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, 1 month 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.

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.

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.

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

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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, 1 month ago)

Public Bill Committees
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HM Treasury
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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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”

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

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.

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

Full Debate: Read Full Debate
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, 1 month ago)

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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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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, 1 month ago)

Public Bill Committees
Read Full debate 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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Sue Hayman Hansard

Yes—at exactly what stage will we have a vote on new clause 1?

Break in Debate

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:18 p.m.

It is really important. We heard an awful lot during the various evidence sessions about how the UK is one of the largest markets in the legal ivory trade. A knock-on effect of that, however, is that we help the illegal ivory trade, simply because of how the whole trade operates. We therefore want to clamp down on the illegal ivory trade and on the ivory trade in this country, because we need to ensure that we leave no loopholes and that nothing in the Bill could be abused by unscrupulous people. If we are not careful with the replacement certificates, as my hon. Friend said, it is possible that more than one replacement certificate could be issued for one item over a period of time and then used to sell on a third item.

IFAW was also concerned about that, stressing that more safeguards were needed to issue replacement certificates, because in theory an ivory item could have several replacement certificates issued over a number of years, and unscrupulous people might use such a certificate to sell similar items legally. Given that the whole point of the Bill is to stop illegal ivory trading and the poaching of elephants, we need to ensure against any such opportunities for unscrupulous people. Any replacement certificates must be issued rarely and with due consideration.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:20 p.m.

I thank the hon. Lady for her amendment, which recognises an important issue: to ensure that, through our legislation, we do not create any loopholes—something she is keen to avoid, as we all are—that could be exploited by those wishing to circumvent the ivory ban and continue to trade ivory illegally. I understand the concern that an individual might exploit the provision to issue replacement certificates under the exemption for the rarest and most important items. Such an individual might, for example, fraudulently use replacement exemption certificates for non-exempt items.

However, we clearly heard from the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum that items exempted under clause 2 will necessarily be unique pieces, meaning that there is an exceedingly low risk that a certificate, which will include a photograph, can be used fraudulently for another item, because they are so unique. I must first say that such an action would of course be an offence under the Fraud Act 2006 and might be subject to criminal sanctions, a custodial sentence or a criminal fine. I also want to reassure the hon. Lady that the process an individual must follow to request a replacement will be carefully developed with APHA, alongside other online application processes required for the implementation of the Bill.

As stated in the Bill, a replacement certificate will be issued only if the original has been lost, the original is not passed on by the original owner when the item is sold, or for any other reason the APHA considers appropriate. It is expected that the owner will need to submit an application to request a replacement and declare why a replacement is required. The APHA will compare information provided by the owner against the database of exempt items to ensure that the item in question has indeed been issued a certificate in the past.

A unique identification number will be included on the certificate, which associates it with the exempt item. Certificates will also include the photographs of the item originally submitted when applying for the exemption and a narrative description of the item. Given the nature of items exempted under this category, it is highly unlikely that there would be another item of such close similarity that it could reasonably be taken to be covered by the certificate issued for another item—they are so distinct and different. That will ensure that prospective buyers and enforcement agencies will be able to check that items for sale are compliant with the ban, and will therefore allow any fraudulent activity to be identified by enforcement agencies and the appropriate sanctions to be applied. With that explanation, I ask the hon. Lady to withdraw her amendment.

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:24 p.m.

Sorry; I just had to look up what the APHA was—I should know these things.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:24 p.m.

Excuse me. It is the Animal and Plant Health Agency. There are a lot of acronyms.

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:24 p.m.

Yes, quite. Just to confirm, is the Minister talking about developing processes for how it would be managed alongside the Animal and Plant Health Agency?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:24 p.m.

That is correct.

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:24 p.m.

As this is a fraud issue, is he looking at doing it with any other agencies that have expertise in that area? I do not know whether the Animal and Plant Health Agency has expertise in fraud—I am sorry to be a bit ignorant.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:24 p.m.

I think we are all learning through this process, and Committee stage is about getting into the details and ensuring that we get the right answers to those important questions. The APHA and the enforcement bodies will have full access to the database of exemption certificates, and we have full confidence that they will consider applications for replacements—there will not be many—very sensibly, with reference to the history of applications for that item. The point that I think the hon. Lady was making is whether the enforcement bodies will be engaged in creating the guidance. She is nodding from a sedentary position. My understanding is that we will involve those bodies as well. We want the best expertise to ensure that this process is as watertight as possible.

Dr Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Lisa Cameron (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow) (SNP) - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:24 p.m.

Could the Minister clarify the types of circumstances in which a number of replacement certificates might be required, and how likely that is to happen? Would there be some way of tracking the number of replacement certificates so that such certificates would not flood the market, or, if such certificates did become more apparent, that could be identified extremely quickly?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:24 p.m.

Those are more good questions. I explained a little bit in my remarks—I apologise if I ran through them too quickly. An example would be if a certificate was lost or not passed on appropriately from the original owner when the item was sold. There are situations in which that can happen, and we need to be open to that; we live in a world where people lose things. The hon. Lady makes an important point about tracking. That is where the APHA will be able to log the number of replacements and take the appropriate action. If there is a pattern of behaviour that looks odd, obviously it will be on to that.

The important thing to bear in mind as we go through the Bill is that we are spending a lot of time on the most important areas. It feels like this is a big category, but actually there is a very small number of items. In this particular category it will be much easier to track patterns of behaviour than it would be in some others.

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:25 p.m.

I may have missed this in the Minister’s comments, but will the number of replacement certificates issued every year be available publicly? Will the register that is being created for items also include whether replacement certificates have been granted for those items?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:29 p.m.

I await a little inspiration on that point, but it is worth pointing out that the Secretary of State can revoke a certificate if he has cause to do so. Some people might not have focused on that. If there is a pattern of behaviour, certificates can be revoked. That is an important point to consider. On the point about the number of replacements that have been put into the public domain and whether that will be published, we certainly will consider that.

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:29 p.m.

The important thing for us on the replacement certificates is to have proper reassurance that there is no potential for abuse, and that the Minister understands the concerns raised in evidence by a number of organisations. If the register will look carefully at how many certificates are sent out each year, so that we have a clear idea of the situation, that will give us an idea of whether abuse is likely to be taking place. If it is being monitored by the Animal, Plant and Health Agency and tracked and we know that the fraud services are involved, that is extremely useful.

It is really about giving proper reassurance to all the agencies involved that no element is open to abuse. But if the register is tracked and abuse is found to be taking place, even though we are talking about only a small number of items, it would be useful to revisit this, perhaps after 12 or 24 months, just to see whether the replacement certification process is working effectively.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:29 p.m.

This is a real-time conversation—that is what we are here for. Some very good points have been made. I hope that the hon. Lady will gain some reassurance from what I have said; bodies will review the certificates and the replacements will be tracked. On behalf of the Government, I will give due consideration to the proposal for publication. Law enforcement agencies will track this, as they can share and exchange information under the Data Protection Act. That is another layer of protection. We all want a tight system. The steps to achieve that have been set out in this clause.

Sue Hayman Hansard

On the understanding that the Minister takes the concerns forward and brings into play a lot of the areas that we have discussed and agreed upon, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 4 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 5

Fresh applications and appeals

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

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:30 p.m.

Clause 5 makes provision for an owner of an ivory item either to make a fresh application for an exemption certificate under clause 3, where the Secretary of State has revoked a previously issued certificate under clause 4, which we spoke about, or to appeal the Secretary of State’s decision to refuse a previous application.

The clause simply sets out that any reapplication for an exemption certificate will be treated as a new or fresh application. It will follow the same procedure as set out in clause 3, and will incur the same fees. The clause gives the Secretary of State a delegated power to set in regulations provisions for an appeals process against a decision to refuse an application or to revoke an exemption certificate. The appeals process will give individuals the right to a fair hearing by an independent and impartial panel. That is consistent with article 6 of the European convention on human rights. A recent example of an appeals process that is article 6-compliant and, like the Ivory Bill process, is outlined in secondary legislation, is section 48(3)(f) of the Children and Social Work Act 2017, which allows appeals when courses for mental healthcare professionals are not approved.

Any appeals process is intended to incur fees that are reasonable and proportionate to the cost of dealing with the appeals. Our intention is to establish an appeals process through regulations before the Bill is commenced.

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:31 p.m.

It is very important that the appeals process is robust. When we look at appeals processes in other Departments, we see how important it is that this appeals process is efficient and effective. Too often, appeals get bogged down. We must look at the Department’s resources and how it will handle appeals to ensure that people do not have to wait for a long time without knowing what is happening. I seek some reassurance from the Minister about how that will be managed through the Department.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:31 p.m.

As the hon. Lady says, we need an appeals process. It must be efficient—we do not want logjams—and the relevant bodies must be fully sighted of the appeals so that they can spot any trends that look odd and take appropriate action. The design is very important. The process will be established before the Bill is commenced.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:32 p.m.

Can the Minister please explain whether the appeal will be considered as if it was a fresh application, or whether the appeal body will review the first decision? That is a fine distinction, but it is important. Will it be a second bite at the cherry, or will it be a review?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:32 p.m.

The hon. Lady makes an interesting distinction. The appeals will be set out in regulations—that is the answer to the previous question. My understanding is that it will be a fresh application. I will carry on talking about the importance of that for a second. We must make sure that people who believe that their application is right have the ability to do that. It will not be considered as an appeal. We will be agreeing the process for appeals over the summer, ahead of laying regulations. What we are saying is that it will be a fresh application.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:34 p.m.

I realise that it is difficult when things are happening in real time. I make that distinction because it seems to me that if we set up an appeals process and give it status, the people making the appeal should not get a second bite at the cherry and start with a fresh application unless it is something radically different. The process should be for somebody to review whether the appeal has been considered properly.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:34 p.m.

I understand the point that the hon. Lady is making. An owner can make a fresh application if they wish, and pay the fee again. That is separate from the appeals process. They make an application, and if that is rebutted they can make a fresh application. The appeal is a separate process.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist - Hansard

I am even more confused. I know that this is really difficult, but perhaps I did not express myself properly. Once the application is made, I understand that there will be a right to an appeal if it is refused. At that stage, will the appeal be reconsidering the original application, or is it a chance for somebody higher up to have another go at deciding?

Break in Debate

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:36 p.m.

We are trying to understand the process of how the appeals are working and, if an application is refused, how that appeals system will work, and whether people who have had an application refused will be advised to put in an appeal against that specific application or whether it is more practicable to start afresh and put in a new application. If it is a new application, to my mind, it is not an appeal to the previous application. We need to get that differentiation absolutely clear, as to the spirit of what the Bill is trying to achieve and the meaning of the terminology.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard

I thank the hon. Lady for filling that time, which shows true co-operation. We are trying to get answers to these questions on both sides. I really appreciate that. I will try one more time to explain the process. Forgive me if I have not been as clear as I should have been. Initially an individual or the owner makes an application, which is refused. The appeal is then considered by a separate new assessor once. Separately, an owner may make a new application and pay the fee again, but after the appeal has been heard.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 5 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 6

Pre-1918 portrait miniatures

Sue Hayman (Workington) (Lab) Hansard

I beg to move amendment 5, in clause 6, page 5, line 6, at end insert—

‘(1A) In this section, “portrait miniature” means a portable portrait that is—

(a) of no more than 204mm in height,

(b) of no more than 153mm in width, and

(c) made by painting on to a sheet of ivory no more than 5mm thick.’

This amendment defines a ‘portrait miniature’ for the purpose of the exemption.

Break in Debate

Mrs Pauline Latham Portrait Mrs Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire) (Con) - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:43 p.m.

