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Lords Chamber

Volume 416: debated on Monday 2 February 1981

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House Of Lords

Monday, 2nd February, 1981.

The House met at half-past two of the clock: The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.

Prayers—Read by the Lord Bishop of Salisbury.

Temporary Short-Time Working Compensation

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether it would not be more nationally beneficial if employers, who currently receive funds partially to compensate them for their employees' working short time, could receive similar assistance when their employees are attending approved training courses instead of only when they are sitting at home.

No, my Lords. Most training is, in effect, an extension of employment and we could not accept that workers being trained at their employer's expense were genuinely on short-time working. It follows that no compensation could be payable under the Temporary Short Time Working Compensation Scheme on days on which workers are being trained. An exception can be made in the case of English language courses run by the Industrial Training Unit, provided that these courses are not held on the employer's premises.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Does it not sound rather unreasonable that money should be made available for workers only while they are staying at home? If they are being trained for the future benefit of our industry, should not the same money be made available?

My Lords, I think that it sounds unreasonable until one considers that because the Government, in effect, are paying the employee's wages, it would give the employer in question an unfair advantage over employers not benefiting under the scheme. I would point out to the noble Earl that there is nothing to prevent the worker seeking training under a Government training scheme while he is off work.

Burglaries: Prosecutions And Convictions

2.38 p.m.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many burglaries and housebreakings were reported in the Greater London area during the most recent 12 months for which figures are available; how many of these have resulted in convictions of one or more of the people concerned; and in how many cases are prosecutions pending.

My Lords, the latest year for which all the relevant information is available is 1979. In that year in the Metropolitan Police District about 118,000 offences of burglary were recorded by the police; it is not known how many of these offences resulted in convictions but in the same year the number of persons found guilty of burglary in the Metropolitan Police District was about 8,700. Information is not collected centrally on the number of cases in which a prosecution is pending. There is no separate offence of housebreaking.

My Lords, does my noble friend accept that the enormous disparity between the number of these offences and the number of convictions for them over the same period indicates that perhaps more police effort needs to be concentrated on the protection of the home and property of the citizen than is done at present?

My Lords, if I may say so, I think that there is a double responsibility. There is—this is a matter for the chief officer of police of the area—the question of the police responsibility, and in this connection I know that the Commissioner is anxious to take steps, and is taking steps, that will result in more officers being released from administrative duties. This policy, combined with the increase in the strength of the Metropolitan Police that has taken place, means that there will be more policemen on the streets preventing crime. The other responsibility is a responsibility of members of the general public to make houses more difficult to break into.

My Lords, why are the Government surprised that there is more robbery on the streets when so many people are unemployed?

My Lords, I am not aware that there is a direct connection between the two. Perhaps the noble Baroness would like to draw the connection to my attention.

My Lords, is not the suggestion made by the noble Baroness a very grave slander on the unemployed?

My Lords, at the present time I do not think that we should pursue this.

My Lords, are any figures available for the detection rate in respect of these crimes? Of course, such figures would not, unhappily, always coincide with the conviction rate, which is rather a different matter. But if information is available about the detection rate, am I right in thinking that, broadly speaking, the percentage of detection has kept pretty well in line with the percentage increase in crime? If that is so, we may be reasonably reassured about the efforts of the police.

My Lords, I did not give the clear-up rate, as we call it, to my noble friend in reply because my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter asked about the number of convictions and, as the noble and learned Lord says, the clear-up rate does not, of course, always equate with that. But, broadly speaking, what has happened is that, taking the 10 years 1969 to 1979, the number of offences committed has increased enormously, from 77,000 to some 118,000. Therefore, the clear-up rate has declined from some 18 per cent. in 1969 to some 12 per cent. in 1979. However, I would just add that over the last five years, 1975 to 1979 inclusive, the number of convictions secured has averaged about 8,900, which is very much in line with the figure which I gave to my noble friend in my first reply.

My Lords, is the noble Lord the Minister in a position to say how many crimes are committed by persons who are already on bail awaiting trial?

My Lords, not without notice. However, if the noble Lord would care to have a word with me about this, I shall see whether I can help him.

My Lords, can the noble Lord say how many of these offences were committed by children?

My Lords, can my noble friend explain what is meant by the "clear-up rate"?

My Lords, the clear-up rate indicates to what extent offences are finally cleared up. That does not always mean securing a conviction.

Nuclear Missiles: Siting

2.42 p.m.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether it is their intention to site nuclear missiles, when distributed from storage depots in England, in Northern Ireland.

My Lords, I assume that the noble Lord is referring to the planned deployment of United States ground-launched cruise missiles at RAF Greenham Common, Berkshire, and RAF Molesworth, Cambridgeshire. My noble friend Lord Strathcona made clear in the House on 17th June 1980 (Hansard, Vol. 410, cols. 987–998) that during times of tension it is the intention that the missile launchers would disperse by road up to about 50 to 100 miles from these peacetime bases. The Government cannot, however, give an undertaking that these forces will not be deployed anywhere in the United Kingdom.

My Lords, may I ask the Government whether they will very seriously consider not placing these missiles in Northern Ireland for three reasons: first, they would intensify the sectarian confrontation in Northern Ireland; secondly, the radioactive fall-out would almost inevitably penetrate the Republic of Ireland; and thirdly, as Sean McBride, that great international figure, has pointed out, all Ireland might become a target in the case of a nuclear war?

My Lords, I cannot go further than my first Answer. The Government will not give an undertaking that these forces will not he deployed anywhere in the United Kingdom for, I think, fairly obvious strategical reasons and reasons of security. Nevertheless, the first part of the previous Answer of my noble friend Lord Strathcona makes clear that the normal dispersal of these weapons is by road to a distance of 50 to 100 miles.

My Lords, is it not true that at present there is a substantial preponderance of Soviet theatre nuclear weapons distributed in Europe? Is it not in Britain's and NATO's interests that these missiles should be deployed as quickly as possible and as widely as possible throughout Western Europe, including the United Kingdom?

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for those questions. Yes, there is an enormous preponderance of Soviet theatre nuclear weapons in Europe. Yes, I believe it is very important to the whole alliance that the countries in it, and ultimately five countries in Europe in the alliance, should he prepared to allow these weapons to be deployed. At the moment the main American long-range theatre nuclear weapon in Europe, the FI-II, is of course deployed only in this country, and therefore this modernisation programme will spread the basing of these weapons to a greater extent.

My Lords, is the Minister aware that the final sentence of his original Answer to my noble friend—a sentence which he deliberately repeated, quite rightly—will be carefully studied on this side of the House officially with a view to ascertaining, perhaps later on, that it is not part of the Government's policy of the immediate future to spread these very dangerous weapons in every part of the country; that the 50 to 100 miles limitation will be applied as long and as meticulously as possible; and that the possibility of the missiles being sited in additionally hazardous areas, as my noble friend has described Northern Ireland, will only be taken into consideration in exigency, which would mean of course the direst possible exigency of all?

My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord will agree with me that the security of the United Kingdom and its allies is the dominant question here. I cannot go any further than I have already answered in relation to the likelihood of dispersing these weapons to any part of the United Kingdom.

My Lords, may I ask the Minister whether he would agree that the strong line now being taken by President Reagan about Soviet activities in various parts of the world may prevent missiles of a nuclear character ever being used at all? Does that not indicate that more is likely to be gained by strength than by weakness?

My Lords, we all agree, I think, or nearly all agree, with those sentiments.

Nevertheless, my Lords, may I ask the noble Viscount to convey to his Secretary of State the views which were expressed by my noble friend Lord Goronwy-Roberts, which we on this side feel to be of the greatest importance?

Ilea Schools: Books And Equipment

2.47 p.m.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are satisfied that schools under the jurisdiction of the ILEA look after their books and other educational equipment.

My Lords, the maintenance of books and equipment in the Inner London Education Authority schools is the responsibility of that authority. My right honourable friend was however concerned at the evidence in Her Majesty's Inspectorate's report on the ILEA that school libraries, books and educational equipment were not always used to the best advantage. The Department of Education and Science will shortly be discussing the report's implications with officers of the authority, and this matter will be one of the items for consideration at that meeting.

My Lords, would my noble friend bear in mind that, whereas there are some councils and some educational library services which are meticulously careful about the use of books and other public property, there are others who are exceptionally lax? Would it not be in the interests of the good, as opposed to the bad, if comparative figures were published so that we could see those areas which were careful in maintaining and looking after their books and show up those areas which are slapdash and which do not seem to mind if books are taken out indefinitely and even lost?

My Lords, the inspectorate's report on the ILEA addressed itself primarily to the questions of the quality of educational provision. However, my noble friend has drawn attention to the fact that the report also said that the inspectorate found cause for concern at the way some of the resources were actually used. The department has no evidence on comparative use of resources, but there are of course comparative statistics produced by CIPFA on capitation allowances which make it quite clear that the amount available in the ILEA is very considerably above the national average.

My Lords, do we not have our priorities somewhat addled, when many schools do not have enough books? Surely we should not bother too much about how children all over the country care for their books. Is the Minister aware that, as in the past, some children will look after their books and others will not?

My Lords, it is always a matter of great concern that children in school, whatever authority or school they are in, should learn to look after the books and equipment in their school, and that the teachers should be encouraged to make the best use of the resources available. The concern in this particular case was about the very considerable resources available to ILEA, and I will give the figures: the capitation allowance in primary schools in ILEA is £29 per head per year and in secondary schools £58, whereas the average for England and Wales is £15 in primary schools and £28 in secondary schools. Not always in every school is it used to the best advantage.

My Lords, would the Minister agree that there were some flattering comments in Her Majesty's Inspectorate's report as well as a few criticisms? They said, regarding nursery schools' equipment and their range of resources, that it was

"… impressive, with plenty of books and materials. The premises and equipment are usually well cared for".
So far as primary schools were concerned, they said:
"Some schools have outstanding collections of resources of all kinds, well catalogued and well used".
As for multi-racial education language centres, they said:
"The language centres are ample and generally in good condition. The range of books is sometimes outstandingly good and, often commendably, feature a number in the pupils' native language".
Would the noble Baroness agree that ILEA needs rather better capitation than some areas, bearing in mind the many difficulties they have, and would she further agree that some authorities are extremely mean in their capitation allowances?

My Lords, I am prepared to agree that the inspectorate report indicated that parts of the ILEA service were satisfactory, but it was very critical of the secondary schools, a most important area of school education. It is, therefore, only right that these matters should be discussed with the authority, which is the usual way of proceeding on an inspector's report, either in the case of an individual school or, in this case, of an authority. The point at issue is not whether or not the capitation allowances are right; the point at issue is that with large capitation allowances, very considerably higher than in other authorities, we are getting the best value for money in ILEA in all schools. I think that is a proper question which needs to be addressed to ILEA.

My Lords, may I ask the noble Baroness to explain why it is necessary for ILEA to have twice as much per head for its elementary school children as Oldham?

My Lords, it is not for me to explain why ILEA should have the capitation allowances it has, but in fairness to them there are considerable problems in London. They are, however, better off than other authorities which also have major inner city problems, and the capitation allowances in London are considerably above those of metropolitan districts, which average £14 for primary schools and £26 for secondary schools.

My Lords, we all wish there was more money for education than there is. The Government have made allowances, within the amount of money the Government have agreed within the block grant arrangements, for there to be an increase in the amount of money for capitation allowances of 2 per cent. in real terms for this year. How that money is distributed is of course a matter for the local education authorities.


2.54 p.m.

My Lords, at a convenient moment after 3.30 this afternoon, my noble friend Lord Belstead will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement which is to be made in another place on escapes from Brixton prison.

It may also be for the convenience of the House if I announce that dinner will be available this evening at the usual time. The Committee stage of the Wildlife and Countryside Bill will be adjourned at approximately 7 o'clock for approximately one hour, and the debate on the report of the European Communities Committee on Education in the Community will be taken during this adjournment.

Wildlife And Countryside Bill Hl

My Lords, in the name of my noble friend, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—( The Earl of Avon.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[THE LORD ABERDARE in the Chair.]

Clause 5 [ Prohibition of certain methods of killing or taking wild birds]:

2.56 p.m.

Page 6, line 38, at end insert—

("Provided that no such order adding any method of killing or taking any wild bird shall be made under this subsection unless the Secretary of State is satisfied that the order is necessary for the purpose of conservation.").

The noble Earl said: I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee if we discussed at the same time Amendment No. 182. It is not for me to suggest that Parliament's supreme authority to stop any form of sport, indeed any form of activity, should be impugned. The clause as drafted says:

"The Secretary of State may by order, either generally or in relation to any species of wild bird specified in the order, amend subsection (1) by adding any method of killing or taking wild birds or by omitting any such method which is mentioned in that subsection".

Later, power to amend the schedules is also given in the Bill. It follows that that would give a Secretary of State power to abolish or change any form of field sport or venery. I accept that Parliament has such a right, but at present it can be done only through a proper, full-dress Act of Parliament, and not by the back door. These fears are not totally groundless and I shall suggest two examples where Ministers did something they were either not supposed to have done or did not have the right to do.

My first example is the occasion when the late John Davies introduced his Industry Act 1971. It was enacted as a supportive measure for British industry. When the Conservative Government fell in 1974, what Mr. Weighell called,

"that silver spoon Socialist, the erstwhile second Viscount Stansgate",

moved into the Ministry of Industry and proceeded to use that Act in a way it was not intended to be used; it was used as an Act to further nationalisation, to enhance various powers and so on. It is not for me to blame the erstwhile second Viscount Stansgate for using for his own and his party's programme a measure enacted by his political opponents. In a way, that is part of the art of government or politics; if somebody hands you something on a plate you would be slightly dotty not to use it. I am suggesting however that this Bill as drafted would enable an anti-venery Secretary of State to ban venery.

My second example is the time when Mr. Peter Shore took away permission for Sir Freddie Laker to run his Skytrain. To the surprise of many people, Sir Freddie took Mr. Shore to court and won, and showed that the Minister did not have power to do what he wanted to do. This amendment together with Amendment No. 182 is designed to make it impossible for a Member of any party who feels so inclined to move for the abolition of field sports by the back door.

Before the noble Earl sits down will he interpret for me—it is my own ignorance—the word "venery"? I have not the slightest idea what it means.

The word "venery" has two meanings. I am using it in the meaning of hunting, shooting or fishing. Since we are all supposed to be brief in your Lordships' Chamber, I thought it better to use one word as opposed to three, five, or seven words. The other meaning of "venery" means having one's hand stretched out for grubby pound notes to be put into it. I am certainly not suggesting that grubby pound notes are the object of the Bill.

I think that I have made myself clear on this matter and that I have put the point to your Lordships' Committee. It is a very clear and important point, and I sincerely hope that my noble friend Lord Avon will bear it in mind when he replies. Even though we have not perhaps drafted the amendment altogether correctly, I hope that the proposal will be put in the Bill, so that venery is protected, and venery in another sense cannot be practised. I beg to move.

I rise for only a moment to support my noble friend Lord Onslow and to congratulate him on having made the journey here today, in the face of a certain amount of pain and illness. We should be grateful to him for having come here today; it would have been much easier for him to have remained in bed, as his nurse and doctor have ordered. My noble friend has made the case for the amendment absolutely, totally. As the provision stands it would be far too open, and I believe that the limitation that we are seeking to insert is moderate and sensible. I wish merely to second what my noble friend has already said.

