HC Deb 29 April 1959 vol 604 cc1278-99

(1) The Commission may make an arrangement with the approval of the Secretary of State and in agreement with the owners or occupiers of any land under which the Commission may be given complete authority for the conservation and control of red deer on that land and any such arrangement may be for any period of time as may he agreed.

(2) The Commission may employ such gamekeepers or other persons as may be required for the purpose of the foregoing subsection and may provide such housing accommodation and other buildings as may be required.

(3) For the purpose of recouping the Commission for any expenditure incurred in giving effect to an arrangement made in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this section the Commission may:

  1. (a)agree a sum to be paid to the Commission by the owners or occupiers who enter into the arrangement, and the carcasses of the deer taken on the land by the persons employed by the Commission would be vested in such owners or occupiers; or
  2. (b)make it a condition of the arrangement that the carcasses of the deer taken on the land by the persons employed by the Commission are vested in the Commission; or
  3. (c)make it a condition of the arrangement that the Commission shall have the sole right to offer for let the shooting of deer on the land; or
  4. (d)any combination or variation of the provisions in (a), (b) and (c)
so, however, that the Commission are satisfied that no additional expenditure will fall on public funds by reason of an arrangement made under this section.—[Mr. Willis.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

3.31 p.m.

Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

When the Bill was in its very early stages in another place there was a great deal of controversy took place in the Press about the best manner in which to deal with the problem of red deer in Scotland. One of the proposals then made, and which received a certain amount of support, was that the deer should be vested in the Deer Commission. That would at least settle the question of the ownership of the deer, but it would also settle a number of other problems. The remedy was suggested so that the Deer Commission itself would be responsible for the conservation and control of deer, for the feeding of deer during the winter—which is not provided for in the Bill—and for damage and compensation, probably the most important omission from the Bill.

That policy was not accepted by the Government, but the Opposition felt that it had a great deal to commend it, and we made a number of suggestions during the Committee stage to try to cover some of the points which I have mentioned. Realising the limited scope of the Bill, we thought the idea still had possibilities and tabled the new Clause, by means of which the Commission would be able to make an arrangement with the owners of land to give it complete authority for the conservation and control of the deer on that land. If arrangements of that character could be made, we should provide a satisfactory answer to the problems which I have mentioned, none of which is dealt with in the Bill and all of which are exceedingly important. It would enlarge the methods by which the Commission can tackle the problem which it is supposed in the Bill to tackle.

In our Clause we suggest that the Commission could, by arrangement, be vested with the control of the deer, that it could make any agreements for that purpose, that to recoup itself for any expenses incurred in carrying out this work it should be able to arrange for the payment of a sum by the owners or occupiers to it for undertaking the work, that it would have the revenue which resulted from sale of carcases and that it would be responsible for the letting of shooting rights. Thus, the Clause ensures that no additional expenditure would fall on the Commission.

We did not discuss this matter at great length during the Committee stage. We made our points, however, and the Joint Under-Secretary said that he did not think the Clause was a bad one—in fact, he thought there were some good things about it—but he put forward certain objections. The first objection was that it would be extending what the Bill sets out to do. The hon. Gentleman gave a very narrow definition of what the Bill does. He said: But within the limits of this Bill—to prevent damage by surplus deer—one has to consider carefully a suggestion of this kind."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Standing Committee, 16th April, 1959; c. 780.] Surely the object of the Bill is rather more than to prevent damage caused by surplus deer. The long Title of the Bill says: An Act to further the conservation and control of red deer… I should have thought that the Nature Conservancy was most interested in this aspect of the matter when it entered into the agreement reached with the Forestry Commission, the farmers, the landowners and other interests. So the Bill is not confined simply to that purpose.

The Joint Under-Secretary went on to tell us that we should be turning the Commission into a central factorial agency taking over management. I do not know what "central factorial agency" means, and perhaps the Lord Advocate will tell us. We do not deny that it would be extending the powers of the Commission to do a certain thing. It would be allowing the Commission to enter into an agreement to become responsible for the deer in a certain forest. But, indirectly, the Commission has that responsibility now if any damage is caused.

What happens under the Bill? If damage is caused to neighbouring agricultural land, the Commission has the duty of consulting the owners of the land and stopping the damage, and if it cannot reach agreement with the owner. it has the duty of making a scheme to ensure that the damage is stopped and that the stocks are reduced. Once it has been done, there is no guarantee under the Bill that it will not happen again. Why, then, should not the Commission have these slightly larger powers—I should not say they were very much larger—whereby, by agreement, it could be responsible for the deer and stop all the administrative paraphernalia which at present takes weeks and months to achieve the objects which we suggest?

