HL Deb 08 May 1973 vol 342 cc394-9

9.10 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, that the Bill be now read 3a.—(The Earl of Arran.)

On Question, Bill read 3a.

Clause 10 [Enforcement, penalties, etc.]:

LORD SOMERS moved Amendment No. 2:

Page 4, line 3, leave out from beginning to ("arrest") in line 6 and insert— ("(1) Where a constable has reasonable grounds for suspecting that any person is committing an offence under this Act, or has committed an offence under this Act and that evidence of the commission of the offence is to be found on that person or any vehicle or article he may have with him, the constable may—

  1. (a) without warrant stop and search that person and search any vehicle or article he may have with him;
(aa) without warrant").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is little more than a drafting Amendment. I raised an Amendment with the same intent on the Committee stage but the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, was not satisfied with the wording. At that time he said that I should not think of saying what was the correct legal terminology for any Act of Parliament. He was quite right; I should not, any more than he would think of suggesting the correct registration for any organ work. But thanks to the great kindness of the noble Baroness, Lady Young, this Amendment comes from the Home Office and therefore I hope your Lordships will accept it. It merely implies that a constable may have grounds for suspicion rather than actually seeing the man committing an offence. I beg to move.


My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Somers, said, he moved similar Amendments at the Committee stage. I said that although the Government had no objection to the principle of the Amendments, the drafting was not satisfactory. The Amendments have now been redrafted, and the Government have no objection to them.


My Lords, naturally I approve this Amendment. It has proper purposes which have been drafted by the Home Office. I am glad to support it.

Clause 11 [Interpretation]:

THE EARL OF CORK AND ORRERY moved Amendment No. 3: Page 4, line 34, after ("occupier") insert ("shown to have been authorised by the owner or occupier,")

The noble Earl said: My Lords, this Amendment embodies a point on which I touched at the Report stage. It is intended to narrow the application of paragraph (a) relating to "the owner or occupier, or any servant". The phrase, "any servant of the owner or occupier" is, I submit, drawing the matter a good deal too wide. It is easy to think of an owner or occupier as one person living in a small place. He may be a very large landowner indeed with a large number of undefined servants. This is not necessarily the case of a landowner with a gamekeeper to whom he can say "Deal with the badgers". He might be a man with a place in the country containing woods and badger sets which was let to a tenant while he lived in London. His nursemaid, butler or anybody else could be authorised under certain circumstances in this Bill to kill badgers on that ground. The only defence against that situation would be a possible action for trespass brought on the part of the tenant. That is poor protection for the badger.

The matter could be a great deal more widespread than that; very large corporations and insurance companies are landlords and landowners. An enormous number of employees could be classified as "servants" and all would become authorised persons, if their employer was himself an authorised person. I think it is even conceivable that on Crown lands every member of the Navy, the Army, and the Air Force, and perhaps the Civil Service, in certain circumstances, would become an authorised person. Obviously this is ridiculous, but none the less it is theoretically possible under this Bill. We do not wish to draft a ridiculous Bill and therefore this Amendment has been drafted in order to narrow the field. The words "owner or occupier" will occur three times in the same short clause, or subsection, thereby possibly conveying the effect, if anybody reads it aloud, that he is reciting a kind of part song or catch. None the less Bills are not read aloud. It will I submit, meet the case. It is logical; it is sensible, and it strengthens the case en behalf of the badgers. I beg to move.


My Lords, this Amendment meets a point that was raised at the Report stage in the course of debate on Amendments which introduced the definition of an authorised person. As my noble friend Lord Cork and Orrery has said, in paragraph (a) of the definition of "authorised person" as at present drafted a servant of an owner or occupier of any land would be an authorised person for the purposes of the Bill, whether or not he was acting with the permission of his employer. In effect, that would mean that if a servant killed a badger on his employer's land in defiance of his employer's wish, the servant would not be guilty of an offence under Clause 1. The effect of this Amendment would be to make the servant an authorised person only when acting with the permission of the owner or occupier; that is, he would need to show that he had been authorised by the owner or occupier. Such permission need not be in writing, and the amended definition would not therefore impose an additional burden on the owner or ocupier. The Government have no objection to this Amendment.


I too, my Lords, am fully in agreement.

THE EARL OF CRANBROOK moved Amendment No. 4.

Page 5, line 10, at end insert— (""local authority" means—

  1. (a) as respects England and Wales up to and including 31st March 1974, the council of a county borough, a London borough or a county district or the Common Council of the City of London;
  2. (b) as respects England and Wales on and after 1st April 1974, the council of a district or a London borough or the Common Council of the City of London; and
  3. (c) as respects Scotland, the council of a county or the town council of a burgh.")

