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Viscount Astor: Perhaps I may follow the suggestion made by my noble friend Lady Saltoun because my noble friend has put the case very fairly. There are two very distinct sides to this argument. He said quite rightly that many farmers do not like filling in forms and, indeed, that the passports are terrible. They certainly are. They are impossible to fill in. One of the advantages of them is that they have given the consumer confidence, and most people, while complaining of having to do it, are grateful that there is a market for the produce.

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Deer Bills are very few and far between. They come between 14 and 23-year gaps. I do not think there is an area that has such few bills. Therefore, it is very difficult to get any legislation in the middle. I think that there should be consultation. I suspect that consultation will take quite a long time, probably rather longer than the passage of this Bill. I would, therefore, ask my noble friend the Minister whether he would consider--as suggested by the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun--a very simple enabling clause that would give the Secretary of State power by an affirmative resolution perhaps to introduce a scheme if he considered it necessary.

I do not think that would add very burdensome words to the Bill or add many unnecessary words to the legislation. I know I accused my noble friend the other day of adding on unnecessary words and no doubt he will very fairly accuse me of doing exactly the same thing. But in this case I hope he might consider that a very simple clause would not be unnecessary and would be there as a safeguard, because that is what we are talking about. If we do not have another Deer Bill for another 40 years, at least there is the opportunity to introduce something if the consultation proves that everybody is keen on the idea. I am sure that my noble friend has shown very clearly the best way forward for all of those concerns.

The Earl of Lindsay: I can confirm to the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, that primary legislation would not be needed in the scenario that she envisaged--the removal of the last two words of the first subsection of the clause and the removal of all other subsections in the amendment. I am glad that my noble friend Lord Astor came up with an unprompted confession about the mixed merits of wording which may not be strictly necessary after he chided me the other day. This Bill was five or six years in the making. The Chairman of the Red Deer Commission will know better than I how many days, weeks, months and years were involved in this. The consultation might, therefore, take longer than this Bill will take during Parliament--but I hope not as long as the whole preparation of the Bill.

I do not disagree with my noble friend. Let us look at this properly. If in the parliamentary time available to the Bill it makes sense, because of the likelihood that there is real merit in having this, let us consider how this might be possible. If at our end we continue to entertain doubts in principle about whether it is 300,000 tags, how large the black market will be and whether this is something which can be done with a voluntary scheme, then we may have to communicate those doubts. But I am genuinely open-minded as to the real benefits that the tags can bring.

The last point is, if I had a deer forest adjacent to my noble friend Lord Astor and we were both selling our beasts onto the mainland and down into the markets, I would ring up the best buyers and I would say, "I will tag mine to confirm that they have been killed in a certain way; that they have eaten the very finest of grasses on the island; that they have been hung properly; that they have been butchered properly. You will know my beasts as they have tags, whereas my noble friend

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next door is really not to be trusted; he treats his venison atrociously". I would seek competitive advantage by voluntarily taking on a tagging system in that way.

Viscount Astor: Perhaps I may quickly answer my noble friend. He will be glad to hear that all the deer that leave the Isle of Jura, whoever they may have been shot with, are all tagged with a special Jura number to encourage people to eat the very fine venison that comes from the island, particularly when the deer have had such good things to eat as seaweed in addition to all the grass. We do that collectively under the deer management group.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: I am sure the produce of my noble friend Lord Astor is not in doubt. However, what is in doubt is the amount of attention that the noble Earl, Lord Buchan, was paying to our procedures in Edinburgh, because I must take issue with him when he suggests that I have sprung this one on the Committee. Not only have we heard from my noble friend Lord Glenarthur, but it is a chestnut that has been around for a number of years.

In our proceedings in Edinburgh, I was most careful to raise the issue of tagging with as many of our witnesses as I thought appropriate. Perhaps I could refer the noble Earl, Lord Buchan, to page 46 of the voluminous minutes which we took in Edinburgh, Question 76, when I put the question of tagging to Mr. Hugh Rose of the British Deer Society and he was in favour of the scheme. I am afraid that I have not been able to go through this voluminous set of evidence to find all the other occasions when I raised the subject.

I agree with the noble Earl that the matter was not fully debated in Edinburgh, but the noble Earl will remember that that was because Mr. Stephen Gibbs, the chairman of the Association of Deer Management Groups and the chairman of the joint committee between the Red Deer Commission and the Association of Deer Management Groups was unable to reach us in Edinburgh as he was stuck in the train in the snow in Carlisle.

Mr. Stephen Gibbs was to have been the first witness after lunch on the second day, and therefore the noble Earl can be forgiven for not remembering the issue perhaps with the enthusiasm that it deserves. I would, however, point out to him that if he were to go as far as page 129 of our voluminous minutes, that we did have a more serious discussion with Dr. Bill Mutch, who is one of the great experts on deer in Scotland. Towards the bottom of the right-hand column on that page, Question 241--I will not bore the Committee with reading it out--Dr. Mutch came out very strongly in favour of a system of tagging for many of the reasons which I repeated to noble Lords this afternoon. Therefore I forgive the noble Earl, Lord Buchan, though I would not want him to think that I tried to pull a fast one in any way.

I am most grateful to my noble friend the Minister for at least leaving the matter open for further discussion. I have to confess that I have been looking at this scheme as something more for red deer in the Highlands of Scotland. I see that it could become rather more

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complicated for roe deer in the Borders, in gardens and all the rest of it. It would be of benefit if all of us who are interested in this subject were to study what my noble friend has said in Hansard. I repeat that this is only an enabling clause and possibly my noble friend Lady Saltoun's suggestion would be adequate. In those circumstances, I trust we can continue with the discussion of the subject. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 8 agreed to.

Clause 9 [Interpretation of the principal Act]:

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendment No. 76:

Page 8, line 43, at end insert--
(""deer management" includes the management of deer for sporting purposes;"").

The noble Earl said: I spoke to Amendment No. 76 when we dealt with Amendment No. 15 on appointments. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy moved Amendment No. 77:

Page 9, line 6, leave out ("stock-proof") and insert ("deer-proof").

The noble Lady said: I wonder whether the Minister would look again at the definition of "enclosed". Surely in the context of this Bill, the definition must be "deer-proof", not just "stock-proof", which seems irrelevant in the context of the Deer Bill. I know it is the same as the 1959 Act, but again, as before, I wonder whether it was right then. I beg to move.

The Earl of Lindsay: Of course I will look again at this, if the noble Lady would like me to do so. It is something which we have revisited since Second Reading and the Edinburgh evidence-taking.

Under the 1959 Act, occupiers of enclosed woodland can shoot out of season to prevent serious damage without requiring authorisation by the commission. The Bill does not change this right in any way. In order to allow for a clear distinction to be made between this right and the commission's proposed power to authorise out of season shooting to protect unenclosed woodlands from serious damage, we feel a clear definition of "enclosed" is required. On the advice of the Forestry Commission, the definition we have adopted reflects standard practice across most of Scotland, especially in the south of Scotland, where stock-proof fences are the norm.

I fear that it may be seen to be unreasonable to restrict or remove the existing rights of some woodland owners who regard a woodland surrounded by a stock-proof fence as being an enclosed woodland. If one sought to introduce a geographic distinction into the amendment to say that certain areas of an enclosed woodland had to have a deer-proof fence whereas in other areas, perhaps in the Borders, one did not have to have such a substantial fence, I understand that various difficulties would be raised in terms of the legal distinction between the red deer range and the non-red deer range.

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I am worried that we have a Bill that involves the whole of Scotland, that we have different sizes of deer in different parts of Scotland and that we have the deer range moving anyway as people are enclosing or planting more land. The one comfort I can bring is that the stock fence must be effective. Therefore, if a fence is not effectively a stock fence--in other words, if it is down in one part--then it no longer qualifies as a stock fence and that woodland no longer qualifies as being enclosed woodland. The noble Lady has asked me to take another look at this, and of course I shall.

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