HC Deb 15 December 1975 vol 902 cc475-6W
Mr. Luard

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what action he proposes to take to implement the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John Silkin

The necessary licensing system is being introduced in the United Kingdom on 1st January 1976 under the Import, Export and Customs Powers (Defence) Act 1939. Import controls for the conservation of wildlife will be greatly extended so that they cover all the species of animals and plants listed in the Convention.

Moreover, export licences will be required for conservation purposes for the first time. For certain parts and products, such as spotted furskins and reptile skins, licences will be required for additional species in order to increase the effectiveness of the controls. I am satisfied that these arrangements will have a minimal effect on legitimate trade.

In order to avoid overlap and duplication, an order has also been made to suspend the Animals (Restriction of Importation) Act 1964 and the Wild Birds (Importation) Order 1970 with effect from 1st January. However, all existing controls on the import of birds of prey and owls, and of plumage, will be maintained as part of the new arrangements. Non-endangered species of animals that were covered by the Animals Act 1964 for administrative reasons will no longer require import licences.

Licences will be issued by my Department and, in Northern Ireland, by the Department of Agriculture on the advice of scientific authorities. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, will be the scientific authority for plants and I am appointing a scientific authority for animals comprising members with the appropriate knowledge and experience. I shall announce those appointments very shortly. The Nature Conservancy Council, as the third scientific authority, will advise on the overall conservation policy issues arising from the Convention.

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