HC Deb 29 April 1959 vol 604 cc1387-9
Mr. T. Fraser

I beg to move, in page 5, line 39, after "requirement", to insert: or is failing to take such steps as may be necessary to carry out that requirement". It might be convenient if we take this Amendment with the next following Amendment, in line 40, after "Commission", to insert: after giving reasonable warning to the said owner or occupier".

Mr. Deputy-Speaker


Mr. Fraser

Clause 10 says that If the Commission are of the opinion that any owner or occupier of land upon whom a requirement is laid by a control scheme has failed to carry out that requirement, it shall be the duty of the Commission to carry out the requirement if they are satisfied that it is still necessary so to do. The purpose of the Amendment I am moving is to secure that the Commission will be able to intervene if in its opinion the person upon whom the requirement has been put under a control scheme is failing to take such steps as may be necessary to carry out that requirement. We think that then the Commission should agree to step in and in the second Amendment we provide that before stepping in the Commission should give reasonable warning to the…owner or occupier of the land. When considering these two Amendments, hon. Members should look back to Clause 8 to see what a control scheme may include. They will appreciate that a control scheme may very well put a requirement upon an owner or occupier to carry out a series of measures over a long time to reduce the number of deer on that land or, in some cases, to exterminate the deer altogether.

As Clause 10 is drawn, it would appear that after a scheme has been made and the requirement imposed on the owner or occupier the Commission is powerless to do anything until the owner or occupier has failed to carry out every requirement put upon him by the scheme. It may be that very quickly the Commission will have good reason to believe that the person concerned is failing to take all the necessary steps to carry out the requirement imposed by a control scheme. I feel sure that those who wish to see the Commission getting ahead with its job and the deer being controlled in the interests of other users of land, who are suffering damage at present, will agree that the Commission should be given some discretion to step in if in its opinion the person upon whom the requirement has been put is failing to take the steps necessary to carry out the requirement.

Mr. Ross

I beg to second the Amendment.

9.15 p.m.

Lord John Hope

I think that the House will agree that the anxiety expressed by the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) in moving the Amendment is reasonable and understandable. The Opposition are anxious lest somebody upon whom a requirement has been put simply does nothing whatever about it until it is so late, although it may not be the end of the specified period, that it is impossible for him to carry out his duty. It is suggested that at that point the Commission, seeing that he has failed to begin the work early enough, should be able to step in, even though the specified time has not quite elapsed, and say to him, "It is impossible for you to do the work in the next two or three weeks. You have had three months in which to do it. We shall therefore begin without further ado."

That is a reasonable apprehension, and at first sight the Amendment is attractive. May I, however, put two points which occurred to me after I had considered this matter at length? I am sure that the last thing the Opposition want to do is to enable the Commission to step in too early, as a result of misjudgment on its part. against an owner who may have very good reason for what the Commission thinks unreasonable delay and who may be quite confident that he can carry out his obligation in time, although the Commission, which does not know the land as well as he does, might disagree with him.

That is the risk which we should have to run under the Amendment. I therefore asked myself whether the substance of what the Opposition want to achieve is not already achieved in the Bill as it stands. I submit to the House that it is. If the Commission is to lay a duty upon an owner over a period of time, which will often happen, it will be open to the Commission to phase that duty. If it were to say, "You must kill so many deer over so many months", there is nothing to stop it from also saying, "You must kill so many a month".

It would thus be open to the Commission to step in. without the Amendment, when any one phase in this long operation had not been carried out by the owner. In such a case it would be stepping in before the job was finished, which is what the Opposition want. I think that that is a perfectly reasonable desire, but I suggest that it would not be reasonable to run the risk which I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks, in view of the fact that if the Commission handles the matter properly it will be able to step in should the owner fail to carry out any phase of the requirement. For that reason, I recommend that we leave the Clause as it is.

Mr. T. Fraser

In spite of what the noble Lord has said, I think that the Clause would be improved by the wording of our Amendments. These are not the most important Amendments on the Order Paper, however. I think we had better simply have the Amendment which I have moved negatived and proceed to the next business.

Amendment negatived.