§ 3.28 p.m.
§ Lord NORTHFIELD
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time. At this late stage of the Bill I have only three short points to make. First, I should like again to thank the successive Home Office Ministers and also the Home Office officials who have helped with drafting and later reshaping of the Bill. Some who helped in the initial stage three years ago have moved on to other duties. I hope that my thanks will reach them. My special thanks are due to Mr. John Hotchkiss, vice-president of the Deer Society who, in a personal capacity, has been my patient guide and untiring negotiator in these years. The second short point is to say to those of your Lordships who are concerned that some parts of the longer Bill have been abandoned for the time being, that we hope to be back in future Sessions with those further points and hopefully with a Government Bill on deer farming as the framework for our future study of the problem.
Thirdly, as this Bill, I trust, will receive your Lordships' approval and then move on to Royal Assent, I hope that we may say as strongly as we can that it is the earnest hope of this House that the powers in the Bill will be used to the full once it becomes an Act. There are strong powers for the police, strong powers for the courts in forfeitures and fines of up to £500 per animal in case of poaching. As an article in today's The Times indicates, this is a grisly, barbaric business that has assumed the proportions of a national scandal. Large-scale deer poaching is a very profitable business, and the cruelty that is involved grows because of that. One man is on record in The Times today as claiming that he has successfully poached 200 deer. My calculation is that he has made at least £20,000 out of those escapades alone. This is a very unhappy situation in the countryside, and I hope that this Bill, which has taken a long time to get on to the statute book, will now receive your Lordships' approval and will go a long way towards stamping out this cruelty and making the countryside the happier for that.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(Lord Northfield.)
§ On Question, Bill read 3a and passed.