HC Deb 01 November 1979 vol 972 cc605-6W
Mr. Burden

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will ban the importation of the common tortoises Testudo Graeca and Testudo Hermann.

Mr. Monro

Under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act 1976 the importation of all tortoises is subject to licence. Testudo Graeca and Testudo Hermann, the species most commonly in trade, are not listed as endangered under the Washington convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora. As long as the countries of origin of the tortoises are satisfied and prepared to issue export licences, a ban on their importation cannot be justified under the Washington convention. The Department has, however, obtained the agreement of representatives of the tortoise trade to operate a voluntary quota system which limits the total imports annually to not more than 100,000. This has, this year, brough about a marked reduction in the level of tortoise imports compared with previous years.