HL Deb 23 June 1960 vol 224 cc627-43

5.37 p.m.

EARL WINTERTON rose to ask Her Majesty's Government if they are aware of the indiscriminate shooting of wild deer in England and Wales, and if they propose to take any action. The noble Earl said: My Lords, I recognise that this is a somewhat inconveniently late hour to raise this Question, and after the very wide-ranging discussion which we recently had, which appeared to be more wide-ranging than is usual, even in the great latitude allowed in your Lordships' House, I had serious doubts whether I should put this Question off. It is also inconvenient for me, because I had the honour to be asked to appear on television but was unable to comply. However, the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, is a very admirable substitute.

I raise this Question only because I consider it one of great importance. I do not want to trouble your Lordships for long and I will try to put my remarks in as short a compass as possible. May I begin by saying that, quite rightly, in your Lordships' House there is a general feeling that it is better that any question—and perhaps especially a question of this kind—should be raised by someone who is an expert. I do not pretend to be an expert on the subject of deer, or of shooting, because as a matter of fact the state of my eyesight precludes that. I raise this matter only because I feel that attention should be called to avoidable cruelty which takes place in some parts of England where there is a quantity of wild deer.

I can speak only of the district in which I live, which is in Sussex, on the borders of Hampshire and Surrey. Although it is so near London, because of the fact that there are a number of large estates, and the country is wild with a lot of woodland, we have a number of deer there. It might interest your Lordships to know that the majority of these are roe deer who for some unexplained reason migrated into this area of Hampshire, Sussex and Surrey about 60 years ago. I understand that experts on the subject have examined the facts and are unable to suggest any reason for their migration.

Apparently they came from the West Country, where I understand there have long been roe deer. They were originally turned down by the Guest family, in the well-known Blackmore Vale hunting country many years ago. In addition, we have quite a lot of fallow deer, either those which sot out from parks in the two wars, when some of the parks were turned into agricultural land, or which are the descendants of one or two herds that have long been in the neighbourhood and are supposed to have descended from herds originally released during the Civil War. Further, we have a small quantity of wandering red deer, which are supposed by some to have come to us from the New Forest or Exmoor, and by others—though this seems to me to be improbable—to be the descendants of red deer that have always been in this neighbourhood, though usually unknown to the local residents.

I should say, my Lords, that though I have no expert knowledge of this subject, I have been in touch with a number of authorities: with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, with the Universities' Federation of Animal Welfare, with the British Field Sports Society, and with a number of individuals; and in the main the points which I am going to make are points which these various bodies, though they may look at the matter from a different point of view, agree should be made. I hope I am not giving away any confidences when I say that I have had the great advantage of a private talk with my noble friend who is going to reply, who is naturally interested as a great landlord himself. We did not altogether see eye to eye on all the points I am going to make; and I assured him privately, and I now assure him publicly, that I shall not be the least offended if he says that some of my proposals are not practicable.

What is the position? I understand that this is one of the few countries in Western Europe in which there are deer but in which there are no close season and no regulations—or no laws, I should say—in operation to deal with the manner in which the deer should be killed. I understand that there are strict laws in Western Germany, in Denmark and in other parts of Europe. In this country there is no close season, and there is no la w regarding the manner in which deer shall be killed. The first point I want to make is this—and I think that every one of your Lordships would sympathise with the point I am going to make. It seems to me utterly wrong that any deer, of any species, should be killed when it has at its side a calf or fawn which depends upon that female deer for its sustenance. That seems to me to be inhumane, and, therefore, what one wants to aim at (and I admit it is very difficult) in any legislation which might be brought in is to have a close season.

The difficulty I think—or so I am informed by the experts—is that we should need to have a different close season for different species of deer. Some of the authorities whom I have consulted believe it would be sufficient if there were a close season for all deer in April, May, June and July. But I think that in any legislation, if it were brought forward (and may I say, in parenthesis, that it is pretty obvious the Government would not have time to bring forward a Bill, but it is likely that a Private Member's Bill might be produced in another place within the next year or two, supported, possibly, by the R.S.P.C.A.), powers should be given to the Minister to prescribe the close season for different species of deer or, alternatively, to have a close season in the summer. That is my first point.

