Natural Heritage (Scotland) Bill [H.L.] (Hansard, 3 December 1990)
HL Deb 03 December 1990 vol 524 cc12-92

3.1 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Strathclyde)

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee. —(Lord Strathclyde.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Scottish Natural Heritage]:

Lord Grimond moved Amendment No. 1: Page 1, line 8, leave out ("Scottish Natural Heritage") and insert ("Scottish Nature Conservancy (Ughdaras Glaych'hus Natur Alaba)").

The noble Lord said: Approximately 150 amendments are grouped together and perhaps that entitles me to appear in the Guinness Book of Records. However, the debate can be short. It falls into two parts. The first is the overall Title of the Bill and the second is the question of whether it should have a Gaelic sub-title. I made my points on Second Reading and I do not intend to repeat them at length.

As it stands, the Title of the Bill is an abuse of language. We are not setting up the natural heritage of Scotland but an organisation to protect the natural heritage. One may say that that is a pedantic point and that there are many precedents for using language in this way. I do not believe that Parliament should perpetrate such a gross abuse of language as appears in the heading of the Bill. The fact that that may have been done before is no reason to do it again.

It is obvious to me that an organisation set up to conserve the heritage of Scotland should also be interested in conserving the proper use of its language. After all, the French have a distinguished society which is devoted to nothing else except preserving the beauty and logic of the French language. It is particularly inappropriate that we should set up an organisation with such an inaccurate and unfortunate title.

It may be asked: why not add to "Scottish Natural Heritage" a word such as "council" or "conservancy"? My reason for not doing so is that we have one body called the National Heritage Memorial Fund and we should not cause confusion by setting up another body with almost the same name. "Heritage" is a good enough word but it has been grossly abused and overused. However, there is no reason for not continuing to use the well-established word "conservancy" and calling the body Scottish Nature Conservancy, because that is exactly what it will be about. I realise that the body will also take on the duties of other bodies in Scotland, but essentially it will conserve all the natural features of Scotland including the countryside. Therefore, we shall be doing no damage to the body's proper description by calling it the Scottish Nature Conservancy. If the amendment were agreed, many further amendments would need to be made to the Bill.

The second purpose of the amendment is to add a Gaelic sub-title. I put forward the suggestion with trepidation. I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay, is not in the Chamber because I had feared that he would correct my Gaelic. Furthermore, I fear that in the second word as it is printed in the Marshalled List an "o" has slipped in instead of an "a". I have been challenged by the Minister to pronounce the Gaelic title and I take up that challenge. I understand that it is pronounced Ughdaras Glaych'hus Natur Alaba.

If there is an error it can easily be corrected, but a serious point is to be made. A great deal of Scottish heritage is Celtic and it would be proper to add a Celtic sub-title to the Bill. No one in my native area can accuse me of being fanatically pro-Gaelic. It is a notorious fact that the north isles which I once represented and the county of Fife in which I was born are not notable Gaelic fiefs. When I was a Member in another place I was asked to visit an old folks' home by the superintendent. An old gentleman had an urgent matter to raise with me and he did not have long to live. The gentleman refused to tell anyone else. I went along and clapped my rather deaf ear to his mouth. I heard him whisper, "Will ye no' stop these Gaelic broadcasts?"

I cannot be accused of heresy. However, as a large part of Scottish heritage is in Gaelic lands and as we owe a great deal to the Celts, it would be proper and reasonable to include a sub-title such as I have suggested. I beg to move.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

I shall not follow the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, down the Gaelic road to the isles that he appears to have taken. In his favour I must point out that if one tries to repeat quickly six times "Scottish Natural Heritage" one is faced with a tongue-twister. On the other hand, if the amendment is passed and the title of the body becomes Scottish Nature Conservancy it will become known as the SNC. There will be a grave danger that people will confuse the body with the SNP and for that reason the noble Lord's road is a dangerous road to go down.

Lord Dulverton

A few months ago I spoke in support of the intention that Scotland should have its own NCC. I shall try not to repeat myself today but I strongly believe that the detachment of nature conservancy in Scotland from Peterborough is best for Scottish environmental problems and considerations. That is not the point of the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, but I shall turn to that in one moment.

I know of the arguments produced against the splitting up of the NCC, not least by Sir William Wilkinson. I greatly admire his efforts as chairman of the NCC to produce better relations with the many people with whom it has to deal.

I should like to mention too that in the past I was for some years a member of the NCC Scottish Advisory Committee. I am glad that I persuaded its members, when their minds were faltering, to continue with the reintroduction from Lofoten Island of the once-native sea eagles. That has now resulted in the successful breeding of those great birds in Scotland.

However, as a Scottish land manager, I have found the NCC almost unbelievably impractical in its demands, of both a positive and negative character, on landowners in Scotland. For that sort of reason the stock of the present NCC is, in general, low, even with land managers who have a conscience about conservation, as so many have.

I have strong hopes that the new proposed set up, under the chairmanship of Magnus Magnusson, will be a positive step for the better. I cannot see that his efforts will be at all weakened by joining hands with what is now the Scottish Countryside Commission. Magnusson knows all our particular problems in the North as regards wildlife and conditions. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, will let us know the Gaelic equivalent for "Scottish Natural Heritage" because that may possibly calm his mind on this issue.

Baroness Nicol

I cannot support the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, because it seems to me that it is very important that the title should at least allow for the recognition of the Countryside Commission's functions, which his amendment would not achieve.

Perhaps I may use the opportunity of this amendment to ask a question because I cannot see any other amendments which will allow me the opportunity to ask it. Whatever the new body is called, it is important that the Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland should be resourced properly and that the staff should be in place by its starting date of 1st April. I understand from the latest leaflet from the Nature Conservancy Council that there is a shortfall of 45 per cent. on the Scottish body at present. When the noble Lord responds to the amendment, perhaps he will say whether that is correct and what steps are being taken to improve that situation.

Perhaps he will say also whether there is any hope that the new body can be given some idea of its level of funding. I understand that that is not to be announced until the new year and I do not see how it can set about improving the shortfall of staff unless it knows how much money there is to spend.

3.15 p.m.

Lord Strathclyde

I am grateful for that short debate. When I saw this raft of amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, I immediately regretted the fact that I had challenged him to find a better name for Scottish Natural Heritage. He has tried hard to come up with a solution including the Gaelic translation.

The Government thought long and hard about the name for the new agency before opting for Scottish Natural Heritage. Noble Lords will recall that on Second Reading I said that that name best encapsulates the aim of the body. It is a simple and distinct name and readily shows it to be a new body and identifies its focus of attention.

The noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, said that many people might confuse SNH with SNP.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

I said SNC might be confused with SNP.

Lord Strathclyde

The noble Lady is quite right. SNC might well be confused with SNP but I do not believe that SNH could be confused with SNP. That is one good reason for rejecting the noble Lord's amendment.

The name Scottish Natural Heritage is already in general usage by the public and the staff of the NCCS and the CCS. I do not believe that it would be appropriate to dispense with that unless a better suggestion came forward, as to do so would only cause unnecessary confusion. As yet we have not received a better suggestion and I am not sure that the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, entirely meets the need with these words.

These amendments are not just about the name but also about the scope of the new agency, because, if we look at the Marshalled List, the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, has tabled a whole host of amendments which would effectively undo the creation of this merged body and negate the purpose of Part I of the Bill. We are not setting up a nature conservation agency in Scotland per se. We are setting up an integrated agency dealing with landscape and recreation areas as well as nature conservation. It is pleasing that noble Lords unanimously agreed with our proposals on Second Reading.

I regret to say that the suggestion by the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, does not achieve all those aims. It is not as distinctive as our choice and is, moreover, backward-looking. It would return us to 1949 and the old Nature Conservancy which preceded the NCC. We already have a Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland and that body is being integrated with the Countryside Commission for Scotland to create the new agency. To use the name Scottish Nature Conservancy would not identify the broad and integrated remit of the agency which the Government intend to allow it to cover—namely, both nature and conservation matters.

The noble Lord, Lord Grimond, did splendidly well with his translation into Gaelic and I was extremely impressed by the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees. I shall not go down that road because I fear that my Gaelic is less good than theirs. The point about using the Gaelic translation is that traditionally we have not sought to translate matters into Welsh, Gaelic or anything else. However, more generally, the NCC currently publishes many of its pamphlets and leaflets in Gaelic so that they are readily understood by those in the Highlands and Islands who speak that language.

I was very grateful to my noble friend Lord Dulverton. He has worked extremely hard on the NCC's committee for Scotland. I was very glad to hear his views, particularly as regards supporting the new chairman of the NCCS—Magnus Magnusson. I agree with my noble friend and hope that Mr. Magnusson will continue to do extremely well.

The noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, slipped in a quick afterthought towards the end of the debate about the alleged shortfall of 45 per cent. in staff and the question of money. The figure of 45 per cent. is not correct. At present there is a shortfall but many posts are being advertised and we expect the body to reach its full complement before the start date.

As regards money, the amount is part of public expenditure. There will be a settlement in Scotland in the very near future. Traditionally those figures are decided over Christmas and are announced very early in the new year. I do not believe that that creates any difficulty for the new body. As regards the amendment, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, will agree that he should perhaps think again and withdraw it.

Viscount Thurso

I have been very interested to hear what the Minister said about this. I quite understand that he does not wish to give up the term "natural heritage" for "nature conservancy". However, in his reply he has not addressed the main point made by the noble Lord, Lord Grimond: namely, the misuse of the English language by the draftsmen from the Scottish Office. If the noble Lord insists upon those words, then the body should be called the Scottish Natural Heritage Commission because it is a commission or body which is being set up. I really believe that the proper use of the English language should be addressed by the Minister.

Lord Grimond

I thank my noble friend Lord Thurso because he is absolutely right. I am making a grammatical point. We are not talking about natural heritage but about its conservation.

Also, there is a difference of substance between myself and some other supporters of the Bill, in that I want to concentrate the energies and attention of this new body on conservation and not on other matters. Nature conservation of the countryside would seem to me to include such matters as the Countryside Commission has been covering. It all boils down to the natural features of the countryside. It is on those I wish to concentrate. However, Parliament, like the Red Queen, can apparently make words mean what it chooses. Therefore I suppose it can pass nonsense in a statute. I still believe that the beginning of the statute is totally against the conservation of the English language. With those parting words, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 2 not moved.]

Lord Grimond moved Amendment No. 3: Page 1, line 11, leave out ("(a)").

The noble Lord said: We now come to a difficult question—at least for me—regarding the powers, aims and purposes of the body, whatever one calls it. As I said, believe that its main aim should be to conserve the natural heritage of Scotland in all its features. I should have thought that it was enough to say: to secure the conservation … and (b) to foster understanding … of … the natural heritage of Scotland".

We will come to a later part of Clause 1(1) (b) in due course. I am inclined to leave out the words "enhancement" and "facilitate the enjoyment". That is not because I believe our heritage should not be enhanced, nor because I believe it should not be enjoyed. However, I am doubtful to say the least whether it is the business of SNH to enhance our heritage. It may be that it should be occupied in ensuring that views are not obscured, and so forth; but it can surely do that as part of its duty of conservation. When it comes to improving the heritage, that is a different concept. There may be occasions when it will be able to do so, but I am loath to see that written into its remit. That means that it has to give specific attention to enhancing the natural heritage.

We then come to an equally difficult matter; that is, enjoyment. Again, I am wholly in favour of people enjoying our heritage. I am doubtful whether this body should be engaged in promoting that enjoyment beyond what it would normally do. I believe that there is a serious problem with regard to tourism and the commercial exploitation of heritage. The exploiters and the tourist boards will say that it is all for enjoyment; that the body is specifically charged by Parliament with the duty of promoting that enjoyment and must therefore promote tourism and the exploitation of the heritage for sport or any other purpose.

As I say, I am not in the least against enjoyment. We have a tourist board. We have powerful interests which are engaged in promoting enjoyment, and rightly so. I wonder whether we need to write that into the Bill. Therefore I return to my view that the Committee should consider whether this body, if it is already charged with securing, conserving and fostering understanding of the natural heritage, has more than enough to do. In the course of fulfilling its duties it will inevitably encourage people to enjoy the natural heritage. It has not been forbidden to do so. However, I ask the Committee to consider whether we need specifically to charge it with anything more. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

I fear the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, is again seeking significantly to narrow the aims of the new agency and make it into a conservation agency.

Lord Grimond

I altered it slightly towards the end.

Lord Strathclyde

The Government intend that SNH should be a fully integrated body with all the responsibilities that the NCCS and the CCS have at present. The amendment has the effect of removing, facilitate the enjoyment of … the natural heritage of Scotland". Enjoyment of our natural heritage is fundamental to its better care and indeed its very use. It is an essential part of the work of the Countryside Commission for Scotland at present. As the Government have made clear over recent months, we fully intend that the SNH should carry that forward as an equally important aspect of its work. Indeed, my honourable friend the Minister for home affairs and the environment explicitly expressed that point in his letter to the Scottish Sports Council on 20th November. Many Members may have seen that letter.

The combined functions will offer the best opportunity to resolve the apparent conflicts between conservation and recreation. The CCS has already achieved that, and we have every reason to suppose that SNH will also do so. Furthermore, the NCCS, in the management of the sites it zones, has practical experience of the management of visitors. That will be enhanced by the expertise and experience of the CCS through the merger.

I hope that the Committee, and particularly the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, will agree that the conservation management of designated areas cannot be divorced from their use and enjoyment. Scottish Natural Heritage is not a tourist board, but neither should the enjoyment of the natural heritage be decided simply on the whims of the tourist board. Scottish Natural Heritage has a clear duty to help people enjoy the countryside without creating destination honey-pots where people may destroy the heritage they come to see.

The effect of the amendment would be to leave such an important area of responsibility unaccounted for. That is surely not acceptable to the Committee. The overriding intention of the Government is to create one integrated agency by means of the Bill; that is, to encompass all the existing aims of the NCCS and the CCS to facilitate the better management, care and enjoyment of our natural heritage. I therefore cannot accept the amendment. I hope that the noble Lord will understand exactly what we are trying to do and why we are trying to do it.

Lord Grimond

I cannot say that I am convinced. However, in view of the explanation—for which I thank the Minister—I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 4 not moved.]

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 5: Page 1, line 12, at end insert ("and access to").

The noble Lord said: It may be convenient for the Committee if, when moving Amendment No. 5, I speak also to Amendments Nos. 206 and 207, which are closely related.

While the first paragraph of the Explanatory and Financial Memoranda to the Bill states that Scottish Natural Heritage, will in general take over the powers, duties and functions currently discharged by the Countryside Commission for Scotland and the Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland", it appears to me that the Bill excludes the important function of the Countryside Commission for Scotland relating to access to the countryside, which is contained in Part I of the Countryside (Scotland) Act 1967. That is an unfortunate omission. No doubt the Minister has received—certainly I have—a number of representations in that regard. Perhaps he will give the amendment serious consideration.

If the promotion of access is carried out by a responsible body, that will imply a careful but positive attitude to access. I hope that the Minister will take it in that spirit. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

I assure noble Lords opposite that Scottish Natural Heritage will play an important role in access. We intend to make that role even clearer by introducing at a later stage amendments which will apply to SNH the provisions of Part II of the Countryside (Scotland) Act 1967 dealing with access to open country. That being so, there is no need to refer specifically to access under the general aims and purposes of Scottish Natural Heritage.

In Clause 1(1) (a) and (b) we tried to define crisply the four elements of the aims and purposes of the new agency. Subsumed within "faciliate the enjoyment", as I am sure the Committee will agree, are a number of elements including recreational pursuits, many of which will require access to the countryside. To single out this one element would appear to give it greater weight than any other elements of the role of Scottish Natural Heritage in encouraging enjoyment. Therefore I cannot agree to the amendment. I hope that the noble Lord will recognise the assurance I gave regarding the bringing forward of amendments from the 1967 Act.

Lord Campbell of Croy

Before the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, replies to the Minister, I am glad to hear my noble friend say that more will be put into the Bill in regard to access, but can he give any indication of when these amendments will come forward? Do we understand that the amendments will not be brought forward until the Bill reaches another place, or will they come forward at a later stage in this House? I have another point to make but perhaps my noble friend can deal with that question.

Lord Strathclyde

I hope that the amendments will be ready before the Bill leaves this House, but certainly they will be brought forward in another place. The point about the amendments is that they are pieces of old legislation rather than new legislation that has to be completely drafted, so they should not be too difficult to prepare.

Lord Campbell of Croy

I thank my noble friend for that assurance. Perhaps I may simply add that it is exceedingly important to recognise the position that can arise with sites of special scientific interest that are seeking to protect certain almost extinct species. Access without any control whatever, with people stamping all over the habitat, could in some cases result in a species disappearing completely. It is difficult to draw a line between enabling the public to enjoy everything possible in the countryside and at the same time protecting the various species that we seek to protect in the Bill.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I am pleased to note that the Minister intends to introduce suitable amendments to make clear the importance of access. However, perhaps he was too careful when he said that we must not give greater weight to access than to other aspects. We accept that there are many other aspects, but the Minister will agree that if the vast mass of Scottish people do not have access to the countryside they will find a strange place—in the lowland areas in particular—and therefore may not show the care and responsibility that would otherwise be shown.

The people who set up the Youth Hostels Association in Scotland did much in their day to open up Scotland and also to create an understanding of the good that can be obtained from the countryside. The YHA is generally accepted to be responsible. Therefore, access may not be the only aspect but it is one of the more important; and it is essential that the urban Scot should be given access to the countryside. I am glad to see that that is to be the case. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

3.30 p.m.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 6: Page 1, line 12, at end insert ("and (c) to protect, by preventing the dumping of radioactive waste under the surface of the land,").

The noble Lord said: This is one of the most important amendments which we shall be debating today and I make no excuse for speaking for perhaps longer than normal. Clause 1(3) defines the natural heritage of Scotland as including, the flora and fauna of Scotland, its geological and physiographical features, its natural beauty and amenity". The construction and operation of underground radioactive waste dumps will adversely affect this natural heritage, as will the leakage of radioactive material from such a dump. Geological and physiographical features, the natural beauty and amenity, will be particularly affected.

One of the main aims of the Bill is to achieve a more comprehensive approach to the conservation of the natural heritage of Scotland through the merger of the Countryside Commission and the Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland. Therefore, it is important that this more comprehensive approach includes the important issue of underground radioactive waste dumping. The alternative to underground dumping is the storage of radioactive waste on the surface at the point of origin, which allows for more effective monitoring and retrieval and will not adversely affect the natural heritage. That approach is also sustainable and on record in Clause 1(1).

In the Scottish Office's document Scotland's Natural Heritage: The Way Ahead the need for communities to have greater involvement was stressed. There is widespread opposition in practically every local community throughout Scotland at every level to the underground dumping of radioactive waste. Amendment No. 14, which it is convenient to discuss with Amendment No. 6, has been put forward by some of the island areas, who suggest that it is important to include land which is under the sea as being a dangerous and unsatisfactory place to dump nuclear waste.

The Minister will be aware that this subject is very much alive in Scotland. The feeling is that Scotland is being, used as a waste dump. That is incompatible with the purposes of this Bill. I beg to move.

Lord Campbell of Croy

Perhaps the noble Lord can give a further explanation of his amendments. I have not yet had time to study Amendment No. 14, which gives a definition of radioactive waste, but does that include low level radioactive waste? The wording of Amendment No. 6 includes the word "dumping", which means "to jettison indiscriminately". Would the noble Lord accept the amendment as having the same meaning if it used the words "disposing o' instead of "dumping"? Would he accept the safe and careful disposal of low level radioactive waste? With the amendments as presently drafted, I believe that it would become a duty of the new body to prevent the burying of radioactive material anywhere in Scotland, not simply in designated SSSIs.

Much of the low level waste which originates in the United Kingdom—I am told nearly 30 per cent.—comes from hospitals, universities and research organisations. It arises from their medical work of treatment and research into improving treatment. Much of that material is discarded clothing, gloves and other similar materials which are the products of radiotherapy, radiography, the treatment of cancer and research into improvements in all these methods of healing and ameliorating suffering. Is the disposal of such waste from hospitals and universities in Scotland to be kept at the hospitals and universities, as suggested by the noble Lord in saying that it should be kept on site? Is such waste not to be disposed of anywhere in Scotland? Is it thought that it should be transported from, for example, Aberdeen and Inverness for 300 miles to the border of England to be disposed of in England or Wales? Before I come to more general questions it would be interesting to know what the noble Lord suggests should be done with low level radioactive waste.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

What is the position in regard to, for example, quarrying the inside of a hill where, say, rock is taken out and the entrance then closed? If radioactive waste is put in, does that come under the heading of "dumping"?

