I understand concerns raised with me about trophy hunting, and I agree that it is important we protect endangered animals across the world. I am encouraged that the UK Government is committed to conserving the world's wildlife.
Early Day Motions (EDMs) are never debated or voted upon. Each year approximately 2,500 of these motions are tabled and for this reason they are widely ignored by the Government. They have little impact on parliamentary outcome and they cost a significant amount of taxpayers’ money to orchestrate. For this reason, I don’t sign EDMs
But, I know that as part of its efforts to tackle the illegal wildlife trade, the UK hosted a fourth international conference on the illegal wildlife trade, building on previous conferences in held London, Kasane and Hanoi. It has also set up the £13 million Illegal Wildlife Challenge Fund to support projects in the developing world, and in 2012 funded a conference in Johannesburg to consider conservation of the African lion with other interested countries.
The wildlife trade is regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, whose approach is to ensure that the trade is conducted legally and sustainably, not necessarily to reduce or end it. At its most recent conference the UK played a key role in developing a proposal for enhanced global rules on hunting and trade. The resulting tightening of controls are a very positive step towards ensuring sustainability.
Stricter controls on the import of six species subject to hunting, including lions and African elephants, were introduced in 2015. Following our withdrawal from the EU, the Government will be in a position to consider future UK policy in this area. There is no proposal to relax the laws, and in any event I would not support relaxation of the rules.
I hope this comes as some reassurance.