My second point is this. I do not want to criticise my neighbours where I live, with whom I am on the best of terms, or any of my tenants; but a habit has grown up in our neighbourhood (and I am informed by a very voluminous correspondence I have seen from other parts of England where there are deer that the same thing happens there) for any person with a gun, lawfully using that gun on his own land, or as a servant of the occupier or owner of the land, to shoot at deer whether or not his gun or rifle is of the proper calibre to kill the deer; and, when it is wounded, to take no steps to pursue it and see that it is killed. I shall not bore your Lordships by giving individual instances, but I have within my knowledge instances in the neighbourhood in which I live of deer of all species, including one magnificent red deer, dying the most painful death from shot wounds, having been fired at with a wholly unsuitable weapon. We are, I think, a humane country, and a country where the sporting instinct is strong, and I am sure that all your Lordships will agree with me that no decent person would dream of shooting, say, a pheasant or any game bird and, if it were wounded, taking no steps to secure its being killed. One would not do it in the case of vermin like pigeons and rabbits. Yet there is this indiscriminate shooting of deer with unsuitable weapons and, if they are wounded and not killed, leaving them to their fate.

Here I come to a very difficult point on which I have taken such advice as is open to me from one or other of the bodies I have mentioned. It is thought that it might be possible in any legislation on the subject to lay down that the Minister shall prescribe the type of weapon to be used for shooting deer, the ammunition with which it should be loaded and the range at which it should be used. I myself am a little doubtful about the last point, but I do not think the first two points would be so very difficult. It would be for the Minister to prescribe.

My last point is this. How are we to persuade people how cruel it is, when a deer is wounded, to allow it to escape without taking every possible step to secure its demise? Here, again, I have taken advice, expert advice, and that advice was to the effect that it should be possible in any Act of Parliament which might be passed by another place and your Lordships' House to use some such words as these: It shall be the duty of any person shooting at and wounding a deer to take all reasonable steps by following it to secure its decease. If the wounded deer enters upon the land of another owner or occupier, it shall be the duty of the person who shot at the deer to notify that owner or occupier. Some of your Lordships, no doubt, and probably the Minister, will say that these are not legal terms; but I give them only as the sense of what is desired.

There are just two or three subsidiary points that I want to put. There is a great deal of deer-poaching. I was given the example only a day or two ago of a case on the Quantocks, where the owner of a portion of that moor—with the aid, of course, of the police—apprehended a poacher who had shot a deer. The man, who had disposed of the deer, was fined. He was given what I think was the maximum fine which could be given in the circumstances; which, so I was informed, was about half what the poacher had obtained for the carcase. I think your Lordships will recollect that this question arose when we were discussing the Scottish Bill. I would therefore say to the Minister that in any legislation the question of increasing the penalties for deer poaching should be considered. Another point which has been put to me—I do not particularly urge it, but I think it is worth consideration—is that there should be, if there is not already (and I must apologise to your Lordships for not being able to say whether there is or is not already), a special licence for any person who wishes to sell venison. Both those things would, I think, be desirable.

Some of your Lordships may not agree with some of the things I have said, but I feel sure that there is one thing with which you will agree; that is, that in any legislation the brutal method of destroying deer by snares should be prohibited. Snares are extremely dangerous. The result of using them is that deer are often left in the snares to starve; but, apart from that, they are dangerous both to men and dogs. The only other points that I want to make are these. The Forestry Commission have an admirable system of reducing the deer in their woods. May I here say something that I ought to have emphasised before: that I am not suggesting for a moment that it is not necessary to destroy in the most humane way possible any excess number of deer. In fact, as your Lordships know, they can do a great deal of damage when they are in too great numbers. The Forestry Commission (and I have been in touch with them over this matter) organise shoots under proper supervision of deer in their forests. They have long since abolished a system which they had in their early days in some forests, of snaring the deer, or of allowing their individual employees to go out and shoot them. They destroy these deer by these deer shoots, and I think that that process might be more generally followed. I understand that the pest officers of most counties would also be willing to organise deer shoots.

I am very grateful to those of your Lordships who, at this late hour, have listened to what I have shad to say. As I have already said, it is not a subject on which I am an expert; I have brought it forward only because I have come across instances of this cruelty. I do not want to get on to a much more controversial subject, but there is this very curious thing, and I cannot help making this remark about, shall we say, British philosophy. One hears a great deal of controversy on the subject of hunting deer (and I need not tell your Lordships on whose side I am in that matter, because I have been a hunting man all my life), but hardly a word has been said in the public Press or otherwise about the cruelty involved in the manner in which deer are killed in England—in which country, as I have already said, there is no law, as there is in so many countries, regarding the matter. I hope that, by making these observations, and by calling attention to the subject, I may in a small way do something to bring to the attention of the public the cruelty involved and to stop it.

