HL Deb 17 January 1984 vol 446 cc964-76

5.52 p.m.

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord Gray of Contin)

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

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Gray of Contin.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD JACQUES in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [General power to prohibit sea fishing in specified areas] and Clause 2 [Use of mobile gear near fixed salmon nets]:

On Question, Whether Clauses 1 and 2 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

On Clause 1, I am disappointed that the noble Lord did not feel that anything had been said on Second Reading that gave him an opportunity to put down amendments to the Bill to give considerably more flexibility to this clause than seems to be in it. We are left with the fact that the Secretary of State will make orders, with very little time for discussion either in this House or in another place, and these orders will be very important to fishing in Scottish waters. We remain unconvinced that this is the best way to settle local differences between fishermen. However, local management has been firmly rejected by the Government and we now have to rely on the sensitivity with which the Secretary of State uses his powers under Clause 1 of the Bill. This is why I wanted to speak now on this clause.

I would agree that the latest set of proposals for the designation of static gear reserves, and thus of the areas shown on the map which is now in the Library, are much more encouraging than we expected: this is much better than the 1981 consultation document. The idea that static gear reserves can be designated on a seasonal basis is also, I feel, quite an advance. I wonder whether the Minister would consider, because I think it could be helpful, looking at the Clyde and Argyll waters as well as the Western Isles waters with the same idea of a seasonal approach: that is, of course, only if there is a local demand for such a method of proceeding.

Having decided to go for central control over the designation of reserves, the Government, through their officials, must now ensure that there is continuing flexibility and responsiveness, so that, in line with changing patterns and developing attitudes to fishing protection, will be given to the static gear interests where it is genuinely needed, without—and this is where the real difficulty arises—unnecessarily inhibiting the trawl fishermen or fishermen using any other method.

I am sure the Minister has read the statements by some of the fishermen's leaders in the West Highland Free Press. I merely mention this point to try and make it clear what difficulties are faced. One of the leaders was quoted in the paper as saying of the static gear reserves that he feared the reaction from trawler men could be, "Don't step out of line here or we will tow your creels away". That is a very severe criticism, or possible criticism, of the Act, unless the regulations are extremely flexible. No one wants anything like this to happen, and that applies, I am sure, to the trawl fishermen just as much as to the creel fishermen. It does put a great responsibility on the Government, and I am sure we all hope the Government will discharge the very great powers given under Clause 1 with diplomacy, caution, and, above all, a great deal of fairness.

Lord Grimond

I wonder whether I may ask the Minister two short questions before he replies to the official Opposition. A certain amount of dismay—if anything the Minister says could cause dismay—has been occasioned in Shetland by some of his remarks on Second Reading. I asked him about the prospects of a management scheme and he was rather dismissive of the possibility of any management scheme, although in the previous Parliament the Government had not been wholly opposed to it. Indeed, it is known that in Brussels it is looked on with some favour. In Shetland and Orkney there is considerable interest, and indeed enthusiasm, for a management scheme. The question I want to put to the Minister is whether he will have conversations with the Shetland and Orkney fishermen about their proposals for such a scheme. If so, it clearly might have an effect upon Clause 1 of this Bill.

The other question I should like to ask is this. As I read Clause 1, the offence is only in fishing. No offence is caused by merely moving through these areas which are to be reserved. There has in the past, as he will know, been a certain amount of trouble with fishing boats moving through areas in which there are fixed and indeed movable fishing gear. As I understand it, the Bill deals only with fishing and not with movement through these grounds which have been designated on the map.

Lord Gray of Contin

I am grateful to the noble Lord who opened for the Opposition on the Question, Whether Clauses 1 and 2 shall stand part of the Bill? The noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, was very fair in what he said, and the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, also was constructive in his remarks. I shall try to deal with the points raised; but perhaps I may first say to the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, that I very carefully studied all that was said on Second Reading, and the reason why I have not brought forward Government amendments to these clauses is that, quite frankly, I did not see anything which I considered would improve on what the Government intend in them. The noble Lord himself highlighted the point I want to make by asking me to assure your Lordships that the Government will be flexible, and that is precisely what we have been so far.

