HL Deb 18 December 1990 vol 524 cc755-87

.—(1) Without prejudice to the generality of section 2(c) above, SNH shall furnish the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (established in pursuance of section 128(4) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990) with details of research projects which it proposes to commission or support including—

  1. (a) research which may he initiated or carried out by SNH itself; and
  2. (b) research which SNH proposes to commission, support, initiate or carry out itself on a direction given by the Secretary of State.

(2) Details formulated in accordance with this section shall be included in the annual report made by SNH to the Secretary of State under section 9 of this Act.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the Minister will be relieved to hear that this is new ground for him. He has not had this amendment from this side before. The purpose of the amendment is to prevent the waste of scarce resources, money or staff, on overlapping or duplicating of research between country councils. Your Lordships will recall that in March this year the Science and Technology Committee of this House produced a report on the Nature Conservancy Council, a report which has come to be known as the Carver Report. That report stated in paragraph 3.22 on page 16: The agencies should cooperate to avoid unnecessary duplication. For this latter purpose, lead agencies in specialist areas should be agreed and extensive use should be made by the Joint Committee of techniques like working parties and cooptions to bring the staff of country agencies together in professional groups.

When I raised this problem at the Committee stage on 3rd. December, the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, replied: in practice there is no statutory requirement except through the work of the JNCC. Of course if there was overlapping it would not be the best use of resources, which it is a requirement of the SNH to provide. It would be impossible for me to say that it would never happen. All I can say is that it is something we do not want to happen."—[Official Report, 3/12/90; col. 38.] That seems clear enough.

But on 5th December, at the launch of the NCC's Earth Science Strategy, which I attended, I put a question to the platform on this same subject and was given reassuring remarks from the platform. The question was then passed to the chairman designate of JNCC, Professor Holliday, who happened to be there. He, too, made reassuring remarks. But in conclusion he said that, in any case, some competition in research was no bad thing.

This may be all very well for commercial research, but surely, when we are talking about publicly funded bodies, especially bodies which are already very short of money, we do not want to go down the road of competition between them on something as fundamental as nature conservancy research. This amendment provides a very simple mechanism to avoid this situation, and I hope that the noble Lord is prepared to accept it. I beg to move.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, this amendment is quite a good one, in so far as it ensures that proper information on current research passes between the two bodies. As long as the amendment does not force Scottish Natural Heritage to use any facilities which are available—if they think, for example, that a Scottish university is much more competent about something—then it is quite a good amendment. But if it will force Scottish Natural Heritage to use available research in Peterborough, it is a bad amendment. But, as I understand it, it is not doing that.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, I feel that there is no need for this amendment. If SNH wished to supply such information to the JNCC, it could readily do so by virtue of its general function under Clause 2 of the Bill. SNH would also include information about research in its annual report, as that report must include information about the discharge of its functions, of which research is one. The amendment would give SNH no discretion, however, as to whether it wished to report on research in quite so much detail.

Moreover, the amendment shows a misunderstanding by the noble Baroness of the relationship between SNH and JNCC. First, it seems to assume that there will be little or no contact between these bodies, or that SNH will attempt to carry out or commission research without telling JNCC. I agree wholeheartedly that we do not want duplication of effort in the research field, but we do not need to resort to statutory provision to achieve that purpose. Secondly, and more fundamentally, it would permit JNCC to determine the research which SNH wishes to undertake for its own purposes or to undertake in pursuit of a direction from the Secretary of State. This is quite contrary to Parliament's wishes as set out in Section 133 of the 1990 Act, which allows JNCC to give advice or information to the county councils, and in Section 132 which places a duty on these councils to have regard to any advice provided by JNCC.

Nothing like this duty was thought necessary for the other country councils. As a result, there is no equivalent to this provision in the legislation concerning the England and Wales councils, both of whom, along with SNH, form the JNCC, concerning the performance of their special nature conservation function. It would be odd if SNH were to be the only one of the three bodies with such an obligation.

I reiterate our concern that we would not want to see public money being wasted. I think that, since the country councils are, essentially the members of the JNCC, there should be no problem. For the reasons that I have laid out, I am therefore not prepared to accept the amendment. But, more importantly, I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, understands why I do not wish to accept it.

Baroness Nicol

Yes, my Lords, I understand. But I want to pick up one or two points. First, I should have said in moving the amendment that it refers to SNH because that is what we have before us. I would wish some mechanism to be found to apply it to England and Wales. Obviously, it would not be fair to put any kind of restriction on one body and not on the others. But that I would have come to in due course, had the amendment found favour.

As regards the annual report, I consider that information in the annual report would be too late. At that stage, we are being told what the body has done for the year and there seems to be little point at that stage in wringing our hands about duplication in research; so that is not a very valid argument.

I know that SNH may, as indeed may any of the other councils, inform JNCC of what they intend to do. But it is not necessarily so that they will tell JNCC in good enough time or in enough detail for some sort of arrangement to be made about the amount or kind of research that they are doing.

I wonder, would the Minister consider whether directions might be issued to all three country councils, to draw their attention to the need for not having overlapping research and for avoiding this waste of resources? I would have accepted the Minister's answer very confidently but for the remark made by the chairman designate of the JNCC which seemed to indicate that he might even welcome competition in research. That has to be avoided.

I should like to hear that the Minister will give some more thought to whether directions can be issued. Does he wish to come back on that point?

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall certainly consider that point and see whether or not it is possible. Perhaps I may write to the noble Baroness.

Baroness Nicol

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 3 [Duty to take account of certain matters]:

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Cullen of Ashbourne)

My Lords, if Amendment No. 15 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendments Nos. 16 to 18.

[Amendment No. 15 not moved.]

Lord Pearson of Rannoch moved Amendment No. 16: Page 2, line 39, after ("agriculture") insert ("field sports").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment would lay a duty on SNH to take appropriate account of the needs not only of agriculture, commercial fisheries and forestry but also of field sports. By field sports, I mean fishing for sport, shooting and stalking. The amendment is also designed to make sure that SNH is sufficiently sympathetic to the legitimate and honourable interests of landowners and their tenants, particularly in the Scottish Highlands where much of the natural heritage lies.

I am of course aware that there is a good deal of mistaken prejudice against landowners and field sports, particularly perhaps among those who live in towns and who may be ignorant of the truth of what goes on in the countryside. The truth is that field sports are often vital to the social fabric in the isolated areas of Scotland and can be just as important there as forestry, commercial fisheries or indeed agriculture. The more isolated and fragile the community, the more important field sports often become. They are also highly sustainable in the best sense of that expression, as intended by the Bill. They receive no subsidy from the taxpayer, whereas all the other activities set out in the clause are quite heavily subsidised. Just on the figures alone, I should have thought that field sports merit inclusion in this clause.

Let us look at sporting salmon fishing. The Scottish Tourist Board and the Highlands and Islands Development Board published a report last year which concluded that more than 3,400 jobs and at least £50 million are generated each year on Scotland's salmon rivers. I do not have figures for the much more popular sport of trout fishing, which is often free in the Highlands, but it must also be a strong contributor to Scottish tourism and the Scottish economy.

I turn now to shooting, including stalking. The British Association for Shooting and Conservation has recently commissioned a report from the prestigious Fraser of Allander Institute. It concludes that these sports generate more than 7,200 full-time equivalent jobs and more than £50 million of income for Scotland. Again, those jobs tend to be in the outlying and fragile areas.

So, at 10,600 jobs and more than £100 million of income, field sports compare very favourably with commercial fisheries. The netting side of commercial fisheries in the whole of Scotland has declined to some 390 jobs and £3 million of annual income, but the HIDB estimates that fish farming in its area now has an income of some £100 million and supports about 6,500 jobs. I do not have the figures for fish farming outwith the HIDB area but the comparison with field sports is clearly a close one, with field sports possibly offering more jobs. The long-term sustainability of some fish farming may be open to more doubt than field sports, I am afraid.

But, this Bill is not motivated by the quest for a bottom line profit. Its purpose is to secure in a sustainable manner the conservation, enhancement, understanding and enjoyment of the natural heritage of Scotland. It is that purpose which field sports may serve better than any of the other activities set out in this clause. Let us take a closer look, for example, at deer stalking, which is certainly a vital industry to the remotest areas of mainland Highland Scotland.

The Red Deer Commission estimates that red deer support some 500 full-time equivalent jobs, mostly in these areas. None of these jobs is subsidised by the taxpayer, though they are heavily supported by the landowners. Many of the people concerned will also work with sheep, which are subsidised, but the future of subsidies for sheep is in some doubt at the moment. I therefore feel sure that SNH will come to welcome the support given to the social fabric of some of our remotest communities by the deer forest owners.

