§ Lord John Hope
I beg to move, in page 3, line 28, at beginning to insert:Subject to the following provisions of this section".Will it be convenient, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to take with this Amendment the Amendment standing in the name of my right hon. Friend, in page 3, line 34, to leave out from "authorization" to "any" in line 35, which deals with the same point and is consequential?
§ Lord John Hope
These are drafting Amendments. The provisions in Clause 6 (1) for authorising persons to kill marauding deer are subject to the provisions which require the Commission to attempt in appropriate cases to arrange for the owner or shooting tenant to carry out the killing voluntarily. The later provisions are at present contained in Clause 6 (2), but will, by a later Amendment, he contained in subsections (2) and (3). The draftsman has taken the opportunity not only to amend the reference to subsection (2), but also to alter the position of the qualification and thereby give it more prominence. I hope that the House will agree that this is a tidying Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.1959.1312
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. D. Johnston
I beg to move, in page 3, line 30, to leave out "substantial".
Will it be convenient, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to deal also with the next Amendment, in page 3, line 31, after "land", to insert:exceeding in amount the sum of one shilling per acre of the area over which it extends".These two Amendments go together.
§ Mr. Johnston
The House will know that Clause 6 empowers the Commission to take steps to deal with marauding deer. Marauding deer are deer which come down from the hills, go on to farm land and do damage. As the Clause stands, the Commission is empowered to deal with those marauding deer only if the damage is substantial. I suggest that it is inadvisable to have adjectives or adverbs in Acts of Parliament, unless those adjectives or adverbs are absolutely necessary and can be precisely defined.
"Substantial" is like "habitual", which was deleted at an earlier stage. It is not easy to define. Indeed, in Stroud's Judicial Dictionary, Vol. IV, "substantial" is defined asA word of no fixed meaning. It is an unsatisfactory medium for carrying the idea of some ascertainable proportion of the whole.Stroud contains a note of 20 cases in which "substantial" has to be construed by the courts.
I do not know how the Commission would construe "substantial". It might think that if deer came on land they must necessarily damage the land simply by stepping on it. On the other hand, the Commission might take the view that damage was not "substantial" unless half the crop was eaten. We have no knowledge of how the Commission would construe "substantial" and, therefore, I suggest that the word should be deleted and that we should guide the Commission in what shall be the determining factor of whether it shall deal with marauding deer.
That brings me to the second of the Amendments, which, in effect, defines the circumstances in which the Commission should deal with marauding deer. It 1313 defines the circumstances by specifying that if the damage exceeds in amountthe sum of one shilling per acre of the area over which it extendsit may authorise the killing.
This is not an idea of my own, but is taken word for word from Section 15 of the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act, 1949, which says that, if damage to the extent of 1s. per acre of the area over which the damage extends is done, that entitles the crofter to make a complaint to the landlord, to have an arbiter appointed and the damage assessed. I suggest that that is a satisfactory definition. It gives something on which the Commission can decide.
Some people may think that 1s. is too high and that damage to a very much less amount should entitle the Commission to determine that the deer are marauding deer and, therefore, deal with them. I can see that point of view. On the other hand, other people may think that 1s. is too low and that nothing less than damage to the extent of 2s. 6d. per acre, or even 5s. per acre, over the area on which the damage is done is a satisfactory amount. I can see that there are arguments. As I have said, I have taken 1s. from the earlier Act because that was the point at which Parliament determined in 1949 that damage was substantial.
I suggest that we should delete "substantial" and that we want to define and tell the Commission in what circumstances it is to act. It is especially necessary that this should be done, because, after all, the marauding deer will be dealt with, in most cases, by the panels. I do not know how many panels there will be, but at a guess I should say there will be from 15 to 30. It would be unsatisfactory if a panel in Caithness were to adopt a different standard of marauding damage, if I may use that expression, from that adopted by a panel in Argyll. This would necessarily occur unless the Commission itself were to determine what the marauding damage standard was to be.
If it is suggested that it should be left to the Commission to decide the marauding damage standard and give directions to the panel, would it not be far better for Parliament itself to do it? I suggest, therefore, that the Amendments should be accepted.
§ Lord John Hope
When we discussed this matter in Committee we had a long and interesting debate about it. As I recollect, both sides of the Committee felt, on the whole, that there had to be some guidance to the Commission. The argument was really about what the guidance should be. Criticism was levelled against the word "substantial" very much in the same terms as those used by the hon. and learned Member for Paisley (Mr. D. Johnston) this afternoon. I cannot remember whether, on that occasion he fortified himself with the quotation. I rather think that he did. It certainly shows up the defects when one comes down to minute definition of the word "substantial".
The difficulty has been to find anything better. One hon. Member opposite suggested that the word "material" would be preferable. On consideration, we felt that that was really no better than "substantial". The point is that the Commission obviously is not required—the House would not require it—to deal with trivial and wholly unimportant damage. One starts really by saying to the Commission, "Do not deal with trivial damage which does not matter, but deal with damage which does matter". That is how we came to adopt this word which the dictionary has described as unsatisfactory. Whatever the dictionary may say, I suggest to the House that a body of reasonable men such as the panels and the Commission will know, by the words we are putting in, that the House does not intend trivial damage to be taken into account.
If we can guide the panels to that extent, we shall do all we need to do, without trying to pin them down too finely. If we were to try to give a finer definition such as the definition of damage which the hon. and learned Gentleman suggested, we should run the risk of trying to set a detailed standard for a country where many parts have conditions totally different from what they are in others. That would be one of the difficulties in that specific suggestion.
