HL Deb 03 July 1981 vol 422 cc441-52

12.59 p.m.

Lord Craigton

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 Craigton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD ALPORT in the Chair.]

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 [Application for licence]:

On Question, Whether Clause 2 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Melchett

I should like to say that I have had an extremely helpful letter from the noble Earl, Lord Avon, responding to a number of the points that I raised at Second Reading. It seems to me that it would be helpful, given the pace at which we are taking this legislation, for me to mention briefly the points which the noble Earl has written to me about. There are one or two points on which I should like to ask the noble Earl, Lord Avon, and the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, for further clarification; because if I do not put these on the record now I do not think that any of those who are interested in the Bill will have a chance to know what the Government have said until it becomes an Act, when it may, from their point of view, be too late. But I think the Government's assurances have been helpful and I am grateful to the noble Earl and his advisers for responding so quickly. I know that they have been under a number of competing pressures about the contents of this legislation.

On Clause 2(2), the noble Earl's letter said that the Government's understanding was that the points I had mentioned—that is, veterinary advice and security of enclosures—were covered by the requirement to specify the arrangements for the animals' accommodation, maintenance and wellbeing but this may need to be spelled out in the Secretary of State's guidance. This was one point where I thought the noble Earl had gone nearly all the way to meet me, but I would have been happier if he had said that this would be spelled out in the Secretary of State's guidance because the access to veterinary advice and the security of enclosures seem to me to be so important that their not being mentioned in Clause 2(2) may be taken as being significant unless they are spelt out in the guidance. What the noble Earl said to me on Second Reading about Clause 9 seemed to make it clear that these issues would be spelt out in the Secretary of State's guidance. I hope that he may feel on reflection that the words "may need to be" in his letter are not clear and could he modified to "will be" particularly in the light of what he said on Second Reading. Perhaps he might reflect on that before next week.

The Earl of Avon

I should like to stick to the words which I said on Second Reading as recorded in Hansard of 29 June 1981 at column 55. I quote: We intend to draw widely on the existing expertise and indeed on the existing codes of practice produced by the Zoo Federation and the NZA in laying down guidelines and standards to ensure, not only that licensing authorities and zoo operators know what standards the zoo needs to achieve in order to get a licence, but also what sort of best practice it should strive to emulate …". I went on to say: We know that the zoo organisations themselves have had difficulty in agreeing detailed specifications for enclosures and barriers and we recognise that in some cases requirements will have to be general and flexible". I went on later to say: I can confirm that the Secretary of State's standards will require that animals shall be kept in suitable enclosures and groups, that they should be adequately and suitably fed and provided with proper veterinary treatment and that standards will also cover procedures for dealing with dead animals, the disposing of surplus animals and transporting animals as well as setting up standard procedures for record keeping". That goes further than my letter. If I could leave it at that I should be happy.

Lord Melchett

I am grateful to the noble Earl.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 [Consideration of application]:

Lord Fisher moved Amendment No. 1: Page 3, line 4, leave out ("or continuance").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 1 and at the same time to speak to Amendment No. 2. This is an amendment which narrows the ground on which representations can be made against an application for a licence. If the words "or continuance" remain, an existing zoo could be at risk with petty complaints from local people who might come to the neighbourhood some time after the zoo was originally licensed. This might also disturb the relationship between the zoo and whoever may have a mortgage or lien on the zoo for money used to improve the zoo. In fact, this licence applies to the zoo operator and I think it makes his situation a little precarious.

Lord Craigton

In laying down conditions for zoos that are legal now without any conditions we must give the zoos time to comply with the laid-down conditions. Ministers both in this House and in another place have said that this will be done by issuing licences (except in very bad cases) with conditions giving time for compliance. I asked my noble friend on Second Reading to assure me that he would ask the local authorities (and his own list) to ensure that the zoos had ample time to comply. The question of "continuance" is a case in point. Existing local pressure for a zoo to close will be strengthened by this Bill even though one must keep in mind that the Secretary of State must be consulted before a licence is refused. Perhaps the complaint about continuance is justified; perhaps not—and probably the complaints about nuisance already have other avenues. Whatever the merits of the case, I would again ask the Minister to ensure that the guidance he will give to the local authorities will be to give zoos time to meet justifiable complaints.

There is one other point. The noble Lord, Lord Fisher, and his zoo friends have had a number of meetings with the responsible Ministers of both Houses and at these meetings have secured a number of improvements in the Bill. They are due the congratulations and thanks of all of us. Where a matter could be more appropriately dealt with by administrative means, they have secured satisfactory undertakings not only from the Front Bench but also at meetings at the Ministry. These undertakings are important, as so much of the Bill rests on administrative action on the advice of the Secretary of State.

The noble Lord raised four points in his six amendments. They will ensure that the undertakings are on the record to meet the administratively important points raised. I have consulted my noble friend and, by arrangement with him, I will ask him on the Motions on relevant clauses that the clause stand part, to repeat all the other assurances already given. I will raise points in Clauses 5, 9, points on Clause 10 not covered by my noble friend's amendments and other points on Clauses 11 and 14. In this way, the assurances given by Ministers inside and outside Parliament will be in one print of the Official Report and readily available for all concerned.

The Earl of Avon

If I may respond to the two amendments to which my noble friend Lord Fisher spoke, the Government do not think it sensible to take the words "or continuance" out of Clause 4 because a local authority would then be obliged to give a licence to an existing zoo even if they were satisfied that the zoo's operation was injurious to public health and safety. I also think it is right that local people should be able to make representations in respect of existing zoos if they are genuinely concerned about its effects on their health and safety. Having said that, the Government do not anticipate that local authorities are going to refuse licences because of petty complaints if the inspectors' report recommends that a licence should be granted.

The guidance the Government intend to issue to local authorities if this Bill be enacted will stress that licences should be refused only if there is not prospect of a zoo's being brought up to an acceptable standard within a reasonable period of time. In the event of an operator being likely to lose his licence for failing to comply with conditions for, say, lack of finance, the zoo could be sold to a would-be purchaser who would of course have to undertake to comply with those conditions before the council would transfer the licence. I hope that my noble friend will not press these amendments today but will rest on the Government's assurances.

Lord Fisher

I should like to thank the noble Earl for those assurances. The zoo industry will be very happy to accept them. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 3 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Melchett

I want to put on record the point which the noble Earl made to me in his letter about whose representations would be considered when an application for a licence was made to a local authority. I was concerned that national animal welfare organisations might not be covered by Clause 3(2)(d) which talks about a national institution concerned with the operation of zoos. The noble Earl in his letter has told me that the guidance to local authorities will indicate that representations from responsible animal welfare organisations ought to be taken into account under subsection (2)(d), which was the one that I asked him about on Second Reading, or subsection (2)(f) which is a more general subsection which I can see would cover a responsible animal welfare organisation. I am very grateful to the noble Earl for that assurance.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 [Grant or refusal of licence]:

[Amendment No. 2 not moved.]

1.12 p.m.

Lord Fisher moved Amendment No. 3: Page 3, line 36, at end insert ("and is prohibited by the court which convicted him from keeping animals").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is designed to stop zoos being closed down if minor offences are committed. A number of Acts are mentioned and people might be convicted on a technical offence not involved with animal welfare or cruelty. If the keeper, or whoever is involved in this conviction, is prohibited by the court from keeping animals, then it would specify clearly that they had been convicted on terms of bad treatment or cruelty to animals. I beg to move.

The Earl of Avon

The Government have considered further the proposal put forward in another place by the honourable Member for Bristol North-West (Mr. Colvin), to amend Clause 4 as now proposed by my noble friend Lord Fisher. We have concluded that it is too restrictive. It would mean that a licence could not be refused to someone who had, for example, shown a flagrant disregard for the provisions of the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act. However, the Government intend that the guidance to be issued will indicate the type of offences that we consider to be incompatible with the proper conduct of a zoo and which would justify refusal of a licence, and we shall be taking into account any representations made by the zoo organisations on this point. The guidance will also point out that local authorities should be guided in their decisions by the reports of the inspectors on the standards of management now obtaining in the zoo. I hope that with this assurance my noble friend will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Melchett

