HL Deb 04 April 1974 vol 350 cc1078-97

5.57 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.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD MAYBRAY-KING in the Chair.]

Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 [Inspection of zoological gardens]:

VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD moved Amendment No. 1: Page 2, line 42, at end insert ("and the Council shall, within fourteen days of the receipt by them of such report, send a copy thereof to the owner of the zoological garden").

The noble Viscount said: For the convenience of the Committee I will take the first two Amendments together because the second Amendment is consequential on the first. I think that Amendment No. 1 contains a most reasonable request, because all I am asking is that when the inspection team to be set up by the Council to inspect a zoological garden makes its report, the zoological garden concerned should receive a copy of the report within 14 days.

If the owner of the zoological garden does not receive a copy of the report in which he is criticised, how can he possibly make the improvements to his zoological garden that the report may suggest? Supposing the report is very unfavourable and even, for instance, recommends his removal from the register, it is surely in the interests of natural justice that he should be acquainted with the sins he is supposed to have committed. How otherwise can he defend himself and answer the accusations? I quite agree that under Clause 6(3) it is true enough that if the council tells him his name is to be removed from the register he will then be told the reasons why. But that will be too late for him. It would be much fairer if he could have a copy of the report. He would then have an opportunity to pull his socks up and put things right. This smacks rather of the Star Chamber procedure.

I have never associated the noble Lord, Lord Janner, with the Star Chamber or the Kremlin. I should hope that the accused would know of what he is accused. I quite agree that if you are dealing with hardened criminals, for example, in espionage—not that I have any knowledge of espionage—it would be wise to withhold the reasons because you have to protect witnesses and do not want everything that has been reported to go back to the criminal. But you are not dealing with criminals here; you are dealing with perfectly innocent owners of zoological gardens, so I cannot see the reason for this secrecy. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Janner, will see my point and will be agreeable to accept this Amendment. I beg to move.


The Amendment sounds innocent enough, but unfortunately in practice it would not be as innocent as its sounds. I would ask the noble Viscount who is moving these Amendments to take into consideration the fact that he is advocating a course for a section of people who are running zoological gardens and who are making profits out of them. There is nothing in the Bill which prevents a person who is accused of an offence from having that offence brought to his notice and being given the reasons for the decision for which the council has decided to call upon him to put matters right.

There is a legal difficulty here, and perhaps the noble Viscount does not understand this. A report by a body, no matter how conscientious it may be, can be subject to actions for libel by people who want to take those actions and consequently it would not be fair to a council to have to give a report in the way that the noble Viscount is suggesting. Secondly, fancy speaking about innocent charming people and all the rest of it. While I admit that, in the main, those who run zoological gardens for profit are gentlemen and ladies who can be respected, there are exceptions, and the exceptions can use a report, if it is a favourable one, for advertising purposes. These are matters which have to be taken into consideration. We have given careful consideration to this Amendment and I am sorry that in the circumstances I cannot accept it.


I do not know whether it would be helpful at this stage if I attempted to indicate something of the view of the Government on this. Although this is a Private Member's Bill, if we are to have legislation the Government are naturally anxious that it should be workable. I should like to say at the outset that any contribution I shall be making to our discussion on the various Amendments is intended to be helpful to that end.

Clause 5 provides for the inspection of zoological gardens which are registered, and subsection (2) obliges the council to require the inspecting team to make a report on the adequacy, at any zoo so inspected, of the provisions made to comply with the requirements specified in Clause 4. The effect of this Amendment would be to impose an obligation on the council to send a copy of the report to the owner of the zoo to which the report relates. My noble friend Lord Janner has suggested that it would be very unfair to expect the council to do this with the risk of libel and other difficulties that may be involved. In other words it could be claimed that if a copy of the report was to be seen by the owner of the zoo reported on, the inspector may be less candid in his remarks. On the other hand, since the report would be a major factor in determining whether or not the zoo remains on the register, it does not seem to be unreasonable to provide for the owner to see the report on his zoo. I can say that the attitude of the Government is one of complete neutrality. I do not altogether follow the suggestion of the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, that Amendment 2 is consequential on this one. It would appear to me that if this Amendment is carried his second Amendment would not be necessary.


I do not believe that the noble Viscount has quite comprehended what is intended by the provisions of this Bill. He will remember his own Bill (if I may call it his own), the Riding Establishments Act, which provided for exactly similar inspection before the local authority considered whether or not to grant a licence. There was no provision whatsoever in that Bill for any person owning a riding establishment to have any reason given to him in writing if the local authority, on receipt of the report, refused him a licence. That has been the position hitherto in practically every Act dealing with places at which animals are kept. It is the position in the Act dealing with pet stores and the Act dealing with boarding establishments for animals.

This is a vast improvement on those previous Acts and in fact follows the sort of advice which the Council on Tribunals has been given so far as the machinery of tribunals is concerned in making quite certain that any person who is aggrieved, in a way that undoubtedly the owner of a zoo would be aggrieved if the Council refused him a licence, gets the reasons given to him at the same time as the proposal is made not to grant a licence. What is more, if the noble Viscount will turn to Clause 12 he will see that it is stronger than any of these other Acts, and stronger than a great many others due to the fact that giving a notice means giving a notice in writing. If that provision were not in the Bill, I think we should all agree with the noble Viscount that it would be iniquitous that a man's livelihood could possibly be taken away, without his being given the whole reasons in writing which led the judging body to take that decision. I think, too, that the noble Viscount was wrong when he said that by the time a person received the reasons under Clause 6(3) it would be too late, because of course it would not be too late. Subsection (2) of that clause states: … after affording to the owner a reasonable opportunity to comply with those requirements The position is that an owner will get in writing the full reasons which led the Council to reach a certain conclusion, and he is bound by law to be given sufficient time to correct any deficiencies found. I cannot believe that natural justice demands anything more.


In view of what noble Lords have said, I shall make no further comment. But if the noble Lord, Lord Janner, could do anything to assuage the fears of the owners of zoological gardens that they will be dealt with summarily and that a report will simply state "You are out", it would be a great help. I do not know whether "arrogant" is the right word to use here, but I know that owners are frightened that they will not be dealt with completely fairly. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 6 [Removal of registration in certain cases]:

6.13 p.m.


Page 3, line 19, at end insert— ("Provided that the Council shall not remove the name of any zoological garden from the register by reason of any failure by the owner to comply with paragraphs (a), (b) or (f) of section 4 of this Act unless the veterinary surgeon referred to in section 5(1) of this Act has stated in his report referred to in section 5(2) of this Act that in his opinion the provisions of any of the said respective paragraphs have not been complied with.")

The noble Viscount said: Although this Amendment seems rather complicated, it is really very simple. Its purpose is to ensure that an owner will not have to run the risk of his zoo being removed from the register for veterinary reasons, unless a vet—or vets—issues a report stating that the care and welfare of the animals leaves much to be desired. A veterinary surgeon may be the only member of the Council inspection team who has any qualifications relating to the keeping of exotic animals in captivity, and we want to be sure that a zoological garden cannot be removed from the register unless he states categorically that the health and welfare of the animals is not up to standard. Paragraphs (a), (b) and (f) should be completely under the jurisdiction of a veterinary surgeon, and if the noble Lord, Lord Janner, can inform me that they will be I shall be quite satisfied. I beg to move.


May I first declare an interest in that I am the honorary secretary of the Zoological Society of London, which looks after the national collection of animals both in London and in Whipsnade. I do not quite understand the purpose of the noble Viscount's Amendment. The purpose of this Bill, and the reason why I have got up on several occasions to support the noble Lord, Lord Janner, is to protect first the animals and then the public—not the proprietors of zoos. I do not want to find the Council of the Zoological Society protected by an Act of Parliament. I do not want our various committees to be protected.

It seems to me that the purpose of the Bill is to see that zoological gardens where exotic animals are kept will not incur the criticism of people who are knowledgeable about animals, and about what constitutes the security of the public. The Amendment states, in effect, that responsibility should be given to a veterinary officer alone. We have a Gardens and Parks Committee of distinguished people who know something about the amenities which the public require, and which the nation demands, and we have several veterinary committees. But to give to one veterinary officer the responsibility for looking after all the items referred to in the Amendment seems to me to be imposing upon him a duty which he could never discharge. For that reason I am afraid, although I have the same interest as the noble Viscount, I should not be prepared to support this Amendment.


