HL Deb 02 May 1972 vol 330 cc723-35

6.36 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Janner.)

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD STRANG in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Establishment of Zoological Gardens Council]:

On Question, Whether Clause 1 shall stand part of the Bill?


I wonder whether I might be allowed to intervene at this stage. I have had an opportunity to have a word with the noble Lord, Lord Janner, my noble friend Lord Cranbrook and the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, about this. I do not want to sound too bleak, but I think it would help the Committee if I made a short general statement. The Committee will have noted that the Government have not tabled any Amendments to the Bill, and some of your Lordships may have concluded that that is because the Government have consulted together fully and are satisfied that this is a sound and workable measure. I am afraid that the situation is not quite like that.

I do not want to go into further comments on the principle (this was dealt with on Second Reading) but I should like to make it clear that we still have reservations about some of the provisions of the Bill. We are far from certain whether the present drafting can be relied upon to produce a reasonable piece of machinery—and I may say that that comment is not intended in any way to belittle the considerable work that has been done by its sponsors. I know from long and bitter experience of draftsmen that I have never yet succeeded in drafting anything, not even a one-word Amendment to a Bill, that has got through the scrutiny of Parliamentary draftsmen; and I do not think that even two or three noble Lords, drafting together, are likely to do any better. It is simply that I have to remind the Committee that the Bill deals with some novel matters in some slightly novel ways, and the drafting needs rather more extensive examination than the Government, and possibly some of those involved, have so far had an opportunity to give to it—more extensive examination than I fear is likely to be found room for in the timetable of either House this Session, so far as we are concerned.

I do not in any way wish to discourage the sponsors from pursuing their efforts to improve the Bill, and I hope to show that we are anxious to be constructive and to consider the Amendments both this evening and on any further stages. We shall do nothing to block this Bill. I am simply adding a word of warning. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Janner, and his colleagues have won a great measure of support, on which this Bill must be based. As that support develops—and I think it is pretty consolidated already—the Government will certainly wish to consider what assistance they may be able to give to the noble Lord in charge of the Bill at a later stage. But I must make these reservations at the beginning. I hope this does not discourage noble Lords too much; it is certainly not meant to do so.


Can the noble Viscount go a little further? If he could say that the Government support the principle of this Bill that would, I think, go a long way to convince most people that we had better wait until the Bill is put into proper form. On that aspect I have had a good deal of experience in the past. I know that Parliamentary counsel are often criticised for not drafting things as well as they might, but there is one direction in which they always excel: they do know the Public Statute Book, and whatever care has been taken by private Members, and by those advising them on how to draft a Bill, it never quite fits in with the views of Parliamentary counsel. But surely the answer to that is that if, as I hope, the Government are in sympathy with the principle of the Bill, they may go a little further and promise the noble Lord, Lord Janner, or other noble Lords who may introduce a Bill at some later time, that they will have the assistance of Parliamentary counsel in getting the Bill into the right form. If that happens, it saves an enormous amount of time in the long run, and may save a good deal of criticism and quite unnecessary disagreement on other matters. If the noble Viscount could go rather further than he has done already, I feel that the noble Lord, Lord Janner, and the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, would probably—although of course I cannot commit them—be willing to say that the Bill in its right form at a later stage would have a better chance of getting through the House than the present Bill, after the argument which no doubt is necessary upon its provisions.


I am very much obliged to the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, for his suggestions. I listened carefully to what was said on behalf of the Government and I think—indeed I hope—they will agree with me that the principle of the Bill commends itself to the whole House almost without exception. In these circumstances, I should like to endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Hurcomb, has said and ask the noble Viscount whether he will at this stage give us an assurance that when the Bill is reintroduced—and I hope to do that with my colleagues' help at some future stage—the Government will assist in seeing that the principle is adopted and the Bill is passed. I should like noble Lords to understand that we did not just sit down and draft this Bill ourselves: it was drafted by very experienced Parliamentary agents who are constantly advising on the drafting of Bills. I have known them for a very long time indeed—in fact for almost the whole of my Parliamentary experience.

We should like to get this through as quickly as possible. I gather that so far as your Lordships' House is concerned we are not likely to encounter very much difficulty in that regard. I know how difficult it is to prevent a Government stopping a Bill going through in another place, if I may put it in that way. But with the assurance that the Government will support another Bill—and we have gone through the procedure in this House, of course—I and my noble friends, who are as anxious as I am to see this Bill passed, will do what we can to help in this regard.