I agree with what the noble Earl has said about the undesirability of this amendment which would be too restrictive. For example, it would be very unlikely that somebody who stole Golden Eagle chicks, kept them in the back garden and was caught, would be ordered by the court not to keep animals in captivity. That would not be their normal practice or course of business. Nevertheless, all of us would agree that somebody who was guilty of such a serious offence of taking protected birds from the wild should not be employed in a zoo or be responsible for running one. I imagine there is no difference between anybody on that. The amendment would make that impossible. I hope that the noble Lord, having heard the Government's explanation, will withdraw the amendment.

My worry was in the other direction: that the Bill, as drafted, gives discretion to local authorities when somebody has been convicted of an offence under one of these Acts of Parliament to allow them nevertheless to go on working for or running a zoo. The noble Earl again very kindly wrote to me about this. I take the point that it is possible to have a technical infringement of one of these Acts of Parliament. For example, there are a number of things under the Wildlife and Countryside Bill which will require collections to be registered and it is quite possible that somebody would omit to do that through ignorance of the law as much as anything else. Nevertheless, they would be guilty of an offence. In those circumstances, I can see that it would be very restrictive if they were then prohibited from working in a zoo or managing one.

I hope that the Government will give me two further assurances. First, that as well as quite properly listening to representations from those involved in managing zoos when they come to draw up their guidance on this issue, they will take into account representations from other interests. I am sure that those organisations, such as the RSPB and the RSPCA, who are responsible for first of all discovering offences and secondly prosecuting people under a number of these Acts, would welcome some consultation with the Government. After all, at the moment those two Royal societies are the main enforcement agencies of a number of these Acts of Parliament, particularly those dealing with wild animals.

The second point that I hope the Government will hear in mind is that the discretion given to local authorities should apply to technical offences. In the letter to me the noble Earl said that there could be a conviction for an offence under the enactments listed which might be of a minor or technical nature. That should not automatically deprive a zoo operator of a licence or put him out of business. That is fine if the Government are going to think in terms of minor or technical offences. I hope that the noble Earl will confirm that and also that he will be open to representations from the two Royal societies which I have mentioned who are responsible for enforcing much of this legislation at the moment.

The Earl of Avon

The Government will be taking into account any representations made and when drawing up guidelines they may well try to involve the two bodies he mentioned. On the second point, I do not think that I can go further than say that the Government will take into account what has been said today, and when they are producing the guidance on offences they will obviously take the minor ones into account.

Lord Fisher

Naturally the zoo people support the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, in his feeling that these Acts should be strongly administered and that wildlife should be protected. I was thinking of the difficulties of running a zoo where there may be 30 or 40 keepers and somebody does something in his spare time and gets caught or has something in the past which one is unaware of. Then one might have a zoo closed because one finds oneself employing somebody who has done wrong. I welcome the assurances given by my noble friend. I am particularly pleased that he is going to consult the zoo people in drawing up guidelines. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 [Period and conditions of licence]:

On Question, Whether Clause 5 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Craigton

Could my noble friend confirm the assurance that I gave to the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, on Second Reading that the provisions in Clause 5(3) regarding escapes, records and insurance, would be included in the licence conditions?

The Earl of Avon

The noble Lord, Lord Melchett, and others asked during Second Reading whether the conditions listed in subsection (3) would be mandatory. My understanding is that the local authority is not obliged to impose such conditions, but if it does, the zoo would be obliged to comply with them. I agree that it is sensible that all licences should include conditions about safety precautions, records and insurance against liability for damage, and we shall be covering these points in the Secretary of State's conditions under subsection (5).

Lord Melchett

I should just like to say that that entirely meets the point I was making on Second Reading. I am very grateful to the noble Earl.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clauses 6 to 8 agreed to.

Clause 9 [Secretary of State's standards]:

On Question, Whether Clause 9 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Craigton

Can my noble friend confirm that the usual notes of guidance to be issued to the local authority will, in the case of this Bill, be discussed with the zoo bodies, the National Federation and the National, as well as those referred to in Clause 9, and that he will satisfy himself that proper directions are given regarding the disposal of carcases?

