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Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove: All I would say to the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, is that we did not want this new type of local government. We believe this new type of local government is a disaster and would have been much better left as it was. Perhaps there are ways of improving it, but not as drastically as this. However, I have raised the question with the Minister and I would be only too happy to let him finish.

The Earl of Lindsay: Before the noble Lord withdraws his amendment, very quickly I will reassure my noble friend Lady Carnegy that there is already extensive dialogue between local government, local authorities and the deer commission on any matter that appears before the deer commission. This obviously has a local authority angle to it, so there is precedent there which will continue to be operated.

The second point relates to the regions. I would just remind the Committee that two years ago the Red Deer Commission set up an office in Stirling to establish an administration which was quite clearly more Scotland-wide than it had been up to that point, and it foreshadowed the fact that the Bill now applies to all species of deer in Scotland. We hope that, for instance, those in the Borders can feel that the deer commission is an accessible body through its office in Stirling, rather than having to go way further north to see the commission in its own offices. So we are conscious of the issues which the noble Lord has raised.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove: Having heard the Minister and the other comments from members of the Committee, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendment No. 11:

Page 2, line 23, at end insert ("; and, of the persons so appointed, at least one third shall be persons having knowledge or experience of deer management.").

The noble Earl said: I spoke to this when I spoke to Amendment No. 6. I beg to move.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Lyell): Does the noble Lord wish to dissent?

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: I am afraid I do, because I am not sure that the issue of the matters covered in Amendment No. 6 have yet been resolved and, if we

4 Mar 1996 : Column CWH30

accept Amendment No. 11, then we have no way of returning to Amendment No. 6 in future. The grouping was in fact confusing on this but I did actually speak to Amendment No. 11 with Amendment No. 6, and I do not think I could agree to Amendment No. 11.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: I understand that Amendment No. 6 was withdrawn. The groupings are, of course, a matter for the usual channels.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: As I understand it, if anyone dissents we do not have Divisions here. That is what was stated for Amendment No. 1 and I understand that those are the rules of the Moses Room. I beg the Committee's pardon, I have never done this before.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: I understand that to be the case, but before I finally put the question perhaps the Minister wishes to say something? I understand that to be the procedure, but I am sure that if the noble Lord wished to divide the Committee a procedure could be found, but I am in the hands of the Committee.

The Earl of Lindsay: As I understand it, my noble friend Lord Pearson in withdrawing Amendment No. 6 is able to return to Amendment No. 6 at Report stage. Therefore, if he is content with my Amendment No. 11 that does not preclude his return to Amendment No. 6 at the next stage of the Bill.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: I am most grateful to my noble friend the Minister. I apologise for being confused. I have no objection to Amendment No. 11.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy moved Amendments Nos. 12 to 14:

Page 2, line 25, leave out ("may") and insert ("shall--
( )").
Page 2, line 27, at end insert ("; and
( ) consider any such suggestions.").
Page 2, leave out lines 28 to 31.

The noble Lady said: I have already spoken to Amendments Nos. 12, 13 and 14. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 15:

Page 2, line 31, at end insert--
("(3D) New appointments under the terms of this section shall be made at the time of its enactment.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment provides for the right of removal of appointments under the old Act and for new appointments to be made from the start of the new commission's life. The present-day Bill does not create a new commission; it merely changes the name and some of the powers and duties of the old commission. Therefore, appointments recently made, that is in January 1996 for a three-year term of office, will continue in office for the whole term unless by means of this amendment the Secretary of State is required to replace them with appointments according to the new formula.

4 Mar 1996 : Column CWH31

One of the most significant passages of the Bill is the proposal to change the formula of appointments in order to re-adjust the composition of the commission, and promote public confidence in this body as properly representative of the wide range of interests involved and impacted by deer.

It would be quite wrong to hobble the new commission for the first two years of its service by retaining a composition which Parliament will have agreed is inappropriate for the task. It is possible that the Minister will merely reply that a delay in new appointments is appropriate in order to secure a smooth transition. That argument should be rejected on the basis that the Bill has taken many years to prepare. It is now widely regarded as long-overdue and all of its provisions should, I believe, be enacted as soon as possible. I hope that the Minister will accept the spirit of this. If we are to have a new start, we should have a new start. I beg to move.

The Earl of Lindsay: I understand the spirit of the noble Lord's amendment and indeed am not unsympathetic to it. But many of the new appointments that were made towards the end of last year were made in the light of the new duties that are being increasingly thrust upon the commission. We also have a level of confidence in its chairman, Patrick Gordon-Duff-Pennington, and his colleagues, which reassures us anyway that the new challenges which the Bill is flagging up are ones which the new commission will be able to meet. I ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment. I understand exactly the logic that has prompted him to move it.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove: I hope I did not give any slight to the present chairman of the commission and I am not criticising him in any way at all. Will the Minister insist that all the present members serve out their time before new people are appointed, or will there be an interim period after notice has been given and the new appointments made following that? If the Minister can answer me, I shall be quite happy to withdraw the amendment.

The Earl of Lindsay: The most honest answer I can give is that I shall look carefully at the issues the noble Lord has raised. We can either correspond with each other on this point before Report stage or return to it at Report stage.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove: In that case, with the assurance of the Minister, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2 [Appointment of panels]:

[Amendment No. 16 not moved.]

Lord Pearson of Rannoch moved Amendment No. 17:

Page 2, line 42, after ("fit") insert (", including persons with knowledge and experience of the interests mentioned in section (3A)(a) of this Act,").

4 Mar 1996 : Column CWH32

The noble Lord said: It comes to me as something of a disappointment that the noble Lord did not wish to move Amendment No. 16 because it is rather similar to Amendment No. 17 which stands in my name. We are dealing here with the appointment of panels which the new commission will be making. The effect of Amendment No. 17 is to make sure that the commission considers,

    "persons with knowledge and experience of the interests mentioned in section (3A)(a) of this Act".

In other words,

    "(i) deer management"--

or the sporting interest in deer, as the case may be,

    "(ii) agriculture (including crofting)

    (iii) forestry and woodland management; and

    (iv) the natural heritage".

I and those noble Lords who have joined me on this amendment feel it is important that the commission considers at least those categories of interest for inclusion on the new panels. That is why I personally would have supported Amendment No. 16 which would place a duty upon the commission to consider these categories of people, whereas at the moment it is left open as to whether or not it should do so. It seems to me that these panels will not be very effective if they do not have sitting on them the interests mentioned. Therefore I would have hoped that this was an amendment which my noble friend the Minister might be able to accept. I beg to move.

5.30 p.m.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: I, too, am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, did not move his Amendment No. 16, because the wording absolutely mirrors the wording in my Amendment No. 12.

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