HL Deb 15 December 1999 vol 608 cc42-4WA
Lord Hardy of Wath

asked Majesty's Government:

What action is being taken both by the United Kingdom and the European Union to prevent the production of shahtoosh clothing and resulting endangerment of the Tibetan antelope. [HL273]

Lord Whitty

Nearly all production of shahtoosh clothing is carried out in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir. India is party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which prohibits international trade in Tibetan antelope (Panthalops hodgsonii) and all products derived from it. However, within Jammu and Kashmir, the shahtoosh trade remains lawful if conducted under licence from state authorities. Her Majesty's Government are working bilaterally and within CITES to enforce the ban but it is the responsibility of Indian authorities to introduce measures prohibiting shahtoosh production in India.

Within the European Union, commercial use (including sale and purchase) of items made from the Tibetan antelope is banned. In 1997 the Metropolitan Police seized 138 shahtoosh shawls found on sale in London—the largest seizure of its type to date. The Metropolitan Police have since issued a publicity leaflet to help deter illegal trade in shahtoosh. More recently, undercover investigations by the World Wide Fund for Nature did not find any shahtoosh on sale in the UK.

We provided financial assistance to a workshop held in China in October to develop international strategies to combat this trade. Following this, seven countries, including the UK and China, issued a joint declaration action plan for discussion at the next CITES Conference in April 2000.