HL Deb 04 May 1976 vol 370 cc435-520
Baroness STEDMAN

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, that the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Baroness Stedman)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD MAYBRAY-KING in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Restriction of importation and exportation of certain animals and plants]:

Lord CRAIGTON moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 1, line 20, after ("being") insert ("not").

The noble Lord said: With your Lordships' approval, I should like to discuss with this Amendment, 21 other Amendments, namely Nos. 3, 5, 34, 48 to 59 and 61 to 66. As the Committee will realise, this is not a wrecking Amendment, but a constructive one. At present, this Bill tells us in the Schedules what may not be imported. I want to put in some at least of the Schedules what may he imported. As a term of art, this method of showing what may be imported has been referred to as reverse listing, which is a handy term for what we want to do. As the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, knows, I put down this Amendment immediately after Second Reading so she could have ample warning that this was in our minds.

My Amendments are approved by the sort of scientific minds that the noble Baroness and the Minister at the time will ask to act as scientific advisers. I suspect it is approved by the Customs and Excise, but I have not asked them. I am going to speak for only a short time, and when I have finished I shall ask the noble Baroness either to accept the Amendments or to accept them in principle, and in any case to ensure that the Bill is so amended that reverse listing can be applied if anything goes wrong before the final stage of the Bill. The noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, has put down Amendment No. 31, but I am not quite sure whether that applies, or should be applied, to reverse listing.

What is involved? We have to turn to the Schedules of my Amendments. I have done my best; they do not pretend to be either complete or accurate. I would ask the noble Baroness—and we must all thank her for giving us this very long list of scientific names with a commentary—when, as I hope, this Bill finally reaches the Statute Book, even though the scientific name may be the legal name, that the common name at least be also given, as a matter of reference, to help so many who do not understand the scientific names.

To turn to the Schedules, we come first of all to the mammals. In the Bill there are 234 names taking up six pages of what one may not import; in my Schedule are 37 names on one page of the mammals that may be imported. Furthermore, the 234 names are taken from the red data book issued by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. As the noble Baroness and all scientists know, this red data book is not complete, so there is danger in the listing of threatened species. In fact, to such an extent have the IUCN been unable to complete or correct this red data book that it is no secret that they have asked the Fauna Preservation Society, of which I have the honour to be chairman, if they will take on the completion and maintenance of the red data hook. This shows that this type of listing in relation to mammals is extremely dangerous, whereas with reverse listing, the Customs can easily identify an animal. The danger is that unless we have reverse listing in the case of mammals, dealers will find some unfortunate, small, furry beastie not in the red data book, and will use the fur until the numbers are so depleted that the species is unnecessarily endangered. This cannot happen if we have listing the other way. It is not a prohibition; it is only a licence to import something, if so permitted. The lists are not a prohibition.

Going on from mammals to birds, instead of 183 names on four and a half pages, we have only 18 names that I can find. With regard to reptiles, I would be guided by the scientists. Reptiles are difficult to rear. We have not yet really learned how to rear reptiles. They are very easy to poach, and are very much in demand. Instead of 77 names of the reptiles that may not be imported, in my Amendment No. 51, to which I am now speaking, I have recommended that no reptiles at all be imported without a licence. This would give us the protection needed, and we need that protection for two or three years until we know the situation. With reference to amphibia, I have made the same recommendation. So much for changing the Bill.

The present system in the Bill of the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, seems right for fish and I have left it as it is. It is right for insects; it is right for molluscs, and I am told that my friends, who know so much about plants that they would like to reverse list them, believe the present system is the best for plants. So finally we come to Schedule 4, which deals with parts of living things. At the moment we have a list of what may not be imported. This list has given rise to more criticism and difficulty than any other part of the Bill. There are serious difficulties in identification, and serious difficulties in description. I thought that if these difficulties were so serious would try my hand at reverse listing. I do not know whether I have done it very well, but in some cases it seemed easier to apply a reverse listing to some, at least, of these items. The Customs and Excise are then asked to say what an item is, and if they cannot recognise it they can reject it.

There is one main principle involved, on which I believe I am right, in my Amendment No. 53, Item 1, and my Amendment No. 66, Items I and 2. If a living creature may be imported, then I believe the Bill should apply to the items derived from it. If a living thing may not be imported, then neither should the parts of it be allowed to be imported. I know this is a blanket statement, but under the Bill, as long as there is permission to give licences, each case can be dealt with on its merits. I have moved 22 Amendments in a very short time, and I hope the noble Baroness will be able to give me some joy.


My noble friend Lord Craigton, put down these Amendments, and I have added mine to them to show that my noble friend has the support of the Benches around him. He has put the case very fully and very lucidly, and so I do not think it needs a long speech from me. I would merely say that I thoroughly endorse the object of these Amendments, which is to simplify legislation by permitting the import of only a small number of any species, and the other species will require licences, subject to the approval of the scientific authorities, and of course, the Minister. Above all, as I said on Second Reading, I think the Customs and Excise authorities will be grateful if these Amendments are helped on by the Government. I would merely say that the principle of readily identifiable species should be permitted by the Government to stand, and I should like to endorse everything said by my noble friend.

Baroness STEDMAN

With the leave of the Committee, I think it would be helpful if I intervened at this stage, and before I deal with the particular purpose of this Amendment perhaps I may be permitted to make a general point about this and the other Amendments, including those I have tabled. Since we debated this Bill on Second Reading in February, my Departmental officials have had very extensive consultations with the voluntary conservation bodies and the trade interests. The Bill has also been examined a great deal by the scientific authorities we established to enable us to introduce import and export controls on an interim basis from 1st January. I should like to express my personal appreciation to the officials and to the members of the scientific authorities for the tremendous help they have provided.

Almost all of the Amendments I have tabled are a direct result of these consultations. So far as we possibly can, we have sought to meet the many suggestions and criticisms that have been put to us. I know that some of the voluntary bodies, and doubtless some of your Lordships as well, will feel that we have not gone far enough, and we shall be debating these matters. All I would ask your Lordships at this stage is that the House bears in mind the need for a practical and effective Bill, the provisions of which can be enforced.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, for moving so many of the Amendments en bloc tonight. The principle, as I understand it, is that instead of listing the restricted species the Schedules should list those species or items which are common, which are regularly in trade and which do not require licences. All other species or items will then require licences, whether or not the species concerned is at present endangered. May I say at once that I see many advantages in adopting this principle, and I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, for suggesting it. For one thing, it will make the Schedules shorter and much more comprehensible. Since the species to be listed will be those that are commonly in trade, they will be familiar, and it should be possible to attach the English names to them, if only for descriptive purposes. Many of your Lordships are, I know, concerned at the length and obscurity of the Schedules, and this is likely to get worse as further species are added as a result of amendments to the Convention.

The chief advantage from the conservation viewpoint will be that the occasional trade in the more exotic species can be monitored through the licensing system. If there is any sudden increase in trade in a particular species that is not on the "free" list, or if a new trade develops, this can be considered and the appropriate action taken. Such an arrangement should not really hamper legitimate trade. Although reverse listing would appear to extend greatly the range of controls, the additional species covered would, by definition, only infrequently appear in trade. Only a few specialist dealers handling small numbers of a wide range of species are likely to be affected. Licences would be readily available, without conditions, until such time as it became clear that the species was endangered. If the volume of trade grew to the point that licensing was a genuine encumbrance to the trade, and there was no danger to the species, then it could be added to the "free" list by order.

A third advantage of reverse listing is that it should reduce the number of Amendments to be made to the Schedule by subsequent orders, whenever there are amendments to the Convention. Amendments will be necessary now only where by international agreement we are required to control something that has hitherto been on the "free list. We have given a good deal of thought to this idea and concluded that is is practicable in some cases, although it cannot be applied wholesale to the Schedules. It seems to be suitable in the case of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, which are in Schedule 1. But we do not think it can be applied to the fish and the lower animals; nor does it appear suitable for plants, which are covered by Schedule 2. In the case of parts and derivatives, which are covered by Schedule 3, bird plumage is already in effect reverse listed, and we think the idea could be extended to reptile skins and possibly to mammal skins. But I am advised that it is not practicable for parts and derivatives generally. The decisions must depend mainly on how many controlled species there are relative to the common species in trade, and on the need to specify kinds and items in a way that is understandable to the traders and will enable the Customs to identify them.

The Government intend, therefore, to bring forward at a later stage—hopefully at Report stage in this House—the textual Amendments necessary to enable the Schedules to be in this alternative form. We intend also to table Amendments to the Schedules which will reverse list some groups of animals, as well as some parts and derivatives. This is, however, a complex matter. The scientific authorities are still studying a number of aspects, and I cannot promise that it will be possible during the passage of the Bill to adopt reverse listing in every single case where it is likely to prove practicable. If necessary, the job may have to be completed by order after the Bill has been passed. I hope, in the light of what I have said, the noble Lord will now be prepared to withdraw his Amendments.


I think this is one of those extremely satisfactory occasions when as a result of the initiative by the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, by standing something on its head he makes it more sensible. I think it is a very desirable thing, and it is especially pleasing to this House that my noble friend Lady Stedman has found it possible to accept in principle exactly what is being proposed. I hope that the noble Lord is well satisfied with his activity.


I have seldom withdrawn an Amendment with such great pleasure. I have much pleasure in begging leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Earl of CRANBROOK moved Amendment No. 2:

Page 1, line 21, at end insert ("or in Schedule 1 to the Conservation of Wild Creatures and Wild Plants Act 1975").

The noble Earl said: Quite clearly at the moment this Amendment is entirely unnecessary, and I shall withdraw it with the permission of the Committee, but perhaps I can just say one word to the noble Baroness. The reasons for this are quite obvious. I can only hope that administratively this will be kept in mind by the Department when licences are applied for. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


We have dealt with Amendment No. 3. Amendment No. 4 does not exist. We have dealt with No. 5. I now call Amendment No. 6.

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 6:

Page 2, line 5, at end insert— ("(2A) The Secretary of State shall submit any application for a licence under subsection (2) above to whichever one of the scientific authorities (as defined in section 2 below) he considers is the best able to advise him as to whether a licence should be issued in pursuance of the application and, if so, its terms; and, before he issues or declines to issue a licence in pursuance of the application, he shall allow the authority a reasonable time so to advise him").

The noble Baroness said: This Amendment would require that all licence applications must be referred to the appropriate scientific authority for advice. The Convention requires each Party State to create one or more scientific authority to advise on the issue of licences, and the Amendment merely reflects what is clearly intended by the Convention. Where more than one scientific authority is formed under the Act, then clearly only the one with a particular interest in the type of species concerned will wish to be consulted in any individual case. It naturally follows that if the scientific authority is to give advice it must be allowed a reasonable time in which to do so. But arrangements can be made for emergency consultation if a quick decision is needed.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 7:

Page 2, line 6, after ("above") insert ("(a)").

The noble Baroness said: With the leave of the Committee, I will also speak to Amendment No. 9, because this Amendment is merely a paving Amendment for Amendment No. 9. The effect of the two Amendments will be to impose a maximum time limit of 12 months on the validity of any import or export licence granted under the Bill. As drafted, the subsection specifies no time limit but allows for one to be specified in the licence. A limit is necessary to prevent licences from remaining unused for a long time, by when the threat to the species may have increased. The Convention requires a time limit of six months on export licences, but places no limitation on import licences, because the authorities in the exporting country must be satisfied that an import permit has been granted before they issue their own export permit.

The Secretary of State's current practice is to impose a six months limit on export licences, in accordance with the Convention, and a nine months limit on import licences. He intends to continue this practice, although a statutory maximum of 12 months may provide some useful flexibility in the case of import licences where the circumstances are exceptional. The need for a specific statutory limitation has been very strongly urged upon us by the voluntary conservation bodies, and the Government see no objection. I, therefore, beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

7 p.m.

Lord CRAIGTON moved Amendment No. 8:

Page 2, line 7, after ("degree") insert ("and in relation to any place,").

The noble Lord said: This is really a drafting point. We are moving in the conservation world into an area where the breeding of threatened species in captivity is giving us more of a particular animal in captivity than exists in the wild. Indeed, we have already reached the stage, I understand, where one breeder in a zoo in Germany is breeding what is an endangered wild cat of the cat tribe and is selling the skins, quite properly, for fur or selling the animals to other zoos. The animals are not endangered in the wild and there is absolutely no reason why this should not be done, any more than it is done now with mink.

When I read the first two lines of subsection (3) on page 2, A licence issued under subsection (2) above may be, to any degree, general or specific",

I asked myself: Do the words "general or specific" allow me, as the licensing authority, to licence Mr. X, or Zoo Y, to import a certain animal only from that place, or even from that zoo or that person? Do the words "general or specific" refer also to a certain place, or a specified place or a specified person?

This is a drafting point. If the noble Baroness has any difficulty over it I should be quite happy that she should say that she would like to take it away and look at it, and I would abide entirely by her decision as to whether she chooses to add the words or not. I beg to move.

Baroness STEDMAN

As I understand it, the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, wants an assurance that an import licence can carry a condition, for example, that an animal must come from a certain zoo in the exporting country. We can give him that assurance, but I shall be happy to take the Amendment back, and if it is necessary to alter the wording we will do so at Report stage.


I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 9:

Page 2, line 7, leave out from ("specific") to end of line 9 and insert—

  1. ("(b) may be modified or revoked at any time by the Secretary of State, and
  2. (c) subject to paragraph (b) above, shall be valid for a period of 12 months commencing with the date the licence is issued or such shorter period as is stated in the licence.").

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord CRAIGTON moved Amendment No. 10:

Page 2, line 8, after ("period") insert ("or periods").

The noble Lord said: This is much the same sort of point. Have the licensing authority, under the description: or such shorter period as is stated in the licence", without the addition of the words "or periods", authority, shall we say, to allow the import of any particular animal in May and October only? I should have thought that they were "periods" and not a "period". Here again, if the noble Baroness would like to say something, I should be happy. I beg to move.

Baroness STEDMAN

We are really being most affable tonight. As I understand it, the noble Lord wants a further assurance that the import licences will be issued in such a way as to prevent the import of an animal during an agreed close season?


That is right.

Baroness STEDMAN

That assurance I am perfectly prepared to give.


I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7.5 p.m.

The Earl of CRANBROOK moved Amendment No. 11:

Page 2, line 9, at end insert— ("Provided that any licence issued to import a wild animal shall be subject at least to the following conditions

  1. (a) that any premises on which the animal is kept after undergoing any period of quarantine as specified in section 4(1)(b) of this Act are so constructed, maintained and managed as to allow it—
  2. (i) to enjoy a healthy existence; and
  3. (ii) a reasonable prospect of breeding unless a Scientific Authority is satisfied that the importation of an animal of that species without any such prospects is desirable;
  4. (b) that the owner of those premises or one of his employees is qualified to care for the animal; and
  5. (c) that any Scientific Authority shall be given the opportunity of satisfying itself by such methods and at such intervals as it shall determine that the above conditions are being observed.").

The noble Earl said: This Amendment is intended to bring our legislation into line with that which is laid down in Article III of the Convention, which says that regulation of trade in specimens of species included in Appendix I provides that a scientific authority of the State of import has to be satisfied that the proposed recipient of a living specimen is suitably equipped to house and care for it.

I speak on this subject with experience, and from experience of having made a mistake when the 1964 Act governing the importation of rare animals was first brought in. I was the chairman of the Advisory Committee. At first we did not realise how important it was, when we issued a licence to import a rare animal, that we should assure ourselves that the recipient of the licence was a suitable person and owned suitable premises into which an animal could be placed and, moreover, that those premises were such as would allow that animal to join a breeding unit and produce young. If we are going to allow rare animals to come in, we are merely making a greater drain on wild animals in the wild if we bring them in just to exhibit and to look at them. It should not be allowed unless the animal is capable and likely, and has the facilities, to breed in captivity and so to build up the captive bred population of that particular species that, in case of necessity, it can be released again into the wild. Your Lordships will know of innumerable cases of rare animals where that has been done, and I need not bother to detail them. Further, it is essential that the person to whom they are going should be capable of looking after them properly. I beg to move.

