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Viscount Massereene and Ferrard: My Lords, I, too, support the amendment for the simple reason that the honest man should have nothing to hide. Many red deer carcasses go under the counter and the more that can be done to make that as difficult as possible, the better.

Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, I believe that subsection (1) of the amendment would be a useful inclusion in the Bill, but I believe that it is probably wrong to set out all the detail now. The deer groups should move not only to tag the deer, but to promote them in the sort of exercise that is now taking place in farming generally in Scotland in relation to beef, lamb and many other products. I believe that the Government should have the power, but that the detail should not be on the face of the Bill.

Lord Glenarthur: My Lords, powerful arguments were expressed behind the scenes, if not on the Floor of

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the House, in 1982 when we debated this matter. Those arguments seem to have been enormously strengthened during the past few weeks. I very much agree with all that my noble friend Lord Woolton said about confidence in the meat industry in this country. With those few words of commendation for my noble friend's amendment, I hope that my noble friend the Minister will be able to see his way to accepting some kind of enabling measure along the lines suggested by my noble friend Lord Pearson.

The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, when moving his amendment my noble friend Lord Pearson of Rannoch said that he was not going to rehearse all the arguments that we have usefully gone over in detail at earlier stages, and in responding to the amendment, I shall not go over all the arguments that I have used previously. I accept, as I have at every stage, that there is a strong case for tagging. I accept that I want to keep an open mind on this. Indeed, my noble friend Lord Woolton reminded me that I have done that. My mind remains open on the question of whether a strong case has been made for mandatory tagging as opposed to voluntary tagging by the industry.

The principle behind the proposal, which has been accepted by the Red Deer Commission, was introduced comparatively late in the day in terms of the formulation of the Bill. The Bill was the subject of three or four years of consultation. It was only once the Bill had started its progress through your Lordships' House--at the evidence-taking session in Edinburgh--that deer tagging suddenly became an urgent issue.

I am conscious that the introduction of mandatory carcass tagging will impose burdens on the many people in Scotland who have the right to shoot and deal in deer. Questions relating to the administration and enforcement of such a scheme need to be properly thought through. Of the benefits that have been explored at earlier stages, a number of noble Lords have mentioned BSE and traceability. The noble Lord, Lord Mackie, has pointed out that in the agricultural industry there are traceability systems which are incorporated into quality assurance schemes. Despite some of the animal health problems that have been experienced, to date the traceability procedures have not been compulsory; they have been voluntarily assumed by producers in order to gain market advantage over competitors.

My noble friend Lord Mountgarret refers to poaching. Tagging deters poaching, but whether that argument alone or the various benefits that are accumulated make a strong case for mandatory tagging is yet to be discovered. We believe that the case is not absolutely proven.

My noble friend Lord Nickson, who has a very important job and special interest and expertise in salmon, has prayed in aid the Salmon Act 1986. I acknowledge the point that he makes. However, I am glad to see in the Chamber my noble friend Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish. The contracting out and deregulation Act, which has been introduced since the Salmon Act, has changed the whole approach of government to new regulatory measures which impose

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a burden on business, however small those burdens appear to be. Quite rightly, it subjects proposals for such burdens to very careful compliance costs and cost benefit analysis. An essential part of this analysis is a properly conducted process of consultation with all potentially affected parties. That will allow all views to be taken into account.

My noble friend Lord Pearson asked who else there was left to consult. I acknowledge the flood of correspondence, bearing in mind the amount of correspondence that has come through my letter-box in the past few weeks from various organisations which support my noble friend's amendment. Given that there are hundreds of thousands of people in Scotland with the right to shoot deer, I imagine that there are still some people to consult. We wish to consult throughout the chain, from the person with the right to take or kill deer to the point of purchase for retailing on to the public. We wish to ensure that farmers and small land managers who now and then take a roe deer and drive up the road to hang it in their larder are consulted, because if there is no tag on it they will be committing an offence under the amendment as moved by my noble friend. They may do that once every year, or every 10 years, but it will still be an offence.