Viscount Thurso

I support the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy. Inevitably a considerable amount of radioactive waste will be produced whether or not we continue to use atomic energy as a source of power. That waste has to be dealt with but we must avoid leaving it lying around on the surface.

It is unfortunate that the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, should have used such pejorative words in his amendment and in his explanation of it. He used words like "dumping". Radioactive waste has to be put somewhere. Leaving it lying around on the surface is in effect dumping it. This amendment does absolutely nothing to help to control and to achieve the proper disposal of radioactive waste. It may well be that the proper place to put it is underground. It is quite wrong to take this responsibility away from the Secretary of State for Scotland and give it to this new body called Scottish Natural Heritage. We are giving the responsibility to the wrong people and doing so for the wrong purposes.

I have an interest in this matter, in that I am a community charge payer in Caithness. I pay the business rate in Caithness. I know that there is not a vast majority of people there who support the regional councils. We believe that they got carried away by the white settlers and rent-a-crowd in their attitude towards the proper disposal of radioactive waste. I hope that the Minister will not accept this amendment.

Baroness Nicol

I intervene on the use of the word "dumping". That word is commonly used in relation to certain aspects of waste disposal. Your Lordships' House produced an excellent report on the dumping of waste at sea some years ago. Indeed, the report was given that title. I do not think that Members of the Committee should be led astray by the use of the word "dumping".

Lord Campbell of Croy

I was involved with these matters in the past. The whole point of dumping at sea was that the waste was simply tipped overboard and landed on the seabed without too much trouble being taken as to what part of the sea it was going into. That is quite different from finding a part of the seabed and then very carefully mining below that and disposing of the waste, if necessary, a mile or two below. At the moment the offshore oil industry, which has been operating in this country since 1971, finds the oil about two miles below the bed of the ocean whereas the dumping which many of us were complaining about was literally dumping—that is to say, tipping stuff over the side and allowing it to settle on the bottom of the ocean.

Baroness Nicol

Until fairly recently, the low level waste to which the noble Lord refers was disposed of in such a way in Northumbria that it could only be described as dumping. I am not sure whether my noble friend will be able to respond as to what kind of waste he was talking about. We should not be led astray by the use of that word because it is irrelevant.

Lord Strathclyde

I appreciate the concern which has led to the fabling of these amendments by the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, although I believe that they are not appropriate to this Bill. The provision that they seek to add to Clause 1 is too specific. SNH will be able to take a view on any such proposal in relation to its general aims and purposes. It may well offer advice to the Secretary of State should any such proposal come forward. Therefore, there is no need for me to single out this of all matters which could affect the natural heritage.

There are of course well-established and rigorous procedures governing the disposal of radioactive waste in Scotland. The responsibility for authorising such disposal is exercised by HM Industrial Pollution Inspectorate. Its considerations would include the safety of the general public and the wellbeing of the natural environment. I can assure the Committee that there is no question of such waste being dumped anywhere. I take up the point following the brief discussion that we had about that word. Depending on the nature of the waste and the degree of radioactivity attaching to it, appropriate controls must be followed in order to ensure a safe method of disposal.

I know that there is much concern about a possible future application by UK Nirex Ltd. for permission to dispose of radioactive waste at Dounreay. In that event all the relevant issues would be considered at a local public enquiry. At present Nirex has planning permission to investigate the suitability of two sites for the possible establishment of a deep repository for low and intermediate level radioactive waste arising in the United Kingdom. Boreholes have been drilled at both Dounreay and Sellafield to determine the geological suitability of each site. The final results are not yet available.

I understand the concern which some people in the Highland region feel about this matter. But I regret that a great deal of it is due to unsubstantiated fears about the safety of such a repository. I sincerely hope that the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, will not go down that road. I am sure that he will not. It is wholly inappropriate for SNH to be caught up in that debate. Other countries have built repositories for their own radioactive waste, so the technological and engineering expertise already exists. It is likely that the repository will be at least 200 metres underground.

The multi-barrier containment approach which would be adopted for waste going to the deep repository is intended to be effective for many thousands of years. Applications by Nirex would be dealt with under the planning process, for which the statutory procedures give full opportunity for objections to be made and taken into account. I thank my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy for his particularly powerful speech and for the questions that he put to the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael. I also thank my noble friend Lord Massereene and Ferrard. I am glad that the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, will support the Government in rejecting the amendments. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, will think again.

3.45 p.m.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

The Minister will realise that I am not greatly surprised by his reply. The word "dumping" is the generic term used about nuclear waste in particular and it seems to be very firmly attached to it. I am fascinated by dumping and have read a great deal about the subject. I have looked at many drawings and diagrams and I am most interested in the methods used. We are talking about possibly thousands of years ahead.

To answer the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, we are talking about intermediate and high level waste. I am sure that he would be as annoyed as anyone in the Committee, including myself were I listening to someone else, if an amendment covered every possibility. In speaking about the dumping of nuclear waste we are talking about high-level waste. I hope that he will accept that point.

Lord Campbell of Croy

I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. The wording of the amendment refers to radioactive waste and not nuclear waste. The amendment does not say whether it is high or medium level waste.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I accept that. I thought the qualification was the use of the word dumping. We do not consider the disposal of gloves and clothing in quite the same way. I have never heard that referred to as dumping but as disposal. I suppose we are becoming somewhat semantical here. I had a very enjoyable day with the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, visiting Dounreay some years ago. At least I can give him credit for not being one of the "not in my own backyard" people. He is knowledgeable about the subject.

We are talking about material that will be there for thousands of years, and we do not know what will happen to the world's crust in that time. His backyard may well be someone else's long before then. The people of Scotland and I take this matter very seriously. I like to use every opportunity to get explanations from whatever government is in power. Other governments have been involved with these matters as the Minister was about to tell me. It is very important that the people are made aware of the issues. It is said that other countries are digging their own shafts for the disposal of waste. What annoys and worries people in Scotland is that we seem to be doing that for a great many parts of the world as well as for our own waste. Unless the Minister cares to add something, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 7: Page 1, line 13, after ("heritage") insert ("and resources").

The noble Lord said: We had a long discussion on the name of the organisation. While this is a slightly different point, it is unnecessary and would be overindulgent for me to go into a long explanation of it. I shall read what was said in reply to the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Grimond.

[Amendment No. 7 not moved.]

The Chairman of Committees

If amendment No. 8 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 9.

Lord Grimond moved Amendment No. 8: Page 1, line 13, leave out from ("Scotland") to end of line 16.

The noble Lord said: I have put down this probing amendment because I do not understand what "sustainable" means. I believe that other people have had difficulty with this too. I do not understand how it car apply to any other person or to the natural heritage of Scotland. The Minister kindly devoted a good deal of his Second Reading speech to this matter. It seemed to me to be a quite excellent exposition of what the Bill is all about but it did not explain "sustainable". We must look at what is in the Bill and not expect people to look back at previous debates.

I know that the word has been used before but what it means should be clear on the face of the Bill. To me at any rate, it is not. It might mean two things. It might mean, first, that the new body should not embark on anything which it cannot see through and which it thinks will not be a success. It would seem to be unnecessary to put that into a statute. The other possibility is that it is an injunction to Scottish Natural Heritage never to embark on something which cannot be sustained for a long time. That is undesirable.

There may be groups of trees in the countryside in Scotland which add a great deal to it. There are beech hedges, for instance. Sooner or later they will prove unsustainable. Simply because in the far future they may decay and die is not necessarily a reason for forbidding this body to try to conserve them for as long as possible. There is also the example of the corncrake in Orkney. The corncrake is rapidly disappearing, to our great sorrow. It used to be one of the main signs of the Orkney spring, just as the cuckoo is a sign of spring in England. It is now confined almost entirely to the island of Papa Westray. In time it is likely to die out because the method of farming is no longer capable of sustaining it. I should be loath to say that the body must not do anything to encourage the corncrake to remain in Papa Westray for as long as it can because in the long run it may prove unsustainable. I therefore do not see the point of this provision. If we leave it out, will the Bill be in any way affected; and if we keep it in, what exactly does it mean?

Lord Strathclyde

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, for giving me the opportunity to explain the concept of sustainability. The concept, which the amendment seeks to delete from the Bill, is fundamental to the operations of SNH. That intention was spelt out in detail in our consultation paper and there was overwhelming support in the responses we received for the Government's recognition of the vital importance of this concept. I am surprised that the noble Lord should seek to strike this crucial concept from the Bill. I should have thought that anyone with the conservation of our natural heritage at heart would welcome our intention to make encouragement of sustainability a primary and overarching duty on the new body.

The noble Lord has given me the opportunity to discuss more fully what we mean by sustainability. At Second Reading I referred to the words of the then Prime Minister. I quoted her as saying: We do not hold a freehold on our world, but only a full repairing lease".—[Official Report, 19/11/90; col. 604.] That kind of concept is the essence of sustainability. It does not mean preservation or not allowing things to change; it means making sure that when changes do occur to the use of land and water resources they do not irretrievably damage the natural environment and impair the heritage that we wish to hand on.

In practice, we seek environmentally sensitive use and management of our natural resources, but we also seek viable economic activity and an increase in the standard and quality of life. Those two are not separate; they are indivisible. Economic activity which degrades the natural resource base to such an extent that the activity cannot be sustained in the long term undermines our future and the futures of succeeding generations. Therefore the encouragement of sustainable activities and uses of the natural heritage is a fundamental role of Scottish Natural Heritage.

I know that this word is a strange one to introduce in legislation but sustainability is part of the Government's approach to environmental matters. It was heralded in the White Paper on the environment, it was heralded in the consultation document about Scottish Natural Heritage and now it appears in the Bill. The essence of sustainability is the balance between what is economically necessary and also what is aesthetically good for the long-term preservation of the natural heritage of Scotland. That is what is important. I hope that the noble Lord will sympathise with my position.

Lord Grimond

I deeply sympathise and I thank the noble Lord for another excellent speech. It was a good exposition of what the Government intend and what we should all like to see. However, I do not think that the word "sustainable" has any relevance. If the Government wish to write a word into the statute, can they not think of a new word? I said at the outset that this is a probing amendment. I have probed the matter, and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 9: Page 1, line 13, leave out ("have regard to the desirability of securing") and insert ("take all practical steps to ensure").

The noble Lord said: This amendment seeks to delete the words, have regard to the desirability of securing", and to make the provision slightly by saying, take all practical steps to ensure".

Those words would not necessarily tie the Government's hands. They would give them the ability to treat the matter a little more seriously. We are all familiar with the words "have regard to". The general public may say that the Secretary of State "has had regard to" what he has been asked but has said no. I should like the Minister to take the idea on board. The words "have regard to" are too often used in legislation and are perhaps too often disregarded. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

What the noble Lord says is fair enough. I have a desire to be realistic. We need to accept in the case of SNH that there is a limit to the extent to which it can interfere with the activities of others. Indeed, to encourage such interference—since I am clear that that is how it would be perceived—could be counter-productive to the aims of the amendment. SNH will set an example and will do whatever it can to encourage others to follow that example. The duty as worded in the Bill at present is still a rigorous one. It has to "have regard to the desirability of securing", and so on. It represents a primary, overarching aim of SNH. Further than that I do not believe we can go. The words "take all practical steps to ensure" are too strong and would not in the end serve the purposes that we are trying to achieve in the Bill.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

There is probably a middle way between what my amendment suggests and what the Minister has said. I am sure that we shall have plenty of time between now and the end of proceedings on the Bill to look at the matter. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4 p.m.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 10: Page 1, line 16, at end insert: ("The concept of sustainability shall be applied broadly and not on a small site-by-site basis.").

The noble Lord said: This measure deals again with the questions of sustainability and development. The point the amendment seeks to make is that sometimes a modest development would affect only a small part of an area and would not be seriously detrimental to the rest of the area. However, one could take the view that the development was deleterious to the environment as a whole. Some small developments have been undertaken within vast sites. As the areas are so vast one tends to forget the small developments after, say, half an hour's walk or 10 minutes' drive in the car. It would be wrong if perfectly reasonable developments were stopped as a result of the clause being too widely drawn. I hope the Minister will reconsider the matter. We must not consider it on a purely site by site basis. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

My reading of the relevant part of Clause 1(1) relating to sustainability does not indicate any restrictions whatsoever as to where the concept should be applied in practice. Therefore I was slightly surprised to see this amendment. The amendment assumes that, as drafted, the relevant part of the clause refers only to sites whether they be designated sites such as SSSIs or any other type of site. I can give the Committee a categorical assurance that there is no intention whatsoever to restrict application of the duty just to designated areas. The wording of the clause does not imply that that is the case. Therefore I believe that the amendment is unnecessary because we have already taken into account the fact that the concept of sustainability shall be applied broadly and not on a small site by site basis. I hope that the noble Lord will accept that explanation.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

With that assurance I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 11 not moved.]

Lord Grimond moved Amendment No. 12: Page 1, line 20, leave out subsection (3).

The noble Lord said: This is a probing amendment although it may not appear so. I have been forced to recommend that we remove subsection (3)—however, I believe it is an important provision—as a means of obtaining some further discussion and explanation of what is meant by the "natural heritage of Scotland". That is the purpose of the subsection and obviously it is an important purpose. We can either leave the subsection as it stands and take it for granted that people know what the natural heritage of Scotland entails, or we can draw up long incomplete lists describing various items that the natural heritage includes. That is what subsection (3) does. It states: 'the natural heritage of Scotland' includes the flora and fauna of Scotland".

However, the Committee will notice that the subsection does not refer to lepidoptera, fish, molluscs and numerous other categories.

On Second Reading the Minister was kind enough to draw my attention to the part of the Bill in which fisheries are mentioned. However, I do not think that that measure is satisfactory. Clearly fish cannot be described as either flora or fauna.

The Earl of Cranbrook

Fish are undoubtedly fauna.

Lord Grimond

According to my dictionary they are not fauna, although they may be considered fauna in general terms. I am doubtful whether lepidoptera are included in fauna. There is, for instance, in Ross, in the Shetlands and in the south west of Scotland a rare fish called a char. They may well need protection from the new body. They are not found in fisheries. Those fish simply comprise a natural part of the habitat. I am afraid that people will consider that the new body has no authority to deal with such fish as the char or lepidoptera, molluscs, reptiles or other creatures. I should be interested to know whether the Minister considers that this subsection will give the new body the necessary authority.

As I have said, we either have to draw up a long list or we rely upon common sense and draw up a general measure to cover this point. We could say, for instance, that for the purposes of the Bill the natural heritage of Scotland includes every natural phenomenon, animate or inanimate. I do not believe that the Bill is satisfactory as it stands in this regard. As I have said, this is a probing amendment to ask the Government whether they are satisfied with the Bill as it stands and, if so, whether they can say a little more about what appears to be an omission in this regard. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

I shall reply to the noble Lord and to this amendment as if it were a probing amendment. I am obliged to the noble Lord for his explanation. Natural heritage is a new concept for legislation which is particularly appropriate to the purposes of the Bill. As a new concept we believe it requires definitions as Scottish Natural Heritage's general aims and purposes and many of its functions relate to it. Essentially the concept combines matters which are generally considered as nature conservation with the landscape elements of the natural environment. It is a broad concept which reflects the broader area of responsibility that we envisage for Scottish Natural Heritage. We fully accept that over time it will become readily understood by all who use the term. It should stand as a clear indication of the wider ambit of the new body and is a signal both to it and to all who have dealings with it of the new area that its advent marks in the management of nature and landscape in Scotland.

The term "natural heritage" also confers a unity of purpose on the new body which might otherwise be lacking given the fact that its legislative powers are scattered throughout several different enactments. The noble Lord, Lord Grimond, asked whether the terms "flora" and "fauna" included all the other aspects of the natural environment including reptiles, fish and other categories. I am grateful to my noble friend for having confirmed that fish are considered to be fauna. However, I understand that all the other items chat the noble Lord listed are also considered to be fauna. Therefore there should be no great problem with the use of that term.

Lord Grimond

Where did the Minister obtain the authority to say that lepidoptera are fauna? I have looked up lepidoptera in a dictionary and they are not considered to be fauna there. They are considered to be fauna in some legislation, but the English language is not decided by legislation.

Lord Strathclyde

Perhaps I have gone beyond my brief in saying that lepidoptera are fauna. I shall check to make certain that I am totally correct before I confirm that. However, I should add that there has been some criticism that we have not gone far enough in our definition. It has been suggested that we should have abandoned terms such as flora and physiographical features. That in itself would have been quite a radical departure because terms in existing legislation are individually well known and understood. We perceive a benefit in using such terms which collectively add up to a new concept. There is a good balance, in the sense of the wording of this subsection, between the old and the new. I believe that is useful.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

Are birds also fauna?

Lord Strathclyde

I can confirm that the answer to that question is yes.

Lord Grimond

I am grateful to the Minister. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 13: Page 1, line 22, after ("features") insert ("its sites and features of historical interest").

The noble Lord said: This again is a probing amendment. As a result of the fascinating discussion we have just heard, I believe I can almost reply to this amendment myself. The amendment seeks to include in the fauna and flora of Scotland, sites and features of historical interest". I believe that this measure may be a little wide of the provisions of this part of the Bill. Perhaps we could introduce this measure at another point in the Bill. I am sure, however, that the Minister has already been well briefed on the effect that an amendment such as this would have on the Bill. I should be grateful if he could help me in this. Clause 1(3), with the inclusion of my amendment, would state: For the purposes of this Act, 'the natural heritage of Scotland' includes the flora and fauna of Scotland, its geological and physiographical features and its sites and features of historical interest". I beg to move.

Lord Grimond

Perhaps I may ask another question. Am I right in thinking that, if it were proposed to demolish Edinburgh Castle, that would be of no concern to SNH because it is not a natural feature but an artefact, but if it were intended to mine or quarry in the Castle Hill that would concern SNH? The right procedure would be to approach the Secretary of State or Edinburgh City Council for them to deny planning permission. That is the difference: the body is concerned with all types of natural features, but is not in the least concerned with artefacts.

Lord Strathclyde

The reasons for not including features of historic interest give us some interesting ground to go over. While I accept that the natural heritage is substantially influenced by the activities of man, to widen its definition in the way proposed by the amendment would clearly call into question the use of the word "natural". I hope that no members of the Committee would deny that the use of the word "natural" is legitimate in the context of the flora and fauna, the geological and physiographic features of Scotland and the natural beauty and amenity of Scotland. Under no stretch of the imagination could I accept that sites and features of historic interest in Scotland could be encompassed within the term "natural". That is why I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, for putting forward his example. I agree that his analysis is correct.

As I am sure the Committee is aware, there are other statutory bodies that deal with sites and features of historic interest; for instance, the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland and the Historic Buildings and Monuments Directorate of the Scottish Development Department, and of course there is a plethora of voluntary bodies to sustain the built environment, which is not the natural environment but which is important to Scotland.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

The probing amendment was worthwhile. With the Minister's explanation and the good illustration given by the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, for which we should he grateful, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 14 not moved.]

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 15: Page 1, line 23, at end insert: ("() This section shall come into force on 1 April 1993.").

The noble Lord said: For the convenience of the Committee I shall speak also to Amendment No. 116. The amendment seeks to provide an exact date for establishing SNH. As currently drafted Clause 26(2) leaves an open-ended start date to be decided at the discretion of the Secretary of State. The NCC is due to be reorganised into separate country agencies in each of England, Scotland and Wales with effect from 1st April 1991. That is provided for in the Environmental Protection Act 1990 which has recently left this place.

Evidence shows that insufficient time was allowed to enable NCCS to appoint the additional staff required and to redeploy staff into the regional offices. That will limit the NCCS's ability effectively to deliver nature conservation. The explanatory memorandum provides that 450 staff will be seconded from the NCCS and the Countryside Commission for Scotland and that additional staff will also be required. That will involve an upheaval of staff and considerable restructuring and budgeting.

The amendment will require SNH to be established on 1st April 1993, thus allowing a full two years for negotiations and the necessary preparations for restructuring to take place without undue effect upon the operation of the existing agencies. If he can, will the Minister tell me on what date the Government intend to establish SNH, how many additional staff it is estimated will be required and when the recruitment exercise will commence?

I am sure that the Minister recognises that the amendment is meant to be helpful to the Government and that it may ease some of the anxieties felt by some staff. I beg to move.

4.15 p.m.

Lord Strathclyde

The noble Lord said that the amendment was meant to be helpful, but it is not as helpful as some of the amendments we have already discussed. I hope to demonstrate why. I would understand the reason for asking for further delay if the government proposals had been announced only recently. As the Committee will be aware, we announced our intentions, subject to Parliament's approval, in July 1989. Since then our proposals for merger of the NCCS and the CCS have been the subject of two consultation papers produced by the Scottish Development Department. The response to both consultation exercises gave positive support to the merger of the two bodies in the timescale proposed by the Government. Some respondents represented that the merger should take place earlier, as has been the case in Wales.