Baroness STEDMAN

This Amendment would impose specific conditions upon the granting of licences concerning wild animals. It seems designed to ensure that any such animal which is imported shall be kept and cared for humanely, with a reasonable prospect of breeding. Clearly, these are highly laudable aims and the Government are in sympathy with them. But it does not seem necessary and, indeed, I think it is undesirable, to spell them out in the Bill. There is always a danger that, if certain conditions are spelt out, doubt is thereby cast upon the Government's power to impose others not so specified.

The Convention requires that the scientific authority shall be satisfied that the proposed recipient of a living specimen is suitably equipped to house and care for it before it issues an import licence for an Appendix I species. Breeding is not specifically mentioned in the Convention, but it is covered by the requirement that the scientific authority should be satisfied that the import of an Appendix I animal will be for purposes not detrimental to the survival of the species and that it will not be used for commercial purposes. Thus, in the case of Appendix I animals, we are already obliged, as part of our international obligations to fulfil the duties which the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, wishes to impose by conditions (a) and (b) in his Amendment.

When we come to discuss the suggested Amendments to Clause 4, noble Lords will see that we propose to give the Secretary of State power to specifiy from time to time premises at which a live animal shall be kept. But condition (c) in the Amendment would give a scientific authority right of access to premises where live animals were being kept. They could then check that all the conditions laid down were being observed. Such an intrusion into the owners' right to privacy could only be justifiable for animals listed on Appendix 1; the Convention gives us no brief to probe into conditions in which legitimately imported animals on Appendix II are kept. But this condition also seems unnecessary. Noble Lords should bear in mind that many of these animals will be on public display, in itself a safeguard against ill-treatment, or will be imported by highly reputable public bodies. In practice it would clearly be in the interests of the owners of a live animal to allow the scientific authority to inspect his premises because anybody who was unwilling to do so would be unlikely to obtain any further licences. Therefore we believe that the aim of the Amendment is already sufficiently fulfilled by the existing arrangements and I hope that, in the light of what I have said, the noble Earl will see fit to withdraw it.


Would the conditions of an import licence apply, for example, to animals imported for circuses? I would be obliged if my noble friend could comment on circus animals in this connection. One sees circus animals boxed up and transported from one town to another with very little freedom except in the circus ring. Where do they come into this, or arc they not covered in the Bill at all?

Baroness STEDMAN

Only the circus animals which are contained in Appendix I of the Convention are covered by the restrictions on import licensing, but we are, of course, concerned to see that animals in circuses are being well cared for and I assure my noble friend that where any complaints are made to the Department we would certainly see that they are checked out; we would ask our scientific authority to check the conditions under which they were being kept and, if necessary, to see that action was taken.


I am not altogether satisfied with the reply of the noble Baroness. I entirely agree that we are under an obligation in this context only in respect of the rarer animals, but there is very much more than the question of preserving rare animals involved. Outside that scientific point of view there is the question of animal welfare and if we had, as we are bound to have, only the list of Schedule I animals, I would in any case have moved the Amendment to secure its extention to all animals. The time has come when we must treat animals more humanely. Any reputable zoo measures its capacity for keeping animals properly by whether it succeeds in keeping them under conditions which ensure that they breed in captivity; this is a sign that the animal is properly looked after, is content and is living a happy and successful life. I believe that that should apply to every animal kept in captivity. Clearly we cannot apply it to every Tom, Dick and Harry who buys one in a pet shop, but at least we can apply it to animals which have to be licensed before they can be imported; and that is what we should do.

I must, I am afraid, also tell the noble Baroness that she disappointed me, for after the way in which we dealt with the first Amendment today I felt that we were about to enter a golden age. It is wrong to wait until complaints are received before starting to take action. There must be a continual inspection so that the scientific authority can be satisfied that the places to which it gives licences to import animals are looking after them properly, and continue to do so, and that the conditions under which those animals were allowed to be imported are still being observed. I am prepared to withdraw the Amendment but I hope that the noble Baroness will look into the matter again and I reserve to myself the right to return to this subject on Report, when perhaps she may be able to deal with the matter rather better than she has been able to do tonight.


The noble Earl says in the Amendment: …any Scientific Authority shall be given the opportunity of satisfying itself …

Does he, by that reference, mean any body that calls itself a scientific authority or does he mean certain recognised scientific authorities? I should have thought that if he means any recognised scientific authority there would be no reason for the Government to oppose the Amendment, although there may be a certain ambiguity about the expression "any Scientific Authority".


The phrase "any Scientific Authority" appears in the Amendment with the letters SA in capitals, referring to scientific authorities as defined in the Bill. I have had to use the word "any" because one can not tell at this stage to which scientific authority the Minister will refer for the importation of any particular animal, and perhaps the noble Baroness might consider that matter between now and Report; that is, perhaps she can find a better way of defining "Scientific Authority" to enable a right to pursue the conditions under which the animals had been imported. It might be confined to the scientific authority whose advice the Minister had originally taken before allowing the importation. I cannot conceive that a scientific authority advising the Minister on the importation of, say, molluscs would be likely to want to advise or would be useful in advising the Minister in respect of a licence to import mammals.

Baroness STEDMAN

I am sorry if my reply disappointed the noble Earl and I am grateful for his offer to withdraw the Amendment. I assure him that I will take note of the points he made. This is not an animal welfare Bill; this is an import and export licensing measure and is therefore rather different. We are conscious of the points he has made and we share his concern for the treatment of animals where they are not being looked after properly or are not being kept in proper quarters. We will, without commitment, look at the matter again and, if necessary, come hack to it.


I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7.19 p.m.

Lord STOW HILL moved Amendment No. 12:

Page 2, line 9, at end insert — (" ( ) Without prejudice to any penalty imposed by any enactment, and in particular without prejudice to the imposition of penalties under the Customs and Excise Act 1952 (notwithstanding the provisions of sections 45(3), 56(4) and 304 of that Act), any person who, knowing of or reckless as to its nature, is in any way concerned in the importation or exportation of anything mentioned in subsection (1) above, except in accordance with the terms of a licence issued under subsection (2) above, shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £400 or to imprisonment not exceeding 3 months, or to both.")

The noble and learned Lord said: The object of this Amendment is to invite the Committee to consider rather more closely whether the Bill provides adequately for the enforcement of its provisions. I should say at the outset that the question is one of some complexity and if my noble friend Lady Stedman, who opened the Second Reading debate with such an admirably lucid speech for which I am grateful to her, were able to tell me that between now and Report she would, with her advisers, further consider the provisions to see whether they are satisfactory, then I should not wish to invite the Committee to divide on the Amendment. I hope that she will, after hearing the anxieties which I shall put to the Committee, feel able to say that she will give further consideration to the matter.

Everybody agrees at once that the Bill we are now discussing is not just a technical, dry Bill dealing with some broad matter of policy, but is one which directly involves personal feelings —I might almost say emotions —strongly held about the way in which animals ought to be treated and which invokes a dislike of the idea that mankind for his possibly perfectly reasonable purposes should endanger species of rare animals which ought to be kept alive. In saying that, I do not believe that I embark upon ground which any member of the Committee would challenge.

If I may invoke an analogy, when looking at the legislation which is designed to protect domestic animals from cruel treatment we are all very grateful for the activities of the RSPCA, which investigates individual cases and brims them to justice. These are cases which, if the RSPCA did not intervene, would go unnoticed. The police are heavily overworked and there is no other obvious authority. The RSPCA discharges a very necessary function and fills a vacuum in the arrangements which we have, and I believe that we all approve strongly of their activities.

One of the conservation organisations, the Friends of the Earth, handed me a note which I should like to read, for I think it relevant. They are very responsible people and I am sure that what they say is perfectly accurate. They say: The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds took nine successful cases which the police declined to take up.

That is another area in which one has semi-private societies, actuated by strong feelings, taking up cases which would otherwise almost certainly not be taken up. I hasten to say that i do not for a moment criticise the unfortunate police who are overburdened and who have to deal with the monstrous breaches of the law which take place only too frequently. They cannot be blamed for now and again not taking proceedings in the type of case of which I am speaking, whereas the voluntary conservation organisations would certainly do so. They would be ready and anxious to do it and to test the law.

The objective of the Amendment is to make certain that the enforcement provisions relating to the importation and exportation without licence of the matters described in the Schedules will be adequately enforced. I submit that they will be adequately enforced if the enforcement provisions enable the voluntary conservation organisations themselves to undertake individual cases and to bring them before the courts where they feel that that is necessary in order to achieve the purposes of the Bill.

If that is right, the question is, what is the present position? The Bill creates a prohibition against importation and exportation without licence of the relevant matter set out in the Schedules. The first change which it is respectfully submitted to the Committee ought to be made is that it ought to be an offence to import or export without licence not only if one knows that there is no licence —the word "knowing" in the Amendment brings that into operation —but also if one shuts one's eyes to the question of whether there is or is not a licence. The Amendment contains the words: …knowing of or reckless as to its nature

in relation to this importation and exportation. The first and possibly rather subordinate change —but it is, I submit, one which is very important if we are trying to achieve the objective which we all have in mind —is to see that it does not have to be proved that a person knew that the importation or exportation was unlawful and that it is quite enough if it can be said that it was obvious but that the person in question chose to shut his eyes and was reckless as to whether or not it was lawful.

That is the first change. The second change is really far more fundamental. If one looks at the Bill, one searches for a provision which will indicate who is to enforce its provisions. One does not find it. The nearest thing to an indication appears in Clause 1(6) and is a reference to the Commissioners of Customs and Excise and a power given to them under certain circumstances to forfeit a matter imported or exported under the powers conveyed on them by the Customs and Excise Act 1952. I have tried to decide for myself which is the enforcement authority under the terms of the Bill as at present drawn. That is the point which I should be grateful if my noble friend would look at. I believe that it is the Customs and Excise under the provisions of the 1952 Act. Again, I hasten to say that I meant nothing against that admirable department, which works conscientiously and thoroughly. However, it seems to me that the Customs and Excise are the only people, who, under the provisions of the Bill as a present drawn, are enabled and required to initiate prosecutions under powers which they have under the 1952 Act in relation to unlawful import and export.

If I am right in that, I submit that the position is really very unsatisfactory. It is not reasonable to expect that great Department, with all the burdens which are incumbent upon it and conscientiously performing its work as it does, to undertake the kind of personal interests and personal, immediate and direct activity which voluntary organisations concerned with conservation will regularly, gladly, anxiously and eagerly undertake. There are many admirable authorities of this kind. I have mentioned one. They are directly concerned with this very problem of seeing that animals are dealt with fairly and that endangered species are not driven out of existence. It seems to me that it is essential, if the objective of the Bill is to be achieved, not to leave its enforcement to a great public department which will not have the apparatus or the motivation and which will indeed very often conscientiously feel that it is unnecessarily and improperly wasting public money if it initiates prosecutions in a case where there is doubt and where the law is not quite clear for one reason or another because it does not immediately touch the general public long-term interest. A private conservation organisation would think it directly essential to look at the individual case, collect the evidence and, if it thought it appropriate, take it before the court by way of a criminal prosecution.

The object of the Amendment is to make sure that that is what the Bill provides. As I read it, I understand the Bill to provide solely for proceedings by the Customs and Excise. In my submission it ought to provide that proceedings can be taken both by the police who, as I say, though they are very heavily overburdened are very admirable but, in particular,by private organisations, the private citizen, who wishes to invoke the criminal law. That is the purpose of the Amendment which I have put down. I feel —and I hope that I do not exaggerate —that if it is not possible for private conservation organisations to intervene by way of assisting the implementation of the criminal law in this field, the Bill will largely lose of its objective. It will not be enforced; it will not achieve what everybody wants it to achieve, and that would be a disastrous pity.

The Amendment which I have ventured to draft does not take away any power now vested in the Customs and Excise. Your Lordships may have noticed that in the terms of the Amendment it is sought to qualify the operation of Sections 45(3), 56(4) and 304 of the Customs and Excise Act 1952. The effect of that would be that there would be a dual system of enforcement. Where the Customs and Excise thought it was a proper case they would still have power to intervene, but where other circumstances, some of which I have tried to adumbrate before your Lordships' Committee, are present it would be open to any of the private conservation organisations to say that this was a case where there had been an abuse, a case where they would assemble the evidence, a case where they would endeavour to interpret the law and would ask the courts to interpret it if those organisations could not interpret it correctly. The organisations would start proceedings and hope that those proceedings would result in a conviction which would terminate the type of abuse in question.

That is the objective. I hope that your Lordships will agree that this is obviously a matter of complication and as such I greatly hope that my noble friend Baroness Stedman, who has been extremely helpful to us in trying to alleviate our anxieties, will feel able to tell the Committee that between now and the Report stage she will go further into the matter with her advisers and consider whether something on these lines ought not to be placed before your Lordships for consideration.


This Amendment, which my noble friend Lord Stow Hill has moved, represents a very important matter. If I may anticipate for a moment what is to follow I should say that it has some relation to the Amendment in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Chelwood, and myself, which is to be dealt with later, concerning the question of the point of sale. It is an attempt to go beyond the enforcement simply by the Customs authorities, and to ensure that the enforcement can be carried out throughout the whole of the distribution of any species. This is an important matter because, as my noble and learned friend Lord Stow Hill pointed out, it can easily happen that too much is thrown upon the Customs and Excise, and it is vital that we should make it possible for action to be taken by any interested bodies. Wherever any animal, parts of an animal, any flora, or anything else covered by this Bill is involved, it should be possible for action to be taken in order to ensure that the purposes of the Bill are properly carried out. I hope that my noble frietid will be able to give some assurance to your Lordships' Committee that she will be able to look at this matter and tell us that the Government will provide some means of dealing effectively with this question of enforcement of the Bill.


I, too, should like to support the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill. The noble Baroness will probably not know that the conservation societies themselves are already getting together and money is being put up to form a policing organisation to ensure that when the Bill is law we shall know that the law is being kept. It will add teeth to their efforts if they themselves can initiate a prosecution. I am grateful to the noble Lord, and I hope that the noble Baroness will consider this matter.

Baroness STEDMAN

This Amendment is designed to permit private prosecution for illegal imports or exports under the Bill. Under Customs and Excise legislation goods imported or exported illegally are liable to forfeiture, and the person responsible for their import or export, if he acted knowingly and with intent to evade, is liable to imprisonment, or a fine, or both. The powers to prosecute for an offence under this legislation are limited to the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Customs and Excise, as provided (as my noble friend said) by Section 281 of the Customs and Excise Act of 1952.

This Amendment seeks to avoid prejudicing the powers of Her Majesty's Customs and Excise, and, in particular, it seeks to disapply those sections of the 1952 Act quoted in the Amendment, which all provide that penalties under Customs legislation shall not apply where specific offences in connection with imports and exports are penalised by separate legislation. I bow to the knowledge of my noble and learned friend Lord Stow Hill in his understanding of Customs legislation, which is far better than mine. I appreciate that members of the public will be concerned, and will wish to take action, if they see an animal, plant, or item in this country which they have reason to think has been illegally imported. But virtually all the evidence required to support such a prosecution would be in the hands of Government Departments, so that a private prosecution would be less likely to succeed.

I should point out also that prosecutions brought under Customs and Excise legislation are often the result of a lengthy and painstaking inquiry, and the Commissioners' powers and resources are clearly far greater than those of any private individual. Although the Amendment may not debar action by Customs, there could well be practical difficulties if a private prosecution had been brought, and perhaps lost, while the Customs' case was still being prepared. I should like to emphasise that both my Department and Her Majesty's Customs and Excise value the co-operation of members of the public. We hope that the voluntary conservation bodies also will continue to give us their help, in the way the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, intimated, in implementing these controls as effectively as possible.

I am sure that the Customs would enforce this legislation conscientiously and effectively, as they have enforced similar legislation in the past. They have prosecuted on a number of occasions where restrictive animals or birds have been imported, and it must also be remembered that the evasion of these restrictions may be linked with evasion of duty and a private prosecution for evasion of a restriction may seriously hamper the Customs in the enforcement of the law relating to duty. I accept the concern of my noble friend, but I hope that he will withdraw his Amendment. I am always willing to consider and to reconsider, but I cannot offer very much hope to him that, if we take this matter back and reconsider it, we should be any more favourably inclined towards it at Report stage than we are now. I should be perfectly happy, if my noble friend will withdraw the Amendment now, to consider it and have talks with my noble friend again before the Report stage, but beyond that I am not prepared to go.


