David Rutley contributions to the Ivory Act 2018


Wed 4th July 2018 Ivory Bill (Commons Chamber)
3rd reading: House of Commons
33 interactions (3,138 words)
Tue 19th June 2018 Ivory Bill (Fifth sitting) (Public Bill Committees)
Committee Debate: 5th sitting: House of Commons
49 interactions (4,651 words)
Tue 19th June 2018 Ivory Bill (Sixth sitting) (Public Bill Committees)
Committee Debate: 6th sitting: House of Commons
31 interactions (2,637 words)
Thu 14th June 2018 Ivory Bill (Third sitting) (Public Bill Committees)
Committee Debate: 3rd sitting: House of Commons
96 interactions (6,313 words)
Thu 14th June 2018 Ivory Bill (Fourth sitting) (Public Bill Committees)
Committee Debate: 4th sitting: House of Commons
65 interactions (5,039 words)
Tue 12th June 2018 Ivory Bill (First sitting) (Public Bill Committees)
Committee Debate: 1st sitting: House of Commons
7 interactions (1,135 words)
Tue 12th June 2018 Ivory Bill (Second sitting) (Public Bill Committees)
Committee Debate: 2nd sitting: House of Commons
12 interactions (1,163 words)
Mon 4th June 2018 Ivory Bill (Commons Chamber)
2nd reading: House of Commons
Money resolution: House of Commons
8 interactions (2,323 words)

Ivory Bill Debate

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Department: HM Treasury
Legislation Page: Ivory Act 2018

Ivory Bill

(3rd reading: House of Commons)
David Rutley Excerpts
Wednesday 4th July 2018

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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HM Treasury
Simon Hoare Portrait Simon Hoare - Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 3:23 p.m.

Well, there we are—my knowledge of north Wales Labour MPs is getting even better. This segues into the hon. Gentleman’s point. I would much prefer to see pressurised resources in DEFRA, the MOD and DFID, concentrated on deploying as much as we possibly can to arrest and frustrate the ivory trade and poaching, rather than the bureaucratic complexities that, in essence, underpin new clause 2 about having the report on the international ivory market. Apart from having a report to keep open a door or prop open a broken window, I am not entirely sure what the report of itself would do and what sits at the heart of the new clause.

Of course, I support the amendments proposed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

David Rutley Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (David Rutley) - Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 3:24 p.m.

rose—

Simon Hoare Portrait Simon Hoare - Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 3:24 p.m.

With trepidation but a certain degree of honour, I give way to my hon. Friend the Minister.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard

As always, my hon. Friend is very assiduous. I wonder whether he noticed today that we have announced that we intend to consult on extending the ban to include other ivory species, and we will seek to start the consultation process and gather evidence as soon as practicable or on Royal Assent. Does he not believe that that shows our clear commitment to taking action in this very important area?

Simon Hoare Portrait Simon Hoare - Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 3:24 p.m.

My hon. Friend has pointed to my effective oratorical default, which is that I never, ever write a speech. I scribble notes on bits of paper and then get terribly confused—sometimes it is a shame and sometimes it is a blessing. In concluding my remarks on new clause 1, I was going to say—again, this militates against the need for it—precisely the point that my hon. Friend made from the Dispatch Box. He and our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State have made incredibly clear their enthusiasm and appetite for expeditiously moving forward to include species such as the narwhal and others, which we are keen to see included.

My hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mrs Trevelyan) and I have an affection for the narwhal, which might even be described as an obsession. I think it is probably best to keep that to ourselves—we do not need to go into the whys and wherefores. However, not only have Ministers and the Secretary of State indicated the appetite to make full use of clause 35(4), but were there ever to be a change of Government—pray God that this is at such an interval that my hon. Friend and I will probably have hung up our boots—I rather get the impression that a Labour Government would also be as keen to exercise the scope of clause 35(4), so trying to put this in the Bill in a new clause is irrelevant.

In conclusion, I recognise the enthusiasm and determination that the DEFRA team have shown on this Bill. I also put on record my thanks for what I think is the unsung work of my right hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire (Mr Paterson) and my right hon. Friend the Member for South Northamptonshire (Andrea Leadsom)—the current Leader of the House, if I have got her constituency wrong—who did so much work when she was the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. I also thank the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk Coastal (Dr Coffey), because only due to circumstances beyond her control was she not able to bring to the point of delivery that which she had been involved in from the moment of conception. She should take enormous pride in the Bill, because it is something that is important for the House to do. Although there was some disagreement about pace and tempo during the Bill Committee and on Second Reading, the unanimity of view does credit to this place. Too often, it is seen through the rather narrow microcosm of Prime Minister’s questions, but when this place gets it, when it understands the need to do something, there is, I suggest, no finer example of the practice of politics. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to play a part, albeit a very small one, in bringing the Bill to this stage.

Break in Debate

Sir Hugo Swire Hansard

Yes, I agree with my right hon. Friend. I would say that there are legitimate concerns that still need flushing out, but I do not think anything should be done that will prevent the passage of the Bill in time for the wildlife conference. There are genuine concerns about how tight the legislation is in some respects and about how people may be inadvertently affected. I believe that legislation is only as good as the thought that is given to it, and there is nothing worse than implementing bad legislation. The legislation has to stand the test of time, and I believe the Government are trying to achieve that. I am sure that any serious points raised in the other place will be addressed suitably, but my right hon. Friend is, as usual, absolutely right that we must do nothing to prevent the swift passage of what is, in most respects, an excellent Bill.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 4:33 p.m.

This has been another outstanding debate on a very important subject, and I am very grateful for all the contributions that have been made.

On Second Reading, I was heartened to hear the support from all parties for the Bill. I thank all the Committee members for their important contributions on this issue and for the suggestions on how we can refine the Bill. Progress has been swift, and it is crucial that we continue that pace of progress on the Bill, as has been set out in numerous speeches.

I would like to give a warm welcome back to the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk Coastal (Dr Coffey). As always, the Department will benefit from her keen intellect and boundless energy in moving forward with so many important initiatives, of which this Bill is not the least. It is good that she is in her place on the Front Bench today.

We have not really discussed the intention of Government amendments 1 and 2, which seek to provide a definition of a pre-1918 portrait miniature for the purpose of the exemption in clause 6. The amendments adds a size restriction to the definition so that portraits with a 320 sq cm surface area qualify for exemption. That is the maximum area of the visible surface of the ivory “canvas”, irrespective of the size of the frame. In Committee, Emma Rutherford, a representative of Philip Mould & Company, who is an expert on portrait miniatures gave evidence on how the exemption for portrait miniatures could be refined to add a size limit. The Government listened to that expert evidence and to views expressed in Committee and have introduced proposals that set maximum dimensions for portrait miniatures. We have discussed this, but we have chosen to exempt portrait miniatures because the value of these popular items is due not to their ivory content but to their historical importance, the delicate painting and their luminosity.

Let me now move on to important subjects that have been discussed at length today. We should focus our attention on Government amendments 3 and 4 and discuss matters raised in debate. I shall then come on to discuss new clause 1. As has been said, amendments 3 and 4 will extend the power to make secondary legislation so that the definition of ivory could include that from any ivory-bearing species.

The hon. Member for Workington (Sue Hayman), in a characteristically considered contribution, asked whether the focus on elephants was initially an oversight. Non-governmental organisations, particularly during the evidence session, underlined the need to focus on elephants as an urgent priority. There was no oversight—there was a clear focus to start with—but that is not to say that we should not move on and look at other species.

We have heard passionate speeches expressing concerns about other species, from the hon. Member for Redcar (Anna Turley) about hippos, and from the hon. Member for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow (Dr Cameron). I do not think anyone will forget the speech by the hon. Member for Leeds North West (Alex Sobel), and his legendary narwhal song. We will have to find the words and start humming them in the bath, or something.

As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made clear on Second Reading, it is important that, as a result of this ban, the trade in ivory does not move to other species. That is why we included a power in clause 35(3) to allow other ivory-bearing species listed under CITES to be brought into the scope of the ban.

Robert Courts Portrait Robert Courts - Parliament Live - Hansard

May I repeat my thanks to the Minister for listening to the concerns that I have expressed about that provision in particular? Does he agree that the key point is that we need to move quickly to protect elephants, but after that we need maximum flexibility so that the Government can protect other species, whatever they are, as and when required?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Parliament Live - Hansard

My hon. Friend has been consistent throughout the process about the need to push forward, as have many colleagues on both sides of the House. Absolutely—we need pace, and I will come on to how we will ensure that we move forward as quickly as possible in the weeks and months ahead.

Sir Hugo Swire Hansard

When my hon. Friend begins to explain why the Government’s proposals are better than Opposition new clause 1, will he provide the House with evidence such as potential legal challenges or judicial review that has led the Government to decide that this is a better way to proceed?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Parliament Live - Hansard

Indeed I will. My right hon. Friend has made an important point. Of course, we want to move fast, but we want whatever legislation we introduce to be compliant. We want to make sure that it is effective and enforceable legislation, and I will come on to explain more about that.

We have listened carefully to the views put forward by expert witnesses in Committee and by Members on both sides of the House, and we have made it clear that we should not wait for ivory species to become endangered before we can take action. The amendments will therefore allow us to prohibit dealings in ivory from CITES species, as is currently the case under the existing drafting of clause 35 and, additionally, any other ivory-bearing animal or species, including those that are endangered—for example, warthogs, my favourite animal.

Simon Hoare Portrait Simon Hoare - Hansard

Hear, hear.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 4:40 p.m.

Quite right, too. The amendments also cover extinct species, such as mammoths. We believe that extending clause 35 to allow warthogs to be brought into the scope of the ban is important due to the risk of displacement. That has been talked about by several people, including my hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Robert Courts). We also recognise that mammoth ivory is sufficiently similar to elephant ivory that its continued sale could perpetuate the demand for elephant ivory.

I would like to thank my hon. Friend the Member for North Dorset (Simon Hoare), of warthog fame, and my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Derbyshire (Mrs Latham)—we will not forget her contributions in Committee on mammoths—for their determined commitment to these species. The Government are clear that we should work together for the Bill to move swiftly through Parliament and that we should not allow the Bill to be derailed. Quick passage is important as in October the Government are hosting the fourth illegal wildlife trade conference, referred to by Members on both sides of the House, at which we will bring together global leaders on this issue. The conference will build on previous efforts, address the underlying systemic issues that facilitate the illegal wildlife trade and demonstrate a step-change in the fight against this criminal trade. Our aim is to make significant progress with the Bill before the conference.

Henry Smith Portrait Henry Smith (Crawley) (Con) - Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 4:41 p.m.

It was a great privilege to serve on the Bill Committee. Britain’s global leadership on this issue is absolutely essential. Does the Minister agree that the strong message we are sending out by passing the Bill in a timely manner and widening the scope to other species will lead to change in countries across the world?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 4:42 p.m.

I thank my hon. Friend for his contribution in Committee. He makes an important point. We want to highlight our commitment to tackling illegal wildlife trade. The Bill, and the extension we are talking about today through the consultation, will be important in sending out a clear signal to other countries, and not least the EU as it looks at its own ban.

As referenced on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs website, the Government are clear that introducing protections for other ivory-bearing species is important. That is why we announced today our intention to consult on proposals to extend the ban to other ivory-bearing species on or as soon as practicable after Royal Assent.

Mr Ranil Jayawardena Portrait Mr Jayawardena - Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 4:43 p.m.

I was not on the Bill Committee, but I have been following the Bill closely, as have other members of the all-party group on endangered species. Can my hon. Friend confirm that the consultation would allow the Government to move further and faster than would have been possible under new clause 1?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 4:43 p.m.

Absolutely. It is our intention to move further. We are all agreed on that. As I will set out, we believe categorically that this will be faster. I think that that is the sort of speed people want to see as we move forward in the weeks ahead.

Simon Hoare Portrait Simon Hoare - Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 4:43 p.m.

What capacity is there within DEFRA post conference—I appreciate it is currently fantastically busy—if other countries want to dip into the collective expertise of both Ministers and officials on how to deliver and devise this sort of legislation? Who will be available? We should be a centre of excellence and a resource for information and knowledge.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 4:44 p.m.

That is another excellent point. DEFRA officials work very closely with their counterparts in other countries. The conference in October will be a perfect opportunity to bring parties together. If further co-operation is required they will be ready to do that, but there is important work to do in the UK as well.

The Government want to ensure that if in future we decide to extend the scope of the ban, any legislation which applies to ivory-bearing animals or species is robust, proportionate, defensible, enforceable and, importantly, compliant with the European convention on human rights. We will therefore ensure that we gather and analyse evidence on the market for ivory from the other species. We therefore think that it is vital to consult on any proposals and gather views and evidence from stakeholders and the public. That would support an analysis that will focus on the impact of the measures—

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng - Hansard

Could my hon. Friend give the House any indication on timing for the consultation process?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 4:45 p.m.

As I said in the DEFRA announcement—I am pleased that my hon. Friend has given me the opportunity to underline this—the consultation would start on or as soon as practicable after Royal Assent. The commencement of the Bill will be around six months afterwards. Importantly, the consultation will take place at the point of or close to—as soon as practicable—Royal Assent. We will then move forward with the consultation and, assuming that the evidence shows that it is right to put forward the statutory instrument and include certain species that we have talked about, we can then move forward on a quicker timescale than has been set out—[Interruption.] From a sedentary position, I heard the hon. Member for Workington suggesting that we do it straightaway, which is a lovely thought and I understand her intention. However, the key thing that I am trying to stress is pace. Let us make sure that the Bill is compliant as well. I say gently to Opposition Members—I know that they are committed to pressing the new clause to a vote—that we want to make sure that the Bill is compliant, and given the focus and commitment that we have all given to the Bill, it is not right for there to be any risk, not just to the future of the delegated powers, but to the Bill as a whole by putting such provisions in it. That is what I ask Members to consider as we move to the vote.

We have already talked about new clause 1, but let me just add further weight to the arguments around it. It is clear that this new clause will place the Secretary of State under a duty to lay an instrument under the affirmative procedure within 12 months of clause 35 coming into force. It would extend the prohibition on dealing elephant ivory to ivory from CITES-listed species, so it does not go as far as the approach that the Government have set out.

As I said, the Government intend to consult on the extension of the ban and to conduct analysis of the impact that this may have on individuals and business. The new clause, however, presupposes or prejudges the outcome of that important work and would remove the opportunity for the public to provide evidence. It would oblige the Government to extend the prohibition to CITES species, even if the evidence does not support it. For some or all of the species listed in the new clause, that could mean that the regulations may not be compliant with the European convention on human rights and could be challenged on that basis. Given that explanation, I very much hope that in her concluding remarks the hon. Member for Workington will consider withdrawing her new clause.

During the debate, a number of other issues have been raised and I will turn briefly to some of them. The hon. Member for Redcar (Anna Turley) has made points about resources and cyber-security. I assure her that this is obviously a key area of focus and priority for the Government. The National Wildlife Crime Unit and Border Force do a fantastic job and we are committed to making sure that they have the resources to take this work forward. Of course, the Office for Product Safety and Standards, the regulator, will have additional resources, and working together with the enforcement agencies, will ensure that the ban is enforceable and is done so well.

The hon. Member for Leeds North West (Alex Sobel) made the point about plectrums. If they are made of mammoth and assuming that the ban extends to mammoths, they would be prohibited, but clearly, they can still be used. They can be passed on and bequeathed; they just cannot be sold commercially. He makes an excellent point about narwhals. We have exchanged correspondence and we encourage other nations to take such commitments seriously. I will gladly meet him separately to talk about Canada.

The hon. Member for Workington talked about the need for a report. We talked about this in Committee at great length. I understand why she wants a report, but the Government do not believe it to be their job to produce one, because other organisations can do so more independently, and of course there would be a cost involved as well. I therefore ask her not to press her new clause 2. With that, I thank hon. Members for their contributions on Report.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 4:50 p.m.

We have had an excellent debate this afternoon, and it is great that hon. Members right across the House have welcomed and supported this important Bill. I thank the Minister for our constructive discussions in Committee and today and warmly welcome the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the hon. Member for Suffolk Coastal (Dr Coffey), to her place.

I take issue with what some hon. Members have said about Government amendments 3 and 4 meaning that new clause 1 is not required. Our new clause would amend clause 35(1), whereas the Government amendments amend subsections (2) and (3), so they are not mutually exclusive. If we are to make the Bill as strong as it can be today and achieve as much as we can, I see no reason why the House cannot support both new clause 1 and the Government amendments. We would then today have the strongest Bill possible. I am a little disappointed, therefore, that the Government do not want to support the new clause.

Break in Debate

Queen’s consent signified.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 5:26 p.m.

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

What a pleasure it is to move the Third Reading motion for this important Bill. It is a simple but vital piece of legislation with a clear purpose: to help save one of the world’s most magnificent animals, the elephant, from the brink of extinction at the hands of ruthless ivory poachers. The ban on the sale of elephant ivory items of all ages, with only limited exemptions, will be the strongest in Europe and among the strongest in the world. The introduction of the Bill has reaffirmed the UK’s global leadership on this critical issue, and reflects our commitment to making the abhorrent trade in ivory a thing of the past. By seeking to ensure that ivory is never seen by the poachers as a commodity for financial gain or by potential customers as a status symbol, we will protect elephants for future generations.

The Bill has been improved today by amendments made on Report that took account of the evidence put forward by expert witnesses in Committee. This is my first time taking a Bill through the House as a Minister, and I am grateful for the positive way in which Members have engaged with it as it has progressed; I hope that that spirit will continue. We can all be rightly proud of the Bill. Let me take this opportunity to thank all the non-governmental organisations, the museums, the antiques sector and the enforcement bodies for their contributions and written evidence taken and received in Committee evidence sessions.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan Portrait Mrs Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed) (Con) - Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 5:28 p.m.

The Minister mentioned museums. On Second Reading, I raised the question of Northumbrian pipes made since 1975 using CITES-approved ivory. I understand that in Committee, despite these pipes’ unique and beautiful nature, it proved impossible to give a specific exemption for pipes made since 1975, but will the Minister meet me to discuss how we might find a way to use the local community or to set up some sort of fund, so that these pipes, which are owned by families, will not be lost to the musical traditions of Northumberland and will find a repository that can be passed on to future generations?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 5:29 p.m.

That issue was also raised by the hon. Member for Blaydon (Liz Twist). My hon. Friend is a formidable local champion and I will of course meet her to discuss how the Government can look into ways to continue to keep that rich part of her community’s heritage very much alive.

Mr Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield) (Con) Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 5:29 p.m.

I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way. I have not involved myself in the passage of this Bill, but I was intrigued by what consideration had been given to probate valuation. If someone is the owner of a Giambologna cup made of ivory, which is potentially worth millions, and which could have an exemption certificate granted to it, but they never apply for one and they die and they hand it over to a future generation, I assume that its value will be zero for that purpose.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 5:30 p.m.

Guidance will be given to help people understand the implications of this measure. We are making sure that the new regulator does their job formally to help the antique trade understand all the implications, and there will also be a public engagement exercise. My right hon. and learned Friend makes an important point, but I am sure that it will be further scrutinised in the other place as this Bill makes progress.

Let me return now to some remarks that I had previously wanted to get through, which is that we have had good debates on clause 35 both in Committee and on Report. The widening of the power to extend the definition of ivory to include that from non-CITES species will be important, for example, if the prohibition in elephant ivory increases pressure on other ivory-bearing species and continues to fuel demand, or if the continued trade in other forms of ivory provides cover for the illegal trade of elephant ivory. This could well include ivory from the unfairly maligned warthog and the extinct mammoths. This will come as some relief to my hon. Friend the Member for North Dorset (Simon Hoare), who is no longer in his place, and to my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Derbyshire (Mrs Latham). The widening of the power will also include other endangered species that Members have mentioned with such concern, including hippos, narwhals, walruses, killer whales and sperm whales. As I said on Report, the Government are committed to action.

We have today announced that we intend to consult on extending the ban to include other ivory species, and we will seek to start the consultation process and to gather evidence on, or as soon as practicable after, Royal Assent. This process will ensure that if we do extend the scope of the ban, it will be robust, defensible, enforceable, and compliant with the European convention on human rights.

Stephen Kerr (Stirling) (Con) Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 5:31 p.m.

Will my hon. Friend explain to the House how long he expects the consultation to last and what the sequence of events would be that we might arrive at some new legislation to protect these endangered species?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 5:32 p.m.

We will seek to do this as speedily as possible. A consultation normally lasts about 12 weeks, but, clearly, that work needs to be further reviewed, and then we can move things forward. I think that my hon. Friend can use his own process of deduction to work out that we can move this further and quicker than would have been set out by the Opposition’s amendments.

Let me conclude by thanking once again and paying tribute to the Secretary of State for his determination to introduce this Bill. I have also mentioned the important work that the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk Coastal (Dr Coffey) has done in taking this Bill forward, ahead of its introduction in this House. It is also important to recognise the contributions from my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond Park (Zac Goldsmith) and from my right hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire (Mr Paterson) who set out his long-held ambitions to take this work forward. I also wish to pay particular tribute to those members of the Bill Committee who sat through various evidence sessions and made very important contributions during the Committee stage, including the hon. Member for Workington (Sue Hayman). She made some characteristically thoughtful and considered contributions, even though we did not quite agree on some of the procedural matters. We are grateful for that constructive approach not just from Members of this House, but from representatives from conservation non-governmental organisations, from the musicians sector, from the arts and antiques sector, from the enforcement agencies and from others. I also wish to extend my thanks to our wonderful and hardworking Bill team, our private offices, our Parliamentary Private Secretaries, and the Whips who, like warthogs, can get overlooked at times. I also wish to thank the Clerks and other parliamentary staff for their sterling work and support on this issue.

It has been a real honour to take the Bill from Second Reading through to today, particularly knowing that there has been such strong support from all parties across the House. I wish the Bill safe and speedy passage through its remaining stages in the other place.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 5:34 p.m.

I just want to reiterate that Labour is not opposing the Bill. We have sought to strengthen it in Committee and today, and I trust that the Minister and Conservative Members who served on the Bill Committee would agree that we have demonstrated out earnest desire and efforts to do so.

It is good that there is clear, widespread, cross-party recognition that this comprehensive ban on the sale of ivory is needed. I thank the Bill Committee Clerk, Gail Poulton, for her tireless work with Members, for supporting me and my team and for her expert guidance. I also thank all members of the Committee from both sides of the House, including the Minister, for participation in a good-natured and thorough debate throughout. In particular, I thank my hon. Friends the Members for Bristol West (Thangam Debbonaire) and for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Luke Pollard), and my hon. Friend the Member for Redcar (Anna Turley), who is no longer in her place, but was wearing a marvellous elephant dress earlier. I thought I was doing well wearing ivory-coloured clothes, but there we are. I also thank my hon. Friends the Members for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy) and for Blaydon (Liz Twist), and my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds North West (Alex Sobel) for his introductions to Obi-Wan narwhal. I thank all those hon. Friends for their support, time and dedication over the last few weeks. I also thank all the different organisations that have given us their time and expertise.

I would go as far as to say that there has been agreement in principle from all parties in the House for the premise behind the vast majority of the Labour amendments in Committee. All we were doing was seeking to increase transparency, remove conflicts of interest and clarify the definitions in the Bill. I will just highlight a few key concerns that came up in Committee.

We discussed an annual register of items exempted for having artistic, cultural or historical value. This was strongly supported by conservation groups during the Committee’s evidence hearing, and it would ensure public confidence in the ivory ban and that any exemptions applied were fair. Despite not supporting our amendment, the Minister provided an assurance in Committee that steps would be taken to ensure the utmost transparency and public confidence. In time, it would be interesting to have more detail on those assurances. We also asked for assurances regarding the potential abuse of replacement certificates, as the Bill currently includes no limit on those. Again, it would be interesting to hear from the Minister more about how any potential abuse could be eliminated.

The Committee heard that the National Wildlife Crime Unit has only 12 members of staff to cover its whole area of operations, right across the UK, and that this number includes administrative staff as well as enforcement officers. This level was a cause for concern in Committee, given the expanded responsibilities of the unit under the Bill. The Minister mentioned the potential for this being dealt with in the autumn statement—I think that is actually the Budget now, but it moves so often—so we would be grateful if the Minister acknowledged that these concerns exist so that they can then be addressed at that point.

The Committee also heard how the internet plays a central role in the sale of ivory products. I would be grateful if the Minister outlined plans for proactively policing and monitoring this online activity and mentioned what kind of resources would be needed.

This Bill is a welcome step forward for the future of global elephant populations. I look forward to working with colleagues right across the House to ensure that we continue to do everything in our power to stamp out the global ivory trade and preserve these iconic animal species for generations to come.

Ivory Bill (Fifth sitting) Debate

Full Debate: Read Full Debate
Department: HM Treasury
Legislation Page: Ivory Act 2018

Ivory Bill (Fifth sitting)

(Committee Debate: 5th sitting: House of Commons)
David Rutley Excerpts
Tuesday 19th June 2018

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Public Bill Committees
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HM Treasury
Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman (Workington) (Lab) - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 9:27 a.m.

I beg to move amendment 9, in clause 12, page 7, line 40, at end insert—

“(1A) For the purposes of subsection (1), a person facilitates a breach of the prohibition if he or she, whilst not directly engaged in the process of a sale, acts in such a way as to allow that sale, or other form of dealing, to occur.”

This amendment defines ‘facilitate’, which is not defined in the Bill, using the text from the Explanatory Notes to the Bill.

During the evidence sessions we discussed enforcement and implementation, and the potential for mis-selling and misleading behaviour. The exact definition of “facilitate” in the Bill was also discussed. The amendment is designed to clarify that. The explanatory notes give details on page 22. They state:

“This offence would apply to anyone who, whilst not directly engaged in the process of a sale, acted in such a way as to allow that sale, or other form of dealing, to occur. For instance, this could apply to the owners of an online sales forum if they were found not to have taken reasonable steps to ensure that an item was a) exempt from the ban, and b) had been registered as such. Further, anyone found to have advertised an item in order to facilitate a sale may be found to be in breach of this clause.”

We thought that it would be helpful to include the definition of “facilitate” in the Bill, and the form of words used in the amendment is based on the explanatory notes.

David Rutley Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (David Rutley) - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 9:27 a.m.

I thank the hon. Lady for her careful consideration of the Bill and for this amendment, which seeks to define “facilitate” in the context of a sale of an item of ivory in breach of the prohibition on sales of ivory. I would like to reassure her, and the Committee more generally, that the amendment is not required. No definition for facilitating a breach of the prohibition was provided in the Bill, as the term “facilitate” shall have its natural meaning.

The amendment would also be misleading, as it refers solely to the sale of ivory, whereas the Bill is concerned with the broader concept of commercial dealing in ivory. The facilitation of the illegal purchase, hire or acquisition of ivory for valuable consideration—that is, bartering—is also prohibited. The wording used in the amendment is taken from the explanatory notes, as the hon. Lady set out, but those are intended to provide guidance and steer on the meaning of the Bill, not to prescribe provisions.

I share the hon. Lady’s intention that the Bill should be as clear as possible, but on this occasion I do not believe that the amendment is necessary. The current wording in the Bill is sufficient to define when an offence of breaching the prohibition through facilitation has been committed. Furthermore, the Bill’s explanatory notes are not intended to set a direction in the prohibition on dealing in ivory; they are there to assist the reader. With that explanation, I ask the hon. Lady to withdraw her amendment.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist (Blaydon) (Lab) - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 9:25 a.m.

During the evidence sessions I asked a number of question about cyber-crime and how we can ensure that people seeking to deal in ivory online are properly captured, with regard to enforcement and making it clear that attempting to sell ivory items on the internet will be covered. The wording suggested by my hon. Friend the shadow Minister would enhance our ability to capture that cyber-dealing and ensure that we do not allow the illegal trade to continue online. I know that is often a challenge, but I wonder whether those words would strengthen that ability.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 9:30 a.m.

I thank the hon. Lady for that point, and I understand her concerns. We all want to make sure that cyber-crime is cracked down on more generally, and specifically in the Bill. As I said to the hon. Member for Workington, the Bill as drafted will tackle the issue of facilitation, so we do not need a further definition. We will also debate later today the role of internet service providers, which is included in the Bill. We heard from non-governmental organisations that they are satisfied that there are strong measures in the Bill and that the ban will be strong. I assure the hon. Member for Blaydon that the provisions will tackle the concern that she rightly raises.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 9:31 a.m.

On the understanding that it is clear what “facilitate” means, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Break in Debate

Dr Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Lisa Cameron (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow) (SNP) - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 9:41 a.m.

I think that this measure has to be strengthened, and we heard clear evidence along those lines from the experts. Like my colleague, the hon. Member for Redcar, I want to know what “ought to know” will be taken to mean in such a situation. Will it be based upon a person’s experience or history of dealing with such artefacts? I have concerns about how a person can prove that they did not know something. Proving a negative is difficult judicially. This measure should be strengthened, but I have concerns and would like to hear more from the Minister in that regard.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 9:41 a.m.

I thank the hon. Member for Workington for her amendment, the effect of which would be to make the commercial dealing of prohibited ivory items a strict liability offence. The hon. Member for Redcar and other hon. Members also made comments along those lines, and I will answer some of their questions in due course.

We all agree that the enforcement of the Bill should be rigorous, but I assure the Committee that the amendment is not required. Clause 12(2) makes provision for a person found to have breached the prohibition to demonstrate that they genuinely and reasonably did not know that the item was ivory. That could be, for instance, because they were unaware of ivory as a substance, or because the ivory in question could reasonably have been assumed to be something else.

If clause 12 offences were to become strict liability offences because of the amendment, the person accused of the offence would not be able to rely on the defence that they had taken all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence. The strict liability offences that would be created as a result of the amendment mean that, for the offence to have been committed, there is the need only for the actus reus—the act itself—to have been committed. There is no need for the mens rea—the intention. That would mean that subsections (2) and (3) would effectively be deleted.

It is good that clause 12(2) is in the Bill, because it allows for instances of genuine mistakes, as my hon. Friend the Member for North Dorset said, where there is unlikely to be a malicious intent to breach the Bill. For instance, a member of the public might sell in a car boot sale an item they found in their grandmother’s attic without realising that the material in question was elephant ivory.

Anna Turley Hansard

I would like a bit more clarification on the point I raised about the phrase

“ought to know or suspect”.

When we pass the Bill, I hope the Government will share the news far and wide, because it will be a fantastic achievement. Surely everybody will think, even if they see something in their attic, “That could potentially be ivory.” Ivory is pretty distinct, and I would have thought that everybody—even a little old lady at a car boot sale or in a charity shop—would look at it, wonder what it is made of and think, “That could be ivory.” They will know, because hopefully the Bill will be widely heralded, that they ought at least to double check and find out whether it is something they should know about. I do not think the emphasis on

“ought to know or suspect”

goes far enough.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 9:44 a.m.

I thank the hon. Lady for that point, which was similar to that made by the hon. Member for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow. As currently drafted, the Bill gives a degree of discretion to the enforcement agency. It allows the officer to consider the position of the defendant and ascertain whether they should have knowledge of ivory—for example, an antiques dealer, which we will come to shortly—or whether they are a member of the public who has genuinely made a mistake. So there are points about proportionality and discretion.

An individual or organisation could, for example, show that they took reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence through checking that the item had been registered prior to the purchase, or listed on an online platform, and that the registration or listing appeared to them to be authentic. Additionally, the enforcement bodies will consider the person’s position when taking a view about whether they should have known or suspected that an item was ivory. As I have explained before, there is a difference between a fully trained and experienced antiques dealer and a member of the public who could be young and inexperienced. The enforcement agencies need to have clearer discretion, as in many other forms of legislation. I will provide more details later. If we removed that provision, there would be no such defence. Further, doing so would place the sale of prohibited ivory in the same bracket as illegal transactions such as the sale of alcohol to a minor, where, as we know, a shopkeeper or a member of bar staff can be sanctioned for a sale on the ground of protecting public health. Strict liability must be used with considerable caution, and we do not think it would be proportionate to make these offences analogous.

Dr Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Cameron - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 9:47 a.m.

Something has just come to my mind about how to strengthen the measure. It is about experience and having a connection to the industry. Might there be a loophole for unscrupulous people to try to engage the services of those who perhaps have no history of or direct connection to online sales? If someone is connected directly with individuals who ought to know, might we strengthen the legislation, because I would not like people to be able to use that as a loophole?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 9:48 a.m.

The hon. Lady makes a good point. Whatever people’s views are, nobody in Committee is seeking loopholes. We are trying to close them down. Her point would be covered by facilitation, which we have talked about previously.

It is very important in criminal law that we establish both the intent and the act itself, which need to be present for the offence to be committed. Strict liability is the exception as only the act itself needs to be present for the offence to be committed, for example, the sale of alcohol to minors and health and safety matters. With that explanation, I ask the hon. Lady to withdraw the amendment.

Anna Turley Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 9:49 a.m.

I appreciate the Minister’s generosity in giving way. I want to push him on what the words “ought to know” or “suspect” mean in this context. In the case of a police officer trying to convict someone, how can they prove that someone ought to know? He gave the example of someone being an antiques dealer or in the sector, in which case we can say that they ought to know, but how otherwise can a police or enforcement officer prove that someone ought to know? Public awareness ought to be sufficient, but how will a police officer be able to prove that someone ought to know?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 9:50 a.m.

As I have already described, enforcement agencies do such work all the time. They work through quite tricky situations where they have to work out the intent as well as the act itself: for example, the difference between murder and manslaughter. I am no lawyer, but there are differences in degrees. The key thing is that the Bill will push forward strict legislation. The NGOs were clear that the ban will be tough. The provisions in the Bill will enable people to be held to account. The enforcement agencies will be able to do that. As I have said, an element of proportionality and discretion is required, and that is true for the vast amount of law that enforcement agencies need to enforce.

To give another example, a person might have inherited an ornament thinking it was bone, as family members had always said that it was. The person then sells it without realising it is elephant ivory. It is difficult to say that they should have known. The enforcement agency will need to test that and work through it. Over time, it will be able to work out, through precedent and judgment, how appropriate it would be to use the range of enforcement measures that we will discuss line by line. Those measures are there to help work out proportionately how serious that particular crime is.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 9:50 a.m.

I have listened carefully to everything the Minister has said, and I thank the hon. Member for North Dorset for his suggestions, but the idea of little old ladies being imprisoned for finding things in their attics is a little beyond the point I was trying to make. The National Wildlife Crime Unit will be directly responsible for investigating, and for enforcing the legislation once it passes, so we should take seriously what the chief inspector said. To remind the Committee, she confirmed that the unit had only 12 members of staff, so it is pretty limited in what it can investigate. She said that if the convention on international trade in endangered species brings something to the unit, it can tie them up for several months. She also said:

“We deal with the ones who have a complete disregard for policy protocol legislation. We deal with the ones who are deceptive, who lie and who want to make money out of this.”

It is not about people who find things in their attics. She continued:

“The burden of proof has to be manageable and has to be able to be enforced”.––[Official Report, Ivory Public Bill Committee, 12 June 2018; c. 39, Q79.]

We need to take seriously what she is saying. The Minister said that enforcement services should be able to take a view about whether someone should have known, but Chief Inspector Hubble said that was difficult from an enforcement perspective.

Earlier in our proceedings, the Minister committed to a rigorous education programme. If we have an effective education programme, people should know to check for ivory. We need a law that is enforceable and will make a difference. Otherwise, what is the point?

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Break in Debate

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

New clause 3—Assessment of enforcement resources—

‘(1) Within 12 months of section 12 of this Act coming into force, the Secretary of State must make an assessment on the resources available to enforce the prohibition.

(2) The report shall consider in particular—

(a) the resources allocated or planned to be allocated towards enforcing the prohibition,

(b) the potential impact of any change in resources so allocated or planned to be allocated, and

(c) the impact on other law or border enforcement activities of the resources so allocated or planned to be allocated.

(3) The Secretary of State shall lay a report of the assessment under this section before each House of Parliament as soon as practicable after its completion.”

This new clause requires an assessment to be made and laid before Parliament regarding the level of resources allocated or proposed to be allocated to enforcing the prohibition against ivory dealing.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 9:55 a.m.

The clause provides for the new offences to be created under the Bill. The new offences have been developed to capture the likely chain of actions pertaining to commercial dealing in ivory or that support commercial dealing. Directly breaching the ban, causing it to be breached or facilitating a breach are all offences under the Bill. In practice, directly breaching the ban would include dealing in a prohibited item or dealing in ivory without an exemption certificate or registration for that item. That applies equally to the seller and the buyer. Causing a breach would include someone acting under the discretion of another person, such as an auctioneer, or someone otherwise engaged on behalf of another—a person selling an item on behalf of a friend, for instance. That relates partly to the point that the hon. Member for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow raised earlier. The offence of facilitating a breach discussed under amendment 9 would apply, for example, to those responsible for an online sales platform if they were found not to have taken reasonable steps to prevent an illegal sale. It would also include anyone found to have advertised an item to facilitate a sale, for instance a newspaper.

Clause 12(2) ensures that it is an offence to deal in an item of ivory if the person knows, ought to have known or suspects that the substance is ivory, as we discussed at length under amendment 10. That will mean that it is less likely that a defendant can rely on a claim that they did not know that an item was ivory because the item was mislabelled. The enforcement bodies will consider the position of the person in taking a view on whether they should have known or suspected the item was ivory, for instance whether the person is an antiques dealer or a member of the public, as I have said several times.

Clause 12(3) ensures that actions taken by individuals and organisations to exercise due diligence and avoid committing an offence should be taken into account and can be used as a defence. For example, a buyer of a prohibited ivory item may be able to demonstrate that they checked that the item was registered and that the registration appeared authentic before they making purchase, and an organisation that listed a prohibited item for sale, for example online or in a sale room, may be able to demonstrate that it had taken steps to check that it had been registered and that the registration appeared authentic.

Recognising that offences committed under the Bill will vary in severity, a mixed regime of criminal and civil sanctions will apply. Clause 12(4) details the criminal sanctions that are applicable to the offences. We are committed to setting a high bar for sanctions for illegal wildlife trade activities and, as such, the maximum criminal sanction of five years’ imprisonment or an unlimited fine will be applied in line with existing sanctions under the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997—COTES.

The clause also provides for summary convictions through a magistrates court to be applied in line with the maximum sanctions applicable in each of the devolved Administrations. The regulatory body, the Office for Product Safety and Standards, and the police will be responsible for identifying and investigating breaches of the ban. Criminal breaches will be dealt with by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service and the specific nature of the breach will be considered when a sanction is applied, to ensure a proportionate approach is adopted, as discussed earlier.

We recognise that the defences under existing legislation, such as the Serious Organised Crime Act and Police Act 2005 and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, may apply to illegal dealing in ivory. The Bill will rely on the existing offences, where the appropriate criteria are met. For example, it would be an offence under the Fraud Act 2006 to make or use a fraudulent exemption certificate or registration.

New clause 3, which the hon. Member for Workington tabled, raises the critical issue of ensuring effective enforcement, a theme she has understandably been keen to raise this morning. I can assure the Committee that the issue is of foremost concern to the Government, as reflected in the strength of the powers we have conferred on the police, customs and the civilian enforcement body—the Office for Product Safety and Standards—to ensure compliance with the ban and to prosecute those who breach it. Effective enforcement is, of course, reliant on the appropriate resources, and I give credit to the police, including the National Wildlife Crime Unit and the Border Force for their efforts to date in tacking the abhorrent trade.

In the oral evidence to the Committee we heard that the CITES Border Force team is recognised as one of the best in the world at enforcing controls against the illegal wildlife trade. Moreover, both the Border Force team and the National Wildlife Crime Unit share their expertise with countries all over the world. It is paramount that the available resources are effectively used to enforce the ban.

Our proposals go further than the current regime by putting a civilian regulator in place to enforce the ban, alongside the police and the Border Force. The regulator will raise awareness of the ban and the compliance provisions and assess whether businesses are operating in compliance with the legislation. That will reduce the burden on the enforcement agencies by increasing compliance. The regulator will also be responsible for issuing civil sanctions, which are new in the Bill.

In developing and implementing the compliance processes necessary for the ban, the Government will assess the resources required and monitor their effective application over time. It will be a matter for the Home Office to allocate and monitor the police resources necessary for the enforcement of the ban, and the National Wildlife Crime Unit will play an important role. It will also be critical to assess the enforcement of the ban over time, including the number of cases successfully brought and the sentences applied.

We do not believe that the resources assessment should be included in the Bill. It would also be unhelpful for a single assessment to be made 12 months after clause 12 comes into force. That is because it is likely that different levels of resources will be required in the early stages of enforcement and as implementation progresses, for example, as awareness-raising exercises are carried out to improve awareness among those affected. Such an assessment would also not capture a sufficient period following the Bill’s coming into force. For example, it would not cover an assessment of court cases and rulings brought forward as a result of the ban.

The Government will assess the implementation of the ban over time, in particular its enforcement, as a matter of course. Much of this information will be in the public domain and open to civil society and to public scrutiny.

In summary, we do not believe this matter needs to be addressed in the Bill and a one-off assessment will not be sufficient. With this explanation, I ask the hon. Lady not to press her new clause.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 10:02 a.m.

First, I will make a few points on subsection (4)(a) to (c) on the sentencing guidelines. During the evidence sessions, we talked about the fact that the Bill is not just about enforcement; it is also a deterrent. We have the opportunity to introduce sentencing guidance for courts in the United Kingdom to make sure that magistrates and judges have proper information when hearing cases. We agreed that we need good sentencing guidance to ensure that appropriate sentences are given. I welcome the inclusion in the explanatory notes of a table setting out clear maximum penalties and the different sanctions, which are imprisonment or the statutory maximum fines. I may have misheard, but I thought the Minister said that there would be unlimited fines. Will he clarify that point?

Witnesses at the evidence sessions also stressed the need for significant awareness programmes to accompany the introduction of the Bill—I also mentioned that point during the discussion of amendment 10—not just for the judiciary, but for the general public. Education of the public, the judiciary and the enforcement officers is essential. Does the Minister have any further information about how his Department intends to roll out an education programme to inform the general public and the judiciary about exactly what is required and how the Bill is intended to work?

The witness from the International Fund for Animal Welfare said that he hoped that having consulted IFAW on the draft legislation, the Department would also be willing to consult it on the guidance notes. Has the Minister thought any more about that? Another witness, Alexander Rhodes from Stop Ivory, made an interesting and helpful suggestion about how we can learn from some of the African countries that are members of the Elephant Protection Initiative, which has been working hard to develop prosecution and sentencing guidelines for wildlife crime, particularly in relation to the ivory trade. During the evidence session, he said not only is this an area where we can learn from what African countries have been doing about the ivory trade, but our Government have paid for it anyway. He gave the example of Angola, where a challenge fund grant is paying to review a programme of legislative reform, and for prosecutor and judicial training. Has the Minister looked at how we can learn from that initiative? If good work is taking place in other parts of the world, it is important to learn from it to make the Bill as effective as possible. Will the Ministry of Justice or the Home Office be involved in developing the judicial guidelines?

New clause 3, as we heard from the Minister, is about the assessment of enforcement resources. We would require an assessment to be made and laid before Parliament on the level of resources allocated, or proposed to be allocated, to enforcement of the prohibition of ivory dealing. Clearly, unless we have effective enforcement, the Bill is toothless. Enforcement is a critical part of achieving the aims of the legislation. Chief Inspector Hubble stated that point succinctly during the evidence session, saying that

“any Bill has to be enforceable; if not, it is just guidance. It is not legislation if it cannot be enforced.”––[Official Report, Ivory Public Bill Committee, 12 June 2018; c. 35, Q59.]

None of us in Committee wants simply to produce guidance notes to guidance legislation.

