Thérèse Coffey
Defra junior minister Thérèse Coffey speaking during a House of Commons debate on the ivory trade, broadcast on Parliamentlive.tv

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Environment minister Andrea Leadsom announced in September that in the new year the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs would consult the antiques trade on the form of proof of age that will be required to exempt antiques from any ban on the UK trade in ivory.

Following a debate in the House of Commons on the ivory trade, junior environment minister Thérèse Coffey answered a series of parliamentary questions from MPs that were published last week.

She said it will consult on “our proposal to ban sales of ivory that is less than 70 years old (dated after 1947) as of March 2017”. She added: “As part of this, we plan to seek evidence on options and impacts of taking further action.”

Coffey said the consultation seeks to get the “views of conservationists, traders and other relevant parties to ensure clear rules and guidance for those operating within the law, while cracking down on illegal sales.”

She added: “We want to send a strong signal, both within the UK and internationally, that ivory is not desirable and that legal domestic trade in ivory should be stopped where it is contributing to poaching and trafficking. Closing the market for UK sales of ivory less than 70 years old will be an important way of doing this.”

The current rules allow for the trade in ivory dated pre-1947 but there is concern that many newer, modern ivory pieces masquerade as antiques and are traded despite it being illegal to do so.

The consultation will:

  • Last for up to 12 weeks
  • It will be conducted via a survey hosted on the gov.uk website and mailed to key art and antique associations, museums, environmental bodies, wildlife campaigners and other interested parties
  • Led by BAMF, the art and antiques trade will be making submissions via the questionnaire
  • Once submissions have been made, the government will publish a summary of responses within three months.