3 Mar 2015 : Column 915

The prevalence survey is being undertaken—we have secured the money for it—and we plan for it to be ready by 2017. The aim is for it to cover children and young people from two years to 19 years, which is a wider range than in the original survey. That should be widely welcomed.

As for the taskforce, although there has been much progress, the Government have been open about the scale of the challenge and acknowledged that there is still much to do. As the Committee is aware, I set up the taskforce last summer. It is chaired jointly by the Department and NHS England and brings together a whole load of experts from outside Whitehall and listens to the voice of young people as well. This is a massive opportunity fundamentally to modernise the way children and young people’s health services operate, embracing the role of the voluntary sector and the potential for online support for youngsters, and sorting out this ridiculous, fragmented commissioning. The problem has been there for a long time, but things need to be made much simpler, so that we can have coherent services that are easily understandable for children and their families. If we can grasp this opportunity, we can make a massive difference for young people.

Let me say a word about crisis care. In a way, this is the area where the gap between physical and mental health is greatest. The Torbay case that my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes mentioned was a shock to the system, although we have already seen considerable reductions in the number of young people going into police stations. We are on course to see a reduction of about 30% this year, but it needs to be much greater than that. In my view, we need to legislate to end the practice completely. It is surely completely unacceptable that young people under the age of 18 end up in police cells rather than in a hospital. That practice simply has to come to an end.

I applaud everyone who has participated in this debate on a really important subject. I think we have an opportunity massively to improve things.

Mr Speaker: We thank the Minister, whose sense of timing is almost immaculate. I know that he intended that this debate should finish at seven o’clock, which it has done.

Question deferred (Standing Order No. 54).

7 pm

The Speaker put the deferred Questions (Standing Order No. 54).

3 Mar 2015 : Column 916

Estimates 2014-15

Department for Communities and Local Government

Resolved,

That, for the year ending with 31 March 2015, for expenditure by the Department for Communities and Local Government:

(1) further resources, not exceeding £752,206,000 be authorised for use for current purposes as set out in HC 1019,

(2) the resources authorised for use for capital purposes be reduced by £607,860,000 as so set out, and

(3) the sum authorised for issue out of the Consolidated Fund be reduced by £1,092,985,000 as so set out.

Ministry of Defence

Resolved,

That, for the year ending with 31 March 2015, for expenditure by the Ministry of

Defence:

(1) the resources authorised for use for current purposes be reduced by £618,573,000 as set out in HC 1019,

(2) further resources, not exceeding £426,760,000 be authorised for use for capital purposes as so set out, and

(3) a further sum, not exceeding £426,834,000 be granted to Her Majesty to be issued by the Treasury out of the Consolidated Fund and applied for expenditure on the use of resources authorised by Parliament.

Department for Work and Pensions

Resolved,

That, for the year ending with 31 March 2015, for expenditure by the Department for Work and Pensions:

(1) further resources, not exceeding £910,407,000 be authorised for use for current purposes as set out in HC 1019,

(2) the resources authorised for use for capital purposes be reduced by £6,689,000 as so set out, and

(3) a further sum, not exceeding £2,183,111,000 be granted to Her Majesty to be issued by the Treasury out of the Consolidated Fund and applied for expenditure on the use of resources authorised by Parliament.

Department of Health

Resolved,

That, for the year ending with 31 March 2015, for expenditure by the Department of Health:

(1) further resources, not exceeding £866,629,000 be authorised for use for current purposes as set out in HC 1019,

(2) the resources authorised for use for capital purposes be reduced by £635,000,000 as so set out, and

(3) the sum authorised for issue out of the Consolidated Fund be reduced by £679,772,000 as so set out.

The Speaker then put the Questions on the outstanding Estimates (Standing Order No. 55)

ESTIMATES 2015-16 (NAVY) VOTE A

Resolved,

That, during the year ending with 31 March 2016, a number not exceeding 35,850 all ranks be maintained for Naval Service and that numbers in the Reserve Naval and Marines Forces be authorised for the purposes of Parts 1, 3, 4 and 5 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 up to the maximum numbers set out in Votes A 2015–16, HC 1054.—(Mel Stride.)