5.56 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to support the noble Earl in this campaign to prevent the cruelty to which deer in England and Wales are subject. The great increase of deer in England and Wales over the last 15 or 20 years has been chiefly due, I think, to the policy of the Forestry Commission, and, of course, of private landowners, with the help of the Forestry Commission. I have often wondered why the Forestry Commission have not learned from the Continent and have not organised the shooting of the deer in their forests from the point of view of properly regulated sport; because if they did this, they would kill two birds with one stone: they would have the deer humanely controlled, and it would also provide them with an extra revenue.

The only proper way to control deer in a woodland area is to shoot them at dawn, when they go out in the open to graze. One has to be up extremely early, at four or five o'clock, but one can then stalk them and shoot them with a small-bore, high-velocity rifle. That is completely humane if you can shoot: if you cannot shoot properly, then presumably you do not try. But the great objection to controlling deer in this manner in England has always been that we are told that it is dangerous in a woodland area such as Surrey, which is heavily populated, to fire a high-velocity rifle, the bullet of which can carry a mile and can be extremely unpleasant at that distance if you happen to stop it. But, provided the user of the rifle is trained in this form of sport, it is quite safe; because obviously you do not shoot an animal on a skyline, you always try to shoot into the ground—down, rather—and you are always extremely careful of the background to the animal. The other point is that at 5 a.m. the average person, if he has any sense, is in his bed, and you do not get people roaming about the country at that hour.

On the Continent the French, the Germans and the Austrians have built platforms in their forests, and in the early mornings one climbs up on to these platforms, and then, when the deer come out to graze, one shoots them—and that is perfectly safe, because one is shooting down and cannot possibly hit anyone. I should like to see the Forestry Commission start to train a band of chasseurs or trained rangers who are experienced in the control of deer by humane methods. If any private landowner or farmer was suffering a great deal of damage by deer, the Forestry Commissioners could hire out their rangers to shoot deer for him.

I am all for having a close season for deer: the trouble is to enforce it. I should like to see a close season for all female deer, does and hinds, from March 1 to October 1, because that would give fawns lime to be weaned. To have hinds with calves shot and the calves die of starvation, as they are bound to, is a fiendishly cruel thing and it is happening all over the place. As regards deer drives with shotguns, I think that they should also be banned. A deer has to be extremely close in a drive, within fifteen yards, in order to get the head, otherwise you are bound to wound it. I hope that at some future date Her Majesty's Government will try to introduce legislation to prevent this appalling cruelty.

6.2 p.m.


My Lords, I think that we are all agreed with the motives which moved the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, to put this Question. There is no doubt that the indiscriminate shooting of deer is very cruel. I should like to know if there are any figures of the number of deer killed, to see whether it is as great as people think. The noble Earl has put forward suggestions, some of which are very good. The difficulty about the Government's bringing in legislation is that any legislation must be easily enforced, and that is the difficulty in this matter.

I think that the suggestions made by the noble Earl, and by my noble friend Lord Massereene and Ferrard, on how to control deer would lead people to take more care if they were advertised. One trouble is that we always hear about the bad side of things, but how it should be done is not so well advertised. I believe that this matter should be taken up so that we can get more publicity about how to destroy deer, particularly roe deer. Deer must be kept down. I know that it is felt in some quarters, owing to the films of Mr. Walt Disney, that the deer is a sweet and gentle creature. So it is. But there is another side which is not so much in our minds—that is, how much damage deer do to our farms. I am sure that the noble Earl, Lord Waldegrave, and the noble Viscount who leads the Opposition would be the first to agree that something must be done to prevent this damage.

I do not altogether agree with my noble friend about the use of the shotgun. I feel that until this matter is put on a much better basis, in some of the more densely populated areas—although, as my noble friend says, people do not bother to get up at 5 o'clock in the morning—to shoot deer people are going to fire off rifles, if we stop the use of shotguns, and then life will be dangerous not only for the deer but for human beings as well. I am informed that if a chasseur or ranger is trained in the use of the shotgun and uses the special shot in the gun, he can kill deer painlessly. If men were suitably trained by means of training courses run by the C.L.A., the Farmers' Union and the Forestry Commission, and people really take trouble, I feel that the situation would become much better. I am very doubtful whether it would be possible for Her Majesty's Government to bring in suitable legislation.

6.12 p.m.