I am most grateful to my noble friend. She admits quite frankly that the only enforcement authority which would have the power under the Bill as it stands is the Customs and Excise, and I feel that in so doing she gives her case away. My noble friend has very kindly said that she will consider this matter but that she cannot hold out much hope to me. In these circumstances I am quite content to ask your Lordships' leave to withdraw the Amendment, but as my noble friend cannot hold out hope to me, I cannot hold out any hope to her of my being less tiresome on the Report stage than I have been today at the Committee stage. But I am most grateful to my noble friend for her undertaking.


Before the Amendment is withdrawn, may I offer a suggestion? It is that the co-operation of the voluntary conservation bodies might he obtained in connection with the enforcement of the provisions of this Bill. Speaking from recollection, I believe there is one precedent, if it is the only one: that of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, who are given statutory recognition which empowers them to take action pari passu with the police in the enforcement of legislation about cruelty to children. I believe it is the only voluntary body which is given this special status in the eyes of the law. Anyhow, it might be worth exploring. It seems to me that there are difficulties, and even objections sometimes, about a purely private prosecution, a prosecution by a private citizen who may not understand fully the implications of the action that he is taking and who could get in the way of the Customs and Excise. He could "botch" the whole thing up for them by precipitate action or action through ignorance of the full implication of what he was doing.

Is it a possible way out here for conservation bodies to be named as organisations which have the right to prosecute? One assumes that they would be responsible and well-informed bodies which could work in close co-operation with the Customs and Excise and so ensure that what they proposed to do was not going to he obstructive to any action the Customs and Excise had in mind. Moreover, I think that if this provision were made then in most cases, if the vigilance of the conservation body led to a report to the Customs and Excise that they thought that there was a prima, facie case for a prosecution, they would probably be content to leave it to the Customs and Excise to pursue the further investigations and, if necessary, take the action which the law enabled them to do.

This is just a suggestion; but I feel that to leave it to the Customs and Excise alone is to narrow the possible area of successful vigilance. I may be wrong about this, hut sometimes an animal of a particular species becomes known to be in somebody's back garden or in an attic and as being kept there for private exhibition to people who may be interested to see a rare specimen which has been smuggled into the country. Citizens may hear about this, and they may feel that there is some ground for investigation. If they can report the matter to a voluntary body which might first embark on preliminary investigations before putting the matter in the hands of the Customs and Excise, that might help. Sometimes the citizen is reluctant to call in the police or to bring in bureaucracy, from whose actions rather serious results may follow; and if the voluntary bodies could be, as it were, an intermediate point of information and of report to the Customs and Excise, in co-operation with them, you would have responsibility wihout officialdom, you would relieve the citizen of his anxieties and you would probably be of assistance to the Customs and Excise themselves. Anyhow, since my noble friend is going to consider the matter again I offer that as a possible addition to the matters she might take into account.


I have moved hastily to the Back-Benches because I was going to say that I hope the noble Baroness will bear in mind that there is, I think, quite a lot of support from these Benches, albeit the Back-Benches, for this Amendment; and I say that having started my legal career as a pupil in the chambers of the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill. There are many occasions, as I suggest, when it would be wholly inappropriate for a prosecution to be initiated by the Customs and Excise. They are mostly concerned with prosecutions which are in point of time probably placed, in relation to goods, pretty close to the point of entry. In those circumstances, if, for instance, the goods —and I use the word in its generic sense —are not near the point of entry, either in place or in time, it may well be far more appropriate either for the police to prosecute or for a private prosecution to take place, whether or not that is under the aegis of a voluntary body; it really does not matter for the purpose of the noble Lord's Amendment whether the prosecution is undertaken privately by an individual or by a group of individuals acting in concert. So I hope that the noble Baroness will consider this matter with her advisers with some degree of seriousness.

Baroness WHITE

May I also urge the noble Baroness to take account of the very ingenious suggestion put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, because I think this might get her out of what I fully appreciate is a genuine difficulty. We can all see the apprehension that an ill-advised private prosecution might make things worse rather than better. On the other hand, if this analogy is a sound one —I have no notion whether or not it is, but it sounds to me prima facie to be a sound analogy —then one has very knowledgeable and very responsible organisations in this country which could be relied upon to undertake responsible prosecutions only, and I would have thought that this might well be a way out of what might otherwise be a difficult dilemma. We all realise that official bodies are most reluctant to undertake prosecutions unless, I would say, they are 98 per cent. certain of success, and that they will not chance their arm on something where they have doubts about it. We know this in so many spheres, where a public prosecution, because it is not virtually certain of success, is not undertaken even though one may be almost certain that there is an infringement of the law. So I would hope very much that my noble friend will consider this seriously.

Baroness STEDMAN

I was intending to consider it seriously in any case, but the more I have heard while the debate has gone on the more I have had doubts raised in my own mind that they might perhaps be able to make out a case for the private prosecution and we might perhaps be able to use the method suggested by my noble friend Lord Houghton: but we will certainly consider it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7.48 p.m.

Lord STOW HILL moved Amendment No. 13:

Page 2, line 13, after ("statement") insert ("or representation")

The noble and learned Lord said: In a very general sense, this Amendment is directed to the same objective as the last one, and I should be grateful if I might take it together with Amendment No. 17, which is in exactly the same form. The two Amendments relate to the provisions in subsection (4) of the Bill concerning the making of untrue statements, and what I would ask your Lordships to do by way of amendment is to include in line 13, after the word "statement", the words "or representation", and to make the same change in line 17. In other words, if I may take paragraph (a), the offence would be: makes a statement or representation which he knows to be false in a material particular "; and a corresponding change would be made in the later paragraph.

What is pointed out to me is that you may well have a case where there is a blank in a form and the applicant is asked to say in the blank whether (a) or (b) is the case. He does not do so; he just does not fill in the blank. I should have thought that a "statement" connotes the idea of a more or less precise concept expressed in consecutive wording. It is different from an expletive; it is not the same as "representation". Representation may be included in the word "statement"; but a representation can take all sorts of different forms. You can wink or shrug your shoulders or do all sorts of things to produce a belief in the particular person to whom you make the representation without making a statement to him.

That is the point of these two Amendments. I should not be serving a useful purpose if I were to make a long and tiresome oration in support of each. I hope your Lordships will feel that this is a sensible change; that it strengthens the enforcement provisions and cuts out from them a weakness which might otherwise be exploited by a person of ill faith. I beg to move.

Baroness STEDMAN

I am advised that in legal usage the words "statement" and "representation" are very close in meaning. That being so, I am happy to accept the Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

7.51 p.m.

Viscount MASSEREENE and FERRARD moved Amendment No. 14:

Page 2, line 13, leave out ("in a material particular").

The noble Viscount said: With the consent of the Committee, in moving Amendment No. 14 I should like to speak to Amendments Nos. 15 and 18. Like the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, my Amendments to omit the words "in a material particular" are also to do with getting the truth. I was rather emboldened to put down these Amendments by the fact that on 11th July 1974 the Government accepted Amendments of mine to omit these words from the Health and Safety at Work Act. I agree that the Health and Safety at Work Act has nothing to do with the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Bill, but the principle is the same.

These Amendments make it an offence knowingly and recklessly to tell a lie when applying for a licence under the Bill. As the Bill stands, under this subsection deliberate lies are not punishable unless they are material. In principle, why should anyone tell a deliberate lie when applying for a licence to import an endangered species? The subsection as it stands does not create any absolute offence, but operates only when something is done knowingly or recklessly; so why turn a blind eye to a deliberate falsehood?

It may seem at first sight that material facts can be separated easily from nonmaterial ones; but I can give instances of where this is not so. Let us take the applicant's address as material —which I think one must. I can imagine a situation where an applicant puts down a friend's address as his own because his own address is known to the scientific authority as that of a limited company of which he is the sole director and which has been blacklisted for abuse of licences in the past. Is the date on the application form material? I should say that it is; because the case may occur where the scientific authority of a country decides not to issue licences for imports from a certain date, but decides also to allow existing applications before that date to be honoured. The date of the application is then very material. Is the man taken to commit an offence if he puts down deliberately an earlier date so as to avoid the ban? An applicant might perhaps be superstitious and might put down an earlier date to avoid, say, "Friday, 13th". If so, that is surely anomalous.

As I see it, an additional problem is as to whom the mis-statement is to appear material. If it appears material to the scientific authority but not to the applicant —and this could genuinely happen —is there an offence? I am aware that other Acts refer to material mistakes. On the whole, they are absolute offences unqualified by the words "knowingly or recklessly", as in this case. I can give an example from Section 78 of the Diseases of Animals Act 1950, part of which reads: If any person does any of the following things, he shall be guilty of an offence against this Act: …if, for the purpose of obtaining a licence, certificate, or instrument he makes a declaration or statement" — your Lordships will note that there is no reference to "knowingly or recklessly" — false in any material particular, unless he shows to the satisfaction of the court that he did not know of that falsity".

In other words, the burden of proof is reversed and the defendant must demonstrate his lack of knowledge.

I feel that these words ought to be omitted. They have been omitted from other Acts. I have referred to my Amendment to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and I need not go into that; but I moved then to delete the same words, "in a material particular", on the ground that a person involving himself in the proceeding of that Act ought to warrant his own truthfulness. He should not be able to argue over the meaning of "material" in order to avoid the consequences of a deliberate lie on his part.

I hope that the noble Baroness has the gist of what I am trying to explain. The point is that these words have been omitted from other Acts and what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. It is the principle that counts. I beg to move.

Baroness STEDMAN

The subsection as it stands would make it an offence when applying for a licence, knowingly or recklessly to make a statement or furnish information which is incorrect in a material particular. Courts are familiar with this expression which occurs in offences under the Perjury Act 1911 and many other statutes relating to false statements. It means a relevant fact; one which if wrong could lead the Secretary of State to make a decision on the issue of the licence or its terms other than the one he would have taken if he had been given the correct fact. It is not the intention to penalize someone who makes a mistake in an unimportant detail.

These Amendments would make it an offence to make any mistake on an application, however trivial, whether it was done knowingly or merely recklessly. It would seem unduly harsh to penalise an applicant for a minor error which would not affect the decision on a licence application. I hope that the noble Lord will accept that and withdraw. I also accept I am surrounded by a wealth of legal knowledge, and if they come to the noble Viscount's defence and say his wording is right, I may be persuaded to accept it.


Would the noble Baroness agree that, if you tell a white lie, one will not be convicted, but, if it becomes black in the opinion of the courts, one will be convicted?


I follow the point made by the noble Baroness; but I put down this Amendment because previously I had the same Amendment accepted on the other Bill. I am prepared to withdraw the Amendment, but I am not too happy about the authority being able to tell the difference between a white and black lie. Sometimes they may get confused as to what is a white lie and what is a black one. However, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 16:

Page 2, line 16, leave out ("or").

The noble Baroness said: This is a paving Amendment to Amendment No. 19, with which it should be considered. The effect of these two Amendments is to make it an offence to recklessly furnish false information or documents. As the clause is drafted, subsections 4(a) and 4(c) cover both a statement known to be false and a false statement made recklessly. In the case of information or documents, however, subsection 4(b) makes it an offence only where the falsity is known. The Amendment will provide a parallel with subsection 4(c) by covering any false document or information furnished recklessly. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord STOW HILL moved Amendment No. 17:

Page 2, line 17, after ("statement") insert ("or representation").

The noble and learned Lord said: I have already spoken to this Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 19:

Page 2, line 18, at end insert ("or (d) recklessly furnishes a document or information which is false in a material particular,").

The noble Baroness said: I spoke to this in moving the previous Amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to. 8.5 p.m.

Lord CRAIGTON moved Amendment No. 20:

Page 2, line 20, leave out ("£400") and insert ("£1,000").

The noble Lord said: This is a very brief point. As the noble Baroness and your Lordships will know, for a clouded leopard, for example, one would have to pay over £1,000. But if anybody secures a clouded leopard for £1,000 and pays a fine of £400, they have made a nice profit out of it. I realise the difficulty, but I should like to hear what the noble Baroness has to say on this Amendment. I beg to move.

Baroness STEDMAN

The present £400 maximum fine in Clause 1(4) is that which magistrates' courts can impose on summary conviction over a wide range of indictable offences (including theft and criminal damage). It is therefore by convention the normal limit of their fining powers in relation to purely summary offences or on summary conviction of hybrid offences; that is, one such as the present offence which may be tried summarily or on indictment, with maximum penalties specified in the relevant enactment for each mode of trial.

Maximum fines on summary conviction higher than the normal f400 are available in a limited number of instances; for example, where the illicit profit to be made from committing the offence would outweigh the maximum fine which could otherwise be imposed, or where the speed of summary proceedings is essential for effective enforcement of a relatively serious offence. But generally it is preferable that magistrates' courts' powers should be standardised on the basis of the £400 maximum. In the present case, if it seems desirable that a higher penalty should be available, it is open to the prosecution to proceed on indictment where, on conviction, an unlimited fine or a maximum of two years' imprisonment are available.

It may be objected that the £400 limit of the magistrates' courts' fining power, which was fixed hack in 1967, has been seriously eroded by inflation. This point is well recognised and the recently published Report of the James Committee on the distribution of business between the Crown Courts and magistrates' courts proposes that the limit should be increased from £400 to £1,000, and that all hybrid regulatory offences should in due course carry, on the summary limb, a new maximum fine of £1,000. When legislation to implement the James Report is introduced, the opportunity will be taken to review the penalties in existing legislation, including the penalty in this clause, in the light of the new maximum. But it would be wrong for this Bill to anticipate the Government's consideration of the James recommendations, while leaving unchanged those for offences in other legislation of the same or greater intrinsic gravity. To do so would leave the courts with little idea of the relative seriousness with which Parliament has decided that they are to be regarded and hence provide little indication for sentencing policy, of the aptness of a sentence.


I am grateful, and beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord CRAIGTON moved Amendment No. 21:

Page 2, line 37, after ("shall") insert ("after consultation with the appropriate scientific authority regarding its disposal,").

The noble Lord said: This is a small point. There are cases regarding for- feited animals of zoos having to accept for the sake of the animal an animal seized by the Customs which they really do not want. There are cases where an illegal importer claims that of course the bird which has arrived was not ordered by him at his address but finds himself given custody of the bird by the Customs and Excise which he knows perfectly well he has illegally imported. I am aware of the fact that this Amendment is incorrectly drafted; but there is nothing in this Bill which gives the Customs and Excise the powers, if they want so to do, to consult the scientific authority about the disposal of these creatures. It is an incredibly difficult position. There is a great deal of inside information that scientific authorities have. Would it not be an advantage for it to be put into the Bill that the Customs and Excise could consult the scientific authority about the disposing of the creature? I beg to move.

Baroness STEDMAN

As the noble Lord has accepted, the Amendment is defective in drafting. Noble Lords will observe that line 37 on page 2 of the Bill refers to liability to forfeiture and not the act of seizure. The liability arises at the time of importation, whether or not the actual seizure is effected at that time. This is a matter which has been decided by the Courts. Therefore it is clear that con- sultation of the kind envisaged in the Amendment cannot affect the liability to forfeiture for which the clause provides.

So far as the intention behind the Amendment is concerned, I am happy to be able to assure the Committee that where animals, birds and other goods restricted for conservation reasons are seized by Customs because they have been imported contrary to those restrictions, it has always been the practice of Customs to consult the policy Department, which is in touch with the scientific authority, about disposal. A legal provision for this purpose is not therefore necessary. It would, indeed, by positively undesirable and may hamper Customs in their task of enforcement.

Consultations as to disposal normally have to be conducted speedily —usually by telephone. In the case of live creatures, it is usually done before seizure takes place, for obvious reasons. The Committee will appreciate that the need for seizure may arise urgently during the course of investigation. If consultation were a legal requirement, it would have to be on a more formal basis and the delay may well obstruct Customs in their enforcement activity. For instance, it might give the owner an opportunity to conceal or dispose of the animal or bird, so that it could not be seized at all.

I can assure the Committee that Customs will continue to act, as they have clone in the past, with every regard for the objectives of conservation. But we must oppose this Amendment, which is likely to impede the effective enforcement of the very controls we are discussing.


I, too, oppose the Amendment as I have drafted it. However, if the noble Baroness is satisfied that it is not necessary to write into the Bill that there may be consultations with the scientific authority, and in the hope that the Government may be able to look at this again, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord CRAIGTON moved Amendment No. 22:

Page 2, line 38, at end insert — ("( ) Where anything is sold to which subsection (6) above applies, the contract shall be deemed to include a warranty that the conditions laid clown in this section and which refer to that thing, have been complied with.").

