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The Earl of Lindsay: These proposed amendments have no significant effect on the working of the legislation and the second amendment is purely presentational. The ordering of the items has no significance in legal terms in respect of their importance.

Substituting "have regard to" in Amendment No. 2 for the current form of words is a slightly stronger version, but it does not bind the commission to do more than consider the fact as mentioned. The terminology in the Bill more accurately reflects the fact that not all factors will be relevant in every case.

Viscount Astor: Before my noble friend replies, perhaps I could ask my noble friend the Minister a question.

I believe that in framing legislation we are trying in this Committee, which is a revising chamber, to make legislation as simple as possible, and to use as few words as possible in a Bill, so that there is less to argue about.

One of the difficulties with the Bill as it stands is that we have this rather bizarre wording:

I put it to my noble friend that this is really what one might call departmental drafting gone haywire. It is using a complicated set of words when a simple one would do. I beg my noble friend, if he could, to look at it again and see if a simple form of words would have a much better effect so that we can all understand it.

Lord Forbes: May I make a general observation which applies to many of the amendments to Clause 1. I believe it is essential that the commission should have flexibility to carry out its task.

When speaking for the Government on the Deer (Scotland) Bill on 18 November 1958 I said that,

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    "it is essential that we should not attempt to lay down detailed rules or formulae. Rather, it is surely best to confer general powers on a body so constituted as to command the confidence of all the interests concerned".--[Official Report, 18/11/58; col. 562.]

That is equally important today as it was 38 years ago.

The Earl of Lindsay: I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Forbes for his experience and wisdom on these matters, and we shall, of course, examine the point made by my noble friend Lord Astor. We always seek to keep legislation as minimally worded as possible. There is some merit in having the phrase

    "to take such account as may be appropriate in the circumstances of",

rather than "have regard to", because it may be impossible to have regard to the needs of forestry, to take one of the items, where there are no trees anywhere within the area being focused on. The phraseology that we have reflects the fact that not all factors will be relevant in every case. Quite simply, there is very little legal significance to the two formulae being studied.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: I am grateful to the Minister for his explanation which puts my mind at rest. There is no significance in the order of the three interests covered by the clause. I say to my noble friend, Lord Forbes, that one can leave things as wide as one likes. However, the composition of the commission which will be carrying out the powers will have to be examined with much greater attention. I am grateful to the Minister for his explanation. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 3 not moved.]

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy moved Amendment No. 4:

Page 2, line 5, leave out ("not exceeding") and insert ("being not less than nine nor more than").

The noble Lady said: At Second Reading and in the hearings before the Scottish Select Committee, a number of persons commented that there should be a minimum number of members of the commission so that it is able to represent effectively the range of interests in deer. Indeed, in answer to a question, the chairman of the Red Deer Commission indicated that at present he did not think that less than 12 members would be appropriate. This amendment is designed to ensure that future commissions have sufficient members to represent the key interests in deer and their management as stipulated in the proposed new subsection (3A) of the 1959 Act.

While it is desirable that future Secretaries of State should have flexibility to appoint a commission of fewer than 12 members if the situation warrants it, it does not seem sensible to allow the appointment of a small commission which could have the effect of unduly restricting representation of key interests. Setting a minimum size of nine for the commission will allow both flexibility of numbers and at the same time the key affected parties can be confident that their interests will be properly served on the commission.

The kind of situation which might arise is that there could be somebody whom the deer commission keenly wanted but who would not be free to join the

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commission for another year. In such circumstances it would not have to fill his place--it could keep it open. The figure of nine, if chosen, will enable the Secretary of State if he so chooses, to select three from the deer management category as proposed in the parallel government amendment, and sufficient representation from the other categories. In practice, he may well decide that a larger number is needed, but we need a guarantee that, at the very least, nine members will be appointed. I beg to move.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: I believe this amendment is associated with Amendment No. 5, to which my name has been attached. I would just mention the matter of a quorum. It seems that the Bill, as drafted, does not require a quorum, which might mean that the chairman of the commission could sit alone and dispose of the very considerable powers that it is proposed that we grant the commission. Something along the lines of Amendment No.5 might be useful to ensure that there would not be fewer than nine members of the commission of whom six shall form a quorum, or of whom not fewer than five might form a quorum, which is what the situation may be at present. I shall be most interested to hear the Minister's views on this.

The Earl of Lindsay: I am grateful both to the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, and to my noble friend Lord Pearson for these two amendments. I agree entirely with everything that the noble Lady said in moving Amendment No. 4 and would wish to accept that amendment without repeating the reason that she put forward. She said everything that we feel about this improvement.

With regard to Amendment No. 5, the quorum, the 1959 Act already provides that the commission should have a quorum of five or such larger number as the commission may from time to time determine and I now see no reason to change that. Consequently I am planning to delete the proposal to give the commission discretion over its quorum in Schedule 1. The response to my noble friend, Lord Pearson, is that we will consider the way he has drafted this suggestion and address the issue at Report stage.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: All I can do is thank the noble Earl very much for accepting my amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 5 not moved.]

4.15 p.m.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch moved Amendment No. 6:

Page 2, line 6, leave out ("as") and insert ("the majority of whom shall be persons who appear to the Secretary of State to have knowledge and experience of deer management and including persons whom").

The noble Lord said: We come now to the composition of the commission. Some of us are interested in ensuring that a larger proportion of the commission than is suggested on the face of the Bill has both knowledge and experience of deer management.

It would be helpful if the groupings list were to be altered and Amendment No. 11 in the name of my noble

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friend the Minister were taken with this amendment. In Amendment No. 11 the Government helpfully suggest that,

    "at least one third [of the new commission] shall be persons having knowledge or experience of deer management".

The difference between the two amendments is that our Amendment No. 6 suggests that,

    "the majority [of the Commission] shall be persons who appear to the Secretary of State to have knowledge and experience of deer management and including persons whom",

and so forth.

My noble friend's amendment goes some way to meeting our concern that those with a sporting and economic interest in the management of deer must be adequately represented in any future commission. After all, it is those people in the main who will have to make the Act work. The Bill is really about the management of deer, and it seems to me that the membership of the commission is inadequate as it stands. Even with my noble friend's suggested amendment, I fear that the clause as presently framed remains ambiguous. It is possible that as few as one of the members of the commission could represent the sporting interests in relation to deer, and if that were so I consider that it might not be enough.

This may be an unlikely scenario, but to illustrate that from current circumstances as we read the Bill, it is not inconceivable that the four persons representing deer management--under my noble friend's amendment that would be one third of the commission--could include one representing the sporting interest, with the remaining three being drawn from bodies with an interest in the management of red deer which is secondary to other objectives; for instance, natural heritage or forestry objectives. The National Trust for Scotland, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds or Forest Enterprise may meet that description at present, all three having an interest in a relatively low deer population consistent with other prime objectives, but not sufficient for a viable sporting enterprise. That type of representation of deer management could be in addition to pure natural heritage and forestry representations under categories (iv) and (iii) as represented on the face of the Bill respectively.

It is therefore to clarify that important matter that we suggest the wording tabled by myself and other noble Lords, and I shall be grateful to hear how my noble friend the Minister's mind is moving on that point. I beg to move.

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