By Helena Horton, The Guardian
A trophy hunting import ban will be brought forward in coming months despite opposition from Conservative backbenchers, the environment secretary has said.
George Eustice told animal welfare campaigners of the commitment after rumours that a bill banning the import of parts of endangered animals shot abroad had been stopped. The trophy hunting import ban was a Tory manifesto commitment for this parliamentary session.
Eustice said the government was “absolutely committed to” bringing the bill forward.
The government has said the bill has been delayed, claiming parliament does not have enough time this session to pass the law. Eustice said it would be a priority piece of legislation when the new session opens later in spring.
“While we won’t be introducing the animals abroad bill in this session as we are out of time, we will be looking at a range of vehicles for legislation on these important issues in the next session,” said Eustice.
However, he added that the pledged bans on imports of fur and foie gras, which have been hugely unpopular with backbenchers including Jacob Rees-Mogg, are not a sure thing.
Eustice said: “I know you’re probably going to ask me what’s going to happen on fur and foie gras but I can’t do that today.” Government sources have said the proposed bans are to be stripped from the animals abroad bill.
Instead, they will likely have to be brought forward as private members’ bills, sponsored by individual MPs, and will no longer be a Conservative party commitment.
Queen guitarist and animal welfare campaigner Brian May said he was disappointed by the government weakening animal welfare legislation.
He told the Guardian: “I am disappointed. I’m always disappointed when it comes to animal welfare bills. We need to look at our attitude when it comes to animals – there’s so much talk by this government, they’re always making grand promises, but there’s so little action. Time and time again legislation which would protect animals is torpedoed. Or they take bits out and make it toothless and not fit for purpose.”