The noble Lord referred to the West Highland Free Press. That is not a publication renowned for its support of the Conservative Party, but in one of its recent issues it was very reasonable and fair in what it said and acknowledged that my officials had gone to a great deal of trouble to take account of local feeling regarding the location of static gear areas, and had responded considerably to local suggestions. That is the way in which we hope to proceed. It certainly is not the intention of the Government to be dictatorial, and we should like to proceed on a basis whereby we take account of local feelings.

The noble Lord, Lord Grimond, again raised the question of local management, particularly as it affects his former constituency of Orkney and Shetland, and that area. The Secretary of State has the power under existing legislation to oversee the regulation and development of the Scottish fishing industry as a whole. We feel that this situation ought to continue. To add a further level of control would run the risk of proliferating administrative bodies and agencies. There would be further rules to be learned by an industry which arguably already has more than enough red tape to face. However, I continue to see a place for local participation, and particularly for local advice, to be provided. The Secretary of State will be perfectly content to listen to the views of local interests before taking managerial decisions on the fisheries.

As regards Shetland, the Shetland fleet itself is a nomadic fleet. It certainly does not do all its fishing around the Shetlands, and I would argue that, although the desire of local fishermen would be for local management, in fact it could well act adversely for them in the long run. I explained on Second Reading that one of my reservations about local management is that there would be a danger that local communities would be so anxious to protect their own interests that they would deprive themselves of participation in other areas. If every local management area took the same view there would be a great restriction of fishing, and that is not in the nature of the fishing industry. The fishing industry in Scotland is a nomadic industry, and likes to move from place to place. I believe that we have found a way in which, by the creation of nursery areas and of static gear reserves, and the removal of the ban within the three-mile limit for bottom trawling, we are now giving everyone a better opportunity to catch fish.

The noble Lord asked about moving through the static gear reserves, and certainly bottom trawling, or trawling of any kind, will be prohibited within those areas. Damage to creels, even when moving through, would be an offence. The offence will be to damage static gear within a static gear area. I hope that answers the two questions which the noble Lord put to me. However, I should like to emphasise to him that of course I shall be very happy to meet fishermen from the area if they care to come and see me, but we are not prepared to change the principle. We believe that what we have in mind is a better solution than local management, but we shall certainly listen to advice from within on how we proceed.

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

6.5 p.m.

Clause 3 [Offences]:

Lord Gray of Contin moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 2, line 20, at end insert— ("(2A) Proceedings for an offence under this section or section 5 of this Act may be taken in any sheriff court, and the offence dealt with by the sheriff in every respect as if the offence had been committed wholly within his jurisdiction.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment clarifies the position of the sheriff in relation to offences under the Bill. It makes it clear that in this case a sheriff's jurisdiction extends out with the bounds of his sheriffdom to encompass the waters covered by the Bill; in other words, the sea adjacent to the coast of Scotland and landward of the six-mile limit.

The amendment confers jurisdiction on any sheriff court to try offences under Clause 3 or Clause 5. It also provides that these proceedings may be taken in any sheriff court irrespective of where the offence occurred. This is only right since, under the Bill, an offending fishing boat may be taken to the nearest convenient port, which may not necessarily be located within the nearest sheriffdom. Allowing such a flexibility, which is also found in other fisheries legislation, will permit the optimum use of court resources as well as, in many cases, reducing the inconvenience to the fishermen involved. They will not be obliged to return to the scene of the crime, so to speak. I beg to move.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I do not wish to be nit-picking, but I am concerned about the idea that any sheriff court can deal with an offence. I understand the point that because waters do not necessarily exactly correspond to a sheriffdom there may be difficulties, but when I first read this provision I felt it was taking matters too far. One presumes that perhaps the Falkirk sheriff court or the Hamilton sheriff court could deal with an offence. My concern therefore is that, assuming everyone is innocent until proved guilty, there could be a great deal of inconvenience if the port to which a boat is taken is a long way from its base port. I can see considerable difficulties in that respect.

For example, I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, would find great difficulty if one of the boats from the Shetlands happened to be closer to the mainland. That could involve great expense. Will instructions be given to the fishery protection people to realise how delicate is the whole situation? The amendment may be one way out of the situation, but I would rather that there was a firmer agreement or a designation in the Bill itself.

Lord Gray of Contin

I can understand the concern expressed by the noble Lord, but in fact the purpose is to seek to ensure that for the convenience of the fishermen they are taken to the nearest port. We are very anxious about this and I believe that in moving this amendment we are ensuring that fishermen will be taken to the most convenient port. No one wants them to be taken somewhere that is a long way from their normal route.

The second point that the noble Lord made concerned the fishery protection service. The service will certainly bear the point that he mentioned in mind when it is carrying out its duties.

6.10 p.m.

Lord Hughes

I am not at all clear about the matter. As the noble Lord, Lord Gray of Contin, explained, the effect of the amendment would be to allow the offence to go to any sheriff court. I am not clear about what the position would be if the amendment did not go into the Bill. The clause ends with the words: shall be disposed of as the court may direct". I cannot claim that I have read every word of the Bill. I did not expect to be involved in it. Somewhere in the Bill there may be a definition of the court to which the offences would go, but there was no reference to the sheriff court until this amendment appeared, unless I have missed it. May I ask whether I have missed anything? Is there a reference to the sheriff court elsewhere in the Bill?

Lord Gray of Contin

I am bound to admit that I cannot answer that point until I have advice.

Lord Hughes

If the Minister goes slowly I am sure the advice will come.

Lord Gray of Contin

I shall try to clarify the point a little. The amendment makes it clear that in this case a sheriff's jurisdiction extends out with the bounds of his sheriffdom. The purpose of the amendment is to encompass the waters covered by the Bill, in other words, the sea adjacent to the coast and landward within the six-mile limit. The amendment confers jurisdiction on any sheriff court to try offences under Clauses 3 or 5. The noble Lord, Lord Hughes, asked what the position would be if we did not include the amendment. The reason for the amendment is that the jurisdiction would have been conferred only on specific sheriff courts, but my advice is that because of the sea element it would be more realistic to confer jurisdiction on any sheriff court for the sake of convenience. The offending skipper could then be dealt with at the most convenient sheriff court, which might not necessarily be in the sheriffdom in a landward sense in which the offence was committed.

Lord Hughes

Although the noble Lord accepted my advice and talked slowly, and his noble friend moved fast, it has taken an awful long time for the answer to become available. The noble Lord has not answered my question. Have I missed a reference in the Bill to the sheriff court? If the only relevant words are, as the court may direct", unless there is a definition, it could be any court from what used to be called the local police court up to the High Court.

Lord Gray of Contin

My advice is that if the amendment does not go in in order to do what the Bill intends, the sheriff will not be able to try the offence because his existing jurisdiction is not out with his landward area. That is why this specific jurisdiction is being sought to be given to the sheriff so that the offending skipper can be tried in any sheriff court.

Lord Hughes

If I understand the explantion, the Bill, as it stands, describes the offence in Clause 3(1), and in subsections (2) and (3) it decides what the penalties are. Without the amendment it would appear that no court in the land has authority to deal with the matter. I am certain that that is not the position, but it has not been explained to me what the intention in the Bill was before the amendment was put down. When a Bill defines offences, lays down the penalties that may be imposed and includes both summary trial and indictment, presumably it is expected that some court will deal with the offences. I made it clear that I might have missed the reference, but in the Bill as it stands where does it say that the offence will be tried in a sheriff court?

Lord Gray of Contin

In Clause 3(2) the noble Lord will find that the offence may be tried—

Lord Hughes

No. Clause 3(2) lays down the penalty.

Lord Gray of Contin

It also specifies how the offence is to be tried. Clause 3 states: (2) Any person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £5,000 or, on conviction on indictment, to a fine. (3) The court by or before which a person is convicted of an offence under this section may, in addition to imposing any penalty under subsection (2) above". The normal court to try such an offence would be the sheriff court. There is no need for a specific definition of a sheriff court. In Scotland that is the appropriate court for such an offence. By implication, as it stands, the Bill allows trial in a sheriff court, or, if the offence was very serious indeed, for it to be tried in the High Court. But the normal court to try such an offence would be the sheriff court.