The Earl of Avon

Clause 9 provides for the Secretary of State to specify standards of modern zoo practice. I indicated during the Second Reading debate what kind of things the standards would cover and I in fact quoted from col. 55 of Hansard during the Second Reading debate earlier. That covers the disposal of dead animals. I should like to stress again that we shall be consulting the zoo industry with a view to producing both a minimum list of requirements that zoos must comply with in order to obtain a licence, and guidance on best practice, before the zoo licensing is brought into effect.

Lord Melchett

Just so that we can have this on the record, because I am sure it is the Government's intention, may I ask the noble Earl also to confirm that this guidance will be available in draft to the national organisations concerned with animal welfare, who obviously have a major interest in questions of, for example, suitable enclosures, veterinary advice and so on? They have been involved in the past, of course, in drawing up codes of this sort, for both farm animals and other animals in captivity, and I am sure they will have a serious and sensible contribution to make when the Government are drawing up this code of practice.

Lord Fisher

As a practical zoo man, I find myself in difficulties here because we are talking about guidance to local authorities—with which I entirely agree—but this clause refers to a code of practice. That is a different thing, because a code of practice is what zoo directors "sell" each other as to how they should go about running good zoos, while guidance is something for the local authorities. Then on top of that there will shortly be the guidelines from the Health and Safety Executive. We are dealing with that at the moment; so there will be, as it were, three sets of guidelines. I do not know exactly which ones we are going to have. Are we each going to have the three different documents? I do not object to it, but I must point out that there are three different documents.

The Earl of Avon

Clause 9 deals with the Secretary of State's standards, and he is going to put down some specific standards which I think we now all agree the zoo industry will be consulted over. They will be very much based on the codes of practice which we have now. He is also going to produce guidance for the councils. This will obviously be something which one might say is to be put into layman's English. On all these stages, of course, the bodies mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, will be consulted and, although I cannot promise they will be shown the draft, I hope they will be there before the draft and agree it at that stage. It is the intention to produce the most full and comprehensive guidelines for the local councils as well as the Secretary of State's standards for zoos to look towards.

Clause 9 agreed to.

Clause 10 [Periodical inspections]:

Lord Fisher moved Amendment No. 4: Page 7, line 9, leave out from beginning to ("appointed") and insert ("one").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 4 and speak to Amendment No. 5 at the same time, because they both apply to the same thing. It is felt among zoo people that to have three local authority zoo inspectors is overdoing it. The zoo people can really only cope with one inspection at a time, or with perhaps one aim. We are all talking about zoo inspections: let the director of the zoo look after the zoo inspections, and I would suggest that if somebody wants to come and look at drains and the other things we have spoken about, let them come at another time. I have put down these two amendments so that we might simplify the procedure of the inspection and just have one person from the local authority.

The Earl of Avon

In speaking to these two amendments, the Government do not think it is reasonable to restrict the local authority's inspectors to one vet in all cases. Local authorities should be able to satisfy themselves that a zoo is properly conducted and that the facilities provided for the public are adequate, as well as to the care and treatment given to the animals. However, I sympathise with the view that inspections should not impose unnecessary costs on zoos. The Bill has already been amended to provide that small zoos may, at their own request, be inspected by a smaller inspection team than that proposed by the local authority where the Secretary of State considers this appropriate. The guidance to be issued to local authorities will stress the importance of keeping down the costs of inspection and suggest that in many cases it will be sufficient for the local authority to send only one inspector who must, under the present terms of the Bill, be a vet. I must again stress, as I did a moment or two ago, the importance we attach to the Secretary of State's standards and guidance notes which will be prepared in full consultation with the industry before the measure is brought into force.

Lord Craigton

I am very grateful to hear what my noble friend has said. He has answered a question that I was going to ask him to confirm.