I naturally accept the opinion of my noble friend Lord Zuckerman, although I am not relying entirely upon that. In view of the nature of this Amendment, I thought it necessary to consult the veterinary surgeons and I was informed by the Secretary of the British Veterinary Zoological Society, which is composed of veterinary surgeons who work in, or with, the zoological world, that they do not want this responsibility in view of the fact that there are other aspects to be considered, as my noble friend Lord Zuckerman has pointed out. I am afraid that in the circumstances, and as the professional world of the veterinary surgeons is against a proposal of this sort for reasons similar to those put forward by my noble friend—and I cannot go against their decision as I do not consider myself so great an authority as they are—I cannot accept the Amendment.


I do not think either the noble Lord, Lord Janner, or the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, have understood what I said, which I am sure was my fault. What I tried to say was that the opinion of a veterinary surgeon should be paramount in regard to paragraph (a) which deals with the health and welfare of animals, to paragraph (b) which covers the provision of adequate veterinary care, and to paragraph (f) which covers proper records of births, acquisitions, deaths and disposals.

We only wanted to be sure that the veterinary surgeon's advice was borne in mind in that respect. The question is not that an adequate number of keepers are available, but about the health and welfare of the animals.


If the noble Viscount will forgive me, what he is alleging is that the people who will be called upon to conduct the examination would not be responsible people. Obviously, if a veterinary surgeon is one of their number they will take the opinion of that veterinary surgeon in respect of matters which lie within his particular province; but others, too, have experience which is, even in those respects and in those matters, of importance, and as the veterinary surgeons themselves do not want it I cannot see why the noble Viscount should persist in his Amendment. I hope that he will see fit to withdraw it.


Perhaps I may contribute a little more here because for some years I was chairman of the Zoo Federation which had exactly this problem of deciding the type of inspection team we were to send round to zoos which had applied to enter the Federation. I found there was more or less unanimity among all the people connected with the zoos in line with the provisions laid down in Clause 4. They represent the objectives which every zoo should aim at and on which there was unanimity. But what I found interesting, and did not expect to find, was that a large number of people responsible for keeping zoological gardens felt that if there was to be an inspection it should be carried out by the layman assisted by the vet or by the layman, who had been trained in a good zoo, without a vet. There were an equal number of people on the other side who felt that the vet should be the one man to make the inspection, with the layman accompanying him but being regarded as unnecessary as, indeed, other people thought that the veterinary surgeon's attendance was unnecessary. The conclusion to which I came was that such a system would satisfy neither, and the effect would be to confine making one's team to both laymen and veterinary surgeons, as indeed does the Bill. The noble Viscount is one who feels that inspections should be the responsibility of the veterinary surgeon; others feel exactly the opposite and, in the circumstances, the best thing is to do what the Bill proposes and have both.

But again I remind the noble Viscount that we are always thinking of making provision to ensure fairness so that a man whose livelihood is taken away has ever) opportunity of meeting the charges against him. We want to ensure that he can appeal to the courts and then subpoena the veterinary surgeon concerned. In cases where the veterinary surgeon has reported any contraventions the Council will have to give reasons in writing which the man concerned will be entitled to refute and argue in the courts. No injustice would be done by this procedure and most people in the zoo world would be satisfied by it. Perhaps when the noble Viscount realises there are others inside the zoo world holding other opinions than the one he has put forward, he may well feel that it is better to meet them in the middle by having both the veterinary surgeon and the layman in the inspection team.

One of the more important subjects concerns whether or not existing records are adequate. The noble Viscount knows as well as I that he and I could make up our minds as well as any veterinary surgeon about whether records are adequate.


In view of what my noble friend has said. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 agreed to.

Clause 8 [Supplementary provisions as to the register and fees]:

6.26 p.m.

VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD moved Amendment No. 4: Page 4, line 4, after ("fee") insert ("which shall not exceed £15)")

The noble Viscount said: In order to save time I should like to speak to Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 together. I will not say much about them; they are not of great importance, but one of the aspects in the Bill that I find unsatisfactory is that we can get no effective response about the cost of the various proposals which are made. In the two Amendments I have tabled, the scale of fees for registration and for restoration to the register are solely administrative matters and the fees I have suggested in Amendment No. 4 are shall not exceed £15 for registration, and in Amendment No. 5 shall not exceed £5 for restoration. These are completely administrative matters and I do not think any more should be charged.