Lord Hughes

If the sheriff court is the normal court, presumably there is provision for that in some other piece of legislation. Things do not fall out of the sky and land in a particular court. Before the next stage of the Bill, I should be obliged if the noble Lord would acquaint me with the legislation which makes the sheriff court the normal court to deal with such offences. I cannot accept that it is reasonable to proceed with a Bill in which, merely by implication, the sheriff court deals with an offence. We do some funny things in legislation, but merely to imply which court will deal with the matter is taking things a little too far. I think that I have harried the Minister enough on the point at this stage. As I said, I did not expect to be involved in the Bill; otherwise, I should have given him notice that I would query that point. I apologise for not giving him notice, but I hope that he can enlighten me further before the next stage of the Bill.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 4 [Powers of sea-fishery officers]:

6.18 p.m.

Lord Gray of Contin moved Amendment No. 2:

Page 3, line 12, leave out paragraph (b) and insert— ("(b) may require any person on board the boat to produce any document relating to the boat, to its fishing operations or other operations ancillary thereto or to the persons on board which is in his custody or possession and may take copies of any such document; (c) for the purpose of ascertaining whether the master, owner or charterer of the boat has committed an offence under this Act, may search the boat for any such document and may require any person on board the boat to do anything which appears to him to be necessary for facilitating the search; (d) where the boat is one in relation to which he has reason to suspect that such an offence has been committed, may seize and detain any such document produced to him or found on board for the purpose of enabling the document to be used as evidence in proceedings for the offence, but nothing in paragraph (d) above shall permit any document required by law to be carried on board the boat to be seized and detained except while the boat is detained in a port.").

The noble Lord said: It is our intention that the powers of enforcement available to British sea fishery officers under the Bill should be the same as those presently available to such officers under other legislation, in particular the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967 and the Sea Fisheries Act 1968. We have also felt it right to spell out these powers in the Bill rather than have them attracted to it by reference to other Acts.

Unfortunately, in preparing the Bill an amendment to these earlier Acts contained in the Fisheries Act 1981 was overlooked. The amendment widened the powers of British sea fishery officers to search for and seize documents on board fishing boats. It seems appropriate that these wider powers should also be available under the Bill; this intention is given effect by the amendment. The powers of the fishery officers under the Bill will then be aligned with those in other Acts.

The amendment provides that the fishery officer may examine documents relating to the boat and its fishing operations including "unofficial" papers. In some cases these unofficial papers, such as the skipper's private fishing log, may be more revealing than the official papers in the detection of an offence. The amendment also provides for the fishery officer to search for any such documents in order to ascertain whether an offence has been committed. Where there is reason to suspect an offence, the fishery officer may also seize such documents for production as evidence in court. In some cases a copy of the documents may not be sufficient and there may be a risk of the original being destroyed.

The Government believe that these powers are necessary if the provisions of the Bill are to be properly enforced. They are not new but, as I explained, are already available under other legislation, and should be available under this Bill. I beg to move that this amendment be accepted.

Lord Grimond

I should like to raise two points about the amendment before we depart from it. I know that these extremely wide powers are available to fishery officers under other legislation, but I still think we ought to be told whether they are necessary, because they are exceedingly wide. I should like to draw the attention of your Lordships' Committee to the wording of paragraph (c) of the amendment, which states that: for the purpose of ascertaining whether the master, owner or charterer of the boat has committed an offence under this Act the fishery officer, may search the boat for any such document and may require any person on board the boat to do anything which appears to him to be necessary for facilitating the search". I think I am right in saying that no police officer has any such power, In fact do not think that a police officer could carry out any such search without a warrant. I know that these powers are contained in other legislation and perhaps we should pass them, but I think we should raise the point that we are giving to fishery officers powers which I do not think—though I may be subject to correction—the police possess.