During the progress of the Bill, Members in all parts of the House have raised the issue of resources necessary to enforce the Ivory Bill effectively. On Second Reading, the hon. Member for Richmond Park (Zac Goldsmith) said that

“the ban will be meaningful only if it is properly enforced”,

stressing the need for the provision of

“a long-term settlement for the National Wildlife Crime Unit, as well as resources for the CITES Border Force team.”—[Official Report, 4 June 2018; Vol. 642, c. 111.]

The right hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr Paterson) asked for

“a strong, firm reassurance from the Minister that this legislation will need enforcing and will need the right level of expertise.”

Enforcement is not just about funding, but about the level of expertise required. He said that the National Wildlife Crime Unit should

“be beefed up and properly resourced for the future. On the same grounds, the CITES Border Force team at Heathrow needs sufficient levels of manpower and resources, as they will be our front line of defence against illegal imports and organised criminal activity coming into the UK.”—[Official Report, 4 June 2018; Vol. 642, c. 105.]

I am aware that the witness from Border Force at Heathrow said that he had the resources necessary for enforcement at the moment, but clearly the Bill might have an impact on that. It is therefore important to understand the potential increase in workloads, including the possible impact on the ability to enforce properly.

On Second Reading, the hon. Member for Mid Derbyshire also mentioned the National Wildlife Crime Unit. She expressed her hope that

“that the Secretary of State will be able to announce permanent funding for the unit, as its existing funding expires in 2020.”—[Official Report, 4 June 2018; Vol. 642, c. 116.]

In the evidence session with the enforcement agencies, we heard how the Border Force CITES team and the NWCU work in partnership, and that the Border Force no longer has an investigation function but hands over all its intelligence from investigations to the NWCU, with a view to the unit investigating the offences. We heard from Chief Inspector Hubble exactly what that involves:

“We collate that intelligence, develop it and research it to look at the number of items that people might be buying, selling or trading. We look at their associates. We try to map a network of people that they are linked in with, and ultimately we produce an intelligence package that goes out to a police force in the area where the person is committing the offences.

We have four officers who provide an investigative function to support police forces on the ground, and they work with police officers throughout the investigation: taking statements from witnesses, linking in with experts, compiling prosecution files, assisting with search warrants, and attending court to provide evidence… One seizure by Border Force can result in months and months of investigation for us, and we can compile hundreds of intelligence logs from that one investigation. At the moment, we struggle to disseminate all that intelligence back out to Border Force, to close that loop, because we just do not have the resource to develop that. We have to be selective in what we deal with”.––[Official Report, Ivory Public Bill Committee, 12 June 2018; c. 34, Q57.]

I imagine that every single member of the Committee is impressed with the amount of work carried out by such a small team—only 12 in total. The team does not just carry out investigations referred from Border Force, but works right across all of the UK wildlife crime priority areas, which is a significant remit outside CITES, including domestic wildlife, bats, badgers, prosecutions relating to birds of prey, freshwater pearl mussels and poaching. All of those sit within the UK’s strategic priorities, and the work of the NWCU is split right across all those areas.

A strong commitment to future funding is vital if that important work is to continue. We have heard that the funding is committed to 2020, but beyond that, the NWCU has had no formal indication that there will be continued funding, which clearly causes concern. It is unable to plan or commit to long-term strategies. It is very difficult for any agency to form business plans when, in 20 months, it may well not exist at all.

Chief Inspector Hubble said about the morale of her staff:

“It is difficult for me to keep my staff motivated when they have no job security—a whole raft of concerns are caused by funding.”––[Official Report, Ivory Public Bill Committee, 12 June 2018; c. 37, Q67.]

She was also asked about the potential increase in the number of investigations once the Bill comes into force. She replied that

“if a member of the public sees something on sale that they think is ivory, inevitably they will report it, which comes back to the issue of resourcing and how we deal with the potential increase in the volume of crimes”.––[Official Report, Ivory Public Bill Committee, 12 June 2018; c. 44, Q93.]

Grant Miller, from the CITES Border Force team at Heathrow was asked about the future of the NWCU and the implications for enforcement if its funding were to be discontinued. His reply was clear:

“Our ability to take cases and offenders before the courts would be impacted on greatly. We would be pushed into going out to each constabulary, looking for a supportive senior manager to take on an investigation on our behalf. If we were not able to find that, our activity would be just to disrupt and seize, and the threat would just continue.”––[Official Report, Ivory Public Bill Committee, 12 June 2018; c. 40, Q82.]

On Second Reading, the Secretary of State said he would look to strengthen and resource specialised enforcement to combat illegal ivory dealing. Winding up the debate, the Minister agreed:

“The work carried out by the National Wildlife Crime Unit is absolutely critical.”

With regard to its funding, he assured me that the Government

“are looking at that vital issue ahead of the IWT conference, and I am sure that the Secretary of State would be working on it with the Home Secretary.”—[Official Report, 4 June 2018; Vol. 642, c. 133.]

In response to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mary Creagh), the Secretary of State confirmed in that debate that

“in the run-up to the illegal wildlife trade summit this October we will be looking not just to ensure that we can continue to staff and support the officers who work in this field adequately, but to ensure that we go even further.”—[Official Report, 4 June 2018; Vol. 642, c. 98.]

Will the Minister give some more information on that commitment from the Secretary of State? When is the NWCU likely to hear about its future funding to support the delivery the Bill?

The Minister also confirmed that the Office for Product Safety and Standards will be the regulator. He spoke about that a moment ago, but will he elaborate on how the reporting requirements will work with the regulator? How does he see the regulator reducing the burden on the enforcement services, as he mentioned in his previous statement?

Break in Debate

Alex Sobel Portrait Alex Sobel (Leeds North West) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 10:19 a.m.

I, too, rise to support new clause 3 in relation to resources. The evidence from the NWCU and the Border Force was compelling. At the moment, they are unbelievably stretched, and when I asked what would happen if the funding were not continued, it was made clear that the whole operation would effectively cease and the work would just be about disruption, as my hon. Friend the Member for Workington said. In another country with a similar legal basis to ours—the United States—enforcement is carried out by the equivalent of our NWCU, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement, which has 383 staff. Were we to be equivalently resourced—our population is about a fifth of the United States’—we would have about 75 officers. We have 12, so it is not just an issue of retaining staff. We are at about a fifth of where we should be, in comparison with countries with equivalent laws and enforcement. New clause 3 is therefore vital if we are to do a proper and robust stock-take of where we are, and identify the resources needed to properly enforce the law that we will pass. Hopefully it will be a robust and world-leading law, but if we cannot enforce it, what point is there in having it?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 10:08 a.m.

I thank hon. Members for their contributions. The argument advanced by the hon. Member for Workington was characteristically thorough, and I will do my best to answer her questions, along with everybody else’s.

The first point the hon. Lady made was about clarifying the situation on fines. Hopefully I can do that. It is important to remember, because the Bill is new legislation, how it will be structured. First, there will be criminal sanctions. For a summary conviction in a magistrates court and so forth, the fine will be a statutory maximum of £5,000; for indictable offences, the fine is unlimited. That is under criminal sanctions. The other thing to remember is that we are also introducing in the Bill—I feel strongly about this, because we will be able to put in place a wide range of measures to take care of lots of different types of breaches— a fine of up to £250,000 under the civil sanctions. There are many different tools. Hopefully that answers the question.

I think we mentioned in our previous sitting that the form of the education programme is yet to be decided, but the focus will be on raising awareness in the most relevant areas. We talked last week about how we will need to work with the music industry; we will need to work with the antiques industry as well, and with members of the public. That is where the Office for Product Safety and Standards will play an important role.

The hon. Lady talked about the very good work being done in Angola. Sentencing guidelines are generally issued in the UK by the Sentencing Council. We are delighted with the work undertaken in Angola with the illegal wildlife trade challenge fund money, but we should note that that worked within the specific circumstances of Angola. None the less, we need to learn from best practice, which I think is the point that the hon. Lady made. We agree with that in principle.

Points were raised about guidance. The Secretary of State will prepare statutory guidance for offences imposed under clause 12. That means that there will be a public consultation on the guidance, which will include getting information from NGOs. The hon. Member for Workington was keen to see that happen. Of course, that would also involve the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office. All relevant parties involved in that process will want to make the guidance robust and appropriate.

Comments were made by the hon. Members for Redcar, for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow, for Blaydon, and for Leeds North West—almost a full house—about the role of the NWCU. Everybody is keen to sing the unit’s praises for the great work that it does. We fully accept that we need proper funding in place for regulatory and law enforcement agencies to tackle wildlife crime. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs currently co-funds the NWCU with others, including the Home Office and the police. Decisions on the ongoing post-2020 deployment of police resources are a matter for the Home Office and individual police chief constables.

Questions were raised about future funding. Clearly, we have the IWT in mind. We want to show people that we are serious about the work that we are doing; that is very clear from the feedback from the NGOs. However, the specific, longer-term funding, post-2020, will be part of the normal spending review process, notwithstanding ongoing dialogues. That is where the more sustainable approach to funding, or the future funding, of the NWCU can be reviewed. That process will be kicking off very soon. That will be an important way of engaging with that debate and looking at the resources that are in place.

We should not forget the role of the regulator. It is easy to focus on the things we know, but we are paving the way for a new regulator—the OPSS—to come into force. The funding for the additional work it will undertake as a result of the sales ban will not be an insignificant amount of money. It is important to note that we are appointing the regulator to enforce the Bill and issue the civil sanctions, which I talked about in relation to the fines. That will constitute the bulk of the work. We are focused on criminal sanctions, but the vast bulk of the work will relate to civil sanctions. That will constitute the work that the OPSS will do. We therefore do not expect the burden on the strategic intelligence-led NWCU to increase significantly. The OPSS is designed to take out the volume of activity. Given those explanations, I hope the hon. Lady will withdraw her new clause.

I remind hon. Members that votes on new clauses come at the end.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 12 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 13

Civil sanctions

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Break in Debate

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 10:28 a.m.

Amendment 13 is pretty straightforward. It was designed to clarify the circumstances in which the Secretary of State will consider criminal sanctions to be more appropriate than civil sanctions. We propose to insert it into paragraph 21 of schedule 1 in order to be absolutely clear about why a criminal sanction would come into play, as opposed to a civil sanction. The Minister said that the bulk of cases will come under civil sanctions, but what is the tipping point? We feel that anyone involved in this will need to understand properly the circumstances in which the Secretary of State would consider a case to have tipped into a criminal sanction.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard

I set out in our discussion on clause 12 that a mixed regime of criminal and civil sanctions will be applied to the offences under the Bill. In line with that approach, clause 13 ensures that civil sanctions may be applied to breaches of the ban. The civil sanctions are detailed in schedule 1. We recognise that offences made under the Bill may vary in severity. Overly harsh sanctions should not be applied in a way that could be deemed to be disproportionate. For example, where members of the public have genuinely made every effort to abide by the ban or are genuinely of the belief that the item is not ivory, it would clearly be inappropriate to levy criminal sanctions.

However, compliance with the ban cannot be seen as optional. Acts of non-compliance must be deterred and penalised with the appropriate level of sanction. That is critical if we are to meet our objective of ending the link between the UK ivory market and elephant poaching. The clause ensures that, where a criminal sanction is unwarranted, a range of civil sanctions may be applied. The regulatory body and the police will be responsible for identifying and investigating breaches of the ban. The regulatory body will be responsible for issuing civil sanctions, as I described earlier.

If an offender does not comply with a civil sanction imposed against them—for example, if they do not pay the monetary penalty imposed against them within the necessary period—they may be subject to criminal sanctions. The Government believe that the range of available sanctions reflects the seriousness of the ban, while allowing it to be proportionate. I commend the clause to the Committee.

I thank the hon. Member for Workington for tabling amendment 13, and for her careful consideration of schedule 1. Like her, I want to ensure that those found in breach of the prohibition are given the most appropriate sanction, be it civil or criminal. The trade in ivory is abhorrent, and the sale of items that could directly or indirectly contribute to the poaching of elephants needs to be treated accordingly. However, I do not believe that the amendment is needed to ensure that. The information that she intends to set in guidance before the prohibition comes into force is already stipulated in paragraph 21(1)(c) of schedule 1, which sets out that the Secretary of State will provide guidance on

Break in Debate

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 10:32 a.m.

I thank the Minister for providing that detail. Schedule 1 states that the Secretary of State must

“prepare and publish guidance as to”—

this is in paragraph 21(1)(c)—

“the circumstances in which the Secretary of State is likely to take any such action.”

Does that clearly explain whether he would consider criminal sanctions to be more appropriate than civil questions? Perhaps further clarification could be given in the guidance that accompanies the Bill, because it is important for people to understand whether these are criminal or civil sanctions. Could the guidance be elaborated to make that clear?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 10:33 a.m.

I understand the hon. Lady’s concern about getting this right. I can assure her that there will be further clarification on these points in the guidance. The point is well made, but it will be in the guidance.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 13 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 1 agreed to.

Clause 14

Power to stop and search persons

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

With this it will be convenient to discuss clauses 15 and 16 stand part.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard

These clauses all refer to powers of stop-and-search to be conferred on police and customs officers. They refer to persons, vehicles, and vessels and aircraft respectively. Clause 14 confers on police and customs officers the power to stop and search persons. There is no power to stop and search where an officer suspects that a person has in his or her possession an ivory item that is not intended for dealing. In order to use the powers, an officer will need reasonable grounds to suspect that a person has committed or is committing an offence. That might include intelligence gathered about a planned sale of ivory, or information from the registration database that an item has been falsely registered. A police or customs officer may also detain a stopped person for the purpose of carrying out a search. The stop-and-search powers in clause 14 are exercisable in any place to which a police or customs officer has access, including any public place.

Clause 15 confers on police and customs officers the power to stop and search vehicles. Again, the power is engaged where an officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that a person has committed or is committing a “relevant offence”, as defined in clause 14(4). The power does not apply where the vehicle is a dwelling. A dwelling is not defined but is intended to be given its natural meaning—the exclusion would, for example, apply to a residential caravan. The power will apply to vehicles whether or not a driver or other person is in attendance of the vehicle.

Where it is impractical for a stopped vehicle to be searched in the place it was stopped, an officer may require the vehicle to be moved to another place before conducting the search. That provision would apply, for example, where a vehicle was stopped on a busy road and it would be safer to conduct the search in another location. Clause 15(4) places a duty on any person travelling in the vehicle, or the registered keeper, to facilitate the exercise of an officer’s power under the clause. For example, the driver of the vehicle may be required to open a locked glove box or boot. Again, those stop-and-search powers are exercisable in any place to which the officer has lawful access. That would enable a vehicle parked in a garage on premises that were the subject of a search warrant under clause 15(7) to be searched.

