HL Deb 21 January 1974 vol 348 cc1242-74

5.23 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. If I had been asked a few years ago whether I would be following the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, in moving a Bill of this kind, I imagine I should have said, "I think you have chosen the wrong person." I must admit that I am one of those who have, alas! been brought up with no adequate biological background and training. I have to admit that I was brought up educationally as a physical scientist, and it seems a little odd that a person brought up with that training should now come before your Lordships and ask you to consider this Bill, which is a conservationists' Bill and concerned with living things. But even a physical scientist may, as life goes on, begin to find that there is a great deal to learn beyond the limited scope of his own subject. I gladly admit that I have been learning much over the last few years.

The first time I began to learn anything at all in this direction was when, as your Lordships may recollect, a few years ago a Private Bill was promoted for setting up a dam in the Northern parts of this country in order to facilitate a reservoir. It was the Cow Green scheme. This involved flooding a vast area and the likely destruction of plants which had existed there from a time before the last Ice Age. I began to realise that there were problems here to which I had never given any attention, and perhaps it was time that I should begin to give them attention. So I appear before your Lordships to-night and ask you to give consideration to this Bill, which is a measure to preserve endangered species. What are these endangered species? I was asked by one noble Lord whether he was included. I assured him that I would certainly not wish his extermination but he could scarcely be called "a species", although he might be regarded as a very interesting specimen.

My Lords, when we speak about endangered species we speak of species of living creatures, of animals, birds (since they are often separated from animals), fish, and indeed plants. These form the living environment in which we grow up and develop. Our whole life and development is affected by this environment. If we destroy this environment, we imperil the very conditions in which we live. It is a sad fact that the growth of our industrial society has almost inevitably, almost necessarily, brought with it conditions which lead to the destruction of species all round the world. I believe that over the last hundred years mankind has succeeded in destroying one animal species every year, and that this is a far more rapid rate of destruction of species than ever occurred before. It has been taking place as a result of our industrial civilisation and the means put at our disposal, to which we have ready access, to destroy whenever we wish. Some of this destruction may be inevitable. It is impossible to say that species can necessarily persist. We know perfectly well that species may disappear despite attempts to keep them alive, but we now realise that a great deal of this process is due to human activities.

Your Lordships are as well aware as I am of that very interesting herd in Northumberland called the Chillingham herd. These are cattle which go back to the beginning of our era. This herd was nearly wiped out. In the year when I went to Newcastle, 1947, the herd was nearly wiped out because of a very severe winter. I believe I am right in saying that two young bulls died that winter and only an old bull was left, and it was doubtful whether he, though active enough to deal with other bulls, was still sufficiently either keen or active to deal with the cows. Consequently, there was considerable risk that the herd would die out. It did not. But I believe that it was threatened again at the time of the foot-and-mouth disease epidemic a few years ago when there was a grave risk that the whole herd might be condemned. This is the kind of accident that can take place without a deliberate attempt by human beings.

However, in this Bill we are dealing with something different. We are speaking not of the accidents that occur—although we should do everything to stop them if possible—but about deliberate attempts by human beings to make profits out of trading in the skins and other parts of rare animals. The importance of doing this has been so much realised in recent years that there was held in Washington in March of last year a meeting of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, as a result of which there was drawn up this convention which was presented to Parliament in November last by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. The convention was signed, I think, by 39 different countries, including this country. But so far it has not been ratified by any single one of them, and those of us who are interested in this problem of conservation—and that really means all of us—are hoping that we can now move on to the point of ratification.

We may be asked: Is there any urgency about it? Can we do it to-day? Might we not put it off? Is it not sensible to take our time? Unfortunately, my Lords, one has to bear in mind that a convention that was signed nearly a year ago is a warning signal to all those who want to make a profit out of the trade in these animals. The profit is enormous, and they know perfectly well that if they delay until the convention is ratified by ten countries, which will make it operative, a lot of their trade will have disappeared and it will become an increasingly precarious business for them. Therefore, in order to make it difficult or Impossible for them to continue in this trade, we should ratify as quickly as possible. That, my Lords, indicates the urgency of these matters.

When one looks at the various aspects of this trade one finds that it covers everything from the large mammals—from the elephant, the carnivores, right down through the smaller animals, fishes, birds, even including such things as butterflies. I was surprised to learn that the price of a rare butterfly is very considerable. One can easily see the advantage to an unscrupulous person of trading in this illegal way, because a single pair of butterflies of the rarest type of species is listed at £135. So it is clear that it is not small money that people can make out of this sort of trade. Some of your Lordships may have noticed on the television last night a short film about elephants in Kenya. One large elephant there, because of its great value, was apparently being specially safeguarded, by four wardens, in case it should be shot. It actually died as the result of an ulcer, but the value of its tusks was said to be £7,000. One can see that the unscrupulous can make a lot of money, and we should take action to prevent it.

This Bill is concerned with the implementation of the various points raised in the convention. I do not wish to weary your Lordships with all the details, but if one looks at the Bill one sees that Clause 1 extends the existing conservation legislation to plants. In other words, the Bill covers plants as well as animals in their widest sense. Clause 2 extends the legislation to cover export as well as import. Clauses 3 and 4 are important because of their novelty; that is, they provide for controlling trade in the parts and manufacture of products of animals which are in need of conservation. When legislation was introduced earlier the question of parts of animals raised a difficulty because it was not at all clear that scientific methods were adequate for identifying parts. It is now fairly certain that the scientific methods are quite adequate and that the parts can be readily identified; therefore the clause refers to recognisable parts.

Clause 5 refers to the drawing up of a list. This is primarily an educational venture in that there will be an endangered species list showing in plain terms, with suitable illustrations, the species concerned. I was asked by one noble Lord in the early part of the afternoon why no list was included in this Bill. The answer is very simple. The convention covers something like 600 different species and it would have taken up too much space to list them all here. The list is available, however, in the printed convention agenda which can be obtained from the Printed Paper Office.

Clause 6 provides for certain specified ports of entry, so that if the Customs and Excise authorities felt that it was desirable to have the importation entirely through certain ports, those specified ports would be the only ones available. Clause 7 extends the existing customs powers of investigation of offences relating to controlled animals to all controlled species and products. Products, an important point in the Bill, will be included. Clause 8 deals with offences and up-dates some of the excepting passages as well as providing machinery for the various advisory committees to influence the disposal of live species seized by customs as illegal imports. An important point of the Bill is that there should be a set of expert advisory committees, some of which may be already in existence, which would continuously advise Governments as to what animals or species should be added to the list, or if necessary removed from the list if it is no longer necessary to include them. These, my Lords, are the essential points of this Bill.

