HL Deb 16 March 1982 vol 428 cc568-637

6.8. p.m.

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Glenarthur.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[THE LORD ALPORT in the Chair.]

Clause 7 [Licensing of dealing in venison]:

Viscount Thurso moved Amendment No. 39:

Page 4, line 11, after ("may") insert (", having consulted the Red Deer Commission and the police,").

The noble Viscount said: There are several amendments with the same purpose and, although I venture to prefer my own amendment to those which follow, I hope that other noble Lords who are proposing amendments very similar to mine will also have an opportunity of speaking to them, because obviously we are all after the same thing. In this case we are looking at the people who should be consulted over the question of licensing venison dealers. Although it is a matter for local authorities to grant these licences, it is important that people who know about venison dealers and about people who are likely to offend or who have in the past offended, or who are in any way questionable characters, should be consulted. They may then appropriately advise the local authority who is to licence the dealers as to whether applications are suitable people to be given the venison licences or not. Therefore, I suggest that the two bodies who definitely ought to be consulted before any licence is given are the Red Deer Commission and the police.

I notice that some people have suggested that it should be the chief constable, but I think in practice the giving of information on this will be for a department in the chief constable's constabulary rather than the chief constable himself, and I think it is satisfactory in this instance to call it "the police". Indeed, more than one chief constable may be involved in knowing about the persons who apply for venison licences. A person may be an offender in one constabulary area and apply for a licence in another; so it is the police in general one is consulting for information rather than one chief constable in particular.

I think it is also important to consult with the Red Deer Commission because they move around the whole of Scotland, they do speak to people in the trade; they speak to people in every area of life that has to do with deer and they have the whole picture more clearly set out before them than any other body that could be consulted. I therefore believe that it would help the purpose of this Bill to accept this amendment, and accordingly I propose Amendment No. 39.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

I support this amendment, but there is one thing I would like to ask. Does the noble Viscount know whether the Red Deer Commission really want this extra burden put upon them? They are fairly lightly staffed, and I should have thought it would not be for them to take it on. I quite agree with the inclusion of the police. I think it is essential that before the council grants a licence to a venison dealer they should consult them. But I should like to ask the noble Viscount whether he has discovered if the commission would like to take on this extra burden.

Viscount Thurso

It is not a question I thought to ask them. At the moment they have the responsibility of dealing with venison dealers themselves. They are really the only people who have a close and intimate knowledge of venison dealers. I am not at all sure that we should even ask them whether they want to take this on; we should tell them it is their bounden duty to take on the giving of this advice. During the interim stage when one is going from a registered venison dealer to a licensed venison dealer the commission are the only people who have any depth of information on the subject at all.

Lord Glenkinglas

I think I was the first person to put down an amendment on this theme, Amendment No. 46 on the Marshalled List, which we shall come to in due course if it is moved. I think there was a definite gap; the districts which have to license venison dealers would in many cases have extremely little knowledge either of how many ought to be licensed in their area or indeed whether the people were suitable. I felt that the Red Deer Commission could very easily give guidance as to the number, which would involve extremely little work on their part, and the police could give advice on the viability. I rather agree that "police" is better than "chief constable", because the chief constable, for instance, for Argyll is in Dumbarton, but presumably he has got somebody in Argyll who knows something about it. In general I support this amendment and will agree to anything sensible that is suggested.

Lord Ross of Marnock

I think of all the amendments here. There is one saying, "the Red Deer Commission and the police", another saying, "after consultation with the Red Deer Commission"; and then the noble Lord, Lord Glenkinglas, says after consultation with "the chief constable". The best one is consultation with the police. I do not think we should give a new function to the Red Deer Commission. I do not suppose they want it. I do not suppose they will know very much. It is probably as well that they know who the people are but I do not think they can give the kind of information the police can give. At the present time it is the police dealing with contraventions of the law.

After all, we have just had the Civic Government (Scotland) Bill, in which everyone has been passionately interested, and every licence there given by the licensing authority is granted after consultations with the chief constable. I do not think it matters whether you put "the police" or "the chief constable"; it is exactly the same thing. I congratulate the Government; they have not got the fire authority in here, as they have with regard to every other licence. It is not the Government, it is the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, and that is why it is nearly right as it stands. I think the addition of the words "the police" or "the chief constable" would be right. I prefer that to the amendment which we are immediately discussing.

Lord Forbes

I support the amendment that authorises the police to deal with licences. It should be nothing to do with the Red Deer Commission at all. The commission should not be concerned with licensing.

Lord Dulverton

I said something about this at Second Reading. I am a member of the Red Deer Commission, but I speak for myself and not the commission. I did suggest that the district council should perhaps consult the commission, because the commission have a very considerable intelligence service about people who are interested in and dealing with and dabbling in venison matters. I would therefore feel personally that the noble Viscount's amendment should be supported.

Lord Glenarthur

The whole question of the procedure by which the councils are to deal with applications is one which is going to require comprehensive provision. It involves not only the matter of whom the council is to consult, but how they are to deal with objections lodged by those consulted, whether to give the application a hearing, what right of appeal an applicant is to have against refusal of his application, and so on. I shall have a little more to say about this when we come to another amendment which I have tabled, No. 48, which proposes that all these matters should be dealt with by order.

At this point perhaps I could mention what has already been mentioned about the Civic Government (Scotland) Bill, which is an obvious model for provisions which may be made in this way. One of the first provisions of Schedule 1 to the Civic Government (Scotland) Bill is that any application for a licence is to be referred to the chief constable. So I entirely agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Ross, says on that. Whether in the special case of venison dealers there should be reference also to the Red Deer Commission is a matter we would have to take up with the commission and ascertain their views. I have no doubt that there is a great deal of cross-fertilisation of ideas between the Red Deer Commission and the police on all matters to do with licences, because one or other might have information which the other does not have. It all depends whether they are likely to have the relevant information which could possibly be a basis for formal objection. However that may be, it is, too, a matter which could equally well be incorporated in regulations.

Viscount Thurso

It is not quite clear from the noble Lord's words whether he is accepting this amendment, is not accepting the amendment or is proposing later on to come back with some other amendment which deals with this whole subject. I wonder whether he would make the situation clear before I deal finally with the matter?

Lord Glenarthur

I should have referred to Amendment No. 43 just now and not to Amendment No. 48. I am asking the noble Viscount to withdraw the amendment.

Viscount Thurso

In other words, the noble Lord is suggesting that the whole matter should he one not for the district councils but for the Secretary of State, or that we should not decide at this stage how the district councils will carry out their duty, but shall leave it to the Secretary of State to decide in his wisdom at a later stage. Is that right?

The Earl of Mansfield

Perhaps I can help the noble Viscount. I am not anxious to trespass on to the field of Amendment No. 43, because that is an amendment which will come up in its own right very soon. However, if the noble Viscount glances at Amendment No. 43 he will see what what is proposed in my noble friend's amendment is that the licensing of venison dealers should be dealt with under the terms of the Bill. which one hopes will have become an Act by then, in exactly the same way as other trades are dealt with. For the reasons which I think my noble friend has given, there must be consultations as to who is to be involved and so on, and that can be done quite happily by order after the Bill becomes a Act.

Viscount Thurso

I am grateful to the noble Earl for the explanation of the intention here. I am sorry in a way that we are not going to clarify the matter in this debate. In fact, I am disappointed that we are not going to clarify the matter because obviously it requires clarification. Certainly two of your Lordships have said that this is not a matter about which the Red Deer Commission know anything. In fact, at present, it is only the Red Deer Commission who know anything about it in Scotland.

Lord Forbes

I am sorry to interrupt the noble Viscount. It is not a question of not knowing about it but a question of not getting involved.

Viscount Thurso

Indeed, the Red Deer Commission are involved up to the hilt because at the moment they are the people who inspect the books of all registered venison dealers; they are the only people with real breadth of knowledge of what goes on in the trade and how these various venison dealers conduct their business. I should have thought that it would be rather useful at this stage to have the benefit of their advice. However, in a sense it does not really make any difference, because if we hand the matter over to the Secretary of State we find that his statutory adviser is the Red Deer Commission, so presumably he will obtain their advice.

I think that this discussion has been useful in that it has displayed at least the way in which some of our minds are working on this subject. We feel that, as regards the matter of making an order at a later stage—if, indeed, that is the procedure upon which we agree—the Secretary of State should involve the police and the Red Deer Commission in giving advice on the matter At least I, for one, feel that both of those bodies should be involved. The Red Deer Commission are involved as the Secretary of State's adviser willy-nilly, and naturally one would expect the Secretary of State to take the advice of the police. But I feel that it would have been better to leave the matter in some way in the Bill. However, at this stage—

Lord Ross of Marnock

Before the noble Viscount completes his remarks, I should like to say that I am not clear about what was said by the Minister of State. The suggestion was that we are to treat this in the same way as we have treated everything else under the Civic Government (Scotland) Bill. But under the Civic Government (Scotland) Bill, although in respect of certain of the licensing there is an order-giving power to the Secretary of State to require the local authorities to comply with certain directions, it is clearly in the Bill that the local authority has to consult the chief constable. I want to know whether that is going to be in this Bill. That did not seem to be the case from what the Minister of State said; yet I gained the impression from the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, that the police should be in the Bill, which means that the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Glenkinglas, is the right one to accept, and the question of whether they consult the Red Deer Commission could be part of the order that the Secretary of State is going to produce later on.

The Earl of Mansfield

Perhaps I did not make myself plain. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Ross, will recollect as regards the Civic Government (Scotland) Bill, one of the first provisions of any code is that application is followed very soon after by a referral to the chief constable. So, of course, the chief constable will be brought into the matter.

The Duke of Atholl

I should like to make one point on this matter. I am a member of the Red Deer Commission and I think that I should declare that interest straight away. I personally feel that the Red Deer Commission will not want to be involved in this because they find the register extremely useful for statistical purposes. I think they would fear that, if they had the veto on the distribution of licences to dealers, the information which they obtain from the register at the moment might well dry up. I should have thought, therefore, that it was better not to involve the Red Deer Commission at an early stage in the proceedings, but that possibly when licences are going to be removed or something like that, or not renewed, the Red Deer Commission might then be brought in. I would not like to see them brought in at the initial stages of the proceedings.

Viscount Thurso

I do not honestly think that what the noble Duke, the Duke of Atholl, has said is at all relevant because, in fact, the whole situation will change. Nobody now is going to go pussy-footing around not liking to ask somebody how many deer they have bought from so-and-so and how many deer they think have come in from here, there or anywhere else. There will be the right of the police to go in and look at the books. There will be no question of anybody having to keep in somebody's good books in order to get a peep at them. I think that the information—

The Duke of Atholl

I think that the noble Viscount is being a bit difficult here because surely things will work much better if there can be agreement between the people who hold the licences and the Red Deer Commission? That situation is more likely to obtain if they feel that the Red Deer Commission do not have a veto on the distribution of licences. I should have thought that for the records to be at all accurate it is essential for the Red Deer Commission to have a good relationship with the people who hold the licences. I feel—I may well be wrong—that this is more likely to obtain if the Red Deer Commission do not have a veto on who does and who does not have the licences.

Viscount Thurso

I must say that I find that an extraordinary argument because what the noble Duke is more or less suggesting is that there will be two sets of books: one for the police and one for the Red Deer Commission. That is what is implied at any rate.

However, let me not detain your Lordships any longer. We have a lot to get through tonight and it is not my intention to delay the Committee. This is an important matter and I do not think that we should skip round it. However, at this stage I am prepared to withdraw the amendment in order to try to seek some clarification between now and the next stage, because I am not at all happy about the suggestion that we do not mention who has to be consulted before licences are granted. Therefore, with those provisos and the possibility that I may come back to this point at some later stage, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 40, 41 and 42 not moved.]

6.30 p.m.

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 43:

Page 4, leave out lines 15 and 16 and insert— ("(2) The Secretary of State shall have power by order to regulate applications for venison dealers' licences and the manner in which they are to be dealt with (including power to authorise islands and district councils to charge fees in respect of such applications); and also to regulate the procedure by which venison dealers' licences may be surrendered, and the procedure for handing in of licences where a court has ordered their forfeiture or the holders have ceased to deal in venison.").

The noble Lord said: We have already established that the Civic Government (Scotland) Bill is making progress through this House and will shortly make progress elsewhere. As we have said, it provides a complete code of procedure for licensing generally. On Second Reading the noble Lord, Lord Ross, asked why we should not adopt that code for the purpose of this Deer Bill. There is, indeed, no reason why we should not and every reason why we should.

The material to be found in Schedule 1 to this Bill deals with a few of the elements of a licensing procedure—the form of application, the procedure for the surrender of a licence, the fee to be charged, and so on—but the schedule leaves untouched a variety of matters of at least equal importance. For instance, no guidance is given as to the grounds on which a council might reject an application; nor as to who may object to an application and in what manner; nor as to how objections are to be dealt with. I could go on at length.

All these matters are covered in the Civic Government (Scotland) Bill and I hope the Committee will agree that the commonsense approach would be to attach the provisions of that Bill to venison dealer licensing. But there are some technical difficulties arising from the fact that the two Bills are proceedings simultaneously. lf, say, the civic government measure had passed last year, it would be a simple thing to include a clause in this Bill to the effect that: the provisions of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1981 shall apply". The problem that we have is that there is not yet such an Act in existence to which to refer in my Bill.

There are two ways in which we could get round this. One would be to repeat, more or less verbatim, in a schedule to my Bill everything that is said in the relevant schedule in the Civic Government (Scotland) Bill, which amounts to about 15 pages, which is rather longer than my Bill. If we incorporated it here, we should add 15 pages and double the size of the Bill. The alternative, to which this amendment gives effect, is, as it were, to plant a dormant provision—a mere enabling power—in this Bill which can be activated once the other Bill has passed and has come into force.

Therefore, the amendment simply empowers the Secretary of State to make recommendations on licensing procedures, as we mentioned a few minutes ago. It would have been preferable to have gone on to say, in terms, that those regulations might include any or all of the Civic Government (Scotland) Bill provisions. However, I am advised that that would not be in order at this stage in the progress of the other Bill. Once that Bill has had its Second Reading in another place, if this Bill is still in your Lordships' House, we may make that further very desirable amendment. Otherwise, we should have to leave it to another place to make that amendment. But I do not think that that would in any way be a contentious matter.

I am sorry that I have had to burden the Committee with a long explanation and I hope that, to some extent, it perhaps clarifies what was said on the earlier amendment. I hope that the intention expressed by this amendment will at least find favour; that is, to adopt for venison dealer licensing what will shortly become the standard code for a wide variety of licensed activities. I beg to move.

Lord Ross of Marnock

Of course, we are giving the Secretary of State a very wide power here. I do not know whether the Secretary of State is willing to have this power. The amendment certainly says, "including power to authorise", which means a power to do other things. But what other things? The question of appeal is not mentioned. In most other cases in the Civic Government (Scotland) Bill where a licence is denied the right of appeal exists. I know that the noble Lord mentioned this when he explained what he was doing here, but, if we reckon that this is important (and most people reckon that this is important)—be it an appeal against the refusal of a licence or an appeal against the withdrawal of a licence—it may well be that it could have been mentioned here. We have time to do this. It is not a very controversial suggestion. It opens out the powers that are to be given to the Secretary of State to regulate the applications, and to do this by order.

There is another way in which this could be done, and it would be very simple. We could put venison dealers' licences into the Civic Government (Scotland) Bill. The one thing that we know about the Civic Government (Scotland) Bill is that it will pass. W. do not know that about this Bill because, if some of your Lordships go on with amendments of the kind that I have seen on the Marshalled List, the Bill will not be greeted with great favour by the Commons; and it only requires someone on a Friday to do one thing—to say "Object"—and the chances are that the Bill will never get a Second Reading.

The dilemma rests with the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, as to whether he wants to have it here and take the chance that the Bill may reach the statute book, or whether he asks the Government to put it into the Civic Government (Scotland) Bill in another place. There are many other things that they are going to put into the Bill there, and he can be sure that at least the control of venison dealers will actually be on the statute hook. But it is for him to do and it is a matter for other noble Lords whether, because of their amendments, they will make this Bill so unpopular and a very different Bill from the Bill it was when it started out that they will inhibit the other place from readily passing it. However, I certainly support the amendment, for the moment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 44:

Page 4, line 22, at end insert— ("( ) Every islands or district council which grants a venison dealers' licence shall cause to be sent to the Commission as soon as may be a copy of the licence.").

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 44 is similar to Amendment No. 45 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, and I find myself very much in agreement with the noble Lord in his intentions here. The idea is to keep the Red Deer Commission up to date with the situation on the issue of licences. In Amendment No. 45—if I may refer to it while talking about my own amendment—the issuing council would be required to send a monthly return as well as an annual return. My proposal in Amendment No. 44, in effect, is that each time a licence is issued a carbon copy will be sent to the Red Deer Commission. In fact, this is what the Red Deer Commission itself would prefer. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 45 and 46 not moved.]

6.39 p.m.

Lord Northfield moved Amendment No. 47:

Page 4, line 30, leave out from ("book") to end of line 36 and insert ("containing records in the form set out in Schedule 2C to this Act or a form substantially to the like effect and shall enter in that book forthwith full particulars of all his purchases and receipts of venison.

  1. (1A) The Secretary of State may by order vary the form in which records are required to be kept under this section.
  2. (1B) Before making an order under subsection (1A) above the Secretary of State shall consult any organisations which in his opinion represent persons likely to be interested in or affected by the order.").

The noble Lord said: With Amendment No. 47 I should like to refer to Amendment No. 49 and to the new schedule, which is Amendment No. 108. We are now dealing with the issue of the form of record to be kept by a licensed venison dealer. Section 25B on page 4 of the Bill describes some of the things which should be noted in the record hook. I find that list incomplete and unsatisfactory. Therefore, I prefer to suggest in my amendments a form of record which is more precisely set out in the schedule; that is, the prescribed form which takes up the whole of page 11 of the Marshalled List. I think that it is better to prescribe more clearly what we require in these records. Then my Amendment No. 49 would be consequential. because I should be moving in my main amendment that the Secretary of State would have power to vary this if he found it was unsatisfactory, or if ideas moved on and more, or less, information was required in that form. My Amendment No. 49 would then be consequential on all that.

May I come to Amendment No. 47 as the main amendment? First of all, I hope we agree—and I do not think there will be any disagreement in this Committee—that the form of record kept by the venison dealer is going to be one of the main instruments for deterring and controlling poaching in Scotland. I may say that the information which has reached me in respect of the English Deer Act, which has this sort of provision in it, is that the effect of this form, and the kind of things that people have to put down on it, is that we are already getting less single carcases arriving at dealers. This strongly suggests that this is already beginning to deter poachers from turning up with odd carcases and being unable to satisfy all the columns in the proposed form, which of course if they were filled in completely would give the game away as to what had been happening, as to the origins of the carcase, and all the rest of it. The form as prescribed in the schedule is already in the English legislation and apparently is having its effect.

It is a good thing to refer to the sort of thing that is missing in the Bill on page 4 and is now mentioned in my amendment and in the form itself. First, may I refer to the third column of the proposed form? That gives the means of killing. This is one of the best ways of showing exactly how the deer was taken, and alerting anybody as to whether or not the deer has been taken illegally. Then we come to the penultimate column in the proposed form; the name of the premises or the place in which the deer was killed. This is important because the Bill, as drafted, does not even mention that, and yet it is an absolutely important point in deterring poachers. The last column of all—and I am told that this is the one that already has an effect in England—is the mention of the registration of a vehicle where a vehicle is used. That is already apparently having its effect in deterring people from turning up with odd deer, and then having to name the number of their vehicle.

