HL Deb 06 December 1984 vol 457 cc1470-507

4.33 p.m.

House again in Committee on Clause 1.

Lord Stanley of Alderley moved Amendment No. 2: Page 2, line 30, at end insert— ("( ) Where any person has incurred loss or damage in consequence of the application of emergency prohibitions to food that is not, or does not become, unsuitable for human consumption as a consequence of the release of the substances to which an emergency order relates, the designating authority shall be liable for the loss or damage.").

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment I am more than conscious that every noble Lord will have uppermost in mind the tragedy that has just occurrred in India and, after our sympathy and prayers for the dead, dying and grieving in India, I hope that your Lordships will believe it correct to think about the position of the farmer whose crops have been affected, or (as in this amendment) may have been affected by any similar disaster that might occur here. This amendment seeks to protect someone whose crops or livestock have not been directly affected by such a disaster, but whose operations have been curtailed by the Minister under Part I of this Bill and under Schedule 1.

One reason for moving this amendment is to ensure that when a disaster occurs the Minister over-protects the public, rather then under-protects. When a disaster occurs, the question surely will be, "How far has the pollution spread?" I think that the answer inevitably will be an inexact one and I would expect the area that the Minister will designate under Schedule 1 will be greater than the affected area. It would surely only be prudent for him to do so. In fact, in reading the Notes on Clauses (for which I should like to thank my noble friend very much; they are enormously helpful) Item 11 certainly gave me the impression that he would over-react rather than under-react.

But what about the farmer or grower whose activities have been suspended and who at the end of the day is proved to be clear and whose crops are clean? He is being unfairly condemned and indeed penalised. He ceases production for the good of the community—albeit because he has to do so, because the Minister has told him to do so—and so surely in this case he should be compensated. The power of compensation would take away this worry from the Minister designating an area and would make him designate maybe a little wider and indeed a little more safely.

I have to draw the attention of your Lordships to the fact that agriculture is not like most other industries in that it cannot stop for 28 days, or for one day, and then be able to start where it left off. For instance, if a fruit farm or a "self-pick" was prohibited from selling or working under Schedule 1 when the crops were nearly ready or were ready, they would be totally worthless 28 days later. I beg to move.

Lord John-Mackie

I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Stanley, for having put down this amendment. I mentioned at Second Reading the question of what could happen, and he has detailed it better than I did. It is a real problem. If, through no fault of his own , a neighbouring farmer sprays and it drifts over on to your farm and then the whole area is isolated (if that is the right expression) during a harvesting period or during a period when work has to be done, then there could be considerable loss. I looked for somewhere in the Bill at which to put down an amendment along these lines. It is difficult in this Bill to find a place at which to put down some amendments. We are very grateful to the noble Lord for placing it where he did. We give it full support in every way.

The Earl of Onslow

I should like to support my noble friend and noble kinsman Lord Stanley of Alderley. It would seem to me that we have a precedent here. If the Minister says, "All your pigs have to be slaughtered", (for whatever that disease is called, or for foot and mouth) you then get compensation. But if your crops have to be destroyed, or you are not allowed to sell them (which, to all intents and purposes, is the same thing) as the result of some action by somebody else to whom the Minister then in turn says, "You can't do it", it is the polluter who has to pay in the end. But, surely, the taxpayer, at the beginning, should make sure that the man does not lose out.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

I should like to support this amendment. It appears to be very sensible. I hope that the Minister will accept it and will not produce the argument that perhaps there will be some other body responsible for paying damages; because other bodies can very quickly run out of money—particularly in the case of disasters of the scale that we have seen recently. In a case of what might well be a national disaster, there is no question but that the Government as a whole and the public as a whole should bear the damage suffered by the people in the same area.

Earl De La Warr

I am grateful to my noble friend for raising this amendment, which deals with some important principles. I shall go no further—because it has been so well argued—than to say that I hope that my noble friend at the least will say that he can take this amendment away and have a thorough look at it. It certainly deserves it.

The Earl of Radnor

I too should like to support this amendment. I shall not say much because it has been well covered. I was unable to be here at Second Reading but I read my noble friend the Minister's speech. He said that the polluter had to pay. If there is proved to be no pollution at the end of the day, there can be no polluter, so that argument would fall down. This amendment might guard against a mistake where farmers were asked to destroy crops or stock and it was subsequently found that this was unnecessary. Therefore, as my noble friend who spoke before me said, I hope that this matter will be taken away and considered seriously.

Lord Walston

All noble Lords who have spoken so far are in favour of this amendment in principle, and I am also. I should like to put one further point which has not been mentioned here. It is quite conceivable that there is a suspected emission of something toxic in an area. The authorities—perfectly correctly—put a stop order, or whatever it would be called, on the utilisation of crops in that area for human consumption.

It may then be found, after a few days or possibly rather longer, that there was nothing toxic in that particular area and the crop is suitable for human consumption. However, by that time if it is a highly perishable crop such as peas for freezing or my noble friend's strawberries, or something of that kind, it is then too late for them to be consumed. No action would lie against the polluter because there is no polluter; but it would be unjust that the farmer himself should be penalised because of the perfectly legitimate action of the authorities. This amendment would properly safeguard the producer in such a case. For that reason as well as the others mentioned, I support the amendment.

Lord Belstead

All your Lordships have been persuasive and all have spoken in favour of the amendment, and that puts me in a somewhat difficult position because I was going to rise to my feet to say that I was not sure that I liked the amendment. Might I explain one or two grounds to your Lordships why I am worried about this? First, there is a matter of principle which many of your Lordships who are legally trained will know better that I do, and that is that there is a rule that the polluter pays. Indeed, the polluter can be and should be taken to court.

The duty of the Government is to protect the public from risk of injury. All that Part I of this Bill does is to try to put into statutory form as an insurance for the future arrangements which, because we are good at these things in this country and we get together when there are emergencies, have always been done in a voluntary way in the past. The duty which the Government feel they ought to enshrine in legislation now is a duty upon any responsible citizen even if the responsibility means some cost.

It is true that the safety measures may cover food, which means that the designation, as my noble friend Lord Stanley has pointed out, would have difficulties so far as the individual farmer is concerned. But the second point I am trying to get across is that the Government and all other responsible people really have to act on what they see as the degree of risk arising from pollution. Might I say in passing to my noble friend that there would be the best possible advice available to the Minister concerned in making a designation of an emergency area. I have heard my noble friend Lord Stanley saying on many occasions how good the Ministry's advisory service is in England where the Ministry of Agriculture, where I work, has responsibility, and the advisory service also so far as Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are concerned. There would be the best possible advice.

4.45 p.m.

In having that best possible advice, the Minister making the designation—and this is a point your Lordships have not spotted—would be able under Clause 1 (9) to revoke an emergency order as soon as possible. If, for instance, after a very few days it was found that it was not needed, or under Clause 2(1) it would be possible for permission to be given for particular operations to continue even though an emergency was on. What comes to my mind is, as my noble friend mentioned, the growing of fruit where there might be an area designated where fruit was not to be moved out but then the Ministry on the best advice would say, "It is all right to sell your apples and your pears out of that particular area provided they are properly washed and cleansed". The case which my noble friend Lord Stanley and other noble Lords have put has some answers and there are some reasons why the Government say the polluter ought to pay.

I was concerned when the noble Lord, Lord Walston, added his voice because he added a different and additionally difficult point, and that is what happens if there has, in a sense, been some mistake. What happens if it was thought, as has so tragically happened in India, that the whole area had been pretty well decimated and then in fact it was found that certain crops were not polluted at all? As all your Lordships have spoken in the same vein, although you have chosen different grounds from which to speak, I should be foolish not to say that I shall have another look at this point. There are problems. There is the invariable rule that it is the polluter who ought to pay. If your Lordships will allow me to take it away without giving a commitment, I shall be glad to do that, and I should at least give the undertaking that I shall look at it as seriously as possible.

The Earl of Onslow

Arising out of what the noble Lord has said, it seems to me that it is always possible that you could have a negligent polluter who is not covered by insurance. Speaking from personal experience, I know of a friend of mine whose fish ponds were totally ruined by a local authority and he had to settle at a much earlier stage than he wished to because he was simply strapped for cash. Even though he was suing those people, the insurance company were holding up on the payment, which is a common form of reaction from insurance companies. I hope that that could be borne in mind as well.

Lord John-Mackie

I do not think there is any speaker who would not agree that the polluter should pay if he can. What we are looking for is some arrangement where if he cannot pay, then the farmer or person concerned is compensated.

Lord Belstead

I said that I shall take this matter away and look at it. There are difficulties and this is why I feel that I cannot give an undertaking; but I shall look at it seriously. If your Lordships will allow me to do that, perhaps we might pass on to the next amendment.

Lord Stanley of Alderley

I am grateful for the support that I have received on this amendment. I agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord John-Mackie. about the polluter paying. There is no difference here. If we can find the polluter, he should pay. The trouble is when we cannot find him or when he cannot pay. If I may bore my noble friend with one case, we had a situation in Oxfordshire two or three years ago where we had pollution and the polluter was willing to pay, but even then it took two years for the farmer to be paid. 1 wonder what would happen if we met a really unpleasant polluter who would not pay, or indeed an unscrupulous polluter who would be prepared to what I call play the courts and take the unfortunate farmer right up to the House of Lords, when usually you lose puff half way through or confidence on the costs.

I have heard my noble friend Lord Belstead being far more persuasive than he was today. I am sure he is going to get into his stride and become more so. I am grateful that he will take this point away. Perhaps he will be in contact with me before Report stage; otherwise, I may well come back with the amendment at Report. I beg leave to withdraw this amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Earl of Radnor moved Amendment No. 3: Page 2, line 30, at end insert— ("( ) Where any person has incurred loss or damage in consequence of the application of emergency prohibitions to food that is, or becomes unsuitable for human consumption as a consequence of the release of the substances to which an emergency order relates, but the person responsible for the substances released cannot be identified, the designating authority shall be liable for the loss or damage.").

The noble Earl said: This amendment really centres round exactly the same question as the one which has just been discussed, and many of the arguments will therefore be the same. We go back to the principle that the polluter should pay. This amendment envisages a situation where the polluter cannot be identified. I can think of two situations in which this might happen and there might therefore be embarrassment to the powers that be.

