§ Sir Brandon Rhys Williams
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will publish regular data concerning the number of sealskins being imported into the United Kingdom, together with their countries of origin.
§ Mr. Peter Rees
Details by number, weight and value of imports of raw fur skins of sealions, fur seals and other 159W seals are published against code No. 4301–23 under SITC(R2) item 212.09 in table IV of the monthly issues of the Overseas Trade Statistics of the United Kingdom, and details of tanned or dressed fur skins similarly against code No. 4302–2300 under SITC(R2) sub-group 613.0. Information on the countries of consignment and of origin of imports is available from the bill of entry unit at Her Majesty's Customs statistical office. The Trade Descriptions (Sealskin Goods) (Information) Order, 1980, provides for articles made of or incorporating sealskin to be marked accordingly and to indicate the country or geographical area in which the seals were taken.
§ Mr. Winnick
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if Her Majesty's Government will take steps to ban the import of all seal products; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Peter Rees
The Government are sensitive to the strong feelings in this country about the annual seal hunts, but they have concluded, after very careful consideration, that banning imports of seal products is not the right response in this case. There are no trade or economic reasons for imposing a ban. There is no authoritative evidence that seals, particularly in Canada, are endangered as a species. However, to enable people opposed to seal killing to avoid unwittingly buying sealskin products a labelling order, which was welcomed by the RSPCA, was made under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 to require all such goods offered for sale to indicate that they are made from sealskin and where the seals were taken. The order came into operation on 1 January 1981 and applies to goods imported into or made in the United Kingdom.