I have received a good deal of correspondence from various societies, and if I may I will mention them to your Lordships. I have received supporting letters from the British Veterinary Association, from the Society for the Promotion of Nature Resources, the International Society for the Protection of Animals and from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. I should say that the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of course realise that the Bill is not specifically concerned with stopping cruelty but that it is concerned with the conservation of species.

I also received a very valuable letter from Sir Peter Scott, which, if your Lordships will permit me, I will read. He said: I am writing in support of the Endangered Species Bill introduced by you just before Christmas. The International Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora is the result of many years' work by the Survival Service Commission of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources but the Convention can only be implemented with the support of strong legislation by the signing Governments. As Chairman of the Survival Service Commission I therefore welcome the introduction of your Bill and very much hope that it will be given a speedy passage through Parliament. This is a clear indication that the Bill is one which has widespread support, and I am very proud to be permitted to introduce it to your Lordships' House. I hope that it will get the same swift passage as the excellent Bill that the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, has just introduced. I beg to move that this Bill be read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Wynne-Jones.)

5.42 p.m.


My Lords, once again I think it may be for the convenience of the House if I intervene at this point to give the Government's view on this Bill. Perhaps I may begin by saying that the Government fully support the admirable intentions behind this Bill. Indeed, I feel sure that your Lordships will entirely share with me the sentiments expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones. We certainly believe that all practicable steps must be taken to conserve as many species as possible of the world's heritage of wild flora and fauna. Action is especially needed, on an international scale, to protect those rarer species that are threatened with extinction by indiscriminate trading.

In the past twenty-five years there have been greatly increased pressures on some animals and plants from human activities. There has been widespread destruction of their habitats, and with the resultant diminution in numbers the commercial value of some fauna and flora has accordingly risen. In addition to the inroads made on populations through an increasing trade in live creatures, excessively large numbers of animals and plants have been taken for food or for leather or furs, for decoration and a wide variety of other purposes. The technological age has made it only too easy to destroy huge numbers of formerly common species. As early as 1961 the Survival Service Commission of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources had drawn up a list of endangered species of animals.

As the noble Lord has made clear, the main objective of the Bill is to enable us to implement the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. This Convention is the outcome of several years of effort, in which the United Kingdom played a leading part, at meetings of the I.U.C.N. and at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in June 1972. The Convention provides for the control of both exports and imports of whole specimens of certain animals and plants and of many of their parts and derivatives. The species to be most strictly controlled, which are those already considered to be threatened with extinction, are listed in Appendix 1 to the Convention. Other species which, though not in immediate danger, are considered likely to become endangered if trade were not regulated, are listed in the second Appendix. For the second group trade will be controlled and monitored so that action can be taken if a threat to survival develops. A third Appendix lists species which a contracting State may consider threatened within its own borders, and in respect of which it operates export control. Other contracting States are invited, but not required, to operate import controls in these cases. The Convention necessarily, however, allows contracting States to reserve their position in respect of specific items in any of the Appendices.

The Convention was signed in Washington in March of last year on behalf of the United Kingdom and 23 other countries. Others have since joined in and, to date, 37 nations have signed the Convention. I must emphasise here that it is not the practice of the United Kingdom Government to sign international Conventions unless they are in earnest. We fully intend to ratify the Convention unless there emerge overriding practical difficulties in the way of our doing so. I can assure your Lordships that no such difficulty has yet appeared. So I can support the noble Lord in saying that it is our intention to ratify as soon as the practical problems have been overcome.

It should also be said—and I think we can say it with some pride—that we are one of the leading nations of the world in already operating trade controls of the kind envisaged by the Convention. The Animals (Restriction of Importation) Act 1964 was our response to earlier efforts by the I.U.C.N. in this direction. Under it we already restrict severely imports of live specimens of nearly all the rare animals covered by the Convention. Indeed, in one or two cases, such as that of the pongidae family (great apes) our controls are more severe than the Convention requires. On the advice of a committee of independent experts we admit imports of these rare species mainly for special purposes, such as breeding or scientific research. The list of controlled species is kept under continuous review by the Advisory Committee and is varied as necessary from time to time. This list is extended as necessary under the 1964 Act by Order. Also, in the interests of international conservation, we have controls on the import of certain birds, under the Protection of Birds Acts. These controls differ somewhat in form from those applied to animals, but they can be varied and were extended a few years ago to apply to birds of prey and owls.

A major gap in our controls, though not in our powers, which has to be filled in order to implement the Convention, relates to wild plants. At present we exercise no control over endangered species of plants, and there is certainly a need for action. We shall also need to extend controls over the parts and derivatives of wild fauna and flora. Some parts of animals and birds are, however, already controlled under the Import, Export and Customs Powers (Defence) Act 1939, and these powers could be used to fill such gaps as those which I have mentioned. There is, for example, a total ban on imports of vicuna hair and of tiger and certain leopard fur skins. There is also a ban on all whale products other than sperm oil, and strict control on the plumage of jungle fowl and the fur skins of certain other leopards and cheetahs. Thus we are already acting in the field of parts and derivatives, although the Convention will require us to control many more of them.

The noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, mentioned the point about the export of—


My Lords, before the noble Baroness leaves that point, if she is relying on the open general import licence powers, who is the Minister responsible? There is no Nature Conservancy Council control over the powers. I know that the Customs have to direct imports, but it is really most unsatisfactory to try to convince anyone of that.


My Lords, my understanding of this Act is that of course it would operate under the Advisory Committee on animals that has been set up and which could of course be extended by other appointments to meet the kind of cases that I have quoted. The noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, made a point about the export of animals or derivatives. I should like to assure him that this point is met by the Import, Export and Customs Powers (Defence) Act, 1939.

Against this background, which I have tried to explain as fully as I can, it is with considerable regret that I have to ask the House not to support this particular Bill. I do so on three counts. Firstly, it is not necessary in order to enable us to ratify the Convention; the existing legislation is adequate for that purpose. Secondly, although fresh comprehensive legislation would be administratively desirable, it is important to get it right and further work still needs to be done on the implications of the Convention. Thirdly and finally, and with the greatest respect for the very thorough work done by the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, his Bill is, we think, fundamentally wrong in the way it seeks to tackle the problem. Perhaps I may elaborate these three lines of thought.