Red deer are also certainly sustainable in the Highlands. Indeed some would say that the females —the hinds—have become too self-sustaining, and should be reduced in number. In this respect a rumour is going round that the Government plan to table an amendment, perhaps in another place, to give SNH the power to instruct the Red Deer Commission to execute any necessary reduction in numbers. If the rumour is true I fear that such instructions would put the Red Deer Commission in a very difficult position. The resultant large scale killing of hinds would be extremely unpopular in the locations where it took place and would even be unpopular nationally.

Any surplus in hind numbers would be better dealt with by the existing deer management groups, possibly with enhanced powers, and by opening the season in which hinds can be shot earlier in the year, say, on 1st September instead of on 20th October as at present. I have made this suggestion before and I believe it would solve the problem very quickly. It would also have other connected benefits for the Highland economy and would be entirely in keeping with the purposes of the Bill. My noble friend the Minister may have referred to this problem at Second Reading. I wonder whether he can tell us what the plans are, if any.

SNH is in effect to be a merger between the Countryside Commission for Scotland and the Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland. Landholders can perhaps be forgiven for feeling that the Countryside Commission has sometimes been a little too close to local authority and other interests which are not always wise in matters affecting the natural heritage, and that the Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland has sometimes taken too narrow a scientific view in some of its SSSI designations. The success or failure of the Government's worthy aims may therefore depend to an unusual extent upon SNH's chairman, on whom high hopes are riding, and on its members. It is with these fears at the back of my mind that I have moved this amendment. I hope I have said enough to show that field sports merit inclusion in the clause in the way I have suggested. I beg to move.

4.45 p.m.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, I support the amendment. It does not oblige Scottish Natural Heritage to take the advice it is given. Field sports in the Highlands are an important source of income in a large number of areas. The inclusion of this provision would not do any harm and it would oblige Scottish Natural Heritage to consider the points made so excellently by the noble Lord.

The Earl of Perth

My Lords, I support the amendment. Sport and Scotland, particularly in the northern part, are almost synonymous. This matter should be in the Bill and should not be left to chance. I hope that the Minister will consider that point.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, in moving the amendment I am sure that my noble friend is attempting to protect the interests of those engaged in activities such as deer stalking and shooting, which are a vital part of the financial viability of estate management throughout the Highlands. I entirely accept that. As such they are important components of the concept of the economic development of Scotland, which I think is adequately covered already in Clause 3(c).

Field sports are not in the same category of uses of the natural environment as are agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Clause 3 at present picks out the three primary industries using the natural environment with which, because of their nature, SNH will have a special relationship. On the other hand, field sports are no different from other types of enjoyment of the countryside. SNH will approach them in the same way as other uses of the countryside. Earlier today I had to tell the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, that I could not accept his amendment on access and enjoyment of the countryside on the basis that the concept was already covered. I must say the same to my noble friend.

I would expect SNH to carry out its functions with regard to these economically vital activities in a responsible manner. There will be no attempt on its part to intervene unnecessarily in such activities. Therefore, I see no need for a more specific reference in Clause 3 to field sports or, indeed, any other activities.

My noble friend also spoke about deer. I can now confirm what I said on Second Reading. I said then that amendments would be put forward, probably in another place, to deal with the problem of the overpopulation of red deer, especially hinds, which has resulted in considerable damage to natural vegetation and habitats and which has a negative impact on the landscape. To overcome the problem, we intend to bring forward an amendment to the powers of the Red Deer Commission to allow it to cull deer in order to protect the natural heritage interest following advice from Scottish Natural Heritage.

I know that my noble friend has made certain suggestions as to how the problem can be dealt with. I should like to extend to him an invitation that he and I, and perhaps a group of officials, have discussions aimed at avoiding confrontation and seeking, especially in the Highlands, a genuine solution that enhances co-operation among landowners, stalkers and those who believe that the environment is important. I believe that all those bodies could, and should, agree with one another.

I hope that my noble friend is reassured on the question of deer. I hope he agrees too that, although I am not turning down the idea that Scottish Natural Heritage should have regard to field sports, this amendment is inappropriate and, indeed, unnecessary. The responsibilities of SNH for field sports will be taken up in its regard for the economic and social welfare of the countryside.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for his assurances. I am not entirely sure that I follow his reasoning on why field sports are in a different category to the other three activities mentioned in the clause. However, I shall certainly have a careful and enthusiastic look at what he said. I am also grateful for his invitation to be involved in any discussions with the Red Deer Commission and others over the future of the possibly excessive number of hinds in Scotland. I thank him again for those assurances and the invitation. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy moved Amendment No. 17: Page 2, line 39, leave out ("and").

The noble Lady said: My Lords, with the leave of the House I should like to speak not only to Amendments Nos. 17 and 20 which are grouped together but also to Amendment No. 18 which was grouped with Amendment No. 15, tabled in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, which was not moved.

I read very carefully what was said in Committee on 3rd December. In particular, I noted the opinion of the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, at col. 48 of Hansard. He said that the amendment I moved at that stage was unnecessary. Nevertheless, a very real fear remains; namely, that Scottish Natural Heritage may put conservation above the livelihoods of the local inhabitants. That is something which the Nature Conservancy Council has not always been slow to do. The amendments will not have the undesirable effect of amounting to an injunction to ossify rural communities, which many noble Lords rightly said in Committee would be the effect of the amendments I put forward at the time. They would help to ensure that a sensible balance is kept.

Sustainable development involves sustainable jobs which will endure over a long period of time and not vanish overnight leaving members of rural communities high and dry with no work and no means of earning a living. The amendments would safeguard the interests of local communities. I beg to move.

The Earl of Dundee

My Lords, in Committee we discussed, as the noble Lady has said, the question of protecting rural interests. I believe that all of us, even those who were supporting the amendment, were not entirely happy with the then wording which featured preservation. Indeed, my noble friend Lord Strathclyde warned us that if an amendment along those lines were adopted it would run the risk of leading to the ossification of rural communities and he pointed out quite correctly that a hundred years ago, if communities had not been allowed to change as they have done, that would have been unfortunate.

It seems to me that the noble Lady in her present suggestion has got the matter about right. First, we need something in the Bill which is specifically about rural communities. Secondly, I believe that the present wording which refers to their best interests avoids the overtones of ossification and keeping them just as they are. Thirdly, the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, at Committee made an extremely good point when he said, that the Bill, in referring to social and economic development, conjures up in our minds development on a very large scale which does not necessarily take note of the interests of rural communities. For that reason I urge my noble friend to accept the balanced wording of these amendments.

Lord Stodart of Leaston

My Lords, the rural community in Scotland is of crucial importance. In the Highlands I would have said that it is more crucial than in any other part of the islands. A matter of two jobs can mean a very high percentage of the village population. The giving of, let us say, six or seven new jobs has on many occasions breathed totally new life into a community that was dying.

My noble friend on the Front Bench may remember that at Question Time a few weeks ago I raised with him the matter of the loss of six jobs in a tiny community at Kinlock Laggan. Such a loss is bound to have a tremendous effect on the small rural community in that area. I believe that the point was taken up by the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, in a supplementary question. That particular loss of jobs was not caused by anything that the Countryside Commission had done. However, I can certainly see the possibility of the commission taking some such action. I agree that this may be a hypothetical example, but it is perfectly possible that it could take action which would have a crucial effect on a small community.

In conclusion, I must tell my noble friend that, having occupied the position in another place which he now occupies in this place, I often find the scarcity of amendments which the Government are prepared to accept quite extraordinary. It was always my policy, no doubt in order to keep the peace at all costs, to go over matters with my officials and say, "Well, what can we accept?" It certainly sweetens not only the Opposition but also the Back Benchers who are—in another place, at any rate—dragooned into supporting the Government. The amendment is not just of great importance; it contains words that cannot possibly damage the purpose of the legislation.

5 p.m.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, I thank the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, for again directing our attention to this important matter. I am deeply impressed by the amount of concern shown by noble Lords for the interests of local communities. I share that concern. My noble friend Lord Stodart of Leaston suggested that I should sweeten the Opposition and my Back-Benchers. He gave the example of another place. I have always tried hard to sweeten my Back-Benchers. I am not always so keen to sweeten the Opposition, but I believe that tae noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, will agree that I have sought to be as sweet as possible, and have explained the Government's position carefully. Where I have been unable to accept his amendments, I have explained why as clearly as possible without taking an unduly partisan approach.

We had an interesting debate on this issue in Committee. I emphasised then that I have a great deal of sympathy for supporting rural areas, rural economies and local communities. I pointed out that, with my responsibilities for agriculture, fisheries, tourism and the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, the interests of local communities are of paramount importance to me and the various government organisations which exist in the Highlands.

We intend that SNH will not operate as a centralised body issuing edicts to the detriment of local people, and I am sure that that is part of what the noble Lady intends by this amendment. As I stated in Committee, I do not see the need for an amendment to ensure that. The provision as drafted is all-embracing and covers everything that the noble Lady and other noble Lords as well as I would wish to see here.