3 Mar 2015 : Column 917

ESTIMATES 2015-16 (ARMY) VOTE A

Resolved,

That, during the year ending with 31 March 2016, a number not exceeding 108,430 all ranks be maintained for Army Service and that numbers in the Reserve Land Forces be authorised for the purposes of Parts 1, 3, 4 and 5 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 up to the maximum numbers set out in Votes A 2015–16, HC 1054. —(Mel Stride.)

ESTIMATES 2015-16 (AIR) VOTE A

Resolved,

That, during the year ending with 31 March 2016, a number not exceeding 35,870 all ranks be maintained for Air Force Service and that numbers in the Reserve Air Forces be authorised for the purposes of Parts 1, 3, 4 and 5 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 up to the maximum numbers set out in Votes A 2015–16, HC 1054.—(Mel Stride.)

ESTIMATES, EXCESSES, 2013–14

Resolved,

That, for the year ending with 31 March 2014:

(1) resources, not exceeding £564,553,000, be authorised to make good excesses for use for current purposes as set out in Statement of Excesses 2013–14, HC 1021, and

(2) resources, not exceeding £153,000, be authorised to make good excesses for use for capital purposes as set out in Statement of Excesses 2013–14, HC 1021.—(Mel Stride.)

SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES 2014–15

Resolved,

That, for the year ending with 31 March 2015:

(1) the resources authorised for current purposes be reduced by £20,682,028,000, in accordance with HC 965, HC 977, HC 1019, and HC 1052,

(2) the resources authorised for use for capital purposes be reduced by £6,371,917,000 as so set out, and

(3) a further sum, not exceeding £9,727,334,000 be granted to Her Majesty to be issued by the Treasury out of the Consolidated Fund and applied for expenditure on the use of resources authorised by Parliament.—(Mel Stride.)

ESTIMATES, VOTE ON ACCOUNT 2015–16

Resolved,

That, for the year ending with 31 March 2016:

(1) resources, not exceeding £222,417,912,000 be authorised, on account, for use for current purposes as set out in HC 917, HC 966, HC 1020, HC 1048, HC 1051, and HC 1063,

(2) resources, not exceeding £26,520,287,000, be authorised, on account, for use for capital purposes as so set out, and

(3) a sum, not exceeding £219,606,746,000, be granted to Her Majesty to be issued by the Treasury out of the Consolidated Fund, on account, and applied for expenditure on the use of resources authorised by Parliament.—(Mel Stride.)

Ordered, That a Bill be brought in upon the foregoing Resolutions;

That the Chairman of Ways and Means, Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, Danny Alexander, Mr David Gauke, Priti Patel and Andrea Leadsom bring in the Bill.

Supply and Appropriation (Anticipation and Adjustments) Bill

Presentation and First Reading

Andrea Leadsom accordingly presented a Bill to authorise the use of resources for the years ending with

3 Mar 2015 : Column 918

31 March 2014, 31 March 2015 and 31 March 2016; to authorise the issue of sums out of the Consolidated Fund for the years ending with 31 March 2015 and 31 March 2016; and to appropriate the supply authorised by this Act for the years ending with 31 March 2014 and 31 March 2015.


Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 180).

Business without Debate

Delegated Legislation

Mr Speaker: With the leave of the House, we shall take motions 10 to 18 together.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Childcare

That the draft Childcare Payments (Eligibility) Regulations 2015, which were laid before this House on 13 January, be approved.

Employment and Training

That the draft Industrial Training Levy (Engineering Construction Industry Training Board) Order 2015, which was laid before this House on 21 January, be approved.

That the draft Industrial Training Levy (Construction Industry Training Board) Order 2015, which was laid before this House on 21 January, be approved.

Local Government

That the Local Government (Transparency) (Descriptions of Information) (England) Order 2015, dated 7 January 2015, a copy of which was laid before this House on 12 January, be approved.

