HC Deb 21 May 1954 vol 527 cc2493-6
Mr. Speaker

With regard to the Amendments to the First Schedule, I suggest to the House that as they may not interest all hon. Members, the learned clerk should read out the Amendments to page 14 line by line, and that if any hon. Member who is interested in a particular bird will rise when the line is read out, this would perhaps expedite our progress.

Further Lords Amendments agreed to: In page 14, line 8, column 2, after "Osprey" insert "Peregrine."

In line 16, column 1, leave out "Curlew, stone."

In line 18, column 2, after "Stint, Zemminck's," insert "Stone Curlew."

In line 24, column 1, after "Grebe, Slavonian," insert "Greenshank."

In line 29, column 1, after "Marsh-harrier" insert "Merlin."

Lords Amendment: In page 14, line 32, before Godwit, black-tailed, "insert" Brambling."

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)

I should like to ask a question about this Amendment. I understand that the object of the Amendment is to put the brambling in the class of birds which are protected by special penalties if they are taken during the closed season. The birds already in this Schedule are birds which people may want to shoot outside the closed season—though 1 do not know why anyone should want to shoot a godwit or a whimbrel. I cannot understand why the brambling should be put into this Schedule. If it were not in the Schedule, I take it that it would be an offence to kill a brambling at any time of the year. This will make it legal to kill a brambling outside the closed season. If the brambling is the bird which I think it is—I am not sure that I know it by sight; I do not know that I should recognise it in its street—it is a rather small inoffensive bird which no one possibly outside the Mediterranean would want to kill. Therefore, why is it put in Part II of the Schedule?

Mr. F. M. Bennett (Reading, North)

I should like to support what the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) has said. I think that, inadvertently, in another place an almost ludicrous situation has arisen. The effect of the Amendment is that this bird is especially protected for part of the year but can be shot without any protection at all for the rest of the year. That is an anomaly which should not be allowed to go through. Surely if this bird is felt to be a rare bird it should go fully into the First Schedule. I suggest to the hon. Lady that this is an Amendment which should be negatived.

12.45 p.m.

Lady Tweedsmuir

In spite of what has been said I must ask the House to agree with the Lords in the Amendment. I understand the difficulties put forward. The purpose of the First Schedule is to encourage birds who have only very rarely nested in this country to establish themselves as a breeding species. The brambling has made some attempts to nest in Scotland. If we protect it by the special penalty of the Schedule of a maximum fine of £25 or three months' imprisonment, we are giving it the maximum protection which it can have for its eggs. It is true that if we put it in Part II of the First Schedule we are allowing it to be shot at other times of the year. The point about the brambling is a very difficult one because it cannot be said to be eligible for Part I of the First Schedule. On the other hand, if we want to give the maximum protection in order that it may establish itself as a breeding species, we have to put it in Part II of the Schedule. By this Amendment I think that we shall be giving it the best possible protection that we can.

Mr. Bennett

Cannot this point be made in respect of the black-tailed godwit and of the brambling? I do not know the machinery of the House at this stage, but perhaps it would be possible to achieve the noble Lady's purpose and give it special protection at breeding time, without removing totally its protection for the rest of the year by adding after "Wild birds which may be killed or taken outside the close season" at the top of the Third Schedule, the words: "except the brambling and the black-tailed godwit."

Lady Tweedsmuir

We did discuss the question of the godwit in Committee. After considerable discussion it was agreed to leave it where it is in the Schedule. I feel that it would be illogical to make special provision for the brambling if we did not include the godwit and under the machinery of the House at present it would not be possible to move any Amendment about the godwit.

Colonel Clarke

At first sight I was inclined to support the hon. Member for Reading, North. I thought that it would be tidier not to have the brambling in Part II of the First Schedule. No other land birds are at present included.

On thinking the matter over, however, I see the force of the noble Lady's argument. The brambling is a very small bird, much smaller than a thrush. The number that are shot or killed in any way during the winter is very small. On the other hand, we want to encourage this bird as a breeding species, and I think it would be in much greater danger during the winter than in the summer. If one could regard these birds as constituents and the matter was put to them, I am sure that those in my constituency would prefer to be protected during their breeding season, like most of the good family birds, and would not mind taking the chance of an occasional accident in the winter.

Mr. Hayman

It seemed to me extraordinary that the brambling should be put into Part II of the First Schedule, which is confined wholly to sea birds. One understands that perhaps the sponsors of the Amendment desire to give this bird greater protection outside the close season. On the other hand, however, previously it had protection all through the year. It is a finch, and if this finch is allowed to be shot in some parts of the year, we may be giving licence to people to shoot other finches, with the excuse that they cannot distinguish one from another. I hope that consideration can be given to adopting the proposals put forward by the hon. Member for Reading, North (Mr. F. M. Bennett).

Question put, and agreed to.

Further Lords Amendments agreed to: in line 33, leave out "Greenshank."

In line 36, after "Common scoter" insert "Garganey teal."

In line 37, after "Goldeneye" insert "Long-tailed duck."