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The Earl of Woolton: My Lords, I should like to support all the amendments relating to membership of the new commission put forward by the Minister. At Report stage I was still not convinced that the correct balance had been found for the various interest groups; there were concerns still being expressed by those organisations representing deer managers about their future representation. These new amendments seek to address those concerns and they remove much of the ambiguity surrounding the issue.

Specifying that one-third of the commission should be nominated by the organisations representing the interests of deer managers should give reassurance to those with the task of implementing deer management on the ground that their interests and opinions will be given proper consideration and hearing. Provided that the Association of Deer Management Groups is one of the nominating organisations--I am pleased that the Minister has confirmed that--I believe that the new commission now has the correct balance of interests while at the same time retaining necessary flexibility and should therefore command the widest possible support from all organisations with an interest in the management and welfare of Scotland's deer.

I welcome the amendments and congratulate my noble friend the Minister on the positive and helpful way that he has handled this sensitive issue.

Lord Taylor of Gryfe: My Lords, I regret that it was not possible for me to attend at Edinburgh, where I gather that there were fruitful discussions on this and other matters. I commend the proceedings at Edinburgh.

I may be out of order in making this comment as regards representation on the Deer Commission. I have heard noble Lords putting down their marker regarding their respective interests and organisations. As noble Lords will appreciate, as chairman of the Forestry Commission I spent a fair amount of time covering the largest estate in Scotland--indeed, in the United Kingdom. The commission was made up of a variety of interests, not unlike the body now under discussion.

One of the areas specifically referred to in the Act governing the Forestry Commission was the representation of those who had experience in labour relations in countryside affairs. Those various worthy organisations which have been mentioned this afternoon inevitably have experience in that regard, but there is merit in having some of the operators in the field of land management and deer conservation with some voice as regards policy. That could be extremely helpful. The point is not introduced in a confrontational sense, but as regards having the co-operation of the labour force which will be operating this piece of legislation.

Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, I am afraid that I shall be introducing a slightly contentious note. It appears to me that the Minister has gone too far. I should like his assurance that he will go no further. In

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my view, he cannot possibly accept Amendment No. 9 proposed by his noble friend Lord Pearson of Rannoch. His noble friend specified the trouble with the amendment when he said that he wanted to exclude organisations which took a contrary view to his way of thinking from the one-third of the commission to be appointed. I hope that the amendments which the Minister has put down to appease his noble friends will leave the Secretary of State in control of those appointed. As I understand it, the reason for giving the Secretary of State the power to pick members, as against their nomination by those bodies, was that the system had not been working. I hope that the Minister can give us an assurance that that is so and that a body like the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds would be eligible. I have heard its handling of deer on Abernethy praised by experts in the field. The society handles many deer forests and I hope that it would be considered as having the expertise necessary to be appointed in this case. The Scottish Landowners' Federation should also be one of the bodies eligible that has experience in the handling of deer.

Can the Minister tell us how many organisations will be consulted? He said that they were not statutory bodies and could not be named on the face of the Bill. It would be useful if the Minister could tell us which ones are concerned. At the moment I view the amendments with fear and displeasure. I thought that the provisions were right to start with in the Bill but I wait to hear what the Minister has to say.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: My Lords, surely an organisation such as the RSPB would be covered under subsection (3)(3A)(a)(iv), "the natural heritage".

The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, perhaps I may address first Amendment No. 9 proposed by my noble friend Lord Pearson of Rannoch. Then I shall pick up on the comments made by other noble Lords on the group of government amendments. Referring to my noble friend's amendments, the effect of the amendments I have moved is to ensure that it is from nominees of bone fide organisations representing the interests of deer managers that the Secretary of State will select the members of the commission whom he chooses to represent that category. Organisations which do not represent the interests of deer managers as their primary purpose will fall into other categories. The crucial word is "represent". My noble friend is quite right to compliment the RSPB on its record of working with deer and deer management at Abernethy. Other noble Lords have also pointed out its commendable record.

However, as an organisation, the RSPB does not have objectives which represent deer and deer management. Its objectives are devoted primarily to ornithological subjects and the organisation would not fall within this category, it would come into other categories. I hope to reassure the noble Lord, Lord Mackie, that the RSPB is an obvious organisation which will be consulted and it may provide from within its own ranks a commissioner because of its experience with the natural environment and how it impacts on deer management.

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I draw the attention of noble Lords to Clause 1(3)(3B) which states:


    "Before making an appointment under subsection (3A) above, the Secretary of State shall ... afford to such persons or organisations as he thinks fit an opportunity to suggest the name of any person who would in their view be an appropriate person".
The persons so appointed, in other words under the subsection on the natural heritage, will be expected under subsection (3)(3A):


    "to have knowledge or experience of one or more of the following matters ... in so far as that matter may be affected by the Commission's exercise of their functions".
I make that point because the experience of the RSPB with deer management, as it impacts on the expertise that the organisation has of regenerating forestry or ornithological matters, makes it eligible for the Clause 1 nomination.

My noble friend was quite right, the ADMG is an obvious candidate for nominating persons for the deer management section of the commission, a minimum of one-third deer managers. However, because it is a non-statutory body it cannot be named on the face of the Bill. I can reassure my noble friend that as regards deer farmers, under Clause 10 farmed deer are, for most practical purposes, excluded from the scope of the 1959 Act. The term "deer management" therefore applies to the management of wild deer and not farmed deer.

I am grateful for the support from the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, and my noble friends Lord Glenarthur and Lord Woolton for the Government's amendments. I say to the noble Lords, Lord Carmichael and Lord Mackie of Benshie, that we do not seek a cosy relationship, through the provisions, with certain interests involved in deer management nor do we seek in any way to unbalance the commission. The primary purpose is to inspire confidence in those people whose primary duty is to manage deer. They have deer management at the heart of their activities and all the related activities. Therefore, it is vital, because of the importance that the Deer Commission places on the voluntary principle and voluntary agreement, that it has the confidence of deer managers.

The amendment is proposed in response to many observations and comments made at all stages of the Bill. It is designed to encapsulate our intentions for that section of the Deer Commission that represents deer managers. The word "appeasement" is totally irrelevant in that context. We intend the deer management section to represent the activities with which the Association of Deer Management Groups is involved.

Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, perhaps I may ask the Minister a question. Can he assure us that there are enough groups concerned with deer management to give the Secretary of State a choice from among the nominees they propose?

The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Pearson of Rannoch named three groups to begin with, and the Association of Deer Management Groups is exactly that--an association of many groups of people who manage deer. There is no shortage of avenues for

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nominees. The overlap between the British Deer Society, the British Field Sports Society and the Association of Deer Management Groups will ensure that both cohesion and a width of field will be available to any Secretary of State.

I must also reassure the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, that crofters are already guaranteed representation on the Deer Commission. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, that we see forestry as being a critical interest which must be properly represented on the Deer Commission. I am glad that he reminded the House of his illustrious career with the Forestry Commission. He was a chairman who is still remembered at Forestry Commission headquarters. He rightly points out that the Forestry Commission is a huge landowner; it still owns over 1 million hectares, despite the erroneous fears of some Members opposite who feel that the modest sales of about 1 per cent. of the holding per annum for the sake of rationalisation is, for some reason, privatisation by the back door. It will take 100 years to achieve that if that is the theory held by noble Lords opposite.

The Forestry Commission is an organisation that any Secretary of State would want to consult before appointing commissioners who could represent the forestry interests on the commission. Indeed, someone within the ranks of public or private sector forestry might be suitable to be a commissioner.

On the matter of labour, I can reassure the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, that it is open to nominating bodies and bodies that are consulted to put forward names which they think are fit for consideration by the Secretary of State. So if, for instance, a stalker was put forward by one of the nominating groups from the deer management section, it would be for the Secretary of State to judge the eligibility of that potential member against others.

I hope I have answered most of the points raised. The crucial point expressed by those who doubted the need for this amendment is that we are determined that the commission should retain a balance and also that it should retain the confidence of those who spend most of their time and their focus on deer management at ground level.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

4.30 p.m.

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendments Nos. 5 to 7:


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