HC Deb 27 February 1992 vol 204 cc564-5W
Mrs. Roe

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what measures he proposes to take to protect wild birds in trade.

Mr. Baldry

With colleagues in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, we are acting on a number of fronts to protect birds and other wild animals in trade.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, wrote last week to the European Commission to urge it to make speedy progress in drawing up the special safeguards for the transport of birds, negotiated last autumn by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, as part of a directive on the welfare of all animals in transport. To achieve immediate improvements in the conditions in which birds are transported. I am also writing, with my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Agriculture, to the International Air Traffic Association (IATA) to seek worldwide limits on the size of shipments. Should this approach fail, MAFF will introduce stricter limits nationally.

The Department has a particular responsibility for those birds and other animals whose import we licence. In preparation for next month's conference of the parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) I have identified with interested organisations, the introduction of checklists to monitor and enforce transport conditions as a top priority. The United Kingdom will complete these forthwith for imports of all animals subject to CITES controls. Checklists may be used as a basis for enforcement action; the application of stricter transport conditions; and for imposing restrictions on trade in particular species between particular countries. At the CITES conference, we shall urge others to follow our example on both the checklist and the collection of mortality statistics.

We shall also press for a substantial improvement in the implementation of CITES controls worldwide. In particular, as identified by our scientific advisers last year, action must be taken to remedy the failure of many countries to meet the Convention's requirements for the issue of export permits.

Our national licensing controls are already much more extensive than the basic CITES restrictions and we shall investigate further extension in the light of the latest mortality statistics. We shall also continue to encourage our partners in the European Community to join us in imposing tighter controls. I welcome the recent publication by the European Commission of proposals for a regulation which would meet many of the wide-ranging concerns I expressed to them last year. We shall examine the full implications of the proposals urgently starting with those relating to the care and housing of live animals. Where appropriate, we shall not hesitate to take action before the regulation comes into effect.

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