I turn to my second point. It is only when we come to Clause 4(5) of the Bill that there is a reference to it appearing to a fishery officer that an offence under the Bill has been committed. That phrase does not appear until half way down the clause and I should have thought that it ought to have appeared at the start of the clause. The officer should have grounds for suspecting that an offence has been committed and he should be examinable in court as to his reasons for suspecting that such an offence might be committed before he can exercise the very wide powers given under the clause in general. I should be grateful if the Minister would again look at those two points.

Lord Gray of Contin

I think it is right that we should be absolutely sure that the powers which we seek to give to the British sea fishery officers under the Bill are necessary. Perhaps I may explain to the noble Lord that the powers of British sea fishery officers require to be very widely based because the officers are dealing with immediate situations, which arise at sea or in harbour where the commission of an offence could be easily obscured. The detection of an offence and the collection of evidence can be frustrated unless the fishery officer is able to search a vessel, examine its catch and its gear, question the crew, and take the vessel to port for further investigation or for detention. He must also be able to seize fish, if necessary, and seize gear and documents for evidential purposes. These powers may appear sweeping, but they are necessary for adequate enforcement of the Bill's provisions. The powers duplicate those currently available in other fisheries legislation.

I believe that without thinking very carefully about the matter it is difficult for us to realise the situation in which the fishery officers can at times find themselves. where they have to take very quick decisions. The powers which we are seeking to give the fishery officers are the same as those which are already available in other legislation, and we feel that they are justified for the purpose of their carrying out their duties.

Lord Grimond

Have we any evidence that the powers have been justified? Have the fishery officers said that they could not do their duty without the powers? Have there been any cases in which the powers have been essential? It seems to me that otherwise we shall be writing the powers into statute after statute, without any examination as to whether or not they are necessary. The urgency cannot be so very great; the provision is concerned only with documents. There are plenty of powers to detain a fishing boat in port, to prevent it from taking to sea until the documents can be examined. I should like a little more assurance that there has been some investigation of whether these powers have proved to be necessary in practice.

Lord Gray of Contin

Let us take the question of entering premises on shore in order to examine documents relating to fishing activities. This ability and the power to search for documents is important if sufficient evidence to prove an offence is to be obtained. A requirement first to obtain a search warrant would merely serve notice on the offender and provide time for the incriminating evidence to be removed. Existing United Kingdom primary fisheries legislation does not contain a requirement for a search warrant to be obtained, and it would be inappropriate to create such a requirement solely in relation to inshore fishing in Scotland.

In reply to the noble Lord's question as to whether we are satisfied that the powers are necessary, I would say yes, we are satisfied that they are necessary. I know of a particular case where a conviction was obtained only as a result of evidence which was taken from the skipper's private log as opposed to the official log. That is important because if there is available a record, even though it is not an official record, the court should be able to benefit from what it contains.

I find it difficult to convince the noble Lord, and I agree that he is right to question me on the point; but I can assure him that the best advice available to me is that the provisions are necessary in order to enable the officers to carry out their duty effectively.

Lord Grimond

I am sorry that the Minister is having difficulty in convincing me. However, I was thinking that if we were entitled to demand the noble Lord's diary, or if we were to get someone else to produce it, and we were to read in it the appalling things that he does in his spare time, there would indeed be some reaction; but that is what he is holding out as being necessary in regard to fishery law.

Lord Gray of Contin

I do not want to become involved with the noble Lord in points about personalities, but it would be a different matter if there was any question of an offence being committed. If an offence were being committed, by whosoever it may be, personal logs or diaries would be legitimate evidence.

The noble Lord asked whether there is evidence that the fishery officers cannot do their job effectively without the powers. The answer to that question is, yes. Because enforcement is carried out at sea the powers have to be wider than might be necessary on shore, since no additional assistance is available to the fishery officer; he has to act on his own initiative. For all those reasons, we believe that the powers are necessary; they are powers which exist in other legislation.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

I should like to ask my noble friend a question. What is the position if the fishery officer suspects smuggling, or perhaps sees stolen sheep—and I have known that happen on fishing boats—or even drugs? About two years ago there was a case where a boat was full of drugs, and they were jettisoned over the side. Does the fishery officer have authority to exercise such powers, other than in regard to fish, if he suspects smuggling or finds on boats stolen goods and such like?

