Conservative Peers Express Concerns Over Proposed Ban on Hunting Trophies

Abel Karowangoro

A proposed ban on the import of hunting trophies is facing potential obstruction from Conservative peers, who argue that it could undermine efforts to protect endangered animals.

The Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill, which has received cross-party support, cleared its initial hurdle in the House of Lords with an unopposed second reading.

However, reservations voiced by a group of Conservative peers may lead to amendments that could derail the planned legislation.

Sponsored by Conservative MP Henry Smith and Baroness Fookes, the Bill seeks to ban the import of hunting trophies from species of conservation concern. It has already been approved by the House of Commons.

Nevertheless, concerns raised by Tory peers highlight the limited time allocated for Private Members’ Bills, indicating that any approved amendments in the Lords could effectively prevent the Bill from progressing.

Conservative former minister Lord Swire criticized the Bill, claiming it has a “somewhat high-handed and neocolonial tone.” He argued that the UK should collaborate with affected countries to establish the best possible protocols for enhancing conservation rather than working against them. Lord Mancroft, another Conservative peer, intends to propose a “conservation amendment” to allow trophy imports if there is a demonstrable conservation benefit from the hunting activity.

Lord Rennard of the Liberal Democrats cautioned against unnecessary amendments that could thwart the Bill, reminding fellow members that any amendments passed by the Lords would still require agreement from the House of Commons. With no more scheduled sitting Fridays for such matters, he warned that approved amendments in the Lords would effectively kill the Bill.

Additional concerns were raised by Conservative Lord Lucas, who highlighted the potential benefits of trophy hunting revenue for well-managed conservation efforts. Lord Hamilton of Epsom, another Conservative peer, criticized the Bill while acknowledging his own involvement in trophy hunting. He pointed out the economic significance it brings to countries, emphasizing the complexities of wildlife coexistence faced by African communities.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock, the shadow environment spokeswoman, reiterated Labour’s support for the Bill, dismissing exaggerated claims about the economic benefits generated by trophy hunting. Lord Benyon, speaking on behalf of the Government, acknowledged the strong message from the British public to end the import of endangered animal trophies and affirmed the Bill’s alignment with the government’s manifesto commitment to protect endangered species.

As the debate concluded, Baroness Fookes addressed criticisms of neocolonialism, stating that she believed the label applied more accurately to those who perpetuate the trophy hunting culture.

The Bill is expected to undergo further scrutiny during the committee stage at a later date. Its progress remains uncertain, as concerns expressed by Conservative peers may result in amendments that could significantly impact the final outcome of the legislation.

Leave a Reply