I feel that there is a slight problem with the use of the word "community" here; I am not convinced that it fully identifies every interest of which we would wish to take account. Your Lordships will know that throughout many parts of rural Scotland, there are numbers of people, particularly crofters, living in isolated locations, often not forming any sort of "community" with others. Certainly SNH would consider their interests in its operations in their respective localities, but I am not sure that they would he covered by the proposed amendment.

I sense beneath the arguments of those in favour of the amendment an unspoken feeling that conservation is somehow a blight to rural areas. I am sorry that that should be the case. Scottish scenery is famous the world over. Our flora and fauna are of international significance. It would be a great pity to perpetuate the attitude that attempts to conserve them somehow spell the kiss of death to local communities. We need only consider the number of visitors that our natural heritage attracts to realise what potent assets they are.

An important aspect of the concept of sustainability involves the recognition that conservation and development complement one another. We must move forward from the antagonisms of the past into a more co-operative and less conflict-ridden future.

The other aspect of the noble Lady's concern relates to the need to ensure that people receive no less consideration than protected species. I agree with that argument, but it loses sight of our basic purpose in bringing forward the Bill. Of course, people in rural areas must be considered, and there is a whole range of bodies which have that as their main role. The main role of SNH is, however, conservation and it would be misleading to deny that. There is therefore a limit to what SNH can do in relation to the interests of local communities. Without for a moment denying the importance of human needs, we must be careful not to impair SNH's basic aims. We are placing on it an explicit duty to take account of the social and economic needs of Scotland or any part of Scotland. There is no restriction on how small a part of Scotland SNH might focus on. The Bill therefore covers adequately the interests of local communities, but the duty is a balancing duty, and I think that that is proper, given SNH's fundamental orientation.

I know that we have already covered that ground in Committee, but it was useful to return to it on Report. I hope that I have convinced my noble friends and the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, that I am not against the principle of her amendment, but it does not fit into the Bill and in any case a substantial part of her concern is already covered by SNH's balancing duty.

Earl of Perth

My Lords, I listened to the Minister's reply. When we were discussing the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, the Minister pointed out—I believe rightly and I was ready to accept it—that the word "economic" covered field sports. As I understand his argument, I am doubtful whether the word "social" covers the interests of local inhabitants, if he does not like the word "communities".

Some years ago, the Government believed that it was important to develop a new site for constructing rigs in one of the West Coast areas. Many of the local inhabitants were against the proposal. Nonetheless, it was imposed. The sequel, 10 or more years later, is that the scheme has been dropped. That was the result of consultation. Consultation on such issues is important. The local inhabitants often know better than anyone else.

There is nothing in the Bill which makes it obligatory for SNH to consult local inhabitants or communities. It is all very well for the Minister to say, "Oh, but it will": what certainty do we have about that? I beg the Minister to think again and to take up the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Stodart, about occasionally giving way and accepting an amendment which cannot do any harm but which could satisfy many of us as being in the interests of the whole scheme of things.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, we are of course on Report, which means that certain rules apply. With the leave of the House, I shall read carefully what has been said. I have listened attentively to the words of my noble friends. The point is that SNH is a body which is essentially concerned with conserving Scotland's natural heritage. Other organisations deal with developments relating to local inhabitants. Those two duties are not mutually exclusive. Different government bodies will be able to discuss with one another what line to take. At the moment I cannot offer the noble Lady any succour by saying that I shall accept the amendments at a later stage.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords—

The Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne

My Lords, I must inform the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, that we are on Report.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

My Lords, I listened carefully to what the Minister said. I should have thought that crofters' needs were catered for under agriculture, which has been mentioned, and that, when needs are specified, those which are not specified, are ipso facto excluded. On that basis, I have to differ from my noble friend Lord Perth. I should not have thought that under the previous amendment "economic" covered field sports.

I appreciate the point that the Bill concerns conservation, not the economic development of local communities nor the prosperity of local inhabitants. However, I did not ask for the SNH to concern itself with the economic development of local communities. I merely asked that it should have regard to their interests in what it did. I should not have thought that that was asking too much. What I ask is not unreasonable, nor does it militate against the objects of the Bill. I wish to test the opinion of the House.

5.11 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 17) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 106; Not-Contents, 88.

Division No. 1
Abinger, L. Hirshfield, L.
Addington, L. Hollis of Heigham, B.
Airedale, L. Houghton of Sowerby, L.
Allerton, L. Howie of Troon, L.
Ardwick, L. Jay, L.
Attlee, E. Jeffreys, L.
Aylestone, L. Jeger, B.
Birk, B. Jenkins of Hillhead, L.
Blackstone, B. Jenkins of Putney, L.
Bonham-Carter, L. John-Mackie, L.
Boston of Faversham, L. Kennet, L.
Bottomley, L. Kimball, L.
Brightman, L. Kirkhill, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L. Liverpool, E.
Bruce of Donington, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.
Callaghan of Cardiff, L. Lockwood, B.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Longford, E.
Carnarvon, E. Lyell, L.
Carter, L. Lytton, E.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. McGregor of Durris, L.
Cox, B. McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Crathorne, L. Mackie of Benshie, L.
David, B. Manton, L.
Dean of Beswick, L. Masham of Ilton, B.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Mason of Barnsley, L.
Donoughue, L. Mills, V.
Dormand of Easington, L. Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Dulverton, L. Newall, L.
Dundee, E. Nicol, B.
Eden of Winton, L. Oxfuird, V.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Palmer, L.
Elphinstone, L. Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Ennals, L. Perth, E. [Teller.]
Ewart-Biggs, B. Peston, L.
Ezra, L. Phillips, B.
Falkland, V. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Prys-Davies, L.
Gainsborough, E. Robson of Kiddington, B.
Gallacher, L. Sainsbury, L.
Galpern, L. Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly. [Teller.]
Gladwyn, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Seear, B.
Grantchester, L. Selkirk, E.
Gregson, L. Shackleton, L.
Grey, E. Shepherd, L.
Haden-Guest, L. Stedman, B.
Halsbury, E. Stodart of Leaston, L.
Harrowby, E. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Hatch of Lusby, L.
Strathcona and Mount Royal, L. Wallace of Coslany, L
Walston, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L. Whaddon, L.
Tordoff, L. Wigoder, L.
Underhill, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Varley, L.
Aldington, L. Johnston of Rockport, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Knollys, V.
Allenby of Megiddo, V. Lauderdale, E.
Arran, E. Long, V.
Astor, V. Mackintosh of Halifax, V.
Auckland, L. Mancroft, L.
Belstead, L. Merrivale, L.
Bessborough, E. Mersey, V.
Blake, L. Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Blatch, B. Mountevans, L.
Boardman, L. Munster, E.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Nelson, E.
Braye, B. Norrie, L.
Bridgeman, V. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Orkney, E.
Butterworth, L. Orr-Ewing, L.
Caithness, E. Pender, L.
Campbell of Croy, L. Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Carr of Hadley, L. Platt of Writtle, B.
Cavendish of Furness, L. Pym, L.
Coleraine, L. Radnor, E.
Colnbrook, L. Rankeillour, L.
Constantine of Stanmore, L. Reay, L. [Teller.]
Cottesloe, L. Rees, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Renton, L.
Dacre of Glanton, L. Rodney, L.
Davidson, V. [Teller.] Romney, E.
Denham, L. St. Davids, V.
Elles, B. St. John of Fawsley, L.
Elton, L. Savile, L.
Faithfull, B. Sharples, B.
Ferrers, E. Stevens of Ludgate, L.
Fortescue, E. Strathclyde, L.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L. Strathmore and Kinghorne, E
Gainford, L. Swinton, E.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Teviot, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Hardinge of Penshurst, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Harmar-Nicholls, L. Waddington, L.
Henley, L. Wade of Chorlton, L.
Hives, L. Whitelaw, V.
Holderness, L. Windlesham, L.
Hooper, B. Wise, L.
Ingleby, V. Wynford, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

5.20 p.m.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

My Lords, Amendment No. 18 is not moved.

Noble Lords

It is consequential!

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy moved Amendment No. 18: Page 2, line 40, after ("for") insert ("sustainable").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 19: Page 2, line 41, at end insert ("and (d) the policies and strategies of national and regional organisations with responsibility for social and economic development in Scotland.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we discussed earlier a matter that approached the aim of this amendment, but I am motivated to move the amendment because it comes from the Scottish Sports Council. The noble Lord, Lord Stodart of Leaston, remarked earlier that he had never participated in a Bill which had been so strongly defended by the Government. He said he gained the impression that there had never been a Bill quite as perfect as this one. I came to much the same conclusion in Committee when I experienced the way the Minister was fending off arguments. However, Government Amendment No. 41 comprises six pages of schedule. One could hardly say that that was not a sweetener from the Minister. We shall reach that amendment later, but I wish to say in passing that while I appreciate the help that the Minister has provided it would have been even ricer had he sent us an explanation of that measure. We on this side of the House had little time to commit over the weekend.

However, as regards Amendment No. 19, the Scottish Sports Council is merely calling attention once again to what it considers is a deficiency in the organisation of conservation. The council believes there should be some process whereby inter-agency disputes could be discussed at an early stage of consultation and planning. It is important to let the Minister know how strong feelings are on this matter in Scotland. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, I recognise that this amendment is closely related to one that was discussed in Committee. I explained then that SNH would obviously seek the views of many different organisations, and not just those of the type and with the responsibilities mentioned in the amendment, to allow it to take appropriate account of all the factors set down in Clause 3. Furthermore, inclusion of this amendment would simply invite the inclusion of references to the policies and strategies of other non-departmental public bodies, local authorities and other organisations to the extent that the legislation could never be adequate and comprehensive. Clause 3 is perfectly adequate as drafted, in particular paragraph (c) which addresses the issues raised by this amendment.

This amendment would require SNH to take account of the policies and strategies of such bodies, and not merely their views. I do not feel that that is acceptable. Scottish Natural Heritage will, of course, take account of those policies and strategies in exactly the same way as I would expect those bodies to take account of the policies and strategies devised by SNH. The amendment is therefore not needed here any more than it is needed in, for example, the constitution of the Scottish Sports Council.

The amendment also fails to recognise that it is the Secretary of State who has the opportunity to adjudicate where there is any difference of policy, strategy or view between non-departmental public bodies which is both fundamental to their operation and to the implementation of government policy. I hope that in the light of that explanation the noble Lord will understand why his amendment is not required and will withdraw it.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that explanation. I believe I made the point earlier that it was important for the Minister to realise that there is a widespread feeling in Scotland that sufficiently early consideration is not given to the need for the different agencies to get together to discuss matters. There has been sufficient discussion on this point to make SNH aware that consultations at an early stage should be encouraged. It is not enough to say that the Secretary of State has the final power in the matter. I hope that only matters of fairly grave importance will be referred to the Secretary of State. I would hope that most other matters could be settled amicably between the bodies themselves. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy moved Amendment No. 20: Page 2, line 41, at end insert ("and (d) the interests of local communities.").

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, just before we accept this amendment, I must say that I have some confusion in my mind. I believe that earlier on the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, sought not to move Amendment No. 18, but then moved it. At the time I was slightly confused. I believe the noble Lady was right originally not to have moved Amendment No. 18 which is grouped with Amendment No. 15. Amendment No. 20 is grouped with the amendment that we voted on and which the noble Lady won. I hope I may take it that the noble Lady did not intend to move Amendment No. 18—as was her original intention—but she is seeking to move Amendment No. 20 which I shall not speak against.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

My Lords, the noble Lord is perfectly correct. Amendment No. 20 is consequential on Amendment No. 17, or vice versa. However, Amendment No. 18 is a separate amendment. We are now discussing Amendment No. 20. I beg to move Amendment No. 20.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

My Lords, there is some confusion here. I believe that Amendment No. 18 should have been taken with Amendment No. 15. I did not move Amendment No. 15. I am not sure how Amendment No. 18 stands if it was not moved with the other amendment it was grouped with. Obviously the House does not need to accept the grouping, but in this case it was accepted. Therefore, subject to the ruling of the House, I should have thought that Amendment No. 18 should not have been called.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, in view of the confusion that exists, I hope the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, will agree to us sorting the matter out on Third Reading.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

My Lords, in the circumstances, I believe that would be the best arrangement.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 21 not moved.]

Clause 4 [Nature conservation functions]:

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy moved Amendment No. 22: Page 3, line 6, at end insert: ("() Where in the exercise of its functions relating to the designation of sites of special scientific interest, + SNH receives an objection, after consulting the General, Regional or District Planning Authority, or any person with an interest in the land in question, the matter shall be referred to the Secretary of State who shall have authority to confirm, amend or withdraw the proposed designation after appointing a local hearing.").

The noble Lady said: My Lords, an identical amendment to Amendment No. 22 was moved in Committee by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, but later withdrawn. Unfortunately, the noble Lord is not able to be here this evening. The Government's response at cols. 54 to 56 of Hansard of 3rd December was correct in fact but it ignores the true issues, which are that the ability to object to a notification is not the same thing as the right to appeal; that as any proposed changes to land use require the agreement of the Nature Conservancy Council in any case, the argument that notification places no restriction on use is not really valid; and that it is wrong that the Nature Conservancy Council, incorporated into SNH, should be the only judge of scientific interest. It is perfectly possible that it might be mistaken. I believe that it has been in the past. There should be some system of, at least, scientific appeal. That is what Amendment No. 23 is designed to achieve.

Appeal and arbitration procedures with respect to land use do not allow for appeal against the actual designation of an SSSI, which is the most important stage in the operation of the system. The Nature Conservancy Council is an appointed body and its functions are conferred by statute. Whereas the Secretary of State gives the NCC directions of a general character, he has no authority to overrule the council's powers of SSSI designation under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. That is what the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, said in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, at Committee stage, if I am not very much mistaken.

The power of the NCC in Scotland has therefore been absolute and there is no independent body to which an aggrieved party may appeal. Absolute power is only too easily misused and is inconsistent with the philosophy of SNH and the Secretary of State's intention to be accountable for all the Government's environmental policies in Scotland. Accountability means the safeguarding of individuals' rights.

Although the NCC and the Government may claim that SSSI designation simply identifies the environmental importance of a site and carries with it no presumption against development or normal agricultural and land use operations there is continuing concern among rural and farming communities and a strong feeling that normal operations and reasonable development will be restricted by SNH using the potentially damaging operations procedures once a site has been designated. Instances of that have arisen in Glen Feshie, where historic operations to ease the flow of the river and protect farmland are being challenged as damaging to a proposed geological SSSI, and in Caithness, on Stroma, where an increase in sheep numbers and the takeover of a farm by the farmer's son have been refused by the Nature Conservancy Council. In addition, there is the autocratic way in which the Nature Conservancy Council so often clamps SSSI status on a large area of land in order to protect a small area of real importance within it.

The Government hope that relations between SNH and the rural inhabitants of Scotland will be much better in the future than they have been in the past between the NCC and local inhabitants. That will only be the case if SNH is not able, as the NCC is, to ride roughshod over local interests and people's livelihoods and to be judge and jury in its own cases.

Amendment No. 23 is a narrower proposition, confining the right of appeal to scientific grounds. Naturally, I prefer Amendment No. 22, which would include the principle of Amendment No. 23. However, Amendment No. 23 would be better than nothing. I beg to move.

5.30 p.m.

The Earl of Dundee

My Lords, perhaps the first point that we need to consider in relation to this question, however concerned we may be about the right of appeal against designation of an SSSI, is whether there may already be satisfactory redress in the Bill. As the noble Lady has just pointed out, there is certainly the right to object to notification. However, that is not the same as a right of appeal.

Secondly, it is true that it does not follow from notification that there will be restriction on land use. It is up to the owner or occupier to decide how he uses the land. Nevertheless, when he proposes to change that land use he needs to have the consent of SNH. Therefore, if SNH does not wish a particular change to take place there is a restriction nevertheless. Yet, in spite of that, as my noble friend Lord Strathclyde pointed out in Committee there is still the redress of appeal against an objection which SNH might make to a change of land use by an occupier or owner. However, as can be seen from this description of procedures, those combined arrangements fall short of a right of appeal against the designation of an SSSI in the first place.

Thus, the next question is: do we think it right that there should in principle be redress and a right of appeal? As the noble Lady has pointed out, there is of course a very strong case in favour. It is also inconsistent that representatives of an appointed body should be able to lay down the law without question where there might nevertheless be conflict with representatives of an elected body in a local authority area.

In the case of appeal on scientific grounds, equally, your Lordships may feel that the monopoly of scientific wisdom will not necessarily always lie with the representatives of SNH and that therefore it would be very useful to have in the Bill some redress so that an appeal can be made on scientific grounds. In that case, and as is proposed in the amendment, the Secretary of State would be able to appoint a specialist or specialists to arbitrate on the matter.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch

My Lords, I should like to support these amendments because in 1985 I had the unfortunate experience of having large areas of my own ground on Rannoch Moor declared an SSSI by the Nature Conservancy Council. I thought that it might be appropriate to share with your Lordships some of the mystifications of the process.

The three main reasons given by the Nature Conservancy Council were: first, that the waters of my largest loch were very poor in nutrients and getting poorer—in other words, the loch was dying, or "oligotrophic" as the jargon goes; secondly, that about 1,000 acres along its shores were important wetlands which might contain rare plants, although I gather that in the intervening period the plants have not been found; and, thirdly, that a patch of yellow lilies in a lochan in front of my holiday cottage were very rare and would benefit from the water in which they grew becoming even more oligotrophic.

There was, and is, no appeal against the designation, the justification for which seems very questionable to a layman like me. Lengthy letters to the Nature Conservancy Council have not produced reasoned scientific answers, just replies along the lines of, "It's an SSSI because we say so, and that's an end of it".

The main bone of my contention in this particular case is that the land in question and the water which flows off it, and so the loch itself, have become noticeably poorer over the last 150 years or so, in part because of constant grazing by sheep and deer, to the exclusion of cattle. Cattle, with their more nutritious manuring pattern and their preference for the long molinia grass, do the ground nothing but good. Molinia grass is a growing cancer in my area, and indeed in much of the Western Highlands. It grows long and if it is not grazed it falls over and shuts out the light from everything under it.

I have tried to point out to the Nature Conservancy Council that cattle have been part of the natural grazing, balance since they were created—or since they evolved, whichever you prefer. Deer and sheep eat the short, nutritious grass, cattle eat the long grass which sheep and deer will not touch. That is the natural order of things. Yet the Nature Conservancy Council, under the SSSI order, now forbids me to put cattle on the ground in question. I have had to build a fence five miles long to exclude them from it. So the land continues on its path to decay as a result.

I have managed to put cattle on land outwith the SSSI The molinia grass is receding, heather and other plants are advancing, to the benefit of all manner of flora and fauna. The ground in the SSSI remains a dying desert.

The decision over the lilies seems even stranger to me. Since the SSSI designation, and the consequent forbidding of any activity which might be nutritious to the ground surrounding the lochan in which the lilies grow, the lilies started to look a bit sick. I was told by the Nature Conservancy Council that that did not matter; in view of the restriction they would soon recover. But they did not; they became even sicker. Then I realised that their sickness coincided with the nearby holiday cottage having been comparatively unused for two years while a temporary forester came and went. An interesting fact hit me. I suddenly realised that the lilies grow near to the place where the sewage overflow from the cottage enters the loch. The cottage has now been occupied for two whole seasons and the sewage has been suitably activated. I am sure it has nothing to do with the scientific facts but all I can say is that the lilies have recovered in a remarkable way.

This makes me wonder about the wisdom of the SSSI designation in the first place. Therefore I wanted very much to test that designation, at least with other scientists, with some of whom I have been able to talk off the record. They have all agreed that the exclusion of cattle from such an area is very short-sighted and unlikely to be in the interests of good nature conservation in its real sense. That is why I should like to support this amendment.

Lord Kimball

My Lords, it is with some diffidence, as the English proprietor of a cleared highland estate, that I say anything on matters so essentially Scottish as this amendment. However, I declared an interest earlier, in that for the whole of the wilderness area of Altnaharra in central Sutherland I have since 1987 been investigating the possibility of a management agreement under the 1949 Act.

In the meantime, with the peatland survey team of the Nature Conservancy Council I have had exactly the same experience as my noble friend Lord Pearson. Three major SSSI designations have been put on three different parts of the estate. According to the booklet which was sent with the paper giving notification of the designation, within nine months of notification the Secretary of State must confirm the designation of the SSSI and I have three months in which to object. However, even if I get the Department of Land Use from Edinburgh University and some of the most distinguished scientists to support my view, there is no scientific committee to which I can make a proper appeal. Therefore it is my intention to support Amendment No. 23. I believe that it will solve that problem.

Let us look for instance at one of the SSSIs, which is an area of 18,000 acres spreading over two watersheds. Surely we all agree that in all matters to do with nature conservancy one has to look at the wilderness areas and view nature conservation as it is bounded by the natural boundaries of existing watersheds. To make an 18,000 acre SSSI which goes across two different watersheds defies all sensible scientific knowledge. In fact I am advised by scientists that within those 18,000 acres there are only 1,000 acres of what they call deep blanket flow bog with special bog communities and a high density of nesting wading birds. In order to protect those 1,000 acres it is intended to put round them an SSSI 17 times their size.

It happens that on that SSSI of 18,000 acres two men are employed: a shepherd and a keeper. If the SSSI designation is confirmed, my ability to continue to employ those men and pay them increasing wages will be severely limited. I can only continue to employ the shepherd if I increase the sheep stock and I can only increase the sheep stock by fencing in the land to give me more ground which I can improve to carry more sheep. If I were to get rid of the keeper the first thing to happen would be that the SSSI itself would be damaged because there would be nobody to control the deer. Whatever one may say about sheep grazing, deer grazing will be just as damaging to the SSSI.

If the SSSI is to thrive and keep its high density of nesting wading birds, something has to be done about the mammalian and avian predators in the area but one will not be allowed to act without a special licence from the Nature Conservancy Council. We all want to preserve what is valuable but we want to be satisfied that what is being done is done the correct scientific way. We need a body such as the one set out in this amendment to which we can appeal and make our case, a body which will be respected by the crofters, farmers and those who have to try to get a living from the area.

5.45 p.m.

The Earl of Halsbury

My Lords, my motive in supporting this amendment is based entirely on parliamentary experience of service on Select Committees of your Lordships' House—to specify three of them: Select Committees on the Dartmoor Commons Bill, the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Bill and the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill. In every case I listened to arguments to the effect that something which would completely frustrate the purpose of the Bill was in the public interest in that the Bill invaded something designated as an SSSI.

Listening to the evidence, I could not help feeling that there are environmental enthusiasts who specify SSSIs much as a philatelist collects postage stamps. I have listened to very little evidence that convinces me that there is anything very special about the designated areas. I grant that they are of marginal scientific interest but there is nearly always some other place where something of very much the same character flourishes. I see no reason why the absolute authority to specify an area as special without having listened to arguments for and against it should be allowed. Therefore I support the amendment in the hope that your Lordships will agree to it.

Lord Stodart of Leaston

My Lords, both my noble friends have given examples of the operation of the SSSIs in the highlands. But let us not for one moment suppose that those operations are confined to that area. SSSIs exist and cause considerable dislocation in many lowland areas. There are a great many of them, causing considerable dislocation to private operations as a result of the actions of a public outside body.

I overheard my noble friend, in reply to an amendment proposed a little while ago by my noble friend Lady Elliot, say that, although with regard to her amendment he could not allow a form of appeal, the Secretary of State would automatically be involved with any planning operation because he has a locus. If I remember rightly, that is what he said.

This is a most suitable amendment for the Scottish Office. Unlike England and Wales, where separate Ministers are involved with the interests of agriculture as against those of science and the environment, in Scotland the Secretary of State for Scotland is responsible for both those matters. He is therefore an admirable person to whom an appeal can, and in my view should, be made.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, I should like to support the amendment. I urge the Minister to look into the matter and perhaps combine the points made in Amendments Nos. 22 and 23. It is obvious that the fauna of the highlands in the form of the landlords are in great need of help. Certainly they are in need of justice. The simple fact is that giving anybody unrestricted power is against British justice and certainly Scottish justice. I hope that he will be sensible and consider those problems.

The Earl of Perth

My Lords, I rise to support either Amendment No. 22 or Amendment No. 23 or both. It seems to me that these amendments are even more important than the amendment which we succeeded in winning a short while ago. What is at stake is a right of appeal. If there is no right of appeal one has a body which is autocratic and all-embracing: what it says goes. One has heard from the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, and others, examples of their experience.

I believe that the amendment goes to the heart of the matter. I should like the provision to be made even wider. We refer to SSSIs. But what about the designation of a national park, for example? Is that a suitable designation without a right of appeal?

Schedule 2 contains an amendment of enactments in relation to access. The provision states that the right of access (as designated by I know not whom) will have to be confirmed under certain conditions by the Secretary of State. The Government accept that in that one instance—because it is very controversial—one can appeal on access to the Secretary of State. But why not on all aspects? Because an appeal is a big undertaking, one will do so only if there are good grounds.

The amendment is of key importance to the operation of the system. I hope that it is accepted.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, in the past we have had several debates about the need for an appeal system in relation to SSSI designation. I take it that we are speaking also to Amendment No. 23, though I do not suppose that we could agree to Amendments Nos. 22 and 23. That obviously would not work. However, I realised as soon as I saw these amendments again on the Marshalled List that even after reading what I had said in Committee several noble Lords remained unconvinced by my powers of persuasion. I noticed too that Amendment No. 22 still contains the defective grammar to which my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy drew attention. I therefore hope that we shall not seek to press that amendment.

I should like to take as my starting point this time the telling comments made by the noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, in Committee. She expressed disappointment that even though Scotland was getting its own organisation to deal with its own problems, noble Lords had set out to distrust SNH before it had even begun. I too share that sense of disappointment.