In the first situation I cannot be precise because I do not think that anything of the nature has yet happened, although I feel sure that it will soon. I might draw a comparison with acid rain which starts in one part of Europe and does considerable damage in another part of Europe. I believe that it carries heavy metals such as cadmium and lead with it, although I am not suggesting that these would suddenly build up to such an extent that crops would have to be destroyed or anything of that sort. I am suggesting—in the light of the disaster in India which my noble friend Lord Stanley has spoken about—that we really should in this Bill be prepared for anything that might happen in the reasonably near future and should not just think about accidents that have happened in the past. I can imagine a noxious emission taking place somewhere possibly in a foreign and totally unidentifiable place, probably a long way from the area where the designating authority decrees that crops and so on shall be destroyed. This is precisely the same as I imagine it must be for a Norwegian looking at his sterile lake and finding it very hard to know who was responsible for doing the damage. I put that as one suggestion to my noble friend.

Another possibility which could happen tomorrow is a noxious deck cargo being swept from the deck of a ship, let us imagine, passing down the Irish Channel and causing trouble in, for example, oyster beds, a mussel farm, a cage farm of salmon or something of that sort. I am sure that with shellfish it would quickly be said by the designating authority that these fish must be killed or whatever one does to mussels—crushed perhaps—immediately and the ship sails on and is never identified. It is quite possible to identify ships, but I am sure it is equally possible that often they get away with it. This would be an awkward situation for fish farmers or shellfish farmers caught in such a situation.

I should like to ask my noble friend to think about this very carefully in parallel with the previous amendment. If a shellfish farmer or a fish farmer is meant to insure against these contingencies, I can only say that, having had some experience of insurance of fish-farming, I think he would become bankrupt before he got any proper redress. I beg to move.

Lord Belstead

Perhaps I should say that this will be looked at along with the previous amendment. But, in making that offer, may I repeat a point I have made before? Really we are not changing any principle in Part I of the Bill. We are trying to put into statutory form what has happened in this country where natural disasters have struck communities and the statutory authorities and the voluntary organisations have, in the way that is familiar in this country, stepped in and cleared up the mess. Everybody believes that that has been the right thing to do. People have not turned to those local authorities or to the voluntary organisations and said, "Having cleared up the mess, you must pay us compensation".

In saying that I am very ready on behalf of the Government to listen to what the Committee has said. I ask your Lordships to be receptive to that particular point. I think a balance has to be struck here. Let the Government look at what has been said on these two amendments to see whether we can find any common ground; but, in saying that, I cannot give an undertaking that I will be able to satisfy your Lordships on this or on the previous amendment.

The Earl of Radnor

I am grateful to my noble friend for those remarks. I hope that he will take it away and think about this amendment carefully. I am not sure that I quite agree with him that this is, so to speak, a situation which is being re-established from what would happen anyway, but I am quite happy to withdraw the amendment and wait to hear what he has to say at a later stage of the Bill.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 4: Page 2. line 44, after ("vessel") insert ("foreign aircraft, foreign hovercraft or foreign marine structure").

The noble Lord said: This amendment would remedy a drafting defect in Clause 1(6). Clause 1(5) provides that anyone who contravened an emergency order, or caused or permitted another person to do so, would be guilty of an offence. This is subject to three defences: the general defence of due diligence, which is in Clause 20; the defence of ministerial consent, which is in Clause 2(2); and the defence in Clause 1(6), which at present provides that a person on a foreign vessel would not commit such an offence if the vessel passed through a designated area without fishing and without landing anything from it in the United Kingdom.

The amendment would extend this defence to foreign hovercraft and foreign marine structures. It is necessary to exclude the operation of the powers of the Bill over them because to do otherwise would be an infringement of the freedom of navigation in 200-mile zones and innocent passage in the territorial sea. To make this defence comprehensive, the amendment would also extend it to foreign aircraft.

If the Committee accepts this amendment, I intend to introduce a similar amendment in paragraph 3 of Schedule 2, which would bring it into harmony with the new draft of Clause 1(6). I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 5: Page 3, line 17, at end insert (", or nothing else except make provision incidental or supplementary to the revocation,").

The noble Lord said: This amendment provides that an order which revoked an emergency order, or part of an emergency order, and which included incidental or supplementary provisions, would have to be laid before Parliament but would not be subject to any further Parliamentary procedure.

I wonder if I may give an example of what I mean by that. If an emergency order had to be made which prohibited the movement of food out of a designated area, a revocation order might provide that food could be moved out of the area, but only after a certain date. That would be an incidental provision, but it would, in effect, do no more than revoke the original order. I beg to move.

Lord John-Mackie

I am glad the noble Lord has given some company to that solitary phrase—"does nothing else". I agree with the amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 [Authorisation of investigating officers and enforcement officers]:

5 p.m.

The Earl of Radnor moved Amendment No. 6: Page 4, line 17, after ("any") insert ("suitably qualified").

The noble Earl said: This is a very brief amendment which I am suggesting. It seemed to me that the enforcement officers and the investigating officers were in fact rather important people, and if anything went wrong with the Government's handling of an emergency such as is described in this Bill, one of the first things one would want to look at would be the people on the ground doing the job, doing the investigation and carrying out the various duties which they have to carry out. My noble friend on the Front Bench outlined exactly who these people would be. They are apparently specialists from the Ministry's regional organisations and form its Food and Science Division. I certainly would have no argument with that and would consider them qualified. But this Bill, when it becomes an Act, will go on into the future and somebody might change their mind and go and find somebody who was not qualified, either by training or by experience. I thought that really as a sort of control, the words "suitably qualified" should be put in.

In Schedule 2 these officers, I believe, are allowed to take as assistants any other person: that could be anybody taking along anybody with them. That seemed undesirable on the whole. My noble friend might well say that "anybody" might allow him to spread the net very widely and find people who are just right for the job, but I do not think that my amendment spoils that concept at all. I, and I hope other noble Lords too, would wish it to be written into the Bill that we should have suitably qualified people in these situations, where after all they have to deal with all sorts of emergencies, both known and unknown. I just feel that "anybody" is not quite good enough. I beg to move.

Lord Belstead

There is nothing between the Government and my noble friend in what he wants to do. I can give a categorical assurance that the Government would never authorise unqualified persons to undertake the duties of investigating and enforcement officers. But, if I may say so, I think there is a difficulty about putting in the words "suitably qualified". When the moment comes, we do have powers of entry in the Bill—regretfully; but they are sometimes necessary. In the schedules, I think I am right in saying that there are provisions for the enforcement or investigatory officers to prove to a person who may be concerned that that is what they are.

I think that if we put in the words "suitably qualified", it would probably be necessary to show what their qualifications are when the investigating or enforcement officer knocks on the door of a particular premises and says that he has a power of entry. I am therefore in terms saying to my noble friend that I would have thought that if we put in "suitably qualified", we would then have to explain in the Bill what is meant by "suitably qualified". I hope that my noble friend will take it from me that I give an absolutely categorical assurance that the Government would never authorise unqualified persons to undertake these duties, and I trust that my noble friend may feel, with that having been said on the Floor of the Chamber, and being on the record, that the assurance is good enough.

Lord Renton

With respect to my noble friend Lord Radnor, I feel that my noble friend Lord Belstead is right to resist the temptation to do what has been done in recent statutes; namely, to go into too much administrative detail. I am sure he is right to resist that.

The Earl of Radnor

After that generous series of remarks from my noble friend, I do not think I have really any option but to seek to withdraw the amendment, although I must admit still to secretly wishing that I could see in the final Act that these people must be properly qualified. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Birk moved Amendment No. 7: [Printed earlier: col. 1460.]

The noble Baroness said: I shall not spend long on this amendment because we roamed over these two or three amendments when dealing with the first amendment, but I feel I must say a few words on it because the Minister, I think rather unkindly, called it a draconian amendment, unlike the first one.

Let me say right away that this is not meant to be the final form of it, but its purpose was, again, to pinpoint the involvement of local authorities in this Bill. It really raises the question, again, of why the Government have chosen to arrogate such powers to themselves at the risk of duplication and overlap of the functions and work of local authorities. This is already in place and a good many years of experience have accrued. What I am not convinced about, from the answer given to the first amendment (which I had the chance to think about during the period when the Statement was being taken), is why it should always be so much quicker, as the Minister appears to think, to get some of these other officers from the centre rather than to go direct to the local authority. After all, we do have telephones which work most of the time; we do have means of communication. If that means is not satisfactory, or if it is known that certain authorities do not have the requisite resources or the proper person, then one can go somewhere else for them.

In order to clear up the point regarding the actual wording of the amendment. I think it does, wrongly, give the impression of complete exclusivity; and, quite frankly, I do not think that we have got it quite right. However, all we would ask is that the Minister accepts the principle of local government involvement and then of course this provision would have to be worded differently. I do not think there is any more I can say about it because we covered this ground on the first amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Belstead

This clause provides for the authorisation of investigating and enforcement officers, and the difference between the noble Baroness and the Government is whether the appointments should be by local authorities or by central Government. I endeavoured about an hour ago to deploy reasons why I thought it was necessary in the very special circumstances—and they are very special circumstances, drawn very narrowly indeed—to have this as a central Government responsibility: partly because of the emergency nature of Part I and partly because undoubtedly emergencies will occur (although I wish they did not) in areas that are offshore and outside the jurisdiction of local authorities. That is the first point.

The second point is that, although I have been speaking on behalf of central Government, I would just make the point, which many of your Lordships will be familiar with, that the Ministry of Agriculture is of course devolved as regards its responsibilities. We have regional, divisional and area offices which are to be found around the country, and the staff in those offices have a very great deal of local knowledge.

May I say one final thing? Day in and day out I hear in your Lordships' Chamber a great many complaints which come from the other side about the additional responsibilities which are laid on local authorities and the diminishing amount of money they have to spend. But here it seems to me that the noble Baroness is embracing the cause of additional responsibilities and additional expense. That is something which local authorities will need to explain to us when they come to talk to us about this particular aspect of the Bill.

Baroness Birk

The Minister was talking before about "the polluter pays", but on this occasion the local authority certainly should not be paying. It would be acting as an agent of the Government in the same way as other bodies. That was meant to be a, I hope, humorous aside.