I endorse what the hon. Lady has said. It was clear in the evidence that a measurement was wanted. The whole point about the Bill is that we need clarity and absolute certainty so that everyone knows exactly where they stand. If an item were bigger than is suggested, it would not be considered a miniature, because a miniature is something small. Whether the measurements are in inches or millimetres, I do not mind, although like the hon. Lady, I do not really understand millimetres; I only understand inches. I am interested in what my hon. Friend the Minister has to say, but whether it is stated in the Bill or set out elsewhere as guidance, I would like the size to be specified if possible.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:45 p.m.

I thank the hon. Members on both sides of the Committee who have contributed to this debate. I acknowledge the intention behind the amendment to provide further definition to clause 6 on exemption of pre-1918 portrait miniatures. When the Government consulted on the ban on ivory, the evidence obtained indicated that there is no universally accepted definition of portrait miniatures on the basis of size. Furthermore, the definition of “miniature” is, strangely enough, a reflection not of the item’s size but of the technique used to create it. As a result, these items can range in size.

Our assessment is that, within the currently proposed definition, the sale of portrait miniatures is not likely directly or indirectly to fuel the continued poaching of elephants. As evidence to our consultation from the antiques sector, the public and some conservation bodies indicated, an exemption for portrait miniatures under the current definition would be proportionate and justified. The items will need to be registered under clause 10 and go through the application for exemption process described in clause 3, which states that an item must clearly satisfy the conditions for exemption or be referred to a prescribed institution for inspection. The process is sufficient for ensuring that items meet the exemption for pre-1918 portrait miniatures.

Although no clear proposal for a size qualification of portrait miniatures was put forward during the consultation, it is something that we have always been keen to consider. I thank the shadow Minister for her proposal.

Kerry McCarthy Portrait Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) (Lab) - Hansard

When we took evidence on this point on Tuesday, the expert, Emma Rutherford, was asked whether the frame should be included and what should actually be measured. She said that she thought it would be done by size of the ivory, because frame sizes differ. If we are to go down the path of judging something by size, is it the Minister’s view that frame should not be included and that only its contents would be measured?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:46 p.m.

Perhaps finishing the point I am trying to make will clarify the matter for the hon. Lady, and I will then go on to the point about the frames. I am grateful for the amendment, and I also note the helpful detail from Philip Mould & Company given during the evidence session. We will continue to consider this issue fully.

Sue Hayman Hansard

I appreciate the Minister’s response, but to be honest I felt that this was a pretty straightforward thing that we could move ahead with. There did not seem to be any disagreement at all. Philip Mould & Company is the expert in portrait miniatures. Emma Rutherford brought some along to show to us, and she was pretty clear on the definition. The amendment would be an extremely helpful addition to the Bill and I do not really understand why the Government will not consider it.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:47 p.m.

I assure the hon. Lady that the Government will give it full consideration, as I said. This is one point in the Bill’s passage. We will give full consideration to what has been said in Committee today and in the evidence sessions.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist - Hansard

I urge the Minister to think carefully about including a definition in the Bill. I think we all think we understand what is meant by a miniature—I have a pretty clear idea—but in the Bill, to which people will turn to argue points in disputes, it is important to spell out what we actually believe a miniature to be.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:48 p.m.

We will give that full consideration. I understand the point that hon. Members have made, that including a definition would add greater clarity. We will make that definition as clear as possible. However, as I have said several times now, the point has been made very clearly by Members on both sides of the Committee and we will give it full consideration.

Sue Hayman Hansard

Will the Minister expand on what he means by “give consideration”? I am sorry to push this, but I really think it would be helpful to have a definition in the Bill.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:49 p.m.

I understand that the hon. Lady’s enthusiasm knows no bounds; she is very passionate, as we all are, but I think she understands that there are formal processes that need to be gone through as part of the legislative process, and there will be moments at which these points can be given full consideration as the Bill progresses over the next few weeks.

Dr Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Cameron - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:51 p.m.

It appeared to me in the evidence sitting that the expert was clear about the size of portrait miniatures, but the Minister has said there is a range, rather than a definite size. I wondered whether, in that case, the range could be set out in the Bill, or whether we could seek clarification: is there a clearer definition of portrait miniatures than the Minister’s initial evidence suggests?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:51 p.m.

Yes, there are different ways in which that could be reviewed; it could be by range or by definitive sizes. As I said in my earlier remarks, I think that the contributions made by Philip Mould & Company were helpful and we want to give them due consideration.

Alex Chalk Portrait Alex Chalk - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:51 p.m.

I am reassured by the Minister’s undertaking to give this important matter, raised in good faith by the Opposition, full consideration. Can he clarify that in the course of that consideration he will seek the best possible range of expert advice, to ensure that any future amendment will not have to be amended further in due course, and will truly meet the point that has properly been raised?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:51 p.m.

Absolutely; we want the best advice, and I think we have received some very good advice. We just need to give it due consideration as the Bill progresses.

Kerry McCarthy Portrait Kerry McCarthy - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:52 p.m.

Looking back again at Emma Rutherford’s evidence, she said that 90% to 95% of miniatures would be within the range of 6 by 8 inches. Clearly that means that 5% or 10% are outside that. We did not press her—perhaps we should have—on the importance of that. She seemed quite relaxed about the fact that most would be covered by that rule if we were to introduce it, but I think if we are to consider introducing a size provision, we need to know whether some important miniatures would be excluded, and perhaps tweak it or at least bear that in mind.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:52 p.m.

I think that relates closely to what my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham said. We need to get the best available advice on how to define that. Important points were made about frames, and so forth, which need to be considered. We want to get the best advice and expertise available, to get the definition right, and then, as the hon. Member for Blaydon said, make the definition transparent and available to anyone.

Simon Hoare Portrait Simon Hoare - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:52 p.m.

I entirely take the point made by the hon. Member for Blaydon about the need for clarity in handling disputes. If I have heard my hon. Friend the Minister correctly, to deal with this important issue he proposes to take further soundings and seek clarification, and, when he and the Department have reflected on the amendments and discussion in Committee, to give the Government’s response on Report in the House, as is proper.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:54 p.m.

My hon. Friend makes an important point. I hope I have provided some reassurance to Members on both sides of the Committee that we are taking the matter seriously. I have never said that we are giving something serious consideration as often as I have in the past couple of minutes, and clearly my voice and tone are not as reassuring to people as they should be, but in the spirit of what we are trying to achieve, I hope that Members understand that important points were made in evidence, and there are processes that need to be undergone. Members have made important points in Committee about ifs, buts and maybes, and they need to be worked through, but I make a commitment that we shall give the matter proper consideration, with the right expertise, and move forward as quickly as we can. I hope that reassures Members on both sides.

I did not realise that there was so much interest in portrait miniatures until we got involved with the Bill.

Sue Hayman Hansard

I think the reason there is quite a lot of interest is partly that Emma Rutherford, the consultant, brought along such beautiful examples of portrait miniatures, but partly that it seemed to be a straightforward, easy thing on which we could all agree. I think that is why there has been such interest. I must say I am reluctant to let this go.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:55 p.m.

I understand the hon. Lady’s frustration to some extent, but having been asked to come off the substitutes bench to act as a Minister for a few weeks, I am learning that processes need to be put in place to ensure that various regulations and laws are respected and due process is followed before any changes are made. That is the point I am trying to make, perhaps not as elegantly as I should, but I hope that reassures her.

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:55 p.m.

With reference to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol East about looking at the implications of size, will the Minister undertake to work with me to take the matter forward and to table an amendment for consideration on Report, so we have that clarification in the Bill?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:55 p.m.

That is an excellent suggestion, and I look forward to working with the hon. Lady in the spirit of co-operation that we have seen today, to see how we can move it forward.

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:56 p.m.

On the understanding that we will work together and table an amendment to clarify that area on Report, I am happy to beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 6 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 7

Pre-1947 items with low ivory content

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

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 12:48 p.m.

Clause 7 sets out the second exemption under the Bill. Subsections (1) and (2) state that items made before 1947 in which the ivory content is below 10% of the total volume of the item and the ivory is integral to the item, so it cannot be removed without damaging it or without difficulty, are exempt from the prohibition of sales, provided they are registered under clause 10.

The 1947 date for de minimis items derives from the EU wildlife trade regulations as the date before which worked ivory does not currently need a CITES—convention on international trade in endangered species—certificate to be commercially traded, and is familiar to those in the antiques sector. That familiarity will aid the ban’s implementation.

The exemption recognises that items with a very low ivory content, such as inlaid furniture, or a dish or a teapot with a small ivory handle, are not valued on the basis of their ivory content. Further, in such pieces, the ivory is incidental and integral to the item. It cannot be easily removed, so it is not vulnerable to recarving. The threshold of 10% ivory content is higher than in a significant number of countries. At federal level, the US has a 50% by volume limit or 200 grams threshold for de minimis exemption, although some states, such as New York and California, have implemented tougher thresholds.

The de minimis threshold is supported by key non-governmental organisations, including the World Wildlife Fund, the Tusk Trust and International Fund for Animal Welfare, which recognise it as a tough measure. Enforcement agencies have also indicated their gratitude that we have opted for a volume rather than a weight-based threshold, as it is far easier to assess.

Ordered, That the debate be now adjourned.—(Mims Davies.)

Adjourned till this day at Two o’clock.

Ivory Bill (Fourth sitting) Debate

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

Ivory Bill (Fourth sitting)

(Committee Debate: 4th sitting: House of Commons)
David Rutley Excerpts
Thursday 14th June 2018

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Public Bill Committees
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HM Treasury
Alex Chalk Portrait Alex Chalk (Cheltenham) (Con) - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:02 p.m.

I want to make a few remarks about clause 7, and I do so having in mind the views of some small-scale auction houses that have raised concerns with me. The concerns are intended to be constructive, and I recognise that there are important competing arguments, but the question is whether it is really necessary to require the registration of pre-1947 items with low ivory content. The concern has been raised that that could lead, however unintentionally, to the law of unintended consequences such that a clause that was designed to preserve and exempt could inadvertently lead to damage and destruction, and I will explain why.

The first thing to note is, of course, that clause 7 is designed to catch items with a low ivory content of below 10%. I am advised that 10% is in fact the lowest or equal lowest figure in similar jurisdictions and that ordinarily 20% tends to be the threshold.

What sort of items are we talking about? We might be talking about an oak chest that has ivory escutcheons—the small amount of ivory that might be around a keyhole—or a teapot, which the hon. Member for Workington referred to, that has an ivory spacer. In other words, there is a small sliver of ivory between the teapot and the handle that is designed to insulate the handle and ensure that the heat is not conducted along it. We are talking about very small amounts of ivory. Such items cannot sensibly be referred to as an ivory object, because the volume of ivory is so tiny.

The auction houses make the point that these items do not really contribute to the ivory trade. I will explain their concern. Let us suppose that items come to light in the course of the sale of a deceased relation’s property and it emerges that one item contains a vanishingly small amount of ivory. Their concern is that there could be a perverse incentive on the part of the owner to say, “Oh, for goodness’ sake, registering this is going to be onerous and difficult. Either we should simply try to prise out the piece of ivory, thereby damaging the item itself, or we should destroy it altogether.” I am also advised that some of the items that we could be considering are brown wood furniture, which is not as desirable as it once was, and therefore there is a risk that the items could end up in a skip, which is clearly not want anyone wants to achieve.

I absolutely recognise that there is a powerful counter-argument, which is that if we want the whole exemption regime to be coherent, it is important that every single ivory content item that is exempt is properly registered, and there is a risk, therefore, that we could create inconsistency. I entirely acknowledge that powerful argument, but it seems to me that the auction houses have a point, so I invite my hon. Friend the Minister to comment on the issue of registration.