The only other answer of the hon. Gentleman to our proposal was that it would place an additional burden on the Commission. If the Government feel that the Commission already has sufficient to do, we have made it possible in the new Clause for the Government not to approve a scheme until it thinks the Commission is in a position to undertake the work. We have included the words: The Commission may make an arrangement with the approval of the Secretary of State… Therefore, there is no fear of the Commission endeavouring to turn itself into what the Joint Under-Secretary called "a central factorial agency", because the Secretary of State can stop it.

Many people think that what we propose is a good idea. Many people with very great knowledge of these problems and concerned with the conservation of deer, the prevention of damage and the prevention of deer using land which could be used for agricultural purposes, and a host of other problems, have all thought that this is a solution to the problem. If it has merits of that kind, why are the Government afraid to give the Commission this power—subject, of course, always to the approval of the Secretary of State?

It is true that in the first months the Commission might consider that it had enough to do already under the Bill and it might proceed to carry out some of that work, but it might also encounter a situation in which the solution suggested in the new Clause would appear to be the best one and might result in economies to the Commission. In fact. the Commission would carry out a job once and would then continue to exercise its control without incurring financial responsibilities, instead of having to go through the rigmarole under the Bill perhaps two or three times in the course of a few years.

What we propose would be advantageous. It might achieve some of the things most of us would like to see achieved. In particular, it would settle problems upon which, apparently, the interests concerned have not been able to agree. I mentioned the problem of feeding during the winter. There is nothing in the Bill about that. Everyone knows that deer have not been fed in the winter for many years, and that has been one of the reasons why they have come down so much to agricultural land. I suggest that it has also caused a great deal of unnecessary suffering to deer, and the Bill is supposed to prevent suffering to deer. That is one of the reasons why our proposal has been accepted by very large numbers of people. It would enable the Commission to settle that problem.

It would also enable us to settle the problem of compensation for damage. This is one of the most serious problems in the Highlands. A crofter might have all his crops destroyed in a night. All the Commission is asked to do is to take steps to try to prevent a recurrence. That is too late. The man will already have lost his crops, and he will get no compensation. Anyone familiar with the problem knows that it is one of the greatest difficulties that the agriculturist. the smallholder and the crofter has to face. While the Commission has to try to prevent a recurrence of the loss, there is no provision in the Bill to assist the man who has suffered.

The new Clause would be a step towards solving this problem because the Commission would become responsible. For once we should have decided to whom the deer belonged. At present. they do not belong to anybody. They do not belong to the owner of the land. We had this argument over and over again in Committee. The new Clause would settle this problem and it would enable us to take a few steps towards giving some satisfaction in this very important matter.

I trust that the Secretary of State has considered the new Clause fully and that he will now accept it in view of the fact that we have included the provision that a scheme can be made effective only with his approval.

Mr. James H. Hoy (Edinburgh, Leith)

I beg to second the Motion.

3.45 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John Maclay)

As the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) said. when this point was discussed in Committee my noble Friend the Joint Under-Secretary said that it was not an unreasonable proposal. and that he would examine it and see whether there were any ways in which we could meet the points raised by those proposing the Clause.

I can assure the House that we have considered this matter very carefully in the light of what was then said, and on the merits of the arguments put forward and the problems which the Clause presents. The hon. Member put the arguments on both sides very reasonably. He comes down one way, and I come down the other way, on the balance of argument, for reasons that I will give.

One point that the hon. Member ignored was that the power given to the Commission under the Clause is a power to deal with the stock of deer on the hills. That provision would be virtually impracticable unless all the functions of hill management were combined. That is why my noble Friend used the phrase, "factorial agency." If there is to be proper handling of all the elements going to make up the stock on a hill, then, even if we thought the proposals in the Clause formed a workable proposition, it would not be possible, as I see it, to stop where the Clause stops at present. It would be quite wrong for the Commission to be expected to take on, in addition to its other important functions—which will occupy it fully for some years to come—the sort of hill management which would be necessary if the job were to be properly done.

The hon. Member says that if a scheme is made it will deal with the problem only temporarily, and that there might be a repetition of the scheme. He says that it is possible that one treatment will not deal permanently with the problem. That is unlikely, because the whole object of the Bill is to bring both marauding and colonised deer under control. Once we have done that the problem of marauding deer, and, therefore, of the need for repetition of treatment, should virtually disappear. We must give the Commission a chance to make this part of the Bill work. I do not pretend that it will not take some time.

The hon. Member also mentioned the question of feeding. As the Commission achieves success in solving the problem of colonised deer and of marauding deer the feeding problem will begin to disappear, because stocks will gradually move to the right level. There are voluntary powers for consultation under Clauses 4 and 12. There is power for forest owners to ask the Commission for advice and for the Commission to give it. A voluntary agreement of the kind envisaged in the Clause is already possible under the Bill.

