Shadow foreign secretary William Hague has made a commitment to address the issue of illegal logging, should the Conservative Party win the general election next year.

Speaking at the Green Alliance annual debate on November 25, Mr Hague, who was making his first speech on the environment in the run-up to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, set out three key policies.

“First, we will press in the European parliament and at the European Council for strengthening the current draft regulation requiring that only legally harvested timber and timber products should be made available on the market.

“Second, we will introduce new criminal offences under UK law for the import and possession of illegal timber. There is no reason why it should not be possible to create an offence of selling or distributing imported wood illegally harvested in its country of origin or, indeed, of importing such wood into the UK. We will legislate to this effect and send a message to the rest of Europe that we are ready to lead on closing the market to illegally harvested timber.

“Third, we will pay particular attention to trade agreements with developing countries which have large rainforests.”

John White, chief executive of The Timber Trade Federation (TTF), welcomed Mr Hague’s comments. “Illegal logging is an issue that needs to be addressed and I’m delighted that people like William Hague and the Conservative Party are making a commitment to effectively support the steps the trade have taken in recent years.”

Strengthening the current draft legislation and introducing new laws regarding the import and possession of illegal timber were both things the TTF is working to achieve with the current governments in London and Brussels, said Mr White.