I can see that some limitation along the lines that the noble Earl has suggested would be welcome to him and others who take his point of view. It would be a pity if we lost the very useful provisions in parts of the Bill because people were frightened about the degree to which they might be extended, no matter how desirable or indeed undesirable one thought such extensions to be. However the two mechanisms by which the noble Earl and the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, have chosen to try to meet the point seem to me themselves to give rise to problems, and I shall welcome hearing what the Government have to say on this. First, it seems to me that the proposal in Amendment No. 61 would rule out some of the provisions already in the Bill. The EEC directive clearly contains some methods of killing which are banned on grounds other than those of conservation. I think that it was clear from the first day of the Committee that a number of noble Lords shared views across the Chamber on a number of methods of killing things which they thought should be outlawed by the Bill for other than simply conservation reasons. Whether the reason might be that noble Lords did not like themselves or their families being shot at with air guns, or whether there were other reasons, there were other factors which we wished as a whole to take into account and which it seems to me the amendment would simply rule out. I think that the noble Earl was also speaking to Amendment No. 66—

I was wondering whether noble Lords were going to speak at the same time to Amendment No. 66, which it seemed to me had the same objective, though I might be wrong about that. I think I have said enough on Amendment No. 61, and I look forward to hearing what the noble Earl, Lord Avon, has to say.

I, too, desire to support the amendment and I think we should be quite clear in our minds that these are necessary words of limitation. I have a confession to make to the Committee. The other night, when we were last discussing the present clause, I was supporting the amendment of my noble friend Lord Swansea, who wanted repeater guns used in certain circumstances, and I suggested that when enormous flocks of pigeons were stripping a field of brussels sprouts, for example, it would be legitimate to use a repeater gun in order to reduce the numbers of pigeons. However, if the Secretary of State is to make an order making it legitimate for repeater guns to be used, the order should be confined to a particular purpose. The question of whether the elimination of excessive numbers of pigeons can be said to be necessary for conservation is very arguable indeed, but I submit that it would be utterly wrong for repeater guns to be used for any purpose except that of destroying pigeons or other pests. Therefore, when the Secretary of State is required to consider making an order under Clause 5(2), it would be as well for him to have regard in particular to conservation, and indeed the order should be limited to that, but there might be very rare exceptions when within the terms of the Bill he should have regard to some other purpose, such as the destruction of pests. At the moment the Bill has not made that clear either way. I think it right that my noble friend's amendment should be embodied in the Bill but that further consideration should be given to the question of the use of weapons for the destruction of pests.

Taking first the point of my noble friend Lord Renton, I would say that we shall come to the question of licences when we reach Clause 15. A great number of amendments have been put down regarding that, and I believe and hope that when I speak on Clause 15 I shall to a large degree be able to make my noble friend happy on that point.

Turning to the subject of the amendment of my noble friend Lord Onslow, supported by my noble friend Lord Mowbray and Stourton, I would say that the Government recognise the fears expressed this afternoon that some future Government might choose to use the power to make an order to amend the list of prohibited methods to prohibit the use of sporting firearms, which we have heard described by a word which is new to both the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, and myself.

We should like carefully to consider the implications of the proposal made today, and we think, as the noble Lord, Lord Melchett mentioned, that the amendment as it stands would be too limiting. However, it should be possible to insert a restrictive provision which would be acceptable to all of us, and that we should like to do. In giving the assurance that we shall look sympathetically at the problem presented to us this afternoon, I hope that my noble friends will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

I am perfectly happy with that suggestion and I am delighted that my noble friend has taken the point on board. I wish to comment that I think the danger here is underlined, and I see that there is a later amendment to debar one of the approved methods by, I think it is said, "hound or hounds". I hope that that cannot be other than a rather good joke by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, in regard to abolishing fox-hunting rather quickly, late at night, with no one noticing, while all your Lordships are either asleep or in other parts of the building. I am delighted that my noble friend has seen the force of our arguments and I am equally delighted to beg leave to withdraw the amendment, considering that I am sure that, as it stands, the wording is not satisfactory.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

3.10 p.m.

The noble Lord said: My earlier amendment, Amendment No. 42, sought to delete Clause 4(1)( d), on page 5, which made it legal for an authorised person to take a wild goose or a wild duck for the purpose of ringing or marking it, or for examining any ring or mark on it. That amendment was quite sympathetically received by the noble Earl, who undertook to refer it to the advisory committee. This paragraph goes a little further, because it states that nothing shall make unlawful the use of a cage-trap or net for the same purpose of taking a wild duck or wild goose for ringing purposes, but this time it is not confined to authorised people; it makes it legal for anybody to use a cage-trap or net for those purposes. Therefore, I very much hope that the noble Earl will regard this amendment even more sympathetically, perhaps even to the extent of accepting it.

Since I have referred to the advisory committee, perhaps I might ask the noble Earl whether he can tell the Committee at this stage if he has already had discussions with the advisory committee, or how soon in the near future he expects to do so; whether this will be in time for the Government to put down any amendments upon which they decide as a result of such meetings; and whether he really will take seriously what the advisory committee recommend to the Government-in other words, an assurance that we on this side of the Committee are not being palmed off with statements that the advisory committee will be consulted. I beg to move.

I assure the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, that when I say we consult the advisory committee I mean exactly that. They are meeting as we are going through this very Committee stage and all the points that we took on board last week will have been discussed by them with our officials before we get to the next stage of this Bill. Therefore, quite honestly, I cannot say any more to the noble Lord on this particular amendment than I said when he moved Amendment No. 42. We are considering this, we will also consider what he said today with the advisory committee, and we will come back at the Report stage with more information. I hope that with those facts the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw this amendment.

I am very grateful to the noble Earl, and I will of course withdraw this amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[ Amendment No. 62A not moved.]

moved Amendment No. 63:

Page 7, line 17, leave out ("subsection") and insert ("section").

The noble Lord said: I found the use of the word "subsection" difficult to understand. It is probably my fault, in that I cannot read the Bill properly; but I take it that the prohibition on the use of rocket-propelled nets and cannon nets, which does not seem to be in subsection (1), should also apply to subsection (1). If I am right, it would be much clearer if these few words applied to the whole of Clause 5, and not merely to subsection (4). I beg to move.

I disagree with my noble friend for much the same reasons as he has put forward, but let me try to explain. My noble friend's amendment seeks to apply the prohibition on the use of any net for birds in flight, or the use of any rocket-propelled or cannon net for taking birds on the ground, to the whole of Clause 5, and not, of course, merely to subsection (4). As a matter of drafting, it will not work to say in subsection (4) that nothing in the "section" shall make lawful the use of any net for taking birds in flight or of any rocket-propelled or cannon net for taking birds on the ground. The reason is that subsection (1)(b) prohibits the use of any net whatsoever for taking wild birds. It follows, therefore, that the amendment would be inconsistent with the express terms of subsection (1).

I might also point out that subsection (2) is a mere power to vary subsection (1), and subsection (3) is a defence which has no relation whatsoever to nets. So it really does apply to the subsection in which it appears. I hope that with that assurance my noble friend will be prepared to withdraw his amendment.

Before the noble Earl sits down, may I ask him whether I am right in thinking that the word "section" has no significance in this or any other Bill? If it has significance, is it simply a synonym for "clause", or has it some other meaning? Because if it is a synonym for "clause", I think it is a great pity to use it.

I think I agree with every word that the noble Lord has said. "Section" is a clause, and therefore we do not use it.

Could my noble friend tell me why people are not allowed to use rocket-propelled nets? I know this is slightly outside this amendment, but, in films, one has seen Peter Scott using them for perfectly good conservation reasons.

The noble Earl must be aware that we are going to discuss Clause 15, when all this kind of thing can be dealt with; and I hope that we shall not, every time anything is raised this afternoon, have to say that.

I am grateful to my noble friend, and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

3.16 p.m.

Page 7, line 18, leave out ("of any rocket-propelled or cannon net")

Page 7,line 19, at end insert ("of any net which is projected or propelled otherwise than by hand").

The noble Earl said: My noble friend Lord Onslow was a little premature, because here we are going straight into rocket-propelled or cannon nets. With your Lordships' permission, I should like to take Amendment No. 64 with Amendment No. 65. These amendments would extend the prohibitions on the use of nets for the killing or taking of wild birds from rocket-propelled and cannon nets, which were specified in the 1954 Protection of Birds Act, to all nets projected or propelled otherwise than by hand. Nets currently specified were included because they are dangerous to both birds and humans, but there are also other types of mechanically-propelled nets which are dangerous, and it is likely that those so minded could devise different means of propulsion in addition to those specified in the Bill. The amended provision, by not specifying the types of net to be prohibited or its propulsion, should be more effective than would the prohibition as originally drafted. I beg to move.

From this side of the Committee we are happy to support these amendments.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Page 7, line 19, at end insert—

("(5) An order under this section shall not have effect unless or until approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.").

The noble Lord said: This is an amendment very like No. 61. It is asking the Government to agree that an order may not be made under this section without an Affirmative Resolution of both Houses. I will not say any more because it has already been said by my noble friend Lord Onslow in a different way, but we should like the Government to look at this, particularly in view of what my noble friend Lord Avon said last week at column 728. I beg to move.

I nearly got on to this when we were discussing Amendment No. 61. Again, we on this side of the Committee do not have any strong objection to the point which noble Lords opposite are getting at, but I must say that it seemed to me a little heavy-handed and I would myself have preferred the suggestion which the noble Earl, Lord Avon, made, that he should take away Amendment No. 61 and have a look at it to see whether we cannot find an acceptable form of wording. If that were possible, it would seem to me that this particular amendment would be unnecessary and that it would really be a little too restrictive for the purposes for which the clause is designed.

I think we are all going along the same route. I should like to concede to my noble friend that we now believe in the need for a Negative Resolution for all changes to orders, schedules and regulations, and what we should like to be able to do is to bring this forward as a Government amendment at Report stage. I hope that with that in mind my noble friend will feel able to withdraw this amendment.

I am grateful to my noble friend, and in view of that assurance—although he has not given us a whole cake he has certainly given us half of one—I beg leave to withdraw this amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

3.20 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 5 shall stand part of the Bill?

In page 6, line 26, why "tape recording"? There are different methods of recording sound and surely we are concerned with the whole principle. This is just a small drafting point, but is there any explanation for restricting recordings to tape recordings? Perhaps this is now accepted as a generic term for every kind of recording whether one is using tape recording or not. Can we be told what the explanation is?

As nobody seems to be coming forward to help me on this I must say that it is a very intriguing idea. I have managed to talk for long enough to get a note which says that the suggestion to insert this provision arises from part of a European Community directive. With that in mind, I hope the noble Lord will accept it.

On that point, I think it is worth while bearing in mind that there are large numbers of decoy sound devices, especially for ducks and geese, on the market. If we are going to say that it is wrong to ban sound decoying at all (which is what the implication of "tape recording" is), why not ban all sound decoying and not merely one present method even though it is in an EEC directive? Or has the directive got it wrong?

I should like the Minister to look at it again. I agree with my noble friend.

I shall be happy to look at it again. Clause 5 shows how the world moves on and the list of prohibited methods has increased greatly since 1954; so much so that we thought it prudent to allow for addition in the years ahead. I will take on board what the noble Lord has said.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 [ Sale etc. of live or dead wild birds, eggs etc.]:

moved Amendment No. 67:

Page 7, line 26, after second ("egg") insert ("or part of an egg").

The noble Lord said: The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, has had a fall and gone to hospital. He will probably be here later. As the amendment was inspired by my normal inspiration, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, I thought it would be appropriate if I were to move it in his place. It is a technical point. Clause 6(1)( b) makes illegal the offering for sale or the possession for sale of eggs, including blown eggs, of any wild bird. This amendment is put down so that one cannot have a defence for selling or exchanging part of an egg. Noble Lords may think that this is a rare occurrence. I can say that there was an instance which gave rise to this amendment where a so-called scientist, whether a competent one or not I do not know, was buying birds' eggs, and often rare birds' eggs, in order to do experimental work on the yolks and the whites. This is a perfectly legitimate piece of research, but clearly it should be covered by permission under Clause 15 and should not be open for anyone to do. I think that although this is only a small point it is a real one and I should be happier if the noble Lord who is to reply would accept this amendment as something which adds to the strictness of the Bill for protecting birds from the human predators who collect their eggs in a way we are trying to control. I beg to move.

I am sure that the Committee will regret the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, has been unable to move this amendment. We hope that his rapid return from hospital to this Committee may be possible later on. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, for bringing the amendment forward. I must admit that we had not realised that the sale and exchange of parts of eggs other than blown eggs occurred. The amendment is defective if only in the sense that a consequential amendment will be required to Clause 6(4). The Government will seek to bring forward a suitable amendment or amendments on Report. I therefore invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

I am grateful to the noble Lord. With the leave of the Committee, I withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

moved Amendment No. 68:

Page 7, line 30, at end insert (", invites offers").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 68 and to speak to Amendments Nos. 120, 194, 233 and 234, all of which cover the same point with the same wording. As the Bill stands, offering certain things for sale is an offence. However, the courts have interpreted this in a restricted way which derives (as I remember from the dim past when reading law at university) from the technicalities of the law of contract—the principles of which escaped me then and certainly would do so now. Under contract law, an offer of sale can be accepted and immediately upon acceptance a binding contract exists. Displaying goods is not an offer; otherwise customers in shops could insist upon buying anything on display, and that is not so. Displaying goods is described in legal terms as an invitation to treat. The customer says to the shopkeeper, "I should like to buy those goods", and the shopkeeper can accept if he wishes. Possession for sale is covered under Clause 6, but that does not cover advertising of goods that you do not have or even goods which the prosecution cannot prove (as they have to prove) that you had at the relevant time. Therefore, the amendment covers a pretty narrow point.

The amendment would prohibit, for example, advertisements from advertisers simply asking for orders for goods which the advertiser would then go and obtain. It is a fairly important point. There has been a case involving somebody who advertised in a fairly well-known journal and was found not guilty. The grounds on which he was found not guilty were that there was no offer for sale although he had advertised in that particular newspaper. It is something which happens. Although it is a narrow point, I hope that the Government will be able to accept this series of amendments.

The noble Lord has given a very interesting description of the circumstances in which the use of this amendment might be available. All that I can say at the moment is that we are not entirely convinced of the need to make this amendment. I would ask the noble Lord to withdraw it on the understanding that we will consider what action, if any, is needed to meet his points. Particularly in view of the examples that he gave, I think it deserves further study.

I am grateful to the noble Lord for that offer, and will certainly withdraw the amendment on that basis.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

moved Amendment No. 68A:

Page 7, line 33, after first ("bird") insert ("killed after the passing of this Act").

The noble Earl said: I beg to move this amendment which is concerned with drafting rather than with substance. There are certain ambiguities in this clause—if I may begin with a matter outside my amendment—beginning with the word "who" in line 2 of subsection (2). It is not clear whether it refers to the taxidermist or to "any person". I noticed it yesterday and therefore have not tabled an amendment about it. Perhaps my noble friend will look at this and consider whether an amendment is required at a later stage.

My actual amendment deals with one of the three offences identified by the clause. It is the second one, having "in his possession"—which may or may not mean having "in his possession" for the purposes of sale. The meaning is not clear, although it makes little difference when one analyses it because it says that it is an offence to have "in his possession" any wild bird other than those mentioned in the schedules. If I may take an example, an owl is not included in the schedules. A dead owl therefore is not included in the schedules. Therefore, it is illegal to have a dead owl in one's possession. There are stuffed owls all over the place in glass cases. In my own home there are a couple of them. I cannot believe that when this Bill becomes an Act my wife and I will be hauled off to the courts.

With respect, the clause says,

"for the purpose of sale".

