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Wildlife And Countryside Bill Hl

Volume 416: debated on Monday 2 February 1981

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8.15 p.m.

House again in Committee, on Schedule 2.

[ Amendments Nos. 93 to 97 not moved.]

The noble Lord said: This amendment aims to cover the position of the jack snipe. What I want to do is to leave the jack snipe off Schedule 2, Part I, which lists those species which may be killed outside the close season. As noble Lords will know, the jack snipe is a tiny bird which is widespread as a breeding bird in parts of Northern Europe and Northern Asia, but it visits this country only as a visitor in the winter, when approximately 1,500 birds come to the United Kingdom; in other words, a very great deal fewer than some of the species which we were considering before the dinner break when we were talking in terms of 5,000, 6,000 or more winter visitors. On at least one of those species the noble Earl, Lord Avon, said that the Government accepted the position. So I am hopeful that we shall start off after dinner on a good note.

Because of its very small numbers, it seems to me that this should be a fully protected bird as it already is in parts of the EEC; for example, in Belgium, the Netherlands and West Germany. So far as I know—and the noble Earl will correct me if I am wrong about this—the only argument against protection for the jack snipe is the problem of confusion with the common snipe, which we were discussing last week and which in the close season is commonly shot by sportsmen. However, it seems to me, with my very limited experience indeed of the jack snipe, that it is quite easily distinguishable from the common snipe.

First, it gets up under one's feet, and in all the sporting books that I have looked at there are references to jack snipe being picked up by gun dogs, which hardly seems to commend it as a sporting bird. It does not fly in anything like the same way, it does not zigzag about and it will settle again much quicker than a common snipe. Of course, it also has different markings, apart from its much smaller size, which make it reasonably easy to distinguish. Certainly to people who are any good at distinguishing between one duck and another I should have thought this would present no problems. In any event, there are so few that they are very rarely come across. Therefore, I hope that the Government will agree to my amendment. I beg to move.

I support the noble Lord in this amendment. The jack snipe visits our shores fairly late in the year, and if you want a bird which is a difficult shot he is certainly not a bird worth shooting. Actually, I do not think he is a bird worth eating. You would need a devil of a lot of them to make a meal. I shall not waste the time of the Committee but simply say that I support the noble Lord.

I should like to support my noble friend on this amendment. He has never had much to do with jack snipes, but in Ireland they are quite common, though that does not affect this Bill at all. He mentioned the very different flight of the jack snipe. That is true. If you are going to shoot a snipe, you have to be pretty smart about it and shoot it as soon as it gets up. You might not have time to see how it would have flown if you had not shot it. It is so much smaller than the common snipe that I agree with my noble friend that there would be no excuse for shooting it by accident. In view of its scarceness in Britain, I should like to support the amendment.

The point about the flight of the jack snipe is that it is not snipe-like. In his description of Queen Elizabeth touring English country houses, P. G. Wodehouse described them as "snipe-like". But they were not "jack snipe-like".

So far as this particilar bird is concerned, I seem to be against the whole Committee. My information is that very little information exists on a highly secretive species, which makes counting difficult. I am advised that there is not a conservation case for removing this species from the list of birds which may be shot in the open season and that it is a traditional quarry species. Having said that, of course I take account of what all noble Lords around me have said. I am sure that the advisory bodies will, too. We will have another look at this particular bird.

I am very grateful to the noble Earl. The numbers which I have are compiled by reference to the county bird reports, which give them a fairly reasonable base of accuracy. The numbers were very small, compared with some of the other species we have been considering.

My figures range from 1,000 to 10,000. The killing figure is 400 and the "sell" figure is 100.

It is very helpful to have those figures from the noble Earl. I shall be able to compare them with my sources. We agree at the bottom end of the range. My figure at the bottom end is 1,000 but it only goes up to 1,500. Obviously the noble Earl knows more optimistic birdwatchers than I do. Upon the assurance that the Government will have a look at this point and refer it to the advisory committee, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

8.22 p.m.

moved Amendment No. 98:

Page 46, line 30, at end insert ("All birds included in Part II of this Schedule").

The noble Lord said: Your Lordships will be aware that Schedule 2 is divided into two parts. In Part I are the birds which may be killed outside the close season. In Part II are the birds which may be shot by authorised persons at all times. Part I consists of what might be called sporting birds, while Part II consists of the pest species which may be shot at all times but only by authorised persons. The extraordinary fact to me is that the pest species of birds in Part II may not be shot at any time by people who are not authorised, as defined in the Bill. By adding the words, "all birds included in Part II of this schedule", at the end of Part I, my amendment would have the effect of making it legitimate for birds on the pest list to be shot outside the close season by unauthorised persons.

I cannot understand how the Government could have any objection to it. The present situation seems to be quite extraordinary. It means that if a party of guns is out shooting duck—or, indeed, if they are out shooting shore waders, which they are allowed to do although I very much regret it—and one of the pest species gets up, they will not be allowed to shoot it. If you are out shooting woodcock and a wood pigeon flies overhead, you must not shoot the wood pigeon although you can shoot the woodcock. If you are out, in a misguided way, shooting curlew and the bar-tailed godwit and a bad pest species such as a jay or a magpie flies nearby, you cannot shoot the pest species.

I do not understand why this special protection is afforded to these noxious birds which do so much damage and take so many eggs from song birds and why the shooting of them is confined to authorised persons, who are then entitled to shoot them at any time of the year or to take their nests or their eggs. I w ill listen with great attention to what the noble Earl has to say, but it seems to me to be very contradictory. I hope that the noble Earl will consider my amendment favourably, and I beg to move it.

Surely the law of trespass enters into it. If you allowed unauthorised persons to shoot the pest birds in Part II, would it not mean that unauthorised persons could shoot them anywhere? Surely this is against the law of trespass, but perhaps I am wrong.

So far as that is concerned, it would mean only that an unauthorised person could shoot birds on that list in areas where he had the right to go. It is not going to justify him in trespassing anywhere. But in any places where he is entitled to go and shoot, despite not being authorised he is entitled to shoot the pest species.

This rather funny way of doing it is because of the European directive. I will try to explain. Under the present legislation, pest species may only be shot by authorised persons. This remains the case in the Bill. Although all species listed in both parts of the second schedule are species which may be shot, the circumstances in which they may be shot are fundamentally different. Part II species are birds which can cause damage, though not necessarily in many ways, and they are allowed to be shot by the people who are harmed by the damage caused—for example, the farmer and his employees. Part II effects a derogation under the birds' directive. That is a European directive and must therefore be so limited.

The species listed in Part I are abundant quarry species and, as provided by the same birds directive, may be shot in sporting circumstances. There is thus no restriction on who may shoot them, though this does not confer a right—this is the point which my noble friend behind me made—to enter other people's land without authority to shoot. It means that if you are out on a shoot, the farmer, or whoever has invited you to shoot, must be careful about which birds he tells you to shoot before you go out. He can make you an authorised person, so he has to list some of these pests in Part II which he wants shot when he allows you to go shooting. It is a nuisance, but it is one of the things which we have to comply with.

Will it work like that? The noble Earl spoke about the landowner authorising his guests to shoot a certain species, but there is nothing in the Bill which says that a person is authorised to shoot a particular species. Either somebody is an authorised person or he is not an authorised person. If he is an authorised person he can shoot any of the pest species. If he is not an authorised person he cannot shoot any of them. I find it almost unbelievable that only a specially authorised person can shoot a wood pigeon. The landowner may authorise people who come to a particular shoot. He can say to them, "For the day you are an authorised person. I authorise you". I think he has to say, "You can shoot any of these species", and he may add, "Please don't shoot my house sparrows because I rather like house sparrows". But I do not think he could authorise them to shoot a particular species.

I cannot help feeling that my noble friend may be making a little more of this than it warrants. When somebody was going to shoot on somebody else's land I think the normal practice would be for the person allowing him to shoot—in other words, making him an authorised person—to say, Go and shoot wood pigeon, and if you see a crow or a jay, you can have a shot at that, but for heaven's sake don't shoot at any hawks ". That would be fairly normal and I think it would meet the point that my noble friend is making.

I may be making heavy weather of it and of course a landowner will give instructions to his guns before any shoot. What stands out is that he can go and shoot bar-tailed godwits but he cannot shoot a starling or a wood pigeon. This is absolutely nonsensical, and although I would not dream of pressing the amendment to a Division I do not feel inclined to withdraw it.

On Question, amendment negatived.

[ Amendment No. 98A not moved.]

8.31 p.m.

Page 46, line 35, at end insert?—

("Dove, Stock Columba oenas").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 99 I should like to speak to Amendment No. 100 at the same time. The stock dove and the great black-backed gull have been regarded as pests and were so listed in the pest schedule, Schedule 2 of the Protection of Birds Act 1954. These birds have been omitted from the pest schedule under the new Bill and the purpose of the amendment is to have the birds listed in Schedule 2, Part II—the pest schedule—as they continue to be pests on a national scale. Why the Bill seeks to protect them by removing them from Schedule 2 and therefore ensuring that they can only legally be shot under licence, I do not understand. I assume that it is done to bring the United Kingdom legislation into line with the EEC bird directive. However, the black-backed gull continues to be unprotected in Denmark as well as in Germany and the stock dove and the collared dove in France. Under the Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife the gull is not protected, so there is no consistency in Europe at the moment on this point.

Therefore, I submit that there is absolutely no reason to protect these birds and I would just mention that wherever they appear they really are a nuisance, the gull particularly so. As many of your Lordships are aware, it is a predator of young lambs and young birds. The dove, of course, is a great eater of corn. It is very like a pigeon in all its habits and its behaviour and there is absolutely no decline in the population of doves. Why we should be asked to look after these birds and not put them in a category in which they can be destroyed, I just do not understand. I beg to move.

Taking the stock dove first, the question is whether it amounts to a pest. Clearly it is not a bird which needs special protection because there are approximately 100,000 pairs of birds in Great Britain. But generally its winter flocks are small, in the neighbourhood of 150, which is not too bad. It does not eat leaves. Basically it eats seeds as its main food and it is a marginal case. In the summer it eats a certain amount of ripe cereal grain but it still feeds mainly on weed seeds. It must not be confused with the woodpigeon which certainly does much more damage but I think that to put it down to the level of a pest is going too far. I think that under Clause 15 if there is a congregation of stock doves in a certain area which is doing damage it is perfectly easy to ring up and get permission to have a strafe.

Very much the same can be said of the great black-backed gull. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, that both these birds are marginal cases. Neither are things which would make me think it absolutely dreadful if this amendment was agreed to. I do not think it would be as had as that but I think it would be technically wrong. We have about 22,000 pairs of black-backed gulls, most of which are in Scotland. There are very few pairs on the East Coast of England and the adults are mostly sedentary. Their food consists of animal matter, including fish, crustacea, worms, molluscs, insects and all kinds of carrion. They kill adult and young seabirds and take young rabbits and rats. So far, so good. That they occasionally attack a lamb has been suggested. But that is true of many birds, and on the whole it is the weak lamb that is attacked and is probably going to die anyway.