My Lords, we are fully satisfied, and we have gone into this carefully, that the Acts to which I have referred earlier, and under which we already exercise a considerable degree of control, do provide all the powers that are needed to implement the Convention. We recognise that the Protection of Birds Acts were designed for rather different purposes and are not entirely sufficient to deal with even live birds in the ways required by the Convention. The Animals Act is also limited to live specimens and does not cover exports and re-exports. But the Import, Export and Customs Powers (Defence) Act, 1939, which contains very wide-ranging powers indeed, can be used to supplement these other provisions. As I have already indicated, this Act has been used for many years to control bird plumage and, more recently, certain furskins. We are advised that, to the extent that any of the present Acts which deal specifically with these issues fall short of what is required, there is no legal objection to the use of the 1939 Act.

I do not pretend that the position will be entirely satisfactory. There could be administrative problems. As a consequence, I am sure that fresh, comprehensive legislation would be desirable when proper time can be found for it. But we are certain that there is no statutory obstacle to our ratifying the Convention. Moreover, the administrative problems of operating with the existing powers should not, in our view, affect the enforcement of the controls. Having established that we already possess all the powers that are strictly necessary, it would be inadvisable to rush into fresh legislation before all the practical implications of the Convention have been thoroughly examined.

My Lords, an inter-Departmental committee of officials is examining the prac- tical problems. This is by no means a simple task. One of the main difficulties is that of identification of species, their parts and derivatives at the ports of entry into the United Kingdom. It would not always be possible, for example, to distinguish the parts and derivatives of one family from those of another. Ivory includes not only elephant tusks, but also the tusks of the walrus and the teeth of any animal. Taking elephant ivory alone, it would be almost impossible to distinguish between African and Indian elephant ivory. The Indian elephant is protected under Convention, but the African elephant is not. These are merely examples and I am sure that your Lordships will appreciate that, with the many species listed in the Convention, the task of producing a comprehensive list of identifiable species, parts and derivatives is not one to be completed in haste. We must ensure that rare species will not suffer from exploitation simply because they cannot be distinguished from their mare common relatives within the same family. One of the solutions to this problem may be found in applying the controls to a much wider range of animals than those which the Convention is designed to protect, but this too may have its problems where common members of the family are the subject of acceptable trade. To give an example, American beaver skins are traded in widely, whereas the Convention protects the European beaver, but the skins in each case are indistinguishable one from the other. The impact of this solution on trade must be taken into account and consideration given to whether it will be necessary to enter reservations. It is also clear that, because trade is involved, consultation with our E.E.C. partners is necessary. But I will return to that question in a moment.

My Lords, these points might not be conclusive if the Bill succeeded in pulling together the existing powers into a single code, tailored to the objectives of the Convention. But this is precisely what the Bill does not do. It seeks to build on some of the existing Acts by referring back to them and by adding new provisions. It even seeks to amend the Short Title of the 1964 Act. This cannot be accepted. The essential point is that the whole approach of the Bill is wrong. What would be needed, if we were to have legislation, would be a new, consolidating Bill which repealed the existing legislation, re-enacted those parts that were still relevant and extended the provisions to meet the requirements of the Convention. By treating the matter in this comprehensive and integrated way, we would have a single and easily comprehensible code. I am bound, therefore, to advise the House that, rather than improve the position, the approach adopted in this Bill would make matters even more confused and ambiguous.

My Lords, I referred earlier to the fact that we shall have to consult our partners in the E.E.C. about the Convention, and I should like now to expand a little on that. As the Convention is concerned with international trade there are obvious implications for the Community. The Convention recognises the special position of organisations such as the E.E.C. Article XIV provides that the Convention shall in no way affect the provisions or obligations of any treaty establishing a customs union in relation to trade between its members. This means that the Member States of the E.E.C. would not be in breach of the Convention if they exercised the controls on endangered species only at the point of entry to any Member State and not as between themselves. If this approach were adopted it would imply, of course, virtually simultaneous ratification of the Convention by all E.E.C. members. Seven of the nine members have already signed and it is expected that the other two (the Irish Republic and the Netherlands) will be able to do so in due course. It is not in fact wholly clear whether, under the Treaty of Rome, individual E.E.C. members could proceed separately. Article 36 of the Treaty appears to provide for this possibility but, if we felt it necessary to proceed on our own or in concert with only some of the other members, this is something we should be obliged to discuss with the Commission.

My Lords, this question of unilateral action by any country misses the essential issue. The Convention is an international one and we can only achieve its objectives by international co-operation. Ratification by the United Kingdom alone would achieve little. Until ten nations have ratified it, the Convention does not even come into operation. According to the latest information we have, only the U.S.A. has so far ratified and they did so as recently as January 14. It is certainly most desirable that countries such as ours who are strong advocates of the aims of the Convention should give a lead to others; and this we are well placed to do. As one of the world's leaders on conservation matters we have an important role to play here in encouraging others, especially within the E.E.C., to adopt these important safeguards to endangered species. Indeed, if the E.E.C. members, together with the U.S.A., ratify the Convention, this alone will be sufficient to bring it into effect and give a most valuable boost to the conservation cause everywhere. Although, therefore, we must consult our E.E.C. partners before we can ratify the Convention, this is not to be seen as a cause of delay in giving effect to it. On the contrary, our latest information is that a good deal of progress is being made in Europe. We see the consultation as a necessary step towards the international co-operation that is so essential. Without that co-operation, the Convention will be little more than a piece of paper.

The noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, raised the question of setting up a scientific authority. The Convention requires one or more such authorities to be set up in the acceding States, to advise on the export and import of endangered species of flora and fauna. The Animals Advisory Committee, which is in effect already a scientific authority for live animals, is a statutory body set up under the 1964 Animals Act. It may well be asked, therefore, whether we need legislation to set up an authority with the wider range of functions required by the Convention. I should like to make it clear that we do not. I can assure your Lordships that the Secretary of State can appoint one or more scientific authorities as soon as we are ready to do so. But this is not, I suggest, one of the most urgent matters. We already have a wide range of scientific advice upon which we are drawing.

The noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, raised the point that there would be some possibly unscrupulous people who could be trying, as it were, to beat the ban of the Convention and take what animals they could. I would point out that, so far as live animals are concerned, they are nearly all protected by the Animals (Restriction of Importation) Act 1964. The difficulty is with parts and derivatives, because there are still many problems to be solved before a comprehensive list can be drawn up of recognisable parts and derivatives. But I can assure the House that steps are being taken to speed up this work.


My Lords, could the noble Baroness enlighten us about fur coats? As I understand it, the unmade-up skins are covered but there seems to be a gap in the legislation, so I am advised, where made-up garments, coats and stoles and the like, are concerned. Could the noble Baroness tell us about that?