I am trying to save the Government money by using the people and the resources that are there. This is partly a cost effective exercise in getting value for money so that the local authorities will be brought in together with other agencies. Earlier in answer to the noble Earl, Lord Radnor, I think the Minister said that, having cleared up the mess, the voluntary organisations were concerned—I think he mentioned that the local authorities also would be involved—and what we were doing was putting this into statutory form. All I am saying is, if you are putting it into statutory form, at least include the people who also have a right to be involved. But since the Minister had said that he is prepared to discuss this with local authority associations, I do not think we can get any further on this occasion. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 8: [Printed earlier: col. 1460.]

The noble Lord said. This amendment is intended to take out a superfluous provision. Paragraph (b) of Clause 3(2) provides that a function of enforcement officers authorised under the Bill would be to ascertain if a prohibition, contained in an emergency order, or a ministerial direction, given under Clause 2(3)(a), had been contravened. However, this is already covered by paragraph (a) of Clause 3(2), which provides that a function of an enforcement officer would be to enforce such orders and directions. Therefore, the paragraph which I am seeking to take out of the Bill is redundant. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Birk moved Amendment No. 9: Page 5, line 3, leave out subsection (4).

The noble Baroness said: In moving this amendment, I should like to ask the Minister a question. I do not understand why sea-fishery officers need to be included. There are port health authorities and, again, there are local authority officers who are capable of undertaking these functions. Even that apart, why, when it appears to me that this is covered in the other subsections of Clause 3, does the Minister need subsection (4)? The overall functions seem to be covered and I should have thought that this would come under the other parts. I do not think that we need to rehearse the same arguments once again over the local authority involvement because it is all tied up with the others. I should like to know why the Minister needs this subsection. Is a "British sea-fishery officer" a recognised form of title or is it somebody by another name?

Lord Belstead

This subsection is included in the Bill to ensure that if an emergency arises at sea the powers of investigation and enforcement would be immediately available, if that was necessary. Sea-fishery officers can be on duty on board ship for long periods of time and it might not be practicable for them to be recalled at short notice in order to receive their certificates of authorisation. That is why this subsection is in the Bill. Incidentally, I think it is a good example of why, if we are going to act quickly at sea, it would be difficult to rely on the local authorities. I will not speak further about this because it is a point I know I have made several times already.

Lord Renton

I wonder whether my noble friend could fill one of the gaps of ignorance in my mind. Is the term "British sea-fishery officer" a statutory term which has been defined by statute? If not, is it the "sea-fishery" that has to be British, or the officer, or both?

5.15 p.m.

Lord Belstead

I think that it is all of it. It has to be a British sea, a British fishery and a British officer. Whether or not I am entirely right, what is certain is that if my noble friend cares to look at page 19 of the Bill, which is the interpretation clause, he will see that, "British sea-fishery officer" is there defined as: any person who by virtue of section 7 of the Sea Fisheries Act 1968 is a British sea-fishery officer for the purposes of the Sea Fisheries Acts".

Lord Hunt

This may seem a very small point but my superficial reading of subsection (4) leads me to understand that a British sea-fishery officer is invested with the same powers for investigation and enforcement as other investigating officers and may exercise those powers on land as well as at sea. But perhaps this is not the correct way to read it?

Lord Belstead

think there is a serious point here and if I am wrong I will try to repair my mistake either by writing to the noble Lord or by saying something in a moment or two. My understanding is that the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, is quite correct in what he said. That is my interpretation because the sea-fishery officer may need to find that he is exercising his enforcement powers on land as well as on sea.

For instance—I am speaking without looking at the text and from memory—I think the noble Lord and I will find if we look at the schedules that one of the powers of an enforcement officer is to require a vessel to go into port in order to find what is on board that vessel—possibly polluted fish. In order for the sea-fishery officer to be able to discharge that function, he has to lead the vessel in (or even possibly take the vessels over as a pilot to go into port) and then to continue his functions when his feet actually strike dry land. For that reason, I believe that the interpretation of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, is correct and I hope that mine is also.

Lord Walston

In general, I support the noble Lord, Lord Belstead on this. I think it is very important that there should be adequate enforcement. There is a shortage of suitable people for doing this. Those who are charged with the job of enforcing our fisheries legislation are few and extremely efficient, and it seems to me that they are suitable people to add to this very small enforcement body. I cannot see any useful reason why they should be excluded from adding to their work in this way.

Baroness Birk

Having now heard this and had an answer to a question as well as an explanation of the amendment, and—I hope the Minister will agree—having been the catalyst in raising the point which was put by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, I think in the circumstances we have been around this point enough. I would be very interested in the answer that the Minister gives to the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, when he has investigated the matter further. Perhaps the Minister will let me have a copy of the letter he writes to the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, on his point about "British sea-fishery".

Lord Belstead

As no cry for help has come from the Box, I am full of hope that I have given the correct answer to the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, on this occasion and that I shall not be writing a letter. But if I do write a letter, I will of course send a copy to the noble Baroness.

Baroness Birk

thank the noble Lord very much. Just a signal that I am right would be very helpful. In the circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 4 [Powers of officers]:

The Earl of Radnor moved Amendment No. 10: Page 5, line 9, leave out ("or").

The noble Earl said: With the leave of your Lordships, I shall take Amendments Nos. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 together because they are, in effect, all on precisely the same point.

Amendment No. 11: Page 5, line 9, at end insert (", freshwater pond or freshwater raceway").

Amendment No. 12: Page 5, line 29, leave out ("or").

Amendment No. 13: Page 5, line 29, at end insert (", freshwater pond or freshwater raceway").

Amendment No. 14: Page 6, line 3, leave out ("or").

Amendment No. 15: Page 6, line 4, after ("structure ") insert (", freshwater pond or freshwater raceway").

These constitute a series of probing amendments. This part of the Bill relates to investigating and enforcement officers and to where they can go to carry out their duties properly. In reading the Bill it would appear that the whole list is comprehensive, right down to hovercraft, marine structures, and so on. I am not knowledgeable enough to see whether they would be able to enter all the parts that they wish to on inland fish farms, of which I believe there are now about 700 in the country and which cannot be ignored.

The matter did not seem to be covered by "marine structure" or by "land". I could not see that anything of freshwater fish ponds was land. A lot of ponds on fish farms in point of fact are drained, and when they are drained I imagine they become land because one can walk on the bed. A lot of raceways are not, and to collect dead fish to analyse them or the food residues, or something of that sort, would probably require someone to go down with an aqualung.

I should also point out that some fish farms, particularly carp farms, are operating in very large gravel pits. Again, they did not seem to be covered in this part of the Bill. I therefore put down this series of amendments to find out whether I was right or wrong. I beg to move.

Lord John-Mackie

The noble Earl knows that I raised this point in a slightly tenuous way on Second Reading and he is quite right to pinpoint this issue because it should be covered. Fish farming in these areas is growing to a tremedous extent, particularly in the west of Scotland. It needs the same protection as everything else and it is best to include such a provision in the Bill rather than leave it to be covered by some regulation.

Lord Walston

I wish to add a brief word in support of the principle behind this amendment. It seems a simple one, and on these Benches we certainly feel that fish farming should be taken note of and should be subject to the same protection and enforcement as other forms of aquatic activities.

Lord Belstead

I entirely agree with my noble friend Lord Radnor, and indeed with the noble Lords, Lord John-Mackie and Lord Walston, that fish farming needs to be covered in the Bill when we are referring to powers of entry. However, I think that it is covered. I do so for this reason. Clause 4(1) refers to "land". I am advised that under the Interpretation Act 1978 "land" includes "water". That really is true. I thought that my noble friend was right to table this amendment and I was very much looking forward to accepting it, but because of the 1978 Act I cannot say that.

That leaves us with the point made by the noble Lord, Lord John-Mackie, about fish farming, which is now growing in popularity on the west coast of Scotland. I understand that fish farming is to be found in salt water, in lochs, and there it can be on a very big scale. To return again to the text; in Clause 4(1) there is the power to enter into any "marine structure". I am advised that that would include fish farms and the things which go with them, particularly fish farms which may need pontoons or other structures set up in salt water lochs. I am encouraged in that interpretation by looking at the interpretation clause, Clause 22, on page 20, where it is stated: 'marine structure' means a platform or other man-made structure at sea". For those two reasons I believe that salt water fish farming—in, for instance, lochs on the west coast of Scotland—is covered by the term "marine structure". I understand that water—for instance, fresh water fish farming—is covered by the word "land".

Lord Mackie of Benshie

Is the word "land" mentioned in the schedule as covering inland water?

Lord Belstead

I understand that "land" means "water" because of the Interpretation Act 1978.

Lord Stodart of Leaston

Far be it for me to nit pick on this—and there is no need for me to confirm what my noble friend said because my recollection about "land" and "sea" is exactly what he has said—but "marine structure" means a platform or other man-made structure at sea". I have my doubts, therefore, whether the pontoons moored off the land on a loch such as Lochailort in Scotland, which, admittedly, is a sea loch where they are close to the sea, could properly be described as being "at sea".

Lord Belstead

Then they would be on land.

The Earl of Radnor

As a person who never understands the law, I am now even more bemused. Now that "water" is "land" and that "land" is "water" it merely shows me that noble Lords and others involved in the law are quite capable of standing on their heads and making politicians do so, too. I certainly take my noble friend's word and, as I said, these are only probing amendments. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendents Nos. 11 to 15 not moved.]

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Jacques)

We now come to Amendment No. 16.

Noble Lords

Clause stand part.

The Deputy Chairman

I am sorry for that mistake. The Question is that Clause 4 stand part of the Bill?

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 [etc.]:

Lord Craigton moved Amendment No. 16: Page 6, line 26, after ("floating") insert ("or suspended").

The noble Lord said: My amendment has the same difficulties as had the previous amendment. I learned from the Notes on Clauses, for which I am very grateful, that the phrase, from a container floating in the sea was intended to clear up a doubt in existing law. But I wonder whether the courts would construe as "floating in the sea" a container suspended underneath a ship or even a container towed along neither on the top nor the bottom of the sea, but held by vanes. Does the noble Lord think that the courts would, in every case in the two instances I have given, construe it as a "container floating in the sea"? I beg to move.

Lord Somers

I should have thought that an oil rig might be included.