To reassure my noble friend, I have already alerted my officials that as soon as possible a consultation exercise will be conducted on this matter. Noble Lords in the Chamber who have been involved in creating policy will understand the process that has to be gone through, especially where new regulations are to be imposed. They will understand the need to produce a comprehensive argument with evidence across all bodies affected by such a scheme. The Deer Commission will be asked to look again at the proposals. It has commented upon them only in principle, not in detail. A contribution from that angle will be a vital part of the exercise. I renew my promise that, with sufficient evidence from consultees and various interests who will be affected, Ministers will give a positive consideration to this matter. I also flag up, as I did at Report stage, the ability to use the new fast-track procedure for Scottish legislation. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is anxious to seek measures that are required in Scotland which do not involve United Kingdom legislation in order that they can be used on this system. We will consult quickly and widely.

We have available the fast-track procedure for Scottish Bills, if this Bill passes through the other House and this House before the results of the consultation are known. On the basis of those assurances, I hope that my noble friend will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Viscount Mountgarret: My Lords, I ask my noble friend why it is so easy to have consultations with the many people that he rightly wishes to consult but not to accept the amendment. If there is an enabling provision and the consultation proves fruitful, it is a simple matter to press the trigger on enabling legislation. If it is not there, one has to go through the long-winded process of

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having an amendment to the Bill. Surely it is more sensible to have the enabling provision in the Bill in the first place.

The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, quite often this House takes a suspicious view of enabling legislation, especially when the need for such legislation has not been proven. I remind my noble friend that we now have a fast-track procedure for Scottish legislation. The size of the Bill required for the introduction of mandatory carcass tagging will be ideal for such a procedure. My noble friend Lord Pearson of Rannoch is often wary of future Secretaries of State having enabling powers which may be misused either accidentally or deliberately. I would rather present this legislation to the House at a later date, with the costs and benefits well proven and the burdens on all businesses involved thoroughly analysed, than simply introduce an enabling power for the Secretary of State without the case having been properly scrutinised.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend. I hope he will forgive me if I take his remarks about the deregulation initiative in this country with a pinch of European salt. I remind your Lordships that at the moment there are some 1,500 regulations which pour forth annually from the Brussels monster but do not even see the light of day for debate in your Lordships' House or the other place. I gather that not one of the pieces of deregulation brought forward in this country under the auspices of my right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister would have changed one word of any of the articles in the Sunday Telegraph written by Mr. Christopher Booker over the past three or four years on the burdens of overregulation. I trust that my noble friend will accept what I have just said as a general comment.

I thank him for his undertaking to continue the consultancy exercise, which I understand has already been initiated. I hope those noble Lords who support the amendment will wish to keep the pressure on for the fast-track procedure if the consultancy exercise produces the result which we all feel confident it will. With that proviso, and with thanks to my noble friend, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 11 [Interpretation of the principal Act]:

[Amendment No. 16 not moved.]

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy had given notice of her intention to move Amendment No. 17:


Page 11, line 30, leave out ("an aircraft") and insert ("a").

The noble Lady said: My Lords, having heard the Minister's explanation of why the amendment would be totally counter-productive, I am not moving it.

[Amendment No. 17 not moved.]

An amendment (privilege) made.

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5.30 p.m.

The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, I beg to move, That the Bill do now pass.

The Bill is an important measure to amend the legislation on deer management in Scotland set out in the Deer (Scotland) Act 1959 so that this legislation can be better fitted to meet the challenges of today and the new century.

Much has changed since the 1959 Act and since the previous amendment Act in 1982, especially relating to the nature of land use in upland Scotland and the increasing importance society as a whole places on the protection of our natural heritage. The Bill before your Lordships is designed to ensure that deer can continue to thrive as an important part of our natural and cultural heritage yet in harmony with their habitat and with other land uses.

The Bill achieves that aim by making significant changes to the powers and functions of the Deer Commission, to be renamed the Deer Commission for Scotland. The commission henceforth will be responsible for furthering the sustainable management of deer in addition to its existing general functions of furthering their conservation and control. It will now have equivalent powers for all species of deer and be able to exercise them in a manner which takes full account of the characteristics of individual species. It will be subject to a new balancing duty to take into account key issues such as the impact of deer on the natural heritage and the interests of other land uses and owners and occupiers in exercising its functions.

New, more flexible arrangements for the appointment of members of the commission will be introduced, so that the best available candidates can always be chosen. The advisory and research powers of the commission will be broadened and arrangements for appointing advisory local panels made more flexible.

Measures related to the protection of the natural heritage and dangers to public safety will be added to the various powers of the commission to authorise action to control deer. These powers will be in particular strengthened by the detailed provisions in Clause 5 for the commission to promote control agreements.

Clause 9 contains a number of measures to regulate the circumstances in which action can be taken by occupiers and owners, including at night and during the close season, to protect against damage or danger caused by deer. New provisions on close seasons will allow the Secretary of State to set all those by order.

All in all, the package of measures included in this Bill will provide a coherent and consistent framework for ensuring that deer are managed effectively for their own benefit as well as for the benefit of the wider community.

The House has subjected to detailed and careful scrutiny the original proposals put before it which were based on proposals put to us by the Deer Commission. I made it clear on Second Reading that I would listen very carefully to suggestions made by your Lordships for improvements to the wording first proposed, and I am very pleased to say that the work we have done

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together has achieved precisely that. It is a better Bill now as a result of your Lordships' scrutiny than when it arrived with us.

We broke new ground through the work of the Scottish Select Committee which met in Edinburgh in January to take evidence from a wide range of interested parties. I should like to pay a special tribute to the chairman of that committee, the noble Lord, Lord Wilson of Tillyorn, who I understand from all parties, and indeed saw when giving evidence, ran a productive and useful committee. It aided all the Bill's stages to have had that opportunity. That committee stage allowed many of the noble Lords involved the opportunity to learn more about what is to many a very esoteric subject so that we were all well prepared for our subsequent work.

In Committee and on Report we considered many amendments and accepted a significant number which acted for the most part to clarify the wording of the Bill. We have also accepted a number of important amendments today. I would stress again to the noble Lords, Lord Carmichael and Lord Mackie of Benshie, that the policy underlying all the clauses has remained the same, but its intention has been clarified through the introduction of various amendments.

The noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, has been diligent and thoughtful from the Bill's very first stages. We are grateful to him for the issues he has raised and for expressing his concerns over the consequences that may result to land which has been enclosed for forests or agriculture and the impact that that will have on deer normally resident over that ground.

The noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, expressed a number of concerns. Being a good and honest farmer from Angus, he used turnips in many of his examples of what the Bill will or will not do in relation to the management of deer. I am sorry that his noble friends Lord Mar and Kellie and Lady Robson of Kiddington are not here because they contributed greatly to the Bill's passage. The noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, was concerned about the use of the word "servants". The Consolidation Bill, which is almost complete, will address the term "servants", and I hope that any noble Lords who remain uneasy about the use of that term will be reassured.

The experience of many noble Lords of deer management at ground level has been especially useful. I refer especially to my noble friends Lord Astor, Lord Massereene and Ferrard and Lord Woolton, who, the whole House will be delighted to see, made his maiden speech on this Bill. It was a fine maiden speech.

The experience of my noble friend Lord Burton has been missing from every stage of the Bill, which is unusual. But he has been a constant presence through telephone calls and correspondence during the Bill's passage, so that he has played a part in the way that the Bill has proceeded.

I should like also to draw attention to noble Lords who have had previous experience of bringing forward deer legislation in the House. My noble friend Lord Forbes was the Minister in charge of the 1959 Act which

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this Bill seeks to amend. My noble friend Lord Glenarthur was involved in the 1982 amendment Act. I am grateful to them both for applying their skills and expertise to the Bill. A former Secretary of State for Scotland, my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy, is sadly not in his seat now, although he was here earlier this afternoon. He took a keen interest in the Bill, and due to his curiosity about the possible use of contraceptives in deer management he generated interest among the evening newspapers in various Scottish cities which Scottish legislation in your Lordships' House does not usually achieve.

I pay a special tribute to the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun of Abernethy, and to my noble friends Lord Glenarthur and Lord Pearson of Rannoch for their continuous commitment to the detail of the Bill and their continuous scrutiny of it to ensure that the Bill's intention is properly set out on the face of the Bill and that that achieves what I, from the Dispatch Box, explained. Some of the most important amendments to Clauses 1 and 4 are the result of the bright light that my three noble friends were able to shine on the matter.

I hope that the Bill will be welcomed and useful, and that the improvements that the House has brought to the Bill will be regarded as having made it a better piece of legislation. I look forward to the consolidation Bill which, in the normal way, will be published shortly after Second Reading in another place. I hope that the Bill will be a considerable improvement for all those involved in deer management and that we will have one document which deals with all the legislation on this subject rather than having to have an amendment Bill in one hand and the original Act in another. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.--(The Earl of Lindsay.)


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