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Earl Peel: My Lords, perhaps I may speak to Amendments Nos. 34, 35 and 40 which have been grouped with the government amendments. I turn first to Amendment No. 34. Schedule 2 provides that any walker who indulges in,
I believe that the Government should clarify the situation, ideally in Schedule 2, so that it is put on to the face of the Bill. Unfortunately, such interference is a common occurrence, causing immense irritation to farmers and keepers and wasting much valuable time. Someone who destroys a trap or snare would clearly be in breach of a regulation. I accept that. However, the status of someone who interferes with such an instrument remains unclear. There is a difference between the two. I should be grateful if the Minister could respond to that point.
Ideally, I should like to see the word "interfering" put on to the face of the Bill in Schedule 2. Failing that, I hope that the Minister will, at the very least, confirm that interference with such an instrument will be specifically mentioned in the code of conduct. It should not be dealt with simply in the catch-all paragraphs 1(o) and (p).
Turning to Amendment No. 35, the Minister kindly accepted my Amendment No. 111 in Committee, which sought to preclude anyone trapping anything on access land. However, the word "trapping" should have been included in a complementary amendment in order to preclude anyone having with them any instrument or apparatus for trapping. This is a drafting amendment which I feel confident the Minister will accept.
The list of criminal activities covered by Amendment No. 40 were removed from Schedule 2 in another place and were embraced by paragraph 1(d) of Schedule 2, which covers all criminal offences. This is quite an important point. In Committee we discussed the potential lay-out of Schedule 2. We discussed which offences should be specifically mentioned and which offences should not. We also discussed whether it would be helpful to differentiate between those acts of trespass which are criminal and those which will be subject to civil law.
I do not know whether the Minister has given this suggestion any further consideration. If he has not, presumably he will dismiss what I have just said. If he has, perhaps he may come forward with something which will be helpful to the lay-out of Schedule 2. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, also supported the suggestion at Committee stage.
In view of the serious nature of the offences covered by the amendment--which were excluded from Schedule 2 in another place--can the Minister assure me that, if they are not to be mentioned in the schedule, they will be specifically referred to in the code of conduct?
Lord Monson: My Lords, I have added my name to Amendments Nos. 38 and 39. I cannot, of course, speak for the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, but I am happy to accept the Government's alternative amendments--not least because they appear rather higher up on the list of prohibitions and are therefore slightly more likely to be spotted by members of the general public.
I support Amendment No. 34, which has been brought forward by the noble Earl, Lord Peel. I do not think it is replicated anywhere else in the list of amendments. It is a much more significant amendment than it may appear at first glance. I also support Amendment No. 40.
It may be that the Government will argue that the points made by the noble Earl are covered elsewhere--we shall have to wait for the Minister's reply--but certainly Amendment No. 34 is very important.
Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, Amendment No. 37 in this grouping, which stands in my name and that of my noble friend Lady Miller, is, in a non-technical sense, consequential on government Amendment No. 36, which deals with interference with fences, barriers and so on. Very often the means of keeping people out, or warning them to keep out, is a notice rather than a fence. It seems to me that it is appropriate to put into this list of items,
Lord Hardy of Wath: My Lords, perhaps I may offer one brief comment on the amendment of the noble Earl, Lord Peel. If the Minister is to act on the noble Earl's advice, will he insert either the word "legal" or "legitimate" before "traps"?
I know that the noble Earl would not dream of using gin traps on his land, but some people still do. Not all that many years ago there was a gin trap placed on a child's nature trail in South Yorkshire. Some people still use traps which are banned under the 1981 Act. If I saw such an illegal trap, I should move it. I would not wish to be prosecuted for doing so. I hope that the question of the legitimacy of the trap will be considered in any of my noble friend's comments or actions.
The amendment that we debated in Committee sought to include a reference to the introduction of parasites as a result of dogs being improperly dosed. At present, no other amendment on the Marshalled List deals with the subject. If the Government do not intend to bring forward a provision, we may return to the matter at Third Reading.
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, when the Minister replies, will he say a little more about Amendments Nos. 148 and 149? He skipped lightly over them and said that the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee had stated that the regulation provisions were tipped too strongly against farmers and landowners. The Government seem to have disagreed with the committee in wanting to tip them that way, which is rather unusual. Will the Minister tell the House exactly what are the implications of that?
Lord Luke: My Lords, I shall speak to Amendments Nos. 38 and 39. I agree entirely with what the noble Lord, Lord Monson, said about Amendment No. 38. Government Amendment No. 33 is much better worded than ours, so I shall not move it.
The Minister briefly mentioned Amendment No. 39. We have a certain amount of doubt about the government amendment. The current list of restrictions appears to omit any reference to interference with mineshaft covers, fences, etc, designed to safeguard the public. The wording of our amendment is lifted straight from the precedent in the Peak District national park by-laws for access agreement land. Tampering may not involve criminal damage, so would not be covered by the general prohibition on criminal activity on access land. I should like to hear more about that from the Minister.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, perhaps I may deal first with the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour. The Select Committee indicated that it thought that these powers would allow us, by regulation, to remove restricted activities as well as add restricted activities and accordingly recommended that the power should be deleted. We considered that that would mean that the Bill could not be updated. For example, had this Bill been passed 15 years ago, it would not have included a reference to hang-gliding, and it might well have included reference to certain activities that no longer occur in the countryside. We felt that in order to keep the Bill up to date we needed some way of dealing with that situation by regulation.
In relation to Amendment No. 34 tabled by the noble Earl, Lord Peel, it is clear to us that if paragraphs 1(o) and 1(p) are taken together--paragraph 1(p) refers to "disturbance"--that must include interference. We therefore do not think that an additional reference to interference on the face of the Bill is necessary. If that needs clarifying in subsequent codes, we shall consider doing so; however, I believe that the point is fully covered in the schedule as it stands.
Amendment No. 35 refers to trapping. I accept that, logically, we should include trapping. I can reassure my noble friend Lord Hardy--who I would hate to see charged with a criminal offence--that all these activities relate to activities being carried out lawfully. Therefore, there is no need to repeat that in this context.
In Amendment No. 40, the noble Earl, Lord Peel, seeks to reinstate the restrictions that were deleted on Report. Instead of picking out particular criminal activities, we have placed the reference to "any criminal activity" in the schedule. That is not perhaps quite as tidy as we would wish because the other offences in the schedule are basically similar, although some could become criminal offences--such as the destroying of an egg. However, the blanket reference to all criminal offences subsumes all those that are suggested in Amendment No. 40. The remaining specified offences are, essentially, criminal or specific offences. I give way.
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