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Foreign Office Questions


27th March 2018

Harriett Baldwin answers MPs’ questions to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Illegal Wildlife Trade

1. Julian Knight (Solihull) (Con)
What steps his Department is taking to tackle the illegal wildlife trade.

Alan Mak (Havant) (Con)
3. What steps his Department is taking to tackle the illegal wildlife trade. [904584]

The Minister for Africa (Harriett Baldwin)
The UK is taking a leading role in ending the illegal wildlife trade globally. The Government are funding practical action to reduce demand, strengthen enforcement and develop sustainable livelihoods in the communities affected by the illegal wildlife trade. We will host an ambitious high-level international conference in October to push for further progress.

Julian Knight
Does the Minister agree that it is often the same criminal groups involved in the illegal wildlife trade who smuggle drugs, people-traffic and commit other nefarious acts? Does that not demonstrate why it is right that we do all we can to tackle them head on?

Harriett Baldwin
My hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that organised crime is attracted to the illegal wildlife trade, as it is attracted to others such as the drug trade and human trafficking. That is why this is a transnational problem, and why the world must work together to end this terrible crime.

Alan Mak
British scientists have developed new forensic techniques to help to identify ivory poachers, including new fingerprint kits. Will my hon. Friend continue to support scientific techniques to try to clamp down on illegal wildlife traders?

Harriett Baldwin
My hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that having the right forensic evidence in place is crucial. Indeed, many of the projects that the UK is supporting worldwide are using that expertise to get the right forensics, so that the criminals can be prosecuted and these crimes can be tackled worldwide.

David Hanson (Delyn) (Lab)
The Minister will know that this is an important international issue, but the products also land in the United Kingdom. What discussions is she having with the Home Office to ensure that we raise the level of fines for those in receipt of illegal wildlife material in this country?

Harriett Baldwin
The right hon. Gentleman is right to suggest that it is crucial that we work to tackle this illegal trade right across the Government, not only with the Home Office but with our colleagues in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to ensure that we consult on further restrictions on this trade.

Mr Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry) (DUP)
The Minister will be aware of the pitiful sight of the last remaining species of some wildlife disappearing from our planet for ever. What steps are being taken to ensure that that is not replicated, particularly across the continent of Africa?

Harriett Baldwin n
The whole world was shocked by the case of Sudan, the last northern white rhino. He was the last of the species. This shows the absolute urgency for the world to act together to tackle this illegal crime, which is why it is so important that we host the international conference in October.

Mrs Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire) (Con)
The passing of Sudan marks not only the ending of that species; we could see the end of many other species in Africa and other countries if we do not take the lead and show the world what we are doing. I have been campaigning to stop elephants disappearing, as my hon. Friend is aware. Can we make sure that we take the lead in the world?

Harriett Baldwin
I pay tribute to my hon. Friend and her remarkable track record of campaigning on this issue. She is absolutely right to highlight the fact that, according to the Living Planet Index, global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012. It is therefore crucial that, as a world, we work together to tackle this terrible crime.

Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab)
On average, the UK Border Force seized 130 kg of illegally trafficked ivory in the years from 2013 to 2016, but in 2017, the figure fell to 40 kg. Is that because the trade is shrinking or because the Government are not catching as much?

Harriett Baldwin
It is testament to the incredibly important work that is done by the UK Border Force and the work that we do through the National Crime Agency overseas. In Côte d’Ivoire recently, I saw the work that we are doing with the police force on this worldwide phenomenon. We need to work together internationally to tackle this heinous crime.

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Promoting Education in the World

John Howell (Henley) (Con)
15. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on promoting education throughout the world. [904600]

The Minister for Africa (Harriett Baldwin)
Promoting access to a quality education is a moral imperative and firmly in our national interest. As a passionate feminist and someone without a sexist bone in his body, the Foreign Secretary is an advocate for education and has discussed that with the Secretary of State for International Development and the Secretary of State for Education, among others.

John Howell
In Nigeria alone, there is an enormous market for A-levels through to university education. What help is the Minister providing to enable us to tap into that market?

Harriett Baldwin
I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for his work as a trade envoy to Nigeria. I can tell him that the Prosperity Fund global education programme is due to start this year, aiming to improve standards of education and increase UK exports, and Nigeria will be one of the countries involved.

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Topical Questions

Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell) (Con)
With CHOGM coming up, does my hon. Friend agree that if Zimbabwe held free and open elections, that would give it a route back to the Commonwealth and, indeed, give what used to be the breadbasket of Africa free trade agreements with the rest of the world?

The Minister for Africa (Harriett Baldwin)
I assure my hon. Friend that, when I visited Zimbabwe recently, that was indeed the message I was able to convey to the new President.

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Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford) (Con)
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, where 7.7 million people face severe food insecurity and 2 million children are at risk of starvation, the level of emergency has been put to number three, which is the highest level. The European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management says it is getting worse by the day and that it is not business as usual. What can Her Majesty’s Government do to work with others both on humanitarian aid and on possibly increasing the number of peacekeepers for security?

Harriett Baldwin
My hon. Friend rightly raises the most appalling humanitarian situation. He will be aware that in Geneva—a week after next, I think it is—there will be a big pledging conference to raise money for a ​humanitarian crisis that the United Nations estimates is going to need at least $1.7 billion of aid in the coming months.

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Chris Evans (Islwyn) (Lab/Co-op)
T5. With the resignation of Jacob Zuma, who is about to go on trial on 6 April, is the Secretary of State confident that the cycles of corruption will now finally begin to be stamped out in South Africa? [904611]

Harriett Baldwin
The UK Government have welcomed and congratulated the new President, Mr Ramaphosa, and we are looking forward to his visit to the UK next month for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.worm walked out of the embassy and gave himself up to British justice.

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