I do not want to make too much fuss about this, but on the whole I oppose the lowering of these two species to pest level. I do not think it is necessary. I consider that we want the free shooting of pests to be limited to pests which are really pestiferous, and I do not think either of these can be called pestiferous at the present stage.

There may be a case for not including the stock dove but I certainly cannot agree with the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, that the great black-backed gull is not a pest. I have a home in the Inner Hebrides and I am beset with them. They are the most vicious predators. If we take the puffin, which is rather a rare bird, the puffin nests in a burrow and I have often watched the great black-backed gull going and sitting on top of the burrow and the moment the poor puffin gets out of the burrow the great black-backed gull clobbers him on the head and kills him. They are exceedingly vicious birds. It may be that there are only 22,000 pairs, but I can only say that a great number of those pairs must be round my estate. They are extremely bad predators and kill a lot of other birds, quite apart from the odd lamb, that I am not quite so concerned about. If it was a rare bird like a golden eagle, that would be welcome to many of my lambs, but not a great black-backed gull.

If I may reply briefly to the noble Viscount, my evidence is that a great many of them are in his area: 16,000 out of 22,000 are found in Scotland. My note also tells me that there is a certain tendency for great black-backed gulls to feed on puffins and shearwaters but that does not appear to affect populations. If the noble Lord put forward on aesthetic grounds that a puffin, like a nightingale, is something we do not want to see killed, I should be more persuaded; but that is not the line he was taking. There seem to be plenty of puffins. They are not unreasonably decreased by this. I do not think the noble Lord has made his case.

I rise as a simple countryman with some experience of both these birds. I do not think you can bracket the stock dove with the great black-backed gull. I do not propose to say anything about the stock dove. It is certainly not a pest in my part of Gloucestershire or the parts of Scotland I know well. The black-backed gull is an entirely different matter. It is not only in the Highlands of Scotland. They are art extremely strong bird and they are most voracious. It has been said that they will occasionally kill a weakling lamb. They will not only do that but if a hill ewe gets cast for any reason the great black-backed gull will come down and peck out her eyes while she is still alive. That has been known in many cases. It is a completely different kettle of fish, if I may mix my metaphors, from the dove. They are the most voracious bird and they do not only live in Scotland.

I happened to go to the Scilly Isles a couple of years ago, which I am not familiar with at all. I was kindly looked after by one of the Nature Conservancy wardens. I was impressed with the bird population, and I was particularly impressed with the bird population of the great black-backed gulls there. I said to the young gentleman who was in charge of these beautiful islands from the Nature Conservancy point of view, "That must be a bit of a problem". He said, "Yes it is. We are losing birds a great deal owing to this population of great black-backed gulls, but we are in a great difficulty about doing anything about it because the public who come to the islands do not like to see anything shot". I would strongly support the amendment that suggests that the great black-backed gull is a severe pest to many forms of wildlife around our coasts, and to our farm stock as well.

The great black-backed gull is a vicious powerful predator which will kill not merely a weakling lamb but a good thriving lamb, by sheer attack, while perhaps the mother is lying a bit weak after giving birth. They will take the eyes out of a lambing ewe, the tongue out of a lamb while it is being lambed, and they will go right through the frontal bone of a lamb to kill it. If they are allowed to multiply in an area they can cause great damage in the lambing field. To say that they take the occasional weakly lamb is a minimisation of their danger which nobody in the North of Scotland would accept.

There is one further point. After the vicious attack on the black-backed gull, I would love to be coming to its defence, but sadly I cannot. I must agree with my noble friend Lord Mowbray in tabling this amendment. I must say I am most curious as to the Government's figures, and indeed Lord Donaldson's figures, on the great black-backed gull, in fact on many of the birds that have been mentioned during the debates. How accurate one is to the nearest 1,000 birds I do not know, but I think one has to take the birds in the context of what damage they do. Certainly in the case of the great black-backed gull I do not think there is any doubt as to the extensive damage it can do. My information is that the bird is increasing and increasing fairly rapidly. The reasons, I am told, are the milder weather we are having and that they are undoubtedly extending their breeding grounds. Lord Donaldson mentioned the various foods that the black-backed gull tends to adhere to. Certainly lambs must be put on that list, and Lord Thurso has just mentioned what the gull can do to a lamb. I would certainly endorse that from my own experience. To watch a black-backed gull scouring the countryside almost indiscriminately killing whatever it wishes is a sight I have seen on a number of occasions, and I would for that reason give it no sympathy at all. I would hope the Government would consider changing their opinion on this one.

I, too, want to support this amendment on the great black-backed gull. We seem to be taking them both together. On the stock dove I have a pretty open mind. The "greater" denotes to me not only greater size but far greater voracious capacity. It is a really ruthless creature and if the lesser black-backed deserves a place on this list the great one does more so. Anyone who has watched these birds coming up a river valley in the spring in April and March to kill all the young ducks and any other small water fowl they can find will know what I mean. They are a really voracious predator. I can give one quick example. We owe quite a debt to Iceland for looking after all the many migratory ducks and geese that go there for the summer. The Icelanders get very little benefit from them because they all return here in the winter to take their chance on these shores. But the Icelanders look after them well, and one of the ways they look after them, at least until very recently when I was last there, was to put quite a large bounty on the head of all great black-backed gulls, which they see as the greatest threat to the breeding of the ducks in their country.

I think I had better speak to the two birds separately on this occasion. To start with the dove, the stock dove is not listed in the Bill on the advice once again of the advisory committee, the NCC and MAFF, who are all agreed it is not a nationwide pest. The species can harm man's interests in special situations or limited areas, and if a case is shown control will be permitted under an appropriate form of licence. The species is on the increase, but some 10 years ago the population was at a very low level following a dramatic and largely unexplained fall in their population in the middle and late 1950s. We will obviously keep this one under review. Bearing that in mind, I hope my noble friend will withdraw that amendment.

When I come to the great black-backed gull obviously feelings are running much higher. I should say about numbers that there have been no comprehensive surveys that we know of since 1969. My figures agree very much with Lord Donaldson's, and equally that the larger preponderance of them is in Scotland. It has been omitted from the Bill because it was considered to be relatively scarce. It is the scarcest of our long established breeding gulls and because it only creates local problems we thought it could be adequately catered for by licence. However, having listened to your Lordships this evening, the advisory committee will be reading this debate and if they do not change their minds all I can say is that I will be very surprised. With that qualification, I do not know whether my noble friend will be prepared to withdraw his amendment.

Before that amendment is withdrawn, may I say this. Such a very strong case has been correctly made out against the great black-backed gull that if it is allowed any measure whatever of protection it is merely an invitation to the breaking of the law. People will not put up with the depredations of a bird like this. So I suggest to my noble friend that this is rather a case for the Government to make up their minds, whatever advice they receive.

I thank my noble friend for that intervention. I have been saying all along that the advisory committee is the main body and, although we may pressurise them, I would still like to go to them in the spirit of this debate.

Is it the advisory committee which is pressurising the noble Earl or is it the noble Earl who is pressuring the committee?

I am most grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken on this amendment. As regards Amendment No. 99, I still regard the dove as a damn pest but I do not seem to have the support of the Committee. The noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, says that it is not to be confused with the woodpigeon which is a greater pest and I would not argue with the noble Lord on that score. I agree that he is not as great a pest as the woodpigeon and obviously, I shall not press Amendment No. 99.

However, I have been talking also to Amendment No. 100 and I really think that I should get from the Minister a more concrete expression of opinion than we have been given so far. Without any exception, all the Committee—even the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson—had to confess that the great black-backed gull is not a pleasant creature. I would like the noble Lord the Minister, before I agree to withdraw Amendment No. 100, to give me some more definite concrete expression of opinion. I am fairly happy and convinced that if we in this Committee were to advise the Government on Amendment No. 100, the House in Committee would probably advise the Government to carry my Amendment No. 100. So I would like something slightly stronger from the noble Lord if I am not to press Amendment No. 100. However, I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 99.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[ Amendment No. 99A not moved.]

Page 46, line 35, at end insert?—

("Gull, Great Black-backed Larus marinus").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 100. I should like to invite the Minister to reply to the comments which I made previously.

Before the noble Earl, Lord Avon, responds—if he is going to do so—I should like to say that it seems to me that the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray and Stourton, is being a little unfair on the Minister. After all, we have had a number of other debates where there has been a fairly unanimous view that birds ought to be moved from one schedule to another, or removed or added, and we have taken a line on all of those that it is reasonable for the Government to say that they would like to go away and consult the advisory committee, who I think a lot of us may feel have taken a wrong decision on a number of different birds and who the noble Lord, Lord Mowbray, obviously thinks have taken the wrong one on this. It is clear from this side of the Committee that we are not making any great argument about that. We would not think the case is as strong as some other noble Lords may think by any manner of means. Nevertheless, there is no great dissention.

It seems to me that, having on so many different individual birds agreed that the Government should be able to take the matter away and go to the advisory committee and look at it, it would be somewhat out of spirit with the rest of our proceedings for the noble Lord to ask for something more this time. After all, we could have taken that course on a whole range of individual birds and we would still be here in at least two months' time if we had insisted on getting a definite answer or dividing the Committee on every individual species. In an effort to speed up the proceedings of the Committee, certainly I and my noble friends have withdrawn all of our amendments on the basis of the assurance which the Government have given. I just did not want to see us get bogged down on one particular bird. It seems to me that there is such a degree of unanimity that the noble Lord need have no real fears about his amendment.

Before the noble Earl replies, I should like to respond to the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, whose interest and fairness in these matters I fully appreciate and am very grateful for. I do not want to make mischief, but I do not regard this particular bird as being a doubtful case. He is a predator who really is a damn nuisance, and I think that on that we are agreed. Providing my noble friend will give me a slightly more positive assurance that before Report he will be able to let me know something, I shall respond to the feelings of the Committee and not push the amendment. However, I want something slightly more positive about this particular gull than I have had so far.

Before my noble friend the Minister responds I should like to say that my name is down on the amendment. I feel much more strongly about it than my noble friend Lord Mowbray. I think that we are in great danger as a Committee—to answer the point the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, raised—of appearing to make ourselves very stupid in the eyes, certainly, of any agriculturist. This black-backed gull, as your Lordships have heard, is a vicious animal. It does not just take weakly lambs; it particularly likes sleepy full fat ones. If your Lordships let this go forward it will be not to the credit of your Lordships' Committee or because of our knowledge of birds. It does not need a second thought and it is no good putting it off until the Report stage. We shall be here until Christmas if everything is put off until the Report stage. I feel very strongly that this particular amendment should be agreed to.