Clause 16 will confer on police and customs officers a power, analogous to that in clause 15, to board and search vessels or aircraft. A vessel is defined in clause 36(4) and includes any ship, boat or hovercraft. However, the power does not apply where a vessel or aircraft is used as a dwelling—a houseboat, for example.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 14 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 15 and 16 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 17

Powers to enter and search premises

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Clauses 18 and 19 stand part.

That schedule 2 be the Second schedule to the Bill.

Break in Debate

Alex Chalk Portrait Alex Chalk (Cheltenham) (Con) - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 10:40 a.m.

The hon. Member for Workington has put it very well. I have nothing to add but, for obvious reasons, endorse the remarks she has made.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 10:41 a.m.

The hon. Lady makes some important points. I will wait for a little inspiration to help with some of them. It is important to recognise that accredited civilian officers are members of the OPSS and already have powers of entry and search under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 in relation to products subject to trade.

It is about recognising the new role. The regulator is new and, therefore, we are trying to understand what it can do. They already have a pre-existing role and within that they have these powers to enter and search. They also have powers under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. These are specific servants given a particular role and they do have pre-existing powers that they could use in trying to prohibit the sale of ivory, or commercial activity relating to it, that does not qualify for exemption. I hope that answers the hon. Lady’s question.

Alex Chalk Portrait Alex Chalk - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 10:42 a.m.

Will my hon. Friend be kind enough to indicate the training that takes place before someone is qualified to use these important powers? Bearing in mind that the individual would be entitled under the legislation to enter premises—albeit non-dwelling premises—and to search in an intrusive way, we need to ensure that the people exercising those important powers have been fully trained, so that civil liberties are protected.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 10:42 a.m.

My hon. Friend makes an important point. Of course, there will be a strong training regime to ensure that these individuals are able to carry out their current role and we want to ensure that they have adequate training to take on new roles related to the ivory prohibition. I will write to him with details of how that will be moved forward.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 10:43 a.m.

Further to that point, the situation has been described as possibly unprecedented. How often does the Minister see these civilian officers taking part in investigations? Would that be rare or a regular part of the enforcement process? That would clearly affect resources and training. I would be grateful for clarification on that.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 10:45 a.m.

The Bill is clear that the powers given to the body and its members will be strictly controlled. The relationship with customs officers and police officers is tightly defined. As for the number of times it will be used, we are putting more focus on civil sanctions. The key point is that officers or members of the OPSS will need these powers to carry out their work and move matters through. The hon. Lady will note that clause 17 requires the OPSS to issue reasonable notice of intent to enter. The move to enter premises is not just to search; it can also be to ensure compliance. It is important to remember that the job of the OPSS is to help educate and train as well as ensure compliance and enforcement. It is a matter of thinking about their role more broadly. In many situations, as set out in the Bill, reasonable notice will be required.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 17 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 18 and 19 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 2 agreed to.

Clauses 20 to 26 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 27

Break in Debate

Alex Chalk Portrait Alex Chalk - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 10:49 a.m.

I wish simply to underline a point that has been made already. Clause 27 creates offences of obstruction if anybody, without a reasonable excuse,

“obstructs an officer in the performance of any of the officer’s functions under sections 14 to 24.”

That includes an accredited civilian officer, so it is all the more important, given the potential criminal sanctions that can apply, that the individual who possesses these significant powers of search, seizure and requiring the production of documents is truly competent and capable of that task. I wanted to take this opportunity to underscore the point, given the severity of the sanctions, that this is not something that should be skimped.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 10:52 a.m.

I reassure my hon. Friend that we are not looking to skimp, and we must of course ensure proper training. I will write to him, as I have already promised. We are all getting our heads around a new regime, but I assure the Committee that it is not unprecedented for OPSS to exercise powers under legislation; it falls under the remit of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and, as I have said, it has these powers already in relation to the Consumer Rights Act 2015. We want to ensure that it has the proper powers and that there is proper training, because of the implications.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 27 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 28 to 34 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 35

Meaning of “ivory”

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 10:52 a.m.

I beg to move amendment 11, in page 20, line 40, leave out “an elephant” and insert “a hippopotamus, elephant, killer whale, narwhal, sperm whale, or walrus.”

This amendment would include in the definition of ivory all the ivory-bearing species listed in an Appendix to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Break in Debate

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 10:54 a.m.

Amendment 11 would include under the definition of ivory all the ivory-bearing species listed in an appendix to CITES. We have discussed the definition of ivory at length at every stage of the Bill, so I want to consider some of the discussion that we have had.

On Second Reading, the Secretary of State said that there would be an opportunity in Committee to consider whether the scope of the Bill was absolutely as it should be. He said:

“A number of Members have previously indicated their interest in extending its scope to other forms of ivory, such as narwhal horns, and there will indeed be an opportunity to debate precisely that matter in Committee.”—[Official Report, 4 June 2018; Vol. 642, c. 92.]

With amendment 11, I am taking the Secretary of State up on that generous offer and considering it in more detail.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 10:54 a.m.

Very kind.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 10:54 a.m.

I know how the Minister appreciates it.

Several hon. Members, some of whom are members of the Committee and others who are not but took part in the Second Reading debate, have spoken about why they feel it is really important that we look at extending the Bill’s scope. They include my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol East, who I believe is paired today, the hon. Members for Mid Derbyshire and for North Dorset, who are both here today, the right hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr Paterson), and the hon. Members for Richmond Park (Zac Goldsmith), for North East Hampshire (Mr Jayawardena), for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mrs Trevelyan), for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman), for Witney, and for Southend West (Sir David Amess). They all raised the specific issue of extending the scope on Second Reading.

Ivory Bill (Sixth sitting) Debate

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Department: HM Treasury
Legislation Page: Ivory Act 2018

Ivory Bill (Sixth sitting)

(Committee Debate: 6th sitting: House of Commons)
David Rutley Excerpts
Tuesday 19th June 2018

(2 years, 3 months ago)

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Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman (Workington) (Lab) - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 2:10 p.m.

I will speak briefly to amendment 12, which I tabled following a suggestion from the hon. Member for North Dorset, who unfortunately is not in his place at the moment. He suggested that in clause 35(3) everything following the word “only” should be deleted, so that it would read:

“The regulations may amend subsection (1) so as to include ivory from an animal or species not for the time being covered by that subsection.”

That would allow us to look at non-CITES species, a point raised by a number of hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Mid Derbyshire. That would include mammoth, for example. There is obviously also the dear warthog. My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol East missed a treat this morning when the hon. Member for North Dorset threatened to sing a song about the warthog in order to draw attention to its plight. She might like to have a word in private, to ask if he could entertain her.

Amendment 11 seeks to extend the scope of the Bill. Amendment 12 would allow us to consider any animal that might be affected in future by displacement or removal of other species from poaching, for example. This is an important area to consider. I hope that the Government will consider it seriously, because it is a simple amendment that would attract cross-party support.

David Rutley Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (David Rutley) - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 2:09 p.m.

I will speak to amendments 11 and 12 and clause stand part. I warn colleagues that this will be a lengthy contribution, but that is fitting, given the contributions we have heard. I will take interventions, and I know that the hon. Member for Workington will wrap up with her final thoughts. She made a few detailed points about consultation, and the fact that she is an associate of the Consultation Institute and is taking guidance and advice from it. We would be happy to look into that. As a Minister, I need to take guidance from other sources within Government too, so there are often different views on these matters. We will of course look at that.

The hon. Member for Leeds North West spoke with passion and conviction about narwhals, and he made some good points. I will write to him with the details on imports. The hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport talked about the risk of judicial review. Perhaps he could hold that thought, because in the main body of my remarks I will talk about the biggest risk here, which is of the European Court of Human Rights challenging the provisions in the Bill. We can answer questions as we go. I thank hon. Members for their amendments and would like to acknowledge the significant degree of support, in the House and from conservation organisations, for extending the scope of the Bill to cover other species.

Clause 35 provides the definition of ivory applied in the Bill. Ivory is defined as the tusk or tooth of any species of elephant. Subsection (6) defines elephant as any animal or species that is within the family Elephantidae and that is extant—meaning living—at the time the Bill is passed.

My hon. Friend the Member for Witney questioned whether we should be looking at the chemical composition of ivory, so let us put that on the table as well, as we are all keen to understand the situation. The chemical composition of ivory cannot be used here, or indeed in the CITES or EU wildlife trade regulations, to assist in defining elephant ivory. That is because the chemical composition of all mammal teeth is broadly the same, so this is not a helpful method for distinguishing between species. Instead, a range of other approaches is used to distinguish elephant ivory from other species and other materials such as plastic, including physical characteristics and DNA testing. Therefore, chemical composition or any other practical means of testing ivory cannot be used as a legal definition for elephant ivory, either in the Bill or in international restrictions on ivory, with which it is important that we align.

Many will ask why back in October we consulted only on the sale of elephant ivory. We have moved quickly—not just in this Committee but before—but the short answer is that that is where the clear priority lay at the start. As we heard so clearly from the NGOs last week, their primary aim is to see a world-leading ban on elephant ivory sales enacted in the UK. That is where the Government have acted quickly in response. Also, the UK signed up to a resolution at the last CITES conference committing to close domestic elephant ivory markets. We therefore wanted to do what was necessary to get this legislation on to the statute book as soon as possible.

Elephant ivory is the most commonly found and traded form of ivory. Indeed, during initial consultations with NGOs it was stated that their primary focus was on banning the sale of elephant ivory as it forms the vast majority of the trade. Amendment 11 seeks to protect other endangered ivory-bearing species by extending the scope of the Bill to cover hippos, killer whales, narwhal, sperm whales and walrus. I stress that we share these concerns about other endangered ivory-bearing species and want to do all we can to protect them. Species such as the hippo and the narwhal—the unicorn of the sea—deserve as much protection as the elephant, and the poaching of such creatures for their ivory is equally abhorrent. However, I cannot say what proportion of the UK ivory market concerns non-elephant ivory, as we did not seek that information in our consultation—that consultation was narrower.

That is why the Bill includes, in clause 35, a power for the Secretary of State to lay regulations to widen its scope to cover other endangered ivory-bearing species, such as hippopotamus, narwhal and walrus. That power is broad, and it is not dependent on demonstrating that the banning of elephant ivory has caused the displacement of the market to other species. The hurdle is low.

Clause 35(3) states that regulations may be laid only in respect of ivory-bearing species listed on an appendix to CITES. That is an important qualification. A listing in one of the three appendices to CITES demonstrates that the animal or species requires a degree of protection from trade, for example through restrictions on the trade in that species. Currently, the listed ivory-bearing species to which that may apply are hippopotamus, walrus, killer whale, sperm whale and narwhal. Unfortunately for my hon. Friend the Member for North Dorset and the hon. Member for Bristol East, the Bill does not include walruses, but I will come to them in a second.

The Secretary of State may make such regulations at any time of his choosing. In practice, we would need to gather evidence of the impact of extending the scope of the ban before taking action. That is because—colleagues will forgive me for discussing technical legal procedures—we would have to assess whether there would be any interference in respect of those who possessed ivory items from other ivory-bearing species. That information would be required to assess whether any extension of the ban was compliant with the European convention on human rights. That is distinct from judicial review, which we talked about.

Break in Debate

Anna Turley Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 2:21 p.m.

The Minister is being generous with his time, but I refer him to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol East. It is important that we look at this issue through the prism of endangered species, but there is also a moral obligation. How much has that formed part of the thinking behind the Bill? We ought to be driving out poaching and the hunting of animals for the use of their body parts for culture and marketing because it is a moral imperative.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 2:23 p.m.

I completely understand that. I think we need to pause for a moment, though, to reflect on the fact that we are trying to make a real difference with elephant ivory. There are provisions for all other forms of ivory and I will take away the hon. Lady’s point, but it is worth reflecting on the evidence we had from the NGOs, which was that they like the ban, that it is meaningful that and it is going to make a difference. It will also set a standard for others to follow.

I am sure Opposition Members as well as the Government will reflect on these matters. We will do everything we can to make these provisions as wide-ranging and impactful as possible. As I hope I have described, we need to get through a balance test, and at the moment we do not have enough evidence to support a balance review taking place.

Should warthogs become endangered and listed under CITES, the Bill provides the ability to amend the regulations to reflect that. With my rather lengthy explanation, I hope I have addressed most of the points to be made regarding clause stand part. I say to my hon. Friends and Opposition Members that I am committed to considering whether steps can be taken to use the subsection (3) powers as soon as possible after commencement so that all statutory instruments and guidance to enforce the ban on elephant ivory are in place. However, I am happy to consider the evidence and data required for a balance review.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 2:24 p.m.

I thank the Minister. During the discussion on amendment 11 and extending the scope of the Bill, it appeared that the Government’s main concern was about further consultation and a potential judicial review.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 2:24 p.m.

The key point is that this is not about judicial review. I know I am getting a bit techy, but the key thing is that it would be a challenge under the European convention on human rights. To satisfy the requirements of the ECHR, we need to review whether we have looked not just at the general interest in the ban but in the rights of individuals, in particular to do with possessions, that are enshrined in the ECHR. That is why we have to do the balance test. What I am trying to get across to the Committee is that we need to ensure that we have the evidence—we want to gather it as quickly as possible—but there is still a requirement to do the balance test.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 2:26 p.m.

We have talked about how we could do the consultation quickly, and the Minister has made a commitment to talk to the Consultation Institute about that. As far as human rights go, according to the legal advice I have taken primary legislation can be challenged only on human rights and EU law grounds. I have been informed that in the case of human rights, the argument would have to rest on article 1 of protocol 1, on the “peaceful enjoyment” of property, but that is subject to a public interest caveat. On those grounds, we can justify the inclusion of other creatures—such as on the grounds of endangerment—in the same way as we can elephants. That is the legal information that I have received, so I put it on the record.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 2:27 p.m.

I thank the hon. Lady for setting out her view. At this point, I think we strongly agree with each other. On helping to get people familiar with the provisions, that is exactly what the Government say—it is an ECHR requirement, so it is about getting the fair balance review in place. We are perhaps using slightly different language about what we are trying to describe, but we are saying the same thing.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 2:28 p.m.

The legal advice I have been given is that that need not mean that we cannot extend the scope of the Bill and miss the conference deadline in October, which the Government are clearly keen to meet. I would be keen to look at how to extend the scope now, because that is what most people would prefer from the Bill at the beginning, rather than coming back to it through secondary legislation at a later date—we do not know when that would happen.

In response to points made during the debate, including by the Minister, I would say that the most important thing is to get the Bill absolutely right and to get it into legislation as quickly as possible. However, I do not think a conference date should be the ultimate deadline. We need to get the legislation correct regardless of whether that means we miss the conference deadline by a week or two—it is more important to get it right. A lot seems to be about the Government having the will to make the Bill the best they possibly can. We are in Committee to work with the Government, genuinely, to make a positive and helpful addition to what can be achieved though this groundbreaking piece of legislation.