The noble Lord said: I must apologise to the noble Baroness for having redrafted this Amendment. Whether or not it is improved, I do not know —it only came in the first Marshalled List —but, as now drafted, where it says that the contract should be deemed to include a warranty rather than "to include a warranty" as in the previous Amendment, it forces the seller to make certain that what he is selling is legally imported. This, to some extent, protects the buyer. It makes the seller very wary of advertising for sale something of whose legality he is not sure. So far as I can see it does not add anything at all to his paper work or the keeping of records at the ordinary place of a sale. If I go into a shop and buy something, I suppose there is an implied warranty by the seller that the goods are not stolen. This is all that this Amendment is saying.I believe it would be a useful Amendment, but am content to leave it to the noble Baroness as to whether she wishes to turn it down or to have another go. I beg to move.

Baroness STEDMAN

In discussing this Amendment, we shall be touching also on matters which affect Amendments Nos. 28, 35, 42, 69, 26 and 27A. The element common to all of them is that they seek to back up controls at the point of import with provisions relating to the point of sale. It is natural that people should be offended if they see apparently banned goods on sale in the shops and I can understand that they will want to take some action. But I do not think that this Amendment is the best way to go about it. First, it must be remembered that, even for the species and items in the Schedules to this Bill, there will be no bar to commercial trade in many of them. We are not required to restrict trade in the vulnerable species listed in Appendix II to the Convention, provided the exporting country has been willing to give a permit for export. And we have no intention of imposing such a restriction unless our scientific authorities tell us that the Convention has got it wrong and that the species really is endangered. Moreover some of the items listed in Schedule 3 to the Bill may be derived from species that are not even included in Appendix II to the Convention —they are not even vulnerable; they have simply been included as requiring licences to help us overcome the "recognisability" problem.

It follows that there will continue to be a good deal of commercial trade in many of the species and items covered by this Bill. We are stopping it only for the truly endangered species. This particular Amendment, of course, goes much wider than the controlled species, because subsection (6) covers all whole animals and plants of all kinds.

We believe it would impose a wholly unacceptable burden on retailers and other traders to require them to maintain records of all wildlife goods to show whether they were covered by the controls and, if so, whether they had been licensed. It must be remembered that a single large import of skins might be split up into a number of batches and treated in various ways by numerous traders before reaching the shops. Incidentally, I would have thought that the Amendment falls short of its objective in that it covers goods for sale, but does not cover live animals and plants on exhibition.

I believe that the aim of this and the other "point of sale" Amendments can be met adequately by the use of existing powers and existing records. If, for example, someone were to report to the Department of the Environment that they had seen a leopard-skin coat, the Department could arrange for the species to be identified by an expert and check whether it was likely to have been covered by an import licence. If there then were reasonable grounds to suspect an illegal import, they could ask Her Majesty's Customs and Excise to investigate.

Customs already have considerable powers to investigate cases of suspected importation contrary to a prohibition or restriction. These powers have been found to be quite adequate in the past in connection with prohibitions and restrictions for conservation and other reasons, and have in fact been used on numerous occasions to good effect. The restrictions provided for by this Bill are similar to those we have previously exercised over imports of animals and birds and I cannot see that they change the situation in a way that calls for additional powers.

The Customs do not hesitate to use their powers to investigate cases where illegal importation is suspected and, where confirmatory evidence is obtained, the existing law provides both for forfeiture of the goods and for prosecution where there has been intent to evade a prohibition.

I can appreciate that anyone reporting a suspected illegal import will be interested in knowing what action has been taken. I certainly have no wish to discourage vigilance by the voluntary bodies and private individuals with an interest in conservation —indeed I welcome the help which they can give towards the effective enforcement of our controls. It may be that, in the light of past experience, we can improve the feedback to bodies and individuals who report suspected offences. I am certainly prepared to reveal in summary form figures showing the results of the action taken as a result of such reports. Moreover, officials will be willing to give a certain amount of informal guidance as to which types of items are likely to be in the country legally and which are not. But I must emphasise that the Government cannot undertake to reveal the outcome of individual inquiries, except where a prosecution ensues.

We have every sympathy with the noble Lord's aim of stopping commercial trade of all kinds in truly endangered species of wild-life and I can assert that Departments will use the very extensive powers already available to them. I know the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, believes that his Amendment, as re-written, would not require the retailer to keep records. If it transpires that his goods were illegal imports and if he was sued by the purchaser he could get redress from his supplier. I know that is the line the noble Lord is taking. My advisers are at present unconvinced but we are willing to look at this again, and in the light of this I hope that the noble Lord will be willing to withdraw his Amendment.


I am very grateful to the noble Baroness, as will be the conservation bodies, for the detailed and informative way in which she has said that she does not like my Amendment, and I am glad that she will be looking at the point again. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

8.20 p.m.

The Earl of CRANBROOK moved Amendment No. 23:

Page 2, line 38, at end insert — (" ( A person in breach of the terms of a licence issued under subsection (2) above shall be liable, on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £400, and to a fine not exceeding £20 for every day on which the offence continues after conviction").

The noble Earl said: I find myself in some difficulty, because I am not certain which Amendments are to be passed and which are not to be passed, and I do not know what will be the condition of this Bill by the time when, sooner or later, we get to supper. But certainly at the stage when I put down this Amendment, bearing in mind the Amendment which I have already withdrawn, it seemed necessary that there should be some penalty for breaking any conditions which were attached to a licence under Clause 1(2).

still think that that is likely to be necessary, although I must confess that I am not certain in these circumstances what the words "general and specific" mean. But if they mean, as I assume they do, that conditions can be attached to the licence other than those mentioned in Clause 4(1), then unless this Amendment were accepted there would be no penalties applicable to a breach of any conditions attached to licences given under subsection (2) of Clause 1. I beg to move.

Baroness STEDMAN

This Amendment would make a person who breached the terms of a licence liable to a fine and provide a cumulative penalty for retaining the animal, plant or item after conviction. The Amendment appears to be unnecessary. Imports and exports of controlled goods are already prohibited, except in accordance with the terms of a licence issued by the Secretary of State, under Clause 1(2) of the Bill. Goods imported contrary to these terms would he subject to forfeiture under Customs and Excise legislation and the importer could he liable to prosecution. To impose a line as proposed by this Amendment would thus entail a double penalty for a single offence. The proposed cumulative penalty would also seem unnecessary and inapplicable where the condition did not relate to a continuing state of affairs. The goods would be forfeited once the fact of illegal import was established.

There are already penalties relating to breach of conditions after import; for example, for moving the animal to premises which were not those specified in any direction by the Secretary of State. In this context I would ask the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, whether he would be prepared to await discussion of the Government Amendment on Clause 4, from which he will see that it is proposed to introduce a penalty for retaining an animal at the wrong premises. I hope that when we discuss this point he will agree that it would meet most of his requirements. I imagine that the Amendment is primarily concerned with import licences. But I would point out that it would, in any case, be virtually impossible to impose such conditions on an export licence for an animal, plant or item which would have left the country. I hope that when we get to Clause 4 we might clear the noble Earl's mind a little.


I am very grateful to the noble Baroness for that explanation. I shall wait for Clause 4, and if I am not then satisfied I can always put the Amendment down again. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

8.24 p.m.

The Earl of MANSFIELD moved Amendment No. 24:

Page 2, line 38, at end insert — (" ( ) A person handles unlicensed goods if, knowing or believing them to be items unlawfully imported by virtue of this section, he dishonestly receives the goods, or dishonestly undertakes or assists in their retention, removal, dispersal or realisation by, or for the benefit of another person, or if he arranges to do so.").

The noble Earl said: I beg to move Amendment No. 24, and it may be convenient if I also speak at the same time to Amendment No. 25. I move this Amendment from this geographical position in the Chamber, although I am painfully conscious of the presence of a Whip behind me and the possibility of my buttons eventually being snipped off. I appreciate that these Amendments are an attempt to invite the Government to consider widening the whole scope of this Bill. As the Bill now stands —and I appreciate the concern of the Customs and Excise to clutch on to it —it is concerned with the importation of goods (and I use the word "importation" as a convenient term) and is not primarily concerned with what happens to those goods once they have finally left the point of entry, although I bear in mind what the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, said in her reply to Amendment No. 22.

As I see it, the defects of the Bill are possibly twofold. Once goods have left the point of entry, and have left it for some time, it is wholly inappropriate for the Customs and Excise to pursue them very far. I know they will disagree, but I have considerable knowledge of their ways and workings from my past. They have neither the facilities to make a thorough-going investigation of this kind of problem, nor am I sure it is a very good idea that they should try. It is a matter which is very much better left to the police because, as noble Lords and Ladies who are criminally minded will already have perceived, these Amendments follow very closely upon the provisions in the Theft Act which deal with honest handling

As the Bill stands, we reach the ludicrous position that if, for instance, someone imports goods which are prohibited under this Bill, and gets away with it —and we have to admit to ourselves, even if not to the Customs, that such will happen —and he thereafter sells those goods to a dealer who takes them in the knowledge that they are unlicensed, but not in the knowledge of how precisely they came into the country, I can see nothing that the Customs and Excise or anybody else can do to stop the subsequent sale. That is something which I apprehend the conservation bodies view with great alarm, because it makes nonsense of the whole Bill. Therefore, if the Government are going to put something on the Statute Book, making use of our very limited Parliamentary time, they should at least try to make it as effective as they possibly can. That is why I invite the noble Baroness and the Government to pay regard to this matter at this stage.

Of course, my Amendments go rather further than dishonest dealers who merely, as it were, buy from an importer or his agent. I anticipate that as the goods dry up, as one hopes they will, under this Bill it will become more and more profitable to undertake a dishonest exercise of that nature; this happened with birds' eggs and a number of things like that. Therefore, it will he worth more and more to dishonest men and crooks, not to put too fine a point on it, to engage in this kind of exercise. We then come across all the various people who are links in the chain between the original point of entry and the eventual suit made of vicuna cloth, or whatever it happens to be —and I quote that example facetiously.

As I read this Bill, there is no power, unless one brings them all in under some kind of conspiracy (and "conspiracy" is not a very popular word in Government circles these days) to bring into the net the man who stores the goods, the man who oils the wheels and makes the whole affair —I was going to use the word "conspiracy" —prosper, so that the crooks gain their unjust reward. So that, in the same way as the law provides for all the people who deal in stolen goods, my Amendments try to provide for all the people who may try to deal in unlicensed goods.

The Amendments emphasise the dishonest nature of the transaction. I want to emphasise that a person who is an innocent receiver or handler will not be liable to be convicted, so we are dealing here only with dishonest people. I am painfully aware that the Amendments are not properly drafted. I used the word "goods" because it came conveniently from the Theft Act, but if I had thought rather more about it I should have put down on the Marshalled List something more cumbersome but possibly more correct. I am also aware that as the Bill now stands, Amendments such as these could not be accepted, if only by virtue of the Long Title. Nevertheless, if the Government accept the spirit of the Amendments, and bear in mind that we are now in the very early stage of the passage of this Bill through Parliament, I have absolutely no doubt that these worthwhile provisions can be written into it.


I hope that the Government will give consideration to this Amendment, or to Amendment No. 25 which raises a somewhat similar point. I find that it is a little strange that I should be speaking in favour of an Amendment which is moved from the Opposition Front Bench.




However, we are considering the most effective way to deal with the essentials of this measure, and I want to assure the Minister that we are doing so with very great appreciation of the purpose of this Bill and that our desire is only to strengthen it.

First, I should like to argue in favour of this Amendment, as I am in sympathy with those who are responsible for carrying out customs duties at Heathrow and at the ports. They have an extraordinarily difficult task to perform and so far as Customs and Excise are concerned I believe it is true that the conditions often make their task increasingly difficult. Often I come into conflict with the officials at Heathrow and at the ports and sometimes their decisions are remedied after an appeal to higher quarters. However, when I think of the duties which those officials have to fulfil it is too much to ask that in this Bill we should make them responsible for saying whether goods are legally or illegally imported into this country.

. I follow that appeal on behalf of the officials at our airports and seaports by suggesting that it is impossible to say that goods which have been accepted by Customs and Excise but which are contrary to the provisions of this Bill subsequently shall become legal in this country. We do not apply that principle to drugs. Drugs may pass Customs and Excise, but still they remain illegal in this country; and anyone who handles them, or who organises their coming into this country, or who sells them, or who is in possession of them is breaking our law. That same principle ought to apply to articles which escape Customs and Excise but which nevertheless are sold in this country. Although they have evaded Customs and Excise, they would have been illegal if they had been discovered by Customs and Excise. But having passed Customs and Excise, there are, so far as I can see in this Bill, no provisions by which they remain illegal when they are sold and no provisions by which those who facilitate their sale can be prosecuted.

When replying to this Amendment and considering other Amendments which have a similar purpose, I hope that the Minister will at least be able to say to us that this very important point will be considered before Report stage. I hope also that if the drafting of this Amendment is not acceptable, an acceptable Amendment will be produced.

Baroness STEDMAN

This Amendment and Amendment No. 25 are variants of an attempt to extend control from the point of import to the point of sale. The Amendments would make it an offence for somebody to handle goods which he knew or believed to be illegally imported. I do not want to repeat again my lengthy reply to Amendment No. 22. However, the Government believe that the difficulties can be adequately met by our existing powers and records. These Amendments appear to be somewhat wider ranging, in that they would cover anyone handling the goods after import. On the other hand, unlike some of the other Amendments, they would leave the onus of proof on the prosecution. The noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, will have gathered from the discussions and from my reply to Amendment No. 22 that in our view this Amendment would create an undesirable overlap with the existing Customs powers and could well undermine the ability of Customs to take action. While, however, it will or may create problems and some difficulty for Customs in meshing them together satisfactorily with their present Customs legislation, I am conscious of the feeling of the Committee about the Amendment and am prepared to have a look at the drafting and the implications of it and to consult again with the noble Earl before Report stage.


First, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, for the generous manner in which he greeted my Amendment. On the very first occasion that I defeated a Government in 1973, of which my noble friend Lord Mowbray and Stourton was a Member, I defeated it only because of the votes of the then Opposition who came flooding into the Lobby with me. At Report stage it would be nice to have the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, with me, if that were necessary. More seriously, I am very pleased that the noble Baroness is prepared to look again at this Amendment. I say with sincerity that there comes a time for Customs and Excise, however worthy they are —I am not criticising, for in my day I used to prosecute for them —when the maintenance of the criminal law should he left to the police and the ordinary prosecuting authorities or, in proper cases, to private prosecutions, at least in England and Wales. As I said before, I am conscious that these Amendments are badly drafted, and never expected what I may say was a very flattering reception.

Before I withdraw Amendment No. 24, the only other matter I would ask the noble Baroness to consider so far as Amendment No. 25 is concerned —I am speaking immediately after the Freshwater and Salmon Fisheries (Scotland) Bill in order to throw a fly on the water in a titillating manner —is that in Amendment No. 25 there is summary conviction. But if one is to be consistent about this, provision ought to be made for conviction and penalty on indictment. When the noble Baroness considers the one point I hope she will also consider the other. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

8.40 p.m.

Baroness WHITE moved Amendment No. 25A:

Page 2, line 38, at end insert — (" (6A) It shall be the duty of the Secretary of State —

  1. (a) to maintain a register of licences issued under subsection (2) above, and of certificates issued in pursuance of subsection (6B) below;
  2. (b) to secure that the register is open to inspection by the public free of charge at all reasonable hours; and
  3. (c) to afford members of the public reasonable facilities for obtaining from the Secretary of State, on payment of reasonable charges, copies of entries in the register.").

