§ MR. J. RAMSAY MACDONALD (Leicester)
I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the frequency with which public rights of way are being closed and access to the open country barred by owners of land, he will take immediate steps, by legislation or otherwise, to protect the public in their enjoyment of these ancient rights.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
My hon. friend is no doubt aware that† See (4) Debates, clviii., 971.956 under the Local Government Act, 1894 it is the duty of every district council to protect all public rights of way and to prevent as far as possible the stopping, or obstruction of any such right of way where such stoppage or obstruction would I in their opinion be prejudicial to the interests of their district. In a parish in a rural district the parish council or the parish meeting can put the district council in motion, and. if the district council refuse to take proceedings the county council if petitioned by the parish may act in their place. Moreover, it is laid down in the same Act that no public right of way can be stopped in a rural parish without the consent of the parish council, or parish meeting, and of the rural district council. It is difficult to see what further legislation in the, way of giving powers to local authorities can be desired, but if my hon. friend has any suggestions to make I shall be glad to consider them.