My Lords, I think that my noble friend Lord Winterton was rather pressing the point when he said that this was a very late hour. He got up at 5.35 p.m. and I do not think that even in your Lordships' House this could be called a late hour. All those who have the interests of animals at heart will be most grateful to my noble friend for forgoing his television programme and bringing this question of cruelty to deer before your Lordships' House. My right honourable friend and I welcome the Question. My noble friend is a little too modest, because I think that your Lordships all know that he is an expert not only on deer but on all forms of wild life and country affairs, and we always listen with great care to what he says about the countryside.

All matters relating to the preservation and control and shooting of deer are technical ones. My noble friend and the other noble Lords who have spoken are experts on these matters, but there are other experts who have ideas which do not coincide with those we have heard this afternoon. That is one of the difficulties which the Government are up against. However, I am sure that all noble Lords deplore cruelty to wild animals. In spite of careful inquiries, I have not been able to find much evidence to indicate the magnitude of this problem. One of the great services the noble Earl will have done is to publicise this problem. I hope that we can persuade people of good will to bring to the notice of individuals, of Members of your Lordships' House and of those in societies, and in particular the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the seriousness of this problem and any cases which they may come across in the various parts of the country in which they live. I should be grateful if my noble friend would show me some of the evidence about which he spoke, and I will certainly look into those cases. But we need a great deal more evidence than has been brought forward so far.

My noble friend gave a most interesting account of the history of some of the habits of the three types of deer. There is the red deer, living mainly in the wild parts of Devon and, of course, in the wild deer forests and wide open spaces in the hills in Scotland. Then we have the fallow deer, which are not an indigenous form of deer, so far as is believed. It is thought that they were brought over from the Continent by the Romans and largely lived in a semi-wild state enclosed in parks; and as my noble friend said, some were released in the course of the civil wars and others in the course of the last few wars, and they have multiplied and existed in a wild state ever since. The red deer is probably the finest and certainly the largest wild mammal that is left in this country, and I think all your Lordships would deplore the fact if this fine species of mammal were to be destroyed and there should be no trace left of it. I cannot believe that your Lordships would approve that these three types of deer should disappear from our country.

My noble friend Lord Goschen said that the Walt Disney films had created a picture in the public mind of the deer as a sweet and gentle creature; and that may be so. But there is no doubt that too many deer become pests; and in any case they do damage. The most serious damage is to the leading shoots of young trees—damage which any forester would describe to your Lordships. Again, the red deer, in particular, damage the cultivated crops. There must be a balance. The amount of damage that deer do is arguable, and it is arguable also which particular deer do the particular damage. The Forestry Commission have carried out a considerable amount of research into this problem. In many cases the appearance of the damage is much worse than the actual damage in monetary values, or even in physical values, to the crops. But what is quite certain is that the less natural food there is for deer, the more damage they do to both young trees and to cultivated crops. Therefore, too many deer become pests, as I am sure all your Lordships will agree.

My noble friends Lord Winterton and Lord Massereene and Ferrard spoke of a close season. Do we want a close season to increase the number of deer? I do not think that is what your Lordships would wish. Or do we want a close season purely to prevent the cruelty that unquestionably happens if a hind or a doe should be shot and its calf is at foot and is not found? All your Lordships who have spoken have mentioned that terrible happening. There is no doubt that that can happen during the course of shooting deer today. The Committee which sat in 1951 found that they could not recommend the adoption of a close season because of the difficulty of implementing it. Again, they felt that there would be a considerable increase in the number of deer if a close season was adopted. Indeed, there is considerable variation of the months and times for the various types of deer, which was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Massereene and Ferrard. There is much difficulty with regard to a close season.


I hesitate to interrupt my noble friend, especially after the most friendly things he said about me, but would he give consideration to this point? Would he, through the usual diplomatic channels, inquire as to how these close seasons are operated in other countries? I think it was the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, who said—and I can confirm it—that in most countries there is a close season. If that information could be collected it would be most useful.


In a moment or two I shall come to the question of the European point, mentioned both by the noble Earl and by the noble Viscount. I am pleased to tell your Lordships that the Forestry Commission have voluntarily imposed a close season on all their forestry woodlands, and in no case is one of the members of their staff allowed to shoot a hind or a doe during the period when she is likely to have a fawn at foot. I am quite certain that all landowners who have the interest of animals at heart do observe and will observe this close season for hinds and does. Should any such landowner have any friends, I can only hope that if he does not observe that close season those friends of his know how to treat him. That is a personal opinion, but I am certain that it is the opinion of anybody who loves the country and has the interests of wild animals at heart.