All this is important because of the need to deter poaching. My disappointment with the Bill is that it is not strong enough in its anti-poaching provisions, and we propose to come back at Report stage with some more precise provisions about anti-poaching. Let me say a word about the weapons that are required to be entered in the third column, or at any rate the means of killing. It is important to understand more and more how often the shotgun is used. I am not going to go back over the old debate, but it would be some help if we knew in some of these forms exactly how much it is being used to kill deer. It would perhaps help to alert public opinion if we knew the extent to which that weapon is used, and fuel the debate that we must have if we are going to get it—the last country in Europe to do so—finally outlawed.

One other point that occurs to me very strongly is that I am informed, although I have no real evidence yet, that lurcher dogs are now being used in parts of Scotland to pull down deer, as they are in England. This is a cruel and totally unacceptable practice and one which has increased considerably in England in recent years and creates great problems. In almost all cases it is done by poachers, often five or more in a gang. If this practice is beginning in Scotland, the sooner it is nipped in the bud the better.

While some of the carcases of deer brought down by lurchers are so appallingly mauled that it is unlikely that they would find their way to a reputable dealer, I quite accept that, nevertheless it would be right that a dealer should enter "killed by lurcher" should this ever be the case and there is some evidence to that effect. None of these things will have to be kept as records unless the Bill is amended in the way that I am proposing.

It will be noted in my amendment that I suggest that the form of record which is to be prescribed should be the subject of consultations—there is no suggestion at all about this in the Bill—with interested organisations as to the form to be prescribed. This is the point of subsection (1B) in my amendment. I think I have dealt with this comprehensively but briefly, and I beg to move.

6.47 p.m.

The Earl of Mansfield

As this really goes more to Government policy than to my noble friend, perhaps I may put in a word at this juncture. If Clause 7 was going to come into effect within one month after this Bill was passed, then of course we should need to insert into the Bill something by way of a dealer's records so that a licensing system would start to operate without delay. But as my noble friend has said, and as indeed I have, it is now proposed to link the licensing to the provisions of the Civic Government (Scotland) Bill as it now is, and it will be much more sensible to have a more flexible commencement provision for Clause 7. We shall come to that later in Clause 11.

The civic government code can hardly be adopted until that part of the Bill has come into force. This provides a breathing space in which to consult and thereafter to draft a form for dealer's records. I emphasise the word "consult" because we really will have to consult those who have to use the form. The attitude of the Government at this stage is that there is no particular need to produce a form at this stage, and it would be preferable not to. I am at one with the noble Lord that eventually a form will have to be produced.

I appreciate the work which has gone into his form, which is not completely a copy of the schedule to the English Deer Act. I can see the point of the last two columns very well as an aid to tracing carcases, but I am advised that there are difficulties, particularly in the last column. There are drawbacks, therefore, if one passes a schedule such as this as primary legislation rather than putting it into the form of a statutory instrument, which is what happens at present and is the normal way of going about these things.

Lord Northfield

May I ask why there are difficulties when there was none in the English legislation?

The Earl of Mansfield

I am really not over-concerned with the English legislation. What I am concerned with is how to marry up this Bill to the Civic Government (Scotland) Bill and how to produce at the end of the day a form, which we all recognise will have to be made, in the best possible way. I am not even sure, bearing in mind that the Deer Act has not been in force for very long, that it is safe to say that the form is entirely satisfactory, although I appreciate at once the noble Lord's point that it seems to be having a beneficial effect so far as poachers are concerned. I should also prefer to hear that it is having a beneficial effect on venison dealers and the maintenance of their businesses. One must therefore look at it in the round.

In reply to the noble Lord's previous amendment, on the regulation of the types of firearm that could be shot, I said—I said it sincerely and I say it again—that we shall look very carefully at the details of the schedule when we come to draft the regulations, and I give him that assurance. The police will have a major interest, as will the trade, and I dare say the Red Deer Commission, and we must be able to consult all the appropriate bodies and get the form right.

I was interested in what the noble Lord said as to the using of lurchers to take deer in Scotland. I should be surprised if that became prevalent because, unlike in England, where the practice was stopped only a couple of years or so ago, it has been illegal ever since the 1959 Act, if not before, by virtue of Section 23 of that Act, which makes it an offence to take or wilfully kill deer otherwise than by shooting. So there is no question of it not being an offence in Scotland. I has been so for many years.

I appreciate the noble Lord's desire to see a tidy, compendious Bill with the i's dotted and the t's crossed, but I suggest to him that in the circumstances, where this measure must be the result of a good deal of consultation with some powerful and, dare I say, prickly interests, it is probably better to do it in the way I suggest, and I therefore hope that my noble friend, who I do not think is minded to accept the amendment, will stay firm.

Lord Dulverton

The amendment seems to go some way in the direction of a carcase movement book, a point we mentioned on Second Reading, and I wonder whether my noble friend Lord Glenarthur or perhaps the Minister could give some guidance on whether that idea will be re-opened, bearing in mind—as I took the opportunity of telling the Minister outside the Chamber the other day—that I can state with the authority of the chairman of the Red Deer Commission that that commission would have liked a movement order book, and the amendment goes some way towards that, though not quite so far. It is also true to say that the Scottish Landowners' Federation, who have a deep interest in the Bill, have been asking for a carcase movement book. Perhaps my noble friends, jointly or severally, would be prepared to look again at the point on Report.

The Earl of Mansfield

Perhaps I should respond to that. It is no secret that the Red Deer Commission have advocated the adoption of a statutory carcase movement record. I think also it is no secret that the Government are far from convinced that it would he a cost-effective measure. I appreciate what my noble friend says, and it is true that if every movement of a carcase is recorded, both at the point where it is shot and where it is delivered to a dealer, false information given to the dealer will show up as a discrepancy in the records. The system could, of course, be evaded, not least if there were collusion, but that is not the point.

It would mean that everyone with a legal right to shoot deer would be required to maintain a record. That would not merely mean the big estates; they keep records anyway. It would also mean that every occupier of an agricultural holding (farmer, tenant or owner-occupier, however small) would have the statutory duty to keep such records. The number of such people runs into five figures, if one includes crofters. If one introduced the system, one would have to do something to police it, otherwise the whole procedure would be disregarded. Small businesses, and particularly farmers, do not like filling in forms unless they are made to, so at best the system might become a bit of a joke; and at worst, as I said, it would be disregarded, and therefore the cure would be worse than the disease. It would mean policing and random spot checks. The cost would be considerable and the bureaucracy frightening. That is the main reason why we came to the conclusion that, however desirable a carcase movement record might be, it simply was not practical politics to introduce it.

We have a number of features in the Bill which will go a long way to reducing the incidence of poaching. We are removing the open-ended power of delegating authority to shoot out of season, which is said to be the greatest single encouragement to poaching at the moment; we are having much stiffer penalties; there are controls, as we have talked about, on dealing in venison; dealers will have to get licences and they can lose their licences if they are convicted of receiving carcases that have been poached; the police are to have access to dealers' records, and the form of the record (if we follow the form proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, in the last series of amendments) should give the police a valuable lead in tracing the origin of carcases.

All those measures are a considerable advance on the present position and they will go a long way towards the detection and conviction of those who are not deterred. In a sense, therefore, the negative is that we do not think a carcase movement record would be either effective or enforceable, but the positive is that the various measures in the Bill will do a lot to discourage poaching in any event.

Lord Burton

When we began discussing the amendment I thought that there was a good deal of agreement between my noble friend the Minister and the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, and that it was just a matter of drafting. It now appears, however, that there is a difference and that the Government may produce a different schedule from that proposed in the amendment. The one proposed by Lord Northfield is already in operation in England and has proved to be effective. Further, it seems to cover much of the point made by my noble friend Lord Dulverton in that it would partly take the place of a movement record. If only the Minister had said that he would accept the schedule—when the time is ripe, after the passing of the Civic Government (Scotland) Bill—I think there would have been no difficulty.

Apart from that difficulty in relation to the schedule, there is also the question of how the animals have been killed, and it has not been mentioned that regrettably there is still a substantial amount of snaring. I suggest that that too should be included in the schedule so that one could see where a particular animal has come from and how it has been killed.

The Earl of Mansfield

Perhaps my noble friend would enlighten the Committee. As the snaring of deer is illegal in any event, may I ask him whether he thinks anybody, when they come to sell the carcase, will put on a record that they have snared it?

Lord Northfield

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Burton, for trying to protect the amendment as it stands. I have reflected on what the Minister said, and, as on a previous occasion when we were involved in a similar discussion, he said it most helpfully, and he seems to have gone two steps in my direction. First, he said he is virtually conceding subsection (1)(b) of my amendment. He will, no doubt, interrupt me if I am misrepresenting him, but I understood him to say that he will make sure that if the Minister is given powers to prescribe by order, he will see that proper consultations take place. So he seems to be conceding that part of my amendment, and since he has not interrupted me, I take it that he agrees.

Secondly, he said—and I noted it very carefully—in what I thought was probably his third intervention, that if we follow the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, in his Amendment No. 108 (the proposed new schedule) so that it shows the origin of carcases, we will go a long way towards deterring poaching. From that I understand the noble Earl to be saying that he intends to have a form which will contain, not necessarily exactly the same, but similar columns to those that I propose, which will help to detect the origin of the carcases. If that is so, then we have two steps along the road towards what I was seeking. If I am right in assuming that the noble Earl did say both those things—and again I am leaving room for him to interrupt me if I am wrong—I shall be happy to withdraw the amendment and leave it that we shall look at the matter, first, when the consultations are taking place, and, secondly, after they have taken place. But does the noble Earl wish to interrupt me?

The Earl of Mansfield

No, I did not want to interrupt; I am too polite to do that. This is the Committee stage and I was going to come in and say that I thought I had given the undertaking in absolutely plain terms that we shall be making consultations. I want the noble Lord to withdraw the amendment so that we can make the necessary consultations. I cannot accept his amendment because we have not made consultations.

The other point is that I thought I had made it plain that 75 or 80 per cent of the noble Lord's schedule is likely to be the schedule which will eventually appear next to the regulations. I told the noble Lord of the little parts of it that I am not happy about. The answer is that certainly we shall pay the greatest attention not only to the form of the schedule, but to what he and other noble Lords have said this evening.

Lord Northfield

That is extremely helpful. I can only say that I am very grateful to the noble Earl, and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Northfield moved Amendment No. 48:

Page 5, line 6, leave out ("on the premises") and insert ("in the dealers' possession or under his control, or on premises or in vehicles under his control").

The noble Lord said: This is effectively a drafting amendment. We are all trying to tighten up where we can where anybody might be engaged in shady operations or attempts to deceive. In the amendment I am proposing—I paraphrase—that the dealer shall produce to a constable not only the venison on his premises, which is what the Bill as drafted provides, but also the venison that is under his control or in vehicles under his control. We know that in many cases a dealer resorts to subterfuge and says, "It is not on my premises; it is next door", or, "That is not my car; it is somebody else's car", but we know that it is of course under his control. The amendment is just one attempt, which I hope is acceptable to the Government, on the lines of the 1980 Act to tighten up the position as strongly as we can. I beg to move.

Lord Glenarthur

I do not think that there is any need for me to add to what the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, has said in regard to the amendment, and I am perfectly happy to accept it.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 49 not moved.]

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 50:

Page 5, line 36, leave out ("total weight") and insert ("number of carcases and sex").

The noble Lord said: The provisions of the new Section 25C of the 1959 Act were modelled on those to be found in the Deer Act 1980 and they set out a simplified form of record for transactions between dealers. But in Scotland such records will be maintained not just for police inspection, but also in order to provide an important source of ready information for the Red Deer Commission on the annual rate of the cull of deer. The commission has pointed out to me that for its record-keeping purposes it is necessary not to have the total weight of venison passing between dealers, but the number and sex of the carcases involved in the transaction, and this amendment has been drafted accordingly. I beg to move.

Lord Northfield

I wonder whether the amendment is defective. Surely it is of some importance to the Red Deer Commission to know not only the number of cal cases and the sex but also the species, which are mentioned nowhere in this part of the clause. I should have thought that in order to check on the culling of deer the commission would also need to know the species. If I am right, perhaps the noble Lord will indicate and we can come back to this at the Report stage.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

Can we not include both; that is, the total weight and the number of carcases and sex? Many carcases might be merely those of calves. I really think it is essential to have the total weight.

The Duke of Atholl

Perhaps I may tell the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, that the Red Deer Commission would very much like to know the species of the deer, but there are difficulties because in many cases when they pass between dealers they will probably already have been skinned, and it is extremely difficult, for instance, to tell a fallow buck when it is skinned or prepared from a small red deer stag. So there are difficulties about that. I am no expert on the subject, but I should think that the difficulties probably outweigh the advantages. Possibly my noble friend Lord Glenarthur will get in touch with the Red Deer Commission about this. There are members of the commission who know much more about this than I do. But my feeling is that from the point of view of the Red Deer Commission the important thing is the number of carcases and the sex. Nearly always if one has some idea of their origin, one can have a fairly good idea of their species. If they come from the Highlands of Scotland, the chances are that they are red deer. If they come from further south, they are probably either roe deer or, most likely, fallow deer.

Lord Glenarthur

I do not think that I can add usefully to what the noble Duke, the Duke of Atholl, has just said. I see that to some extent there might well be a point on the question of the type of animal. But certainly as it stands the Red Deer Commission is happy with the suggestion. I should like to leave it as it is, but if the noble Viscount on my right feels very strongly that we ought to include something further, then I should be prepared to take it away and consider it. But on the whole the Red Deer Commission is happy with what is in the amendment, and I should like to leave it as it is.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

I thank the noble Lord for what he said about possibly considering the question of calves. I think that is important. In many instances today when one shoots old milk hinds with small calves one has to shoot the calves; otherwise the calves would die. This is not a very nice practice, and I do not myself indulge in it, but professional stalkers do. I think that it would be a great help to know the total weight.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 51 not moved.]

7.8 p.m.

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 52:

Page 5, line 39, after ("possession") insert (", transport or cause to be transported").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is in many respects similar to Amendment No. 53, which is in the name of my noble friend Lord Glenkinglas. I do not think that there is much to choose between my noble friend's amendment and my amendment, but perhaps mine is a little more comprehensive. It clearly includes the case where one is having venison moved from place to place by an agent or employee, and so I hope that my noble friend might accept that. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 53 not moved.]

Lord Glenarthur had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 54:

Page 5, line 42, at end insert ("or to a licensed game dealer within the meaning of section 2(4) of the Deer Act 1980").

The noble Lord said: This amendment relates to the question of venison being sold to a licensed game dealer in England under the terms of Section 2(4) of the Deer Act 1980. To some extent it is a technical amendment, but since tabling it I have been advised that it might contain further weaknesses. Therefore, I should like to take it away to look at it again before putting it to your Lordships. I shall bring it back at the next stage.

[Amendments Nos. 54 and 55 not moved.]

Lord Northfield moved Amendment No. 56:

Page 6, leave out lines 1 to 5 and insert— ("(3) If any person sells, offers or exposes for sale, or has in his possession for the purpose of sale at any premises, or transports for the purpose of sale, or purchases or offers to purchase or receives, the carcase or any part of the carcase of a deer which he knows or has reason to believe has been killed unlawfully, he shall be guilty of an offence.").

The noble Lord said: I gather this amendment is possibly acceptable to the promoter of the Bill, and therefore I can be brief. It is partly redrafting, in the sense of expressing it slightly better, if I may say so, than in the Bill. It starts: "If a person does something it shall be an offence", which is the normal way of putting it compared with what is in the Bill at the moment, and then it adds to the things that constitute an offence. It adds transporting, purchasing or receiving to the offences which are already in the Bill. As I understand it is acceptable—and if it is not I will come back in a moment—I will move it formally. I beg to move.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Alport)

I have to advise your Lordships that if this amendment is agreed to I shall not be able to call Amendment No. 57.

Lord Glenarthur

To some extent the amendment makes the same point as the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, advanced in the case of earlier amendments, Nos. 48 and 51, which were accepted. I am perfectly happy to accept this one.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Northfield moved Amendment No. 58:

Page 6, line 26, leave out ("this section") and insert ("Part II, III or IIIA of this Act").

The noble Lord said: Here we are on a very important principle. Once again, this refers to the offences which shall have certain consequences. If we take page 6, line 26, we are there talking about the circumstances in which previous offences shall allow a court to disqualify an applicant from holding a venison dealer's licence. It provides that in the case where he has committed certain offences he shall be disqualified at the discretion of the court—not automatically, but at their discretion—from holding a venison dealer's licence.

In my view the Bill is too restrictive. What it does is to say that the court may disqualify a person from holding a venison dealer's licence if he has committed offences against this general part of the Bill dealing with the licensing of dealers in venison. What my amendment says, on the contrary, is that the court shall have discretion to disqualify him from holding a licence if he has committed offences against other parts of this Bill, or the Act, as it will be; namely, the parts that deal with offences like shooting out of season, shooting at night, illegally and so on. In other words, if he is already a very disreputable person concerning deer, at least the court should have the discretion—and I repeat, not the mandatory duty but the discretion—to disqualify him from holding a venison dealer's licence. I think this is an important provision because again I say that we are all anxious to stop the unwelcome and illegal trade, as well as the poaching which goes with it, and we have to tighten up wherever we can. I beg to move.

Lord Glenarthur

I quite accept that it is reasonable that a convicted poacher might stand to forfeit his right to hold a venison dealer's licence; but it seems to me to be fairly arbitrary to extend the same penalty to shooting out of season. I argued on an earlier amendment last week that the Bill draws a clear and careful distinction between close season shooting and other offences. Of course, a poacher may go about poaching out of season—they nearly all do—but, then, he is committing a double offence, anyway.

What we have to consider here is the man who has committed the offence of shooting out of season but no other offence: he has a legal right to be on the land, he uses a proper weapon and he shoots in daylight. This is not such an improbable scenario as the noble Lord might think. For example, somebody might be out shooting hind in the open season for hind when stags are out of season, and may by mistake shoot a knobber, a yearling stag. It is a natural mistake, and it happens often. In fact, I believe some 10 per cent. of a hind cull consists of knobbers. It would be quite wrong that an estate stalker should risk losing his livelihood through a common mistake of this kind, notwithstanding what the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, said about the judgment that a court might exercise in this matter.

But if the noble Lord cares to withdraw his amendment I am prepared to come back on Report with an amendment extending the penalty of disqualification from holding a dealer's licence to all offences under Part III of the Bill, which I hope might go some way towards meeting the noble Lord's requirement. Part III deals with poaching, and so on. But our predecessors here and elsewhere, who framed the 1959 Act, drew this very firm distinction between all those offences and that of killing out of season, and I believe we ought to maintain that. For that reason I am afraid I cannot accept the noble Lord's amendment as it stands.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

I should just like to say that if a professional stalker shoots a knobber when out hind shooting he must be an extremely poor stalker and cannot know his job, because the shape of a knobber, as I am sure my noble friend knows, is completely different from the shape of a hind. It has a far heavier neck, and its whole carriage is different.

