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Cormack, a historian, politician and author, speaking at the House of Lords debate today, said: “The immediate knee-jerk reaction is not the right action. We have a duty not only to preserve the flora and fauna… but to preserve the art of the past.”

The established arguments for and against a total ban were heard at the debate ahead of the closure of the government consultation into a total ban on the ivory trade on December 29.

Lord De Mauley

LAPADA chairman and former environment minister Lord De Mauley speaking at a House of Lords debate.

The antiques trade arguments were fought by both LAPADA chairman and former environment minister Lord De Mauley and Lord Carrington of Fulham, who opened the debate.

However, arguing for a total ban were peers including Labour peer Baroness Jones of Whitchurch and Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville.  

Whitchurch said: “Three-quarters of the public want a total ban... We support a clear ban and to end the distinction between ivory carved before and after 1947... We need a simple and clear set of rules that do not allow for loop-holes.”

She argued that certain exemptions could be allowed: items containing less than 5% ivory; musical instruments; antique miniatures; and museum purchases.