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Viscount Astor: Before my noble friend sits down, would he not accept, and I am sure he would, that one of the reasons why the Red Deer Commission has operated so well in the past is that it has been a broad church and it has represented the interests of all those involved? All of us who have had dealings with the Red Deer Commission know what a good job it has done. One of the reasons it has done such a good job is that there has been, and I quote from the Act:

but there has also been

    "three from nominees... to represent the interests of farmers and crofters.."


    "two from nominees ... to represent the interests of hill sheep farmers."

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Therefore the Act very clearly said where these representations could come from.

I think the 1959 Act got it right and it has worked very well. The problem I have with the Minister's amendment is that it says that one-third of the persons shall have

    "knowledge and experience of deer management,"

but what is knowledge and experience? We can all have either a very limited knowledge and a lot of experience, or limited experience and a lot of knowledge. That is open to interpretation and is a very difficult way to take this forward. We will have huge arguments on who represents who. Are you representing one organisation or another? The great advantage of the 1959 Act is that it brought into the Red Deer Commission all those people who represented the organisations that mattered so that when they considered problems with deer, whether it be from the crofters' or farmers' point of view, or the forestry point of view, everybody was able to represent their own interest as well as taking a general view about everything.

I put it to my noble friend that his amendment weakens this very strong aspect of the working of the Red Deer Commission. I plead with him to look at the matter again between now and the next stage of the Bill.

The Earl of Buchan: I support the Minister on Amendment No. 11. It seems to me that the discussion is becoming almost metaphysical in its detail. I believe that the success of the Red Deer Commission over the years owes a great deal to the gentleman with the long, complicated name, Gordon-Duff-Pennington. The exact number of people who represent this, that or the other probably does not matter a great deal. I support the Minister's amendment.

The Earl of Lindsay: I should like to add to the welcome contribution of the noble Earl, Lord Buchan, by saying that the new constitution of the deer commission picks up the strengths of the 1959 system but sheds some of the weaknesses and constraints to which that system led. For instance, in identifying agriculture (including crofting) we fully intend that appointments should be made from people who have knowledge or experience of hill farming. It is clearly central to achieving a successful deer commission. We therefore have the four categories identified from which appointments will be made. We hope to specify that at least one-third will come from those who have primary knowledge or experience of deer management. We are certain that the strengths, so abundant to date under the fine chairmanship of Patrick Gordon-Duff-Pennington, will continue. But the constraints which have arisen will be removed.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: I am grateful to all who have spoken. My noble friend the Minister has not confirmed my analysis, which I put to him as a question, that under Amendment No. 11 it would be possible to have only one representative of the sporting interest in deer whereas before there were at least two. Of course, I agree with all noble Lords that the balance of the

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commission and the respect with which it is viewed will be absolutely crucial to its future activity. But I should have to point out that we are coming to Amendment No. 76 which is the Government's definition of the words "deer management" and I believe that in that amendment, which we come to next but one, the definition of "deer management" includes the management of deer for sporting purposes.

Therefore, as far as I can see, the new commission could only have one representative of that category and I am afraid that I do not think that is enough. I agree with everything that has been said about the balance needing to be right and the respect in which the new commission needs to be held. I do not believe we have it right if we only have one of those.

The Earl of Lindsay: Before my noble friend sits down, I make one more point to the Committee and that is that the vast majority of deer managers in Scotland are involved in the sporting side of deer management. We have amended the definition of "deer management" in the Bill so that it quite specifically includes the sporting element of deer management. Therefore, we are fully confident that the three or four members of the deer commission that must represent knowledge and experience of deer management will substantially articulate the needs of the sporting aspects of deer management. At the same time, if, for instance, deer marketing becomes increasingly important--and we have good reason to believe that it will be--we also would hope that the deer management category on the commission will be fully conversant on that side of deer management as well. We therefore do not necessarily want to exclude or include specific aspects of the deer management experience.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: Under Amendment No. 6, we would not have to. We would only have to have more than half the commission:

    "who appear to the Secretary of State to have knowledge and experience of deer management".

That indeed could, I have no doubt, include the marketing of venison and so on. I do not think I should take up the time of the Committee any further at this stage. I shall read with interest what my noble friend has said. I thought there was a moment where he appeared to be giving a little more encouragement than it is possible to read into the amendment as drafted. I will come back to the matter at Report stage. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.45 p.m.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy moved Amendment No. 7:

Page 2, line 9, leave out ("to (3C)") and insert ("and (3B)").

The noble Lady said: In moving Amendment No. 7, with the leave of the Committee I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 8, 12, 13 and 14. In this group the important amendments are Amendments Nos. 12 and 13. Amendments Nos. 7, 8 and 14 are consequential.

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These amendments are designed to ensure that the Secretary of State does consult relevant persons or organisations, and considers suggestions made to him before appointments are made to the commission. While it may make sense to move away from the current strict stipulations in Section 1 of the 1959 Act, it does nevertheless seem unfortunate that the current wording could allow appointments to be made without relevant interests having the opportunity to make suggestions to the Secretary of State. Making consultation obligatory rather than discretionary will help to ensure that the best candidates are drawn to the Secretary of State's attention before he makes his decisions. I beg to move.

The Earl of Lindsay: I am grateful to the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, for confirming something that we were taking for granted and, for the avoidance of doubt, we will accept this amendment. In this day and age all appointments to public bodies attract interest and they should be defensible. But, more important than anything, those who are appointed should have the necessary skills and the necessary respect to do the jobs to which they have been appointed. Therefore, we very happily accept this amendment on the basis that it will involve research on proper names to be available to the Secretary of State before he makes his appointments. I am grateful to the noble Lady. Indeed, we will therefore be supporting the other amendments in this group.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: I am very grateful to the noble Earl for accepting the amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy moved Amendment No. 8:

Page 2, line 11, leave out ("subsection (3C)") and insert ("subsection (3B)").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch moved Amendment No. 9:

Page 2, line 15, leave out ("deer management") and insert ("the sporting interest in deer").

The noble Lord said: This is a continuation of the earlier debate which we had on Amendment Nos. 6 and 11. Bearing in mind where I left the matter with my noble friend the Minister as to the number of those representing the sporting interests in deer which the Secretary of State would have a duty to appoint to the new commission, we come now to those whom he may appoint who have knowledge or experience of the following matters. The Bill as drafted states:

    "(i) deer management;

    (ii) agriculture (including crofting)

    (iii) forestry and woodland management; and

    (iv) the natural heritage".

The point of Amendment No. 9 is to substitute for the words "deer management" the words "the sporting interest in deer". The arguments I made before are pretty well exactly the same as I would apply now. If my noble

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friend were able to accept this amendment it might just level up the balance of what we discussed before in the direction in which I feel it should go. I beg to move.

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