Lord Belstead

I am grateful to my noble friend for his explanation of his amendment, but I hope I can convince him that it is not necessary. The clause refers to, a container floating in the sea". This phrase was deliberately chosen to cover not only those containers floating on the surface, but also those floating in the water or, in other words, a bit submerged. The word "suspended" would appear to make clear that the container is suspended from a vessel, but all containers will, in fact, be towed or propelled by a vessel; so that is covered, too.

5.30 p.m.

I think therefore the amendment does not in practice extend the area subject to control. My noble friend and the Government are at one in wanting to see the area covered by this properly expressed. I think it is in the Bill. I do not think that my noble friend's amendment would extend that area, and if my noble friend agreed, I would ask that he might consider withdrawing the amendment.

Lord John-Mackie

When we looked at this amendment we could not quite follow what "suspended" meant. We had a lot of guesses, and then somebody said that it could be something suspended at the edge of a cliff, or suspended at the end of a pier, not necessarily suspended from a boat. I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, meant something like that or not.

Lord Craigton

I am quite satisfied with the reply of the Minister, and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 17: Page 6, line 40, after ("vessel,") insert ("foreign").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 17 and I should like to speak to Amendments Nos. 18 to 25 with it.

Amendment No. 18: Page 6, line 40, after ("aircraft,") insert ("foreign")

Amendment No. 19: Page 6, line 41, after ("or") insert ("foreign")

Amendment No. 20: Page 7, line 4, after ("vessel,") insert ("foreign")

Amendment No. 21: Page 7, line 4, at end insert ("foreign")

Amendment No. 22: Page 7, line 5, after ("or") insert ("foreign")

Amendment No. 23: Page 7, line 12, after ("vessel,") insert ("foreign")

Amendment No. 24: Page 7, line 12, at end insert ("foreign")

Amendment No. 25: Page 7, line 13, after ("or") insert ("foreign")

It is not clear in paragraphs (c) and (d) (iii) of Clause 5 that the adjective "foreign" applies to aircraft, hovercraft, and marine structures, as well as to vessels. The paragraphs concerned are intended to apply only to foreign vessels and these other vehicles—British craft—are dealt with separately. This amendment clarifies the intention of the Bill. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendments Nos. 18 to 25:

[Printed above.]

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Baroness Birk moved Amendment No. 26: Page 7, line 23, at end insert— ("(2) The licensing authority shall forthwith notify the local authority for any area that it is reasonably apprehended may be affected as a result of the grant of a licence under section 8 of this Act of the grant of such licence and of any subsequent variation or revocation and all such licences shall require reasonable prior notification to be given to such local authority before any deposit of substances or articles may take place thereunder").

The noble Baroness said: This is rather different from the other amendments I have been moving. It deals with letting the local authority have information about things which are going on which may affect them. Perhaps I may start by giving an example of what I mean. Some time ago a number of local authorities elected councillors who were very concerned about the importation from Europe of materials which were subsequently disposed of at sea locally. The operation was based on a bulk liquid storage plant and at the time was the cause of very considerable concern as the material being dumped resulted in numerous complaints about the smell when it eventually came ashore.

This I imagine is just one example of what has happened and what could certainly happen in the future. What we are asking for here is that local authorities should be advised of the licences issued and the areas in which the dumping was to take place. In other words, they would know what was going on in their area and not suddenly be confronted with complaints of this sort when they knew nothing about it. There is no delay involved in this. It is really a question of freedom of information and openness. What is wanted is notification of the granting of a licence before the dumping, so that the local authority knows what is going on in its own area. I beg to move.

Lord Belstead

As always, the noble Baroness makes this sound extremely reasonable, but I think there is a difficulty here. The licensing authority, I think, would be involved in a very great deal of additional work of notifying not only county, but also district councils, of all licences as they are issued, and of each operation carried out. I would just add that a lot of dumping is not only very routine, but is also very frequent in some cases. Sewage sludge dumping, for instance, is fairly frequent, and we would be talking about almost constant notifications.

I am a little mystified as to what the reason for the proposal would be, because although there would be notification under this amendment, there would not be any consultation or talk with the local authorities, at least, not in the way that the amendment is drafted at the moment. I cannot therefore see very much advantage in just notifying local authorities of the activities which are going to have to be licensed in this part of the Bill, and it is for that reason that I would ask the noble Baroness if she would perhaps withdraw this amendment.

Baroness Birk

I see the point that the Minister has made, but I think the advantage of the amendment—not necessarily in the form in which it is drafted—is that the local authority would be aware in advance of what was happening in its area. The example I gave was of where material is imported from Europe. Certainly, in all cases, it would not involve a multiplicity of authorities. It would probably involve only one authority in many cases, particularly if it is dumping at sea, and it is something I should like the Minister to have a look at, even if it is not possible in this form. The point about it is that the authorities otherwise are completely taken by surprise. They get a lot of local complaints, and they do not know what is going on in their own area.

If there is a way of doing this which does not involve quite so much work and writing, then I would be very happy about it, but I feel that when there is a situation where something has been dumped and come in on the waves of the sea, and there have been a number of complaints, the local authority naturally feels taken by surprise, concerned, and sometimes mystified. The ensuing complaints from the local authority and questions and investigation could in fact be far more lengthy and bureaucratic than if it was automatically advised in advance.

Lord Belstead

I do not wish to be too unforthcoming. I think normally I would say that I would look at it; but I think, if I may say so, that there is some responsibility on the noble Baroness perhaps just to have a look at her own amendment. I entirely take to heart the fact that a local authority representing a coastal holiday town is going to want to have every care taken so far as offshore dumping is concerned. But in order for the local authority to know what are the factors which the licensing authority has taken into account in agreeing to deposits being made in a particular area—and, as the noble Baroness will know, areas for depositing in the sea are chosen in no way at random, but with great care—it would be necessary for it to have discussions and consultations with the licensing authority.

With great respect, that is what this amendment does not say. It simply says that the local authority needs to be notified, and I really would have thought that if the amendment is to have effect, consultation has got to be written in. I cannot honestly say to the noble Baroness that I would then accept it, but I think at least it would make sense.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

May I ask the noble Lord a question before he sits down? What would be the situation if it was a case of dumping at sea? Certainly in Scotland coastal protection is the responsibility of the regional councils, and there might be two or three in my own area district councils who would have to be notified; they would all be affected by it. They might not agree how far they were going to respond. I would have thought that it was a little more complex than the noble Baroness is perhaps suggesting.

Baroness Birk

I am aware of that. To be frank, we do not have the amendment right. I am not happy about the way that it is drafted, but I think that there is an important enough point here for the Government to "have a look at it. I shall certainly take the amendment back and have a look at it to see whether we can reach what we are trying to get at by an easier and better drafted means. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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

Lord Renton

It would seem on the face of it that Part II of the Bill, and especially Clause 5, refers to the deposit of nuclear waste in the sea. But one knows that there is a good deal of other legislation affecting nuclear activities. I wonder whether my noble friend can confirm that in fact and in law the deposit of nuclear waste will be covered by Part II of the Bill, including Clause 5.

Lord Belstead

As I think I said on Second Reading, the depositing of radioactive waste will be covered by this Bill in the same way that it was covered by the Dumping at Sea Act 1974. A licence would be required, as in the past, and the stringent conditions agreed internationally would apply to the operation. Of course the Bill is completely without prejudice to the reviews of ocean dumping of radioactive waste being conducted internationally under the London Dumping Convention and at home between the Government and the Trades Union Congress. But the current suspension of radioactive dumping for those reasons will not be affected by the Bill in any way.

Lord Renton

I am grateful to my noble friend.

Clause 5, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 6 [Requirement of licences for incineration at sea etc.]:

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 27: Page 7, line 32, at end insert ("foreign").

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

On Question, amendment agreed to.

On Question, Whether Clause 6, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Mottistone

May I ask my noble friend whether Clause 6 means that ships at sea which wish to destroy confidential or secret waste, such as documents, but perhaps do not have a shredder, or, if they have one, it is out of action, cannot burn that waste, in peace or war, if that is necessary?

Lord Belstead

In Clause 6 we are talking about a particular kind of incineration at sea. The definition of this kind of incineration follows closely that laid down in the Oslo Protocol. A definition is necessary to ensure that combustion for purposes other than destruction—for instance, combustion of fuel oil in a ship's engine—is not caught. The effectiveness of thermal destruction is assured by the application of strict operational conditions.

If I may just flesh out what I meant when I said that a definition is necessary to ensure that combustion for purposes other than destruction is going on, in Clause 6 the substances incinerated are not themselves deposited in the sea, although their combustion products may enter the sea. That is the effect of this particular kind of incineration.

Lord Hawke

Has the Minister answered my noble friend Lord Mottistone?

Lord Mottistone

No. It is destruction that I am talking about.

Lord Belstead

The answer to my noble friend's question is, no; but I was too polite to put it that way.

Lord Mottistone

I am sorry. I did not hear my noble friend's last remark.

Lord Belstead

My noble friend asked me whether, if he wanted to indulge in shredding at sea, it would be covered by Clause 6. The answer to that question is, no; but I did not quite like to put it that way.

Lord Mottistone

I did not ask that. I did not ask whether shredding should go in the sea. We always used to burn confidential waste and we did not have to get special permission, a licence or anything like that. Since then shredders have been invented. But shredders are not always very reliable, so it is still necessary in warships at any rate and, I should imagine, in fishery protection vessels and that sort of craft, to be able to burn confidential waste from time to time. One does not want anybody who is unauthorised to lay hands on it. It would seem to me that that needs to be an exception to Clause 6. It is not clear to me whether it is.

5.45 p.m.

Lord Belstead

I apologise to my noble friend. I think that I can be forgiven because we are still not talking about an exemption to Clause 6. That kind of destruction of documents or anything else at sea would not come into the Clause 6 kind of incineration, but it would none the less be depositing. This is where I have to apologise to my noble friend for avoiding the question that he is putting to me, which is: could that sort of depositing go on? That answer is that there may be a case for what he is saying as an exemption under Clause 7.

Clause 6, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 7 [Exemptions]:

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 28: Page 8, line 2, at end insert— ("(1A) The conditions that an order under this section may specify include conditions enabling a licensing authority to require a person to obtain the authority's approval before he does anything for which a licence would be needed but for the order. (1B) Approval under subsection (1A) above may be without conditions or subject to such conditions as the authority considers appropriate.")