Lord Glenarthur

I really have nothing to add. All I can say is that 10 per cent. of the culls turn out to be knobbers, whether or not carried out by competent stalkers or whatever.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

I think that would be done by the Forestry Commission.

Lord Northfield

The noble Lord has gone some way to meet me. What he has said is that at Report stage he would be prepared to move an amendment which added Part III to the offences for which the applicant could be disqualified from holding a venison dealer's licence. I would point out that that deals with night shooting as well as with illegal killing of deer; in other words, as well as with poaching. So we are back on the old argument as to whether shooting out of season is as bad as night shooting. I maintain that in many cases it is, and I also maintain that when there is an accidental event of this kind the court will be fully capable of exercising its discretion. In any case, it does not actually have to consider it; it is just that it "may" use this as a reason for withholding a licence in venison dealing.

However, all that may be. We have had the argument before, and clearly we are now going to have it again at Report stage, because if the noble Lord is kind enough to move an amendment to insert Part III we can then have a final decision on whether we go any further at that point. In the meantime, with an expression of gratitude that at least I am getting some way towards my objective, I withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 59:

Page 7, line 6, at end insert— (""sale" includes barter, exchange, and any other transaction by which venison is disposed of for value;").

The noble Lord said: I indicated in response to a previous amendment that a definition of "sale" adapted to this context would indeed serve some purpose. In fact, the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, prompted the thought. In regard to Amendment No. 60, which is the next amendment standing in his name, I hope he might agree that my amendment says all that is necessary for the purposes that we are discussing. I am advised that the wording he uses, "cognate expressions shall be construed accordingly", is straight out of another Act and that the Scottish experts do not particularly like it. I hope that my amendment will serve the same purpose and will be just as acceptable. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 60 not moved.]

Lord Northfield moved Amendment No. 61:

Page 7, line 7, after ("any") insert ("edible").

The noble Lord said: I understand that this amendment is acceptable to the promoter of the Bill. It is simply to make clear on page 7 line 7 what is meant by the word "venison". I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

7.20 p.m.

Lord Northfield moved Amendment No. 62:

Page 7, line 8, at end insert ("canned or cooked").

The noble Lord said: I think we might with profit discuss this amendment with Amendment No. 63. This is a complicated issue but it boils down to defining venison in a way that successfully prevents people getting round the definition in various ways. One way they can get round it, I am advised, is to use pre-packing, cellophane or plastic packing, to present the chopped up venison. Therefore, one must exclude that possibility of getting round it. If we take my two amendments and read the whole definition, the wording would become: 'Venison' means the carcase or any part of the carcase of a deer, but does not include canned or cooked venison". It defines it more clearly and it excludes the subterfuge that I am anxious to exclude.

Lord Glenarthur

I am delighted that the noble Lord finds this as complicated as I do. I think he makes valid points with these amendments but I suspect that they might leave out too much. The expression "packed, canned or processed for sale" which Amendment No. 63 would delete from the Bill is a case in point. We do not want to oblige every retail butcher or supermarket branch to get a deer licence. It should be sufficient at some point in the chain between the beast being shot and the meat arriving on the dinner table that it should have passed through the hands of at least one licensed dealer. If that principle is acceptable, I should like the opportunity to give the whole question of the wording of this Part further thought and bring back an amendment at the next stage.

Lord Northfield: I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 63 to 65 not moved.]

Clause 7, as amended, agreed to.

Lord Northfield moved Amendment No. 66:

After Clause 7, insert the following new clause:

("Cancellation of certificates.

. After section 31 of the said Act of 1959 there shall be inserted the following new sections— 31A. The court by which any person is convicted of an offence under Part II, III or IIIA of this Act may cancel any firearm or shotgun certificate held by him. 31B. Where the court cancels a firearm or shotgun certificate under section 31A above—

  1. (a) the court shall cause notice in writing of that fact to be sent to the chief officer of police by whom the certificate was graned; and
  2. (b) the chief officer of police shall by notice in writing require the holder of the certificate to surrender it; and
  3. (c)if the holder fails to surrender the certificate within twenty-one days from the date of that requirement, he shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £50.
31C. It shall be lawful to convict a person charged under Part II, III or IIIA of this Act on the evidence of one person.".").

The noble Lord said: This is a very important amendment. It deals with offences and has several purposes. I am puzzled that the Bill, for some reason, takes out of the body of the Bill and shunts into the schedule certain powers. I have never understood why that has happened. Offences such as are dealt with in Schedule 3 (which is what we are talking about) are the kind that are normally put in the body of a Bill. My main aim here is to put them in the place where they should be.

My amendment goes further than doing simply that. In 31A, it deals with a point where we are trying to be as tough as we can on poaching in order to deter it. One of the things which we ought to be doing is to give the courts a discretionary power to cancel a firearm or shotgun certificate for people who have been convicted of shooting at night, of poaching, of reprehensible out-of-season shooting, and so on. It is an important means of dealing with poaching.

This was the overwhelming view when my Bill was going through Parliament. The courts, in my view, should have these stronger powers against poaching. When we talked about Amendment No. 38 last week, the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, was quite illogical. He tried to compare night shooting and out-of-season shooting with poaching. I was saying something quite different in that amendment; namely, that it is as offensive to be shooting out of season as to be shooting in darkness. He did not make that comparison. I challenge him to do so. I believe it is legitimate to say that people should be punished in some way for reprehensible night shooting. It is right that the courts should also have power to deal with reprehensible shooting out of season.

We know that a great deal of the venison now sold in Scotland is venison shot out of season and most of it poached venison. We must do something to tighten this up. I suggest that 31A is one of the means of doing it. There is no excuse for shooting in the close season. The damage it does, especially to the rearing of young deer, is reprehensible and it is time we stamped out the cruelty that is there involved. If the noble Lord said that this was not in the 1959 Act, that shooting out of season was never put on a par with shooting at night, then that is another of the mistakes in the 1959 Act. Why do we have this Bill today? It is to clear up the mistakes and meet the developments in opinion since the 1959 Act.

The second point is in 31B, which reads: Where the court cancels a firearm or shotgun certificate…the court shall cause notice in writing…to be sent to and there is a drafting error here; it should read "the chief constable" and not "the chief officer of police", but that is something that we can alter later—who, shall require the holder of the certificate to surrender it"; and there shall be a penalty for not so surrendering that certificate.

Thirdly, there is 31C. This is an extra. It is not moving Schedule 3 bodily into the Bill but it is adding an extra point—namely, that there shall be some further application of the principle, already partly in the 1959 Act, that people can be charged upon the evidence of one witness alone. I do not think that I need develop that point too strongly. It is well known that in Scotland, with problems of a scattered and remote population, there is often only one witness. It is quite impossible in many cases to convict people of some of the worst offences if one has to rely on more than one person being present to attest. Many of the offences that we are talking about are committed in remote areas. We would be fortunate to have one witness, let alone two.

Are we not really up against the point all the way through this kind of amendment? Are we really going to be determined to stop poaching or not? I suspect, despite what the noble Earl said a few minutes ago about the way the Bill is tightening up on poaching, that it is not tough enough. When one comes to a simple set of proposals like this, I believe that they are the minimum of what we should ask for in demanding that the anti-poaching aspects of this Bill should be tightened up even further. For those reasons, I beg to move.

Lord Forbes

The noble Lord, Lord Northfield, mentioned the 1959 Act and why shooting at night has been penalised and made more offensive than any other form of offence. The reason for that was that the vast majority of the poaching prior to 1959 was being done by people in vehicles at night.

Viscount Thurso

The noble Lord, Lord Northfield, spoke about shooting out of season as being more reprehensible than, or as reprehensible as, shooting at night. I really cannot go along with him on that. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur. The reprehensible out of season shooting has in the first instance been poaching. Therefore one should catch offenders for poaching and not merely for shooting out of season. There is an element of accidental shooting of deer out of season which will always exist. One could very well find that one is putting the same opprobrium on to somebody who has accidentally shot a hind which happened to be behind a stag that one aimed at. This has happened every year to somebody in Scotland. I am not at all sure how one deals with the male calf. I am not sure whether this has been dealt with in this Bill. If you shoot a milk hind you must obviously shoot the calf. You are not always certain when you shoot the hind that it is not a milk hind. You do get some very good milk hinds early in the season that look as though they are eiled hinds. If you shoot one and the calf is still there, you must shoot the calf because otherwise the orphan will not get through the winter. If this happens to be a male you are then shooting a deer out of season. I am not sure how this is coped with. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, can advise us.

Lord Dulverton

May I add to what the noble Viscount said. The shooting of red deer calves out of season can and does happen, but I think you will find it is covered in the exsiting Act because you are allowed to shoot out of season to prevent suffering. I think you are covered on that clause.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

For anyone shooting a lot of deer out of season one unattractive angle, or unsavoury angle, is that it is bad for the venison trade apart from any cruelty involved, since many poached deer are shot when they are just bags of bones and they are very easy for the poacher. They are half starved and that does the venison trade no good. If a man has been caught several times shooting deer out of season to sell, I cannot see why the courts should not have the power to take away his firearms certificate or gun licence.

The Earl of Mansfield

This amendment goes to a principle of Scottish law and certainly Government policy, and therefore I am going to respond at this stage. This is another manifestation of the noble Lord's desire to make all penalties available for all offences. The Committee has already rejected that in principle. What the amendment seeks to do so far as Section 31A is concerned is to extend the penalty of the loss of a firearms certificate to convictions under Part IIIA which is entirely concerned with the venison trade. I accept that somebody selling venison without a licence may also be shooting the beasts himself and may be committing another offence. In the circumstances it would be right, I suppose, that he should forfeit or run the risk of forfeiting his gun licence. But all that can be provided for in the penalties for poaching, and so on. It is independent of the venison dealing side of the man's activities. So I accept Section 31A only in part.

I accept that too narrow a view may have been taken in the Bill in providing the penalty of forfeiture of a firearms certificate only under Section 24. Bearing this in mind, Amendment No. 120, which has been tabled by my noble friend, extends that penalty to all offences under Part III of the Act—that is to say, poaching, shooting at night and so on. That, I would have thought, would have satisfied the Committee and the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, because the penalty is extended to what I might call the active offences.

The much more serious part of his amendment is the new Section 31C. Under Scottish criminal law the facts which establish guilt must be proved by direct evidence of two witnesses or two or more evidential facts spoken to by separate witnesses from which the facts can be inferred, or a combination of direct evidence of one witness and of one or more evidential facts spoken to by other witnesses which support it, unless the crime is covered by a statutory exception to this rule.

This requirement for corroboration is a cardinal feature of the Scottish criminal law. Having had experience of the law of Scotland and England, I have to say that I think it is a highly desirable feature of the Scottish law that the English might well import on some occasion when they have the time and inclination. But that is really neither here nor there. The noble Lord quite rightly prays in aid Section 25 of the 1959 Act. There are other minor exceptions. For instance, traffic wardens are now allowed to operate singly rather than in pairs. These exceptions are very few. As I understand the history of Section 25 of the 1959 Act, the provision was made after protracted argument on the grounds that the offences concerned tend to take place in very remote parts where it is not likely that two witnesses can be found. That cannot apply to such offences as selling venison without a licence or faking an entry in a record book.

These are very run of the mill offences and the Government could not possibly accept that any exception of this nature, which is sweeping—I can describe it in no other way—should apply to these comparatively less serious and run of the mill offences. They should he treated in precisely the same way as every other offence under Scots criminal law. For those reasons, the Government cannot support the amendment; indeed they are actively hostile to it. I beseech the noble Lord to withdraw it hastily.

Lord Ross of Marnock

I have a little experience of this. I think that it was in the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1951 that a Labour Government breached this cardinal principle of Scottish law. You can well imagine what fell upon the head of Hector McNeil, who was then Secretary of State for Scotland. It was about the only Bill we passed in that particular Parliament and we were never allowed to forget it. Indeed, it is probably because of this that it was introduced elsewhere. I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, appreciates that even, say, in a civil action for compensation in respect of an accident in a railway yard in the middle of the night, where there could not possibly be corroboration, until only just a few years ago there was no hope of the injured person being able to prove negligence on the part of the railway authority. The same thing applied in relation to mines, and I can remember the row that took place when the Government decided that they would allow the judge in the case, where he thought it was likely to be right, to be able to give the benefit of the doubt to the person concerned. I could not possibly agree to such a widespread breach of Scottish criminal law in this respect, and I think that the noble Earl the Minister explained the matter very well indeed. I am grateful to him and I think the Committee should be.

I appreciate the anxiety of the noble Lord to do everything he possibly can to end poaching. I would not like to place any great labours upon him, but if he would like to go and read the records of the 1959 Act he might find that in certain parts of Scotland there is a different attitude to poaching than there is in discussion in this Chamber. Many a Highlander has always thought that he had a right to take a deer off the glen and also that his ancestors were there before the deer forest owners came along to assert their own particular rights and privileges. Certainly, as far as this particular clause goes, I think his proposal is rather marred by Clause 31C.

Lord Northfield

This debate has been interesting and I am glad that I raised the issue because it has led to the tabling of Amendment No. 120, which goes a long way towards meeting me on 31A. Regarding 31B, of course, that is only a repetition of what is in the schedule and I still maintain that it should be in the body of the Bill rather than in a schedule. That is the normal place for it, I understand. Regarding 31C, I was interested in the discussion: I know that the particular exception which is already in Section 25 of the 1959 Act led to a great deal of debate. I accept the noble Earl's point, having listened to what he said, that it would not be proper for one witness to be allowed to testify to the offence under the venison dealer's section. I am left, I think, with Part II of the 1959 Act, referring to shooting out of season. I would strongly suspect that there is a good reason to look again at that on Report stage.

What we heard in the exchanges between the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, and the noble Lord opposite was the point that before 1959 a great deal of poaching was done at night and, frankly, what we now have is a great deal of poaching out of season. I see the noble Lord opposite nodding his head. So I strongly suspect that the remoter areas of Scotland where poaching is going on and is done out of season are areas where there would be only one witness, if any at all. So I should like to reflect on that point, having learned from the debate, and think about where Section 25 of the parent Act might be extended and whether we could come back at Report stage and try to extend it to Part II of the 1959 Act, dealing with close seasons, rather than going as far as I have in this amendment. I hope that is a fair response to the debate, which has been an interesting one; and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 67 not moved.]

Lord Northfield moved Amendment No. 68:

After Clause 7, insert the following new clause:

("Amendment of s. 33 of 1959 Act

. In section 33(1) of the said Act of 1959 after the word "calf" there shall be inserted the words ", fawn or kid".").

The noble Lord said: This is a drafting amendment which I understand is acceptable. I beg to move.

Lord Glenarthur

I entirely accept the noble Lord's amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 8 [Exemptions for certain acts]:

7.47 p.m.

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 69:

Page 7, line 22, at end insert— ("( ) the owner in person, provided that he is duly authorised in writing by the occupier for that purpose; ( ) the owner's servants or agents, provided that they are duly authorised in writing by the occupier for that purpose;").

The noble Lord said: It might be convenient if at the start of discussion of various amendments to do with Clause 8 I set out my general views on the amendments which have been tabled, before dealing particularly with this Amendment No. 69. Perhaps it might be convenient if I also speak to Amendment No. 70, which is consequential upon No. 69. I would remind your Lordships that to a very great extent Clause 8 re-enacts the existing law regarding occupiers' rights to shoot both out of season and at night. Some of the discussion at Second Reading suggested that certain noble Lords believed that the Bill was conferring significant new rights upon occupiers, and indeed the tone of some of the amendments reflects that belief. Any such view of Clause 8 is in fact totally incorrect.

The effect of a number of the amendments would be seriously to constrain the rights which occupiers hold, and have held since 1959 or earlier, to shoot deer in defence of crops or woodland. I must say that my opening position is that a heavy onus lies on the mover of such an amendment to say why it is necessary. My impression—one which I think is shared by the Red Deer Commission—is that the present provisions work pretty well and strike a fair balance between the needs of conservation and control. I think we have an obligation to move cautiously and constructively on a basis of consensus. After all, as has been said before, the Bill as it stands in any case is a compromise between all the different parties who could be affected by deer in one way or another.

On the question of out-of-season shooting, which is the subject of the new subsections (3)(a) and (3)(b), the Bill already seeks to limit the existing rights of occupiers to delegate authority to shoot deer. Various amendments would restrict these rights still further and would affect the occupier's personal rights to shoot out of season. I shall of course listen to all the arguments, but I must say that I am not happy that these amendments are satisfactory. However, I have tabled one amendment in my own name which has found favour with, among others, the Scottish Landowners' Federation and which seems to me both non-controversial and constructive. It allows an occupier to authorise his landlord or his landlord's staff (for example, a stalker), who would be well equipped to carry out the job, to undertake out-of-season shooting on the tenant's behalf.

When we come to night shooting under subsections (4)(a) and (4)(b), the Bill as it stands in some respects extends existing rights, and in other respects restricts them. I could not fail to be impressed by the weight of argument and feeling that has been deployed in favour of the view, which to some extent acccords with my own view, that night shooting is to be regarded as a very exceptional measure. But I have not been convinced that the right to shoot at night is being significantly abused at the moment, or that it should be terminated. We have a delicate balance to maintain, as has been stated many times, and the Bill is right in its emphasis on bringing the Red Deer Commission into the picture, because they are in a position to regulate night shooting much better than we can from here.

I am not satisfied that a total ban on night shooting of roe is practicable or necessary. It is, indeed, needed as an auxiliary control measure by foresters and, in particular, by the Forestry Commission and that means, in practice, delegation of the right to shoot roe at night. But I entirely accept that it must be strictly monitored, and that the Bill as it stands can be criticised for not tying it up as tightly as perhaps it ought to do. I have therefore tabled, in the first place, Amendment No. 87 to make it clear that the Red Deer Commission can attach conditions to any authorisation that they give under the new subsection (4A).

Secondly, I am happy to accept the principle of Amendment No. 97 of the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, regarding a code of practice for night shooting, although I have tabled my own Amendment No. 98, because I consider that the code should go wider than merely regulation of authorisations under subsection (4A), and should apply to all night shooting. In other words, if an occupier shooting on his own account under subsection (4) is known to have violated the code, that will count against him if he goes to the Red Deer Commission for authorisation under subsection (4A).

Finally, if I may make a general point regarding shooting by the occupier which was raised last week by my noble friend Lord Glenkinglas, the owner has a real and legitimate need to know the extent to which the occupier has used his rights under Clause 8 to shoot out of season and at night, especially with regard to red deer. As we all agree, the landowner has a management responsibility as well as a duty to report to the Red Deer Commission under Section 5 of the 1959 Act, giving a return of all red deer which, to his knowledge, have been killed on the land. Accordingly, my Amendment No. 101 would authorise the owner to ask the occupier what numbers of deer he had shot in the previous 12 months under the powers conferred by Clause 8.

Of course, we shall no doubt argue many of these amendments in detail later, but I hope that the Committee may agree that these changes, which embody suggestions made in the course of our debates so far, would make a significant improvement to Clause 8 as it stands, and might be generally acceptable. But I must stress that to go further, and to put greater constraints on occupier's existing rights, would be unwise and damaging to the Bill's prospects.

