HC Deb 21 April 1939 vol 346 cc728-54

Amendments made:

In page 10, line 32, after "land, insert" to which this Act applies."

In line 34, leave out "that have effect in relation thereto."

In line 35, after "any," insert "limitation or."

In line 36, after "Act," insert: or any direction given in relation thereto by an order made under Section five of this Act." — [Mr. Creech Jones.]

2.28 p.m.

Mr. Turton

I beg to move, in page 10, line 38, to leave out from the beginning to the end of line 2, page 11.

This Amendment seeks to delete the proviso to Sub-section (1) of this Clause, which deals with offences. I am in a little difficulty because some of the objections to the proviso are being met by the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones). He has given the proviso some meaning, whereas before it was meaningless. To that extent, my argument is curtailed. I really share the views of the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen). I do not like this method of penal provisions, and really I do not like the Bill, and would far rather that we went on as now, by consent; but if there are to be offences, and if it is to be an offence, under Clause 6, to do certain things, I think it is rather unfortunate that we should include this proviso to make a person try to prove that he did something unintentionally.

If a person did something unintentionally, the natural thing would be for the matter not to be brought before the court, but if it were brought before the court, the court would have a wide power of discretion to dismiss the case either on payment of costs or, as I would expect, without the payment of costs, or in certain cases it might even award costs against the person bringing the action. This proviso interferes with the discretion of courts of summary jurisdiction. Surely, it is not wise to say that if somebody unintentionally commits an offence, it is not an offence. Surely, the court has to look into such a matter when trying any cases. The court has to consider whether it is merely a technical offence or whether it is something more. If it is a technical offence, the court knows perfectly well how to deal with the charge, and if it is something more than a technical offence, the court imposes a fine. For these reasons I ask the House to delete this proviso. If it is retained, certainly it must be changed, and I am not certain even now whether the changes which are being proposed by the hon. Member for Shipley will be entirely satisfactory. I suggest that it would be far better to leave out the proviso.

Major Mills

I beg to second the Amendment.

2.32 p.m.

Mr. Creech Jones

This Amendment indirectly raises the question, which will be debated on a subsequent Amendment, of trespassing, and therefore, I will limit my remarks to the single point raised by the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) as to whether or not it is desirable that the word "unintentional" should be included in the Clause. The purpose of the proviso is to prevent a person from being charged with an offence when, accidentally and certainly without intention, he contravenes any restriction or condition laid down by an order of the Minister. Most of those who roam about the countryside at some time or other unintentionally go on to private land. What we are seeking to do in this Clause is to make it clear that if a restriction is unintentionally violated, a charge of criminal offence cannot be lodged against a rambler. There is considerable feeling that the proviso should be retained, because it is unlikely that the House will take a different view from that embodied in the Bill in respect of sanctions for certain offences. I hope the hon. Member will not press his Amendment.

Mr. Turton

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

2.34 p.m.

Mr. Marshall

I beg to move, in page 10, line 39, to leave out "unintentional."

The effect of omitting this word would be to extract the act of mere trespassing, whether deliberate or innocent, from the penalty Clauses of the Bill. The ramblers believe that this is the most vital part of the Bill. They believe that a great and fundamental breach is being made in the law of trespass, and they are offering their most vigorous opposition. I have this morning received a telegram from the Secretary of the Southern Ramblers' Federation asking the House to urge the deletion of this particular Clause. I have another telegram from the Midland ramblers in which they say that the Bill is entirely unacceptable in its present form and hope that it will be opposed. I have also here a batch of correspondence with Northern ramblers on this subject and in all cases they ask that this objectionable provision should be taken out of the Bill. There is also an expression of opinion from the National Federation of Ramblers to the effect that this trespass provision is entirely unacceptable to them and that they would rather be without the Bill than have it. Therefore, I make no apology for moving this Amendment. There is no doubt that the rambling fraternity in general are vigorously opposed to this proposed breach in the common law which they have regarded for generations as a protection, I will not say of their rights, but of what they have been doing as regards going on to the hills and moors of the country.

