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Earl Peel: I intervene briefly to support my noble
 
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friend's amendment. I do so for one very simple reason. It seems to me essential that nowadays when one is discussing any aspect of countryside management it would be impractical—indeed, foolish —to ignore the management of wildlife.

As the Minister himself knows only too well, tremendous changes are occurring within the common agricultural policy with money being decoupled from production and put into the environment. I hope that we shall see tremendous benefits from that, but if we do not include wildlife management as part of that activity, I suggest that, quite frankly, we are wasting our time. One very good example of that is a Biodiversity Action Plan species, the black grouse, which is doing extraordinarily badly in areas where there are no keepers because the foxes are not being controlled. We raised this whole question yesterday when we debated the position in Wales.

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that in the absence of hunting, the control of foxes, particularly in hill areas, will be extremely difficult and will have a direct effect on our ability to look after and enhance our Biodiversity Action Plan species. I should have thought that this amendment makes total sense on the simple ground that if we are to have proper constructive environmental gain, we cannot do without the management of wildlife.

Lord Eden of Winton: I, too, support the amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Mancroft. In his references to wildlife management he stressed the experiences of other countries. The importance of wildlife management is recognised internationally. The linkage between hunting and the management of wildlife is also recognised internationally. This is being pursued effectively in areas where the threat to some species of wild animals has become acute. There has been a need to return some form of economic incentive to the local population. This has been done through controlled hunting authorisation.

In this country that issue is equally important. My noble friend mentioned the Convention on Biological Diversity. One of the key principles of that states:

That principle has been applied in other countries but it applies equally in this country in relation to hunting. We must involve local communities in the management of wildlife and in ensuring biodiversity. Local communities are the people who know best. It is mistaken to establish a number of national or international bodies through which to seek to impose solutions upon local communities. By motivating and inspiring local populations, local communities and local individuals, you will get much more effective management of wildlife, much more effective biodiversity and, I may say, at much less cost. That is one of the great services which hunting does for this country. The beauty of our landscape and the sustainability of many wild mammals is ensured
 
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through the activities of the hunting community and through their linkage with other people in their population area. Therefore, I strongly support my noble friend's proposal that wildlife management should be one of the prime tests of utility before the registrar.

Lord Renton: There is only one other point which I think needs to be mentioned which has not been stressed and that is that in England and in Wales districts vary so much. I happen to have been born in Kent, the son of a Scotsman, and I have visited many counties of England and Scotland, but, by Jove, the wildlife in every county seems to vary a great deal. The proposals in the new clause will necessarily take note of that.

Viscount Brookeborough: The question of management needs to be taken a little further. When we talk about hunting, coursing and so on, we are talking about management of the system that we wish to manage, and how we wish to manage it. There is another side to this matter that I come across frequently outside the Houses of Parliament—although I believe it is an opinion held by many in another place—namely, that there should be no management. There is a body of opinion that queries the need for management in the first place. I accept all the biodiversity schemes. The majority of educated people support those schemes and the management that has to be applied. However, we must recognise that a significant number of people believe that management is not an issue and subscribe to the principle of live and let live. We must recognise that if we are to obtain backing for management in the first place. I believe that such people are misled and that they hold the wrong opinion through ignorance.

The reason is very straightforward, is it not? Even those of us with lesser brains now have greater brain power than animals per se, except that in my case my dog definitely has greater brain power than myself. We have learnt to extend our lives, our healthcare, our social services and our welfare at the expense, inevitably, of the environment and wildlife throughout the world. Obviously, if that continues unchecked, what we are most trying to save will be threatened. I say to those who subscribe to the principle of live and let live that they must also accept that in those circumstances we would go back a thousand years to the days when there were no hospitals or welfare and when people did not expect to live beyond the age of 30 or 40. We must address these issues because what we are talking about here is managing what educated people understand should be managed although some people hold a different opinion.

The Earl of Onslow: Special attention must be paid to:


 
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I suspect that they include the noble Lords, Lord Faulkner, Lord Graham, and Lord Hoyle, and the noble Baroness, Lady Miller—

I did not write that. It was written in the Porchester report of 1977, which reported to Messrs Silkin and Shore, Labour Cabinet Ministers at, respectively, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Department of the Environment. They recognised the contribution that stag hunting and other forms of hunting made to the environment and its guardianship. Therefore, I sincerely hope that the Minister will understand exactly what was said in that quotation.

Lord Moran: In an earlier discussion, I expressed reservations about the concept of utility, which at that stage was defined by Mr Alun Michael simply as pest control. My reservations were primarily because, if that definition were included in the Bill, it would be a damaging precedent for shooting and fishing, both of which are threatened by the organisations that have powerfully supported the case for a ban on fox hunting.

The wording proposed in the amendment is a good deal better. It is not entirely satisfactory, because it preserves the concept of pest control in the provision on,

to various things. I do not think that fish are a threat to "livestock", "crops" or "growing timber". It would be rather difficult to argue that someone fishing for trout or roach was contributing to "utility". I still do not like the word.

When we get to a tidying-up stage, I suggest that we delete the last four words of the title of the new clause in the amendment, and simply refer to a "Test for registration". That is what we want. We do not need to put in "utility and least suffering"; they are dealt with in the wording that follows, which is fully satisfactory. I support the amendment, but I hope that we will consider tidying up the title at a later stage.


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