HL Deb 20 March 1997 vol 579 c1154

7.45 p.m.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Earl Ferrers)

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.

This is a short Bill and will clarify the powers of the Department of the Environment to charge fees for registered sellers of dead wild birds under Section 6 and for the birds registration scheme under Section 7 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The charge was made on registered sellers and keepers by the department when administering both these schemes. However, following a review some doubts arose about the proper statutory basis for charging these fees. The Bill will simply clarify those powers.

The Bill has three main provisions. First, it will permit future charges to be made for the registration scheme and the registered sellers of the dead wild bird scheme should such a new scheme be reintroduced. Secondly, it will permit the recovery of charges for bird registrations which were made between 21st May 1996, which is the date on which the announcement was made in another place that the requirement for the payment of any fees were suspended, and the date when the Bill comes into force. Thirdly, it will validate all registration charges which have been made under Sections 6 and 7 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

The Bill will affect about 1,000 registered keepers of birds. The Bill is an uncontroversial measure. It will simply restore the situation to that which the department and the bird keepers had previously believed to be the case. It will not remove any rights which they expected it to have. The Bill makes no other changes to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.—(Earl Ferrers.)

On Question, Bill read a second time.

Committee negatived.

Then, Standing Order No. 44 having been suspended (pursuant to Resolution of 18th March), Bill read a third time, and passed.