It is key that we ensure that the registration process is quick, affordable and not too bureaucratic, so that when an item is discovered in the course of a furniture sale, instead of being told that it will cost a huge amount of money and time to defer the process, an individual can be advised that it will be a matter of a short, proportionate pause and a small, proportionate outlay to ensure that the item becomes legal. The undesirable incentives that I have referred to would, therefore, be avoided.

David Rutley Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (David Rutley) - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:06 p.m.

It is good to serve under your chairmanship, Mr McCabe, and thank you for keeping me in order. Like other hon. Members, I was keen to get to my feet to talk about this important Bill.

A few points have been raised. I am grateful for the broad support for the de minimis category. The hon. Member for Workington asked whether we had heard from any art galleries and so on about the 10% threshold. In general, we monitor their feedback following our Tuesday evidence sessions. So far, interestingly, there has been very broad support for what we are doing. In the spirit of being collaborative, as we have been today, we will share any further information with her.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham raised several important points about the registration process. It is important that we are trying to establish a prohibition and that only small exemptions would be available. Sometimes, when we start to think about those exemptions, there is a tendency to want to try to open them up, but actually, we are trying to narrow them down. That means that we need to have a consistent approach and to be able to monitor the application of the exemptions using the electronic database that we are setting up. It will not be burdensome on resources; it can obviously absorb large amounts of data. Those resources will be needed to carry out spot checks and compliance checks.

The Government want to ensure that we have as limited a burden as possible on the application, so it will be easy to do online, but it is critical—my hon. Friend caught the balance in his contribution—to ensure that data is available to enforcement authorities and potential purchasers of the item to ensure that they act in compliance as well.

Alex Chalk Portrait Alex Chalk - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:08 p.m.

I appreciate that the details may have to be settled in due course, but can the Minister give an indication of the approximate cost of an application and the approximate length of time it will take to complete?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:08 p.m.

It will be a relatively speedy process. On the cost, we have said that small fees will be involved. That will become clear as we carry out the work. The aim is to recover the costs involved in establishing the IT system and the compliance arrangements, rather than to create surplus funds. The fees will be small and the process will be as simple as possible, but it is there to create a consistent approach.

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:09 p.m.

I have a small comment about the points made by the hon. Member for Cheltenham. In relation to the fairness and openness of what we are trying to achieve, keeping the exemptions as small and as tight as possible is important, and we would support that. The enforcement officers we heard from on Tuesday made it clear that they would want as few exemptions as possible in order to do their job successfully.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:09 p.m.

I thank the hon. Lady and, once again, we strongly agree on the same point. We are saying that the exemptions need to be robust, and my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham is saying that they also need to be proportionate. I think we have the balance right.

It is also important to reiterate to my hon. Friend that although people may want to sell some of those items, and we are putting a ban in place to make that more difficult, they can be gifted or donated to other people who might appreciate or have space for them. Certain charities might benefit, but the items would not be for resale. Gifts and donations are fine. We just have to look again at the way we treat ivory. This involves a cultural change for some people. We are all on a journey and the measure will help in that regard.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 7 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 8

Pre-1975 musical instruments

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

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:11 p.m.

The clause exempts from the prohibition of commercial dealing certain musical instruments containing ivory. Subsection (1) sets out that if a musical instrument is made before 1975 and less than 20% of it contains ivory, the item will be exempt, provided that it is registered as set out in the Bill, from the prohibition of the trade of ivory in the UK.

Subsection 2(a) defines a musical instrument as an item whose primary purpose is to be played as a musical instrument. It explicitly excludes items that, although they may technically be used as an instrument—in other words, they could produce a sound or be used to beat a rhythm—that was not their primary purpose on manufacture. That also extends to items intended as ornaments.

Subsection 2(b) confirms that items used as an accessory to play a musical instrument, such as a violin bow, are within the definition of the clause. The exemption recognises that musical instruments, particularly expensive ones, continued to be made with ivory until late into the 20th century. As the Government have no intention to unduly affect artistic and cultural heritage, nor to unduly affect the livelihoods of professional musicians, the exemption extends on the general de minimis exemption.

We heard from the musicians sector about the significant value of some instruments and the role they play in professional musicians’ retirement plans. The backstop date at which Asian elephants were first listed under appendix I of CITES was 1975, before the poaching crisis of the 1980s. Evidence provided through the consultation, including from the Musicians Union, showed that the vast majority of commonly played and traded instruments, including violins, pianos and bagpipes, contain 20% ivory or less by volume.

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:13 p.m.

The evidence we took on Tuesday from musicians was interesting. They supported and broadly agreed with the measure, and were pleased with the exemptions because they will allow them to continue to work as musicians, whether professional or amateur. It was particularly interesting, however, to hear them say that they have had to deal most recently with the rosewood legislation, which CITES brought in last year. Rosewood is a protected species and that has had a big knock-on effect on the music industry because of the number of instruments made from rosewood.

The musicians said that that legislation had resulted in them having to fund a large education programme for their members and the wider music industry, so that the music industry understood that rosewood was now a protected product. They said that the legislation has had a large impact on the music industry, both in manufacturing and in buying and selling. I raise the issue because they said that it has been a really big challenge for them. Although they welcome and support the Ivory Bill, it would also create similar challenges, as they would have to do a fairly large education programme right across the industry—all sorts of people have musical instruments and many people have very old instruments, which might be in their attic—just to get that understanding across.

Education was discussed on a number of occasions in the evidence sessions. What kind of educational support programmes and guidance are the Government considering in relation to the Bill? Are they seeking to work in particular with industries, such as the Musicians Union, to get that information across to its members? Otherwise, it is a huge burden on them to do it on their own.

Break in Debate

Anna Turley (Redcar) (Lab/Co-op) Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:25 p.m.

I echo my colleagues’ comments about how important it is that we get the clause right. Musicians’ livelihoods can often be insecure and short term. Often they rely on their instruments to carry out their trade, business and livelihood. Also, in the long term, those instruments are often their pensions and investments. They are tools of the trade. It is vital that we get this absolutely right for a crucial industry.

We had a long discussion this morning about museums and the qualifying bodies that give advice to the Secretary of State, and that will be able to undertake the registers. I fear there is a bit of a gap. If a musician, who is not an expert in ivory, has a number of guitars or plectrums in their bedroom and they are concerned that they are made of ivory, to whom to do they go to ask whether an item is covered? As colleagues have said, we do not want to catch people who have no intention of breaking the law but who are unaware of it. Is there somewhere people can go for advice pre-emptively to ensure they are not falling foul of this new law?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:26 p.m.

Hon. Members have raised some very interesting points, some of which I had not anticipated. They were good none the less. We are up for the challenge this afternoon.

On the very good question about broader education, it is clear that lessons were learned from the listing of rosewood last year about how to communicate effectively with the industry, and how the application of restrictions can be brought into force more effectively. As a result of that, DEFRA is working to ensure that we have better contact with the musical instrument industry through a number of different forums, such as the quarterly CITES stakeholder liaison meetings. Clearly, we need to build on that in our preparations for moving forward with the Bill once it has received Royal Assent. We are planning a programme of awareness-raising, aimed at working with the relevant sectors that will be affected by the ban. The new regulator—the office of public safety and standards—will have a job of work to do to raise awareness and work through compliance issues. It will need to set out clearly what the provisions are and how to comply with them. Steps will be taken to address those issues.

The hon. Member for Bristol East made an interesting observation about certificates and registration. Unlike registration, the certificate will be valid for only a single change of ownership. Registration is very different from the certificate. That will mean that the compliance arrangements will be a lot clearer, because the person will have to re-register for each transaction. That is different from the “rare and most important” category.

Kerry McCarthy Portrait Kerry McCarthy - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:27 p.m.

This is really about clause 11, but I do not understand why a new owner has to re-register. That does not seem to make sense. In the same way as a registration certificate is attached to a car, why cannot one be attached to a musical instrument? We have expressed concerns about people not knowing that they have got to go through this process, and it seems that this has created an awful lot more work.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:28 p.m.

We can have that debate when we get to that clause. We are trying to ensure that we have a robust system, and that there is not too heavy a burden on the Government. We want our approach to be light-touch but effective. We can debate that more, and I am sure we will.

The hon. Lady asked some very interesting questions about items going abroad for repair. I did not know that happened. The exemption applies to UK imports and exports, so if the item satisfies the exemption in the UK, it will be allowed to be re-imported under the musical instruments exemption. To reiterate, the item must be registered under clause 10, and the person must apply for the relevant permit certificate under the EU wildlife trade regulations. The Bill builds on the EU wildlife trade regulations, so both need to be satisfied.

Questions were asked about Northumbrian pipes. It a great part of the world, and I know that is a strong tradition in the constituency of the hon. Member for Blaydon. We are trying to create very tight exemptions, and if a Northumbrian pipe contains more than 20% ivory, it will not qualify for the exemption. That is a challenge. The point we made on Second Reading is that the item can still be played, owned, gifted, donated or bequeathed. We might be able to look at options to keep that tradition alive, but I am afraid Northumbrian pipes would not come under one of these exemptions, and it would be very difficult to have a specific one for just one category. There might be other ways in which that tradition can be kept alive for future generations.

The hon. Member for Leeds North West made a point about plectrums and other accessories. They will need to be less than 20% ivory to qualify for the exemption. However, mammoth ivory does not fall within the scope of the Bill—I am sure that we will have a long debate about that when we debate clause 35—so a mammoth ivory plectrum would be unaffected.

Mrs Pauline Latham Portrait Mrs Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire) (Con) - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:30 p.m.

Plectrums are surely independent from the musical instrument; they are something that somebody chooses to use. If they are 100% either mammoth or elephant ivory, they will not be able to be sold. It is highly unlikely that any musician will rely on selling those in order to fund his or her retirement, because they are such small parts. I would have thought that that is a bit of an irrelevance. I do not know if the Minister agrees.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:31 p.m.

In the scheme of what we are debating, it certainly is a small item. However, for those involved, it may be significant. My hon. Friend is absolutely right: if it is made of elephant ivory, it does not comply. However—we will debate mammoths at length when we debate clause 35, I am sure—mammoth ivory is not in the scope of the Bill as it stands, and therefore a plectrum will not be affected if it is made of mammoth ivory.

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:32 p.m.

I will ask the Minister for a couple of clarifications; these may be covered in the Bill, but I am flicking backwards and forwards. First, the Minister mentioned the new regulator when talking about education and information. Are the Government saying that the new regulator will have a duty to educate and inform the affected industries? Just so I am clear, how will it work with the Department? If the Government have not decided, that is fine; I just want to know where we are.

Secondly, although this may well be covered in the Bill, I want to return to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol East about certifications when going abroad for repairs. If someone has sent an instrument abroad for repair, not having realised that they should have registered it—which is obviously one concern of the Musicians’ Union—and is told that they cannot bring the instrument back into the country, will there be a method whereby they can apply for that certification in order to bring that instrument over? I am just trying to get clarity, so that I know exactly where we are on those particular issues.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:33 p.m.

The OPSS will have a role in driving awareness. However, we clearly need to work through how it will carry out that task. Lessons will need to be learned from the rosewood example and other situations.

It is exciting that people generally are clearly learning very quickly about plastics, and we need to capture some of that enthusiasm in the same way on ivory. I think that will be quite straightforward for some people, but for those who are unaware that their item has any ivory in at all, more work will need to be done. That is what the OPSS will do. The exact detail of that will be drawn up with the action plans. The decision that the OPSS will be the regulator is very recent, so there is clearly a lot more work to be done on that point. On the point about people not being aware of an item’s containing ivory, I will write to the hon. Lady to provide some clarity.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 8 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 9

Acquisitions by qualifying museums

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:34 p.m.

I beg to move amendment 6, in clause 9, page 5, line 31, leave out from “that” to end of line 33.

This amendment would only permit acquisitions by qualifying museums to be exempt if the item is also registered under section 10, in all circumstances.

We tabled the amendment because we felt that clause 9(2)(a), which relates to acquisitions by qualifying museums, was also covered under clause 10 in all circumstances. The issue is whether paragraph (a) is strictly necessary. Surely all ivory items will be registered under clause 10, if they are held by a qualifying museum. I am just trying to join up clauses 9 and 10 logically, but I may have missed the reason why the provision is in the Bill. We would like clarification of what otherwise seems to be unnecessary confusion. Will the Minister enlighten us?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:36 p.m.

I thank the hon. Lady for her careful consideration of the issue. I understand her desire to ensure tight control over exemptions. The intention of the clause is to provide for an exemption to the prohibition on dealings in ivory to and between qualifying museums. There is a strong argument for allowing the exemption on the grounds of national and international cultural exchange of heritage.

There is some doubt as to whether the amendment would achieve its stated intention. Were it to be accepted, the effect would be for qualifying museums to have to register items of ivory in every circumstance and to deal only in items meeting one of the other exemptions. The amendment would in effect remove the museum exemption. That is neither our intention, nor what we have set out publicly.

We should bear in mind that a qualifying museum is one accredited by either the Arts Council England, the Welsh Government, Museums Galleries Scotland or the Northern Ireland Museums Council. For museums elsewhere, they must be a member organisation of the International Council of Museums. Accreditation by those bodies requires adherence to high standards of governance and financial management and, as we heard in evidence, high ethical standards.

To require registration by qualifying museums in all circumstances would undermine the reasons for providing qualifying museums with an exemption and be a disproportionate burden, particularly as we do not believe the exemption is likely to contribute to continuing poaching of elephants. We intend, however, that a person seeking to sell an item to an accredited museum will be required to register it. The purchasing museum will be required to confirm its purchase.

With that explanation, I ask the hon. Lady to withdraw her amendment.

Sue Hayman Hansard

I am not entirely sure what kinds of items are covered. Surely any exempted item is covered by clause 10. I am trying to understand what items we are considering.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard

I understand the hon. Lady’s point. We are trying to be very narrow in our approach. An example that might be useful—it certainly helped me to understand this case—is a museum that wanted to have a household object for a display on social history. The item has direct relevance to a period of time in a social history exhibition, so it would not qualify under the other exemptions we have discussed, if it is more modern, but it would still be directly relevant to the museum’s exhibition.

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:39 p.m.

I thank the Minister for that extremely helpful explanation. Basically, he is talking about items that would not come under the exemptions because they are not the rarest and most sought after, but are important items in the context of an exhibition. That would be allowed to take place only within the confines of a museum; it could not take place universally.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:41 p.m.

Let me give another example to make it come alive a bit more. We heard from the Victoria and Albert Museum that a post-1918 item made wholly of ivory, such as an art deco item, which would not be exempt elsewhere, might be relevant for a particular display, in terms of culture and heritage. Of course, that would have to take place in line with the museum’s very strict acquisition processes.

Without seeking to become an expert in how museums acquire these things, I think that it was clear from our evidence session that they have very strict approaches, which would still be in place. This is a discreet exemption for museums because they are held to higher standards. They are regulated in a different way, and are subject to restrictions that do not apply to other holders and owners of ivory. We need to make sure that there are regulation processes outwith museums, but museums are required to work at very high standards.

Because there might be some items that sit outwith the exemptions we have broadly agreed upon, we want to continue to have the exemption for museums. There is a danger that the wording of the amendment would nullify the museums category. I hope that the hon. Lady will see that it would be wise to withdraw the amendment. We can discuss the matter more outside the Committee if that is required.

Sue Hayman Hansard

I thank the Minister for that explanation. We are all aware that this is a complex Bill, and the exemptions are even more complex. It is important that we get this right and that there is a proper understanding of the purpose of each clause. I fully understand that explanation, so I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 9 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 10

Registration

Amendment proposed: 7, in clause 10, page 6, line 34, at end insert—

‘(1A) In the case an exemption under section 7 or 8, an item only satisfies the relevant exemption conditions if the volume of ivory in the item relative to the total volume of the material of which the item is made has been calculated in accordance with a method provided in guidance by the Secretary of State.’—(Sue Hayman.)

This amendment requires a person registered an pre-1947 item with less than 10% ivory content, or a pre-1975 musical instrument with less than 20% ivory content, to calculate the ivory content according to a method set by the Secretary of State in guidance.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Clause stand part.

New clause 4—Record of item provenance—

‘(1) The Secretary of State shall make arrangements for persons—

(a) applying for an exemption certificate under section 3, or

(b) registering an item under section 10 to be able to associate the item to which the application or registration relates with previous registrations or previously issued exemption certificates.

(2) Where an exemption certificate is issued in respect of an item, or where an item has been previously registered, and the Secretary of State is satisfied that the item has previously been registered or had exemption certificates issued in respect of it, the exemption certificate or registration shall record all previous exemption certificates issued or registrations made in respect of that item, including the dates on which any certificates were issued or registrations made.’

This new clause allows for exemption certificates or registrations to record all previous exemption certificates or registrations issued for that item, in order to establish a record of each item’s ownership and provenance.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard

The purpose of clause 10 is to provide the compliance regime that must be followed by the owner of an ivory item prior to carrying out a dealing that falls under any of the exemptions provided for in clauses 6 to 9. The subsections set out the registration process to be carried out on a Government website, although alternative telephone and postal methods will be provided for those who are unable to use an online system.

To register an item as exempt, the owner or a person acting on behalf of the owner must provide: their name and address; a description and a photograph of the item, including any distinguishing features; and a declaration that the item satisfies the conditions of one of the exemptions for musical instruments, de minimis items, portrait miniatures, and objects that an accredited museum has confirmed its intention to purchase or hire.

Simon Hoare Portrait Simon Hoare (North Dorset) (Con) - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:45 p.m.

Subsection (1)(a) refers to the registering of the owner’s name and address. With regard to the personal safety and security of the owner—because we know that there are some fanatics out there who will go to any lengths—and protection from theft and burglary, will the Minister confirm my understanding that names and addresses on the register are not available to the public? Can he also confirm whether it would be covered by the Freedom of Information Act?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:46 p.m.

I assure my hon. Friend that the individuals’ names will not be publicly available. This is purely to enable the registration process to move forward, and for the regulator and enforcement agencies to have sight of who registered the item. That information will not be made available.

Simon Hoare Portrait Simon Hoare - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:46 p.m.

I am pleased to hear that confirmed. What the Minister proposes is the right approach. The freedom of information request could be a thieves’ “Yellow Pages”, even if the information were to be redacted in some way. I appreciate that this is a legal question and I am not necessarily expecting an answer now, but during the course of the debate, could the Minister confirm whether, as far as the Secretary of State is concerned, that register is FOI-able? That might be helpful.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:47 p.m.

Once again, with forensic skill and deep analysis of what is going on, my hon. Friend makes another important point about freedom of information and its potential dangers for individuals. I reassure him that freedom of information protects private information, so he does not need to worry about that issue.

Simon Hoare Portrait Simon Hoare - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:48 p.m.

The register will be maintained by the Secretary of State in his public capacity, not his personal or private capacity. I do not want to dance on the head of a pin, but can the Minister confirm that while it is a state-held register, held by the Secretary of State, it is absolutely not FOI-able?

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

My hon. Friend raises quite a technical point. If he does not mind, I will write to him to provide that detail.

Simon Hoare Portrait Simon Hoare - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:48 p.m.

I am most grateful.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:49 p.m.

Returning to the clause, registration will require an explanation of any planned commercial activity for the item. We recognise that there might be occasions when an item is registered for non-commercial reasons, such as to satisfy insurance requirements. Subsection (1)(f) provides for the Secretary of State to specify, in guidance, any other areas of information that must be provided.

Subsection (1)(g) allows the Secretary of State to issue regulations that will prescribe a fee payable by those registering an item for commercial dealing, such as sale. The fee will be in line with the Government’s principle of cost recovery, as we talked about earlier, to reflect the cost of establishing the registration scheme, including the new IT system.

We also intend the registration scheme to apply to those who wish to import into the UK items bought abroad that meet one of the categories of exemption. Again, we have talked about some of those, such as the musical instrument exemption. By registering the item, the owner will confirm that, to their understanding, the item qualifies under the relevant exemption. This registration must take place prior to the dealing of that item. The system will be administered by the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

In submitting the required information to register an item, the owner will in effect be making a declaration that the item is as they have described. Subject to the requirements of the registration process being fulfilled, confirmation of the registration of the ivory item will be issued, which will permit the owner to engage in dealing with that specific item. Should it transpire, as a result of either a check of the system by the Secretary of State or compliance and enforcement activity by the regulator or police, that the information does not match the item in question, the owner may be liable to prosecution.

I thank the hon. Member for Workington for tabling new clause 4. I think we all agree that we need to make the process as transparent and open as possible. As we discussed in relation to new clause 1, the Government intend to publish the number of exemption certificates issued. I appreciate the intention behind the new clause, which is that the Government should be able to build up a clear picture of the movement of items exempted under clause 2 as they are bought and sold, and of items registered for exemption under clause 10. I should clarify that an exemption certificate will be associated not with a person, but with the relevant item—we touched on that earlier in the debate. A registration, on the other hand, will be valid for only one commercial dealing resulting in a change of ownership—that is, a sale. Once an item has changed hands, the registration expires.

We need to ensure the right to privacy of owners and sellers, in line with the Data Protection Act 2018. We therefore doubt whether it would be permissible to list a current or previous owner’s name on either exemption certificates or registration certificates, as they might be displayed publicly by the seller, or by someone acting on behalf of the seller. In the case of exemption certificates, they will also be required to be passed on to the purchaser.

We are looking at the possibility of publishing data annually on the types of items exempted under each category—for instance, how many pianos are registered under the musical instruments category. Again, the publication of any further detail will have to be considered in line with the Data Protection Act, in order to ensure the right to privacy of owners and sellers. We talked about some of these tensions in the earlier debate.

In addition, law enforcement agencies and the regulatory authority will have access to the database for registration, so they will be aware if previous applications have been made in respect of an exemption certificate under clause 3 or a registration under clause 10.

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:53 p.m.

In amendment 7 we are looking at an item that has been exempted under clause 7 or clause 8. The item would then only satisfy the relevant exemption conditions,

“if the volume of ivory in the item relative to the total volume of the material of which the item is made has been calculated in accordance with a method provided in guidance by the Secretary of State.”

The amendment requires anyone registering a

“pre-1947 item with less than 10% ivory…or a pre-1975 musical instrument with less than 20%”,

to calculate the ivory to a set, prescribed methodology.

We looked at tabling this amendment following the oral evidence we took on Tuesday from the Chairman of the British Art Market Federation. I asked a question about volume and measurement and how that would work, and his concern was that there could be discrepancies in the way that volume was measured. There was a clear appreciation of the fact that measuring by volume is the right way to move forward; it is much more practical than measuring by weight. If we are going to measure by volume, it would be helpful to have a clear and consistent method of calculation so that nobody accidentally falls into criminality because they use a system of measurement that is not recognised by the Secretary of State. We just seek to provide clarity to the music and art world, and to museums, that, “This is the prescribed method, and we expect you to use this system if you are to get your certification.”

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

I thank the hon. Lady for the amendment, but I believe that it would add an unnecessary and disproportionate requirement to the registration process. The clause establishes the compliance regime that must be followed by the owner of an ivory item who wishes to deal in that item under any one of the exemptions. The registration process already requires a description of the item and a photograph to confirm the distinguishing features. From responses to the consultation, we understand that the majority of commonly played and traded musical instruments and accessories, such as pianos and violin bows, are less than 20% ivory. We also believe from the evidence we have received that it is reasonably easy to assess with the naked eye whether an item is 10% or less ivory by volume. Indeed, we believe that it is easier to assess against a 10% threshold than, for instance, a 30% threshold.

Anyone who registers an ivory item will have confirmed to the best of their knowledge that the item in question meets the relevant category of exemption, and will have submitted information or evidence about it—photographs, for example. Spot checks will be carried out on registered items by enforcement and compliance officers to confirm that they are exempt from our ban. If an item is being used commercially, regulators or the police may check to confirm that it is registered and compliant, and may take appropriate action if necessary. Given that explanation, I ask the hon. Lady to withdraw her amendment.

Alex Sobel Portrait Alex Sobel - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:58 p.m.

In the US, President Obama introduced a ruling similar to the one we seek to make. The United States Grammy organisation, which has a role similar to that of the British Phonographic Industry in the UK, has published useful guidelines. The US Fish and Wildlife Service supports musicians with looking at the ivory content of their instruments, because there is a similar 10% de minimis rule in the US. The guidelines mention bagpipes, which I am sure my hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon is interested in, and keyboards. There is also a 200-gram limit. Bagpipes, keyboards and pianos are the sorts of items for which there is difficulty working out whether they meet the criteria. Will the Minister look at that good practice in the US?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 2:59 p.m.

I thank the hon. Gentleman. He is clearly seeking to find ways to assist with getting judgments right in what can be quite difficult circumstances. I think it is fair to say that, from the evidence we heard and certainly from the submissions to the consultation, the enforcement agencies believe that this is a proportionate approach, and that it would be much more difficult if gram weight, for example, were used. The volume basis is a much better way to move things forward.

It is difficult to specify a method that fits all items well. The hon. Gentleman is obviously more of an expert on the US system than I am—I cannot even pronounce the name of the agency he referred to. It was refreshing and encouraging to hear in evidence that the 20% threshold will work for the vast majority of musical instruments, and that the enforcement agencies feel comfortable that that is a way to take the process forward—notwithstanding the unique issues with Northumbrian pipes, which we will talk about separately.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist - Hansard

I thank the Minister for pre-empting my comment. Northumbrian pipes are very distinct from bagpipes—they are a very specific regional variation. The question of estimating the volume of ivory is important and the amendment seeks to address how that can be calculated.

Break in Debate

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 3:03 p.m.

New clause 4 would establish a record of any item’s provenance. Items to be exempted are, as we know, the most rare and most important of their kind. When such important items are sold, whether privately, individually or through an auction house for museums or galleries, their provenance would tend to move with them so that the purchaser has confidence that the item is genuine and knows who bought it before and where it has been stored or exhibited.

The idea is for the Secretary of State to make arrangements so that persons applying for an exemption certificate under clause 3 or registering an item under clause 10 could associate the item to which the application or registration relates with previous registrations or exemption certificates. Where an exemption certificate has previously been issued in respect of an item or an item has been previously registered and the Secretary of State is satisfied that that is the case, the exemption certificate would also record previous exemption certificates issued and registrations made in respect of that item. In particular, it would include relevant dates so that any certification or registration follows the item. The Minister has made it clear that registration is for the item, not the individual, so it makes sense for the history to move with the item as it goes through any future registrations or exemptions.

On Second Reading, the Secretary of State stressed the importance of ensuring that an item’s provenance can be guaranteed, and that is what the new clause tries to achieve. It would provide security for future owners, who would have full details of an item’s history in this area, as is normal for many items sold or within the art world. It would also helpfully flag up any replacement certification. It may also be helpful in trying to counteract any fraudulent behaviour regarding multiple replacement certificates. If those previous certifications followed the item, it would be very clear if there was a particular item for which a number of replacement certificates were being requested. I ask the Minister to consider the value the new clause could bring to future owners of the items we are talking about.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 3:05 p.m.

There are a few items. We are going in a slightly different order, but we are going with it, in the spirit of the Bill. We are getting through it and I appreciate the co-operation.

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 3:05 p.m.

We have to be nimble.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 3:07 p.m.

We are. We are fleet of foot, that is for sure. Some of the questions are quite interesting.

As we are talking about lots of different issues at this point, I want to go back to the comments from the hon. Member for Leeds North West, to bring it together. The musicians sector has said that it is broadly happy with the 20% exemption. Particularly for pianos, the vast majority are definitely going to fall within that exemption, so that will be fine. The US has a different arrangement, but our enforcement bodies were very clear that they did not want a weight measure. It just made it more difficult. Just so we are all clear, the US body is called the US Fish and Wildlife Service—I thank my officials for that.

A very good point was raised about resources. Obviously, public finances are always under scrutiny and we need to make sure that they are being best used. The National Wildlife Crime Unit is jointly funded by the Home Office and DEFRA and will be funded up to 2020, and there are ongoing conversations about that. Future funding decisions about such bodies will be for the Home Office, and the Home Secretary has said he is working on those matters. We should also not forget that we have the regulator involved.

Alex Sobel Portrait Alex Sobel - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 3:07 p.m.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement is similar to our National Wildlife Crime Unit. I discovered that it has eight regional offices and a national office, and 383 staff to undertake the same work as our 12 staff in the National Wildlife Crime Unit. Obviously the US is a much bigger country with a population of 300 million, but the resources are way in excess of those available to us to do this role. We should look at the stark difference between us and the US.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 3:08 p.m.

We will seek to learn lessons from them. We are getting a regulator and a new system in place here. It was very clear that the witness who we had in front of us from the National Wildlife Crime Unit was a very committed individual. We need to figure out how we can best move this forward. In the spirit of this free-flowing Committee, let us get on with it. We will learn as we go a bit here. I am sure there will be further challenges and further learning as we move things further forward.

On new clause 4, as I said in my speech, we do not believe that there is any need for further information on provenance regarding the registration process, as clause 10(1)(b) requires a description of the item and its distinguishing features, which will include details on its provenance and age. That is available in the registration process.

Dr Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Lisa Cameron (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow) (SNP) - Hansard

It is extremely important, given the evidence that we heard from the National Wildlife Crime Unit, that resourcing follows the Bill. I would like reassurances from the Minister in that regard. We heard clear evidence that its current shelf life, so to speak, is only to 2020—it is only resourced up until 2020. It is extremely important for long-term planning that that is extended. That is quite timeous, actually, because it is not only about long-term planning, but also holding on to staff with great expertise in the field. The last thing that any of us working together on the Bill would want is not to be able to enforce its provisions.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 3:09 p.m.

The hon. Lady makes an important point. Obviously, the resources will be important. We know that they are in place until 2020. We also know that we are making an important statement with this Bill in tackling the trade in ivory. We need to make sure that the resources and the systems are in place. We have had questions today about how we can improve and enhance the system, so there is a lot of work that we need to do. I am not trying to suggest that resources are not important. I simply think that they are one part of a package that we are moving forward on.

If I can ask Ms Hayman to be quite nimble, I will take her back to amendment 7. Does she want to press it to a vote or is she seeking to withdraw it?

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 3:10 p.m.

I will just think about that.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 3:11 p.m.

While the hon. Lady thinks about it, perhaps I can explain that although our approach will require resources, it will also require online tools so that we can have a proper registration and certification process in place. I do not know whether that has given the hon. Lady enough time to revisit the amendment.

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 3:12 p.m.

Yes, it has—I thank the Minister for his support on that. On the total volume, as long as the guidance that is provided to support the Bill once it has become law is clear about support for individuals who are assessing the volume of their items, and that any accidental criminality, owing to people falling on the wrong side slightly of the volume calculation, is avoided, I will withdraw the amendment. The guidance needs to be clear about the implications and the best way to find help and support. We are talking about musical instruments: people might not have any idea how to calculate this, so there needs to be proper access to people who can. It is important that that information is easily available so that people do not accidentally fall on the wrong side of the law. If the Minister can give me that reassurance, I will be happy to withdraw the amendment.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 3:12 p.m.

Yes, I can reassure the hon. Lady that proper guidance will be available. The enforcement agencies that we spoke to during the evidence sessions were committed to the volume-based approaches, and they seem able to move on. They did not query it when we met, so I can give her those assurances.

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 3:12 p.m.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 10 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 11

Further provision about registration

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

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 3:14 p.m.

The clause is largely technical; it provides further information on the registration process and ensures that the Secretary of State has the necessary levers to ensure that the process works effectively and is not open to abuse or misuse. Subsection (1) ensures that the registration of an item would cease to be valid as soon as its owner changes. Unlike the exemption certificate issued for items under the rarest and most important category, registration allows the current owner either to sell their item or to engage in other forms of dealing that do not result in change of ownership, such as hiring the item. The registration is therefore associated with the individual and is valid for a single change of ownership. It is different from certification.

The owner must register an item in order to carry out dealings but does not need to register an item each time a commercial dealing is undertaken, as long as the owner does not change. For example, if the owner wishes to hire the item multiple times, they complete a single registration for the item to be subject to hire. If the owner changes, however, the registration becomes invalid and the item must be registered by the new owner before they can carry out any dealing. This applies to individuals and organisations.

Subsection (2) sets out that once the owner registers an item under clause 10, they have a responsibility to ensure that the information recorded in the registration process remains complete and accurate. As such, if the owner becomes aware that information included in the application is inaccurate or incomplete, or if any information becomes invalid or changes, they must notify the Secretary of State and provide the required information to address the issue. That could be, for example, because the item is damaged or otherwise altered at some time after registration but before dealing, or if the owner, having completed the registration process, subsequently becomes aware of some fact that might invalidate the registration. If an owner were found to be in possession of such information and had not informed the Secretary of State, they could be found to be in breach of the provision.

Subsection (3) allows the Secretary of State to cancel exemption registration, meaning that dealing in the item concerned would be prohibited. This is where the Secretary of State believes that the registered item does not meet the exemption conditions declared by the owner, considers the registration to be void because the owner of the item has changed since registration, or is of the view that the owner has failed to notify them in order to address any incomplete or inaccurate information relevant to the registration. The Secretary of State may become aware of any of those reasons as a result of compliance and enforcement activity undertaken by the Secretary of State, the regulator or the police. Such activity could include spot checks of the registration database or checks on goods subject to commercial dealing—for example, sale in shops, auction houses or online sales websites.

Break in Debate

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 3:17 p.m.

I thank the Minister and congratulate him on getting through that. I find this clause complex. I worry that existing and future owners might get confused about what is expected of them and when it is expected. Again, clear guidance will be incredibly important. The explanatory notes state:

“If a new owner wishes to carry out dealings in that ivory item, they must make a fresh registration”—

but a fresh registration from what? Is that fresh from the exemption certificate or an existing registration? I find that slightly confusing.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 3:18 p.m.

In the interests of clarification, it is important to note that certificates are required for the rarest and most important items. The certificate is in a way a passport that goes along with the items, because they are particularly rare, important and often valuable. The certificate acts a bit like a passport, moving on with the item.

The other categories are covered by the registration process. Notwithstanding the fact that I have learned through this process that some musicians have valuable items, often such items are not that valuable. In this approach, therefore, we have a registration process that is more simple and straightforward, with lower cost—this is about cost recovery from applying through an online system. Applying for a certificate will be a more costly approach, because of what we talked about this morning—where the Secretary of State is required to get advice from another body. The idea is that certificates are for the rare and most important items, and a more simple, low-cost registration approach is for all the other exemptions that we have discussed so far. I hope that clarifies matters.

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 3:19 p.m.

Yes, it does. I am thinking about the comparison with car registration that my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol East used earlier. The language is complex, but it would be good if it were absolutely crystal clear where the responsibility lies, and when in respect of registering items. If that is not clear in the Bill, or if I have missed it, how can we make it obvious to any purchaser or seller so that people do not accidently fall foul of the law?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 3:21 p.m.