If your Lordships are not prepared to follow the spirit in which we debated the other birds, it would probably be best to put the Question on the amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[ Amendments Nos. 100A and 101 not moved.]

Schedule 2, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 3 [ Birds which may be sold]

8.38 p.m.

The noble Earl said: I beg to move Amendment No. 102. In discussing this amendment, I should like also to speak to Amendments Nos. 103, 104 and 105, because they deal also with the same topic. Schedule 3, Part I, lists the native wild birds that may be the subject of trade and may also be exhibited competitively—that is to say on occasions such as agricultural shows. I do not want anyone to think that I am opposed to the hobby of aviculture. That is an interesting and rewarding hobby which frequently has a scientific spin-off and there have been considerable contributions to scientific ornithology from aviculturalists, particularly in the field of behaviour.

None the less, this schedule is important because it defines the scope of legitimate aviculture where our native birds are concerned. In putting forward this amendment which relates to the little owl and the other amendments that relate to the meadow pipit, the mistle thrush and the grey wagtail, I have taken note of the preliminary consultative paper put out by the Department of the Environment on 28th August last year in which paragraph 21 discusses the rationale for the inclusion of native wild bird species in this part of Schedule 3. That rationale was that the list should comprise only:

"Those species which are commonly bred in captivity and have self-sustaining populations in captivity".

I have been advised that there is not, in fact, any sound evidence to show that the little owl or the other three birds that I have mentioned—or indeed several other birds which are at present included on this list for which evidence is not forthcoming of a secure nature—satisfy these criteria; that is to say, to show indisputably that these birds can be said to breed "commonly" in captivity or to be capable of maintaining in captivity a population which can be said to be "self-sustaining". I wish to ask the Government whether these two aspects, which are clearly interrelated, are in fact the criteria for inclusion of native wild bird species on this list. If so, it seems clear that proof of such circumstances falls on the aviculturalists. It requires to be demonstrated that any bird species

included in this schedule satisfies the criteria which have apparently been put forward.

I believe that it is only fair to all parties concerned—aviculturalists, conservationists and straight bird lovers—to ask for an unambiguous statement on the nature of the evidence which would be taken as proof of the existence of a self-sustaining captive population and of "common" breeding in captivity. If such proof cannot be forthcoming in the case of the four bird species covered by my amendments, I would beg to move.

I think that this is a very important amendment and is one in which I tried to get involved a little earlier. The noble Earl quite rightly told me that it would be discussed now. I have nothing to add to the general statement which the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, has made, but I should very much like to know how the Government arrived at this list in Part I of Schedule 3 and what, if any, criteria were used to support claims of a breeding record.

There is very little quantitative information on the breeding of British birds in captivity. This is carried out on a small scale in private homes which do not keep records. I do not think that the people who are interested in breeding birds in their homes are the same sort of people who write articles in the papers and explain what they have done. The information is very limited. In papers such as Cage and Aviary Birds there have been some articles, but there has been nothing which includes evidence that this long list is in any sense self-supporting from a breeding point of view.

The British Birds Council has tried to collect figures as part of a programme to introduce coded rings into aviculture. I do not want to introduce that because it is not absolutely relevant to this amendment, but it is a very important point. However, these figures support the earlier statement that for many of the birds in Part I of Schedule 3 there is little or no evidence to show that they breed readily in captivity so as to maintain a self-sustaining population.

From the small amount of information that we and other wildlife conservation bodies have studied, it would appear that in addition to the four species which are the subject of the amendment of the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook—which amendment I fully support—there might be a good case for the removal of the blackbird, the reed bunting, the dunnock, the jay, the jackdaw, the rook, the starling, the song thrush, the twite, and the pied wagtail. These birds would be far better off the list than on it if there is no evidence that, in fact, they can sustain their populations by home breeding. I should like to support the amendment.

I am obliged to my noble friend Lord Cranbrook for moving this group of amendments together; I hope to follow him, but I shall deal with each of the species separately. I hope it will be the feeling of the Committee that that is satisfactory.

Amendment No. 102 seeks to remove the little owl from Schedule 3, Part I. As your Lordships are aware, this is a list of birds which may be sold alive at all times if bred in captivity and close ringed. The little owl may be exhibited, although I must confess that an owl show would be a rarity. These are known as the ABCR birds, meaning the aviary-bred and close-ringed birds, although it does not indicate that the birds were actually bred in an aviary. The equivalent schedule in the Protection of Birds Act 1954 is Schedule 4. This current list does not seem to have any rationale and appears to be a relic from the pre-1954 days when trapping was mainly legal.

The rationale behind the new list is that for a species to be placed thereon a self-sufficient captive population be demonstrated. As a corollary to listing, licences to take from the wild will be not issued except for occasional gene refreshment. Further species can be added when the criteria can be met. Both the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, and my noble friend Lord Cranbrook asked the Government what are the criteria. As I understand it, the position is that committees have looked at breeding records provided by aviculturalists. Emphasis was laid on the paucity of records and the lack of criteria. This was one of the problems, and I fully acknowledge that, and was a main reason why committees concerned in the Government gave the benefit of the doubt to the birds concerned. In some cases the figures were marginal, but they will be reviewed regularly. I do not know whether that satisfies both the noble Lords who spoke in this particular regard.

Except for the two species of owl listed in Amendment No. 102, the current list was drawn up on the advice of the advisory committees, together with the assistance of the records of the British Birds Council, the principal organisation of bird breeders and exhibitors. At present all owls are listed on the fourth schedule and the little owl was added in 1978. Only the little owl and the barn owl have been retained. The available evidence, particularly from zoos and breeders, strongly indicates that the species has a self-sustaining population in captivity. There is a considerable amount of trade in the species, though there is no evidence to suggest that this is being supported by illegal taking. The species, in common with other species of owls, breeds well in captivity. I hope that your Lordships will reject this amendment.

With regard to Amendment No. 103, where we deal with the meadow pipit, I explained, when speaking to the amendment of my noble friend Lord Cranbrook to remove the little owl from Schedule 3, Part I, of that list, that, with the exception of the owl, this has been drawn up on the advice of the advisory committees with the assistance of the British Birds Council. They have advised that the meadow pipit should be added, although they realise from records available that it was a borderline case. However, the records are incomplete and the council, as they admit, have some difficulty in getting people to submit returns, and of course the council is not a closed shop.

I can assure the Committee that we will keep the list under review for both additions and deletions of records, and more complete records will become available as a result of the provisions in Clause 6, which may show that breeding success is not being maintained or achieved at the necessary level. I hope your Lordships will reject that amendment. In regard to the mistle thrush and Amendment No. 104, the initial list, which was drawn up over a year ago, included the mistle thrush, and the reviews which have taken place since then have, in our view, justified the original position. I feel that your Lordships should reject this amendment as well.

May I say something to the noble Lord about the barn owl? As I understood it, he said that there was no evidence to suggest that the large trade which he rightly says there is in barn owls is being supported by birds taken from the wild. My understanding is that the BTO—the British Trust Ornithology ringers—regularly find young barn owls in nests with rings on them, which demonstrates that somebody has gone along to the nest and put a ring on a wild bred bird, so that later he can go and take the bird, put it in an aviary at home and sell it. I would suggest that there is some considerable evidence, at least in the case of that bird, which is the one, so far as I know, in which there is the biggest trade, that birds are illegally taken from the wild.

The noble Lord, Lord Melchett, is adding to the body of evidence in the most valuable way. As my noble friend Lord Avon has suggested, the advisory committee will be reading this debate and his comments will be part of the record. I am afraid I cannot give any comment at this stage, but I should continue with my noble friend's Amendment No. 105 in regard to the grey wagtail. The grey wagtail was a relatively late addition to the list. When this list was first drawn up the species was considered not to fulfil the criteria, but the latest records suggest inclusion at least for the present is justified. The list will be under review, and should the current position not be maintained, then the species will be removed from the list. I ask my noble friend to withdraw his amendment, and the remainder.

May I pick up one small point that the noble Lord the Minister made. I do not know whether it was a Freudian slip or not, but it is certainly worth correcting. In his first speech on this subject the noble Lord said that he was giving the benefit of the doubt to the birds. He is not giving the benefit of the doubt to the birds; he is giving it to the bird fanciers, and that is a different thing entirely.

The noble Lord is quite right. It was a slip of the tongue, and I apologise to the Committee.

The noble Lord has taken up my point. I do not wish to repeat it, but slips of the tongue are always rather a help. This may be sentimental and foolish, and even rather ignorant because this is not a world I know intimately—I know nobody who breeds blackbirds, for example—but I think it is awful to think that the blackbird (the bird in my garden which is, on the whole, musically, probably the best thing in the whole of nature, including the nightingale) should be caged and made to breed. I am against the whole idea.

I do not know how I can support the noble Earl in his Motion, because I am too ignorant to say that it matters if you take a pair of jays and cage them and breed them. It seems to me a most extraordinary thing to do, and undesirable, but it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what is wrong with it. I do not know whether the noble Earl can help me. I feel much more strongly about this than I am able to express because my ignorance is such as to the people who do this sort of thing. But this list of birds, it seems to me, as opposed to canaries and budgies, which have a long history of confinement, would be better not there at all. I do not know whether the noble Earl can help me at all.

I apologise for bothering the noble Earl with my views, but I have sympathy with the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson. My sympathy is actually with my friend the pied wagtail. The pied wagtail, that splendid little black and white chap, is never seen except stumping up and down the lawns. He is absolutely energetic, and he loathes being contained. These birds have to strut and march up and down and it is a beautiful sight to behold. I am happy to have so many at my home in Scotland. The idea of a pied wagtail, either single or as a pair, in a cage is absolutely incomprehensible. How they can be happy in such an environment I do not know, since their whole happiness is stomping up and down. I raise that point purely as a query, even though it is not relevant to the amendment.

I do not altogether share the attitude of the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, and my noble friend Lord Mowbray and Stourton, because the aim of the schedule, as the Minister clearly pointed out, is to establish that there is a self-sufficient captive population; that is, that they are birds that are bred into aviculture, caged birds born and bred—" laid and bred "I had better say—and are as cage-trained as canaries. I do not wish to discredit the field of aviculture, which attracts a great many people but which clearly must be legitimised, and as I said at the outset, the purpose of the schedule, as I understand it, is the legitimise the practices of aviculture where our native bird species are concerned.

