HC Deb 27 May 1960 vol 624 cc853-5

Lords Amendment: In page 2, line 9, leave out "This section shall not apply" and insert: The power of entry conferred by subsection (1) of this section shall not be exercisable in relation".

11.5 a.m.

Mr. Marcus Kimball (Gainsborough)

I beg to move, That this House does agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

This Amendment was moved in another place by the Government in order to remove any question of doubt there might be about the powers conferred on police constables by Clause 1 of the Bill. With the approval of the Government and of Her Majesty the Queen, under the provisions of this Bill the police have power of entry on to Crown land.

Quite obviously, for security reasons, this power has not been extended to land occupied by the Service Departments, the Ministry of Aviation and the Atomic Energy Authority. The exclusion of the power of entry on to land owned by these Departments was provided in the original Bill in Clause 2 (3). But it so happens that as the Bill was originally drafted the definition of land in Clause 2 applies to Clause 1. It could be argued that Clause 2 (3), were it left as it now stands, as well as excluding the power of entry of a constable on to land held by the Admiralty, the Ministry of Aviation and the Atomic Energy Authority would exclude the constable's power to arrest a poacher on that land. That was not the intention of the Bill, and the new drafting Amendments from another place clear up that misunderstanding.

I think the House will agree that it is quite essential that it should be put straight, because it is always open to a Government Department to invite a constable to patrol land. When doing that the constable should have the right to arrest a poacher if he saw one on the land. For a practical example we have only to look at the very good shoat which exists on Ministry of Aviation land at London Airport or the Stanford battle area in Norfolk or the fringe areas on Salisbury Plain.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 2, line 43, at end insert: (5) In this section the word 'game' has the same meaning as in the Poaching Prevention Act, 1862.

Mr. Kimball

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

Would it be in order, Mr. Speaker, to take all the rest of these Amendments together, because the operative Amendment is that to line 27, on page 3, to leave out "rabbits"?

Mr. Speaker

Yes, the hon. Member may discuss them all together.

Mr. Kimball

These are purely drafting Amendments. They do not alter the substance of the Bill one iota. The real trouble is that, as hon. Members know, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is extremely touchy about rabbits in these days. The civil servants at the Ministry were distressed to think that in this year 1960 we should perpetrate the anachronism of continuing to describe the rabbit as "game". Under the Pest Act, 1954, the rabbit is now described as a pest.

By means of these Amendments for once we have got the rabbits exactly where we want them. They are a pest from the point of view of the Ministry and of pest officers but it will be an offence to be caught on someone's land without permission with a gun in pursuit of rabbits. If one is found doing that, for the purposes of this Bill the rabbit becomes "game", which seems a very satisfactory compromise.

Question put and agreed to.