With deference to the noble Lord, if he goes round to the antique shops and the junk shops he will find birds for sale-stuffed owls in cases-and these must have come from people who were keeping them or who had them in their possession with the idea that they would sell them sooner or later, otherwise they would not get into the shops.

This cannot really be intended by the Governent. If it is meant to be made illegal to have such birds in one's possession, it is not reasonable that the Bill should cover birds killed before the passing of the Bill into an Act. I am not sure that my amendment is the best way to make a change of this kind, but this is what I have suggested. We will then have a reference to any wild bird
"… killed after the passing of this Act".
That will come in in line 33. I hope this may be thought to be the case. I beg to move.

3.31 p.m.

In the supplementary list of amendments this is shown as under Clause 5, but it is in Clause 6. I think that should be noted. We are not entirely happy about this amendment. Of course the general point is sound; but this clause applies to eggs as well as birds and it is easy if somebody is dealing illegally in rare birds' eggs to say, "My grandfather had them", and you cannot prove it either way in the face of it.

In the ordinary course of events, if you could prove it in a court of law this would be an absolutely adequate defence and it need not be put in the Bill. On the other hand, unless you can prove it, a number of speculators and predators of this kind might slip through collections of eggs that they had made after the Act was passed, claiming that the eggs had been collected by somebody earlier. That could not be disproved. I am not happy about it. The general point is clearly right, whether this applies to a stuffed owl or a blown egg. I should like to know what the Government think. We are a little uneasy about this.

This amendment seeks to allow the sale of birds or parts or derivatives of such birds—and the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, rightly referred to this—killed before the enactment of this Bill. The Government must oppose this as it would create a loophole for the unscrupulous by allowing them to claim without any corroboration that the bird was killed before the Bill became law. Provision has been made in Clause 6 to allow taxidermists to sell dead birds which they have set up and other birds which pass through their hands. They will be allowed to register with the Department of the Environment provided that they keep records to satisfy office inquiries that the birds being set up have been legally obtained and they have marked by an approved means those birds that have been sold.

Any person who sells dead birds can apply to register. However, we have recognised that some people only sell birds infrequently or on a one-off basis, such as the example which my noble friend Lord Cork and Orrery gave. A person disposing of birds that have been in the family for some time was the example that he dealt with. Accordingly, a suitable licensing purpose has been included in Clause 15 to cater for these people. Provided they can show that birds are in bona fide collections, they will have no difficulty in obtaining a licence. I hope this reassures my noble friend and that he may feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Have the Government any idea how large this particular problem is? I know that at my home—and probably in the homes of many other noble Lords, as my noble friend Lord Cork has said—there are glass cases with stuffed birds in them collected by one's Victorian great-grandfather. If I want to sell one of those for some reason—I do not know how much they are worth or anything like that—will I have to get a licence as a general dealer, and will every Member of your Lordships' House have to do that? It seems there is a problem which my noble friend's reply does not appear to satisfy, although of course one sees the danger of driving a coach and horses through the Bill if it is amended as my noble friend Lord Cork wants.

Surely the answer to my noble friend Lord Onslow is that the position is very much affected by the invention of the deep-freeze which enables game to be kept for a very large number of months—indeed for a year or two if necessary. It is perfectly edible and almost as good as when eaten when killed fresh and hung for a few days. Unscrupulous people have a large vested interest in keeping large numbers of birds in deep-freezers, especially commercial freezers. Therefore, I have some sympathy on this occasion with what has been said by my noble friend on the Front Bench.

My noble friend Lord Onslow asked the Government whether they would quantify it. We are unable to do so. My noble friend has raised a real problem of whether in a one-off situation, as he described, it would be necessary to apply for a licence. I will look into that matter and advise him. Regarding the emergence of the deep-freeze into this situation, I can only advise my noble friend that game from a deep-freeze of the particular birds concerned is still not available for sale outside the season.

Could we be advised equally when the noble Earl receives his reply?

Many of us have several stuffed birds dating from the last century or a little longer which are in the old inventories of our houses. If we wish to offer them for sale, and we do it through one of the more reputable auctioneers, would we have to obtain a licence, or would the auctioneer obtain a licence, having satisfied himself that these birds did date genuinely from before the date of this Bill?

There is an element of heavy weather blowing up over this. I am not entirely certain—and I say this with respect—but I think it was started by the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, with all this talk about eggs. This amendment has nothing to do with eggs. It is purely to do with any dead wild bird, not parts of the bird or the egg, blown or otherwise. It is simply to do with dead birds. Whether the bird is edible or otherwise has nothing to do with it, either. There seems to be an idea that many of these birds are going into the deep-freeze. I should be sorry to discover a stuffed owl in my deep-freeze. It is clear that the Government have in mind the matter of stuffed birds, otherwise they would not have included in the clause a reference to taxidermists. The business of a taxidermist is to stuff birds and to sell them. When this Bill becomes law taxidermists will have to sell to other taxidermists because nobody else will be legally allowed to buy the stuffed birds. I do not know whether it is intended that taxidermists should go round selling stuffed owls to each other; but I do not think life is like that. It is all very well to say that you could get a licence to sell one of these creatures, but it says in the Bill that you also must have a licence to buy it. It says that you are committing an offence if you have it in your possession. You must have a licence to buy a stuffed owl, or any other bird, and you must have a licence to sell it, as though it were a firearm. It is going too far altogether. I am really inclined to think that this is rather a good amendment, and I beg to move.

The noble Earl has made some very worthwhile and humorous comments, but I might advise him that anybody, and not just another taxidermist, may purchase or sell them.

On Question, amendment negatived.

It might be to the convenience of your Lordships to take the Statement now. I beg to move that the House be now resumed.

Moved accordingly and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed

Brixton Prison Escape

3.40 p.m.

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I will now repeat a Statement being made in another place by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary. The Statement is as follows:

"On 16th December, I asked the Deputy Director-General of the Prison Service, Mr. Gordon Fowler, to conduct an urgent inquiry into the circumstances of the escape of three Category A prisoners from Brixton prison earlier that morning. I have now received Mr. Fowler's report. Because of the criminal proceedings in connection with the escape which are being taken, I am advised by my right honourable and learned friend the Attorney General that it would not be right for the report to be published at present. But I propose in my statement to give the main findings of the report and to indicate the action that has been and is being taken in consequence.

"The main conclusion of Mr. Fowler's report was that the escape was made possible by human error, specifically by serious weaknesses at all levels in the establishment in the application of the security procedures laid down for Category A prisoners. Mr. Fowler has made a number of recommendations to rectify these deficiencies and the Director-General of the Prison Service has instructed that these should be implemented immediately.

"Before coming to that conclusion Mr. Fowler inquired into all the various factors which could have made the escape possible. He concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that there was any conspiracy or collusion in the escape by members of the staff of Brixton prison. As regards the fabric of the prison, he found that, although Brixton prison was one of the worst examples of the inadequacies of the worn-out and antiquated part of the prison estate, the physical fabric was not in itself a principal factor in the escape; but we must all acknowledge that when we contain high-risk prisoners in far from ideal, though not insecure, conditions we increase the weight of responsibility on the staff concerned. He also reported that, with a senior officer and seven officers responsible for supervising 15 Category A prisoners in D wing, with one officer responsible for their surveillance during the night hours, the staffing level was entirely adequate. Further, he found that industrial action did not impinge on security at the establishment or affect staffing levels in D wing. Nor did he find that the security procedures themselves were defective.

"Mr. Fowler's clear view was that the failure to prevent the escape was due to a number of specific human weaknesses occurring over a period of time, at all levels of staff concerned.

"The Director-General of the Prison Service and I accept these conclusions, and the specific recommendations for restoring a satisfactory level of security that flow from them. The Director-General of the Prison Service has instructed that they be acted on with all speed.

"I turn now to the action that the Director-General has taken in view of the main finding in Mr. Fowler's report that the failure to prevent this escape arose from human errors in the establishment over a period of time at all levels. In the circumstances the Governor, Mr. Selby, must himself accept, and very properly does accept, the principal responsibility. The Director-General has accordingly appointed Mr. Anthony Pearson, at present Governor of Gartree high security prison, to be Governor in charge of Brixton prison, with immediate effect, in succession to Mr. Selby, who has been moved to a post in the Prison Service regional office structure.

"The responsibility for what occurred is not one which can, however, be laid only at the then Governor's door. The weaknesses and errors in performance of all members of staff concerned have been brought home to them; where appropriate, they have been transferred to other establishments, or other duties within the establishment.

"Before concluding, Mr. Speaker, I should like to say one more word about the staff aspects. The responsibility for the custody and care of prisoners, including high security risk prisoners, is a very heavy one. We are entitled to require it to be discharged to the highest standards. The House will wish to recognise, however, that the record of Brixton, including Mr. Selby and his staff, has previously been one of real achievement in difficult circumstances, which I believe it is right for us to acknowledge.

"The Director-General of the Prison Service, in conjunction with Mr. Fowler, the Regional Director and the new Governor, will carry into effect the recommendations on security in the establishment. Any wider lessons for the Prison Service, which has had a good security record in recent years, will also be followed up.

"Finally, I have thought it right to ask H.M. Chief Inspector of Prisons, who reports directly to me and not to the Prison Department, to inspect Brixton prison, paying particular regard to security matters, so as to ensure that I personally can be satisfied that the report has indeed been effectively followed up in all respects. The inspection will take place later this year."

That, my Lords, was my right honourable friend's Statement.

3.47 p.m.

My Lords, the House will be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, for repeating the Statement made in another place by the Home Secretary. Of course we fully understand why the full report of Mr. Fowler cannot be published at this stage in view of pending criminal proceedings arising out of the escape, but it is useful that the Home Secretary, nevertheless, has given the main outlines of the report, because there is no doubt that there has been grave public concern about this escape of Category A prisoners, an escape of a particularly serious kind.

The failure is attributed in the report to—
"human errors in the establishment over a period of time at all levels".
What was the nature of the human errors involved? Were they errors due to lack of attention, incapacity, failure to follow procedures, inadequate drill or inadequate supervision? What was the nature of the human errors? I do not like using the word "scapegoat" in relation to Mr. Selby. Your Lordships may recollect that when in this House we debated the problem of remand prisoners, tributes were paid to Mr. Selby by Members of the House who had been to visit Brixton. One sees a slight contradiction between the tribute paid to Mr. Selby in one part of the Statement, congratulating him on—
"a record of real achievement in difficult circumstances",
and the fact of his removal from his position.

There is one other matter in the report about which your Lordships may like to know a little more. It is said that,
"although Brixton prison was one of the worst examples of the inadequacies of the worn-out and antiquated part of the prison estate, the physical fabric was not in itself a principal factor in the escape".
That is a rather unhelpful piece of "double-speak". Was it a "factor"? Was it easier to bore a hole in the wall of Brixton in the security wing? What has been done about that? It really will alarm the public that this escape should have been possible.

Above all, what the public would like to know is whether the lessons—and it is not very clear what they are, except for undefined human errors—that should have been learned from the Brixton experience will be brought to mind not only in Brixton, but in other security prisons up and down the country. It would be tempting, also, to comment on the fact that the escapees had been in prison awaiting trial for over a year. One can think of the connection between that and, at any rate, the will to escape. But, of course, a Category A prisoner must be kept in confinement until he is brought to trial, and the public will be glad to know that at any rate some steps are being taken to see that this kind of failure will not occur again, so far as human judgment can prevent it.

3.52 p.m.

My Lords, I have two questions which I should like to ask the noble Lord the Minister. First, are there not other prisons, both in the London area and within daily travelling distance of London, which are structurally far more suitable for housing maximum security prisoners? And will the Government consider, particularly in the case of such prisoners as IRA prisoners on remand, using those other prisons in future rather than Brixton?

Secondly, may I ask the noble Lord this question—and I do not want in any way to seem vindictive about this matter: Does this Statement not really amount to the simple fact that there has been demonstrated to be gross negligence by a number of Government employees over a period, leading to the escape of a potential mass murderer? Would the noble Lord the Minister not agree that, if similar negligence were proved in the private sector, far more stringent steps would be taken than the Government appear to have taken in this case?

3.54 p.m.

My Lords, I am grateful to both the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones, and the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, for the questions which they have put on what was, of course, a very serious matter involving men who were on remand on very grave charges. The noble and learned Lord asked me to give more details about what the Statement calls various "human errors". Mr Fowler's recommendations were directed towards securing the appropriate application of security procedures—that is his main recommendation as recorded in the Statement—within Brixton prison.

Since my right honourable and learned friend the Attorney-General has advised that publication of the report at present might prejudice criminal proceedings—a fact which the noble and learned Lord was good enough to say he perfectly understood—I do not think it would be satisfactory to go into further detail on that particular matter. The noble and learned Lord referred particularly to the former governor of Brixton prison and mentioned the possibility of using the word "scapegoat". It is made clear, I think, in my right honourable friend's Statement that there were major failures in the way in which security procedures were carried out at Brixton—I repeat, the main recommendation of Mr. Fowler's report—and that Mr. Selby, as governor in charge, bears, and very properly has made it clear that he accepts, the main responsibility. However, Mr. Selby has a future in the prison service and I think those noble Lords who know Mr. Selby will endorse the view which I have just expressed.

The noble and learned Lord put to me a question about the security of the fabric of Brixton. I should not want to add to the words which I used in the Statement, and which the noble and learned Lord repeated, but I would remind the noble and learned Lord that in the past Brixton has had a good security record. For example, until the escape in question only two prisoners had escaped in the previous four years, despite the pressures of an increasing prison population. The failure to maintain that record was, as Mr. Fowler has said in his report, a lapse from the professional standards expected by the prison service—and, of course, a very serious lapse indeed.

Finally, the noble and learned Lord asked me about the lessons for the prison service, which was, if I may say so, a very proper question. I accept that the main lesson of Mr. Fowler's inquiry is that the existing security procedures must be applied rigorously. The whole prison service has been forcefully reminded of this by the Brixton escapes.

The noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, asked me about the use of other prisons in the London area for remand prisoners. I think it is worth repeating for a third time that, if the main recommendation of Mr. Fowler's report is put right, as we are now taking steps to see that it is put right, then it is perfectly proper for remand prisoners to be kept in Brixton prison although, as my right honourable friend's Statement accepts, Brixton is a very bad example of the worn-out state of many establishments in the prison service.

I should not want to make a comparison between this unhappy story and what might have been done by way of reparations in other walks of life or in other occupations. I think that this matter has been dealt with with promptness by my right honourable friend, and with correctness by the Director-General of the prison service.

My Lords, when the Minister was referring to Mr. Selby, the former governor at Brixton prison, he looked in my direction as though inviting my comments, as I was one of those who, during the debate on remand prisons and prisoners, spoke very highly about Mr. Selby. I take this opportunity most gladly to repeat that my opinion of that officer is a very high one and I am glad to hear that he has a future. As I am on my feet, and without wishing to probe the Minister any further on the details of the circumstances in which these escapes took place, it may help the House to assess the extent and magnitude—if that is the right word—of the errors and omissions if we had some idea of over what period of time things had been going wrong, and when things started to go wrong at Brixton prison in regard to security.

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for what he has said, and I am sure there are others who will be grateful as well. I do not want to appear unhelpful, but as it is not possible, for the reasons I have given, to publish Mr. Fowler's report at the present time, it really is not possible for me to start to go into the details which, quite naturally, I know the noble Lord would wish me to do. I am afraid that I really cannot be any more helpful on the particular point which the noble Lord has put to me.

My Lords, the House will, I am sure, appreciate the difficulty of the Minister in replying in regard to Mr. Selby. But I hope the Minister will appreciate that, until all the facts are known, Mr. Selby is in a very difficult situation. I therefore hope that the Minister will undertake that, once the court proceedings have been concluded, the Government will consider making a full statement on the whole situation, other than that which has arisen in the courts. May I ask the noble Lord whether there is not an officer superior to Mr. Selby who must, equally, carry the responsibility of Mr. Selby in this respect? It seems to me that the responsibility is being placed very prominently upon one individual, whereas the whole service might perhaps be involved.

My Lords, so far as the first question which the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, has asked me is concerned; namely, his call for a further statement after court proceedings, what we are really talking about is whether or not publication of the report should take place. Again without in any way wanting to be unhelpful, I know that my right honourable friend would have to say in answer to that question, and I must say in your Lordships' House, that it will be necessary for the Home Secretary to take the advice of the Attorney-General at the relevant time.

With regard to the noble Lord's second question, again at the risk of repeating what I have already said I must say that the operational responsibility in the establishment is a matter for the governor to accept and, very properly, Mr. Selby has made it clear from the outset that he accepts it. However, in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, I am most anxious to say that the Statement makes it clear that there are others all the way through the establishment who did not put into effect the procedures which are necessary with reference to Category A prisoners. So far as those officers are concerned, the appropriate action has been and is being taken.

My Lords, as a fellow visitor to Brixton with my noble friend Lord Hunt, I should like to be associated with his tribute to Mr. Selby, who seemed to us then to be doing a very remarkable job in appallingly difficult circumstances.

My Lords, may I be allowed to join in these tributes? I paid a tribute to Mr. Selby, after long conversations with him before a debate in this House. Perhaps the noble Lord would allow me to repeat those remarks now.

Wildlife And Countryside Bill Hl

4.3 p.m.

Committee stage resumed on Clause 6.

moved Amendment No. 69:

Page 7, line 33, leave out ("Part II or III of Schedule3") and insert ("Part II of Schedule 3 or, if killed outside the close season, Part III of Schedule 3").

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment I wish also to refer to Amendment No. 107. It is quite clear that the species of birds shown in Part III of Schedule 3 may be sold only in the close season. Although this is clear from the heading to the schedule itself, there is nothing in the main body of the Bill which says so. I think there should be. My amendment would bring that about.

A second point is that Part III of Schedule 3 is headed "Dead from 1st September to 28th February". In fact, however, the close seasons for different species vary. It is during each bird's close season that that Part is effective. I am therefore proposing in my later Amendment No. 107 that those words should be replaced by the words: "Dead outside the close season". Therefore, the same words would have to be used in Amendment No. 69. I beg to move.

As the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, has said, the intention of the amendment is to make it an offence to sell between 1st September and 28th February specimens of species listed in Part III of Schedule 3 killed outside the close season: that is to say, killed illegally. The noble Lord said that in the body of the Bill there is nothing to express this. May I remind him that Clause 6(6) already makes such an action an offence. I invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

I am grateful to the noble Lord. I should like to look at that; I am quite sure that he is right. Therefore, I have no hesitation in begging leave—does the noble Earl wish to intervene?

Before the noble Lord withdraws his amendment, perhaps my noble friend on the Front Bench could explain to me something which I do not understand; namely, what is the position of legitimate game dealers who are selling, say, deep frozen mallard to the Continent? Let us say that they buy up during the shooting season of 1980–81. They will keep them in deep freeze until July or August of next year, then take them out of their deep freezers, pluck them and sell them on the Continent. I know that this happens. This is what a gamekeeper told me he was going to do. They sell these birds frozen to the Continent to catch the Continental Christmas season. Those ducks must taste quite disgusting, but that is neither here nor there. That seems to be a perfectly legitimate trading purpose. How would it be affected by the Bill? Are they acting illegally at the moment and, if so, could we have an answer, please?

I understand that the action described by my noble friend Lord Onslow is illegal in this country. I should have to take advice as to whether it is illegal on the Continent. Selling out of season is illegal, for broad purposes, until the next season opens. Then, of course it becomes legal.

I am grateful to the noble Earl for putting that question because it has enabled me to look at the point made by the noble Lord. I agree with him that it makes the main point of my amendment unnecessary. None the less, it seems to me that it is not very satisfactory to have in Clause 6(6) a reference to a period commencing 1st September and ending 28th February when the close seasons already vary for different species and when there may be further amendments in the future which would make them vary even more. I should have thought that what is required is a close season rather than any particular dates, because it is the close season which matters.

I think my noble friend is right. Another answer to this would be for the Government, as we hope they will, to accept our series of amendments, which received widespread support, on rationalising the close season for a number of species. That would very satisfactorily deal with this matter. Then we could have a common date in this part of the Bill. This seems to me simply to support arguments which a number of noble Lords on both sides of the Committee put forward last week. Perhaps the Government could also consider that matter when they consider, as they promised to do, a number of amendments on that aspect of the Bill.

I regret that there was a small pause while we were taking advice. In this particular situation there is a case for considering varying the dates and I am prepared to do that. On that understanding, while giving no commitment whatsoever that the Government are prepared to do more than consider the point, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, will be prepared to withdraw the amendment.

Before my noble friend withdraws his amendment, will the Minister say whether the close season is in the interests of the birds or in the interests of people who wish to shoot them at another time?

I am grateful to the noble Lord for what he has said and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.10 p.m.

Page 7, line 38, leave out ("for the purposes of") and insert ("at")

Page 7,line 39, after ("competition") insert ("or temporary exhibition").

The noble Lord said: Subsection (3) of Clause 6 obviously and rightly sets out to prevent the exhibition of birds not listed in Schedule 3 Part I (which can be found on page 47 of the Bill) in any competitive exhibition. I emphasise the word "competitive". Obviously it has no reference to Schedule 4. In other words, only birds that are commonly bred in captivity and have a "self-sustaining population in captivity"—and those words are in inverted commas, to use the DOE's own definition—may be shown in competitive exhibitions. The words that I quoted come from the information paper issued by the department on the 28th August last year.

But what about showing caged birds where there is no actual competition, no prizes, not even in public maybe; just as a public attraction or even a private attraction and for the prestige and the fun of it? The rarer such a bird shown in these circumstances, perhaps the greater the prestige and even the greater the attraction. Surely, therefore, that too should be against the law. The intention surely must be to prevent the exhibition of any caged birds not listed in Schedule 3 Part I, otherwise there would be a large loophole in the law of which advantage would quite certainly be taken. The words in my amendment "temporary exhibition" are intended to exclude zoos, wildlife parks, pet shops, bird gardens, aviaries of certain kinds, and perhaps they would need defining if these amendments are accepted, as I hope they will be. I beg to move.

I expressed concern at Second Reading that non-competitive exhibition was going to be allowed under the Bill, and for the reasons given by the noble Lord, Lord Chelwood, we should like to support his amendments.

I understand the fears expressed by my noble friend Lord Chelwood and supported by the noble Baroness, Lady David, but I believe that the fears which have been expressed are exaggerated. We have had very long and detailed discussions with the National Councils for Aviculture, the British Birds Council and other avicultural organisations who were legitimately concerned at the very far-reaching changes we are proposing in this clause. We believe that the Bill as drafted gives considerable additional protection to birds from those who might be tempted to take them from the wild to win a competition. It should be remembered that most of those species meriting special protection and listed on Schedule 1 are also listed on Schedule 4 as being required to be registered and ringed if kept in captivity.

We feel that by restricting what may be shown competitively to those birds which we are advised breed readily in captivity and for which there is now a sufficient captive population to satisfy demand without much need for any further replenishment from the wild, and registering the rare species, we have given a sensible level of protection without hampering a hobby which I am reminded has been practised in these islands since before the Romans came. I do not believe these amendments are required and I ask my noble friend to withdraw them.

Before the noble Lord either agrees or does not agree, I should like to raise a question about ringing, which is relevant to this question because the birds in Schedule 3 Part I have to be ringed. The problem is the difference between close ringing and the broken ring which is more often used. I do not want to go into the technical details of this, but I hope that when making regulations in connection with this clause the Secretary of State will not allow the use of split rings until a satisfactory and tamper-proof one has been found. The reason is quite obvious; it is easy to take off a split ring or to put it on, which suggests that a bird has been bred in captivity which in fact it was not.

A second point is that there seem to me to be a number of birds in this schedule—and I am not going to give names; people can make their own selection—which do not accord with the statement in the information paper of the Department of the Environment, which are commonly bred in captivity and have a self-sustaining population in captivity. I have never seen blackbirds bred in captivity, although they probably are from time to time, but they certainly are not self-sustaining. The yellowhammer also is most unlikely. I think this should be looked at very carefully because I feel that the whole subsection is liable to confusion, but above all I should like to feel sure that any regulations reflect careful thought towards the type of ring used.

I should like to support strongly what the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, has said about close ringing. As your Lordships know, the object of close ringing is that the ring can only be put on when the bird is immature, thus proving beyond all doubt that it had been bred in captivity and not taken from the wild and then ringed. I think it is worth while commenting on his remarks about the blackbird not having a self-sustaining breeding capacity in captivity. That is because nobody has bothered to do it. Whether a blackbird is something from which one can make mules with canaries I am not absolutely certain, but bullfinch mules and goldfinch mules are certainly produced in the canary exhibiting world and produce very special song birds and rather pretty variants. I think probably the reason is that there are so many of them in the wild that nobody has actually bothered to go to the trouble of introducing a self-sustaining breeding population in captivity. That is merely an observation, but I think it bears a little on what the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, has said.

The Minister gave a list of societies which have given advice on this subject. Was the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds included in that list?

I will try not to widen the discussion too much, but I have always had an aversion to seeing birds of any kind kept in small cages. I remember annoying one of my constituency agents very much by refusing to present the prizes at an annual show of a cage birds society. Is there anything in this Bill which will ensure that if birds are bred and kept in captivity they will be kept in reasonable sized cages?

In this connection, I feel bound to invite the attention of your Lordships to the Notes on Clauses, which make it clear that birds may be shown non-competitively even if they are not listed in Part I of Schedule 3. In this respect there seems to be no limit whatever upon the number of birds which may be kept in small cages so long as they are kept non-competitively. This is a matter on which Parliament perhaps needs to lead public opinion. I should be grateful if my noble friend could let us know whether there is anything in the Bill, other than what is in subsection (3) of Clause 6 (which does not go very far), which could set at rest the kind of fears that I have mentioned.

Now that my noble friend Lord Sandys has heard the anxieties expressed on both sides of the Committee, which I think are clearly fairly widely shared, perhaps he will be good enough to say that he will at any rate look at this again, even though he is prejudiced against the amendment at the moment. I fully realise this is a very prickly and very complicated question. It would have been tackled in 1954 and 1967 under the Wild Birds Protection Acts had it been easier to tackle. The noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, the immediate past President of the Royal Society for the Protection for Birds, of which I was once President, is only too well aware how anxious the RSPB is that it should be tackled.

Therefore, of course, the Society, which is I believe the biggest voluntary conservation society in the world, will be glad that we are debating it, but they do have serious anxieties. They were not mentioned by my noble friend, Lord Sandys, who gave the names of three societies he had consulted, all of which, I had the impression, were perhaps to some extent prejudiced, in that they were interested in the very widespread hobby of showing caged birds, which is obviously going to go on whether we like it or not. It does seem to me extremely important, now that we have a chance to tackle this question, that we should get the law right, particularly in view of the fact that this is such a very widespread hobby.

As I understood my noble friend Lord Sandys, he was telling us, although of course it is not for him to interpret the law, that under the Bill as drafted it would be against the law to show caged birds not on Schedule 3 Part I in an exhibition in which there was no open competition. My noble friend Lord Renton cast some doubt on that and appeared to me to be supporting my view that the word "competitive" does need looking at again. The point of the amendment, as I understand it, is that these birds which are not on Schedule 3 Part I should not be shown in public at all, should not be exhibited; whether there are prizes for exhibiting them or not does not seem to me to matter. I do very much hope my noble friend will be good enough to look at this again, in which case, of course, I shall be only too glad to withdraw the amendments.

In reply to the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, yes, regulations are being drawn up, and split-ringing would only be included and permitted, if at all, under very strictly controlled circumstances; for instance, corroboration by two independent witnesses, which would be just one of several examples. The noble Baroness, Lady David, asked whether the RSPB was included in the consultations. Yes, the RSPB most emphatically was.

If I may interrupt the noble Lord, did they agree with what he has said?

I cannot give the noble Baroness that assurance, but their views are very closely taken into consideration. My noble friend Lord Renton raised a very interesting matter from the Notes on Clauses, and I think he raised the question of Clause (6)(3) on this. The Government are going to have another look at this. In view of the fact that my noble friend, Lord Chelwood, did specifically make that further request, with that assurance and on the undertaking that we will consider all these matters raised on this amendment, I hope he will feel able to withdraw his amendments.

Before the noble Lord does that, may I say that this discussion has left me very uncomfortable about a number of birds in the list on Schedule 3 Part I? If the noble Lord includes in his assurance looking at the birds on that list, well and good. We should like to discuss it with him. If not, I shall consider with my noble friends whether we should put down an amendment on Report on that particular angle.

I would remind the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, that we shall be coming later to Amendments Nos. 102, 103, 104 and 105, which make quite specific amendments to that list. I wonder whether it would be beyond the remit of this particular consideration that we should include the schedule. I think it would.

Would this amendment stop the exhibiting of falconry at game fairs for non-competitive purposes, which a lot of people enjoy watching and which is a very legitimate sport and recognised by the Bill as such, or have I gone astray?

There is a matter of definition here, and without advice on that specific matter I would not be able to advise my noble friend.

Amendments, by leave, withdrawn.

4.26 p.m.

moved Amendment No. 72:

Page 8, line 30, at end insert ("or other animals").

The noble Lord said: I think it might be convenient to deal with Amendments Nos. 72 and 74 together. They both deal with the same point and propose to amend two separate paragraphs which are identical in terms. Subsection (8)( a) on page 8, which I am proposing to amend, deals with disqualification of the registration of a taxidermist if he has been convicted of certain offences. The second paragraph ( b) is,

"within three years of his having been convicted of any other offence under this Part so far as it relates to the protection of birds or any offence involving ill-treatment of birds".

My amendment proposes to add the words "or other animals".

The simple point is that if a person is disqualified from custody of certain living things—in this case, in the subsequent clause, birds listed in Schedule 4—or if convicted for cruelty and disqualified as a taxidermist, should not the disqualification for cruelty go wider than an offence against birds? This is the simple point. It may be that this is taken care of in some other way. I have difficulty in believing that a person who is cruel to birds is kind to animals, or for that matter the other way around. I think cruelty on the whole is indivisible; it is just a state of mind. I doubt whether it is easier in dealing with one species rather than another. That is the simple point.

I do not want to delay the Committee. I would be very glad to know whether or not this is an acceptable amendment, whether the noble Lord is in the state of mind where he is prepared to consider it without any commitment whatsoever, or whether he will consider it without any commitment whatsoever. I am interested in the state of mind of the Government, whether they are prepared to consider it without any commitment whatsoever. What moves them to consider something even if they are not prepared to consider meeting the point? Anyway, I cannot probe further into the state of mind of Her Majesty's Government or the noble Lord. All I want him to say is Yes or No to my amendment. I beg to move.

Could I make a point on what the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, has said. When he talks about taxidermists being cruel, I do not quite follow him. I do not know much about taxidermists, but I thought they dealt with dead animals or birds, that they stuffed them. I cannot quite see how you can be cruel to a dead bird or a dead animal.

I would ask the noble Lord to look at page 8, subsection (8):

"Regulations under subsection (2) shall secure that no taxider-must shall become or remain registered"
if within a certain period of years he has been guilty of an offence. I cannot explain how a taxidermist comes to be cruel; it may be that some taxidermists are given live animals to deal with and they may be cruel before they skin them or sew them up or whatever they do. I am not responsible for the terms of the clause; I am seeking to enlarge it to cover other animals.

Given that paragraph (8)(b) is there on page 8, my noble friend's amendment seems reasonable and, I hope, will therefore be more than usually acceptable to the noble Lord, Lord Sandys.

I think that the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, and the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, will be pleased to hear what I have to say. The amendment seeks to make a conviction for the ill-treatment of other animals a reason for preventing a person being registered to sell dead birds or for securing the removal of such a person from the register. I have listened with great interest to the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, and his reasons for this step and accept the logic of the amendment. However, the Government's legal advisers feel that there is a simpler way of amending Clauses 6 and 7 and we shall, therefore, table an appropriate amendment at the Report stage. I hope that with that assurance the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 6 shall stand part of the Bill?

4.31 p.m.

I do not wish to detain your Lordships for long, but here we are embarking on what I understand to be a new departure; namely, we are going to have registered taxidermists—yet another occupation which will not be legitimately carried out without the permission of a rubber stamp. Perhaps that is inevitable, but it is bound to give rise to some difficulties and I detect a difficulty that will arise as a result of the way in which subsection (2) is drafted.

It may be confusing to talk of registering a taxidermist. It could lead to challenge to registration on the grounds that the Secretary of State has registered or enabled somebody to be registered who cannot be described as a taxidermist. I suppose that registration should, in order to make it effective within the meaning of the clause, be conclusive so that a person is a taxidermist for the purpose of this Act where he is described as a registered taxidermist. Without wearying your Lordships with details of the drafting, I hope that the point that I have made will be considered so that the drafting may be adjusted to deal with it.

Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Sandys, would like to deal with that point now because I wish to raise an entirely separate matter.

The noble Lord, Lord Renton, has raised a number of material matters in regard to the registration of taxidermists as a profession. I think that it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further at this stage other than to say that I shall draw the attention of my noble friend and my right honourable friend to the remarks that he has made.

I should like to raise an entirely different point. The noble Earl, Lord Onslow, referred to mules and hybrids. That re- minded me that we had something of a promise, I think, from the Government that they would bring in an amendment about this matter. I do not want to discuss it in any detail, but we want to make sure that mules and hybrids can be exhibited only where both parents are listed in Schedule 3 Part I, to avoid the temptation of going out and stealing from the wild something to mate with a caged bird in the home. If the Government are not going to add something I should like to know because we shall bring in an amendment at the Report stage.

In reply to the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, I should like to say that we shall certainly advise him if we are not intending to bring forward an amendment at Report stage.

I should like to raise another point. I should like to draw attention to the particular species in Schedule 2 Part 1. These are the live wild birds that may be sold. It seems to me that there are one or two omissions which the noble Lord might like to consider. For example, I remember that on Second Reading the noble Lord, Lord Burton, referred to the rearing of capercaillie for release into the wild. If a person is rearing capercaillie for release into the wild, presumably there is a market in them and he would like to be able to sell them.

I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, would give way? We shall discuss the schedules after Clause 8 and I think that this particular point will arise then. Perhaps he would leave it until that time.

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 [ Registration etc. of certain captive wild birds]:

4.36 p.m.

moved Amendment No. 73:

Page 9, line 2 at end insert ("bred in captivity, and").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 73. This is an exploratory amendment to insert the words, "bred in captivity, and" on page 9 at the end of line 2. I have put down this amendment because I am simply not clear whether such birds must have been bred in captivity. Personally, I am not at all happy with the whole idea of taking birds from the wild and keeping them in captivity, although since putting down the amendment I have come to realise that that does happen. For instance, hawks and falcons are taken from the wild at an early stage in their lives and are then trained and subsequently sold for large sums of money. Therefore, the amendment appears to be faulty. However, would the Minister perhaps agree that in all other cases—apart from hawks and falcons—the principle that wild birds should not be put in cages should always apply? I beg to move.

I must oppose this amendment because its effect would be to exclude from the scope of Clause 7 birds in Schedule 4 to the Bill which had not—and I stress "not"—been bred in captivity. There are already many birds of the species concerned which have been taken legally from the wild in the United Kingdom under licence, or have been imported having been taken from the wild overseas. It is not acceptable to the Government that these be excluded, particularly since it would have the effect of excluding them from the registration and ringing scheme. Indeed, I doubt whether the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, ever intended this. I can assure him that the Bill, as drafted, covers all specimens, whether captive bred or wild bred, of species listed in Schedule 4, and I invite him to withdraw his amendment.

I am most grateful to the noble Lord and look forward to studying his answer in more detail. However, in the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[ Amendment No. 74 not moved.]

Clause 7 agreed to.

Clause 8 [ Protection of captive birds]:

4.39 p.m.

moved Amendment No. 75:

Page 10, line 8, leave out ("to poultry, or").

The noble Lord said: The Notes on Clauses just say that Clause 8 reproduces Section 8 of the 1954 Act and do not go on to explain anything about the purpose of this particular clause. Nevertheless, looking at the clause, I should have thought that it was fairly clear that the purpose of the clause—which is headed "Protection of captive birds"—is on the subject of preventing cruelty.

It seems to me very odd, if we are to pass a Bill which includes provisions for preventing cruelty to birds, that we should exempt any particular birds from it. But here we do; we exempt poultry. If the matters with which this clause deals are cruel to wild birds, it seems to me that they are cruel to poultry. There is nothing in these particular provisions which apply to one kind of bird rather than to another from the point of view of the ornithologist, the naturalist, or the keeper of birds, pets or anything. In this particular respect there is no difference between the birds which are kept for egg production and those which are kept for show.

Therefore, why are poultry exempted?—unless it be that poultry, of course, are kept for gain and we must not interfere with cruelty when cruelty is, in fact, a thriving industry. I merely ask this question and perhaps there is a very simple answer. One of the answers of the Government to the amendment that I have tabled may no doubt be that my amendment would not come under the Long Title of the Bill.

Another question which I should like to ask at this particular time is whether any of these captive birds come under the Long Title of the Bill. I wonder whether anyone has looked at that particular point. It seems to me to be very considerable. If I was trying to include this clause as a whole, I would have very great doubt whether it could be included under the Long Title. I think that that ought to be looked into and that we ought to have an answer, for no doubt this matter has occurred to those responsible for preparing the Bill.

The noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, will no doubt have other matters to raise and other points to make. At this particular stage I am not raising my strongest arguments for the passing of my amendment until I have heard what the Government have to say, because I cannot help but hope that they have a better answer and a better reason for what they are doing in this particular clause and for the exemption of poultry from the cruelty clauses than the only ones which spring immediately to my mind. I beg to move.

The noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, is not as innocent as he sounds. He knows why poultry are not included in the Bill. So do I; so do we all—because the Government dare not include them. They would have the whole of the battery hen industry on them like a ton of bricks if they included poultry in the Bill; which, of course, shows the hypocrisy of the British people when dealing with such moral issues as cruelty, kindness, ill-treatment and so forth.

We want to be kind to birds, but we want to be kinder to some birds than to others; probably we want to be kinder to the birds that we do not eat than to those that we do eat. In the evidence given before a Select Committee of another place on this very subject the National Farmers' Union said that the British people want their food at the cheapest possible price. This is a dangerous trend in public thinking at the present time—the idea that to get one's food at the cheapest possible price will excuse all sorts of abominations in the treatment of birds and animals. I think that we shall be up against this when trying to improve the standard of treatment of animals.

Quite honestly, I do not know whether some of us should take up the time of the Committee on this crowded Bill to indulge in demonstrations, because that is what this is. Speaking for myself, it is a demonstration. I have one or two others on the Marshalled List. It affords an opportunity, which I think none should lose, of uttering a few words to disquiet the consciences and complacency of noble Lords who probably think that there is not much wrong with the treatment of poultry, calves or anything of that kind.

I am sad about poultry. I think that the battery hen is the most miserable creature in the feathered world today, and it is getting worse. I see present the noble Earl who has responsibilities for the Department of Agriculture. He must know what is going on. At present a Select Committee is dealing with this matter. The Farm Animal Welfare Council is at work and has a special reference for this matter. It would be a great comfort if the noble Earl could intervene and say that Her Majesty's Government are prepared to consider, without any commitment whatever, the liberation of the battery hen. That really would be good news. Therefore, I sincerely hope that we may be given some comfort to get on with. The fact of the matter is that I am content to have registered a point of view, whether or not noble Lords take any notice of it.

Before my noble friend replies, may I say that I think the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, realises that this would have major implications for the battery hen industry. I am only to happy to go one-for-one with him and pontificate on the opposite side, indicating why it is so necessary to have this industry. However, as the noble Lord intimated, I do not think that this is the place to discuss such a vast subject, and I hope that my noble friend on the Front Bench will reply to the point straight away before the Committee loses a lot of time over it.

I would support this amendment, as I completely agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, said. I have farmed all my life, but I have never farmed battery hens, and I never intend to. I do not want to waste the time of the Committee, but Clause 8 says only that one must have a cage sufficient in height, length and breadth to permit the bird to stretch its wings freely. We would not be destroying the battery hen industry if regulations were introduced to have cages of that size, in which hens could spread their wings. It might add a little more expense to the construction of a battery and you might need a slightly larger area, but surely it would not be impossible. As the noble Lord said, it is quite illogical that poultry must be considered not to feel cruelty compared to other birds. It is completely hypocritical. I presume that my noble friend will reply to this amendment and I hope that he will say something to relieve the lot of the battery hen.

4.49 p.m.

If I may say so, that was a remarkably succinct debate. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, tabled this amendment rather tongue-in-cheek because he knows perfectly well that this is an inappropriate Bill in which to include an amendment of this kind. He asked me many questions which were answered by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton; then the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, asked me a number of questions which he proceeded to answer himself. He asked what was the position; he said "I will tell you the position". The noble Lord is not far wrong.

The noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, asked why captive birds were permitted at all under the Long Title. The answer is that this all comes under the one word "re-enact", and this enables captive birds to be included in the Long Title. The noble Lord then asked why poultry are to be excluded. This is a Bill to deal with wildlife and the countryside, and it is not a proper vehicle for altering legislation dealing with domestically-kept farm animals which are protected under more than two different Acts of Parliament—the Protection of Animals Acts 1911 and 1912 and the Agriculture, (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968.

The noble Lord, Lord Houghton, said: "Well, what on earth are the Government doing about this when they have the Farm Animal Welfare Council?" He is quite right, they have; and my right honourable friend set this up as soon as we came into office because he realised that the public were concerned about animal welfare. They are at the moment discussing the welfare codes on poultry and turkeys, and they have invited questions and opinions from the general public, and then they are to make their recommendations. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton, asks: Will I liberate the battery hen? Let me give him this assurance, that we will consider the advice of the Farm Animal Welfare Council most seriously when that advice is given. It would be totally wrong to pre-empt that advice by accepting Lord Beaumont's amendment.

Then, as the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, rightly said, which he knew, the Select Committee on Agriculture was set up in another place and is considering the effects of intensively kept animals. It would be quite wrong for us to pre-empt their advice and their conclusions. What he did not say—and I am surprised that the noble Lord did not know this bit of information, because he knows so much about what is happening in the animal welfare field—although I am sure he realises it, is that the European Commission is carrying out a study into the welfare of battery hens, to find out whether there is any possibility of alternative methods of production. I think we should be wrong to pre-empt their advice and their conclusions. For all those reasons, I suggest that this is really the most totally inappropriate Bill, and the most totally inappropriate amendment to suggest to this Bill, for the protection of chickens.

That may be so. Nevertheless, a remarkable amount of truth has been spoken over the last few minutes on both sides of the Committee. The debate has been worth while if only for that. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton, said that the feeling that people wanted food cheaply and that that desire must be met at any cost was a very dangerous doctrine. I entirely agree with him, and I would go further and say that I do not believe what we are always told, that the British people are not prepared to pay for the abolition of cruelty. If it is put to them they are, and that argument against it does not stand up at all. Noble Lords are quite right to want to press on with what this Bill was actually intended for. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

moved Amendment No. 76:

Page 10, line 10, leave out ("whether by land, air or water")

The noble Lord said: Although I have strong feelings about this clause, this is a mere drafting amendment and it breaks my heart to move it because these are words of Anglo-Saxon origin; they are short, clear, and they comprise the elements in which we live, but they are unnecessary. There is no other means of conveyance known to man except by land, air or water. We do not need these words for the removal of a doubt, and therefore with great sadness I beg to move that they be left out.

I should very much like to support my noble friend, but I have one slight doubt when he says there is no other way of moving about. I should have thought that the London tube in the rush hour provided a typical way of moving about which was neither by land, sea nor air in any normal sense of the words.

This provision is identical to one found in Section 8(2)(b) of the Protection of Birds Act 1954. As my noble friend Lord Renton was not on his present perch then, no doubt he did not attack the Government of the time. He seeks to remove these three words. We like them because we think they serve to clarify the position for the layman, and the Government would prefer that they were retained.

The nastier word, which I am surprised he did not comment on more ferociously, is "conveyance". If we take this back to consider whether "by land, air or water" should be removed or not, I think we would like to take "conveyance" back too, to see whether we cannot find a new phrase altogether. If the noble Lord presses me we will consider it, but I ask him to withdraw his amendment so that we can consider it more fully.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.56 p.m.

moved Amendment No. 77:

Page 10, line 13, leave out from ("exhibition") to ("or" in line 15.

The noble Lord said: It may be for the convenience of the Committee if, with this amendment, we consider Amendment No. 79. This is an effort to redraft a part of this clause. Maybe it is not a very successful one; I do not know. The purpose is quite clear. Incidentally, I think I did not mean to exclude the two words "or competition" in paragraph ( b). That is an error. If the Government should see their way to accepting these amendments we can correct that at a later stage.

The exemption, and the words "in the course of conveyance", has no time limit on it. Taking a journey one way and the purpose of a public exhibition which must not exceed 72 hours, and a journey another way, depending on the way and the particular form of the journey, can add up to a considerable time. There is in theory no limit. Obviously there would be a limit, but it can add up to quite a long time. It seems to me that there needs to be a little tighter control than there was in the original drafting if cruelty is to be avoided, and I should like to urge the Government, even if they do not accept these amendments, to consider the point and to try to do something about it. I beg to move.

This is something we do not feel particularly strongly about, but I should like to read what the noble Lord has said in more detail before I offer to go any further. It was originally proposed to reduce the period during which a bird could be confined from 72 to 48 hours, and this was dropped with the agreement of the advisory committees, the NCC and RSPB, because the new provisions for showing contained in Clause 6(3) should ensure that only captive bred birds well used to small cages are eligible for showing. The amendment would result in the loss of the restriction of 72 hours on the time during which a bird may be confined in a small cage for the purpose of public exhibition, and also seeks to prohibit the com- petitive showing of birds in small cages, and I think that that is the bit the noble Lord did not mean to cover.

In view of this dual result, it is difficult to see why the amendment has been suggested. The Government considered amending Clause 8(2) when drafting this Bill, but the new rules on exhibition should ensure that the only truly captive bred birds well used to small cages are eligible for showing. There was no strong welfare case for changing the existing transport rules in the Protection of Birds Act 1954. This is already supported by the protection of animals legislation. If I could ask the noble Lord to withdraw, I shall look at his remarks again and perhaps he will be kind enough to do the same with mine.