The ramblers start from this point. They claim that they have a natural right to trespass, or to go to see these places of beauty. They do not trespass with any vicious motive. As a matter of fact, the motive of their trespass is one which we should all praise. It contributes to health, to aesthetic taste and, I think, to morality. From that point of view it is very commendable on the part of the ramblers that they should seek to visit these places of beauty. They have the idea that that is a natural right and that there should be no law to prevent it. It is true that up to the present the only restriction upon them has been the ordinary law of trespass, and that has been a very mild yoke. There have been few prosecutions. Indeed, the hon. and gallant Member for Louth (Lieut.-Colonel Heneage) has himself paid great tributes to the ramblers, both in Committee and the House. He has said that it is not the ramblers who cause trouble and commit offences, and in Committee he tried to convert all ramblers to the idea of one organisation so that they could carry on their very fine traditions of conduct. Start- ing from the point which I have indicated, that this is a natural right, ramblers regard with great horror the idea that the law of trespass should be modified to suit the purposes of this Bill.

As the Bill stands, the mere act of trespass will be an offence punishable by a fine. It will be an offence if a man goes on to a place which is temporarily restricted under the provisions of this Measure. According to advice which has been given, this will not apply to land which is permanently excluded from the operation of any order under the Bill. Therefore, I take it that it is confined to those patches of land which will be temporarily excluded, for some reason such as the danger of fire or because of the breeding or shooting of game, from the provisions of the Bill. From that point of view ramblers are up against the proposal that a 40s. fine should be imposed. They feel that such a fine is out of all proportion to the offence. Their view is that there is no offence in merely walking over a moorland. Many hon. Members here have done so and will continue to do so, but what I want to avoid is that ramblers should get hold of the idea that the only remedy is to institute mass trespass in order to maintain what they consider to be the rights which they have enjoyed for many years. This excessive fine will occasion very deep resentment among the rambling fraternity. They feel that this proposal strengthens the law of property, places barriers round the land and gives the landowner a firmer grip of his land, and an instrument by which he can defend his ownership with vindictive penalties. As the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) said in Committee, it is almost equivalent to a new Enclosure Act and the ramblers will not accept it in any circumstances. I have said that trespass is a small offence and ought not to involve a fine of this kind. There is no reason for such a fine. For the purposes of this Bill a provision could be devised by which the mere act of trespass, whether deliberate or not, could be dealt with by the ordinary law of trespass.

There is another reason for opposing this proposal. This fight for freedom to ramble has gone on for 50 years or more, and has sometimes attained a certain degree of bitterness. The rambling move- ment is growing and the demand for freedom to ramble becomes stronger every year. This is a most inappropriate time at which to inflict upon the rambling fraternity the possibility of such huge fines for such small offences. They tell me that they are prepared to swallow the other penalties which have been put into the Bill. Many of those they feel to be out of all proportion to the offences. For instance, there is a fine of 40s. for leaving a newspaper or a bottle on a moorland. No people are more anxious to defend and protect the amenities of the countryside than the ramblers, and they resent the implication that it is they who leave litter behind them. But while they do not like those provisions they are prepared to swallow them. They demand, however, that this major provision about trespass should be taken out of the Bill.

I wish to pay a tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) in connection with the Bill. I know how hard he has worked and how much he has accomplished, and I know that this Amendment will embarrass him to some extent, but I feel sure that the rambling fraternity are solidly behind this Amendment and their view ought to be placed before the House. If the representatives of the landowners could see their way to accept the Amendment, it would be a gesture of good will to which the rambling community would readily and happily respond, and I believe that it would ensure that those associated with this great and growing movement would do more to protect the moorlands than could be accomplished by any kind of policing.

2.43 p.m.

Mr. Ritson

I beg to second the Amendment.

We fought this point very strongly in Committee and, for my own part, I am not worried about the ramblers as much as about the general public. The ramblers can combine in associations and sometimes get privileges which are denied to the general public. I speak, however, as one who was born on the moors, and who has the greatest love for them that any man could have, and I am anxious to see that not only ramblers, but those who have for generations been living in the vicinity of the moors shall have access to them. It would be a very serious thing if we were to do anything which would limit access to the moors in areas such as North Cumberland where I was brought up, or the Yorkshire moors, which are so well known to the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton). I have known what it is to wander on to those moors in the morning and to climb to heights of 1,500 or 1,800 feet. In that way a man was a great deal more refreshed than he would be by physical exercises in a school or a hall. I think the landowners ought to give us the concession which is asked for in this Amendment. If they are anxious that people should defend the country and that we should all be fit A.I men, then they should, at least, open the moorlands to us.