The Government are not prepared to consider any further delay to the merger, which is strongly supported by both bodies. Such a delay would create great uncertainty and put back the collaborative effort between the two bodies which has already begun. We can see no benefit in delaying the start.

I also point out that by fixing the date for the establishment of SNH the flexibility built into Clause 26 is removed. We are all aware, particularly at present, what an uncertain world we live in, and flexibility is therefore essential.

There is the further, more technical point, that as the Bill is drafted SNH could be brought into existence by commencement order before it is given any functions. That is important in respect of staff transfers, as we hope SNH can make offers of employment so that it can start up on 1 April 1992 with all existing NCCS and CCS staff in post. The amendment to Clauses 1 and 26 would make that impossible. SNH could only begin operations on 1st April 1993 and there would then be a considerable delay before it was up and running.

The staffing numbers and structure of SNH will be considered in the light of the management consultants' report and of course after discussion with CCS and NCCS. Progress has already been made. Posts have been advertised. Others will follow shortly. On that basis, I feel that delaying matters further will not help. The best way to go forward is for the successor bodies to the NCC and the Countryside Commission to hear that this place fully supports their work for the future. We hope that they will be able to start on 1st April 1992 rather than 1st April 1993.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

The Minister has given us a good explanation. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 16 not moved.] On Question, Whether Clause 1 shall stand part of the Bill?

The Earl of Cranbrook

Before we agree that Clause 1 should stand part of the Bill there is a question that I should like to ask my noble friend the Minister. It is one that I may be asking once or twice. We have had a useful discussion on sustainability. We have had a valuable clarification of what it means. In 1991, the NCCS, which comes into existence as a result of the Environmental Protection Bill, will be operating in a Joint Committee for the Furtherance of Nature Conservation in Great Britain and internationally with NCC England and the Countryside Council for Wales. They will be operating to the same rules. After 1992 I am worried that, if we are rewriting the natural conservation remit of SNH, one of the three bodies which will be working with others towards achieving a joint programme will be operating to different rules. I put the question to my noble friend although it is not necessary for him to answer on the spur of the moment. It is one which requires consideration as we proceed through the Bill.

Baroness White

Perhaps I may add support for what the noble Earl, Lord Cranbrook, has just said. The operations and terms of reference of the joint council are a matter of considerable concern to us in both England and Wales, not only in Scotland. It is essential that we should know what the relation of the Scottish bodies is to be in the interim, while the new council is being established.

Lord Strathclyde

I am not aware that there is any problem between the Scottish bodies—the successor to the NCCS and the CCS—prior to their combining with the SNH. I have always understood that this had been sorted out in the Environmental Protection Bill (which is now an Act) and that was the end of the problem.

We envisage that Scottish Natural Heritage will have the following goals which are crucial to the natural heritage of Scotland. First, it will secure the conservation of species and habitats. Secondly, it will aim to secure the enhancement and not merely the preservation of our natural heritage. Thirdly, it will aim to foster the understanding of our natural heritage by increasing the degree of interest and the level of knowledge of everyone who has an interest in its use and management. These strike me as being entirely compatible with the aims of the JNCC. As SNH develops in the longer term, it will be up to that body and the JNCC to work out what their relationship should be in order to make them all work as effectively as possible. I think that completes all that I need to say.

Baroness White

I do not believe that it does. One of the difficulties is that the JNCC has been told that it must concern itself exclusively with nature conservation. As a body, it cannot therefore take into account some of the matters which come under the responsibilities of the Countryside Commission for England and Wales at the moment and which will presumably be part of the natural heritage of Scotland.

Lord Strathclyde

I believe that the noble Baroness misunderstands what we are doing. We are not rewriting the nature conservation rules. All the powers, duties, functions and responsibilities of the NCCS—which is the successor body to the NCC in Scotland—will be carried forward to Scottish Natural Heritage. This provision is made in Clause 6. Therefore I do not believe that the clash of interests foreseen by the noble Baroness will occur.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 [General functions of Scottish Natural Heritage]:

[Amendment No. 17 not moved.]

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 18: Page 1, line 27, after ("minister") insert ("or government agency").

The noble Lord said: This amendment may be covered by subsection (b) on page 2 of the Bill. If the Minister will give me that assurance, then I shall not move the amendment.

Lord Strathclyde

That is so.

[Amendment No. 18 not moved.]

Lord Grimond moved Amendment No. 19: Page 1, line 27, leave out ("for or").

The noble Lord said: This is a pedantic and tiresome little drafting amendment. Surely we do not need the words "for or". If there is any policy for the natural! heritage of Scotland, of course it will affect it. All we need to say is: implementation of policies affecting the natural heritage of Scotland".

I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

Perhaps I may clarify the matter for the noble Lord. The wording of the clause is deliberate to ensure that those in SNH can advise the Secretary of State and any other Minister on those policies which relate specifically to the natural heritage as well as those which affect it. The implication of the noble Lord's amendment seems to be to narrow the advisory role of SNH to those policies—agriculture and forestry, for example—which might have an effect on the natural heritage. This would in turn seem to exclude advice on the policies concerned, for example, with species, habitat and landscape protection or with recreational access and enjoyment which are directed at the natural heritage.

When I first looked at this clause I felt the same way as the noble Lord, Lord Grimond. However, after the explanation that I received I was convinced that this was the right way to go.

The Earl of Cranbrook

Before the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, speaks, there is one other question in relation to the clause. As my noble friend said, this legislation mirrors to a great extent the legislation that affects the other nature conservation bodies which will work with Scottish Natural Heritage. In this Bill, these duties are called "general functions"; in the Environmental Protection Act, similar duties are called "functions". I wonder whether there is any significant difference brought in by the introduction of the word "general".

Lord Strathclyde

I am not aware that there is a difference between "functions" and "general functions".

Lord Grimond

I prefer the Minister's first thought to his second. I cannot see how a policy deliberately for the natural heritage of Scotland could fail to affect it. Nevertheless, I do not wish to be pedantic and I withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 20: Page 2, line 1, after ("advice") insert (", training").

The noble Lord said: Again I ask the Minister for help on this matter. I wish the SNH to have a function in a training role and that it should be one of the prime bodies for training people in the field of nature conservancy in Scotland. Can the Minister tell me whether this is included in the Bill as one of its functions? I have not been able to find it, but perhaps the function is one of those which are taken from one of the other bodies. I beg to move.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

As my Amendment No. 22 is grouped with this one, perhaps it may help if I say a word about it now. The present Countryside Commission carries out extensive work in the field of environmental education as well as the training of countryside staff. Successful integration of public leisure with other activities in the countryside depends entirely on a proper understanding of all aspects of countryside activities. The provision of education particularly in schools and through the media as well as training is essential if the Scottish countryside is to be successfully managed in the future and if the public are to be welcome visitors.

We have all been staggered from time to time by the ignorance of the public about country matters. If one is brought up in a city and has never lived in the country, how is one to know such matters as the importance of shutting gates and the danger to animals of throwing away tin cans and plastic bags? That is to mention just two frequent causes of bad relations between the countryman and the visitor.

Dissemination of knowledge to persons gives an impression of a somewhat haphazard scattering of the seeds of wisdom, whereas promotion of education provides a positive duty to target information at those who need to know.

Lord Strathclyde

I sympathise somewhat with some of the thinking behind the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, and the points made by the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun. Certainly, both training and education will be an important aspect of SNH's work, and we expect it to play an important role in promoting better care and understanding of our natural heritage.

It is vital that our understanding of the natural environment be improved, particularly how it is affected by man, why it must be protected and how it can be improved and enhanced. By the provisions of this clause, SNH will play a major role in such educational activities. In view of the generality of the clause we see no need to identify any particular elements within it.

It will be for SNH to examine how best to go about such work on training, for instance; whether it be by formal education and training of relevant persons or whatever other means it sees fit. This is the most important point on training and education. It is an activity already undertaken—I may say with a good deal of success—by the Countryside Commission for Scotland and the Nature Conservancy Council. I firmly expect it to be continued by Scottish Natural Heritage.

Both these areas are important in explaining, particularly to young people, about the countryside; why we have it; and what occurs within it. I know that the chairman of the NCCS regards this work seriously and it will be continued.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I am grateful to the Minister and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.30 p.m.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Ampthill)

I should remind the committee that if Amendment No. 21 is agreed to I shall be unable to call Amendment No. 22.

Lord Grimond moved Amendment No. 21: Page 2, line 2, leave out ("(including the provision and promotion of publicity and information services)"). The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 21. This again is largely a probing amendment. The Bill says that the new body can undertake, the provision and promotion of publicity and information services".

I have no objection to it—in fact I would expect it to do so—providing information about its work and to that extent I suppose providing publicity. However, there is the danger that if a new quango is set up, with perhaps a staff of public relations officers, it will begin holding conferences, organising tours and all sorts of things which I think are not the essential duty of this body. As I have said before, it may have to hold the balance between publicising the important sites in Scotland and discouraging too much tourism. I therefore want to be sure that the Government do not see this as an invitation to the body to set up a large publicity staff and that the body does not see that as part of its duty to publicise what is under its control. It should merely be given powers—which I should have thought were implicit in the Bill—to supply information and to render an account of what it may do.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

What I think the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, referred to earlier as honeypot sites need no publicity whatsoever. Everybody knows about them, and they are already overrun with tourists.

Lord Strathclyde

We have included specific reference to the provision and the promotion of publicity and information services in the function of SNH since such activities are likely to prove an important aspect of its work. It also, I may say, comes from previous legislation. We wish to put that beyond doubt, since it may not otherwise be entirely clear that publicity and information services fall within the concepts of providing advice and disseminating knowledge.

Those services link closely with Scottish Natural Heritage's general aims of fostering understanding of the natural heritage, and I believe that aim to be entirely worth while. The more we can educate ourselves and others about the natural heritage, the greater the appreciation of it and the more it will be valued and cared for.

I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, when he says that there may be a danger of the body setting up too many conferences. That is not the intention of this sentence. We would not approve of too many conferences or encouraging too many tourists, as the noble Lady said, going to visit certain specific destinations. What this is intended to do is to cover the generality of the promotion of publicity and information services, and I believe that that is important.

Lord Grimond

With those assurances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 22 not moved.]

Lord Grimond moved Amendment No. 23: Page 2, line 6, leave out ("or support (whether by financial means or otherwise)").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 23. This concerns research. Here again I would want simply in the Bill that the organisation should be entitled to commission research. But equally, with quangoes today, and I believe generally, research has proliferated. It has become one of the favourite occupations of the British to carry out what they describe as research, some of which is doubtful research and may be called hobbies.

I do not think that the commission should be entitled to set up a research staff of its own. We have excellent Scottish universities. They are short of money. They are filled with extremely able people who know a great deal about the countryside and about most of the problems in it. I should have thought that they would be only too glad to undertake on behalf of the commission what serious research is needed. I should have thought that very little is needed, but I accept that some is.

Therefore, I should like to leave "commissioning" in the Bill but I should like to know what the case is for "support". If that means that the commission has its own research staff, I am doubtful about it. If, however, it means that it may support research in some other way by some other bodies, I can see that there may be a case, but I should like to know what it is.

Baroness Nicol

When I was studying this amendment it occurred to me to wonder whether there was anything in the Bill that would require the SNH when it undertook research to liaise with other bodies to make sure that there was not an overlap in what it was doing with research being done either by the JNCC or the English or Welsh bodies. I have to confess that I have been unable to find it in the Bill. I am quite willing to be told that I am wrong and will apologise if that is so.

If the Minister is to continue to support the idea that the body shall be able to do its own research, it seems important that there should not be a duplication of effort. Money, and particularly staff expertise, for research are going to be in short supply in any case and to waste them in duplication is not desirable.

Lord Strathclyde

It is an essential part of our thinking on SNH's operations that not only would it commission the bulk of its own research from others and so strengthen its links with the scientific community in Scotland but that it should also be able to support the research of others, as the clause says either "by financial means or otherwise", just as the nature conservation bodies established under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 can do.

Partnership and co-operation would be vital to the success of the new body, and the concept of support is crucial to that ethos, which is why when the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, mentioned the universities I was conscious that there had been many collaborations with the Scottish universities on research projects dealing with the countryside. I should be sorry if SNH were to lose that ability, and I hope on that account that the noble Lord will withdraw his amendment.

May I also say to the noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, who mentioned the point of overlapping, which I think is a good point, that in practice there is no statutory requirement except through the work of the JNCC. Of course if there was overlapping it would not be the best use of resources, which it is a requirement of the SNH to provide. It would be impossible for me to say that it would never happen. All I can say is that it is something that we do not want to happen. SNH is fully aware of that, as is the JNCC, and I am certain that they will be able to work together to create a system whereby money is saved on genuine research rather than overlapping research.

Lord Grimond

I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 24: Page 2, line 7, after ("research") insert ("enquiries or investigations").

The noble Lord said: This is merely to throw light on the interpretation of "research". It is not to widen the interpretation. I think that "research" is sometimes used for matters that are inquiries or investigation. I suppose strictly speaking they could be called "research" but we all know that "research" demands a greater amount of discipline than merely inquiries and investigations. However, as the Bill is worded, if my definition of "research" as requiring greater control was used it would perhaps make it impossible to have relatively simple investigations or inquiries.

For instance, the use of the West Highlands Way hardly needs research but it would perhaps need a fair amount of inquiry, investigation or counting and looking at exactly the sort of people who use the West Highlands Way. In my view this would not be research, which should be something rather more scientific. However, if the Minister could find a way to include that within the Bill or assure me that the SNH would already have power to do that, I should be content.

Lord Strathclyde

I can put the noble Lord's mind at ease. Paragraph (g) of Clause 2(1) gives SNH all the power it needs to undertake investigations or inquiries relevant to the discharge of its functions. Therefore, I hope that the noble Lord will agree that his amendment is unnecessary.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I thank the Minister for that reply. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Grimond had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 25: Page 2, line 8, leave out from ("functions") to end of line 10.

The noble Lord said: The amendment repeats a point which I raised in connection with a previous amendment, namely, that if SNH undertakes research it is impossible for it to commission it, and I shall therefore not move the amendment.

[Amendment No. 25 not moved.]

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 26: Page 2, line 18, after ("persons") insert: ("() the power to guarantee obligations arising out of loans or otherwise incurred by any person receiving assistance from SNH;").

The noble Lord said: If Scottish Natural Heritage is to promote and set up companies under the Companies Act 1985 it would be most useful if it could provide assistance to such enterprises which may be carrying, out environmental tasks. I have in mind relatively small tasks such as footpath management by trusts limited by guarantee or other such environmental businesses. The express power to guarantee obligations is most useful. It gives the necessary security while a business or trust is becoming established and thus encourages private sector involvement in those areas. Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise have such a power in relation to economic development. It would be helpful if SNH were to have such a power in relation to environmental work.

The Minister may very well say that SNH may not have the expertise to guarantee such obligations and that reference should be made to Scottish Enterprise or Highlands and Islands Enterprise. It would be helpful, however, for a body as important as SNH to have at least some funds to offer guarantees in the same way as those other bodies. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

We see no need for such a power. It is the role of the private sector to enter into arrangements with persons or bodies receiving assistance from Scottish Natural Heritage in order to guarantee obligations such as mortgages or loans. To expect a public sector body such as Scottish Natural Heritage to do that would create a contingent liability not only on SNH but also on the public purse. I am sure that Members of the Committee will agree that an accumulation of such contingent liabilities could negate the positive work which we wish and expect SNH to perform. Highlands and Islands Enterprise does not have powers to guarantee obligations and therefore I do not see that there is any requirement for this body to have them either.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I shall study the Minister's reply with great care because I was advised that Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise had powers in that respect. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.45 p.m.

Lord Grimond moved Amendment No. 27 Page 2, line 24, at end insert (", where it is necessary for it to do so.").

The noble Lord said: The Minister may feel that the amendment is unnecessary. It arises from a point that I made at Second Reading. I believe that this body should hold as little land as possible, for two reasons. First, I believe that land is better held by owner-occupiers or occupying tenants. Secondly, I believe that such a body would carry more weight and be more impartial if it was not itself engaged in the ownership of land. SNH will have to give a great deal of advice to competing interests and owners and, like the Association for the Preservation of Rural Scotland, it may find it an advantage not itself to be deeply involved in land ownership. Furthermore, other bodies, such as the National Trust, are experienced and extremely able in the ownership of land for which private owners may not be readily available.

Therefore, I should like to think that it is the Government's view that SNH should own land only if that is absolutely essential. In other cases it should exercise its powers indirectly.

I suspect that there will be pressure on SNH to acquire land. I notice that it already has a fairly large staff of 500, and there will be a natural tendency for it to increase its bureaucracy and become a substantial landowner. I hope that the Government will agree with me that it should buy land by consent or compulsory purchase only as a last resort and that its main function should be advisory, holding the balance —as the Minister explained so eloquently earlier — between the various interests which determine the future of our heritage in Scotland.

Lord Strathclyde

That was a very helpful explanation by the noble Lord. Initially I was confused as to whether the proposed words applied only to the holding of land or to the whole of the subsection. I understand it to apply to land ownership.

I have a certain amount of sympathy with what the noble Lord said. We would not wish SNH to become an agency specialising in land transactions. However, I can assure the noble Lord that there is no likelihood of that happening. In practice SNH would not be in the business of undertaking the acquisition or disposal of land where that was not necessary. The funding of any significant land acquisition would have to be approved by the Secretary of State anyway, and SNH would have to make out an extremely good case before such expenditure would be authorised.

Furthermore, SNH would be able to undertake any such acquisition or disposal only if it were in pursuit of its general aims under Clause 1(1). That in itself has the same effect as the noble Lord's proposed wording and therefore the amendment would have no extra force and is unnecessary.

Nevertheless, I have a great deal of sympathy with what the noble Lord said and if he feels that my explanation is not sufficient, no doubt I shall hear from him.

Lord Grimond

I thank the noble Lord for those assurances. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 28: Page 2, line 24, at end insert: ("and (h) the power to convene meetings of the representatives of any interests where, in its opinion, discussions are needed to allow it to pursue its general aims and purposes as mentioned in section 1(1) above.").

The noble Lord said: The amendment has been tabled in response to the suggestion that there will be a need for a great deal of discussion and communication to deal with conflicts which beset conservation generally in Scotland. The object is to develop debate on conditions in Scotland as much as possible. Scottish Natural Heritage must have powers to bring together the representatives of various bodies, especially government departments and agencies, to discuss potential conflicts and resolutions. As those agencies have been unwilling in the past to discuss such matters on certain occasions, this is a good opportunity to give SNH the power to make them submit their points of view. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

Paragraph (g) of Clause 2(1) gives SNH power to do everything incidental or conducive to its functions. In turn, those functions are there to enable SNH to achieve its general aims and purposes. SNH would undoubtedly consider calling a meeting in the circumstances envisaged by the amendment if it felt that that would help, and the general power under paragraph (g) would enable it to do so.

Perhaps I should stress the importance to SNH of developing good relations and working in partnership with all those who, like itself, have an interest in the natural heritage. I am sure that there will be many amicable and productive meetings convened by SNH without the need for it to be given explicit power to do so. Indeed, giving it such power might have the opposite effect of what I know the noble Lord intended. It would create resistance and undermine the partnership approach. I believe that we have the balance about right. I hope that the noble Lord will accept my explanation.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

Yes. I believe that the amendment goes a little far. I was interested in the idea that government departments were, from the tone of the amendment that I was asked to move, painfully not always anxious to co-operate as well as they might. However, I am sure that with the new body, which will be rather more representative than the two put together, that problem will be overcome. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 29 to 31 not moved.] Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 [Duty to take account of certain matters]:

[Amendments Nos. 32 and 33 not moved.]

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 34: Page 2, line 34, after ("of") insert ("sustainable").

The noble Lord said: It may be convenient to take with this amendment Amendments Nos. 36 and 38. The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that SNH takes due regard of the need for sustainable development in exercising its function. It is quite right that both sides of the conservation development debate should take account of the other's needs. But if the Government are serious about adopting a new approach to land use—for instance, to make it less exploitive and sustainable in the longer term—that should be reflected in this clause. The amendment will introduce the word "sustainable" at relevant points and will, I believe, achieve that objective. I beg to move.

Lord Taylor of Gryfe

If it is the intention of the Committee to discuss Amendment No. 36 at this point, I shall be happy to speak to it. First of all, perhaps I may apologise to the Committee for the delay I had in getting to the Chamber. This Bill is a matter of great interest to me. However, the Aberdeen train was three hours and 20 minutes late today, which was a source of great frustration. I am not sure that that is not another reason why Committee stages of Bills which have an exclusive Scottish reference should be held on a day other than a Monday.