The noble Lord said: It is essential that there are no doubts or ambiguities about the extent of our control over exempted activities. This amendment would enable us to control such activities at a local level, just as we do some operations which require a licence. In most cases, it is the district inspector of fisheries who will need to be consulted before an operation is begun. He is the man best placed to advise whether the operation should be carried out, having regard to such things as local weather, tidal conditions and the need to safeguard fisheries. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 7, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 8 [Licences]:

Lord John-Mackie moved Amendment No. 29: Page 8, line 12, at end insert—

  1. ("(aa) shall consider the practical availability of alternative means of disposal or elimination of wastes; and").

The noble Lord said: This is a simple amendment. The noble Lord may say that it is covered in the Bill by a certain phrase. If a licence is refused for the elimination of waste or the dumping of something, I believe that an alternative should be suggested by the authority. Somebody should not be left high and dry with a large amount of waste. We have put down the amendment so that the authority should be responsible for giving guidance as to what to do with the waste if a licence is refused. I beg to move.

Lord Belstead

In Clause 8(1) we have picked out, in paragraph (a), the chief criteria to be considered when issuing a licence, and Ministers must have regard to these. In order that an all-round assessment can be made, paragraph (b) provides Ministers with discretion to take into account anything which they consider relevant. Among these will be the appropriate criteria listed in both the Oslo and London Conventions, of which availability of alternative disposal options is one. That is the point that the noble Lord is after.

However, I should like to explain briefly, if I may, why we have not said that specifically in the Bill, which is what the noble Lord wants us to do. Firstly, it is not relevant to certain operations for which licences are issued. I am thinking in particular here of licences for the deposit of materials in connection with the construction of moorings, breakwaters, and so on. Secondly, we would not wish to list every one of the criteria specified in the conventions, and we therefore feel it is best not to single out any one of them for special mention.

Finally, I should assure the noble Lords that the availability of alternatives to the sea route is a factor that we take into account at present, and this will continue to be the case. So I am saying that in practice the particular criterion which the noble Lord wants taken into account—namely, alternative means of disposal—is always taken into account; the international conventions require that we do so. It would put us into difficulties if we wrote this into the Bill, because some of the things which are technically "depositing" are things like the building out of breakwaters and the building out of harbours, which do not come into this particular area of consideration at all. Therefore, if the noble Lord will allow me to say so, I think—and particularly because the international conventions require it—that it is best if I simply give the undertaking that where it is necessary and right to do so the alternatives to depositing into the sea are always taken into account before issuing a licence.

Lord John-Mackie

The noble Lord is so persuasive that I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 30: Page 8, line 20, after ("authority") insert—("(a)")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 30, and would speak at the same time to Amendments Nos. 31, 32 and 34.

Amendment No. 31: Page 8, line 20, leave out second ("a") and insert ("any").

Amendment No. 32: Page 8, leave out lines 22 to 24.

Amendment No. 34: Page 8, line 28, at end insert ("and (b) may include in a licence which only authorises operations such as are mentioned in section 5(e) or (f) above or section 6(1)(b) above provisions requiring that any operation of deposit, scuttling or incineration which is mentioned in it shall take place at a specified site, whether in United Kingdom waters or not.").

This group of amendments reorganises Clause 8 and makes it clear that the licensing authority may include in a licence for loading provisions specifying the site at which the subsequent deposit, scuttling or incineration may take place. When a licence is issued for any of these activities the site at which they are to be carried out is in fact always specified in the licence. This amendment makes it clear that such a provision may be included in a licence issued to operators who load in the United Kingdom but intend to deposit, scuttle or incinerate outside our fishery limits. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 31:

[Printed above.]

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 32:

[Printed above.]

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Craigton moved Amendment No. 33: Page 8, line 24, at end insert—

The noble Lord said: Vessels have been known to dump their waste in places other than those specified in the licence. The licensing authority will know or suspect offenders. I think they should have the power to insist on automatic position recording equipment being installed in those cases. I cannot find this provision either in the Bill or in the Notes on Clauses. So I hope my amendment will clarify the position. I beg to move.

Lord Belstead

I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Craigton for raising this question of automatic data recorders, known as black boxes. May I first of all explain that black boxes are mandatory on incinerator vessels under the Oslo protocol, and we shall certainly ensure that incineration licences require their use.

It has also been suggested that black boxes should be used on ordinary dumping vessels. If I may say so, I think this is a less easy point. One can, for instance, think of a very small dredger, which is habitually working from a specific harbour, and everybody knows exactly where the dredging spoil will be put. For a vessel of that kind to have to have a black box, I think, would be a little heavy-handed. But my noble friend's amendment would leave some discretion in individual cases. Therefore, I think this is an appealing aspect of the amendment so far as the Government are concerned.

There is another aspect of my noble friend's amendment. It draws attention to a point in Clause 8(1): the fact that there is no express provision there for the licensing authority to include provisions in a licence; or, as my noble friend said, there is no mention of what he is getting at in the Bill. That is true. This is supposed to be implicit, but it could perhaps be clarified.

To be honest, I should like to have said straight out that I would accept my noble friend's amendment. However, I am advised that there are one or two points of both English and, as my noble friend will well know, also Scottish law which need to be looked at in connection with this particular amendment. So may I ask my noble friend's agreement, if he would withdraw it, to my taking it away and to our considering it very sympathetically? That is how I should like to leave it, if my noble friend will agree.

Lord Craigton

I am very grateful to my noble friend. All I wanted was that the powers should be there to insist on the black box being installed on the ship of the well-known naughty shipowner who was known to be breaking the law. After listening to what my noble friend has said, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 34:

[Printed earlier: col. 1490.]

The noble Lord said: I have spoken to this amendment with Amendment No. 30. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 8, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 3 agreed to.

Clause 9 [Offences relating to licensing system]:

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 35: Page 9, line 40, leave out ("the Minister or the Secretary of State") and insert ("one or other of the Ministers").

The noble Lord said: This amendment clarifies the drafting and is necessary because the word "Minister" is not defined in the Bill. But in Clause 22 "Ministers" is defined as being my right honourable friend the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Secretary of State. By inserting one or other of the Ministers,

I think we are making the meaning of this particular part of the Bill clear without changing what was our original intention. I beg to move.

Lord Stodart of Leaston

There is just one very small point. I am sorry for raising another triviality, but I have been searching the Bill to see if there is any definition indicating which Secretary of State it is. There are several Secretaries of State. I think it is perfectly obvious that it is the Secretary of State for Scotland. On the other hand, the fact that the name of the Bill is the Food and Environment Protection Bill makes it just possible that it may mean the Secretary of State for the Environment. I wonder whether it might not be a good plan to add to the definition in Clause 22 by saying, "the Secretary of State for Scotland".

Lord Belstead

think there is a difficulty here in that "Secretary of State" is undoubtedly supposed to refer to the Secretary of State for Scotland, because we are talking about fisheries matters. On the other hand, when one looks at Part I of the Bill, there the intention was that the Secretaries of State concerned would of course extend to the Secretary of State for Wales as well, and indeed, when emergency orders are being made, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. I am advised that when one talks about the "Secretary of State" one does indeed mean the whole range of all Government Ministers who are Secretaries of State, from the Prime Minister onwards.

If I may say so, I think there is not only a drafting reason for this amendment but also a practical reason. That is, suppose it was necessary, very suddenly, to issue a licence under Part II—because that is what we are talking about—and it was the Secretary of State for Scotland who was needed and he was on the other side of the world. It might be of great advantage if one of his colleagues was able to stand in his stead.

6 p.m.

Lord John-Mackie

We should be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Stodart, for raising this point again. I raised the question on Second Reading that references to the Minister and the Secretary of State all the way through made it very difficult to follow exactly who was referred to. I cannot see the logic behind the Minister's point that particular Secretaries of State should not be mentioned. I did not follow his explanation.

Earl Ferrers

May I suggest that it would be inconvenient to insert "the Secretary of State for the Environment" because there may come a Government that decided to dispose of the Department of the Environment and put another department in its place. If you write in "the Secretary of State for the Environment" it could cause problems later. I would suggest that "Secretary of State" is the correct wording.

Lord Stodart of Leaston

Might it still not be better to say, "Secretary of State" rather than "the Secretary of State"?

Lord Belstead

I have to confess that I cannot answer that question. The point that I would pick up is that of my noble friend Lord Ferrers. I understand that from a drafting point of view—in other words, it is the advice of parliamentary counsel—the correct way to talk about a Secretary of State in legislation is to talk about "the Secretary of State" and to leave the Government to sort out which Secretary of State it is.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 36: Page 10. line 25, after ("the") insert ("national or").

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I should like also to speak to Amendments Nos. 37 and 38.

Amendment No. 37: Page 10, line 29, after ("the") insert ("national or").

Amendment No. 38: Page 10, line 35, after first ("the") insert ("national or").

These amendments correct a defect in the drafting which appears three times in this clause. The effect of the amendments is that in each case the defence provided by subsection (6) would be available if the vessel or other craft was loaded in, or towed or propelled from, the internal waters of a convention state. As it stands, the clause refers to "territorial waters". Your Lordships may be aware that these extend from "base lines" which cut across bays and estuaries and do not therefore include internal waters. Since it seems likely that the activities we are talking about here—namely, loading, towing and propelling—will occur in, or at least commence from, ports, and since ports may well be behind where the "base lines" start, it is important that the clause refers to all waters within the territorial limits of the convention state. These amendments achieve that objective. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 37:

[Printed above.]

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 38:

[Printed above.]

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 9, as amended agreed to.

Clause 10 agreed to.

Clause 11 [Powers of officers.]:

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 39: Page 11, line 12, at beginning insert— ("( ) Either of the Ministers may authorise any person, subject to such limitations as may be specified in the instrument authorising him, to enforce this Part of this Act; and the following provisions of the Act shall be construed, in reference to a person so authorised, as subject to any such limitations.").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 39 I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 40, 41, 42 and 43.

Amendment No. 40: Page 11, line 13, leave out ("authorised by either of the Ministers") and insert ("so authorised").