I am one of those who have always defended the right to protect the ewes on the moor, because, after all, there are times, such as the breeding season, when we should limit access to the land. Moorland sheep are much more tender and fearful than inland sheep, and men with pet dogs have a tremendous effect on the ewes at these periods. My father had sheep, and I know what it means. I should give the birds also an opportunity and protect them at certain seasons, but after you have done that, I think everybody should have access to the land. They can do no damage, and I feel assured that to-day there is a great need and a greater desire than ever before for people to get into the open air. All my family are hikers and ramblers, but they can associate with young and vigorous people and get opportunities that the ordinary person cannot get. I am anxious lest people whom I have known all my life should now be restricted and be fined for wandering about on the moor, and if that 'should happen, I say that it would be not only serious, but a very wicked thing.

There are landlords and landlords, but we are getting now a new class of landlord. I have always paid and shall always pay triblute to the old aristocratic families, who never bothered at all about these matters, but now we are getting some new ones, the quick-rich gentlemen, who can afford to have more gamekeepers than there is game on the job. As I said upstairs, we have some Americans now, and they are as boisterous as they always are. They can afford to have an army of gamekeepers, who would be very welcome to the Minister for War just now. They ire lined up so thickly that the people who have lived in the area are hardly able to get past them. These people come along in special trains, with photographers, and bad shots, who spend more on the gamekeeper than on anybody else to see that they get a "bag." That is the sort of thing that I am up against. I feel honestly, in my very heart, that there is a moral and a spiritual advantage in breathing the very air in which you were brought up.

I agree that it is the people with motor cars whom we are up against most of a11 and that they are the people who do the damage, but is that any reason why we should punish the poor people who never get a breath of fresh air, but whom we are now beginning to allow to do so? They always behave themselves, and I think the people in the motor cars are more dangerous than anything else by breaking bottles on the roadside and dropping their cigarettes and other things that are more dangerous than cigarettes. They are a danger to the country generally, and they should be taught decent manners when they are out in the country places. They go and tear up wild flowers, and yet our people have to suffer because these other people cannot behave themselves. I hope we shall allow full access to the land, and I have great pleasure in seconding the Amendment, which will give us access to the beauty of everything that is glorious on the moors and that is ours by right. Let us be careful that we do not arouse the passions of the people, because there is such a desire now to get health in the open air that we might easily find that a force or a passion might be aroused that would not allow us to do as we are doing now. As to this Bill, I would rather have half a loaf than no loaf at all, but I think the last trust that we want to hand over to the landlords is liberty of access to our own hills.

2.50 p.m.

Mr. Creech Jones

The Mover of the Amendment suggested that I should feel some embarrassment in opposing the Amendment. I confess that I have considerable sympathy with the point of view that he has expressed, but I would ask the House to appreciate that a struggle for this Bill has been going on for more than 50 years and that we now have a compromise arrangement which involves concessions by the rambling fraternity as well as by the landowners themselves. Consequently, I feel that as in the negotiations I have entered into an agreement with the landowners in the hope that this Bill will be carried through the House, I am unable to support the Amendment. I feel that the agreement stands as it is and that it must have my support, however much I may sympathise with the point of view that has been put forward by my hon. Friends. I very much appreciate the enormous feeling which has been expressed by ramblers and their organisations in all parts of the country in opposition to this particular Clause of the Bill, but I would ask the rambling fraternities to appreciate that the landowners have made very considerable concessions, in that they are now, by this Bill, entrusting their own rights over big areas of the country to the Minister of Agriculture for him to use his discretion in respect to the new public access which this Bill will give.

For a long time past attemps have been made in various parts of the country to secure access by mass trespass or by deliberate trespass week after week, and I am sure that it is far better that access should be properly regulated than that we should drift into a state of anarchy wherein everyone would feel that he was fully justified in violating the law according to his own whims and wishes. I would ask the House to notice that in the negotiations one has not been concerned merely with the private landowner but with the public landowner, the public utility company, as well, and our efforts in these negotiations have been to get some kind of workable scheme which would safeguard the legitimate and special interests of all those who are concerned in the land. Those interests are public as well as private, and therefore, it has been necessary that the Minister, when access has been required, should make regulations, and what we now suggest is that in respect of those regulations, restrictions, or conditions, sanctions should be allowed to operate in order that there should be regulated access to safeguard the various types of interest that are involved in the land that is covered by the Bill.