I agree that the provision can sound complicated. I have tried to explain as best I can how it will move forward. The key thing is that registration is the lighter touch when compared with certification. People who have an item and want to ensure that everything is all right can use the registration system online, and there are telephone and postal arrangements for those who are not tech-savvy.

We need to ensure that we have a robust system and should remember that we are trying to stop the use of ivory. That is the balance we are trying to strike; we want something that is both robust and proportionate. Registration for those other categories is more proportionate but will enable us to ensure that the measures are properly complied with.

Sue Hayman Hansard
14 Jun 2018, 3:22 p.m.

I thank the Minister for his response. I support the idea that the Bill needs to be robust—if it is not, we will not achieve the desired ends. Registration will affect many more people than the exemption certificates, so it is important that when the Bill becomes law there is an absolutely clear understanding of what is expected of people and the deadlines.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard

I thank the hon. Lady for those further points. The responsibility will be very much with the owner—we are putting the onus on the owner—which is why we need to ensure that the system is clear. We will be working hard to ensure that it is an easy-to-use and clear system. We now have several months in which to get the provisions in place. We need to get moving to Royal Assent, but then there will be a six-month period when we can get ready for when it is put into practice.

We are moving at pace and want more pace, but at the same time we need to ensure that the systems are right. We are working behind the scenes with officials and various other bodies to ensure that there is clear guidance and that the systems, once established—we are still developing them—are fit for purpose and easy to use.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 11 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Ordered, That further consideration be now adjourned. —(Mims Davies.)

Adjourned till Tuesday 19 June at twenty-five minutes past Nine o’clock.

Ivory Bill (First sitting) Debate

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

Ivory Bill (First sitting)

(Committee Debate: 1st sitting: House of Commons)
David Rutley Excerpts
Tuesday 12th June 2018

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Public Bill Committees
Read Full debate Bill Main Page
HM Treasury
Luke Pollard Portrait Luke Pollard (Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard
12 Jun 2018, 9:51 a.m.

Q Are you convinced that sufficient resources are in place to ensure that the provisions in the Bill are full implemented? I am thinking particularly of the resources of the UK Government to make sure that British involvement in the trade can be halted.

David Cowdrey: I attended the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime conference at Kew last week, and one of the questions I asked was about the growing issue of cyber-crime. Does the National Wildlife Crime Unit have sufficient resources to tackle the illegal wildlife trade online? Quite clearly that is something it would like additional resource for.

As Will said, these criminals are working in an environment where they can adapt and change very swiftly. The online market provides anonymity, as they can create false identities, so trying to prosecute them becomes much more difficult. Only yesterday we had the introduction of new guidelines on the control of trade in endangered species from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which was fantastic. They include a new crime if someone is advertising an endangered species on annexe A and does not have an article 10 certificate.

Steps are being taken, but we are always playing catch-up with these criminals. We need the resources to be able to prosecute them. That goes not only at the UK level but at international level, with Interpol and within the countries where these crimes are taking place on the ground with poaching.

Will Travers: One of the tools at our disposal is to make sure that the charges for the exemption certificates are sufficiently high. I know that it is meant to be a cost-recovery process, but they should be sufficiently high to make sure that the very limited number of exemption certificates that are applied for are not applied for in a frivolous way, so people are not applying for lots of exemption certificates, which would defeat the object. We need to come back to the core principles of what we are trying to do here and ensure that these exemptions are extremely limited. One way of doing that is to say that if you want an exemption certificate, it will cost—I will make up the figure—£1,000. I think people will think twice when they have to go through that process and fork out £1,000 but might not get the certificate at the end of the day. That is another mechanism that we should look at.

David Rutley Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (David Rutley) - Hansard
12 Jun 2018, 9:54 a.m.

Q Thank you for your contributions over many years, particularly through the consultations, which are much appreciated. Do you feel that you have had a chance to have your voices heard through the consultation process? I hope you have, but it would be interesting to hear that from you.

There has been some concern that the ban might lead to displacement to other countries, for example in the far east. You have addressed that to some extent in your comments. Can you reconfirm for the Committee that you believe that the ban will help and that the October conference could be an opportunity to start tackling concerns about displacement?

Cath Lawson: Yes, very much. We feel that we have had the opportunity to input into this process, and we are grateful for that—the consultation process has been very inclusive. If the Bill can be passed in time for the October conference, we can show that we have one of the world’s strongest pieces of legislation on ivory. We feel that it would put the UK in a strong position to work with other countries, particularly those neighbouring China: Laos, Thailand, Bhutan. There is certainly a risk of displacement from China to those sorts of countries, and this would help them move forward with their ivory legislation as well.

Will Travers: I totally agree. With regard to the voice, it was one of the biggest responses in the public consultation, showing the depth of public concern. It was generated not just by advocacy organisations such as those represented here and others; the public in general wanted to have their say. With regard to displacement, the fact that the Foreign Secretary is so invested in the issue—as was his predecessor—bodes well, because the FCO has a really important role to play in making sure that our position on this issue is well understood in the countries that were just mentioned. Although the Bill is about the domestic ivory trade, it is important that it does not become a domestic issue; it is an influencer far and wide, particularly in those countries that have yet to make their position as clear as they could.

David Cowdrey: I agree. We have been listened to and consulted well. The consultation run by the Ivory Bill team at DEFRA should be congratulated on doing a superb job. They have consulted far and wide, with a range of organisations, and constructed a carefully crafted Bill.

There is always a risk of displacement to other countries. The investment that is being made and the training that the UK can provide—not only through our armed forces but through our police services—is excellent. The Metropolitan police in the UK have developed an ivory fingerprinting kit, which is now being rolled out to over 18 countries globally. The British high commission in Mozambique has invited me back to do some training with rangers and ANAC, which is the national parks authority. That is a piece of frontline equipment that can help catch ivory poachers on the ground, and it will also be appearing at the IWT conference in October. Team GB have a huge amount to contribute to law enforcement on the ground, and can provide expertise, training and resources where displacement is happening. Those are good strategic opportunities for tackling some of these real hotspots around the world.

Will an ivory ban help? Yes it will. This is a really good piece of legislation that will provide that global leadership and that position. The opportunities you have within the European Union to get a strong ivory ban in Europe and use this as a template are critical. Every available opportunity should be used to push this across Europe via colleagues, so that we can roll out this ivory ban and get a global ban. This is what we really need in order to start tackling the trade. You have a great opportunity and I wish you well.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist (Blaydon) (Lab) - Hansard
12 Jun 2018, 9:55 a.m.

Q You talked about cyber-dealing and cyber-trading, and I want to come back to that. As I understand it, there is a significant amount of trade over the internet. How can we enforce this effectively? Do you think that there should be additional measures, or do you think the Bill covers that sufficiently?

David Cowdrey: Additional measures have just been introduced in the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations. Anybody offering an annexe A specimen will need to display their article 10 certificate. That is a new requirement that we welcome. Enforcement is an issue. There has just been a major conference with Interpol in Lyon with law enforcement agencies from across Europe and the world, which was co-partnered with IFAW. It was looking at how we can tackle cyber-crime and where it is moving—again, it is the impact of Facebook closed groups, which are very difficult to penetrate, and also the dark web. An awful lot of further work and investigation is needed by global enforcement agencies, but also by our own enforcement agencies. We have to remember that this is a criminal activity, undertaken by organised criminal gangs using the same routes they use for other commodities, such as guns, people and drugs. It is the fourth largest illegal activity in the world. It is undermining communities and Governments and therefore needs to be a priority. Tackling this in any way we can, and especially online, is going to be critical.

As Will said earlier, these are criminal groups that will adapt and change at the flick of a switch. When one market closes, another one will open. They will use technology to the fore. Now, with our tenBoma scheme in Kenya, we are creating a network to defeat a network, which is critical. We are using the same intelligence software used to tackle poachers before they shoot the elephant, so we can anticipate where they are going to be and make sure the resources from the enforcement agencies are deployed. Enforcement online and on the ground, and using technology, is vital if we are to defeat the poachers.

Cath Lawson: We certainly agree that the online trade is very much a concern, but we feel that the Bill as it stands, and the exemption for what is specified—with some tweaks that I hope we will have an opportunity to talk about later—is pragmatic and sufficient to not pose a significant risk.

Break in Debate

Trudy Harrison Portrait Trudy Harrison - Hansard
12 Jun 2018, 10:52 a.m.

Q As the Bill stands, do you feel that it will contribute significantly towards that?

Charlie Mayhew: We have concerns about whether it will have the teeth to stop the online markets. That possibly needs to be looked at.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
12 Jun 2018, 10:53 a.m.

Q We asked a question earlier to check that witnesses felt that they have been involved in the consultation and engaged in the process. The other witnesses felt that they have been, but it is very important to hear that you have as well. I hope that is the case. We want to thank you for all your contributions to the process. We want to ensure that your voice has been heard, or that you at least feel that it has.

The other point I raised earlier, which has not been so fully examined with this panel, was displacement, and what more you think we could do to stop it as the focus on ivory moves to the far east—whether the October conference will help, or whether anything else could be done.

Charlie Mayhew: First, I echo the comments of the previous representative of the NGOs. I think that DEFRA and the British Government have been extremely good at consulting with us all. We certainly feel that we have been very involved—as involved as we could be expected to be. That has been fantastic.

The 2014 conference saw the launch of the British Government’s illegal wildlife trade challenge fund. Tusk has been a beneficiary and has managed two very major grants under that programme that have had a significant impact on the ground. I urge the Government to continue to support that funding—if possible, to expand that funding. Only yesterday I had a report of a poaching syndicate that had been arrested as a result of some of the training that we had implemented under that challenge fund grant. We have also been working with the Ministry of Defence on the deployment of soldiers out in Malawi, which has been hugely successful and very welcomed by that Government.

The British Government have a significant role to play in using our expertise in various areas to help those countries—not only in Africa but, as was said earlier, in helping to clamp down on the trade in the far east. We should continue to provide as much support and funding as we can to eradicate this illegal trade, not least because it is known that the trade has been exploited not only by criminal syndicates but by armed militias, rebels and terrorists. This goes much further than just being a criminal activity; it really impacts on the security of many of these countries.

Alexander Rhodes: I would like to add my thanks to the Government, and to DEFRA staff in particular. The consultation has been run extremely carefully and we certainly feel that we have been well consulted. It seems that everybody has had an opportunity to put things in, as I think the public response demonstrates. The electronic means by which people could engage were heavily used by the public, in order to be involved in the consultation, so thank you very much for that. I endorse what Charlie said.

Dr Lisa Cameron Portrait Dr Cameron - Hansard
12 Jun 2018, 10:57 a.m.

Q Do you have any concerns about the proposals on issuing replacement certificates? Will they allow duplicates to be circulated?

Alexander Rhodes: Yes, I think so. There are a couple of parts of how the Bill works internally and we have put in submissions on that in writing.

Ivory Bill (Second sitting) Debate

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

Ivory Bill (Second sitting)

(Committee Debate: 2nd sitting: House of Commons)
David Rutley Excerpts
Tuesday 12th June 2018

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Public Bill Committees
Read Full debate Bill Main Page
HM Treasury
Sue Hayman Hansard

Thank you, I am just chucking out thoughts.

David Rutley Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (David Rutley) - Hansard
12 Jun 2018, 2:10 p.m.

Q I join members of the Committee in thanking you and your teams for the work you are doing and also for the way in which you are leveraging the rest of the Border Force or the wider police force available to tackle this crime—we are very grateful.