Capital Gains Tax

That the draft Community Amateur Sports Clubs Regulations 2015, which were laid before this House on 19 January, be approved.

Terms and Conditions of Employment

That the draft National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015, which were laid before this House on 27 January, be approved.

Rating and Evaluation

That the draft Non-Domestic Rating (Levy and Safety Net) (Amendment) Regulations 2015, which were laid before this House on 14 January, be approved.

That the draft Non-Domestic Rating (Shale Oil and Gas and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2015, which were laid before this House on 23 January, be approved.

Transport

That the draft Renewable Transport Fuel Obligations (Amendment) Order 2015, which was laid before this House on 14 January, be approved.—(Mel Stride.)

Question agreed to.

Sittings of the house

Ordered,

That this House shall sit on Friday 20 March.—(Mel Stride.)

3 Mar 2015 : Column 919

Petition

Closure of NatWest branch in Eccleshall

7.3 pm

Sir William Cash (Stone) (Con): This petition relates to the closure of the NatWest bank branch in Eccleshall in my constituency. It is supported by over 700 signatures and is accompanied by an Adjournment debate that I had today in Westminster Hall on the same subject.

The petition reads as follows:

The Petition of residents of the constituency of Stone in Staffordshire,

Declares that residents of Eccleshall object to the closure of NatWest branch in Eccleshall and further that this is the only remaining bank branch in Eccleshall.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to encourage NatWest to keep the Eccleshall branch open.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.

[P001440]

3 Mar 2015 : Column 920

International Endangered Species

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Mel Stride.)

7.4 pm

Norman Baker (Lewes) (LD): I welcome the opportunity to discuss this important matter. I note that the debate falls on world animal day, which is a fortuitous coincidence. If the mysteries of your office had anything to do with it, Mr Speaker, I am very grateful.

This is the second debate on endangered species that I have introduced since becoming a Member of Parliament, the first having taken place on 1 May 2002. On that occasion, I told the House that, according to a figure that I had been given by the Born Free Foundation, there were 2,155 critically endangered species. I am sorry to say that, according to the foundation, the figure has risen to 2,510 in the intervening years, and that it includes 213 mammals, 213 birds, 174 reptiles and 518 amphibians. Appallingly, 26% of known mammal species are now threatened with extinction, and the number of wild animals on earth has halved in the last 40 years.

I could continue to give figures indefinitely, but let me instead give one or two examples to support my case. In 1900 or thereabouts, there were 100,000 tigers in the wild, but there are now more tigers in United States zoos than there are in the wild. Central Africa has lost 64% of its elephants in just 10 years, and 50,000 were slaughtered in 2013 alone. In our oceans, 73 million sharks are being killed every year for their fins. All eight pangolin species are close to extinction, and 1 million have been traded over the last decade. Sadly, as they near extinction, the desire of hunters to find them increases rather than decreases.

What is the reason for all that? It comes down to money. According to research carried out by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the illegal trade in endangered species is worth $19 billion a year. That is a huge amount of money for people who are involved in criminal activity which, of course, can also be brutal and mercenary. When I was a Home Office Minister, I heard a story about an African country where rangers were trying to protect the animals. A helicopter landed, full of very well-armed individuals who simply mowed down all the rangers and all the animals. Apparently, that was not particularly unusual.

The good news is that the coalition Government has been leading on this matter. I particularly congratulate the former Foreign Secretary, the right hon. Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), on the leadership that he has provided. I was very pleased to co-chair a section of the February 2014 conference which led to a London declaration and 41 countries signing up to a course of action. There will be a follow-up when the Botswana conference takes place later this month, and I pay tribute to Foreign Office officials for the work they are doing in preparing for that event. Let me also acknowledge the work that is being done by Border Force. When I was a Minister, I had an opportunity to observe its superb work at Heathrow in identifying those who trade in endangered species, and the expertise that it has developed.

What must we do? I am pleased to say that the Government is already taking some action, but more is needed. First, we must reinforce the help that we are

3 Mar 2015 : Column 921

giving to developed countries to protect their animals. That means giving them military help, financial help, and help with economic planning, so that tourism, for example, can provide them with a valuable alternative income stream. At the London conference that I attended last year, one of the key “asks” was for Land Rovers to enable rangers to travel around more quickly. I hope that the Government has noted those points, which may seem small, but which are very important when it comes to helping developing countries.

I welcome the £5 million that has been allocated by the Departments for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and for International Development, but I hope that, notwithstanding the current financial situation, the Government will be able to find more money to help to deal with this important matter, and will encourage other countries to follow suit.

Secondly, we need to engage with end markets. In particular, we must try to persuade China to cut off the demand for products such as ivory and rhino horn. They are used in so-called medicinal solutions, but I believe that they are medicinally worthless. I understand that rhino horn, for instance, is about as much use as a fingernail when taken in a attempt to cure a particular condition.

Thirdly, we need to deal with transportation measures and tackle how products are taken from A to B. I know the Leader of the House is dealing with this in a different capacity now. So there is a lot to do; I am pleased the Government is doing a lot, but there is still more that can be done.

In particular I ask the UK Government to look at the issue of online sales. We have to go further than we have done on that. IFAW investigators have found a total of 33,000 wildlife and wildlife parts and products from species listed in appendixes I and II of the convention on international trade in endangered species for sale in over 9,000 ads online. We should be requiring online marketplaces to alert users to the legal position. I should be grateful if the Minister responded to that point and told me whether the Government are considering that matter.

We also need to look at ensuring long-term funding for the national wildlife crime unit. I am happy to say that, partly when I was in office, the funding was extended to 2016, but it would be helpful if the Minister could say—notwithstanding the fact that we cannot tie the hands of a future Parliament—that the intention is to carry on funding that very important unit.

We must also reinstate a dedicated post for wildlife cyber-crime. This appears to have vanished and is terribly important, particularly if we are going to deal with the issue of online marketplaces. That may be just an unfortunate cut, but it is necessary to reinstate it. It may not even be about more money; it may simply be about a reallocation of individuals, but it is important that that post is filled.

We must also confirm that the trade is covered by the serious and organised crime strategy. I believe it is, but it will be helpful if the Minister can confirm that the Home Office strategy for serious and organised crime takes account of endangered species. I know from my time in office that the people who deal in endangered species may well be dealing in children one week or guns or drugs or something else. They do not really

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care; they are completely lacking in morality. All they are interested in is making money. This is not just about protecting endangered species, vital thought that is; it is also about making sure we interrupt these people in their activities, whatever they are dealing with at any particular time.

Finally, I ask the Minister to deal with the regulations on the control of trade in endangered species. I understand that it is the Government’s intention to update the regulations, which I welcome, but I would be grateful if the Minister confirmed that we will be able to do so before we reach purdah at the end of the month. It will be unfortunate if this matter rolls over. He knows as well as I do that when a new Government takes office—even if it is the same one—there are so many things to sort out that matters such as this can be shoved down the agenda. This is a simple matter that I think the Government is committed to. If we are able to deal with it before we end this Parliament, that will be very helpful. I hope the Minister is able to deal with those three or four points in his response to me.

The level of extinctions is terrifying. We are in danger of losing species in our lifetime—I say that even as someone who is middle-aged. I understand that the dinosaurs took 250,000 years to become extinct in the last mass extinction. We could lose the tiger and other species in 25 years. I do not want to be a member of the human race—and I do not think anyone in this House does either—who sees such species disappearing in our lifetime. So I urge the Government, not simply to carry on with what it is doing, which is welcome, but to redouble its efforts at Botswana and elsewhere to protect these endangered species, engaging with our colleagues in other countries to make sure we do all we can so that future generations can benefit from the wonderful species around the world, just as we have in our lifetime.

