§ Mr. Freeson
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what representations he has had, and from whom, 429W concerning the banning of seal products in the United Kingdom; what consideration he has given to these; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Parkinson
[pursuant to his reply, 12 March 1981, c. 381]: Both the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the International Fund for Animal Welfare have presented petitions for a ban on imports of seal products, and a deep and widespread concern within Parliament has been endorsed by the volume of letters this Department has received on the subject. Our position has been made clear on a number of occasions, most recently by my right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State whose observations on a petition from the citizens of Leicester were deposited in the House on 1 December 1980 and appeared in the Votes and Proceedings of 4 December 1980. After very careful consideration of all the factors involved the Government concluded that a ban would not be the right response, but that the public should be given the opportunity of deciding for themselves whether or not to purchase goods made of sealskin. Action has accordingly been taken under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 to require all such goods offered for sale to indicate that they are made from seal skin and where the skins come from. These requirements, which were welcomed by the RSPCA, apply to goods imported into or made in the United Kingdom from 1 January 1981.