HL Deb 21 June 1977 vol 384 cc634-9

7.40 p.m.

Viscount THURSO

My Lords, I beg to move that this Report be now received.

Moved, That the Report be now received.—(Viscount Thurso.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Clause 1 [Power to limit the import etc. of fish and fish eggs]:

Viscount THURSO moved Amendment No. 1: Page 1, line 9, leave out ("to the wild").

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, as I promised during Committee, Amendment No. 1 is moved following the withdrawal of a similar Amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy. This Amendment removes the words to the wild ", recognising them as being tautological, possibly restrictive and perhaps liable to create difficulties in connection with enforcement. I should point out that Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 are drafting Amendments which are consequential upon Amendment No. 1. I beg to move.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, for having tabled the same Amendment on Report after consideration during the interval since the Committee stage of the argument that I had advanced. At Committee stage, my Amendment was a probing one, but as we went into it, it appeared that there was some substance in it. It is gratifying to find now that the Bill is being altered accordingly. My object was to help to reduce the area of possible disputes in the interpretation of the Bill when it has been enacted. I am glad if I have been able to make any contribution to that end.

I foresee that there may be contention when the Bill is enacted. I recall, as I am sure the noble Viscount does, the question of the import of Charolais cattle into this country, which is somewhat similar to the proposals for bringing coho salmon in now. A few farmers wanted to obtain permission for Charolais cattle to come in, and when eventually permission was given they did very well. But there were others who were very strongly opposed, most of the reasons being connected with health and possible damage to breeds that were already in this country.

I can foresee similar controversies over fish. Only recently there has been a report confirming that the coho salmon is more suitable for fish farming than our indigenous salmon. We shall be discussing that report from Dr. Purdom of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food later this evening when we discuss the law on fish farming. I should not he surprised if at some time in the future very strong and sincere feelings are aroused in the course of these arguments, especially where there is apprehension about possible health hazards concerning the imports of fish which are not indigenous to this country. Therefore, I believe that anything we can do to help clarify the legislation that passes through may reduce the disputes which could arise in the future.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

The MINISTER of STATE, SCOTTISH OFFICE (Lord Kirkhill) moved manuscript Amendment No. 1 A: Page 2, line 4, leave out ("Minister for the Civil Service") and insert ("Treasury".)

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a drafting Amendment. The Treasury is the appropriate Department to be consulted on the fixing of licence fees such as this. I beg to move.


My Lords, this might be the moment for me to raise again the matter that came up at Committee stage and on which we agreed that we would wait until a later stage to hear the Government's considered answer. This is on the question as to whether the Government have said that they will give financial support for the Bill. In Committee, a new clause on compensation was added to the Bill. That immediately meant that the Government were being committed to providing money when compensation would be required.

A Bill which is sponsored by a private Peer and then later has to be sponsored by a private Member in another place requires a Money Resolution when it reaches the other place, where money matters are dealt with. Many a Private Member's Bill has fallen in another place because the Government were not prepared to produce the Money Resolution and in that way back the Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Kirkhill, was able to give us a general undertaking at the Committee stage when this was raised, but we agreed to raise it again later, and Report stage is the appropriate time to ask whether he can tell us more about this. Unless the Government are prepared to underwrite the compensation clause, it would almost be better to take that clause out, because there is no chance of the Bill being passed in another place in that form.

I am not asking the Minister to tell us about the availability of time in another place or anything like that; or whether the Bill is likely to go through without debate. I am simply asking whether, in fact, the Treasury is undertaking to give whatever financial support might be required by the compensation clause and will therefore be producing a Money Resolution when the Bill reaches another place.


My Lords, with the leave of the House, the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, has posed a direct question to me following his earlier question in Committee. I indicated at an earlier stage that there was general Government support for the Bill, but I also indicated then—as I mention now—that I could not say how far the Bill will proceed in another place. But if the Government will the means, I presume that they will will the ends. I can give the general assurance that it is reasonable to assume that the Government will give practical support to the Bill at the effective time.

Viscount THURSO

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Kirkhill, for introducing this Amendment, not only because it has given us an opportunity to raise the other question which was worrying the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, but also because it corrects a defect in the Bill for me, and I am grateful to him for having observed that defect and thereby having helped me to put it right.

I am happy to let my Bill go forward at this stage in the hope, as the noble Lord, Lord Kirkhill, has submitted, that the Government will will the means if they will the ends. Personally, I do not take the same view as the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, about the Bill. This is not a Bill aimed solely at coho salmon. It was sparked off by the discussion, controversy and so forth arising out of an import of coho salmon eggs, but it is intended to fill a gap in the law and to give powers to the Secretary of State which any Secretary of State in any circumstances ought to have in the general interest. His decision on whether or not to use the powers contained in the Bill will always, of course, remain his. I would certainly support Lord Kirkhill's Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

7.50 p.m.

Viscount THURSO moved Amendment No. 2: Page 2, line 7, at end insert ("and the Secretary of State may revoke or vary any such licence.")

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, this Amendment confers power on the Secretary of State to revoke or vary a licence once granted. It will enable the Secretary of State to make changes, if required, in accordance with changing circumstances. Your Lordships may remember that in Committee I did not move a similar Amendment although I explained that I was going to bring forward an Amendment such as this at this stage of discussion of the Bill. This was because there were flaws in the Amendment which I had hoped to move at Committee. hope that your Lordships will find that this particular Amendment is more apt and will achieve the original purpose better. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 3 [Powers of entry and inspection]:

Viscount THURSO moved Amendment No. 3: Page 3, line 10, at end insert ("but does not include a dwelling-house.")

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, this Amendment again follows upon a point which was drawn to our attention by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy. He asked at the Committee stage whether perhaps the powers were a bit restrictive. I promised at that stage to look at the powers which we were hoping to confer for inspection, and so forth, in the Bill. Having this in mind, and having also in mind the scale and nature of the operations involved in keeping fish eggs, or more probably fish, I consider that although it would be necessary to ensure powers of entry into buildings such as hatcheries, fish farm sheds, and so forth, there is no need to empower officers to enter private dwelling-houses. This Amendment, therefore, is designed to exclude dwelling-houses from the scope of the powers of entry and inspection given by Clause 3, and will I hope ensure that no unnecessary intrusion upon the privacy of the individual is permitted by the Bill.


My Lords, again I am grateful to the noble Viscount for having responded to a point which I made at the Committee stage. What I said at that time was that as Parliamentarians I was sure that all of us did not want to bring in any more powers of snooping than were absolutely necessary. At the same time I recognise that if the Bill is to be operational then it would need to have some powers of inspection. The noble Viscount has, as a result, decided that private dwellings can now be excluded. I am sure that this is right. Of course there could be some unscrupulous person who could physically keep inside in some aquarium some new imported fish without a licence instead of goldfish, or angel fish, and then later release them, but I think this is the kind of risk we can reasonably take. Therefore, I thank the noble Viscount for his Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 4 [Offences etc.]:

Viscount THURSO moved Amendment No. 4: Page 3, line 13, leave out ("to the wild").

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, this is a drafting Amendment consequent upon Amendment No. 1. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

In the Title:

Viscount THURSO moved Amendment No. 5: Line 2, leave out ("to the wild").

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, this also is a drafting Amendment, similarly consequent upon Amendment No. 1. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.