The noble Earl said: My Lords, under paragraph (c) in the definition of an authorised person there comes a local authority. This is intended to meet the case not of a local authority owning land but of an authority which controls certain commons and the like, where there is no lord of the manor, or waste ground where there is no owner, and I am told by the Home Office that in fact this definition would meet both the case which exists to-day and the case which will exist after April next year when the new local authorities are established. My Lords, I beg to move.


My Lords, this Amendment of course is, as the noble Earl has made clear, consequential on the use of the expression "local authority" in the interpretation clause. Naturally I support it.

9.18 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass. When I introduced the Bill I said that it had two main purposes: to conserve the species and to protect the badger from cruelty. My main supporter was the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, to whom I find myself deeply indebted. He has achieved 90 per cent. of what he wanted, I perhaps 40 per cent., but I had hoped for little better. What the future of the Bill in the other House may be I cannot forecast—there are procedural difficulties—but I think your Lordships may feel proud of having passed this humane and conservationist measure.

To the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, again many congratulations. To many other noble Lords, many thanks. I think of my noble friend, Lord Foot, of the noble Lords, Lord Somers, Lord Hoy and Lord Coleridge, of my noble kinsman Lady Ruthven and the noble Lord, Lord Birkett. I will not go on; there are others of course. Strangely, or perhaps not strangely, I also thank the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, whom I am not sorry not to see here to-day. I do not think he is well. There is a famous story of a candidate who was beingvisaed for a First in Greats. All the examiners gave him an easy ride except one who kept on asking difficult questions. The candidate got a Second and he blamed it on the one examiner. He was wrong. That examiner thought well of the candidate and prodded him in the hope of getting the best out of him. The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, is my prodder and I like to think that he is trying to make me do better. I have tried.

As to the future, that is of course for the other place. Your Lordships may recall that I had to pass the Sexual Offences Bill through this House three times, but it now stands on the Statute Book under its correct name of the Abse Act. If I am unlucky this Session I shall persevere. I believe that what the country wants is protection from cruelty to the badger as an individual and his conservation as a species.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(The Earl of Arran.)


My Lords, at this late hour I do not like keeping your Lordships, but I would say one thing. We have discussed this Bill thoroughly in this House and I greatly dislike to think that it would be guillotined or chopped off in another place at one stroke. Therefore I am going to ask the Government, who have been very sympathetic to this Bill all the way through, to make their best endeavours so that the Bill has a fair hearing in the House of Commons.


My Lords, it was not my intention to say anything, but I could not allow this Bill to pass without acknowledging with thanks the reference that the noble Earl, Lord Arran, has made to me. From the beginning I decided to associate myself with the Bill, and despite all its trials I think we have now reached the stage, in agreement with the Government, of having a Bill which has unanimous support. That is a considerable achievement. Also, I think there is a sense of relief to many of your Lordships, because even if some of you were not altogether persuaded that this was a Bill of first moment, we have a great loyalty to the noble Earl; and the very fact that this Bill is about to leave your Lordshrips' House will at least give us a sense of relief, because we shall rot be tied to the House for much longer this evening.

Amendments have been made, and we are indebted to the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, for the constructive part he has played concerning the Bill. We are indebted also to the noble Baroness, Lady Young, for the way she has taken the Bill through on the part of the Government. That gives us a little confidence that when the Bill reaches another place (which is not unknown to me) it will have a reception which may make it possible for this Bill to go through that other Chamber much more quickly than it has gone through your Lordships' House. So I want to thank all those noble Lords who have helped, and certainly not least Lady Young.

9.22 p.m.


My Lords, may I add my congratulations to the noble Earl, Lord Arran, for successfully steering this Bill through your Lordships' House, and my thanks to those noble Lords who have expressed appreciation of anything I have been able to do. During the debate on Second Reading I told the House that the attitude of the Government was one of neutrality towards this basic issue, but I had to say that the Bill we then had before us was not acceptable to the Government, and I suggested that if it went forward the noble Earl might be prepared to look again at some of its provisions.

At Committee and Report stages your Lordships have made a considerable number of Amendments and have even added a few more this evening. The noble Earl, Lord Arran, has shown himself ready to consider all the various suggestions that have been made, and as a result we have produced a Bill which is much more comprehensive and better fitted for the job it is intended to do. At the same time, its original purposes of conserving the badger and protecting it from cruel methods of destruction have been kept. I am happy to say that all the Government's objections to the original Bill have been met. The Government's attitude towards the Bill remains one of neutrality, though I personally am very pleased to see the Bill pass.

On Question, Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.