The ivory bill was debated by MPs for the first time in the House of Commons on June 4.

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The almost wholly consensual debate ran in the Commons from 7.15 to 10pm with around 40 MPs in attendance.

The argument was made many times that that the current law - allowing for the trade in elephant ivory worked prior to 1947 - is inadequate in the quest to safeguard a keystone species.

The need for a narrow band of exceptions was supported by all but one MP, although most of the speakers suggested it would be necessary to debate some of the finer points at committee stage. This may include clarifying the definitions that surround some of the proposed exemptions - particularly items deemed of ‘outstanding artistic value’.

Owen Paterson, the MP for North Shropshire, had consulted with the antiques trade in the run up to the June 4 debate. He told the house it was his impression that dealers and auctioneers “feel the bill is tighter than they would like but they can live with it”.

The second reading of the government’s ivory bill was the first time MPs in the House of Commons debated the bill following its launch in parliament on May 23.

Dealer Martin Levy of H. Blairman & Sons, told ATG: "The overall thrust of last night’s second reading of the ivory bill was predictable, but not discouraging.  

“While many MPs remain seduced by the idea that banning bona fide works of art will save the elephant, the Secretary of State was robust in emphasising the justification for controlled exemptions.”

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.