Lord Campbell-Savours (Labour)
I shall be brief and respond only to the major issues. I was asked by the noble Lords, Lord Crickhowell and Lord Chorley, and the noble Earl, Lord Peel, why this should be limited to the national parks. I shall be absolutely frank. The answer to the question is that that is all I could gain support for among Labour Back Benchers in the other House. That is not a good answer, but it is the truth. If that is the reality we are faced with, we should take it seriously.
I was also asked about an inconsistency in my position. The answer is that it is simply impractical to use guns in the national parks. Again, I am forced to face that reality. My noble friend Lady Mallalieu again referred to her consistent approach on the question of licensing and registration. I understand that my noble friend feels passionately about it, but there is a big problem at the other end of the corridor. I am afraid that registration and licensing is not going to surface on the Commons agenda. We have to face that reality. It may be unpalatable to many Members of the Committee, but I repeat that that is the reality of the situation at the other end.
The noble Viscount, Lord Astor, said that we are not at the end of the road. I am sorry to say that we are at the end of the road. They know exactly what they want to do at the other end. I go down the corridor every day and mix with them, so I know what they are saying and how passionately they feel about this Bill. They are just as passionate as Members of this House. Again, if it is the case that we are nearly at the end of the road, this is the time to lay down markers.
The noble Lord, Lord Monson, referred to the question of horses and where they could be ridden. I am afraid that it is very difficult to ride horses on fell land in the Lake District National Park. That is the only way I can respond to him.
My noble friend Lord Richard asked why we should add this proposal to the Bill now. The answer is that the House of Commons needs time to consider this proposition fully and to digest the implications of these amendments. If they are not put in the Bill at this point, we shall lose out overall in terms of the amendments before us.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hooson, for his support. I thank also the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, for making a judgment based on his vast experience of the House of Commons. I am particularly indebted to my noble friend Lord Sewel, who clearly understands precisely what I am trying to do. We have to find a compromise and I am dealing with the Bill as it is. The noble Lord, Lord Phillips, took his usual hard line on the issue. I know that he feels strongly that there is an issue of principle involved here, as is indeed the case for the noble Lord, Lord Willoughby de Broke. I thank once again the noble Lord, Lord Livsey of Talgarth, for his sensible and realistic advice.
All I can do is echo what was said by my noble friend Lord Whitty. We have to deal with the real world, and there is a real problem there. If noble Lords do not address it tonight by allowing these amendments through so that they can at least tag along in the background while the major argument about licensing and registration goes on, I believe that we will have failed people in the national parks and perhaps those in the less favoured areas. I wish to test the opinion of the Committee.