Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 19 March 2024.

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Photo of Alison Johnstone Alison Johnstone Green

Our next item of business is stage 3 proceedings on the Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill. In dealing with amendments, members should have the bill as amended at stage 2—Scottish Parliament bill 24A—the marshalled list, the supplement to the marshalled list and the groupings of amendments.

The division bell will sound and proceedings will be suspended for around five minutes for the first division. The period of voting for the first division will be 45 seconds. Thereafter, I will allow a voting period of one minute for the first division after a debate. Members who wish to speak in the debate on any group of amendments should press their request-to-speak buttons or enter “request to speak” in the chat as soon as possible after I call the group.

Members should now refer to the marshalled list of amendments.

The Presiding Officer:

Group 1 is on glue traps. Amendment 38, in the name of Christine Grahame, is grouped with amendments 39, 40, 1, 41, 2, 3, 42, 4 to 6, 43, 44, 7 to 11, and 29 to 36.

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

The arguments that I will make in support of amendment 38 apply equally to amendment 39. Of the other amendments in the group, my intention is to reference in detail only the Scottish Government’s amendment 11. I do not support licensing, but I will speak to that amendment specifically.

Amendment 38 would delete words in section 1(1), to make it read, “It is an offence for a person to use a glue trap for the purpose of killing or taking any animal other than an invertebrate.” It would be an outright ban on glue traps, except for use on invertebrates.

As far as I knew, until Tuesday of last week, that was the Government’s position. However, then up popped amendment 11 in the name of the Minister for Agriculture and Connectivity, Jim Fairlie. I welcome the minister to his position, but I will not make life easy for him.

Amendment 11 would insert after section 3:

Authorisation for use, supply or possession of glue trap

(1) The Scottish Ministers may, by regulations, make a scheme for the authorisation of the use, supply or possession of glue traps (“the scheme”)—

(a) by specified persons,

(b) in specified circumstances.”

I will pre-empt the Government’s argument: it will continue to say that its policy position is a belief in an outright ban. However, I am interested in the law, which is fixed—and, in this case, would not be an outright ban, because, if amendment 11 passes, there will be an opening, notwithstanding that it would be in very peculiar circumstances, for the Government to introduce a licensing scheme. In common parlance, it is not a ban. What is policy is distinct from what is legal.

To look at the Government’s history on the issue, its policy memorandum, which it put out when it was consulting and which was introduced with the bill on 21 March 2023, said specifically that the bill will

“Ban the use and purchase of glue traps”.

Relevant to sections 1 to 3, it says that those are

“devices used for a variety of purposes, primarily to control ground rodents ... glue traps work by placing them along areas where rats and mice are likely to frequent. Once the animal steps onto the board it is then firmly stuck to it and is unable to free itself. Once an animal is captured the intention is that the glue trap can be retrieved and the animal dispatched.”

The memorandum also details that

“There has been significant and ongoing concern regarding the welfare implications of the use of ... glue traps. They can result in prolonged suffering ... are indiscriminate in nature” and can unintentionally trap non-target species.

I am not against the trapping and capturing of rodents; I am against the use of glue traps. That is a very specific complaint.

In response to concerns by animal welfare groups in petition PE1671 to the Scottish Parliament, calling for a ban on the sale and use of glue traps, the Government sought advice from the independent Scottish Animal Welfare Commission.

On 23 March 2021, the SAWC published a report that acknowledged that there are

“certain high-risk situations that clearly require effective and rapid pest control.”

It went on to say that the SAWC was

“not convinced that evidence exists supporting the view that glue traps are genuinely the only method of last resort” and gave examples of other effective alternative methods.

The report acknowledged the animal welfare impacts of the use of glue traps. It concluded that

“there is no way that glue traps can be used without causing animal suffering” and that they pose

“an undeniable risk of capture of non-target species.”

It further stated that its preferred recommendation is that

“animal welfare issues connected with the use of glue traps would justify an immediate outright ban on their sale and use.”

I highlight the words “outright ban.”

It is no wonder that I, and others, believed that the Scottish Government’s position was unequivocal: that there should be an outright ban on glue traps—no regulations in the future and no parking the issue for some other legislation. Indeed, that was reinforced by a string of answers to parliamentary questions. In the interest of time, I will only quote a few.

On 20 January 2022, Siobhian Brown, who is now a minister, asked an oral question on the ban and was told:

“we will introduce legislation to ban glue traps in this parliamentary term”—[

Official Report

, 20 January 2022; c 4.]

On 21 May 2022, Màiri McAllan said:

“we have committed to ending use of glue traps, which is a particularly cruel and harmful practice.”—[

Official Report

, 31 May 2022; c 92.]

In June 2022, in answer to a written question from Sandesh Gulhane, who had raised issues about health, Màiri McAllan replied:

“I set out our plans to introduce a ban on the sale and use of glue traps.”—[

Written Answers

, 10 June 2022; S6W-09084]

In October 2022, Màiri McAllan made reference to work that was on-going on “banning glue traps”.

Throughout all that, in my foolishness, I thought that we were banning glue traps.

At stage 2, Edward Mountain—quite rightly—lodged amendments relating to a licensing scheme that he wanted to introduce in certain circumstances. There was a debate. Then, in response to what the minister said, he did not pursue the amendments and said that we would come back to them later. He said:

“However, it is especially important in relation to food. The only way of ensuring that is to use a glue trap. I know from personal experience that you can set snap traps for vermin such as rats and mice, but they can become trap shy, and some of them are pretty clever.”

He went on to say:

“I do not see any reason why that should not be allowed, especially if the glue traps are set and checked within a set period. I think that that is a humane way of doing it.”

Although I disagree with him, he was entitled to say that. The response from Gillian Martin, who was the Minister for Energy and the Environment at that time, was:

“Edward Mountain’s amendment 176 would allow members of the public to use glue traps to control rats and mice in educational, catering or medical premises. The Scottish Animal Welfare Commission published a report on glue traps that concluded that

‘animal welfare issues connected with the use of glue traps would justify an immediate outright ban on their sale and use.’

Because of the weight of evidence that glue traps are the least humane method of rodent control and that they cause unacceptable levels of suffering to the animals that are caught by them, continuing to allow their use was not considered to be a viable option. More than three quarters of respondents to our consultation also agreed that glue traps should be banned completely in Scotland.”—[

Official Report

,

Rural Affairs and Islands Committee

, 7 February 2024; c3, 5]

The Presiding Officer:

Could you please bring your remarks to a conclusion?

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

I am bringing them to a conclusion.

The point that I am making—which deserves to be re-emphasised—is that, until stage 3, there was no notion that we would have a backdoor system of regulation.

I am at a loss to understand why the Scottish Government—which seems to me not to be compromised but to be doing this as a matter of appeasement—will continue, if the bill passes, to introduce by the back door a licensing scheme against all the evidence that glue trapping is inhumane.

Wales introduced an outright ban that became effective on 17 October 2023. Why on earth the Scottish Government does not do the same, I do not understand. On that ban, the Welsh Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths, said:

“This is a historic day for animal welfare. We strive for the very highest standards of animal welfare in Wales, and the use of snares and glue traps are incompatible with what we want to achieve.”

I wish that my Government took the same view of things.

I move amendment 38.

Photo of Colin Smyth Colin Smyth Labour

Glue traps are barbaric, cruel and indiscriminate. Rats and mice, and sometimes non-target species, that are stuck in traps often remain there until the person who set the trap comes to kill them.

Photo of Colin Smyth Colin Smyth Labour

I am sure that Edward Mountain will have an opportunity to speak in the debate, but I will still give way to him at this point.

Photo of Edward Mountain Edward Mountain Conservative

I thank the member for giving way. Twice this afternoon I have heard non-target species being mentioned. In the environments that we are talking about—inside buildings—what are the non-target species that could be caught, apart from rats and mice?

Photo of Colin Smyth Colin Smyth Labour

Any animal crossing a glue trap will be caught. The reality is that the cruelty to rats and mice is absolutely clear for everyone to see. No matter who sets such traps, sentient animals suffer appalling distress during that time, which is why glue traps should be banned, and that ban should be watertight. It is typical of Edward Mountain that, once again, he adopts a do-nothing attitude and is unwilling to consider any alternatives.

Amendment 40, in my name, aims to close a loophole within the proposed ban, by making it an offence to

“knowingly cause or permit another unauthorised person” to use a glue trap.

Paragraph 12 on page 3 of the explanatory notes accompanying the bill states that the offence of using such a trap does not apply if the person has

“a reasonable excuse for using or setting a glue trap. For example, it is not the intention to criminalise circumstances where a person is compelled to use a glue trap by a workplace superior.”

That raises the prospect that a person could get round the ban by compelling someone else to use a trap. “Causing or permitting” offences are used in a wide variety of legislative provisions to prevent individuals from escaping sanctions when they have made or allowed another person to commit an offence on their behalf. In fact, there is an example of such a provision in section 9(2)(b) of the bill, which creates the offence of causing or permitting another person to make muirburn without a licence.

At stage 2, I lodged an amendment that would have included such a provision on glue traps in section 1. The previous minister acknowledged the need for such a provision, but asked me not to move my amendment and said that the Government would consider an alternative wording, which it has done. I will move a reworded amendment at the appropriate time.

Amendments 38 and 39, in the name of Christine Grahame, appear to have a similar aim to my amendment 40 and would remove the words “without reasonable excuse” from the offence. Amendment 40 is a more appropriate solution, but I would happily support amendments 38 and 39 if Christine Grahame presses them. The wording of my amendment 40 makes reference to an “unauthorised person”. That reflects the fact that the Government has proposed amendments for exceptions to offences on the use, supply and possession of glue traps so long as the person is authorised under the scheme, which is required to be established by regulations.

I share Christine Grahame’s concerns on that proposal. Although it is certainly preferable to the licensing scheme proposed by Edward Mountain in amendments 41 to 43, which simply attempt to undermine any ban, it concerns me that the Government is proposing amendments that will make a material change to the bill very late in the day, with absolutely no discussion with Opposition members. Those amendments were lodged at the last minute, which has made it almost impossible to scrutinise them, never mind propose changes to them if we were to have concerns.

As we have heard, there is a full ban in Wales. It is therefore deeply disappointing that, at the 11th hour, the Scottish Government is watering down its proposed ban. Notwithstanding that, I hope that, in his comments, the minister will make it absolutely clear that the use of that enabling power would be considered in the future only if there were strong evidence to suggest that a complete ban on the use of glue traps was giving rise to significant public health problems, and that any authorisation would be granted only as a last resort in exceptional circumstances and for time-limited periods.

I hope, too, that the minister will make it clear to the industry that any authorisation scheme would be a temporary step, and that its expectation would be that the industry will adopt alternative methods, as the Government’s own Scottish Animal Welfare Commission said should happen if an authorisation scheme were to be adopted.

Perhaps Edward Mountain should consider this aspect. In other countries with similar schemes, such as New Zealand, which brought in its scheme in 2015, the numbers of applications have decreased significantly over the years, and in the past few years there have been none at all. The minister must make it absolutely clear to the industry that that is what he expects to see happen in Scotland.

The Presiding Officer:

I call the minister to speak to amendment 1 and other amendments in the group.

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

I fully understand Ms Grahame’s reasons for lodging her amendments, but I am unable to support them.

When introducing criminal offences, it is common to frame such offences in a way that allows a person to put forward a reasonable excuse for why the offence was committed. That is not a loophole. I am sure that Christine Grahame, as a former lawyer and former convener of the Justice Committee, will appreciate that it must always be for Police Scotland, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and, ultimately, the courts to determine whether a person who is accused of committing an offence can demonstrate that they had a reasonable excuse for doing so.

For those reasons, I cannot support Christine Grahame’s amendments, and I encourage members to vote against them.

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

How can someone have a reasonable excuse for doing something that is banned?

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

I will come on to that question as I get through my notes.

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offence to knowingly cause or permit someone to use other types of illegal wildlife traps, so I think that it is right that there should be an equivalent offence of use of glue traps. I thank Colin Smyth for lodging amendment 40, which will be a helpful addition to the bill that I will be happy to support.

I turn to amendments 41 to 44, in the name of Edward Mountain. The Scottish Animal Welfare Commission, in its “Report on the use of rodent glue traps in Scotland”, was clear

“that there is no way that glue traps can be used without causing animal suffering.”

I do not, therefore, support Edward Mountain’s amendments to introduce a licensing scheme for use of such traps by pest controllers, and I encourage members to vote against them.

Photo of Finlay Carson Finlay Carson Conservative

Given that the minister and his predecessors had ample time to raise concerns around a total ban on glue traps, why was it that there was—as Colin Smyth said—at the very last minute a U-turn from the Government? The position is completely different from what Gillian Martin had previously outlined, and the minister gave no indication of it whatsoever at stage 2. Why was that done at the last minute, which gave Parliament very little time to consider the Government’s amendments and, potentially, to lodge valid amendments to those amendments?

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

Clearly, Finlay Carson is setting the tone of the debate today. I will come on to why we have an enabling power.

I turn to my amendments in the group. To put it simply, they will do the following: amendments 4 to 6 will make it an offence for a person to sell or to possess a rodent glue trap. The bill will already make it an offence to use a glue trap, and the Scottish Government has always been clear that it intended to lodge amendments that will also ban their sale and possession. A ban on the sale of glue traps will ensure that members of the public cannot buy those products in Scotland. It will also enable trading standards officers to act against anyone who is selling those products, thereby providing an additional aid to law enforcement. A ban on possession will allow law enforcement officers to remove products from individuals before the products are used. That is especially important, given the severe welfare implications that are associated with use of the products.

In addition, my amendments will remove the offence of purchasing a glue trap. With a full ban on use, sale and possession of glue traps in place, the net effect is that people will be unable to lawfully obtain a glue trap, so the offence of purchasing one will be unnecessary. For those reasons, I encourage members to vote for amendments 4 to 6.

Use of glue traps has already been banned completely in Wales, and England has banned their use by members of the public, so there are already different approaches being taken in two parts of the United Kingdom. The Scottish Government is still engaging in discussions with the UK Government on the matter of an exclusion to the United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 in relation to sale and possession of glue traps. A ban on sale and possession of glue traps would have a negligible effect on the market for glue traps in the rest of the UK, so I see no reason for the UK Government not to support such an exclusion.

Discussions about the exclusion will continue, but I see no reason not to take the opportunity to legislate now to ban possession and sale of glue traps. The United Kingdom Internal Market Act 2020 should not be allowed to undermine the power of this Parliament to legislate in areas that are within our devolved competence, so I hope that it will not be used on this occasion to prevent the exclusion.

My amendments 29 to 36 will allow trading standards officers to investigate offences relating to supply and possession of glue traps. Trading standards officers respond to and investigate consumer complaints and conduct routine inspection of businesses to ensure that they are complying with legislation and are not selling prohibited products. Those officers have equivalent powers in relation to other items—for example, their powers were recently extended to cover fireworks. They have a statutory duty to combat illegal trading; it is, therefore, sensible to extend their powers so that they can investigate complaints that a business is continuing to sell glue traps in contravention of the ban. For those reasons, I encourage members to vote for amendments 29 to 36.

The Scottish Government’s position is clear: we should have a comprehensive ban on use, sale and possession of rodent glue traps. We consider that continued use of glue traps is not necessary, and that sufficient alternatives are available. The evidence from countries where glue traps have been banned—including the Republic of Ireland and, most recently, Wales—demonstrates to me that a full ban can be brought in without any negative impacts arising, and that successful control of rodents in settings such as hospitals is possible without the need to resort to glue traps. I see no reason why that would be any different in Scotland.

However, during the bill process I have heard from the British Pest Control Association, which raised concerns that increased rodenticide resistance in rodent populations is a real possibility, which could lead in the future to a situation in which professional controllers have very limited options to deal with infestations in high-risk areas.

Having listened to those concerns and reflected on the need to respond to infestations in a swift manner, I believe that it is prudent to include an enabling power in the bill. It is a helpful addition that will future proof the bill, as we have done in other areas. My amendments 1, 3 and 11 will therefore provide Scottish ministers with the ability to create a tightly regulated authorisation to allow use, possession and sale of glue traps in exceptionally limited circumstances and with several safeguards to reduce animal suffering.

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

I will n ot, at the moment.

The power sets out that the scheme can be used only to allow authorisations where no other method of rodent control is practicable and where such authorisation is

“necessary or expedient ... for the purposes of protecting public health.”

It also sets out that the scheme can put conditions on authorisations, such as limiting the circumstances in which they are authorised to use a glue trap or requiring that training be completed. The supply of glue traps would also be restricted to authorised suppliers, and it would be a condition of the authorisation that those suppliers could sell only to persons who have been authorised to use the traps.

I want to be clear that my intention is that the authorisation scheme would be considered in the future only in the event that there was strong evidence to suggest that a complete ban on use of such products was giving rise to significant public health concerns.

For those reasons, I encourage members to vote for amendments 1, 3 and 11.

Photo of Finlay Carson Finlay Carson Conservative

I will try again. In the spirit of the debate and of passing legislation, will the minister lay out when he first heard the concerns of the British Pest Control Association and what made him change his mind and lodge amendments at the very last minute to reflect those concerns?

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

We lodged the amendments to allow the enabling power because we had listened. We heard that people were genuinely concerned. Your colleague, who is sitting behind you, told us that there was a problem.

The Presiding Officer:

Always speak through the chair, please.

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

We listened to those concerns, and it would be prudent in the extreme to make sure that we have something in place, just in case there is an emergency.

The member is well aware of what a flit of rats looks like. If a building is demolished in Glasgow, for instance, a flit of rats could move from that place and get into a hospital or a food preparation area. I envisage that glue traps could be used in such very limited circumstances.

The power also sets out that the Scottish ministers can put conditions on the authorisations. Conditions could include requiring users to have completed an accredited training course; requiring authorised persons to adhere to the standards that are set out by the training course; or requiring authorised persons to stay on site while glue traps are set.

Sales would also be restricted to authorised suppliers, and conditions can be placed on those authorisations to reduce the risk that members of the public would be able to continue to purchase and use glue traps—for example, it may be a condition that glue traps be kept behind the sales counter.

That power will be subject to affirmative procedure, so if an instrument was laid to create an authorisation scheme, it would be for the Parliament to decide whether such a scheme should come into effect.

My remaining amendments 2 and 7 to 10 are all consequential on other amendments in the group, so I encourage members to vote for them.

The Presiding Officer:

I call

Edward Mountain to speak to amendment 41 and other amendments in the group.

Photo of Edward Mountain Edward Mountain Conservative

I start by saying that I fear that I might be on the other side of the debate on some of the subject matter from Christine Grahame and Colin Smyth. However, one thing unites us, which is our shock that the Government lodged amendments less than 24 hours before the deadline to change something that had gone through stage 1 and stage 2.

We had debated the issue at some length, and I tried to debate it with the minister, who refused to consider the options that I put forward in amendments 41 to 44. We are now in a situation in which the amendments that have now been lodged by the Government are virtually the same. Would it not have been nice if we had worked out how to do legislation properly in the Parliament and the minister had taken to one side those who have been involved in the debate and discussed the issue, rather than just lodging, in a somewhat arrogant way, the amendments that he has lodged?

The Presiding Officer:

You should always speak through the chair.

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

Edward Mountain proposed a licensing scheme that could be given to any pest controller who does not have accreditation in this country, whereas we are proposing that ministers will have the final say, and that it will happen only in extreme circumstances. That is the difference.

Photo of Edward Mountain Edward Mountain Conservative

Well, there we go. The minister is still not listening. I was talking about following parliamentary procedure and talking to people who have lodged amendments. My amendments might well not have been required if the Government had lodged its amendments and discussed them with sufficient time to allow me to seek to withdraw my amendments or to change them. However, that was not to happen.

I have heard a lot of talk this afternoon about why glue traps should not be used, and I heard that at stages 1 and 2. My point is that my amendments are very straightforward. They would allow use of glue traps in very specific circumstances—that is, in educational, catering and medical premises. There is a reason behind that, which is that the last thing that we want to use in a hospital is poison, the last thing that we want littered around hospitals is traps, and the last thing that we want to see in schools is poisoned animals lying there having been killed by poison having been laid or traps having been set. That is not what we want.

If it is set properly, a glue trap could be removed at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day to ensure that there is no evidence of what had happened and there is no chance of children or patients coming into contact with poison.

I find it quite bizarre that members have spoken at some length about banning glue traps when, in the basement of the Parliament, glue traps have been used to get rid of the mice infestation down there. That is quite odd, is it not? It is odd that we should be talking about banning glue traps at the same time as we are using them.

We have heard from Mr Smyth about non-target species. I am not sure what non-target species inside buildings would be, apart from target-species mice and rats. I am not sure what other mammals or animals are running around in buildings apart from mice and rats.

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

Perhaps the factory cat that is there to keep the number of mice down is wandering about. Cats can get stuck in the traps. They are one example.

Photo of Edward Mountain Edward Mountain Conservative

Christine Grahame will know that people who set glue traps do not leave them open to the elements. They are covered to ensure that cats and other domestic animals do not go in them. That is the sort of logical thing that we would do.

The amendments that I have lodged at stage 2 and stage 3 have been about bringing in a licensing scheme that would allow people to use glue traps in specific circumstances—when there is no other way of controlling rats and mice in environments such as schools and catering and medical premises. I do not believe that the minister’s recommendations, which came at the very last moment, are the right way to go; I think that my licensing scheme is the right way to go. I will leave it to Parliament to decide.

However, when the minister reflects on the matter after today, he might think that it would have been more inclusive to talk to members before lodging last-minute amendments on subjects that have not even been discussed at stages 1 and 2.

Photo of Rachael Hamilton Rachael Hamilton Conservative

I do not have any amendments in this group, but I wish to briefly speak to the minister’s amendments on glue traps.

I concur with the comments from my colleague Edward Mountain about the lack of notice that we were given, and with Colin Smyth and Finlay Carson, who intervened on the minister. We did not have enough time to consider the amendments and to scrutinise what they mean and how they would play out.

However, I welcome the fact that the minister has rowed back on the Scottish Government’s initial plans to ban glue traps outright. That would have had a devastating effect on the hospitality, food and drink industry—I draw members’ attention to my entry in the register of members’ interests, although we do not use glue traps—alongside risking the safety of vulnerable Scottish residents in hospitals, care homes and supported living.

In a recent survey that was carried out by the British Pest Control Association, 65 per cent of the 116 respondents stated that a ban on glue traps would impact their ability to control rodent infestations. Respondents reported that glue traps had the lowest rate of behavioural resistance, making them a more reliable option as a last resort. Therefore, I am pleased that the minister’s amendments acknowledge that glue traps are an important tool to protect public health. I also agree with my colleague Edward Mountain’s amendments that would introduce a licensing scheme.

Presiding Officer, you might be interested to know that the response to a freedom of information request showed that 200 glue traps have been used in the Scottish Parliament since the bill was introduced last March, spanning two pest management treatments. Without those treatments, Parliament buildings could have been closed due to infestations. We have very important matters to discuss in Parliament and it should be ensured that business can carry on. Reserving glue boards for pest professionals is the best way to balance the public health risks against animal welfare concerns.

Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative

Th e minister described the circumstances in which ministers would introduce secondary legislation Those circumstances sounded like things that happen pretty regularly, such as the demolition of buildings. He is not listening, but he said something about buildings being demolished and rat packs moving between buildings, which sounds like something that would be pretty routine in most cities. Does

Rachael Hamilton anticipate, on the basis of what the minister said, that some kind of licensing scheme is inevitable anyway?

Photo of Rachael Hamilton Rachael Hamilton Conservative

We will see what the minister brings forward, but that is an everyday situation that we have to deal with; it is not a new situation.

As I said, the minister is absolutely right to row back on the Government’s initial plans and to get this right. I hope that he will work in good faith with members of the industry and stakeholder groups to create a scheme that is workable and, ultimately, that he will look at Edward Mountain’s suggestion of consulting on a licensing scheme. We have got to this point and we have seen the amendments, but there has not been the opportunity for them to be looked at, consulted on, reviewed or scrutinised, and I find that deeply disappointing.

The Presiding Officer:

I call Christine Grahame to wind up and to press or withdraw amendment 38.

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

This is an extremely important debate, and I share the concerns about substantive amendments being lodged—to any legislation—at the last minute. There are two key to aspects to consider. First, the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission, which is a completely independent body, has determined that glue traps cause extreme suffering and are inhumane. I am not opposed to rodent control, but I am opposed to this particular method of control.

Secondly, the minister said that there is a ban on glue traps. However, he went on to say that, should the amendment that was lodged at the last minute be agreed to, the Government can, by regulations, authorise their use in extreme circumstances. That would be done using the affirmative procedure, which is at least something. That is not a ban. The old teacher in me notes that the word “ban” comes from a middle English word that means “to banish”. We are not banishing the use of glue traps. We are qualifying and modifying their use by saying that, in certain circumstances, they will not be banished.

Finally, I say to Edward Mountain that my huge concern about regulation and licensing in any circumstance is that, as we saw from snaring, it very much depends on the personnel who are doing it. We know that glue traps will not always be regularly checked, as that was our experience with snaring. Therefore, the straightforward answer is simply to ban glue traps and to use alternative methods of pest control. I did not know that glue traps were being used in the Parliament—I am shocked by that.

I press amendment 38.

The Presiding Officer:

The question is, that amendment 38 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

The Presiding Officer:

There will be a division. As this is the first division of the stage, I suspend for around five minutes to allow members to access the digital voting system.

14:59 Meeting suspended.

15:04 On resuming—

We move to the division on amendment 38, in the name of Christine Grahame. Members should cast their votes now.

The vote is closed.

Photo of Pauline McNeill Pauline McNeill Labour

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. My app was not working. I would have voted yes.

The Presiding Officer:

Thank you. We will ensure that your vote is recorded.

Photo of Foysol Choudhury Foysol Choudhury Labour

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. My app was not working, either. I would have voted yes.

The Presiding Officer:

Thank you. We will ensure that that is recorded.

Photo of Roz McCall Roz McCall Conservative

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I also had difficulties getting on to the app. I would have voted no.

The Presiding Officer:

Thank you, Ms McCall. We will ensure that your vote is recorded.

Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I would have voted no.

The Presiding Officer:

Thank you, Mr Gibson. We will ensure that that is recorded.

Division number 1 Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Aye: 18 MSPs

No: 94 MSPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

The Presiding Officer:

The result of the division is: For 18, Against 94, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 38 disagreed to.

Amendment 39 moved—[Christine Grahame].

The question is, that amendment 39 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

The Presiding Officer:

There will be a division.

Division number 2 Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Aye: 18 MSPs

No: 94 MSPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

The Presiding Officer:

The result of the division is: For 18, Against 94, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 39 disagreed to.

Amendment 40 moved—[Colin Smyth].

The question is, that amendment 40 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

Yes. [

Interruption

.]

The Presiding Officer:

I will go back on this occasion, but let me make it abundantly clear that, if members do not make clear what their voting intention is, we shall move on.

Once more, the question is, that amendment 40 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

The Presiding Officer:

There will be a division.

The vote is closed.

Photo of Ivan McKee Ivan McKee Scottish National Party

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I could not connect. I would have voted yes.

The Presiding Officer:

Thank you, Mr McKee. We will ensure that that is recorded.

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I am not sure whether my app connected. I would have voted yes.

The Presiding Officer:

I can confirm that your vote was recorded.

Division number 3 Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Aye: 83 MSPs

No: 30 MSPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

The Presiding Officer:

The result of the division is: For 83, Against 30, Abstentions 0.

Amendment

40 agreed to.

Amendment 1 moved—[Jim Fairlie]—and agreed to.

Amendment 41 moved—[Edward Mountain].

The question is, that amendment 41 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

The Presiding Officer:

There will be a division. Members should cast their votes now.

The vote is closed.

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I am afraid that my app would not connect and therefore I did not manage to vote no.

The Presiding Officer:

Thank you, Ms Baillie. We will ensure that that is recorded.

Division number 4 Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Aye: 30 MSPs

No: 83 MSPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

The Presiding Officer:

The result of the division is: For 30, Against 83, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 41 disagreed to.

Amendments 2 and 3 moved—[Jim Fairlie]—and agreed to.

I call amendment 42, in the name of Edward Mountain, already debated with amendment 48.

Photo of Edward Mountain Edward Mountain Conservative

As it appears that we will not have licences, I will not move the amendment.

Amendment 42 not moved.

Amendment 4 moved—[Jim Fairlie]—and agreed to.

After section 2:

Amendments 5 and 6 moved—[Jim Fairlie]—and agreed to.

Amendments 43 and 44 not moved.

Section 3—Forfeiture and disposal of glue traps:

Amendments 7 to 10 moved—[Jim Fairlie]—and agreed to.

After section 3:

Amendment 11 moved—[Jim Fairlie]—and agreed to.

The Presiding Officer:

Group 2 is on snaring prohibition. Amendment 12, in the name of the minister, is grouped with amendments 45 and 37.

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

I will speak to my amendments in this group and then respond to Edward Mountain’s amendment 45 after he and other members have spoken.

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the use of snares on wild birds is prohibited except for where it takes place under licence from NatureScot. As was set out when the provisions to ban snaring were debated during stage 2, bird ringers sometimes use a special type of snare to temporarily catch a bird so that they can attach a ring or satellite tag to it. When undertaking such activities, the ringers do not leave the site and, as soon as the bird is caught, it gets a ring or a tag and is immediately released.

The ringing and tagging of birds have been undertaken in Scotland for decades and provide us with vital data about the population and conservation status of our birds. The snaring provision that was introduced at stage 2 was designed to allow those essential activities to continue. However, during the debate, concerns were raised about whether provisions in the bill would still allow the potential for snares to be licensed to be used on wild birds for purposes other than ringing and tagging.

In practice, NatureScot would not issue a licence to use a snare to catch a wild bird for the purposes of capturing and killing it. However, having reflected further on questions that were raised during stage 2, I think that a further amendment is required to remove any doubt or ambiguity about the purposes for which snares can be used. My amendment 12 therefore amends the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to make it clear that a licence can be granted to allow the use of snares on wild birds only for research, ringing, conservation and reintroduction. For those reasons, I support amendment 12 and encourage members to vote for it.

My amendment 37 simply updates the long title of the bill so that it accurately describes the provisions in the bill.

I move amendment 12.

Photo of Edward Mountain Edward Mountain Conservative

I will speak to my amendment 45 first and then to the other amendments.

My amendment seeks to remove the ban on snaring from the bill. I know that it is the Government’s proposal to ban snaring in the bill, but it introduced the ban only at stage 2 and I wish that it had been part of the bill as introduced.

I want to stop the ban on snaring for the simple reason that I am not sure that there are other effective ways of controlling rabbits and foxes. I want to be entirely clear with everyone that snaring other animals is completely outlawed under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which completely bans the use of snares for anything but rabbits and foxes. That is further supported by the Deer (Scotland) Act 1996, which makes it an offence to trap deer. No other mammals can be trapped.

The Snares (Scotland) Order 2010 sent out a message to those using snares that their activities would be controlled and seriously curtailed until they carried out the required training. I want to talk about that required training, because it is absolutely vital. In the old days, there was no requirement for snares to have any form of swivel or check on them to stop them from strangling the animal. Snares now have a swivel and a check on them, which means that animals cannot be strangled; they can only be held. That is really important, and the message sometimes gets lost in the information that is put out.

In fact, I saw tweets that were sent out in the past few days, by organisations that I thought better of, showing pictures of animals hanging from fences in snares. That cannot happen if people follow the law. A snare cannot be set within the close confines of a fence, and it cannot be set in such a way that it would cause the animal to be strangled by being hung up. The point of a snare is to hold and restrain an animal.

Before anyone sets a snare, they have to go on a quite lengthy course, to make sure that they are trained properly. The snares that are then used must display a snare or trap number, which Police Scotland gives to the person using the snare. The trap number and Police Scotland’s phone number have to be recorded on the trap so that, if someone comes across it and it is illegally set, they can report it to Police Scotland, who can then follow it up.

Anyone who sets snares has to keep a record, and record keeping is quite onerous. The record has to have the location of every snare set, every position in which it has been set, every set of snares that has been set within the past two years, the date on which each snare was set, and when each snare was unset and removed. By the way, a snare cannot be left unset in position—it must be removed. All that has to be recorded with a global positioning system reference and a reference on a map, so that anyone can identify the area. There are also complete guides about how to set snares.

I know that some people find it difficult to understand why snares have to be set, but if we remove snares, there are no other ways for controlling foxes and rabbits. Live traps can be used for rabbits, but foxes are going to be shot. I have yet to see any reliable way of catching a fox in a live trap. It just does not seem to work; they seem to understand that the trap is there.

What should have happened here is that, before the bill was introduced, the Government should have proposed a proper licensing scheme that would allow snares to continue, subject to licensing. I would like that scheme to come about, which is why I want section 3A to be removed from the bill, as that would allow the Government to go back and consider a licensing scheme. We want to limit the ability of people to control foxes, especially next to urban conurbations. Do we want rifles being used closer and closer to urban conurbations, or do we want traps to be used to hold the animals so that they can be humanely destroyed if they are, in fact, the species that is being targeted?

Photo of Colin Smyth Colin Smyth Labour

Far be it from me to be sceptical that Edward Mountain wants to remove completely the ban on snaring but, if his argument is that he wants snaring to be licensed even though he supports a ban, why did he not lodge amendments at this stage for a licensing scheme instead of bringing an amendment that is clearly designed to wreck the ban on snaring, which, frankly, is long overdue to be outlawed?

Photo of Edward Mountain Edward Mountain Conservative

I do not support a ban on snaring and I never said that I did. I want an effective licensing scheme, and I think that the licensing scheme that was brought in by this Government is pretty effective. However, I would support tightening it up if it meant that we could keep snaring.

I point out to Mr Smyth, as I did to the minister and other members in the committee at stage 2, that I do not know how we expect those people who manage wildlife in the countryside to be able to do other things if they are chasing foxes around, trying to remove them from areas where they are not wanted and can damage wildlife, including ground-nesting birds. They cannot do that 24/7—they cannot be out every hour of every day trying to control foxes. They have to be able to do other things, which is why there should be a trapping system.

I know that the organisations that are involved in the management of wildlife are quite happy with a more tightened-up licensing scheme, and I am disappointed that the Government has not considered that. The Government has listened to some organisations that have used pretty dubious propaganda images and pretty dubious information to support their case to ban snaring, and that is not justified. That is why I seek to remove the ban on snaring from the bill.

Photo of Ariane Burgess Ariane Burgess Green

It is an important day for improving animal welfare in Scotland, and I am very pleased that the ban on snares was included in the bill at stage 2. The Parliament is sending the message that an inhumane and indiscriminate tool has no place in wildlife management and that the welfare of all wildlife species is taken seriously.

I thank campaigners and animal welfare stakeholders who have worked tirelessly for the ban, alongside Scottish Green Party colleagues past and present. It is disappointing that Conservative members are seeking to undo this progress. All Rural Affairs and Islands Committee members agreed in our stage 1 report that traditional snares should be banned. Amendment 45, in the name of Edward Mountain, would overturn that entirely. I support the minister’s amendments 12 and 37, which address concerns that stakeholders raised following stage 2.

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

I confirm to the minister that I fully support an outright ban on snaring.

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

I thank Christine Grahame for that reassurance.

At stage 2, the Rural Affairs and Islands Committee voted on and agreed to amendments that would ban the use of snares in Scotland. Edward Mountain’s amendment 45 seeks to remove the effect of those amendments and put us right back to where we started.

The decision to ban the use of snares is not one that has been taken lightly. Indeed, there are many people, including those who use them, who are surprised that their use has not been banned before now. The decision takes into account a wealth of evidence and opinion that has been presented to the Parliament over the years on the matter. The Parliament can no longer ignore the weight of that evidence, which shows that snares lead to unacceptable levels of suffering for any animal that is caught by one.

Even where snares are used in strict accordance with the conditions that are set out in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, they remain, by their nature, indiscriminate. As such, they pose unacceptable risk to non-target species, including endangered wild animals and domestic animals such as cats, all of which can be caught in them. The Scottish Animal Welfare Commission found that the proportion of animals caught in snares that are non-target species is estimated to be between 21 and 69 per cent, which is simply unacceptable. It is for those reasons that the ban on snaring was agreed to at stage 2 and why it will remain in the bill at stage 3.

I know from first-hand experience that control of predators is necessary to protect livestock and agriculture, as well as vulnerable species, and that land managers must be allowed to take effective action to manage wildlife for those purposes. I am also aware that some people have claimed that the removal of snaring as an option might reduce the ability of land managers to protect ground-nesting birds—in particular, curlew, lapwing and other wader species of serious conservation concern. I remain confident, however, that there are sufficient alternative methods of predator control that can and will be used.

Photo of Finlay Carson Finlay Carson Conservative

Will the minister suggest how foxes may be controlled in circumstances where biodiversity must be protected and they cannot be shot? Will he explain what it was about the proposed licensing scheme that ministers did not support?

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

We did not support the licensing scheme because of the overwhelming evidence that the public simply will not accept snares any more. They will therefore be banned if the bill passes.

A number of conservation organisations, including the RSPB, already ban their use. They have policies to prohibit the use of snares and believe that they can still undertake sufficient predator control to protect vulnerable species. That was also the view reached by the Welsh Parliament when it banned the use of snares in the Agriculture (Wales) Act 2023.

I am confident that a ban on the use of snares would not prevent anyone undertaking necessary wildlife management. Snares are already banned in many other European countries and land managers have adapted to that. We can ensure that we learn from that and can provide advice and information, where that would be helpful.

For those reasons, I cannot support amendment 45 and I also encourage members not to support it.

In my view, although humane cable restraints might be an incremental improvement on traditional snares, they do not lead to a significant reduction in the adverse welfare outcomes experienced by animals caught in those devices, nor would their use eliminate the capture of non-target species, including protected species such as badgers and mountain hares, and domestic animals, such as cats.

The public consultation on snaring also showed that 70 per cent of respondents supported a complete ban on the use of all snares, including humane cable restraints, so there is clearly widespread support for that.

Photo of Rachael Hamilton Rachael Hamilton Conservative

Does the minister agree that humane cable restraints offer a unique management system to control predators and that those restraints could be useful when it is not possible to use a gun to control or shoot predators?

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

The vast majority—more than 70 per cent—of foxes are still controlled by shooting and night shooting, which is known as lamping. More humane methods of wildlife control, such as shooting and trapping, are available to land managers. As I just said, shooting foxes at night by using lamps or thermal scopes remains the predominant method of fox control by a considerable margin.

Alternatives, such as live capture traps, are also still available and I accept that they have been shown to work better in urban areas, where the lack of a suitable backstop can mean that shooting is not appropriate in certain circumstances.

I am convinced that keepers will find better methods of live trap capture, because necessity is the mother of invention.

Photo of Liam McArthur Liam McArthur Liberal Democrat

The question is, that amendment 12 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

There will be a division.

The vote is closed.

Photo of Bill Kidd Bill Kidd Scottish National Party

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. My system seems to have stopped working. I would have voted yes.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Thank you, Mr Kidd. I can confirm that your vote was, indeed, recorded.

Division number 5 Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Aye: 82 MSPs

No: 30 MSPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

The result of the division is: For 82, Against 30, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 12 agreed to.

Amendment 45 not moved.

Group

3 is on wildlife traps. Amendment 46, in the name of Edward Mountain, is grouped with amendments 47 to 53, 13 and 54. I point out that, if amendment 48 is agreed to, I will be unable to call amendment 49 due to a pre-emption.

Photo of Edward Mountain Edward Mountain Conservative

I will speak to my amendments in the group first.

Amendments 46 and 47 are technical amendments to help the Government to understand that it is illegal to kill a wild bird by trapping it, which is why I want to amend the bill to prevent that bit from being in it. People cannot do that, so why is the Government suggesting that they can? I am trying to be helpful. I will be interested in seeing whether the minister thinks that that is the case.

Amendment 48 is on grandfather rights, as they are called—I suppose that we should say “grandparent rights”. It is about not teaching your granny to suck eggs. I was told not to do that when I was younger. If someone has been around for a bit and they understand what they are doing, we should not make them go and do a course to do it. At stage 2, I suggested that there was no requirement to send somebody who is over 40 years old and has been trapping for 10 years on a course to learn how to do that.

Having spent 12 years in the Army and having been taught how to fire a rifle, I found it somewhat odd that I was made to carry out a shooting test to see whether I was capable of shooting a deer. I was allowed to shoot in the Army and I was considered proficient at it, but it seemed that I was not allowed to shoot deer.

My amendment 48 is an attempt to stop that happening. I have taken into account the fact that the Government does not like the suggestion that people should not have to go on a course to do everything nowadays. I have suggested that, when someone reaches the age of 50—not 40—and they have been doing the activity for 10 years and can prove it as part of their employment, they do not need to go off and do a course to learn how to do it. The course would probably be taught by a person of 22 or 23 years old who had been authorised to teach it.

At stage 2, the Government said that the organisations were quite happy with its approach, but some of them were happy because they were told that, if people did not go off and do the courses, they would not be given the right, so it was slightly disingenuous to say that they were happy with it. I note that some of the organisations—such as the British Association for Shooting and Conservation—do not support my amendments. That does not surprise me, because they would be running the courses. Why would they cut off an income stream for themselves by allowing people who have experience to carry on doing what they are doing?

Amendment 50 seeks to allow the Government to oversee training courses and make sure that the content is correct. That seems sensible to me.

Amendment 51 seeks to ensure that a trapping licence may not be withheld from anyone on a matter of hearsay. The relevant authority would have to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that an offence had been committed.

That is what my amendments say. They seem to me to be perfectly reasonable, unless we have an interest in making everyone do a course to do everything and we do not accept that some people know more about what they are doing, having done it for a considerable time, than others.

The other amendments in the group are interesting. I am interested to hear what the members who lodged them have to say, so I will leave it at that and comment on them when I sum up at the end of the debate on the group.

I move amendment 46.

Photo of Rachael Hamilton Rachael Hamilton Conservative

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to my amendments and the other amendments in the group. It is worth stating at the outset that I consider the use of wildlife traps to be critical for conservation. I commend the excellent work of land managers, especially gamekeepers, who already operate those traps to a highly professional standard. It is no accident that land that is actively managed using wildlife traps, such as Scotland’s grouse moors, often boasts extremely significant populations of red and amber-listed ground-nesting birds, including curlew, lapwing and golden plover. I have seen that for myself. Some of the other species that I saw when out on a grouse moor were the whinchat, meadow pipit, various corvids, red-legged partridge, heron, snipe and oystercatcher. That decisive contribution to combating biodiversity loss ought to be recognised and celebrated.

I will turn first to my amendments 49 and 52—minor and technical amendments that will improve the operational effectiveness of the trap licensing scheme for both prospective licence holders and NatureScot.

Amendment 49 would create a rebuttable presumption in favour of granting licences. In no way would that detract from the discretion of NatureScot to refuse licences if it considered it appropriate to do so. The wording of the amendment reflects sentiments that have been trailed extensively by ministers and officials. We have been repeatedly assured that the starting point in respect of the new licensing scheme is that licences will be granted. Changing the word from “may” to “must” puts that expectation beyond doubt and, in doing so, provides prospective licence applicants and stakeholders with greater certainty.

Amendment 52 would compel NatureScot to specify reasons for modifying, suspending or revoking licences. One of my firm and foremost criticisms of the bill is that it empowers NatureScot to modify licences “at any time”. I do not think it proportionate or reasonable to empower an accountable public body to act with impunity in relation to licence modification, particularly when the livelihoods of land managers are dependent on having a personal licence to use wildlife traps. At the very least, NatureScot should be compelled to provide reasons for modifying a licence. Thankfully, the thresholds that need to be crossed in relation to licence suspension and revocation are considerably higher, but I still think it important that reasons for such actions be prescribed. Amendment 52 would ensure that that was the case, and I hope that members will support it.

The only other amendment in the group that I will speak to is amendment 53, in the name of Colin Smyth. It is simply not our place to decide or prescribe what content should eventually feature in training courses for using wildlife traps. As far as I am concerned, that is a matter for NatureScot and training organisations. For that reason, I encourage members to vote against amendment 53.

Photo of Colin Smyth Colin Smyth Labour

The sentience of wild mammals and birds is recognised across the scientific community. Amendment 53 is a minor amendment that simply states that NatureScot should consider including independent animal welfare expertise when determining the content of the trap training courses, in recognition of that sentience.

Some groups, such as the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, argue that that is not necessary, because animal welfare is considered when specific traps are approved for legal use. At best, that ignores the fact that different legally approved traps can have different impacts on the welfare of animals. Information on that should be part of any training.

It is also a fact that the design and the use of legal traps have not kept up with animal welfare science. In the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission’s letter to the Rural Affairs and Islands Committee on 10 November 2023, it noted that the agreement on international humane trapping standards has

“relatively low animal welfare performance thresholds of killing trap acceptance” and does

“not reflect state-of-the-art trapping technology”.

Although methods of killing farmed and companion animals or animals that are used in research are tightly specified and regulated—aiming for a humane death that is as near instantaneous as possible—the legislation on trapping and killing wild animals has some catching up to do. Including animal welfare expertise in trap training would not change the poor standard of legal traps, but it would be a very small first step forward in ensuring that trap users were at least aware of how to minimise, as best they could, the harm caused by the traps that are permitted.

The implementation of amendment 53 would be straightforward, with an independent veterinary adviser, an independent academic or the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission being asked to review the animal welfare aspects of course content. I disagree with Rachael Hamilton that that is prescriptive. It simply asks for that independent verification of any training that is prepared by NatureScot.

I support amendment 13, in the name of the minister, but I cannot support amendment 48, in the name of Edward Mountain, particularly the rather bizarre inclusion of a birth date, which excludes people from training on the basis of their being a certain age. That completely ignores the fact that trap users and manufacturers should continue striving to reduce the negative impact on animals. We need to take account of the fact that technology can and does change and that the training should, too, as the years go on.

I also cannot support amendments 49 and 51, which would place unreasonable requirements on NatureScot, including by requiring a criminal standard of proof for licensing, unlike for any other licensing scheme. As is the case for many of the amendments from Edward Mountain and Rachael Hamilton, those amendments are clearly designed simply to water down the bill.

However, we will support amendments 46, 52 and 54, from both of those members. Like my amendment 53, those amendments would introduce minor changes to the bill, but they are reasonable and would improve it.

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

Amendments 46 and 47 seek to change the wildlife trap licence scheme to make it apply to traps with the purpose of “taking” a wild bird or “killing or taking” a wild animal. I appreciate that Edward Mountain has lodged those amendments—as he did at stage 2—to reflect the fact that there are currently no traps that can be legally used to kill wild birds.

Leaving proposed new section 12A(1) of the 1981 act as it is would have no immediate effect, as there are no traps that can be used for the purpose of killing wild birds. The Werritty report recommended that traps that are used to take wild birds should be subject to greater regulation due to the strong links between the misuse of that activity and raptor persecution. It has also been made clear that the bill should be future-proofed, so that we have enabling powers to amend by secondary legislation the types of traps to which the licence applies. It stands to reason that, if any traps are ever allowed to be used to kill wild birds, they, too, should be subject to the licensing scheme.

Edward Mountain’s amendments would mean that if, in the future, a trap were devised that could legally be used to kill wild birds, a licence would not be required to kill the birds—it would be required only to take them. As a result, there would be a higher level of oversight of using traps to take wild birds than there would be of using traps to kill them. That would be problematic. For those reasons, I cannot support amendments 46 and 47, and I encourage members to vote against them.

I am surprised that Edward Mountain lodged amendments 48 and 50, which would have the effect of requiring NatureScot to grant a wildlife trap licence if the applicant had completed the training or was born after 31 December 1973 and had used the type of trap in question professionally for at least a decade. If an applicant met the age and professional experience criteria, they would be exempt from any requirement to undergo training. I encourage members to reject those amendments. The wildlife trap training requirement is not just about telling people how to do their job; it is about recognising that the use of wildlife traps requires an appropriate level of skill and training if we want to avoid any adverse welfare outcomes in the future.

The requirement in the bill that wildlife trap users should undergo appropriate training has been largely supported by stakeholders. During the passage of the bill through Parliament, land managers have said that they already undertake a lot of training, and I am conscious that there are many involved in grouse moor and wildlife management with significant knowledge and experience. The purpose of the training requirement is to incorporate all of that experience and learning and to ensure that everyone who uses wildlife traps has the highest standards across the board.

When Alex Hogg, the chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, gave evidence during stage 1, he stated:

“We are up for doing the trap training ... Whatever you decide on, we will comply with it”.—[

Official Report

,

Rural Affairs and Islands Committee

, 14 June 2023; c 43]

That contradicts what Edward Mountain said.

With regard to the exemption based on age, we cannot assume that, because someone is over the age of 50, they will automatically have the right skills. They might have been using a trap incorrectly for that entire period of time, or they might not be aware that there are new legal requirements such as a change to a baffle size.

The purpose of the training requirement is to ensure that high standards are maintained and are consistent through continuous professional development. The bill also requires that a person use a trap in accordance with the approved training course, or they will have committed an offence. By not requiring certain people to undergo training and refresher training, there is the potential that they might not have the knowledge to comply with the requirements to operate the trap in accordance with the approved training course. That would potentially set them up to fail.

For those reasons, I cannot support amendments 48 and 50, and I encourage members to vote against them.

Rachael Hamilton’s amendment 49 would require NatureScot, as the licensing authority, to grant a wildlife trap licence if the applicant had completed the approved training and NatureScot was satisfied that it was appropriate to do so. Although I understand the reasons for the amendment and I am sympathetic to it, I have concerns about the unintended consequence that the amendment may introduce.

It is impossible to predict every circumstance that could arise in relation to an application for a licence. Therefore, it is important that NatureScot has some discretion when considering whether to grant licences. That is especially important when we consider that a wildlife trap licence will be valid for 10 years. Although traps are an essential component of wildlife management, if they are not used appropriately they can have significant negative implications for wildlife, animal welfare and biodiversity. I fear that, by setting out in the bill that NatureScot

“must ... grant ... a wildlife trap licence”,

amendment 48 would risk creating the expectation that gaining such a licence was simply a tick-box exercise. I appreciate that that is not the intention behind the amendment, but I remain concerned that it could remove the element of discretion that NatureScot must have in assessing the various factors.

Photo of Rachael Hamilton Rachael Hamilton Conservative

NatureScot is an experienced and knowledgeable organisation. Can the minister set out the criteria that NatureScot will use in exercising its discretion in whether to grant a licence?

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

NatureScot is the licensing authority. It will be for it to decide, with input from practitioners, what the criteria will be.

For the reasons that I have just mentioned, I cannot support amendment 49, and I encourage members to vote against it.

Section 4 provides that the licensing authority can

“suspend or revoke a wildlife trap licence if ... it is satisfied” according to the civil standard of proof—that is, on the balance of probabilities—that a relevant offence has been committed. Edward Mountain’s amendment 51 would raise the standard of the test applied by the licensing authority to “beyond reasonable doubt”, which is the criminal standard of proof. Historically, it has been very hard to demonstrate to the criminal standard of proof that a wildlife crime has taken place, and the number of successful prosecutions remains low. The purpose of the licensing scheme is to ensure that wildlife trapping is undertaken in accordance with the law and the best possible practice, with due consideration of all possible consequences.

I believe that, if it were to be agreed to, amendment 51 would weaken the licensing scheme and reduce the licensing authority’s ability to take necessary and appropriate action when there was strong evidence to suggest that a person operating under the trap licence had committed an offence. For those reasons, I cannot support amendment 51, and I encourage members to vote against it.

As NatureScot is a public body, I would always expect it to give reasons for any decision that it makes to modify, suspend or revoke a licence. I will therefore be happy to support Rachael Hamilton’s amendment 52, and I encourage members to agree to it.

I do not believe that Colin Smyth’s amendment 53 is necessary, as the existing provisions in the bill allow NatureScot the flexibility to include

“independently validated guidance on the animal welfare impact of each type of trap” in the training requirements. I expect the training to be based around the existing conditions for the use of each type of trap—for example, those set out in the Spring Traps Approval (Scotland) Order 2011. Those aspects of best practice on trapping will include the required training courses. Therefore, I cannot support amendment 53, and I encourage members to vote against it.

My amendment 13 will enable the Scottish ministers to require that, if a training provider charges a fee for a training course, that fee must be reasonable. During stages 1 and 2, concerns were raised that the requirement to undertake an approved wildlife trap training course must not place an undue burden on trap operators. As was set out during the stage 2 debate, in developing the framework for training courses, the Scottish Government and NatureScot will work with stakeholders to ensure that, if a fee is to be charged for such a course, the cost is accessible, and consideration will be given to providing for exemptions in certain circumstances. Having listened to members’ concerns, I am happy to set that out clearly in the bill. I encourage members to agree to amendment 13.

Amendment 54 requires that, before determining any wildlife trap training requirements, NatureScot

“must consult such persons as they consider likely to be interested in or affected by wildlife trap licensing, including land managers.”

In practice, it is likely that NatureScot might wish to consult relevant parties when creating and approving the training courses. However, as it is the relevant licensing authority, it is chiefly responsible for ensuring that any approved training courses cover the standards that are required by the bill and other pieces of legislation. Amendment 54 would simply bring an additional level of bureaucracy into the training course creation and approval processes. It would also create delays and an additional administrative burden at the point when any of the training courses required to be updated. I therefore cannot support amendment 54, and I encourage members to vote against it.

Photo of Finlay Carson Finlay Carson Conservative

I will comment briefly on amendment 53, in the name of Colin Smyth. As we have heard, the amendment seeks to include

“independently validated guidance on the animal welfare impact of each” wildlife trap. I feel that the amendment is unnecessary. In addition, while Mr Smyth may be skilled in many areas of policy, as far as I am aware, he is not an expert in such matters, so telling accredited training providers what should and should not be included in their syllabus for—

Photo of Colin Smyth Colin Smyth Labour

I am certainly not an expert in training. However, does Finlay Carson accept that others, such as the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission, are experts on that type of information? Why is he opposed to their being able to consider what the training consists of?

Photo of Finlay Carson Finlay Carson Conservative

I am not opposed to there being oversight, but it would be far more credible and appropriate if it came from NatureScot.

In addition, I highlight that it is not in the interests of operators, practitioners and professionals in the field, in any way, shape or form, not to ensure that their traps are working efficiently. They strive to ensure that the highest standards of animal welfare are maintained at all times.

I believe that amendment 53 is unnecessary; in addition, as we heard previously, it is prescriptive. In my view, it should not be supported.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

I call Edward Mountain to wind up and to say whether he wishes to press or withdraw amendment 46.

Photo of Edward Mountain Edward Mountain Conservative

Thank you, Presiding Officer.

I think that I have heard it all now. We are going to future proof a bill to make it illegal to do something that is illegal now, in case it becomes legal in the future. That was the minister’s argument on amendments 46 and 47. Well, goodness me, that is future proofing. In fact, it is double future proofing—it is future proofing future proofing. I do not see the logic of it.

The argument that I laid out is simple: amendments 46 and 47 say that it is illegal to use a trap to kill a wild bird at the moment, so why do we need to say in the bill that we are going to make it illegal? Surely that is the law already.

I absolutely understand that there is a requirement for training. I accept the minister’s point, and I hope that he heard what I said: organisations have said that they would be up for training because they were told that if they did not do the training, they would not have the ability to set the traps. It is a slightly “arm up behind your back” principle. I am saying that, if somebody has done something for a considerable period of time, they should be allowed to get on with it without being taught how to do it by somebody who has read about it in a book.

I have given the Government the ability, in amendment 50, to set down what should be in the training course and to ensure that it is sensible. I am surprised at the minister; I thought that he would accept that the “beyond reasonable doubt” approach is actually about fixing the legislation to make an offence more than hearsay and more than an allegation—more than somebody just waving a finger and saying, “I think you did that, so therefore you can’t do this.” I have included that wording in my amendment because I think that it would protect people.

The minister should be aware—as I am sure he is and would be prepared to admit outside the chamber—that this issue is quite contentious outside the Parliament. There are a lot of people who go out in the countryside and wave their finger and accuse people of doing things that they have not done because it suits their story to do so.

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

Edward Mountain has just made an accusation about people going out and doing stuff in the countryside that he says will be detrimental to those who set traps. That is why, at stage 2, an amendment was agreed to create a new offence of illegal tampering with traps. Does he accept that that was the right way to go about it?

Photo of Edward Mountain Edward Mountain Conservative

I absolutely do

. With the minister making the very point that we need to protect people who do things legally, I cannot understand why he would not go with the “beyond reasonable doubt” approach. The two seem to be linked, as far as I can see.

I turn to amendment 53 in Colin Smyth’s name. I can understand why Colin Smyth might feel that it is necessary. However, traps such as the mark 6 Fenn trap and the DOC 150 trap——I am sure that he knows them all—have been designed for a specific purpose, which is to kill the animal that they capture as quickly as possible. No one goes out and designs traps to cause unnecessary suffering. Designing a trap, getting it to market and getting people to use it and to have confidence in it would suggest that the trap does exactly what it says on the tin.

I agree with amendment 13, in the name of the minister.

I did not mention my amendment 54 at the outset because it seems reasonable that one would include land managers in consulting on and drawing up the plans. However, it appears that the minister thinks that land managers should not be included, which is why he wants me to drop the amendment.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

The question is, that amendment 46 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

There will be a division.

The vote is closed.

I call Michael Marra. You will need to put your own card in, Mr Marra, rather than pretending that you are Richard Leonard.

Members:

Oh!

Photo of Michael Marra Michael Marra Labour

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. My app did not connect. I would have voted yes.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

I will make sure that that is recorded, Mr Marra.

Division number 6 Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Aye: 46 MSPs

No: 66 MSPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

The result of the division is: For 46, Against 66, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 46 disagreed to.

Amendment 47 moved—[Edward Mountain].

The question is, that amendment 47 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 7 Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Aye: 47 MSPs

No: 66 MSPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

The result of the division is: For 47, Against 66, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 47 disagreed to.

I call amendment 48 in the name of Edward Mountain. I remind members that, if amendment 48 is agreed to, I cannot call amendment 49.

Amendment 48 moved—[Edward Mountain].

The question is, that amendment 48 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 8 Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Aye: 29 MSPs

No: 84 MSPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

The result of the division is: For 29, Against 84, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 48 disagreed to.

Amendment 49 moved—[Rachael Hamilton].

The question is, that amendment 49 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

There will be a division.

The vote is closed.

Photo of Paul Sweeney Paul Sweeney Labour

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I would have voted no.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Thank you, Mr Sweeney. I will ensure that that vote is recorded.

Division number 9 Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Aye: 30 MSPs

No: 84 MSPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

The result of the division is: For 30, Against 84, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 49 disagreed to.

Photo of Edward Mountain Edward Mountain Conservative

Amendment 50 is consequential to an earlier failed amendment, so I will not move it.

Amendment 50 not moved.

Amendment 51 moved—[Edward Mountain].

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

The question is, that amendment 51 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

There will be a division.

The vote is closed.

I call Clare Adamson for a point of order. However, I can advise you, Ms Adamson, that your vote was recorded.

Photo of Clare Adamson Clare Adamson Scottish National Party

That is fine, Presiding Officer. I have received that message now, too. Thank you.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Thank you, Ms Adamson.

Division number 10 Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Aye: 30 MSPs

No: 83 MSPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

The result of the division is: For 30, Against 83, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 51 disagreed to.

Amendment 52 moved—[Rachael Hamilton]—and agreed to.

Amendment 53 moved—[Colin Smyth].

The question is, that amendment 53 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 11 Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Aye: 17 MSPs

No: 95 MSPs

No: A-Z by last name

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

The result of the division is: For 17, Against 95, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 53 disagreed to.

Amendment 13 moved—[Jim Fairlie]—and agreed to.

Amendment 54 moved—[Edward Mountain].

The question is, that amendment 54 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 12 Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Aye: 51 MSPs

No: 62 MSPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

The result of the division is: For 51, Against 62, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 54 disagreed to.

Group 4 is on section 16AA licences: offence. Amendment 55, in the name of Rachael Hamilton, is grouped with amendments 56 to 58, 14, 59, 60 and 62.

Photo of Rachael Hamilton Rachael Hamilton Conservative

I rise to speak to the amendments in my name while everybody else goes off for a nice cup of tea.

My amendments in this group are about one thing: proportionality. Ministers are on record stating that the primary focus of a section 16AA licence is to tackle the issue of raptor persecution in relation to grouse moors in Scotland. We do not accept that licensing is needed, given that successive wildlife crime reports have demonstrated that there has been a substantive and meaningful decline in raptor persecution over the years. However, if we accept for a moment the premise for licensing, it would be right that that should apply to land over which red grouse are taken or killed. That reflects the evidence and reviews that have ultimately led ministers to believe that there is no correlation between grouse moors and raptor persecution. There is no evidence to suggest that such a relationship exists between the shooting of other game birds and raptor persecution.

Amendments 55, 56, 58 to 60 and 62 would ensure that the remit of section 16AA licensing is confined to red grouse. For reasons best known to themselves, ministers have given themselves enabling powers to add other game birds to the licensing scheme. The argument appears to be predicated on the view that red grouse might be replaced by other game birds. There is no credible evidence to support that supposition. The notion that red grouse, which is a wild game bird that is native to Scotland, could be replaced by reared and released game birds is nonsense. Notwithstanding that heather moorland habitat is unlikely to be suitable for such birds, ministers do not seem to get it that the shooting of red grouse specifically is what in part motivates landowners to invest in moorland management—alongside the tangible benefits that that delivers for landowners who are seeking to increase biodiversity, to which the birds are a threat.

Red grouse are wild. The experience of sustainably harvesting them for the food chain is like no other, and international visitors spend significant amounts of money to come to Scotland to experience the particular country sport of grouse shooting. To suggest that they could be replaced by released red-legged partridges or pheasants, which, by comparison, are widely accessible game birds, is just nonsense.

I cannot think of any circumstance in which it would be reasonable or proportionate for ministers to add other game birds to the section 16AA licensing regime. As I said, the focus of the scheme is raptor persecution, and it should start and stop there. It is not in the spirit of good law making to go beyond what is required to address the policy aim, which, in this case, has been tightly defined with reference to grouse moors. On that basis, I encourage members to support my amendments.

Turning to other amendments in the group, I ask members to support amendment 14, in the name of Rhoda Grant, in the event that my amendments fall. That would at least guarantee some meaningful scrutiny in the event that ministers decide to add other game birds to the scheme.

I move amendment 55.

Photo of Edward Mountain Edward Mountain Conservative

I have lodged amendment 57 to help the Government. The bill is meant to be about grouse moor licensing and we should be aiming for it to do what it says on the tin. My amendment seeks to ensure that it does what it says on the tin and that game birds cannot be added to the schedule of birds that are protected by the bill unless they are on the amber or red list—that is, they are in significant danger of going extinct.

The Government has simply put grouse into part 1B of schedule 2 to the 1981 act and it can add whatever other species it wants to. That sends out the wrong message if the bill is about grouse moor licensing. If the bill is about licensing all forms of field sports in Scotland, it should say that, but I do not believe that that is what was consulted on or what people are expecting the bill to do.

My amendment is straightforward, the provision is easily quantifiable and there is an accepted way of getting species on to the amber and red list, which allows the Government to ensure that any species that need protection are protected.

Rachael Hamilton’s amendments go somewhat further, and I commend her for them. I will support them if my amendment 57 is unlikely to find favour.

By lodging amendment 57, I am saying to the Government that, if it means what it has said that it will do in the bill, it should stick to that and should not add other species. The way to do that is to ensure that other species cannot be added unless that is for conservation reasons.

Photo of Rhoda Grant Rhoda Grant Labour

My amendment 14 seeks to create greater scrutiny of and consultation on the secondary legislation and activities that will flow from the bill. Much of the bill relates to enabling powers, so it is important that any secondary legislation comes under scrutiny.

Currently, the bill lists only red grouse as birds for which a section 16AA licence is required. However, other birds could be added to the list in the future. My amendment stipulates that the relevant committee of the Parliament must be consulted and given time to take evidence before reporting back to the Scottish Government on any additions of birds to the schedule. Thereafter, the Scottish Government could lay its legislation while explaining what consideration it had given to the committee’s report.

I am trying to create a super-affirmative procedure to provide greater scrutiny, which I believe is essential, given the increase in the amount of enabling legislation that comes to the Parliament from the Scottish Government. I have lodged similar amendments in different sections of the bill to provide for such scrutiny.

The bill needs to be future proofed, so it is right to allow for the list of birds that can be taken under a section 16AA licence to be amended, but that should not simply happen without consultation.

I lodged a similar amendment at stage 2. I listened carefully to the concerns of the minister, who suggested that 120 days was too long a period for a draft order to be laid before the Parliament and that that might unduly delay the process. Amendment 14 therefore cuts that time in half, to 60 days. Although that is a shorter period, it allows for greater scrutiny than is currently proposed in the bill.

Rachael Hamilton’s amendments seek to ensure that no other birds can be added to the list, and Edward Mountain’s amendment 57 suggests that only birds on the UK birds of conservation concern red or amber list can be added. Surely a bird that is categorised on the red or amber list should not be hunted at all, so I cannot support their amendments.

Photo of Edward Mountain Edward Mountain Conservative

Amendment 57 relates not to any birds but to game birds that are recognised under the Game (Scotland) Act 1832, as amended. Those are the birds that could not be added to the list unless they met a high conservation standard or required conservation. Could Rhoda Grant support the amendment on that basis?

Photo of Rhoda Grant Rhoda Grant Labour

No, because a bird being on the red or amber list means that it is endangered. We cannot accept that an endangered bird, albeit a game bird, should be hunted at all.

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

Amendment 57 seeks to severely restrict or outright remove the power to add other bird species to the licensing scheme that will be established by section 7. As I am sure Edward Mountain is well aware, the power to add any other species to the list of birds that are allowed to be taken only under licence is a mechanism not to protect that species but to protect other wildlife that predate on that species.

Rachael Hamilton’s amendments would go even further by removing the powers of the Scottish ministers to add other species of birds to the licensing scheme. The scheme needs to protect raptors and other wildlife, so the regulation-making power to add other bird species to the licensing scheme needs to remain as it is.

However, I want to be clear that the powers would be used only if we had robust evidence that wildlife crimes such as raptor persecution were being committed to facilitate the management of other game bird species. In those circumstances, I do not think that it is unreasonable to be able to regulate the management of those birds.

When Rachael Hamilton and Edward Mountain lodged similar amendments at stage 2, the majority of members on the Rural Affairs and Islands Committee voted against them, and I encourage all members to vote against their amendments today.

Rhoda Grant’s amendment 14 would add an unnecessary additional burden on the Scottish Parliament given that established procedures are already in place for changes through secondary legislation. Any regulations to add a new type of bird species to the proposed part 1B of schedule 2 to the 1981 act would be subject to the affirmative procedure, under which the convention is that the instrument is laid in draft with the Parliament for 54 days. That is the correct procedure for any such amending instruments and will give Parliament sufficient opportunity to consider an instrument in draft, take evidence on it and then vote on it.

The Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee and the Rural Affairs and Islands Committee agreed with that approach in their stage 1 reports. If agreed to, the amendment could lead to unnecessary delays in adding or removing birds from the list, which could have consequences for the natural environment. I listened carefully to what Rhoda Grant said today and during stage 2, when she lodged a similar amendment. However, I do not believe that she has made a compelling case that any future use of the enabling powers should be subject to greater scrutiny or that the standard parliamentary process for considering a Scottish statutory instrument would not be sufficient.

Photo of Rhoda Grant Rhoda Grant Labour

The minister is quibbling over six days. The only difference between our suggested approaches is that the minister talks about a convention of laying instruments before Parliament, whereas I am talking about putting that process in law. There is not a huge difference, but at least it would future-proof the legislation.

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

We have rehearsed these arguments time and again. There is already a system in place to allow the Parliament to do its job. Therefore, I will not support amendment 14 and I encourage members not to support it, either.

There is one last point that I would like to make. Rachael Hamilton said that it is ludicrous to think of partridges being released in a hill setting. I have to say that, in my personal experience, I have seen thousands of partridges released on a grouse moor to make sure that there was shooting in that area. There is a collective responsibility on the sector and practitioners. If an operator tries to get round a licence refusal that has been made for legitimate reasons, they will in fact jeopardise the entire sector, because new legislation will be nationwide. Therefore, there is an even greater imperative for the industry to work together to ensure best practice and that that does not happen.

Photo of Annabelle Ewing Annabelle Ewing Scottish National Party

I call Rachael Hamilton to wind up the debate and to say whether she wishes to press or withdraw amendment 55.

Photo of Rachael Hamilton Rachael Hamilton Conservative

We are privileged to represent our constituents, especially those of us who represent rural areas, including areas that will be significantly impacted by certain measures in the bill. It is important that we recognise that it is not acceptable to give ministers an enabling power that goes way beyond the policy intent of the Werritty report, which the Government accepted. I do not accept Jim Fairlie’s arguments for not accepting my amendments in this group. The focus of the bill and the scheme is on raptor persecution in relation to the management of grouse moors. The Government seems to have veered dramatically away from that intention, for the reason that I have identified.

Photo of Jim Fairlie Jim Fairlie Scottish National Party

Does the member not agree that, in circumstances in which raptor persecution is taking place, whether on grouse moors or in a pheasant shoot, it is right that the Government has the ability to take away the licence?

Photo of Rachael Hamilton Rachael Hamilton Conservative

The Government is giving itself enabling powers to add game birds—

Photo of Rachael Hamilton Rachael Hamilton Conservative

As Jim Fairlie knows from his experience of land management—he has said a lot of times in the committee that he was an upland farmer—[

Interruption

.]

Photo of Rachael Hamilton Rachael Hamilton Conservative

He knows the areas and he knows that game birds such as pheasants would never be on a grouse moor. Those birds are not wild. They are reared and released. Jim Fairlie has absolutely no idea, even though he says that he does, why the enabling power is relevant at all. [

Interruption

.]

I did not think that we would get to a point where the minister is chuntering away on the sidelines, thinking that he believes what my amendments are about. The bill is about raptor persecution on grouse moors; it is not about giving ministers enabling powers to add other species to the list.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Do you wish to press amendment 55 or to withdraw it?

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

The question is, that amendment 55 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

There will be a division.

The vote is closed.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Thank you, Mr FitzPatrick. Your vote will be recorded.

Division number 13 Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Aye: 29 MSPs

No: 76 MSPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

The result of the division is: For 29, Against 76, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 55 disagreed to.

Amendment 56 moved—[Rachael Hamilton].

The question is, that amendment 56 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

There will be a division.

The vote is closed.

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. My app froze. I would have voted no.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Thank you, Ms Grahame. Your vote will be recorded.

Photo of Joe FitzPatrick Joe FitzPatrick Scottish National Party

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I would like to vote no.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Thank you, Mr FitzPatrick. Your vote will be recorded.

Division number 14 Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Aye: 30 MSPs

No: 84 MSPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

The result of the division is: For 30, Against 84, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 56 disagreed to.

Amendment 57 moved—[Edward Mountain].

The question is, that amendment 57 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

There will be a division.

The vote is closed.

Photo of Rachael Hamilton Rachael Hamilton Conservative

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I could not connect. I would have voted yes.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Thank you, Ms Hamilton. Your vote will be recorded.

Division number 15 Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Aye: 30 MSPs

No: 84 MSPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

The result of the division is: For 30, Against 84, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 57 disagreed to.

Amendment 58 moved—[Rachael Hamilton].

The question is, that amendment 58 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 16 Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Aye: 30 MSPs

No: 84 MSPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

The result of the division is: For 30, Against 84, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 58 disagreed to.

Amendment 14 moved—[Rhoda Grant].

The question is, that amendment 14 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

There will be a division.

The vote is closed.

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I was not able to connect. I would have voted no.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Thank you, Ms Robison. Your vote will be recorded.

Division number 17 Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Aye: 52 MSPs

No: 62 MSPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

The result of the division is: For 52, Against 62, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 14 disagreed to.

Amendment 59 moved—[Rachael Hamilton].

The question is, that amendment 59 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 18 Wildlife Management and Muirburn (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Aye: 29 MSPs