However that may be, there is this to be said about his specific suggestion. It really would be very much of a triviality as it is. He mentioned the 1949 Act. 1315 It is perfectly true that that standard was provided there, but it is interesting to reflect that that Act merely repeated the relevant provision from a much earlier Act passed in 1906. That is nothing necessarily against it, but it possibly indicates that the yardstick is a little out of proportion in 1959.
§ Mr. D. Johnston
Does the noble Lord mean that, in his view at any rate, the yardstick of 1949 and the earlier yardstick of 1906 is too small, that the figure should be increased to 5s., 10s. or £1? Is that what he means?
§ Lord John Hope
That is just the difficulty. I feel that the figure suggested is of a trivial nature in terms of modern money values. Then the hon. and learned Gentleman comes back and asks, quite reasonably, what I think would be reasonable. That is precisely where I feel that it would be unwise to be tied down.
§ Lord John Hope
If necessary, at the end of the day, but at least, when one decides to leave it to the Commission, one is leaving it to people who will be on the spot and who will know or should know far better than Parliament what, in a given case, is a reasonable yardstick for substantial damage done.
§ Mr. Woodburn
As far as I can understand him, the noble Lord has been saying that what he does not want to do is to have the Commission troubled with trivial damage. Is that right?
§ Mr. Woodburn
Could he draw the distinction between "not trivial" and "substantial"? The word "substantial" gives me the impression of being something different from "not trivial".
§ Lord John Hope
I do not think that any body of men would be misled by the word "substantial" at all. They would realise that it meant not trivial.
§ Lord John Hope
It means not trivial, and that is very important. It is most valuable for the Commission to know that Parliament does not intend it to deal with trivial damage.
§ Mr. Woodburn
I would say that "considerable" damage—something to be considered as damage—would be different from "substantial", which seems to suggest something very great, in which case many things less than substantial would suffer. What does the noble Lord think?
§ Lord John Hope
I think that the right hon. Gentleman's hon. and learned Friend the Member for Paisley would probably torpedo any attempt to insert the word "considerable" just as effectively as he did the word "substantial" in terms of dictionary definition. I recognise perfectly well that this is not easy. I did not in Committee, and I do not now, criticise the Opposition for raising the point about the word "substantial". It is not wholly satisfactory but, in the words of the old saying if they know of a better 'ole they should go to it. They have not found one vet. This is a worse hole.
§ Mr. Willis
Will the noble Lord read the subsection without the word "substantial" and see where we really are? It begins by saying thatWhere the Commission are satisfied that red deer are coming on to any agricultural land…In other words, the deer have not been once but they are coming on to it, which, I assume, means regularly coming on to the agricultural landor woodland or garden ground and are causing… damageIf deer are wandering over agricultural land, garden ground or forestry land, they are doing damage if they wander there more than once.
What does the subsection say if we leave out the word "substantial"? It then reads:… are causing… damage to crops, pasture or animal or human foodstuffs, or trees on that land and that the killing of the deer is necessary for the prevention of further damage".Thus, in addition to the damage which is already done, the Commission is to be satisfied also that further damage is likely to be done.
§ Mr. Willis
It is not "substantial" damage here, as my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) points out. The reference is to further damage being done there. Therefore, in toto, there will be a fair amount of damage done before the Commission will act, even if the word "substantial" is left out.
§ Lord John Hope
With respect to the hon. Gentleman, I do not think that that is so. If we did as he suggests and left out the word "substantial"—that was the substance of his suggestion, was it not?—
§ Lord John Hope
— then any damage caused to crops with a risk of it being continued would fall to be dealt with under Statute. Then footmarks of deer across a corner of a little field would be regarded, strictly speaking, as damage. But that would not be the sort of damage which should be dealt with by the Commission.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Willis
The noble Lord is talking nonsense. The Clause speaks of…red deer… coming on to any agricultural land or woodland or garden ground and… causing"—omitting the word "substantial"—damage…I suggest to the noble Lord that if the deer are coming night after night they are not causing negligible damage. They are not just strolling that way because it happens to be a pleasant piece of land to stroll over. They are there for a purpose, and that purpose is to obtain something to eat.
§ Mr. Willis
The noble Lord now accepts my point and admits that they will be causing damage of a substantial character. The Clause goes on to say — not only if the deer are coming down maybe every night for a week or a fortnight—that the Commission has to satisfy itself that to prevent further damage it is necessary to kill deer.
1318 I suggest to the noble lord that, before we should think of killing deer to prevent further damage, the further damage will be substantial as, otherwise, we should be thinking of killing off deer because they happen to have trodden down three blades of grass in the northern corner of someone's field and not only if they were doing substantial damage. All these considerations would automatically be part of the Commission's duty without the word "substantial" I suggest to the noble Lord that he reads the Clause—I do not think that he has read it—to see what it really says.
The second point I want to make is that there is something of very great delay in the argument that we have to wait for substantial damage before we start to kill marauding deer or make a scheme under the provisions of Clause 6. Surely we have not to wait until someone has had £50. £60 or £100 worth of damage done before we take steps about it. We do not even know whether it is substantial. In the context of a very large farm, well insured, it might not be very substantial, but £5 worth of damage in the context of a five or six acre crop might be very substantial. The whole of someone's winter pea crop might go in the night.
If the noble Lord took out the word the Clause would ensure precisely what he wants it to ensure and would tend to prevent damage being done which might otherwise be done if we have to wait for a substantial amount of damage to occur before steps can be taken to deal with the deer. Both these considerations seem to me to be very important, quite apart from the rather useless argument of trying to determine what exactly "substantial" means. I do not think that we get very far like that.