I do not hesitate to trust the Minister in this matter so far as the restrictions in respect of the orders are concerned. The Minister is asked to administer an access Bill, and the House has given its endorse- ment to the general principle of access. Consequently, he will be called upon, after due public inquiry, to make restrictions in respect to which he will be accountable to this House and subjected to public criticism as well. Therefore, I am prepared in respect to the restrictions which the Minister may make, to allow him to exercise his discretion in the administration of what is, after all, an access Bill. Certain of these restrictions will obviously be concerned with the exclusion of the public for limited parts of the year, for a few weeks or possibly certain months, from particular corners or parcels of land in areas to which the public for the first time are enjoying the right of access. These limitations will be imposed only after the Minister by public inquiry has been completely satisfied that in the interests of the public and of the special interests these restrictions are necessary.

Therefore, it seems to me that there is some justification on the part of private and public landowners in urging that there should be certain sanctions in respect to the restrictions which the Minister will be obliged to impose after public inquiry, restrictions for which he will have to answer to the House and be subject to public criticism. Already in a large number of instances this kind of fine is imposed for the violation of a restriction made by a local authority or a Minister. One immediately thinks of the foot-and-mouth disease restrictions. The Minister may prescribe an area, and a person who deliberately trespasses into it commits an offence and is liable to a fine of £50. In public parks certain areas are often prescribed and it is an offence punishable by a fine to violate regulations made by a local authority in regard to them. Likewise, in regard to reservoirs, if it is laid down that the public shall pot have access to land 50 yards round the reservoir, it becomes a punishable offence if a person deliberately trespasses. One can multiply instances where, in the public interest as well as in special social and economic interests, restrictions have been made and sanctions have been imposed as a result of regulations made by Ministers or local authorities. Therefore, when the Minister has been obliged, after full public inquiry, to make a restriction, it does not seem that one is making a grave incursion into the common law in respect of trespass to ask that certain sanctions should operate.

2.59 p.m.

Mr. Ede

My name appears on the back of this Bill, but I am bound to say that if I had known that this phrase would appear in the final stages of the Bill, I should have asked leave to put down an Amendment that the Bill be read this day six months. By this so-called compromise the landowning classes are getting with respect to their land a thing that the old landlords' Parliaments would never have given them in the eighteenth century. At the moment trespass is not a criminal offence, except in highly specialised cases to which my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) referred, where special sanctions have been given by this House or under regulations made by authority of the House. I was brought up with this story of the law of trespass. A Lord Chief Justice was found by the gamekeeper of one of his colleagues on some of the hitter's land and was asked if he knew it was Lord So-and-So's land. The Lord Chief Justice handed the gamekeeper 2d., and said, "I offer this to his Lordship in compensation for any damage I may have caused. In handing it to him will you tell him it constitutes no claim on the freehold." I understand that that is the law of trespass in this country at the moment. If you commit damage you are liable to a civil action and the landowner can also bring an action against you to restrain you from going on to his land at any future time. That law, presumably, still stands. Not only is there the old trouble of compensation for damage, but there are now new offences created — I do not object to a great many of them— for which any person misbehaving himself on the land can be held liable.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bright-side (Mr. Marshall) and those who think with him are not concerned with people who misbehave themselves on the land. We are concerned with people who exercise— I do not know whether it is a right or a privilege— but who enjoy an Englishman's capacity for walking across land with the knowledge that, unless he does damage, only a civil action can be brought against him. We often hear on Friday afternoons from the propertied interests that certain matters ought not to be dealt with by a private Member and that they are so important that only the Government should deal with them with the assistance of the Law Officers of the Crown and the recognised draftsmen. Surely so fundamental an alteration in the law of England as this ought not to be slipped in as a final Amendment into a private Member's Bill as a result of some compromise arrived at, not upstairs, but mainly between the various landowners' associations and the Commons and Footpaths Preservation Society. This is an Amendment which we ought not to pass. Compromises arrived at outside the House are not binding on the House. No one will deny that my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley has loyally stood by the agreement into which he has entered, and I do not think the landowning classes can complain that he has done any other than stand manfully for the bargain which they struck with him. I do not know with what they struck him when they managed to secure his assent to it. I appeal to the House not to be parties to what is not a compromise but is just the complete surrender of one of the most cherished possessions of an Englishman, who likes to wander about the face of his country and behaves himself reasonably while he does so.

