HC Deb 21 November 1972 vol 846 cc1076-8
9. Mr. Hardy

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many letters he has received which criticise the importation of whale products or which request him to encourage the use of other substances to replace derivatives of the whale such as sperm oil.

34. Mr. David James

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress he has made in finding substitutes for sperm-oil to enable Her Majesty's Government to ban the importation of all oil products.

Mr. Anthony Stodart

103 letters on this subject have been received. There have also been several hundred pre-printed postcards and stereotyped communications stemming from a single source.

The investigations initiated by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry are not yet complete, but, as I promised the hon. Members when I met them last week, I have discussed the matter with my right hon. Friend and we hope to have a report soon.

Mr. Hardy

I thank the Minister of State for that information. Will he at least ensure that the Government discourage the use of whale products as soon as possible before the source of those products is further endangered?

Mr. Stodart

As I told the hon. Gentleman last week, there is one problem which is still outstanding, and it is one upon which I am awaiting a report.

Mr. James

In view of the fact that it is common ground to us all that the only difficulty in banning the importation of all whale products—a difficulty, incidentally, not encountered by the Americans—is the availability of sperm oil, will my hon. Friend consider as an interim measure banning imports of all other whales which do not produce sperm oil?

Mr. Stodart

I will consider that. But I should like to see the final report, which I expect to have in a matter of weeks.

Mr. Deakins

Does the hon. Gentleman regard communications emanating from one single source, albeit signed by individual electors, as being in any way less worthy of consideration than original letters signed by electors?

Mr. Stodart

I did not mean to imply that they were any less significant than letters that I have received from individual hon. Members. Undoubtedly they are an indication of very great public concern about this matter.