I come to the question of Europe and the preservation (methods there, and, indeed, in Scotland. On the Continent and in Scotland the problem is very different. On the Continent they preserve deer for food and for the special types of leather for which most of the deer countries on the Continent are famous; in Scotland they preserve deer mainly for sport. Where deer must be preserved, then there must be a close season. Throughout the world in the realm of sport that is an accepted fact. Indeed, where wild animals are required to be preserved for commercial purposes, there again it should be accepted that a close season must be a fact. There are only a few countries I can think of where a close season for the animals that are hunted is not acknowledged, and as a result of it those wild animals become fewer and fewer and at sonic time in the future will no doubt become extinct. In England we are not preserving deer for commercial or for sporting purposes. In fact, as I have said, too many deer are a pest and, therefore, the question of whether there should be a close season—indeed, the question of whether a close season could be enforced—in this country is entirely different from that of Scotland or from that of Europe, which we have had mentioned.

My noble friend Lord Winterton mentioned snaring. That again is a point upon which all your Lordships will be agreed. Snaring is cruel and should be stamped out—there is no doubt about that. I am most glad to be able to tell your Lordships, as indeed did my noble friend Lord Chesham the last time the noble Earl raised this point, that the Forestry Commission have forbidden snaring by their employees on all their property. Supposing a close season should be brought in, there is a chance that snaring would gradually come back again. At present, so far as is known—and perhaps my noble friend could help me over figures—we believe that snaring has almost died out and that it is carried on in only very few circumstances. However, if there were great restrictions upon deer shooting this snaring could come back again.

My noble friend Lord Winterton, the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, and the noble Viscount, Lord Goschen, spoke about the types of gun and the type of ammunition. There is much argument again on this very technical subject. The Forestry Commission and many people claim that a .303 rifle is the only firearm to use to shoot deer. On the other hand, I have noble friends with much experience, and they tell me that a .22 aimed at the head of the deer is perfectly satisfactory and humane. Again, the Forestry Commission and the experts who have been looking into this problem say that a shotgun with a shot no smaller than a No. 4, or with special buckshot, is a humane weapon at close range. On the other hand, there is no doubt of the dreadful results which my noble friend mentioned which happen to deer which are "potted at" by a so-called poacher with a .22 rifle which he does not know how to handle. We must all deplore that type of shooting.

My noble friend Lord Goschen asked: How is one to bring in legislation to effect the desirable change that we should all like to see? Unless behind every shot a policeman is standing, I doubt whether it would be feasible to bring in such legislation as my noble friend would like. There is also an idea that a person wishing to shoot a deer should be licensed. There again, what would the licence enable such a person to do? Would your Lordships not allow him to shoot at deer, but allow him to shoot at a pheasant, a hare or a fox if such a thing should be licensable? I think it would be a most difficult state of affairs to bring about some such licensing scheme. I am quite certain that many of your Lordships know plenty of people with a shotgun who should have the licence withdrawn from them if such a thing should happen, and if such a thing were possible.

The noble Earl mentioned the following up of wounded animals. This is a duty—there is no doubt about that. Throughout the sporting world it is the duty of anybody who fires at any animal, whether it be a bird or an animal on the ground, that he must follow it and des-patch it as quickly and as humanely as possible, should he miss the first time. That is the unwritten code—indeed, the written code—of sportsmen through the ages. My noble friend has spoken of the terrible things that can happen when the realm of sport breaks down, as indeed it has done in the places about which the noble Earl was speaking. People are no longer shooting deer as a sport. Indeed, such a thing would be impossible in the land from which the noble Viscount and the noble Duke, who is no longer in his place, have returned. It would be unthinkable in Scotland that a stag if he is wounded should not be followed until he is found.

The Forestry Commission have introduced a pamphlet which gives all the details about shooting deer, about their habits and about every aspect about which my noble friend has been speaking. It happens to be particularly concerned with roe deer, but some of the principles, at any rate, can be used for the two other types of deer. In particular, they mentioned the platform about which the noble Viscount and the noble Earl have spoken. Of course, it is a Continental practice, and shooting deer from a platform is considered quite a sport in Germany. I have tried it out myself, and I can only say that it is the most miserable performance to oneself, although no doubt it is a very humane and quick method of destroying deer. But the misery from the mosquitoes and flies, and every biting insect, in the early hours of the morning, sitting on a small rickety platform, has to be experienced, as I am sure it has been by the noble Viscount, to be believed.

