HC Deb 21 February 1972 vol 831 cc896-8
41. Mr. Pardoe

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will now seek to introduce legislation to ban the import into Great Britain of the skins of the snow leopard, clouded leopard, tiger, La Plata otter, giant otter, leopard, and cheetah.

The Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Anthony Grant)

I am unable as yet to add anything to my reply on 25th January to the Question by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. James Johnson).—[Vol. 829, c. 396.]

Mr. Pardoe

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the International Fur Trade Federation last year urged a voluntary ban on trading in the skins of all these animals and that, because London is the centre of the world's fur trade, legislation by this Government supporting this voluntary ban would be of enormous importance? If the hon. Gentleman cannot legislate, will he agree to inform those women who walk round with furs draped over them that many of the animals have had to be killed by thrusting red hot irons up their anuses?

Mr. Grant

It is not for me to advise people in that respect. I am entirely in sympathy, in principle, with the need for conservation, as the action which I took to preserve the vicuna indicates. The problem here is not one of legislation. It is one of making an order under the existing legislation, and the Customs have to be certain that they can enforce it. We have had evidence from the fur trade which has been very satisfactory, and we are taking it into consideration.

Sir Bernard Braine

Is not my hon. Friend aware of the widespread feeling in the country that trade in the skins of endangered species must be stopped by all Governments before the species disappear altogether, and that many of us feel that our Government should set an example?

Mr. Grant

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend's observation. I want only to emphasise the need to ensure that the powers we take will be effective. This is what we are engaged in at the moment.

Mr. Lipton

Will it be possible to ban these imports if and when we join the Common Market?

Mr. Grant

This issue is not affected by entry into the Common Market. We can take the powers as soon as we are satisfied that Customs are able to enforce them.

Mr. Harold Lever

While the Minister is reflecting on this general question, will he at any rate take steps to remove such of these animals who found their way recently into the Department of Employment?