The Ivory Act passed in 2018 with cross-party support, three years after a Conservative government was elected on a manifesto which pledged to introduce a total ban on ivory sales in the UK. Three years later, and not a single power in the Act has been used to date.
It is deeply disappointing that after years of campaigning by activists, organisations, and MPs, on paper, we have an Act, but in practice, we are no closer to ending the barbaric ivory trade which is posing an existential threat to African elephants.
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 for unwanted ivory. This is clearly not good enough, especially for a country that claims to be world-leading when it comes to animal welfare issues.
I have written to George Eustice, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to ask him to finally enact the Ivory Act and to offer a way for people to be able to dispose of their unwanted ivory. I have posted a copy of this letter below for you to see.
Still on the subject of the Ivory Act, the Government held a separate 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.
My Opposition Colleagues and I support this extension. Indeed, we supported it back during the Report Stage of the Ivory Bill, when we proposed an amendment 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. However, the Government voted to defeat this amendment.
I can assure you that my Opposition Colleagues and I will continue to support the implementation of the Ivory Act and its extension to cover hippos, narwhals, killer whales, sperm whales and walruses.