HL Deb 03 July 1980 vol 411 cc608-10

7.20 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time. In doing so, I should like to add a few words of explanation. When I introduced this Bill into your Lordships' House, I realised that it would never have a chance of going through the other place in this Session but I thought it might be as well to go through it here so that it could then be reintroduced next Session with the minimum of trouble.

However, the Bill as it has now been amended is not very satisfactory in some ways. For one thing, the qualification that the trees planted must be of the same genus or species has been removed, thereby destroying the whole purpose for which I introduced the Bill originally. Also, as several noble Lords have said, it has no penal clause in it. That, I am having to take advice about from those who are more learned in the law than I am; but I am hoping to introduce that when the Bill reappears in the next Session in the same way as I shall reintroduce the qualification about planting the same species.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3ª. —(Lord Somers.)


My Lords, I wish to make a brief comment about this Bill. First, I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Somers, on having persisted in getting this Bill through. I think that no one in this House would be opposed to this Bill. I think we all feel that it is a Bill that is desirable. We were not always happy in the earlier stages with all the wording, but I think that we should accept this Bill and congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Somers.


My Lords, I, too, should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Somers, and other noble Lords who supported the Trees Bill. We in the Government totally sympathise with the aim of encouraging the planting of more trees, as I think I made clear during the passage of the Bill. Furthermore, I accept that the Bill as amended is in some ways an improvement on the original. I do not go along totally with the noble Lord, Lord Somers, in his view that it must always be the same genus as was planted before. As we pointed out in the various stages of the Bill, if the wrong tree has been planted it does not make it better to plant two more when it has to come down.

That apart, we still do not support the noble Lord's Bill. Our fundamental objection is that it imposes a further statutory duty on the local authorities, involving increased bureacracy and thus it is running entirely counter to our aim of reducing bureacratic duties. No evidence has been produced—and this I think is really the vital point—to show that the local authorities generally are reluctant to plant trees. The resources which would have been spent on maintaining the records required by the provisions of Clause 3 can be better spent, we think, on getting more amenity trees planted—which, I repeat, is the policy the Government wholeheartedly support. Having said those dampening words, I still congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Somers, on what I know is a very public-spirited and wholehearted devotion to the cause of trees and forestry. I pay tribute to him for what he has done.


My Lords, I thank both noble Lords for what they have said. I shall certainly think about what the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, has said and consider it before producing the next version in the next Session.

On Question, Bill read 3ª, and passed, and sent to the Commons.


My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 8 p.m.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended from 7.24 p.m. to 8 p.m.]

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