I should like to try to draw the noble Lord, Lord Janner, on the financial implications of the Bill because we are asked to pass the Bill without being told anything about the financial implications.


I hope that the noble Viscount will agree that we should speak on Amendments Nos. 6 and 13 together, because they appear to hang on the same tag. The noble Viscount has asked me a direct question and I propose to answer him in a direct manner. I am afraid that he has been badly misled. I hope he will forgive me if I speak perfectly plainly. In this country zoological gardens have to be conducted in such a way that the public as a whole, as well as the individuals attending them and the animals in the zoos, shall have complete protection so that there can be no question about whether animals are being properly treated, irrespective of any commercial interests. I wish to underline that fact. It appears from the kind of Amendments now being put forward that the concern of these zoological gardens, which are carried on for profit, is how much profit they can make and how little they are prepared to spend in order that the animals should be properly looked after.

It is a very strange thing and I hope your Lordships will forgive me if I deal with the matter in the way that has been suggested by the noble Viscount. The fact of the matter is that since I introduced the Bill on the first occasion, unhappily it has not managed to get through to the Statute Book—not because your Lordships did not want it, they passed it, and not because the other place were against it, because the Second Reading was passed there on the nod. What in fact happened is that now, at the eleventh hour, when they see that there is a probability of the Bill passing, they want to see to it that as little as possible shall come out of their pockets in order to have the public and the animals in the zoos protected.

I am sure that the noble Viscount has been led up the garden path here by the Association which was formed after we had introduced the first Bill—after, not before. Before it was not their concern. The papers were full of shocking incidents that had happened in some of the zoological gardens which were run for commercial reasons. I did not see any libel action taken against the people who made those allegations against specific commercial enterprises. Far be it from me to make any suggestion that all the zoological gardens which are run for profit are not run properly, but the fact of the matter is that in some cases, even if they attempt to run them properly they are misguided in the manner in which they carry out the supervision of the animals.

The noble Viscount has raised the question of cost. The Federation of Zoological Societies which was founded years ago and against which there has been no accusation of mismanagement in any way, are behind this Bill because they feel that everybody should be properly supervised, and indeed it should appear that they are properly supervised. There are two million people per annum alone who attend their zoological gardens.

A few days ago we saw on television the life of a very highly respected Member of this House. He spoke about the 1½ or 2 million people visiting his safari park and of people being prepared to pay as much as £10 to have a meal there. Frankly, and when we come to the next Amendments we will see what kind of charges are suggested, I think it is a monstrous idea—and I speak in strong language—that an attempt should be made to bring before this House the kind of charges it is literally impossible to believe. No, the cost of protecting the animals and of protecting the public and ensuring that the animals are so housed and looked after and—though not specifically stated in the Bill—in order to preserve their species in the future, will not be a very heavy one; but it will be sufficient for a Council which is constituted of people of standing, to decide what is reasonable to serve the purpose.

I am sure that the noble Viscount does not want to have inadequate supervision and in my view he can trust the Council. People trust other professional Councils not to exceed a reasonable sum in the amounts that they spend. I can assure him that with the millions of people who attend the zoological gardens and the safari parks, only a very small amount will be required from each person who is admitted. Consequently, we have investigated what it is likely to cost, but much will depend on the staff and accommodation that is necessary. The important point here is the staff and accommodation that is necessary in order to protect the animals and the public. The zoological gardens themselves, if there was no such set-up as a Council, and if they were honest and reasonable people and cared as much for the public as they cared for their profits, would have to spend this money. I want the noble Viscount to realise that he is not dealing with unreasonable people, with thugs; he is not dealing with people who want to make a profit out of this venture. He is dealing with a respectable set of people who want to ensure that the public will be satisfied in a reasonable way and that the fears that they have—unhappily, many of them founded on previous experience—will be dispelled. In the circumstances I am very sorry that the noble Viscount has seen fit to move these Amendments.


I wonder whether I might intervene at this stage, with some advantage. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Janner, that it would be as well if we could deal with Amendments Nos. 4, 5, 6 and 13 at the same time. The noble Lord, Lord Janner, has made it quite clear that he is unwilling to accept these Amendments. He has spoken with a depth of feeling that leaves no doubt at all. I have to say that the Government also find these Amendments undesirable. I should like to think that the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, having made his point will not press the Amendments. If they were pressed I should have to say that the Government would hope that they would not be accepted by the Committee.