I should like to add a word here which I should otherwise have added when the Amendments 5, 6 and 7 to the Schedule came up, but which I think is relevant to this discussion. I hope that the Government will not miss the opportunity of doing something which almost the entire industry has now expressly stated that they approve of and which a very large number of people throughout the country are very keen to see done. I said on Second Reading that, as Chairman of the Federation of Zoos, I was in discussion with another group of zoos calling themselves the Association of Zoological Gardens, and I hoped that by the time this legislation came along we could present a united front. I should like to state categorically that a unified front is what we now represent.

My colleagues in the Association are entirely satisfied with the arrangements visualised under the Amendments to the Schedule of the Bill; that is, how the zoological members should be appointed to the new Council. They have never been hostile to anything else in the Bill: they were hostile only to the fact that the Federation, which represented only something over one-third of the industry, seemed to have an unfair advantage. In these Amendments we have now got over that difficulty, and both sides are happy. Therefore, I wish to make it perfectly clear that if the Government drag their feet on this they will be missing an opportunity to take a real step forward with unanimous support from the industry.


I think the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, has made a real point about this and it is one en to which I would latch if I may. This Bill, as I understand it, has been the vehicle whereby the whole industry has been brought together. This is a tremendously valuable thing to have achieved. I am not here to oppose this Bill and neither was my noble friend Lord Windlesham on Second Reading. I was not here myself, but I read the debate and I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Janner, that the House seemed to be in favour of the Bill. The difficulty here is really a practical one. The noble Lord, Lord Hurcomb, and the noble Lord, Lord Janner, both know the situation about drafting. I am not in any way trying to stop this Bill progressing this Session through this House, but it is in no way possible for me to say what might happen in another place. It is subject to vagaries about which I know little and the noble Lord knows a very great deal; but as noble Lords will know, Parliamentary Counsel are very busy indeed—they are busier at this time of the year than at almost any other.

We should like to see this Bill (which is, I hasten to say, a most commendable one) pass through this House, particularly now that everybody is behind it, with the comparatively small but nevertheless important roughnesses smoothed off. I believe that already there have been most amicable discussions between noble Lords who are interested in this Bill and those who give advice. I see no reason why these discussions should not go on and why assistance should not be given on technical points if, when the time comes, we have somebody to do it. Exactly when that will be I cannot tell the Committee, but I hope that with what I have said noble Lords will understand that I am not trying to be obstructive in any way and neither are the Government. We welcome the initiative that this Bill introduces. We should like to go through the Committee and Report stages and Third Reading, have the Bill passed in this House and see what happens in another place. It is just that I cannot be as helpful as I should like on the drafting side.


I have listened to this discussion, and I must say that it seems as though a certain amount of "heavy weather" has been made. I frankly cannot quite make out what the noble Viscount really wants. If we are to get on with the Bill I would suggest to my noble friend that we now get on with it. I understand that it can be construed from what the noble Viscount has said that the Government agree with the principle of the Bill.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clauses 2 to 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 [Transfer to register of Approved Zoological Gardens]:

6.47 p.m.

LORD JANNER moved Amendment. No. 1:

Page 2, line 41, at end insert— ("(f) that proper records are kept of births and acquisitions and of deaths and disposals of animals,")

The noble Lord said: I hope that we shall be able to get through this Amendment, and the further Amendments standing in my name and that of the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, fairly quickly. This Amendment was suggested by the Federation of Zoological Gardens, which has very extensive experience in these matters and of all matters relating to zoological gardens. Also we have to keep records of cattle, sheep, swine and so on, and the effect of an Amendment such as this will be, if it is carried, extremely beneficial to inspectors when examining various zoos. I beg to move.

Clause 5, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 6 [Admission to Zoological Gardens]:

LORD JANNER moved Amendment No. 2: Page 3, line 6, leave out ("or Approved Zoological Gardens register") and insert ("register or register of Approved Zoological Gardens")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 2 standing in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Cranbrook. This is purely a drafting Amendment and I do not think that it requires any explanation in a House of this description.


At this stage, I think I can say "Hooray!" because this is one Amendment that is plainly right. It is a good drafting Amendment and I am glad to see it put into the Bill.

Clause 6, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 7 and 8 agreed to.

Clause 9 [Appeals]:


I do not think I need explain this Amendment to your Lordships. I have much pleasure in moving Amendment No. 3.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 1, after first ("court") insert ("or in Scotland the sheriff court").—(Lord Janner.)


This Amendment is right, too.

Clause 9, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 10 and 11 agreed to.

Clause 12 [Payments to Council]:

THE EARL OF CRANBROOK moved Amendment No. 4:

Page 5, line 11, at beginning insert ("Subject to the approval of the Minister").

