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Baroness Carnegy of Lour: I would like to support my noble neighbour, Lord Mackie of Benshie. It is not very difficult to imagine how awkward it could be if the commission were to go to an employee and say something different from that which has been said to the factor. It is the factor's job, surely, to acquaint the employees with what is intended and discuss it with them if the agent is there? The important thing is to know how my noble friend the Minister intends to answer the point and whether he will make it quite plain, if he does not like the amendment, how this consultation will be done, because obviously the consultation is absolutely critical.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (The Earl of Lindsay): Let me right away prevent the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, from having apoplexy. We are looking at the use of the term "servants" which stems from the 1959 Act and therefore there was good precedent for using that term in the amendment. But as part of the consolidation process we will be seeking to modernise such terms which need modernising, and it may well be that that will be one of the words which will be modernised.
I will speak to the whole group of amendments because that is how the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, introduced Amendment No. 33, and I hope that I can bring substantial reassurance to all noble Lords who have spoken. As regards Amendment No. 33, the remainder of Section 6 of the 1959 Act, which of course will continue to be valid, will I hope bring comfort. Under Section 6(2), for instance:
the commission shall in the first instance approach any person having the right to kill deer on that land and request that they take action against the deer. In practice the first point of contact therefore will be the owner of the land from which the deer are coming.
can the commission then issue an authorisation under Section 6, and where circumstances allow under the provisions as they stand at present, therefore, an opportunity will be afforded to the neighbouring land holders to take action themselves. This is an important safeguard, and it guarantees that the owners and other neighbours who have a right to take or kill deer are notified in advance of a marauding deer power being enacted.
My final point as regards Amendment No. 33 is that government Amendment No. 30 will ensure that the commission will only be embarking on this route, first, if it is a genuine emergency, and, secondly, if there are no other powers available to the commission with which to meet that emergency. In other words, it is not only action that is taken in an emergency, it is also a last resort option, and those other powers, as we have discussed in Committee, include the promotion of control agreements, the granting of authorisations and the making of control schemes.
I now turn to Amendments Nos. 52 and 60. As a matter of courtesy, one would of course expect the owner of land, or his agents, to be notified of the fact that night shooting of deer, or the moving of deer by vehicles, was about to be authorised. However, I am not sure that that should fall to the commission to administer. The noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, suggested that it may be that even the deer commission shuts down at weekends. I am given to understand that some members of the deer commission work a seven-day week. They do much of their visiting of deer management groups at weekends, so they are a hard-pressed organisation in terms of the workload they seek to achieve. What would probably be better is that the person who is given the authorisation is the person in charge of making sure that the owner is alerted. Therefore, my worry about the amendments as they stand is the danger of a disproportionate workload falling onto the commission. However, as I have said, I hope that there are other ways of approaching that and I will come on to that in a second.
I would also point out that, in any case, if the commission was granting authorisation for night shooting, they would have to take the balancing duty--in other words, the interests of the owner of that land--into account in granting that permission. Also, it is worth drawing noble Lords' attention to the two critical circumstances which must be met before an authorisation for night shooting can be granted. The first is that the shooting is necessary to prevent serious damage. In other words, it is necessary to do it at night-time; it cannot be done during the day-time to prevent that serious damage. Secondly, that there is no other method of control which might reasonably be adopted that would be adequate in the circumstances.
It may be of interest if I just point out that the new Section 33B, introduced by paragraph 28 of Schedule 1, obliges the occupier to supply the owner with information on the number of deer shot by virtue of Section 33(3) or the new Section 33A(2) or
In agreeing to extend the power of authorisation to cover all night shooting, it was made clear that the requirement to seek authorisation would not impose an unnecessary burden on those with a legitimate case to shoot deer at night. At the same time, I understand the points made by Members of the Committee, and I shall therefore look again at the procedures adopted by the commission to see if they can stress to those receiving authorisations that those with the right to kill deer on that land--that is, the owners--should be informed of action taken under those authorisations. I hope that with that reassurance the noble Lady will feel able to withdraw Amendments Nos. 52 and 60.
In this grouping, and I believe therefore the focus of the Committee, were Amendments Nos. 54, 55, 56, 61, 62, 63, 67, 68, 72 and 74, and unless the Committee have another view, I will speak to them right now.
Under proposed Section 33A, the commission will be able to issue authorisations to the occupier, or any person nominated in writing by the occupier, to carry out night shooting or to use vehicles to drive deer, or to shoot out of season to protect from serious damage unenclosed woodland or the natural heritage, or in the interests of public safety. The amendments propose that the commission should also be able to authorise the owner or his agents or servants.
I would point out one fact that has survived since the 1959 Act. If the owner or his agents have the permission of the occupier, it is then possible for them to carry out the work as the occupier's nominee. However, on night shooting there is clearly a question of safety that we seek to address. We continue to consider it appropriate that shooting should be in the control of the occupier. I hope that the reassurance I gave on earlier amendments that the owner should be notified in some way may be of comfort. We are worried that if there are different authorisations for night shooting on the same ground safety is compromised. Also, damage to the occupier's interests must be addressed which again dictates that he must be in control of the measures to make sure that they have the desired effect in terms of protecting his interests.
The provision for the moving of deer by vehicles is a more general provision. In some circumstances it is likely that owners would want, and indeed would be in a position, to undertake this kind of work. The owner, of course, can do it with the occupier's consent, but the purpose of the amendment is one that we wish to examine. Amendments Nos. 61, 62 and 63 are ones I should like to consider.
I should also like to consider Amendments Nos. 67 and 68. They deal with shooting out of season in unenclosed woodlands which again raises questions of safety and the legitimate interests of an owner. I make the same comment about the natural heritage.
in other words, where they may still be, and therefore they might not be marauding deer at all. I only mention this because it underlines the necessity to know what we mean by the word "marauding", which at the moment we do not.
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