Now that the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, has explained his amendments it seems to me that he has a good point. As I understand it, he is not removing the 72-hour period in Clause 8(2)(b) but applying a 72-hour period to paragraphs (b) and (a), joining them together and making a limit within a period of days. That seems to me to be a reasonable and useful proposal.

There is very occasionally with birds, particularly if they have been taken from the wild, the necessity of keeping them in a very small cage for quite a long period of time before they are exhibited, because that is possibly the only way one can get the bird not to flutter in the cage during the exhibition, and that at least would be made illegal by the noble Lord's proposal. It would be an advantage and an encouragement to captive breeding, which I am sure is what all of us would want to encourage. I hope that the noble Earl will, as he said, look at what has been proposed.

The noble Lord, Lord Melchett, put the point correctly. The matter should be looked at again, and I am delighted that the Minister said he would do that. Although the noble Earl said that another measure dealt with the treatment of birds in the course of conveyance, it may be necessary to insert a provision in this Bill to deal with birds while travelling. Knowing the matter will be looked at, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.1 p.m.

moved Amendment No. 77A:

Page 10, line 16, leave out from ("undergoing") to end of line 17 and insert ("veterinary treatment or examination").

The noble Earl said: We are still discussing the question of birds in cages and this relates in particular to subsection 2( c), which reads:

"while that bird is undergoing treatment by a veterinary surgeon or veterinary probationer".

There seems to be some doubt whether "probationer" is the right word, and I notice that we shall be coming to an amendment shortly to change that. We need not

argue about that because it means, in short, a vet. The gist of the matter is that a bird shall not be confined in a cage too small for it to be allowed to spread its wings freely while being treated by a vet. But not only vets treat animals, and I take it that "animals" includes birds in terms of the dictionary definition of "veterinary", which, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, means:

"of or pertaining to or connected or concerned with the medical or surgical treatment of cattle or domestic animals".

If it is accepted that cattle and domestic animals include birds—which I think must be the case because of the word "veterinary" in this provision—then I submit that it is not only vets who treat birds. If one has a budgerigar or an ostrich it may suffer from ailments which can be treated, or at any rate examined, by the owner.

As my noble friend says, or by a physiotherapist, or even by a psychoanalyst in certain cases. One does not always have to send for the vet. Yet it is only if the vet is examining the bird that it must be confined in a small cage. If the owner is examining it, it need not be confined in a small cage. I would say that if it is necessary for a vet to confine it in a small cage in order to treat it, it is even more necessary for the unqualified owner to do so. I therefore propose to leave out the words "treatment by a veterinary surgeon" and so on, making it read:

"while the bird is undergoing veterinary treatment or examination".
The word "examination" is new because it is as relevant to the question under discussion as the treatment itself. I beg to move.

I should explain that, if this amendment is agreed to, 1 shall not be able to call the next amendment, No. 78.

We are faced with a terrible dilemma because we do not want to leave the word "probationer" in—it is a Government misprint which we have already had to alter—so I am wondering what is the best way to deal with it. I support the amendment because the proposal of the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, makes sense. On the other hand, I should be horrified to register for all time that the person to whom this applied was a veterinary "probationer".

We were, as the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, said, going to change the word "probationer". We have looked at the amendment of my noble friend Lord Cork and Orrery and have listened carefully to what he said. We think the whole question should be considered further, so we shall be looking to redraft this sentence in any event, and that will include changing "probationer" to "practitioner", and I hope with that assurance my noble friend will withdraw the amendment.

I am grateful to my noble friend, and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[ Amendments Nos. 78 and 79 not moved.]

5.6 p.m.

had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 80:

Page 10, line 23, leave out ("immediately").

The noble Lord said: I am not at all sure this amendment would do what I want to do. Clearly I am strongly in favour of the proposal in the Bill that any person who,

"promotes, arranges, conducts, assists in, receives money for, or takes part in, any event whatsoever at or in the course of which captive birds are liberated by hand or by any other means whatsoever for the purpose of being shot immediately after their liberation"

shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a special penalty. I am all in favour of that. I presume this deals with what used to be the awful pigeon shoot, liberating birds and shooting at them almost before they were in the air. That was rendered unlawful a long time ago, and we now have in its place clay pigeon shooting. However, I had in mind the release of captive birds not for being shot immediately but very soon afterwards. What I have in mind is what I referred to on a previous occasion—when there were very few noble Lords present; we were discussing the Ground Game Bill—the shocking institution which I described as the fate of the driven bird.

It is 100 years ago since those who went shooting, many noble Lords among them, discontinued the more civilised method of popping at birds as and when they got up in the woods or fields, and they got home with a bag of probably half-a-dozen birds and thought they had had a good day's sport. Unfortunately that was not enough; they must not only have birds up in the air that get there naturally, they must get them driven into the air. I recommend your Lordships to read a revealing book called The Big Shots, to which I referred on a previous occasion. Some of the ancestors of noble Lords prided themselves on having shot over 1,000 birds in a day. That was slaughter, not sport, and it can still go on because pheasants are bred (and other game birds may be bred) with a view to liberation in large numbers to be driven in due course against the guns. Sandringham alone at one time—yesterday, for all I know—was breeding 15,000 to 20,000 young pheasants every year to let them loose to be driven into the guns for a big Sandringham shoot.

It is that that I was intending to deal with by this amendment, but the Committee will have noticed that it would not get me there. The result is that without troubling the Minister to reply to the deficiencies of the amendment, I had better not move it so that the Commitee can get on. Noble Lords have heard what I had to say on this matter and I may return to it on some later occasion. In the meantime, I shall not move it because it does not deal as effectively as I should wish with the fate of the driven bird.

[ Amendment 80 not moved.]

Clause 8 agreed to.

5.10 p.m.

(" Intentional killing of protected creatures

.—(1) Subject to the provisions of this Part, if any person intentionally kills or injures any wild mammal, reptile or amphibian or their young including their eggs or larvae, he shall be guilty of an offence.

(2) Subject to the provisions of this Part, if any person intentionally—

  • (a) takes or has in his possession or control an animal included in Schedule 5 which is not shown to have been killed or taken otherwise than in contravention of any provision of this Part or any Order made under this Part; or
  • (b) damages or destroys any structure or place which such animal uses for shelter or protection; or
  • (c) disturbs or harasses any such animal while it is occupying a structure or place which it uses for that purpose; he shall be guilty of an offence.
  • (3) Any person convicted of an offence under subsection (1) or (2) in respect of a wild mammal, reptile or amphibian included in Schedule 5 or in respect of a structure or place of shelter of such an animal shall be liable to a special penalty.

    (4) Subject to the provisions of this section an authorised person shall not be guilty of an offence under subsections (1) or (2) by reason of—

  • (a) the killing or taking of a wild mammal, reptile or amphibian in Schedule 6;
  • (b) the taking, damaging or destruction of a structure or place of shelter of such an animal; or
  • (c) the taking or destruction of the eggs or larvae of any reptile or amphibian included in Schedule 6.").
  • The noble Baroness said: I should apologise to the Committee for the fact that the amendment is down in the wrong place. It ought to come after Schedule 4, instead of after Clause 8, but since it is here, I shall speak to it now and hope that noble Lords will not mind having a change from birds to animals.

    At Second Reading, when speaking of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians, I said, as reported at column 1084 of the Official Report of 16th December, 1980, that

    "rationalisation has not gone far enough. All birds and all plants are, in some measure, protected and the schedules of species list those which are to be accorded additional protection, or, because they are pests, which are excepted for protection. We think that the same method, which is known as reverse-listing, should be applied to mammals, reptiles and amphibians".

    That is what Amendment No. 81 does. It involves a large number of consequentials, and therefore in speaking to Amendment No. 81, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 112, 113, 116, 122, 131, 145A, 157, 160, 162ZA, 168, 171A, 173, 177, 180, 183, 192 and 193.

    Amendment No. 81 will put mammals, reptiles and amphibians on the same footing as birds, and the new clause for these creatures resembles closely Clause 1, for birds, except that here in our new clause blanket cover applies only to killing and injuring, not taking. If we had included taking in the prohibition, we might have been accused of stopping people studying and getting to know more about wild life.

    The concept of reverse listing of mammals, reptiles and amphibians is entirely consistent with the thinking behind the protection of birds. The majority of these creatures are not harmful to man's agriculture or property, and a very large proportion are declining. Conservation is not concerned merely with preventing extinction; it is concerned with ensuring that wildlife survives in reasonable abundance, so that ecosystems are maintained.

    A major advantage of reverse listing is that enforce ment of international conservation commitments, both at present and in the future, are facilitated and, more importantly, enforcement by the police is considerably more straightforward. That is borne out by the last 25 years' experience with the Protection of Birds Acts.

    The noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, at Second Reading, complained that the Bill as it stands does not follow the Berne Convention and that insufficient protection was given to threatened species. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, also at Second Reading, complained that blanket protection for all birds was given by Clause 1 and that exceptions were then made by schedules, whereas it is exactly the other way round for mammals. So I hope that we shall have the support of both the noble Earl and the noble Lord for this amendment.

    I shall now go through the new clause. Subsection (1) brings about the protection of all mammals, reptiles and amphibians against killing and injuring. Subsection (2) creates a category of specially protected mammals, reptiles and amphibians which are additionally protected against taking, possession, disturbance while occupying any place of shelter, and destruction of shelter. That adds no extra provisions to those already proposed by the Government for their existing Schedule 5 species. Our list of specially protected mammals, reptiles and amphibians appears in Amendment No. 145A, our new Schedule 5.

    All species in our new Schedule 5—that is contained in Amendment No. 145A—are on the Government schedule of species given protection, except for the badger, but my noble friend Lord Melchett said at Second Reading that he wanted wider protection for that. This will need to be looked at so that references can be made by subsequent amendments to the Badger Act. My noble friend Lord Melchett will no doubt be speaking to this later. Subsection (3) of the new clause makes offences against specially protected species subject to a special penalty. Subsection (4) creates a list of mammals, reptiles and amphibians which may be killed or taken by an authorised person, and our Amendment No. 192 lists those in our new Schedule 6. We should like to say that that list may need to be revised and we would not claim that it is finally right.

    The amendments to Clause 9—these are Amendments Nos. 112, 113, 116 and 122—refer to our new schedule, which perhaps I can call Schedule 6A, as that is how we have referred to it in all these amendments, and this schedule appears in Amendment No. 193. The principle behind these amendments is to retain the existing Government provision for invertebrates and fish; in other words, these are not to be reverse-listed. One must be practical. It is all too easy to step inadvertently on an insect or mollusc; nor can we ask people to make absolutely sure before they swat it that an insect which settles on them is a noxious one.

    I apologise for taking so long, but there is much to be covered, and I have dealt with 17 amendments all at once, which I hope will please those noble Lords who wish to speed on. I cannot think that these proposals can be controversial, and they have the great merit of making the Bill much more logical. I hope that the principle of reverse-listing of mammals, reptiles and amphibians will be accepted by the Government, even if details have to be gone over and decided at a late stage. I beg to move.

    I am not sure that I am in favour of the amendment. First, since the noble Baroness has decided to rewrite the Bill, I would say that had I been writing it, I would have gone completely the other way. I would have disregarded the 1954 birds Act and I would have arranged the schedules accordingly. So I start on the opposite side of the road on this. I expect that the noble Baroness will ask me why I take that view. I think that, as the Bill stands, the arrangements for the mammals, compared with those for the birds, are more simple. They are certainly more simple to understand, and they are more flexible. I hope that the noble Baroness will agree that flexibility is very important in legislation relating to the countryside and, as in this particuar case, to pests.

    If the amendment were agreed to, it would mean that if there came in a new, exotic breed of animal, in particular if it were a pest, it would not be possible to get rid of it without going through the complete rigmarole of the Government machine, and I think I am right in saying that a negative resolution of both Houses of Parliament would also be required. That procedure would be necessary if it were wished to move a species from one schedule to another. I think the noble Baroness said in her speech that her lists already require revising, and if that need arose after the amendment were passed, there would be a quite clumsy procedure.

    I congratulate the noble Baroness upon very succinctly and concisely putting together what, as the noble Lord, Lord Stanley of Alderley, has just said, would be a very radical rearrangement of the Bill. That would quite adequately meet my own objections; namely, that the vulnerable species other than birds are not adequately catered for by the Bill as it stands. It would also be a uniquely British approach. As the noble Earl, Lord Avon, said in the Committee last week, in the conservation of birds the British have perhaps led the field, and the reverse-listing procedure is an extremely useful step in taking care of species which are not necessarily pests and are not in any great urgent need of protection. However, having said that I feel that that proposal would be a great step forward, none the less I am inclined to feel that to take this uniquely British approach at this stage might be so fraught with so many difficulties and objections that one would have to consider it rather carefully before being quite so radical in altering the approach which is laid down by the Berne Convention itself.

    Naturally we are grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, for his somewhat qualified support. I am not entirely clear that I agree with him that this is a uniquely British approach. My understanding is that generally, internationally, in a number of different ways, people have been pushing for the adoption of a reverse listing approach; for example, in the CITIES Convention, which deals with trade in endangered species. The generally preferred approach—it may not have been adopted generally yet, but it is the generally preferred approach internationally, as well as certainly by all the interested voluntary organisations in this country—is to adopt reverse listing.

    The noble Lord, Lord Stanley of Alderley, suggested that this might be more complicated than the existing provisions of the Bill. I suppose that really depends whether you feel it is more complicated to be able to kill only those species which are listed than it is simply to be able to kill everything if you want to do so. It does not seem to me to be very much more complicated one way or the other; either everything is protected except those things which need to be killed—and they are listed in the schedule—or you can kill everything if you want to and those things which are specially protected are listed in the schedule. If I may say so to the noble Lord, I really do not think there is very much in that argument.

    Nor did I think there was much in his argument about some sudden new arrival of a major pest species with which everybody had to deal very rapidly, because I thought that was exactly what the licensing provisions in the Bill were designed to deal with, and why they were supported so strongly by, among others, the noble Lord, Lord Stanley of Alderley. It seems to me that that provides a complete answer to the objection which he raised to this particular amendment.

    5.23 p.m.

    To begin with, perhaps I may put the record straight. The noble Baroness mentioned that she was speaking to Amendment No. 179. I believe that should have been No. 180. It is a very small point, but it is one for the record; and I, of course, should like to speak to the same amendments as the noble Baroness mentioned. I understand the purpose of these amendments as twofold: first, to apply general protection of the kind applied in the Protection of Birds Acts to all wild animals other than some listed ones; and, secondly, to extend Clause 11 to be capable of covering all creatures (other than birds which are already covered elsewhere) and not just mammals. First, may I say that it may well be necessary to include other creatures in Clause 11, and it is, as the noble Baroness said, slightly difficult to speak to the mammals now when we are going to have quite a large go at them later. While the Government do not really take this amendment to their hearts in view of its context, I shall certainly take this point for future consideration.

    As regards the point of general protection for all wild animals, I would stress to your Lordships that the Government's primary aim in this Bill is to make provisions which would enable the necessary steps to be taken to conserve those creatures for which conservation measures are required, and this is not really meant to be a protection Bill for mammals. Here, I think I take a little the point that my noble friend Lord Cranbrook made when he said that one might perhaps cloud the issue if one is not too careful. The Government's advisers on wildlife are satisfied that the Government's proposals will enable conservation measures to be taken whenever it is appropriate that a creature requires protection on conservation grounds.

    If I might side-track a little—because I think whales are included in one of the schedules—I know that most noble Lords are aware that recently, in a Fisheries Bill, the existing prohibition on the taking of whales in United Kingdom waters or by British registered ships was strengthened, and in future the taking of cetaceans will be illegal. There is therefore no need to make special provision for them in this Bill. I bring this out merely as an example; noble Lords will know that European Community regulations banning imports of most primary products from cetaceans, and many of the most secondary products, were adopted by the Council of Ministers in December and come into force at the beginning of next year. This was as a direct result of our Government's action.