I note that the best the Minister could do to illuminate the criteria to us was more or less to paraphrase the words 1 used; he referred to a self-sufficient captive population which was permitted to have occasional gene refreshment under licence, which means to say that from time to time one may get a licence to add another wild bird to it. Several noble Lords, including the Minister, referred to the difficulties that exist in obtaining hard facts to substantiate this point. If we look around the United Kingdom and ask if we have a self-sustaining breeding population, we obtain proof or disproof by a simple census. I believe that the aviculturists should themselves respond by bringing forward the information they have to demonstrate that there is a censusable, irrefutable, self-sufficient, captive population so that there need be no dispute that the wagtail or blackbird in the cage was laid there, hatched there and comfortable in what is regarded as a secure and wholly environment. I do not wish to press this to the point where the Committee must decide whether to accept or reject the amendment and I shall therefore, with leave, withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[ Amendments Nos. 103, 104 and 105 not moved.]

Page 47, line 33, at end insert—

("Dove, Collared Streptopelia decaocto").

The noble Lord said: We now come to Part II of Schedule 3 and a very short list of those birds which may be sold at all times if they are dead. The only birds on this list are the feral pigeon and the wood pigeon. My amendment would add one more species to that list, namely the collared dove, another member of the pigeon family.

I need not go in to the extraordinary history of the collared dove and its remarkable spread over the whole of Europe and finally to these islands. The fact that it appears among the pest species in Schedule 2(II) makes it unnecessary for me to emphasise the amount of damage it does in the eating of grain, particularly harvested grain. Having shot a few of them, I can speak from experience as to their edibility; they are every bit as nice, even nicer perhaps, to eat as wood pigeon, yet for some strange reason the collared dove does not appear in Schedule 2(II).

If I am an authorised person and therefore allowed to shoot collared doves, then obviously I can eat them myself. Apparently, however, I cannot sell them to anyone who is prepared to put them on the market. That seems remarkable, and since it is clearly to everyone's advantage that the collared dove population should be greatly reduced, the sale of the species dead should be permitted, and that is the purpose of the amendment.

I should like to ask why the whole of Schedule 2, Part II is not included in Schedule 3, Part II, which would be remarkably more simple? I am not suggesting that there would be a wide market in dead crows throughout the United Kingdom, but I do not see that there is any need for a market in order for selling to be allowed. With regard to all the birds which may be killed or taken by authorised persons at all times, is there any reason why they should not be sold dead at all times? Would not that produce a small simplification in what is a complicated series of schedules?

I cannot possibly imagine that the selling of a wood pigeon in captivity would be allowed. Would not that be one of the corollaries of what the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, is asking for?

No, the noble Lord misunderstood me. I am suggesting that it should be permissible for all the birds listed in Schedule 2, Part II—those are the birds which may be killed or taken by authorised persons at all times—to be sold dead at all times, as dealt with in Schedule 3, Part II. I am not suggesting they should be sold alive.

I should like to make a small point with regard to fishing. Many of these birds may be sold to provide feathers for fly tying—in particular the jay and the magpie.

I fear that I must resist the amendment. Inclusion of the collared dove in Part II of Schedule 3 would be contrary to the European Community directive. However, under the licensing provisons of the Bill as drafted, licences could be issued to allow some sale of dead specimens of the species—which is what the noble Lord inquired about—if justification for such sale can be given, and subject of course to the normal consultation procedures outlined during the Second Reading by my noble friend Lord Bellwin and others.

I do not wish to detain the Committee any longer—perhaps the noble Lord will write to me—but I should like him to explain, if lie can, the thinking behind the European Convention which allows us to make rules providing that these 12 birds may be killed by authorised persons at all times, but may not be sold dead at all times. No doubt there is a reason for that, and I hope the noble Lord will write and tell me what the reason is—but the imagination boggles.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, for his intervention. Exactly the same point has occurred to me. I believe that there is a market for many of the species listed in Schedule 2, Part II. The jay and the magpie, though none of us like them very much, are very handsome birds, and many taxidermists are glad to get hold of a dead magpie. Indeed, I understand that quite a number are gathered up from the motorways after accidents. I do not see why an authorised person, if he shoots a magpie, should not take it along to a taxidermist and get £10 or £12 for it, if that is the going price; I do not know what the price is. I was thinking of putting down an amendment of the very type that the noble Lord on the Liberal Front Bench has proposed, but I decided that the proposal would stand a better chance of acceptance if I confined it to the species that most concerned me.

I must say that I am disappointed by the response of the noble Lord, Lord Sandys, to my proposal. These birds gather in enormous quantities, and I have been out and shot 20 or 30 of them at a granary. I took them home, put some of them in the deep freeze, and gave some of them to friends. If one is entitled to go out and shoot the birds, put them in the deep freeze, or give them to friends, I cannot understand why one cannot take them to a poulterer, if one so wishes, and let him sell them. I think it is very extraordinary, and I do not understand the working of the European Economic Community or of the noble Lord, Lord Sandys, but in view of the fact that it has been resisted by the Government I have no real alternative but to beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

It is rather like the question of ladies' hats, some of which have jay feathers in them. They are very attractive, but, of course, ladies' fashions are always changing, especially in their hats.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I have to point out to the Committee that if Amendment No. 107 is agreed to I cannot call Amendments Nos. 108, 109 or 109A.

moved Amendment No. 107:

Page 47, leave out from beginning of line 37 to end of line 8 on page 48, and insert—


All birds included in Part I of Schedule 2.").

The noble Lord said: This is an amendment rather along the lines of the one that the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, has just suggested for Part II of Schedule 3. We now move on to Part III of that schedule, which is a list of birds that may be sold dead from 1st September to 28th February. Two points are included in this amendment, the first of which I touched upon in an earlier amendment. It is that Part III of Schedule 3 is headed "Dead from 1st September to 28th February", but the close season is different for different species, and the close season may be changed by future orders of the Secretary of State. It therefore seems to me preferable that that schedule should he headed simply, "Dead outside the Close Season" rather than giving any particular dates.

The second point is that at present we have in Part III of Schedule 3 a list of birds which may be sold, and this differs in a rather incomprehensible manner from the birds which may be killed or taken during the same period, which are set out in Part I of Schedule 2. For the most part the two lists are the same, but, for instance, I notice that all the waders included in Schedule 2, Part I, are omitted on this occasion, but the coot, for instance, is included in this list although I cannot imagine that there is much of a market for coots. Therefore, my proposal is that the Bill should be simplified by having the same list of species in Part III of Schedule 3 as in Part I of Schedule 2. That is what my amendment would achieve, and I beg to move it.

I rise to support the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, most strongly in this amendment as far as the second part of it is concerned—that is, the words, "All birds included in Part I of Schedule 2". I see the difficulty about the first part. If you happen to shoot several mallard on 31st January and you wish to sell them, it would be very difficult to sell them legally, and even more difficult for the game dealer who bought them on the evening of 31st January to dispose of them again that night. Therefore, I think there are advantages in giving 28th February as the closing date.

But, so far as the actual birds are concerned, I believe—in fact I know, because it was earlier on this afternoon and I was in my place here—that someone was extolling the virtues of the prohibition on the sale of dead wild geese. All I can say is that, so far as Scotland is concerned, that has been an absolute disaster. No one will now shoot these geese. They are becoming a menace in many parts of Scotland. You cannot afford to shoot them for you cannot sell them and cartridges are getting extremely expensive. When I was convenor of the Scottish Landowners' Federation we had a great many complaints from tenant farmers saying that their landlords would not shoot these geese and how much damage the geese were doing to their spring grass; not so much to their barley or winter wheat but particularly to their grass; and that it was impossible to interest anyone in shooting them because of the cost of cartridges and the fact that you are not able to sell the geese when you have shot them. It seems to me that it is almost criminal not to make use of perfectly good meat protein when you have acquired it; and the prohibition on the sale of dead wild geese has done just that.

I refuse to believe that either the greylag or the pinkfoot are at all rare. There are, certainly, in many parts of Scotland, enormous numbers of them which have increased substantially as a result of the prohibition on the sale of them since 1964 or whenever it was introduced.

I would support the suggestions of the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, so far as the sale of birds listed in Part I of Schedule 2 is concerned. I do not imagine it would make much difference to the curlew. I agree, having listened to the earlier discussion, that it is a pity that one can still shoot curlews. I do not think many people do so. I was also interested in why you are not allowed to sell a gadwall. To my knowledge, I have not eaten a gadwall but, so far as I know, it has a perfectly reasonable taste, unlike the tufted duck, which you can sell. It ought to be legal to sell a gadwall if you have shot it in season. I support Lord Kilbracken. I hope that the Government will consider his amendment seriously.

I am afraid I disagree with the noble Duke and with my noble friend on this amendment. No doubt the noble Lord, Lord Sandys, or whoever is going to respond, will deal with the problems which I think it would give rise to so far as the EEC directive is concerned. My own feeling is that a number of these species in Schedule 2, Part I, could be killed in large numbers were there a commercial market for them; and that would be undesirable. More than that, I think it would not he something welcomed by most wildfowlers. There is a danger, if some of these duck and geese and other species are shot or killed in very large numbers that it would bring the sport of wildfowling (which is not about shooting huge numbers of duck and geese) into disrepute and it would not reflect well on those who have this sport at heart. That was one of the reasons why this sort of prohibition on the sale of certain species was first introduced. My information is that it has worked very well since, and I would hope that, in this respect, the Government will leave the Bill as drafted.

The noble Lord has said that the prohibition on the sale of dead wild geese has worked very satisfactorily. There seems to be a theory in this committee that it has; but so far as Scotland is concerned it has been considered an absolute disaster.

We have had an interesting discussion on these two amendments. Perhaps T may lead into my reply to Amendments Nos. 107 and 108 by referring to the noble Lord's previous amendment, No. 106. The question of our obligations under the EEC directive is really fundamental to the whole argument. I should like to remind the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, of the position within the EEC and why it is in its present state. The French and the Italians see no hope of stopping the shooting of pigeons and wood pigeons, so they control the sale.

Returning to the present amendments before the Committee, Schedule 3, Part III, as drafted, meets our obligations in regard to the sale of dead birds under Annexe 3 to the European Community directive and retains existing prohibitions on the sale of those species of geese contained in the existing protection of birds legislation which will allow them to be hunted.

The United Kingdom negotiated long over these Community sale prohibitions in the directive, which were in one sense the price paid for the adoption of the very valuable new level of protection of birds throughout the European Community which this directive confers. The amendment would, if it were not anyway undesirable for these reasons, result in the confusing situation where for the definite period of 1st September to 28th February was substituted a different close season for each bird, which is really the main substance of the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken. We recognise the situation that he has outlined, but there are greater arguments brought about by our obligations under the European Community directive.

I have listened carefully to what the noble Lord, Lord Sandys, has said and I shall read it even more carefully tomorrow. I find it extraordinary how often we are told that we have to take a cue from what has been done in the European Community. Stories that I have heard about the way birds are treated in Europe lead me to believe that they are slaughtered right, left and centre by French and Italian sportsmen; yet we are suddenly told that we have to model our own ideas on what goes on in France and Italy. That does not make sense to me at all.