The amendment has been prompted by the Forestry Industry Committee of Great Britain. I gather that the Minister has had an opportunity to study its case and is not quite unsympathetic. If that is so, it will avoid my making a long speech. The explanation of the amendment is that Clause I of the Bill, in Part I, defines the natural heritage as including: flora and fauna … geological and physiographical features, its natural beauty and amenity". Clause I also provides that the specific activities of the Scottish Natural Heritage should be, undertaken in a manner which is sustainable". That point was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael.

Although the passage refers to the positive activities to be undertaken by SNH, there is a danger that these clauses may subsequently be used to argue that any change in the landscape or flora, etc., would not sustain the status quo and that the SNH should therefore oppose it. The amendment is in order to clarify that point. Any change will not inevitably be opposed.

At the same time, the passage seems to continue the slight confusion which first appeared in the consultation document in which Scottish heritage, in terms of landscape, was construed to be a resource that required to be sustained while agriculture, forestry and other activities of that kind were regarded as economic activities which might impinge upon it. That is a very important point. I hope that the Minister will accept that some amendment and clarification is necessary.

The principle of sustainability and sustainable development applies to all resource management. It is also based on the idea that we should pass on to the next generation at least the same productive potential that we ourselves inherited. If this rather simple amendment were accepted by the Government, it would certainly encourage those who have forestry and agricultural interests which are vital to the countryside and also part of our heritage.

Lord Strathclyde

I am sure that the whole Committee agrees that it is a great delight that the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, has joined us. We are very sorry to hear of his problems on the Aberdeen train. No doubt the new Secretary of State for Transport will have that kind of problem at the bottom of his heart as he takes up his new office.

The noble Lord, Lord Taylor, was right in saying that I have a certain amount of sympathy with these amendments. I do. However, I feel that SNH must have regard to the desirability of securing that anything done in relation to the natural heritage of Scotland is undertaken in a manner which is sustainable.

Since SNH has to take account of sustainability in the clause which sets out its main aims and purposes—it was a deliberate decision on our part to place such emphasis on that factor—it is debatable whether it is necessary to repeat the reference to "sustainability" in Clause 3, which is a secondary duty.

As drafted, Clause 1(1) provides for SNH in exercising its functions to encourage the application of sustainable use principles to all uses and activities that affect the natural heritage of Scotland. Those uses and activities would of course include agriculture, fisheries and forestry. Furthermore, it would apply to activities arising from social and economic developments.

There is a possibility that the amendments might have the opposite effect from that intended by their sponsors. As the clause stands, SNH can take such appropriate account of the needs of various factors as the circumstances require. There may be circumstances in which SNH considers natural heritage factors are paramount and therefore believes that no account should be taken of the needs of, for example, agriculture or forestry. As drafted, the amendment would require that Scottish Natural Heritage should not take account of those agriculture, fisheries or forestry activities or those social and economic developments which are unsustainable. That may not be the noble Lord's intention and it is certainly not the Government's view. But that could be the effect of the amendment. In order to operate in the way intended it would have to refer to the need for sustainable agriculture, fisheries and forestry rather than the needs of those activities. As is clear from what I said about Clause 1(1), we propose to place a duty on SNH to stimulate activities that are sustainable.

Perhaps I may now turn to the specific wording proposed in the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Taylor. There is no question that the duty relating to sustainability should apply equally to other resource based industries, by which I assume that the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, includes tourism, recreation, ski-ing or indeed any other activities that we may not have thought of.

We are, however, concerned that "sustainable development" has a much narrower connotation than "sustainability". It seems to imply only activity creating change, whereas we consider sustainability to apply to existing as well as new activities. The amendment is also slightly vague, as there must be some doubt as to what exactly is meant by "resource-based industries". Agriculture, fisheries and forestry have been singled out in Clause 3 paragraph (b) as these are the most significant activities external to itself with which SNH will have to deal. They occupy a unique position in their direct use of the resources of the land and sea. The amendment to some extent blurs that distinctiveness.

Your Lordships should not, however, take this questioning as an indication that the Government are unsympathetic to the principle underlying the amendments. I do not think there is any argument between the Government and the noble Lords opposite. We are all agreed on the principle of sustainability, and we recognise its importance in relation to our natural heritage. In short, we do not want to see it irretrievably degraded or diminished—rather we expect activities to be carried out in an environmentally sensitive manner. That would ensure that the natural resources on which this and future generations depend continue to be usable. As explained, I am of the view that the Bill in its present form deals with the point adequately. However, in the light of all that has been said, I am prepared to look at the matter again. Should I on reflection consider that anything more is needed to achieve our aim, I shall return to the question on Report. Undoubtedly noble Lords opposite will have their own ideas on how I should do that.

With the reassurances that I have given, I hope that the noble Lords, Lord Taylor and Lord Carmichael, will be prepared to withdraw the amendment.

5 p.m.

Viscount Massereene and Ferrard

Before my noble friend sits down, perhaps I may say that the question of sustainability must depend on costs. It may cost millions to sustain an industry or some other activity. I have always understood that the timber mill at Fort William could not be sustained because of the cost of electricity. I cannot recall the name of the public company supplier, but the cost of electricity for the pulp mill at Fort William was four times that of electricity in Canada and Australia. Sustainability must therefore come to an end when expense outweighs profitability.

Lord Strathclyde

Perhaps I may reply to that point. We are not dealing so much with expense, although it is very important. We use "sustainability" in the sense of balancing the needs of economic activity and our natural heritage. That is the important factor in the Bill.

My noble friend is correct. Some activities are too expensive and we should not carry them out.

Lord John-Mackie

Let us consider the purely practical side of forestry. We know that there is tremendous scope for forestry north of Inverness, if that were allowed to be developed.

I should like to take the Minister to task on a remark that he made about the Forestry Commission in reply to my supplementary question last week. He said that the Forestry Commission was not inhibited in any way. It is inhibited to the tune of being restricted to planting only 5,000 acres per year and having to sell off £100,000-worth of acres before the end of the decade. If that is not inhibition, I should like to know what is.

There is no doubt that if a sustained forestry policy were carried out north of Inverness, then a factory making wood products of some description would start there. As the Minister should know, that is one of the highest areas of unemployment in Scotland. It would be the duty of the SNH to ensure that such a policy was carried out. A green body would be able to ensure that that was so.

Lord Strathclyde

Perhaps I may briefly respond. The noble Lord has hit on one aspect. We are trying to create a duty on Scottish Natural Heritage to take into account the needs of the economic activities created by forestry—in the example he gave—when environmental decisions are being made. I believe that the duty is quite plain. It is very important to the future of the Highlands and Islands region of Scotland in the long term. We have no intention of creating a pure parkland. We are being very realistic in the Bill about the future of Scottish Natural Heritage. The duty imposed on it by statute is important. It must give consideration to those other activities which co-exist on the natural heritage of Scotland.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

The Minister has heard many arguments. I agree with some of them. I felt that others needed further examination. The Minister appears to have had the same feeling. He has agreed to reconsider the amendment. I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Strabolgi)

I understand that Amendments Nos. 35 and 36 are marshalled in the wrong order. I shall now call Amendment No. 36.

Lord Taylor of Gryfe had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 36: Page 2, line 34, leave out ("and forestry") and insert (", forestry and other resource-based industries and their sustainable development").

The noble Lord said: In the light of the very helpful comment by the Minister on this matter, I shall not move the amendment.

[Amendment No. 36 not moved.]

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 35: Page 2, line 34, after ("forestry") insert: ("(bb) the need to promote the understanding of and access to the natural heritage of Scotland").

The noble Lord said: At the end of Clause 3 paragraph (b) it is proposed to delete "and" and insert the words on the Marshalled List. In the exercise of its functions the commission shall have due regard to the need for the development of recreational and tourist activity facilities and for the balanced economic and social development of the countryside.

Clause 11(2) of the Bill transfers to SNH all rights, liabilities and obligations, and so on of the Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland and the Countryside Commission for Scotland. It does not transfer to SNH the functions of the Countryside Commission. Therefore Part I of the Countryside (Scotland) Act 1967 does not function in this Bill. It is a technical amendment. However, I hope that by giving a full explanation, the Minister will put at ease those correspondents who have been in touch with me. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

I knew that the wording of the amendment was not up to the normal standard of amendments put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael. It is a most curious amendment. In Clause 1(1) (b) we propose that SNH should have a general aim and purpose to foster understanding and facilitate the enjoyment of the natural heritage of Scotland. It is therefore in my view a tautology to ask SNH as a secondary duty to take such account as may be appropriate in the circumstances of the need to promote the understanding of and access to the natural heritage of Scotland. We have already done that in one sense. We do not need to back it up again. I hope that the noble Lord will reply to his correspondents that the amendment is unnecessary.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I am grateful to the Minister for that explanation, which I shall pass on to my correspondents. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy moved Amendment No. 37: Page 2, line 35, after ("need") insert ("for the preservation of rural communities and").

The noble Lady said: A prime anxiety, particularly in remote areas, is the preservation of rural communities. That includes the need for schools, shops, post offices and transport, as well as employment and suitable housing policies. The requirement is believed to be wider than the "social and economic development", which is a vague term. Therefore, I suggest that it should be specifically included in subsection (c).

There is a fear that nature conservation may take priority over the interests and livelihoods of people who live in some parts of Scotland which the Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland and Countryside Commission for Scotland are concerned to protect. As is stated in St. Matthew, Chapter 6, verse 26, people matter more than the fowls of the earth. The object of the amendment is to ensure that the needs of rural communities receive no less consideration than the needs of other endangered species. I beg to move.

The Earl of Dundee

I believe we are all agreed that rural communities should be preserved and that specific facilities such as employment, houses, shops and so forth should not be denied to them. My noble friend may feel that those aims are not sufficiently addressed in the wording of the Bill. It merely expresses a desire to promote social and economic development in Scotland and therefore the wording suggested by the noble Lady may effect an improvement.

Lord Taylor of Gryfe

I support the intention of the amendment. Conservationists put great emphasis upon wilderness areas. However, I am not filled with pleasure when rural communities disappear in order that those areas can be preserved.

I have always believed that a healthy countryside requires opportunities for people to work in forestry and so forth. In our busy world some people prefer to work in the countryside. When I was chairman of the Forestry Commission I found great pleasure not only in standing in an area of tree planting but also in meeting people who found satisfaction in working in the countryside. I feel sorry when I travel through villages where schools are closed and there is less sustainable development. I support the idea that opportunities should be available to people to live and work in the countryside. That social aspect of preserving our natural heritage should not be underestimated. I have pleasure in supporting the amendment.

5.15 p.m.

Lord Strathclyde

I am grateful to the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, and to my noble friend Lord Dundee for bringing forward the amendment. The future of our rural communities is increasingly important. I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, for his comments. I hope the Committee will agree that the phrase "social and economic development" is all-embracing, covering individuals and communities as well as society at large and the activities that they undertake. Through the use of the word "development" the phrase recognises the dynamic aspect of society and economy in Scotland and its constituent parts.

The amendment focuses on the preservation of rural communities. The Government wish to see the continuation of a healthy economy and a healthy society in Scotland's rural areas and the rural policy structure is written accordingly. However, to suggest that rural communities should be preserved is, in our view, a difficult concept. It has overtones of trying to ossify rural communities. I am not sure that it would have been a desirable objective 100 years ago to preserve our rural communities, and perhaps that is not the aim of the noble Lady. Scottish Natural Heritage might find itself having to consider whether its activities should seek to stifle change rather than, as I am sure we all want, to ensure that changes in the use of the natural heritage have beneficial effects on local economies and local society.

I have a great deal of sympathy with the suggestion of supporting rural areas, rural economies and local people because of my specific responsibilities for agriculture in Scotland. It is clear that farming as a basic economic activity is crucial to the future of rural areas. A fundamental part of the re-organisation proposed in the Bill is that the SNH should work closely with local people and local communities as well as with other local interests. That is why we propose that the SNH officials should be stationed throughout Scotland rather than at some central location. That will enable them to build up partnerships with local interests and to take those interests into account when carrying out their work.

I hope that the noble Lady and my noble friend Lord Dundee will understand my belief that the amendment is unnecessary because the obligation to have proper regard to social and economic development achieves the noble Lady's aims. The amendment would also have a restrictive effect because it is so specific. In the light of that explanation perhaps the noble Lady will withdraw her amendment and understand the Government's commitment to rural areas and continuing economic activity within them.

Lord Grimond

I have great sympathy with the Minister's comments. However, I am not sure that subsection (c) covers the issue that many Members of the Committee have in mind. It draws attention to, the need for social and economic development in Scotland or any part of Scotland". That is all right but it might be economic development on a large scale, which might be of little relevance to the existing community; for instance, oil. It may bring into Scotland an entirely new form of life, industrialisation or whatever. The phrase gives no indication that Parliament believes that the new body should take into account the existing local community. The Minister is right in saying that it would do so, but constantly we write provisions into Bills which people of common sense might not believe to be necessary. Will the Minister think again about whether such an amendment is necessary?

Lord Howie of Troon

I welcome the Minister's comments. One of our problems s that there is and has been for some time a strong movement abroad to preserve and conserve things. However, many of them would be better changed and improved—"developed" as we used to call it. That is not to say that I am in favour of covering Scotland in concrete—although in some ways that would be quite a gain—nor do I wish to see any further vast oil developments. However, I hesitate when words such as "preservation" appear. At least the noble Lady did not use the word "conservation", which would have terrified me. To that extent, as the noble Lady used the word "preservation" instead of "conservation", I believe that she is on the right lines. I am inclined to agree with the Minister. As it stands, the Bill talks about looking at the need for social development, which is presumably what the noble Lady wants. It also deals with "any part of Scotland". I imagine that that would include the rural areas.

The importance of this amendment is that it has drawn the noble Lady's thoughts to the attention of the Minister. He is obviously in sympathy with them up to the point that is practicable and reasonable.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

Like the noble Lord who has just spoken, I am rather inclined to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde. However, I shall read very carefully what he and other noble Lords said and consider whether I may devise a different formula for a later stage of the Bill. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 38 not moved.]

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 39: Page 2, line 36, at end insert: ("(d) the views of national and regional bodies charged with the economic and social development of Scotland.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is not on quite the same scale as others that have been moved. It comes from the Sports Council and it asks that, the views of national and regional bodies charged with the economic and social development of Scotland", should be taken into account. The council is particularly anxious that the development and use of Scotland's environment for, for example, the practice and enjoyment of sport and recreation is taken into account when deciding conservation policy and practice.

The size and emphasis of the proposed SNH suggests that conservation interests will always predominate over access and recreational interests. The interpretation of conservation, as we have discovered today, is extremely wide. Therefore, the Sports Council is anxious to have aired the point that there should be a fair amount of common goal in these matters and that the views of the council and other national bodies should be taken into account by the SNH. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

The Government considered carefully the provisions of this clause before it was drafted. We consider that there is no need for the type of requirement mentioned in the amendment since SNH will work very much in partnership with many different organisations in the course of its activities and it is not necessary to identify them explicitly within the legislation. Furthermore, it would not be possible to include a precise reference to all the relevant interests who would wish their opinion to be heard and by naming one set it would invite the inclusion of others. Clearly, this could never be a comprehensive list and that is why no such references have been included.

In order to take appropriate account of all the factors in Clause 3, SNH will seek ways of informing itself on these matters and that will obviously include consulting many organisations, including those charged with economic and social development. Of course that would include the Sports Council, to which the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, referred.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

Would that also include bodies such as the Red Deer Commission, the SLF, Timber Growers United Kingdom Ltd. and the National Farmers Union, to name but a few?

Lord Strathclyde

We have gone away from listing every sort of organisation with which SNH may be required to consult but we are basically saying that there is a duty to take into account the various different functions as listed in Clause 3. It would be impossible for Scottish Natural Heritage to perform its duties without consulting the relevant bodies which exist; for example, as the noble Lady mentioned, the NFU, the Red Deer Commission and any other organisations which may be around. Obviously that is very important as regards creating the new role of SNH; namely, conciliatory action towards the environment while balancing carefully the different needs of society and thus creating the sustainable natural heritage in Scotland.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

The Minister's reply is much as I had expected. I believe that the Sports Council will appreciate that reply as the noble Lord spelt out very fully the desirability and necessity for SNH to consult widely. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 40 not moved.]

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 41: Page 2, line 36, at end insert: ("provided always that SNH shall have primary regard to its general aims and purposes as mentioned in section 1(1) of this Act and its duties under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment ensures that SNH always puts first its primary conservation duties and that those cannot be compromised for political reasons.

As drafted, Clause 3 appears to me to put an undue burden on SNH to give way to economic pressure. There has already been a fair amount of discussion on the desirability of its economic development. The reason for this amendment is that the Government would need to prove that they had a proper case when any economic development was to take place. It would be the responsibility of the Government that SNH should not be compromised by becoming involved in the final decision. It should be made very clear that SNH's primary duty is conservation and any other political or industrial development duty beyond that would need to be the responsibility of an outside body which in this case would be the Scottish Office. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

I am grateful to the noble Lord for drawing this question to the attention of the Committee. Certainly the intention is that SNH should indeed have primary regard to its general aims and purposes under Clause 1(1), since they are the very reason for its existence. Indeed, it would be strange if that were not the case. Clause 1 sets out the overarching aim of SNH and I can assure the Committee that it will have prior regard to such aims in all its operations. As Clause 3 makes clear, SNH is only to take account of the matters which are specified to the extent that it is appropriate in all the circumstances. There may well be circumstances where the weight which can be given to them will necessarily, in the light of SNH's main purposes in life, be greater or less according to circumstances. It follows that in our view the Bill as drafted already achieves the noble Lord's intention.

I trust it will be clear from what I have said that nothing in Clause 3 will in practice override any of SNH's functions either under the Bill or any other legislation. I hope that will go a long way towards easing the noble Lord's mind.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I am sure that this subject will not go away and that it will be dealt with here on Report, and in another place. I shall take away the Minister's reply to see how far it goes towards satisfying my anxieties. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 42 not moved.] Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 [Nature conservation functions]: [Amendments Nos. 43 and 44 not moved.]

5.30 p.m.

Lord Taylor of Gryfe moved Amendment No. 45: Page 2, line 49, at end insert: ("() Where in the exercise of its functions relating to the designation of Sites of Special Scientific Interest, SNH receives an objection, after consulting the General, Regional or District Planning Authority, or any person with an interest in the land in question, the matter shall be referred to the Secretary of State who shall have authority to confirm, amend or withdraw the proposed designation after appointing a local hearing.").

The noble Lord said: This is a very important amendment and I shall welcome any assurances the Minister may be able to give to satisfy the serious anxieties in Scotland with regard to the new organisation.

I have before me a report on the feelings of the Scottish Crofters Union with regard to the new powers which are to be exercised, in which it states it is apprehensive about the abuse of power. That applies particularly to the designation of SSSIs. I received representations from the Highland region. The people there are inevitably deeply concerned since now 15 per cent. of the total land area in the region is designated as an SSSI.

I believe the amendment contains an important principle. The purpose of the Bill is to give more power to local communities rather than having the centralised power of the Nature Conservancy Council working from Peterborough. There would be a new organisation comprising the Countryside Commission and the Nature Conservancy Council working together in Scotland. That is what we want. But the Government should go further and consider whether there should be a greater degree of democracy in the exercise of that power.

In the Highland region and other parts of Scotland there have been developing locally, through cooperation with interested parties, land use strategies and general indicative plans for land use. However, those were agreed, discussed and negotiated. Under the Bill the new organisation, if it exercises the same powers as the Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland did in the past, will have overriding powers in the designation of SSSIs. The amendment suggests that the designation of SSSIs is similar to many planning designations safeguarding amenity or environmental quality and should be bound by the same procedures. Those same procedures are outlined in the amendment now before the Committee.

The Highland regional council wrote to me pointing out that the Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland is an appointed body. It is an important point which relates to our democratic practices. We now have a body appointed by the Secretary of State; yet the local authorities are the elected bodies representing local interests and making decisions by democratic process. Within the provisions of the new Bill the NCC can exercise an overriding power with little opportunity for appeal against such designations. Whereas the Secretary of State for Scotland gives the NCCS directions of a general character, he has no authority to overrule the council's power of SSSI designation under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The power of the NCCS is absolute; there is no independent body to which an aggrieved party may appeal.