I believe that the problems of getting rid of marauding deer and controlling colonised deer, and of helping forest owners to cull their deer to the right proportions, can be dealt with by the present provisions.

Mr. Willis

What about compensation?

Mr. Maclay

That is a different problem. It does not arise under this Clause.

We have considered the matter with great care. It is conceivable that circumstances could arise in the distant future when something like this might be desirable, but I do not think that it will be required in this form. I am certain that it would be wrong to include the Clause and I must ask the House to reject it.

Mr. Thomas Fraser (Hamilton)

I am disappointed with the Secretary of State's speech. He said that we could not give the Commission the power proposed in the Clause, because it must have the power to deal with the stock on the hill as a whole. He said that all the elements must be under a single agency. Hon. Members with any knowledge of the north of Scotland must know that he was talking nonsense; and the right hon. Gentleman must know that he was talking nonsense. At present, it is commonplace for the management of the deer to be under a quite separate agency from that which is concerned with the stock on the hill. The hill is let to an agricultural tenant and a sporting tenant. The sporting tenant is concerned with the deer and the agricultural tenant is concerned with the other stock on the hill. Does not the Secretary of State know that that is the position?

Mr. Maclay

The hon. Member will appreciate that control is in the hands of one man—the landlord—who, undoubtedly, will balance the two requirements of the hill against each other. We do have single management. That is the only way to get the best use of the hill for the deer and the stock.

Mr. Fraser

The right hon. Gentleman is completely wrong. The sporting tenant and the agricultural tenant both have long leases. As some of the right hon. Gentleman's hon. Friends said in Committee, the owner of the land is probably in the Bahamas. He probably does not know what is happening on the hill. There are two quite separate agencies at present, one concerned with the conservation and control of deer on the hill and the other with agricultural questions.

In any case, if the Secretary of State believes his own argument he will take Clause 10 out of the Bill, because under that Clause he gives himself the power to enforce control schemes. How can he provide that the Commission shall enforce control schemes when the Commission has no responsibility for the grazing of the hill by sheep and the like?

The report of the committee set up by the Nature Conservancy, on whose recommendations the Bill was based, said, under the heading, "Functions of the Committee": (1) To continue as far as necessary the present deer survey, carry out research and act as an advisory body in all problems of deer management and conservation. The Secretary of State has pushed that recommendation aside: (2) to exercise executive powers of conservation and control. That is precisely what we provide for in the Clause.

I want to ask for your guidance, Mr. Speaker. I have quoted from a document produced by a committee set up by the Nature Conservancy. Everybody knows that the Bill is based upon this document. In Standing Committee, we requested that the document should be made available to hon. Members, but it was not made available, and we did not discuss it any further in Committee. In another place, however, during the Second Reading debate on the Bill, Lord Forbes quoted from the document. If hon. Members look at the OFFICIAL REPORT of the proceedings in the other place for 18th November last they will see that at column 562 the noble Lord quoted from the document; and he was the Minister in charge of the Bill.

My point is that this was a report of a committee set up by the Nature Conservancy, which itself is a statutory body set up by Act of Parliament. It submitted its report to the Secretary of State and he, having received it, said publicly—as did his colleagues, one of whom was a member of the committee—that the Bill was based upon the report. I have the report here. I ought not to have it, because it is a confidential document, but I would ask you to consider, Mr. Speaker, whether you can advise us later—it is probably too late for the purposes of our deliberations this afternoon—whether a document emanating from a body like the Nature Conservancy, submitted to the Secretary of State and providing the basis of a Bill, should be made available to hon. Members, especially after a Government spokesman in another place has quoted from it.

The new Clause gives effect to one of the recommendations of the Nature Conservancy committee. I submit that the only reason why we have the Bill at all —and certainly the only reason for Part I—is that owners of deer forests in the North of Scotland have failed lamentably, for a generation, properly to manage their deer forests. That was said in another place by no less a person than a former Minister of State, Lord Strathclyde. He said that it was the failure of the owners that made the Bill necessary. It certainly was the reason for Part I. Incidentally, it created the problem which has made necessary the introduction of Part III. The failure of the owners to manage their deer forests led to the deer coming down from the hills to the roadside, which led to a certain amount of indiscriminate slaughter— so it is alleged—which in turn led to the new penalties imposed in Part III.

Be that as it may, there can be no doubt that it was the failure of the deer forest owners to manage the deer forests which made Part I necessary. What reason is there to believe that just by passing the Bill we will have reformed the forest owners and sporting tenants? Do they have the staff to do this job? I do not think so. If they have, they must be grossly underemployed at the moment. I hardly think they are likely to be paid for a job for which they are underemployed.