In this Bill we are setting up a new organisation, Scottish Natural Heritage, which will be made up of the old Countryside Commission for Scotland and the Scottish constituent part of the Nature Conservancy Council. The Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland has been introduced because of some of the problems that have been obvious to everyone for a long time in having a Great Britain-organised Nature Conservancy Council. We have already conceded that something was essentially wrong with the way that the NCC operated. That is why we set up the NCC for Scotland. That is why we are now going further to set up Scottish Natural Heritage.

I have a number of objections to these amendments. In the first place, we have made it clear all along that what we are undertaking, both in this Bill and in the Environmental Protection Act, is a reorganisation of the administration of conservation. We do not intend to tamper with the substance of nature conservation, as these amendments would. Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 would need to be amended to accommodate the procedure envisaged here. The amendments make no provision for that.

In failing to do so, the amendment establishes a system of designation in Scotland different from that in England and Wales. In other circumstances, Members of this House have been extremely anxious to ensure that nature conservation in Scotland remains on all fours with nature conservation in England and Wales. Acceptance of this amendment would be a fundamental breach of that principle and a commitment that government have given, not just in this House but in another place.

Much of the earlier discussion was couched in terms of the supposedly undemocratic way in which Scottish Natural Heritage would be expected to proceed. Those arguments were based on the lack of an appeals procedure. As I explained in Committee, it will be for SNH to decide that a piece of land merits designation; and that is a decision which will be taken with very great care. While Scottish Natural Heritage is the sole statutory judge of the scientific interest of a site, the criteria it employs will be scrutinised by its scientific peers and Scottish Natural Heritage will be able to consider with the other country councils, through the JNCC, whether those criteria are uniform with those in other parts of Great Britain. There is the further protection to the landowner that where disputes about land use change arise, Section 29 nature conservation orders are matters for the Secretary of State, and Schedule 11 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 sets out detailed procedures dealing with objections, including the holding of a public local inquiry.

Once SNH has decided that a site should be designated, it has a positive duty to notify the local planning authority, every owner and occupier concerned and the Secretary of State. Any of these parties can object to the notification. I have on several occasions made the claim for Scottish Natural Heritage that it will mark the start of a new era in conservation in Scotland. It will adopt more positive approaches and seek to promote co-operation rather than conflict because that suits nobody. The experiences of my noble friends Lord Pearson of Rannoch and Lord Kimball refer to situations that were part of an old order. I cannot believe that they would be repeated again under the co-ordination of Scottish Natural Heritage.

Those who would argue that the SSSI procedures are unfair and undemocratic seem to me to be missing a fundamental point; that is, that notification of an SSSI in itself places no restriction on the use to which the owner and occupier put the land. All that is required is for any changes to the use of that land to be agreed with SNH. The system is a voluntary one. SNH will not be able to impose a particular land use on an unwilling owner.

I have some sympathy with the essence of the amendment of the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, which relates to peer group scrutiny. We consider that very important for Scottish Natural Heritage's operations. The amendment, however, ignores the fact that SNH will be exposed to such scrutiny. The Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland intends to establish a scientific steering group which will act as a panel of scientific experts of the sort envisaged by the amendment. I am sure your Lordships would wish to join the Government in welcoming that initiative.

The amendment also ignores the role of the JNCC of advising on common approach to site search, identification and notification.

I have little hope of being able to convince noble Lords who have spoken on this point. But we have gone over this ground several times before. I can only ask them to read very carefully what I have said and to approach the establishment of the new body in a new spirit, prepared to give it the opportunity to establish new procedures and to encourage a new attitude towards conservation in Scotland.

Whatever may have happened in the past, I am quite convinced that Scottish Natural Heritage, whenever it receives objections to proposed designations, will reconsider the matter very carefully. In the light of that assurance I hope that the proposers of the amendment will be prepared to withdraw it. I hope that we can discuss carefully the environment in which Scottish Natural Heritage should work in designating SSSIs before we agree either of the two amendments.

I have no idea of the position of the Labour Party on this matter. The noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, spoke in Committee. I am not sure of the position of the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, on the appeals procedures for designation of SSSIs. The noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, speaks for the Liberal Democrats. He has made it plain that he supports an appeals procedure. However, he has suggested that there should be further thought about the matter. That is the approach that I wish to offer the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun.

I cannot give a commitment at this stage. However, I am keen to resolve the position because today so many noble Lords have spoken in a negative way about the Nature Conservancy Council. Scottish Natural Heritage is a new body with similar responsibilities. It has the new role and responsibility of co-operation rather than confrontation. It is in that spirit that I ask the noble Lady to withdraw her amendments until further consultation has taken place.

6 p.m.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

My Lords, I am in as great a difficulty as are many other Members of this House. I am willing to give a guarded acceptance to the Minister's comments, largely because he said that the new body will play a new ball game. However, there is the possibility of an abuse of the old powers. The Minister has gone some way towards assuring me that that will not happen, and perhaps we should discover what will happen to mistakes that have already been made.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, with the leave of the House, the proposition that I have been making is that many problems arose with the designation of the SSSIs because of the insensitive approach of the Nature Conservancy Council based in Peterborough. However, we have split up the NCC into country councils and now we are developing Scottish Natural Heritage. It is our hope and desire that in future Scottish Natural Heritage will be a far more effective organisation in dealing with local people at a local level. It will be interested not only in conservation but in a whole range of activities ensuring that Scotland's natural heritage is looked after in the best possible way.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down I wish to understand his speech correctly. Is he unwilling to consider the question of appeal but believes that a Scottish body may be less autocratic than a British body?

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, it is not so much whether a British body will be more or less autocratic. We all recognise that the NCC, which was based in Peterborough, was not an English organisation but a Great Britain organisation and could not react to some of the problems that arose in the outlying areas of Scotland. Now that we have a Scottish NCC and Scottish Natural Heritage there will be more opportunity for the type of co-operation that we all wish to see.

Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal

My Lords, I hesitate to interrupt my noble friend but before he sits down I wish to ask two or three questions which arise out of the question put by the noble Lord, Lord Mackie. First, the Minister said that he does not wish to see inconsistency between the two new bodies. He then went on to say that the new body will be more sensitive and, therefore, different. That means that it will be inconsistent. Secondly, how does the Minister see that transferring the venue and the people will alter the principle of there being a body against which there is no sensible appeal? There will be no difference whatever.

The Minister may object to Amendment No. 22, but Amendment No. 23 produces a totally unassailable suggestion of an appeal body which is in no way affected by the argument that he has put forward. He talks about co-operation versus conflict. I am sure that those of us who support the amendment will bitterly resent being accused of being anti-conservationist. We are not. However, some of us worry about the fact that unless such a provision is added the Nature Conservancy Council will acquire a bad name in Scotland. In order to protect that body surely it is necessary for it to justify its decisions to a sensible body such as is suggested in Amendment No. 23. I am totally unconvinced by the Minister's reply.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, with the leave of the House I shall respond to my noble friend's comments. I am being entirely consistent in my approach. I am not comparing the NCC for Scotland or Scottish Natural Heritage with the NCC for England. I am comparing it with the old Great Britain NCC which no longer exists. Therefore, there is no question of my being inconsistent. The NCC for Scotland and the new SNH will be organisations far more receptive to local needs than the old NCC for Great Britain could possibly have been. That is why I am saying that we do not need the appeal procedure.

The second reason why we do not need the procedure is that we have a long history of environment legislation. By statute we have set up a body which is specifically designed to advise Government on the best way forward in respect of environmental issues. The amendments propose, first, a complete right of appeal on every decision that the body of experts may make. Effectively, that is second guessing a statutory body. Secondly, Amendment No. 23 gives the right of appeal to a second panel of experts.

I have already said that I have some sympathy with the second amendment and the scientific panel. However, I have suggested to the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, that before taking that step forward we should stand back for a few more weeks until Third Reading and consult widely with the NCC for Scotland and the Countryside Commission in order to ascertain how the operation will work. I am not sure where the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, stands but I suspect that he will side with the Government on this issue. However, that remains to be seen.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

My Lords, the Minister has made out a convincing case. The only difficulty is that I am not entirely convinced by it. He hopes that SNH will begin a new era in the history of conservation in Scotland and is sorry that we are so distrustful of SNH. We distrust SNH because we distrust any organisation which has unlimited powers such as those of the Nature Conservancy Council, with no right of appeal. It is as simple as that.

I accept that Amendment No. 22 is defective. I noticed only when it was too late that the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, had tabled the identical amendment which was found to be defective in Committee. For that reason I shall withdraw the amendment while reserving the right to bring it back at Third Reading in a redrafted form.

It has been argued that if either of my amendments were accepted the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 would need to be amended, repealed or whatever. It is said that the Act applies to the whole of Britain and cannot be amended only for Scotland. I cannot accept that argument because I can see no reason why in amending the Act for Scotland it should not also be amended for England and Wales. I believe that would be more satisfactory to the inhabitants of those countries. However, I shall withdraw Amendment No. 22 and reserve the right to return to it at a later stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy moved Amendment No. 23: Page 3, line 6, at end insert: ("() Where in the exercise of its functions relating to the designation of sites of special scientific interest, SNH receives an objection, and where the objection is on scientific grounds alone, the Secretary of State shall refer the matter to a panel of appropriate scientific experts, who will advise upon the scientific merits of the proposed designation.").

