HC Deb 03 February 1965 vol 705 cc1069-70
23. Mr. Wall

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will take action to restore the normal close season for grey seals, namely, from 1st September to 31st December.

Mr. Peart

I have no power to vary or revoke the Order which has already been made suspending the close season on the Farne Islands until 4th December, 1965. Although the close season is suspended during the currency of the Order, it still remains an offence for any unauthorised person to kill the seals.

Mr. Wall

Is it not a fact that if poachers kill a seal, they can be fined only £5 under existing National Trust regulations, and that that would be a fine of £5 for one occasion, while they can get approximately £10 per seal skin on the Continent? Will the right hon. Gentleman look into this again, because, with only 26 days for the close season, the seals may be exterminated?

Mr. Peart

I will look at what the hon. Gentleman has said. What I have said explains the Order and its effect.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Has the right hon. Gentleman any evidence of the poaching of grey seals on any scale off the Farne Islands?

Mr. Peart

No. There was one earlier case of the taking of seals and there was a possibility of prosecution, but that does not exist now.