3.5 p.m.

Mr. Turton

I have a great deal of sympathy with the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). The present situation is quite satisfactory, and the Lord Chief Justice is quite right in his law, because if you carry a penny or two pence about in your pocket you can go anywhere under the present law. So far as I understand it, in this Bill we are not changing that law at all, except in the cases where certain rights are given under this Access to Mountains Bill. Let me say frankly that I do not like the Bill, and I hope there will be no cause ever to put Clause 7 into operation. In the North Riding, as, indeed, in most of the North of England, we have worked in harmony with the ramblers, and we welcome them on our land, but, like the hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Ritson), we do not always like the man in the Rolls-Royce who wants to transport home most of the countryside, whether poaching for grouse or taking wild plants.

I think that hon. Members opposite must realise that if they want to have these additional powers under this Access to Mountains Bill those powers ought to be defined. Let me take the point raised by the hon. Member for Durham. He said he quite appreciated that people walking about the land with dogs in the lambing season were not welcome, and I think he was right in his remarks about black-faced sheep being more timid mothers than the heavier breeds of sheep, but that makes it all the more necessary why, if we do exempt certain land during the lambing season, the farmer should have the power to enforce his right to keep people off that land at lambing time. Let the House remember that the farmer is making a great many concessions. As he does at present, he is going to allow people to go over his land during the whole of the rest of the year, but he asks that they shall keep off at lambing time, because otherwise they can ruin the whole of his farming for the year— at any rate they can make a tremendous difference to his lambing prospects.

Without this Clause 7 there is no way under the English law of stopping people from interfering with a farmer's operations. I have taken lambing because it was an illustration which was given by the hon. Member for Durham, but I think my observations apply with even greater force to the question of fires. If the Minister of Agriculture says that in view of the tindery nature of a moorland or because land is adjacent to a forest he must declare it to be reserved land and people intentionally go there, I do not think it is unreasonable for the House to say that they are committing an offence and that the courts should punish them for it. That is all that this Clause is trying to do. It is not altering by one jot or tittle the law of trespass in this country.

The right of anybody to go over another person's land is not governed by this Measure. People can still do that with their two pence in their pocket, and I think that over the greater part of this country they will meet with no objection, but while members of ramblers' associations do behave themselves very well there are other people who have to be taken into account. The hon. Member for Durham talked about new landlords, but there are also new people coming to the countryside, who would not come there but for the motors, who do not behave as the people who walked to the countryside behaved in the old days. We must deal with the man who comes in his Rolls-Royce and thinks he owns the country- side. People in the country want protection from that type of man, and if the House passed the Amendment I am afraid we shall rob the countryside of that protection. I do not believe that the poor man has anything to fear from this Clause; it is from the man who is in a better way but has not the same respect for the people who live in the countryside that we need to be protected. I, therefore, hope very much that the House will consider very carefully before voting for this Amendment.

3.10 p.m.

Mr. Mander

I fully appreciate the difficulty of the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) and what his inward feelings must be at the present time. He has carried out a task of negotiation with the greatest skill, and I marvel at it because I never thought at the beginning that he would get agreement at all. He has obtained agreement— I personally think at much too high a price from his point of view— but he has stuck to it and he is doing all he possibly can to carry it through. At the same time the House of Commons is not for a moment bound by an agreement come to by certain interested parties, and I hope that the Amendment will be carried.