That is an important point. If a farmer has a SSSI designation in his area, he does not have recourse to appeal such as is provided in planning procedures. In addition, the intervention of the Nature Conservancy Council frequently frustrates and delays desirable development. Under those circumstances I seriously feel that there should be an appeals procedure built into the Bill which would expedite consideration of all the conflicting interests in the countryside. For that reason I invite the Committee to support the amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Campbell of Croy

The noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, raised a point I made at Second Reading of the Bill. I cannot remember whether he was present and heard it on that occasion. It was a similar point and arose from an unfortunate impression, as I described it, among a number of people in the north who had been or may be affected by SSSIs that the land in question then becomes blighted or devalued. I shall not repeat my speech but as I said, no less than 380,000 hectares in the Highland region have been designated.

I live in such a local authority area. Naturally the people keep in touch with me in that regard. There exists the suspicion that because the present NCC has the power of being both the proposer of schemes and also the final decision-maker on those same schemes, without any right of appeal or referral to an independent body, on certain occasions the NCC—now the new body to be created—could go through the motions of consultation knowing perfectly well that at the end of the day it need not change its mind on the main issue. We need to try to dispel those suspicions. They certainly exist, and at least one regional council, the Highland regional council, is worried about the matter. I know that it is in touch with CoSLA, the Scottish organisation that represents local authorities as a whole.

At Second Reading I inquired whether the Government foresaw in the Bill that the Secretary of State should have power to examine situations where there was an argument between a local authority and a respectable body or individual which seemed to be a matter in which a third party should intervene. As the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, pointed out, that is what happens in planning cases. I also inquired whether the Secretary of State in Clause 10 (where he is to be given the powers of giving directions of a specific character as well as directions of a general character) would be able to use that new power to intervene and be the arbiter on the ground when there is an argument.

I shall listen with interest to what my noble friend says in reply. I wish simply to point out that this is a matter on which assurances are required.

I am afraid I must find fault with the drafting of the amendment. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, did not draft it; the same amendment was also sent to me. However, when one looks at the construction of the sentence it has two subjects—the "SNH" and the "matter". It looks as though the "matter" is carrying out prior consultation. The meaning is clear but the construction of the sentence is faulty. Therefore I could not possibly commend the amendment in its present form. However, I hope that the Government will seriously address their minds to this. It is the third time I have raised the point. I also raised it when the Bill which is now the Environmental Protection Act was going through your Lordships' House.

Lord Grimond

I too should like to support the thinking behind the amendment. There is no doubt that the present situation is dictatorial and totally undemocratic. It arouses considerable antipathy among the very people whom these preservation bodies require on their side. I should like to repeat two questions that have already been asked. What exactly will the powers of the Secretary of State he under the Bill? Can he give directions which will overrule the new council if he thinks that the SSSIs have been improperly designated? We shall be grateful to the Minister if he will explain exactly what those powers are.

At present there seems to be extremely inadequate information given in advance of designation. In some cases I have been informed that the people affected were not told at all. That may seem unlikely, but it is my experience in a different situation. My house was designated Grade II. No one told me and no one came to see it. No one asked my views about it. That seems rather odd because I know quite a lot about my house. What is the procedure for informing the people affected?

Finally, we have the most extraordinary situation, in which apparently we give a non-elected body the power to decide what is to happen to land which may be the livelihood of many people, but without consultation, with no appeal and, indeed, without any right to a hearing. My understanding is that once an area has been designated it is extremely difficult to get it undesignated. Therefore, we should be grateful if the Minister would explain what the position will be. Unless machinery is incorporated in the Bill for proper consultation by a democratic process, possibly through the local authority, and for some right of appeal, the House should reject this part of the Bill.

Baroness Nicol

I have listened to this debate with some surprise and a great deal of disappointment. It seems to me that all the agony we endured over Part VII of the Environmental Protection Act arose because Scotland felt that it was being put upon by Peterborough. Scotland wanted to have its own organisation to deal with its own problems. That is what Scotland is now getting. It has its own organisation consisting mainly of people from Scotland who understand the problems. It is therefore surprising that all noble Lords who have spoken so far have set out to distrust this organisation before it has even begun.

However, I do not intend to intervene in Scottish affairs other than to make one plea to the Minister. If the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, is accepted it would significantly lengthen the procedures for declaring SSSIs. I appreciate that in Scotland SSSIs are often very large and are not susceptible to damage very quickly. However, some SSSIs are very small and fragile. If the amendment is accepted it would mean that small and fragile SSSIs could be damaged to the point of destruction while the procedure is being carried out.

Therefore, if the Minister is minded to accept the amendment, I hope that he will find some way of protecting SSSIs in the intervening period between the calling in by the Secretary of State and the designation or turning down of the designation.

5.45 p.m.

Lord Strathclyde

This amendment deals with the muddying of the waters in the setting up of SSSIs and the way that in the past the NCC has dealt with its affairs. We all hope that in the future Scottish Natural Heritage will deal far more sympathetically with the needs of the environment as a whole and also owners and occupiers of particular areas.

The amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, seeks to establish a statutory right of appeal against the notification of a site of special scientific interest. Perhaps your Lordships will bear with me while I explain the operation of the notification process under the terms of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Section 28 of that Act lays on NCC the statutory duty to notify any area of land which in its opinion is of special interest by reason of any of its flora, fauna, geological or physiographic features. While there is no formal right of appeal, the NCC must notify its intentions to the local planning authority, every owner and occupier and to the Secretary of State. Any of these parties can object to the notification. However, notification of an SSSI in itself places no restrictions on the use to which the owners and occupiers put the land. It simply requires that any proposed changes to the use or management of the land be agreed with the NCC. The noble Lord is correct in identifying that the NCC is the sole judge of scientific interest of the site, but I am sure he will appreciate that there are some arbitration and appeal procedures where disputes about land use change arise either to the Secretary of State or the Lands Tribunal as appropriate.

The amendment, therefore, seeks to make a fundamental change to the principle of NCC's duty to notify SSSIs. The Government have repeatedly stated, especially during the course of debates in this House and during the progress of the Environmental Protection Act, that they are not prepared to contemplate any change to the statutory procedures for site notification. Furthermore, the Government cannot change the provisions for SSSIs laid down in the 1981 Act in a Scottish Bill as these are Great Britain measures.

The noble Lord, I am sure, accepts that it is not the lack of right of appeal but rather the over-complex procedures which have been used in the past that have been the main cause of difficulty between NCC and other interests. For example, a recent report commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature from the University of Aberdeen drew attention to the need for much greater education and communication of the role of SSSIs and the procedures attaching to them by NCC. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State places great importance on this task and his officials have discussed the recommendations of the Aberdeen University report with the chairman and chief executive of the Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland with a view to improving the non-statutory procedures. We hope that, once brought into effect, any new procedures will achieve a greater understanding and a reduction in conflict between nature conservation and owners and occupiers and other relevant interests.

The noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, spoke about lengthening the timescale for notifying SSSIs. I recognise that there is a time constraint, especially when there are large numbers of landowners and occupiers, but in practice in Scotland that has not caused particular problems which would justify an amendment to the 1981 Act.

The noble Lord, Lord Grimond, specifically asked about the role of the Secretary of State and his powers. The Secretary of State cannot overrule the statutory duty of SNH to notify an SSSI under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. We shall consider further the role of the Secretary of State when we reach Amendment No. 90 later this evening. The noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, and my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy spoke at some length about the principle behind this amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Taylor, referred to the abuse of power. He had received representations from the Crofters Commission and Highland region. He spoke about democracy and the fact that any changes would need to be looked at very carefully.

There is clearly overwhelming support for change, at least in this Committee stage. I am not sure that I can go very much further beyond what I have already said in this short debate. However, I shall read carefully what has been said. Undoubtedly more representations will be received from those who believe that an appeal procedure needs to be incorporated and undoubtedly we shall hear more of the defence of the role of SSSIs and as to why the system does not need an appeal procedure.

Lord Taylor of Gryfe

I too will study with great interest the words of the Minister, but I am afraid that they do not alter my fundamental case. He said that there is no right of appeal. We are talking about people appointed by the Minister who may disagree with a local authority which has been elected by the people of the area. However, the people appointed by the Minister can designate SSSIs and that appears to me to be totally undemocratic. I thought that the Bill was an exercise in greater democracy, but it was nothing of the kind.

Like the Minister, I hope that the people who exercise these powers will do so with a great sense of responsibility, but fundamentally the Bill is flawed. It is undemocratic. I do not wish to divide the House, but I shall certainly read what the Minister has said and probably return to the subject at a later stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 46 and 47 not moved.]

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 48: Page 3, line 6, at end insert: ("() Paragraph 12 of Schedule 11 to the said Act of 1990 shall continue to extend to Scotland; and references to a new council shall, as regards the exercise of functions in part of a nature reserve or area of scientific interest in Scotland, be construed as references to SNH.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment relates to cross-border SSSIs and NNRs. The provision of the 1990 Act to which it refers provides for former cross-border SSSIs or NNRs to be treated as being two separate SSSIs or NNRs. The purpose of the amendment is to bring about the situation on which we consulted. I commend it to the Committee.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Grimond moved Amendment No. 49: Page 3, line 8, after ("fauna") insert ("and fish").

The noble Lord said: I do not want to open up again the discussion on the definition and the subject of conservation which we had earlier. I am still unhappy about the naming of flora and fauna, and geological and physiographical features alone. The Members of the Committee will notice that there is a difference between the present and the earlier subsections. The earlier subsection states: 'the natural heritage of Scotland' includes the flora and fauna". This subsection says: 'nature conservation' means the conservation of flora, and fauna". I put "fish" in the amendment merely to get a discussion on the point and not because I believe that "fish" alone will cure any defect in the wording. I ask the Minister whether it would be wise to say that in this subsection nature conservation includes conservation of flora and fauna or geological or physiographical features. That would not entirely satisfy me. I am interested to know why there is different wording between this and the earlier subsection. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

I very much admire the fight that the noble Lord is making for the benefit of fish. We had a small debate earlier on about this subject. Since then I have received further advice. I am told that lepidoptera is in fact included in the fauna. It is the standard definition in nature conservation legislation. Fauna is a word which is all-embracing. It includes all forms of animal life—that is to say, all life which is not vegetable. It includes fish, reptiles, crustaceans, invertebrates, and so forth.

The noble Lord, Lord Grimond, went on to say that he had a particular problem with the wording of Clause 4 (7); namely: 'nature conservation' means the conservation of flora, fauna or geological or physiographical features". That has been taken out of existing legislation. The term "fauna" has been one of the four elements of the standard definition of nature conservation enshrined in statute since the passing of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. All subsequent legislation, including the Environmental Protection Act 1990, adheres to this definition and the same usage appears in the definition of "natural heritage" in Clause 1 of this Bill. I see no reason why we should seek to elaborate on the term "fauna" or on anything else. I hope the noble Lord will accept that.

Lord Grimond

The Minister has not answered my question as to why in one subsection we talk about "means", and in another, "includes". In view of what he has said and his reiteration of earlier legislation, I am prepared to withdraw my amendment. The current legislation should be clear and should not merely repeat the description contained in previous proceedings. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 50 not moved.]

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 51: Page 3, line 14, at end insert: ("(9) SNH shall have powers to designate Marine Protected Zones.").

The noble Lord said: This is a probing amendment to explore the Government's intentions as regards marine conservation. Existing arrangements are agreed by many to be inadequate. Scotland still has no marine nature reserves after seven years of negotiations. The existing informal arrangements for the identification of non—statutory marine consultation areas have proved ineffective due to the lack of statutory backing. The environment White Paper This Common Inheritance gives little indication of the Government's intentions. However, it has been recently conveyed to the Wildlife Link that the Government intend to put forward proposals shortly. I hope that the Minister can give me some information as to the time scale. I beg to move.

Lord Campbell of Croy

My understanding is that the Nature Conservancy Council (a body which exists at present), has two zones designated in England and Wales but nothing yet in Scotland. At the moment there are proposals for Loch Sween becoming a marine area, whether it is called a protected zone or given some other name. Without going into details of that scheme, I ask my noble friend whether the proposals and the scheme will be taken over by the SNH. It seems that the NCC is now going through the process of consultation in Scotland. It will be the first NCC scheme in Scotland. All that work should not be lost through the changeover. I shall be grateful to have some information from my noble friend in so far as this Bill tries to arrange for the handing over of what the NCC is already doing in Scotland to the new body.

Baroness Nicol

I reinforce the plea that my noble friend has made about the need to protect coastal areas. The Committee may recall that lately there have been several occasions when we have discussed the need for coastal planning zones. I understand that the Government are undertaking a review. There is no doubt that there is a need for it. The need in Scotland is possibly greater than that in England and Wales. For example, there is a conflict between fish farming and traditional fisheries. That conflict has arisen quite sharply in the past year. There are other areas in which conflicts have been caused by different uses for coastal areas. If conservation is a word that is not liked, there should be some kind of coherent approach to this question and the sooner that is done, the better for all concerned. I support my noble friend's amendment.

Lord Strathclyde

As Members of the Committee know, there is already a statutory provision for the protection of marine areas of special nature conservation importance. Marine nature reserves have statutory provision under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is the responsibility of the relevant Secretary of State to determine whether a designation should be made following an application made by the relevant statutory nature conservation body. In Scotland the Nature Conservancy Council has devised informal marine conservation areas to capture consultation on marine activities in a limited number of areas of high nature conservation interest.

I can confirm to my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy that the SNH will inherit these functions from the NCCS. Therefore, that expertise, knowledge and track record will not be lost. The Government are well aware of the difficulties of existing statutory provision for the protection of the nature conservation interest in the marine environment. Members of the Committee may recall that in the House some months ago my noble friend Lord Hesketh indicated the Government's commitment to reviewing existing marine conservation legislation. This commitment has been reaffirmed in the Government's White Paper This Common Inheritance. That states: to see how existing legislation could help in the longer term to meet conservation objectives in the marine environment". I cannot make any further commitment at this stage but we do not think that a specifically Scottish approach is valid in the circumstances, particularly as equivalent onshore habitat protection measures apply throughout Great Britain. I hope that, in the light of the reaffirmation of the Government's commitment to review marine conservation legislation, the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

6 p.m.

Baroness Nicol

Before my noble friend replies, is the Minister able to give any idea of the urgency with which the Government may or may not be treating this matter? To have declared only two marine nature reserves since the passage of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, in which seven were identified, seems to me to be a slow rate of progress. There will not be much left to conserve if that is the best the Government can do.

Lord Strathclyde

I cannot give the noble Baroness any clear indication of how much longer we shall take. There is a general realisation that we are moving faster and that we have a new determination and desire to bring these matters speedily to a conclusion.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I do not know what has happened to Mr. Trippier as a result of recent events. I should not like to say exactly where he is now. However, I understand that Mr. Trippier gave Wildlife Link the impression—in fact, a promise—that he would proceed fairly shortly with proposals. That was why I hoped to get a much tighter answer from the Minister. It may take time for matters to settle down. Perhaps by the time the Bill reaches another place we shall have a little more information. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Nicol moved Amendment No. 52: Page 3, line 14, at end insert: ("() SNH, acting jointly with the Joint Committee mentioned in subsection (1) above, shall be responsible for recommending to the Secretary of State those areas of land (including land covered by water and marine areas) which meet the criteria for designation as Ramsar sites under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance or as Special Protection Areas under the EC Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds (79/409 EEC), and the Secretary of State shall, within twelve months of being so informed, designate such areas in accordance with the provisions relating to the convention of directive.").

The noble Baroness said: One of the most important functions of the Nature Conservancy Council is to identify those areas in Great Britain which the Government are obliged to protect under international conservation treaties. I refer to RAMSAR sites and sites which are identified under the EC directive on the conservation of wild birds.

The present Government's record on these sites is almost as poor as their record on the marine nature reserves which we have just discussed. Article 4 of the EC directive on birds requires the United Kingdom to designate and protect internationally important sites. Article 18 of the directive requires member states to be in a position to designate all sites within two years of the directive coming into force—that was, by the end of 1981. By the end of 1981 we had the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which we all welcomed, but no machinery to designate and protect all the areas. To date, only 18 such special protection areas have been designated in Scotland out of a potential 119. That contrasts with Denmark, which has a population of 5 million and has designated 111 special protection areas, covering 22 per cent. of the surface area of the country.

The amendment would give the SNH a statutory function to inform the Secretary of State of those areas which qualify for designation under the two directives I have mentioned. It is essential that the new Joint Nature Conservation Committee should have a role to play in this area. In order to speed up the designation process, the amendment also requires that the Secretary of State should designate such areas within 12 months of being so advised by the SNH. I realise that the final part of the amendment sets a tough target but we feel it is necessary in view of the length of time that elapses at the moment between identification of sites and designation. I beg to move.

Lord Campbell of Croy

I should like to add a few words. The noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, and I have spoken on RAMSAR sites before. These matters are clearly ones which have to be arranged internationally; and they are also desirable. No one objects to them in principle. The difficulty, as the noble Baroness pointed out, is one of timing. Whether one should include a target of 12 months I do not know, but one does not want the process to slow down. I wonder whether my noble friend the Minister is briefed to give us any indication of the time-lags that have occurred in other countries which are parties to the international convention.

Lord Strathclyde

I appreciate the concern of the noble Baroness, Lady Nicol. Fortunately, I can reassure her on this matter. The duties referred to in her amendment are currently carried out by the NCCS in relation to Scotland, and SNH will inherit that function from NCCS.

The noble Baroness seems to misunderstand the relationship between the JNCC and its constituent members, including NCCS and thereafter SNH when it is established. NCCS and, under the provisions of Clause 4(2), SNH will discharge their special functions laid down in Section 133 of the 1990 Act through the JNCC. SNH and the JNCC cannot therefore act jointly, as the amendment suggests. The JNCC will of course, as laid down in Section 133(3) of the 1990 Act, be able to give advice to SNH and under Section 133(2) (b) to the Secretary of State.

In respect of the last part of the amendment, I believe it would be unrealistic to oblige the Secretary of State in every case to designate a RAMSAR site or SPA within a year of receiving a recommendation to that effect. The noble Baroness admitted that that was a tight timetable. Some sites can throw up very difficult legal or technical problems. I can assure the Committee that where an area is designated the Secretary of State will always act as swiftly as the circumstances in that case allow to designate the site and so confer on it the protection it deserves.

The noble Baroness referred to the slowness of SPA designations. The overview from the NCC has taken a long time to produce, and without this framework document it is difficult to pursue designation. We have designated seven SPAs and four RAMSAR sites in Scotland this year, bringing the total to 18 and 19 respectively. We have received a number of other proposals for SPA and RAMSAR designation as well as the NCC's overview.

My noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy asked about the time-lags in designation. We have no detailed information to hand, but I shall pursue the point and write to my noble friend. The noble Baroness referred to what is going on in Denmark, but other Community states have been much slower than we have. Generally speaking, we have a good record in this matter.

Baroness Nicol

Although it is interesting to know what goes on in other countries, we should not rely on that for comparisons either way. I mentioned it because Denmark is a smaller country than ours and I happened to have the figures to hand. I feel that Britain should stand on its own feet in regard to the designation of important sites.

From the Minister's reply it seems that 101 of the 119 identified sites in Scotland had particular difficulties. It would be interesting to know what were the difficulties which allowed only 18 out of 119 sites to be designated. I can see that we shall not get very far with this amendment but I am not very happy with the answer I have been given. The Cairngorms area was identified as an SPA a long time ago and there have been many inquiries and much discussion and consultation over it. Can the Minister say when that designation will be made? If it is not imminent, what is holding it up? It is one designation about which we are all concerned. Is the Minister indicating that he would like to reply to that point?

Lord Strathclyde

We are considering a whole variety of proposals. We are hoping to firm up those proposals in the near future. The noble Baroness gives me a look that indicates that I do not know what I am talking about. I am really trying to say that when I get back to my department I shall check up precisely on what is going on. Perhaps I shall be able to write to the noble Baroness.

Baroness Nicol

I am grateful to the Minister for the way he has replied. For the moment I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 4, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?

The Earl of Cranbrook

Before we consider whether Clause 4, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill, I hope I may ask my noble friend another question which I consider to be rather important. Clause 4(1) states: Part VII of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 … shall not extend to Scotland". However, various parts of that Act are then reaffirmed in relation to Scotland. I understand that, if Part VII does not apply to Scotland, the schedules that were attached to that part will not apply to Scotland either, unless they are reinstated. I noticed that my noble friend Lord Strathclyde reinstated one paragraph of one schedule in Amendment No. 48. We approved that amendment.

In my view, it is important for nature conservation that some of the amendments that were made to the Great Britain Acts in the schedules that were attached to the Environmental Protection Act should continue to apply to Scotland. Therefore I ask my noble friend to let me know—he may take his time over this—the situation with regard to amendments to the countryside Act, particularly the insertion in Section 15(2) of the words "in the national interest" and the insertion of the words "or of any adjacent land", which apply to SSSIs, appearing in Schedule 9 to the Environmental Protection Act, together with some important amendments to Section 29 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, on the commencement date and inserting the word "written" into subsection (4) (a). The amendments appeared to be small, but those amendments to the Great Britain Acts will be important to Scottish Natural Heritage in future. They were approved as part of the Environmental Protection Act. Is my noble friend certain, in saying that Part VII does not apply to Scotland, that he has not perhaps lost those valuable amendments which were made in the course of the long debates on the Environmental Protection Act?

Lord Strathclyde

My noble friend made some relevant, though technical, points. The Government are committed to bringing forward amendments to ensure that all of Part VII and the associated schedules to the Environmental Protection Act 1990 are carried forward to Scottish Natural Heritage.

Clause 4, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 5 [Development projects or schemes]:

[Amendments Nos. 53 and 54 not moved.]

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 55: Page 3, line 19, leave out subsection (2).

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 55, I wish to speak also to Amendment No. 56. Amendment No. 55 seeks to delete subsection (2) of Clause 5. That subsection restricts to experimental or demonstrational schemes the ability of SNH to undertake land- or subject-based projects. It would be far better if SNH was permitted to operate such projects where and whenever that was the appropriate way forward. That matter is particularly important in regard to joint projects and in regard to certain types of work in green belts and in the countryside around towns. It is also important to creative conservation generally.

Obviously the pressures on green belt land will become even greater as more land is needed for housing. Therefore this kind of power would be a worthwhile power for SNH to have. I beg to move.

6.15 p.m.

Lord Grimond

I believe that Amendment No. 56 is being discussed with Amendment No. 55. I wish to reiterate some of the points that have been made. I hope the Minister can explain the wording of Clause 5(2) in a little more detail. The proposals prepared under Clause 5(1) in relation to any area shall, it stipulates, involve: the application of new or developed methods". It is difficult to see what method could not be considered to be either new or developed. The drafting of the provision implies that there is a further method whose use is forbidden to Scottish Natural Heritage. I should have thought that the word "may" should be used rather than the word "shall". Therefore clause 5(2) would read: "Proposals prepared under subsection (1) above in relation to any area may—". However, if that is not acceptable to the Minister, I hope he will tell me why subsection (2) is necessary at all. I support what the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, has said.

Lord Strathclyde

Development projects or schemes as set out in Clause 5 continue the provisions available to the Countryside Commission for Scotland in Section 5 of the Countryside (Scotland) Act 1967. These provisions have been widely used by the commission in undertaking valuable demonstration and experimental work in the urban fringe and more generally in the countryside around towns, especially in the central belt of Scotland.

The criteria laid down in Clause 5(2) (a) and (b) replicate the criteria in Section 5 of the 1967 Act. This has not caused any problem in application in practice and therefore we see no need to loosen the application of these criteria as the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, proposes in his amendment. We see even less justification in the amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael. The particular powers under Clause 5 are designed for use in special circumstances. To make them applicable in any circumstance, as the amendments would allow, would undermine the value of seeking to demonstrate new or developed methods, concepts or techniques and their appropriateness to a particular area or scheme. For those reasons, I cannot accept the amendments. I hope that in the light of my explanation both noble Lords will be prepared to withdraw their amendments.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

Both the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, and I are disappointed at that reply. It is not often that the Minister gets an opportunity to substitute "may" for "shall". However, in view of the Minister's explanation, which will need to be carefully examined, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 56 to 61 not moved.]

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 62: Page 4, line 25, at end insert ("with the regard to public rights of way").

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 62 will ensure that any land acquisitions made by Scottish Natural Heritage will take account of public rights of way. At present the Scottish Rights of Way Society considers that the clause is far too wide. It appears to permit the acquisition and indeed the closure of public rights of way. Hitherto it has been usual for environmental legislation to protect public rights of way and their exercise by virtue of the Section 20(2) proviso in the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. I have not had as much time as I should like to research this matter. One of the problems with the Bill is that it contains so many references to other pieces of legislation. However, it is asking quite a lot to expect people to research the 1949 Act. The general principle is that rights of way should be protected. We have had a number of examples in Scotland over the years of the abuse of rights of way by landowners. The safeguard should be spelt out. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

The compulsory purchase power given by Clause 5 is exercisable in narrow circumstances only and in support of development projects undertaken by SNH. The most careful consideration will be required to be given by SNH and the Secretary of State, whose authorisation is needed before any order can have effect, to the justification for the order, and the effects which it will have, including the effect on any existing public right of way which may be affected. I assure the Committee that nothing further is required. I hope that that explanation will not give the noble Lord any difficulty.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I am pleased to have that confirmation and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 5 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

The only right of appeal against the compulsory purchase powers contained in subsection (4) (a) is the right contained in Section 1 of the Acquisition of Land (Authorisation Procedure) (Scotland) Act 1947 which was designed primarily to enable local authorities, the Minister of Transport, the Minister of Civil Aviation and the Secretary of State for Health (the acquiring authorities) to acquire land compulsorily. That right of appeal is the right to ask for a public inquiry to be set up by the confirming authority (the Secretary of State) which then decides whether to uphold the acquisition.

At least under that Act as a rule the acquiring authority and the confirming authority were not the same person. With the wide powers, which some people fear could one day be used for political ends, given to the Secretary of State under Clause 10 to supervise SNH's activities, the confirming authority could be manipulated by the acquiring authority which he would no doubt support. That is a decision against which there is no appeal except on technical grounds to the Court of Sessions—a costly process. "T11 be judge, I'll be jury,' said cunning old Fury" is not in it. This is much worse. Surely some more impartial form of appeal procedure can be devised.

Lord Strathclyde

When reading the clause, I hope that the noble Lady will have seen that we do not intend to create anything untoward or a situation whereby the procedures on compulsory purchase that we have laid out will be too difficult. It might be worth my while to consider carefully what the noble Lady has said. Perhaps I can write to her on the points that she has made.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 [Powers of entry]:

[Amendments Nos. 63 and 64 not moved.]

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy moved Amendment No. 65: Page 4, line 32, leave out ("at any reasonable time") and insert ("between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays").

The noble Lady said: In moving Amendment No. 65, it may be for the convenience of the Committee if I speak also to Amendments Nos. 67, 70, 106 to 108 and 111 to 113.

Amendment No. 65 is a probing amendment. The phrase "any reasonable time" is vague. Who decides what is and what is not a reasonable time? What are the criteria of reasonableness? Why should an appointment convenient to both parties not be the rule? That would be much more sensible. In the amendment I put down between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on the basis that government bodies tend to keep office hours, and sometimes much shorter ones than that. I am not keen on those hours. We do not keep them here. People who live in the country and work on the land often rise soon after dawn and work until sunset, which are very early and late at midsummer in the north of Scotland. They might be delighted to let someone from SNH onto the place at 5 a.m. if that were mutually convenient. Perhaps the Minister would comment on that point.

On Amendment No. 67, it is essential that the owner of the land be involved at the earliest possible moment in any action by SNH affecting his property. The owner and the occupier are not necessarily the same person. The occupier may be a tenant. Therefore, it is not reasonable to inform only the occupier. Such arrogant disregard for the rights of property owners leads to bad relations between them and the agencies responsible.

Seven days' notice is ridiculously inadequate, especially in remote areas where the owner and even the occupier may be absent, and where communications are uncertain. Even in areas which are far from remote, a letter posted on a Friday may well not be delivered until the Tuesday or Wednesday of the following week. If the addressee is away on holiday, it may well be another fortnight before he receives the letter. It is with that in mind that I propose 28 days' notice. I beg to move.

The Earl of Dundee

I support the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun. I refer first to Amendment No. 67. It would be far more reasonable to have a period of 28 days' notice rather than seven. It is not impossible that the information will not arrive in the remote parts of Scotland if we have seven days' notice only. And as the noble Lady said, it must also be right to inform not merely the occupier but to ensure that the owner is aware.

Amendment No. 70 relates to the desirability of property being left as it was found by the SNH survey. Subsection (6) ensures that unoccupied premises have to be left as they were found; but there is no proper safeguard for land, and hence the suggested amendment.

My noble friend and his advisers should also check subsection (6), which relates to arrangements for unoccupied premises, but does not mention premises which happen to be occupied at the time of survey. Clearly, these too should be left as they are found. Some different drafting is needed to avoid this anomaly.

On Amendment No. 65, as the noble Lady has implied, people want to be left alone a t weekends. Nor is it reasonable that surveys should take place between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. To the hard pressed categories mentioned by the noble Lady could well be added members of your Lordships' House who are kept all week in London. Most people certainly can do with weekends uninterfered with by surveys. If your Lordships, for example, wished to be present at a survey between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, you would always distinguish between urgent parliamentary business—which is of course anything on Scottish affairs—and non-urgent business, which is almost everything else. When the parliamentary business is non-urgent then it is sometimes possible to avoid London during the week.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

Perhaps I may add to what I said earlier, since I forgot to speak to Amendment No. 70. The first line of Clause 6(6) mentions "land" whereas the remainder of the subsection deals with "premises", which I believe refers only to buildings. It is necessary for both land and buildings to be covered by the injunction.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Strathclyde

Before dealing with the specific amendments, I should make it clear that the inclusion of the drought and irrigation provisions has brought together three different powers of entry within the Bill. As the noble Lady has observed, these are not consistent and we believe that it would be more satisfactory to rationalise them. We therefore propose to introduce amendments to Clause 6 to bring it into line with Clauses 16 and 20. We believe that it would be to the advantage of both the SNH and occupiers if the procedure involving application to the sheriff for a warrant—if, for example, the land were unoccupied or the occupier temporarily absent—were to be applied to SNH. The amendments to Clause 6 would also include a specific provision for compensation. I hope that that will reassure both the noble Lady and my noble friend Lord Dundee.

Turning now to the specific amendments, the first type of amendment in this group seeks to confine the exercise of powers of entry to office hours. I can appreciate that no one would want officials turning up at any time. That could be extremely inconvenient. However, as I understand it, no such thing could happen under the existing provisions of the Bill. Exercise of the power is confined to "any reasonable time". That must mean reasonable not just from the official's point of view but also from the point of view of the occupier. Moreover, the body concerned has to give notice to the occupier and the occupier would of course be able to say, "No, that is not a convenient time". Perhaps it would be less restrictive than having the straightforward times of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. laid down in the statute. We also need to be able to take account of all possible circumstances. The amendment as drafted leaves no leeway, for example, for emergencies.

The second set of amendments seeks to extend the period of notice from seven to 28 days. We could embark on a discussion as to whether seven or 28 days was the more appropriate. All I can say is that I am not convinced that the noble Lady has put her case forward for 28 days rather than seven. I am not set against extending the seven-day period. It is just that I feel that waiting almost a month is probably too long.

Perhaps I may use in evidence for my position the fact that we are not aware of any problems arising over the years since this provision has been in force, and it is well precedented. For these reasons, I believe that it is reasonable to adhere to that period of time although I shall consider whatever other comments the noble Lady may make.

As regards the amendments which would include the owner in the notice to be served, it is not always possible to know who the owner is. The occupier is the person most directly affected and I am sure that he would inform the owner if that were thought necessary. However, I am conscious that in Scotland sometimes owners are not easily found. They may be away or have agents or factors who are responsible. Clearly a certain amount of thought needs to be given on our part to how to get round the problem. I hope that in the light of these comments the noble Lady will not press her amendments.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

On Amendment No. 65, I should be happier to see the phrase "any mutually convenient time". I shall keep that in mind possibly for a later stage of the Bill. As regards the duty that I propose for the SNH to inform the owner as well as the tenant, I should like to see a duty imposed on that body to inform the owner as well as the occupier, wherever possible, where the owner and the occupier are not the same person. I do not believe that a tenant would necessarily always inform the owner.

The noble Lord said that seven days had worked in the past. That is probably so because more than seven days' notice was usually given. I quite accept that 28 days may be too long, but it should be longer than seven days in the present state of the postal service. I should happily settle for 21 days, which seems reasonable. With these comments, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 66 to 69 not moved.]

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy moved Amendment No. 70: Page 5, line 24, at end insert: ("(9) A person entering upon land by virtue of this section shall leave it in the same condition as he found it, failing which the owner or occupier shall be entitled to compensation.").

The noble Lady said: I do not believe that the noble Lord answered my remarks on Amendment No. 70. Would he care to comment? I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

The noble Lady suggests that I might have missed speaking to Amendment No. 70. That puts me in a difficult position because I was certain that I had. The amendment concerns compensation and I touched briefly on it when I spoke. My remarks are designed to reassure the noble Lady rather than to give her cause for concern. The amendments we were bringing forward on general provisions for entry would include a specific provision for compensation. At the moment we have not yet drafted the provision so I cannot elaborate on it. However, it will be drawn up very much in the light of what the noble Lady has said in Committee.

The Earl of Dundee

My noble friend mentioned that he would kindly examine the aspect of compensation. The types of properties may be categorised and these comprise land, unoccupied premises and occupied premises. Subsection (6) deals with unoccupied premises but it does not refer to occupied premises. Thus there is a drafting anomaly and the SNH could in theory succeed in not leaving occupied premises as it found them, whereas unoccupied premises will have to be left as they were found.

Also land itself is not properly referred to in this context. Therefore it is not clear that land should be left as it was found.

Lord Strathclyde

I feel that in bringing these various provisions together we may well have left in some technical anomalies. I am grateful to my noble friend for pointing them out. I shall commit myself to examining these various anomalies carefully and returning at Report stage with amendments that will clarify the wording, if that is seen to be necessary.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

I am grateful to the noble Lord and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 [Government grants to Scottish Natural Heritage]:

[Amendment No. 71 not moved.]

Clause 7 agreed to.

Clause 8 [Grants and loans]:

[Amendments Nos. 72 to 74 not moved.]

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 75: Page 5, line 43, leave out ("they think") and insert ("it thinks").

The noble Lord said: As noble Lords will have noticed, SNH is a singular body; the amendment is designed to maintain its singularity. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 76 not moved.]

Lord Pearson of Rannoch moved, as a manuscript amendment, Amendment No. 76A: Page 6, line 3, at end insert— ("(5) Nothing in this section shall prevent SNH from offering long-term habitat management grants for land not designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest under section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.")

The noble Lord said: I apologise for tabling a manuscript amendment, but I received the request to do so only last Friday and I felt that I needed to look into its merits before deciding to take up your Lordships' time. I also apologise for the fact that the amendment as it appears on the Marshalled List refers to page 8 when in fact it means page 6. I fear that this error must have occurred in the rush caused by my tardiness.

I appreciate that Clause 8(1) gives wide powers to the SNH to make grants. However, I understand that there is a tendency at present for the NCC and the CC(S) to make long-term grants largely to interests lying within existing SSSIs. I understand that when grants are directed at land outside SSSIs they tend to be given to a relatively small number of one-off projects, such as fencing a wood or providing a picnic area. Such grants are often limited to 50 per cent. of the cost of the project.

Much wildlife interest is dispersed over large areas and is not necessarily enclosed within SSSI borders. There is an urgent need in the Scottish Highlands for restorative land use on a wider scale, and land users may need help from SNH if that need is to be met. In theory, the Department of Agriculture and the Forestry Commission could provide some support of the kind I recommend, but their grants understandably tend to encourage production of the commodities in which they are interested.

I believe that the flora and fauna of large areas of the West Highlands would benefit from a reduction in grazing by sheep and deer and from an increase in summer grazing by cattle. The SNH may wish to bring about such a change in the balance of grazing pressures, and that is the sort of thing that this amendment is designed to encourage. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

While I sympathise with the purpose of this amendment I do not think that I shall be able to accept it. There is nothing in Clause 8 that would prevent the SNH from making such grants, and there is no need to insert in the Bill a statement of such a purely clarifying nature.

Perhaps I may refer my noble friend to Schedule 9, paragraph 3(3), where we propose an amendment to widen the scope of the power to negotiate management agreements. This will have the effect that I think my noble friend is seeking in that a management agreement under Section 49A of the 1967 Act can be negotiated for non-designated areas. I think that that is what my noble friend is trying to get at. I trust therefore that he will be prepared to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch

I am grateful to the Minister for that clarification and I have pleasure in withdrawing the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 8, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 9 [Report, accounts, etc.]:

[Amendments Nos. 77 to 79 not moved.]

6.45 p.m.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 80: Page 6, line 19, after ("Secretary of State") insert ("and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee").

The noble Lord said: Perhaps it would be for the convenience of the Committee if I moved Amendment No. 80 and spoke to No. 81 at the same time. The purpose of this amendment is wholly good. It is to spread as widely as possible knowledge of what is, after all, a body that will ultimately be responsible to the public. The amendment asks that as well as a report being sent to the Secretary of State it also be sent every 12 months to the Joint Nature Conservation Committee. Amendment No. 81 is consequential on that.

It seems reasonable to me that a report should be sent to the Joint Nature Conservation Committee. It should not be sent just to the Secretary of State and perhaps sanitised before it comes out to the general public. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

I feel that it would be wrong to include here a reference to the JNCC. For SNH to report directly to the joint committee would be a complete reversal of the principle a accountability since the joint committee is, as the noble Lord well knows, dependent in part on the SNH for its existence. Of course in practice the joint committee will see SNH's reports. I do not really see the problem.

I should also point out that there is no equivalent to this provision in the legislation concerning the English and Welsh councils, both of which also sponsor the JNCC. It would be odd if SNH were the only sponsor with such an obligation. I think that the noble Lord will see that it is unnecessary. It is a requirement not needed in this instance, and for the sake of parliamentary accountability it is far better for SNH to report directly to Parliament and the Secretary of State rather than to the JNCC.

The report is written by Scottish Natural Heritage. It is written by it and not by the Secretary of State or any of his officials, so it is not sanitised. There is no requirement to create a sanitised organisation of Scottish Natural Heritage, in much the same way as is the case with the English NCC, and that must be quite right.

Baroness Nicol

It is obviously desirable that all these bodies should keep in close couch with each other. The JNCC cannot function properly unless it knows what is going on in the country agencies. Can the Minister say what machinery exists, short of the annual report, to keep them in touch with each other? I cannot remember whether we ever discussed this point at the earlier stages. Is there to be a system of scheduled regular meetings, reports, or what? I do not see how the JNCC can fulfil its responsibilities unless it knows what is happening in the country agencies.

Lord Strathclyde

The relationships between the JNCC and the successor organisations to the NCC were all laid out in the Environmental Protection Act, in which the noble Baroness played such a significant part. That is not what we are dealing with here. To some extent, though, I feel that it will he up to SNH and the JNCC to decide how they are going to deal with each other and how they can work best. After all, SNH is a statutory member of the JNCC and cannot do its own thing without working with NCC(S) and the Countryside Commission for Wales.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

As the Minister said, the answer he gave was effectively the same as in the English and Welsh Bills. I do not know whether that should be a guide to us. Perhaps we can set the pace again and get it included at a later date. However, I was pleased that the noble Lord at least said that the report would be available to the Joint Nature Conservation Committee in its original form as well as to the Secretary of State. If the Minister could also tell us whether the report would be published it would save me moving a later amendment. In any case, I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 80.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 81 not moved.]

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 82. Page 6, line 24, at end insert (", and made publicly available").

The noble Lord said: Perhaps the Minister can say whether the report will be published.

Lord Strathclyde

Yes. It will be available publicly through the normal outlets.

[Amendment No. 82 not moved.]

[Amendments Nos. 83 to 86 not moved.]

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy moved Amendment No. 87: Page 6, line 47, leave out ("31st March") and insert ("30th September").

The noble Lady said: Clause 9(6) enshrines the old complaint of foresters about ordering, presumably for the convenience of the Treasury, the forest year. Long ago it used to be from 1st October to 30th September in each year, which is much more natural. Accountants do not understand the growing season, which applies not only to trees. The amendment is designed to make Scottish Natural Heritage's accounting year more natural.

The Earl of Dundee

I support the amendment of the noble Lady. In relation to the land there is a good psychological reason for operating from September to September. When everything stops growing you then want to reckon up your figures. Carrying on until March makes it seem as if things are going badly for you since nothing is happening during the winter months. The amendment thus appears to make good sense.

Lord Strathclyde

I agree entirely with what the noble Lady and my noble friend Lord Dundee have said about accounting years.

There is nothing sinister about the proviso to Clause 9(1), which has the same effect as the proviso to Clause 9(6), with which the noble Lady appears to be content. The proviso attempts to deal with a situation in which SNH would otherwise have to produce an annual report for a period of less than six months. While the proviso is unusual I believe that it is in no way objectionable. I hope that, in the light of that explanation, the noble Lady will agree to withdraw her amendment.