The committee set up by the Nature Conservancy made it quite clear that a few stalkers would be needed by the Corn-mission. To do what? Surely to exercise the powers of conservation and control. They are the very powers we provide in the Clause. Will the Secretary of State tell us if he envisages that the Commission will be serviced by a staff such as is recommended by the Nature Conservancy Committee?

Many people who have taken a great interest in the Bill, and who have contributed some very enlightening articles to the newspapers, make the general assumption that there is now to be set up a Commission which will exercise powers of conservation and control. We are asking that if an owner has been failing for many years to manage his deer forest properly, and he knows that he will not be able to manage his deer forest properly in the future, he should hand over his responsibilities to the Commission, under an arrangement.

4.0 p.m.

The Commission is not obliged to undertake this responsibility if it does not wish to do so. But if it is willing, and the deer forest owner is willing to enter into an arrangement with the Commission, what is the objection of the Secretary of State? In many such cases the other use, the agricultural use, of the land is being looked after by an agricultural tenant. That arrangement will not be altered, except that there might be a little more feed left for the sheep which are being raised by the agricultural tenant, but what is wrong with that?

I cannot understand the Secretary of State. I obtained a copy of this mysterious document at a rather late period in the proceedings of the Standing Committee which discussed the Bill. I was shocked to find that the right hon. Gentleman had departed so far from the recommendations of the committee which prepared this document without there being a single murmur of protest from the hon. Member for Argyle (Mr. M. Noble), who proudly proclaimed at an earlier stage that he was a member of the committee.

I see from this document that he was a member, and is one of the signatories of this now famous report in which appear certain recommendations that have been completely ignored by the Secretary of State. The right hon. Gentleman has brought forward other recommendations. It passes my comprehension why the hon. Member for Argyll should say that this Bill is based on the report which he signed, without calling attention to those grave omissions in its text. It would seem to me that the hon. Member for Argyll has not been altogether fair to the farmers he represents.

This afternoon we are concerned with this proposed new Clause. I hope that the House will regard the problem of the conservation and control of red deer in Scotland as something which should be tackled with urgency. The last point made by the Secretary of State, that the question of compensation does not arise under this Clause, is not altogether valid. because it could arise. Were the Commission to assume responsibility for the conservation and control of red deer in an area, and a nearby agricultural owner or tenant suffered damage caused by red deer, he would find it easier to convince a court that the deer came from the area for which the Commission was responsible than that they came from a particular deer forest, as he must do at present.

Therefore, were this Clause accepted and the Commission allowed to make certain arrangements to exercise such a function in the future, the farmers and crofters in the North of Scotland, who are suffering great damage at present, would know that steps were being taken to protect them.

The right hon. Gentleman need not smile. There is a proposed new Clause on the Notice Paper which we shall not be debating this afternoon. A similar Clause appeared on the Notice Paper during the proceedings in the Standing Committee and it was not debated then. Only one thing prevents that Clause from being debated. It is that the Secretary of State has omitted to put a Ways and Means Resolution before the House to enable this new tax—which is what it would be—to be imposed on the occupiers and owners of deer forest land—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order."]. What is the matter?

The Secretary of State seemed to suggest that he would like to deal with the question of compensation. I am suggesting to the right hon. Gentleman, and to hon. Members opposite that had he wished to do that he could have done so under the terms of the new Clause which appears on the Notice Paper but which we cannot discuss.

If we accept this Clause, it will be much easier for a lot of farmers in Scotland to obtain compensation than has been the case in the past. I hope that the House will insist upon its acceptance.

Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)

I hope that I shall be forgiven if I say a word or two in this debate. I was criticised during the Standing Committee proceedings for failing to be a member of that Committee or speaking. As I was not a member, it would have been peculiar had I spoken during its proceedings. In point of fact, I had no right to be a member of it. However, I find it all rather flattering, because I recall the words of a very wise old Member of the House who said to me when I first became a Member, Never complain when people say, 'Why did you not speak in that debate? 'But look out when they say, 'Why did you speak in that debate?'"

My constituency long ago freed itself of deer and I have no direct experience of this matter. But having listened to the arguments about this proposed new Clause, and read the OFFICIAL REPORT of the proceedings in the Standing Committee, it seems to me that the Clause has merits. The Secretary of State today, and the Joint Under-Secretary of State during the Committee stage proceedings, have no; rejected it out of hand. The Joint Under-Secretary said that the proposal was not unreasonable, and this afternoon the right hon. Gentleman has suggested that some time in the future something like this might be conceivable.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Lord John Hope)

What I said during the Committee stage proceedings was that it was not unreasonable per se —which is a different thing from saying that it is not unreasonable, in the context in which that statement is now offered.

Mr. Grimond

This is becoming a refined philosophical argument. If it is not unreasonable per se it might not be unreasonable in this context. But this is a refined argument, and if he wishes to pursue it the Joint Under-Secretary may find himself in difficulty about language—especially as the language appears to be Latin.