My Lords, this is one of the matters which will, of course, be looked at. I understand that this all-embracing Act, the Import, Export and Customs Powers (Defence) Act, could be used to cover these matters. This is a matter on which I shall be very happy to write to the noble Baroness, or possibly to answer her later on in the debate.

I should like to conclude by saying to the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, that I hope I have said enough to assure him that it is the Government's intention to ratify this Convention, and we are actively concerned in looking now at all the practical steps we must take to do so. He has my assurance that the Government support his objective, but I would ask him whether he feels able to withdraw his Bill. There are the objections to it that I have indicated, and it is not necessary at this stage. I can assure him that it would do nothing to accelerate ratification of the Convention. Indeed, it might have the reverse effect. Nor would it serve to clarify the statutory position and help to simplify the administrative arrangements. It could indeed make matters worse. If the noble Lord is not prepared to withdraw, I very much regret that I must ask the House to oppose the Bill. I hope that the House will recognise that the intentions of the Government are, I believe, those of the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones.


My Lords, I am sorry to ask the noble Baroness another question. Have the Government the intention or the power to carry out Clause 6, which is to limit the import or export to certain ports such as what are known as the rabies ports?


My Lords, I understand that it would be perfectly possible to limit import or export of animals or their derivatives to certain ports. I think this is very much a matter for professional advice and opinion, as to whether in fact it helps the situation to have imports and exports through certain main ports or all of them. But it is possible.

6.5 p.m.


My Lords, as one who, like the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, has often benefitted from the education received by people listening in your Lordships' House, I must say that I appreciated his own introduction to his Bill, which gave me a very clear idea of his aims and how he was hoping they would be carried into effect. I was looking forward to acting as a godparent to this legislative baby, but the noble Baroness, Lady Young, so far as I could gather, has already administered the Departmental poison dagger to the infant before it has emerged partway through its second stage in your Lordships' House. This means that I find myself beginning a slightly different speech from the one I expected to make. When a Government claim to be in favour of taking measures to preserve endangered species, one expects them to take action, particularly when their own Departmental staffs and Customs and Excise people have been working on this problem for some years. But they come along to your Lordships and say, "This Bill is no good, but we do not intend to do anything. We have the powers, but we do not intend to use them. We have no plans for to-morrow or the day after to-morrow". The noble Baroness did not give a date when the Government will be taking action to do the things which the noble Lord wants done.


My Lords, perhaps I may answer that, because I think it is an important matter of principle to get right in the discussion of this Bill. I have indicated very clearly that it is the Government's intention to ratify the Convention. We have signed it, and we do not sign a Convention without intending to ratify it. We are actively pursuing these really quite complicated matters, drawing up, for example, lists of derivatives of animals. I have not given a date because I cannot promise that it will be done within a short period of time, but it is our intention to ratify as soon as we possibly can, and this does not mean in twenty years' time.


My Lords, the noble Baroness said that the Departments had been working on this matter for several years, that Customs and Excise and other people had played a leading part in drafting a Convention that was signed ten months ago, and that now they are setting up a Departmental committee. I should have thought that that was a little tardy in view of the urgency of the situation. I do not want to get on to a controversial note at the beginning of what I want to say, but I was rather struck by the contrast between what the noble Baroness said were the admirable intentions of the noble Lord's Bill and her own expression of what she was going to do about those admirable intentions, when she was asking your Lordships not to give the Bill a Second Reading.

I am not a scientist, let alone a biologist. I cannot really say that I have first-hand knowledge of the problems to which the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, is drawing attention, but I did make a list this morning from an encyclopaedia dealing with the matter of some of the species that have become extinct since the turn of the century. I found 38 such species, after a brief look, including Steller's seacow, the giant aye aye, apart from the indefatigable rice rat, which I am sure that we are all worse off without. Those of your Lordships who may think that this Bill is not particularly relevant should be reminded of something that the noble Baroness herself quoted, the vicuña. The prohibition against importing this animal, which is in great danger, in fur or parts, has made a significant contribution towards its continued existence. Those who poach it in its natural habitat cannot be controlled, but when importing countries make restrictions then, of course, those who poach find there is less outlet for that particular endangered species.

The noble Baroness made an attack on the noble Lord's Bill under three separate headings. The first was that it was not really necessary. This was where she went rather fast. Maybe there was something significant in that or maybe not. I think she was quoting a 1939 Act that was rushed through as a war measure to stop profiteering activities such as happen in time of war. Is this not the origin of the Act that she says should now be used to deal with endangered species? Perhaps she could give us some more detail about the real intention behind the original Act before saying that she has all the powers necessary to do what the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, intends to do.

The noble Baroness said that this would take time. I would reiterate that this is a surprising point to make after what she said about the length of time that had been spent on this matter, especially when our delegation played an important point in drafting the actual I.U.C.N. Convention. When she went on to say that certain parts of certain species might be difficult to identify she was, by implication, criticising a list which forms part of a Convention that Her Majesty's Government's officials played a large part in drafting. This is really a circular process and hardly satisfactory. Perhaps we could have a little more information about the actual difficulties here, because they must have been envisaged at the time when the original I.U.C.N. Convention was drawn up.

The noble Baroness mentioned the Commission of the E.E.C. I would ask your Lordships to accept that that Commission supports the principle of this Convention as a whole, and is currently examining the possibility of the E.E.C. acceding to this Convention. So whether or not the noble Lord's Bill is needed, the Inter-Departmental Committee may find itself having to work quite fast if the Commission comes up with the conclusion that the Community as a whole should sign and ratify this Convention and put it into practice.

I am sorry if I have made a slightly negative contribution to what I hope will be a very positive debate launching this Bill to a further stage. It is a sad occasion to find a Government saying that they approve the principles of a Bill trying to deal with a serious situation, while at the same time not saying that they intend to do anything about it soon. They say that the noble Lord's Bill is bad for various reasons, without saying what they are going to do instead. Because that is the situation, I would ask your Lordships not to accept the invitation of the noble Baroness to send this Bill away. Let us proceed further, if only to see in greater detail the force behind some of the arguments that the noble Baroness was using to-day. It is an important matter, and the reasons that we have been given to-day for not giving this Bill a Second Reading are not adequate. My Lords, I support this Bill.

6.13 p.m.