The noble Baroness said: I beg to move Amendment No. 25A which stands in the name of my noble friend Lord Wynne-Jones and myself, and to speak to Amendment No. 25B which is part and parcel of the proposed procedure. I do this because in a completely different context, and one which I think provides a reasonable analogy, your Lordships' House has agreed that where one has registers of this nature it should be possible for the public to obtain access to them. We discussed this principle at considerable length when we were dealing with the Control of Pollution Act, and there it was agreed that where a Secretary of State, or the Minister responsible, licensed a particular action which was one of considerable public interest to those concerned —in that case with pollution; in this case with conservation —the information that a licence had been issued was, and should be, public property. It was recognised under the Control of Pollution Act, as I am suggesting should be recognised under this legislation, that there could be circumstances where someone might perfectly legitimately put a case to the Secretary of State that there were special reasons where, if it were known on what terms he had obtained the licence, or exactly what the licence covered, it might adversely affect his interests, and if the Secretary of State was satisfied that this was so he could then refrain from including the particulars in the register open to the public, but it would also be incumbent upon the Secretary of State to indicate to the public that such an exception had been made.

It seems to me that the principle concerned in these two situations is similar; that the public are entitled to know if licences have been issued in such circumstances, that there is under Amendment No. 25B a procedure whereby if there were some genuine danger to the interests of the person concerned it could be impartially considered by the Secretary of State and those interests could be safeguarded. I am sure it would be of considerable assistance to the voluntary bodies and, in a few cases, experts in this particular field, if they were able easily to obtain this information, understand that until now the Department has resisted the suggestion that this provision should he included in the Bill. They have said, in effect, "Well, in certain circumstances we would probably be willing to let certain approved persons know whether so-and-so was licensed to import such-and-such an animal or object or product." At any rate it is suggested for the Appendix I animals in the Convention but not for Appendix 2.

I must confess that I have not been able to go into the details of exactly what this would cover, but it is the attitude with which I am concerned: that it should be regarded as some concession that this information should be available. I believe it is a right that this information should be available. After all, the Department will know perfectly well what licences have been issued. The onus of seeking exclusion from the register will be on a person who has some personal pecuniary interest in the matter. Therefore the onus should rightly he on that person, to be dealt with under Amendment 25B and not 25A.

I do not know whether or not my noble friend will, as I very much hope she will, follow up the proposals in Amendment No. 12, but if it is made possible for persons other than Customs and Excise in certain circumstances to initiate prosecutions, then obviously this is an item of information which would have to be available to them. It seems to me the arguments are strongly in favour of open government, a principle to which the noble Baroness and I are both committed, and therefore one ought to resist the very natural tendency of all Departments not to reveal information if they can possibly avoid it. So even if my noble friend has been advised to the contrary (as I suspect she may have been) I hope she will have a look at this. She has been extraordinarily co-operative over this Bill and I am sure we all appreciate that very much indeed, but it seems to me that this principle, which has already been accepted by Parliament, that where registers of licences are compiled by the Department they should be open to public inspection, should apply equally to the provisions of the Bill before us. I beg to move.


I hope that my noble friend Lady Stedman will be able to meet us on this particular Amendment. As my noble friend Lady White has pointed out, what we are asking for is the supplying to people of information which in normal circumstances should not be regarded as secret, confidential or private. It concerns a public matter. However, there is in Amendment No. 25B provision for anyone who considers that his particular business would be affected by publishing this information, to ask the Secretary of State that it should not be published. That would appear to cover any legitimate cases.

Why do we want this? It is in order that the people of the country, the interested societies, and so on, should be able to know quite clearly who have licences to carry on this import and export. If they know this, they are in a very much better position to look at any infringements of the law. If they do not know it, they have to go round and try to find out in one way or another. It would seem that it is highly desirable that this information should be made public. My noble friend said earlier that she was looking forward to a greater feedback between her Department and the various societies. From my own personal knowledge I know she has gone a long way to encourage and help in this, and this is a desirable thing.

We would say that this Amendment goes a considerable way to help exactly this sort of feedback in order to supply the information which enables the various societies to take some policing action. My noble friend has indicated some two or three times this evening that her Department consider —or perhaps it is not her Department but Her Majesty's Customs and Excise —that they are already in a position to do the whole policing themselves. From what has been said by Members of your Lordships' Committee this evening, it is clear that this is not accepted as being a correct reflection of the present state of affairs. I think most people who have any experience of it at all know perfectly well that the Customs and Excise are not in the position of being an effective police force throughout the whole country. No one can deny that they try to do —and they do —their jobs well at the points of import and export, but to imagine that they go all the way round the country and control everything that happens in every small shop, every small warehouse and every small factory in the country is really to suggest something which is patently absurd.

I suggest it is important that Her Majesty's Government should realise that we are serious when we suggest that the mode of policing should be made wider, and that this can be done only if information is available as widely as possible, with proper safeguards. That is the purpose of these two Amendments, so I hope my noble friend will be able to give us some assurance on this matter.


I am a little worried, especially about the words in Amendment 25B: to an unreasonable degree some private interest by disclosing information about a trade secret".

I have been thinking about the disclosure of information in the interests of the animals themselves, because I envisage a situation where a legitimate trader was exporting animals from a certain place where, if it were known that this were done too easily, the whole area would be subject to poaching. Therefore, if the noble Baroness is going to pass this, then I think one reason for not disclosing information should be that it affected the protection of the animals themselves.


I wish to support the Amendment of my noble friend. I am not even sure that I would concede the proviso in the second part of it under Amendment 25B, paragraph (b). When people are importing endangered species they are presumably putting that species in still further danger; or at least, if endangered species are thrown into this traffic too freely, then the species may be in still further peril. The licensing system is introduced in order to stop people from importing endangered species except for reasons which seem to be good to the Secretary of State, based on advice that he will receive from the scientific authorities. Therefore, this may be on the whole an undesirable traffic.

What is it, and for what are our endangered species being imported? Here we come to the question of information. I have no doubt that if a Question were put down to the Secretary of State, "How many licences have been granted over a certain period for the importation of a named species on the list?", he would give the information. However, if you asked the Secretary of State, "To whom have these licences been granted?", the probability is that he would say, "It is not practice to divulge the names of persons to whom licences have been granted". He would probably not be disposed, either, to indicate in detail the purposes for which the species were imported. In other words, licences are granted within the discretion of the Secretary of State without any possibility of public information, or Parliamentary control of what is being done. It seems to me this is undesirable.

In certain cases, the names of people to whom licences are granted might occur to those knowledgeable of the people or of the species; it may be thought that there is something undesirable about the way these animals are being imported; one cannot say. Sometimes a little dust is thrown into the eyes of officials, and although we know that a false statement in any material particular puts a person in serious jeopardy, one cannot be quite certain in all circumstances that the full truth has been told to the Department in applying for a licence. I agree with my noble friend who moved this Amendment that there need be nothing secret about this. Why should there be? We are not prying into people's private affairs. We want to know who is engaged in traffic involving endangered species, the preservation of which is so important to those who believe these matters are important that not only do we give those species the protection of the law in this country, but they are the subject of international conventions. What is being done to safeguard the very existence of endangered species therefore is important.

I acknowledge freely and gratefully the way in which my noble friend who is in charge of this Bill has responded to proposals made to her already, and if she goes on as she has done, she will earn some special order of merit from your Lordships' Committee for being so cooperative in dealing with a complicated Bill. But, quite seriously, I hope that she can feel disposed to allow a register to be kept and freely inspected without charge, knowing that this is not the sort of register that everybody will take a day trip to London to come and look at. It will be something that only those who have a special interest, and I submit a bona fide interest, in endangered species would wish to inspect, and thus find out a little more about who is bringing in these animals, a little more about the circumstances, and the reasons why they are being brought in. If the animals are being brought in for commercial purposes, one should, I think, look at the granting of a licence less favourably than if the importation is for some scientific purpose.

However, I hope your Lordships will feel that this is an important Amendment. If leave is asked to withdraw it, I sincerely hope it will be withdrawn only on one of my noble friend's firm assurances, which have been pretty plentiful up to now, that the matter will be given very careful consideration. If my noble friend can introduce the word "favourable" consideration, then all the more acceptable will it be.


I should like to enter one small caveat. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, hit many nails very hard on the head. He macle some very good points, underlining what the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, and the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, said previously. Let it not be thought that I am not in sympathy with what they are trying to do, but the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, himself pointed out that if the people inquiring were possible commercial trade rivals they should not be looked at so sympathetically —I think that was the gist of what he was saying. But how easy for a commercial concern to put up a person in the guise of an interested conservationist! I do not see how you would ever find them out.

Similarly, I am slightly worried, and I do not wish to make this a Party matter, but there has always been a slight difference in people wanting to know a little more about everyone's goings on. I do not want all my tax affairs to be known to the total public, yet the tax inspector has a perfect right to see them. The Secretary of State is an honourable man, his Department officials are honourable people, the Customs are honourable people. I really see little reason for the doubts that seem to be implicit in this Amendment, that the Secretary of State will allow wool to he pulled over his eyes. With the passing of a Bill like this, I would think that the Secretary of State and his officials would welcome their attention being drawn to possible evasions, or what appear to be evasions, or what appear to be transgressions against the law. I imagine they will he more than willing to assuage or tell the informant with thanks that action is being taken firmly, but I see no reason to suppose that, with the passing of a Bill like this, the Secretary of State and his officers will become slack.

The second point other than commercial privacy, which I think is important, is whether this particular clause would cause a lot more people to be needed in the Civil Service. Would it be a costly business to implement? I should like to ask the noble Baroness that question. I sympathise with the point, but merely wonder whether noble Lords are right in thinking that it will be necessary.


I am not altogether satisfied with everything that my noble friends and noble Lords and Ladies on the other side have said in pleading these two Amendments and trying to encourage the noble Baroness to accept them. I have had some experience of dealing with licences of this nature in the importation of endangered species of live animals. I think this perhaps brings us back to the Amendment of mine on which the noble Baroness poured a certain amount of scorn. Those who are keen on conservation do want to be abundantly clear that when live members of endangered species are imported there is some such control of their importation as the Amendment which I moved earlier insisted on there being. If there is that control of importation of live animals, defining "animals" in its widest sense, I think it would be sufficient if there were information available every year of the number of animals imported of different species, so that we the general public, and in particular those of us interested in conservation, could see whether or not we were satisfied that the Government of the day were allowing, or rather the scientific authorities were advising the Government to allow, a reasonable number of these animals to come in under appropriate conditions. With that I think I would be reasonably satisfied.

I think we have a right to be disturbed at the possibility that some of the products of these endangered species are being imported in too great quantities. There, within limits, you could get the same sort of information published every year, and could tell the general public and those interested whether or not they were coming in in too great quantities. I think one of the things we have to avoid at all costs is starting up a witch hunt by people whose hearts are perhaps more strong than their heads, when by and large the information of the total amount of imports coming in would tell us whether or not there was likely to be a strain on those species. That some sort of information has to be given I am quite clear. If I may go hack again to blowing my own little trumpet about my Amendment, I think we have got to be satisfied that these things are coming in under reasonable conditions. I certainly would not myself go quite as far as these Amendments.


Does the noble Earl mean, when he refers to the overall numbers admitted, that it would not matter whether there were 1,000 mice or 1,000 leopards let into the country?


I am not concerned with 1,000 mice or 1,000 rabbits coming in, because the species concerned are abundant. Any question of animal welfare that comes into it can be dealt with under the 1911 Act. Whether they were originally wild or originally tame, once they come into captivity they are subject to that Act, and any ill-treatment can be dealt with under that Act.

Baroness STEDMAN

This Amendment and Amendment No. 25B —it is probably convenient if we consider them together —would between them oblige the Secretary of State to make publicly available detailed information about all licences, except to the extent that a licensee had obtained a certificate of exemption. I can assure the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, that it is already the Government's intention to publish summary statistics showing the numbers of animals, plants or items licensed, imported and exported, by species and by country of origin. The United Kingdom is bound by Article VIII of the Convention to make such statistics available each year to the public and to the Convention secretariat. The figures will be reported to the scientific authorities at more frequent intervals and these reports will also normally be available to the public. In fact the first set of figures derived from our existing controls will be available in a few days' time.

These Amendments, however, would require disclosure of detailed information on individual licences, including the importers' names and their sources of supply. To allow this and to allow members of the public to obtain and keep copies of the entries in the register would seem to us to be an unwarranted breach of the normally confidential relationship between Government Departments and private individuals. It would obviously be damaging for the transactions of one trader to be known to his competitor, and we are therefore very careful to protect commercial confidence.

Noble Lords will appreciate that many of the species in the Schedules are subject to regular trade under licence, and it is only where no commercial interest is involved that I feel I can go any way to help the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, and the noble Baroness, Lady White. I can appreciate that certain individuals and bodies may well wish to know whether an item they see on display has been legally imported. Normally, I think, they should be content with the arrangements we discussed under Amendment No. 22. But I am aware of one circumstance in which an individual might reasonably wish to have information in order to avoid the trouble and expense of a fruitless private prosecution. If a private prosecution is contemplated under the Protection of Birds Act 1954 against someone in possession of a bird of prey of a species found wild in the United Kingdom, the person or body bringing the prosecution will want to establish that the bird was taken from the wild in this country and was not imported under licence. To help in such a circumstance, I can say that if an individual or a body contacts the Department of the Environment, gives the name of the assumed importer and of the species, identifies himself and gives a good reason for his inquiry, he may be told whether or not a licence has been issued. I would stress though that these arrangements apply only to non-commercial trade, which means in effect trade in the truly endangered species of Appendix I of the Convention, and a few others including birds of prey, which we are treating in most respects as though they were on Appendix I.

Amendment No. 25B would allow any trader to apply for a certificate permitting the omission of any details of his licence from the proposed register, if he can satisfy the Secretary of State that such publication would jeopardise his commercial position. I appreciate that this is designed to meet the points I have made about the undesirability of disclosing confidential commercial information. But licences are already being issued under the existing controls at a rate that is not far short of 10,000 a year. The vast bulk of these are for normal commercial trade. As I have had occasion to say several times already today, there is no impediment to commercial trade in species on Appendix II of the Convention if the country of origin is willing to give export licences. Doubtless, the majority of traders would seek exemption certificates of some kind and the Secretary of State would be required, under sub-paragraph (b) of this Amendment, to make detailed inquiries in thousands of cases. Frankly, I do not think that the bureaucracy and the cost involved can be justified.

We introduced this Bill on the basis that it could be done with little extra cost and little extra manpower. I am prepared to be as co-operative as I possibly can wherever possible, but the Government must oppose these two Amendments. I hope that the assurances that I have given about the availability of information, where there is good reason to disclose it, will enable the noble Lords who have moved the Amendments to withdraw them. If not, I must ask the Committee to reject them.

Baroness WHITE

Naturally, I am much disappointed in the reply from my noble friend. She will realise that if this was the United States applications for licences would have to be published, and not merely the licences which were actually granted. They seem able to cope with the situation, and I can see no reason why Her Majesty's Government should not be able to be at least more generous than the noble Baroness has suggested. I still believe, in circumstances of this kind, that the public has the right to know what is being permitted in its name.

1 do not know whether between now and Report stage we might have some further consultations, because it appears from what the noble Baroness has said that even for Appendix I animals it is regarded as a favour, as a concession, that people should be given this information, and that it would he given only on the discretion of the Department to persons of whom t hey approve. This does not seem to be satisfactory. I can see the difficulty of numbers, and the weight of work concerned if the concession went perhaps as widely as we have suggested in these two Amendments. I still think that the feeling, as I understand, among at least certain of the conservation societies that they need this information in order to pursue their interests adequately, is something which should he taken further into account. It is plain that at the present time my noble friend is not prepared to accept these two Amendments, and there are some doubts on the other side of the Committee about them. Therefore, I will ask leave to withdraw the Amendments, but I should like to have some further consultations between now and Report stage. At the moment I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 1, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?

9.12 p.m.


Perhaps as a silent Member of the Committee so far, I might be allowed to say a few words. I should like to thank the noble Baroness for her accommodating and understanding attitude to the most important Amendments which have been moved, apart from the last one, where I was disappointed. There are seven more clauses to go, and I hope that this will be maintained. I want to put one point to the noble Baroness. I want to seek an assurance that there are no contradictions where this Bill is concerned now that the Schedules have been stood on their heads. I warmly welcome this, and it saves me making a powerful speech. Glancing back at the Marshalled List, I notice, for example, that in Amendment No. 2 my noble friend Lord Cranbrook had sought to make sure that there was no contradiction between this measure and the Conservation of Wild Creatures and Wild Plants Act 1975. I refer to Schedule 1 to that Act.