    To come back to the amendment proposed by the noble Baroness, I think it is more a matter of public conscience and education than of conservation, and it raises really a whole host of other considerations. As your Lordships are aware, cruelty to animals is well covered by other legislation, and I would emphasise most strongly that we wish to keep the conservation message of this Bill as clear as possible. While I personally fully respect, as do the Government, the sentiments that have caused the moving of this amendment, we should like it to be withdrawn at this stage. The Government will undertake further consideration, particularly to widen Clause 11; and, also, I think we shall have an opportunity to discuss this in more detail when we come to Clause 11. I do not know whether the noble Baroness would like to prolong the argument now, or whether she would withdraw her amendment at this stage and perhaps come back to it again later.

    It seems to me that the Government, in arguing, as the noble Earl has, that this is a conservation Bill and not a protection Bill, are really in extremely difficult waters. The fact of the matter is that the Bill re-enacts the Protection of Birds Acts, and all we are trying to do by this amendment is to treat mammals, amphibians and reptiles in exactly the same way as the Government are proposing that birds should be treated. For the noble Earl to get up and be asked to say that this is not quite the approach that the Government arc adopting in the Bill seems to me, if I may say so, an argument somewhat of despair and the last resort, because it seems to me, more seriously, that there really is not an intelligent and sensible argument against what is being proposed in this amendment, which is logical and rational.

    The noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, was kind enough to call it an advanced British approach, and I think that is something we ought to be rather pleased about, rather than fight shy of, as I am afraid I thought the noble Earl, Lord Avon, was tending to do a little in his response. To say, as he was asked to say, that this really is not in line with the Bill does not seem to me to be a starter as a serious argument. I accept, of course—and this is something that the noble Lord, Lord Stanley of Alderley, touched on—that the detail would need careful consideration. In particular, the list of what were in effect the pest species would need to be considered carefully, and I do not think that we on this side, as my noble friend made clear in moving the amendment, have any firm or fixed views about the contents of that. Nor would we want, in adopting this approach for mammals, reptiles and amphibians for the first time, to stir up any controversy or difficulty with those who felt that more species should be included than we had included. I do not think there is any question of that.

    Perhaps I could make one other point, which relates to an amendment we shall be coming to in a minute, on the Badgers Act. It seems to me that our approach is in fact far simpler than the existing appalling muddle into which we are getting ourselves on mammals. We have separate Acts dealing with seals, deer and badgers. At least on birds we have only one set of Acts, which take a consistent and coherent approach. That is not the case in relation to mammals. I can see, in years to come, our running into the danger of having even more different bits of legislation applying to different things. We are already, in this Bill, running into some appalling problems in trying to tie up what the Government are doing for the badger in this Bill with what the Badgers Act does. It does not seem to me at the moment that there is any interlocking or intermeshing between the two things at all.

    In other words, although it is difficult and although it is a new approach to mammals, reptiles and amphibians, our amendment would lead to far greater simplification and far greater coherence in the Bill, and, if I may say so, to a much easier approach and a much easier understanding for everybody outside this Committee who has not been through the thing line by line as we have. All mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds are protected except those in the Bill which are listed and which can be killed. That seems to me clear and straightforward, and I would hope that the noble Earl, in reconsidering this, would be able to take those points on board. But, of course, we are very grateful and somewhat encouraged by the fact that he has offered to take this on board, and I think we would be quite happy to withdraw the amendment.

    Before the noble Baroness withdraws the amendment, I feel that there is one point that she brought up which should be mentioned. I fear over-simplification. I believe it would be an awful mistake to think that you could include all legislation to do with deer in a Bill of this kind. Certainly in Scotland it would be a great mistake not to have the Deer Act that we have there. I think that the idea of putting everything into one Bill is perhaps an unwise objective in certain instances.

    I was misleading the Committee. Deer as game would continue to be covered by separate Acts. I was making the point that to pretend that the existing approach to mammals is a simple one seems to me to be misleading.

    I think that my noble friend has answered the individual points which were made by the noble Lord, Lord Stanley, and the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, so that I do not need to repeat them except to say that there is a possibility under Clause 20 of the Secretary of State adding things to the schedules if it should become suddenly necessary. I thank the Minister for pointing out in connection with Amendment No. 169 that I should have mentioned Amendment No. 180 instead. That is so. I believe that the numbers of some of the amendments must have been changed between the first and second Marshalled Lists. I agree with my noble friend in thinking that this approach is more logical and also with the protection points that he made. But as the Government have said that they are willing to consider this again, and in the light of the debate now and the debate that will take place on the Clause 11 proposals, I will for the moment withdraw this amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Schedule 1 [ Birds which are protected by special penalties]:

    [ Amendment No. 82 not moved.]

    5.33 p.m.

    Page 44, line 30, at end insert—

    ("Goldeneye Bucephala clangula").

    The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 83 with Amendments Nos. 90 and 94, with the permission of the Committee. I should like to suggest that it might be simpler and save time if I were allowed to move together the eleven amendments in my name which affect five species of birds in Schedules 1 and 2, because I doubt whether noble Lords will wish to comment and debate upon each individual bird. They hang together—if I may be excused the pun; although, of course, I am hoping that they will not. I think that if I have permission to do this it will be easier.

    I have one or two amendments on the same subjects. Would the noble Lord agree that we take the birds in Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 separately?

    They are rather connected. Some of the amendments are consequential; a bird comes off one schedule and goes into another. I think it is the easiest way.

    If I could have the numbers of the amendments to which the noble Lord is speaking I should be grateful.

    With permission, they are Amendments Nos. 83, 87, 90, 91, 92, 94, 95, 96, 97 (which is jointly with the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken) and Nos. 108 and 109, all of which affect Schedules 1 or 2, and five species of birds. By way of introduction, I should like to tell the Committee that during the passage of the Wild Bird Protection Acts of 1954 and 1967—with both of which I was closely concerned—I felt that it would be a mistake to try to force upon the Government the opinions of Parliament about individual species of birds, bearing in mind that the Government have the advice of highly expert committees in the shape of the birds advisory committees which are representative of sporting interests, conservation interests, scientific interests, farming interests and so on. I must say that over the years their advice has been on the whole very good, but I think it right that they should take some real account of the views expressed by your Lordships.

    What I should like to ask my noble friend to do after he has heard my views and others would be to say that he will think about this and have further questions put to the bird advisory committees to look at in an entirely fresh light. I think that it is time that they did so, and that will be a satisfactory outcome of this discussion. I consider that there are strong arguments for the amendments I am putting forward—not arguments just of sentiment but practical ones. I hope that some or all of these amendments may find their way into the Bill at a later stage.

    It is an accident of history and also an accident of habit that the curlew, the scaup and the goldeneye and the redshank and, for that matter, the bar-tailed godwit (which ought to be with the black-tailed godwit in Schedule 1 Part I) are huntable birds. Perhaps that is true, too, of the golden plover, although that is slightly apart. Few countries, I think your Lordships will agree, have much better wildfowling than we have or in greater variety. I enjoy it myself immensely. There is no need for rationing the number of birds that wildfowlers can shoot as there is, rightly, in so many other countries—and small rations they are. Who wants to shoot the shore waders, anyway, or, for that matter, the really rare ducks? The goldeneye—and this is Amendments Nos. 83, 90 and 94—is a very rare breeding bird. It is thought that only 17 pairs bred in the United Kingdom last year and the very first known breeding bird was discovered 10 years ago. Only a few thousand goldeneyes winter here. It is easy to recognise and rather nasty to eat. For these and other reasons I should like to see it taken off the hunting list in Schedule 2 Part I and placed in Schedule 1 Part I and given protection all the year round.

    Next, Amendments 87, 91, 97, and 109 are all to do with him the scaup. The scaup are exceptionally rare and very irregular breeders in this country. There are only five known records in 15 years but as many as 25,000 used to winter here, the great bulk of them on the Forth, at Seafield, near Edinburgh. But the numbers breeding at Seafield fell last year to as few as about 1,000, and the total for the whole of United Kingdom is only a few thousand. It is also clear that there is no sign of a return to former numbers. The trend has been downwards all the time. I have not eaten a scaup and I do not particularly want to. Some noble Lords may have done so but I should think they are not very good eating. The scaup merits protection all the year round—there is a strong case here—and not just out of season, which is the protection it has at present. Amendment 109 would remove the scaup from Schedule 3 Part III. And that amendment would stand on its own feet, even if regrettably my other proposals regarding this bird were not accepted.

    Next is Amendment No. 92 which is to deal with the curlew. What of the curlew? Who wants to shoot at curlews? Who wants to eat one? I am told that where they live in different habitats in the Far East they are delicious and regarded as a great delicacy but they are not so here, I would suggest. When I spoke to a wildfowler friend of mine he said, "I hope you will not get protection for the curlew. I teach my children to shoot on curlews when there are no duck around". Well, I think that he should teach them to shoot at hooded crows, ravens, jays or pigeons and so on. The curlew is a very common breeding bird; they winter in huge numbers, in many thousands, sometimes perhaps as many as 50,000. We are hosts in this country to about one-sixth of the European population of curlews. Thirteen of our estuaries have been listed by the EEC, and listed internationally by the ICBP, as of international importance. The much rarer whimbrel is now in Schedule 1. They are easily confused with the curlew, unless sitting beside them on the shoreline. It is a rather smaller bird but easily confused with the curlew. So, I think, are both the godwits although they are easy to distinguish from the curlew when sitting on the shoreline.

    My main argument is the serious disturbance that all shore waders are bound to suffer when curlew and other shore birds are shot, as nearly all of these shore birds are protected. I am suggesting that all of them should be protected. They all suffer from shooting during vital roosting and feeding periods. Cannot we spare the lovely curlew, even if the scientific arguments are not overwhelming, and even though few get shot or wounded? There is no new evidence why we should think again. None the less, I think that it is reasonable that we should do so. I do not think that the curlew should ever have been on the shooting list. I hope that the advisory committee will also reconsider this question.

    Then, very briefly, the golden plover, a delicious bird to eat, as most of us know. I must not reminisce, but I remember in the restaurant in the Commons just after the 1967 bird Act we were offered on the menu black plover. Knowing that there was no such thing, I asked the chairman of the Kitchen Committee to explain. He wrote back and said they were in fact green plovers; but as the green plover was protected, he had to withdraw that suggestion and it turned out in the end that we had been eating rooks—and very good they were too! They are at least on the pest list.

    The golden plover, although a common bird—some 30,000 pairs are known to breed in this country—is remarkably scarce as a breeding bird in other EEC countries. That is the reason why it is in Annexe I of the EEC bird directive which is roughly equivalent to our Schedule 1, Part I. It was very largely the result of pressure we brought to bear on the other EEC countries that there is such a thing as a bird directive at all. It seems to me that when a bird is so rare across the Channel that it is listed on the list of rare birds in Annexe I we must be very careful indeed how we step out of line. It would be encouraging our French and Italian friends to continue eating blackcaps, nightingales, golden orioles and anything else that they can shoot. I doubt whether that would be a wise thing to do because we have a major responsibility in this respect.

    Amendment No. 108, which is coupled with Amendment No. 95, can be regarded as standing on its own feet in that it would prevent the sale of the golden plover. I remember, regarding the 1967 Act, there was a considerable furore about one of the sections which prevented the sale of dead wild geese. It was fairly easily carried. A good many people objected. It seemed sensible to remove the commercial incentive for shooting geese, which are a very serious pest in many circumstances, and that is now widely accepted. Even if Amendment No. 95 is not acceptable to the Government and they do not amend the Bill in that respect, Amendment No. 108 stands on its own feet.

    Lastly—and I am speaking as quickly as I possibly can — the redshank. Amendment No. 96 would remove this shore wader from the species that may be killed outside the close season. I wonder how many Members of the Committee want to shoot a redshank. I dare say a few might have done so. I have not. There is no denying that it is a common, widespread bird, but it is declining here—the figures show that is the case—as a result of habitat loss through the draining of wetlands and coastal reclamation. Very large numbers winter in Europe but out of those huge numbers one-third winter here. Twenty of our sites are regarded as of international importance. This again gives us a definite international responsibility. The disturbance argument applies here just as I suggested that it did where other shore waders are concerned. The recognition of the redshank in flight is nothing I would guarantee to do even with a pair of field glasses rather than a gun in my hand. It is easy to mistake for some of the sandpipers, the ruff, reeve or for a greenshank and a number of other shore birds. It could even be mistaken for the very rare spotted red-shank as well as, as I have said, other shore waders. Why shoot the redshank? It is time we protected these five birds. I think there is a strong case where all of them are concerned. I shall be exceptionally grateful if my noble friend will give us an assurance that what I have said and what else is said during this debate will he taken carefully into account by the advisory committees. I beg to move.

    5.45 p.m.

    Speaking generally, as the noble Lord did over all his amendments, I should like to give enthusiastic support. He put his case extremely well and with great detail. I shall speak very shortly. Anyone who wants to shoot a goldeneye might just as well go and "pot" at the tufted ducks in Regent's Park. There are plenty of things to shoot without doing that. The golden plover is a wonderful bird. The redshank is one of the birds that the birdwatchers in all the estuaries are looking out for. The curlew is one of the beauties of nature. I am totally in favour of restricting sportsmen from killing these birds because there are plenty of others that we are not trying to stop them shooting. I hope no quarter will be given to people who break the new rules which I hope will be accepted if Lord Chelwood's amendment is agreed to.

    I support my noble friend. I thoroughly enjoy my shooting. Those of us who shoot wild duck must be particularly conscious of the conservation argument. Without conservation, we cannot shoot. There should be no possible cause for those of us who indulge in venery to endanger or shoot other species which are unnecessary to eat.

    My name is joined with one of Lord Chelwood's amendments. Another one, Amendment No. 93, includes the bar-tailed godwit which my noble friend might be interested to include in this discussion. I agree wholeheartedly on the question of all the shore waders. I have never been able to understand why anyone should want to go out and shoot redshank or curlew. In the case of the golden plover, as he mentioned, that is one bird—although I have never eaten one—which I believe is delicious to eat.

    I should like to see all those waders removed from the list. When it comes to the two duck to which he has referred—the goldeneye and the scaup—I must admit to some reservations. Both birds are extremely rare breeding species. They appear in very large numbers in the winter and that is when they are going to be shot. Because of the risk that a few breeding birds might be killed by accident, I would agree with the noble Lord that both species should be removed from the list in Schedule 2, Part I of those that may be shot outside the close season.

    I feel that it is going a little far to include these species on Schedule I where if they were shot they could attract very large penalties. I say that simply because although both birds should be recognisable to any sportsman, let alone to any ornithologist, it could sometimes be very difficult for someone shooting duck, particularly in the early morning or late evening, who is a bit excited and has been shooting mallard, teal or whatever, and a flight of goldeneye or scaup comes in.

    Although the goldeneye of course makes the characteristic whistle as it flies, which most of us know, and also scaup are quite easy to distinguish if in broad daylight and one has a pair of binoculars, when it comes to duck shooting it is so easy to "poop" off at a flight of duck and—lo and behold—there is a goldeneye lying beside you. I know the goldeneye well; it visits my lakes and I like it very much. That would be a tragedy. It would be unfair if, under those circumstances, a person found himself liable to an enormous fine when he had not realised that he was shooting one of the prohibited species.