Let us read the Clause without the word "substantial" and see whether we do not achieve the same goal that we set out to achieve. I think that we do. I also think that by omitting the word it makes it possible to prevent a certain amount of damage being done prior to substantial damage, which might be very great indeed. I think that these are important considerations and that the noble Lord ought to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Ross
I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary will change his mind. I believe 1319 that the debate has proved that the Government would be very wise to take out the word "substantial", which will cause all the trouble. If it is so important to have it in Clause 6 then the immediate question which arises is why we have not got the word in Clause 7. Of course, Clause 7 is to be amended by the Government. In their Amendment they say thatWhere the Commission are satisfied that red deer have caused damage to agriculture or forestry…it has to set in motion an elaborate control scheme. All the arguments of the Joint Under-Secretary mean that if the word is not in this Clause there is something wrong with the other Clause.
I suggest to the noble Lord that he should trust the Commission. It will have to be satisfied in relation to the damage. Do not let us throw in this extra word to delay any action being taken. If under Clause 7 we can activate a control scheme on the basis of just "damage" to agriculture surely the Commission does not need the phrase "substantial damage" in the context of this Clause.
§ Mr. D. Johnston
I am sorry about the reply which the noble Lord has given because it means that Parliament is abrogating its duty. The primary duty of Parliament when passing legislation is to pass clear legislation which is not certain to give rise to controversy and difficult points of law. This word will certainly give rise to controversy and difficult points of law, and for this reason.
The Commission, or, rather, the panel as I think it must be, will adopt standards of the word "substantial" which may vary as between one panel and another. A panel will decide that substantial damage has been done by marauding deer and will take the steps necessary under the Clause. What will happen? On some occasion or other it will meet a recalcitrant highland laird who, with the habitual propensity of his kind, will litigate. We shall then have an action in the court of assize to interdict the panel and the Commission from proceeding to take the steps proposed under the Clause.
I am sure that the noble Lord has met such Highland lairds. We shall have a magnificent debate which will be highly remunerative to members of the Scottish 1320 Bar and the court will be entertained for some hours with excerpts from various judgments in which the word "substantial" has been determined. I can imagine that it would be a great entertainment and if the Lord Advocate were still in office at the time he would probably appear for the Commission, as it is, in effect, a Government Department.
I can well imagine the embarrassments to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman would be put when asked what Parliament meant when it wrote the word "substantial" into the Bill. I wonder what his reply would be to the court and to the House? Of course, the right hon. and learned Gentleman would have to agree with me from his experience that in litigation this is the most fatal type of word ever to put into a Clause, particularly into a Clause which affects landlords, especially landlords in the Highlands.
I see that the right hon. and learned Member for Kensington, South (Sir P. Spens) is present. He has great experience both at the Bar and on the judicial bench. He knows as well as I do that this is the sort of word that gives rise to difficulty. It is said that the word is necessary. If it is necessary in this Clause, why is it not necessary in the succeeding Clause? The real reason is, of course, that the Government have not the courage of their convictions, if they have any convictions.
They know quite well that the Clause will never work. They know quite well that it is much better to cast the odium of working this Clause upon panels and say, "The panel should decide it, not us." They dare not put in the words of the 1949 Act, because that would offend the owners of deer forests. On the other hand, they dare not specify what damage must be caused per acre, because that would offend the crofters. They would rather that the matter were determined by the panels or the Commission to the great expense of the Commission and of the other litigant.
I look forward to the Lord Advocate trying to defend the presence of this word in the Clause. It will be fascinating.
§ Sir Patrick Spens (Kensington, South)
I have listened with great interest to the debate. I share the dislike of every lawyer of the adjective "substantial", but I do not believe that it matters 1321 whether the word remains in the Clause or not. The main decision which has to be taken is not as to the quantum of damage, but as to whether there is a prospect of further damage which can be prevented only by making an order to kill the deer. The Commission will not concern itself with whether it is a matter of a few footprints of deer or whether it is the removal of a crop.
The question which the Commission will deal with is: is there a prospect of this being repeated. and is the only way to prevent it being repeated to kill the deer? I do not mind whether the word remains in or not, but I dislike the word intensely.
§ Mr. Maclay
I have listened with great care to the remarks of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kensington. South (Sir P. Spens), and I respect the willingness of hon. and learned Members to deprive themselves of future sources of revenue, according to the hon. and learned Member for Paisley (Mr. D. Johnston), by aiming at absolute purity in an Act of Parliament. If only there were an Act of Parliament which was clear, precise and capable of a definite interpretation, I should be extraordinarily happy.
There is, of course, a difference between Clauses 6 and 7. Clause 7 is concerned with the question of schemes dealing with colonised deer. A quite different set of circumstances exists in coming to a decision whether this is necessary under Clause 7 than in the rather doubtful question which arises under Clause 6, of whether deer are marauding and are likely to come back and maraud again. The word "substantial" is a useful guide. It would be a great mistake to insert a precise figure for the very reason that the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) gave, namely, that what may be substantial to one crofter is negligible to a very big farmer. I should have thought that some flexibility was essential in the administration of the Bill.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
Does not the Secretary of Slate appreciate that it is not what the crofter, the Commission or the panels think at the end of the day, but if a landowner takes the view that the Commission should not have acted in respect to marauding deer, it is he who will go to the court to say that the damage was not substantial.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Maclay
The original decision must rest with the Commission. The hon. Member is looking for a difficulty which I do not think will arise, particularly in dealing with marauding deer. Difficulty will be caused by the landlord who makes a fuss about marauding deer being dealt with. I recognise that an argument may arise about a big scheme under Clause 7, but it is generally known when deer are marauding. It is like a sick fox which does certain things. A marauding deer is apt to act in the same way. Nobody wants it and everybody wants to get rid of it.