My Lords, we have heard a great deal about the Convention during the past hour or so. For my part I welcome this Bill as being very imporant for conservation in general, without having any regard to the Convention to which, for reasons I can perhaps make it clear a little later, I do not attach quite such importance as do one or two other speakers this afternoon. I was Chairman of the Advisory Committee set up under the Animals (Restriction of Importation) Act 1964—the Committee referred to in Clause 1 of the Bill. According to the Bill, this Committee would continue to advise the Government, as it has in the past, on the importation of the animals for which it it already responsible, and would have plants and, I think, invertebrates thrown upon it as well. On that Committee we found that although we could do useful work within the power that we had—which was to control the importation of live animals—there were a great many animals which were already rare (some on the verge of extinction), and which were being practically pushed over the edge by trade in their skins or other products. We were told that the Government had no power to prevent that trade, and I think that we advised in two of our reports that the sort of power which is specified in this Bill to control the import of animal products should be given to the Government.

May I give one particular example. The vicuña is an exceedingly rare animal in South America. It has been brought to the verge of extinction because its wool is the softest in the world, and all the ladies in the world are only too anxious to have coats made of vicuña wool. We would have welcomed the import of breeding stocks of that animal into this country so that it could be bred in captivity with the possibility of return ing it to the wild when the people in its own country had exterminated it in pursuit of its products. Finally, under constant pressure, the Government found some way round the problem and the importation of the wool was prevented. It ought to be made abundantly clear that that is the power which the Government have. The point which the noble Baroness has missed—although possibly I should not say so—is that it is important to have a Committee of experts to advise, and it is this Committee of experts which this Bill would provide and which otherwise would not be provided.

May I give one more example of the sort of thing that is going to happen if we can gain control of animal products. At the present moment, very few live sea snails are imported, and then only to a few zoos, and the trade in the live ones (which could be controlled under the 1964 Act) is of negligible importance. But there is the most enormous trade in shells that are popular among collectors all over the world. You can see catalogues listing thousands of species, and collectors pay literally hundreds of pounds for some of the rarer or more beautiful ones. Once it is possible to control the importation of products, we are going to be brought up against the problem very quickly indeed. I suppose more damage is being done to the environment of shells than is being done to the environment of almost any other animal by the completely reckless exploitation that is taking place. This occurs particularly in tropical regions, where professional collectors are dynamiting the coral reefs throughout the whole of the tropics, and where even amateurs are playing their part in the destruction. I understand that you can pay for a holiday on the Great Barrier Reef by going there with an aqualung and on your return home selling the shells you collect.

There are some countries, such as Kenya and Hawaii and a few others, that have legislation to prevent, or try to prevent, the export of products of this nature and to protect the environment, and we should most certainly have the power to support them. I should like this to go far beyond what the Convention lays down, because it is important not only to protect the rare shells but to protect the habitat in which they are found. If you allow that habitat to be destroyed by collectors of shells of every sort you are destroying rare and common together. I should like us to have the power to prevent importation, perhaps by geographical as opposed to specific definitions, in order to help those countries which have this admirable legislation, which is very often rendered nugatory by illegal exports coming happily into countries which do not control it.

If one is to have legislation controlling imports of such things, the advisory committee has at least two, what I might call administrative axioms, which it must lay down. These are administrative axioms which, if the noble Lord who introduced the Bill will excuse me saying, I think he has failed to appreciate in parts of his Bill and which, it seems to me, the people who drew up the Convention have most certainly failed to appreciate. First, it is no good having a law forbidding the importation of animals or any other product unless there is some chance of the customs officer who has to control the importation being able to recognise what comes in. It is a pure waste of time introducing legislation to control the import of animals or plants when in fact the trade in them is so negligible that it has no effect on their status in the wild.

My Lords, I looked through the Appendices to the Convention and these two administrative axioms seem to have been totally disregarded by the people who drew up those lists. For instance, there is a list of molluscs in Appendix 1—and I am not an expert in this particular field for reasons which I will make clear—and I am told that the whole of that list is of fresh water molluscs from North America and that there is no man in this country who would be capable of distinguishing them if they were brought to him by a customs officer. Certainly in some of the other classes, of which I do have some knowledge, there are a number of sub-species laid down in the list which certainly a taxonomist could not identify, because they are so close to other sub-species, unless they had a label on them saying where they came from.

That is not to say that this Bill is not essential, as I said in my introductory words, for conservation in general. That, I think, is the point which the noble Baroness has missed in suggesting that we should not give the Bill a Second Reading. It is true, and the Bill expressly accepts that fact, that practically all the restrictions which have to be imposed and the controls which have to be made, can be made under current legislation, provided that on the advice of advisory committees set up under current legislation they are given the power by some new Act, such as I hope this Bill will become. The Committee of which I was Chairman is dealing expressly with vertebrate animals. I hope that there will be other committees set up because I do not believe that the Bill is right in giving that Committee other orders to deal with. I hope that other committees will be set up to deal with invertebrates. We already have committees for dealing with the importation of birds. As the Bill suggests, they are to advise the Government on that matter. What this Bill is designed to set up is the advisory machinery which is essential in order that the Government can put into operation Acts which already exist, and also to advise them on their operation, for which no committee already exists.

Naturally, I am somewhat biased having been a member of an advisory committee myself, but I do not believe that the administrative machine can work on things like this unless they have advisory committees of experts with a non-expert, such as ours had, in the Chair, able to weigh up all the evidence, with some knowledge of the creatures concerned and able to advise the Government.

That is what this Bill provides. That is what has to be provided in any case, and I hope that your Lordships will not accept the advice of the Government but will give this Bill a Second Reading, although I think that it needs very drastically amending. First, the list in Clause 6 is a nonsense because it must be bound by the two administrative axioms to which I have referred already. It would be fatal to try to publish the evidence on which the committees act, because inevitably they will be giving advice continuously and it would be almost impossible to publish all the advice they give; and in a great many cases, particularly in the importation of live animals, it is contingent already in this country. I think that under Article 5 of the Convention it is recommended that the importation of live animals should be allowed only to people who are competent to look after them. Quite clearly, it would be impossible to publish the "pros" and "cons" of whether a man is competent to look after a couple of chimpanzees or white rabbits. Nevertheless, that side of the Bill could be dealt with in Committee. The fundamental point of having these advisory committees is really important. I hope that your Lordships will give this Bill a Second Reading.

6.28 p.m.


My Lords, very briefly, I believe that the House should consider what we are actually talking about. We imported the following numbers of skins between January and October, 1973: 2 cwt. of reptile leather; dressed; 272 cwt. of raw reptile skins; 2,511 cheetah and jaguar, 789 leopard, 37,910 otter, and 43,786 ocelot. In spite of what the noble Baroness said, I feel that some legislation now is essential. I am told that the definition of animals, for example, does not include invertebrates. But the one thing that worries me that at present is not covered in law, is the import and export of non-indigenous species and their products. They do not come within the scope of the Nature Conservancy Council Act. Why not use the 1964 Act machinery for those over an open general import licence. I know the customs do it and I know my noble friend Lord Cranbrook spoke about it. If anyone knew the trouble we had to convince the Customs and Excise that they could tell vicuña hair, they would realise that this is not a suitable vehicle. Therefore I would support the Bill.