I was very grateful to the noble Duke for the support that he gave to my amendment. I am sorry that my noble friend Lord Melchett could not do likewise. I should like to point out to him that my amendment has the merit of simplifying the schedules by having the same lists. It would merely mean that the geese would be included in Part III of Schedule 3. We have the recommendation of the noble Duke that their sale should be permitted. There are then the waders, and I cannot believe that tens of thousands of curlew and redshank are going to come on to the market. If they did, no one would buy them. There is also the gadwall, which is a relatively common duck. I do not know why it should not be sold just as freely as the tufted duck, the mallard, the pintail, or the pochard. My amendment has merit but, apart from the noble Duke, it has had no support from the Committee. Therefore, regretfully, I must ask leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[ Amendments Nos. 108 and 109 not moved.]

had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 109A:

Page 48, leave out line 5.

The noble Lord said: I shall speak on this amendment very briefly because I have already spent some time on the jack snipe, and the Government have very kindly said that they will consider the points that I have made. I simply want to put on the record that there is a separate case to be made for removing the jack snipe from Part III of Schedule 3. Even if the jack snipe is not removed from Part I of Schedule 2 (which is what I was suggesting in my earlier amendment), there is at least as strong a case for removing it from Schedule 3, Part III, which would allow it to be sold. Having said that, given that the Government are considering my earlier amendment, which is the major one, it will speed matters up if I do not move this amendment.

On Question, Whether Schedule 3 shall stand part of the Bill?

9.40 p.m.

There are two points I want to raise on Schedule 3. Part I of that schedule, as we know, lists birds or species which may be sold alive at all times if ringed and bred in captivity. There are one or two species I should like the Government to think about before Report stage, if they cannot give an answer immediately. I would refer first to the capercaillie, which was mentioned on Second Reading by the noble Lord, Lord Burton, as being a species that he personally raised in order to release later as gun birds. It seems to me that if people are raising birds such as the capercaillie, which are not game birds within the meaning of the Bill, there must be a market for them and people should be allowed to sell them. Then there is the quail, which is not on the list. I believe that quail are raised in captivity as poultry and they are very much valued and very delicious to eat. I ate a couple in a Chelsea restaurant the other night.

Finally, it occurs to me that Schedule 4 sets out a long list of birds that may be kept in captivity, including almost all the hawks and falcons, and although they may be kept in captivity they do not appear on this list of birds which may be sold. That seems to me rather surprising because we all know there is a very important market in hawks and falcons; yet they are not included in the list of birds which may be sold. Perhaps the noble Lord would like to look into that before we come to the Report stage.

Before my noble friend replies, I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, that he may have eaten a quail in Soho, but I very much doubt whether he has eaten a capercaillie.

I ate two quail, and I doubt whether I could eat even a small part of a capercaillie.

I listened with interest to the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, for consideration on Schedule 3 before Report stage. I note all that he said in regard to the capercaillie and the quail. For Schedule 3, Part I, we have introduced a new principle that birds which may be shown or sold alive must only be those that breed readily in captivity. That has reduced the list by half, but we believe it will be an incentive to agriculturalists and bird fanciers to co-operate in breeding programmes which will allow more and more species to be ncluded in Schedule 3. A corollary of inclusion is that licences to take further birds of these species would normally only be given for gene replenishment and on the advice of agricultural experts.

Schedule 3 agreed to.

Schedule 4 [ Birds which must he registered and ringed if kept in captivity]:

Page 48, leave out lines 36 to 40 and insert—

("Hawks Accipitridae").

The noble Lord said: I put down this amendment simply because the present entry in Schedule 4 is quite unnecessarily complicated. This is a list of birds which must be registered and ringed if kept in captivity. Most of the entries refer to a single species with its scientific name. However, for reasons which are not immediately clear to me, in some cases, and in particular in the case of falcons and what are called true hawks, column two does not give the name of a particular species but the name of the entire genus. So all crossbills and all divers must be registered if kept in captivity, and so on. When we come to hawks, it is found necessary to say true hawks, except old world vultures, and then the schedule gives the name of the genus accipitridae, except for certain families.

All the birds on this list are visitors to these islands, and it is unnecessary to complicate the Bill by putting in the names of a lot of old world vultures, although they are accipitridae. The only two species of vulture that have occurred in Britain are the Egyptian vulture and the Griffon vulture, but they have appeared only very occasionally as vagrants, and I do not see any need to take them into account. Of the other genera that are included in the exceptions none has ever appeared in Britain, so there is no point at all in including them. All one needs, instead of those five lines, are the two words included in my amendment. I beg to move.

I greatly admire the way in which the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, leads us through these very difficult names of species, and it is a matter of regret that I rise to oppose the amendment. It has never been our intention to include true hawks or, to give them their other name, old world vultures, in Schedule 4 as birds which must be registered and ringed if kept in captivity. These birds are neither indigenous to the United Kingdom, nor do they at any time in their life-cycle resemble the hawks which are resident here. I submit that their inclusion in Schedule 4 would serve no useful purpose. Accordingly, I ask your Lordships to reject this amendment.

The noble Lord seems to have misunderstood what I am getting at. I know that there is no point in including old world vultures in this schedule, but nor is there any point in including all kinds of foreign birds that are not known in Britain. In every other case, the species listed are birds that have occurred in the British Isles and I do not know why, suddenly, with hawks we have to say "except old world vultures", when they have not occurred in Britain, except in two cases as very rare vagrants. You might as well include ostriches, emus or any species you like. I am not saying that old world vultures should be kept in captivity here. I am saying that there is no reason to have them in this list and that it is quite unnecessary. However, it is no more than a drafting point and I do not want to make anything more of it. Perhaps the noble Lord will have another look at it. But, whether he does or not, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Speaking in political terms, I am all in favour of keeping hawks in captivity, but I do not like the way in which noble Lords have been regarding doves as pests.

Before the amendment is done away with, can the Minister tell me what would be the position—

I think that the noble Lord who moved the amendment has, in fact, asked leave to withdraw it.

I begged leave to withdraw it, but the Committee has not yet agreed to that.

May I go on? I was asking whether the Minister, in winding up or later, could tell me the position of zoological gardens, because this must create a lot of work for them, perhaps unnecessarily. Has that point been considered in drawing up this schedule?

To reply to my noble friend Lord Craigton, I am afraid I do not have the information before me. The noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, will perhaps be interested to know that, at their meeting on 29th January, the advisory committee said that many people would be unaware that the term "true hawks" would include birds such as eagles. They recommend that this should somehow be made clear in the schedules, and this is being considered.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[ Amendment No. 111 not moved.]

On Question, Whether Schedule 4 shall be the fourth schedule to the Bill?

May I point out that the hoopoe's correct name is not Upapa but Upupa and also that the serin appears to be out of alphabetical order?

Schedule 4 agreed to.

Clause 9 [ Protection of certain wild animals]:

[ Amendments Nos. 112 and 113 not moved.]

9.51 p.m.

moved Amendment No. 114:

Page 10, line 39, after (" destroys ") insert (" or prevents entry into ").

The noble Lord said: In putting down this amendment to include the words "or prevents entry into" I was thinking of the otter holt as an example. Normally there are two entrances to the holt, one being a hole in the field above it and the other from the side. If one or both of the entries is closed with a log or a similar obstruction which a man can remove, how can that be said, in the words of the Bill, to be damaging or destroying the place used for shelter and into which entry has been prevented by the log? I beg to move.

I have a certain amount of sympathy with the intention behind the amendment. To prevent entry into a place which is used by a protected animal for shelter or protection could be just as damaging to that animal as if the shelter or place were damaged or destroyed, but it may not be sufficient purely to prevent entry. If my noble friend will be good enough to withdraw the amendment, I shall look into it further.

I thank my noble friend very much and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

moved Amendment No. 115:

Page 10, line 39, after ("destroys") insert ("or renders uninhabitable").

The noble Lord said: This is the first amendment to protect bats, about which I feel very strongly. There are later amendments to protect them in other ways, but each of my four amendments stands on its own feet and is a separate provision. The Bill is good news for bats. Certainly it will be if my amendment is accepted.

Bats roost and breed in barns, outbuildings, churches and many similar places which are not dwelling-houses. Under Clause 11(2) it is illegal to set any poisonous substance with which the bat can come into contact. One of the greatest risks to bats is from the chemical fluids used in the treatment of woodworm. The lindane and dieldrin fluids not only remain lethal for many years, but at the slightest touch of the treated wood the bat drops dead. So if the owner of an old barn wants to preserve the deteriorating timbers by treating them with one of these fluids and if by doing so he kills a complete colony of bats, can he, if charged, not with truth say that he was not destroying or damaging the place used for shelter by the bats? In fact, the reverse was the case; he was putting it right. But he would have rendered that place uninhabitable for bats, and those are the words which I seek to insert.

Finally, whatever the decision on this amendment—and I hope that this or something like it will be accepted —I look to the Government to take positive action on this Bill when it is enacted. The manufacturers of these lethal fluids should be forbidden now to market them for buildings without explicit instructions and warnings on the label about the danger to bats, and I suggest that they should be given, say, three years to find a safe alternative that is not lethal to bats. Advice could be given in technical journals on the wisdom of pre-treating new roof timbers. I beg to move.

I should like, briefly and strongly, to support the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, in the purpose behind this amendment. This is a desperately serious problem. Bats are not everybody's most popular animal but they deserve to be; they do nothing but good for human beings in the insects which they consume and the occasional additional loft insulation which their droppings supply! They are completely harmless, and do not do anything to live up to the ridiculously bad image they have—and they are suffering appallingly at the moment.

As I understand it, about 100,000 buildings are treated annually in the way described by the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, and tens of thousands of bats have died or have suffered sub-lethal effects as a result of this treatment, which of course has seriously disrupted their breeding. In this country we have two species of bats already protected. The greater horseshoe bat has been under continuous pressure ever since it was listed, and, as I understand it, the other bat on the schedule has recently become extinct in this country. We are really facing very serious problems, so I hope that both this amendment and some other amendments which are designed to help bats will receive a favourable response.

I also rise in defence of bats. In regard to this Bill, all bats are in Schedule 5 and it is clearly the intention of the Bill to protect bats. The one point to stress initially is the importance of artificial roosting sites for bats. This country, in its unnatural, deforested state and rendered uninhabitable for bats largely by the intrusive presence of man, none the less can carry some benefits to bats in so far as those parts of the houses in which men do not live are in many cases highly advantageous as bat homes, and it is to such parts of houses that the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, was referring.