    I was very glad to hear that last remark from the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, because I was going to say a few words before a tide of euphoria swept over the Committee and we agreed to these amendments without their being looked at at all. A very valuable point was made by the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, when he stressed that what, as sportsmen, we must look at is the conservation side. I do not think it is for us to judge whether something is a suitable target to be shot or whether it is good to eat or nasty to eat. People have strange tastes in their feeding habits and they may find that a bar-tailed godwit is to them rather as an oyster is to some of us, or, on the other hand, it may well turn us off. We cannot judge on that; what we have to judge on are the conservation measures.

    I am very fortunate myself in that I have land on which golden plover, curlew and redshank nest. Nothing would induce me to shoot any of those birds: I think they are absolutely lovely birds. On the other hand, I would not say, just because I do not like shooting them, that nobody else should have the pleasure, if it gives them pleasure to shoot them. When we are shooting at home and somebody asks; "What can I shoot?" I say: "Anything that gives you pleasure as long as it is legal." I do not know whether a low pheasant gives somebody pleasure or not: it is not for me to judge that.

    I think the important thing is the conservation side and a very good point was made by my noble friend about the scaup. Perhaps numbers are declining there and this is something which might well go on the protected list. I am not so convinced about the goldeneye, nor about the five species of waders. I think the noble Lord, Lord Chelwood, made the point that this should be referred to the advisory committee for them to look at. I certainly would not dispute that: I think they ought to look at this and come back with recommendations, rather than that we should accept these amendments perhaps for sentimental reasons.

    I should like to point out to my noble friend and to others who have spoken about the goldeneye and the scaup that the principle, as I understand it, that has been adopted in protecting birds and putting them on Schedule 1 is not that a bird which is capable of being confused with any other which is shot is not eligible for Schedule 1, because it seems to me that a number of other birds which are on Schedule 1 would not be there if that were the case. Noble Lords will remember that when we discussed night shooting a great deal was made of a sportsman's ability to tell by the light of the moon the difference between various species of duck; so I would not, with respect, have thought there was much of an argument against scaup and goldeneye on that ground, particularly as I would have thought they were fairly easily recognisable in comparison with some other duck.

    The other point I wanted to make is that the wintering populations of both species are not particularly high. The goldeneye has ranged from about 6,000 to 9,500 and the figure for scaup is somewhat lower than that. Of course this is the winter population: the breeding population is a good deal lower, as the noble Lord, Lord Chelwood, said. The wintering population of the scaup is between 5,000 and 6,500 birds, so I would not have thought that in either case there was a very strong argument for not accepting the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Chelwood.

    I only wish to support the last but one speaker in regard to the goldeneye and the scaup. They are birds which from force of habit live in a particular place and sometimes find that those places move. From my personal observations in the Inner Hebrides in most of January, the scaup are in fact increasing. The goldeneye always have been in fairly short supply and I hope that perhaps the Minister will be kind enough to look at this matter further before going too far ahead.

    We get a lot of golden plover in the autumn on the hills, and of course it could happen that you would get golden plover coming over with the grouse. A lot of people who shoot grouse are not always very good naturalists, and although I quite agree they ought to be able to tell the difference, in the excitement of the birds coming over, if there were golden plover and grouse coming over together, they might well shoot the golden plover. I support my noble friend in his amendments. From a gastronomic point of view—that may be the wrong word—the golden plover are very good to eat but we must not think of our stomachs, but of conservation.

    In welcoming the whole of the amendment of my noble friend, I would spring up for a moment if I may in defence of the goldeneye. It has been said that it does not deserve all that much protection, but there is a particular point which was briefly referred to earlier by one speaker. As was said, there are only a very few of them breeding in this country. None of them ever did breed in this country until 10 years ago. They are rather peculiar, though not unique, as being ducks which nest in holes in trees. I think there were 15 or 17 pairs nesting successfully here in the British Isles during this last breeding season, and something less than 150 young birds were reared and fledged. It would be the most awful pity if any of those birds got shot during the winter season because if we value having another breeding bird among our native species, and most of us do, every one of those home-bred birds that is shot will lessen the chances of their coming back and spreading the establishment of a healthy and, hopefully one day, quite large breeding population of goldeneye. So I would put in a particular plea for them.

    I am not going to mention duck, after this first mention, but it seems to me totally illogical, and always has done, that the green plover is protected and the golden plover is not. From personal observation I would say that the green plover is extremely common in most of this country and the golden plover, though quite common in certain places, is by no means so universally common. I very much hope that my noble friend will refer this whole flatter to his advisory body. Possibly he might put the golden plover on to the protected list and take off the green plover, or at any rate out of Schedule 1—I am not sure whether it is there. It seems to me that we have those two species the wrong way round and we ought to reconsider both of them.

    Perhaps I should speak briefly with regard to the two schedules and then take some of the species in detail. I should like to tell my noble friend Lord Chelwood that he has altogether too unbecoming an idea of your Lordships' importance in this debate. Not only were all the amendments looked at by the advisory committee before I came to the Dispatch Box on this occasion, but I can assure him that the members will read this debate with particular interest, and indeed it is possible that some members are even listening to it now. So I can assure him that every single thing which has been said during this debate on the schedules will be taken into account by the advisory committee and, if necessary, amendments will be made at a later stage.

    To explain how we approach the printing of the schedules we are now discussing, in the first place we have honoured all our obligations under the European directive and these have required a substantial reduction in the list of birds which may be hunted—often, it must be said, to meet the concerns of our Community partners rather than because it was our belief that the hunting of these species was affecting their conservation status. Having done that, we took advice of the NCC and the advisory committee, species by species, and where there was a clear, if not necessarily unanimous, view that protection is needed for conservation, we have proposed it.

    What we have not been prepared to do is to give protection to a common species because it may be mistaken for a rare one. That we consider a slippery slope, which is certain to lose the consent and willing co-operation which farmers and hunters at present give. We were also concerned that Schedule 1, which gives special protection, should not grow too long, and that it, too, must be seen to meet real and not just hypothetical needs. That is why we have been very selective over which birds we have put in.

    In Schedule 2, Part I, we were mainly governed by the very drastic reductions in the list of huntable species which were agreed in the European directive. We are not, therefore, disposed to shorten the list any further, unless new evidence, which was not available to us a year ago, is provided and then the NCC so advises. Schedule 2, Part II, which I do not think we have spoken about yet, and which is often known as the pest schedule, has been halved so that we can meet our obligations under the directive. Only those species which are causing damage all over the country are included. For many of the species removed, such as the greater black-backed gull, there will be licences which allow their control for those types of damage which they cause and in the areas where they cause it.

    Having so said, may I come on to the goldeneye? Since 1970, this duck has increased as a breeding bird in Scotland from one to 21 nesting females in 1979. This has been mainly due to the provision of nest boxes. Although a freshwater duck in the breeding season, and frequently seen on reservoirs and lakes in winter, the vast majority of European goldeneyes, assessed at about 150,000 birds, spend winter on the sea with perhaps 10,000 to 12,000 visiting British and Irish coasts. Between 500 and 1,400 are probably shot each year in Britain. We are advised that the status of the goldeneye has remained essentially unchanged since the negotiations a year ago, and thus there is no conservation case for removing them from the schedule. May I once again say that, of course, we will take into account what has been said during the course of this debate.

    As regards the bar-tailed godwit—which is in the amendment put down by the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken—approximately 40,000 winter in Britain, out of a total of 90,000 in the rest of Europe. There has been no marked change in recent times and, again, we are advised that the status of the bar-tailed godwit remains essentially unchanged. So, once again, we do not see the necessity at the moment for any change.

    Just to show that one is not being entirely negative, I am glad to say that the Government accept that there has been a change in the status of the scaup and we will, therefore, be making an amendment to this effect. As regards the golden plover, that is one of the most abundant wintering waders in Great Britain, with a population of up to 210,000 in winter. We believe there is no conservation case at present for prohibiting hunting, but, once again, there have been some interesting points raised which will be considered again.

    The conservation of the redshank was thoroughly investigated when the hunting list which was annexed to the EEC directive was being formulated. The advisory committee and the Nature Conservancy Council advised at the time that the species should be retained on the list of species that may be hunted in the United Kingdom. Since then, there has not been a deterioration in the conservation status of the species to justify giving the species all-the-year-round protection.

    The next one is the curlew, which is in Schedule 2, Part I. That is a list of birds which may be hunted in the open season and this reflects our obligations under the birds directive. During the negotiations, full account was taken of the species' populations and trends. The evidence does not suggest that the status of the species has suffered since that time. But, once again, we shall carefully monitor the course of the curlew.

    I should like to close by asking noble Lords to withdraw their amendments, with the promise that the scaup is to be reviewed. All the others will be looked at, and I can give an undertaking that both the department and the advisory council will, of course, monitor the trends of those birds which we have been speaking about in this debate.

    May I make two further points to the noble Earl, Lord Avon? First, it seems to me that on a number of these species there was fairly widespread feeling that it was simply not right that they should be on a list of things that were shot. Much as we would all feel that there are plenty of nightingales, it would not be particularly appropriate for them to be on a list of species to be shot. The noble Earl has very kindly said that points made on all sides will be taken into account, and that sentiment, which seemed to me to be fairly common among many noble Lords who spoke, could be considered.

    May I make one other point to him? When the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray, was on the Front Bench last year—in fact, on 26th June, 1980—he answered a Question that I asked the Government about which organisations were responsible for monitoring waterfowl populations on wetland sites in the United Kingdom. The Government's reply was that the NCC is the statutory adviser to the Government. But the Written Answer went on:
    "In providing advice on water fowl populations they"—
    that is, the NCC—
    "draw heavily on data supplied by the Wildfowl Trust, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the British Trust for Ornithology ".—[Official Report, 2616/80; col. 1861.]
    I hope that the Government will remind themselves of that reply, in the light of the fact that, as I understand it, the amendments of the noble Lord, Lord Chelwood, are all supported by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and, possibly, by the two other voluntary organisations on which the Government said last year they relied very heavily for advice in monitoring populations of such birds. That seems to me to be an added point—for which I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray, in his previous incarnation —which supports the arguments which the noble Lord, Lord Chelwood, put forward.

    I take the points of the noble Lord, Lord Melchett. I had on my speaking list that we would also consider moving from schedule to schedule. I am not sure whether I actually said that in my speech, but I have made a note of the point. As regards the advisory bodies, there are, as he said, quite a lot of different bodies who can advise. As I also said, the advice is not always the same, so from time to time the NCC has to make a decision. Therefore, when one gets, from one side of the Chamber or the other, certain views from certain bodies, although we accept that as coming from a particular body, there may have been contrary advice from another body. So not everybody can be satisfied all the time.

    This may not be the right place to raise this point. But my noble friend the Duke of Atholl commented on the fact that green plover are infinitely more common than golden plover. I would certainly back that from observations where I live. The place is crawling with them. Plovers' eggs were a delicacy. Would it not be possible to have a small collecting season for plovers' eggs?

    Green plover is the farmers' friend. It would be very bad to take them out of the schedule. Regarding plovers' eggs, you can take them up to a certain date—

    I should like to support my noble friend Lord Melchett in what he has said concerning the noble Earl's reply. I hope that the noble Earl may think about it again. It is quite mistaken that, as a defence for keeping some of these waders, in particular, on the list, he should talk about how extremely common they are. I do not see why a bird's commonness has anything at all to do with it. Nothing could be commoner than a blackbird, a thrush or a chaffinch, depending on where you live. But although they are extremely common, and, in fact, abundant, they are protected and no one can kill them.

    It seems to me that the only exceptions from the species which one is allowed to kill should be either those which are recognised pests or those which are good to eat. The fact that, unfortunately for them, some birds are good to eat is a relevant consideration. Birds like the redshank and the curlew are not pests, nor are they good to eat. I do not know why anybody should shoot them. The fact that they are fairly numerous, although not quite so numerous as blackbirds, should not disqualify them from the protection which they deserve, particularly in view of the fact that, as has been mentioned, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds would very much like these birds to be protected throughout the year. I hope that the noble Earl will refer this matter to the advisory committee.

    I think I said that everything will be considered. A good number of different points have been made, from eating to hunting, as well as various others. I have just heard that there is a possibility that in some areas plovers' eggs could be licensed, which might horrify some people.

    I am very grateful to my noble friend Lord Avon for the sympathetic way in which he has responded to this debate on the different species contained in the schedules. I feel very strongly indeed that whether the redshank, the curlew, the bar-tailed godwit are common, rare, easy or hard to identify, or easy to mix up with other birds, or not so easy to mix up, or whether they are good to eat or nasty to eat does not make very much difference to the principle which I am suggesting: that shooting shore waders is an historic accident. I think they are the only three—the golden plover not being a shore bird—which are still left on the huntable list. This has just happened and been taken for granted. It would be far tidier in every way, and would mean that wildfowlers would lose nothing worth while if they were all protected. The scaup and the goldeneye are different matters. The case for the scaup is very strong and my noble friend accepted it. The case for the goldeneye is perhaps equally strong.

    The ban on the sale of the golden plover, even if it remains a quarry or huntable species, makes sense, as did the case for dead wild geese. I remember that in 1954 the suggestion was made by Members of both Houses that all wild birds should be protected and that their nests and eggs should also be protected. This was looked at with absolute horror by the Home Office. It would not have stood the slightest chance of being passed by either House. However, in 1967 that is exactly what we did, apart from the pest list. So far as shore waders are concerned, time has moved on and we should look at them again. I am very grateful to my noble friend and to all noble Lords who have spoken. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    6.13 p.m.

    Page 44, line 34, at end insert—

    ("Gull, Blackheaded Larus ridibundus").

    The noble Earl said: In moving this amendment I should like to declare an interest, in that I derive a small income from selling gulls' eggs. My purpose in putting down the amendment is to protect birds in wildlife reserves, particularly in Scotland where there are no laws of trespass.

    Some years ago I allowed the Scottish Wildlife Trust to use some 80 acres of marshland on Bemersyde as a nature reserve. That request was made to me because of the large variety of interesting birds to be seen there. Since then, most of those interesting birds—the rare ducks, the hooper swans, the Canada geese and so on—have vanished and ceased to nest upon the moss. They have been driven away not by the birdwatchers who come quietly and in small numbers and who take no eggs but by parties of men who come from neigh-bouring towns, armed with inflatable rubber boats to collect the eggs of the blackheaded gulls for market. These parties arrive in the early morning and remain out for most of the day. They have abused and threatened to assault my keeper. They do not dis- criminate between the kind of birds eggs that they rob and they rob them throughout the laying period.

    In terms of the Bill, landlords are likely to be the licensees for the taking of eggs of wild birds such as the blackheaded gull. In theory, anybody else without a licence would be debarred from doing so. So far as it goes, this is all right. A landlord should be allowed to include the market in gulls' eggs as part of his management programme for limited periods, designed to maintain the size of gulleries. It is far better than to have them reduced in size by over-exploitation, as is happening in many parts of Scotland. A modicum of culling will always be needed in the interests both of agriculture and of the other species which need space for nesting.

    It will be difficult to stop egg stealing because the laws of trespass in Scotland do not prevent access to wildlife reserves. As it is the access of unwanted visitors in great numbers which does harm to a reserve, it is the access which should be stopped. Anybody seeing a policeman coming over the horizon could simply throw his gulls' eggs into the water and be immune from the law. I cannot see many policemen giving much of their valuable time to wildlife protection so long as there is only a slim chance of a conviction to show for their time at the end of the day.

    Local collectors are sceptical about the chance of conviction. Strong penalties will be needed if they are to be deterred. A law which had escaped their attention referred to the taking of eggs on Sundays, but the last tim