Nevertheless, having said that, these Amendments underline the reservations that have been expressed in some quarters about the anticipated cost of running the Council, and the understandable desire of some zoo proprietors to see an upper limit placed on the fees they may be called upon to pay. But as I have indicated, these Amendments are, in the Government's view, open to criticism on two main fronts. In the first place, the levels at which the maxima have been set seem far too low to produce the money the Council will need to function in the way it is required to do under the provisions of the Bill. Secondly, even if the fees were adequate to meet the Council's present day financial requirements at a time of increasing costs and rising prices, they would soon be out of date and in need of upward revision. That is something for which the Amendment does not provide.

I could give some figures but perhaps it will not be necessary in the light of the way our consideration is going. The figures cover the sums that would be raised if the proposals of the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, were accepted. They would be totally inadequate. I would put it this way: it must be recognised that the cost of operation, the system of registration and inspection required by the Bill would require payments by registered zoos substantially higher than those specified in this series of Amendments. To lay down maximum fees of the sort that are given us here would in the Government's view serve only to frustrate the proper operation of the structure which the Bill seeks to set up. I hope the noble Viscount will appreciate that this matter has been gone into in some depth and that in the advice I am tendering I take into account all the consideration which has been given to it.


I spoke at length on the Second Reading of this Bill in the last Parliament and I do not want to repeat all that I said then; but with due respect to the noble Lord, Lord Janner, so far as I am aware he has no experience of zoological gardens, whereas I have a certain experience of exotic animals in captivity, and I cannot agree with a great deal of what he has said. But I have not yet spoken on Amendment No. 13. I was speaking only on Amendments 4 and 5—fees for registration and restoration to the register. That is only a question of administrative expense; just a question of a pen and some ink. I was not in fact speaking on Amendment No. 13, but as noble Lords have now brought it up, I am quite prepared to discuss it with Amendments 4 and 5, and with Amendment 6. As I intimated, this first Amendment and Amendment No. 13 are probing Amendments. I am trying to draw from the noble Lord what this Council will cost. I quite agree that the fees I have suggested, which would bring in only about £10,000, are too low, but I was trying to get some figure from the noble Lord as to how much it is going to cost. Is it going to cost £100,000 a year, £50,000 a year, or what? I can get no figure out of him.

Of course, we have the proviso in Clause 8(5): All fees prescribed under this section shall be subject to the approval of the Secretary of State". But that does not necessarily inspire great confidence in those whose pockets are to be raided. When the noble Lord spoke about £1½ million gross a year—I presume he was referring to Woburn—I think he was exaggerating. I understand it is just about £1 million, but, anyway, only about a third or a quarter of that is in connection with the game park, so the noble Lord was really exaggerating there. We ought also to remember that the Council can come along to the Secretary of State and say, "Look: we have not got enough money, so we must raise the fees", and the Secretary of State would find it very hard to refuse. I would far prefer to have a set scale of fees which could automatically go up with the rate of inflation each year. I have put down rather wide brackets here but, as I say, this suggestion has the advantage of there being fixed fees calculated on admissions. I do not agree with the Bill where, in Clause 8(1)(b), it says, … such sum to be calculated on the number of"— I agree with it so far; that is all right— or the amount of money received from paid admissions … I do not agree with that. I think that any scale of fees must be based on the number of admissions, not on the amount of money received, because I doubt very much whether it would be workable otherwise, and it is a private matter. You have to divulge the figure to the Inland Revenue or to the Customs and Excise, but I do not see why you should have to divulge it to the Council. It is a private matter.

I suppose there is no hope of having this Amendment accepted so I will have to withdraw it, but I should just like to say that there is disquiet over this. A large number of us with zoological gardens have not been consulted at all. We are really being rather pressurised into this; and if you do not get co-operation among the owners of zoological gardens then the Council may not be a very effective instrument. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 8 agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

In the Schedule [Constitution of the Council and Supplementary Provisions]:

6.47 p.m.


