The government is backing a private member’s bill to ban the import of hunting trophies. DEFRA minister Rebecca Pow told the House of Commons: “I am pleased to confirm that the Government are supporting the Bill and that we are determined to fulfil our manifesto commitment to ban the imports of trophies from endangered animals.”
This is the second attempt by the animal rights movement at the heart of the Tory government to get its way on a 2019 Tory manifesto commitment. The animal rights elements of the 2019 manifesto, which positioned the Conservative party as more firmly urban than either the Labour or Green Party, was led by sacked DEFRA minister Lord Zac Goldsmith and Carrie Johnson, wife of former prime minister Boris.
The first attempt was the Animal Sentience Act, which appointed a committee of civil servants to block any future legislation that may harm farm animals or octopi – and is widely regarded as a way for the civil service to block bills that it does not like.
For the second attempt, 20 core animal rights activist MPs in the Tory party turned up and voted in favour of the bill at its second reading. Two MPs spoke against it.
See the bill here.
Sir Roger Gale (North Thanet) is patron of Conservatives Against Foxhunting or ‘Blue Fox’ and a member of Carrie Johnson’s Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation. He told the House of Commons that hunting is, “gratification of the most revolting kind, which I would compare with paedophilia.”
Sir Bill Wiggin (North Herefordshire) spoke up for hunting tourism. He pointed out that the bill to ban trophy imports is unnecessary: “A licence is required to bring them in; the legislation is already in place,” he said.
He told the house that “53,400 jobs in Eastern and Southern Africa are supported by trophy hunting.”
Gale claimed that that figure is untrue. Wiggin added: “My right hon. Friend may not care whether that is true or not, but I suspect that the 53,400 people concerned do—and 60% of all cash fees received by Namibian conservancies came from licensed hunting. 100% of game fees go to local communities in Namibia.”
Wiggin says the bill is neo-colonialist in its effort to impose the will of the Westminster government on African countries. He said: “it is up to African people to decide how they manage their rich natural resources, which are in their backyard, not ours.”
MPs who spoke up in support of Carrie Johnson’s Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation were Henry Smith (Crawley) who proposes the bill, Jane Stevenson (Wolverhampton North East), Anna Firth (Southend West) and Peter Gibson Peter Gibson (Darlington). Notable for their absence are CWAF supporters Chris Loder, Tracy Crouch and Theresa Villiers. Other animal rights supporters who did not take part in the debate are Blue Fox members Dominic Raab (Esher and Walton) and Caroline Dinenage (Gosport), as well as George Eustice (Camborne and Redruth) who actively supports the Campaign Against Trophy Hunting.