The noble Earl said: On Second Reading my noble friends Lord Massereene and Ferrard and Lord Windlesham drew attention to the fact that here there was no control over finance. My noble friend Lord Windlesham suggested that this might be a very costly operation for the zoos concerned. I do not think it will be in fact. The existing Federation runs on a subscription rate of £33 per 100,000 of attendances. I think that the proposed Zoological Gardens Council could run very easily on about the same subscription rate, possibly slightly less. So far as the Zoological Society of London is concerned, its published accounts show receipts from attendances of something be tween £700,000 and £800,000. What is not published is that its subscription is between £700 and £800. That is £1 per thousand of receipts, which is not very drastic.

Suggested provisions of this type have been made in Bills and there is in some Acts provision for controlling the expenditure of a governing body, although I do not think that a governing body constituted as the one suggested here is likely to lose its head and be grossly extravagant. This Amendment provides that the Minister will have to satisfy himself that it is not being grossly extravagant. I hope the Minister will be ready to accept that responsibility. I beg to move.


I wonder whether my noble friend Lord Cranbrook and others would reconsider this matter. As I read the Bill, here we have two clauses whereby one could introduce some Ministerial control over fees. This could be in Clause 11(1)(b), where the Council prescribes fees to be charged on the making of applications for registration and on making an entry in or restoring an entry in the register. There are other prescribed fees in Clause 11(1)(c), and there are rules in Clause 11(3) prescribing fees for different classes of cases. I wonder whether noble Lords think that it should be at that stage in the process that the Government might be brought in rather than in Clause 12, which could well be a matter of dealing with each individual zoological garden, possibly with differential fees under Clause 11(3). It may be tidier and more satisfactory for this particular provision to be in Clause 11 rather than Clause 12, as this Amendment suggests. I would ask both noble Lords to think again about this matter. It is one of the points on which I am not happy on drafting.


On Second Reading there seemed to be criticisms on running expenses. Running expenses come under Clause 12. It is once and for all payments that come under Clause 11. For that reason it seemed to us that it was better to control the running expenses. I do not think any of us would object to putting this in both clauses. We do not feel that the Minister would ever have cause to grumble; but he would be there as a long-stop if the wicket keeper failed to catch the financial ball properly. Perhaps we could discuss the matter with the Department concerned and see whether it would be worthwhile putting this in both clauses.


The noble Earl has answered the point that has been made. Perhaps on Report stage, after we have discussed the matter, we may, if necessary, consider a further Amendment. We have already passed Clause 11 and are now on Clause 12. Perhaps the noble Viscount would be good enough to let us have this Amendment now and let us reconsider the matter at Report stage.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Schedule [Constitution of the Council and Supplementary Provisions]:

6.57 p.m.

LORD JANNER moved Amendment No. 5: Page 7, line 6, leave out ("eleven") and insert ("twelve"):

The noble Lord said: I am sure that your Lordships, will forgive me if, having been a Member of your Lordships' House for only a short period, I ask the Committee for something which may not be allowable but which is permissible in the other place. The Amendments that remain on the Marshalled List can be dealt with, if I am permitted to do so, by an introductory statement and then voted on separately. We have done that in the other place and I assume that it would be in order for me to suggest that we deal with them here in this way.


As I understand it, the remaining Amendments all go together. If the noble Lord made his speech on the first Amendment, and dealt with all of them, then they could be taken separately without further speeches on the subsequent Amendments.


I can assure the Committee that I had not intended to repeat anything that had been said before, particularly in view of the fact that my noble friend Lord Donaldson of Kings-bridge so admirably dealt with the main features of these Amendments when he spoke on Clause 1.

The real issue is that on the Second Reading of the Bill the noble Lord. Lord Windlesham, drew attention to the fact that the Federation of Zoological Gardens represented only a third of the zoological gardens of the country and that other zoological gardens ought to be taken into consideration when dealing with the Bill. I and my colleagues thought that that was a quite reasonable suggestion, and as your Lordships have heard from my noble friend Lord Donaldson, talks have taken place. Incidentally, at the time of the moving of the Second Reading of the Bill I do not think the other Association had come into existence, or, if it had, it was only a short time before the Second Reading. Consultations have taken place, and I should imagine that over two-thirds of the zoological gardens are now represented in the Federation and the new Association which has been formed. I am quite sure that all other reputable zoological gardens will want to follow suit with the two-thirds who are thus represented. The purpose of these Amendments is to put the position on the footing to which I have referred.