To go back to the regulator for a minute though, do you both agree that having the regulator in place will help you with your work, because it will help to raise awareness of the new regime that will come into place, and because it will work with the antiques sector and musicians to help to improve compliance and assess compliance in future? Would that help you with your work?

Grant Miller: It would certainly help us. We have found the antiques trade to be very receptive. We have delivered training sessions to it on the rules and regulations, and generally, the larger auction houses have been keen to work with us and to drive the illegal trade out of their supply chain. An increased resource—another body—actually going round and delivering a prevention message, and helping and enabling an understanding of the controls, will assist us, but an awful lot of the illegal trade at the moment sits outwith the regular auction houses. It is private individuals who are sourcing ivory from car boots, house clearances and so on, and that illegal trade will continue. They have no intention of complying with any rules or regulations, so that market will continue for us to police.

Chief Inspector Hubble: From an enforcement perspective, we echo those thoughts about working with auction houses. We are regularly contacted by people within the industry for advice—for them to satisfy themselves that they are complying. Although it is good to raise awareness of an issue, ultimately that may result in increased reporting of it. Once the Bill comes into force, 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 that we will have coming in to us.

If there are no further questions from Members, I thank the witnesses for their evidence and we will move on to the next panel.

Examination of Witnesses

Anthony Browne, Mark Dodgson, Emma Rutherford, Paul McManus and David Webster gave evidence.

Break in Debate

Order. Although this sitting is being televised, it is not particularly regular for Hansard to have to describe artefacts. Given that this is perhaps a unique circumstance, could you briefly describe it for the record?

Mark Dodgson: Yes, I am showing an image of a silver teapot with an ivory handle. Sorry, Chairman. The point is to make it clear that this is the type of object that, set at 10%, would fall above the de minimis. It would be fairly straightforward to identify that as being more than 10%. My members are very concerned that the only other exemption that the teapot could attempt to meet would be the clause 2 exemption. The query among our membership is whether objects of that nature would actually meet the clause 2 requirements.

On the point about estimating the proportion of ivory, 10% for some items is all right. For inlaid objects it falls right in the middle of a series of smaller objects with ivory inlay, such as Indian Vizagapatam boxes and so on. It would be quite difficult for dealers to work out which side of the 10% they are on.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
12 Jun 2018, 2:54 p.m.

Q Thank you for your contributions today and for engaging so fully with the consultation. The EU is currently conducting its own consultation on banning ivory sales, and we expect to hear the results of that soon. Do you agree that it is right for the UK to have pressed ahead with its own approach first? What sense do you have from colleagues you work with in Europe about what they think the outcome of the EU consultation could be?

Anthony Browne: The sense I get, having talked to EU colleagues, is that they are arguing for a much less stringent ban than the Bill adopts. If that happens, there is no doubt that, as far as the decorative arts are concerned, markets in Europe will inevitably be more attractive. That is the inevitable consequence of legislating in this way. With regard to whether the UK’s lead will be followed by the European Union, you probably have a better idea than I do. I think there is no doubt, as the preamble and explanatory notes to the Bill say, that what is proposed is one of the most stringent restrictions anywhere in the world.

Mark Dodgson: From my experience, I too think that continental people in the trade would resist the level of restrictions suggested in the Bill. People need to be aware that on the continent, until recently, ivory tusks have been exported. Germany still has ivory workshops. We are already a long way ahead of those countries anyway.

David Webster: I was talking to some musician colleagues at a social dialogue in Brussels yesterday and shared with them the content of the Bill, and they seemed very impressed by it. Yes, we would hope that the UK’s lead would be followed. I spoke at the consultation conference last December on behalf of musical instruments, along with our colleagues from the International Federation of Musicians.

Paul McManus: Similarly, we have communicated with all the equivalent trade bodies around the world about where we are. Everyone in the musical instrument industry has been rather impressed by what the UK is proposing, as being pragmatic, sensible and proportional. We have nothing but praise for what has been done so far.

Emma Rutherford: For portrait miniatures, my colleagues in Europe just hope that they follow the UK’s lead and grant portrait miniatures an exemption.

As there are no further questions, I thank the witnesses for their evidence. We will now move on to the next panel.

Examination of Witnesses

Hartwig Fischer, Dr Antonia Boström and Anthony Misquitta gave evidence.

Break in Debate

Luke Pollard Portrait Luke Pollard - Hansard
12 Jun 2018, 3:30 p.m.

Q Given that we hope that the trade in ivory will come to an end and that there will be less ivory available, might there be a greater desire among museums to have pieces of unworked ivory to demonstrate a historical connection, be it good or bad, with a region, an industry or a time period?

Hartwig Fischer: My hunch is that since 1975 there have been no purchases of unworked ivory, so I do not see any museum—any natural history museum or any museum of this kind—engaging in anything like this. These are historical holdings.

Dr Boström: Further to that, because they are historical holdings—as in the Pitt Rivers Museum or any of the famous university museums with natural and artistic objects—I imagine that there is enough in the existing public collections, across all museums, that, should it be necessary to display or interpret unworked ivory for an educational purpose, we do not have to go anywhere else for unworked ivory.

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
12 Jun 2018, 3:26 p.m.

Q Thank you very much for your contributions today and to the consultation. Thank you in advance for the work you will do to make this come into effect with these very small exemptions. You have given Committee members a lot of assurance today, and you have explained your expertise and your confidence that you can use the criteria to determine the genuinely rare and most important objects. Can you help us understand better what that means, in terms of the likely volumes? On Second Reading, concerns were raised across the House about whether the regulations are tight enough. Can you help us understand what the likely volumes will be for these rare and very important items? By definition, I think we all assume that the quantities will be small, but it will be useful for you to say that, as experts, rather than for us to assume that.

Dr Boström: Are you talking about the volume of acquisitions, or the objects that might come to us?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
12 Jun 2018, 3:26 p.m.

Q You have done a lot of work to explain that museums do not get involved in a huge number of sales, and perhaps get involved in a very small number of purchases. What I was talking about—I should have been clearer—was the rare and most important items that you and institutions like you help to certify. Do you anticipate large volumes or small volumes? What volumes do you think will qualify under the definition of rare and most important?

Hartwig Fischer: I am personally not in a position to answer that question, I am afraid, because I do not have a sufficiently deep and detailed overview of what is happening in the trade. We see from the museum side that a very small quantity of objects qualify to enter the museum. When it comes to museums and what we see generally, even following what is happening in auctions, we are talking about small quantities. We are not talking about thousands of objects. The material that is historically relevant and significant is very limited.

Dr Boström: If one were to talk about taste in ivory carving and collecting, we always associate the working of it more with the 17th and 18th centuries, and the collectors with the end of the 19th century. It is not foremost in collecting practices or trends.

Hartwig Fischer: It remains to be seen what will actually come up for certification. One will have to react to the volume to see how best to deal and cope with it efficiently.

Sue Hayman Hansard
12 Jun 2018, 3:29 p.m.

Q Earlier, you were talking about resources—there is obviously a certain amount of work that comes with this. You are clearly very large institutions, and you have a broad range of specialists and experts within your museums. What might the impact be on smaller museums that do not have such access to specialists? Will there be a cost implication for them?

Dr Boström: I imagine that, in parallel with the export licensing, even if objects were to come to a small museum or be associated with it, it will be devolved back to the major national museums—where many of the experts reside, because of a reduction of curatorial staff in our regional museums—to help them, in the way we do in other cases.

Hartwig Fischer: We have wide-ranging national partnership programmes in place. We work with 150 small and bigger institutions across the country. There is a well-established network of exchange, skill sharing and trust. We are confident that we will find a solution. We are engaged in helping museums that do not have the expertise to cope with these questions.

Ivory Bill

(2nd reading: House of Commons)
(Money resolution: House of Commons)
David Rutley Excerpts
Monday 4th June 2018

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Bill Main Page
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Holly Lynch Portrait Holly Lynch (Halifax) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Jun 2018, 9:38 p.m.

We have had an excellent debate this evening, and I thank Members from across the House for their contributions. To reiterate what my hon. Friend the shadow Secretary of State said in her opening speech, the Labour party welcomes this Bill and we will be supporting it this evening. Of course we will, however, be seeking to play a role in testing and tightening it in Committee, particularly on its exemptions.

We have heard some well researched and articulated speeches and interventions, and I shall mention just a few. My hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon (Liz Twist) and the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon), among others, made an important point about online sales. There must not be an online market for such items, and I would be keen to explore every opportunity to close loopholes for the sale and trade of ivory as this Bill progresses. My hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mary Creagh), the Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, and others made an important point about the funding of the National Wildlife Crime Unit. It is an important part of resourcing the enforcement efforts required to really enact this legislation in the way that we envisage, and I look to the Government to reassure us further on that point and commit to funding the unit beyond 2020.

The right hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr Paterson) made a passionate speech based on his experience in this policy area and rightly paid tribute to the bold action taken by the Chinese Government. He also reflected on the difficult and insatiable relationship between supply and demand that will persist unless we step in and sever it.

The hon. Member for Walsall North (Eddie Hughes) made a characteristically interesting speech that I thoroughly enjoyed. He made a serious point about the economic impact on certain countries of banning the ivory trade and what we might need to consider by way of support as we move through the transition.

It is worth reflecting on the public’s role in the progress that has led to the Bill before us and thanking them for their contributions. I am mindful that the last time the House debated this issue was in a Westminster Hall debate on an e-petition calling on the Government to shut down the domestic ivory trade, which secured more than 100,000 signatures. Further to that, as the Secretary of State mentioned, after the Government opened their consultation on the proposals at the end of last year, a staggering 70,000 people and organisations responded. More than 80% of responses were in favour of measures to ban ivory sales in the UK; that has no doubt assisted in the shaping of the Bill.

I think, based on the contributions we have heard, that we all share a great sadness that the illegal wildlife trade has grown rapidly in recent years. It is absolutely right that we take robust domestic action to tackle it head on, while demonstrating leadership on this issue to the rest of the world. Despite the convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora, to which 183 states are party, and the introduction of an international ivory ban in 1989, we have still witnessed a worrying upward trend in illegal killings since the mid-2000s. As we have heard, recent estimates of African savanna elephant populations indicated a 30% decline in numbers between 2007 and 2014. That is 144,000 fewer elephants.

The examples of decisive action taken by the US and China have already had a positive impact, so we welcome this domestic action, which we hope will help to turn around the situation. One issue that we wish to explore further in Committee is the possibility of displacement and unintended consequences, for which we will have to be ready. There have been suggestions that the Chinese Government’s interventions on ivory may have brought about an increase in trade in neighbouring states in which controls are more relaxed. I was interested to hear the point made by the hon. Member for Mid Derbyshire (Mrs Latham) about mammoth tusks, which proves that workarounds will be found by unscrupulous poachers if there is scope for them to find them.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy), the hon. Members for North Dorset (Simon Hoare), for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman) and for Mid Derbyshire, the right hon. Member for North Shropshire and several others made the point that clause 35 sets out the meaning of ivory as being

“ivory from the tusk or tooth of an elephant.”

Both the Bill and the explanatory notes reflect on the possibility of a clampdown on elephant ivory resulting in an increased threat to other animals—such as hippopotamuses or a variety of marine animals—but neither offers a comprehensive framework for responding to that threat. Sadly, we can envisage that unintended consequence becoming a reality if we are not prepared for it.

Labour has long been the party of animal welfare, from banning foxhunting and fur farms in the UK to the introduction of the landmark Animal Welfare Act 2006, and I am grateful to the hon. Member for Southend West (Sir David Amess) for acknowledging that. In an insightful speech, the Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, the hon. Member for Tiverton and Honiton (Neil Parish), said that nobody could get legislation through quickly like the Secretary of State. That having been said, we welcome the opportunity to congratulate the Secretary of State and his team on finally bringing some legislation to the Chamber. For all his bold announcements, we are reassured that he is finally translating the words and consultations into action and law change, as this is the first piece of primary legislation that we have seen from him since his appointment to the role.