Page 7, leave out lines 7 to 16 and insert:

  1. ("(a) 5 members appointed by the Secretary of State following nominations made to him by the National Zoological Association of Great Britain;
  2. (b) 4 members appointed by the Secretary of State following nominations made to him by the Federation of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain and Ireland;
  3. (c) 2 members appointed by the Secretary of State.")

The noble Viscount said: This Amendment seeks to revise the constitution of the Council. I mentioned just before I sat down earlier that if this Council is to succeed the co-operation of the industry is essential. In fact, when we had the Second Reading debate on this Bill in the last Parliament my noble friend Lord Colville emphasised this—because, after all, the industry is providing 100 per cent. of the cost of this Council. I would remind the noble Lord, Lord Janner, that the industry has two societies. One is the National Zoological Association of Great Britain, which represents about sixty members. I understand that they have just had to throw out one member because his premises were not up to the required standdards. The National Zoological Association have regular inspections carried out. They have their premises, their universal zoological gardens, inspected by the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare. The other society, as we have heard, is of course the Federation of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain and Ireland, of which the London Zoo are the chief members. As I say, if there is not co-operation between these two bodies, I rather fear for the future of the Council.

In my Amendment I have suggested that the Council should be divided as to five members for the National Zoological Association, because they have more members than the Federation of Zoological Gardens, and four members for the Federation of Zoological Gardens, and that the other two members should be appointed by the Secretary of State from whatever quarter he wishes. Under the Bill, of course, the Secretary of State has to appoint all the members any way, even those from the Association and from the Federation. I should like to have two members appointed from outside the zoological associations by the Secretary of State, who would then hold the balance of power, because if that were done neither of the two zoological associations could dominate the other. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Janner, will agree that the Council, as I have suggested, would be fairly constituted, with the Secretary of State holding the balance of power in this way. I beg to move.


I am really sorry to have to speak in the way that I do, but I find it absolutely impossible to agree to what I consider to be impertinent Amendments which are brought forward by commercial organisations and which indicate quite clearly that they are more concerned with the commercial aspect of the matter than with what the Bill purports to do. This is a Bill for protecting the animals and there is no question of the Association, the Federation, or anybody else, having a personal interest in this matter. They must drop their personal interest and think of the animals and the public. They must not think about how much profit they are going to make. I do not know whether they consider it an honour to be a member of the Council, but they ought not to think of that. What is needed is to have people who are prepared voluntarily to serve on the Council—people of the highest standard. What a shocking thing to suggest! I hope the noble Viscount will go back to the people who have misled him—because they have misled him and they have no right to do so. The noble Viscount is a reasonable person, and these people have no right to lead him up the garden path, if I may say so.

Just imagine what he is saying. He wants the Association, because it is a commercial association with 60 members, to have a say as to whether the animals should be properly protected or not. Clearly, in both Houses of Parliament we are asked to declare an interest before we venture to give opinions. But here the interest is obvious. The Federation does not ask for it. Fancy casting a slur on—of all people—the Royal Society and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons! It is really too much for anyone to stomach. Perhaps I should not use that expression, but it is certainly hard for anyone to accept. I hope that the noble Viscount will go back to his people and tell them that no sensible, reasonable body could possibly accept proposals such as have been made and that it is an insult to very reputable organisations—organisations which should be the primary organisations to be consulted on these matters. I certainly could not accept this Amendmtnt. I do not know whether any other Member of this Committee could do so.


I apologise for having entered this discussion at such a late stage of the Bill's progress; and I have to declare an interest in that during the past two years I have been setting up my own wildlife park. I have taken my seat on a Back-Bench here hoping that I might be in the background, and fortunately I find two very distinguished Members, both on my right and on my left, who are also in the background. My own wildlife park combines open space with gardens and country, a deer park and a zoo. During the past two years I have visited seven wildlife parks, 15 zoos, six bird gardens and five safari parks. In studying this Bill I wondered just how necessary it is, since the great majority of these parks are well run and the public themselves have a very strong control through their attendance figures and indeed through the criticisms they give to the people running the parks.