So, if I may now revert to Amendment No. 69, under the terms of the Bill an occupier may shoot in the close season on his own account, or authorise his employees or residents on his land to shoot deer for him, but if he wants any other help he must get the approval of the Red Deer Commission. In many cases, however, as I said just now, the obvious person to do the shooting would be the landlord's stalker, who has proven competence and, also, a reasonable knowledge of the lie of the land. It seems unnecessary that a tenant occupier should have to apply to the commission before authorising his landlord's stalker, or, indeed, the landlord himself. Accordingly, this amendment adds those persons to the categories who may be authorised without reference to the commission. It does not, of course, limit the occupier's freedom of action in any way. As I said earlier, the second Amendment No. 70, is purely consequential on the first. I beg to move.

Lord Northfield

I have only one comment, which is that I am very happy not to move my Amendment No. 71 at this stage. I say so for the following reason, that I quite accept that the first part of the noble Lord's Amendment No. 69, dealing with the owner, is necessary. When we come to the second part of his amendment, dealing with servants or agents, I would point out that my draft, which is No. 71, is taken directly from the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which applies to Scotland and for matters very similar to those that we are dealing with at this point in the Bill. I suggest that we reflect on whether, in the interests of uniformity in legislation applying to Scotland, it would be better to replace the second part of the noble Lord's amendment, dealing with servants or agents, with the kind of drafting that I have lifted deliberately from the Wildlife and Countryside Act. That is something that I would not do at this stage, but would return to at Report stage.

Lord Glenarthur

I do not think that there is a great deal to choose between the noble Lord's Amendment No. 71 and the original text. The one point of substance that seems worth taking further time over is whether you allow "other persons normally resident", as the Bill has it, or a "member of the occupier's household normally resident". The latter really limits one to someone living under the same roof and, for instance, precludes the occupier's brother if the latter happens to live in a separate house on the estate. On that basis, I think that the Bill is more realistic.

Lord Ross of Marnock

We started out here to restrict. Looking at some of the amendments, I felt that we were going to finish by very considerably widening the number of people who could fit into the exceptions, in respect of night shooting and close season shooting. I am very glad, indeed, that the noble Lord was able to find the strength to resist all the pressures that were put upon him.

The clause will not be entirely popular in parts of the Highlands, as I think he will appreciate, limiting the right, as it does, to the occupier in person. In many a croft, the occupier in person is far too old. He cannot ask a neighbour to do what is needed, because the neighbour is ruled out. The clause states, servants…or other persons normally resident on the land". That could mean some member of his immediate family, but in many cases there is a considerable restriction. I see the dilemma about it being easy to get authority in writing to shoot. By the way, I do not think that all the poaching stems from that, though perhaps some of it does. But I think the noble Lord will find, when this Bill goes to another place, that this restrictive clause will not meet with the wishes of everybody concerned.

The amendment reads: the owner in person, provided that he is duly authorised in writing by the occupier". I like that. The occupier or the tenant is going to authorise the owner. After all, the sole reason for doing this, in the first instance, was that someone's crops, grass or garden grounds were being subjected to damage by the marauding deer. They are not the owner's crops. The right to shoot them is rightly with the occupier. That was the thinking behind the original Bill.

I am very unhappy about some people just jumping on and using a vehicle such as this Bill to get into some kind of privileged position in this respect, and I am glad that it has been left for the occupier to determine. It may well be that the owner will be helping him out and providing somebody who will do the job for him. To that extent, I am quite pleased. But one must be careful that pressures are not put on an occupier to allow somebody else to shoot. I have known owners who like to exert pressures upon their tenants. From that point of view, I do not think that I am so much against it that I would oppose it here, but I warn the noble Earl that it may not be acceptable anywhere else.

In view of the fact that the occupier still has the whip hand so far as this matter is concerned, I am prepared to accept the amendment. However, it is rather strange that, although we started out by restricting the number of people who could be allowed to shoot, we may end up by enlarging the number of people (or keeping it the same but with a different "mix") who are granted the power to shoot under the exceptional circumstances.

Lord Glenarthur

If I may add to what the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, has said, he has made the point that although there has been some restriction he feels that the scope might be widened in due course. But the point is that until now the occupier could authorise absolutely anybody at all. It is worth making the point that this power is now going to be very seriously restricted. My amendments Nos. 69 and 70 only try to make the whole procedure more practical by allowing somebody who is more efficient to undertake the task. The noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, has also made that point very well. Nevertheless, I thought it was worth adding that fact.

Lord Ross of Marnock

But does not the noble Lord appreciate that the small farmer or crofter might prefer an able-bodied neighbour whom he can trust to do it? This need not necessarily be a poacher. We jump to conclusions. The ease with which one could obtain authority from an occupier to shoot is the whole screen which is afforded to the poacher to go on and be protected by this letter which he has obtained from an occupier. We are oversimplifying. It may be that the noble Lord is creating a hardship by the restriction which he is introducing. At the same time we see that there is a change: the owner can be allowed to do this. With due respect, it is not the owner's crops which are being damaged, or substantially damaged. It does not necessarily follow that all owners will help somebody out by providing a proficient marksman. So the noble Lord is generalising in one case to the disadvantage of people who at present have a right, and he is generalising in the second case to the advantage of the owners. So long as the power remains with the occupier, I am reasonably satisfied—and that he can exercise that power without any restraint being placed upon him.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

This amendment is a compromise between the interests of the occupier and the owner. I certainly agree with it. Therefore I shall not be moving Amendment No. 72. It is greatly to the advantage of the occupier that he can obtain the owner's stalkers, or even the owner himself, to rid himself of the nuisance of deer coming on to his crops. As I have said before, the occupier may well be unable to do this on his own. Therefore it is a great advantage for him to be able to call on the owner. As the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, has said, in the end the occupier has the whip hand. He does not have to invite the owner in. But obviously it is in the occupier's interests to invite the owner to protect his crop from damage done by deer. As I have said before, the owner's servants will probably be far more experienced than the occupier himself when it comes to deer. Therefore I agree with the amendment.

Lord Ross of Marnock

But does not the noble Viscount appreciate that at present there is nothing to prevent the occupier inviting the owner, or the owner's stalkers, to do it? We are singling him out as one of the few people who can be brought in.

Lord Forbes

The noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, sometimes forgets that in the end it is the owner who will be responsible. If the tenant's crop is eaten by deer, probably the tenant will go to the owner and ask for compensation.

Viscount Thurso

The only compensation which he is allowed under the law is to shoot the deer and sell the carcases. It is important for him to be able to do this. I have sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock. We are talking about the occasion when deer have marauded on to crop or garden ground and are causing damage which we want to stop. We want to stop the deer coming back and repeating the damage, bringing other deer with them, and we want to make sure that the damage is limited as quickly as possible. Most agricultural tenants or crofters are not necessarily equipped to do this job. Perhaps they have to rely upon a shotgun when they would prefer to have a rifle. Possibly they are also not equipped with training and practice in shooting because they are too busy looking after their sheep, their turnips, their corn and so forth. Furthermore, they do not want to sit up all night as well as to work all day. Therefore they are only too pleased that somebody efficient should come along and do the job of limiting the damage to their crop.

I have sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, in that we are restricting the crofter's or the farmer's choice of assistance upon which he can call. I have gone across to my brother-in-law's farm near Wick to look for marauding deer for him. I have sent stalkers in my employ to do the same. I am not sure that technically I shall be able to do so in the future. I can go over and shoot his foxes for him, but I am not sure that I shall be able to go over and shoot his deer for him. I am not at all sure that we are right in restricting this power so far as we have, but certainly I support the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, in his amendment, for it enables the crofter or the farmer to call upon the skilled man who lives nearby and who probably knows the ground, to come to his aid. This is the important point. It is important from the point of view of the deer, from the point of view of limiting the damage and from the point of view of obtaining good deer management in the area. Therefore I certainly welcome the amendment.

Lord Glenarthur

I think I can comfort the noble Viscount by saying that I feel fairly confident that the Red Deer Commission will approve of him as a fit and competent person for the purpose of shooting deer on his brother-in-law's property.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

If I may tell your Lordships a story about this, quite a long time ago I had complaints from a tenant that his oats were being destroyed by deer. I sent him a stalker, who went out at night. The stalker thought that he saw a hind moving in the corn. Fortunately, the moon came out then and the stalker saw that it was the farmer's wife who was going along beating down the corn. She had a stag's foot and was making the slot marks of a stag all through the corn. I thought I should tell the noble Viscount in particular that story, because in my opinion he regards all occupiers as saints. I can assure him that they are not—certainly not in the Western Highlands.

Lord Burton

I think the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, and to some extent, the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, are oversimplifying matters. The noble Lord, Lord Ross, said that this Bill was perhaps oversimplifying things. Both referred to the protection of crops. I do not believe that anybody would object to a person protecting his crops, but this is not where the buck stops. The trouble is that too many people are looking for the profit motive. Far too many deer are being killed out of season, and at night, entirely for what the occupier can get out of it; namely, what he can sell the deer for. He can usually sell the deer for a good deal more than the damage which he has suffered, if any. At the moment he does not even need to have any damage caused by deer. If there are any deer on his ground he can kill them.

As I said at Second Reading, if one reads the Red Deer Commission's Report 1980 one finds that 20 per cent. of all red deer stags shot in Scotland are shot out of season. So far as roe deer are concerned, if one goes into venison dealers, one finds that a very much larger percentage of roe deer are shot out of season. In fact, as they are mostly on so-called enclosed land anyway, to a large extent the season is any way ignored in many places. It is not the killing to protect crops that is worrying but killing for the profit motive, and there is no doubt that this is taking place on a very large scale.

With the exception of this small section where the occupier is having his permission restricted to the few people approved of in the Bill rather than giving permission to anyone, the Bill actually enlarges the number of people who can kill deer, particularly at night. At the moment, there will be no restriction on anyone who has an existing right, so the abuse we already have, of 20 per cent. of the deer being shot out of season, will continue and possibly be increased under this Bill. I want to make that quite clear.

Lord Ross of Marnock

I have the report before me and I cannot find the table.

Lord Burton

Perhaps I might do the noble Lord's arithmetic for him. If the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, will look at the column for venison dealers rather than the column for estates, he find at the bottom the number of stags killed in season and stags killed out of season. If one adds those two figures together, one gets the total number of stags killed. If one then takes the number of stags killed out of season, the figure is almost one-fifth, or 20 per cent.

Lord Ross of Marnock

That is correct, but that refers only to venison dealers.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 70:

Page 7, line 24, leave out ("his servants") and insert ("the servants of the occupier").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is consequential to an earlier amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 71 to 73 not moved.]

8.13 p.m.

Lord Burton moved Amendment No. 74:

Page 7, line 30, after ("the") insert ("owner or").

The noble Lord said: We have discussed this question of the owner and occupier before. It is quite straightforward and I beg to move.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Greenwood of Rossendale)

The Question is, That this amendment be agreed to. As many as are of that opinion will say, Content? To the contrary, Not-Content? The Not-Contents have it.

Lord Glenarthur

I must confess that I was expecting my noble friend Lord Massereene and Ferrard to move his earlier amendment. This amendment from my noble friend Lord Burton would have very much the same effect and is open to the same objections because it puts an unacceptable restriction on the rights of occupiers, which we have discussed at length. Accordingly, I am unable to accept this amendment.

Lord Burton

Here again we have the position where, apparently, the occupier is going to be allowed to authorise people to shoot on his ground without, possibly, the owner knowing anything about it. This seems to be totally unreasonable. I cannot understand why my noble friend Lord Glenarthur cannot accept this amendment; I thought that he would be quite amenable to it.

Lord Glenarthur

This position has been the case since 1948, under the Agriculture (Scotland) Act. My noble friend knows as well as I do that it has been enshrined in law now for so long that it is very jealously guarded by occupiers. The noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, made the point perfectly clear earlier that it is the occupier who is going to suffer. The occupier does not get any compensation other than the ability to get some money from selling the carcase of the stag. I accept what my noble friend says about the number of stags shot out of season being something like 20 per cent.; but, nevertheless, the occupier has significant rights and it would be totally outside the spirit of this Bill and the compromise which has been reached over the months during which it has been discussed if the occupier now has to turn to the owner to seek permission.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

The position has changed very much since 1948, as my noble friend forgets—although perhaps he was not born then. In 1948 very few farmers and crofters had rifles. They may have had an old shotgun, but today every farmer has a rifle. Not all crofters do, but they will have a shotgun. One cannot really compare 1948 with today. As I have said before, the owner does come out of it badly because in the case of any tenants (and certainly any tenants of mine) who suffer damage by deer, one compensates them or puts up a deer fence. As my noble friend Lord Burton said, the majority of these occupiers shoot the deer to make a lot of money. Some of them actually make far more money from enticing the deer on to their land and shooting them than they do from selling farm produce. After all, it is the owner who is the great taxpayer and yet he gets the worst side of the bargain.

Lord Burton

We know that many of the people who have been authorised in the past have not been satisfactory and that is why my noble friend moved his amendment, which I believe has now been accepted, that there should be some restriction on the occupier as to whom he can authorise. With due respect to the Red Deer Commission, they do not necessarily know everything that is going on. I can think of another body that has landed me with some very unsatisfactory tenants, which it would not have done had it known the background of those people. All we are doing in this case is to say that the owner should be notified who is coming on to his ground so that if the person is undesirable the Red Deer Commission can be told and the undesirable person would not get authorisation.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees

I find myself in a position of some embarrassment and would like to consult your Lordships. A few minutes ago, I put the Question and said that the Not-Contents had it. Unfortunately, some noble Lords were not very quick off the mark and so I allowed the discussion to continue. I will now put the Question again, if that is acceptable to your Lordships.

Noble Lords


On Question, amendment negatived.

[Amendment No. 75 not moved.]

Lord Northfield moved Amendment No. 76:

Page 7, line 33, leave out ("found").

The noble Lord said: This is a small but rather important amendment, and although it goes together with the next amendment, perhaps it would be as well if I moved it separately. I do not know why the word "found" is in the Bill at this stage. It should have been taken out by the draftsman because it is really just a hangover from the 1959 Act. It was one of the black spots of the 1959 Act which was really indicating or implying that any deer found on land was fair game and that people could shoot at them whenever they liked: at night, during the close season, or whenever.

If your Lordships will look at the following page of the Bill, on line 14, I should like to ask this: if "found" is appropriate on page 7—from where I wish to delete it—why is it not appropriate also in line 14 on page 8? There it is stated, starting at line 13— it shall be lawful for the occupier in person to carry out night shooting of deer on such land…". Why not "found on such land"? If we go further down that page, line 19 says— the Commission may authorise any person nominated by the occupier of agricultural land or enclosed woodlands to shoot deer of any species on that land"— not "found on that land".

I suspect that when the draftsman was beginning to tighten up this legislation he rightly left out "found" on page 8 and forgot to delete it on page 7. As I say, it has a bad connotation; it implies that any deer on the land can be shot out of season by the occupier or people authorised by him. I strongly object to that. I think it is a wrong implication, and because of the precedent in the other part of this clause I beg to move that we delete it here.

Lord Glenarthur

The parts of Clause 8 to which the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, refers are not quite the same. The effect of his amendment would to some extent be to make a nonsense of the particular passage to which it refers. It would literally authorise an occupier, among other things, to sell any deer on his land, to dispose of carcases on his land and so on. The sentence as a whole can still be qualified by the proviso, by "damage", if it were decided to do that. I think the noble Lord might accept that curious things do happen to the grammar if we remove the word in this context. It does not necessarily apply in the same way on the other page. I would advise the noble Lord to leave well alone. It has been looked at in depth by the draftsman. I hope the noble Lord will do that on purely grammatical grounds, if nothing else.

Lord Northfield

In view of what the noble Lord has said, I will not persist, but I shall refer to the point when I come to the next amendment. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

8.22 p.m.

Lord Northfield moved Amendment No. 77:

Page 7, line 36, at end insert ("if—

  1. (i) he has reasonable grounds for believing that deer of the same species are causing, or have caused, damage to crops, 601 pasture, vegetables, fruit, trees or human or animal foodstuffs on that land; and
  2. (ii) it is likely that further damage will be so caused and any such damage is likely to be serious; and
  3. (iii) his action is necessary for the purpose of preventing any such damage.").

The noble Lord said: We have come to one of the most difficult amendments in the whole Bill, and one on which not I alone but many others concerned with this Bill feel very strongly indeed. What the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, said a few minutes ago was that anybody who wanted to amend Clause 8 must have very good grounds for rejecting a compromise that had been arrived at in drafting it. The only compromise arrived at in drafting this one is the compromise of giving way entirely to the NFU lobby. This is not acceptable. What the Bill does at the moment is to perpetuate the right of any occupier to shoot at and kill any deer and dispose of the carcase out of season for any reason at all, just because the deer is on his land, not because it is causing any damage. Any deer on that land can he shot at by the occupier. What is the point of having out of season regulations if we then immediately put a coach and horses through them by saying, "After all an occupier need not obey that if the deer are on his land"? This makes absolute nonsense of making out of season shooting an offence. We have to insist at this point that something must be written into the Bill to bring up to date the provisions of the 1959 Act.

When we started on the English legislation we had exactly the same problems with the NFU, but we did not cave in, we went and negotiated. From a position of absolute unwillingness at the beginning, we found that, as a result of careful negotiation, the farmers agreed that the time had come to say, "Well, yes, it is wrong to have a close season and then allow anybody to drive a coach and horses through the provision". By gradually negotiating, we arrived at the words that are on the Marshalled List now as the draft of the restriction of the rights of occupiers to kill deer. I am not going to go in detail over that particular point of drafting because, as I say, those words have all been carefully chosen, carefully argued about, carefully negotiated and finally agreed.

It took us about two years from the beginning of that negotiation to get the final draft. The grounds are there as set out. It is not just to be that the deer on the land are causing damage, but they must be deer of the same species, because many people are claiming the right to take a pot-shot at deer no matter what species are found or were found yesterday. They say, "Those were the deer that were here yesterday". We say that it must be that, deer of the same species are causing, or have caused, damage to crops", et cetera, are likely to cause such further damage and it could be serious, and the action was necessary in order to prevent that damage.

This is a very important amendment indeed. I believe that, unless we pass it, it means that we are not making any advance at all on the 1959 Act in this respect, and that we shall be allowing the abuses which have been mentioned already by the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene, when he said that we know that many people view the killing of deer on their land as a more important crop than the crops grown on it.

This is what is at the heart of this issue. Are we really going to allow that as an established practice to ride a coach and horses through the close season regulations?

Look at the numbers involved. I wrote to the noble Earl the Minister and asked him how many people were going to have this right. He said there were some 16,000 agricultural occupiers in the red deer area. I am paraphrasing his letter. "These figures include the crofters. From these figures one would have to deduct those holdings with only rough grazing and no enclosed land and those to which deer could not possibly have access. It would be a considerable exercise to produce that figure and I am not sure how reliable it would be when we got it. For what it is worth"—here we come to the substance of the letter—"my guess is that about half the nominal possessors of rights to shoot at night or in close season, that is 8,000 out of 16,000, could be regarded as potentially able to exercise those rights."

So, having legislated about a close season, we are happily, in this Bill as drafted, conniving at 8,000 people having the right to evade it. I think that that is absolute nonsense. I cannot speak strongly enough about it. It is about time we stopped giving way on issues like this and said that it is more proper to negotiate, to draw people forward from the 1959 Act and to agree the sort of reasonable restriction on shooting by occupiers that are in the English legislation and are now in this amendment. For those reasons, I beg to move.