Amendment No. 41: Page 11, line 28, leave out ("authorised to exercise powers conferred by this section may") and insert ("so authorised shall").

Amendment No. 42: Page 11, line 30, leave out ("exercising them") and insert ("enforcing this Part of this Act").

Amendment No. 43: Page 11, line 32, leave out ("exercise the powers conferred by this section") and insert ("enforce this Part of this Act").

These amendments make clear that Ministers have the power to authorise officers to enforce Part II and provide that officers' authorities may be subject to limitations. By "limitations" I mean, for instance, people expert in one particular field and maybe not expert in another. This and the parallel amendment in Clause 17 brings Parts II and III of the Bill into line with Part I in this particular respect; in other words, providing that officers' authorities shall be subject to limitations. The other amendments to which I am speaking are simply consequential by way of drafting. I beg to move.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

May I ask the Minister, following upon the previous discussion, whether "Either of the Ministers" refers to any Minister?

Lord Belstead

I think I shall have to take advice. I have not done too badly: we have been going for about three hours, and I have not been wholly stumped. I think, however, that I am now. May I take advice and come back to it at a favourable opportunity, perhaps on the Question, Whether the Clause shall stand part?

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Aylestone)

Amendments Nos. 40 to 43 have been spoken to. If no noble Lord objects, I shall put the Question that Amendments Nos. 40 to 43 inclusive be agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendments Nos. 40 to 43:

[Printed above.]

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 11, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 12 [Powers of Ministers to test and to charge for testing]:

On Question, Whether Clause 12 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Belstead

If I may take this opportunity to answer the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, as to whether any of the Ministers meant "Either of the Ministers", the answer is, yes.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

Does the noble Lord not mean the opposite—that "Either of the Ministers" means any Minister?

Lord Belstead

I feel sure that the answer to that question is also yes.

Clause 12 agreed to.

Clause 13 agreed to.

Schedule 4 [Particulars to be contained in Registers]:

Baroness Nicol moved Amendment No. 44: Page 31, line 39, at end insert— ("10. The results of the toxicity tests carried out by the authority on wastes in order to assess their suitability for dumping at sea.")

The noble Baroness said: In view of the little exchange that has just taken place, I look forward to the debate on Amendment No. 47 with some interest. Amendment No. 44 is really part of a wider debate on the availability of information which will come in later amendments. This particular point was raised at Second Reading. In response to a suggestion that there was no particular reason why information about toxicity of wastes dumped at sea should not be available and also a request for the content of guidelines to be used in the issue of licences, the noble Lord the Minister replied at column 734 that the guideline would be safety. This is not satisfactory unless the standards of safety are open to scrutiny.

The Royal Commission on Environmental Protection, in its second, seventh and tenth reports, has consistently recommended that this kind of information would be of value to enable the Minister's standards to be independently checked. The RCEP's reports cover a period of 12 years. During that time, the complexity and quantity of dumped wastes have increased considerably. The Government based their case for secrecy on the Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) Act 1961. I repeat: 1961! Even in 1972 the validity of the arguments about secrecy were being questioned. Surely in 1984 we can ask the Minister to take a fresh look. The amendment would not cause extra work since the information that we seek will have been disclosed and recorded at the time of the licence application. I beg to move.

The Earl of Onslow

I should like to support the amendment. I have in front of me a telex on FIFRA, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act of the United States. On the question of information on tests and toxicity, they are extremely forthright. I suspect, having read this, that they are equally forthright on similar sorts of tests for toxicity for dumping at sea, and if they do not have a special Act on it they will certainly have the Freedom of Information Act.

Therefore, it would seem to me that if we can get the information out of the Americans and somebody then wants to dump it here because they think, "Oh, well, it's a bit more secret here", it might be slightly easier to get away with it here because people would not be able to question it. That is the first point.

The second point, which also comes back to what the noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, says, is on the question of the testing of data for pesticides—when we get to Clause 15. It would surely be very important that there should be a Community-wide, maximum information directive upon this. Therefore, would it not be wrong on our part to pass an Act which is restrictive and then have to pass another one when finally there is a Community-wide directive? This is something which surely affects the Community in a very big way.

Lord Belstead

I am a little perplexed about the noble Baroness's references to secrecy, because the results of the toxicity tests are already included in the public register and would continue to be disclosed under the Bill. I must confess that we envisage that item 4—description of the waste—will include this information, although it is not specified because we were trying to keep the list as simple as possible. However, I think we do need to clarify this point. It is perfectly reasonable that the noble Baroness should put it forward.

I am certainly willing to accept this amendment, but I should like to make it subject to minor changes to the drafting to take account of the fact that not all licence applications require a toxicity test. If the noble Baroness will accept my response in that way, then I shall come forward with some wording, about which I shall consult the noble Baroness, so that it would be ready for the Report stage.

Baroness Nicol

I am extremely grateful to the Minister, and in that case I shall withdraw the amendment in its present form.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 4 agreed to.

Clause 14 [Repeal of Dumping at Sea Act 1974, consequential amendments and transitional provisions]:

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 45: Page 12, line 19, leave out ("(1)") and insert ("(2)").

The noble Lord said: This amendment simply corrects a wrong reference to the Control of Pollution Act 1974. This really is a drafting amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 14, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 15 [Control of pesticides etc.]:

Lord Mackie of Benshie moved Amendment No, 46: Page 13, line 7. at beginning insert ("in order to safeguard human beings (whether as operators applying products, as food consumers or otherwise), livestock, domestic animals, beneficial insects, wildlife (i.e. non-target flora and fauna) and the environment generally (e.g. soil, air and water) against risks which could arise from the use of pesticide products,").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move this amendment, which I must say we consider very important in a Bill which is really giving the Government power to govern by regulation. In fact, nowhere does it give any real guidance, either in the Title or at the start of Clause 15. There are plenty of precedents for such guidance. For example, in the Food Act 1984 and the Consumer Safety Act 1978 the principles on which regulations may be made are clearly stated. The wording in the amendment is drawn from the agreement, the code, which the manufacturers operate at present and which has worked satisfactorily.

I think it is a matter of simple common sense and principle that it should be stated what the regulations are about—not that the Government may make regulations. This is enormously important, and there is very wide public interest. Actually to regulate without laying down the principle on which the regulations should be made appears to us to be a grave mistake. I beg to move.

6.15 p.m.

Lord Mottistone

I should like very briefly to support this amendment. This is not because I introduced the Consumer Safety Act into your Lordships' House, but because the amendment sounds to me to be good, common sense. It is a pleasure to be able for once to support the noble Lord. Lord Mackie of Benshie.

Lord Melchett

I wonder whether it would be sensible to take an amendment down in my name later on the Marshalled List—Amendment No. 102—with this amendment, because it also aims, by way of a new clause, to set out general objectives which the Government should follow in making orders under this part of the Bill. If the Minister thinks that would be sensible, I should be happy to speak to that amendment now, in order to save time later; but I am willing to listen to what the Minister has to say about it.

Lord Belstead

If I may say so, I think it goes a fair bit wider, maybe for good reasons. I should have preferred not to take that amendment with this one, but I shall not stand in the noble Lord's way if he wishes to do so.

Lord Renton

I am not certain whether or not this amendment is needed. I should like to hear more about it in due course from my noble friend. I think that the Bill as it stands needs some explanation and clarity in order that we can be sure that it gives enough protection to human beings when eating their food. For example, the November issue of Europe 84 says, on page 18: When you next crack open your breakfast egg, be ready for a mouthful of furazolidone, nicarbazin, nitrofurantoin, chloramphenicol and perchloroethylene", the point being that these are various substances which are fed to chickens in order to kill various pests from which they may suffer.

I do not say that all those substances are fed to any chicken simultaneously, but that is the range of substances known to veterinary surgeons for that purpose. Of course, what is good for the chicken is not necessarily good for the egg or good for the consumer of the egg. Therefore, to the extent that this amendment is to safeguard human beings, I think the matter is at least worthy of consideration.

Lord John-Mackie

For once, I should like to congratulate my noble kinsman and his two co-amenders on bringing this forward. Something like this should go into the Bill. I am not sure whether this is the right place but, as we all know, Part III is the most important part of the Bill, and to start with this certainly would remedy the fact that there is nothing on this point in the Bill. I have looked at my noble friend's amendment, No. 102. As the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, said, it goes a bit wider than this one. We should certainly support this going at the beginning of this particular part of the Bill.

If I may, I should like to criticise the use of brackets in this Bill. What is the matter with a good old comma, so that all these brackets the noble Lord has put in could be left out? I do not know who the drafters are. Subject to the removal of the brackets, we would support this amendment.

Earl Ferrers

understand the reason why the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, has put down this amendment; it is to guide the Minister in the making of regulations. My noble friend Lord Renton said he did not know whether or not it was needed. I suggest that it is not needed, and I suggest that it is not needed in this particular form. If I may say so, it is fairly sloppy drafting because if we look at line 3, it says: domestic animals, beneficial insects, wildlife (i.e. non-target flora and fauna)". As your Lordships know "i.e." means, "that is". So it would read: [that is] non-target flora and fauna". The target flora and fauna are also wildlife and therefore to describe wildlife in that way would be wrong. It then goes on to refer to: the environment generally (e.g. soil, air and water)". In other words, it reads: [for example] soil, air and water". What about the other parts of the environment which are not given as examples? Are they included in that prohibition or not? It then goes on to say: against risks which could arise from the use of pesticide products". If those words are included, they virtually totally exclude all pesticides, because all pesticides could possibly have a deleterious effect.

I am quite certain that the opinion of the House on Second Reading was that there is a danger as regards pesticides and what we have to do is to find the balance of advantage and disadvantage and come down on the side of the balance of advantage. But if we are to exclude all pesticides which could possibly produce bad effects we shall curtail their use totally. I hope that this preamble—and personally I do not like the idea of putting a preamble in front of a clause anyway—will not be included.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

Let me assure the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, that this is the preamble to the code which has protected him to his evident good health for the past 20 years or so.

Lord Melchett

take the point made by the noble Lord. Lord Belstead, about my Amendment No. 102 being more detailed and if it be convenient to your Lordships I shall leave that amendment until we reach it in the Marshalled List.

My criticism of Amendment No. 46 would be very similar to that of the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers; namely, it is too vague and not nearly clear enough in its drafting. I do not think that it provides effective enough guidance to Ministers when they draw up the regulations. In particular, in contrast to my amendment, there is the absence of the need to ensure: the availability of an adequate number of appropriate pesticides for agricultural and other use". Surely that should be one of the objectives of the regulations, but there should also be a number of others as well.

However, as regards the general principle of an amendment of this kind, it seems to me to be absolutely vital that, if Parliament is really going to give Ministers the extraordinarily wide powers to draw up regulations which this Bill apparently does give them. Parliament should give Ministers some objectives, some guidance about the purpose of the regulations. After all, as I understand it at present, there is really nothing in the Bill to prevent a Minister drawing up regulations which would make pesticide use almost impossible for any agricultural purpose whatever. There is nothing in the Bill which says that the Minister should not do that. I suspect that every time we ask the Minister during our discussions on this part of the Bill whether such and such a practice is covered by the regulation-making powers in the Bill, the Minister's reply will be, yes. We had that experience on Second Reading when, for example, the Minister said that aerial spraying was already covered by the Bill although that was not generally recognised until that point.

Therefore, as regards the general principle of including an amendment of this nature, it is absolutely vital that Parliament gives Ministers some guidance about the objectives that they should have in mind when drawing up these regulations. I cannot believe that Parliament would allow the Bill to become an Act without such objectives being put into the Bill at some point.

The Earl of Onslow

I should like to ask my noble friend whether there are any precedents as regards this matter. There must be regulations which Ministers draw up as regards human drugs, veterinary drugs, fuels or whatever. There must be oceans and tonnes of regulations on these types of subject which are covered by Acts of Parliament. What do other Acts of Parliament say? Do they or do they not give Ministers parameters according to which they should issue regulations? I must admit that if they do not do so I suspect that they ought to. I tend to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, on this matter. It is a bit vague just to say, "Go forth and govern New South Wales". You ought to be told vaguely how you should do it.

Lord Stodart of Leaston

I fear that my noble friend is going to have a hard task judging between two of his predecessors in his eminent office, because I am afraid that I am going to disagree with my noble friend Lord Ferrers. In my view, something like this ought to go in as a preamble. I am bound to say that it attracts me. The reason I prefer it to Amendment No. 102 is that Amendment No. 102 is put forward as a new clause and I do not think that we want that. However, we do want a pointer to what the regulations are aimed at achieving and, therefore, I hope that my noble friend will feel able to accept something like this amendment, be it with the commas, colons and brackets removed. Those are matters which can be tidied up.

On Second Reading, speaker after speaker made the point that everything to do with this Bill depended on the regulations, about which, of course, we did not know anything. This amendment seems to me to form a backcloth to the whole purpose of the regulations. We have had it since Second Reading and we have also had many amendments put down which we are about to discuss and which are designed as potential regulations. Moreover, we have had—or at least some of us at any rate have had—what I think is called the "statement of intent" which my noble friend was kind enough to circulate. Having had all that I feel very strongly that a great responsibility lies upon us to do something which is extremely difficult, and that is to strike a fair balance between the interests of what one can describe no better than the environment, and the interests of practical—and I underline that word—present-day farming.

My noble friend has an immensely difficult task. The regulations must be explicit but not so restrictive that manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and users of pesticides become just plain bloody-minded about them. Of course I cannot speak for the distributive or the manufacturing side, but I do claim to be a fairly practical farmer. I do my best to keep up with the Mackies! I am one who, like the noble Lord, Lord John-Mackie, has had the rewarding task not only of having farmed for a very long time, but also of having engaged in administrative agriculture at the Ministry.

I am bound to say that, as the Marshalled List stands at present, some amendments or some potential regulations go beyond reasonable lengths. Even Amendment No. 66 which stands in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, asks just a little too much not only of a practical farmer—who probably does not have a secretary as I suspect the noble Lord has—but what is far more likely, of a farm steward who will probably be in charge of the work.

6.30 p.m.

I said at Second Reading that I would probably support the keeping of records and I would say that the record of what is actually sprayed is essential—the name of the field and the crop that is in it. all right; and the date that it is done. But I really think that to have to say the time of day. the personnel employed and the weather conditions—then I can see that we shall all have to buy ourselves anemometers to be able to say what was the speed of the wind while it went on. That, I think, goes a bit too far; just as I am concerned about (I think it is) Lord Melchett's Amendment No. 60, the restrictions on spraying adjacent to the highway. We have advanced to such an extent recently in Scotland that we no longer have highways. Thanks to the Roads (Scotland) Bill, which your Lordships may recall, we now have nothing but roads. There are motorways, there are streets, there are private roads and bridle tracks; but they are still all roads.

I think it may be perfectly reasonable where you may have a single road through a farm to have your "No Spraying" up to the edges; but where you have a farm—and many I am quite certain exist which are criss-crossed by roads and footpaths and so on—then I think the loss would be so considerable that we are going out of what I call the "reasonable and fair". And what about the case of a road which in fact I have—and I suppose it would be a highway in England—a private road owned by me? It is still a road. I would highly resent not being enabled to spray fairly near it.

Having said that, I come back to the balance. I expressed my views on Second Reading on aerial spraying. Quite frankly, I do not think the statement of my noble friend's intent, the widening of powers which he suggests, goes far enough. I should like to see him go further. Still I am not convinced that in these days of shorter straw, higher tractor booms and so on, one needs aerial spraying in arable areas. Having said that, I come back to my plea that we have got to try to strike a fair balance.

Earl Peel

I should like briefly to support the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie. A lot has been said on this. I should simply like to say that I think that some form of definition behind the regulations would be eminently sensible. I should not like to say at any stage which way this particular amendment would go. We have heard one version from Lord Mackie and we have heard another from the noble Lord opposite. But I think that in principle this would be eminently sensible and could only help everybody concerned with this Bill.

The Earl of Cranbrook

In framing any preambling phrase of this nature I think that particular stress must be put on the useful word which has been introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie. This is the word, "non-target". It must be the aim of an efficient farmer not to waste his pesticides on non-target organisms, and it must also be the aim of those engaged in pesticide research so to manufacture their products that these are efficient in so far as they work selectively against only those organisms which are their targets.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

Before I am sure whether I agree with a great many noble Lords that a preamble of this sort is desirable, may I ask the Minister whether he feels it is possible to define in this kind of way the objectives of the Bill? I think that I gathered from the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, that he is not completely sold on this particular wording. But if such a preamble is possible, clearly, crisply and all-embracingly, to describe the objectives, I should be very willing to go along with it.

Lord Belstead

We are starting on Part III of the Bill. I wonder if I might say one thing of general application before I reply on this amendment. From various parts of the House on Second Reading the criticism came to the Government that we had put Clause 15 (which is the enabling provision for the making of regulations) into the Bill without really giving any indication as to how those regulations were to be drafted. In reply on Second Reading, I said that we would endeavour to go point by point through the Government's intentions so far as the regulations were concerned. I used the word "intentions" advisedly because I believed, and still believe, that it is going to be very difficult for Parliament, and much more difficult for all those who are interested in the regulations, if we tie the thing up so tightly before we make the regulations that there is no room for genuine consultation between the time that this enabling part of the Bill is enacted and the time that the regulations are made.

In order to try to show good faith in this matter, I endeavoured to circulate this morning a paper running to 16 paragraphs called Statement of Intention in relation to the regulations to be made under Part III. I sent it to all noble Lords who spoke on Second Reading and all noble Lords who have their names down to an amendment under Part III. I regret to say that I left out a page of this and that had to be sent later on, but I hope that all the relevant pages are now in your Lordships' hands. I apologise that it has come so late and I can only explain that one of the reasons for that is that your Lordships may remember that, under the Pesticides (Safety Precautions) Scheme, when clearances are given it is necessary for nine different organisations (of which the Ministry of Agriculture is one) all to agree that clearance is a good thing. We therefore had to have a very considerable amount of consultation before we sent round this modest paper.

It is indeed modest because it is trying to do something on which my noble friend Lord Stodart has put his finger; namely, to maintain a balance in these matters. This the Government are certainly going to try to do in discussing Part III. A balance is needed between the interests of people who believe that pesticides have to be treated with the very greatest care because the vast majority of them are dangerous and the interests of those who are having to use pesticides in order to see that their products reach the consumer in very good condition. Therefore, one needs a balance.

They were just a few words of general application, but, in the same way as we have put Clause 15 into the Bill and perhaps have not been as specific as we should have been—and we are now, of course, going to become more specific as I hope the Statement of Intent shows because that is the way the debate in your Lordships' House is going to go—by the same token we did not include a statement of aims at the beginning of Clause 15 because we felt that we might thereby curtail the scope of Part III of the Bill by too narrow a definition.

My noble friend Lady Carnegy has asked the direct question, "Do the Government now feel, having listened to this short debate, that we can in fact define objectives?" I have noticed that my noble friend Lord Peel and my noble friend Lord Stodart both feel that it can be done and that the way in which the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, and his noble friends are trying to do it is the right way. I cannot in any way complain that I have not been given notice of this, because the noble Lord, Lord Walston, made this very point on the Second Reading, as did the noble Lord, Lord Mackie. They pointed out that, under the Pesticides (Safety Precautions) Scheme, the objectives of that scheme are set out. Lord Walston went on to comment on that occasion that the stated objectives of the PSPS are very comprehensive and a good statement of objectives. He and his noble friend Lord Mackie of Benshie who have moved the amendment this evening have now repeated them in Amendment No. 46 as a prelude to Clause 15.

If I may be allowed to say so, I think there is perhaps some non-parliamentary language in the amendment. My noble friend Lord Ferrers, I think, was right when he said that some of the words need to be looked at carefully. I am not sure whether the parliamentary draftsman would approve of "non-target flora and fauna", even though that is a concept which we need to incorporate.

The noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, is in the Committee and has Amendment No. 70 down; there is also Amendment No. 75, in the name of the noble Lord and my noble friends Lord Stanley and Lord Monk Bretton, which has a bearing on this; and Amendment No. 76 as well. Speaking for the Government, I should like to hear what is going to be said on those amendments before even beginning to make up my mind as to whether the words in Amendment No 46 are absolutely right.

