
I fully appreciate that we shall have to amend the Bill in certain small ways, but I hope that the principle which has been established today will be adhered to. I also hope that the scope of the Bill will be widened and that we as a country, following America, in principle, in attempting to preserve wild animals for posterity, will by our influence, be able to persuade some of the international organisations mentioned today to introduce such legislation.
There are, as my hon. Friend the Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) suggested, only two possible ways in which we can preserve these animals for posterity. One is by leaving them in their wild surroundings. In that respect we have very little jurisdiction, but we have jurisdiction in the Bill for controlling the import of some of these animals.
I should like to mention one specific point and I hope that my right hon. Friend, when he replies, will go into this. It is the question that was raised by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), whether or not we in this country have power to seize and to act concerning animals that are in transit. This matter was raised by a number of hon. Members. Although it has its attractions, I think that there are many disadvantages. As I see it, animals in transit are the same 1462 as goods in transit and we have only a cursory authority as they pass through the Customs.
If we were to widen the Bill to this extent we might well have to have an international agreement on this aspect. I know that in certain cases, in association with the international organisation whose purpose is to prevent crime, we are able to seize goods in transit. Desirable though it may be to control the passage of animals in transit, I am very much worried whether we should be able to enforce it.
As hon. Members have said, the most desirable way of achieving this is to get all other international countries to agree that they will adhere to similar provisions as ours. In that way we would not have to adopt this rather difficult and heavy procedure of controlling animals which are merely passing through the Customs.
Another important aspect arises on the Schedule. This is even a far more complicated matter than dealing with goods and jewellery. It is something which comes to the Customs which must be judged by an expert. I believe, however, that it is right and proper in this case that we should leave the Schedule as wide as possible for two reasons.
One is that it enables the Government to determine at any one time what animals should or should not come within the classification. At the same time, it gives a flexability to the Schedule so that the meaning can be interpreted by experts.
I hope that the House will give the Bill a Second Reading and that the country will appreciate the services that it renders. I also hope that it may lead eventually not only to agreement in Europe on points which we have discussed today, but make those countries which have these rare specimens still in existence conscious of the necessity for preserving for all time these animals so that they are, in fact, a heritage to the world.
§ 2.20 p.m.
§ Sir Ronald Russell (Wembley, South)
I also want to be brief. I have only two points to make. I welcome the Bill and wish it all success and I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for 1463 Renfrew, East (Miss Harvie Anderson) on introducing it.
Mention has been made of the need for other countries to take similar action, and my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham (Mr. Burden) was good enough to refer to the fact that I am a member of the British delegation to the Council of Europe. He suggested that I might be able to do something there. I will, of course, try, but I want to enlist the aid of my right hon. Friend the Minister, also.
The Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe may have a certain amount of persuasive power, but the governing body of the organisation is the Committee of Ministers. I wonder whether my right hon. Friend would consult his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and see whether he cannot be persuaded to play his part in that Committee by helping to persuade the other 16 member States of the Council of Europe to take action in this way. That would be a very great help.
Thirteen years ago, in the 1950–51 Session, I had the luck to draw exactly the same place in the Ballot as my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, East has done this Session. On almost the corresponding Friday of that year, with the very great help of the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood) and others, that Bill was passed. It took until about 22nd June to receive the Royal Assent. If, therefore, hon. Members opposite need any consolation for yesterday's announcement, they might like to know that it would have been difficult to get today's Bill through before a June election, but that with an election in October it can be done. I wish the Bill all success.
§ Mr. Fletcher
Does the hon. Member for Wembley, South (Sir R. Russell) suggest that the election was put off so that this Bill could be passed?
§ 2.22 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Education and Science (Sir Edward Boyle)
I 1464 should like, first, to join other hon. Members in congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, East (Miss Harvie Anderson) on the introduction of the Bill. The principle behind it and its objective have the support of the Government and, as I shall explain, I am keen to do all that I can to see that a suitable Measure is put on the Statute Book during what remains of this Session.
The hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale), who explained to me that he would not be able to be with us until the end of our proceedings, asked how the Bill came within my purview. The answer is that the Nature Conservancy now comes within the purview of the Department of Education and Science.
I hope that I will not be out of order in remarking that my own proper description is not the Minister of State for Education, as listed in the OFFICIAL REPORT yesterday, nor the Minister of State for Higher Education and Science, as reported in The Times this morning, but the Minister of State for Education and Science. As one who is jealous for the privileges of this House, I was a little sorry to see my noble colleague Lord Newton's title correctly described in another place yesterday and my own incorrectly described here.
