HL Deb 15 June 1973 vol 343 cc983-4

11.38 a.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. I shall not detain your Lordships for many minutes in introducing the Bill. It was introduced in the other place by the honourable Member for Totnes, Mr. Mawby, and it passed through there with the blessing of Her Majesty's Government. The Bill seeks to amend Section 16 of the Sea Fisheries (Shellfish) Act 1967. That section lays down that oysters shall not be sold for human consumption between May 14 and the following August 4. Subsection (2)(a) says that the Act shall not apply to oysters which are bred abroad and imported. Among those oysters bred abroad and which, at the time, were imported arc a family of oysters called crassostrea, and they include the Portuguese oysters and the Pacific oysters. At that time they were not bred in our home waters because the home waters are too cold and they would not breed here naturally; so they can be sold here the whole year round.

Since 1967 it has been found possible to breed this particular family of oyster, crassostrea, in hatcheries, almost in laboratory conditions. This has developed into quite an industry and is becoming an increasing export industry, but as these oysters are now bred here they are not covered by the exceptions in the 1967 Act. All that this Bill seeks to do is to state that these oysters which are bred here and which at present are not allowed to be sold all the year round for human consumption, shall in future be allowed to be sold all the year round, because they are bred in hatcheries and are not bred naturally in these waters. The object of the original Section 16 was of course to protect our native oyster, and that is not affected. I hope that I have made myself clear in explaining this simple Bill. My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved, that the Bill be now read 2a. —(Lord Derwent.)


My Lords, I had not intended to intervene in this debate, but I feel bound to protest about the lamentable way in which this Bill is drafted. It is customary, when using scientific names of animals, to print them in italics, and the generic name in this case, Crassostrea, with the emphasis on the "o"—my recollection is that the Latin for an oyster is ostrea—should have a capital at the beginning. I hope that the noble Lord will see some way of rectifying the lamentably unscholarly way in which this Bill has been presented.

11.47 a.m.


My Lords, my noble friend has explained the purpose of the Bill, which is to enable hatchery-reared oysters to be sold, and therefore presumably eaten, throughout the year. He said that the Bill had the blessing of Her Majesty's Government when it was in another place, and I can assure him, in reply, that that same blessing goes with the Bill in this place.


My Lords, may I say just one word in answer to my noble friend behind me? I think the pronounciation of the name depends upon whether the oyster is Portuguese or Pacific. I am sorry, but I did not draft the Bill and this is the way it has come from the other place. I will ask my noble friend not to pursue the matter further at the next stage of the Bill, because as it is a Private Member's Bill if it has to go back to the other place we may lose it. But I am certain that he is entirely right, and I hope that Her Majesty's Government will find some method of publicising the correct way of putting down these scientific terms, so that every Parliamentary draftsman knows that he will not be subject to criticism.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.