This afternoon the Secretary of State has said that this might be a useful Clause. Its provisions are permissive. There is no question of laying any obligation on the Commission, which must come to the Secretary of State for approval and act with the agreement of the owner. If there is some chance that at a future date these provisions may be necessary I should have thought that there was something to be said for including the Clause in the Bill now. As I say, I have little direct experience of this problem but, in common with all who have the interests of the Highlands at heart, I have followed what has been said about it.

The hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser)—I wish to thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind words about me when I was criticised during the Committee stage proceedings—has pointed out that people interested in nature conservation are concerned about the present state of the Bill and some of the points they make might be met by the inclusion of this Clause. There are certain areas in the Highlands where this might be the only way to deal with the question of direct control, preservation and winter feed and, indeed, with the question of compensation.

I was surprised that the Secretary of State did not take the point that the provisions of this Clause would be difficult to implement. It seemed to me that to do so would need a bigger staff than is visualised for the Commission, and be an extension of the duties which it is proposed to place upon the Commission.

Mr. Maclay

I mentioned that this went beyond what it was visualised that the Commission would do, and I think that the acceptance of the Clause would create a difficult task for the Commission to perform. My remarks about the future were intended to convey that there might be circumstances in the future in which such provisions would be useful. But we cannot foretell what changes in circumstances will take place, and I do not visualise any such situation arising either in the near or middle future.

Mr. Grimond

If it be the view of the Secretary of State that there is something to be said for having this Clause in the Bill, I should have thought there is something to be said for putting it in now.

Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)

I feel sure that the Secretary of State will agree that the Bill envisages some form of organisation for the Commission. Although, so far, he has refused to accept the new Clause, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to believe that there would be a loose form of organisation for the Commission. There will be some kind of headquarters and some kind of staff. The work which the Commission will do must entail a staff, because it will have moneys to collect and distribute. That means that there would require to be an inside organisation.

We are asking the right hon. Gentleman to look at the outside work of the Commission. Taking the majority report as a guide, we are told according to the latest estimate that there are 82,000 deer in the Highlands of Scotland. I agree that that figure is not very clear because some people consider that it applies to the whole of Scotland. But whether or not that be the case, it gives us some idea of the number of deer to be dealt with. It is suggested that that number should be reduced to about 50,000. That would demand a definite outside organisation. It could not be done by casual work. It would be a big job. We are asking that: The Commission may employ such gamekeepers or other persons as may be required for the purpose". It seems that that is a sequence of the organisation which the Secretary of State has in mind. If he accepts that organisation, he must accept the idea of outside agencies. He rested his defence on Clause 4. These are his outside agencies. The owner of the land is the person who is to become the agent of the Commission, not an established person, but the person who will be advised in the interests of conservation on questions relating to the carrying of stocks of red deer on the land. The right hon. Gentleman is dependent on the owner. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) has pointed out, for a generation we have been unable to depend on the owner at all. Because of that, the problem which faces us has now to be dealt with—in my view somewhat ineffectually—in this Bill. The Commission is given the second function to collaborate with any person conducting an inquiry or investigation.

I suggest that is a form of organisation which is rather loosely framed. The job is bringing the red deer population down to a number, which has not been stated, but which, in the minds of most people, represents the slaughter of about 30.000 red deer.

Mr. Willis


Mr. Rankin

I agree that it may be more because friends of mine who live near deer forests put the present number of deer at 150,000. I have letters to that effect. If we are aiming at 50,000 as the future population the Commission will have a job of great magnitude if it is to be done in a reasonable time and to bring consequential benefits to agriculture and forestry in the North of Scotland. About 100,000 deer must be disposed of.

Mr. Willis

Mass slaughter.

4.15 p.m.

Mr. Rankin

Of course it is mass slaughter. That is the job which the Secretary of State is handing over to the owners of deer forests in Scotland. Those are the people on whom he is to depend. I am certain that no hon. Member opposite who is interested in the problem agrees with the Secretary of State on this issue. I invite the hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. M. Noble), who knows a great deal about it, to say whether he regards that as a workable operation within a time which will have any significance in the further development of the Highlands.

The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State turned to Clause 12, which says: The Commission may by agreement with any owner or occupier of land assist in or undertake,… a control scheme…". Again, the right hon. Gentleman is turning to the individual who for years has failed the fanner, the crofter and the people of Scotland concerned in the production of food. That is the type of person upon whom the Secretary of State rests his case.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton pointed out, the right hon. Gentleman, most amazingly, forgets Clause 10. It is rather astonishing that he should forget that Clause, which tells us 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. What instrument is it to use? It must have men such as those mentioned in the new Clause, of the type and quality to be able to do the work. That is what the Secretary of State is refusing. He says that we are to have a scheme of conservation and control. We accept that and ask him to create methods by which the scheme can work. He says he will create the methods. The "methods" are the owners and those who all their lives have had this power—whose fathers and grandfathers had it before them—but who have failed to exercise it.

