Call on ministers to ensure ban on hunting trophies is maintained

by MMC
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  • By Nick Eardley
  • Political correspondent

Image source, Getty Images

The Government is facing calls to commit to new legislation to fulfill a manifesto pledge to ban the import of hunting trophies into Britain.

It seems almost certain that a member’s bill to implement the ban will be exhausted before the end of the parliamentary session.

Ministers said they remained supportive of a ban.

But they now face calls to promise to use government time to change the law next year.

Every year, British hunters travel abroad, often to southern Africa, and pay thousands of pounds to legally shoot animals, such as lions and elephants.

Under current rules, with the appropriate documentation, they can then bring trophies, such as stuffed heads or horns, back to the UK.

Banning imports of endangered animal trophies was a pledge in the 2019 Conservative manifesto.

The measures were expected in government legislation, but ministers instead backed a private member’s bill from Conservative MP Henry Smith.

The legislation would prevent hunters from bringing in body parts from thousands of species, including lions, rhinos, elephants and polar bears, that have been killed abroad.

It passed the Commons without difficulty, but is currently facing opposition in the Lords, meaning it is unlikely to be passed before the end of the parliamentary session on November 7. This means that the law will return to square one.

Some peers have expressed concerns about the impact the legislation could have on tourism in some African countries.

The bill must be approved by both the House of Commons and the Lords to become law.

Government insiders now admit the bill risks running out of time.

But they have not yet committed to resurrecting it in the king’s speech, which sets out the legislation the government intends to implement in the next parliamentary session.

Mr Smith said: “A few peers held it hostage. A small handful of unelected people effectively vetoed it.”

He added: “I will ask the government to introduce it into the king’s speech.”

Claire Bass, of animal welfare group Humane Society International/UK, said: “By sabotaging this bill, a tiny minority of Conservative peers have defied the government, their party, the House of Commons and public opinion.

“They used underhanded tactics to destroy it and extraordinarily brazenly defended the colonial relic of trophy hunting.”

She added that it would be “an exceptionally weak government to simply accept this betrayal and abandon its manifesto commitment” and called for the bill to be brought back as a government bill.

Image source, Getty Images

Labor shadow environment secretary Steve Reed said: “We must stop selfish trophy hunters who want to shoot and then display the body parts of endangered animals for their own perverse gratification.

“The Conservative government must stop siding with these killers.

“If they refuse to act, they will be complicit in the massacre by breaking another pre-election promise. The next Labor government will do the right thing and ban the sickening importation of these trophies.”

South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania and Zambia have all expressed concerns through their high commissioners, arguing that the proposed law would “undermine the revenue models that provide incentives for local communities in our countries to maintain wildlife habitats and to protect animals from poaching.

Other critics of the proposed ban have argued that profits from hunting are used to fund conservation projects in African countries and can ultimately help protect endangered species.

However, animal welfare charities have rejected the idea, saying virtually none of the revenue from trophy hunting ever reaches local communities.

Biodiversity Minister Trudy Harrison said: “I am disappointed that despite overwhelming support from MPs and the public, the Hunting Trophies Bill has failed to progress through the House of Lords. .

“We will continue to work to deliver on this important commitment made.”

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