§ Norman Baker
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many import896W licences she has authorised for the import of consignments of exotic animals, broken down by month, in each year since 1997; and if she will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Meacher
[holding answer 22 May 2002]: The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, more commonly known as CITES, aims to protect certain plants and animals by regulating and monitoring their international trade to prevent it reaching unsustainable levels.
We can confirm that import permits used for all CITES species in the following years were:
Number 1997 4,612 1998 4,958 1999 4,235 2000 5,743 2001 5,237
It would involve a disproportionate cost to attempt to break these down into monthly totals for exotic animals imported. Recent statistical surveys indicate that about 16 per cent. of import applications concern non-indigenous animals, including birds, reptiles, fish, insects and mammals. However, that figure also includes privately owned pets.