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The Earl of Lindsay: I have made it abundantly clear--indeed, the draftsman makes it abundantly clear--that the Clause 4 powers amending Section 6 of the 1959 Act and the amendments to the Section 7 control orders in Clause 5 can be employed only to protect the natural heritage against serious damage. They cannot be employed to protect the natural heritage against damage that is less than serious; they cannot be employed for any form of enhancement. There are other avenues and opportunities available for the enhancement of the natural heritage and it may be that a control agreement, as part of its agenda, can have some sort of enhancement as one of its objectives. Most owners and occupiers of a deer range, in seeking to enhance the natural heritage or where others are seeking to persuade them that they should do so, may well be looking to the Forestry Commission or to SNH for the sort of programme to follow, but the application of the powers outlined in Clause 4, marauding deer powers, or in Clause 5, control schemes, are only able to be used where they will prevent serious damage. I made that abundantly clear, and the Bill makes that abundantly clear. If in a flash of inspiration any of the advisors working with me on the Bill can find a legally safe way of making it even clearer to noble Lords, I myself will bring the amendment forward, but I am not wracked with worry if a legally watertight definition of the word "enhancement", which does not prevent protection against serious damage, can be found, vis-a-vis the clarity which we have got into the Bill in confining those powers to the prevention of serious damage.
The concept of natural heritage is a broad one, especially in a country like Scotland which has such an extraordinarily diverse topography, and therefore for the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, to seek to exclude grouse moors or to have some moral uncertainties about deer and how they are managed traditionally, I find somewhat strange. The well-managed grouse moors provide an essential part of Scotland's natural heritage, and the red grouse itself is one of Scotland's unique contributions to global biodiversity. The contribution that grouse moor management can make to Scotland's landscapes and to its habitats is crucial.
I also would be somewhat cautious about mocking or undermining the sporting methods used in traditional deer management, in that they provide vital income to many remote areas. If you are supporting an extra family in the area, from the sporting income which is available, you are also supporting the garage where the family buys its car, the school where the children go to school,
I would say to my noble friend Lord Pearson that the definitions of natural heritage extend from woodland to the habitat within woodland, and indeed to the habitat that we find outside woodland. At the same time, I hope he will take some comfort from the fact that long-term damage cannot be tackled through Clause 4 powers. For instance, you cannot say that you have an emergency situation where no other options are available to you and you are preventing the serious damage which has occurred unexpectedly, when deer have been in that area and behaving in that way for many years. Therefore, we are looking in terms of emergency protection of the natural heritage against serious damage, for instance, in circumstances where deer come unexpectedly on to ground where they are not usually resident and where the natural heritage of that ground, which is notable, is suddenly subject to serious damage. Then, if there are no other powers available to the commission--and there are considerable other powers available to the commission--and one is at the last resort option, only then can the Section 6 marauding powers be activated as amended by Clause 4 of the Bill.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: I am most grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken and especially for the somewhat unexpected support of the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove. I should just say that the forests--that is, the trees--have been on the retreat probably since the Bronze Age and certainly since Roman times. They were in fact destroyed not by grouse moor owners but by the requirements of the charcoal burners and the Navy over many centuries. Then, of course, 150 years ago, we had the infamous Highland clearances which brought sheep, not deer, to the Highlands and it was the sheep that then paved the way for what became the grouse moors and then the deer forests.
The noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, asks, if the people of this country decide that they want the whole place to be covered in trees and returned to the Roman period or whatever period it may be, who are the landowners to stand in their way? I would have to reply--I believe my noble friend the Minister indicated this--that if that is the way the country wants to go, then it should be by negotiated management through Clause 5 of the Bill, unless the noble Lord, Lord Mackie, is recommending straight confiscation without appeal from the landowners in question on the value of their deer forests, and I cannot believe that he is advocating that. However, it is the powers within Clause 4 which worry me particularly in that regard.
I was most grateful to hear what my noble friend Lord Lindsay said towards the end of his remarks. When he began his comments he said that it must be absolutely clear that the Clause 4 powers can only be used to
I am encouraged to hear my noble friend say that. However, as we read it, that is not on the face of the Bill in front of us today. We have no definition of "maraud" and we have a very wide definition of "woodland" which, as far as I can see, would include large areas of deer forest and grouse moor where small trees, shrubs, rowan and birch two or three inches high are in among the heather. They are grazed principally by sheep, which unfortunately are not the object of this Bill, but also by deer. Within the definition of this Bill, as it stands, that would be woodland. Even if we do not get as far as the difficulties and ambiguity of the meaning of the words "natural heritage", we still have the problem with "woodland".
As I say--I do not want to take more of the Committee's time--the people who wish to have vast reductions in the numbers of deer without deer fencing already say that serious damage is occurring. Therefore, if we can find some way of putting into the Bill what my noble friend the Minister has said as to the fact that the powers of Clause 4 cannot be used against the existing situation and that it would then be for Clause 5 management agreements, negotiation and some form of compensation perhaps for the wretched landowner, who would not therefore have his property confiscated, I feel we would have done something very useful.
Lord Mackie of Benshie: I do not want to take up the time of the Committee, but I must defend myself against the charge that I was advocating wholesale confiscation. I was merely saying it is a very foolish clause to put in the Bill and, as usual, the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, is way ahead. The next thing he will be saying is that I am advocating that the tumbrels should roll in the highlands and that the landlords should be executed! I like the highland landlords a lot and we are looking for a sensible way to enhance the natural heritage in all sorts of ways. Grouse occasionally can be very profitable and can maintain a lot of people. Therefore, I resent or reject the charge that I want wholesale confiscation.
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