§ Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.
§ LORD STRATHCONA AND MOUNT ROYAL
My Lords, a question was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Mount Temple, as regards the period of time for which an order must be laid before Parliament under this Bill. I have gone into this question afresh and find that when the period was increased from twenty-eight to forty-eight days, in response to an Amendment moved last Session by the noble Lord, Lord Danes-fort, it was recognised that some difficulty might attach to the longer period in that it would necessitate the laying of an order in, say, early June if that order was to become effective during the 663 ensuing close season. As any investigation which might form the basis of such an order would have to be undertaken during the close season, it was decided that the Departments concerned would not be seriously inconvenienced by procedure necessitating the making of an order in the spring or early summer, and as importance was attached to this Amendment the Government decided to accept it.
In another place an Amendment was put down to extend the period to ninety days. This would have involved laying an order in April and would have seriously curtailed the time available for considering any report of investigations made in the preceding November or December. This Amendment was, therefore, resisted and withdrawn. Accordingly, while agreeing that the usual period of twenty-eight days should, in any normal case be quite sufficient, the Government preferred that the decision taken on the last Bill should be adhered to. I think that meets the point raised by Lord Mount Temple.
The noble Lord, Lord Lovat, raised the question of the county councils and the administration of the Act. I would point out that whereas on the question of the 664 protection of birds, to which the noble Lord referred, it is far easier for the local authorities to undertake these duties, the question of grey seals is rather different and really can be better dealt with by the authorities in Scotland—more particularly the Fishery Board; and for that reason, although welcoming the co-operation of the county councils in this matter, it is thought to be best to leave the Bill as it stands.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal.)
§ LORD MOUNT TEMPLE
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for so kindly giving me this full explanation. I still think that the period of twenty-eight days would be far better and fairer to the Department, and I gather that the Department is of the same opinion. But no one wants to do anything to imperil the passage of the Bill in another place, and if it is thought that the period of forty-eight days is the best way of securing its passage I at once will withdraw any objection I might have.
§ On Question, Bill read 3a, and passed, and sent to the Commons.
§ The House adjourned at twenty-five minutes past four o'clock.