I am fascinated by my noble friend's affection for bats, and indeed others expressed the same feeling. I wish I could say that my own feelings were of equal generosity with theirs and when the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, says that they really do not do any harm to human beings, try asking a lady what she thinks when she gets a bat in her hair. However, that is only a slight digression. I am grateful to my noble friend for what he has said about this amendment, and I should like to have an opportunity to consider this again further.

My initial reaction is to feel that there are not many ways of rendering a structure or a place uninhabitable which are not covered by the words "damages or destroys". I think my noble friend was anxious to broaden it a little; I should like to see whether in fact the wishes which he has expressed are not covered by the words in the Bill. I think that they are.

If the noble Earl paints his own roof to cure the woodworm I am sure he would not like his wife to say that he is either damaging the roof or destroying it.

Before my noble friend withdraws the amendment, it may be that it may not destroy or damage the roof of the house but it might destroy or damage the breeding place of the bat.

If the noble Earl can assure us, after he has taken advice, that to give this sort of treatment to the roof would be prohibited within the Bill, that would be a major advance. My own inclination is to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, that at the moment it is not covered and should be. But it would not need very much to meet the point.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[ Amendment No. 116 not moved.]

moved Amendment No. 117:

Page 10, line 40, leave out ("shelter or protection") and insert ("shelter, protection or breeding").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 117, and with it goes No. 118 which is simply consequential drafting. This is really a probing amendment. I imagine that in almost every case "a place used for shelter or protection" would include and subsume within it a place used for breeding. The only example I can think of I do not think is relevant, but my knowledge of natural history is so limited that it is only because I do not know enough about it that I could not think of a better example. The example I have thought of is the large blue butterfly, which is, alas, thought to be extinct in this country although it is a protected species under the Conservation of Wild Plants and Wild Creatures Act. If the large blue larvae were taken by ants into the ant hole and the ants took them there for the purpose of consuming them, and the large blue larvae got their own back and fed off the ants and blossomed into butterflies, it seems to me that the ant hole might be a place used for breeding but could hardly be a place used for shelter or protection, given the purpose for which the ants had taken them in the first place. I know it is a little far-fetched. But I wonder whether the noble Earl can assure me that "shelter or protection" would include anywhere also used for breeding, which would make my amendment unnecessary.

If the noble Lord wishes me to say that the words in the Bill cover ants taking butterfly larvae down into their holes, I am bound to say I would have to take advice on that. My understanding is that "shelter or protection" adequately covers breeding in so far as breeding is one of the uses to which a structure or place may be put when used for shelter or protection. Of course, it then depends on what one means by breeding—copulation or birth or aftercare. If you are going to include in that the possibility of being removed into an ant hole, it is possible these words may not cover all those effects. But my understanding is that the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, is quite serious in wishing to know whether the words in the Bill cover that which he seeks to ensure. My understanding and my advice is that they do, but I will look further at it and make quite certain that it is so. If it is not so, I will take remedial action at the next stage.

I am very grateful to the noble Earl. I think he has answered my point. My example was not a relevant one, but the only thing I could think of. If he would let me know if my purpose is not met, I would be very grateful: otherwise I will assume that it is, to save him writing unnecessary letters. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[ Amendment No. 118 not moved.]

Page 11, line 3, at end insert—

("( ) Any person who uses a cold harpoon in the killing or taking of any whale shall be guilty of an offence.").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 119, which is to make it an offence, by an insertion at page 11, line 3, for any person to use a cold harpoon in the taking or killing of any whale, I have obtained the agreement of the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, that, if it is to the convenience of the Committee, I may at the same time speak to Amendments Nos. 142, 145, and 191, which in reality seem to me to be consequential on Amendment No. 119. I find it difficult to understand why there is no provision in the Bill for a penalty for using the cold harpoon in the taking or killing of whales. I shall cover the cruelty aspect of that action in a moment. But first may I say that if the Bill, as we have been told it does, brings our legislation in this country into line with the policies of our friends in Europe, it would seem to me that in many respects it is lacking. Let me give a further example of why I make that statement.

We are told that Clause 9 is framed so as to be consistent with the requirements of Article 6( a), ( b), ( c) and ( e) of the Berne Convention and the Berne Convention makes specific reference to the deliberate killing, disturbance and possession of and trade in protected animals. It is my opinion that for many years there has been a great deal of controversy over the taking and killing of whales. I do not consider that the Bill as presently drafted affords sufficient protection for these animals or cetaceans. As a result of man's greed they are hunted for their products in the most cruel circumstances. That is widely accepted, I would suggest, by international opinion, and that is why I should like to make reference to Amendment No. 142 at page 49, line 36, where I propose the insertion of the words:

"Cetaceans, all those in British waters"—

that is to say, whales—in Schedule 5 dealing with "Other animals which are protected". There is no sanctuary in the Bill for the protection of whales. This Bill when enacted is intended to bring us more or less in line with international opinion, about which I shall have something more to say in a moment, and I think it is important that whales should be protected by the insertion of Amendment No. 142.

I have spoken about the cruel use of the cold harpoon and the reason why, under Amendment No. 119, I seek to make it an offence if it is used. It is abhorrent to me that the cold harpoon should be used, and I have always held that view. But do not let your Lordships consider just my opinion—let us consider the opinion of others. To reinforce what I have to say on this matter I refer your Lordships to a report of the committee set up by the International Whaling Commission, whose terms of reference were to report back to the commission on the various methods in use at the present time of killing whales.

A gentlemen on that committee of 20 went into the question of the killing of whales and alternative methods that might be used. In a report of some 14 pages, which was completed on 26th November last year, their conclusions were that the use of the cold harpoon in the killing and taking of whales was unacceptably cruel because it was difficult to kill and render the animal unconscious instantly. The gentlemen on that committee which reported to the International Whaling Commission came from different countries—this country, Norway, Japan, and the United States of America.

That brings me to Amendment No. 191, by which I seek to secure at page 50 of the schedules the protection of "All cetaceans"—whales—"in British waters" under Schedule 6 as:

"Other creatures which may not be killed or taken by certain methods".

It also reinforces the argument which I have already adduced and spoken to in respect of Amendment No. 142. But if we are not satisfied with the arguments which I have already stated, what other facts exist to support the amendments which I have tabled? As I have stated, an international committee has already reported to the International Whaling Commission, and I have given your Lordships information about the findings of that committee.

There are a number of other factors which I should like to mention. First, there is the action taken by Norway two years ago, long before the report of the committee to which I have referred was published. It was in 1979 that the Norwegian Government imposed restrictions on the use of the cold harpoon by making it a condition that immediately after a whale was hit by a cold harpoon, a large calibre rifle should be fired in order to kill the whale instantly.

At this stage I can do no more in moving the amendments than refer to a Question which I asked the Government at column 665 of Hansard of 28th July 1980, where I referred to the use of the cold harpoon as a totally abhorrent and inhuman activity. It was a Question which raised some interest from other noble Lords who asked supplementary questions in your Lordships' House and who sought information from the Government and their opinions on this issue. What is particularly interesting is the Government's reply made by my noble friend Lord Sandys at column 666 of Hansard of the same date to a question pursued by the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, who was speaking about the failure to agree at the International Whaling Commission, which had been sitting in London at that time.

In reply to the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, my noble friend Lord Sandys had this

to say:

"My Lords, while agreeing with the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, that a number of decisions were highly unfortunate in their results, especially the failure to secure the ban on commercial whaling and, further, to secure a total ban on the cold harpoon, what the Government intend to do is to continue to pursue their policies and to ensure that these items, which are to be set forward in the agenda for the meeting in July next year, are promoted with as much vigour as possible".

I would emphasise that on 28th July 1980 the Government were of the opinion that a number of decisions reached at the meeting of the International Whaling Commission about that time were highly unfortunate in their results—

"especially the failure to secure the ban on commercial whaling and, further, to secure a total ban on the cold harpoon".

Having said that, what is the point of waiting for the next meeting of the International Whaling Commission before taking action?—a meeting which is to be held in July this year. The Government now have the power to rectify the issue. They have expressed their view that a ban on commercial whaling and the use of the cold harpoon is necessary. In any case, events have moved even further from the Question which was raised in July 1980 to the report, to which I have referred, of the committee of the International Whaling Commission dated 26th November 1980. By agreeing these amendments the Government now have the chance to make it an offence for anyone to use the cold harpoon. By passing these amendments the Government have the chance to protect cetaceans in British waters, as other creatures which may not be taken by certain methods. They have the chance to protect whales, which are an endangered species. Acceptance by the Government of these amendments will help to reinforce international opinion on these issues, an international opinion which has already been expressed and which seems to be ahead of our own in some respects.

At the next meeting of the Committee of International Trade in Endangered Species, to be held in New Delhi in February, West Germany has submitted proposals for a ban on commercial products obtained from the killing of whales. This proposal is supported by the European Environment Bureau in Brussels. Again the International Union in Conservation and Nature and the United Nations' Environment Programme have proposed a moratorium on all commercial whaling. I believe that Russia has made a statement to the effect that they have banned, or are about to ban, all commercial whaling. Perhaps the noble Earl could let us have some information as to whether this is true or not.

These are the facts in support of the amendments, and they are also supported by the People's Trust for Endangered Species who have placed at my disposal an immense amount of papers and information on these issues, and they have performed devoted work in that connection. In addition to that I have had frequent meetings on these issues with the director of the trust and an adviser to the Committee on International Trade in Endangered Species. I beg to move Amendment No. 119, and I have spoken to Nos. 142, 145 and 191.

I should like briefly to support the intention behind Lord Gridley's amendment. As he said, I joined with him in asking questions just after the International Whaling Commission were meeting last year in July. I would certainly support the banning of the cold harpoon, which is a barbaric way of killing an animal as large as a whale.

Having said that, I am not sure that this is the right clause to make the amendment. 1 should like to point out to the Government, if I might, that the amendment that my noble friend Lady David moved, Amendment No. 81, had with it Amendment No. 145A, a schedule of specially protected species, which included all whales. We could have despatched this amendment and a number of others quickly and simply, as I suggested at the time, if the Government had been disposed to accept our amendments. As it is, they are considering those amendments, and I take this opportunity offurther commending them to the Government and their advisers for the great simplicity which they would bring to these sorts of issues, and thereby greatly shorten our debate at the next stage of the Bill.

I should like briefly to support the spirit of this amendment. The question of whales has been raised over and over again in this House, and we all know the difficulty that there has been in getting any form of international agreement to reduce whaling, and the low numbers of many of the varieties. I hope that the Government will be able to accept the amendment in principle, and perhaps bring it back in some way that is acceptable to your Lordships.

10.18 p.m.

I am grateful to my noble friend for putting down this amendment, and indeed for taking these amendments together. One knows of his concern for whales and the part which he has played in trying to help to preserve them. I was fascinated by Lord Melchett's advice to me as to how we could simplify the proceedings by doing various things. I suggest to him that we could go for simplicity much more if he would stop putting down so many convoluted amendments. If he would take that bit of advice, I would try to follow some of his.

