§ Lord MELCHETT
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What consultations they intend to hold between the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in Scotland, the Natural Environment Research Council and the Grey Seals Group representing all interested voluntary organisations, before any decision is taken on whether or not to kill grey seals in the Orkneys and North Rona this year and in the future; and
Whether all the various management options suggested to them for grey seals in the Orkneys and North Rona will be 1319WA discussed in full with the Grey Seals Group representing all interested voluntary organisations, and whether the preparatory group or sub-group of the Natural Environment Research Council responsible will seek agreement with the Grey Seals Group on the scientific factors relevant to such management options, before any decision is made about future killing of grey seals.
§ The Earl of MANSFIELD
As part of the consultative process announced in my right honourable friend's Statement on 10th October, there was a preliminary meeting on 20th November between representatives of his Department, the Natural Environment Research Council, the Nature Conservancy Council and a number of other bodies including the Grey Seals Group. Further consultations will be1320WA held with the various interests before the Secretary of State announces his management proposals and in reaching his decision full regard will be paid to the views expressed both at these meetings and elsewhere. In addition, the Secretary of State will in the normal course have the benefit of the scientific advice of the Natural Environment Research Council in terms of the Conservation of Seals Act 1970 on matters relevant to the management of seal populations. It is for the council to decide on the formulation of that advice including reference to any sub-group. I would not, however, expect the council's advice to be contingent on reaching agreement with the Grey Seals Group on scientific factors.
House adjourned at eighteen minutes past nine o'clock.