Lord Gray of Contin

No, I do not think that he does. The power of the fishery officer is restricted entirely to fishery matters.

Lord Boothby

I had my doubts, but the noble Lord, Lord Gray, has convinced me that this amendment is necessary.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

In many ways, when we discuss fishing I am strictly out of my depth, but I feel that the basic point made by the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, is particularly apposite in this year of 1984. The noble Lord made the point that one has to read a fairly long way down the clause before finding that there should be reasonable grounds for believing that an offence has been committed.

There have been plenty of amendments to the Bill so far considering its size. I wonder, therefore, whether the Minister will take the amendment back to consider the possibility of emphasising, before the Bill reaches its next stage, that it is only when there is good reason for the fishery officer to believe that an offence has been committed that this machinery or these actions should be set in motion. As the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, remarked, the fishery officer should be able to prove that he had reasons to believe that an offence had been committed before taking these steps.

Lord Gray of Contin

With respect, I should perhaps explain that there is nothing new in what we are seeking to do. We seek to include in this legislation the same provision as exists elsewhere; so we are not seeking to do anything new. As I have explained, it was purely due to an oversight that this was not included in the original Bill. We are convinced that it is important, and, indeed, that it is essential, for the provision to appear so that under this legislation officers will be acting in the same way as they would act under other fishery legislation. For that reason, I would ask your Lordships to accept the amendment at this stage.

Lord Hughes

We shall note that explanation with interest and keep it in our minds for use on future occasions. So often in your Lordships' Committee, when amendments have been put forward to a piece of legislation, we have been told that they are not necessary because the powers already exist under other legislation. In fact, that was the answer in relation to the sheriff court—that it already exists under other legislation, or by implication. So here is a case where, although the Minister says that it already exists under other legislation, we are going to make sure. We are to have belt and braces, and repeat it in this Bill. It is therefore a useful precedent. Incidentally, the reference to 1984 prompts me to say that I think that the noble Lord, Lord Gray of Contin, would be terribly miscast as Big Brother.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 4, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 5 and 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 [Interpretation]:

6.33 p.m.

Lord Gray of Contin moved Amendment No. 3:

Page 5, line 9, at end insert— (""master" includes, in relation to any fishing boat, the person for the time being in command or charge of the boat:").

The noble Lord said: This is a simple and straight-forward amendment that rectifies an omission in the present print of the Bill. It provides a definition for the term "master", which is referred to in several clauses of the Bill. The definition given is identical to that used in other modern fisheries legislation, and gives the term its simplest meaning; namely, the master is the person who is presently in charge of the boat whether or not that person is qualified. I beg to move that the amendment be accepted.

Lord Hughes

As the Minister has said, this is a simple amendment. There is no difficulty in under-standing it. That is a merit in itself in the present Government's legislation. I am always anxious to expand my knowledge of legal English, as distinct from everyday usage. The Minister can perhaps tell me the difference between being "in command" of a boat and being "in charge" of a boat, and why it is necessary to have both.

Lord Gray of Contin

I think the noble Lord is nitpicking a little. The amendment provides a definition for the term "master", and it is referred to in several clauses of the Bill. The definition given is identical to that used elsewhere, as I have already explained. The master is the person who is presently in charge. The term "in charge of the boat" is used principally to explain the function of the master, the person who is at the helm, the person who is in charge of the boat at that particular time. If the master has to sleep and someone takes over for him, then, in the terms of this legislation, for that period of time, the person at the helm is deemed to be the master. The term "in charge" is purely to clarify what the master would be doing.

Lord Hughes

That is most interesting. It is also quite amusing to find that the Minister, when asked the difference between being "in command" and being "in charge", used all along the term "in charge" of the boat. He did not find it necessary to talk about someone being "in command" of the boat. This seems to be another example of adding needless words to a piece of legislation, unless there is some legal difference, as I mentioned earlier, between being "in command" or being "in charge". I do not know. But it is certainly not a matter that I would wish to pursue much further unless the latest expedition of the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, has produced an explanation.