Viscount Thurso

The occupiers of these holdings already have these rights; we are not suddenly giving them these rights; they have had them since time immemorial. If the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, is quoting a statistic about the number of people who have the right, it only goes to show how moderately these people have used the right, if that is what this statistic is capable of showing. We cannot accept that the bad cases, the hard cases—those of the odd person who here and there perhaps takes a cynical view of his right and perhaps takes a few deer at a time and allows others to come back in and so on during the night and off-season periods—should colour our attitude towards the literally thousands of people who require to be protected and who have no other form of protection and no other form of compensation than what is provided in the deer legislation. I think that it is not a question of the NFU lobby here, but a question of the combined opinion of the people who live on the fringes of the areas where the deer are to be found.

We must also realise that by and large the deer in the Highland areas, particularly in the Red Deer Commission area, are in a different situation from that which applies in England, The deer in the deer commission area in the Highlands are, broadly speaking, on open moorland and permanently resident there. When they come on to farmland they have definitely moved in from the open moorland and are marauding with intent to eat the crops on the farmland. They are not normally resident there at all. Therefore, to see them on the land is to see the beginning of marauding. Thus, we have to keep this provision to be able to thin out the population if necessary and certainly to take out the marauders on the edge of the deer area as quickly as possible. That can only be done by keeping the Bill in the way in which it has been drafted up until now and by keeping these provisions about which the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, has told us.

Where I would agree slightly with the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, is that the position becomes more difficult when it comes to roe deer or fallow deer, because those deer are normally resident upon farmland and woodland and are not normally resident in large numbers out on the open hill. Therefore, we do have a situation as regards roe deer and fallow deer that is rather similar to that in England. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, might like to think about that situation and see whether it would be appropriate to introduce anything into the Bill as it passes through your Lordships' House to regularise that situation and perhaps give greater protection to roe deer and to fallow deer than that which is meted out to red deer because of the difference in behaviour and habitat.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

As I have already pointed out, landowners usually recompense tenants if they have suffered damage by deer. I also pointed out that we cannot compare 30 or 40 years ago with today because today the tenants have up-to-date, powerful weapons—they have extremely modern rifles with telescopic sights. Therefore, they can destroy far more deer than the occupiers used to destroy 40 years ago. Indeed, all the big estates that I know distribute venison to their tenants. I quite agree that that point is not strictly relevant to the question of damage to crops, but they do not have the excuse to go out and shoot vast numbers of deer for monetary reward.

Lord Glenkinglas

I should like to correct the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, on one point and to suggest some alternatives to him on another. The noble Viscount says that the fact that deer are on low ground means that they are marauding. That may be so in his part of the world but it certainly is not so in mine, because the real problem for stags, and indeed hinds too, is that if we have the type of weather that we have been experiencing regularly this winter they are driven to the low ground for shelter and it is in those cases, where they are not necessarily doing any damage whatever because the ground is covered with snow, that, under the existing regulations, the occupier may shoot them, and he may shoot as many as he likes. However, I put it to the noble Viscount that the big difference between today and even 1959, to which the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, keeps referring, and much more, 1948 when the Act was brought in, is that the price of deer has risen from £1 a stag to anything up to £120 a stag and that makes it a very different operation.

Lord Burton

I would so like to agree with what my noble friend has just said. To come back to what the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, has said, I cannot see how he can defend that 20 per cent. of all the stags killed are killed out of season. That is a valuable asset which is being wasted to a large extent. You will not get any rates for those stags. There will not be any rent for those stags and the venison is very much inferior. In fact, the whole of this rather depressed area where the deer are likely to be is suffering because of this. We should not allow it to go on.

To come back to the amendment, the trouble is that there has been widespread abuse of the terminology "enclosed lands". I am told that it is very difficult to define what is and what is not enclosed land. So far it appears that the draftsman has been unable to do so. Unless we can stop this loophole it will render much of this legislation open to abuse—a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Northfield.

As I understand it, if this amendment is accepted, then the following amendment will not be operable. I think that my amendment, which is the next one, has slight merit on one point, but on the other hand I would be very happy if the Committee were to accept Lord Northfield's amendment which has better wording than mine. However, my amendment says that there should be a reasonable attempt. I gather that the lawyers do not like the word "reasonable". I submit that it would be easier to judge what is a reasonable step than it would be to judge what is enclosed land and it is as regards enclosed land that the problem arises.

A large number of deer are being shot. It was only at the end of last week that I was with some venison dealers. There were a large number of roe deer which had been shot by the Forestry Commission. Why they had to be shot at this time of the year, goodness only knows. A lot of them had been shot and it was not necessary—of that I am quite certain. At this juncture I would like to apologise to the Forestry Commission because I made a slight mistake on Second Reading when I said that 13,000 roe deer were killed in Scotland. I should have said that that figure applied to the United Kingdom. The number was actually 10,000 for Scotland. I apologise for that small mistake, but it did not alter the argument. Therefore, I ask the Committee to support Lord Northfield's amendment.

Lord Dulverton

When all is said and done I hope that my noble friend Lord Glenarthur will agree that what Lord Northfield's amendment does is to fill in the reason why the right to shoot out of season was originally granted. It was not granted or made available simply because it was a good thing that occupiers should be allowed to shoot deer which were possibly not doing any harm at all. It was not for that reason that it was granted. The noble Lord's amendment spells out what was the reason for giving this right in the original Act.

The Duke of Atholl

I would very much like to support the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Northfield. But I think that if it were inserted into the Bill there is not a cat in hell's chance of the Bill getting through, unless, of course, the Government decide to adopt it, and even then I think it would be quite difficult. As has been said, the difficulty is the definition of "enclosed land". We all know that there are certain so-called farmers who string a bit of wire along a bit of hill, plant a few turnips there and wait for the deer to come in and then shoot them, time after time, as they come in, and this is their source of income. Those are the type of people whom we want to get at; not the genuine farmer whose genuinely enclosed and well-fenced land is invaded by deer. I simply do not know what the answer is. I was wondering whether my noble friend the Minister might be able to give the Government's view on this subject, I think that that would be quite useful.

The Earl of Mansfield

The invitation of my noble kinsman is too much to resist. I shall not reply substantially to this amendment because it is my noble friend's Bill and I do not know what he will do, faced, on the one hand, with the Scylla of the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, who has plenty of support in the Committee, and, on the other hand, with the Charybdis of my noble kinsman, who has said precisely—perhaps in elegant terms but nevertheless in realistic fashion—what will happen to the Bill if the amendment is accepted as it stands. So that is a whirlpool and a rock past which this little Bill has to sail.

I reiterate the situation as it is found at the moment. I bear that in mind when I say that I think noble Lords take a position on this according to their own local circumstances and habits. On the one hand, we have the large landowners who, graciously enough, hand out bits of venison to their tenants when they deserve it, and even compensate them on occasions when damage is caused to their crops. Then we have what I might call the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, who is the enlightened large landowner, who, as I happen to know, sees a great many more crofters in a very much more impecunious set of circumstances than perhaps landlords in other parts of Scotland. I think that he knows the other side of the coin—what I might call the NFU viewpoint—which I think is far removed from my noble friend Lord Massereene and Ferrard, who obviously has a number of predators on his estate who are only too keen to shoot deer for what they can fetch.

All these viewpoints are entirely understandable and I think have somehow to be reconciled if we are to produce a Bill which, in the end, will commend itself, as I have said, in reasonable consensus. On the last occasion that this Bill was considered in Committee, I pontificated—I think shortly—on the definition of "enclosed land", which, in fact, does not have a statutory definition. Indeed, in Scottish law there is no case which gives a very good definition.

I believe that in relation to all these matters there are four things which will have to be considered: first, who is to control the deer; secondly, what sort of deer are to be controlled; thirdly, the manner of the control; and, fourthly, the hours out of 24 in which such control can be exercised. It seems to me that those are the four matters which the Committee will have to resolve. So far, we have spent a great deal of time talking only about the first of them, and now we are on the second. At the end of the day I think that there will have to be further discussion about this. I hope that no one thinks that this matter will be decided tonight, because, if it is finally decided, it will be final, and I hope that I am not being too banal when I say that.

I say absolutely honestly that the attitude of the Government is to give this Bill—which my noble friend is proposing with so much charm and at the same time so much ability—a fair wind and to see what the feeling is, hopefully, in both Houses of Parliament. When it was drafted, which it was with the help of the Government's draftsmen, it was on the basis that it formed a reasonable compromise, taking into account present and existing rights and how one would hope in some ways to fetter them in the future and in other ways to extend them, in order, for instance, to allow the Forestry Commission to do something about the depredation that occurs in their large woodlands. I am sorry that I cannot give a more direct steer, because, as I said at the beginning, these are very difficult matters and so much depends on a subjective view being taken by the individual.

Lord Forbes

The 1959 Act was founded on compromise, on the one hand, trying to cut down on poaching and, on the other hand, trying to help those who are trying to raise crops, be they agricultural or forestry crops. May I suggest to my noble friend Lord Glenarthur that he tries some compromise over this very difficult clause?

Lord Burton

It has been said that there is little hope for this amendment, but I cannot quite understand why. This amendment is to try to stop up a loophole in the existing law, which is widely abused at the present time. Surely neither the NFU nor any other body would insist on retaining an abuse, and this amendment is stopping up that abuse.

Lord Glenarthur

As it stands, the law in Scotland does not require an occupier to show that damage has been caused by deer; the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, was quite right when he made that point. Again, as the noble Lord said, an occupier does not even have to satisfy himself or a court that any damage has been caused. It is sufficient that there are deer on the land for him to shoot them. This is not an accident; nor is it a mere hangover from less enlightened days. The law was framed quite deliberately for sound practical reasons.

It is fundamental to the protection of agriculture and forestry under Scottish conditions that there should be the power to deal promptly with incursions of deer, and this is a point that was made earlier by the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso. If deer are allowed to congregate in significant numbers while serious damage is established, the result is that many more will have to be shot than would have been the case if immediate action had been taken.

Against that general background, I shall now deal with the details of the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, which it seems to me has three limbs. I think that the first is relatively innocuous. The noble Lord's amendments are nothing if not carefully drafted, and here he has been careful not to qualify the word "damage". It suffices here that the occupier has reasonable grounds for believing that the deer have caused some damage, and thus it recognises, quite rightly, that one has to take action forthwith and not wait for worse to follow. So far so good.

However, by the same yardstick, the second limb is at best unnecessary. Whatever may be the case in England, in Scottish conditions one may safely assume that once deer damage has begun, it will continue and get worse until it is stopped. That should go without saying. To put in statute a qualification that suggests that an occupier may be required to prove to a court that it is so, can only discourage occupiers unnecessarily and, in my view, unfairly from taking action that they know very well is necessary.

Even if that is debatable, there can be no doubt that the third limb of the noble Lord's amendment puts quite an unreasonable constraint on an occupier. Here he has to show that his action is necessary to prevent damage. That would mean that he would have to be prepared to show that all sorts of other means had been tried and failed. But the whole point of shooting deer on crops is not that it is necessary, but that it is effective. It is not the last resort; it is, in most situations, the first resort, because it is the method that works, and that should be sufficient.

To put the matter into a nutshell, we have here a proviso that might be wholly apt if it related to a rare or protected species—such as I think is to some extent the case with the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which points to creatures whose numbers must be protected if the species are to survive—which one will only kill as a desperate remedy when no other remedy will do. But it cannot possibly be said that the deer species in Scotland, which are numerous and prolific, are in any sense of the word in a situation similar to that to which parts of the Wildlife and Countryside Act refer.

May I go on briefly with my noble friend Lord Burton's amendment? My noble friend is perhaps more familiar with the Scottish scene than the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, and is not content to just pull words out of the English Act and fit them into another situation, but the terms of his amendment are less apt to the purpose than Lord Northfield's amendment. Under this amendment one would have to wait for real damage to have occurred before firing a single shot. I do not propose to say any more about that because we have dealt with it before, but I should like to turn to paragraph (iii) of the amendment.

I do not propose to go into the question of enclosed ground again. It is one which we dealt with at some length last week. If enclosed ground is a problem, and if, as is evident from the debate that has taken place, there are problems which we have to resolve because they have been spelt out by the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, among others, and in view of the fact that I am attracted towards any ideas of conciliation so far as this whole business is concerned, this is such an important part of the Bill that I feel it only right to say to noble Lords that perhaps it would be best to take it away, look at it again, see just what further form of mutual agreement can be arranged with all the parties interested, and look at the words again. If I give the noble Lord that assurance that we shall look at it again, without making any promises and not retracting in the least what I said earlier about his amendment, I hope he may withdraw his amendment in the meantime.

8.53 p.m.

Lord Northfield

I should like to take up one or two points that have been made in this short debate. The noble Lord says that, after all, we are not dealing with a rare species. What in heaven's name do we have close season regulation for? We have it because it is cruel to shoot at the wrong times of year. Here the noble Lord is talking as though we are speaking of taking away a right to shoot deer in the proper season. We are talking here about people having a right to exempt themselves from the rules about seasons. That is nothing to do with whether the species is rare or not. It is to do with whether or not it is cruel in the general interests of deer to be shooting at the wrong time of year. He really is, if I may say so, talking nonsense in raising that point.

Let me take, secondly, his point about paragraph (iii). He says that it is improper to ask people to prove that their action is necessary for the purpose of preventing such damage. Why should it not be necessary? What we do know is that in many cases these marauding deer can be prevented by a bit of fencing. Some people can happily accept deer coming on to their land in the hope of being able to shoot them, because as the noble Lord, Lord Glenkinglas, said, they are worth so much these days. They will neglect their fencing in the hope that deer will come on and they can then be shot at out of season. I see noble Lords opposite nodding. Everybody knows this. So it is right to have somewhere a test that other reasonable steps have been taken, or not taken, to exclude the deer from the land. Far from apologising for paragraph (iii) I reiterate its immense importance, because without it you will find that the people we are trying to get at will wilfully entice deer on to their land in order to be able to take pot shots at them out of season.

The noble Lord says that he does not accept paragraph (ii). Paragraph (ii) is important. We do not want deer just shot at because they are making an odd visit and do not do a great deal of damage and are not likely to go on doing so. It is because we are expecting the damage to be going on and continuing. The noble Lord says that is usually accepted in Scotland. Well, then what is the harm of it? It is better to state it so that there is no doubt about it.

This amendment puts us in an enormous difficulty. What the Minister is saying—and I am glad that he is back in his place—is that if we put in what are thought to be amendments that are contentious so far as the NFU are concerned, the Bill will be killed at Second Reading in the Commons. This will happen in the reverse way. Unless there is some move towards getting a fair balance in matters like this, the animal protection lobby instead of the NFU will kill it at Second Reading. I do not make that observation as a threat. I just know it to be true. I went through all of this with my own Bill. On one occasion my own Bill, which perhaps did not go far enough in respects like this, was killed by the animal protection lobby at four o'clock on a Friday in the House of Commons, and we had to start all over again in the following Session. It took me three years of gradual negotiation.

There is no point in riding away on the line that if you put in any amendment of this type the NFU lobby will kill it. I say quite advisedly that if you do not do something, the other lobby will kill it anyway. We are now hard up against the problem of this Bill. We are in a bit of a charade on this Bill. The Government put out the consultation document on the improvement of Scottish deer legislation. The Government received representations on it. The Government consulted their advisers, the EDC; the Department of Agriculture. The Government drafted the Bill. The Government persuaded the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, to take it up. The Government have been open adviser and pillar of support to the noble Lord all the way through.

This is a Government Bill. By using the charade of having it as a Private Member's Bill, we are told that if you try to amend a Private Member's Bill it will never get through at four o'clock on the nod in the House of Commons. I know that is possible. But those of us who feel strongly about these things have every right to say that not only will it be killed by other people if there is not any step in our direction, but also it is unfair and unworthy to come to the House and put it in this situation. When the Bill is clearly a Government Bill, it should be open to proper amendment in this House. If that means that the Government should openly espouse the Bill, as it is the Government's Bill, then they should take it over in the House of Commons, give it proper Government time and see it through.

We are left in a ridiculous situation by this charade of whether it is a Government Bill or a Private Member's Bill. The honest thing to do on matters like this, if we are to be faced with threats and counter-threats about who will block it and who will not, is for the Government to take it away and espouse the Bill and say, "We had better own up. This is a Government Bill, and it is now for us to see it through in the House of Commons by giving it some Government time there." That is the only proper way to deal with this legislation, given the impasse we are now in.

I am not persuaded at all by Lord Glenarthur's statement so far. All he has said is that he is prepared to have a look, without any promises or commitments—I will give him the chance to intervene if I misinterpret him—at paragraph (i), and no more. If we cannot go further than that we might as well divide and insist that we shall come back to this again and again in some form or other at Report stage and Third Reading. If this means that we shall be inviting the animal protection lobby in the other House to be alerted to what is going on here and to kill the Bill at four o'clock, so be it, because the danger has arisen not because of the way in which we all want to reach compromises but by the way that the charade is being used in this House to prevent legitimate amendment to this Bill.

Lord Glenarthur

Perhaps I might come back to the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, on some of the points he has made. I think it is clear to him and to the Committee at large—I do not know how many times we have said it before—that this Bill is a compromise between all the various aspects that have been looked at. I have said it once and I will repeat one hundred times that it is a compromise. People have been consulted, including all those who are likely to be affected by the measure the noble Lord suggests in his amendment. We have argued this not only here but in nearly every building in London and Edinburgh.

I must point out to the noble Lord that, while he talks about the animal welfare lobby who might kill the Bill when it reaches another place, he must ask himself who the losers will be if the Bill is killed in another place. They will be not only the animal welfare lobby but, among others, the sporting interests themselves. The result would he that we should revert to the 1959 Act, which is what we are trying to amend. The situation would be exactly what it has been all along and the noble Lord would have got nowhere with his amendment.

9.1 p.m.

Lord Northfield

We would not revert to the 1959 Act. We would revert to what I had to do; we should come forward year after year after year until we got the compromise right. You do not buckle under on the first occasion.

Lord Glenarthur

I cannot speak for my noble friend on the Front Bench at any length about why it has not been possible for the Government to take the Bill themselves. I have the Bill and I shall do my best to deal with it. I have told the noble Lord that there may well be qualifications which it might be possible to introduce from the point of view of his amendment. I told him that, while I could not retract the general argument I put in relation to the amendment, there might be qualifications which we could possibly take into account, and I said I would do that. Nevertheless, I return to what I said earlier; namely, that if the Bill goes to another place and, for whatever reason, is killed—notwithstanding any efforts to bring another Bill forward in a few years' time or every year for goodness knows how many years—we should still end up with the 1959 Act, which would not have been improved either way; and on that basis I hope the noble Lord will withdraw the amendment.

Lord Ross of Marnock

I was surprised to learn when I first saw the Bill that it was a Private Member's Bill and then, when I read it, I felt that it was really a Government Bill. The reason why its introduction has been allowed as a Private Member's Bill is that there is probably a better chance of getting time for it ont he Floor of the House and in the Scottish Committee. I have always felt that Private Member's Bills should be relatively non-controversial, and that is demonstrated by the way in which my noble friend Lord Northfield expresses his fury. There is controversy over this and my noble friend is challenging it; "If not this year, then next year or the year after and so on", he says.