The noble Lady said: My Lords, despite what the noble Lord has said, I should like to ask the opinion of the House on this amendment. I beg to move.

6.10 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 23) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 64; Not-Contents, 82.

Division No. 2
Abinger, L. Masham of Ilton, B.
Airedale, L. Mills, V.
Allenby of Megiddo, V. Montagu of Beaulieu, L.
Allerton, L. Newall, L.
Bonham-Carter, L. Norrie, L.
Brightman, L. Onslow, E.
Carnarvon, E. Oxfuird, V.
Cox, B. Palmer, L.
Craigavon, V. Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Darcy (de Knayth), B. Perth, E. [Teller.]
Denman, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Dundee, E. Pym, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Rankeillour, L.
Elphinstone, L. Renton, L.
Falkland, V. Robson of Kiddington, B.
Fitt, L. Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly. [Teller.]
Gainsborough, E.
Gladwyn, L. Seear, B.
Grantchester, L. Selkirk, E.
Greenway, L. Shannon, E.
Grey, E. Shepherd, L.
Halsbury, E. Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Hampton, L. Stedman, B.
Hylton-Foster, B. Stodart of Leaston, L.
Jeffreys, L. Strange, B.
Kilmarnock, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Kimball, L.
Lauderdale, E. Tryon, L.
Lindsay, E. Whaddon, L.
Lyell, L. Wigoder, L.
McGregor of Durris, L. Winchilsea and Nottingham, E
Mackie of Benshie, L. Winstanley, L.
Mancroft, L. Wynford, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Holderness, L.
Armstrong of Ilminster, L. Hollis of Heigham, B.
Arran, E. Hooper, B.
Astor, V. Ingrow, L.
Auckland, L. Jeger, B.
Belstead, L. Kagan, L.
Bessborough, E. Kirkhill, L.
Birk, B. Lawrence, L.
Blackstone, B. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B
Blake, L. Long, V.
Blatch, B. Longford, E.
Boardman, L. Macleod of Borve, B.
Boston of Faversham, L. Mason of Barnsley, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Merrivale, L.
Butterworth, L. Mersey, V.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Carrington, L. Mountevans, L.
Carter, L. Munster, E.
Cavendish of Furness, L. Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Nicol, B.
Colnbrook, L. Orkney, E.
Craigmyle, L. Pender, L.
Cross, V. Plan of Writtle, B.
Davidson, V. [Teller.] Prior, L.
Dean of Beswick, L. Reay, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Rees, L.
Eden of Winton, L. Rodney, L.
Elles, B. Saint Albans, D.
Faithfull, B. Savile, L.
Fortescue, E. Shackleton, L.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L. Strathclyde, L.
Galpern, L. Strathmore and Kinghorne, E
Graham of Edmonton, L. Swinton, E.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Ullswater, V.
Hanson, L. Underhill, L.
Hardinge of Penshurst, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Harmar-Nicholls, L. Waddington, L.
Harrowby, E. Wade of Chorlton, L.
Hatch of Lusby, L. Windlesham, L.
Henley, L. Wise, L.
Hives, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

6.18 p.m.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 24: Page 3, line 24, at end insert: ("(10) SNH shall have powers to designate Marine Protected Areas.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a probing amendment in order to ask the Minister what are the Government's intentions on marine conservation. I believe that the existing arrangements are inadequate. Scotland still has no marine nature reserves after many years of negotiations. The existing informal arrangements for the identification of non-statutory marine conservation areas have proved ineffective, basically due to the lack of statutory backing.

An environment White Paper entitled, This Common Inheritance, gave little indication of the Government's intention, though I believe there was a suggestion by Mr. Trippier in another place that proposals would shortly be put forward. I tabled the amendment to inquire of the Government what is their view for a Scottish provision in that respect. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, we believe that the best solution to the problem of marine conservation lies in the review currently being undertaken in this area, as was made clear in the White Paper. We would hope that work on the review would progress with some speed, but I trust your Lordships will accept that it would be wrong to pre-empt the findings of the review since much detailed and valuable work will doubtless go into it. Any recommendations of the review will, of course, be directed at government, but could also be of relevance to the work of SNH in the future. I might have hoped that noble Lords would have accepted this point when I made it in Committee rather than press it now, but I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, would like to know more.

No one doubts the need for protection of the marine environment, but to develop a specific designation, as the amendment proposes, when a review of marine conservation legislation is promised and consideration is being given to statutory protection of one area and the extension of informal consultation procedures in England and Wales is, in the Government's view, unjustified.

I hope therefore that the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, will withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Nicol

My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down perhaps he could say when the review is likely to be completed, if it has started; or started if it has not yet begun.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, I am not able to shed any light on when the review will be complete. As on all matters which the Government take as seriously as they do the environment, they will conclude the review as speedily as possible. It is a complicated issue and we need to ensure that we are right. However, the review will be carried forward as quickly as possible. When we obtain the results we can take the situation further.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his reply. However, I did not understand whether new legislation would be required or new amendments would be needed to set up a Scottish marine conservation organisation. It is slightly more difficult for the Minister to respond at this Report stage. Perhaps he will consider my remarks and pass them on to another place. I am reasonably satisfied with his statement. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 5 [Development projects or schemes]:

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 25: Page 3, line 29, leave out subsection (2).

The noble Lord said: The Goverment's objective is that Scottish Natural Heritage should be more than an advisory body. I expect that it will form partnerships and companies to help carry forward actions. Clause 5 provides SNH with the statutory backing to set up and run projects either land or subject based.

If Scottish Natural Heritage is to make the best use of projects and is to develop an integrated programme of action on the ground with others, it should be enabled to set up and run projects whenever and wherever they are needed. Clause 5(2) restricts SNH to projects which are both experimental and demonstrational. That surely is not right. It should have the power to set up and undertake, either by itself or with partners, any project which seems to be appropriate to achieving its objects, whether or not it has an obvious demonstrational role. By leaving out subsection (2) the amendment allows SNH an unrestricted hand in formulating and implementing ideas or projects which promote positive conservation, landscape enhancement and improved recreational provisions. With that relaxation, and considering that the Secretary of State will still have a great deal of power, I hope that the Government will accept the amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, I remain convinced that what we are proposing is appropriate for SNH. The intention is that such schemes which could be undertaken under the provisions of the clause should be able to demonstrate new approaches to natural heritage issues. The provision in the 1967 Act was drafted in that way to emphasise the role of the Countryside Commission for Scotland as a leader of practice in countryside projects. The' amendment would remove the emphasis on experimentation and creativity. That would be a considerable loss. We hope that the provision will encourage positive thinking to address situations in new and creative ways.

Concern was expressed in Committee that SNH would be able to operate projects in green belts and in the countryside around towns. That is very much the kind of work the CCS was doing under the selfsame provision of the 1967 Act. There is nothing in Clause 5 as it stands to prevent SNH from carrying forward those valuable initiatives. Therefore the amendment is not needed to secure that state of affairs.

Clause 5 is a sensible clause which will offer a wide set of opportunities to SNH to operate projects that will improve our natural heritage. I am content with the provisions as drafted. Subsection (2) provides the incentive for SNH to be innovative in approaching situations, which I am sure noble Lords will agree is an important consideration. The intention of the 1967 Act was that once a project had been approved it would be disposed of to a local authority or appropriate voluntary body or private enterprise, depending on the type of project. We believe that that intention still holds good. Furthermore, SNH should not be able to embark on a project again once it has tried it out, as could be the case if subsection (2) were dropped. It is for others to follow the pattern set by Scottish Natural Heritage in relation to those projects.

For those reasons I am unable to accept the amendment. I hope that in the light of what I explained in some detail regarding the purposes of the clause the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, will see their worth.

Lord Kirkhill

My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, can help me. I am sure he can. I do not understand what is meant in subsections 2(a) and 2(b). Quite frankly, I do not understand those two paragraphs. Perhaps the noble Lord can help me by giving an explanation as to what they truly mean. I do not believe that they mean very much as they stand. They are certainly capable of any number of interpretations, depending on one's viewpoint. I am not seeking to gain a political point, though I often do so. For once, this is a straightforward question. If the noble Lord cannot answer at this stage, perhaps he will write to me.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, the essence of the clause is to allow Scottish Natural Heritage to define the purposes of development projects and schemes, and hence allow such projects or schemes to be used in whatever way Scottish Natural Heritage considers achieves the conservation and enchancement of, or fosters the enjoyment and understanding of, the natural heritage of Scotland. The noble Lord may say that he does not understand what that means.