The objective behind the Bill must have the support of everyone interested in the preservation of the world's fauna. I very much agree with what hon. Members have said. At a time when we are becoming wealthier as a nation, and when we are in a better position to exploit nature than ever before, it is surely a good thing that we should have a greater spirit of reverence for life. I was interested in the point made by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), in which there is substance, that, curiously enough, the part which the rather formalised killings of things for fun has played in our society, whatever may be one's moral feelings about this, may conceivably, in its effects, work out rather differently from what some of its opponents think.
I am fully aware of the justifiable concern of such organisations as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the Fauna Preservation Society about the extent and importance of the international trade in rare species 1465 of animals the survival of some of which is seriously threatened by this traffic. The United Kingdom is in close contact with the work of the I.U.C.N. through the membership of the Nature Conservancy. I know that it has devoted much time and thought to this problem and has set great store on proper regulatory action by importing countries as part of a concerted international effort to stop abuses in this trade. In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Wembley, South (Sir R. Russell), I will draw to the attention of my right hon. and hon. Friends at the Foreign Office what he has said.
As a general principle, it seems to me that the most effective means of controlling this traffic must be in the countries of origin of the various rare species. I am glad to learn that most of these countries are very much alive to the situation and that a number of them have enacted legislation precisely for this purpose. The difficulty, however, is that a considerable number of these animals are to be found in wild and thinly-populated countries where the administrative machinery may not be very strong and where frontiers are difficult to man and to control. Action to regulate the traffic in wild animals in receiving countries would limit the market and remove much of the incentive for illegal hunting.
Obviously, international action is required. I do not expect that any hon. Member would wish to overrate the part that a Bill on the lines of the one which we are discussing today could play on total world trade in rare animals. There is no reason to think that this country has a particularly large share of the trade. I have not seen much evidence of undesirable traffic as yet, but it is a trade which should be subject to some regulation whatever its present extent and probable future importance. For that reason, the Government entirely approve and welcome the idea of a Bill on the lines which my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, East has put forward.
Having said that, however, I must frankly say that I could not advise the House to give a Second Reading even to the Bill as we have it before us, and I will explain why. The hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Marsh), in his very able speech this morning, took the point which 1466 concerns me here. It is not simply the Schedule, but the Long Title in relation to the Schedule, which is wrong. Under the Long Title of the Bill, which cannot be amended during its passage through Parliament, only animals which are rare could be subjected to restriction, because the Long Title isA Bill to restrict the importation of rare animals.As the hon. Member for Greenwich rightly pointed out, the Schedule lists a number of families of animals like lemurs, some species of which are rare but some of which are relatively common. I should like, incidentally, to say how much I agreed with the hon. Member about the unsuitability as pets of certain of these relatively common species.
That defect in the Bill could not be put right simply by amending the Schedule and listing only the rare species, because certain species of lemur would then require an import licence while others would not. The Customs officers would, therefore, have to distinguish between the scheduled species which required a licence and other species which could be freely imported without a licence. This would be an unreasonable task to impose upon Customs officers.
A possible analogy occurs to me. In the course of time, we in this House sometimes debate whether it would be desirable to go back to building controls. Whatever the merits of that case, one point on which there would be common ground is that it could not be done by drafting a Bill to control inessential building, because that would be quite unworkable. The only way would be to control all building and to have a scheme of licences that could be worked out.
What we need in this instance is a Bill to restrict the importation of live animals of certain kinds, and the families of those live animals could then be listed in a Schedule. The Schedule should take a slightly different form to the existing Schedule to the Bill. I think that it would be quite possible then to make control workable—to take, for example, lemurs—by making the whole family of lemurs subject to regulation so that any lemur would require a licence; the importer would have to give details when applying for his licence, and would be given a licence in all cases for common lemurs, but only 1467 exceptionally for a rare lemur—when, for example, the lemur is for scientific purposes such as display in a zoological collection. Under that administrative arrangement and that legislation the Customs officer would only have to identify the animal as a lemur and to check that it is accompanied by the proper licence.
Therefore, what I am leading up to is that it is necessary to regulate the import not only of animals which are rare but also of similar animals of the same family which are not rare, and that this would mean a Bill with a Long Title of wider application.
§ Sir E. Boyle
I will certainly consider that. I think that that really goes rather too far, but I have taken note of the point made by the hon. and learned Gentleman.
I would just answer one objection which the House may feel in view of what I have said. It could be argued, of course, that the Customs officer would still have to distinguish between rare and common species in order to prevent the law from being evaded by the importing of animals which did not correspond with the description. That would simply mean that the importer would be making a false statement, which, in any circumstances, is a criminal offence, for the condition of the licence could surely oblige the importer to include a full description or photograph of the animal for which the licence was requested.
