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Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove: My Lords, the one person who the Minister could not congratulate was himself. He has done a remarkable job and was courteous at all times. I am sure that many noble Lords, particularly the few on this side of the House, are grateful that he was so courteous.
This is the second Bill with which I have been involved which was outwith the scope of my normal range and experience. When I look across the Chamber, I see almost exactly the same group of noble Lords who discussed a salmon Bill until two o'clock one morning. I then learnt a little about the great Atlantic salmon and so forth and during the past few weeks I have learnt a great deal about deer. I hope that we shall be less esoteric when we next discuss deer.
Someone from my background still has many questions about a Bill such as this. However, we got to know each other very well; we got to know each other's opinions and points of view. It was an experience for which I am extremely grateful. I am pleased that the Bill is now ready to go to another place; but there it may have a slightly rougher time.
It is a good Bill and it will be useful. It achieves one great aim; it brings in the Scottish National Heritage, widens its scope and shows the concern which we all have for our heritage at large as well as the particulars of deer management in Scotland. I wish the Bill well in another place.
Lord Forbes: My Lords, I too congratulate the Minister not only on being at the Dispatch Box after a sleepless night in Luxembourg but on the way in which he has handled the Bill. My noble friend has spoken with great clarity and courtesy in carrying out his task of steering the Bill through your Lordships' House. We are all most grateful to him for the way in which he has handled it.
The success of the Bill, which amends the 1959 Act, will depend largely on the members of the Deer Commission for Scotland. I cannot emphasise too strongly that its members must be chosen with the greatest care. They must be chosen for their wisdom rather than their technical or scientific merits. The commission has considerable latitude over any action it takes so the onus is on it to use its wisdom. I look forward to the day when a consolidated Deer (Scotland) Act reaches the statute book.
Lord Glenarthur: My Lords, perhaps I may follow my noble friend Lord Forbes and congratulate my noble friend Lord Lindsay on all that he has achieved in getting the Bill to its present state. I endorse all the remarks about the way in which he has handled the Bill. I am grateful to him for the way in which he has listened to all the arguments and has taken matters forward in a way which all of us agree has improved the Bill no end.
He has not been alone in that because others have been associated with the Bill throughout its long gestation period prior to reaching your Lordships' House. For a number of years they have played a large part behind the scenes and have been most helpful to those of us who have taken an interest in the Bill. I remember the intense relief, as I expect does my noble friend Lord Forbes, of reaching this point in respect of the Deer (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill 1982 and seeing it on its way to another place. When it came back to your Lordships' House I was not able to take it on but I hope that when this Bill returns my noble friend Lord Lindsay will be able to do so. We all expect that. I wish the Bill a speedy passage to the statute book.
Lord Wilson of Tillyorn: My Lords, the Minister was kind enough to mention that I had the honour and interesting task of being chairman of the Select Committee set up by your Lordships' House to consider the Bill. Since that was an historic occasion, perhaps it
Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: My Lords, I wish first to say a word or two about the Select Committee which was chaired so ably by the noble Lord, Lord Wilson of Tillyorn. Most of us believe that it was a useful exercise. It provided the opportunity to receive submissions from so many diverse organisations and to clarify various points by questioning their representatives. Then to have all that body's evidence gathered together in one publication was most helpful in later stages of the Bill. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, has one or two constructive suggestions about how such Select Committees might be even more useful. I shall leave that to him.
Most of us are very happy with the Bill as it now stands. The noble Earl was most helpful in meeting some of us in between its various stages. As a result amendments--mostly Government amendments--were tabled to meet all the principal concerns of, in particular, the noble Lords, Lord Pearson and Lord Glenarthur, and myself. No Divisions have taken place. I thank the noble Earl for that; we are most grateful to him. I also thank him for his kind tribute to myself, over which I am still glowing. Finally, I wish the Bill a speedy and uneventful passage through another place from which we all hope it will return in as good condition as it leaves us now.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I shall not trouble your Lordships by repeating what has been said. Were I to speak at any length I should be repeating everything that has been said so far. The noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, suggested that I might have something to put forward about our Select Committee meeting in Edinburgh. I suggest that it might be helpful if in future such committees which have near unanimity at the end of their proceedings on any particular subject might be allowed to make the briefest of reports to your Lordships' House. I believe that that might have been helpful on this occasion and I can but recommend it to the usual channels or whoever considers the procedure of such committees in future. I believe that if there had been such a report the wish to put welfare onto the face of the Bill in some way and to remove the spectre of helicopters driving deer and causing them great distress would have been one of unanimity.
The other important changes which he has been able to agree are to clarify the powers of the new commission to enhance the natural heritage on open ground; that will have to be subject to the consent of owners and occupiers in future.
I end by agreeing with something that my noble friend Lord Forbes said which is, of course, that nothing will be more important than the composition of the commission in future. I very much hope that the Bill as it leaves your Lordships' House will enable the commission to continue to do the good work which it has started to do over the past few years in collaboration with the Association of Deer Management Groups and Scottish Natural Heritage. With that hope, I wish the Bill well in another place.
The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, described himself as being outside his normal range when he addressed this Bill. Part of the definition which we apply to marauding deer, certainly from the Dispatch Box, is that they are deer which are outside their normal range. I suggest that as a marauding Peer, he did very well. The second part of the definition of marauding deer is that they are not being effectively controlled. But I think that is for the noble Lord's Chief Whip to decide and not for me.
Perhaps I may say to the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, that the intention behind the Bill is that a balance is maintained through all the powers of the commission. Without balance, the commission will not command confidence and if it cannot do that, it cannot promote voluntary agreements. Over the past 30 or more years, it has had a tremendous record in relation to promoting voluntary action and there is nothing to suggest that the commission will seek to follow any path other than that which it has trodden so successfully to date.
I am grateful for the remarks of the noble Lords who have supported the Bill. For those noble Lords who do not know it, my noble friends Lord Forbes and Lord Glenarthur steered the earlier legislation in this area. My officials advise me that the 1959 Act and the 1982 amendment Act were a great deal more complicated than this modest 1996 Bill. Therefore, I commend them in retrospect for what they achieved with that legislation. I commend the Bill to the House.