HC Deb 30 April 1980 vol 983 cc1371-2
18. Mr. Watson

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what consultation he proposes to have regarding wildlife and countryside legislation.

Mr. Heseltine

Consultations on the proposed Wildlife and Countryside Bill have continued since last summer. I intend to publish soon the paper to which my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State referred in his reply to my lion. Friend the Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Waller) on 27 February. This will describe my revised proposals.

Mr. Watson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many of those who live in rural areas are worried that various pests, such as foxes, are likely to be scheduled as vulnerable species in the proposed legislation? Will he assure us that that is not so?

Mr. Heseltine

I think that I can help my hon. Friend. The proposals will ensure that the definition of " vulnerable species " will be left to the opinion of the Nature Conservancy Council. I do riot believe that foxes would come within that definition.

Mr. Hardy

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that what we need is not further consultation but an early introduction of the promised Bill? Does not he accept that the Bill is more in the national interest than the current measures which are almost as damaging and disreputable as the right hon. Gentleman's replies from the Dispatch Box this after noon?

Mr. Heseltine

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman does not wish to suggest that the Government should introduce a major piece of legislation at this stage in the Session. I accept that the Bill is important. I intend to introduce the measure as soon as parliamentary time permits.