Nevertheless, the Forestry Commission believe that this method of selective control of deer, preferably by shooting with a rifle downwards from a platform, is much more efficacious and, at the same time, more humane than the method of holding deer drives which the noble Earl mentioned. Here again, there is a conflict of expert opinion. I have heard of deer drives, and I do not think they are very pleasant or very savoury spectacles at which to be present. I do not think the noble Earl would really wish that there should be an increase in the number of deer drives.


I did say only deer drives organised by the Forestry Commission. I understand that they do organise them in certain places.


They have now finished with organising drives unless it is necessary to kill an enormous number of deer, which nowadays, I believe, according to the advice from their game warden, is not necessary. They believe, and it is the view of the game warden, that, above all, the balance of a herd of deer must be preserved by shooting and not by chivvying the deer from one place to another. That is one thing that upsets the deer and makes them do more damage than the damage normally caused. Again, it is a most technical problem, and one which one could argue about for a long time.

We are quite agreed, as I am sure all your Lordships would be agreed, that the indiscriminate shooting at deer, whether by an expert or by anybody else, is to be deplored, and I am certain that we are agreed that the rifle is the best firearm to be used, but that it must be used by an expert. If such an expert is not available, the shotgun—I have mentioned the No. 4 shot or slug—in the hands of someone who is not quite so expert, is probably the most humane method. But we are all agreed that the animal must be followed up and killed.

Owing to the Report of the Committee on Cruelty to Wild Animals which sat in 1951, nearly all the advice which your Lordships have been giving with regard to firearms and sportsmanship is mentioned on the back of the gun licence. I have a specimen copy, which I shall put, together with the pamphlet upon the roe deer, in your Lordships' Library. I hope that anybody taking out a gun licence will spend time on reading the back of that licence. One valuable service which my noble friend has accomplished to-day is to allow me to say this, because I do not believe that there are many people who are aware that such a code of conduct is in fact printed on the back of the gun licence.

My noble friend, Lord Goschen, said how difficult it would be to provide legislation, however desirable that might be, to accomplish the aims and effects which the noble Earl would like to see. Indeed, that was the conclusion of the 1951 Committee. They said that all the bodies who are interested in this very technical subject must first find substantial agreement. I wish them well and hope that all these bodies, whether they be farmers, landowners, the animal preservation societies or individuals, will be able to get together one day and find lines upon which to agree. That is the first point. Secondly, the solution of the problem which they decide upon must be practicable and enforceable, and that was what my noble friend Lord Goschen said. We have a considerable way to go yet. I hope that as a result partly of what my noble friend has said to-day, public opinion will be moulded, and that knowledge of venery will spread to all people who must control the number of deer in order to stop those deer from becoming a pest, which they would otherwise do. I am most grateful to my noble friend for asking this question.


My Lords, may I—I can do it only with the permission of your Lordships' House—thank my noble friend for his Answer and for the most helpful contribution he has made towards a more humane attitude in this matter.

6.33 p.m.


My Lords, I venture to "chip in" before the noble Earl sits down. I suppose that there are few people in this House who have shot as much with a rifle as I have. I used to go every year to stalk in Scotland, and also, which very few people did, I used to stalk hinds in the winter. As your Lordships know, a Scottish deer forest has no trees; it is a moor. That enables the stalker to come to some pretty definite opinion with regard to the number of deer in a particular area. I used to go to one particular forest of a friend of mine, and he used to say, "Charles, you go off and shoot the barren hinds". I was not sure about it, but the stalkers all knew. One would crawl up where there were certain hinds; one would see certain hinds who had calves at foot and others with none, and then one picked them out and went after them and shot them. In that way owners are able to keep the numbers down to a reasonable level.

The noble Lord mentioned a deer drive. If you get too many deer on a forest you have a deer drive and you ask a certain number of men who can shoot with a rifle to attend it. It is not very difficult to arrange to move deer across a certain area. They will sometimes come at the gallop, sometimes at quite a reasonable pace. The managing and keeping track of the condition of the herds on Scottish deer forests is not very difficult. Somebody referred to a hind being shot with a calf at foot. So far as I know that is never done up in Scotland. You shoot the barren hind, but you do not shoot the hinds with calves at foot. That enables you to keep the deer forest in proper order and the deer in proper order, too, because barren hinds go all over the place and they are much better out of the way. I put forward these suggestions, to see whether some of these ideas might be utilised in this very important and delicate question.