The right hon. Gentleman says he will depend upon them. He forgets that in his own Bill, in Clause 10, he admits that they may fail in future, as they have failed in the past. We ask him if he will take steps to ensure that if they fail the Commission shall do what they are not doing. If he accepts that, he must create the force and have the men qualified to carry out the job.

Mr. Michael Noble (Argyll)

indicated dissent.

Mr. Rankin

The hon. Member is shaking his head from side to side. That means that he disputes what I am saying. In that event, I am sure that he has the time, and will have the interest of the House, to give reasons why he disagrees with the new Clause. I am sure that he will take the chance now offered him by his disagreement with my argument to show wherein we have failed in putting forward a logical case for this new Clause, which, to my extreme surprise, the Secretary of State has not accepted.

I thought that in the period of meditation unfortunately forced upon him, the Secretary of State—whom we are glad to see back again today—would do that thinking for which Ministers repeatedly say they cannot find time. Ministers have told us that the trouble about their job is that they have no time to think. We can accept that as a rule under the present Government, but the Secretary of State has had time to do so. I thought that during that period he might have meditated over some of the sins of omission in this Bill of which this is one. We are presenting him with the chance of doing the right thing by accepting this new Clause. I hope that he will do so and I hope we shall hear arguments from hon. Gentlemen opposite to show any weakness in the new Clause.

Mr. M. Noble

I was asked by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) to help the House a little over the difficulty he was posing. Both in Committee and on the Floor of the House we had lengthy discussions as to how many deer there might be in Scotland. No Member of this House, or of another place, can give an accurate or useful estimate, but I suggest that before we discuss the question of slaughtering 50,000, 60,000, 80,000, or 120,000 deer, we might remember that the control of any form of animal life of this sort can be carried out fairly successfully by the biological method of controlling the number of females there are to breed. If that is done carefully, the sort of numbers which the hon. Member has been mentioning need not be a bogy to frighten anyone. It may take a few years to do it, but it can be done scientifically and adequately in that way.

Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)

This matter has been argued very effectively and I am sure that the Secretary of State is beginning to see that there were reasons for this Clause which he did not see at first. In Committee, we had considerable difficulty in finding how the Commission was to deal with the problem of deer on the hills where there are several owners. It may be that one owner will ask the Commission for advice and guidance while the owner next door will not ask for that advice and guidance.

We were advised by experts such as the hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. M. Noble) that we cannot draw an easy line between the deer of one forest and the deer of another because they are inclined to wander. It may be that when the Commission deals with these owners, the owners may think the best way would be for a third party to deal with the question of conservation of deer. I think that the Joint Under-Secretary has agreed that from that point of view this Clause is a reasonable one. The Secretary of State has given us one of his principal objections that it might be difficult to work and that in the Bill it is perhaps not appropriate to give the Commission these powers. It seems that that argument is entirely disposed of by the fact that the Commission need not take the powers.

The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) pointed out that if the Commission does not find it reasonable or practicable to do this work, it does not need to do it. If the owners do not agree that it is desirable and practicable, they will not do it, but, if the owners and the Commission agree, and it is no financial burden to the State, it is difficult to see why the Secretary of State should not allow this power to be embodied in the Bill.

It may be that it will not be used until the time he foresees, ten or fifteen years' hence, but it is not easy to get legislation like this through the House. I should have thought that the time for putting a sensible proposition like this into a Bill is now, so that when the time comes for the power to be used it will be there. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman shows so little confidence in its Commission and thinks that if it is given a power of this kind it will run riot. The first purpose of the Bill is the conservation and control of red deer in Scotland. If that is the main purpose of the Bill, it is a reasonable proposition that this power should be included.

We have a number of Amendments to discuss and we want to devote some time to each of them, and it would facilitate business if, having listened to the discussion and, I am sure, having been convinced by it, the Secretary of State would end the discussion by accepting the new Clause. I ask him to show the reasonableness which the Joint Under-Secretary of State showed in Committee and, having been convinced of the reasonableness of the Clause, will include the power in the Bill, even though it may not be immediately necessary, so that the Commission may use it when the time comes. If he does not show this reasonableness I hope that the House will encourage him to do so by voting for the Clause.

Lord John Hope

Deliberately, in Committee, I paid tribute to the common sense of the Amendment moved by hon. Members of the Clause of itself—if I may use that phrase for the benefit of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). The hon. Member does not like the phrase per se. I do not know what it is in Erse and we must, therefore, stick to the words "of itself".