There is no correlation with the annual report and accounts of SNH, which will be based on the normal financial year from April to March, given that it is a public body. I hope that the noble Lady will be able to carry on her work with her trees and on her farms and that my noble friend Lord Dundee will be able to do his reckoning in the winter rather than in the spring.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

In view of those comments I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 9 agreed to.

Clause 10 [Directions by Secretary of State]:

[Amendments Nos. 88 and 89 not moved.]

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 90: Page 7, line 5, at end insert: ("() A direction given to SNH under this section shall not interfere with the duties of SNH under section 28 (Areas of Special Scientific Interest) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.").

The noble Lord said: The amendment would limit the extent to which the Secretary of State may provide directions to SNH. Clause 10 of the Bill enables the Secretary of State to give directions to SNH with regard to its functions. That is to be welcomed in general terms as it may be necessary for the Secretary of State, for example, to direct SNH as to the number of staff it should provide to the Joint Committee and on the level of funding which SNH should contribute to the Joint Committee's operating budget.

However, there is considerable concern within the conservation movement that the Secretary of State may use his powers of direction to override SNH's functions in relation to sites of special scientific interest. In particular there is concern that the Secretary of State might seek to impose a limit on the number of SSSIs notified in Scotland or declare a limit on the areas of Scotland to be protected by SSSI status. The amendment would provide a safety net for the SSSI system and not allow the Secretary of State to override SNH's statutory duty to notify areas as SSSIs.

I believe that we should be given an assurance that the Minister will not use his powers of direction to limit the designation of SSSIs in Scotland. I am very aware that this is a subject of great moment, and we have heard in this House today about the problems associated with SSSIs. I do not expect a categorical assurance from the Minister at this stage, but in raising this particular point I wish to draw attention to the need for very close co-operation between the Secretary of State and the statutory bodies concerning the designation of SSSIs.

The Minister will be aware of the feelings on all sides in the conservation issue. There is a genuine case on all sides. I should like to hear the Minister's reply before deciding whether or not to take the matter further.

Lord Taylor of Gryfe

I wonder whether I understood the purpose of the amendment correctly. 'The purpose is to limit the powers of the Secretary of State in his direction to the new body in order to avoid the possibility of the Secretary of State limiting the number of SSSIs to be imposed in Scotland, for which he is responsible.

We have already discussed the matter and the Minister has confessed that there is no appeal procedure against SSSIs. That means that the Secretary of State for Scotland, who is the democratically chosen government Minister, will now he limited in his ability to restrict the number of SSSIs in Scotland, for which he is responsible, but an unelected body —the new natural heritage body—will be able to impose SSSIs without the right of appeal. 'That strikes me as an extraordinary proposition. Unless I have misunderstood it, that seems to me to be a position that could not be sustained by any democratic justification.

Lord Strathclyde

That is splendid talk from the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe. I suggest that he has a quiet chat later with his noble friends Lord Carmichael and Lady Nicol in the quiet of the corridors outside the Chamber.

I am grateful to noble Lords opposite for bringing forward the amendment. Perhaps I may point out to the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, that we have a commitment which we wish to honour that SNH, as the inheritor of the nature conservation responsibilities of the NCC and NCCS, has exactly the same relationship with the Secretary of State as its sister bodies in England and Wales. Therefore, I accept the principle underlying the noble Lord's amendment and can assure the Committee that the Government intend to bring forward an amendment to ensure that powers of direction apply equally to Scottish, English and Welsh bodies in relation to their nature conservation functions.

Perhaps I may say to the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, that we are not introducing anything that is different from the procedure which applies in England and Wales. There may be an argument for saying that it should be different, but that is not an argument that is being brought forward at the moment or one which has so far been accepted by the Government.

I hope that, in the light of my reply, the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, will be grateful to us for agreeing with him in principle.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

The noble Lord will be aware that one of the roles of the Opposition is to put forward the argument of bodies which approach them. I thought that my noble friend Lord Taylor had left the Chamber! I raised the subject on the basis that it is a matter which had to be discussed and will continue to be discussed for a long time to come. I shall look forward to seeing an amendment by the noble Lord at a later stage to see how well it satisfies as many people as possible who are concerned with this extremely difficult subject. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 10 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

When I gave notice of my intention to oppose the Question that Clause 10 stand part of the Bill, I did so because of my concern over the right of appeal, a matter which we discussed when deciding whether Clause 5 should stand part of the Bill. Therefore I shall not oppose this clause.

However, I should like to ask the Minister whether the Secretary of State, in exercising his infinite powers under Clause 10, will be constrained by the duties of SNH under Clause 3. I should like to see some constraint as regards directives on policy—certainly not on day-to-day management—such as the obligation to make an order which would be laid before Parliament as a safeguard against the manipulation of SNH for political purposes. Does the Minister care to comment?

Lord Strathclyde

This clause allows the Secretary of State to issue, vary or revoke directions to Scottish Natural Heritage concerning the discharge of its functions. It is standard for non-departmental public bodies to be subject to directions given by the relevant Minister. It is well precedented in conservation legislation. NCCS, under Section 131(4) of the 1990 Act, may be given general or specific directions. The CCS, under Section 1(6) of the 1967 Act, may be given general directions, while Section 7(4) allows for directions specifically in relation to CCS's power to make grants. The NCCS power of direction does not apply to functions in legislation other than the Environmental Protection Act. We believe that a similar qualification should be introduced in this clause, as I mentioned in the amendment that we have just discussed.

The noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, earlier expressed concern that the power of direction could be used by a future Secretary of State who disapproved of private ownership to make SNH acquire land by compulsory purchase. The only power of comp ulsory purchase available to SNH under the Bill relates to development projects or schemes under Clause 5. Those of their nature would relate to small areas of land only. There would also need to be a clear natural heritage interest to justify the purchase. The powers of direction could not therefore be used as a back-door method of nationalising significant areas of the country.

The noble Lady also asked about Clause 3 and how it would affect the Secretary of State's powers and SNH. The main point to make is that the essential powers are enshrined in Clause 1. Cause 3 contains what I might call the sub-aspects of their desire to look after the natural heritage.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

Once again I thank the noble Lord.

Clause 10 agreed to.

The Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne

This may be a convenient moment for the Committee to adjourn. I suggest that the Committee stage begins again at 25 minutes to eight.

[The Sitting was suspended from 7.3 to 7.35 p.m.]

Clause 11 [Dissolution of bodies]:

[Amendments Nos. 91 to 94 not moved.]

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 95: Page 7, line 29, at end insert: ("(6) Every minister, government department and public body, in exercising their functions, must take all practicable steps to ensure the preservation of biological diversity, the avoidance of damage to ecosystems and the sustainable use of resources with due regard to the advice of SNH.").

The noble Lord said: The responsibilities of other agents and departments towards the environment are covered by what are called "balancing duties" contained in the relevant legislation. However, those duties are expressed in what some people believe is outdated language. I refer to such phrases as, to have regard to the desirability of conserving the natural beauty and amenity of the countryside".

The duties are also expressed in a different form in different Acts. It is time that the legislation was drawn together and modernised to reflect statements of government policy more akin to the Government's statement in the White Paper, Scotland's Natural Heritage: The Way Ahead. The Minister may disagree with the wording of the amendment. However, I hope that he will accept the sentiment and give some reassurance to me and others who are interested. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

Noble Lords should know that we intend to bring forward an amendment to existing balancing duties set out in Section 66 of the Countryside (Scotland) Act 1967. That is set out in Schedule 9, subsections (3) to (7) to the Bill on page 38, lines 9 to 12.

If Parliament agrees to our amendment of the 1967 Act then the balancing duty will read as follows: In the exercise of their functions relating to land under any enactment every Minister, government department and public body shall have regard to the desirability of conserving the natural heritage of Scotland within the meaning of the Natural Heritage (Scotland) Act 1991". The wider definition we envisage represents a significant improvement on the previous balancing duty set out in the 1967 Act. By contrast, the amendment is so wide-ranging that we consider it unlikely to be feasible in practice. I hope that the noble Lord will approve of our wording.

Baroness Nicol

The amendment put forward by my noble friend goes a little further than was indicated by the Minister's reply. If the reason for an SSSI were clearly spelt out in the leading legislation, it might meet some objections of those who seem to feel that an SSSI is a threat.

Biological diversity is what it is all about. We are trying to preserve those species which are in danger of extinction. Quite often the reason for protecting the species is not immediately apparent. It causes a great deal of scepticism on the part of people who see SSSIs as a threat to their livelihood. To insert such a description into the Bill would be an enormous help.

I hope on reflection that the Minister may consider the amendment relevant even if he feels today that he cannot accept it.

Lord Strathclyde

As the noble Baroness will know, we are not dealing with fundamental legislation but only with bringing together the NCCS and the CCS to form Scottish Natural Heritage. I fully recognise that the Government amendment is less than that proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, whose amendment is wide-ranging. It goes far beyond what we intend to introduce in our amendment, which is balanced by what is happening in British legislation as a whole.

Baroness Nicol

I am worried because, if we do not make changes in this Bill, where shall we do so? Sooner or later we must bring our conservation language up to date and this is the kind of updating that will be required. I am sorry that the provision cannot be fitted into the Bill, though I must accept what the Minister says. However, I wonder when we shall be able to introduce the change.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I have some sympathy with my noble friend Lady Nicol because we return to the doubletalk of "should have regard to". If the civil servant who invented that phrase in the dim and distant past has a patent on it, he must have made a fortune. I realise that the phrase is needed at times because it is a catch-all phrase.

I have read the Government's amendment to page 30 of the Bill, and it goes a little way towards meeting the situation. However, as we shall not get a great deal further I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 11 agreed to.

Clause 12 [Power to control abstraction of water for irrigation]:

Viscount Mills moved Amendment No. 96: Page 7, line 38, after ("1951") insert (", in order to protect flora and fauna dependent upon an aquatic environment,").

The noble Viscount said: I shall speak also to Amendment No. 97. I declare an interest, in that I am a biologist and work for an environmental protection agency; that is, the National Rivers Authority.

Clause 12 as drafted is too limited in its scope. My amendments seek to extend the circumstances under which a control order may be made. At present the duties of the river purification authorities are to promote the cleanliness of rivers and to conserve water resources. The amendments seek to extend the duties of the river purification authorities to the protection of the flora and fauna within the aquatic environment and also to protect flora and fauna which are dependent upon that environment.

I am not alone in believing that such protection is necessary. When introducing the Bill on Second Reading, my noble friend Lord Strathclyde said: The consequences for aquatic life, should a river or stream dry up or be reduced to a trickle, do not need explanation". —[Official Report, 9/11/90; col. 580.]

He went on to say: where there is over-abstraction, the ability of the river to dilute and absorb pollution can be destroyed with resultant severe effects on the environment and on flora and fauna". —[Official Report, 9/11/90; col. 580.]

Those observations are quite correct and merely emphasise the need for clear and unambiguous legislation in order to protect the biota associated with water courses. I believe that these amendments will help to achieve that objective. I beg to move.

7.45 p.m.

Lord Strathclyde

I too shall speak to Amendments Nos. 96 and 97. While we firmly endorse the importance of protecting flora and fauna —indeed, that is one of the principal concerns of the Bill as a whole—we believe that the amendments are unnecessary and I hope to convince my noble friend of that. Under the 1951 Act, river purification authorities and the Secretary of State under that Act and the Water (Scotland) Act 1980 have duties to promote the cleanliness of rivers and to conserve water resources. If these duties are properly carried out, flora and fauna dependent on an aquatic environment will automatically be protected. Clean and abundant waters will provide the environment which flora and fauna need.

Thus, for example, in considering an irrigation control order, an authority's aim will be to ensure that abstractions of water will not seriously reduce water flow or the dilution of polluting substances. Restrictions may be necessary to protect drinking water supplies, or to keep waters up to the standards of an EC directive such as the freshwater fish directive, or to keep them adequately clean for aquatic life.

All those purposes can be encompassed under Clause 12 with its reference to the authorities' duties under the 1951 Act. It would be wrong to point authorities away from generally promoting clean waters and conserving water resources, as does the first amendment, to a narrow concern for flora and fauna only.

Similarly, the Secretary of State may already, as part of his duties to conserve water and promote the cleanliness of rivers, have protection of flora and fauna as his principal concern in requiring application for an irrigation control order. Therefore, no useful purpose would be served by the second amendment.

I hope that, having heard my explanation, my noble friend will be reassured that the river purification authorities and the Secretary of State already have full scope for seeking irrigation control orders which will protect flora and fauna. As he rightly pointed out, that is most important in protecting our aquatic environmental life.

Lord Elton

It is clear that the amendment as drafted would restrict the authority to making orders for the purposes contained in the amendment. I do not believe that that is the intention of my noble friend. However, the question that remains in the air after the Minister has sat down is: what happens if the Secretary of State can make a control order only on the application of a river purification authority and that authority sees the need for an order because of the interest in protecting flora and fauna but for no other reason? Does the Secretary of State have some other means of imposing the restrictions that would be put in the order were it not prohibited by the wording of the Act as now drafted? That is a complicated question and my noble friend may wish to think about it. However, I believe that it requires an answer.

Lord Strathclyde

I had not anticipated that situation. Perhaps, with the leave of the Committee, I may look at it further to see whether the power exists.

Viscount Mills

I thank the Minister for his comments. Can he assure me that any revised guidance document relating to abstraction licences will contain recommendations advising of the need to protect and conserve flora and fauna?

Lord Strathclyde

There will be a general aim to provide leaflets which will lay out clearly our intention to protect flora and fauna. As my noble friend has said, the issue is extremely important and we do not wish the river purification authorities to lose sight of it.

Viscount Mills

I shall read carefully what has been said and I may wish to return to the matter on Report. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 97 not moved.]

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 98: Page 8, line 14, at end insert: (" "closing date" means the date specified in a control order by which an application for a licence under section 14 of this Act should be made;").

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 103, 198 and 200. Their purpose is to require control orders to state the closing date by which applications for licences must be made. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 12, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 13 [Offence of unlicensed abstraction of water for irrigation]:

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendments Nos. 99 to 102: Page 8, line 36, leave out ("15") and insert ("15(1)"). Page 9, line 4, leave out ("or"). Page 9, line 6, leave out ("or relaxed"). Page 9, line 7, at end insert ("; or (c) where restrictions on the abstraction of water or the operation of a licence have been temporarily relaxed by virtue of such a declaration, to the extent that the abstraction is within the scope of that relaxation.").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendments Nos. 99 to 102. These amendments are necessary to remove what would otherwise be an anomaly.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 13, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 14 [Licences]:

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 103: Page 9, line 14, at end insert ("and a control order shall specify the date (referred to in this Part of this Act as the "closing date") by which applications for such a licence should be made.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment ensures that both the area of land and the purpose of the irrigation—for example, the spraying of a vegetable crop—will be clearly specified in the licence. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 104: Page 9, line 33, leave out paragraph (c) and insert: ("(c) the land to be irrigated and the method and purpose of that irrigation; and").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 14, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 15 agreed to.

Viscount Mills moved Amendment No. 105: After Clause 15, insert the following new clause:

("Water Resource Management: Forestry

.—(1) River purification authorities shall advise the Regional Councils and Forestry Commission upon the siting of afforestation in order to protect water resources in Scotland.

(2) Where, following advice from the relevant river purification authority, the Forestry Commission intends to approve a planting grant application which will lead to a significant deterioration in water resources, the river purification authority may request, and the Forestry Commission shall comply, that the planting granting application is referred to the relevant regional forestry advisory committee and the river purification authority may make such representation as it considers desirable to the Forestry Minister.

(3) In this section "water resources" means the quantity and quality of water available for domestic, agricultural, industrial, fisheries and nature conservation uses.").

The noble Viscount said: Clause 15 makes special provisions for river purification authorities to limit or suspend the operation of any abstraction licence when shortages of water occur.

However, no provision has been made for a potential major cause of reduced water flow; namely, afforestation. The siting and extent of woodland planting, especially that of conifers, can have significant effects on water resources. When compared with open moorland, established forestry is likely to cause a reduction in run off and, consequently, the total flow into rivers. In heavily forested catchments, the reduction in flows can be as high as 21 per cent. Not only water quantity but also quality can be affected. Those two factors cannot be separated.

High sediment yields, acidification and other chemical changes caused by afforestation may modify or in certain cases lead to the disappearance of flora, invertebrates, fish and water birds. I can cite cases where afforestation on base poor soils has led to such a lowering of the pH in streams that there is a consequent extinction of trout and salmon juveniles. This amendment seeks to give river purification authorities a statutory role in advising on the location of forestry in order to protect water resources. It would also enable the river purification authorities to dispute the issue of a planting licence if it was felt that water resources could be at risk.

I believe that this amendment would increase the ability of the river purification authorities to fulfil their present duties of promoting the cleanliness of rivers and conserving water resources.

In addition, consideration of the effects of afforestation on water resources could help also to prevent water shortages and thus remove the need to impose some of the other measures outlined in Clause 15. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

I should like to thank my noble friend Lord Mills for explaining what he has in mind. Perhaps I may explain to him that the Forestry Commission presently operates a very effective consultation arrangement over plans for afforestation. The effect of those arrangements is that the Forestry Commission consults the relevant local authority on every new planting scheme of any consequence. Local authorities are encouraged to consult widely in turn.

Before formulating a response to an application where water conservation is an issue, I should expect the local authority to seek the views of the river purification authority and others which have particular knowledge in that area. Prior to applications being considered, local authorities will have provided views on whether planting may be suitable or unsuitable.

Having looked at this new clause very carefully, I am not certain that it is required, given the extremely tough consultation arrangements which already exist with the Forestry Commission.

Viscount Mills

Perhaps I may quote from a document Land Use Policy, Forestry and Water, which states: Economic and legal procedures are possible as regulators, but the traditional UK taste for 'good practice' has dominated so far, culminating in published guidelines on catchment management from the Forestry Commission. The 'good practice' approach is likely to figure in the environmental assessment procedures now mandatory for afforestation, but the privatised water industry and National Rivers Authority may prefer more direct regulatory intervention in land use". In the absence of the measures which I have suggested, perhaps the Minister will outline how the river purification authorities can effectively advise the regional councils and Forestry Commission when the siting of afforestation could adversely affect water resources. Presumably the regional purification authorities are the bodies best qualified to advise on such matters as water resources.

Lord Strathclyde

This is a classic case of a substantial misunderstanding regarding what happens in England and Wales and Scotland. The water industry is not privatised in Scotland but is organised hand in hand with the local authorities. The Forestry Commission spends a great deal of time discussing with the relevant bodies exactly what is taking place vis é vis afforestation.

The other important matter to point out is that there is not such a big problem as regards water conservation in Scotland. It rains rather a lot, and afforestation is not proved to create such a difficulty as it does in some areas of England and Wales. The economic importance of forestry throughout Scotland is such that it provides a tremendous impetus to local economic activity. Water quality is vitally important, and that is something which we have continually worked to achieve with the Forestry Commission. We have brought in different methods of control because of some of the problems which conifers create with regard to acidification, particularly in sensitive areas.

My noble friend has quite rightly brought to the attention of the Committee his considerable experience of the National Rivers Authority but he is not sufficiently familiar with the scene in Scotland to be able to say whether there is a requirement such as that contained in his proposed new clause.

There are existing consultation processes incorporating the purification authorities, local authorities and indeed the Forestry Commission. The system works very effectively. There are no problems about water resource in Scotland; there is an awful lot of it. We are aware of the environmental aspects of water and of afforestation. I do not believe there is much more that I can add.

8 p.m.

Viscount Mills

I thank the Minister for his comments. I add that one can either work from the specific details of how the system operates in the two countries or one can look at the principles. I shall consider carefully what the Minister said and may introduce a similar amendment at a later stage of the Bill. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 16 [Rights of entry and inspection]:

[Amendments Nos. 106 to 108 not moved.]

Clause 16 agreed to.

Clause 17 [Transitional provisions and construction]:

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 109: Page 12, line 4, leave out subsection (3).

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 109 I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 202, 209 and 210. The effect of Clause 17(3) is to apply certain provisions of the 1951 Act and of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 for the purposes of Part II of the Bill. The provisions we wish to attract are only three in number. It is therefore considered more appropriate to include them in the Bill expressly rather than by cross-reference. The provisions in question deal with the general duties of RPAs and the obtaining and disclosure of information in the exercise of their functions. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 17, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 18 [Drought orders]:

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 110: Page 13, line 20, at end insert: ("and he may vary or revoke any such direction by a further direction for those purposes; and references in subsection (9) below to a direction under this subsection include references to such a further direction.").

The noble Lord said: The inclusion of this power to vary or revoke directions will give my right honourable friend the power he already has in other measures. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 18, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 19 agreed to.

Clause 20 [Rights of entry and inspection]:

[Amendments Nos. 111 to 113 not moved.]