7.13 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (George Eustice): I congratulate the right hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker) on securing this most appropriate debate as today is, as he pointed out, world wildlife day. Individuals and organisations will be marking the day with events around the world, and I note that the right hon. Gentleman has been particularly busy highlighting the problems our wildlife face with the release of his “Animal Countdown” CD. Before this debate I went online to listen to it and it is not bad—it is pretty good and certainly does highlight this very important issue. On world wildlife day, we celebrate the intrinsic value of animals and plants, but we also highlight the severe threats that they face. Those threats range from habitat destruction and climate change to the illegal wildlife trade and poaching, which is threatening to decimate many species, as he pointed out.

Much of our ongoing effort to combat those threats is undertaken through work in the relevant international conventions, including the convention on biological diversity and the convention on international trade in endangered species. The UK Government provide direct support to countries that are rich in biodiversity but poor in financial resource. This includes work in our overseas territories through the globally respected Darwin initiative. More than 900 projects totalling around £110 million have been funded since 1992, supporting habitat and species from elephants to the mountain

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chicken, which is not actually a chicken but a type of frog native to the Caribbean islands of Dominica and Montserrat. The global tiger initiative has brought together all the tiger range states, as well as concerned Governments —including that of the UK—and academics and non-governmental organisations involved in the global tiger recovery programme. The programme aims to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022, and the UK has committed funding equivalent to $500,000 to support that work.

This year’s theme for world wildlife day is wildlife crime. In recent years, it is the scourge of poaching that has focused many minds as it threatens some of the world’s most iconic species, including elephants, rhinos and tigers. There was wide recognition that more needed to be done and I am pleased to say that this Government are a global leader in efforts by the international community to tackle this issue, as the right hon. Gentleman acknowledged. The illegal wildlife trade not only threatens the future existence of whole species; it devastates already vulnerable communities co-existing with these species, drives corruption and undermines our efforts to cut poverty. The right hon. Gentleman gave an example of gunmen killing all the animals and all the rangers. Murder is being committed, and we should recognise the fact that many of the rangers who are trying to fight the scourge of poaching are putting their lives at risk. This illegal trade strikes at the very heart of our goals for good governance, for the protection of national and regional security, and for sustainable economic development.

The number of animals being poached is truly horrific. At least 20,000 elephant poaching deaths were recorded in 2013. In 2014, the Government of South Africa reported that 1,215 rhinoceroses were killed by poachers. That is a staggering increase, up from 13 killed in 2007. This wholesale slaughter is being driven by greed and by organised criminal syndicates. The price of ivory in China trebled between 2010 and 2014.

Recognising the rapidly deteriorating situation, in February last year the Government hosted the London conference on the illegal wildlife trade. High-level representatives from 41 countries and 10 international organisations came together to agree a set of urgent actions. The conference delivered an ambitious political declaration containing 25 commitments to take action on, for example, reducing demand for illegal wildlife products, ensuring effective legal frameworks and deterrents across the globe, strengthening law enforcement and supporting sustainable livelihoods. Those 25 commitments included Governments committing for the first time to renounce the use of any products from species threatened with extinction, and Governments supporting the CITES commercial prohibition on international trade in elephant ivory until the survival of elephants in the wild is no longer threatened by poaching. Governments also committed to treating poaching and trafficking as a serious organised crime in the same category as drugs, arms and people trafficking.

In December last year, we announced funding for 14 projects as part of the illegal wildlife trade challenge fund, worth almost £4 million. That will help developing countries to tackle the illegal wildlife trade, and it is in addition to the five projects that we funded earlier

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in 2014. This means that we are now supporting 19 projects with a value of more than £5 million over the next four years.

There is also some evidence that other countries are starting to follow our lead. Over the past year, there have been many positive examples of countries taking action to deliver the commitments made in the London declaration. As the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, just last week China announced a 12-month immediate ban on the importation of carved ivory, in support of its efforts to protect elephants in Africa. His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge is currently in China as part of his visit to the far east. He is undertaking engagements there in support of his work to combat the illegal wildlife trade and support wildlife conservation. In addition, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs raised the issue of illegal wildlife trade during her recent visit to China at the beginning of this year. In Vietnam, the penal code is being amended to incorporate stronger and more deterrent sanctions against environmental crimes, including the illegal trade in endangered species.

