§ 3.10 p.m.
§ The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are satisfied that granting an import licence in December 1981 to Anglo-Austrian Automatics Ltd. for the import of 3 killer whales (orcinus Orca) was in accordance with the Washington Convention (Cmnd. 5459).
§ Lord Skelmersdale
My Lords, the Government are satisfied that the licence granted to Anglo-Austrian Automatics Ltd. for the import of three killer whales was in accordance with the Washington Convention. It was granted for educational and scientific purposes (including exhibition and breeding).
§ Lord Gridley
My Lords, while thanking my noble friend the Minister for that Answer, may I ask him whether he is aware that the concern about this import is that, in a short period of 24 months, two out of these three Orca died and that this worries the People's Trust for Endangered Species? In particular, may I ask my noble friend whether or not it is a fact that prior to the issue of any import licence the licensing authority must have been in possession of scientific advice that the import of these three Orca would not be detrimental to their survival as a species? Was this scientific advice given, and, if so, by whom? Finally, was not a further condition laid down: that prior assurances must have been received that during the import these species would be handled in such a way as to minimise injury, damage to health or cruelty to them? Was this condition observed?
§ Lord Skelmersdale
My Lords, as far as the last point in my noble friend's supplementary question is concerned, the answer is, yes. When it was received the 1277 application was referred to the Nature Conservancy Council, who advised that a licence should be granted, subject to the suitability of the accommodation. Before granting that same licence, the department was advised by an inspector from London Zoo that the accommodation was suitable for three young killer whales for a period of two years. Although two of the whales have since died, as referred to by my noble friend, there is no direct evidence to link either of the deaths with the accommodation or the conditions on Clacton Pier.