HC Deb 04 March 1958 vol 583 cc953-4
27. Sir D. Robertson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland for what reasons a Bill for deer conservation and control has again been postponed in spite of the submission of an agreed plan in October, 1956, by the Nature Conservancy, the Scottish Landowners Federation, the National Farmers Union of Scotland, the Blackface Sheep Breeders Association and the British Field Sports Society, Scotland; and to what extent the delay stems from the opposition of the two landlords whose names have been communicated to him by the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland.

Mr. Maclay

The proposals referred to by my hon. Friend require and are receiving detailed consideration. I can assure him that while all representations are considered on their merits, examination of the proposals is not being held up on account of the views of the individuals to whom he refers.

Sir D. Robertson

Is not the delay really extraordinary? Does not my right hon. Friend agree that a Bill was introduced by the Government several years ago and then abandoned, and is he not aware that the people of Scotland expect him to do something to control deer which are running wild and increasing in number and eating crops which are subsidised by the taxpayer?

Mr. Maclay

The Bill to which my hon. Friend refers was rather different from the one which is now being considered. I realise the need for regulation, but this is a complex question which raises the interest of many people.

Mr. Kimball

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that there is not full agreement on this plan, which only gives us a closed season in two or three years' time and would involve setting up yet another branch of the Nature Conservancy, with increased public expenditure? Is he aware that the result which we all want could be achieved immediately by banning the sale of venison except in August, September and November and tightening up on the issue of firearm certificates?

Mr. Maclay

It is clear from my hon. Friend's supplementary question that this is a complex matter and requires careful consideration, which it is receiving at present.