I am not sure that the noble Earl was in the Chamber at the time, but although Amendment No. 81 was quite complicated we did about 20 amendments at once and fairly briefly too.

I gather that my noble friend also spoke about whales. Anyhow, my noble friend behind me has taken the noble Lord's advice and has taken four. They may not be 20 amendments, but they are four. At the last annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission the United Kingdom delegation supported the ban on the use of the cold grenade harpoon. The measure agreed prohibited its use for the killing of all whales, except the mink whale.

My noble friend has expressed the reasons why he wishes these amendments to be put in. I understand the reasoning, but I believe in fact that they are unnecessary. The reason is that the Government have presented a Fisheries Bill in another place which includes provisions which protect all cetaceans. This includes a prohibition on the taking or treating of any cetacean within the 200-mile British fisheries limit by any method, and that of course includes the cold grenade harpoon. This applies not only to British vessels but to all ships which fish in our territorial waters. Outside the 200-mile limit the taking or treating of cetaceans by British ships which are registered in the United Kingdom would be subject to licensed control, and in effect the taking or treating of these would therefore be effectively prohibited. For those reasons I believe my noble friend's sentiments have already been met, not so much by this Bill as by the measure which is at the moment in another place.

In view of what the Minister said—his undertaking that the purpose of my amendment is being covered by a Bill which is currently in another place, and that all whales in the circumstances f mentioned will be taken care of in the sense about which I expressed anxieties—I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[ Amendment No. 120 not moved.]

Lord Craigton moved Amendment No. 121:

Page 11, line 5, after ("possession") insert ("for").

The noble Lord said: This short amendment is designed to discover the precise meaning of the words

"has in his possession or transports for the purpose of sale".

This is probably a drafting point. A number of friends have pointed out that for scientific purposes they possess live and dead bats and other Schedule 5 specimens, as do museums which have dead specimens. They have read subsection (3) as prohibiting that. True, the subsection refers only to sale, and "possession or transports for sale" may be a complete phrase, but there is misunderstanding about it and for that reason I suggest the insertion of the word "for". I beg to move.

I am obliged to my noble friend for explaining that the amendment seeks clarification; I spent a good deal of time trying to discover what my noble friend was trying to do, but I think I can clear the point with him. The subsection deals with sale, and possession for the purpose of sale would be an offence. However, Clause 9(1)(b) makes it an offence to possess any animal unless it is shown that it was lawfully taken or held. In other words, if a person has in his possession an animal taken before the Bill came into operation or if he could show that it was taken lawfully, he would be entitled to retain it. The only purpose of this part of the Bill is to prevent the possession of an animal where that possession is gained unlawfully under the Bill.

I should be grateful if the Minister would look into the matter because there has been a great deal of misunderstanding arising from the phraseology of this provision. I think "has in his possession for" would clarify the point. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[ Amendment No. 122 not moved.]

Clause 9 agreed to.

10.25 p.m.

moved Amendment No. 123:

After Clause 9, insert the following new clause:

(" Sale of rare and vulnerable animals

.—(l) Subject to the provisions of this part of this Act if any person sells, offers or exposes for sale, or has in his possession or transports for the purpose of sale—

  • (a) any live or dead animal included in Schedule (RARE AND VULNERABLE ANIMALS (OTHER THAN BIRDS) WHICH ARE PROTECTED) below; or
  • (b) any part of, or anything derived from, such an animal, he shall be guilty of an offence.
  • (2) The Secretary of State may by order make provision with respect to the whole or any specified part of Great Britain, for any period specified, providing that any person who, within that area or any part of it specified in the order, at any time during any period so specified, intentionally kills, injures or takes any animal included in Schedule (RARE AND VULNERABLE ANIMALS (OTHER THAN BIRDS) WHICH ARE PROTECTED) and so specified, he shall be guilty of an offence.

    (3) Before making any order under subsection (2) above the Secretary of State shall consult—

  • (a) the Nature Conservancy Council; and
  • (b) such voluntary bodies he considers are able to advise him.").
  • The noble Earl said: I beg to move Amendment No. 123 and following the example of the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, and the noble Baroness, Lady David, I shall also take into consideration Amendments Nos. 124, 129, 132, 141, the schedule which appears as Amendment No. 146, and various consequential amendments which are numbered 341, 342, 343, 344, 350 and 352, which I think must match anything that the noble Lord and the noble Baroness managed to achieve in one small exercise.

    Although the hour is late and the mood of the Committee may not be serious, I regard this amendment as being of extreme importance. The intention of Amendment No. 123, and all the amendments that follow from it and are related to it, is to provide protection at an appropriate level for native species of animal of all kinds, whether vertebrate or invertebrate, that are not so urgently in need of protection that the full stringencies of Clause 9 need to be applied, but about which none the less there must be some serious degree of concern.

    In the international field of conservation, which has led in the European context to the Berne Convention, which is an important stimulus for this entire Bill which we are now considering, conservationists have applied very considerable effort to the most useful methods of categorising or defining threatened wild species. The conservation movement now classifies threatened wild animals and plants as endangered, vulnerable, or rare. Those concepts appear in the Berne Convention and are an important element in it, as I pointed out in my Second Reading speech.

    I do not wish to anticipate the reply of my noble friend on the Front Bench, but I suspect that he may argue that Schedule 5 can accommodate all species of both endangered and vulnerable categories, and it is the wording of Clause 20(3)( a) that suggests to me that that was the intention of those who drafted the Bill. But in fact if species that deserve to be categorised only as vulnerable or rare were to be included in Schedule 5, we should land ourselves in a situation where the whole legislative process was liable to ridicule from the absurdities to which it could lead.

    I am picking up the theme that was introduced into our Committee by the noble Baroness, Lady David, with Amendments Nos. 81, 112, 113 and the connected series, which would have had the reverse-listing effect, and which from that point of view I welcomed at the time. On that occasion I expressed opinion that perhaps that was not the appropriate method, and my own series of amendments are designed to conform with the Berne Convention and with the existing structure of Clause 9 and its associated schedules. They are modelled quite closely on the Bill and they develop in the same fashion.

    I note that it was originally the intention of Her Majesty's Government to include two schedules for protected animals other than birds—one for endangered species, and the other for vulnerable species. In proof of this I shall cite the Department of Environment Memorandum No. B.104, dated 20th August 1979, which was circulated as a consultative document as a preliminary to the Bill that was to be brought forward in the last Session, but which never materialised.

    The second point that needs to be made has already been raised from the Government Front Bench. To elaborate upon it a little, it concerns the fact that tonight we are discussing a Bill which deals with conservation, and as my noble friend Lord Avon has said—I paraphrase him slightly—where we are concerned with conserving wild animals, we are concerned with their scientific management. Although we may consider that we are discussing whether such and such a bird should, or should not be, in a schedule, in dealing with these minutiae we are trying to devise a whole framework within which the Government and their scientific advisers will be able to plan and to manage the wildlife of this country. That, in essence, is what gives this Bill its great importance.

    The third point I wish to make in support of my amendment is the fact that it is provided for in the Berne Convention of 19th September 1979, with which this present Bill is intended to conform, and, by conforming, to ratify. If the EEC adopts a directive which gives legislative force to the Berne Convention, this country will find that it is obliged to conform closely to that convention; and if the legislation that we now pass is not adequately matching, there will then be the necessity for subsequent amendments in order to bring our legislation into line with the European directive. I feel it will be greatly to our advantage if we can do that now, in order to prevent waste of time.

    The article of the Berne Convention with which I am concerned, and to which I have already drawn attention in my Second Reading speech, is Article 7. Article 7, as I have pointed out, is not matched by any clause or schedule in the present Bill. The measures for the protection of species under Article 7—species listed in Appendix 3, which are the vulnerable species—are to include close seasons, temporary or local prohibitions and regulations to control sale. All of these measures are matched by appropriate sections and subsections in the new clause which I now propose. If we were merely to add vulnerable species or rare species to Schedule 5, we should find ourselves in fairly ridiculous circumstances simply because the provisions of the relevant clause are extremely strict. None the less, there are species in this country which are now being exploited and which in the interests of good management we must have the legislative capacity to control and protect.

    The aims of my amendment are seen in the list of animals to be protected, which appears as Amendment No. 146. Some of these have small island populations. There are included in this schedule the shrews of the Channel Islands and the Scilly Islands, which exist nowhere else in the United Kingdom and therefore are rare and in danger of exploitation simply because the populations are circumscribed on small land masses. The same applies to the vole, which has the curious distribution on Guernsey and in the Orkneys. These are rare species. Others are included because they are endangered by some of the factors which other provisions of this Bill are designed to counteract; notably, habitat loss and over-exploitation by man. Some of them are subject to diseases which have been brought into this country inadvertently, often through the introduction of alien species; others are suffering from direction competition with alien species. In this respect I would cite the crayfish, which has restricted ecological requirements and is suffering from both disease and competition from introduced species.

    Also included in my schedule is the pearl mussel, which is an extraordinarily interesting animal with very restricted ecological requirements. It lives only in the purest of waters, and therefore is short of materials to build its shell and create its pearl. In fact, at the time it is harvested for the Scottish pearl it is probably at least as old as I am and sometimes as old as many of those of your Lordships who are considerably more venerable than I am. A good-sized pearl mussel with a good-sized pearl in it may be approaching a century in age. It is, I think, essential when we consider an animal of restricted distribution which is harvested at such an extreme age that we should both monitor the exploitation of it and, if necessary, control it.

    In my Second Reading speech I also mentioned the case of the common frog. The common frog is declining in many parts of this country. At the same time there is a large catch made every year for the legitimate purposes of the educational market. I am informed that one firm alone trading in frogs for the educational market uses each year some 15,000 frogs from England and imports into this country some 30,000 frogs from Ireland. I do not wish to carry your Lordships through my entire schedule. I think that these examples are sufficient to explain what I am about. As I have said previously, the solution suggested by the noble Baroness, Lady David, is to my mind an approach which—and I may be wrong in thinking it is British —is certainly one which is finding favour more and more widely in the world at large. But it is not the approach of the Berne Convention and it is not the approach of this Part of the Bill that we arc now dealing with.

    The noble Earl, Lord Avon (when he was discussing Amendment No. 10 and speaking of the conservation of birds) said that we like to think that in a way—and I think he was referring to this country or to the Government—we lead the European Community in conservation. This may be true as far as birds are concerned, but I am talking about animals other than birds. These are not animals that necessarily have the wide appeal of birds. Your Lordships laugh when I say, "bats". If I were to go on saying "bats" for long enough I would probably reduce your Lordships to hysterics; but one-third of our native mammal

    fauna are species of bats. This Bill purports to protect bats. Bats need protection more urgently, I would say, than do many of the birds that we have been discussing today; so zoologically and scientifically this is an important problem. The vulnerable animals that I am now concerned with also need protection for their proper management. We need the capacity to monitor what is happening to them.

