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The Earl of Lindsay: The repeated definition that we are able to give of "marauding" is that it refers to those deer which are not being controlled effectively, and which are not normally resident where they are causing the damage. My noble friend knows that we are interested in a legally watertight definition of marauding deer, if that is possible, and it is something we will continue to look at. I also remind my noble friend that Section 6(6) of the 1959 Act ensures that anyone whose land is noted in an authorisation will be contacted. The last point is that my Amendments Nos. 23 and 34--Amendment No. 23 having already been accepted--seek to bring some clarification to the area that my noble friend has mentioned. I shall, if necessary, photocopy the relevant part of Hansard for him later on today, rather than perhaps go through the same explanation a second time.

Lord Mackie of Benshie: It is not a question of common sense but a question of marauding. I know we need a definition of some sort but deer come and eat my turnips--and my turnips are good turnips--and you can bet your boots that those deer will come back for more. Therefore, if you have to pursue them onto other land in order to kill them, moving them will not do any good; they will come back. I should have thought that a certain amount of common sense with the broad definition would work. The commission will be composed of sensible people, whichever Secretary of State appoints them, and we can make do much of the definition.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: We all hope that the commission will be composed of sensible people but at the moment, as the Bill is drafted, we have no guarantee of that matter. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mackie, that the definition of marauding should be very simple. The dictionary simply describes it as wandering or raiding in search of plunder. In the case mentioned by the noble Lord, that plunder consists of

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his turnips, which I am sure are excellent and which I am sure the deer will return to eat. The point I am making is that in the original Act those deer had to be followed and killed where they came from. It did not necessarily permit them to be shot when they were actually enjoying the noble Lord's turnips. In the Bill that we are considering, they could be shot in the act, if you like, of eating the noble Lord's turnips.

I merely point out that difference between the two pieces of legislation and use it to underline the necessity of reaching a commonsense understanding of the meaning of the word "maraud" when the powers of Clause 4 come into action and the powers of Clause 5 do not have time to operate. We have no difficulty with Clause 5 but we still have considerable difficulty with exactly what circumstances could trigger the powers of Clause 4 as drafted.

The Earl of Lindsay: I would just add one more point at this stage; otherwise Clause 4 will detain us for days. If the deer can be shot where they are marauding, then a marauding deer power cannot be authorised, because in fact there is another option available, which prevents those deer needing to be followed and managed somewhere else. The vital parts of a Section 6 authorisation, as it would be amended, are that there must be serious damage, it must be an emergency and no other option can be available to the commission with which to try and manage those deer. I stress that if those deer can be managed on the site where they are actually marauding, then there is no need to trigger a Section 6 power.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: I shall, of course, be withdrawing the amendment, because I cannot do anything else here. However, I shall read very carefully what the noble Earl has said. I am very glad that he will be looking at some of the later amendments. I should like to make three points. The owners or their representatives should be notified before the killing or the driving is done, not afterwards when it has been done. Also I think it should not be left just to good manners and good practice. It should be on the face of the Bill.

If the deer commission works at weekends, then it is all the more important that the stalker should be included among the people with whom it can get in touch, because the stalker almost certainly will be available at the weekend, whereas the factor and the owner may not be. Two telephone calls, in my opinion, will not add a great deal to the workload of the commission.

Finally, I am not at all sure that occupiers are always the most suitable persons to do the job. They may not be good shots and they may not possess a rifle, whereas the stalker is almost certainly a very good shot and has the estate rifle at his disposal. With that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendment No. 34:


Page 3, line 34, leave out ("any land") and insert ("such land as may be").

The noble Earl said: I spoke to Amendment No. 34 when moving Amendment No. 23.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

4 p.m.

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendment No. 35:


Page 3, line 42, at end insert--
("( ) After subsection (8) there shall be inserted the following subsection--
"(9) Where the Commission have authorised the killing of any deer under this section they shall have power to dispose by sale or otherwise of the carcase of any deer so killed.".").

The noble Earl said: In moving this amendment I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 48 and 91 which are my own amendments.

The government amendments would clarify the circumstances under which the commission would have the power to dispose of carcasses. Section 13 of the 1959 Act gave the commission the power to dispose of the carcasses of all deer killed "under their authority". Under the proposed new Section 33A, the range of circumstances under which the commission will authorise action against deer is wider than at present and it is not intended that the commission should have the power to dispose of carcasses in such wide circumstances. It is proposed to restrict the commission's powers to dispose of carcasses to those situations where it has been involved in the taking or killing of deer either directly or through contractors.

The practice of the commission is to exercise the right to dispose of carcasses only when it needs to recover the expenses of its own stalkers or contractors authorised by the commission to do the job. The circumstances are reasonably rare when this has to be activated. I beg to move.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Amendment No. 92 is grouped with these amendments, and goes in precisely the opposite direction. It seems to me that with the doubt surrounding the way Clause 4 can be used we could have a situation where large numbers of deer could be driven by helicopters into corrals and massacred by the deer commission or its agents.

At the moment, as I understand it, my noble friend the Minister is resisting the idea that the owner, his agent or his servants would even be informed of this exercise. It therefore seems to me completely inequitable that the commission should be able to add insult to that injury by sending the bill for the exercise to the hapless owner, who may not even have known that the action was going to take place. I refer to the use to which Clause 4 could technically be put as we stand here today.

The dimension of these expenses, with the use of helicopters, goes up enormously. It is not impossible for the commission to decide, as I understand it--we may come to it later today--that quite a large area of ground and open hill should be cleared of deer. It might decide that it takes three helicopters two days to do the job,

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each helicopter costing about £500 an hour. They might make a mess of it the first day; the deer might decide they did not want to be driven into that corral; they might go back to where they came from, marauding or otherwise damaging the natural heritage, whatever that may eventually turn out to be. To send the bill for many thousands of pounds to the owner for this exercise seems to me to fly further in the face of natural justice than I would have thought tolerable, even by the authors of this Bill. I therefore propose Amendment No. 92, which would make it clear that any expenses incurred by the commission in the performance of its duties should be the debt of the commission.

I would also add that normally when the deer are killed they belong to the person on whose land they fall. At that point they do become a legal possession of the hapless owner. I therefore propose Amendment No. 92 and would be very interested to hear from my noble friend whether he has thought of the expenses that could be involved in this act of legalised confiscation and piracy.

Lord Mackie of Benshie: I think the noble Lord Pearson of Rannoch ought to go in for writing novels of a very exciting character, because the thought that there will be helicopters rounding up the deer and driving them into corrals and then slaughtering them with sub-machine guns is the sort of picture he is painting. I understand these amendments, but perhaps the Minister will put me right. It foxed me a little that in some cases an amendment was down to sell the deer and in other cases it was down that you could not sell the deer. I assume that if, after consultation with the owner and his agent, his stalker and his butler, he still refuses to do anything about it and the commission has to spend money in culling out the deer, then the commission will be quite legitimately entitled to sell the deer and retrieve some of the expense, but if he co-operates and kills the deer then he can keep the deer. It seems to me a perfectly simple solution. I should be glad if the Minister could tell me whether I am right in this.


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