Dealer Michael Baggott with BBC Daily Politics interviewer Ellie Price. Image from BBC iPlayer.

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The silver specialist, a consistent voice for the trade on the ivory issue, was speaking on BBC Two’s Daily Politics show ahead of the parliamentary debate on the ivory bill later today.

Baggott warned that the proposed certification system for ivory objects that qualify for under the ‘de minimis’ exemption could be both “open to corruption” and a logistical “nightmare”.

The specialist silver dealer brought items on to the BBC programme to demonstrate his point.

Baggott showed two late 17th century two-pronged forks: one modest steel example with an ivory handle and another in silver gilt with a heavily carved figural handle with a current value of £4000. Both were cited as items that could become illegal to sell under the proposed new ivory ban. Neither would qualify under the ‘less than 10% by volume’ de minimis rule and Baggott feared even the more elaborate of the two examples would not be deemed an object of ‘outstanding cultural or artistic value’. 

An engraved late Victorian silver teapot with ivory insulators was used to demonstrate the de minimis exemption. While Baggott said it would qualify under the exemption, he explained the red tape necessary to sell such a piece. He added: “There are 20,000 antiques dealers in the country. Many of whom have items such as this that require certification [paid-for online registration]. When this law comes in at least 400,000 certificates will need to be issued. Now who is going to do that?”

Baggott’s comments were followed by a discussion with Daily Politics presenter Jo Coburn and the MPs Antoinette Sandwich (Conservative) and Marsha de Cordova (Labour).

"Being abused"

Sandbach, MP for Eddisbury in Cheshire, said: “The post-1947 ivory ban was being abused. This new ban does not mean these items will be destroyed. They can still be passed down through families.”

Marsha de Cordova, MP for Battersea, said her party fully supports the ivory bill that is currently going through parliament.

The discussion came ahead of the second reading of the government’s ivory bill which is scheduled to begin this evening at 7.15pm in parliament. This is the first time MPs in the House of Commons will get the chance to debate the bill.

The bill contains details of the ivory trade ban as outlined by Defra in April including a number of exemptions. Read ATG's guide to the UK ivory ban.

Representatives from dealer bodies BADA and LAPADA, auctioneer association SOFAA and the ADA (Antiquities Dealers’ Association) are in discussions with legal advisors about the potential for a judicial review into how the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) conducted its public consultation ahead of the launch of the ivory bill.