Earlier, the hon. Member for North Thanet (Sir Roger Gale) made the point that if the Government can implement a comprehensive ban on ivory, they could also look into a comprehensive ban on fur, as debated in Westminster Hall today. Further to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol East, they could also look into banning the use of animals in circuses. We look forward to seeing legislation on both those issues in the not-too-distant future. Again, we welcome the legislation before us and look forward to revisiting the detail in Committee.

David Rutley Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (David Rutley) - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Jun 2018, 9:44 p.m.

I wish to thank Members from all parties for their contributions to this really important debate. I am encouraged by the strong consensus in the Chamber that the Bill is essential in the fight against the poaching of elephants for their ivory. I am grateful to Members on both sides of the House for that clear cross-party support. There were some excellent speeches from the hon. Members for Workington (Sue Hayman), for Halifax (Holly Lynch) and for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow (Dr Cameron), who showed such important cross-party consensus on the fact that action must be taken.

Restrictions on commercial activities in ivory and other products from endangered species were first introduced when the United Kingdom became party to the convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora, CITES, in 1975. The EU wildlife trade regulations introduced in 1997 implement CITES in a stricter manner than is required by the convention. The Bill now builds on those existing regulations to underline the fact the United Kingdom does not accept that ivory should be seen ever as a desirable commodity or, even worse, as a status symbol.

The Government have introduced this Bill quickly—only six weeks after we published our consultation response. We recognise the need to act quickly, which has been highlighted by many Members throughout the House—I am very grateful for that. I am hopeful that Members from across the House will work together to ensure the swift passage of the Bill through Parliament in the weeks ahead.

Before I respond to individual points raised by Members, I should like to pay tribute to the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk Coastal (Dr Coffey). Indeed, this Bill bears the hallmarks of her committed campaigning and energy, which make her such a popular figure in the House. Mr Deputy Speaker, I am sure that you and Members from across the House will join me in wishing her a speedy recovery. I will do everything that I can, to the best of my endeavours, to provide cover for her from the substitutes’ bench until she returns safe and well to join us in this place.

We should also recognise, as many Members have, the incredible efforts of the 70,000 individuals and organisations that took the time to respond to the consultation that was launched last October. It is particularly encouraging that some 88% of respondents supported the ban on the sale of ivory. I thank the environmental bodies represented in those responses, and those from the antiques trade, the music sector and others, for their constructive engagement and support. I have been particularly heartened to see the endorsement of our approach from conservation organisations such as the WWF, the Tusk Trust, the Zoological Society of London, the Born Free Foundation and Stop Ivory, among others. It is most welcome and sincerely appreciated.

That engagement and the level of support for our proposals has convinced us that it is right that the Bill sets out a strong ban to protect elephants in the wild from poaching, with only a very limited number of exemptions for ivory items that would not contribute either directly or indirectly to poaching. We believe that approach is both proportionate and, of course, robust, as it should be.

When I saw elephants in the wild during a very memorable visit to Tanzania in 1988, the African elephant population was estimated to be 600,000.

Sir David Amess Portrait Sir David Amess - Hansard
4 Jun 2018, 9:48 p.m.

I have been listening very carefully to what my hon. Friend is saying. When it comes to the Committee stage of the Bill, will he look very carefully at what colleagues on both sides of the House have said and extend the ban to include, for instance, rhino horns?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
4 Jun 2018, 9:48 p.m.

We have already taken very strong action to combat the illegal trade in rhino horn. Other Members have also talked about the need to extend that to other ivory-bearing species—I will come on to that later if I can. Under clause 35, the Secretary of State does have powers to extend that ban if there is sufficient displacement. That is a delegated power and we will obviously take it very seriously. We can debate that more in Committee.

As I was saying, figures for the elephant population have moved from 600,000 when I visited Tanzania to just 415,000. That is a depressing decline of more than 30%. As many Members have said, we need to ensure that future generations will be able to see these splendid and iconic creatures in their natural habitats and not in captivity. We want future generations to be able to benefit from that.

We are taking positive steps that will lead the way in the global fight against elephants heading towards extinction. The Bill achieves that by banning commercial activities in ivory, which we define as buying, selling or hiring ivory; offering to buy, sell or hire ivory; and keeping ivory for sale. In so doing, we will put a responsibility on both the buyer and the seller, and capture the actions taken by the middlemen who facilitate or support the trade—for example, those advertising ivory illegally. Many hon. Members have mentioned their concerns about online trade, which the Bill seeks to tackle absolutely. However, it should be noted that the ban will not prohibit owning, inheriting, donating or bequeathing ivory that is currently permitted. That will extend to Northumbrian pipes, which my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mrs Trevelyan) will be pleased to hear.

The Bill sets out five limited and targeted exemptions to the ban, including a de minimis exemption for items with low ivory content; musical instruments; portrait miniatures; sales to and between accredited museums; and items assessed as being the rarest and most important examples of their type. Those strictly defined exemptions were informed by the consultation and by fully examining global best practice. They have been carefully designed to cover items that, when sold, do not directly or indirectly fuel the poaching of elephants. A certification process is applied to the exemption for the rarest and most important items, while a self-registration process applies to the other four categories.

Finally, the Bill provides for the offences, sanctions and powers necessary for the enforcement of the ban. A mixed regime of criminal and civil sanctions has been applied, recognising that offences are likely to range in severity. Enforcement agencies are empowered by the Bill to ensure that those acting in breach of the ban will face the appropriate punishment. We remain committed to setting a high bar internationally on sanctions for illegal wildlife trade activities. As such, the maximum criminal sanction of five years’ imprisonment or an unlimited fine will be applied. That is in line with existing sanctions under the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997. Those penalties rightly reflect the serious nature of the ban. The powers to enforce the ban will be conferred upon the regulatory body, the police and customs officials. Those powers are derived from the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

Let me move on to some of the issues that hon. Members have raised in this consensual and important debate. It is great to have the support that we have seen from across the House, including from my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Derbyshire (Mrs Latham) and the Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton and Honiton (Neil Parish). We heard from Northern Ireland with the contribution of the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon), and from my hon. Friends the Members for Southend West (Sir David Amess), for Newbury (Richard Benyon) and for Walsall North (Eddie Hughes), with characteristic flair and commitment.

My right hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire (Mr Paterson) raised a number of important points. I praise his commitment to this vital work and the contribution he made when he was Secretary of State. He raised concerns about the rarest and most important items. I reassure him that clause 3 is very much a framework, not a comprehensive list; further information will be given in guidance. He and the hon. Member for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow also suggested an annual register of the rarest and most important exempted items. We will happily look at how that data can be published, including by using the new IT system that will be developed to facilitate this task.

Members were concerned about online sales. The Bill captures and fully addresses that issue. As I said before, it will be an offence to facilitate a sale. Some Members mentioned how important it is to look at other ivory-bearing species. They included my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond Park (Zac Goldsmith), who has made huge contributions on this subject, and my hon. Friends the Members for North East Hampshire (Mr Jayawardena), for North Dorset (Simon Hoare) and for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman)—my hon. Friend came up at the rear of the debate, but made an important contribution. Clause 35 will provide that opportunity. I would also like to reassure some colleagues, who have wondered whether the Bill covers Asian elephants, that it categorically covers both African and Asian elephants.

The hon. Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann) raised what he called the Elgin question. I can tell my hon. Friend—he knows why I call him that—that it should be called the Bassetlaw question, without a doubt. I will make sure that I get back to him in writing to address the question of whether ivory should be returned to a museum in a country of origin.

The hon. Member for Workington asked about funding for enforcement. The Office of Product Safety and Standards has now been confirmed as the regulator. It will have a vital role in working with the police and customs officials to tackle this very significant crime. We can talk more about that role in Committee, as I hope she agrees. The work carried out by the National Wildlife Crime Unit is also absolutely critical. She asked about funding for that work. I assure her that we are looking at that vital issue ahead of the IWT conference, and I am sure that the Secretary of State will be working on it with the Home Secretary.

Mr Ranil Jayawardena Portrait Mr Jayawardena - Hansard
4 Jun 2018, 9:55 p.m.

I should declare an interest in relation to a visit I made to Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, much conservation work is done with Asian elephants. Currently, however, Sri Lanka is not eligible for aid funding. In line with what my hon. Friends the Members for Cheltenham (Alex Chalk) and for Richmond Park (Zac Goldsmith), among others, have said, will the Minister agree to look at how more aid funding could be allocated to supporting conservation efforts?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
4 Jun 2018, 9:56 p.m.

That is an important point. I am sure that the Secretary of State has been looking at it over recent months, and I will be happy to raise it as well and to meet my hon. Friend to discuss it more fully.

Mr Owen Paterson Portrait Mr Paterson - Hansard
4 Jun 2018, 9:56 p.m.

The Minister touched on the conference in October. As there is tremendous, overwhelming and, I think, unanimous support for the Bill, how quickly does he think he and his colleagues can get it through the Commons, through the other place, and on to the statute book?

David Rutley Portrait David Rutley - Hansard
4 Jun 2018, 9:56 p.m.

That is a vital question. I have looked at my boss, the Secretary of State, and his look said it all: it will be at pace. I am sure that there will be the same commitment when we work with Members from across the House. This activity needs to be stopped, and it needs to be stopped very speedily. We will be playing our part in Parliament to make sure that that happens.

The hon. Member for Workington asked what actions are being taken to lobby other countries. Clearly, the IWT conference will be a chance to take that work forward. The Secretary of State and the Foreign Secretary are working very hard to make sure that this work is taken forward with other states around the world.

My hon. Friend the Member for Southend West confirmed his passion for protecting elephants, but it is also important to note that he confirmed that he is a national treasure himself—one that should definitely be preserved.

It has been a real honour to have been able to participate in this debate and to help to take forward this vital legislation on behalf of the Government, but also on behalf of my hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk Coastal. We do wish her a very speedy return to this House.

We want these proposals to be passed through the House speedily, but also to be implemented speedily to tackle the heinous crime of poaching. I am grateful to Members on both sides of the House for the support that they have shown for this Bill. I urge them to continue to demonstrate their support as the Bill makes progress through Parliament—hopefully very speedy progress, because that is what it definitely deserves. I know that through the media others will be watching what we are doing in this House. With the illegal wildlife trade conference in October, global leaders will be arriving in London. They will be able to look at what we are doing, and we will be able to demonstrate to others that we mean what we say on ending the trade in ivory. We hope that other nations will follow our lead by helping to close down their own domestic markets, and that this Bill will inspire them to do so. I commend the Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Ivory Bill (Programme)

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 83A(7)),

That the following provisions shall apply to the Ivory Bill:

Committal

(1) The Bill shall be committed to a Public Bill Committee.

Proceedings in Public Bill Committee

(2) Proceedings in the Public Bill Committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion on Thursday 21 June 2018.

(3) The Public Bill Committee shall have leave to sit twice on the first day on which it meets.

Consideration and up to and including Third Reading

(4) Proceedings on Consideration and any proceedings in legislative grand committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour before the moment of interruption on the day on which those proceedings are commenced.

(5) Proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the moment of interruption on that day.

(6) Standing Order No. 83B (Programming committees) shall not apply to proceedings on Consideration and up to and including Third Reading.

Other proceedings

(7) Any other proceedings on the Bill may be programmed.—(Rebecca Harris.)

Question agreed to.

Ivory Bill (Money)

Queen’s recommendation signified.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 52(1)(a)),

That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Ivory Bill, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any expenditure incurred by the Secretary of State under or by virtue of the Act.—(Rebecca Harris.)

Question agreed to.