Thank you for contacting me about the implementation of the Ivory Act and the campaign by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
I support the Ivory Act but, as you know, not a single power in the Act has been used to date and I do not believe the Government’s promises have matched its rhetoric. It is clear that action is needed to save animals from cruelty and extinction and that, three years on from the Ivory Act being passed in 2018 with cross-party support, it is time to bring in the ban on the ivory trade and to implement the legislation. In my view, we must be careful about using animal welfare as a reason to legislate but then not enacting that legislation.
I know that the Shadow Environment Secretary recently wrote to the Government to ask it to stop any further delay, as without implementation the Act will not save the magnificent animals it was designed to protect.
Following consultation earlier in 2021, the Government has stated that it will bring forward legislation to enact the Ivory Act, but no date has yet been given for this. It has also said it has no plans to create a surrender scheme. I will follow developments on these issues closely.
It has also held a second consultation on expanding the range of species covered by the Ivory Act to include hippos, narwhals, killer whales, sperm whales and walruses. This consultation closed on 11 September 2021 and feedback is currently being analysed.
I support this extension. However, at Report Stage during the passage of the legislation, the Labour Party proposed doing exactly this, tabling an amendment to the Ivory Bill during the Report Stage which would have obliged the Government to extend protections to cover these species. It aimed not only to stop these species from becoming endangered, but to stop the focus on banning only elephant ivory and therefore push poachers towards other forms of ivory. Disappointingly the Government voted to defeat this amendment.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this issue. I can assure you I will continue to call for the Ivory Act to be implemented and to be extended to other species.
I have written to the Environment Secretary, George Eustice, on your behalf to encourage him to reconsider the current Government position and take action now to tackle this issue. Please see a copy of this letter below: