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Lord Harris of Greenwich: My Lords, before the noble and learned Lord sits down, is he indicating that the Government intend to produce this legislation in the next parliamentary Session? If he is not giving that undertaking, he will realise that, if the amendment is not carried today, the interests of victims of crime could be jeopardised seriously for a significant period ahead?

Lord Rodger of Earlsferry: My Lords, the noble Lord knows that I cannot anticipate the contents of the Queen's Speech or go further than that which I have stated. However, I reiterate that the Government intend to seek an early opportunity to introduce legislation.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I fail to see the logic of the Government's attitude. They have accepted that something is wrong and that the Royal Commission is right in its prescription of what is wrong. They have accepted that it must be put right. They are now saying that it can be put right only when it can be put right for everybody. This is a clear case which could be put right now for perhaps a limited number of people. It would not be at government expense because it would be a reform within the rules of the insurance industry. That could be done and nobody would suffer at all. I do not believe that anybody who has to wait for the rest of the legislation will object if victims of crime, who are supposed to be high on the Conservative Party's list of priorities, were given a little precedence and were allowed to have what is accepted to be right before the rest of those who have structured settlements.

Lord Carlisle of Bucklow: My Lords, will the noble Lord accept that we do not even have power at present to make any structured settlements at all and that therefore there cannot be any victims under the criminal injuries compensation scheme who are in that situation?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, that is a different point. Nobody denies that the scheme which is proposed with the inclusion of structured settlements is an improvement on the previous scheme. That has always been said and we have said so from these Benches in our response to the scheme as a whole. That is not the same point.

The point is that, when there are structured settlements, they can be improved. The Government are missing an opportunity to do that. I do not say that the Government will fall on this issue but they are significantly failing victims of crime when they could help them. I very much regret the Government's response. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 9 [Financial provisions]:

[Amendment No. 25 not moved.]

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Clause 10 [Jurisdiction of Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration]:

[Amendment No. 26 not moved.]

Clause 11 [Parliamentary control]:

[Amendment No. 27 not moved.]

Northern Ireland (Remission of Sentences) Bill

Brought from the Commons; read a first time, and to be printed.

Wild Mammals (Protection) Bill

6.54 p.m.

Baroness Nicol: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Baroness Nicol.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD LYELL in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Kicking, beating, impaling, burning, crushing or drowning wild mammal]:

Lord Renton moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 1, line 5, after ("person") insert ("intentionally and").

The noble Lord said: This is a vital amendment. Unless it is made, it will mean that innocent people would really be at risk of unjustifiable prosecution because, as Clause 1 stands, it creates absolutely liability and makes no mention of the intention with which the act is done. The mere use of the word "cruelly" is objective to the result upon the animal. It is not subjective as to the person who does those things. But if we include the words "intentionally and", which have been used frequently in other statutes, the matter is made abundantly clear.

I repeat briefly that, if we do not do that, the Bill will have results which I do not believe its promoter ever expected. I gave a number of examples on Second Reading. The principal example that one should mention is that if a lorry driver or a driver of any vehicle in a stream of traffic happened to run over a hedgehog, for example, he would be guilty of an offence under the Bill whether or not he knew the hedgehog was there. That would be an absurd situation. If we put in the words "intentionally and", that clarifies the matter and leads to greater justice. I beg to move.

Lord Monson: I independently arrived at the same conclusion as the noble Lord, Lord Renton; namely, that the words "intentionally and" should be inserted into Clause 1. That is why I took the liberty of adding my name to the amendment. I hope that it will be accepted for the reasons so well explained by the noble Lord, Lord Renton.

Lord Mancroft: I too support the amendment. As my noble friend said on Second Reading, great concern was

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expressed on all sides that an offence of strict liability had been created. Under the amendment proposed by my noble friend, there will be a requirement to show that the act was deliberate. It is an important improvement to the Bill and I very much hope that the noble Baroness will accept the amendment.

Baroness Nicol: It may assist the Committee at this stage if I make it clear that we have had a number of discussions between the previous stage of the Bill and this evening. We have managed to reach agreement on all the amendments before the Committee with the exception of the last amendment because the wording of it was not available to us when we had our meetings. Therefore, we may need to discuss that amendment at greater length.

I am happy to accept the amendment before the Committee moved by the noble Lord, Lord Renton. In our earlier discussions, that was a major worry. I take the opportunity to repeat now, as I did then, that, as the promoter of the Bill in this Chamber, I can say that it is not the intention to make life difficult for farmers and landowners going about their lawful activities. I welcome the inclusion of the amendment and am happy to accept it.

Baroness Mallalieu: We are extremely grateful to the noble Baroness for accepting the amendment because it was the major worry in the Bill. This change is essential and I am delighted that she is able to accept the suggestion made.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Mancroft moved Amendment No. 2:

Page 1, line 6, at beginning insert ("nails or otherwise").

The noble Lord said: It may be of help to the Committee if I explain the purpose behind the amendment. I shall try to be as brief as possible. The Bill as currently drafted makes it an offence cruelly to impale a wild mammal. I believe we are all clear that this Bill is designed to prevent that kind of act of cruelty. We all remember the dreadful case that was presented to the Chamber of a live squirrel being nailed to a tree. However, the 1993 New Shorter English Dictionary defines "impales" not just as the transfixing of a body with a stake, etc: it also provides a rarer definition of enclosing with pales, stakes, etc. or surrounding as with a palisade. I do not think any of us intended that it should be an offence to surround or enclose a wild mammal. Therefore I believe that this amendment is necessary to make it clear that the archaic definition of impales is not intended to apply to this offence. I accept that this is only a modest improvement to the Bill but I am grateful that the noble Baroness felt it was useful and that it would make the Bill rather more acceptable to all. I beg to move.

7 p.m.

Lord Kilbracken: May I ask the noble Lord if he can explain what is meant by nailing a mammal? If that is a form of impalement, surely it is already covered by the existing wording. But I have never heard the verb "nail" used in that way. I, too, consulted the dictionary and find that it means to fix or fasten with nails; to

31 Oct 1995 : Column 1407

pierce with nails—but that is obsolete—to fix something firmly to something with nails; or to fix or keep fixed in a certain place. I do not understand under what circumstances a wild mammal is likely to be nailed.

Lord Mancroft: The noble Lord asks an extremely reasonable question. It is for that very reason that we are all here and this Bill is before us. I am afraid that people commit the appalling act that the noble Lord has just described. They take nails and transfix small animals to trees. It is for that reason that we have tabled this amendment alongside the word "impaling" because impaling has another meaning—as I believe I described a moment ago—besides transfixing. It also means to surround with a palisade. For the sake of clarity and to help the courts, we needed to make it clear that in this case impaling meant transfixing. Regrettably one of the weapons that is used to transfix small animals is a nail; hence the use of the word "nail".

Baroness Nicol: I am happy to accept this amendment. It clarifies the Bill and removes any possible doubt about the use of the archaic word.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2 [Exceptions from offence under the Act]:

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