On Monday 6th February a Westminster Hall debate was held to discuss the domestic ivory trade. Ahead of the debate a number of constituents got in touch to ask me to attend. Unfortunately I was not able to be there due to other parliamentary commitments but I support a total ban on the trade.
The UK already has a ban on the trade in raw tusks, or ‘unworked’ ivory, of any age. In September 2016 the Government announced plans for a ban on sales of modern day ivory in the UK which would cover the sale of items containing ivory dated between 1947 and the present day.
Like many of my constituents I am concerned that the Government’s proposals are too limited because they do not include older ivory products. The charity Action for Elephants UK (among others) is concerned that illegal ivory can be falsely claimed to be old ivory as only carbon dating can provide the necessary identification.
The Government says it will consult on plans for this partial ban early this year. China, which has the biggest ivory market in the world, has already announced a ban on all ivory trade and processing activities by the end of 2017. 85% of people in the UK think buying and selling ivory should be banned. The British public are calling for a total ban, not a partial ban, and I believe the Government should listen.
As requested by many of the people who have been in touch, I have written to Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to share my constituents’ concerns.
I have now received the below response from Dr Therese Coffey MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.