However much we may argue whether this word is better than another, if one examines it carefully there is still reasonable room for doubt as to what should happen. I think that we must reject the Amendment.
§ Mr. Woodburn
I am disappointed with the answer of the Secretary of State. He has had guidance, almost silent guidance. from the Lord Advocate and from two other eminent legal luminaries. I should like to call his attention to a very important point. If deer come regularly on to certain ground and are an infernal nuisance, they may not cause what anyone would call substantial damage, but the cumulative effect may be that they are absolutely ruining the croft or farm. It may be that on no occasion could they be said to be causing substantial damage.
I agree entirely with what the right hon. and learned Member for Kensington, South (Sir P. Spens) said, that the two conditions have to be satisfied. The second condition is obviously complete protection to any frivolous interpretation of the word "damage" because if deer are causing damage the Commission must be satisfied that to prevent further damage it is necessary to kill the deer.
It is clear that a nuisance can be caused which could not justified in the courts as being substantial and a deer forest owner could have his deer flitting about on other people's land without the damage caused being defined as substantial. My feeling about the word "substantial" is that it means big or great. Some of the clansmen of the right hon. Gentleman have been involved in legal processes over the word "substantial", and I should have thought that he would 1323 have learned from the experiences of his fellow clansmen.
Obviously, the Government and the House want perpetual or continuing damage to a farm to be stopped. Why should that continuing damage be restricted by the presence of the word "substantial" and why should we tie the Commission's hands so that it cannot act, even if the damage constitutes a continual interference, until substantial damage is caused? The words "big" and "small" are relative. It may be that the Secretary of State does not want to accept the specific definition of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. D. Johnston) and wants to
§ leave the matter to the Commission. If the word "substantial" is deleted the Commission will have the right to stop an infernal nuisance and continual destruction being caused to a farm which may not be capable of being described as substantial.
§ I hope that the Secretary of State will take advantage of the permission of the House to speak again, and say that he will leave out the word "substantial", even if he cannot accept the specific definition of my hon. and learned Friend.
§ Question put, That "substantial" stand part of the Bill:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 203, Noes 171.1325
|Division No. 93.]||AYES||[5.50 p.m.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Glover, D.||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Lancaster)|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Glyn, Col. Richard H,||McLean, Neil (Inverness)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William||Goodhart, Philip||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Cough, C. F. H.||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)|
|Atkins, H. E.||Gower, H. R.||McMaster, S. R.|
|Baldwin, Sir Archer||Graham, Sir Fergus||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold(Bromley)|
|Barber, Anthony||Grant, Rt. Hon. W. (Woodside)||Maddan, Martin|
|Barter, John||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)|
|Batsford, Brian||Green, A.||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Markham, Major Sir Frank|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Marshall, Douglas|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Gurden, Harold||Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Mawby, R. L.|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Medlicott, Sir Frank|
|Biggs-Davison, J, A.||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.|
|Bingham, R. M.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Moore, Sir Thomas|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Nabarro, G. D. N.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.||Nairn, D. L. S.|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Henderson-Stewart, Sir James||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey (Farnham)|
|Body, R. F.||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Noble, Michael (Argyll)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hill, John (S. Norfolk)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Braine, B. R.||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Hope, Lord John||Osborne, C.|
|Brewis, John||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Page, R. G.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Partridge, E.|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Howard, John (Test)||Peel, W. J.|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|Cole, Norman||Hurd, Sir Anthony||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Hutchison, Michael Clark(E'b'gh, S.)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Hyde, Montgomery||Pitt, Miss E. M.|
|Corfield, F. V.||Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Iremonger, T. L.||Profumo, J. D.|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Redmayne, M.|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Rippon, A. G. F.|
|Deedes, W. F.||Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|de Ferranti, Basil||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Robertson, Sir David|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Leavey, J. A.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|du Cann, E. D. L.||Leburn, W. G.||Russell, R. S.|
|Duncan, Sir James||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Duthle, W. S.||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Sharpies, R. C.|
|Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Elliott, R.W.(Ne'castle upon Tyne.N.)||Linstead, Sir H. N.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Fell, A.||Longden, Gilbert||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Fisher, Nigel||Loveys, Walter H.||Speir, R. M.|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Gammans, Lady||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|George, J. C. (Pollok)||McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Storey, S.|
|Gibson-Watt, D.||Maclay. Rt. Hon. John||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Summers, Sir Spencer||Turner, H. F. L.||Webster, David|
|Teeling, W.||Tweedsmuir, Lady||Whitelaw, W. S. I.|
|Temple, John M.||Vane, W. H. F.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, s.)|
|Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)||Vickers, Miss Joan||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)||Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Thompson, R. (Croydon, S.)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)||Woollam, John Victor|
|Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.||Wall, Patrick|
|Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin||Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R, (Worcester)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Tilney, A. (Bradford, W.)||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)||Mr. Bryan and Mr. Finlay.|
|Tilney, John (Wavertree)||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Hilton, A. V.||Peart, T. F.|
|Albu, A. H.||Hobson, C. R. (Keighley)||Pentland, N.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Holmes, Horace||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Holt, A. F.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Rankin, John|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Hoy, J. H.||Redhead, E. C.|
|Blackburn, F.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Reeves, J.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Hunter, A. E.||Rhodes, H.|
|Bonham Carter, Mark||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Bowles, F. G.||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Janner, B.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Burke, W. A.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Ross, William|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Royle, C.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Carmichael, J.||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech(Wakefield)||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Champion, A. J.||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)|
|Chapman, W. D.||Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Snow, J. W.|
|Cliffe, Michael||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)||King, Dr. H. M.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Cronin, J. D.||Lindgren, G. S.||Stonehouse, John|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Logan, D. C.||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||McAlister, Mrs. Mary||Sylvester, G. O.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||McCann, J.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Diamond, John||McInnes, J||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Donnelly, D. L.||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||McLeavy, Frank||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Thornton, E.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Timmons, J.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Mahon, Simon||Tomney, F.|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Mallalieu, E L. (Brigg)||Viant, S. P.|
|Finch. H. J. (Bedwellty)||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Wade, D. w.|
|Fitch, A. E. (Wigan)||Mayhew, C. P.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Forman, J. C.||Mellish, R. J.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Messer, Sir F.||Weitzman, D.|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Mitchison, G. R.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Gooch, E. G.||Monslow, W.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Moody, A. s.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Mort, D. L.||Willey, Frederick|
|Grey, C. F.||Moss, R.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Moyle, A.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||William, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Grimond, J.||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Hale, Leslie||Oliver, G. H.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Orbach, M.||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Hannan, W.||Oswald, T.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Hayman, F. H.||Padley, W. E.||Woof, R. E.|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)||Parker, J.|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Paton, John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Pearson, A.||Mr. Short and Mr. Deer.|
§ Amendment made: In page 3, line 34 leave out from "authorization" to "any" in line 35.—[Lord John Hope.]
