§ 3.45 p.m.
§ The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern)
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. The purpose of the Bill is to consolidate the Badgers Act 1973, the Badgers Act 1991 and the Badgers (Further Protection) Act 1991. The textual amendments to the 1973 Act which were made during the last session have made an early consolidation highly desirable.
This Bill, which is pure consolidation, has been drafted at the Law Commission. I am glad to have the opportunity of expressing my appreciation, and I trust that of your Lordships' House, for that further contribution of the Law Commission and the parliamentary draftsmen to tidying up the contents of the statute book.
If your Lordships are content to give the Bill a Second Reading, it will then be referred in the usual way to the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills.
Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, the animal kingdom has many friends in your Lordships' House and a special place in your Lordships' hearts when it comes to a discussion about badgers. It is remarkable and rather wonderful that the time of the very busy Law Commission and an overtaxed parliamentary draftsmen's department should have been directed to a consolidation measure relating to the protection of 1427 badgers. I should like to associate myself very much with the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor in his expression of gratitude.
I happen to know that the police are extremely grateful that the consolidation measure is to come before your Lordships and a Joint Committee of your Lordships' House and the other place with a view to it coming on to the statute book. That will make their lives, and also the lives of badgers, much easier.
§ Lord Houghton of Sowerby
My Lords, I should like to offer my humble thanks to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for introducing the Bill and to associate myself with the remarks of my noble friend. To consolidate the law on badgers adds dignity, clarity and authority to the law for the protection of Britain's largest and best loved mammal. We should be grateful for that.
I would only add that it is time we had a similar Bill relating to dogs so that we can clear up the biggest animal mess.
§ Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe
My Lords, badgers are extremely lucky to be given such close attention so soon after the passing of the legislation to which the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor referred. I am stunned that the legislation should be consolidated now. I wonder whether the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor would give consideration to helping thousands of humans in this country, namely, the secretaries of various social clubs throughout the country; who would be more than pleased if the plethora of legislation affecting such clubs were consolidated in such a speedy manner. That would make their job a great deal easier.
§ Lord Ross of Newport
My Lords, I believe that the Badgers Bill originally emanated from the noble Earl, Lord Arran. Following the two Bills agreed last year, which complicated matters, we greatly welcome the consolidation in the Bill. Not only will it help the police, it will also help badger lovers and environmentalists who were anxious to ensure that the two Bills enacted last year were properly identified.
§ The Lord Chancellor
My Lords, I am grateful to those noble Lords who have welcomed the consolidation. The question of which parts of our legislation to consolidate is always a difficult one. There is always a tendency to look for parts which are relatively easy to consolidate quickly. For reasons that I have hinted at, the badgers legislation happens to be in that category. The legislation to which the noble Lord, Lord Cocks, referred is perhaps slightly more difficult and therefore that consolidation may be somewhat delayed.
On Question, Bill read a second time, and referred to the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills.