Amendment 52

Part of Environment Bill - Report (3rd Day) – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 13th September 2021.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of The Earl of Shrewsbury The Earl of Shrewsbury Conservative 5:30 pm, 13th September 2021

My Lords, I am very pleased to support Amendment 123, from the noble Lord, Lord Browne of Ladyton. I declare an interest, as on the record from previous debates on this Bill. I will not cover again all the points I made both at Second Reading and in Committee.

It is a fact that lead is a poison. I have an enthusiasm in supporting this amendment that comes entirely from my love of the shooting sports, in particular game shooting. Noble Lords will recall that I have probably been supporting all the shooting sports in this House since I came here 40 years ago, very often as a lone voice. Shooting is not exactly something that many of your Lordships are fondly in love with. I want everything I shoot to go into the food chain for human consumption. It is good, wholesome, low-calorie, low-cholesterol food that is both nutritious and delicious.

I am a realist and a very small minority of my shooting colleagues—I do not call them friends because they are not—could not give a fig whether they sell their game into the marketplace for human consumption. So far as they are concerned, they can dispose of it by other means. I find that absolutely despicable and disgusting. There is absolutely no place in my shooting world for people like that, who taint the vast majority of the game shooting enthusiasts of this country, who behave very responsibly indeed and desire, like me, to be able to ensure a growing market of consumers for the game that we produce. That is why I am standing here, pleading with your Lordships about lead.

This amendment will not affect target and clay pigeon shooters. We do not eat targets and clay pigeons. Clay pigeon shooters and target shooters shoot 60% of all the lead shot-cartridges produced in this country. Game shooters shoot 40%. Nine shooting bodies or bodies supporting the shooting sports, including what used to be the Game Conservancy Trust—the GWCT, which my noble friend Lord Caithness and I have a lot to do with—stated some while ago that they intended voluntarily to cease shooting with lead shot. That was done about a couple of years ago, in my memory. I believe that they are now backtracking, and this is another reason why I support this amendment very strongly. The amendment provides certainty for the shooters. It gives certainty to the supermarkets, which are going to stop producing food that has lead shot in it. The stated intention of these nine bodies was to give up lead in a five-year timeframe. There is your timeframe. There is nothing wrong in giving a timeframe. It gives support to the shooters. It gives support to everybody involved with the game-producing industry. We all know then what we are doing and by when we have to do it.

My shooting friends—and I had an invitation from one very nicely this morning in the post—are all saying now, “Will you kindly stop using lead on our estates? We would like you to go and use non-toxic shot, because we cannot sell the birds at the end of this coming season to the Game Dealers Association, because it has already stated that it will not take toxic-shot birds and there goes our market entirely.”

The supermarket chains, especially Waitrose, have for quite a while now had a strategy and process whereby they are stopping accepting lead-shot and toxic-shot game. They believe that the market is going to go much better for non-toxic-shot game. Waitrose mentioned to me that it can sell 1 million more units of game a year to the consumer. That is good for shooting, and that is why I am standing here saying this.

I believe that there is no earthly, legal or operational reason why Her Majesty’s Government cannot agree to this amendment, which covers only game shooting. It does not include clay pigeons shooting, which, as I mentioned, uses by far the largest amount of lead shot in the country. The Government can take on clay pigeon shooters on a different day and take them through a consultation. It will take them years to do it, but I would like to see game shooting legislated for now.

I urge my noble friend the Minister to accept these amendments or to accept Amendment 123, because it is sensible and easy.