Your Lordships, however, have given this Bill three Second Readings and are undoubtedly of the opinion that statutory control is necessary. Therefore this Bill must be as good as we can make it. I do not think we should accept this Amendment because we ought not to have the Council loaded on either side. There is no doubt, as has been said this evening—and I have no interest at the moment since I am neither a member of the Association nor of the Federation—that the members of the Association are on the whole zoos or leisure industry zoos, generally managed by companies, whereas the members of the Federation are preponderantly bodies dedicated to the entertainment of the public interested in wild animals, and in many cases are trusts or associations. I feel that neither body should have a preponderance in this Council and I hope that the Council will not only control zoos, as designated in Clause 4 of the Bill, but also look a little further into the future and promote the wellbeing of this industry. I myself have an axe to grind. There are certain counties in this country which consider that institutions of this kind should be kept secret and that no signs should be allowed to show where they are—in fact my own opening publicity was largely to the effect of "Can you keep a secret?", and it produced quite a crowd of people on the opening day.

Perhaps I should mention a further point: I was unable to attend the earlier Second Reading debate on January 28 because I happened then to be in Peru. I deal largely in Latin American animals, and Peru is one of the Latin American countries which has, as no doubt some of your Lordships from the opposite side of the Chamber will be pleased to hear, nationalised its wild animals. As a result, they will not allow the export of wild animals. Here, Peru is in company with Colombia, Brazil and shortly, I think, Ecuador. Those wild animals which are caught—and obviously some are caught by the Indians in the jungle, because they do not know about the rules—are confiscated when it is sought to export them and the State bodies looking after these animals want to get rid of them abroad. The Council which it is suggested should be set up is just the sort of body with which a State organisation concerned with the exporting of wild animals can deal in this country.

I would support the Bill, rather than this Amendment, because the foreign country in this particular case would know that it was dealing with an independent body and in no way with a commercial body.


May I intervene a second time in this debate to endorse everything that the noble Lord has just said? This must be a neutral body. I was alarmed when I heard the words "to dominate" and that under the Amendment two members would be appointed by the Secretary of State to achieve a balance of power. Who knows what the balance of power is here? The only power which has been sought by this Bill is to see that we have zoological collections, properly licensed, of which the country need not be ashamed. There are some collections in this country which should not exist—and I know less about this matter than some noble Lords who are present.

I am sure that the noble Viscount was not implying that the Presidents of the Royal Society and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons had an interest one way or the other. But does the noble Viscount know what these bodies are? The Federation—of which I believe the Zoological Society of London is a member—is a Federation of Zoological Gardens. The other Association, of which I know nothing, calls itself the National Zoological Association. Zoology is the science of life. Perhaps the National Zoological Association is a scientific body. The Zoological Society of London is the national zoological society and, in the same way, the Royal Society has sectional committees on zoology. What can I or the noble Viscount know about a fourth or fifth association which might appoint itself? The National Zoological Association has given itself this name without any reference to the science of zoology; but any number of other so-called associations might be formed, in which case this Bill would become meaningless.


We have listened to some interesting speeches on this Amendment, and particularly interesting was the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Fisher. I thought he made a very telling point when he said that the Council should not be loaded in the way the Amendment would load it. In the Government's view, the proposals as set out in the Bill are about right. I should like to point out to the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, that his Amendment has a very considerable weakness. If it were carried, the number of members to be appointed on the nomination of each of the two existing bodies representing zoos would be generally in line with their relative present membership. But the membership of the bodies could change in the future: one or both of the existing organisations could be wound up; or additional bodies representing zoos—particularly specialised collections such as aquaria or bird gardens—could be established in the future. It is unsatisfactory to specify in a Statute precise numbers of persons to be appointed on the nomination of unofficial bodies of this nature; the present provision in the Bill is more flexible and much to be preferred. I hope that the noble Viscount will see the force of the argument that I have tried to put regarding his Amendment.


In view of what the noble Lord has said, and as my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye wants to get on with his Question, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7.4 p.m.


Page 7, line 16, at end insert— ("The Council shall elect from among their own number a chairman and such chairman shall hold office for a term of three years.")

The noble Viscount said: We are not told by whom the chairman shall be nominated, and I should have thought that it would be fairer for the members of the Council to elect him. I beg to move.


I hope the noble Viscount will not press this Amendment. We want to get on with the Bill and I am sure that this time he will realise that the Committee are not very happy about instructions from the Association to which reference has been made. I hope he will withdraw this Amendment.


I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported without amendment: Report received.