    Do we lead Europe in this? So far, we do not. If we take the amphibians and the reptiles alone, we find largely as a response to the initiative of the Berne Convention, that all native species are protected in Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium and Denmark. Even in France, where frogs are traditionally eaten, one will find—and I am afraid that I have forgotten to bring the newspaper cutting—recent reports in newspapers that the French have banned the sale of frogs which, where edible frogs are concerned, now may only be caught for home consumption. In our approach to EEC affairs, to European affairs, in many ways Britain is the maverick. The British are often convinced that their way of doing it is better. Often this may be true, but in this case I do not believe that the approach which is seen in this Bill—that is, the attempt to combine vulnerable and endangered species under a single clause—is better than that which is suggested to us by Europe.

    I do not say that the list which 1 have offered as a schedule is in any way perfect. It will undoubtedly need amendment. There is a spelling mistake in it. The Latin name for crayfish is misspelt. I believe that there ought to be more invertebrates on it because it contains the sort of provisions that are needed for the control and protection of invertebrates. I may say that the introduction of a new clause of this nature is welcomed by the Amateur Entomologists' Society and by the British Herpetological Society whose interests are in both the amphibians and the reptiles, and is welcomed also by the Mammal Society. I beg to move

    10.40 p.m.

    The noble Earl moved a very important and significant series of amendments. The intention behind them is certainly one that we would welcome and strongly support. The noble Earl was kind enough to give some support to my noble friend and myself when we moved our amendment on reverse listing, Amendment No. 81, and a long series of other amendments. Having listened carefully to what the noble Earl has to say, we would prefer our approach. It seems to us to have the enormous advantages of simplicity, and of compatibility with the first part of the Bill on the protection of birds.

    With some alterations and additions we would cover a great deal of the ground—certainly not all—which the noble Earl wants to cover. We would have to include the sale prohibitions in our amendments, which we have not. We would not cover the pearl mussel and one or two other species which the noble Earl has in his schedule in Amendment No. 146. Nevertheless, the main point would be covered in a way that I would personally think more satisfactory than the separate listing of yet another category of a particular sort of protected group of species.

    Having said that, the Government were kind enough to a say about Amendment No. 81, and all the consequentials that went with it, that they would take it away and look at it. If that is the case, that must subsume a look at what the noble Earl is proposing. A number of the species in his schedule would be covered by reverse listing, were that to be adopted, particularly the reptiles and amphibians. With the simple addition of a prohibition on sale in our amendments a great deal of the ground in his amendment would be covered.

    This is a complex area. We have raised what seem to be important points, and so has the noble Earl. Would it be possible for us all to discuss this with the Government's advisers between Committee stage and the Report stage in the hope that, one way or another, the intention behind our amendments or the noble Earl's amendment, or a combination of those two, could be agreed upon so that we would come back at Report stage with an amendment with which both sides and the Government were happy? I make that suggestion with a view to the clock and the hope that we might speed things up.

    Am I right in thinking that, if the amendment is accepted, you would not be able to offer for sale the pearls from the pearl mussel? This may be necessary; I am afraid I know very little about how common the pearl mussel is. I know that there are one or two people in Perth who are full-time pearl mussel fishermen, and I feel that they would not be at all happy if this particular provision went through, if my understanding is correct that it would ban the sale of the pearl from the pearl mussel.

    My noble friend has the adder in his schedule. Much as I would like to support his schedule, I find the adder a very unattractive form of animal—if that is the right word for it. It also is of course a considerable danger. It has been known to kill children with its bite. I would think that to put an adder in any form of schedule that protects animals was not likely to enhance that schedule in the view of most people.

    It is not my intention in any way to ban the activities of the pearl fishermen of Perthshire. It is in their interests that their activities should be monitored and, if necessary, controlled. If my amendment were accepted, it would be necessary for them to apply for a licence. There are not many people concerned. The licence, one assumes, would be readily given; but with the appropriate controls and returns this would enable our national scientific advisory body to control the pearl mussel to ensure that there was a continuous supply of pearl mussels of the right age bringing pearls on to the market. This is a traditional activity which is one I regard as of cultural and commercial importance in Scotland and also in parts of Wales where the water is of sufficient purity to permit the pearl mussels to live.

    The second point is that I will say "adder" until I reduce your Lordships to hysterics. The adder is an important member of our British wild fauna. It may be a poisonous snake, but we are lucky to have a representative of a poisonous snake in our country. If I may compare your Lordships' attitude to that, for instance, of the Netherlands, our neighbour in the European Community, in the Netherlands there are notices in the reserves to remind people to behave sensibly and not to run barefoot where adders are suspected. The notices also remind people that the adder is a protected animal.

    The adder is a declining animal and, with the declining habitat which so many people in this country deplore, is finding it increasingly difficult to live in this country. Adders are decreasing in this country and their breeding habitats are declining. They are, thoughtlessly and wantonly, being destroyed by people wearing boots, who have no right whatsoever to stamp on a snake which is incapable of harming them if they behave in a sensible fashion.

    Before my noble friend sits down, would he not agree that Ireland has done very well without adders since the days of St. Patrick? I cannot entirely agree that they are a completely disappearing species. I can assure him that in Ross and Cromarty I can show him quite a lot if there is a decent summer.

    The adder is one of the pearls in the crown of the British Islands and I am delighted that the noble Earl has adders which he can show to us.

    10.47 p.m.

    My noble friend said that if he referred to "bats" sufficiently he would reduce your Lordships to hysterics. I can tell him that if there is one thing which reduces my own family to hysterics more than seeing bats coming at them it is to see adders coming at them. I am sure they are a highly desirable piece of natural fauna, but they do not necessarily appeal to the more simple of the simpletons among us. However that may be, my noble friend is a fund of knowledge on this subject and when he made his speech of course we listened very carefully. We will take account of what he has said, because what he has said is very important indeed. My own feelings lie in fact with those of the noble Lord, Lord Melchett. It would be a pity to add yet another schedule of protected species to the Bill as it is now, because at the moment we have provided sufficient and adequate protection for animals, and I would be reluctant to add another category; because although these animals may be rare I am advised that they are not in danger of extinction. I would ask my noble friend to address himself to Clause 20(3)(a), which gives the Secretary of State permission to add

    "to Schedule 5 or Schedule 7 any animal or plant which, in his opinion, is in danger of extinction in Great Britain or is likely to become so endangered unless conservation measures are taken;".
    I feel that we are here trying to protect a species which are endangered and those which are likely possibly to become extinct. I think if we then add yet a third category of those which are vulnerable we may get ourselves rather more convoluted than we might wish. I will, of course, consider what my noble friend has said but my inclination is that we would be ill advised to put in a further one—incidentally a category which would prevent all little "Billy Bunters" from having tadpoles; and that would be a pity.

    Before withdrawing the amendment, I must make two points. First, if my amendment is adopted it will not prevent people from keeping tadpoles. This is the very point about it. It may be considered necessary to protect the frog, because it is over-exploited—and it will be overexploited, because Ireland has now protected its frog fauna entirely. There is a strong possibility that the minimum of 30,000 frogs per annum that at present are coming from Ireland may dry up.

    My information is that the Irish are ahead of us in their protective legislation, so it may be necessary for us to protect our frogs, because there could be widespread anxiety among our people at seeing frogs disappear from the fields and into school laboratories, unless control exists. If the only course available is to put them into Schedule 5, then we shall have the absurdity to which my noble friend Lord Ferrers referred, that it will then become a criminal offence for lads to collect tadpoles in jars. That is precisely one of the ills that I want to prevent.

    May I intervene briefly? The noble Earl called in aid what I had said, but I should like everybody to be clear that my worry about an additional schedule was simply in relation to the advantages of reverse listing for mammals, reptiles and amphibians, which we proposed earlier and which seemed to me to solve many of the problems to which the noble Earl was drawing our attention. I was only saying that of the two options I preferred the one we had suggested, but if that was not to find favour with the Government —and they have agreed to consider it—then I would see the noble Earl's suggestion as second best, but a great deal better than leaving the Bill as it is. I should not like anyone to have the impression that I was agreeing that the amendment should simply be withdrawn without any further consideration.

    Although we are getting very near the end of our proceedings, this is an extremely important series of amendments which the noble Earl has moved and it would not be fair to him if we did not do them justice. It seems thoroughly irresponsible for people in this country to go around moaning about the way people in the developing world kill animals which we all like to see, particularly on television, such as lions and tigers, which are capable of killing people, and at the same time, giggle and make fun of the fact that adders are in some danger and people want to protect them. It seems that we are guilty of double standards when people adopt those attitudes. So I hope noble Lords will consider that point when they consider the rest of the points which the noble Earl is making so ably.

    If I have offended the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, by giggling or making fun of adders, then I shall be the first to apologise. All I can tell him is that my family—and I presume they are not unrepresentative of other families—do not like being bitten by adders. It was not meant as a frivolous interjection. It was merely a statement of fact.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    I think we have probably reached the stage in the Bill where we ought to finish for tonight.

    The amendment which my noble friend moved was No. 123 out of a very long list, and your Lordships have given a great deal of consideration to this Bill, as, indeed, it is your Lordships' right to do, and it has taken a certain amount of time. But my noble friend the Leader of the House, when we started this Bill, made an appeal that we should deal with the Bill expeditiously. In view of that, when we meet tomorrow on this Bill, I think that we must try to finish Part I which finishes with the end of Clause 25. It is very difficult to know how many amendments are consequential. My noble friend's amendment had five or six amendments that were consequential. So it may be that, in having dealt with 123 amendments, we have actually dealt with considerably more. But if your Lordships do agree, I think we must be absolutely certain of finishing Part I tomorrow night.

    I do not know, because I am not aware of it, having been in the Chamber all day, how much of this has been agreed between the usual channels, but by tomorrow night we will have spent three days out of the five allocated to the Committee stage. Many of us had been hoping that we would get six days. The noble Lord has now asked us to reach Amendment No. 374, which is well over halfway through the Bill, and he is asking us to do it halfway through the time that I understood we were going to spend upon it. So he may be asking us to do a little more than we can. I think it is accepted that we on this side of the Committee have done all we can to see that we go as quickly as we can. I must say to the noble Lord that it is very much up to his side of the Committee to see how far we do get within what I hope will be a reasonable time to stop, for all concerned, on a Bill in which many noble Lords are very interested.

    I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Melchett. I assure your Lordships that I do not want to curtail the consideration by your Lordships of this Bill which is extremely important in many ways. The debates we have had on the various amendments have been extremely interesting and very helpful to Her Majesty's Government.

    House resumed.