I am disappointed that the Government are not prepared to consider amendment 12, because we know that non-CITES species are already being affected and are likely to be further affected by the displacement that we all agree will occur, or is likely to occur, once the ban on ivory comes into effect. We know that mislabelling as mammoth is used to confuse or misrepresent potential purchasers. The Minister talked about Schreger lines—I am not even sure of the spelling of that, and it is something I have learned during the debate. I had not heard of them, I would not know what they looked like and I do not think that the average punter would either, so I think it is important to understand more about what is happening with the use of mammoth.

Finally, I reinforce what my hon. Friends the Members for Bristol East and for Redcar said. We do not want to wait for an animal to become endangered before we step in and do something about its persecution. I ask the Minister to look again at amendment 12, but in the case of amendment 11, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Break in Debate

Luke Pollard Portrait Luke Pollard (Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard

I wonder, regarding the geographical extent of the Bill, whether it will include British sovereign bases on Cyprus and elsewhere, and what its geographical extent to overseas territories will be.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. The answer is that it will not. I can write to him to give him a bit more detail as to why that is the case.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 40 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 41 to 42 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause 1

Reporting requirements: Exemption certificates

‘(1) As soon as reasonably practicable after the end of each calendar year, the Secretary of State must—

(a) prepare a report on applications for exemption certificates that have been granted during that year, and—

(i) lay a copy of that report before Parliament, and

(ii) publish the report.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply in relation to a year if section 3 of this Act has not been in force at any time in that year.

(3) A report prepared under this section must include the following in respect of each exemption certificate granted—

(a) the description or descriptions provided in accordance with section 3(1)(b) by the person that applied for the exemption certificate,

(b) the photograph or photographs provided in accordance with section 3(1)(c) by the person that applied for the exemption certificate,

(c) when the certificate was granted, and

(d) any other information that the Secretary of State considers appropriate.’—(Sue Hayman.)

This new clause requires an annual report to be published with details and pictures of all items that are granted an exemption certificate under section 3.

Brought up, and read the First time.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

New Clause 2

Break in Debate

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 2:38 p.m.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

New clause 2 is about reporting on the international ivory market. We are asking that:

“Within 12 months of section 1 of this Act coming into force, the Secretary of State must publish and lay before each House of Parliament a report on the international ivory market.”

The idea is that the report would provide practical analysis of the impact of the Bill on demand for ivory in the United Kingdom and in other countries. Importantly, we would want it to consider the impact on nations or communities that generate income from ivory. We are also looking at the work of the Department for International Development in reducing the global demand for ivory and mitigating any negative impact that the provisions of this Bill would have on those nations or communities.

The reason for tabling the new clause is that it is important to keep a close, watchful eye on any implications of the Bill on the international ivory market and the communities that will be most affected by an ivory ban. During the evidence sessions, a number of hon. Members asked about the international ivory market and what contribution the Bill could make specifically toward deterring poaching and having a wider impact on the illegal worldwide trade.

Recent analysis has shown that the United Kingdom is the largest supplier to the world’s legal ivory market, with more than 36,000 legal ivory items exported from the UK in the five years between 2010 and 2015. It is also one of the largest importers to China and Hong Kong. As we also heard during the evidence sessions, seizure data shows that, alongside the legal market, the UK plays an increasing role in the illegal ivory trade in import, in export and as a transit country. The president of the Born Free Foundation, for example, said:

“Investment in wildlife law enforcement in Africa is really important.”

He also said that, in his view,

“there is a common linkage with our clear objectives in overseas development,”

which are to do with poverty and providing opportunities, and that:

“If we are not investing in the…areas where elephants and other species live, we are not doing a great service either…to the people who live…downstream from those protected areas.”––[Official Report, Ivory Public Bill Committee, 12 June 2018; c. 9, Q12.]

In the evidence session, the International Fund for Animal Welfare made reference to the discussion on Second Reading about how some of the Department for International Development’s budget might be used. I am aware that the hon. Member for Cheltenham also mentioned that on Second Reading. IFAW said that

“the impact of poaching on communities is not isolated from the illegal wildlife trade…There are good opportunities that exist with our overseas development budget to take a more integrated approach to delivering holistic aid and support and anti-poaching measures, to help build communities and tackle corruption...It is all part of a jigsaw that really helps, but our overseas aid is another part that we could potentially re-examine and look at, to provide better integrated aid.”––[Official Report, Ivory Public Bill Committee, 12 June 2018; c. 14, Q18.]

I do not know whether hon. Members saw it, but this morning CNN released a very interesting report on what has happened to the poaching of African elephants following the ban that the Chinese Government imposed on ivory on 1 January. CNN went to Mozambique specifically to see whether that ban was having an impact on poaching. I will just mention a few things about that report, because if we are looking to introduce our own legislation we need to look at the impact of other legislation on ivory from around the world, to see what areas we need to work in; perhaps that other legislation is not being as effective as it could have been.

One of the things that the CNN investigation found was that six months after that ban smugglers were still working with near-impunity. As I said, CNN went to Mozambique, to the Niassa reserve, which is one of the last great wildernesses in southern Africa. What the CNN team found was that the different officers who work there trying to stop poaching told them that corruption is the source of poaching. Looking to invest, along with DFID, to start to tackle that corruption will be really important if this Bill is to have the effect we want.

CNN said that the huge Niassa reserve should be home to thousands of elephants, but it is now thought that less than 2,000 are left there, which is really shocking. As part of its investigation, CNN also interviewed the people actually doing the poaching. Just as the drug lord obviously does not go and harvest his own cocaine, in the same way the people who are actually making money out of poaching do not go out and shoot the elephants themselves.

CNN went to a prison where there was a suspected poacher, and he said: “We were in the bush when we found a group of elephants. I shot the first one, then I shot the second one.” He then said that he had already spent a year in jail for a separate poaching incident. But his choices are limited; he said that he would do anything to help his family escape grinding poverty. He said, “I went poaching because I was suffering. I had nothing to survive on and I was desperate.”

So the poachers who kill elephants are usually poor and just looking for a way to feed themselves and their family, and often they do not have alternatives to wildlife crime. Poverty is causing poaching in Mozambique. Even if the Chinese ban had ended the market, or if the ban that we are putting place ended it, the poachers on the ground would continue this behaviour.

The new clause is designed to consider how we can do something to tackle that problem, take the focus of the Bill beyond just this country and do something to look at what causes poaching in the first place.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 2:45 p.m.

I thank the hon. Lady for tabling the new clause, the intention of which is clear, and it would potentially provide useful information. However, gaining such information could be a considerable and potentially expensive undertaking that is likely to require the engagement of outside experts or organisations, even though the full costs and benefits of this ban may not be fully known within the first 12 months of its coming into force.

As explained in the accompanying impact assessment of the Bill, no single comprehensive data source exists about the domestic ivory trade. Recent studies, including by TRAFFIC, the University of Portsmouth and Two Million Tusks have provided some useful evidence. However, each of these sources has its limitations with regard to generalising to wider regions or sectors.

Internationally, a key assumption is that other countries will be positively influenced by the UK lead and implement their own bans, which will reduce demand, prices, and therefore the poaching and killing of elephants. That is what we all want. However, while there have been many reports into various aspects of ivory and its trade—the UK has conducted some—I am not aware that there is a single comprehensive data source that would allow for the type of analysis that is being proposed.

Furthermore, I am conscious that such an undertaking may in effect duplicate some of the work being undertaken under the auspices of CITES, whereby reports on the illegal killing of elephants and the trade in ivory are presented every three years to each CITES conference of the parties. All countries implicated in the ivory trade, including the UK, appear in the cluster analysis of the ivory trade reports.

Those reports are “Monitoring of Illegal Trade in Ivory and Other Elephant Specimens” and the “Elephant Trade Information System”—ETIS. While the reports are the not perfect and have their critics, they are the best we have at this time.

I also believe that a report objectively analysing the effect of the illegal ivory trade on the UK would be best carried out by an organisation outside Government. That should probably be a conservation organisation experienced in analysing regulations on the illegal wildlife trade and in reporting its findings to the public and the Government.

The hon. Member for Workington made some important points regarding the impact of other bans and lessons from overseas. We will work closely with colleagues from the Foreign Office and in posts around the world to understand the impact of others’ bans and to lobby for further action, so we will address that. She quite rightly made an impassioned speech about the communities that could be affected by the ban. One of the four pillars of the Government’s illegal wildlife trade—IWT—strategy is to promote sustainable communities and to support alternative livelihoods to poaching. Many of the 47 IWT challenge fund projects funded to date have addressed these issues in developing countries.

Break in Debate

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 2:47 p.m.

I just make the point that, if we are serious about stopping poaching and having a real impact on the ivory trade with any legislation, it is important that we look at that global aspect, not just through the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs but through the Department for International Development and maybe through the Foreign Office, in order to have a clear and holistic approach. It is easy for us to sit here and pat ourselves on the back and be smug about this marvellous piece of legislation, but if it does not actually stop the poaching and does not do what we say it will, we do not have any right to feel smug or pleased with ourselves.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 2:48 p.m.

I understand the hon. Lady’s point. It was clear on Second Reading and in Committee that we have to appreciate the wider sense of what is going on and the wider global implications. We also have to recognise that the Bill is one piece of the co-ordinated approach that we are taking to tackling this problem.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

New Clause 3

Assessment of enforcement resources

“(1) Within 12 months of section 12 of this Act coming into force, the Secretary of State must make an assessment on the resources available to enforce the prohibition.

(2) The report shall consider in particular—

(a) the resources allocated or planned to be allocated towards enforcing the prohibition,

(b) the potential impact of any change in resources so allocated or planned to be allocated, and

(c) the impact on other law or border enforcement activities of the resources so allocated or planned to be allocated.

(3) The Secretary of State shall lay a report of the assessment under this section before each House of Parliament as soon as practicable after its completion.”.—(Sue Hayman.)

This new clause requires an assessment to be made and laid before Parliament regarding the level of resources allocated or proposed to be allocated to enforcing the prohibition against ivory dealing.

Brought up, and read the First time.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

Break in Debate

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 2:51 p.m.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time. The new clause is about internet services, about which we had quite a lot of discussion during the evidence sessions and on Second Reading. The new clause provides for the power to require service providers to block access to material that facilitates a breach of the prohibition. I will not run through all the detail—we have all had it in front of us—but under the new clause, internet service providers may be requested by the Secretary of State to block access to any online deal that facilitates a breach of the prohibition, and the Secretary of State may obtain court orders to ensure that the internet service providers comply with such a request.

The matter has been discussed in quite a lot of detail. I am aware that the Minister has said previously that he feels the Bill is robust when it comes to internet services, but I respectfully say that not every hon. Member and every person giving evidence has agreed with that. That is why we decided to table the new clause: to try to toughen up the rules on internet sales and the Secretary of State’s ability to step in if they felt the internet service providers were not behaving as they should.

During discussions, we had a look at a number of items being sold on eBay. On Second Reading, the hon. Member for Richmond Park (Zac Goldsmith) talked about a recent International Fund for Animal Welfare report on wildlife cyber-crime and said that eBay had removed 25,000 ivory listings from its site in just one year. It is a huge number and it is a good start, but from what we have been made aware of during the evidence sessions, it is clearly only scratching the surface of the problem.

In response to one of my questions during the evidence session, Chief Inspector Hubble said:

“We would certainly welcome better self-policing and self-regulating by online auction houses with some responsibility on them for the items that they are making money from the sale of.”—[Official Report, Ivory Public Bill Committee, 12 June 2018; c. 43, Q92.]

By putting this responsibility on them through the new clause, they will know that if they do not take the ban seriously, action will be taken to shut them down.

We know, from having dealt in the House with issues around other internet providers and online digital companies, that they are not always the easiest to work with when it comes to looking at different legal aspects. It is important that they take responsibility for what they are selling. It is often a problem that they like to push what they are selling and what is said on their sites to one side. It is important to think about how they can be properly held to account.

During the evidence session, my hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon asked a question of Alexander Rhodes and he replied,

“if it were possible the Bill should say that ivory may not be bought and sold over the internet because that would make it so much simpler for the enforcement guys.”—[Official Report, Ivory Public Bill Committee, 12 June 2018; c. 27, Q49.]

We know that that is not a practical solution either, so it is about how we can introduce proper enforcement.

Chief Inspector Hubble again said something that was worth considering:

“I would love to have a dedicated cyber-team looking at this day in, day out, with real training and a focused effort. Lots of people in the NGOs we work with are doing work around cyber-related crime. We are in the process of setting up a cyber-working group”—

that is with the NWCU—

“to try to pull some of that effort and interaction together”.—[Official Report, Ivory Public Bill Committee, 12 June 2018; c. 36, Q63.]

That will be a significant resource.

We have talked about resources previously and I do not particularly want to do that now, but it is important that the size of the problem when it comes to cyber-crime and managing the internet is properly recognised and that sufficient safeguards are put in place. We need to ensure that we pursue every single avenue we can to stop the trade in ivory. Tackling internet ivory trading will be the best way to stop this. We know that, right across the country, no matter what is being sold, more and more people are selling online, so we know that that trade is likely to increase. From what we have seen on eBay, it is also likely that that is where the illegal trade—items described as bone or as mammoth—will increase.

I am not convinced that the Bill provides for tackling the internet’s facilitating the global ivory trade sufficiently to make a real difference. That is is why we have tabled the new clause. I would like to hear the Minister’s views on that.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 2:57 p.m.

I thank the hon. Lady for tabling the new clause. Most people recognise that while the internet can be a helpful tool, it can also be used to facilitate and perpetuate criminal acts. In that context, I understand the intention of the new clause. Paragraph 5(1)(a) of schedule 1 allows the Secretary of State to serve a stop notice on a body such as an internet service provider to stop it displaying material that facilitates a breach of the prohibition. It is an important point. It is possible to serve a stop notice, and that in essence mirrors what the new clause seeks to achieve. The schedule could apply to an online sales forum such as eBay or an internet service provider, although in practice the latter, whether it be British Telecom or another internet service provider, would be a higher bar for the enforcement body. The better focus of attention through such stop notices would be the online sales forum itself.

Moreover, the Bill confers broad powers on the regulatory body, whose role should not be forgotten: the Office for Product Safety and Standards addresses online breaches of the ban. Clause 21, for example, allows a regulator to require the production of documents where the officer thinks they are relevant to an offence. This may mean documents or other materials from online companies and sales forums that provide evidence that an online company has facilitated a breach of the ban.

In addition, the NWCU is an intelligence unit that plays an important role in supporting police forces, as we have already highlighted. They have observed an increase in the use of the internet to enable and facilitate many types of wildlife crime. They have identified cyber-crime as a thematic threat area on which they are going to focus. Working with the OPSS will help with this task.