I would remind him that it is easier to get a Private Member's Bill in Scotland than it is in England. Why is that? The simple reason is that in Scotland, once we get a Second Reading or an agreed Second Reading on the nod at four o'clock on a Friday, that is it, difficult though it may be. An English Bill, on the other hand, must join the queue, but it may never reach the point in time when the guillotine falls on Private Member's Bills. As I say, not so with Scottish Bills because Scotland sets up a special committee to deal with measures, and one can take it that within a short time of a Bill getting its Second Reading, or being allowed through on a Friday, it will come back for Report and will probably reach the statute book. What will prevent it from getting a Second Reading is controversy. I have always felt that half a loaf is better than no bread—

Lord Northfield

So have I.

Lord Ross of Marnock

—and therefore we must not forget the suggested increase in penalties, the licensing procedure for venison dealers and the penalties attaching thereto, along with the promise further to strengthen them and the restriction, in the same part of the Bill, as to who will shoot. That is closing a loophole, and when we first discussed the point everybody said that that was the loophole that had to be closed. Is all that to be thrown away? Frankly, I am not prepared to go to the death over words.

One of the great mistakes here, I must tell my noble friend, is that what is proposed has the appearance, without having any real force behind it, of something to which people will object. My noble friend should accept that it is cumulative; they are not three provisions with "or" between them, but "and, and, and" all the way, and that gives an appearance which could lead to an accumulated determination on the part of people to stop it. The owners will help because they want to be the people to do the shooting. We are, of course, speaking of wild animals. There are about 260,000 of them in Scotland and they do damage. That is the trouble and we must get the balance right.

I do not know whether my noble friend appreciates that the 1959 Act was opposed by the Labour Party in another place on a reasoned amendment, and it was precisely on the question of balance. Some of the provisions that were included represented a compromise that was reached in order to get that measure through. I therefore urge some coolness of temper and the use of common sense now. I am glad the noble Lord said he would look at the point, because I feel he could reach a reasonable compromise. My own feeling, however, is that the provision is bound to cause trouble by the appearance it gives; namely, that we are determined to stop what many farmers and crofters consider to be reasonable.

Lord Northfield

I respond immediately to my noble friend by reminding him of three points. The first is that, while he does not like the wording of my amendment, it comes from the Wildlife and Countryside Act and it appears in that measure all the way through in regard to animals and damage in Scotland. Why he suddenly wants to exempt deer from those provisions which are now enshrined in parts of that Act, I really do not know. He is a bit late in finding the disadvantages of those words.

Lord Ross of Marnock

A bit late?

Lord Northfield

Yes, a bit late; my noble friend should have been there if he wanted to stop those provisions in the Wildlife and Countryside Act from applying to all sorts of other animals in Scotland.

Lord Ross of Marnock

I would remind my noble friend, with respect, that we are here concerned with deer, and deer are not "other animals".

Lord Northfield

Be that as it may, we are also concerned with the principle of marauding, and that too is in the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Secondly, I must point out to my noble friend that if he thinks non-controversy works only one way, he is very much mistaken. I had a stronger Bill than this originally and it was killed by the animal welfare lobby at four o'clock. There was no question of it ever going to Committee or being in a queue awaiting Committee; it never got beyond four o'clock. An even stronger Bill than this, referring to England—stronger in these matters—was killed by the animal welfare lobby as not going far enough. So I cannot imagine what the noble Lord is thinking about when he speaks of the chances of this Bill in terms of not even making steps towards my original drafting.

The third point is that the provision as now drafted will in any case create trouble. I revert to the point that I made originally. If either of us is right, if the Bill without amendment will be stopped by the animal lobby, or with amendment will be stopped by the NFU, there is one simple alternative; namely, when the Bill leaves this House drafted as best we can, without worrying about whether or not it is a Private Member's Bill, the honourable thing would be to make an honest woman of it in the House of Commons, and for the Government to say in the Commons, "We will take it over and see that it has proper time". That would be the proper and honest way to behave with the Bill. If that is not acceptable to the Government, we must be blunt and say that we shall not be deterred from amending it properly in this House.

Viscount Thurso

I feel that the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, is exaggerating a number of points. There is a difference between deer and the kind of wildlife that was being protected in the wildlife Bill. In this respect deer are much nearer to ground game and agricultural pests, such as rabbits and hares, and therefore this legislation must be nearer to the legislation that deals with those animals. I think it quite wrong for the noble Lord to say that the seasons exist in any way to protect deer against a form of cruelty. The seasons have nothing whatever to do with cruelty; they are solely to do with the numbers of deer and their presentation to so-called sportsmen in the right kind of conditions at the right time. We have a season in order to stop people who have areas of ground where deer naturally live from being too greedy and simply going on and on through long seasons taking deer which otherwise would continue to exist on the land.

The noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, has given an opportunity for discussion, and I should like to urge the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, to join in such discussion, because I think that there is here a point that ought to be discussed, particularly with regard to roe and fallow. One is dealing with a different habitat, with different behaviour, and so on. The offer of discussion was a good one and should be accepted, and therefore I would support the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, in his plea for the amendment to be withdrawn and discussion to take place. Of course, that is without prejudice to the fact that the amendment could be reintroduced at the next stage, but I think that it would be helpful if at this stage the amendment could be withdrawn, with discussion to follow.

Lord Northfield

I have listened to what the noble Viscount has said, and I do not agree with part of it. In using the word "cruelty", I was simply talking about one of the reasons for a close season. But to turn to the substance of the matter, I think the debate has shown that those of us who feel strongly about it cannot go on accepting this subterfuge, this disguising of a Government Bill as a Private Member's Bill as an excuse for never making any amendment to it. That we must state very firmly, and in thosecircumstances—

The Earl of Mansfield

I have sat silent for some time, but I resent the allegations of impropriety, bad faith, foistering some kind of pantomime and charade on the House, and so on. For reasons with which I do not need to weary the Committee there are occasions when the parliamentary timetable does not allow Bills to go forward in the way that one might have hoped and, as I have frequently pointed out, particularly in matters regarding animals opinions are held wih great passion—and I do not say that in any derogatory sense. But when one comes to a matter such as this I think that it is better debated without the Whips on, on a free vote, where each noble Lord is able to speak as his conscience and his interest demand. If the noble Lord is hinting that there has been anything improper in the way that the Bill has been presented to your Lordships, I deny that. This is a perfectly proper way and it is probably a way in which eventually the feelings of the House will become more apparent than would happen with an ordinary Government Bill.

I should have thought that my noble friend has gone a long way to saying that if the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, with his well-known powers of conciliation, will join with him, something might come of discussions which might commend itself to the House at a later stage. If we now go "frogging on" on these two amendments, we shall not get anywhere because, as I have said before, if it is accepted as it is that will he the end of the Bill. According to the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, if some proposal is not accepted that, too, will be the end of the Bill. So we had really better talk about it outside the Chamber.

Lord Northfield

I did not at all mean to imply—and if I did so, I apologise to the noble Earl—that anything improper had been done. I am simply saying that the situation puts the House at a disadvantage. It puts us in a very difficult position when this method is being used to promote a Government Bill, because we are told we cannot amend it because of the fear of it not getting through, as drafted, at four o'clock "on the nod" in the House of Commons

I am grateful to the noble Earl. What he has said has strengthened my feeling that we have got to do something along these lines, otherwise the Bill will be blocked by the other lobby in the other place. I accept his suggestion that we all sit down and try to draft something for the Report stage. I would end by making no apology for raising the temperature a little on this issue. It is time that these points about what is really going on here were brought out, because we have been skirting round them all the time up till now, on the earlier amendments, and we have other contentious ones still to come where the same principle applies—do we dare amend it for fear of offending somebody at four o'clock in the House of Commons? We cannot go on like that with a Bill which needs proper attention in this Committee.

In the meantime, pending these discussions, for the offer of which I am grateful—and I thank both noble Lords who have made the offer, the noble Earl and the noble Lord sponsoring the Bill—I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 78 and 79 not moved.]

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord WellsPestell)

I should say that, in the event of this amendment, No. 80, being agreed to, I cannot call Amendments Nos. 81 to 86.

9.15 p.m.

Lord Glenkinglas moved Amendment No. 80:

Page 8, leave out lines 10 to 17.

The noble Lord said: I hear one of my colleagues saying, "Then let us agree to it", and I cannot help feeling some sympathy with him, but I beg to move this amendment, and I will do it shortly though it is one about which I personally feel very strongly. I understand the problems of the Government dealing with the NFU and the NUF digging its toes in on every conceivable item that most of us would consider as cruel and which a very large number of the NFU members themselves would consider as grossly cruel. It is only a small number of people, I think, in the crofting community who want to persist in these matters even if there are better, alternative ways of doing these things.

But there is no doubt at all that shooting at night is a repellant form of sport. In fact, it is not sport at all, and nobody would claim that it was. But it is a repellent way of killing animals because of the extreme uncertainty that exists. Unless it is done with very great skill and by highly-trained people, a great many animals are going to be wounded and lost. I could not help wondering, when my noble friend Lord Burton was talking about the number of stags that were shot out of season, whether this was possibly connected with the 10 per cent. of all the hinds shot turning out to be knobbers, because that is exactly the sort of thing which is going to happen very regularly, even more regularly than 10 per cent., if one is shooting at night.

I do not believe that in England, where they accepted the ban on night shooting, it was easy. The noble Lord, Lord Northfield, has told us that it took him three years of very careful negotiation; and it is true that in England in the past there have been a good many less deer than there were in Scotland. But it is also true that in England almost every deer would by nature be marauding, because they nearly all live close to or on what we would call enclosed land. Therefore, the reason why foresters and farmers in England wanted to shoot deer at night, or at any other time, was directly to preserve their crops, whereas in Scotland it is nowhere near as clear that this is the real purpose.

I am sure that my noble friends Lord Glenarthur and Lord Mansfield, if asked themselves whether they would take part in or would allow night shooting on their own land, would agree with me that it would be the last thing that they would want. But they have got into this jam quite simply because the NFU have said, "We will kill it if you don't", and, as the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, has said, the animal lobby will or certainly should kill it if we allow in the cruelty of shooting with shotguns, if we allow in the undoubted cruelty of shooting at night and if we allow in the possible cruelty of shooting during the close season.

I know that the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, said that the close season was nothing to do with cruelty; but of course it is. Nobody is going to allow the shooting of hinds when they are dropping their calves; at least, I presume not. We are in this way encouraging three deliberate forms of cruelty to meet the desire of a very small number of farmers in the North of Scotland. If that is the way it must be, that is the way it must be. But, in the amendment I have tried to move, I have not banned night shooting altogether, much as I would like to, but I have at least restricted it to make certain that any night shooting that is done is done by experts under the control of the Red Deer Commission. I beg to move.

Lord Glenarthur

We have already talked at length about the political effect of an amendment and my noble friend Lord Glenkinglas referred to it just now. But I should like to talk about the practical effect of his amendment. The options which would be open to the occupier who sees deer on his land at night are to leave them until dawn, to shoot those that he can then and to cast around to see what compensation he may claim from his neighbour; or he may apply to the Red Deer Commission which has a legal right to shoot at night and will (if your Lordships allow the new subsection (4A) to stand) have the power to authorise others to do so. Or he may take the law into his own hands and do away with the deer, regardless. I think I need hardly say that each option is thoroughly unsatisfactory.

As to the first, the occupier will find that he has very little chance of winning compensation from anybody, and none at all if he is an owner-occupier. As to the second, which is recourse to the Red Deer Commission, I would expect the commission to find itself quickly swamped with urgent requests for help that it could not begin to cope with without greatly increasing its staff—and the whole question of staff and costs for the Red Deer Commission referred to in the preamble to the Bill were discussed at Second Reading. The result would be that people would increasingly fall back on to the third option, which is self-help outwith the law. This brings the law into disrepute and would be likely to lead to an increase in alternative and more cruel methods of killing deer.

I quite understand the apprehensions which have been expressed on many occasions by many people, not just in this House, about night shooting; but I am in no doubt that the restriction proposed by my noble friend in his amendment would, in the end, do more harm than good from both the practical and political point of view. I shall say no more on this but would ask my noble friend to consider those points and, I hope, to withdraw his amendment.

Lady Saltoun

I should like to say a word or two in support of the noble Lord whose Bill this is. I cannot see why the noble Lord, Lord Glenkinglas, is quite so worried about this point of night shooting. In the first place, nobody is suggesting that anyone would do it for sport. It is entirely as a last resort for pest control. And, make no mistake! in Scotland both red deer and, to a much greater extent in large parts of Scotland, roe deer are now a very considerable pest not only to the farmer but, even more so, to the forester. Night shooting will not be easy to arrange and obviously will be much more expensive than day shooting. I do not think that anybody would use it except as a last resort. We have the assurance of the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, that he will be moving Amendment No. 98 to make sure that night shooting is carried out under a strict code. Therefore I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Glenkinglas, will withdraw this amendment.

Lord Forbes

There is one aspect that has not been mentioned and that is the danger of night shooting. Shooting at night is always dangerous, but if it is done by unskilled people it is highly dangerous. This should be taken into account.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

I should like to point out to the noble Lady that no other country in Europe, apart from Ireland, will have night shooting—if this becomes law. However, there are very few deer in Ireland. Apart from that, cruelty is a factor. As has been pointed out, there are bound to be a great many wounded animals. Even if you shoot a stag dead, if he is shot in the lung he will gallop for between 100 yards to 300 yards. How are you gong to find him at night in a wood? Night shooting will be carried out in rides. Apart from wounding, you are also going to lose carcases. It is the wounding aspect which is so disagreeable. Deer will be wounded, and how one will find them in the dark in a heavily forested area, I cannot imagine.

9.27 p.m.

Lord John-Mackie

During my three years in the Forestry Commission I spent many days inspecting deer damage in the commission's forests. There is nothing more tragic—I would almost use those words—than to see the enormous amount of damage that deer can do, and the conservator's and forester's disappointment at not being able to use every means of trying to control the deer.

One has to look at that side of it. One can take the view of the farmer, too. I take the point that there are probably many areas where it is possible, as the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene, said, to put up a single wire, plant some turnips and carry out what is virtually poaching. The disappointment of having crops, including grass and trees, ruined by deer damage is something we have to look at. There is the disappointment involved of the people who do that work, the owners and the Forestry Commission, which is a public body.

It is amazing how your outlook changes when you see that damage. I am not talking about fallow deer in Essex. We have quite a lot on my farm there. In the early days, when there were six or eight, I threatened to shoot some of them and my wife said, "You must not". I promised that if there were no more than half a dozen or so I would not do that. But when that half-dozen broke into the garden and spent the evening there, my wife's attitude to killing deer changed considerably.

A number of noble Lords—and anybody in the conservation lobby—might, if they saw the damage done, take a different attitude. That is why the Forestry Commission would very much like to support night shooting. It should be controlled night shooting and it is not, as the noble Lord, Lord Glenkinglas, said, a sport. I was surprised when he said that. It is not a sport; it is used to control the damage and the deer.

The commission have carried out experiments in night shooting over a period in south Scotland. They arranged for night shooting as an experiment—research, if you like—and out of 44 shots, 43 were completely successful. One deer was wounded and found later. That experiment was carried out by experts. I see that a further amendment that the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, is bringing forward suggests that this will be well controlled, and I think we must allow this night shooting, controlled by the Red Deer Commission. We must also include all deer: I do not think we can confine it to red deer.

Lord Northfield

The difficulty about the noble Lord's point is that it is actually covered by subsection (4A) and the noble Lord, Lord Glenkinglas, would immediately respond to him that what he has said would not invalidate the noble Lord's amendment at all, because the power for the commission to allow night shooting is in (4A) and not in (4), which we are actually discussing. There is another point I would briefly raise, which nobody has yet mentioned: poaching. Once we begin to legalise night shooting in this way we shall be giving a very good helping hand to the poacher. At the moment—

Lord Glenarthur

If I may interrupt the noble Lord very briefly, I should like to say that we are not making night shooting legal: night shooting is legal already and I should have thought that that was perfectly plain from the discussion we have had in the past.

Lord Northfield

But enshrining it in this way I am simply saying will mean that the poacher will be getting away with it because the suspicion of shooting going on will not make people immediately think of poachers. That is the point I am making.

Lord Glenarthur

But we are not enshrining it in any different way than it has been enshrined for many years in the past.

Lord Burton

The noble Lord, Lord John-Mackie, referred to the damage which has been caused in Forestry Commission plantings. May I ask him: can he tell us whether there is any restriction on the hours the rangers can work? There are some excellent men there, but clearly if you are to control deer properly you cannot be fixed to civil servants' hours. Can he tell us what sort of hours the rangers are allowed to work? Secondly, with his experience of the Forestry Commission, does he not know that roe deer should be shot selectively? If you shoot the wrong ones you cause extra damage. That is now a well-established fact and it is about time the Forestry Commission learnt that.

Lord John-Mackie

I am sorry: I did not catch the first point the noble Lord made.

Lord Burton

It was the question of the rangers' hours.

Lord John-Mackie

The Forestry Commission, like any other employer, can pay overtime and the rangers are perfectly prepared to work any overtime they are asked, with reasonable overtime. As regards roe deer, so far as I know, roe deer do not stop causing damage in the close season.

Lord Burton

I do not think the noble Lord answered either of the points that I put to him, but perhaps we can come back to them. We ought to be quite clear: I am afraid that a lot of trouble in the Forestry Commission's plantings has been caused not through any fault of the deer but entirely because of mismanagement by the Forestry Commission.

Viscount Thurso

I do not really know a great deal about roe deer because we do not have many in Caithness. The infestation of forestry blocks by roe deer is a problem we have yet to come, because forestry blocks are now establishing themselves in Caithness and roe deer are establishing themselves in those blocks.

One thing which has not been mentioned and which I think should be understood in this context is the technical definition of "night". "Night" does not mean pitch darkness; it means one hour after sunset. In Caithness in summertime it does not get dark, and in fact on Midsummer night Thurso Golf Club have an annual golf match. Last Midsummer night I spent doing eightsome reels on the lawn with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. It is perfectly possible to see at night, both for deer and for people, at certain times of the year.

The point we are talking about in this control of deer is the point of immediacy. If you have one or two stags marauding in on the breather, coming in on the turnips or starting to come in on the new grass, if you can get out immediately and knock off the first one or two marauders you will prevent further marauding. The trouble is that they come in at night and by the time you have spotted them it has probably got too dark to shoot; but if you wait until it is technically daylight—in other words, until after one hour before sunrise—the deer will be back on the hill. You have to get them at the moment when they start to turn as the light comes in, and the light comes in long before it is technically daylight. This is the point which the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, is trying to cover here. I therefore hope that the noble Lord, Lord Glenkinglas, will not press his amendment, because it is too sweeping and unsatisfactory. Possibly, at a later stage one might think of something else. But I prefer the idea of the night shooting code, which is promised in a later amendment, and I hope that the noble Lord will withdraw his amendment.

Lord Dulverton

What I think the noble Viscount has been talking about is not quite the same as what the noble Lord, Lord John-Mackie, was talking about, because the Forestry Commission are not thinking of shooting deer in the middle of the Caithness midsummer night. They are thinking about shooting them from vehicles with strong spotlights.

I think that my noble friend Lord Glenkinglas is a very brave man to try to remove from occupiers of land, particularly farming occupiers, the present right to shoot by night. But perhaps we shall have a further discussion on future amendments, because I should like to take issue with the noble Lord, Lord John-Mackie, about the necessity for shooting roe deer in his Forestry Commission woods.