The House must judge whether these powers should be given in the context of what the Bill sets out to do. I do not think that anything which we have heard in Ole arguments advanced from the other side of the House leads us to suppose that it would be wise to take this risk —because it would be a risk—of imposing on the Commission a burden which, in the circumstances, it would be unreasonable to impose upon it. As my right hon. Friend said, and as I pointed out in Committee, no one can foresee far into the distant future the problems of the Highlands and their management.

The Bill has several definite objectives and it is in those terms that we must consider whether it gives the Commission sufficient power and imposes upon it sufficient reasonable burdens for it to carry out what the Bill sets out to do. It is in those terms that once again I commend our advice to the Committee that in the interests of the Bill the new Clause ought to be rejected.

I could not understand exactly what the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) was getting at. He seemed to be arguing for some form of compulsive sanction against recalcitrant owners. but the Opposition's new Clause is couched in purely voluntary terms. As for any compulsion which is necessary against owners who will not co-operate in this work of the prevention of damage and conservation of deer, the Bill is full of sanctions against owners who will not do what they are bound to do under it. To that extent, therefore, the whole of his argument and some other arguments were either redundant or missed the point. The new Clause is not necessary.

Mr. Rankin

I was trying to make the point—evidently unsuccessfully as far as the noble Lord is concerned, although I know that he has had a lot to do in recent months—that the Secretary of State rested his case in respect of getting rid of marauding and colonising deer on Clauses 4 and 12. I reminded him that Clause 10 provided him with the sort of controls which we want to see operating.

Lord John Hope

The Clauses mentioned by the hon. Member refer to advice which can be taken. As for the compulsion which can be exercised, there are Clauses 6 and 7, which, in the interval of time since the Committee, he may have overlooked. I commend them to him.

I feel that it would be wise if we did not impose this extra duty upon the Commission, however voluntary the request for it might be from the owners concerned, because it will give the Commission much more to do and, with respect, it does not seem to me in any way to help the Commission to do what we want them to do as soon as possible.

4.30 p.m.

Mr. Willis

I am sorry that the Ministers have lot seen fit to accept the very reasonable new Clause. The reasons which they have advanced are not very good. If they read the OFFICIAL REPORT of the debate tomorrow, I think that they themselves will come to that conclusion.

The noble Lord said that the new Clause imposed a burden an the Commission. It cannot do anything of the kind, because the Commission would not have to do a single thing unless it wished to do it. Ii is difficult to impose a burden on anybody if he is told at the same time that he need do nothing about it unless he wishes to take steps to do so.

The Clause, if accepted, would be the only Clause in the Bill which endeavoured to carry out the first purposes of the Bill —the conservation and control of deer. No other Clause does that. It is well within the scope of the Bill. The arguments advanced by the Joint Under-Secretary were very poor. We on this side of the House are not satisfied with the Government's arguments and we shall have to divide the House.

Question put, That the Clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 171, Noes 204.