§ Lord John Hope
I beg to move, in page 4, line 1, to leave out from "shall" to the end of line 3 and to insert:make a request to that effect in writing to that person.1326(3) Where any such request as aforesaid has been made to a person, the Commission shall not issue an authorisation under this section unless it appears to them that he has become unable or unwilling to comply with the terms of the request".Subsection (1) of the Clause provides that where the Commission is satisfied that marauding deer are causing damage 1327 that is likely to be continued, it shall authorise somebody to kill the deer. Subsection (2), however, provides that where the Commission is also satisfied that it knows where the deer are coming from and that the owner or shooting tenant of the land will forthwith undertake the killing of the deer, the Commission shall not issue an authorisation but shall instead give him an opportunity of doing so at the Commission's request. The purpose of the Amendment is to ensure that if it becomes apparent that he cannot or will not comply with the request the Commission may then authorise someone else—for instance, one of its own stalkers—to undertake the killing without further delay.
This Amendment is the result of another of the undertakings I gave in Committee to try to meet what I thought was the Committee's wish, and I hope that it does so.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
I think that the Joint Under-Secretary of State, in commending the Amendment to the House, went a little further than the Amendment itself goes. I may be wrong about that, but he called our attention to the fact that the Commission was obliged not to make an authorisation for the killing of the marauding deer where the person with the right to kill deer on that land had undertaken to kill the deer forthwith. The words in subsection (2) of this Clause areany person having the right to kill deer thereon will forthwith undertake the killing of the deer first-mentioned".Then he said that when any request is not being complied with the Commission will authorise one of its own staff forthwith to deal with the marauding deer.
I am wondering whether that is the effect of the Amendment. The new subsection (3) which it proposes says:Where any such request as aforesaid has been made to a person, the Commission shall not issue an authorisation under this section unless it appears to them that he has become unable or unwilling to comply with the terms of the request".Surely those words envisage a delay in dealing with the matter, a delay quite unjustified when one is dealing with marauding deer.
Marauding deer, it has been discovered, have on the last two nights trampled on 1328 the crofter's turnip patch, and there is reason to believe that they will come again on the next two nights. The person who has the right to take the deer has given an undertaking to the Commission that he will deal with the marauding deer. That is what it says in subsection (2) of the Clause as it stands. The Amendment says that the Commission will not issue an authorisation for the killing of the deer unless it appears to the Commission that the person having the right to take the deer has become unable or unwilling to do it.
Presumably, the Commission is in Inverness, but the marauding may occur in Argyllshire or Sutherland. The panel may be in Inverness. At any rate, neither is on the spot and seeing whether or not damage is being done. It sends someone to inform it, and he says that the person with the right to take the deer has become unable or unwilling to comply with the Commission's request to kill the deer, and then the Commission or panel may authorise one of its own stalkers to kill the deer.
What period of time is to elapse after the making of the request, which has to be done in writing, to the person who has the right to take the deer to kill the deer which have been on the turnip patch? It may be that the deer have been on the turnip patch for the last two nights and eaten one-third of the turnips already, and that they will come back another night. By the time the letter is delivered, precious few of the turnips will be left. Then, presumably, the panel, or the Commission, as the case may be, will have to allow a reasonable time for the person to comply with the request made in writing. What sort of period of time is to elapse before the Commission's stalkers are sent in?
I rather think that this proposal is just tinkering with the problem of marauding deer. This is not the way to authorise the Commission to deal with marauding deer.
§ Lord John Hope
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will recollect that in debate in Committee it was suggested that 48 hours would be a reasonable limit to give. I remember pointing out that whereas, in many cases, that might be reasonable, and that the Commission would certainly enjoin speed, there 1329 would be occasions, in bad weather, for instance, when it would not be reasonable, and that, therefore, it would be better to leave it to the Commission. That was the consideration which was the basis of this Amendment. The Commission will not delay, but have the job done as soon as it possibly can.