The other Amendments are designed to bring into effect what the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, referred to, which of course my colleagues and I who are responsible for the Bill feel should meet the situation. Instead of having four persons nominated in the way that has been suggested in the Bill itself, we feel now that we should alter the position so that within three months of the passing of the Act four persons shall be nominated, in consultation with certain bodies representing zoological gardens, as the Minister shall think fit. I need hardly say that we are hoping, and believe, that the Federation and the Association are of sufficient standing for him to consult with them. I am not a member of either of them, incidentally. but I think it would be tragic if he did not. That is only for the first period. Later on, after the first four members have been so nominated, all zoological gardens which are registered as approved will have a place and a voice in the election of future members of the Council. I think myself—and I hope noble Lords will agree with me—that that should meet the situation for all zoological societies which will be registered and consequently will be complying with such rules and regulations as are desirable for the industry as a whole. I do not think I need say anything further because the Amendment to page 7, line 20, to leave out paragraph 2 would naturally follow. I beg to move.


May I say one word on this Amendment? The two Amendments I referred to at the beginning were Nos. 6 and 8; Nos. 5 and 7 are in a slightly different category. These are put down by the sponsors to satisfy the suggestion which was made by, I believe, my noble friend Lord Zuckerman, that a zoologist should be on the Council. The sponsors thought that the right way to get a scientist was to have the President of the Royal Society in consultation. I have not discussed this matter with my colleagues of the Association, but I find it impossible to believe that this will be something they will not agree to. What I have discussed with my colleagues is the method of election. I did not wish there to be any misunderstanding about this.


I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Janner, can help me. Is he speaking to Amendment No. 7 as well, or just to Nos. 5, 6 and 8? In any event, I will deal with Nos. 5, 6 and 8 at this juncture. All I want to say is that, while again I am glad to see the demise of paragraph 2—perhaps not one of the happiest passages in the Bill—we accept these Amendments in principle. The progress that has been made, to which the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, has drawn attention, is of the greatest value. It is reflected in this. It is that which we want to encourage more and more throughout any further consultations on this Bill; and as we now see tangible results of it I can do nothing but say this is a splendid step in the right direction.


I beg to move Amendment No. 6.

Amendment moved—

Page 7, line 9, leave out head (b) and insert— ("(b) four persons who shall be nominated—

  1. (i) within three months from the passing of this Act by the Minister after consultation with such bodies representing Zoological Gardens as he shall think fit; and
  2. 734
  3. (ii) thereafter by representatives of all those Zoological Gardens the names of which are entered on the register of Approved Zoological Gardens."—(Lord Janner.)

7.3 p.m.

THE EARL OF CRANBROOK moved Amendment No. 7:

Page 7, line 13, at end insert— ("() one person who shall be nominated by the President of the Royal Society;").

The noble Earl said: The noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, has referred to this point already. It was suggested that there should be a scientist on the Zoological Gardens Council. Perhaps I might give your Lordships just one example to show the necessity of bringing the scientists into zoos, although they are in the management already. Your Lordships may have read with regret of the increasing old age of Chi-Chi the panda. If Chi-Chi were, alas! to die, the problem would arise: should the pathologist have first go at her body to find out what caused her death, or the anatomist to find out how this rare creature is made up? Because whoever gets there first is going to ruin things for the second. This is the kind of problem which has to be faced by zoos. It is the kind of problem which makes us feel that a scientist on the Zoological Gardens Council would be useful, and that is the reason which lies behind this Amendment. I beg to move.


When my noble friend Lord Cranbrook poses that kind of problem (which I have heard before from him on the subject of whales and other creatures) he speaks as an acknowledged expert. The only matter that causes me to raise just one query, which I am sure he can quickly answer, is this. If in a Statute we include somebody to be nominated by the President of the Royal Society, I think it essential that the Royal Society should have been consulted and should have agreed to the inclusion of that member. I wonder whether noble Lords can tell me if this has been done. I am sure my noble friend can. If the President has agreed and the Royal Society has agreed, then it is admirable; if they have not, then perhaps they ought to be asked before the next stage of the Bill.


I confess that I stand here in a white sheet because consulted with only one member of the Royal Society as to whether this would be appropriate in this Bill. I much regret that I did not consult with the President, and I suppose that out of decency I ought to withdraw this Amendment.


I also have consulted one member of the Royal Society. I do not know whether the noble Earl was asking for the Amendment to be withdrawn.


I think it would be proper if we were to withdraw the Amendment and have the consultations which we most certainly ought to have had before. I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD JANNER moved Amendment No. 8:

Page 7, line 20, leave out paragraph 2.

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 8. There is one difficulty here. We have already passed an Amendment to say there should be 12 members of the Council instead of 11, and it was intended that the person nominated by the President should be one of those persons. Perhaps we can leave it at that, and deal with this question at Report stage.


I do not think it is wholly unprecedented that a Bill should go through Committee with one slight hiatus. I am sure that it can be filled or corrected at a subsequent stage. I think, with respect, that my noble friend Lord Cranbrook is right, and I certainly would not object to a minor anomaly of this kind going forward.

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported, with the Amendments.