Clause 20, agreed to.

Clauses 21 and 22 agreed to.

Clause 23 [Service of documents]:

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 114: Page 17, line 28, leave out ("occupied") and insert ("unoccupied").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 114 I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 115 and 201. These amendments are necessary to correct some misprints. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 23, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 24 [Offences by persons other than natural persons]:

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 115: Page 17, line 42, leave out ("(2)") and insert ("(1)").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 24, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 25 agreed to.

Clause 26 [Short title, commencement and extent]:

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 116: Page 18, line 10, after ("Act") insert (", with the exception of section 1,").

The noble Lord said: This amendment attempts to ensure that sport and recreational interests are represented in the new agency regardless of whether they are classified as principal areas of activity of Scottish Natural Heritage. It will be important for sport and recreation to be advocated from within Scottish Natural Heritage as well as from outwith it. That is particularly important for Scotland. Over the past 20 years people have had a great deal more leisure time and can move around more easily, and these trends will probably continue.

Whether or not the Minister accepts the amendment as it stands, I hope that he will accept that there should be at least some input from a body or an individual spanning more than the one specific interest. What is of importance is that sport and recreation should be given some recognition within the Bill.

Lord Strathclyde

Perhaps I may interrupt the noble Lord. I was under the impression that Amendment No. 116 was grouped with Amendment No. 15 and had already been spoken to. If he wishes to continue dealing with the amendment separately, I shall be delighted to do so.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

My list does not show it that way. I may have missed something. On my paper it is listed separately. However, that is the argument.

Lord Strathclyde

I believe the noble Lord is attempting to delay the implementation of Clause 1 for some considerable time. Amendment No. 116 would delay the establishment of Scottish Natural Heritage by one year from 1st April 1992 to 1st April 1993.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I apologise to the Committee. I thought we were dealing with Amendment No. 122. We have been progressing rather quickly.

Lord Strathclyde

I listened carefully to what the noble Lord said. When we reach Amendment No. 122 I shall assume that he has already moved it and respond to him accordingly.

[Amendment No. 116 not moved.]

Clause 26 agreed to.

Schedule 1 [Constitution and proceedings of Scottish Natural Heritage]:

[Amendments Nos. 117 to 121 not moved.]

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 122: Page 19, line 21, at end insert ("; and in addition, the Secretary of State shall ensure that at least one member at any time has knowledge and experience of sport and recreation.").

The noble Lord said: I have spoken to Amendment No. 122, perhaps out of turn but I hope with sufficient conviction to convince the Minister. I beg to move.

Lord Grimond

If anyone can take part in the discussion, perhaps I can. I understand that it is suggested that one member of the proposed body should have experience of sport and recreation. As I understand it, there will only be 12 members. I do not believe that we can afford to have particular members expert in specific matters such as sport, shooting, skiing, archaeology and so forth. It is important that there should be a geographical spread. Taking the diversity and size of Scotland and the geographical spread, there will not be much room for specialists. Nor do I think that specialists are needed. We need people with a general knowledge about all sorts of matters which concern the countryside and who can bring that general knowledge to bear on the diverse problems with which they will be faced.

I should have thought that among the 12 there are certain to be some people with experience of sport and recreation. They do not need to be professional. I remember when the recreational centre was opened in the Shetlands a Shetlander saying to me, "When I was a boy we got plenty of exercise chasing the sheep and the girls". I do not suggest that that is sufficient, but there are many people in Scotland who know about sport and recreation and, with only 12 people on the board, the geographical spread is possibly more important.

Perhaps the Minister can also tell me whether I am right in thinking that there will be no advisory panel on which people with specific knowledge of sport, and so on, might sit. Is it the case that there will be 12 members on the authority and that that is at present the maximum?

Lord Elton

Perhaps I may be allowed to make another brief intervention. This is ground which your Lordships' Committees have frequently trodden in the past. The position is exactly as the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, outlined. If one specialist is introduced the number of places available is not thereby increased. If an amendment to include a specialist is carried in Committee, by the time we read Report stage there are seven or eight other interests which want to be represented. By Third Reading there are more people with specialist interests to represent than there are places on the board and the membership has to be enlarged. At present only one interest group has had its case put forward and, if my noble friend requires support in resisting specialisation, he has it here.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

I am in the hands of the Committee but, although the amendments are not grouped together, perhaps it would be convenient if I spoke to Amendment No. 123 now.

It is important that members of Scottish Natural Heritage are not only persons of knowledge and experience relevant to the principal areas of activity of the agency, but that they reflect the correct balance between the ecological, environmental, agricultural, fisheries, forestry, social and economic aspects of SNH's responsibilities.

Given the disparity in size between the staffs of the present Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland and the Countryside Commission for Scotland it will be important to ensure that the decision-making process of SNH achieves a balanced approach to conservation and countryside issues. That is what my amendment is designed to do. It is not designed to insist that there should be a representative of this, that or the other organisation or interest, but to keep a general balance.

8.15 p.m.

Lord Strathclyde

I am grateful for the helpful comments from all round the Committee on this amendment. I am delighted to take Amendments Nos. 122 and 123 together.

My noble friend Lord Elton and the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, have made the best points on this amendment. I know that concern has been expressed in some quarters that recreational interests in particular are being given second place in the merged body. However, I can categorically state that that is not the case. That is why we have set down that one of the general aims and purposes of SNH is to facilitate the enjoyment of the natural heritage of Scotland.

The Secretary of State has a duty to have regard to the desirability of membership of SNH containing, so far as is practicable, persons of knowledge or experience relevant to the principal areas of activity of the body. It is invidious to identify one particular area of activity at the expense of the other areas of activity. Therefore, I believe that the amendment is too prescriptive.

What the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, has done in her amendment is to use the duty imposed on SNH under Section 3 as a system of making sure that the membership of the board takes that into account. It will be the responsibility of the board of SNH to take into account all of its duties in setting out its policy and making decisions on individual cases. Section 3 is, of course, a secondary or subsidiary duty rather than the main duty in Clause 1. Therefore, I do not consider that the amendment would help.

On the general point of board membership, we are seeking to bring together 12 people who have a variety of interests and who are from a variety of geographical areas but who essentially are on the board to serve the needs of SNH as laid down in the Bill and to report, effectively, to Parliament and to the Secretary of State. That is the most important aspect. In carrying out its functions it will be impossible for SNH not to take into account the interests of the sporting lobby or of other recreational interests or all the other people who I know are so important in formulating environmental policy in Scotland on the ground; for example, farmers, shooters, hill walkers and so on. The board must also do that on a geographical basis.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I believe that in moving my amendment I indicated that I was aware that the amendment was tightly drawn. Of course, it came from the sporting people themselves and therefore I would not expect anything else. However, I also said that the importance of the amendment was in pointing out the necessity of getting people on the board who have a variety of interests and that perhaps there would be people who straddled a number of fields. There is no doubt that few people have only sport or any one subject as their sole interest.

I am happy that the point has been raised. I can see the absurdity, as I said earlier, of insisting that there must be someone with experience of sport on the board. The matter has now been aired and we are assured by the Minister that the Secretary of State, in making the appointments, will be aware of the wide knowledge that will be necessary if the authority is to be successful. It is important that people see SNH as being widely representative. In the circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 123 to 131 not moved.]

Lord Grimond moved Amendment No. 132: Page 20, line 29, leave out ("members") and insert ("chairman").

The noble Lord said: This is a probing amendment in regard to pay and allowances for the members of this body. Members of the Committee will see from page 20 of the Bill that the SNH shall, pay to its members such remuneration and allowances (if any)

My first question is this: does the "if any" apply both to remuneration and to allowances, or is SNH to pay remuneration but not allowances? If so, that appears to be the wrong way round. My next question is: are we to pay not only the chairman—my amendment proposes that the chairman be paid—but also the members? I am certain that they should have allowances but I should like to know what are the precedents in this connection. My belief is that the members of the Historic Buildings Council are not paid and that that applies to other similar bodies.

Is there an implication that the SNH will be far more heavily burdened with work, or am I wrong about the precedents? I should have thought that the chairman would have to work full time and be paid accordingly. However, I have no idea how much time the Government consider that the members will have to give to the organisation; nor am I aware of the basis on which payment is assessed. I should have thought that there is a case for allowances but no payment. However, I may well be told that the time involved will be so great that the members must be paid.

I wish to open up the whole matter. I ask the Government a specific question about the phrase "(if any)" which appears in line 29. I also wish to know what is their present view about the amount that the members will be paid, if they are to be paid at all. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

There has been a clear commitment to all the members of the SNH that they should receive remuneration for their services on the board. I appreciate the noble Lord's point that the chairman must be paid. At present there is a discretion on the SNH as to whether it pays any remuneration. However, the amendment fails to deal with the position of the deputy chairman and leaves the other members in a worse position than they are at present since they can only be paid allowances rather than a remuneration.

I believe that the provision as drafted is probably the better version. It leaves the SNH with a discretion whether to pay remuneration as well as allowances to any member. We need to retain that kind of flexibility to all the members of the SNH. No one can envisage exactly what circumstances the future may bring about. We have made it clear that all members of the SNH, not just the chairman, are to be remunerated. That is because it will be an extremely busy and hard working group of men and women. We want to attract the highest calibre of person to Scottish Natural Heritage.

The noble Lord asked how much they would be paid if the provision is approved. That measure has still not been approved. The chairman will be paid about £20,000 per annum, and the members about £5,500 per annum. That is not a bad sum of money, but at the same time it is not going to turn them into very rich people. They will be expected to work about two to three days per month. Seen in that context, I think that the cash consideration is not way out of line.

We are all in favour of flexibility. That is what paragraph 16(2) allows at present. There is no obligation on the Secretary of State to pay remuneration to committee members. It is a discretionary power. He may decide that some or all committee members should receive remuneration: he may equally decide that some or all of them should not. Much will depend on the circumstances. It would be injudicious to close off any of the Secretary of State's options. This amendment would prevent him from paying remuneration to any committee members. He would have no discretion in the matter whatever. I believe that that would be most unfortunate.

We are anxious to ensure that all the members of the SNH and its committees are of the highest calibre to reflect our commitment to the aims of the new body. I do not believe that necessarily we have to attract them with this kind of remuneration; but it is helpful to make sure that we have people who are committed to the ideals as set out in the Bill.

Baroness Nicol

Can the Minister say how the provisions he has set out compare with the present arrangements? Returning to a question that I asked at Second Reading, is the Minister yet able to give any names for the proposed Scottish body?

Lord Strathclyde

I am not far away from being able to name names on the successor body, the Scottish NCC. I am unable to say exactly how the financial provisions compare with what has been the case with the NCC.

Lord Grimond

I am most grateful to the Minister. I should like time to consider what he has said. I wish to make three points. First, as I understood what he said, the phrase "(if any)" applies to remuneration as well as allowances. It would be as well for this to be put in the Bill. It is far from clear at the moment. My second point is that the noble Lord said that he is unable to make a comparison with one body.

Lord Strathclyde

Since I made that statement, I have received inspiration. The rate will be the same as that currently given for the NCCS.

Lord Grimond

Is this also true of other government bodies? There are a great many similar bodies. My view is that many of them are not paid. The Minister should look at the question of comparability. As regards the amount to be paid, I am very doubtful whether he will get the best people by paying them more or less. The best people will do the job more or less regardless of pay so long as they are given allowances. They need allowances especially if they are expected to move around the country.

My third point is that I do not think it is desirable to leave this matter entirely at the discretion of the Secretary of State. If the result is that some are paid and others are not, that would be most unsatisfactory. I am not quite certain whether the Minister said that. If payment is entirely at the discretion of the Secretary of State, presumably he can pay some people for a time and then he can stop. That is unsatisfactory. We need to look at this matter again. I am grateful to the Minister for what he has said. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 133 to 152 not moved.]

Lord Grimond moved Amendment No. 153: Page 21, leave out lines 40 and 41.

The noble Lord said: As drafted, the Bill provides that local committees cannot be entirely of people who are not members of the SNH. Is that necessary? I understand that there can be only 12 members of the SNH. I hope that there will be a great many local committees. The more local responsibility there is, the more local accountability there will be. It is not reasonable to put in the Bill that the committees must have a member of the SNH on them. In some areas that would be extremely difficult to arrange. In all areas the local committees are of considerable importance. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

We envisage that the type of committees which SNH would be able to set up under paragraph 16 of the schedule will be of crucial importance in much of its work, particularly for building and maintaining links with local people on issues affecting them and their livelihoods. To ensure that such committees are properly able to operate, it is vital that there are clear links between them and the centre. That means at least one board member should be a member of each committee. Otherwise, as I am sure the Committee will agree, the status of such committees would be seriously devalued, and the proceedings might not be subject to any control by SNH. A board member of each committee is essential to ensure the committee's actions reflect a uniformity of policy and approach throughout Scotland. Such a system would also provide an efficient and necessary mechanism for reporting back to the main board.

Lord Grimond

I sympathise with the Minister concerning the importance of local committees. In view of what he has said, I shall ask leave to withdraw the amendment. I am not convinced that it is essential that a member of the main board should be a member of the committee. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 154 to 165 not moved.] Schedule 1 agreed to.

8.30 p.m.

Schedule 2 [Amendment of enactments conferring nature conservation functions]:

[Amendments Nos. 166 to 177 not moved.]

Baroness Nicol moved Amendment No. 178: Page 23, line 40, at end insert: ("(1A) After section 16(10) (power to grant licences) there shall be inserted the following subsection— (10A) The Secretary of State for Scotland shall consult from time to time with Scottish Natural Heritage as to the exercise of his functions under this section; and he shall not grant a licence of any description unless he has been advised by Scottish Natural Heritage as to the circumstances in which, in its opinion, licences of that description should be granted." ").

The noble Baroness said: This amendment has the strong support of the Worldwide Fund for Nature and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. It will improve the licensing provision of Section 16 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 by requiring the Secretary of State for Scotland to seek advice from SNH prior to issuing a licence; and that advice shall indicate the circumstances in which the licence should be issued.

Each year the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland issues licences to landowners to kill Greenland white-fronted and barnacle geese to prevent crop damage. There has been much criticism of the way in which the department has issued these licences, especially for the killing of protected birds such as goosanders and the rarer species of geese. The department does not readily take the advice of the NCC; nor are measures to prevent serious damage sufficiently well explored before issuing licences.

In the winter of 1989–90 eight licences to kill Greenland white-fronted geese on the island of Islay were issued by the department. Forty-five geese were reported shot. Similarly, 28 licences to kill barnacle geese on Islay were issued in 1989–90; 915 geese were reported shot. Both species are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. Licences have also been issued to kill goosanders, a protected species of sawbilled duck, principally on the River Tweed. We know of no scientific justification for this level of cull. The question of the amount of grass they eat is not decided.

It is time for the issuing of licences to be more strictly controlled to ensure that licence conditions are adhered to. The amendment will help to achieve that. I can imagine that there will be considerable resistance to the amendment. Is the Minister aware that the department has issued licences and consulted the NCC afterwards, thus denying the NCC the opportunity to provide advice, which after all is its statutory function? I hope that the Minister will look kindly on the amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

The noble Baroness's speech was not up to the normal standard that I have come to expect from her. The facts that she chose to mention were extremely selective and a good deal of homework had not been done. Perhaps she has been incorrectly advised. The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland issues licences, but it does so in full consultation with the NCC. The noble Baroness said that 45 white-fronted geese had been shot. She forgot to tell the Committee how the population of white-fronted geese has expanded over the past 10 years. Likewise, the number of barnacle geese has more than doubled to some 20,000. The noble Baroness mentioned some 900 being shot in the past year.

There is a serious point in what the noble Baroness suggests. SNH will be the statutory adviser to the Secretary of State on conservation generally, including matters affecting protected species. I can assure her and the Committee that the Secretary of State would not issue licences for shooting a certain species without consulting SNH. It is important that I should emphasise that point and for the noble Baroness not to go away with any ideas in her head that I am not convinced that this should happen, does happen and will continue to happen. The example given by the noble Baroness was perhaps not the best one around. I am not aware of any better example because this does not really happen.

Baroness Nicol

In order to save time at this late hour I acted selectively on the evidence I was given. I have evidence on two sheets of A4 paper if the Minister would like it. I have all the figures for the number of birds shot under licence which were nevertheless protected species. I feel that some restraint should be exercised in this area.

I have it on very good authority—I stand by it—that there have been occasions when licences were issued without consultation with the NCC. I must stand by that. However, I accept what the Minister says. If he feels that SNH will behave reasonably in the future, and if he feels that its prestige will be such that the department will be unlikely to issue licences without consulting SNH, I accept that too. For the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Taylor of Gryfe

Does not the necessary assurance lie in the fact that the Secretary of State in his wisdom has appointed the president of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to be the chairman of the new body?

Baroness Nicol

I must come back on that point. The chairman is not now the president of the RSPB. He was, but is not at the moment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 179 to 182 not moved.]

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 183: Page 24, line 12, at end insert: ("() In section 36(7) (waste disposal licences for certain protected areas) for the words "the Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland" there shall be substituted the words "Scottish Natural Heritage". () In section 54(4) (provisions for certain land occupied by waste disposal authorities) in paragraph (e) for the words from "until the date" to the end of the paragraph there shall be substituted the words "Scottish Natural Heritage".").

The noble Lord said: This amendment simply corrects an anomaly. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 184: Page 24, line 16, after (""section"") insert ("where it first occurs").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is purely for clarification. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 185 not moved.]

Schedule 2, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 3 [Transitional arrangements on the dissolution of existing bodies]:

[Amendments Nos. 186 to 197 not moved.]

Schedule 3 agreed to.

Schedule 4 agreed to.

Schedule 5 [Provisions as to applications for, variation, revocation and transfer of licences under Part II]:

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendments Nos. 198 to 200: Page 29, line 6, leave out from ("with") to ("publish") in line 8 and insert ("the closing date"). Page 29, line 8, leave out first ("a") and insert ("at least one"). Page 30, leave out line 16.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 5, as amended, agreed to.

Schedules 6 and 7 agreed to.

Schedule 8 [Compensation in respect of drought orders]:

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 201: Page 37, line 8, leave out ("appointed") and insert ("apportioned").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 8, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 9 [Miscellaneous amendments]:

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 202: Page 37, line 17, at end insert:

("Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) (Scotland) Act 1951 (c. 66)

. At the end of section 17(1) of the Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) (Scotland) Act 1951 (specification of bodies as river purification authorities) there shall be inserted the words "and by Part II of the Natural Heritage (Scotland) Act 1991".").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 203 to 208 not moved.]

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 209: Page 38, line 16, leave out from the beginning to ("after") and insert: (" .—(1) The Control of Pollution Act 1974 shall be amended as follows. (2)").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendments Nos. 210 to 212: Page 38, line 25, at end insert: ("(3) At the end of subsection (4) of section 93 and of subsection (3) of section 94 (application of the Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) (Scotland) Act 1951 to these sections), there shall be inserted the words "and a reference to Part II of the Natural Heritage (Scotland) Act 1991"."). Page 38, line 27, leave out ("Part III") and insert ("Part II"). Page 38, line 28, leave out ("(other disqualifying offices)") and insert ("(bodies of which all members are disqualified)").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendments Nos. 210 to 212.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 213 to 217 not moved.]

Schedule 9, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 10 [Repeals]:

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 218: Page 40, leave out lines 22 to 24.

The noble Lord said: I am sorry to interrupt the flow when we are doing so well. The Countryside (Scotland) Act 1967 states in Section 12(1) that the commission shall: In the exercise of their duty under section 3(a) above … keep under review the need to secure public access to the countryside for the purposes of open-air recreation".

It appears from Schedule 10 to this Bill that those words are to be repealed. I hope the Minister can tell me whether the words are to be inserted at another point in the Bill or if that is not the case why the Government wish to repeal them. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

The repeal is a technical one which does not make any change of substance. Therefore the noble Lord does not need to worry about it. It is necessary as the words repealed contain a reference not only to a section of the 1967 Act which has already been repealed but also to the concept of designated countryside which has also been repealed. To accept this amendment would merely leave the provision under Section 12(1) of the 1967 Act existing in relation to something else that did not exist. The substantive part of Section 12(1) is being retained and SNH will inherit the duty of the Countryside Commission for Scotland to consult with planning authorities and representative bodies of landowners and occupiers with regard to the securing of public access to open country. I am sure that the noble Lord will be delighted with that explanation. I hope that he will withdraw his amendment.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

I thank the Minister for that explanation. I shall read it with great care, but in the meantime I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 10 agreed to.

In the Title:

[Amendment No. 219 not moved.]

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.

House adjourned at fourteen minutes before nine o'clock.

GLOBAL ISLES COURT OF RECORD