HL Deb 16 June 1989 vol 508 cc1643-5

11.15 a.m.

The Earl of Selkirk asked Her Majesty's Government:

When the ban on the import of ivory will take effect.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (The Earl of Caithness)

My Lords, the ban on the import of ivory into the United Kingdom came into effect on 9th June.

The Earl of Selkirk

My Lords, does that cover worked and raw ivory?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, yes, it does.

Lord Northfield

My Lords, I am sure that we all congratulate the noble Earl on the initiative which he took when he was in Kenya. When he was there was he able to say to the Kenyan and Tanzanian Governments that we should be able to give special help to them in order to stop the poaching on the ground and the killing of the elephants? Secondly, if those governments ask for financial help in order to employ more game wardens and stop the poaching, will Her Majesty's Government give a favourable answer?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, we already give considerable support to Kenya. We have three expatriate staff in the wildlife department. We also provide spares for vehicles and radios and other equipment. I asked Mr. Leakey, who has taken over the department, if he wanted any further vehicles or spares, would he please bear Britain in mind? We should consider any request that was made.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, does the Minister accept that we on this side of the House wish to acknowledge the splendid work that he has achieved in seeking and imposing the ban on the import of ivory into this country?

However, does he also understand this? He would have the full support of the whole House—in fact, the whole country—if it were possible for him to say a little more today about the measures the Government have in mind to try to achieve a ban on the export of ivory from those countries in which these wonderful creatures are gravely at risk.

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, it is very difficult to influence from this country the export of whatever product it may be from other countries. It requires the world to say, "We don't want to import ivory any more". I am sure that your Lordships have read, in the press today, as I have done—and I am waiting for clarification—that Japan has banned the import of worked ivory and raw ivory which does not come direct from the African producer countries. So already the action which we have taken has had effect elsewhere.

The Earl of Selkirk

My Lords, I suppose that means Japan can import from Hong Kong. Can the noble Earl say anything about Hong Kong or India?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, that is the matter on which I am waiting for clarification. Certainly if what I read in the press is right, Japan bans the import of raw ivory other than from a producer country. I do not believe that there are African elephants alive in Hong Kong, so there would be an effect on the Hong Kong market. As I understand it, the latest position on Hong Kong is that they support us in the transfer on the CITES list of the reference to the African elephant from Appendix 2 to Appendix 1, provided that the trade in existing legal stocks continues to be permitted.