The Duke of Atholl

I think that the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, is slightly wrong about the night shooting code, because, as I read it, it will apply only to authorisations given by the Red Deer Commission, under subsection (4A) and not subsection (4), to the occupier who shoots his own deer at night and who is entitled to do so at the moment. In many ways, I agree with the noble Viscount that this is a pity, but I suppose that it has been drawn up in this way because my noble friend felt that to try to interfere with the rights of the occupier would be a disastrous procedure so far as the progress of this Bill is concerned.

I am very much in two minds over this. I do not think it is necessary to shoot at night. The Forestry Commission have rather brought it on themselves, particularly in Galloway which appears to be where their main problem is, by planting such large blocks and letting them get to the thicket stage without doing anything about the deer, and then finding it extremely difficult to control them. On the other hand, I recognise that their trees are potentially a very valuable asset and must be protected. If they really feel that the only way of protecting them is by night shooting, then I suppose we must allow them to shoot at night. Obviously, the Secretary of State being technically the occupier, it is impossible for the Secretary of State to shoot the required number of deer at night, so I see the reason for subsection (4A).

Someone said that my noble friend Lord Glenkinglas is very brave to try to remove the right of the occupier to shoot at night, which is enshrined in subsection (4). I wish him every luck, but I think that he will first have to get the agreement of the NFU and, even more difficult, perhaps, of the crofting fraternity.

Lord Glenkinglas

We have had a good short debate. The noble Lord, Lord John-Mackie, said that I had referred to this as a sport. I did, but immediately corrected myself and said that of course it is not a sport. The point about my feeling so strongly is quite simply this. In 1959 we had a considerable problem in getting the best consensus view. We took it through the House of Commons and had many excellent debates on the Floor and in Committee. Finally, we produced the Bill, not perfect in its way.

However, what worries me is that here we are, 23 years later, bringing in a Bill with not any imagination at all, having failed to take the point that was made in England and everywhere else in Europe. We are right back to where we were at the beginning, without any attempt, so far as I can see, having been made to persuade the National Farmers' Union that they must change their views, that they must grow up, that they must understand that cruelty is not acceptable to wild animals any more than it is acceptable to their own farm animals. A vast number of Scottish National Farmers' Union members would agree. I shall not press the amendment, but I will not withdraw it. If the Committee wishes to negative it, I shall accept that.

Lord John-Mackie

Before this amendment is negatived, may I say a word or two to the noble Lord, Lord Dulverton. Spotlights are not to be used. Broad beamed lights will be used to give plenty of light. The spotlights which poachers use will not be allowed. The Forestry Commisson have come in for some stick, and I should like to defend them. It is very easy to be wise after the event. The noble Duke said that the Forestry Commission plant large plantations. I doubt very much whether the noble Duke has ever said to anybody, "Never plant those until the situation arises". Roe deer have multiplied in large quantities in plantations. It is ridiculous to have the night shooting of red deer but not to have the night shooting of roe deer. If night shooting is to be allowed for red deer, roe deer should be allowed to be shot, too.

On Question, amendment negatived.

9.42 p.m.

Lord Northfield moved Amendment No. 81:

Page 8, line 14, after ("of") insert ("red deer and sika").

The noble Lord said: This amendment would restrict the right of night shooting to red deer and sika deer. Whether it is "red deer and" or "red deer or", which is in the amendment of the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, I do not mind, provided that we get it right. The point is that if we do not go so far as the noble Lord, Lord Glenkinglas, wants us to go, at least we ought to start making some restrictions on the right to shoot.

I am normally the mildest of persons and I am not going to "blow my top" on this amendment. However, I do not go along with people who say that you never must press the Government too hard. I remember that when we faced the difficulties of getting some of the English deer legislation passed we finally resorted to the idea of moving the remainder of the Deer Bill into the Government's own legislation, the Wildlife and Countryside Bill as it then was. Howls of horror came from the Government Front Bench at that time: it was not possible to incorporate all this. But sufficient noble Lords behind the Government Front Bench stood up to say what a lot of nonsense the Government were talking to make the Government give way. Against the Government's wishes, we finally incorporated the remaining legislation about English deer into the Bill.

We are up against exactly the same sort of problem now. At some point the Government, or the promoter, whichever it is (it seems to be interchangeable), having said that we cannot take away completely the right to shoot at night must say that at least we have got to restrict it. In this case we would remove from the right to shoot at night the right to shoot roe deer. I do not need to weary the Committee by expanding on this point. Noble Lords in the Chamber know the point better than I. It is quite unnecessary to control roe deer at night. They are territorial animals and remain in their own woodlands, unless harried. They do not travel, as do red deer. There is absolutely no necessity to shoot roe deer at night. I will not expand the case. I beg to move.

The Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness White)

It might be for the convenience of the Committee if together with this amendment we discussed Amendment No. 82.

Viscount Thurso

Amendment No. 82 is almost identical. I do not quite know which is the correct drafting here. We wish to prevent the shooting of roe deer and fallow deer, but allow the shooting of red deer and sika deer. Whether or not we have done that in the correct form, I am not sure. Perhaps somebody can advise which of us has got the wording right, to achieve the purpose that obviously we both have in mind.

Lord Burton

I believe the thing to do would be to leave out either "and sika" or "or sika". I do not see why the poor sika should be persecuted if we are not going to persecute my noble friend's fallow deer or any other deer. Sika deer are also very territorial. Admittedly, they are being brought into this Bill to be controlled by the RDC, but in this particular respect I do not see why the occupier should be allowed to bang away at them at night.

Lord Glenarthur

The strength of feeling over the night shooting of roe deer, or any other deer for that matter, is very evident. The subject will arise on other amendments in due course. The effect of the two amendments which have been spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, and the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, would prevent occupiers from shooting deer other than red deer—or sika deer as well, according to my noble friend Lord Burton. I accept that most of the marauding against which the occupier's night shooting powers are necessary is done by red deer. But I am informed that damage done by roe deer to forest nurseries, and in a limited way to market gardens, can be serious. Over the past two or three weeks, I myself have seen the damage being done by roe deer to crops adjacent to woodland. In these situations only the occupier, who is close at hand, can control the damage, by taking the prompt action which we have talked about so often. The occupier needs all the help he can get on such occasions to deal with the problem. The occupier can shoot by day, but that is of not much use during the short winter days—the converse of the noble Viscount's argument about the long summer nights in Wick—especially if the roe confine their activities to the hours of darkness, which we all know they do.

We must bear in mind two things in particular. The first is that the amendments before us would, not for the first time, make inroads into the existing rights of occupiers. I say again that there is no question of the new subsection (4) extending those rights. On the contrary, we are slightly constraining those rights, because now an occupier has to satisfy himself not only that the deer are there but that they are actually doing damage. I suggest that to go further and to ban night shooting by the occupier would be seriously detrimental to farming, property, market gardening to some extent, and certainly to forestry interests.

The second point which must be borne in mind is that we are concerned exclusively here with what an occupier may do in person. I know there are fears that this Bill will make possible something like a mass slaughter of roe deer in woodland. As regards sub-section (4) at any rate, that cannot be true because it actually tightens up on the present situation, as I have said. Only occupiers in person can shoot at night. I can say with some confidence that the mass slaughter of roe which people worry about cannot happen in this case. If we ban the night shooting of roe by individual occupiers, or want to do so, I think that we must examine our motivation very carefully; mainly on the ground that it is unsporting to shoot at night (but we are not dealing with the matter from a sporting point of view) and that the occupier ought to be able to keep his roe deer in check by daylight shooting.

These are suggestions which have been made. However, agricultural and forestry occupiers are not in the business of shooting for sport, but are in the business of protecting their crops. We must not presume to judge their requirements or to put further constraints on them unless there are clear reasons, whether for conservation or for safety or for animal welfare, for doing so. I have not heard such reasons deployed this evening in a nearly effective enough way to cover this.

I can continue for a little bit, because I get the impression that I am pressured to some extent to accept one or other of the amendments, but there is a difficulty. Subsection (4), which we are concerned with at this point, and subsection (4A) which follows are to some extent interdependent. In particular, if subsection (4A) were to pass in its present form it would be open to an occupier, even though we might ban him from shooting roe at night under subsection (4), to nominate himself under (4A) for a dispensation from the Red Deer Commission. I think that might possibly to some extent be tolerable as a compromise. But there are amendments down which would seek to remove roe deer equally from the scope of subsections (4A) and (4). If both sets of amendments are carried we shall have removed all possibility of occupiers dealing with roe at night. That is a derogation of their present rights which I am not prepared to accept.

I can offer a limited undertaking, and that is to go away and reconsider further subsection (4), and if the Committee decide that roe deer are going to be left in the scope of (4A), whatever other amendments might in the end be made to it, I shall reluctantly bring forward an amendment on Report that would take roe out of (4). That is a limited commitment, but it is a firm one. However, if both this present amendment and the corresponding one in (4A) are carried, I think we might be in grave difficulties with the whole Bill.

Lord Burton

When I questioned the noble Lord, Lord John-Mackie, about the killing of roe deer and how it had to be done selectively, I had in mind the fact that this is a long and complicated matter. When my noble friend is considering the question of shooting roe deer at night, which must inevitably be indiscriminate, I wonder whether he would take this up with some expert on roe, who would enlighten him and show him that night shooting of roe is not the best way to control roe damage.

Lord Glenarthur

We will come back to the whole question of night shooting. Yes, I will talk to experts about it. But we are really trespassing on ground which will be covered under subsection (4A). I think the main point of that, if I can put it to the noble Lord now, is that nobody is suggesting that night shooting is going to be a generally used weapon. There are going to be various constraints on the whole performance, and what we are saying is that it ought to be available as a last resort.

Lord Burton

Surely it is generally available to occupiers now. This is what we are complaining about.

Lord Forbes

I am afraid my noble friend Lord Glenarthur is quite wrong in what he said about roe deer and night shooting. As has already been stated, deer are territorial. If you shoot one old buck what happens is that four or five young ones will come in and take his place, and you will have four or five times the damage done to your trees.

Lord Northfield

As I understood the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, he said that, if the Committee decided to make this amendment, he would accept it reluctantly, but he would then resist a similar amendment to the next subsection, because it would then be left in effect to the commission to authorise night shooting of roe where appropriate. That is what I understood him to say. If that is what he said, I am quite prepared to accept it. Let us put the amendment in. I am quite happy to accept as a compromise that we except roe deer in subsection (4) but leave them to be controlled by authority of the commission under (4A) where real damage is being evidenced. That would be perfectly satisfactory to me. I think that it is a good compromise. I shall take the noble Lord up on his words. Let us make the amendment.

Lord Glenarthur

Perhaps I may come back to the noble Lord, Lord Northfield. He is not quite right about what I said. I apologise if I have misled the noble Lord or was not clear in what I said. I think that it might be best if we were to take this matter away again and look at it in the way in which I suggested when I spoke to the amendment earlier, and see whether or not there is scope for further consideration about the interrelation between subsections (4) and (4A). That is what I am asking the noble Lord to do. Therefore, I hope on this occasion he will withdraw the amendment so that we can look at it and come back on Report.

Lord Northfield

I shall do so reluctantly, but I am satisfied and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 82 not moved.]

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede

Before the next amendment is moved I wonder whether the Government Whip in charge can give the Committee any indication of the time at which he proposes to adjourn the House this evening?

Viscount Long

I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede, for drawing attention to the time. I notice that the Committee stage is getting very bedded down. Like the noble Lord and others of your Lordships, I am very worried that we could go on for any length of time and might possibly even lose the Bill if we are not careful. It is very worrying. I am wondering whether my noble friends and the noble Lords opposite can move faster. I have not been given any time for this Committee stage, but generally adjournment is about a quarter to eleven. However, I have been given no time and there are some 43 amendments to go. The procedure is getting somewhat slower, if I may say so, with arguments between individuals. I hope that we can move a little faster.

9.57 p.m.

Lord Northfield moved Amendment No. 83:

Page 8, line 15, leave out from ("provided") to end of line 17 and insert ("that—

  1. (a) he has reasonable grounds for believing that red deer or sika deer are causing, or have caused, damage to crops pasture, trees or human or animal foodstuffs on that land; and
  2. (b) it is likely that further damage will be so caused and any such damage is likely to be serious; and
  3. (c) his action is necessary for the purpose of preventing any such damage.").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 83. I can be brief as regards this amendment. In answer to the intervention that has just taken place, I point out that the whole of pages 10 and 11 have been dealt with already so we are not quite so behind as has been pointed out. However, I can be brief.' This again is restricting rather than taking away the right to shoot at night. If the noble Lord will say that the discussions which he has offered on Amendment No. 77, which is, of course, drafted in exactly the same way, can encompass Amendment No. 83, then I am quite happy to withdraw it.

The Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees

I should point out that, if Amendment No. 83 is agreed to, I shall not be able to call Amendments Nos. 84 to 86.

Lord Glenarthur

I think that we have already debated the principles of this amendment. I accept that where night shooting is concerned it is appropriate that there should be some qualification of the occupier's right to shoot and there is, in fact, such qualification in the Bill. The occupier has to satisfy himself that his action is necessary to prevent damage. But there is a difference between satisfying himself that something is necessary and having to address his mind to the possible need to prove to a court that as a matter of objective fact it is necessary. The latter is what the noble Lord's amendment implies and, as I said, we did discuss it before and it puts quite an unfair constraint on an occupier's freedom of action. Therefore, I must advise your Lordships not to accept the amendment.

Lord Northfield

Is the noble Lord not prepared to discuss this? If we have a form of words which is acceptable as to the restriction of the right to shoot out of season, do we not have to consider the effect of those words on this subsection? Do we not have to get it broadly in line? It cannot be satisfactory to have two parts of the Bill, in that sense, with a special form of wording looking rather different. I am quite prepared to withdraw the amendment if, as I said before, the noble Lord will say that while we are discussing Amendment No. 77 between now and Report we may also discuss Amendment No. 83. It is a perfectly fair offer on my part.

Lord Glenarthur

Yes, the wording is very similar and I think that we can discuss it. On that basis, I invite the noble Lord to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Northfield

I am glad to be able to save the time of the Committee and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 84 not moved.]

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 85:

Page 8, line 16, after ("prevent") insert ("serious").

The noble Lord said: We discussed this amendment with similar amendments—Amendments Nos. 9 and 10 —last week. Damage has to be qualified, and we agreed earlier that the word should be "serious". In Amendment No. 86 the noble Lords, Lord Dulverton and Lord Burton, tried to use the word "substantial". However, I hope that the Committee will think that "serious" is a suitable word.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 86 not moved.]

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 87:

Page 8, line 19, after ("authorise") insert ("(subject to such conditions as they may specify)").

The noble Lord said: To some extent this is a technical amendment. An authorisation needs to contain at least some conditions if it is to be a workable document at all. I think that that might be agreed. For instance, it would have to specify the area of land to be shot over. But, of course, there is more to it than that. In fact, in many ways we are dealing with quite the most sensitive issue of the Bill, and I could hardly fail to be aware of the feelings that are running, particularly on the question of night shooting of roe.

I am aware that if this business is to be made acceptable at all, we shall have to spell out as plainly as possible that authorisations will be given only under the most stringent conditions. We can discuss this further when we reach a later amendment and deal with the question of a code of practice, and Amendment No.98, which I have tabled, is linked to this. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Northfield moved Amendment No. 88:

Page 8, line 19, after ("authorise") insert ("in writing").

The noble Lord said: Here we are dealing with the commission's authorisation for night shooting. I think it is agreed that such authorisations ought to be in writing and not just given over the telephone. I beg to move.

Lord Glenarthur

I should expect that a body, such as the Red Deer Commission, would always give authorisations in written form as a matter of good administrative practice. But if the noble Lord thinks that this ought to be confirmed in statute, I see no reason at all to deny him that, and I am happy to accept his amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 89 not moved.]

Lord Dulverton moved Amendment No. 90:

Page 8, line 21, leave out ("deer of any species") and insert ("red or sika deer or their hybrids").

The noble Lord said: I should like to explain this a little. I held my fire as much as I could when we discussed a previous amendment relating to what species of deer we could shoot at night, but whereas the earlier amendment dealt with the occupier's right to shoot, which preponderantly would concern farmers—particularly small farmers—this amendment that we are now discussing, extending the right under certain conditions to shoot deer at night, is preponderantly for the convenience of foresters, and rather particularly it has been asked for by the Forestry Commission.

I exchanged a few brief words across the Floor with the noble Lord, Lord John-Mackie, and I should like to make two comments. First, I shall not bandy words with him about what sort of light it is, although I do not think that it is a searchlight; I think that a fairly narrow beam is more normally used. However, I had the pleasure of working very closely with the noble Lord, Lord John-Mackie, when he was chairman of the Forestry Commission and when I was involved with the representation of the private sector of forestry. So, to that extent, we are old friends, but we cannot agree about this.

I can quite well agree to certain cases in forestry where the red deer have got in. Unlike my noble friend Lord Burton, I think that the sika deer is very much in the same position as the red deer in that respect. It became almost impossible to shoot in the big, thick estate woods by day. There is a case for shooting them in exceptional circumstances by night with these lamps. I will not call it a spot lamp this time. Whereas expert riflemen can shoot a red deer standing still, somewhat dazzled in a light—and indeed the Red Deer Commission's team went down to Galloway last year at the request of the Forestry Commission and shot 20 or 30 deer without much trouble—you cannot say the same of roe deer. They are much smaller targets, and they are apt to move in a light, whereas a red deer will often stand still, presenting a good target.

I argued some of this at Second Reading. I do not want to go over all that again. There are deer managers in this country and in Scotland—the noble Lord, Lord Forbes, said very much the same thing just now—who know how to control roe deer, which are very local animals, without resorting to night shooting. I will not go over all the reasons again that we discussed on Second Reading on why it is undesirable on three or four counts to attempt to spread the net of night shooting all round the roe deer populations of Scotland, but good roe managers can shoot them and keep them under control by dawn and dusk shooting.

I am trying, out of school as it were, to urge upon my friends in the Forestry Commission that this really is so. I believe that they are taking some note of this, and I hope that they will pursue a really good examination of the sort of thesis that I am now putting forward and will discuss matters with a number of very knowledgeable people who exist in the country, as to how you can control the roe with dawn and dusk shooting without resorting to night shooting.

That is the reasoning behind the amendment I have put down here. I know that my noble friend Lord Glenarthur is going to find it difficult to accept it, but I hope that if he finds it impossible to do so then he will at a later stage agree to tightening up the phraseology of the Bill at least in respect of roe deer shooting at night, to make it explicit that it should be authorised only by the Red Deer Commission and in exceptional circumstances. With that, I await the views of the Committee, and I hope that my noble friend Lord Glenarthur, and my noble friend on the Front Bench, at least understand that there is something in the argument that I am trying to put forward.

Lord John-Mackie

The noble Lord, Lord Dulverton, feels strongly about this. May I point out to him that I think that the Forestry Commission will see that the rangers who are put on this job of night shooting will be experts at the job, and will carry out the code of the Red Deer Commission in every way. I cannot see any difference between shooting red deer and sika deer and roe deer at night with good light and good shots. If that can be done, why duplicate the operation? The operation that the noble Lord mentioned, of controlling during the day, can be carried out as well. I am simply saying that there does not seem to be any more cruelty involved in shooting roe deer at night by good shots than in shooting red deer or sika deer.