Lord Gray of Contin

I do not think that the explanation is any better than the one I gave.

Lord Hughes

That would seem to indicate that there should be some change of the law in the box.

Lady Saltoun

I wonder whether I might offer a word that could possibly clarify the matter. The master of a fishing boat fishing off Scotland often does not command the crew; he often leads them. He is in charge, but not in command.

Lord Hughes

That would seem to be a reason for leaving out "in command", if even the master is not in command of the boat.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 7, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 8 agreed to.

Clause 9 [Citation, commencement, transitional provisions and extent]:

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

The Duke of Atholl

I wonder whether the Minister can enlighten me as to the date on which this Act is likely to be brought into force. Under Clause 9(2), the Government will need to make orders to bring it into force. Can he give any indication when this is likely?

Lord Gray of Contin

I think I can best answer my noble friend by saying that it will be as soon as possible, and certainly by the summer.

Clause 9 agreed to.

Schedule 1 [Minor and Consequential Amendments]:

Lord Gray of Contin moved Amendment No. 4:

Page 6, line 4, leave out ("Fishing") and insert ("Fishery").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 4, I wish also to speak to Amendment No. 5.

Amendment No. 5: Page 6, line 8, leave out ("Contravention") and insert ("Conservation").

Both the amendment to line 4 and the amendment to line 8 simply correct errors in Schedule 1. In the first case the reference should be to the "Fishery Board" and not the "Fishing Board" as printed. In the second, the Act referred to should be the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967. I beg to move that both these drafting amendments be accepted.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Gray of Contin moved Amendment No. 5:

[Printed above.]

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 1, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 2 [Repeals]:

Lord Gray of Contin moved Amendments Nos. 6, 7, 8 and 9:

Page 7, column 3, leave out lines 7 to 12 and insert ("The whole Act.")

Page 7, column 3, leave out lines 7 to 12 and insert ("The whole Act.")

Page 7, column 3, leave out line 21 and insert ("The whole Act.")

Page 7, column 3, leave out line 25 and insert ("The whole Act.").

The noble Lord said: These amendments simply remove references to specified provisions of certain Acts in the repeals schedule, and replace them with references to the whole Act. In this way authority will be given to remove all reference to these Acts from the statute book. Otherwise all that would be left would be the preamble or short title, the operative provisions having all been repealed. I beg to move that these amendments be accepted.

Lord Hughes

These four amendments are all in the same pattern and would indicate that when the sections which are at present in the third column were removed, there would be nothing left but the preamble or short title. Was the Bill drafted in such a terrible hurry that so many mistakes were made and nobody noticed that if we took out these remaining sections we would be asking the Committee to legislate to leave in four Acts with only a title and a preamble? It certainly does indicate that the usual high standard has hardly been achieved in this Bill.

Lord Gray of Contin

I absolutely defend the draftsmen who prepared this Bill. Certainly from my experience in another place I cannot on any occasion recall a Bill where there were not a number of Government amendments tidying up small matters of this sort which had been overlooked presumably in the anxiety of the draftsmen to make sure that all the major issues were properly covered. I think that the draftsmen have done a very good job in this Bill and I am glad that even at this late stage they have been sufficiently observant to note those small points, and that we are now putting them right.

Lord Hughes

I would not wish it to become the pattern that we should attack people in this House who are doing a job. That was certainly not my intention. I did say that this did not come up to the usual high standard. Frequently perhaps what south of the Border would be regarded as odious comparisons have been made between draftsmen south of the Border and those in Scotland. All I said was that this certainly is not up to their normal standards.

Lord Boothby

Before we end this Committee stage I should just like to say to the noble Lord that I think that at the end of the day, whatever slips the draftsmen may have made, we have a jolly good Bill which can do nothing but good to the inshore fishing industry for which I have fought for 40 years.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 2, as amended, agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.