The fact that Schedule 1 to this Bill, just to deal with this alone, has now been stood on its head, does not mean that there may not he a number of contradictions and clashes with other existing legislation apart from that Act. I think particularly at the moment of the Protection of Birds Act 1954. Nobody knows more about that Act than the noble Baroness in the Chair, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, because it was her Private Member's measure in another place. Section 7 of that Act deals specifically with the importation of birds and eggs. I understand that a number of repeals are in the mind of the Government Department.

To give one example only not to waste your Lordship's time, I understand that the import of the common quail, whether alive or dead, is likely to be allowed in future, whereas at present it is banned under Section 7(1)(a) of that Act. Without giving any other examples, it will be seen that it is very important indeed that this Bill, when it becomes an Act, should march accurately in step with any other measures which seek to deal with the same problems. I hope that the noble Baroness can give the Committee the assurances I am seeking and perhaps she will, in replying to this point, bear in mind that there is strong opposition to the repeal of those sections of the Protection of Birds Act, particularly Section 7, which control the import of birds by order. It is very much hoped that those provisions will remain on the Statute Book.

Baroness STEDMAN

I am sure that I can give the noble Lord those assurances. It is our intention that our legislation shall be improved, not made worse, as a result of this Bill and that our protection shall be as good as, if not better than, it has been before. Our scientific authorities are going into the whole matter carefully and expeditiously and I am sure that we will find that everything is covered when we get the revised Schedules.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

9.16 p.m.

Lord WYNNE-JONES moved Amendment No. 26:

After Clause 1, insert the following new clause: "Trade in Endangered Species. Any person who deals in, or invites dealings in, anything for the time being specified in the second column of Schedules 1 and 2, or in Schedule 3, to this Act, shall, unless he can show that its importation was not unlawful by virtue of Section 1 above, be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £400, and the animal, plant or item shall be liable to forfeiture under the Customs & Excise Act 1952.

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is like some others we have considered; it deals with the problem of the point of sale. It has been pointed out by the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, and others that the Bill as drafted is designed essentially to deal with import and export, but the purpose of the Bill in its real intention goes beyond that. It is designed to stop the trade in endangered species. If we are to do this effectively we must ensure not only the control of the import and export of endangered species but also any attempt at selling endangered species in this country. In other words, the point of sale is extremely important if we are to control this trade. As has been pointed out repeatedly, it has become clear that to rely simply on Customs control is inadequate to deal with this problem and, thus, the Amendment would control the actual sale of endangered species and products.

Inevitably when people are trying to get into the country by surreptitious means the products of endangered species—of reptiles, leopards, crocodiles and so on—they will probably be brought in, to evade regulations, by methods which do not make it easy for the Customs to detect them. I remember that when the predecessor of this Bill was introduced by me two years ago the argument used at the time against the measure was that the Customs could not enforce it. It is, of course, very difficult to have every airport and seaport properly and effectively manned in such a way that every attempt at infraction of Regulateons of this type is spotted. Indeed, very often these articles will be brought in as fakes. A man bringing in, say, leopard skins will not say, "This consignment consists of a couple of thousand leopard skins and I am bringing them in illegally." He will pretend that they are something else and he may get away with it.

It may be a mixed cargo and he gets the stuff in. It has come into the country and the important control is at the point of sale. It is at the point of sale that one can really have effective control. Therefore, the new clause is suggested in order to ensure that we can have this point of sale control. I hope that your Lordships will look at this favourably and that the Government will be prepared to accept it.


I should very much like to support the arguments put forward—and very well put forward—by the noble Lord. He has left very little to be said. As I see it, the Amendment marches very much in step with Amendment No. 24 which was moved by my noble friend Lord Mansfield and to which the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, showed an accommodating attitude, saying that she would give careful thought to it. I believe that the Amendment provides a second line of defence, so that the points of entry are not the only line of defence and the point of sale is a second and equally important one. The noble Baroness made a reference to the Protection of Birds Act 1954, as I did. There is one feature of that Act which clearly shows that a second line of defence is necessary. I shall be very brief in giving an example, but I should like to explain that one is entitled, if one has a licence, to own, for example, a peregrine falcon. One must have a licence from the Home Secretary. If one is accused of illegally owning such a bird, it is quite easy to evade prosecution by claiming that the bird in question was either imported before the restriction was imposed—and I believe that that was in 1970, as a result of amended legislation—or that it was a gift from a stranger. As a result, prosecutions which ought to be followed through very often cannot be.

believe that exactly the same may very well arise in many instances where the present Bill is concerned. That is why the noble Lord and I felt that there was a need to impose a duty upon the defendant to prove his innocence by producing the necessary evidence and documentation—the sort of evidence which will stand up in court. Of course we fully understand that this is contrary to the generally accepted principle that one is innocent until proved guilty, but there are healthy precedents. For instance, the 1954 Act provides precedents in Section 4(2) (a)—(d) and in Section 6(1) (d) and (e). The defendant has to prove that he has lawfully imported a bird or an egg or he must prove in court that he has not contravened the Act itself or any order made under the Act. I remember the arguments with the Home Office at the time as to whether that was acceptable. It is only one of a number of examples which could be given as to why this should be done. There are exceptions which prove very good rules and I believe that this is one of them.

I feel very strongly that the onus of proving innocence should be put fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the accused, who would have to show that his action was not unlawful. There would be no problem in producing the necessary documents and II believe that the provision would involve the retailer in protecting the species in which he trades and from which he makes a profit, and that would be a good thing. I believe that it is essential that we should have really effective controls not only at the ports but at outlets as well.


I should like to make one point to my noble friend. The Amendments of my noble friend Lord Mansfield did not make a man guilty unless he knew that the items were unlawfully imported. Under the present Amendment, one would be guilty though innocent. I do not personally believe that the Protection of Birds Act is a good parallel because the bird has to be alive and the egg must be fresh, so that it is therefore a matter of much more recent importation. Here we are dealing not only with what could be alive but, far more probably, with skins, feathers or some other material. It would not be half as easy. I beg noble Lords not exactly to equate live birds and fresh eggs with all the matters which we are now dealing with. Certain goods could have been here for some time— and I am not expert enough to know whether one can tell the age of skins which have been dried and cured. I suppose that it would be quite hard and I believe that we should think twice about something which would automatically make a person guilty.


My noble friend Lady Stedman agreed when we were discussing the Amendment moved by the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, that she would consider the point before Report stage. I hope that she will at lease consider the point of sale, which seems to me to be the most important point other than import and export.

Baroness STEDMAN

We have had a number of these various Amendments on imposing controls at point of sale, and as has been mentioned I have agreed to take back Amendment No. 24 and see whether we can consider that matter. But the present Amendment would put the onus on a retailer or anyone dealing in an animal, plant, or item controlled under this Bill, to prove that it was legally imported, on pain of a fine, and make the thing in question subject to forfeiture unless such proof was forthcoming. Many of the comments I made on Amendment No. 22, moved by the noble Lords, Lord Craigton and Lord Mowbray and Stourton, are applicable here also. As I indicated, the Government consider that this could be an unacceptable hindrance to legitimate retail trade. Customs already have power to investigate cases where there are strong grounds to suspect illegal import.

It would in any case be inappropriate to provide in this clause for forfeiture of the goods under the Customs and Excise Act 1952. If the goods were imported contrary to a prohibition, they are already liable to forfeiture under that Act, and there is no need to restate this. But I must emphasise that the liability to forfeiture arises from the importation contrary to a prohibition, and liability under the Customs and Excise Act 1952 cannot arise from sale in this country. Nor does it seem appropriate to hold a retailer liable for an offence committed at the time of import and to penalise him, when he has already suffered forfeiture of the goods. In view of these points and of our earlier debate, I hope that the noble Lords who have proposed this Amendment might feel disposed to withdraw it. I have said that we shall reconsider Amendment No. 24 very carefully, but I believe that this Amendment would prove to be an unacceptable hindrance to legitimate retail trade, and we must also consider that matter in terms of our present economic climate.


I am faced with a somewhat difficult position here because if I may take up the last point of the noble Baroness I should say that we are not really discussing the present economic climate; we are discussing, very definitely and clearly, as she has done all along, the question of trade in endangered species, and we must be really clear about this point. Naturally I accept that the noble Baroness is herself very much concerned with the problem. She has already given us an assurance that Amendment No. 24, which raises much the same point, will be carefully considered by her and her Department, and if she were prepared to look at the whole situation, then I should be prepared to withdraw my Amendment.

Baroness STEDMAN

Yes, I certainly give that assurance.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I wonder whether your Lordships would allow me to intervene. As I understand the situation, allowing for the 22 Amendments which were moved at the very beginning, there are still 26 Amendments to be dealt with. I do not know how long your Lordships want to go on, whether it is felt that the Committee stage can be finished tonight or whether it is felt that it would be appropriate to call a halt at a quarter to 10, or perhaps 10 o'clock. The Government can find time on Thursday for the Committee stage of the Bill to be completed. There will be time available on Thursday.


We are in rather a quandary here. My noble friend Lord Craigton, who has been taking such a leading part in the discussions on this Bill, is unfortunately unable to be here on Thursday. He is content to go on; and, so far as I am concerned, I am happy to go on. I do not know the feelings of other noble Lords.

9.31 p.m.

Lord WYNNE-JONES moved Amendment No. 27A:

After Clause 1, insert the following new clause: " Representation as to Endangered Species. . If any person advertises, or attaches a description to, goods, in such a manner (including the distribution of material to persons he has no reasonable grounds to believe would be specially interested in them) as to be likely to be seen or heard by the general public, and representing the goods as comprising or including any part or product of any animal for the time being specified in the second column of Schedule I to this Act, or the whole or any part of any item for the time being specified in Schedule 3 to this Act, then, whether or not the goods are as represented, the person so offering them for sale shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £400.

The noble Lord said: This Amendment, No. 27A, is to introduce a new clause which is really one dealing with the problem of advertising. It is an Amendment which is, I think, of some significance, though I would not myself regard it as so important an Amendment as the previous one, to which I must confess I attached a good deal of significance. This Amendment deals with the problem of advertising those goods, including animals, of course, which have been imported into the country and which are on sale. These may be on sale perfectly legally, but if one is dealing with endangered species it is important that their sale should be restricted to those people who are purchasing them for a perfectly legitimate purpose. For example, somebody may be selling something to a museum, and it may be a perfectly legitimate activity; but the advertising of it should not then be wide general advertising in the Press, it should be restricted to those people who are interested in purchasing that sort of thing.

The reason for this is that if a species is endangered and you allow the species or its products to be imported for a particular purpose, and if there is then a general advertisement of these things, it is made much easier for people who have got the things in an illegal way to get away with selling them. In other words, here is an attempt to put a restriction on the scope of advertising those things which may have been legally imported. The Amendment is one which I think goes a little way further towards helping to restrict the whole trade in endangered species. I beg to move.

Baroness STEDMAN

Again, this is another attempt at "point of sale" control, although it is directed at advertising and is no doubt designed to damp clown the demand for products of endangered species. The Amendment would make it an offence to advertise, presumably for sale, any item which was claimed to be derived from a controlled animal, whether or not it was in fact so derived, and any item which was claimed, rightly or wrongly to be the whole or part of an item included in Schedule 3 to the Bill.

The first point to understand about this Amendment is that it covers all parts and derivatives of the animals listed in Schedule 1, not just the readily recognisable ones that have been included in Schedule 3. It would thus prohibit advertising goods, the trade in which the Bill does not even seek to license, let alone ban. As I have already explained in connection with Amendment No. 22, there are many species in the Schedules to the Bill that cannot yet be regarded as endangered. They have been put on Appendix II of the Convention to enable the trade in them to be monitored so that it can be restricted if it proves necessary. So long as they remain on Appendix II and are not transferred to Appendix I, we have no remit, as an importing country, to restrict trade. Moreover, the Convention makes a clear distinction between whole animals and plants and their parts and derivatives. It sensibly recognises that only some of the parts and derivatives can be identified without detailed expert examination and, in many cases, laboratory analysis.

Even if this Amendment were restricted to the items specified in Schedule 3, it would prevent advertising of many things for which licences for commercial trade will still be readily available. An essential difference between this Amendment and the others we have already debated about sales of controlled species and items is that it is directed not only against anyone who promotes by any form of advertisement any part or product of a Schedule I animal or the whole or part of a Schedule 3 item, but also against anyone who so advertises when the subject of advertisement is not as represented. The latter is, I suggest, a matter best dealt with under the Trade Description Acts. I urge the noble Lords to withdraw this Amendment.


I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Clause 2 [Scientific authorities]:

9.37 p.m.

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 28:

Page 2, line 43, at end insert— (" (1A) Without prejudice to his power under subsection (1) above, the Secretary of State shall, as soon as practicable after this subsection comes into operation,—

  1. (a) establish at least one body under paragraph (a) of subsection (1) above, or
  2. (b) assign to at least one body, under paragraph (b) of that subsection, the duty referred to in subsection (3) below.")

The noble Baroness said: This Amendment will make it mandatory on the Secretary of State to have at least one Scientific Authority to advise him. The Bill as drafted gives him permissive powers both to establish new bodies and to assign the duties concerned to existing bodies. However, the Convention requires that each party State must designate one or more scientific authorities and there would seem to be an advantage in reflecting this requirement in the Bill.

If the Amendment is accepted, the Secretary of State will still be empowered to have more than one scientific authority and to choose, for each authority, whether to establish a new body or to assign the duty to an existing body. Provided that at least one authority is formed, either or both methods can be used. The Secretary of State has already appointed three bodies to act as Scientific Authorities: the Nature Conservancy Council; the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, as Scientific Authority for Plants; and a newly established Scientific Authority for Animals. It is his intention to "designate" these bodies formally after the Bill becomes law. I beg to move.


The noble Baroness said that she was proposing to designate scientific bodies. Would she think, before that is finally decided, whether such scientific bodies should not be specifically referred to in the Bill or in a Schedule that the Minister has power to amend? I am not sure that it is acceptable simply to designate, without putting them in the Bill, the scientific bodies to which she referred.


When answering my noble friend, perhaps the noble Baroness can consider this point also. I think it is wise to appoint the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. They will be essential as advisers on the importation of plants. Surely the Natural History Museum is as essential in advising on the importation of wild animals and, to a considerable extent, on plants as well; because the two divide up the world between them. One takes one half, as it were, and the other takes the other half. Can the noble Baroness tell us why she mentions only Kew and no specific authority for animals?

Baroness STEDMAN

I think the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, has probably established my case for saying that we shall have scientific bodies but not designate them. A future Secretary of State may have other ideas about which bodies he wants. We have at this point of time, because they were doing certain jobs in Government fields before, the Nature Conservancy Council, the Botanic Gardens at Kew and the Scientific Authority for Animals. The Natural History Museum is not named as such, but I understand we make tremendous use of their staff and resources. They give us a lot of scientific help. I am sure they will continue to do so in the future. It may be unwise to name these specific bodies when we might, in the light of how the Bill works, want to alter, extend, or add to them in the future. We should be tied if we had them named in the Bill.


I am only concerned that the noble Baroness mentioned two bodies, one which—as a zoologist—I think is more important than the lowly botonists.


I agree with what the noble Baroness says. These scientific bodies, such as the Natural History Museum, may require exemption from the Bill and so it is in effect giving exemption from the Bill to a body which is out-with the Bill and in the power of the Minister. I ask her to look at this. I will accept her decision but it is an important point.

Baroness STEDMAN

I follow the noble Earl's argument. We will reconsider the matter.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

9.43 p.m.

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 29:

Page 3, line 13, leave out ("endangered") and insert (", or to be likely to become, endangered as a result of international trade,")

The noble Baroness said: This Amendment will make it clear that the scientific authorities can give advice in respect of species which are likely to become endangered. Subsection (3)(b) as drafted gives a scientific authority power to advise generally on species which they consider to be endangered. But the aim of the Convention is to protect not only those species which are already endangered but also those which may become so as a result of international trade. The Amendment thus brings the Bill into line with the Convention. I beg to move.


I would ask the noble Baroness whether she is entirely satisfied that the words "as a result of international trade" achieve their object. It seems to me their effect is to reduce rather than increase the power of the Secretary of State when a species is endangered and perhaps put him in a position of not being able to take action until the damage has been done. Perhaps I have misread the Amendment. I should like to ask whether the word "likely" refers to "endangered" or to the likelihood of international trade. We all know that quite minor transactions can endanger a rare species. Therefore it is essential to be able to anticipate trade in the species concerned, and not merely to take action to restrict or prevent imports after the damage has been done. Are the words "as a result of" and those immediately following them really necessary, or was the Bill better drafted previously? Did the Bill as drafted previously give the Secretary of State the wide scope which he ought to have to deal with the restrictions that are necessary?

In any case, international trade, as we all know, is only one of the factors that endangers rare animals or plants, though it is an important one which can sometimes be decisive in actually making extinct a plant or animal. An equally important threat arises, for example, through natural or man-made changes in a habitat. I feel that the Amendment is unnecessarily restrictive, albeit, I am sure, unintentionally.

All I am really asking is for the noble Baroness to be good enough to look at this again between now and the Report stage. I am no lawyer and I may have misunderstood the implication of these words. However, I think that the Bill as drafted gives the Secretary of State the right to control animals and plants because they were endangered or because dangers were on the increase, and he could do so for any reason without any special emphasis being put upon international trade, which I fully accept is one of the ways in which difficulties can be produced.

Baroness STEDMAN

We are advised that this Amendment is correct and is an improvement on the original drafting. Our scientific authorities will have the task of monitoring what is happening to all these species, and it will be for them to advise us, when we know the result of the imports and exports of the species, which ones are not only endangered but which are likely to become endangered because there is the trading in them. I think it is important that we leave this Amendment as it is.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

9.47 p.m.

Baroness STEDMAN: moved Amendment No. 30:

Page 3, line 14, at end insert— (" ) In so far as it does not have power to do so apart from this subsection, any scientific authority may publish reports relating to the performance by it of its duty under subsection (3) above. ( ) Before appointing a person to be a member of a scientific authority established under subsection (1) (a) above, the Secretary of State shall consult such persons or bodies, or persons and bodies, as he thinks fit.").

The noble Baroness said: This Amendment would introduce two new subsections into the Bill. It might be convenient if I were to describe them separately. Subsection (3) (a) would give a scientific authority power to publish reports about the performance of its functions under this Bill. Under the Convention, the Department of the Environment, as principal management authority for the United Kingdom, is required to send periodic reports to the international Secretariat about the United Kingdom's implementation of the Convention and to publish the reports in this country. However, the activities of the scientific authorities themselves may also be of public interest and it seems reasonable to empower them, if they wish, to publish independent reports of their activities. Of the three scientific authorities that have been established, the Nature Conservancy Council and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, already have powers of their own to publish reports. But it is necessary to provide a specific power of publication for the scientific authority for Animals, which is to be a specially appointed body, and for any other body that might be established or designated in future under Clause 2 which did not otherwise have such a power.

Subsection (3) (b) would require the Secretary of State, before making appointments to a scientific authority established under subsection (1) (a), to consult such other persons or bodies as he thinks fit. Clearly, consultations with appropriate scientific bodies is desirable in this specialised field and, before the members of the Scientific Authority for Animals were appointed, the Secretary of State did consult widely in order to ensure that the new body should be representative of a wide range of expert knowledge. The Secretary of State fully intends to continue this practice with later appointments to this or any other specially established scientific authority, and the Government are prepared to see this requirement written into the legislation.


I think this is an exceedingly important Amendment, because it is of fundamental importance that where the Minister disagrees with a scientific authority the public should be informed, and indeed everybody concerned should be informed, of the fact that the Minister has disagreed with them. In this way, those concerned may take what action is possible for them in order to try to persuade him to do better in the future.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3 [Power to modify Schedules 1 to 3]:

9.50 p.m.

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 31:

Page 3, line 21, leave out subsection (1) and insert— ("(1) The Secretary of State may, after consulting any scientific authority or authorities, by order make such modifications in any of the Schedules to this Act as he considers necessary or desirable for any of the following purposes, namely—

  1. (a) to give effect to any amendment to the Convention made in pursuance of its provisions;
  2. (b) to give effect to the inclusion of anything in or the withdrawal of anything from Appendix III to the Convention (kinds of animals and plants the trade in which a party identifies as needing international control) at the instance of any party to the Convention;
  3. (c) to promote the conservation of animals or plants of any kind which appears to the Secretary of State to be, or to be likely to become, endangered as a result of international trade;
  4. (d) to remove any restriction which is for the time being imposed by virtue of this Act on the importation and exportation of animals or plants of any particular kind or of any particular items and which does not in the opinion of the Secretary of State promote such conservation as is referred to in paragraph (c) above.")

The noble Baroness said: This Amendment recasts the whole of the subsection, to clarify it and to ensure that it embraces all the circumstances in which the Secretary of State may need to amend the Schedules. The Bill as drafted gives the Secretary of State power to modify the Schedules by order after consultation with the scientific authorities. He can make additions if it appears to him that a species has newly become endangered or that the danger has increased. Conversely, he may make deletions if he considers that a species is no longer in danger or that the danger has decreased. But there are other circumstances in which changes may be needed.

Paragraph (a) of the Amendment will permit additions to or deletions from the Schedules to reflect any amendment to Appendices I and II of the Convention; for example, to include species added to the Convention Appendices by Conferences of the Parties, the first of which is to be held in November of this year. The United Kingdom, as a party State, will be obliged to implement controls on such species unless it enters a formal reservation. Similarly, paragraph (b) will permit Schedule alterations to reflect changes to the Convention's Appendix III. This Appendix differs from the others in that species are placed on it by unilateral action on the part of one State, not by international agreement; although, again, there is provision for any country to enter a reservation.

Paragraph (c) would permit other additions to the Schedules in the interests of conservation of endangered species. A scientific authority might recommend the control of a species not as yet covered by the Convention, because they considered that it was none the less threatened by international trade or was likely to become so. It might also be desirable to control a non-Convention species because, although not itself endangered, it was not easily distinguishable from one already controlled. There would be no intention to restrict trade in such a species in practice but, by subjecting it to licence, the enforcement problems faced by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise would be lessened and evasion of the controls would become less likely. This principle has already been adopted to some degree under existing controls; for example, licences are required for furs of all the spotted cats, including those not listed on the Convention, because they form a readily recognisable group. The wording of paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) all allows species to be added in the interests of enforcement. I beg to move.


I would ask the noble Baroness once again to look to see whether this clause enables her to enact reverse listing, because in paragraph (c), for which I am very grateful and thank her, she promotes the conservation of animals likely to become endangered. But, as I said in moving Amendment No. l, there are many animals which she does not even know exist at this moment. So I should like her to look at the wording to be sure that it is all right.

Baroness STEDMAN

I am advised that the paragraphs in the Amendment have been drawn up in such a way as to facilitate reverse listing in the Schedules, as we discussed on Amendment No. 1.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

On Question, Whether Clause 3, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?


Clause 3, as now amended, gives the Minister greater control over international and transit trade in endangered species. Friends of the Earth, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the World Wildlife Fund and many other conservationists would like an assurance from the Government that the Customs and Excise will fulfill their duties in controlling international trade in scheduled species. They argue that there have been cases when Customs and Excise have not used their authority to control this trade. Underlying the Bill now before us, and the Convention that it seeks to implement, is the increasing rate of disappearance of animals and plants in the wild, whether from habitat destruction, pollution, taking live for zoos or pets or taking for their products. A significant part of this taking, and indeed of the destruction of habitat, occurs because of international trade. Not only was the orang-utang depleted in the wild by excessive collecting for zoos, but now that it is more scrupulously protected from that threat it is endangered by destruction of its habitat for wood to be sold abroad by, for example, Indonesia for foreign currency earnings.

It is recognised that the first duty of this country is to restrict its own import, export and trade in endangered species and their products. But just as it would be ridiculous to continue to ignore the loopholes created by allowing in large quantities of manufactured products, so it would be unthinkable that we should allow rare animals to pass through areas of United Kingdom jurisdiction if their export had not been sanctioned by the country of origin and their import by the country of destination. It would equally be wrong not to take whatever steps might be deemed to be necessary if the animals passing through came from and were going to non-signatory countries.

No problem exists in law, which is why I have not tabled an Amendment on this subject. The Customs and Excise Act quite clearly bestows powers to control animals or any other goods in transit. It places no obligation on Customs to do so, however, and they have stated in relation to this Bill that they do not intend to take action, even if informed of the consignment and the need to prevent its passage. Thus, if the last pair of clouded leopards in this world were known to be on their way from India to a non-ratifying country, or to a country that had ratified but with forged documents, we understand that our Government would not be prepared to act. Or if those self-same animals were passing through but were labelled as being ocelots (which are at present on Appendix II of the Convention and thus allowed for trade) and Customs were informed, we also understand that they would not act. To show that this is not imaginary, may I quote the fact that on 3rd February, 10th February and 30th March of this year three consignments of lugger falcons, which are on Appendix II, passed through Heathrow on their way from India to Frankfurt, labelled as being ravens.

I am raising this issue to seek a statement from the Minister that Customs will act, at the very least when informed by reliable sources, to control abuses of this kind. We are told that a very large percentage of international trade in animals passes through Britain's ports and airports. Thus, the consequences of our controlling this trade would be of considerable benefit to conservation. The Minister may feel, however, that she may not give an assurance on behalf of Her Majesty's Customs and Excise.

However, I quote from a recent Question in another place, which asked under what circumstances the Customs and Excise waive the powers vested in them by the Customs and Excise Act 1952 to stop the import and export of rare animals. The reply was as follows: In exercising such discretion as the powers vested in them by the Customs and Excise Act 1952 allow, the Customs and Excise take account of individual cases and of the policy adopted by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment in respect of his responsibility for the implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Objections to controlling transit have been raised also on the grounds that it is not practicable. But there is a case here—namely, that certain rare animals in transit will be travelling through our country perfectly legitimately, and in accordance with the provisions of the Convention—and it is claimed that if the documents are travelling with the animals to show that all is well, such documents will be susceptible to forgery. However, this is already an established practice. tinder the Diseases of Animals Acts—for instance, the Equine Animals Importation Order of 1973—papers must travel with the animals, and even if the animal is diverted, say by fog, to some other airport, it is not allowed to land unless it has the necessary papers. Also we understand that several other countries require that papers travel with the animals. As to forgery, that is not an argument sufficiently strong in itself to invalidate the proposal.

It is not intended that Customs should be asked to board aircraft which have touched down merely for refuelling—at least not at present. What is very badly needed is that transhipment should be controlled when necessary, and it is worth pointing out to this Committee that the first EEC Government to ratify this Convention, the Federal Republic of Germany, has stated in its legislation that it will cover transhipment. If two developed countries are prepared to take this step, then others may surely follow. We should always seek to give a lead. It may be objected that the EEC would not agree to control of transit by individual countries, but as I have said, West Germany has done so. Furthermore, as the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, pointed out at the Second Reading of the Bill, Article 36 of the Treaty of Rome specifically allows member countries to control import, export or transit for reasons such as those embodied in the Convention.

Many of the developing countries are quite unable to control poaching, smuggling and straight corruption, and will remain in this situation for some years. In the Serengeti National Park in 1975 some 2,700 animals were poached, compared with only 960 the year before, according to the Director of Tanzania National Parks. The tighter the controls become, the greater will be the incentives to break them. The scandal of corruption in other African countries, particularly as regards ivory, has recently been aired in the Press. Many developing countries would probably acknowledge freely the impossibility of avoiding smuggling or the issuing of forged export documents. Action on the part of developed countries is going to be the major contributor to conservation. While control of transit will not affect those animals exported with forged documents, it will affect those animals exported as being something else and those coming from the non-Convention countries, whether directly or having been smuggled out of the Convention countries. I apologise for that rather long statement, but I think it was worthwhile getting it on the record in order to obtain the answer from the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman.

Baroness STEDMAN

I am grateful to the noble Lord for having given me notice that he was going to raise this point. I have been able to have some rather hurried consultations about it and there has evidently been some misunderstanding. It has been stated that transhipments will not be subject to the normal restrictions; they will not require licences. The Convention specifically exempts transhipments from licensing controls. They would not be practicable since the export and import permits provided for in the Convention would not normally be available at places where transhipments occur. Nor would there usually be anyone in this country responsible for the transaction, except as carrier. To impose transhipment controls generally would simply cause delay in transport, with consequent distress to the animals, and incidentally would divert transhipments from this country to other countries. But we have never said that action would not be taken in any circumstances.

There is no doubt that Customs have a legal power to take action in the case of transhipments. If reliable information were received that a particular consignment had been exported in contravention of the Convention, and this information were given in sufficient time, then Customs, in consultation with the Department of the Environment, would act accordingly. So far as the legislation in West Germany is concerned, we have not had time to check on that and to find out what the position is, but certainly so far as the transit and the taking of proceedings is concerned, that is the position in this country.


I am most grateful to the noble Baroness and I think everyone will be made much happier by her answer.

Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.

10.4 p.m.

Lord MOWBRAY and STOURTON moved Amendment No. 33:

After Clause 3 insert the following new clause: "Restriction of importation and exportation to specified ports

  1. —(1) The Secretary of State may by order provide that the importation or exportation of any kind of live (or dead) animal shall, in any or specified circumstances, be prohibited, unless landed or despatched at one of the ports as specified in the order.
  2. (2) An order under subsection (1) above shall be made by statutory instrument, subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament, and may be varied or revoked by a subsequent order.
  3. (3) A person in breach of an order made under subsection (1) above shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £400, and the animal shall be liable to forfeiture under the Customs and Excise Act 1952.".

The noble Lord said: This Amendment provides the Secretary of State with the power, but not the obligation, to restrict the sea or air ports through which species under this Bill may be imported. This Amendment would make it possible to concentrate the expertise of Her Majesty's Customs and Excise in matters relating to this Bill, thereby minimising the possibility of smuggling. It would also make it easier for Department of the Environment appointed experts to be made available to resolve cases of doubt on identification before delay, suffering or death is involved. It also has the advantage that animals entering through these ports are properly cared for, thereby minimising the risk of death to rare species. This is particularly true where these ports coincide with those currently designated under the Rabies Act for mammals and the Captive Birds (Importation) Order 1976, where facilities for animal welfare are expected to be constructed. Such considerations have obviously weighed on other Departments in restricting ports under the two pieces of legislation mentioned above. Therefore most species imported are, or will be, controlled in this way and it seems ridiculous to except other species. Supporting evidence for the usefulness of these permissive powers is also given by the fact that again the German Government—the first EEC country, as I have said, to ratify this Convention—has already taken powers of this nature.

I would point out that under the second of the three subsections in this Amendment the order would be subject to Statutory Instrument, which could be altered, varied or revoked by any subsequent order. The initial suggestion in the minds of my friends and experts who were advising on this subject was that something like nine seaports and eight airports would probably meet the case.

Baroness STEDMAN

This Amendment is evidently intended to give the Secretary of State power to restrict ports of entry or exit for any kind of live or dead animal. It has been suggested that restriction on ports would enable Customs to build up skills and expertise in identification in certain places. United Kingdom Customs officers are generalists who work by following general guidelines and by calling in expert advice when they require it. The volume of trade is not such as to justify resident experts in each of the many specialisms with which we are concerned. If experts can be called upon, there is no advantage in restricting ports. Indeed, there could he positive disadvantages. There is the danger that restricting ports might encourage attempts at evasion. Unscrupulous importers might attempt to import controlled species at ports not designated to receive them and then mis-describe them in the hope that the Customs staff, unfamiliar with such imports, would not detect the attempted evasion.

It has also been argued that for live animals only, ports should be restricted on welfare grounds. It is true that reception centres for this purpose may he available in due course at the busier ports, but there is the need to ensure that animals spend the minimum possible time on the journey. This seems best achieved by using ports nearest to the eventual destination and by flexible arrangements when aeroplanes are diverted because of adverse weather conditions. For live animals, if the welfare argument has any force at all, the restrictions should apply to all animals. In our view, to restrict ports would impose a substantial impediment to trade and, if anything, would tend to weaken the arrangements for enforcing these controls without really achieving any worthwhile benefit. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food already restrict ports of entry on health grounds, for all live mammals and for birds, and have laid down conditions on welfare grounds for the import and export of live animals under the Transit of Animals (General) Order 1973. Therefore, it does not seem to the Government necessary or desirable to make any extra provisions in this Bill.


I find that a most profoundly disappointing reply, and if it were possible to divide the Committee on it at this moment, I would be very much inclined so to do. It seems to me that this is one of the things which all of us concerned with the importation of animals have been wanting for a very long time indeed, partly because we know that it is extremely difficult for a Customs officer to identify animals which should not be imported. I readily admit, however, that now that the noble Baroness, I.ady Stedman, has accepted the Amendment of my noble friend Lord Craigton, that difficulty will be largely obviated, because we know that if there is an importation of an animal which is difficult to recognise, the Customs officer will know ahead that this animal is likely to come in and will be able to get an expert there to advise him.

The fundamentally important thing is that the importation of all live animals should be restr icted to ports where there are reception centres available to receive them. It is quite ridiculous to allow an animal to come in and possibly to die because, for some reason or another, it is not collected, or because there is no reception centre available. The only really effective reception centre available at the moment for every kind of species of wild animal is the RSPCA centre at Heathrow, which does immensely good work. There should be a similar centre at every place where exotic animals are brought in. I can see no reason why the importation of wild animals should not be restricted to places where there are reception centres.

It is the thinnest possible excuse—if the noble Baroness will excuse my putting it like that—to say that the place of importation should be near the ultimate destination. The ultimate destination is going to be all over the countryside. We know that already a very large proportion of the smaller wild animals imported comes in at Heathrow, and those that come in by ship come in very largely at Southampton, where there certainly used to be quite a good reception centre organised privately, locally. I hope the noble Baroness will think again, and will think again after consulting a number of the societies concerned not only with the welfare of animals but with the general risks Sattending the importation of real wild animals. I hope the noble Lord will put this Amendment down at the next stage of this Bill, if he feels bound to withdraw it tonight. I would always be perfectly ready to divide the Committee if it was my Amendment.


This may be the first occasion on this Bill on which the noble Baroness, taking over the whole Bill for the Department of the Environment, has not really got together with the other ten Ministries, I believe, who previously handled this subject. I was told by one of the eleven Ministries to which I wrote about it that there was no proper accommodation except at very few of the ports of entry, that there was not enough money to pay for proper accommodation, and that the same applied to proper veterinary services. They would try to better the situation, but it was going to take a long time because of the difficulties. This is not a frivolous idea at all. If the noble Baroness gets together with the other Ministries, she may find that there are several Departments of the Government who would like to see the ports restricted. While she is doing that, would she remember that if action is taken on this Amendment, or something like it, for example, the Wildfowl Trust at Slimbridge have to import flamingoes from Scandinavia to Bristol, because they cannot travel for very long, so there must be exceptions permitted by the Minister if the number of ports is restricted.


I join my noble friends in supporting this Amendment.

I am afraid I cannot see the noble Baroness's argument very clearly. The importation of these animals to a limited number of ports must enable us, in the present economic circumstances, to produce the best conditions in which to import them. I am afraid that if noble Lords wish to divide the Committee I shall be with them.


I think the noble Baroness will have taken the message of the Committee. It has been one of the occasional pieces of legislation on which the Committee would probably have been nearly unanimous. I think there is more to be said on this. The noble Lord, Lord Craigton, probably hit it on the head when he said the Department of the Environment in this case were probably acting on their own without full consultation with the other Departments concerned. There are arguments I should like to put to refute those of the noble Baroness, but bearing in mind the time I will reserve that right for Report stage, when I can assure her we shall be pressing this Amendment.

Baroness STEDMAN

I am grateful to noble Lords opposite. I told your Lordships earlier that I was open to be very co-operative where I was asked to do so and where possible. I think we might have another look at it and perhaps consult with the noble Lord. We might perhaps be able to restrict the ports for live animals. It is the dead animals and the derivatives which raise problems. We might be able to have some sort of permissive power to restrict ports in respect of the live animals. If the noble Lord would like to have consultations with us between now and Report stage we might be able to do something.


I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 4 [Restriction of movement of certain live animals after importation]:

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 35:

Page 4, line 12, leave out ("such premises as may be specified in the direction") and insert ("the specified premises").

The noble Baroness said: With the leave of the Committee, I should like also to talk to Amendments Nos. 37, 39 and 41. These four Amendments, taken together, give the Secretary of State power to specify, at any time after import, the premises at which a live animal should be kept. Under subsection (1), as drafted, the Secretary of State may make a direction specifying the premises to which a live animal imported under licence shall be taken. The animal must then remain at those premises until the Secretary of State gives permission for it to be moved. However, once such permission has been given, the Secretary of State's control over the animal's movements ceases. The Amendments provide that the Secretary of State may specify the premises either by a direction under Clause 4(1) at the time of import or subsequently. Thus all the movements of an animal for which a direction had been given could be subject to the Secretary of State's permission. The penalties already provided for would continue to apply to offences in connection with the possession, movement or retention of the animal.

There will probably not be many cases in which this power will be needed. Normally it will be sufficient to specify the initial premises by direction. A situation might arise, however, where for example a zoo closed or it came to the notice of the Secretary of State that an animal was not being properly cared for, in which it would be desirable for the Secretary of State to have power to direct that the animal should be moved to some other premises. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

10.17 p.m.

Lord MOWBRAY and STOURTON moved Amendment No. 36:

Page 4, line 15, at end insert— (1A) The Secretary of State shall keep available, for public inspection at all reasonable times, a register of directions given under subsection (1) above.".

The noble Lord said: With the permission of the Committee, I will speak also to Amendment No. 44, which merely complements this Amendment. This Amendment is to allow conservation organisations to monitor the traffic in animals. At present most prosecutions are brought about by notifications by independent bodies. The directions referred to in the first Amendment are as to where the animals may be moved to, and are relevant to, say, a safari park owner who wishes to put one of his animals into a circus which he also owns, or somebody who wishes to import young animals to run with older animals of the same species in order to make it look as though he is successful in breeding that species. The latter example is not hypothetical. Such things do happen, though it would be difficult and possibly out of the question for us to supply the names of the persons involved. It is a fairly simple Amendment but it is not unimportant. I beg to move.

Baroness STEDMAN

This Amendment would oblige the Secretary of State to make publicly available the information given in directions under Clause 4(1). It has a bearing on Amendment No. 25A which was withdrawn earlier this evening. My officials will of course be keeping a register of directions to enable them to keep track of imported live animals and to ensure that they are not moved without permission. But we cannot see any purpose in allowing the public to inspect the register. Moreover, the register will contain information about importers' names and addresses; it would be an invasion of privacy to reveal them.

If members of the public see in a zoo, or elsewhere, an animal of a species which is normally banned, it would be most helpful if they would report the matter to my Department. We could use the register and other information to check whether the animal was likely to be an illegal import, and if so we would ask Customs to take appropriate action. I hope that this assurance might persuade the noble Lord to withdraw his Amendment.


I do not accept that this Amendment is in parallel with Amendment No. 25A, which had all sorts of implications in the commercial field. Live animals will hardly be a commercial proposition, except from the point of view of advertising them to the public, which will be helping rather than hindering, so I do not think that there is the same objection in principle, However, the hour is late and I will look at what the noble Baroness has said and consider it. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 37:

Page 4, line 20, leave out ("premises specified in the direction") and insert ("specified premises").

The noble Baroness said: I spoke to this Amendment when moving Amendment No. 35. I therefore move it formally.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

10.21 p.m.

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 38:

Page 4, line 26, leave out second ("or").

The noble Baroness said: With the leave of the Committee, I will speak at the same time to Amendment No. 40 because No. 38 is a paving Amendment to it. The two Amendments together would create a new offence of knowingly retaining an animal at premises which are not those specified. Subsection (2) as drafted makes it an offence to take an animal to premises other than those specified or to move it from specified premises; but it would not be an offence to continue to keep it at premises other than those specified. This means that someone could be fined for moving an animal to unsatisfactory premises, but could not then be forced to return it to the specified premises. Some of the animals involved will be extremely valuable and an initial fine for disobeying a direction might be an inadequate deterrent. It could also happen that one person was responsible for moving the animal while another was responsible for its retention, and the Amendment, by creating a separate offence, would cover both cases.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 39:

Page 4, line 28, leave out ("premises specified in the direction") and insert ("specified premises").

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 40:

Page 4, line 30, at end insert ("or (c) knowingly retains it, at premises occupied by him, at a time when he knows that those premises are not at that time the specified premises,").

The noble Baroness said: I have also spoken to this Amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 41:

Page 4, line 32, at end insert—

(2A) In this section "the specified premises" means, in relation to an animal, such premises as are for the time being specified in relation to that animal by the Secretary of State for the purposes of this section (whether in a direction under subsection (1) above or otherwise).

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 4, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 5 to 7 agreed to.

Clause 8 [Citation, interpretation, repeals, extent, etc.]:

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 43:

Page 6, line 17, after ("(2)") insert (", (2A)").

The noble Baroness said: This Amendment is simply consequential upon Amendment No. 6 and applies the latter to Northern Ireland. It places an additional duty on the Secretary of State as Management Authority. Clause 8(2) specifies references in the Bill to the Secretary of State which need to be read as references to the Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland, as Management Authority for Northern Ireland, where appropriate.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

10.24 p.m.

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 45:

Page 6, line 29, at beginning insert ("Subject to subsection (5A) below,").

The noble Baroness said: This is a paving Amendment to Amendment No. 46, with which it needs to be taken. The two Amendments will bring the Act into operation six months after Royal Assent if the Secretary of State has not brought it into operation by order on an earlier date. When the Bill was drafted the date of operation was left to be appointed by order, because it was then thought that some time might be needed to make all the necessary administrative arrangements. However, the controls were substantially introduced on 1st January of this year and six months would now appear ample time in which to make the necessary administrative changes to exercise the controls under the Bill.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 46:

Page 6, line 34, at end insert— (" (5A) Any provision of this Act not previously brought into operation, or not previously brought into operation for a particular purpose, shall come into operation or, as the case may be, shall come into operation for that purpose on the expiry of the period of 6 months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed.").

Question, Amendment agreed to.

Lord de CLIFFORD moved Amendment No. 47:

Page 6, line 34, at end insert— (" ( ) The Import, Export and Customs Powers (Defence) Act 1939 is hereby repealed to the extent that it gives powers to suspend the whole or any part of this Act, or to exercise controls over anything for the time being mentioned in section 1(1) of this Act.").

The noble Lord said: I shall speak very briefly. The Import, Export and Customs Powers (Defence) Act 1939 was used in January to suspend the Animals (Restriction of Importation) Act. Your Lordships' House has had this Bill before it on many occasions and has discussed it thoroughly. I am merely asking the Committee whether it agrees that the threat of this Import, Export and Customs Powers Act, which was brought in in 1939 as a wartime measure, should not apply to this Bill any further and that any alterations which might have to be made to the present Bill should not be made under it but should be brought before Parliament so that Parliament can discuss them. At the moment alterations can be brought in solely at the whim of the Secretary of State.

Baroness STEDMAN

This Amendment would have the effect of disapplying the Import, Export and Customs Powers (Defence) Act 1939 in so far as the present Bill is concerned. I must urge the House in the strongest terms not to adopt this Amendment. The 1939 Act was an emergency measure which gave the United Kingdom Government wide powers to restrict imports and exports of any kind. In the Government's view, it is most desirable to leave the Act undisturbed, so that it is available in the event of any future unforeseen emergency.

I presume that the fear underlying this Amendment is that a future Government might use the 1939 Act powers to suspend, or modify disadvantageously, the measures we are now considering. But I sincerely hope your Lordships will agree that this denotes an excessive suspicion of Government. It is true that we used the 1939 Act powers to introduce most of the controls embodied in this Bill from 1st January last. But this was a positive act to enable us to honour the international Convention which our predecessors had signed in 1973. It was an interim step made necessary by the pressure on the Parliamentary timetable. It was one which we felt confident would have, so far as it went, the full support of this House in view of our earlier debates on the Bills on the subject brought forward by the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones.

I do not really understand the dark suspicion that seems to underlie this Amendment. In any case, once we have ratified the Convention—which we have undertaken to do in time for the United Kingdom to be represented at the Conference of the parties this November—we and any future Government will be bound by its terms. I do hope, therefore, that the noble Lord, Lord de Clifford, will accept my assurance that we fully intend to implement these controls effectively and that he will withdraw this Amendment.

10.35 p.m.


I am fascinated that the noble Baroness thinks that I have suspicions of the Government's actions at all. I am suspicious of all of them, including those of my noble friends at times. I am afraid that part of the argument does not convince me, but I am prepared to accept what the noble Baroness says, and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 8, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 1 [Animals the importation and exportation of which are restricted]:

On Question, Whether Schedule 1 shall be the first Schedule to the Bill?


I wish to take this opportunity to say a brief word on Schedule 1 to the Bill, as I did not have an opportunity to do so at the beginning of the consideration of the Bill. I wish to say how immensely pleasing it was that the noble Baroness agreed to the reverse listing proposed by my noble friend. I am sure that this is an excellent concept, because it allows the monitoring of all rare species and concentrates trade on the common or commoner species.

I felt that my noble friend's list of domestic and other animals—the common ones—was unnecessarily restricted. I should like to give two brief examples of what I mean. I am sure that noble Lords will agree that the list must be a reasonable compromise between what I call sensible conservation and the legitimate activities of the trade, however much some of us may deplore some of their activities. The first example is that of love birds. I hate to see birds in a cage, but 12,000 were imported in four years through the RSPCA hostel alone. These figures are taken from All Heaven in a Rage, the publication of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Sad though it is, they are very commonly seen in cages. What about, for example, racing pigeons or domestic pigeons? I am sure that it would not be the intention of the Government or of my noble friend to prevent the import of common birds, such as I have just mentioned, and that a very careful look will be taken at the list of common animals—I am not talking now about plants—so as to strike exactly the right kind of compromise. I should like to say how enormously welcome is the attitude the Government have taken to the suggestion for reverse listing.

Baroness STEDMAN

I am sure that it was not the intention of the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, in reversing the Schedule to debar us from having love birds or pigeons.

Schedule 1 agreed to.

Schedule 2 agreed to.

Schedule 3 [Items the importation and exportation of which are restricted]:

10.33 p.m.

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 60:

Page 26, line 2, at end insert— . Yarn made wholly or partly of hair of any animal of the species Vicugna vicugna. Fabric made wholly or partly of hair of any animal of the species Vicugna vicugna.".

The noble Baroness said: This gives me the chance for an almost final fling to show how co-operative I am. This Amendment will extend the existing controls on hair of the vicugna to the yarn and fabric made from it. Noble Lords will probably recall from our discussion on Second Reading that the main threat to this animal is the demand for its hair to be made into cloth. Peru have banned all exports of vicugna products with the intention of conserving the species. The Government have recognised for some time that there is a strong case for prohibiting commercial trade in vicugna yarn and fabric, as well as the hair, but have been hampered by the difficulty of distinguishing it from other fabric. We are now satisfied that the recognition problem is not insuperable and that these controls can be enforced.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 3, as amended, agreed to.

In the Preamble:

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 67:

Line 2, after ("Flora") insert (" (in this Act referred to as the Convention) ").

The noble Baroness said: With the leave of the Committee, I should like to speak to Amendments Nos. 67 and 68 together because these are simple tidying up provisions to avoid the need to repeat the full title of the Convention where references are made to it in the body of the Bill. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Baroness STEDMAN moved Amendment No. 68:

Line 9, leave out ("that") and insert ("the").

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Preamble, as amended, agreed to.

In the Long Title:

Lord CHELWOOD moved Amendment No. 69:

Line 2, after ("items") insert ("and trade in them").

The noble Lord said: Although the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, is not here, I believe I am allowed to move this Amendment on his behalf. I do so simply in order to give the Government an opportunity to express a view about it. All I have to say is that it would of course be necessary to alter the Long Title if in fact, as many of us hope—and this view has been expressed on both sides of the Committee—Her Majesty's Government find it possible to set up some sort of second line of defence, as I have called it; that is to say, at the outlet, rather than only at the ports. This would be consequential upon the acceptance of any Amendment which did that in any way. I therefore beg to move this Amendment formally.

Baroness STEDMAN

I referred to this when speaking to Amendment No. 42. I should like to remind your Lordships again that the Bill which the Government have introduced is intended primarily to operate the import and export controls required by the Convention, and we think it most undesirable to extend its scope to the control of trade within the country. It is unnecessary for the objective which noble Lords have in mind, and I would hope that the Amendment would not be pressed.


I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Long Title agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with the Amendments.