I emphasise this because I think that administratively only a Bill drafted on the lines I have mentioned would be perfectly workable, and what I would like to suggest to the House is this. I will promise my hon. Friend all the facilities of the Government towards drafting a Measure on the lines which I have said, which, I believe, would be perfectly workable. I would then propose, if the House agreed, that we should not give a Second Reading to the Bill today, but that a new Measure should be introduced as soon as possible, and it is even conceivable, with 1468 our having had this fairly full discussion this afternoon, that the House might feel, when the new Measure comes forward, that we could take the Second Reading without much debate, even without any debate, and then examine it fully in Committee.
That would be for the House to decide, but I would hope—
§ Sir E. Boyle
Quite honestly, I said this on purpose, because I am quite sure that, in practice, there are very many Measures which hon. Members would themselves like to bring forward if there were more private Members' time available. We are, after all, reaching the time when a number of Bills will come back from Standing Committee for Report and Third Reading. We are reaching the second half of private Members' time, and it just struck me that hon. Members might, therefore, be ready to have a Second Reading of the redrafted Bill more or less formally.
§ Miss Harvie Anderson
Would it be reasonable to conclude from what my right hon. Friend has said that any alternative Bill along the lines he suggested is well on the way to being a concrete proposition?
§ Sir E. Boyle
Frankly, it would be indiscreet of me to give too clear-cut an answer to this, but I can tell my hon. Friend that they are in fact pretty well on the way, and in fact I have consulted what I may describe as one or two first drafts before giving my answer today. I can assure my hon. Friend that I will keep in touch with her, and I see no reason why the revised Bill should be at all long delayed.
Finally, I should like to answer the question about animals in transit. Under the new Bill, the improved Bill, the regulation of import would have to apply to a schedule of animals which are imported regardless of whether they were in transit or to stay in this country. I think that, clearly, this would be so. I think that, in practice, animals offloaded in this country and immediately loaded again would, at any rate, nearly always, be allowed by the Customs to 1469 proceed. It is not so much a legal matter or one of international obligation as an administrative matter. A large pile-up of animals in transit would be a very difficult administrative matter indeed.
I think that effective control in transit could only be exercised by restriction of imports by the country of eventual destination. Such controls can be completely effective only if followed by other importing countries, also. I thought I ought to answer that point because I think it emphasises the essential difficulty of such measures as this unless there are similar measures in other countries as well.
I hope that as the Government have given a welcome to the principle of the Bill and as I have explained the difficulty of accepting this Bill as it stands the House will be ready to agree that the Motion for Second Reading should be negatived, since I have given an undertaking that a substitute Bill will be introduced as soon as possible.
§ 2.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood (Rossendale)
I should like to join the Minister in congratulating the hon. Lady the Member for Renfrew, East (Miss Harvie Anderson) not only on having introduced this Bill but also on the hard work she has put into its preparation and the very courteous and helpful and accommodating attitude she has taken to hon. Members who are interested in this problem. We are all of us politicians, and it must have been a great temptation to the hon. Lady to introduce a Measure with more votes in it at what seemed at that stage to be almost immediately before a General Election. We all of us congratulate her on having resisted the temptation and on having concentrated on a problem of great and growing importance.
Like the Government, we welcome the principle of the Bill, and I hope that we shall soon have on the Statute Book a Measure embodying the principles which it contains. I read frequently those two excellent magazines, the one called Animals and the other, Animal World. They are performing a useful function through stimulating an interest in animals, but by stimulating that interest in animals they may create dangers; there may be a 1470 danger that people will want to own rare animals without being fully equipped to do so, and there is the possibility of zoos competing with one another in order to get hold of them. Therefore, in my belief, legislation is necessary, and I am glad that the hon. Lady has taken the initiative.
I like the broad approach she has taken to this problem. As I see it, she has set out to preserve wild life in three ways; first of all, by controlling traffic in wild animals to this country; secondly, by supporting legislation in other countries; and thirdly, by setting an example—and I am glad that almost every hon. Member who has spoken in this debate has stressed the importance of complementary legislation in other countries. We are all of us particularly grateful to the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of State for Education and Science for having undertaken to discuss this matter with his colleague the Secretary of state for Foreign Affairs.
I must confess, however, that like other hon. Members who have spoken, I have not been altogether happy about the drafting of the Bill as it is, and I appreciate the criticisms which have been made, but nevertheless, I am sure that the principles which the hon. Lady has applied in seeking to deal with the problem are the right ones. First of all, she has proposed that the Government should rely on specialist advice by having an advisory committee on the importation of rare animals. She has suggested that the procedure should be flexible by providing that the Minister for Science may add or remove animals at any time. Thirdly, she has incorporated in the Bill the provision that the Secretary of State for Education and Science must consult the advisory committee.
When we do get legislation on these lines it will be very important for the Secretary of State and the President of the Board of Trade to be flexible in their application of its provisions.