It is also worth considering this amendment with respect to the broader picture around the governance of the internet. The hon. Lady will know that this is a big, important question that is currently being addressed by the UK and Governments around the world. The way in which Government and society approach internet governance is a major strategic challenge, and it will not be tackled by this Bill alone. In January 2018, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport launched the digital charter. It is to be a rolling programme of work to agree norms and rules for the online world and put them into practice, and it should give confidence. In some cases it will involve shifting behavioural expectations. We will need to agree new standards, or we may need to update our laws and regulations. Our starting point is that we will have the same rights and expect the same behaviour online as we do offline. That is important. With that explanation, I ask the hon. Lady to consider withdrawing the motion.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard
19 Jun 2018, 2:59 p.m.

I thank the Minister for that explanation. Schedule 1 states that a stop notice may be served on “a person”. It does not mention service providers or organisations; it specifically refers to “a person”, and the explanatory notes do not mention organisations, the internet—or online at all. I am not convinced that it covers what we are trying to achieve with the new clause.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard

It is my turn to scurry around. I cannot readily find the definition of “person”. All I can say is that we are very committed—[Interruption.] Inspiration has arrived. The definition of “person” is wide enough to capture businesses, and therefore ISPs. We can see that from clause 34. The definition of “person” is broad enough to satisfy that requirement.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard

Again, I thank the Minister for that explanation. It would help if it were properly laid out in the Bill that internet service providers are included, so that we have absolute clarity when the Bill becomes law and that people realise that that is not the best way of going about trying to sideline what the Bill seeks to achieve.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard

Excellent points have been made. We will certainly clarify that and put it into English—not just legal English—to help everyone understand what has been said. We can do that in guidance notes and by clarifying the scope of the Bill for people who are not so familiar with it. There is a real commitment to address this issue. I hope I have been able to reassure the hon. Lady that there are provisions in the Bill itself, but that we will explain that better. I hope that satisfies her.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

Question proposed, That the Chair do report the Bill to the House.

Ivory Bill (Third sitting) Debate

Full Debate: Read Full Debate
Department: HM Treasury
Legislation Page: Ivory Act 2018

Ivory Bill (Third sitting)

(Committee Debate: 3rd sitting: House of Commons)
David Rutley Excerpts
Thursday 14th June 2018

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Public Bill Committees
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Bill Main Page
HM Treasury

Before we begin, could colleagues ensure that electronic devices are either turned off or switched to silent mode? As colleagues know, teas and coffees are not allowed during sittings. It is rather warm in here today, so of course you can have water. This sitting is being recorded, so can Members project their voices for the recording, given that the windows are open because of the temperature in the room? Please feel free to take off your jackets. At noon, the Division bell will ring and both Houses will observe a one-minute silence. There will then be a bell at the end to mark when we can return to business. That is, of course, to mark the one-year anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

We now begin line-by-line consideration of the Bill. The selection list for today’s sitting is available in the room. It shows how the selected amendments have been grouped together for debate. Amendments grouped together are generally on the same or a similar issue. Please note that decisions on amendments do not take place in the order they are debated, but in the order they appear on the amendment paper. The selection and grouping list shows the order of debates. Decisions on each amendment are taken when we come to the clause that the amendment affects. In particular, new clauses will not be decided on until the end of our proceedings on the content of the Bill. I will use my discretion to decide whether to allow a separate stand part debate on individual clauses and schedules, following the debates on the relevant amendments.

Clause 1

Prohibition on dealing in ivory

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

David Rutley Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (David Rutley) - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 11:32 a.m.

It is an honour to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Pritchard. Before I set out the detailed first clause of the Bill, it is worth reflecting why we are here after a very busy day yesterday. I therefore want to say a few words of introduction. The overriding purpose of the Bill is, of course, to protect an endangered species—the magnificent elephant—from being poached for its ivory. We can do that in the UK by closing our domestic market for ivory to all but a very small number of exempted items. That will eliminate the opportunity for UK markets to be abused by those trying to sell illegal ivory, and will send a very strong message globally that the UK believes that ivory should not be traded and that it is a thing of the past. It was refreshing to see the hon. Member for Workington and Members from both sides of the House agree to those fundamental points on Second Reading.

The Bill is a key part of the co-ordinated approach we are taking to the illegal wildlife trade more broadly. Hon. Members on both sides of the Committee were keen to position the Bill as such. Alone, it will not do all the work we need. We need to work on key initiatives, including providing training for heroic park rangers, who risk—and, sadly, all too often lose—their lives in protecting the wildlife that we and they value so much. As we look forward to the illegal wildlife conference in October, we need to ensure this Bill makes as much progress as possible, so it can send the strongest message that this country, this Government and this Parliament strongly support banning the sale of ivory.

Clause 1 will ban the vast majority of dealing in ivory in the UK. Our starting point is that all trade in ivory is prohibited, unless the item in question meets one of the very narrowly targeted exemptions we will discuss later. The clause clearly sets out that the buying, selling and hiring of ivory is prohibited in the UK, that holding ivory for sale or hire is prohibited, and that the import and export of ivory to and from the UK is prohibited, unless the limited exemptions are met. This prohibition will send out a clear message that the UK will not be involved in the commercial trade of ivory, and that such activities are not acceptable.

Subsections (2), (3) and (4) define which activities are prohibited under the Bill. They align with the existing definition set out in the EU wildlife trade regulations for commercial use, which we fully respect. The clause places no restrictions on the right to own ivory or hold it for non-commercial purposes. It is important to stress that gifting, donating or bequeathing ivory is similarly unaffected.

Subsection (4) expands on subsection (2). Subsection (4)(a) states that the “buying” or selling and so on of ivory “outside the United Kingdom” is not covered by the Bill. If a UK citizen was to purchase ivory while they were in a third country and acting in accordance with the laws of that country, it would not be an offence. However, they would be required to comply with the measures in the Bill and the existing CITES regulations, should they wish to bring that ivory item back into the United Kingdom. That is why we intend to design the IT system to take account of such situations as well.

Subsection (4)(b) goes on to state that it is an offence for somebody in the UK to buy, sell or hire ivory to or from a third party “outside the United Kingdom”. In effect, this measure prohibits remote purchases—in other words, those undertaken over the internet or by telephone—unless the purchaser is satisfied that the item meets an exemption under the Bill, and registers it as such either before or at the point of purchase.

Simon Hoare Portrait Simon Hoare (North Dorset) (Con) - Hansard

The thought occurs to me—I do not know whether there is any evidence for this or whether it is in the Minister’s mind to consider it at some later point—what risk is there of people who hitherto traded in and collected ivory merely swapping it for another piece? “I will swap this piece that I have with that piece that you have.” No money changes hands, but in essence it is a trade at nil profit value, or something of that nature. Is there a risk of that happening, and if so, is it addressed in the Bill?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 11:37 a.m.

There is a risk that that could happen, but the Bill covers it, and we will look at that issue in further stages as we go through the Bill, line by line.

Subsection (5) provides a simple definition of ivory in relation to its prohibition by the Bill, capturing that “ivory” covers items made solely of ivory or worked items containing ivory. The clause is integral to banning the dealing of ivory in the UK and to achieving our aims: removing the UK from international trade in ivory; and not fuelling international ivory markets.

For those reasons, I seek the support of members of the Committee and I move that this clause stand part.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman (Workington) (Lab) - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 11:39 a.m.

I thank the Minister for his speech and for recognising the importance of our working together constructively across the House on this very important Bill, because the Labour party welcomes this Bill. It is a good piece of legislation and one that we wish to support.

The amendments and new clauses that we have tabled for debate in Committee have been tabled in the spirit of co-operation, to improve the Bill and make it the best it can possibly be, as we work to ban the ivory trade.

I have a small query about subsection (2). During the evidence sessions, concerns were expressed by museums staff about the definition of “dealing” and about how loans for exhibitions could fall foul of the Bill. For example, Anthony Misquitta of the Victoria and Albert Museum said:

“The terminology used in the Bill is ‘dealing’, and the definition of dealing includes the word ‘hiring’. I am sure the intention is not to capture these loans, but as it is currently drafted the Bill does capture them.”––[Official Report, Ivory Public Bill Committee, 12 June 2018; c. 61.]

In the Bill’s explanatory notes, page 9 says quite clearly that,

“the prohibition applies to the exchange of ivory for any good or service and, therefore, is not restricted to financial transactions, or exchanges for money.”

Hiring or offering to hire ivory are prohibited activities; such activities include temporarily obtaining an ivory item in return for a payment or other exchange of goods.

Therefore museums raised the concerns that loans of ivory for exhibition could fall foul of subsection (4) (b), and be seen as “hiring” the ivory, although they would receive nothing in return. Can the Minister confirm for me and reassure museums that that will not be the case, and that loans to and from museums will not fall foul of the legislation? Also, could appropriate guidance be provided to museums that are supporting the Bill, so that they can properly understand the situation?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 11:40 a.m.

I thank the hon. Lady for those questions. It is worth reiterating the point about the so-called swapping of pieces of ivory. So that Members on both sides of the Committee understand, that would be considered bartering, because it would be exchanging for a valuable consideration, so it would be prohibited.

The point about museum loans is a very good one, which was raised in our excellent evidence session. Loans between accredited museums, or from a private owner to an accredited museum, would be considered hiring and therefore would be permitted under the terms in the Bill for museums.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 1 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 2

Pre-1918 items of outstanding artistic etc value and importance

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard

The clause provides for limited and targeted exemption from the prohibition on the dealing of ivory for items of outstanding artistic, cultural or historical value that are assessed as rare and as important examples of their type. We recognise that there is a certain stratum of ivory items that are of genuine artistic, cultural or historical importance and that are traded not because they are made of ivory but because of their artistry or rarity. That is why we have created a category of exemption to allow such items to continue to be commercially traded if an independent expert assessor advises that they meet strict criteria.

As we heard in evidence on Tuesday, the criteria that must be met for an item to qualify for the exemption set a very high bar indeed—a detailed description of those criteria will be published in guidance—and, as a result, the exemption will apply to a very narrow stratum of items. Two conditions must be met for an item to qualify for exemption. First, the item must have been made before 1 January 1918, meaning that only items that are more than 100 years old may qualify. That is a fixed date, unlike the rolling 100-year approach in the American system. Secondly, the item must be assessed as being of outstandingly high historical, cultural or artistic value. Consideration will be given to whether the item is rare and whether it is an important example of its type, and to other criteria that may be issued in statutory guidance at a later date.

We do not believe it is appropriate or, indeed, possible for the Government to make such an assessment without obtaining advice from experts, so the clause includes a power for the Secretary of State to prescribe a list of advisory institutions. That power will be exercised before the Bill comes into force. Those institutions will be authorised to provide advice on whether an item meets the criteria. Eminent institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum, from which we have heard and which have renowned expertise in areas and periods of artistic history relevant to ivory artefacts, have confirmed that they would like to be involved in that process, as we heard on Tuesday. Such institutions already provide advice to the Government on matters of pre-eminence and national importance, such as under the export licensing regime for cultural objects, as we heard from the V and A.

Those institutions will of course be required to ensure that their best-qualified experts are engaged to assess items. Those experts will provide advice to the Animal and Plant Health Agency, which will act on behalf of the Secretary of State. An assessor will advise whether an item meets the conditions for exemption. The APHA, acting on behalf of the Secretary of State, will then decide, based on that advice, whether an exemption certificate should be issued. The Secretary of State may, if necessary, update the regulations prescribing advisory institutions, for example if a source of expertise moves from an institution or a new centre of expertise emerges. Further details of the assessment criteria will be provided through guidance before the Bill is commenced.

Preliminary work is already in train and will be taken forward over the summer. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs officials will work closely with their colleagues at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to produce that guidance, which will draw on existing criteria used by the Government to assess works of art for pre-eminence and national significance.

Alex Chalk Portrait Alex Chalk (Cheltenham) (Con) - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 11:44 a.m.

May I ask the Minister about clause 2(4)? It reads:

“An exemption certificate for an item may be issued only on the application of the owner of the item.”

Will he clarify that “owner” also includes an agent of the owner, as is normally the case in other legislation? It would be unfortunate, for example, if an owner had given a long-term loan to a museum and the museum was then barred from making an application on that owner’s behalf. We want to get these certificates done as quickly as possible and for there to be no bureaucratic hurdles.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 11:45 a.m.

My hon. Friend makes an important point. The Bill provides for that. The hon. Member for Workington raised some interesting questions around this, which we will debate shortly. For the reasons that my hon. Friend set out, agents will have the ability to get involved in that process.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 11:45 a.m.

I thank the Minister for that explanation. I ask for one more small clarification, which I think should be quite straightforward. Subsection (5) talks about prescribed institutions, and page 10 of the explanatory notes says that it

“confers a delegated power on the Secretary of State…to designate and update a list of institutions”.

However, the Bill does not mention updating. Will the Minister clarify that that is the position?

Will the Minister also clarify whether that provides the Secretary of State with the ability to remove an institution if for any reason that institution does not meet the required standard?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 11:46 a.m.

I thank the hon. Lady for those points. On updating the list, yes, those powers will absolutely be available through delegated powers. On removing bodies from that list, yes, the Secretary of State will absolutely have that power if required. Let us hope it is not.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 2 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 3

Applications for exemption certificates

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 11:47 a.m.

I beg to move amendment 1, in clause 3, page 2, line 29, leave out “a person” and insert

“An owner of an item when”.

This amendment would clarify that only the owner of an item can apply for an exemption.

This should be fairly straightforward. It refers back to clause 2(4), which, as we have just heard from the hon. Member for Cheltenham, states:

“An exemption certificate for an item may be issued only on the application of the owner of the item.”

However, clause 3(1) states:

“A person applying for an exemption certificate for an item must—”.

To tidy this up so that both subsections use the same language and to avoid any confusion, the amendment suggests amending clause 3(1) to read:

“An owner of an item when applying for an exemption certificate for an item must—”,

so that those two subsections work together effectively and efficiently.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 11:47 a.m.

I understand that the amendment’s intention is to clarify that only an owner of an item can apply for an exemption certificate. However, although I understand the point that the hon. Lady makes, I do not think the amendment is appropriate. It is the Government’s intention that the application for an exemption certificate under clause 2 will be completed by the owner or by somebody acting on behalf of the owner. This is intended to take into account the owner’s circumstances; the owner may have instructed an agent to act on their behalf, or the owner may not be capable of completing the registration process—due to illness, for instance—so a family member may be able to do so on their behalf.