I should therefore like to accept this amendment in principle and to ask the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, whether he would agree that between Committee and Report stage we could have a discussion as to whether, in the light of the debate which will take place, the wording which he and his noble friends have chosen is right or whether it needs some amendment, and anyway as to whether we can make it so that the parliamentary draftsmen would approve it. But I should like to make it clear that in principle the Government would wish to accept Amendment No. 46.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

I must thank the Minister and those other noble Lords who have spoken in support of the principle. I took the wording from the previous code. Obviously, it may not fit in parliamentary terms and may not please parliamentary draftsmen. I am delighted with the Minister's assurances, and I look forward to seeing what is produced. I can assure him that I am feeling so well about this that I can agree that all they say about him is true. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Earl Ferrers

Before the noble Lord withdraws the amendment may I make one suggestion, which is supposed to be of a helpful nature? Although the wording may be suitable for a code of practice it may not, despite what my noble friend says, be suitable for inclusion in an Act of Parliament. If my noble friend thinks it right to incorporate the principle, would it not be better if he put in words such as, "the Minister shall take account of various items in making the regulations? To put in the words, "In order to safeguard", is a platitude, and it ought to be more strictly worded. I hope my noble friend will consider that.

Lord Renton

There is a further matter which has not been referred to in this important debate which I hope my noble friend will bear in mind when considering the follow-up, as he has undertaken to do. Regulations will be challenged for their vires—in other words, whether they are within the intention of Parliament and the expression of the statute—by those who may be adversely affected by them. Therefore, the regulations should be drawn as widely as possible; otherwise, people who have done damage or who may intend to do damage, and who are not well intentioned, may evade the provisions of this part of the Act, and that would be a great disaster.

Lord John-Mackie

I, too, should like to thank the Minister for being so accommodating on this. The main thing is that we agree today on the principle of it, that there should be a preamble, and the Minister has offered to consult with my noble kinsman about the wording. I think we should all accept it and thank him very much indeed.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

For the second time I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Nicol moved Amendment No. 47: Page 13., line 7, after ("Ministers") insert ("and the Secretary of State for the Environment").

The noble Baroness said: In view of the earlier discussion on one Minister being all Ministers and one Secretary of State being all Secretaries of State, I wonder whether I ought merely to let this amendment go. I think that perhaps the Minister did not quite mean what I wish him to mean in this context. I should like to move Amendment No. 47 and speak to Amendments Nos. 72 and 136, with your Lordships' leave, because I think that this would save time.

6.45 p.m.

Amendment No. 72: Page 14, line 8, at end insert—

Amendment No. 136: Clause 22: Page 20, line 40. after ("State") insert ("for the Environment and the Secretary of State for Wales and the Secretary of State for Scotland.").

These three amendments are a phased attempt to secure that the Department of the Environment is statutorily involved in the drawing up of regulations. We make the point later on in the composition of an advisory body, but that will be a matter for a separate debate. There was general agreement at Second Reading that the Department of the Environment should be included in the consultations and discussions, and indeed in the implementation of the powers in this Bill.

Public concern about the use and abuse of pesticides has been aroused by a consideration of environmental aspects as much as of those of health and safety. We recognise that the agricultural industry is the greatest single influence on the natural environment—sometimes for ill, often for good. In fact, many of the things we now defend stoutly in the natural environment were in their day agricultural invasions, and we do well to remember this when we attempt to limit what the agricultural industry is doing. Be that as it may, it is indivisible from the natural environment.

The Minister, in his opening speech at Second Reading and again when winding-up, emphasised the Government's wish to protect the environment. It therefore makes sense to have the closest possible consultation with the Department of the Environment on the operation of the powers of this Bill. These amendments will ensure that the Department of the Environment is fully aware of the content of the proposed regulations and can ensure that environmental considerations are properly represented. I beg to move.

Lord Stanley of Alderley

Could my noble friend explain about these nine Ministers? I was somewhat shocked to read in his notes—for which, again, I thank him—that there would be nine separate Ministers to be consulted. My noble friend has just said that one of the reasons why we have only just got the notes is because nine separate Ministers had to be consulted. I shall not go along this line too far on this amendment, but when we come to deciding on new pesticides and new methods of applying them I am worried if we shall have to consult with nine separate Ministers. I should like to know whether he really means that he has to consult with nine separate Ministers.

Lord Belstead

Perhaps I could answer the last question first. We intend that the system of getting a unanimous decision from the nine departments mentioned in the notes which have been circulated to your Lordships will continue to be necessary when talking about clearances for pesticides. We believe that this is right from the point of view of human health, animal safety and protection of the environment. But that is a headache for us, and not so much for my noble friend.

So far as this amendment is concerned I shall not go over the question of the definition of Ministers which we talked about earlier, but may I go straight to the intention of the noble Baroness in moving the amendment; namely, in wishing my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment to be properly involved in the strategy of Clause 15. There is a drafting problem here in that Part III of the Bill extends United Kingdom-wide, as indeed does the Bill, so we are talking about Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well. I am not sure that the drafting would do. It goes without saying that the Secretary of State for the Environment would be consulted on the making and the implementation of any regulations affecting the environment.

In this context your Lordships might like to know that the Department of the Environment already plays a major role in the control of pesticides because it is one of the departments which has to agree to clearances under the PSPS and supplies a representative as an assessor on the Advisory Committee on Pesticides.

The fears which the noble Baroness may have that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment would not be involved in the strategy of Clause 15 are misplaced, if I may say so. So far as agreeing to clearances is concerned, I have given an absolute assurance that the situation will continue which has pertained until now; namely, that the Department of the Environment is one of the nine bodies which has to agree to clearances for pesticides.

Lord Melchett

take the point that the Department of the Environment is involved in the clearance of particular pesticides, but surely, in drawing up the regulations, there is a rather more fundamental point. I am still a little confused about exactly what role the Department of the Environment will play in that. I understand that it will be consulted, and I think that is all the noble Lord said. But I think he would agree that there is a difference between the Secretary of State and his department being consulted when detailed regulations are drawn up and the Secretary of State for the Environment jointly agreeing the regulations, approving the regulations, with a number of those Ministers responsible for agricultural matters in the United Kingdom. It seems to me that, if I understand the position right, while the Secretary of State's department may be consulted, he and other environmental Ministers in the United Kingdom will not be involved in approving the regulations before they are brought before Parliament. That seems to me to be a point which would be worth taking on board because, given that the effect of pesticides is as great on the environment as it is on the agricultural industry, in my view the Secretary of State for the Environment and other Ministers should be equally responsible for approving the regulations and agreeing them, and not just be one of the nine departments which are consulted about these matters.

I looked to the detailed Notes on Clauses—I should like to add my thanks to the noble Lord for the copious information we have been given by him and his department on the Bill—but in regard to the definition clause where "Ministers" and the "Secretary of State" are mentioned it simply says that this is necessary to clarify which Ministers are responsible for the actions provided for in Clause 1 and the various subsections, without actually saying which Ministers are involved. Thus the Notes on Clauses give one absolutely no help at all in this particular respect.

Lord Renton

I listened as carefully as I could to what my noble friend said, but I was still perplexed at the end of it to know which Minister or Secretary of State would be responsible for laying the regulations before Parliament. In your Lordships' House we do not have to worry very much about which Minister we question because all questions are prefaced with the words, "To ask Her Majesty's Government". But in another place it is very important that when a Question is tabled it is tabled for the responsible Minister. Also, even your Lordships, if I may dare to put it that way, may wish to make representations to the responsible Minister about the contents of the regulations before they are published. To which Minister or Secretary of State should we write? Whatever the statutory technicality may be, I think we are entitled to know to whom we should look as a matter of responsibility for these regulations.

Lord Belstead

May I first say that the relationship between the two departments, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of the Environment, is close, and evidence to that effect has been given by both departments to the Select Committee in another place looking into the working of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. Indeed, I think it is fair to say that both departments have pointed out that there is a good basis for making that assertion, in the sense that the Minister of Agriculture has recently set up what is known as an environmental co-ordination unit. That unit is able to have a close working relationship not only with the Department of the Environment, but also with some of the agencies which look to the Department of the Environment for their funding, if they are statutory agencies, or voluntary agencies, which receive grant aid from the Department of the Environment. In these ways the setting up of a special unit in the Ministry of Agriculture to try to co-ordinate environmental matters within the Ministry of Agriculture has improved the closeness of the relationship between the two departments.

I think it is important for me to have said that because while this Bill goes through—if it goes through—your Lordships' House and another place, obviously both departments will be looking carefully at the debates which are taking place. Then there will come the moment when the regulations have to be made. As my noble friend Lord Renton asked, who will actually make the regulations? Because this is the Bill of the Minister of Agriculture it will be the Minister of Agriculture who will make the regulations. But I should like to say that if it is felt to be appropriate, there is not the slightest reason why my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment also should not make the regulations under this particular part of the Bill.

Lord Melchett

I hope the noble Lord will not mind my mentioning that apart from evidence to the Select Committees of Parliament, there have been the reports of two Select Committees of your Lordships' House this year. In both cases the Select Committees said that while relationships between the departments might be close, they could be, and should be, closer still in future.

Lord Renton

There seemed at one time to be a danger that that which was everybody's business would be nobody's business. I think we now have it quite clear from my noble friend that the Minister with the primary responsibility is the Minister of Agriculture.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

During the debate on one of the Select Committee reports I said that obviously the answer was to set up an environmental department within the Ministry of Agriculture which would stress this importance. I think that the Minister said that the conflict between the two had been largely resolved, and it must be right that there is one executive department applying the actual regulations and laying down the regulations, with the statutory components and indeed the content agreed by the environmental section within that ministry.

Baroness Nicol

I confess still to a slight unease, but I should like to read very carefully what has been said by all noble Lords who have contributed to the debate. May I take this opportunity to say that the document which, I regret, came too late today to be absorbed appears to be an excellent document. At this point may 1 also pay tribute to the Notes on Clauses which are extremely helpful, clearly written and very full. I thank the Minister for them. Despite all that help, I am still a little uneasy about this, but at this stage I shall withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Earl of Swinton

I think this might be a convenient time to take the dinner break. Before I beg to move that the House do now resume may I suggest that we do not return to this Committee Stage before 8 o'clock? I beg to move that the House do now resume.

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

House resumed.