Resurrect bill to ban ‘selfish’ imports of hunting trophies to UK, Labour urges

Sep 22, 2023 | News

By Peter Walker Deputy political editor – The Guardian

Exclusive: Legislation was blocked by small group of peers who tabled more than 60 amendments.

Labour has urged ministers to resurrect a bill banning the import of body parts of endangered animals hunted overseas, which was blocked by a small group of peers, saying a failure to do so would leave the government complicit in the trophy hunting trade.

The hunting trophies (import prohibition) bill, a private members’ bill led by two Conservatives, Henry Smith, an MP, and Janet Fookes, a peer, has cross-party support and after passing all Commons stages appeared set to be approved by the Lords.

But in an ambush that prompted widespread anger, 11 peers made the bill run out of time by tabling more than 60 amendments they insisted on debating individually.

Of the peers, six were hereditary, several own landed estates and all attended leading private schools, eight of them Eton.

The environment department has said it was “disappointed” at the move, but has refused to say whether it will give the bill more time in the Lords in the imminently ending parliamentary session. If this does not happen, the process will need to begin again.

Steve Reed, the shadow environmental secretary, said: “Hunting endangered animals is barbaric and must be confined to history. We must stop the selfish trophy hunters who want to slaughter then display endangered animals’ body parts for their own perverse self-gratification.

“The Conservative government must stop siding with these killers. If they refuse to act, they will be complicit in the slaughter as they break yet another pre-election promise.”

Trudy Harrison, a junior environment minister, said: “I am disappointed that despite the overwhelming support from MPs and the public, the hunting trophies bill failed to progress in the House of Lords. We will continue working to deliver this important manifesto commitment.”

However, neither she or her department would say whether there was a plan to provide government time in the Lords to allow the bill to pass.

Last week’s filibustering tactics by the small group of peers prompted anger in the Lords, with Joan Bakewell, a Labour peer, saying that peers “of the landed gentry of the country, mostly hereditary” were trying to wreck it.

This was denied by some of those involved, including Hugo Swire, a former Tory MP, and Malcolm Sinclair, a hereditary peer who is the 20th Earl of Caithness.

Sinclair, who sits as a Conservative, told the debate that for hunters “bringing a trophy back is important”, and that to not allow UK hunters to bring body parts like tusks into the country would undermine the business model for trophy hunting.

Mark Jones, head of policy for the wildlife charity Born Free, said: “Millions of people will be devastated should this bill fall. The cynical tactics employed by a small minority of unelected peers with clear hunting interests, in spite of the proposed legislation enjoying overwhelming support from both the public and our elected MPs, reflects badly on the parliamentary.

“We will continue to call on the current and any future UK government to introduce a ban on trophy imports. Trophy hunting is a colonial relic; it damages threatened wildlife populations and causes immeasurable suffering to individual animals, while providing, at best, meagre financial handouts to local people.”

Please follow and like us: