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Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I am most grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate. I say to my noble friend Lord Woolton that I take the point that a sporting interest in deer is not all that popular in some quarters. But he is right when he says that I took what I said straight from the 1959 Act. I also have to say that I am not one of those who is ashamed of enjoying a sporting interest in deer. It is common agreement that a large number of deer has to be shot in Scotland and perhaps more than have been shot before. Personally, I have never understood why they should be shot by people who are not enjoying themselves as opposed to those who are. I hope that those comments will not be received as being too politically incorrect.

I agree with many noble friend the Minister that the economic interest might also be difficult to define because there are a number of climbing and tourist organisations which enjoy the hills for other reasons and who also have a very powerful economic interest and effect on the economy, particularly of the Scottish Highlands.

The noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, asked whether the Bill, as drafted, before the amendments which my noble friend the Minister proposed, would give only one deer manager on the new commission. My understanding is

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that at the moment it would give only one person with a sporting interest in deer because deer management includes the sporting interest.

I come to the very gratifying remarks of my noble friend the Minister. I do not quite accept that the amendments, as drafted, would take us back to the 1959 position. I intended to have only three-quarters of the commission representing categories which the Secretary of State thought were already represented on the face of the Bill, and for the other quarter it would have been up to him in a way which the Bill requires for the whole commission.

That being said, perhaps I may take it from my noble friend the Minister that one-third of the commission will be appointed from deer management organisations--that is to say, on nominations from them; and if I may take it that deer management organisations means principally such organisations as the Association of Deer Management Groups, then what he has said is very helpful. However, if deer management includes people who go around counting deer droppings in dense forests in order to work out how many deer there may be, and that sort of thing, then I have to say to my noble friend that I am not sure that his amendment will carry us much further forward.

There does not appear to be anything else I can say at the moment unless my noble friend wishes to clarify the position as to what organisations will be consulted. For my own part I am perfectly happy to leave the matter there. I shall read what he has said in Hansard and possibly have further discussions with him at an early date before we move to the next stage of these deliberations.

The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, with the leave of the House, it might help if I say that the aim behind the proposed amendment at Third Reading is that the Association of Deer Management Groups will be the nominating organisation. However, life is never so simple that that can be translated straightaway into the legal terminology required for the face of the Bill. So definitions and other considerations will take place, but I shall liaise with my noble friend between now and Third Reading to make sure that we understand exactly what is happening.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I am very grateful to my noble friend. I look forward to those discussions. I hope the other interests which bear upon deer and which are on the face of the Bill, will be represented. Perhaps before we have our deliberations my noble friend will double check the legal advice which he received some time ago so that the anxieties, for instance, of the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, and others, can be met. With that stipulation I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 5 to 12 not moved.]

Clause 2 [Appointment of panels]:

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy moved Amendment No. 13:

Page 2, line 43, leave out ("may") and insert ("shall").

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The noble Lady said: My Lords, at Committee stage the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, had tabled an identical amendment to Amendment No. 13 on the Marshalled List. But to the great disappointment of the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, and myself, he did not move it. I do not know whether or not we could have moved it ourselves when our names were not to it; that is a detail I shall have to discover. Anyway, we have tabled the amendment again because it is really the other half of Amendment No. 14. Together they form a little package.

The effect of these two amendments is to oblige the commission to seek the advice of interested persons with knowledge and experience of deer management, agriculture, including crofting; forestry and woodland management and the natural heritage, as well as that of any Tom, Dick or Harry they may think fit before appointing a panel.

The importance of this is that if the panels are not composed of people with those kinds of knowledge and experience, the advice they are going to be able to give to the commission will not be worth having. While we are very glad that Amendment No. 89 of the noble Earl, Lord Lindsay, at Committee stage removed Section 6 powers from the panels, we are still of the view that perhaps the noble Earl is rather more starry-eyed over the possible future composition of the commission than we are and consequently of any appointments that it might make.

I shall look forward with great interest to the amendments the noble Earl said he will bring in at Third Reading on the question of the composition of the commission because, perhaps, we shall be more in line by then. At Committee stage he said he would give further thought to the composition of the panels. I wonder whether he has had time to do so. I beg to move.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I support these amendments which also stand in my name. Once again, one is brought up against the importance of getting the composition of the commission right. If one succeeds in that, no doubt the commission will exercise its powers in the manner suggested by the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, but just in case it does not fully live up to expectations in that regard, I cannot help feeling that the amendments would be useful at the local level. Precisely the same philosophy applies to these amendments at the local level as applied to the amendments to Clause 1 that we have just debated but at the national level. Therefore, I hope that my noble friend the Minister will be able to accept them.

7 p.m.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove: My Lords, perhaps I should say a word since I did not move my identical amendments at an earlier stage. I imagine that both the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, and the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, who served on the Committee will realise that there was some exhaustion at that point and that we

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wanted to speed up matters a little. I should be happy if the Minister could accept this amendment or at least find some words to meet its sentiments.

The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, I have a confession for noble Lords, and especially for the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun. She and others gave me so many things to think about between Committee and Report that this matter received slightly less of my attention than did some other clauses.

However, I should stress that I am sympathetic to what the amendments seek to achieve. It is important to remember that the commission itself is already balanced with appropriate representation from the main categories of interests. I hope that with the undertaking that I have given about tabling further amendments to Clause 1, some of your Lordships will feel that the commission will become even better balanced. It is that fully representative body which is to make decisions on the representation of local panels. With that in mind, I believe that the commission can be left to make balanced decisions on the appointment of panels. My concern is that in being too prescriptive we will make it more difficult for the commission to set up panels, should it wish to do so. As noble Lords will know, the local panel power has not been used since it was created in 1959.

I want to retain flexibility for the Deer Commission for Scotland. I hope that the composition of the commission commands the confidence not only of noble Lords but of Scotland as a whole that it can be trusted to set up such a local panel. I remind noble Lords that the panel has advisory powers only. It cannot exercise delegated executive powers. A local panel would be set up only subject to permission from the Secretary of State.

I shall now put this matter to the top of the list of those to be pondered between now and Third Reading, having realised that it occupied possibly the bottom place previously. With that undertaking and with possible further discussions with the noble Lady on whether the assurances that I have given tonight carry any weight, I hope that we can reach a decision about what to do on Third Reading.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: My Lords, the noble Earl is absolutely right and I am sure that we all agree that the composition of the commission is crucial. If the composition of the commission--I am sorry, but it is rather a tongue-twister--is right, everything else will fall into place. I look forward to hearing what the Minister may say on the subject on Third Reading. With that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 14 not moved.]

Clause 3 [Particular powers of the Commission]:

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