Lord Dulverton

If I may be permitted to answer the noble Lord, Lord John-Mackie, he said first that the Forestry Commission would authorise only good shots. In fact, the Bill says, and I hope it means, that the deer commission would have to be brought in to authorise any operators. He went on to say that he could not see any difference between shooting roe deer and red deer at night. I can point out a few. For example, a red deer is about five times the bulk of a roe deer. Next, the red deer are confined to fairly limited areas of very sparsely populated forest, whereas the roe deer are ubiquitous; they are to be found all over Scotland, everywhere, and if we have people shooting at night in some places where the roe deer are, that could be very dangerous. One will miss roe deer at night and therefore lose them in the dark. A good shot should not do that with a red deer, so there are some differences.

The Earl of Mansfield

The Forestry Commission will be the beneficiary, if I may describe it as such, of this part of the clause. The Forestry Commission has come in for a certain amount of criticism this evening and therefore, notwithstanding the valiant efforts of the noble Lord, Lord John-Mackie, to put the balance right, I think it proper that I should comment on the subject.

We all have intense feelings of distaste for night shooting, particularly of roe deer. It has been said often, and it cannot be said too much, that what we are talking about here is not sportsmanship but control and, to an extent, culling. In those circumstances, the attitude of the Government, now that we have come on to subsection (4A), is that they are perfectly willing to see the night shooting of roe put under the most stringent conditions, both as to the circumstances in which it can be permitted and the way in which it will be carried out. I think even my noble friend Lord Dulverton will accept that there are circumstances in which night shooting has to take place, and that applies to roe just as much as to red or sika deer.

The Forestry Commission has been accused in effect of planting its woods in such a way that it has, as it were, become the author of its own misfortune. The fact is that at a certain stage in coniferous plantations, particularly at re-stocking, roe deer can inflict the most disastrous damage. That happens particularly to the Forestry Commission, which is the main sufferer, rather than the private sector, where the problem is not yet acute. It will come, particularly with roe, and I can say that with quite bitter experience from my part of Scotland. However, it has not come yet. I do not want to make too much of the roe deer issue, particularly as we shall, I hope, have the code of practice which I think will do a great deal to ensure that the Red Deer Commission gives its blessing, as it were, and exercises its control over shooting at night.

I want to challenge, mildly I hope, a remark of my noble friend Lord Forbes. I do not think the culling of roe deer and forestry control entirely depend on the shooting of bucks. Particularly in those areas in central Scotland, where there has been a quite startling spread of roe deer, with the spread of afforestation—caused by the fact that their reproductive rate is so high—normal culling simply does not control the roe deer population. A sportsman in the right circumstances can do it but not, I am afraid, the Forestry Commission with its vast acreages. A cull will be effective only as a cull on the does. That, in effect, means that it has to be done in the winter when the days are short and the weather may not be very good.

To sum up how I feel about this, I would say that, if the does are to be culled when they are not heavily pregnant, or, still worse, have young deer at foot, it would have to he crowded into a fairly short period of the year, and thus there has to be some form of shooting at night in the proper circumstances. I am quite sure that we all regard shooting of roe deer at night at a last resort, but a last resort it has to be. It may be that we shall have to tighten up the wording, as my noble friend proposes. I would suggest that my noble friend Lord Glenarthur agrees to consider the matter in the light of what has been said in Committee, and we shall of course be very happy to consider between now and Report any suggestions as to how it can be handled.

Lord Glenarthur

I have nothing to add to what my noble friend on the Front Bench has said. Yes, I am happy to take away the point and look at it again. With that I hope the noble Lord will withdraw the amendment.

Lord Dulverton

I am very grateful to my noble friend. It will be a slur upon us British, with our European neighbours, if we go in for legalising roe deer shooting at night, but I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 91 not moved.]

Lord Northfield moved Amendment No. 92:

Page 8, line 24, after ("prevent") insert ("serious").

The noble Lord said: As in other parts of the Bill, this amendment is intended to qualify the word "damage" by the word "serious". I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 93 not moved.]

Lord Northfield moved Amendment No. 94:

Page 8, line 27, leave out ("the") and insert ("each").

The noble Lord said: Perhaps we can discuss with this amendment Amendment No. 95. These two amendments together prevent blanket authorisations by the commission and instead insist that each authorisation shall relate to a nominated person individually so nominated. I beg to move.

Lord Glenarthur

I am quite content to accept these amendments, which express accurately what we intend will be the practice; namely, that authorisations will be issued direct to a named individual.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Northfield moved Amendment No. 95:

Page 8, line 27, leave out ("or, where appropriate, his servants are fit and competent persons") and insert ("as a fit and competent person").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard moved Amendment No. 96:

Page 8, line 29, at end insert ("and (c) that the police are informed if night shooting is to take place").

The noble Viscount said: This amendment is so framed as to ensure that if night shooting is to take place the police are informed. As the Committee will know, the high velocity rifle with enough calibre to shoot red deer can kill a man at 3,000 yards. If in particular one is shooting in woods, there can be ricochets, and bullets might be flying everywhere. There is also the point that if the police are not informed, how is someone to know that poaching is not going on? How are the police to know whether or not poaching is taking place if they hear shots at night? Therefore, I believe that the amendment is really essential. Some of the areas might be quite near a road. One cannot have random shooting going on. It would not be so bad in a very isolated area, but it could be highly dangerous where the plantation was close to a road, especially a main road. I beg to move.

Lord Burton

I think that my noble friend will get up and say that there is not time, that one must shoot them the moment they get into the field. That is no doubt what he is about to say, but before he does so, I should like to make a point. If we accept an amendment which I think the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, put forward, to the effect that there had to be damage, then I would point out that it would already be known before dark that there had been damage. One of the troubles we have here is that everyone is saying, "You must shoot the deer the moment you see it in your field". It may not be doing any damage at all; it may be walking through the field. But this is what is happening, and this is what we are objecting to. If you had to accept that there should be damage before you shot the animal, then there would be no difficulty in notifying the police, the owner or anyone else before it took place.

Lord Glenarthur

I think my noble friend Lord Burton is really referring to what we discussed earlier under subsection (4), but we are in fact dealing with an amendment which relates to subsection (4A). I entirely accept that one of the conditions of an authorisation issued by the Red Deer Commission should be that the police are informed of what is to take place. I can assure my noble friend that that would be the case in practice, and would certainly feature in any code of practice published by the Red Deer Commission.

However, I think the place for that kind of provision is in something like a code of practice rather than in the main statute, and on the understanding that there would be a code of practice and that this would feature in it, I would invite my noble friend to withdraw his amendment.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

I thank my noble friend for saying that, and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

10.22 p.m.

Lord Northfield moved Amendment No. 97:

Page 8, line 29, at end insert— ("( ) The Commission shall publish a Code to which they shall have regard when exercising their powers under subsection (4A) above.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is to establish that there shall be a code. At Second Reading I made a plea that there should be a code and in fact spelt out what I thought should be in it. I remember that the noble Earl slightly poured cold water on that, but clearly there has been some change of mind since and I am glad to recognise it. So we are really choosing between No. 97 and No. 98, and perhaps we could discuss the two together.

The position is that if my amendment were accepted there would be a code about two things. First, there would be a code about the circumstances in which night shooting would be allowed, so that anybody who wants to apply for such permission would know roughly the circumstances in which they would get such a permit, and that would make it much clearer. Then there would be a second code, in effect, which would say, "Once you have got the authorisation, these are the rules you should obey in using it". So my draft leaves the possibility of a code covering two points or two codes if the case so demands.

The trouble with the noble Lord's amendment is that it allows only one of those codes, the code about how the authorisation is actually used once the applicant has it. What I would suggest, therefore, is that it might be helpful if we both withdrew our amendments at this stage and then agreed on an amendment to be presented at the Report stage. I feel sure we could then reach total agreement. I beg to move.

Lord Glenarthur

The noble Lord, Lord Northfield, and I are clearly thinking along very similar lines in these amendments, if I may both answer his and speak to my own, No. 98. His thinking has focused on one aspect, and mine on another. He had it in mind that the code would, as it were, be for the self-discipline of the commission, to ensure that perhaps they do not issue authorisations except in defined types of circumstances as regards damage or other control measures, and so forth; and his amendment goes on also, in essence, to suggest that there should be a code actually to describe the way that the shooting is carried out. In tabling my own amendment I more or less left the earlier aspect out and concentrated purely on how the shooting was to be carried out.

Having seen the noble Lord's amendment and compared it with my own, I should like to have the best of both worlds. I do not suppose he will dispute that the sort of code that I had in mind would not be desirable, so I should like to take them both away, get the best of both worlds and come back later at Report stage with another amendment.

Lord Northfield

I am very grateful to the noble Lord. That is what I would propose, and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 98 to 100 not moved.]

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 101:

Page 8, line 32, at end insert— ("(4C) The owner of the agricultural land or enclosed woodlands may at any time request the occupier to inform him of the numbers of red deer or sika deer shot by virtue of subsection (3), (4) or (4A) above within the period of 12 months immediately preceding the request and the occupier shall comply with any such request as soon as may be.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment fulfils an undertaking which I gave at Second Reading to consider what provision could he made for a landowner to be informed of what is happening to deer which move on his tenant's land. The provision is simple. It states that the owner may ask his tenant for information on the number of deer shot on the tenanted land under occupier's rights. It requires the tenant to reply promptly. Earlier on in the Bill's passage, several noble Lords referred to the existence of deer management groups and to the useful function they fulfil. They pointed out, rightly, that management requires information and that good deer management is as much in the interests of the tenant farmers as in the interests of landlords. We should all do all we can to foster it. I hope the amendment will help significantly towards that goal. I beg to move.

Lord Burton

If this amendment is accepted, what will be the penalty if the occupier does not make a return? Will there be any comeback?

Lord Glenarthur

We are concerned purely with the provision of information by one private individual to another. That is why my amendment does not provide for enforcement through the criminal law. This is a business which is rather more for civil than criminal law. If, in an extreme case, an owner had to take proceedings to obtain compliance, he would have to do so in a civil court.

Lord Burton

The problem is that 99 per cent. of the tenants would make a return willingly; but the ones that you want to get at are probably the ones who may not make a return. I hope my noble friend will take it back and perhaps add something at a later stage.

Lord Glenarthur

I do not think we ought to get bogged down in another argument about significant rights of occupiers. It is a matter for the civil rather than the criminal law. I hope my noble friend will accept that.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 8, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 9 agreed to.

Clause 10 [Minor amendments and repeals]:

Lord Northfield moved Amendment No. 102:

Page 9, line 4, leave out ("5") and insert ("3").

The noble Lord said: This is a drafting amendment which I understand is agreed. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 10, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 11 [Citation, commencement and extent]:

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 103:

Page 9, line 12, after ("Act") insert ("except the provisions mentioned in subsection (4) below").

The noble Lord said: If I may I will, in moving this amendment, speak to Amendment No. 104. These amendments are consequential on my earlier Amendment No. 43, under which regulations are to be made to govern the procedure for licensing venison dealers. These amendments provide that, unlike the rest of the Act, which is to come into effect one month after it is passed, Section 7 will be subject to a commencement order, or series of orders. The intention, as I indicated in moving that amendment, is that the regulations should follow as closely as possible the procedures laid down in the Civic Government (Scotland) Bill. That means, however, that we shall need some flexibility as to its commencement: it will be necessary to wait for the Civic Government (Scotland) provisions to be brought into operation. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 104:

Page 9, line 12, at end insert— ("(4) Section 7 of this Act and the repeal in Schedule 4 to this Act of the Sale of Venison (Scotland) Act 1968 shall come into force at such date as the Secretary of State may by order prescribe, and different orders may be made in respect of different provisions.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 11, as amended, agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 105 to 107 not moved.]

On Question, Whether Schedule 1 shall be the first schedule to the Bill?

Lord Glenarthur

Schedule 1 sets out certain procedures for the issue and surrender of venison dealers' licences. As I said in moving an earlier amendment, the schedule leaves untouched a number of matters of equal importance and, when we dealt with that amendment, the Committee agreed that all those matters may be dealt with in due course by regulation. That was on the understanding that the regulations were to follow the provisions to be made in the Civic Government (Scotland) Bill. Therefore it follows that Schedule 1 is unnecessary and I should like it to be removed from the Bill. That is strictly consequential on Amendment No. 43, since that amendment removed the reference to the schedule from the body of the Bill. I beg to move.

Schedule 1 disagreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 108 and 109 not moved.]

Schedule 2 [Penalties]:

Lord Dulverton moved Amendment No. 110:

Page 11 line 25, column 4, at end insert ("or any vehicle, boat, animal, weapon or other thing which was used to commit the offence, or which was capable of being used to take, kill or injure deer and was found in his possession").

The noble Lord said: There are penalties in the Deer Act 1980 and they are a very considerable deterrent to poachers. I believe that there is some simple explanation as to why they have been left out of Schedule 2 to this Bill. I should also like to speak to Amendments Nos. 115 and 118 in moving this amendment. I beg to move.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

In the western Highlands, like Norway, there are long sea lochs going into deer country, like the fjords in Norway, and there are islands, and poaching by boat can take place. Owing to the volcanic nature of the land, quite big boats can come up to within a few yards of the shore. Quite a lot of poaching is done by fishing boats. I have had one instance of it on my estate. Red deer at certain seasons in the year—it does not usually happen in the summer, but in the winter, autumn and spring—are extremely fond of seaweed, especially the stags. They come right down to the shore. You can go along in a boat and pick them off as easily as anything.

I had a stalker called Sinclair, who came from Rhum. He said that there was one part on Rhum where there was a promontory with a very narrow neck and the trawlers and the herring and seine net boats used to land there when all the deer were feeding on the seaweed on the promontory. They used to land there and they would have half a dozen of them on the neck. Then they would drive the deer towards the neck and shoot them. So a lot of the poaching is done from boats. I wanted just to make that point.

Lord Glenarthur

I always enjoy listening to the noble Viscount's stories about Mull. But all these three amendments add conditions for forfeiture of things which are used or are capable of being used in the commission of the offences concerned. I am advised that they are not necessary. The Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1975, Section 223 of which now applies to offences tried by solemn as well as summary procedure, makes liable to forfeiture and disposal, as the convicting port may direct, any property which was at the time of his apprehension in the possession or control of the person convicted of the offence if the property was used to commit or facilitate any offence or was intended so to be used. Consequently, Section 29 of the 1959 Act is repealed by Schedule 4 to my Bill. All I can say is that the amendment is quite unnecessary because what is required is already in the Bill.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

In view of what my noble friend says, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Ross of Marnock

Could the noble Lord tell us whether or not any boats, horses or any other animals used in respect of poaching of deer have already been confiscated?

Lord Glenarthur

I cannot give the noble Lord an answer to that, but under the terms of the Bill they would he capable of being confiscated.

Lord Ross of Marnock

I know.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 113:

Page 12, line 4, column 4, before ("the") insert ("in respect of each deer taken or killed").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 111:

Page 12, line 6, column 2, before second ("the") insert ("in respect of each deer taken or killed").

The noble Lord said: This is paired with Amendment No. 113, which we have just dealt with. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 114 and 115 not moved.]

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 116:

Page 12, line 8, column 4, leave out from ("deer") to end of line 10.

The noble Lord said: Amendments Nos. 116 and 119 make the consequential changes to column 4 of the schedule which merely recites the effects of the changes brought about by column 2. They will pave the way, in conjunction with No. 112, which we still have not dealt with, for Amendment No. 120 which is the substantive amendment. I agree it is immensely complicated. This makes the penalty of cancellation of a firearm certificate available on conviction of any offence under Sections 22 to 25 of the Act—that is to say, poaching and night shooting with the use of unlawful weapons. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 117 and 118 not moved.]

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 119:

Page 12, line 14, column 4, leave out from ("deer") to end of line 16.

The noble Lord said: The same remarks apply here as to Amendment No. 116. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

10.40 p.m.

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 112:

Page 12, line 16, column 2, leave out from ("offence") to end of line 18.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 2, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 3 (Minor and consequential amendments]:

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 120:

Page 13, leave out lines 4 to 6 and insert—

("1. After section 25 of the Deer (Scotland) Act 1959 there shall be inserted the following new section—

"Cancellation of firearms licences. 25A.—(1) In any case where a person is convicted of an offence provided for by any of sections 22 to 25 of this Act the court shall have power (in addition to any other power) to cancel any firearm or shotgun licence held by him.").

The noble Lord said: I mentioned this earlier. This is the substantive amendment to which the others relate, which makes the penalty of cancellation of a firearm certificate available on conviction for any offence under Sections 22 to 25 of the Act; that is, poaching, night shooting or use of unlawful weapons. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 121 not moved.]

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 122:

Page 13, line 10, leave out ("officer of police") and insert ("constable").

The noble Lord said: This amendment simply corrects the drafting of the Bill. It should refer to "chief constable" and not to "chief officer of police", "chief constable" being the preferred wording. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 123:

Page 13, line 12, leave out ("officer of police") and insert ("constable").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 124 not moved.]

Schedule 3, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 4 [Repeals]:

Lord Glenarthur moved Amendment No. 125:

Page 13, line 27, column 3, at beginning insert— ("Sections 39 to 42 so far as relating to sika deer within the meaning of the Deer (Scotland) Act 1982 or to any hybrid mentioned in section 1(4) of that Act.").

The noble Lord said: Sections 39 to 42 of the Agriculture (Scotland) Act 1948 dealt with prevention of damage by injurious animals, including deer. They were repealed by Schedule 3 to the Deer (Scotland) Act 1959 "so far as relating to red deer", because the 1959 Act gave the Red Deer Commission powers to deal with rer deer as a pest. Since we are now extending those powers to sika deer and hybrids, this consequential amendment brings the 1949 Act provisions into line. I beg to move.

Lord Ross of Marnock

This is quite an important amendment. So far as I know, we have had two references to "hybrid" in a definition. It was mentioned in an amendment moved by one of my noble friends. I wonder whether this Bill covers the whole situation in respect of "hybrid". I do not know whether the Minister of State has any information on this. He is generally an expert on the rather esoteric subjects which are contained in these schedules. I think we should all be grateful for the information.

Lord Glenarthur

I do not want the noble Lord, Lord Ross, to go over what he has just said, but I understand that this is covered. Page 1 of the Bill states that: any reference to 'red deer or sika deer' includes any deer which is a hybrid of those species". This applies to Section 20 of the 1959 Act.

Lord Ross of Marnock

Yes. We had a definition of "deer". But there was one other point. I think it was in one of the amendments that was accepted. We have had so many, and we have raced through them at such a rate, that it may well be that it has been forgotten. The point is that if I am right in my recollection of this definition of "deer", we do not need here to mention "or to any hybrid mentioned in section 1(4) of that Act". The definition of "deer" includes the hybrid. I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Burton, can help?

Lord Burton

The noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, has a point. So far as I can see, the mention on the first page of "sika deer or any hybrids thereof" is a reference to Section 20 of the 1959 Act. The noble Lord, Lord Northfield, withdrew his amendment. I was rather surprised that he did, because that was where the definition was: that any cross of the two was either red or sika. I should have thought that it ought to be brought in to cover the other clauses.

Lord Ross of Marnock

I apologise. The noble Lord is quite right in the point which he has made.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 4, as amended, agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with the amendments.