Division No. 92.] AYES [4.32 p.m.
Ainsley, J. W. Hewitson, Capt. M. Palmer, A. M. F.
Albu, A. H. Hilton, A. V. Parker, J.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Hobson, C. R. (Kelghley) Paton, John
Awbery, S. S. Holmes, Horace Pearson, A.
Bacon, Miss Alice Howell, Charles (Perry Barr) Pentland, N.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Howell, Denis (All Saints) Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.) Hoy, J. H. Rankin, John
Blackburn, F. Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Redhead, E. C.
Blenkinsop, A. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Reeves, J.
Blyton, W. R. Hunter, A. E. Reynolds, G. W.
Bonham Carter, Mark Hynd, H. (Accrington) Rhodes, H.
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.) Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Bowles, F. G. Irving, Sydney (Dartford) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Janner, B. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Brockway, A. F. Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Jeger, George (Goole) Ross, William
Burke, W. A. Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Royle, C.
Burton, Miss F. E. Johnson, James (Rugby) Short, E. W.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Callaghan, L. J. Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech(Wakefield) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Carmichael, J. Jones, David (The Hartlepools) Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Champion, A. J. Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Skeffington, A. M.
Chapman, W. D. Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)
Chetwynd, G. R. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Cliffe, Michael King, Dr. H. M. Snow, J. W.
Coldrick, W. Lawson, G. M. Sparks, J. A.
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead) Lee, Frederick (Newton) Spriggs, Leslie
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Lindgren, G. S. Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Logan, D. G. Stonehouse, John
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Stones, W. (Consett)
Davies, Harold (Leek) McAlister, Mrs. Mary Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) McCann, J. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Deer, G. MacColl, J. E. Sylvester, G. O.
de Freitas, Geoffrey McInnes, J. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Diamond, John McKay, John (Wallsend) Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch) McLeavy, Frank Thompson, 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 Viant, S. P.
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Wade, D. W.
Finch, H. J. (Bedwellty) Mann, Mrs. Jean Warbey, W. N.
Fitch, A. E. (Wigan) Mathew, R. Watkins, T. E.
Forman, J. C. Mellish, R. J. Weitzman, D.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Messer, Sir F. Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Mikardo, Ian White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Gooch, E. G. Mitchison, G. R. Wilkins, W. A.
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Monslow, W. Willey, Frederick
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Moody, A. S. Williams, David (Neath)
Grey, C. F. Mort, D. L. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Moss, R. Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Griffiths, William (Exchange) Moyle, A. Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Grimond, J. Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Hale, Leslie Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Winterbottom, Richard
Hamilton, W. W. Oliver, G. H. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Hannan, W. Oram, A. E. Woof, R. E.
Hayman, F. H. Orbach, M.
Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) Oswald, T. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Herbison, Miss M. Padley, W. E. Mr. John Taylor and Mr. Rogers.
Agnew, Sir Peter Graham, Sir Fergus Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)
Alport, C. J. M. Grant, Rt. Hon. W. (Woodside) Noble, Michael (Argyll)
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich) O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)
Anstruther-Gray, Major sir William Green, A. Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Armstrong, C. W. Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Osborne, C.
Ashton, H. Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Page, R. G.
Atkins, H. E. Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)
Baldwin, Sir Archer Gurden, Harold Partridge, E.
Barber, Anthony Hall, John (Wycombe) Peel, W. J.
Barter, John Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Peyton, J. W. W.
Batsfortd, Brian Harris, Reader (Heston) Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth
Baxter, Sir Beverley Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Pike, Miss Mervyn
Beamish, Col. Tufton Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G. Pilkington, Capt. R. A.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Henderson-Stewart, Sir James Pitt, Miss E. M.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W. Powell, J. Enoch
Bidgood, J. C. Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Rawlinson, Peter
Bingham, R. M. Hill, John (S. Norfolk) Redmayne, M.
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Holland-Martin, C. J. Remnant, Hon. P.
Black, Sir Cyril Hope, Lord John Ridsdale, J. E.
Body, R. F. Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
Bossom, Sir Alfred Howard, John (Test) Robertson, Sir David
Boyle, Sir Edward Hughes-Young, M. H. C. Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Braine, B. R. Hurd, Sir Anthony Roper, Sir Harold
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Hutchison, Michael Clark(E'b'gh, S.) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Brewis, John Hyde, Montgomery Russell, R. S.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Bryan, P. Iremonger, T. L. Sharples, R. C.
Burden, F. F. A. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Butler, Rt. Hn.R. A. (Saffron Walden) Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Carr, Robert Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)
Cary, Sir Robert Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green) Spearman, Sir Alexander
Chichester-Clark, R. Keegan, D. Speir, R. M.
Cole, Norman Kerby, Capt. H. B. Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)
Conant, Maj. Sir Roger Kerr, Sir Hamilton Stevens, Geoffrey
Cooke, Robert Lancaster, Col. C. G. Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Langford-Holt, J. A. Storey, S.
Corfield, F. V. Leavey, J. A. Studholme, Sir Henry
Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Leburn, W. G. Summers, Sir Spencer
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Teeling, W.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Legh, Hon, Peter (Petersfield) Temple, John M.
Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Cunningham, Knox Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.) Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Currie, G. B. H. Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Davidson, Viscountess Longden, Gilbert Thompson, R. (Groydon, S.)
de Ferranti, Basil Loveys, Walter H. Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Macdonald, Sir Peter Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)
Doughty, C. J. A. McLaughlin, Mrs. P. Tweedsmuir, Lady
Drayson, G. B. Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Vane, W. M. F.
du Cann, E. D. L. Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Lancaster) Vickers, Miss Joan
Duncan, Sir James McLean, Neil (Inverness) Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.
Duthie, W. S. Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.) Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty) Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Elliott, R.W.(Ne'castle upon Tyne, N.) McMaster, Stanley Wall, Patrick
Erroll, F. J. Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold(Bromley) Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)
Farey-Joncs, F. W. Maddan, Martin Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Fell, A. Maitland, Cdr.J. F. W. (Horncastle) Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold
Finlay, Graeme Markham, Major Sir Frank Webster, David
Fisher, Nigel Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E. Whitelaw, W. S. I.
Gammans, Lady Marshall, Douglas Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Garner-Evans, E. H. Mawby, R. L. Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
George, J. C. (Pollok) Medlicott, Sir Frank Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Gibson-Watt, D. Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R. Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Glover, D. Moore, Sir Thomas Woollam, John Victor
Glyn, Col. Richard H. Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Goodhart, Philip Nabarro, G. D. N.
Cough, C. F. H. Nairn, D. L. S. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Gower, H. R. Nicholson, Sir Godfrey (Farnham) Mr. Brooman-White and
Colonel J. H. Harrison.