By Richard Wheeler – The Independent
The Environment Secretary offered assurances about the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill in a letter to campaigners.
The Government has pledged to do “all we can” to ensure a ban on trophy hunting imports becomes law amid fears pro-hunting peers could “wreck” the reforms.
The proposed legislation would prohibit bringing into the country body parts from species deemed of conservation concern.
The Bill, introduced by Conservative MP Henry Smith, has already cleared the House of Commons.
But a group of peers have raised concerns and tabled amendments that threaten to derail the proposals.
Time is running out to consider the Bill and it will fall if it does not receive royal assent before the current parliamentary session stops ahead of the King’s Speech on November 7.
Ms Coffey, in a letter to the Humane Society International/UK dated August 17, wrote: “It is a manifesto commitment to ban the import of hunting trophies from endangered animals and we are working hard to deliver.
“The Bill passed the Commons in March, with the Government’s support, and we will do all we can to support its progress through the House of Lords working with Baroness Fookes.
“I can confirm that we will not be supporting any further amendments to the Bill. I expect committee stage to progress next month.”
Conservative peer Lady Fookes is the Bill’s sponsor in the House of Lords.
Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “There is a small and vocal group of pro-hunting peers doing their best to wreck this Bill, but we need the Government to remain focused on the almost 90% of the public who want this ban on the import of hunting trophies.
“The timing for this Bill is indeed extremely tight but we were encouraged to receive a letter from Environment Secretary Therese Coffey yesterday.”
No Friday sittings to consider private members’ bills are expected in the House of Lords in September, according to the Government whips’ office in the Lords.
With the party conference recess running until October 16, there are expected to be just two possible Friday sittings before the parliamentary session ends.
Mr Smith, MP for Crawley, said he is speaking with the Government in a bid to secure more parliamentary time for his Bill.
Conservative peer Lord Mancroft, who opposes the proposals, said amendments have been tabled in a bid to “clean up” or clarify parts of the “badly drafted” Bill.
He acknowledged it is “very possible” the amendments could halt the Bill’s progress and rated its chances as “less than 10%”.
Mr Smith said the planned legislation is about UK import policy, adding opponents have pressed “spurious arguments” about how trophy hunting helps conservation.
A House of Lords briefing paper on the Bill stated: “According to figures from the Cites (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna) trade database, 190 hunting trophies from Cites-listed species were imported into the UK in 2020 (the most recent complete year for which figures are available).”https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/henry-smith-government-therese-coffey-environment-secretary-bill-b2395364.html