HL Deb 20 June 1979 vol 400 cc962-4

2.43 p.m


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, as a member of the International Whaling Commission, and in accordance with the resolution of the 29th Conference held in Tokyo in December 1978, and as signatories to that international resolution, they are satisfied that the provisions to prevent the indiscriminate slaughter of whales are being observed.


My Lords, Her Majesty's Government hope that all members of the International Whaling Commission will ensure that the objectives of the two resolutions which were adopted at the Tokyo meeting are achieved in their countries. My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has recently announced that he is reviewing United Kingdom policy on whaling and that he expects to make a Statement before the annual meeting of the Commission next month.


My Lords, I thank my noble friend for his Answer. May I ask him, or perhaps Her Majesty's Government, whether they are aware that the provisions of the International Whaling Commission are not being complied with at present? Are they also aware that, in a report of the People's Trust for Endangered Species, evidence produced purported to show that the MV "Sierra", which is insured by Lloyd's of London, is at the present time involved in the indiscriminate slaughter of whales? May I ask my noble friend the Minister whether it would be of any assistance to him if I sent on to him, for the consideration of his Department, the report which I have in my hand? I understand that the evidence of this report has today been given to a committee of the United States Congress or House of Representatives.


My Lords, I should certainly be grateful if my noble friend would be kind enough to give me the report to which he referred, of which I have no specific knowledge. With regard to the indiscriminate slaughtering of whales, there are those who are not members of the International Whaling Commission who, of course, can go and whale on their own, and our objective is to try to get as many people as possible to join the Whaling Commission. With regard to Lloyd's, it is perfectly true that some vessels are insured by Lloyd's but it does not appear to be any breach of United Kingdom law for them to be so insured. However, Lloyd's have been informed of the terms of the resolution and of Her Majesty's Government's support of the principle.


My Lords, will the noble Earl convey to Her Majesty's Government the deep concern that many of us have over this question of indiscriminate whaling, and the fact that many of us would wish to support the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, in pressing that this be taken as a matter of extreme urgency?


My Lords, I fully accept the noble Lord's point of view. I shall certainly see that his views are represented to my right honourable friend, who, as I said, is considering the whole matter of the United Kingdom's position with regard to whaling.


My Lords, are there any sanctions in respect of breaches of the provisions, or against indiscriminate slaughter?


My Lord, the resolutions to which I referred are resolutions on which countries may vote for acceptance, but they have no legal liability.