UK enforcement bodies play an active role in combating wildlife trafficking, and I commend the excellent work of the national wildlife crime unit and the UK Border Force. The right hon. Gentleman asked about the future funding of that unit. Like him, I have been passionate about supporting it, and DEFRA certainly made funding available to it up until 2016. Having been in government, he will be familiar with the way in which funding works, and we will have to wait until the next spending review period before we can make specific commitments on it. I hope he will accept that in recognising the unit’s good work, I am sending a strong signal in support of its efforts to tackle this difficult problem. Hon. Members may recall a case last year of an interception at Heathrow of very rare San Salvador rock iguanas being smuggled from the Bahamas. We were able to return 12 of these critically endangered species to their natural habitat. Sadly, one of the iguanas died, but I am pleased to say that the criminals responsible received 12-month custodial sentences. The success of that operation was due to the excellent work carried out by the Border Force CITES enforcement team based at Heathrow.

As the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, there is more to be done on intercepting smuggling during transportation. I therefore welcome the creation of an international taskforce to examine the role of the transportation industry in the trafficking of illegal wildlife products. His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge launched that in December 2014, and my right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State and Leader of the House—the right hon. Gentleman also mentioned him—has agreed to chair that important taskforce. The taskforce, including representatives from the global transport industry, will develop industry-wide protocols for the sector to strengthen measures it can take to help to eliminate this trafficking. Through the illegal wildlife trade challenge fund, the Government are supporting work such as the border point project, stopping illegal wildlife trade in the horn of Africa. We are also providing funding to the Born Free Foundation to improve enforcement by sending experts to border points to increase the knowledge and skills of local officials.

The right hon. Gentleman finished his speech slightly sooner than I thought he would, so my officials have been working overtime to ensure that I have answers to

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some of his questions. He asked about the serious and organised crime strategy, and I can confirm that it does cover the illegal wildlife trade. I have covered the point about the national wildlife crime unit; we support the work it does, but, obviously, we are bound by the fact that we have to await the next spending review before making any final commitments on that front. He also asked for an update on any progress being made on updating the CITES regulations. The Government are continuing to take forward the review of CITES regulations, and consultation on proposed changes is taking place. We recognise that the remaining time is limited within this Parliament, but it remains this Government’s intention to progress as far as we can the laying of that updated legislation before the House.

Norman Baker: Just before the Minister concludes, will he say something about the issue of online trading and what steps the Government can take to alert buyers to the potential illegality of their purchases?

George Eustice: I have answered parliamentary questions on that matter, and my understanding is that that is something the National Crime Agency was doing. There used to be a designated person dealing with that matter. The fact that that post no longer exists does not mean that the work is not being done. It simply means that there is not a single designated person doing it. I am happy to write to the right hon. Gentleman about this matter. As he will know, this specific issue is within the

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portfolio of my noble Friend Lord de Mauley, and I will ask him to clarify the position on online crimes.

The Government are strongly committed to protecting our world’s endangered species, and in particular to supporting the international community to tackle poaching and the trafficking of wildlife. As the follow-up to the London conference, the Government of Botswana are hosting a second conference in Kasane. That conference is an opportunity to recognise the progress that has been made globally on combating the illegal wildlife trade, and importantly to maintain the priority and focus directed towards this issue achieved at the London conference.

The UK has worked closely to support the Government of Botswana in developing a range of ambitious outcomes. We expect Governments to commit to actions that build on the London declaration. That is likely to include strengthening work to reduce the demand and supply sides for illegal wildlife products, and action to tackle money laundering and other kinds of financial crime associated with the illegal wildlife trade. Those are the sorts of action that we need to take. As an international community, we need to do everything possible to ensure that these magnificent and yet sadly—in some cases—endangered species have all the protection that humanity can offer.

Question put and agreed to.

7.26 pm

House adjourned.