Lord Melchett

I have a great deal of sympathy with the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Fisher, and personally would have preferred to see the numbers kept down, for obvious reasons, both on costs and on the efficiency of the inspections. Secondly, I would have preferred to see a majority of the inspection team coming from the Secretary of State's list, as they would under this amendment. I think that was something which a number of interested people would have preferred to see, but I think that the noble Earl has gone really as far as he can in meeting that worry; and I have no doubt that local authorities, conscious as they are of pressures on them at the moment, are more than likely in almost every case simply to nominate a vet, as the noble Earl has suggested, and as they are perfectly free to do under the Bill as drafted. So I would hope that we could leave it as it stands.

Lord Fisher

I am very grateful to the noble Earl for stressing the costs, because naturally the zoos are most worried about what these inspections are going to cost. With the assurances that have been made, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 5 not moved.]

On Question, Whether Clause 10 shall stand part of the Bill?

1.28 p.m.

Lord Melchett

Perhaps I may just again raise something which I raised on Second Reading and which the noble Earl, Lord Avon, has kindly confirmed for me. I raised the question about the keeping of records, which is mentioned in Clause 10(5) where the inspectors may, having inspected a zoo, give advice on the keeping of records. I wanted to be sure that zoos would be obliged to keep records, because the inspectors can call for them and ask for them; but it is not entirely clear from the Bill as drafted that all zoos will be obliged to keep such records. The noble Lord, Lord Craigton, said at col. 58 of the Second Reading debate that he could assure me that the Secretary of State would ensure that these are in fact incorporated—that is, the question of records will be incorporated—and the noble Earl, Lord Avon, has since written to me, confirming that that is also the Government's understanding of the position. I simply want to put that assurance on the record, and I am sure it will be very widely welcomed.

Lord Craigton

My noble friend has already given that assurance, in my recollection. I asked specifically for it.

Clause 10 agreed to.

Clause 11 [Special inspections]:

On Question, Whether Clause 11 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Craigton

I should like to ask my noble friend to confirm—and this is probably the most worrying part of the whole Bill—that he will draw the attention of local authorities to the fact that they should make every effort to satisfy themselves, whether by 'phone, by informal visit or in some other way, that a complaint has valid ground before taking action on it.

The Earl of Avon

I am happy to assure my noble friend Lord Craigton that the guidance to be issued to local authorities by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment will suggest that they should make informal inquiries to satisfy themselves that a complaint is valid before undertaking a special inspection.

Clause 11 agreed to.

Lord Fisher moved Amendment No. 6: After Clause 11, insert the following new clause:

("Information as to representations etc. . In any case in which a local authority receive representations under section 3 (which relates to applications for a licence) or receives any such representations or report as are referred to in section 11 (which relates to special inspections) it shall be the duty of the local authority forthwith to send a copy of any such representations or report to the applicant for the licence or the holder of the licence as the case may be.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is designed to do what my noble friend Lord Craigton spoke about, which is to protect zoos from mischievous representations from the visiting public in regard to what they are doing. It would be nice for the zoo director to know what a complaint was and where it was coming from, and this new clause will ask local authorities to pass information on to zoos. I beg to move.

The Earl of Avon

The effect of this new clause would be that the local authority would have to send to the zoo copies of all the representations it receives, no matter how trivial and whether or not the local authority has any intention of acting upon them. I think this is unnecessary and undesirable, and likely to involve the local authority and the zoo in additional expense. The Government also have to consider the possibility that the local authority might be required to pass over to the zoo material which is libellous and may form the basis for legal proceedings.

The Government certainly agree that zoo operators ought to receive copies of reports of inspections. Clause 10 already provides that they will be sent copies of reports made under Clause 10, and I can assure noble Lords that we shall be asking local authorities to ensure that zoo operators receive copies of reports made after Clause 11 and 12 inspections.

The Government sympathise with the concern of zoo operators that they may be refused a licence or subjected to a special inspection because of representations which are kept secret from them and which may be either malicious or cranky. However, any representations made under Clause 3 will have to be weighed under Clause 4(1) against the report of the Secretary of State's inspectors, and any refusal must be accompanied by a written statement of the grounds for refusal. Under Clause 11, the local authority is required to communicate to the zoo operator the purpose and scope of a special inspection. We shall also be asking local authorities to see whether complaints and problems can be resolved by an informal telephone call or visit. This underlines the assurance that I gave my noble friend on Clause 11.

