The Minister said that if the nest were destroyed, the bird would build another. The nature of the sites of their nests means that suitable habitat is often not available nearby. Breeding then fails, and the increasing populations to which the Minister referred unfortunately diminish again.
Certainly, these are species that we care deeply about; we want to preserve and enhance their habitats. That is something that we will seek to do, but I am afraid that I cannot support the amendment.
As the Minister and my hon. Friend realise, I was not expecting the Minister to grab new clause 5 with both hands, unlike earlier new clauses and amendments, but it is an important issue. I am grateful for the way in which the Minister has addressed it.
Although I hear what the Minister says about believing that the new clause would work against the interests that he and I sharecertainly that is not my intentionhe misses the key point. The trade would basically be banned, and at present it is not banned. The purpose of new clause 5 is to ban it, with a few exceptions, which I described.
I would dread to cross swords with my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Randall) on anything ornithological. We share a concern about the illegal trade, but I urge him to look at what has happened in America. All the advice that I have received from eminent bodies such as the RSPB and the RSPCA is that the American Act, which has dramatically reduced the legal trade by effectively banning it, with a few exceptions, has also reduced dramatically the illegal trade. We share the objective and perhaps I would have shared my hon. Friend's doubts or scepticism about it had I not seen the evidence for myself.
11 Oct 2005 : Column 243
On the length of time that a nest is classified as a nest, I do not dispute my hon. Friend's point that perhaps seven or 10 years would be better. He agreed with me that to protect a nest in perpetuity, which is the position at present, is perhaps wrong. I still believe that. I am sorry that the Minister seems to believe that that should be the case. I accept that one could argue that no one knows how long a nest has been in existence. I agree that the problem would get far worse if the Minister accepted my hon. Friend's amendment and that 6,000 sites would have to be monitored, but the numbers of the three birds listed in clause 46 can be counted on one or two hands. All the ornithological bodies will know when a nest was last used because every nesting site is well known, mapped, recorded and monitored, so it would not have been a huge issue to protect the sites for a specific period. Perhaps the Minister will reflect on that in another place.
I am conscious that there are other issues to debate, and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.
New Clause 6
Control of Harmful, Non-Native Species
'(1) In section 22(5) of the 1981 Act (power to vary schedules), insert
"(c) add any animals or plants to, or remove any animals or plants from Part III of that Schedule."
(2) After section 14ZB insert
"14ZC Control of harmful non-native species
(1) Where the Secretary of State considers that a species listed in Schedule 9
(a) is present in the wild, and
(b) is an actual or potential threat to the conservation of flora or fauna, or
(c) is an actual or potential threat to social or economic well-being
he must add it to Part III of Schedule 9.
(2) Within three months of a species being added to Part III of Schedule 9, the Secretary of State must nominate an appropriate body that within one year will produce an action plan that identifies how the species should be eradicated, controlled or contained in order to protect threatened flora, fauna, social or economic well-being.
(3) Within three months of the action plan being presented to the Secretary of State, he shall announce to Parliament how the action plan will be implemented.
(4) Pursuant to subsection (3) and in circumstances set out in subsection (5), any person authorised in writing by the Secretary of State may, at any reasonable time and (if required to do so) upon producing evidence that he is authorised, enter any land for the purpose of controlling, containing or eradicating a species listed in Part III of Schedule 9; but nothing in this subsection shall authorise any person to enter a dwelling.
(5) The circumstances are
(a) that the Secretary of State is satisfied that the body nominated to implement an action plan to control or eradicate a species is unable to conclude, on reasonable terms, an agreement to access land in order for the control, containment or eradication to be effective,
(b) that the nominated body did enter into such an agreement as referred to in subsection (5)(a), but that the Secretary of State is satisfied that it has been
11 Oct 2005 : Column 244
breached in such a way that operations to control, contain or eradicate the invasive non-native species are rendered ineffective.
(6) A dispute about whether or not there has been a breach of the agreement for the purposes of subsection (5)(b) shall be referred to an arbitrator appointed by the Lord Chancellor.
(7) More than one person may be authorised for the time being under subsection (4) to enter any land.
(8) A person acting in the exercise of a power conferred by subsection (4) may
(a) use a vehicle or a boat to enter the land;
(b) take a constable with him if he reasonably believes he is likely to be obstructed;
(c) take with him equipment or materials needed for the purpose for which he is exercising the power of entry.
(9) If in the exercise of a power conferred by subsection (4) a person enters land which is unoccupied or from which the occupier is temporarily absent, he must on his departure leave it as effectively secured against unauthorised entry as he found it.
(10) It is the duty of a relevant authority to compensate any person who has sustained damage as a result of
(a) the exercise of a power conferred by subsection (4) by a person authorised to do so by that relevant authority, or
(b) the failure of a person so authorised to perform the duty imposed on him by subsection (9),
except where the damage is attributable to the fault of the person who sustained it; and any dispute as to a person's entitlement to compensation under this subsection or as to its amount shall be referred to an arbitrator to be appointed, in default of agreement, by the Secretary of State.'.[Mr. Paice.]
Brought up, and read the First time.
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.