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Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior: I thank the noble Baroness for that information. I am also aware of the document to which she referred. As I said, the virus--not necessarily the sandwich--has been traced and found to be of a type that comes from the Far East. The only source is some, probably illegally imported,

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meat containing that virus. The most likely, but not proven, source of that swine fever is a virus contained in such meat, whether or not the meat was in a sandwich.

Whether or not one believes the virus was contained in a discarded sandwich, that illustrates what may arise from a minor incursion of an infective agent into a flock of sheep or a herd of swine. We must beware of such things. There will be an increase in parasites from overseas entering this country through dogs that do not undergo quarantine. There will be an increase in the number and species of parasites entering the country. We do not know whether these will result in further general infections. We believe that veterinary surgeons should be able to specify whether dogs in their local area should be treated in the way I have mentioned before being allowed on access land. For the sake of the health of the dogs concerned, that of the livestock in the area and of the humans who own the dogs and the livestock, it seems sensible that dogs should receive the treatment I have mentioned before they are allowed on access land.

Lord Whitty: I do not wish to say a great deal more. I shall take into consideration all the points that have been made. As Members of the Committee have indicated, this is a difficult area. It is almost certain that on this issue the balance of opinion in the country is somewhat different from that in the Committee. Many people love walking their dogs in the countryside. They have access to the countryside through rights of way and on existing access land. As we have said, in general the Bill does not take away existing rights. Nevertheless, I recognise that we may need to be tougher on dogs, although I accept the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, in that regard. We shall return to that matter.

As regards the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Soulsby, and my noble friend Lady Thornton, I should put on record that we are considering an amendment to include the feeding of livestock within the restrictions in Schedule 2. I hope that meets the specific point that was made.

Baroness Byford: I am grateful to the Minister for those comments. I am sure that the Committee will be pleased to hear that the Government will consider this matter which poses a dilemma for them in terms of drawing the right balance. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone, for mentioning the concerns that people have about dogs, particularly when they are off the lead. I spoke only to Amendment No. 108. Therefore, it would be presumptuous of me to speak to any other amendments in the group we are discussing. We look forward to seeing what the Government produce on Report. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 109 and 110 not moved.]

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1 a.m.

Earl Peel moved Amendment No. 111:

Page 49, line 30, at end insert ("trapping,").

The noble Earl said: In moving Amendment No. 111 I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 112 and 113. First, I address Amendment No. 111. Under Schedule 2 anyone who engages in any operations connected with, among other things, snaring who is not entitled to do so commits an offence. This amendment simply includes the activity of trapping, which is similar in intent to snaring but involves a different mechanism. I argue that if one includes snaring, it is logical to include trapping.

Amendment No. 112 refers again to Schedule 2 which provides that anyone setting a snare--and, it is to be hoped, a trap if the Minister accepts my amendment--commits an offence. However, interfering with snares or traps is not specifically mentioned. For those working on the ground it is a serious problem. It is a great irritation and inconvenience. I hope that the Minister will take that into account.

It could be argued that paragraph 1(o)(iii) of Schedule 2 covers this point. It deals with anyone who disrupts any lawful activity on the land. I suspect that the provision is designed to deal with aggravated trespass. However, it is not clear that word "disrupts" would necessarily cover the word "interferes". I believe that the words have two different meanings. I hope that the amendment makes the position abundantly clear.

On Amendment 113, again paragraph 1 of Schedule 2 makes it an offence for anyone not so entitled to have,

    "any engine, instrument or apparatus used for hunting, shooting, fishing, snaring, taking or destroying animals, birds or fish".

It is the same argument. It is equally important to prevent people from interfering with such items which are being legally used under the law. I think, for example, of people who might interfere with Larson traps or crow traps where a decoy bird is involved. These methods are an important method of keeping the corvid population under control.

I regard these three amendments as logical bearing in mind what is already in place on Schedule 2. I therefore hope that the Government will readily accept them. I beg to move.

Baroness Mallalieu: In support of the amendment and others grouped with Amendment No. 111, with the Committee's permission I give an example which illustrates the desirability for those words to be added to this part of the Bill, in particular the word "trapping".

Last summer in Hartland in north Devon I went into a local pottery. On the counter was a pile of leaflets apparently produced by a badger protection group. The message from those leaflets was that the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food was trapping and

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killing badgers in Devon as part of its research into TB in cattle. The leaflet told the reader how to identify one of the MAFF traps, how to immobilise it and how to release a badger if during walks individuals were to find one so trapped. It did not suggest theft or criminal damage. It therefore would not fall within the restriction against criminal conduct contained in Schedule 2. That provides a clear illustration of why it is important that interference of that kind is spelt out in the restrictions.

Lord Willoughby de Broke: I support my noble friend's amendment. I was pleased to hear him mention Larson traps. They are an important way of controlling crows and magpies. Larson traps on my land--it is not access land--have been damaged, removed and stolen. It is a legal method of trapping and must be clearly covered in the Bill. My noble friend's amendments ensure that it is.

I hope that the Minister will consider including these important amendments which will clarify this part of the schedule.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I shall deal with Amendment No. 111 first and then with Amendments Nos. 112 and 113. Paragraph (1)(i) lists,

    "hunting, shooting, fishing, snaring, taking or destroying of animals, birds or fish",

among the activities that someone exercising the right of access must not engage in. We have little doubt that the activity of trapping to which Amendment No. 111 refers is already covered by those restrictions, but we understand the concerns that have been expressed. Although we do not think that the amendment is necessary, we are content to accept it if that will provide some extra assurance.

Amendment No. 112 would place an explicit restriction on anyone interfering with hunting, shooting, fishing or snaring. Amendment No. 113 would also place a restriction on anyone interfering with any engine, instrument or apparatus used for hunting, shooting or fishing. Again, I appreciate the genuine and legitimate concern about people who may be intent on disrupting lawful land management and other activities, but I am happy to assure the noble Earl, Lord Peel, and others that the restriction in paragraph(1)(p), which includes disturbance, annoyance or obstruction of any lawful activity on the land, is drawn sufficiently widely to cover the activities that he has in mind. It will apply to the disruption of hunting, shooting and fishing, provided those activities are being carried out lawfully.

Taken together with paragraph (1)(o), that leaves no doubt that interfering with the lawful pursuits that the noble Earl is concerned with would constitute a breach of the restrictions under Schedule 2 and that the right of access would therefore be lost. Someone in breach of paragraph (1)(o) would also be guilty of an offence under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and liable to removal by a police officer.

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I have accepted Amendment No. 111 and I hope that the noble Earl, Lord Peel, is reassured that his other amendments are not needed.

Earl Peel: I need hardly say that I am very grateful to the Minister for accepting Amendment No. 111. I hear what he says about Amendments Nos. 112 and 113, but duplicity already exists in the Bill. For example, paragraph (1)(d) includes "any criminal offence", while the schedule also specifically mentions destroying an egg, which can be a criminal offence.

One of the great difficulties is what to include in Schedule 2 and what to leave out. I tabled Amendments Nos. 112 and 113 because if setting traps illegally was to be included, it seemed logical to put the other side and place a restriction on interfering with legally set traps. I suspect that the schedule will be weakened without that provision. I realise that what is included in the schedule is a real debate.

I shall not move the other two amendments but I shall think carefully about what the Minister has said, because the issue is causing a great deal of concern to many people. I reserve judgment, but I thank the Minster for his clear explanation.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments No. 112 to 114 not moved.]

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