HC Deb 27 June 1979 vol 969 cc235-6W
Mr. Stephen Ross

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if, and in what circumstances, the Government consider the shooting of chaffinches, corn buntings and ortolan buntings acceptable.

Mr. Monro

Chaffinches, corn buntings and ortolan buntings are not listed in the Protection of Birds Acts as pest species so shooting them is normally prohibited in the United Kingdom. Shooting of these species is still allowed in some other European countries. As this practice will not cease immediately, the Government are co-operating with other States, particularly within the Council of Europe, in establishing ways of progressively regulating such schooting with conservation in mind.

Mr. Denis Howell

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will undertake that Her Majesty's Government will not support or sign the draft convention of the Council of Europe which allows the shooting of ortolan buntings and other small song birds which is unanimously opposed by British conservationists.

Mr. Monro

I share the right hon. Member's concern, but I cannot agree that Her Majesty's Government should stand aside from the much-needed establishment of a common standard of wildlife protection throughout Europe because the level of protection on which agreement can be achieved is in some respects less than we would wish.