§ Mr. Fraser
I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary is wrong in thinking that in Committee the Opposition thought that the period of 48 hours or any such period of time would be a proper time to allow an owner to deal with marauding deer, if the turnips have been eaten and the turnip patch trampled and destroyed.
I am reliably informed by those who suffer this damage that deer do not pick Out one turnip at a time and eat it cleanly before they start on another. I understand that that is not the way deer behave when they get into a turnip patch. It is my view, and I should have thought it would have been the view of the House, that when deer are marauding and doing this kind of damage, action should be taken quickly. The Joint Under-Secretary will recall how he described the habits of marauding deer, whom everybody wanted to get rid of, he said.
Why should we say to the Commission that if the person who has the right to take the deer is willing to handle them himself but then fails, it has got to make a request in writing, taking 36 or 48 hours, and why should we then say in the Bill that the Commission may not, after that, authorise one of its own servants to take the deer until it appears to the Commission that the person with the right to take the deer has been unable or unwilling to comply with the terms of the Commission's request? Should we not rather say that if he does not deal with the deer forthwith, the Commission's servants will do so? It seems to me that the Commission's servants should forthwith deal with the marauding deer.
The Commission will spend a good deal of the taxpayers' money, and we do not want it to be wholly for the benefit of the sporting tenants of deer forests. We hope that some of the public money which the Commission is to spend will be for the crofters and farmers who have suffered damage over the years. In the circumstances, it seems to me that the 1330 words of the Amendment are hopelessly inadequate for the purpose.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
I should like to endorse what my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton, West (Mr. T. Fraser) has said. The Joint Under-Secretary said that he had accepted the Opposition's view—he said it was the Opposition's view—that 48 hours was about the amount of time one had in mind in meaning urgency, but that the Commission must be allowed to have discretion in this matter to deal with various circumstances, such as bad weather.
§ Lord John Hope
Perhaps I have misheard the hon. Gentleman, but I do not think that that is what I said. I was referring to what I thought was a request by the Opposition, that the period of 48 hours should be stipulated. In Committee, an Amendment was moved by the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser), as follows:In the event of that person not complying with the request within forty-eight hours, the Commission shall authorise the killing of the deer".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Standing Committee, Tuesday, 10th March. 1959; c. 315.]I think that I am on the right point.
§ Mr. Thomson
I am grateful to the Minister for that clarification, but it leaves the matter as unsatisfactory as it was before. I did not understand the explanation that the Minister gave of the Amendment that he himself was moving. It seemed to me that the terms in which he moved the Amendment were quite inconsistent and to some extent contradictory to the Amendment. All that the Amendment on the Notice Paper does is to provide thatWhere any such request as aforesaid has been made to a person, the Commission shall not issue an authorisation under this section unless it appears to them that he has become unable or unwilling to comply with the terms of the request.A more negative form of words to achieve 'what the Minister implied was a positive purpose, I find it hard to imagine.
I understood that the purpose of this Amendment was to meet a request made by the Opposition during the Committee stage of the Bill and was to make sure that where the request was made in writing to the owner of the land from 1331 which the deer had come—a request which we were very doubtful about—and there was not an immediate reply, there would be power to act quickly. I cannot see how this Amendment gives the Minister the power to act with the speed which we demanded. I would have thought that there was an opportunity within the terms of the Amendment for very considerable delay indeed.
It is one thing to lay on the Commission that it shall not issue an authorisation unless certain things are done it is quite a different thing to compel the Commission to act speedily if it does not get consent from the owner of the land quickly. I do not know what can be done about it at this stage, but I think that this Amendment is a most unsatisfactory form of words for trying to achieve what the Minister himself said he was trying to achieve.
§ Sir James Duncan (South Angus)
I think the hon. Gentleman is a little ungracious to my noble Friend, because it was on the basis of an Amendment that he moved in Committee that my noble Friend gave an undertaking. He said:I do not want to be unfair to anybody over this or any other matter, and 1 shall consider the question in the light of all the arguments that have been addressed to me.
§ Sir J. Duncan
I will.What I am anxious to do is to see that there is no unreasonable delay before the Commission goes in and does the job itself."— [0FFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Standing Committee, 10th March, 1959; c. 318.]I made a speech on that occasion, when I suggested that the words which the hon. Gentleman was suggesting then were unnecessary on the ground that the Commission in any case had a discretion to go in if the owner refused forthwith to obey the request. My noble Friend has attempted not to meet me but to meet the hon. Gentleman. I think the hon. Gentleman is being a little unreasonable in looking a gift horse in the mouth when the Government have actually made an attempt to meet the point of view of the Opposition. Whether it is a successful attempt or not, I do not know, but at any rate it was an attempt to meet the request of the Opposition and, having done so, I think that they ought to accept the spirit of the Amendment.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson
Can the hon. Member tell me where in the Bill as it stands there is a provision that the Commission can act forthwith if it does not receive a reply from the owner of the land?
§ Sir J. Duncan
In the original Bill there was nothing about it. I said that the Commission had discretion to act forthwith. I may have been wrong in saying that, but I said that it had discretion to act if the request to the owner of the land was not fulfilled. I said that it was a natural consequence that the Commission would enter if the request was not carried out. I still believe that the position is perfectly satisfactory without this Amendment or the Amendment proposed in Committee by the hon. Gentleman.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Woodburn
This is the queerest form of English for getting anything done that I have ever seen. In other words, presumably the Bill wants the Commission to do something and, throughout the Bill, there is a continual deterrent against the Commission doing any of the jobs that it is supposed to carry out.
Why not say that if the owner or a person is unwilling to comply with the terms of the request the Commission shall then take action? That would seem a sensible way of putting it. The Government are so terrified that the Commission might do something that they put it this way—Where any such request as aforesaid has been made to a person, the Commission shall not issue art authorisation under this Section unless it appears to them that he has become unable or unwilling to comply with the terms of the requestThe emphasis is that the Commission "shall not do anything".
My hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser), who moved an Amendment in Committee, was anxious that the provision should work immediately and then if a person who should kill the deer was not prepared to do so the Commission should have power almost immediately to enter into the matter. The Government are so careful that they provide that the Commission shall write a little letter to him.
There have been a number of occasions during consideration of this Bill when we have worked up great power to do nothing at all. We have used the steam 1333 hammer to crack a peanut. It reminds me of the man who stokes up his engine to get a tremendous head of steam and then only blows the whistle. This is all on the same terms. We are working up tremendous power for the Commission and then it is supposed to write a little letter to the person concerned.
§ Lord John Hope
The difference between this and the right hon. Gentleman's story is that in this event the engine roars into action very quickly.
§ Mr. Woodburn
Perhaps we misunderstood that. So that we shall not waste any time, perhaps the noble Lord will show us where it is provided that immediate action takes place if the person does not get the job done.
§ Lord John Hope
The right hon. Gentleman is really very naughty. He ought to know better. He knows quite well that "shall not unless" is exactly the same as "shall if".
§ Mr. Woodburn
We are quite prepared to accept the alternative wording that the Commission shall do something if the man does not do it, but according to the Amendment the Commission shall not issue an authorisation "unless it appears…" My hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton used the words "tinkering with the problem." This is just pottering about, pretending to do something and taking the teeth out of the Commission. The noble Lord assured us that the Amendment provided the teeth, but no one has been able to discover where the teeth are. Teeth have been described as little white things in one's head that bite, but so far as I can gather the little white things here do not seem to bite at all.
I think that the noble Lord has made a bad job of this. I wish that he had Oven some bite to the Commission so that it could deal with these marauding deer. He expressed his concern about marauding deer and described how they came in and wandered about like rogue elephants and had to be destroyed immediately. We are concerned that the Commission does not seem to have any 1334 power to get on with the job at all. It has to write letters and give 48 hours notice, and therefore the deer are given plenty of time to eat the rest of the turnips.
§ Mr. Ross
That question would be relevant if I were sitting on the other side of the House, because one in every three of Scottish Tory Members went to Eton. I am beginning to wonder what exactly is the value of that educational establishment. We are told by the noble Lord that this is a purely negative way of saying "shall if" and that "shall not" followed by "unless" means "shall" followed by "if". With all due respect, it means nothing of the kind. I am grateful for the suggestion made to me by an hon. Friend that if there were a notice board on the seashore at Ayr which said "You shall not bathe unless the tide is in" it would not mean, as the noble Lord would suggest, exactly the same as if it said, "You shall bathe if the tide is in." What nonsense it is to suggest that the two phrases mean the same thing.
Here, for some reason or other, it is thought that someone will meet a request and undertake forthwith to do something. After a lapse of time, it appears that that person has not carried out his undertaking. I do not know how the Commission finds this out. As far as I know, the Commission is not sitting twenty-four hours a day six days a week. Somehow or other, however, it discovers that the man is unwilling or unable to carry out the undertaking given, and then the provision is made that… the Commission shall not issue an authorization… unless…But that does not mean to say that the Commission will issue an authorisation. even in those circumstances.
§ Lord John Hope
The hon. Member must take the words from the previous subsection, which state that the Commission shall make a request in writing. This subsection provides that it shall not do that "unless".
§ Mr. Ross
With all due respect, and acknowledging my lack of Etonian knowledge, I would point out that the Amendment states that:Where any such request as aforesaid has been made to a person, the Commission shall not issue an authorisation under this section unless it appears to them…That does not mean that in certain circumstances the Commission must issue an authorisation. There is no obligation at all laid upon the Commission.
I think that thirteen old Etonians on the other side of the House had better get together with the old Etonian who represents the Liberal Party and think this out. I hope that the Minister will get some of his hon. Friends to talk on this subject while he prepares a manuscript Amendment to put the matter right. The sands of time are running out on this Bill, and a piece of nonsense is to be written into the Measure unless the noble Lord acts quickly, and certainly more quickly than the Commission will be able to act if it is saddled with the Amendment.
§ Mr. Willis
In order to give the noble Lord time to think this out and to rectify it as he promised in Committee, I should like to consider how this provision will work out in practice. What happens is that a smallholder or crofter who is having his crops damaged because the deer have been coming on to his land draws the attention of the panel in his area to that fact. One assumes that the panel will then meet. It will have to decide when it is possible to meet. It might be that night, but it might not be until the following night, and meanwhile more deer have come down to the crofter's land and done a little more damage.
The panel then decides that the person who is renting a neighbouring sporting estate from which the deer are marauding should do this job forthwith. The panel writes a letter to him and asks him to do it. There might have been a breakdown in the postal services that night. One knows that in the Highlands they are not always quite so efficient, for perfectly good reasons. And these things happen in the autumn or the winter. The neighbouring owner, therefore, perhaps does not receive the letter for two or three days. When he gets it he has run out of shot and he decides that he will have 1336 to buy some. Meanwhile, the poor crofter has probably lost all his crops.
It may take two or three days to obtain the shot. It would certainly take a day. We assume that the neighbouring owner has obtained some shot and he decides to go out. How does this sporting tenant, the man who is occupying or renting the deer forest and is probably living there, destroy the deer? How long will it take him to destroy them? Will it be a day, two days, three days, a week? It must be two or three days. Then somebody says to the crofter whose crops have been completely destroyed, "Look, there are more deer. This business has not been stopped."
The crofter, in turn, informs the panel. The members of the panel ask, "What is happening? We told so and so to shoot the deer. Has he not done the job?" The crofter replies, "No. They are still coming down." The panel members then say, "We had better get in touch with him." They find that he has taken a trip to Inverness in the meantime. Finally, they get in touch with him the following morning or perhaps a day or two later. They say to him, "We thought that you were going to shoot the deer forthwith." He says, "I had no ammunition. In any case I had to go to Inverness yesterday because I had to sell some stock." He has not done the shooting forthwith for perfectly good reasons.
§ Mr. Willis
He would be unable or incapable for two or three days if it were that time of the year.
The panel members then say to him, "When will you do it?" He says: "I will try to do it tomorrow or the next day." They reply, "All right, but for goodness sake get the job done." Days go by and the poor crofter is wringing his hands and almost shedding bitter tears because nothing is done. How long is this to go on? The panel has to see the man and satisfy itself that he is unable or unwilling to do the work. It then finds that, though he may have been unable to do it for two or three days, he is still quite willing to do it. How long is it before the deer are shot? That is what we want to know.
1337 We were promised that something would be done about this point by this stage of the Bill. The noble Lord the Joint Under-Secretary kindly said in Committee that he agreed that this was a problem and that the deer ought to be shot as quickly as possible, but the Amendment does not make it appear that that is the intention at all. Even the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) in Committee was better than this. That at least fixed a limit of forty-eight hours after which the Commission would get on with the job and the panel would shoot the deer itself or employ people to shoot them. The Amendment is indefinite. Under its procedure it is quite possible for a week or two to elapse, for quite good reasons, before the job is done. Surely, the noble Lord could offer us something better than that.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Lord John Hope
I beg to move, in page 4, line 8, to leave out from "give" to the end of line 10 and to insert:as soon as practicable to any person, who in their opinion is likely to be on any land mentioned therein, such warning of their intention as they consider necessary to prevent danger to that person.Would it be convenient, Mr. Speaker, if we take with this Amendment the following ones to lines 11, 13 and 17?
§ Lord John Hope
I am obliged, Sir. These Amendments arise from my undertaking to the Committee to reconsider the question of service of notices on owners and occupiers in connection with the issue of authorisations to kill marauding deer. At present Clause 6 (4) requires the Commission to give at least twenty-four hours' notice to the occupiers of land which an authorised person may cross in pursuit of marauding deer, and to give such notice as may be practicable to the owners of the land.
These provisions were criticised mainly on the ground that they would impose a heavy burden on the Commission, and, of course, on the panels to which Clause 6 functions may be delegated, and that they might result in serious delay in what is recognised to be an emergency operation. There might be more than one 1338 occupier of the land. For instance, there might be not only an agricultural occupier but also a shooting tenant and a fishing tenant, and failure to recognise a particular occupier and to serve notice on him might, it was argued, lead to litigation.
The notice to occupiers was intended primarily as a measure to prevent public danger when an authorised person carrying a rifle, enters on land to follow and kill marauding deer. The first of these Amendments has the effect of substituting for notice to occupiers a warning to any person likely, in the opinion of the Commission, to be on the land. The advantage of the Amendment is that it relieves the Commission from the obligation to identify and notify every occupier of land, and allows it to make a common sense decision in every case.
The notice to owners was intended primarily as a matter of courtesy, and since identification of owners is seldom difficult, it is proposed to retain that provision. The subsequent Amendments are drafting, consequential upon this one.
§ Mr. D. Johnston
I thank the Joint Under-Secretary of State for the attention he has given to the suggestions which were put forward from this side of the Committee. This Amendment will greatly facilitate the work of the Commission. My only regret is that the hon. Gentleman has not taken somewhat similar steps in the following Clause.
§ Sir J. Duncan
May I thank my hon. Friend for looking at this point? I regret a little the omission of "twenty-four hours". I see that this is reasonable, but we lose a certain sense of urgency by omitting those words and substituting "as soon as practicable". I recognise, however, that there is danger to human life—and, maybe, animal life also, such as sheep and cattle on the hill—if warning is not given to the agricultural and grazing occupier as well as to the person who is the normal occupier, if that is the right description. I think it is reasonable that a little more time should be given to the Commission in order to make certain that everybody is covered, and I am grateful to my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson
May I raise the question of the rambler, the walker, the mountaineer, in addition to the people 1339 to whom the hon. Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) has referred? There might be a danger at times of people who are hill-walking coming on to areas where the Commission is acting against marauding deer. Therefore, might not this opportunity be taken to draw the attention of the future Commission to the possibility of giving a visible warning on the land on which they are operating? I have in mind the red flags put up by the Army on rifle ranges. Perhaps a notice could be put up stating, "Danger. Marauding deer being hunted". I merely draw the attention of the Minister to this point, and, through him, of the people who will be responsible for the Commission.
§ Lord John Hope
I am obliged for that suggestion and will see that it is forwarded in due course to the proper quarter.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendments made: In page 4, line 11, leave out from beginning to "it" in line 12.
In line 13, leave out "that owner" and insert:
the owner of any land which is to be mentioned in an authorisation under this section".
§ In line 14, after "intention", insert "to issue that authorization".
§ In line 17, leave out "or occupier".— [Lord John Hope.]