Local authorities have enormous experience of dealing with malicious and eccentric complaints, and I am sure we can rely on them not to put the livelihood of zoo operators at risk because of groundless accusations. Once again, these are matters which will be fully covered in the guidance which the Secretary of State will prepare before the measure is brought into effect. I hope that, with this added assurance, my noble friend will feel able not to press his amendment.

Lord Fisher

My noble friend is very kind and I take the spirit of his assurance. We have dashed around from one clause to another in that short speech, and I am not entirely clear that he has covered the point that I am making here. I think that it was covered in the final paragraph, in which he said that local authorities are well-versed in dealing with mischievous complaints, and that the guidelines will ask them to be the friends of zoos and try to protect them from such complaints. In that spirit, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clauses 12 agreed to.

Clause 13 agreed to.

Clause 14 [Dispensation for particular zoos]:

On Question, Whether Clause 14 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Craigton

There are two important points here. First, will my noble friend confirm that he will draw the attention of local authorities to the fact that under Clause 5 every applicant will pay the cost of his application, if it is decided that the Act does not apply to him? Secondly, will he confirm that he will lay down guidelines in general terms about the type of collection that will be exempted, provided, of course, that the animals are well cared for and also that the animals are not considered to be wild?

Lord Melchett

I also want to raise one point with the noble Earl about Clause 14. I expressed some concern on Second Reading about the dispensation which was provided for under Clause 14. The noble Earl wrote to me about this, and I should like to quote from his letter and then ask him one question about what he said. The noble Earl wrote to me: We are not proposing blanket exemptions"— that is, under Clause 14. The Secretary of State's guidance will indicate the sort of criteria that would make any collection a possible candidate for exemption from inspection or licensing requirements, but each case will be considered on its merits. I am not persuaded at this stage that there should be an inspection in every case by the Secretary of State's inspector. This could be taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. But I certainly envisage that any recommendation for exemption will have to be supported by a vet". That was extremely helpful and went almost all the way to meeting my concern about this clause and the exemptions provided under it.

The only point on which I should like to press the noble Earl is the very last sentence of his letter when he says that the Government envisage that, any recommendation for exemption will have to be supported by a vet". Am I to take it that that would be a vet acting for the local authority, or one from the Secretary of State's list, or could that be a vet acting on behalf of the zoo itself? It seems to me that if a zoo is to be exempted from the provisions of this Bill, it is important that there should be some independent veterinary advice rather than the zoo's own vet supporting the application, with that, without any further inspection or visit to the zoo, itself being sufficient. If the noble Earl can assure me that the vet whom he has mentioned in his letter—which, as I said, was very helpful—will be either one acting for the local authority or one from the Secretary of State's list, I am sure that that will go all the way to satisfying anybody who is worried about the exemptions provided under the clause.

The Earl of Avon

First, in answer to my noble friend Lord Craigton, I am happy to assure him that the guidance to be issued by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment will indicate the criteria by which we will judge a small collection to be suitable for exemption from inspection or licensing requirements. We shall also include criteria for those animals which are not considered wild.

I would emphasise that we are not considering blanket exemptions, as the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, has just underlined, as each case will need to be treated on its merits. The guidance will also indicate that the costs of dealing with applications which lead to dispensations should be charged to the applicants, and will not fall on the zoos for which no dispensation is made.

If I may turn to the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, he is indeed thinking along the very same lines as we are. At the moment, it is the department's consideration that the zoo vet will not be allowed to make such reports, as he has suggested. The finalising of this will take place during the discussions about the guidelines. But, as I said, the noble Lord is thinking as we are.

Lord Craigton

May I ask my noble friend one other question? As regards the costs of local authorities, will he confirm that they will be told not to add any departmental charge in relation to the administration of the Bill by them, unless extra people are involved for that purpose?

The Earl of Avon

I should certainly like to be able to give that assurance to my noble friend, but I do not think I can order them about that matter. I think that I can advise them, and I believe that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State will have that in mind.

Clause 14 agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported without amendment: Report received.