Subsection (1)(a) states that the name and address of the owner must be stipulated on an exemption application, which reflects the concerns that prompted the tabling of the amendment. Under clause 10, the item is registered using the owner’s details. The primary intention of the clause is to ensure that items meet the criteria for the applicable exemption. The identity of the person making the application is much less significant than ensuring that items containing ivory that should be prohibited from dealings are restricted from the market. For those reasons, I ask the hon. Lady to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 11:49 a.m.

I am happy to withdraw the amendment. With reference to what the hon. Member for Cheltenham said earlier, it would be good if the guidelines clarified exactly what some of the terminology means and who is then applicable.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Break in Debate

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 11:51 a.m.

Amendments 2 and 3 takes us back to concerns raised with me about potential conflicts of interest when prescribed institutions acquire an item. Amendment 2 is designed to give confidence that acquisitions are transparent and that conflicts of interest would therefore not arise. There are also concerns about conflicts of interest between nominated assessors and prescribed institutions, but I will come on to that when I speak to amendment 3. On amendment 2, I hope the Minister will want to ensure that the Bill is as transparent as possible and that we do not have a situation in which conflicts of interest can arise between a prescribed institution and anyone else involved in the application.

As I have said, amendment 3 is designed to deal with conflicts of interest between nominated assessors and prescribed institutions. The concern is that the Secretary of State prescribes the institutions but the institutions can then choose their own assessors who may not be employed by the institutions. We need to be clear that there is no vested interest and no conflict within the commercial trading. The amendment seeks assurances that there are no conflicts of interest in the appointment of an assessor and that if any concerns arise at a later date the Secretary of State will be able to step in and take action. Both amendments seek to minimise the risk of conflicts of interests, in order to give full confidence in the certification process.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 11:53 a.m.

I thank the hon. Lady for her suggestions in the two amendments. On amendment 2, we would all agree that a declaration of a conflict of interest is a necessary requirement in many areas. I do not, however, believe that the amendment is necessary, as I hope I will be able reassure the hon. Lady, because we intend to take measures to that effect.

Clause 3 provides for the certification process that applies to pre-1918 items of outstanding artistic value and importance, and takes into account whether the item is rare and the extent to which it is important. The clause also sets out the role of the designated assessor. Our aim is to appoint eminent museums and academic institutions to act as assessors for the exemption. We are in discussion with some of those institutions. We have built safeguards into the process by which they will be able to provide advice. We intend that the institution and assessor will be asked to sign a waiver before accepting a commission to assess an item from APHA to confirm that they have no commercial interest in that item. The final decision whether an item meets an exemption will fall to the Secretary of State through the APHA.

On amendment 3, it is feasible that an institution asked to assess an item might wish to acquire it for its own collection, thus leading to a potential conflict of interest. Additionally, the pool of owners and collectors of such items will clearly be small. In some cases, the assessing expert might even know the owner through seeing the item. We therefore intend that advisory institutions and the assessors that they appoint to assess an item will sign a waiver to the effect that they have no interest in purchasing an item when accepting a request to assess it. Obviously, that will be a very small set of circumstances because, as we heard in the evidence session on Tuesday, the number of transactions will be very small. With that explanation, I ask the hon. Lady to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 11:55 a.m.

I thank the Minister for his explanation. I would be interested to know more about how the waiver will be built into the Bill, to give me confidence that it will be structurally part of it.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 11:59 a.m.

I will seek some inspiration to ensure that the hon. Member for Workington, which is an incredibly nice part of the world—

Anna Turley (Redcar) (Lab/Co-op) Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 11:56 a.m.

I will help the Minister out, to allow the transaction to take place. I was interested by his reply. Is he essentially saying that by ruling themselves out of undertaking any transactions, organisations that have a genuine interest in acquiring something will under no circumstances be able to apply to register or purchase it, even if they are transparent about wanting it to be part of their collection? Given that only a small number of institutions specialise in the specific areas that we are considering, we may rule out some of our best museums from being able to undertake that process or purchase a valuable item.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 11:56 a.m.

I will first answer the question asked by the hon. Member for Workington, and I am sure inspiration on that technical point will come shortly. On ensuring that the waiver fits into the process, it will not actually be in the Bill, but it will be in the binding memorandum of understanding that we will agree and sign with those institutions. On that other technical point, I will get some inspiration shortly.

Simon Hoare Portrait Simon Hoare - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 11:57 a.m.

Does the Minister agree that of all the stellar attractions that the Opposition could put before us, the shadow Secretary of State is one of the brightest adornments of the Opposition Benches in the Bill Committee this morning? We all look forward to her erudition and forensic analysis of the Bill, and to what she can contribute to this important debate.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 11:57 a.m.

My goodness! I do not think I can disagree with a word of that. We are forever grateful. Indeed, I am genuinely grateful for the conversations that we have had outside the Committee and elsewhere. We are all trying to progress the Bill, and these questions are absolutely right.

The point made by the hon. Member for Redcar is particularly interesting and I would like to consider it further. We would all agree that we want museums to be able to acquire important items for public enjoyment, so we need to further understand the implications of the point she raised.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard

I thank the Minister for that further explanation; I appreciate it. On the understanding that a memorandum of understanding will lay out all those areas so we cannot fall foul of any conflicts of interest or difficulties within the certificate, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

With this it will be convenient to discuss new clause 1— Reporting requirements: Exemption certificates—

“(1) As soon as reasonably practicable after the end of each calendar year, the Secretary of State must—

(a) prepare a report on applications for exemption certificates that have been granted during that year, and—

(i) lay a copy of that report before Parliament, and

(ii) publish the report.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply in relation to a year if section 3 of this Act has not been in force at any time in that year.

(3) A report prepared under this section must include the following in respect of each exemption certificate granted—

(a) the description or descriptions provided in accordance with section 3(1)(b) by the person that applied for the exemption certificate,

(b) the photograph or photographs provided in accordance with section 3(1)(c) by the person that applied for the exemption certificate,

(c) when the certificate was granted, and

(d) any other information that the Secretary of State considers appropriate.”

This new clause requires an annual report to be published with details and pictures of all items that are granted an exemption certificate under section 3.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 11:59 a.m.

The Bill provides two distinct compliance processes. Clause 3, along with clause 4, provides for the first of those, which is a certification process that applies to the exemption of the rarest and most important items of their type. Anyone who wishes to carry out commercial activities with an item under this exemption must apply and be issued with a certificate to do so. The other process is self-registration, which applies to the other four categories of exemption and is dealt with in clause 10.

The certification process is the more stringent of the two compliance processes and includes an assessment of the item by a relevant expert, who will advise the Secretary of State on whether it meets the published criteria for the exemption. Given the highly specialist nature of assessments needed under the exemption criteria, and the likely value of many items considered, the Government consider a certification system most appropriate.

The clause sets out the minimum information and evidence an applicant must provide to demonstrate how the item meets the criteria for the category. As we debated in the response to amendment 1, the applicant may be the owner of the item or someone instructed to act on behalf of the owner.

Statutory guidance to be published before the Bill comes into force may stipulate further information requirements. For example, the applicant must include physical details and descriptions of the item, including photographs. In addition, they may provide details of the item having been previously displayed in a museum or evidence of its providence or historical associations.

The Committee observed a minute’s silence.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:04 p.m.

As I was saying, the Animal and Plant Health Agency, on behalf of the Secretary of State, will check that all necessary information has been completed and that the application is reasonable. For example, if the application is clearly for an item that is not pre-1918, that will not be considered reasonable and it will be rejected. If satisfied, the APHA will refer the application to an appropriate designated assessor, provided for under clause 2. Although the application’s initial stages will be similar to those for the self-registration system—submitting requested information via the online system—the certification process diverges significantly, as the information provided will be passed by APHA to one of the listed prescribed institutions for expert advice, as discussed earlier.

As we discussed in response to amendments 2 and 3, the institution will be required to confirm via a waiver that it has no commercial interest in the item before accepting a commission. That is to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. The assessor, as a relevant expert, will be best qualified to assess the item against the conditions of the exemption. APHA will then decide whether to issue an exemption certificate, taking into account all relevant factors, including the expert assessor’s advice.

When making an application, the applicant must pay a fee as set by the Secretary of State through regulations. In practice, the set fee will be paid to cover the application’s administration costs. If referred to an expert assessor, an additional fee will be paid to cover reasonable costs incurred by the assessor. The additional fee will be considerably higher than the fee applicable to the self-registration process, reflecting the specialist advice needed and the limited number of unique items for which the process is designed to cater.

I thank the hon. Member for Workington for tabling new clause 1. Clause 10(5) sets out the minimum information and evidence that the Secretary of State must record with regard to both successful and revoked exemptions to applications. That information includes a description of the item and photographs and expected dealings in the item. Furthermore, statutory guidance to be published before the Bill comes into force may stipulate further information requirements to be captured. The Government share the hon. Lady’s aim of being informative to the public and agree that being as transparent as possible about how the system is working in practice will be essential to ensuring public confidence in it. As such, I assure her and the Committee that we already intend to publish headline data on the number of exemption certificates issued each year for items exempted under clause 2.

I will, however, issue a note of caution with regard to publishing the information described in subsections 3(a) to (d) of the new clause. The exemption will apply to a very limited number of outstandingly important items. As such, and particularly when considering the small number of people who are likely to own and wish to sell such items, it is highly possible that the owner may be identifiable through the publication of photos and so on of an item, which would have serious repercussions in terms of personal privacy and data protection. Any information that the Government publish on annual exemptions must be fully in line with the Data Protection Act 2018. In the light of the assurances that the Government intend to publish information on the number of certificates issued, and with reference to the provisions of the Data Protection Act, I ask the hon. Lady not to press the new clause.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:06 p.m.

The reason for tabling the new clause is that quite a number of people felt that this was an important issue, on Second Reading, in the written evidence and in the oral evidence sessions. If there is a proper report, as opposed to a headline report, that would provide us with important, ongoing evidence and allow for confidence in the Act. All items, not just the headline items that have been granted an exemption certificate, would be included in the reporting requirement under the register that we propose.

I will refer to some of those who have said that they would like to see such a register. On Second Reading, the hon. Member for Mid Derbyshire made an excellent suggestion. She said:

“It would be useful if DEFRA published a register showing how many exemptions have been issued under the historical, artistic and cultural definition every year, so that a picture could be built up of all the relevant artefacts, which would be verified by people who know what they are doing, such as the V&A and other museums.”

She also suggested that the register should be publicly available, in order to

“demonstrate a commitment that the exemption is for the rarest and most important items only, not just any old ivory artefact.”—[Official Report, 4 June 2018; Vol. 642, c. 116.]

The International Fund for Animal Welfare and Born Free both support the proposal. They told us in evidence:

“It is absolutely critical...that we should be publicly accountable for what is being listed.”––[Official Report, Ivory Public Bill Committee, 12 June 2018; c. 17, Q24.]

A public register would go some way towards establishing a wider understanding and consensus about what constitutes the rarest and most important items, which we know prompted much discussion during the drafting of the Bill. Having a publicly available register would help to inform that process as we go forward. We are not talking about a lot of items. IFAW has suggested that it would be about 75 to 100 items a year, which should not be a huge burden on the Government. Having a publicly available register also provides proper scrutiny and transparency to the legislation and the processes involved.

The Minister confirmed on Second Reading that he would be happy to look at how data could be published, including using a new IT system that would be developed to facilitate the task. I would ask that he does that. I know that he has raised concerns about security and data protection, but I feel sure that we could come up with a method of photographing, data collection and registering that need not fall foul of either data protection or identification and security laws. I do not see why photographing an item in a particular way, as they do for museum catalogues and auctions, would require the identification of the owner. I ask the Minister to reconsider the new clause.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard

I thank the hon. Lady for her points. She makes an important point—[Interruption.]

Order. Could we put our phones on to silent, please?

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies (Eastleigh) (Con) - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:09 p.m.

Sorry. I have no idea how it has managed to do that. I am sorry.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:09 p.m.

It is fine; we all have these technological moments.

The hon. Member for Workington raised some points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Derbyshire and others, and we will certainly consider how we can address some of those concerns. The challenge is that it would be unlikely that we could publish more detail on the specific items exempted, for data protection reasons. However, we will consider whether we could break down the headline figure further, for instance to cover broad categories of items such as statues, reliefs or furniture. I give an undertaking to consider that further.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist (Blaydon) (Lab) - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:10 p.m.

Does the Minister agree that, given that the whole aim of the Bill is to protect the elephant, we need as much transparency as possible about whether the system that has been devised is operating well, and we need to know what is being exempted? The suggestions put forward by my hon. Friend the shadow Minister are really important in ensuring that we have transparency in the wider field, and that people can see that the Bill is operating in the best interests of the elephants, frankly.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard

The hon. Lady makes an important point. We are trying to do this for the elephants, so we want to ensure that our approach will provide greater transparency. The balance we need to strike is also about privacy. The technical difficulty is that these items, as we have heard, are small in number, but quite easily identifiable, so could quite easily be linked to individuals.

The approach that I would like to put to the Committee, and that we are looking to take forward, is that we will look at broad categories, which—although I call them broad—will be about specific types of items. That will help us better to track the sorts of items that will be covered under the exemption. I hope that those reassurances are strong enough for members of the Committee.

Anna Turley Hansard

I appreciate the Minister’s response, but does he agree that if we have to come back for subsequent legislation, having as much evidence as possible laid before us in the House will enable us better to scrutinise and create further legislation along these lines? I ask that particularly in the light of responses from the Government that indicate a concern just to get the Bill through and then potentially to widen the scope later on. Surely having more evidence on the success and application of the Bill will enable us as parliamentarians to improve future legislation.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:13 p.m.

The hon. Lady makes a good point. We are trying to get the right balance between privacy and transparency. That is a real challenge in lots of legislation. I also point out that items that are registered, as opposed to certified, will come under clause 10. We will publish data on those items as well.

We are looking at ways of making it as transparent as possible, but the issue with the rarest and most important items is that they are more easily identifiable with an individual than items in some other categories, which is why it might be more difficult in this area than in others. I hope that explanation is helpful. We will do everything we can to try to bring transparency. We are very committed to doing that, and I will work with officials, while the Bill is in Committee and beyond, to see how we can make that more definitive.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman - Hansard

I thank the Minister for all his comments and for taking the matter seriously. However, because of the number of people who stressed that they felt that this was incredibly important, both for transparency and for getting a proper understanding of the kinds of items that we are looking at in order properly to monitor what the Bill is achieving, I stand by the new clause and would like to press it to a vote.

On a point of procedure, to guide the Committee, the Question that I am about to put relates to clause 3. New clause 1 would be decided upon, if Members so chose, at the end of proceedings, after we have deliberated the contents of the Bill as it stands. The Question now relates to clause 3, not new clause 1.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:14 p.m.

Mr Pritchard, I think we need a bit more clarification. We want to ensure that everybody is clear.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock Portrait Sue Hayman -