6.30 p.m.


My Lords, in rising to speak on the Bill introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, on endangered species I find myself somewhat unhappy about it. Looking back over the existing 1954 Act, an enormous Act, I feel that if it were amended, as it was in 1954, it could well be brought up to date. I feel that that would probably be easier without all the work of introducing a new Bill either to add to the existing Bill or to subtract from it. If a species is becoming too numerous and does not need to be protected it can be subtracted. On the other hand, if it is becoming rare it can be placed on the list. I should have thought that was an easier course than having a new Bill. The existing Act is quite phenomenal in its use of Latin names, but being a physics scientist the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, has not put them all into this Bill. But there is one species which is fairly rare and will become even rarer in the years to come which might be added at some time, and that is the hereditary Peer.

Last week, I had the honour to be in contact with Sir Peter Scott. From my childhood days I have always had a great love for him, especially for his paintings and his writings on wildfowl. I have always found his pictures tremendously thrilling. He was kind enough to tell me what has been going on over recent years, in order to get over to the public the fact that certain species are being endangered, and he also sent me a copy of the magazine Wild Life.

The noble Baroness, Lady Young, and the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, mentioned the amazing figures in Washington, where 23 countries signed the Convention and 65—who probably intended to pay only lip service to it—said that they would sign it, but in fact did not do so. The United Kingdom has the responsibility of getting other countries which are exporting or importing certain species to come to terms with that document. I hope that those countries will be interested in this subject, and will sign the Convention. Would it not be totally unwise for us to introduce a new Bill now, when Her Majesty's Government and the associations involved are working on the Convention, and might it not put back the work that is already going on, since an Act on this subject already exists?

6.34 p.m.


My Lords, to take up the point made by the noble Viscount, Lord Long, I am sure he is aware that it is not abnormal to introduce legislation if one is proposing to ratify an international convention. In fact, we have going through this House at the moment the Dumping at Sea Bill which became necessary in order to enable us to ratify the Oslo and London Conventions. So, in principle, I find it very difficult to follow him in that criticism.

I am sure that we are all rather unhappy at the state in which we find ourselves, because my sense of the feeling of the House is that it is overwhelmingly in support of the aims and objects of this Bill. It is true that the noble Baroness, Lady Young, raised a number of difficulties. She fell back very largely on the Import, Export and Customs Powers (Defence) Act 1939, which controls imports and exports but which was certainly never intended for the purpose of succouring endangered species of animals, molluscs or other invertebrates. I do not deny that it may have come in handy, but it was not directed to that purpose. I cannot think that the thoughts of anybody in 1939 were particularly on the salvation of anything other than the human race. The noble Baroness has herself admitted that that is not a satisfactory vehicle for the purpose of ratifying a convention.

The Member of your Lordships' House who most influences me, as a completely non-scientific person in these matters, is the noble Earl. Lord Cranbrook, because he speaks from vast experience. If he and my noble friend Lord Wynne-Jones tell me that legislation is necessary for the purpose of protecting endangered species, then it seems to me that we should take that opinion extremely seriously. I am perfectly willing to accept that in its present form the Bill may need considerable amendment, and one must be a realist and recognise that in the existing political situation it may not reach the Statute Book. But I do not consider that sufficient reason for not supporting a Bill. After all, if anything makes a Department concentrate its mind it is having to brief a Minister on legislation.

The noble Baroness put forward two reasons for not being able to ratify this Convention, one of which is the E.E.C., and that, I agree, is a real difficulty. She spoke of practical difficulties, but it seems to me that to set to work on a Bill which has only eight clauses would surely help the Department to clear its mind. It could then see that the various problems on which the noble Baroness touched were fully considered, taking into account the experience of various Members of your Lordships' House. I grant that the problem of the E.E.C. is not an easy one, if we must wait for all our partners to come into line.


My Lords, may I intervene to say that I put a written question on this subject to the Commission, and my understanding is that at the moment the Commission are thinking about the machinery needed to make all members join. If the Commission decide that we should all join and that is agreed in the Council, it will be decided through the machinery of the Community. So I do not think that is necessarily an obstacle to this Bill.


My Lords, the noble Lord speaks with greater direct experience than I possess of what goes on in Brussels, and I hope that what he said about its not being an obstacle is correct. I was about to say, as the noble Baroness herself pointed out, that as the United States has ratified the Convention it would settle the matter if one could get acceptance by the nine members of the E.E.C., because the Convention would then come into force. For example, I do not know what steps have been taken to persuade the two countries which have not yet even signed the Convention, the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland, so to do. But, meanwhile, if there are these practical difficulties surely it would be a helpful exercise for this House to face some of them in dealing with the Bill.

In any case, under Article 23, although it is not open to any party to the Convention to make general reservations, Any State may, on depositing its instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, enter specific reservations". So if we were in doubt about any particular species mentioned in the list in the Appendices to the Convention then, as I understand it, we could put in a reservation while we thought the matter over and decided whether or not we felt we could go along with it. The noble Baroness herself admits that there are certain gaps. If we are to deal with plants, for example, I understood her to say that while legislation was not in her view required, nevertheless we do not at the moment exercise what would be the necessary controls. I was a bit concerned whether anything in this Convention might overlap with the list given in the Bill just previously discussed in your Lordships' House, presented by the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, but so far as I can read the Latin names, I cannot find any one of the plants listed by the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, in the list attached to the Convention. I hope I am right, although, of course, if he removed the word "indigenous" from his Bill this might lead us into further difficulties.

My Lords, I fully recognise that we are in some difficulty over this, but I think the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, really put his finger on it when he read out his very impressive list of the numbers of animals in species which are seriously endangered which have been destroyed in recent times. Therefore, if we take wild life at all seriously, we are under an obligation to do our utmost, and to recognise that for some species, at least, time is really of the essence and that where they enter into international trade—which, after all, is the main purpose of this Bill and of the Convention, which says in terms that it is a Convention on international trade in endangered species—then we really must do our utmost. One may not wish to exaggerate, but some of us have received notes about the horrible slaughter which is still going on among the great cats—the leopards and so on—because, of course, these provide very attractive furs. These animals are being killed quite ruthlessly, and will be killed quite ruthlessly so long as there are any markets for their skins in countries where people are prepared to pay very high prices. My own view of this is that if a woman cannot succeed in looking attractive without having a leopard's skin around her, I do not think very much of her charm. I know that the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, and myself manage with, I think, a reasonably attractive combination of sheep and mink.


