HL Deb 12 December 1979 vol 403 cc1354-5WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the unilateral banning of the import of sperm oil would be a breach of the Treaty of Rome or of any other international agreement to which the United Kingdom is a party.


The only international agreement to which the United Kingdom is a party that is relevant to the question is the Treaty of Rome. Although the following opinion has not been tested in the courts, it is our understanding that for trade within the Community the United Kingdom would be entitled to ban unilaterally the import of sperm whale oil on conservation grounds relying for the purpose on Article 36 of the treaty.

We do not believe that Article 36 can be applied in the case of trade between Member States of the Community and other countries. It appears that the United Kingdom would not technically be entitled to act unilaterally under or in consequence of the treaty to effect a ban without there first being a derogation from the Council of Ministers under Article 3(1) of Regulation 1562/78.