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The Earl of Lindsay: I am sure I am going over the same ground over and over again, but I will happily do so. The one new point which I have not articulated properly before is that the trees that are there simply because they are there, be they browsed at knee-height or not, will not qualify as woodland unless they are trees that have been deliberately grown; that is, there is an active method and deliberate management of those trees. If one is pursuing a regeneration project, unenclosed within a normal deer range, that cannot be the target of Clause 4 powers. One could not claim that the deer had arrived there unexpectedly. One could not claim that there were no other options available to the commission in pursuit of the prevention of serious damage. After all, the Clause 5 amendments to the Section 7 powers--the control agreements and the control schemes--are designed to deal with the longer-term problems. Clause 4 is designed to deal with the emergencies where there are no other options available and one needs a last resort, an ultimate lifeboat, as it were, to rescue a situation from serious damage.

I hope that the assurances that I have given both specifically as regards this clause, and also in the general conversation that we have had about other parts of Clause 4, will bring some comfort to my noble friend. I refer principally to the continued assurance which I give to the Committee, and will give to the House at later stages, that enhancement cannot be the excuse for either Clause 4 powers or indeed the control schemes under Clause 5.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: I am enormously grateful for what my noble friend the Minister said, and it does give one much comfort. I am, however, still left with the fervent desire to see what my noble friend has put into the Bill more precisely than it is at the moment and perhaps we can consider that between now and the next stage. For instance, my noble friend said that the deer arrive unexpectedly, that they cause surprise by their arrival. There must be a way in which we could have on the face of the Bill something nearer the assurances which my noble friend the Minister gave than are to be found there at the moment. With that hope, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 4, as amended, agreed to.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 37:

After Clause 4, insert the following new clause--

Exclusion of deer from their natural habitat

(" . Where there is exclusion of deer from their natural habitat due to enclosure of land previously unenclosed, the owner or occupier of that land shall take action to reduce the deer population accordingly.").

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The noble Lord said: This is an amendment to add a new clause. The Minister may already have said much that I will be suggesting. The wording comes from the crofters' commission and reads:

    "Where there is exclusion of deer from their natural habitat due to enclosure of land previously unenclosed, the owner or occupier of that land shall take action to reduce the deer population accordingly".

The purpose of the amendment is to tackle the problem of excluding deer from newly-enclosed land rather than simply creating a problem elsewhere and perhaps increasing unnaturally the deer population in another part of the area. In the Highlands and Islands I understand that the natural regeneration of woodlands and other types of forestry is proving increasingly attractive, and under one of those schemes it is necessary to enclose previously unenclosed land to the possible exclusion of deer from land they were already using. When deer are so excluded they will move to other areas with the potential of increasing the local deer population and perhaps damaging beyond repair the old natural territory that the land had adopted over the past half century. Agricultural land and so forth could also be badly affected.

It would, in the opinion of some of those trying to enclose the land, be profitable to cull the deer that fall within a new enclosure of land, thus avoiding the problem of them migrating to other areas and perhaps starving because of over-population in those areas. That seems to me to be a logical way out of what could be a problem if certain types of forestry are to be used for the creation of crofting areas. I hope that the Minister will give consideration to this matter. I beg to move.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: I support the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove. This is an eminently sensible matter which we should be considering, and in particular it will be an interesting planning consideration. Certainly if land is to be enclosed for forestry that has to go through a planning process. I therefore draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that members of the planning committee should consider the issue of the deer when they consider the issue of the enclosure of land for forestry. For some it will mean the destruction of what they regard as a nuisance and for others it will mean the execution of Bambi.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: I support the amendment, or at least the spirit of it. The noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, may be aware that the most likely way in which his amendment would apply at the moment is with the new native pinewood schemes, which are proving quite a success. A number of landowners are using them to regenerate the ancient Caledonian Forest within fenced areas. They can be quite large. In fact, if one does not do a native pinewood scheme of upwards of 300 acres it probably is not beneficial to the estate in financial terms. One is beginning to see several schemes of 500 acres and more. Certainly, the deer have to be fenced out completely and so, too, sheep. Hares can still be a problem, but that is perhaps another matter.

I think the noble Lord will find that when permission is given for these schemes by the Forestry Commission it leans very heavily on the advice of Scottish Natural

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Heritage which would be unlikely to give consent unless suitable culling was to take place. I do not know whether the amendment is ideal in putting the onus on to the owner but if possible that should certainly happen. No schemes should be allowed in areas which are heavily used by deer without reducing the numbers of deer which are thus squeezed out to do damage elsewhere.

Lord Mackie of Benshie: I am very glad to hear the noble Lord supporting the amendment. If a great area of land is closed off and the deer move, the crofters find that the grazing for their sheep is reduced. I know that some people do not like sheep, but to the crofter they are very important. Therefore, it is a sensible amendment. I hope that the Minister has an answer in the Bill already and that he will take a sympathetic view. Sheep are a source of income for people in the Highlands. If you take away the grazing, you give those people less income.

The Earl of Lindsay: I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Mackie, that I am sympathetic to all amendments and especially this one. The noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, explained clearly the intention and the objective of the amendment. As we understand it, it would ensure that where deer are excluded from a piece of land--possibly hill land, possibly not--and their winter range is correspondingly reduced, action is taken to reduce the numbers to match the available habitat. Such exclusions could be the result of woodland grant schemes or, more rarely, of agricultural improvement.

In all these cases, whether through the Forestry Commission, SNH, or for some other reason, the Red Deer Commission advises the appropriate authority on the steps that should be taken by the land manager and that advice is passed to the land manager. I understand that, in general, the advice is followed. However, I understand that there could be circumstances where the advice is not followed and where public funding has been used to support an investment in forestry or in a natural heritage project. The consequences for the deer because of the advice not being followed may therefore be regrettable. One thinks immediately of welfare.

I want to consider the amendment as the noble Lord has drafted it. We want to think very carefully about the fact that we could already have around 600,000 deer in Scotland and that figure is rising. They range from roe deer in the southern and eastern half of Scotland to the sika and red deer. We have a huge amount of forestry. There are quite a few marginal adjustments to the deer range, be it roe or red. Therefore, we shall want to look at the amendment with great care.

Parts of that consideration will be looking at what powers are already available to the commission which might, with some adjustment, be suitable to achieve exactly what the amendment seeks to achieve. I acknowledge the point raised by the noble Lord and we shall look very carefully at it.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: Before the noble Earl sits down, one message he might care to look at is that most of these schemes attract grant which is not paid all

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in one lump. It might be possible to tie, perhaps not the first payment of the grant, but subsequent payments of grant, to the completion of the reduction in deer which would have been stipulated at the start of the scheme. I am of course talking more about the Highland range and red deer and not, as my noble friend the Minister mentioned, roe deer. This is a thoroughly sensible amendment in spirit.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove: I am most grateful. I have very little experience in getting grants. I have not been able to find a way of getting a grant on anything! I am grateful for the support I have already received and also for the sympathetic reply of the Minister. We shall obviously look at it carefully and come back on Report. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 5 [Control agreements and control schemes]:

4.45 p.m.

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendments Nos. 38 and 39:

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