Lord Kirkhill

My Lords, does the Minister?

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, of course. I have lived with the Bill for some time. Subsection (2) requires that such proposals must either involve new or developed methods, concepts or techniques, or serve to demonstrate the appropriateness of the project to the area concerned. As the leading body with responsibility for the natural heritage, SNH will be able to develop new ideas for prototype development schemes. SNH should be encouraged to identify new solutions to problems and this is the means by which it will do so.

I think that the noble Lord is looking for a specific example. Let us suppose that there was a proposal to create a forest outside an urban area. Clearly, it would have a role in developing that area and would be obliged to use the most up-to-date techniques to make sure that the development was as efficient and effective as possible. This provision gives that role and it is a very sensible one.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

My Lords, I am not sure that the Minister's example was much clearer than the earlier explanation that he gave. He seems to suggest that there will be a restriction to pump-priming only. I understood the provision to mean that the body would be unable to get involved for too long and as soon as the development became viable it would be handed over to some other body. I assume that the scheme will be handed over to a commercial body already operating in the development of the scheme. There are problems in that a bottomless purse may be given to provide development if there is anything more than just an experimental scheme.

I have a great deal of sympathy with my noble friend Lord Kirkhill. Perhaps it is the case with most Bills that the more one reads them the wider the interpretation one can give them. I am not sure whether the Minister's explanation will be worth looking at with a view to doing something at a later stage. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendments Nos. 26 to 30: Page 4, line 15, leave out ("may be registered"). Page 4, leave out line 17 and insert ("the Land Register of Scotland, may be registered in that register"). Page 4, line 18, after ("case,") insert ("may be recorded"). Page 4, line 20, after ("so") insert ("registered or"). Page 4, line 25, at end insert ("registered or").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving these amendments I shall speak also to Amendment No. 38. They are minor technical amendments to improve the drafting of the Bill. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 6 [Powers of entry]:

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy moved Amendment No. 31: Page 5, line 10, leave out ("seven") and insert ("twenty-one").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, at Committee stage the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, said that the Government are not aware of any problem arising over the years with the present notice of seven days. That does not mean that problems have not arisen. Between weekends, public holidays and the deficiencies of the postal service in many parts of Scotland, I do not consider seven days to be fair notice. The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, thought that 28 days was too long. I am now suggesting 21 days.

In regard to the argument that if the notice were too long a proposed SSSI might be damaged or destroyed, it would surely be possible for the notice to demand that all development be frozen until the question of whether the proposed site was to be designated had been resolved. I cannot accept either that the occupier is the person most affected by a notice to be served and that an occupier or tenant will not necessarily inform the owner. I accept that owners are not always easily found, but the duty to try should surely be written into the Bill. Clause 23 provides an admirably simple method for serving documents on people whose addresses cannot be ascertained.

At Committee stage the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, said that the Government were proposing to introduce amendments into Clause 6 to bring it into line with Clauses 16 and 20. Those amendments will be welcome. Can the noble Lord say at what stage it is proposed to introduce them? Sadly, they have not yet appeared, but they will not make my amendments unnecessary concerning Clause 6. I beg to move.

The Earl of Dundee

My Lords, at Committee stage when we were dealing with the question of the time in which it is reasonable to give notification, I believe the feeling was that seven days was far too short a period to be satisfactory and that the owner or occupier could easily be absent over this period. Even if he were not absent, with postal delays being what they are in the Scottish Highlands it could well take the better part of a week for notification to arrive. However, at Committee stage my noble friend Lord Strathclyde was probably right to object that our proposal to give 28 days for notification was rather too long. That is why we currently propose 21 days, which I think is a satisfactory balance. I hope that my noble friend will look on this amendment sympathetically.

Amendment No. 32 asks that, where possible, the owner should be notified in addition to the occupier. At Committee stage my noble friend Lord Strathclyde made two valid points. He said that it could often be difficult to find out who the owner was, let alone contact him. Therefore, if this provision that the owner had always to be contacted were written into the Bill that might well take up a disproportionate amount of the time of the SNH. He also said that he hoped that the occupier would always pass on the information to the owner in any event.

At Committee stage the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, said that she thought it unlikely that the occupier would always pass on the information and she is quite right. The wording of this amendment says "where possible", which means of course that if the owner really were to be difficult to contact there is no obligation on the SNH to alert him. As a result, I think it would be well worthwhile to write the wording of Amendment No. 32 into the Bill.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, in Committee I explained that I had some sympathy with these amendments and that I intended to bring forward amendments which would rationalise different powers of entry within the Bill and correct any related technical anomalies that there might be. I said at that time that such amendments would be put forward at Report stage. This is clearly an important issue. Therefore, I felt obliged to consult interested parties, especially on the points raised in Committee. As a result, it has not proved possible to have such amendments finalised in the short time available.

I realise that this is a subject to which the House in general, and the noble Lady and my noble friend Lord Dundee in particular, attach considerable importance. It is all the more necessary that we get this provision absolutely right. That will take longer than I had expected. I am sure that noble Lords, rather than have me repeat now the arguments raised in Committee, would prefer to wait for the government amendments to be brought forward before debating the matter again. Subject to satisfactory completion of the consultations with interested parties I hope to be able to bring forward suitable amendments at Third Reading. In the circumstances, I trust that the noble Lady will withdraw her amendment.

I do not think that I have given quite enough to enable the noble Lady to do that. I listened very carefully to the arguments that were put forward in favour of 21 days' notice. I do not consider that such a long period is necessary. However, I am prepared to consider extending the period of notice from seven to 14 days. I hope that with that promise the noble Lady will feel that her amendment can be withdrawn. As regards the serving of notice on owners, I am very pleased that the noble Lady has come forward with a slightly improved amendment by stating: and, where possible the owner". I shall take that provision fully into account in considering amendments to this clause. Perhaps she will leave the matter with me so that I can bring forward a provision that will satisfy her and my noble friend Lord Dundee on the issues of days and owners.

The Earl of Selkirk

My Lords, I am very glad indeed to hear my noble friend at least conceding something to the noble Lady. But the position is much worse than he is prepared to admit. You can usually walk into somewhere and ask, "Do you mind if I have a look at this and that?" and there is no difficulty. But in this case you write a letter and what have you then? You demand admission as of right, as of law, and if you are stopped you can probably call the police and demand to go in. Twenty-one days is in no way unreasonable. If someone is objectionable, there are all sorts of ways of coping. But to cut down the time to 14 days and think you have won a victory is sheer nonsense. This power is to be used very rarely.

Speaking in the interests of this body, they want to be popular people. They do not want to throw their weight about in the community. That is usually unnecessary. In 21 days, all sorts of things can happen. You may be on holiday or a letter may be lost in the post, which is not unusual. I think that, for once, my noble friend should take a sensible view on this subject.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, with the leave of the House, my noble friend uses very strong words. The provision of seven days has been in legislation for many years, and as I said in Committee, has not given rise to any great problems at all. I believe that there have been fewer than half a dozen complaints over the past 10 years. In fact, I have received information that in the past 10 years the Countryside Commission for Scotland has never requested the power of entry which my noble friend is complaining about. It is very difficult to decide whether the time should be 21 days or 14 days. What I have conceded—and it is a genuine concession on the part of the Government, and demonstrates understanding of what the noble Lady said—is that seven days is too short. I have said that I will bring something forward about 14 days.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

My Lords, the most one can ever hope for in moving amendments in this House is to have the spirit of one's amendments taken on board, for they are invariably defective or have something the matter with them. I am therefore almost dumbfounded by the generosity of the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, in conceding the spirit of these two points.

When I first suggested 28 days, I did so rather as a carpet seller might demand at least twice the price that he expected to get for the carpet, with the full intention of being prepared to bargain and to settle for a considerably lower price in the end. Therefore I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 32 not moved.]

Clause 10 [Directions by Secretary of State]:

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 33: Page 7, line 21, after ("functions") insert ("other than those functions previously discharged by the Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland under the Acts amended by Schedule 2 to this Act and as are assigned to it in accordance with the amendments effected by that Schedule,").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the Minister will be aware that during the Committee stage I put down an amendment with the same purpose as this one. The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, accepted the principle of the amendment and gave an assurance that Scottish Natural Heritage would have, exactly the same relationship with the Secretary of State as its sister bodies in England and Wales".—[Official Report, 3/12/90: col. 73.] The Minister also undertook to, bring forward an amendment to ensure that powers of direction apply equally to Scottish, English and Welsh bodies in relation to their nature conservation functions". —[Col. 73.]

This amendment is based on the provision applying to the new Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, and it will ensure that the powers of direction apply equally to Scottish Natural Heritage. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, this amendment is indeed in accordance with our policy on this matter, and the Government will bring forward an amendment to this effect, hopefully on Third Reading. In the circumstances, I trust that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.45 p.m.

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 34: After Clause 10, insert the following new clause: