HL Deb 09 February 1965 vol 263 cc3-4

2.37 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are yet in a position to state when it will be possible to introduce the long-awaited Bill for the amendment of the Wild Birds Protection Act, 1954.]


My Lords, the Advisory Committees on the Protection of Birds for England and Wales and for Scotland put forward at the end of 1963 recommendations for amendment of the Protection of Birds Act, 1954. These took account of suggestions made in 1958 by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The views of interested organisations have been obtained on a number of proposals. My right honourable friend and the Secretary of State for Scotland are at present studying the proposals in the light of the views expressed. I cannot say at present if it will be possible for Her Majesty's Government to take any legislative action.


My Lords, while thanking the noble Lord for that reply, may I emphasise to him that the matter has been under consideration for a very long time and that, as he has pointed out, I myself took a deputation to the Home Office in 1958? May I ask him further whether, if there are difficulties about the timetable, which we all recognise, it would not be possible for him to arrange for some noble Lord to introduce the Bill, as was done by a Member in both Houses of Parliament in relation to the Act of 1954?


My Lords, I am, of course, aware that six years have passed since the noble Lord, as Chairman of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, led a deputation to the Home Office. But the delay cannot be laid at the door of the present Government, nor indeed is it the fault of our predecessors, because advisory committees took 3¾ years to make their suggestions and since then we have had to consult interested parties. With regard to the question of legislation, it is not only a question of timetables; it is also, of course, a question of content. But if the noble Lord would himself consider initiating legislation, then I should be very pleased to discuss the matter with him. However, I cannot give any undertaking that Her Majesty's Government will be able to find time for amending legislation here or in another place during the present Session.


My Lords, before considering any amending legislation would Her Majesty's Government be careful to obtain the views of horticulturists?


My Lords, I understand that the views of all interested parties have been obtained during the last twelve months.