I was very interested in what the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) said about the principles which ought to determine the importation of rare animals, and I was glad that the hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. David James) made reference to Pere David's deer. He told 1471 the House the history of the species, but he did not tell us that when it had become extinct in China, it was possible in 1956 because it had been preserved in this country by the Duke of Bedford, for Pere David's deer to be sent to Peking for breeding purposes.
I hope, too, with the Minister that when this or a similar Measure reaches the Statute Book we shall be a little careful about regulating the importation of wild animals for experimental purposes. I have never felt able to commit myself to opposing vivisection in toto, but I saw a picture which horrified me the other day. It was a picture of a gorilla infected with syphilis for the purpose of scientific research. When one thinks of the 600 baboons and monkeys which came through London Airport last year, as referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher), and puts against that the fact that the Home Office has only eight inspectors to look after the vastly increased numbers of experiments on animals, one appreciates the importance of having further control put on a traffic which may be necessary but which most of us find a little distasteful.
I also share the misgivings about the Schedule. I understand the difficulties which all hon. Members have felt about this. It is clearly expecting a lot of Customs officers to be able to distinguish between various kinds of animals that are to pass tinder their eyes, and it would be a great mistake to have too many animals listed in the Schedule. It may be that the proposal which the Minister made is the right one, or the alternative proposal of my hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Marsh), that all wild animals should need a licence before importation to this country. It is a pity that we should have this very restricted Schedule. I would much sooner have had no Schedule at all or have had the Minister's proposals.
Peter Scott has listed over 1,000 vertebrates which he said are in danger of extermination. We have discussed some of them today. There are also the pigmy hippopotamus, the Cape Mountain zebra, the giant panda, which the Chinese are now making tremendous efforts to preserve, the Spanish lynx and the European bison. I was interested to hear the tribute paid by the hon. Member for Kemptown 1472 to the efforts of the Russian and Polish Governments to preserve that species. There is also the Cretan wild goat. I gather that the Greek Government are perhaps less enlightened in these matters than one would want them to be.
Another criticism I have of the Bill before us is that it is related only to living animals. I share the wish which a number of hon. Members have expressed that it will be possible to include such things as leopard skins and turtles for soup and other commodities of that kind. I shall not follow hon. Members in what they have said on these subjects. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) threw out some interesting baits on the question of the preservation of deer and foxes. I hope I shall not disappoint him by saying that I do not propose to rise to that bait this afternoon.
It is important that when we return to this subject again, as the Minister has promised we shall, we should have in mind the question of the traffic which goes on in skins, horns and other animal products. I was shocked to read in Oryx a reference to the Colobus monkey—which is contained in the Schedule to this Bill—which said:for the past year or more the Kenya Government have been concerned by the large number of skins of the rare Colobus Monkey entering Kenya from Ethiopia—over 26.000 skins in 1960. Inquiries were made and the Ethiopian Minister of Agriculture has informed the Chief Game Warden of Kenya that his Government are appalled by the numbers which have been disclosed to him, especially because the skins of legally killed monkeys would have been accompanied by an official certificate of lawful possession and, therefore, these monkeys must have been killed illegally.It will be reducing the effectiveness of the steps we are taking if we control only the importation of live Colobus monkeys and take no steps to control the importation of skins of any such monkeys which have been killed in Ethiopia.
A further doubt I have about the Bill has now been cleared up by the Minister. That was on the question of animals in transit. I shall not expand on that; instead, I shall conclude by saying once again that we welcome the intention of the Bill. I am certain that the debate has served a useful purpose and that we are all under a great obligation to the hon. Member. I am not 1473 altogether happy, however, about the proposal the Minister made in his concluding remarks. It may be that we have no alternative, but it savours a little of over-confidence if one assumes that a Private Member's Bill is likely to go through on the nod when one realises how some hon. Members opposite seem to take a peculiar and perverted pleasure in blocking private Members' legislation.
§ Sir E. Boyle
I may be able to square that with my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Dudley Williams), whom I think the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood) has in mind.
§ Mr. Greenwood
It was not particularly the hon. Member for Exeter whom I had in mind, but if I could have a private word with the Minister I will suggest one or two other hon. Members he might square at the same time. That might serve a useful purpose, although generally speaking Governments are a little wary about interfering with the rights of private Members in matters of this kind. I was wondering whether the Government themselves could introduce a Measure on these lines. I noticed the avidity with which the Minister clutched at the proposal for further legislation which might make a welcome change from r.p.m. or the Finance Bill when it comes before us. If he were able to seize the possibility of a Government Bill being introduced that would lift a great burden from the shoulders of the hon. Lady the Member for Renfrew, East and it would not be so subject to obstruction by less well-inclined hon. Members.
§ Miss Harvie Anderson
In view of the assurance given by my right hon. Friend the Minister, and by leave of the House, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion and also the Bill.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Bill withdrawn.