My Lords, the noble Baroness can get a "fun fur" just as good and at half the price.


My Lords, one can have a "fun fur" or one can even have simulated fur, though I do not much care for it myself I do not think it is warm, for one thing. But there are animals which are reared for the purpose, and which are in no danger of becoming extinct, which enable both men and women to keep perfectly adequately warm in a cold climate and protected from the chill winds. Therefore, it seems to me quite unnecessary to encourage this hideous exploitation of wild life which has been going on at a vastly increasing rate in the last few years. I must admit that it was not until the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, mentioned snails, on which he is a great expert—and I mean that seriously; far more of an expert than certain of my noble friends behind me—that I fully appreciated, of course, the great danger to the creatures of the sea bed. They are being threatened in other directions—the exploitation of minerals, for example—but clearly from what the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, said they are also being seriously endangered simply for purposes of collection, decoration and so forth. As he also rightly pointed out, if one is looking for certain scarce, particularly attractive specimens, one may also be endangering a large number of others at the same time.

So, my Lords, having listened carefully to the arguments, and having great respect for much of what the noble Baroness has said, I nevertheless feel that it would be helpful if we supported the Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, and then saw how far we could get with it. As I said, it would at least provide a spur, I should have thought, to those officials in the Department who, we are told, on an Inter-Departmental Committee, are meant to be considering how best the United Kingdom can bring itself into a position in which it could not merely sign but ratify this Convention.

6.46 p.m.


My Lords, I wonder whether, by leave of the House, I might try to answer some of the points which have been raised, because, if I may say so to the House, the Government are entirely in support of all the arguments which have been made about ratifying the Convention and the preservation of endangered species. If I may suggest it, I think that the issue is whether or not the Bill before us would make it quicker and easier to ratify the Convention than if we proceeded on the lines on which we are proceeding at the moment as rapidly as we can. I meant it quite seriously when I tried to answer the points made by the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, about the timetable. He was very critical, but on the point about the years of work concerned before signing the Convention, which we did in March, 1973, he seemed to imply that since making the monument- tal effort of signing this Convention we had sat back and done nothing. I am sorry if I gave that impression, because it would be totally untrue. An enormous amount of work has been done on what is in fact a very complicated matter, as I admit, having nothing like the expert knowledge of others who have spoken.

One of the criticisms raised has been that the 1939 Act, which was brought in at the beginning of the war, is a quite unsuitable vehicle for this purpose, and nothing has happened. I should like to give one or two illustrations of ways in which it has been used quite recently. Since 1972, the powers have been used to ban the import of vicuna hair, the fur skins of tigers, the Snow Leopard and the Clouded Leopard; and the import of other leopard skins and cheetahs were restricted. In 1973 a ban was placed on the import of all whale products except sperm oil. All these matters were very recently controlled and restricted under this Act, and I quote them to give an assurance that the Act can be used and is being used for this purpose. I think that the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, was also very critical about this list of derivatives, and he said that we should be working on this and should know, as we had signed the Convention, what it all comprises. I hoped that I had explained what a complex matter it is to identify them, but it is not just a question of drawing up the list in a Convention. It is necessary, as the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, quite rightly pointed out, for the customs man to be able to recognise restricted imports because if he cannot recognise them he cannot stop them. This is a very practical point. I am not using this as a debating argument because, as the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, has quite rightly said, it is something to which, in practice, we must find an answer. I give the assurance to the House that we are seeking, as actively as we can, to draw up the list, so that we can implement the Convention and tell the customs people and everybody else what they should be looking for.

The noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, if I understood him aright, went on to say that the great weakness, he thought, in the argument I put forward was that there was no effective committee of experts to advise the Government. We believe that the Animals Advisory Com- mitee would be effective. The noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, is himself a most distinguished former Chairman of that Committee. If he feels that it is not effective enough as it stands, there is nothing to stop the Secretary of State from appointing other members; or from inviting other experts to give advice at any time, or from listening to advice from experts. So far as the Convention itself is concerned, within two years of its ratification by the first ten States there will be a review of the list and the whole thing will be looked at again. If we felt that this was an unsatisfactory time to wait, under the Convention, we could within our own country add to the list at any time, something which we felt should be dealt with immediately.

Again, my Lords, I give the assurance that all these powers we have and could use. I believe also that this would apply to the case quoted by the noble Earl of, I was about to say snails, or molluscs—I think I shall try to use the proper word—which could be added to the list. If the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, feels, or other experts feel, that something should be added, of course the Government would listen to their advice. Experts could be appointed to cover these further points. The noble Baroness, Lady White, concluded her speech by what I think is a very telling argument: that, if we had this Bill, would it not help the Government to clear their minds on the whole issue and to concentrate on essentials? I well understand that argument. I do not think that there is any disagreement between the view that I expressed and the view expressed by everyone who has spoken, that what we need to do is to ratify the Convention as quickly as possible.

I was glad to have the assurance of the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, about E.E.C. He speaks with authority as a member of the European Parliament. I am delighted to think that he could back up what I tried to indicate in that forceful way. I cannot give an assurance to the House that passing this Bill would speed up the procedure. A great many people now involved in the technical work would be involved in looking at the redrafting of the Bill—this is just a practical point—and the view of the Government is that we need all the help that we can get to press on with dealing with the real problems. I give the assurance that we are trying to do that. I would not lightly ask the House to feel able to withdraw the Bill if I thought that we were not meeting the very real worries, and the real feeling in the House, which I appreciate, that your Lordships wish to see this Convention ratified. I have gone into this as carefully as I can, and feel that I can give only those assurances and I ask the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, to consider them carefully.


My Lords, can the noble Baroness, Lady Young, tell us whether she has been able to find out whether my point about made-up garments is covered by the existing regulations; and if not, why not?


My Lords, I apologise to the noble Baroness for not answering that point. I understand that the Department of Trade and Industry made an order about fur coats in 1972 to ban certain skins, including fur coats, and a ban was considered. It was decided, however, on grounds of practicability, that it was difficult. Fur is made into coats, and is not always easily recognisable, and so it was decided that fur coats would not be controlled. That is not to say that fur coats could not be included in any of the controls under the 1939 Act. The problem is to recognise the fur. I think that is a real point and, having had our attention drawn to it, I think that we must look at it again.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Baroness, Lady Young, whether she would be kind enough to identify the 1939 Act, as its identity seems to be in doubt in the mind of the noble Baroness, Lady White. Is it by any chance the Emergency Powers Defence Act?


