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"( ) the marketing, sale and introduction of wild bird species, hybrids and cultivars derived from hybrids, including those considered indigenous or naturalized to the British Isles as well as those considered not ordinarily resident, or"
The noble Duke said: In speaking to Amendment No. 293C, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 293D. This amendment would ensure that the code of
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practice inserted at Clause 50 is not confined merely to known non-native species. We fully support the code of practice on known non-native species, but consider that it could be extended to ensure that the effects of hybrid species and their cultivars are kept well under check. This amendment focuses on what should be included in a code of practice and not on the specific control of non-native species. For the code to cover just known non-native species effectively shuts the stable door after the horse has bolted. Non-native species should be tackled at the point of invasion.
"For the people who buy or use native plants for large-scale landscaping, forestry or ecological restoration projects, the lack of information on the native origin of plants they buy has been a significant problem. Currently, the majority of plants and seed on sale do not say where they originate from. There is also a different interpretation of terms, such as 'origin' and 'provenance' used in horticulture. This creates confusion, and makes selection of plants of appropriate origin almost impossible".
Clause 50 would not improve that situation. I understand that this may have implications for the Trade Descriptions Act and would remind noble Lords that this is a probing amendment. The amendment stands to suggest to the Minister that the code of practice, while promising, is not wide enough. The sale of non-native seed species could be detrimental to biodiversity. The code of practice should encourage the planting and establishment of indigenous species and discourage the use of non-native species, particularly in ecologically sensitive areas. To widen the code of practice along the lines of our amendment would ensure that the code is proactive and would assist the trade and the consumer to practice in the best interests of the environment.
On a lighter note, as we consider invasive species, when the noble Baroness, Lady Farrington of Ribbleton, raised slightly unintentionally the question of Martians, I had visions that we had better get this issue of non-invasive species right in case someone started quoting to us the fact that Martians would contribute to biodiversity. I beg to move.
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: Clause 50 provides a power for the Secretary of State to issue codes of practice relating to non-native species or to approve such codes issued by others. Amendment No. 293D seeks to remove one of the categories for which such codes may be issued. Amendment No. 293C adds an alternative.
"the marketing, sale and introduction of wild bird species, hybrids and cultivars derived from hybrids, including those considered indigenous or naturalised to the British Isles as well as those considered not ordinarily resident".
The category removed by Amendment No. 293D is the species of animals and plants listed in Schedule 9. These are those species, such as the ruddy duck, or Japanese knotweed, which have become established in Great Britain and are considered to be ordinarily
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resident. They are listed on the schedule because of the problems that they cause in the wider environment and because we want to prevent further human introduction. These are the very species which are most likely to form the subject of a code of practice, and it would make no sense at all to prevent such codes being issued in relation to them.
Amendment No. 293C seeks to widen the scope of creatures to which the codes may relate: it specifically includes wild bird species, which already come within the term "animal" in Clause 49(3)(c), hybrids, which we already take to come within the scope of "not ordinarily resident in", and cultivars of hybrids. I assume that this is to ensure that cultivated varieties of hybrid plants are covered.
The noble Duke explained that these are probing amendments. I hope that he is reassured by my answer. There is currently no prohibition under Section 14 of the 1981 Act on planting hybrids in the wild or from causing them to grow there. That is because no hybrid plant species are currently listed in Schedule 9. We believe that our legislation is adequate for the reason that any plant, including hybrids, can be listed in Schedule 9, and Section 14 will therefore apply.
The amendment also widens the scope of Clause 50 to include those species which are considered indigenous or naturalised. Presumably, these are included so that codes may be issued in relation to species which are considered to be ordinarily resident but are not listed in Schedule 9for example, rabbits. This really widens out the list of species for which a code may be issued, if we so wished.
Paradoxically, this amendment, while being unnecessarily detailed and wide in scope on the one hand, is too restrictive on the other. It stipulates that codes issued under the new subsection may be drawn up only in relation to the "marketing, sale and introduction" of such species; that is, by implication they may not apply to their keeping or breeding. This is far too restrictive as we would want for example to issue guidance on how to prevent accidental escapes unrelated to commercial activity.
A further restriction is that, in relation to plants, codes would be issued or approved in relation only to plant hybrids and cultivars of hybrids. It would no longer be possible to issue codes relating to pure plant species, such as Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed, and so on. The current drafting of the clause is considered perfectly adequate. It has the potential to cover all non-native species which are considered to pose a threat to our native wildlife. The horticultural code of practice, published last March and launched by the Minister, Ben Bradshaw, encouraged people to buy and plant native species in preference to non-native species. The power in Clause 49 will ban the sale of certain non-native species. It is envisaged that the species to be banned will include plants known to be invasive. I note that the noble Duke said that this is a probing amendment. I have tried in my answer to cover all the points that could be raised in this context.
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