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Lord Glentoran: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for giving way. Does she agree that Section 108 of the 1995 Act contains several provisions which could be seen as protective provisions relating to the use of this power to determine whether provisions of pollution control enactments are complied with? Those similar provisions are not in these regulations.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I assure the noble Lord that this legislation is being enacted in line with the normal practice. The

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enforcement of the regulations will be carried out primarily by the police. Notices have been sent to chief constables of all police forces in England authorising them to enforce the legislation. There may be occasions, albeit very rare, when organisations such as the Environment Agency or English Nature are better placed to enforce the regulations. We need that element of flexibility. However, I assure the House that there are no plans whatever to give enforcement powers to any NGOs. The regulation does not give powers to enforcing authorities to enter dwelling houses without a warrant. Several noble Lords raised the issue of the right to enter premises. Authorised persons have power only to enter non-residential premises in order to make necessary examinations and carry out their investigations.

Lord Marlesford: My Lords, before the noble Baroness leaves that point, she said that there might be occasions when bodies other than the police--she mentioned the Environment Agency and English Nature--may be in a better position and therefore may be authorised by the Secretary of State to enforce these regulations, under paragraph 1(4)(i), which means entering premises. What arrangements are proposed to inform Parliament if and when that happens?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I am not aware of any arrangements to inform Parliament. I shall write to the noble Lord if I am wrong about that. I do not believe that it is normal practice for that to occur, nor that that was envisaged in the original measure which, as the noble Lord will be only too well aware, was passed under the previous administration. As I have said, if I am wrong on that, I shall write to the noble Lord and place a copy in the Library.

I was asked about a punt gun. In so far as it uses lead shot it is covered by the regulations.

In closing, I am conscious that this is a complex subject. In spite of badly overrunning my time, I have not been able to answer all the points raised by noble Lords.

I assure the noble Lord, Lord Dunleath, that this is not the beginning of the end of allowing shooting and wildfowling. That is not the intention of the Government. Having listened to the noble Lord, Lord Burton, he will be aware that across the House there is concern that, while shooting and wildfowling can continue, the use of lead shot, where it damages wildlife, should be controlled and constrained to protect the species.

The noble Lords, Lord Marlesford and Lord Kimball, raised many complex issues concerning which sites are covered. I know that the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, will be pleased to know that the Government are aware that the lists of sites covered by regulation might need revision. They are willing to consider whether any changes to the list of sites are needed and, if necessary, will make changes to regulations in the light of any difficulties encountered. In addition, the Government will reconvene the

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working group of interested parties at the end of this year's hunting season to assess the effectiveness of the regulation.

Having listened to the debate today, I have absolutely no doubt that the response to that consultation will be detailed and knowledgeable and will obviously inform the Government in order that the best decisions can be made.

5.23 p.m.

The Earl of Lytton: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords for their contributions to today's debate. I am extremely grateful to them for taking part. Perhaps noble Lords will excuse me if I do not mention individual contributors by name; the Minister has been through the matter exhaustively. In view of the time we have taken, I shall keep my remarks to a respectable length, if not an absolute minimum.

I turn to the comments made by the Minister. I believe I am right in saying that the evidence of toxic effects, particularly to mallard, was based on a tiny sample. I simply ask whether that was statistically relevant for the purposes of backing up the need for the regulations.

I am bound to accept that the phasing out of lead shot is probably desirable as a general objective, subject to it being found to be necessary. The emphasis on what is necessary is where I shall start and finish.

I was gratified that the noble Baroness referred to the fact that there was no intention to extend a complete ban to forested areas. I was also glad to hear her closing remarks on the question of reviewing which sites of special scientific interest, and perhaps which parts of them, would be included in future. Had she also agreed to review the species list, I would have been much happier. I am bound to say that the fact that plover and snipe could feed on wetland areas seems to me to be a remarkably thin piece of technical evidence. With the greatest respect to the noble Baroness, Lady Young, if that is the standard being put forward by the Government's nature adviser, I believe that every landowner and shoot manager will take due note of that and of what has been said here today.

One issue which concerns me is liability. I am pleased to note that the burden of proof will be on the authorities. I am concerned about strict environmental liability. I had a real panic attack after the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, made her comments. We know what happens under environmental legislation. If the polluter cannot be found, the landowner, the owner of the property who is there with his goods and chattels, is in the firing line, even if he is self-evidently not the person who has perpetrated the act of pollution. When we discussed that measure in 1994-1995, I said that that was wrong. I still say that it is wrong. That is looking for deep pockets, not for people who are culpable of criminal offences. That is a point I particularly want to stress.

I am pleased to hear that the working party will be reconvened. I hope that that will give those who remain in this House and those who have had so much input into this matter in the past an opportunity of

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raising issues such as species, geographical areas, the use of particular shot and whether there are difficulties in the light of the shooting season.

From my own personal shooting operations, I know that it will be impractical to change shot for shooting the mallard we have reared. I have issued instructions to my shoot staff that the mallard will simply be caught up in due course when they are mature and put in the freezer. The only sensible thing to do is to send them off unshot in that way. I said to my local branch of English Nature that if they thought that a 40 per cent fall in the mallard population over the past couple of years was high--I understand that that was the order of magnitude--to expect an even bigger one next year. John Lytton will not be putting down more ducks until there is a practical way of shooting them on a mixed shooting estate. There are real problems in dealing with this issue. Noble Lords have explained how it is practically impossible to try to enforce this as a matter of contract. It will be something of a nightmare. It is best for me to say that we will not deal with duck any more.

I am concerned about what might happen to forestry and about the criticisms of steel shot. I am also concerned with steel shot in use in older guns in particular. That needs careful watching.

I do not feel it appropriate to seek the opinion of the House on this issue. The Minister is quite clear as to where we are all coming from. I echo the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Young. We should not have a situation where landowners and shoot managers are at loggerheads with the conservation authorities. However, by the same token, as I said earlier, such authorities need to watch their step. It is no good for these matters to be done "on sus". They need to be based on hard, understandable facts. They should not be done in the neural network of discussions between conservationists, but should be understandable as practical expediencies to landowners.

As I said earlier, this is the last occasion on which I shall address your Lordships, and I ask your indulgence. I have been honoured to serve in this House. I have been supported throughout by the indulgence of your Lordships, for which I am extremely grateful. I am also grateful to the Officers and staff of the House--I cannot mention them all by name--for their support, commitment, total expertise and devotion.

I shall leave here with a slightly heavy heart. On the other hand I do not regard myself as indispensable here; I never have. There is probably as much that I can do outside the House as in. I have a profession to which I shall return--indeed, which I have never left. The cost of attending here to deal with some of the legislation with which I have been involved has, at times, been high. However, it has been an enormous challenge and privilege. I wish your Lordships well for the future. I am slightly fearful as to how things will "pan out", to use the vernacular. However, I pray that wise counsel will remain with those in this House to continue the independence of view that has always been its hallmark. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

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