My Lords, the Act, to which I have referred a number of times, is the Import, Export and Customs Powers (Defence) Act 1939.

6.55 p.m.


My Lords, I am very grateful to all those noble Lords who have taken part in this debate. It has been possible to put forward the case for conservation of endangered species, and everyone who has spoken has, in my opinion, succeeded in putting before your Lordships a clear point of view and making it understandable to us all. I would thank the noble Baroness, Lady Young, for her kindness in going through the matter in such great detail. She has taken a great deal of trouble over it and has emphasised a number of points. I am sure that the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, impressed us all with his extremely clear understanding of the whole problem. I personally have learned from listening to him, and I have found out a bit more about the whole problem. But I should like to take up one point that he mentioned. He said it was a pity that the Bill had become vague and unenforceable by talking about parts of animals. But care was taken in drafting the Bill. In Clause 3(2)(b), for instance, the words used are: … where the advice relates to parts of products, state which of them are, in its opinion, recognisable parts or products …". There is no intention to make this Bill apply to unrecognisable parts. It is clearly stated that the Bill is to apply to recognisable parts, and they are to be defined by an expert committee.

The noble Baroness, Lady Young, said that you could not distinguish between ivory from an African elephant and ivory from an Indian elephant. My Lords, it may well be that you could not identify it immediately, but if there were any doubt I can assure the noble Baroness that there is no scientific difficulty in identifying the bony parts of animals from different parts of the world where different metals are being ingested. There is not a shadow of doubt that you could identify origins of animals in this way. After all, this is one of the ways used in archæology nowadays. To say that the resources of science cannot enable us now to identify these parts is, I think, taking us back to the last century, and well away from all the progress that we have been making particularly in the last 20 years. So I think one may say that where we refer to "recognisable parts" the statement refers to something which experts consider can be recognised on the spot by the Excise people. Or, if not, and it is considered necessary to hold back for further investigation, that could be done by appropriate scientific methods. If we deny that this sort of thing can be done, we are saying that there is never any hope at all of the control of the importation of such things; and that, I think, is just not true. Such control can be carried out.

The noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, made some interesting remarks, particularly about the position with regard to the Common Market. I was somewhat surprised to find the noble Baroness, Lady Young, using the Common Market once more as a means of stopping us from doing something. When we had debates on the subject in this House we were always being told of the liberating effect of the Common Market and how much better things were going to be. Now, my Lords, every single time one proposes something one is told, "No, you must not do that, the Common Market will stop you from doing it." That is an absolutely astonishing argument.


Or, my Lords, the Central Intelligence Agency.


My Lords, I was opposed to entering the Common Market. I was never fanatical, one way or the other, but I was opposed to it. But if we are in the Common Market, surely we should use the Common Market, and not go around trying to find out in how many different ways it stops us from blowing our noses or doing any particular act that we may wish to do. It seems to me a ridiculous attitude if the Common Market is going to be used as this continual bogey.

I was not clear whether the noble Baroness meant that the Common Market members would not like us to pass this Bill or whether she was saying that they would not allow us to ratify the Convention. It seems to me that passing this Bill is something which is within the province of this House and this Parliament, and which cannot be challenged outside this House and this Parliament. If there are consequences which can be shown to go against the rules of the Common Market, then let us be told what the consequences are and what rules we are breaking. So far as I know, nothing is here being proposed that would be in breach of Common Market obligations. If the noble Baroness has some particular example to give, then I would rather have that example than have a particular bogey thrown up at me.

I do not think we should legislate under threat of duress; we should legislate on an understanding of what we are trying to do. And what this Bill is trying to do is to get legislation which will make possible the control of trade in endangered species. This was the point made by the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, and also by the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan. We are concerned essentially with controlling illicit trade in endangered species. If we can succeed in doing this then we shall be doing something positive and good. The noble Baroness has not convinced me that there is anything in this Bill which would make it more difficult to do that; on the contrary, I believe that this Bill would make it easier. If the noble Baroness is saying that it would make it more difficult then I think she should point to how. In listening to her I have not found a single case where I think the Bill would make it more difficult.


My Lords, if I might just answer the point made by the noble Lord, it is not that the Bill would make it more difficult: it is that it might not enable us to ratify the Convention so quickly. I believe we are pressing on with this as quickly as possible and the Government do not feel that the Bill is necessary for this purpose.


My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, but I do not think she has made the point. What the noble Baroness has said is that she thinks this Bill, if passed, might make it more difficult to ratify the Convention.


No, my Lords, I did not say I thought it would make it more difficult to ratify: I said I thought

Resolved in the affirmative; Bill read 2a accordingly and committed to a Committee of the whole House.

it might slow up the procedures for ratification—because a great deal of time which at present is being used to look at the detailed problems of ratification would be taken up in studying the Bill.


My Lords, I presume from what the noble Baroness is saying that the Government are proposing to ratify the Convention within a few weeks. If that is not so, I do not see the relevance of that comment. It seems to me that the noble Baroness says, on the one hand, that the problems are so difficult that it will take a long time for Committees to go through them, and then, on the other hand, she says: "Do not, for heaven's sake! pass this Bill because the delay entailed in passing it will mean that we shall not ratify the Convention next week." I really should like to know the grounds for objection to this Bill. So far I have heard no ground at all from the noble Baroness which carries any conviction. If no convincing ground can be given, I do not see how I can possibly withdraw this Bill. It seems to me that this Bill tries to get something very useful done. The noble Baroness has not convinced me that the Bill would not help to get things done, and I therefore ask your Lordships to give it a Second Reading this afternoon.

7.5 p.m.

On Question, Whether the Bill shall be now read 2a?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 29; Not-Contents, 19.

Balogh, L. Emmet of Amberley, B. Platt, L.
Barrington, V. Greenway, L. Rankeillour, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Hacking, L. Redcliffe-Maud, L.
Blyton, L. Hoy, L. Robbins, L.
Boothby, L. Hylton-Foster, B. Rusholme, L.
Champion, L. Killearn, L. Sempill, Ly.
Conesford, L. Molson, L. Shepherd, L.
Craigton, L. Noel-Buxton, L. White, B.
Cranbrook, E. O'Hagan, L. [Teller.] Wynne-Jones, L. [Teller.]
Davies of Leek, L. Phillips, B.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Gowrie, E. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Berkeley, B. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.) Sandys, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Strathclyde, L.
Cathcart, E. Ironside, L. Tenby, V.
Cowley, E. Long, V. [Teller.] Windlesham, L. (L. Privy Seal.)
Denham, L. Macleod of Borve, B. Young, B.
Derwent, L. Merrivale, L. [Teller.]