After all, the real promoters of the Bill are the ramblers' associations. They are the people who for 40 or 50 years have been pressing and urging, year after year, that this matter should be dealt with. Therefore, I claim that their views should receive special consideration when we are coming to any conclusions about this matter. There is no doubt what their views are, because we have all had letters from five or six different ramblers' associations. I mention in particular the Midland Ramblers' Association who sent me a telegram to-day. As a clear expression of their views I would like to read an extract from a letter, written by about a dozen leading ramblers from Sheffield, which has been received by Members of this House. I would read to the House two paragraphs, in which they say: These modifications [in the Bill] apparently have been insufficient and during the Committee stage further restrictive Clauses have been added, including one which in effect will make simple trespass upon uncultivated land, without causing damage, a punishable offence if carried out deliberately during a period, or in an area, closed to public access by an order of the Minister. Such a Clause has been vehemently opposed by the ramblers' organisations since it was first mooted in a draft Bill put forward some months ago. It is well known in the north country that access to most mountains and moorlands can be obtained to-day by those prepared to trespass, and there is in fact a growing number of people who trespass knowingly and often, because they believe the law which debars them from the beautiful, unspoilt and quite uncultivated parts of their native land is an unjust law which should be ignored. The only practical obstacle at present to such harmless trespass is the intimidation of misleading notice boards and aggressive gamekeepers. That extract clearly puts their point of view, and I sympathise with it. I have an interest in this matter because I trespass nearly every week-end. I do not think anybody is the worse for it, and I am sure that I am the better.

It was said by the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) that this proposal did not alter the law of trespass but, of course, in so far as all the land and the orders which come into the Bill are concerned, the law of the land on this subject is completely altered. All the orders, in the Bill directly alter the law of trespass. It is no doubt true that the present rights of the public under the law of trespass are not all they might be. They are somewhat embarrassing at times, and perhaps people have to snatch a fearful joy in the expeditions that they make. I remember some years ago making an ascent of Kinderscout. I was warned by my friends that it would be advisable to start before 9 o'clock because that was the hour when the trains arrived from Manchester, Sheffield and places around, and when the keepers came out. So I started at 8.30 and had an entirely unencumbered and enjoyable ascent of the mountain. The others came afterwards, and they were able to do just the same thing, but it was no doubt not quite so agreeable because they had people trying without success to intimidate them.

I hope that the House, anxious to pass this Bill and realising that it will mean a great step forward, will take hold of the position itself and will insist that this Amendment be carried. The promoter will have done all he can and the rambling fraternity will have obtained what they are very justly entitled to.

3.15 p.m.

The Attorney-General

I do not think that the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) has made quite such a bad compromise as some people have suggested. In the first place, the Clause only affects areas in respect of which orders within the Act are made; that is to say, it only affects land in areas in which, for the first time, the public will have a legal right of access, but in the case of which there may be, for the time being, what some people may term prohibition. One has to realise that one is dealing with an area in which, for the first time, by reason of an order made under the Act, the public have a legal right of access. It may well be that there is nothing very unreasonable in saying, when you come to excluded areas, that within those areas the ordinary law of trespass, which applies outside them, may not be altogether appropriate. These excluded areas will, of course, be areas which have been excluded by the Minister for certain special reasons, and that is another point which is worth bearing in mind. This sanction will not operate over moorlands generally, but over parts of moorlands which otherwise are within the area, for special reasons which may seem good to the Minister.

We have discussed to-day two of those reasons. In the first place, there are areas which may be excluded in order to prevent water being polluted; and in the other case, which we discussed on Clause 5, areas may be excluded temporarily during exceptionally dry weather in order to prevent the danger of fire. I quite agree that there may be other reasons of a public character, but in any case we are now dealing with areas which the Minister, for some reason, is satisfied ought to be excluded. If a person deliberately goes into an area which has been excluded in the public interest for either of the two reasons I have mentioned, he commits an offence. If he goes there inadvertently, he does not. The Clause only deals with cases where there is a deliberate invasion of a part of an area which has been excluded for special reasons of a public character which may seem good to the Minister.

Mr. Ede

I think the Attorney-General has rather overstated the case. The prosecutor will not have to prove that the defendant was deliberately there, but the defendant will have to prove that he was not there intentionally. The question of deliberation does not come in unless the defendant raises it, and then he has to prove that he was not there deliberately; but the prosecution have only to prove that he was there.

The Attorney-General

I did not mean, of course, to misstate anything. I think that it necessarily so. The man was there, and obviously it must be for him to prove that he was there inadvertently. That does not alter the accuracy of what I was saying. This leads to the conclusion that the hon. Gentleman who has promoted this Bill, to whom so many tributes have been paid, has not made an unreasonable compromise. Certain analogies have been referred to— at least they have been described as analogies by the hon. Members who have referred to them— such as penalties under foot-and-mouth orders, under reservoir provisions, and so on. There is a general provision on the Statute Book dealing with commons. As hon. Members probably know, up to 1925 members of the public as a whole had no right to go on commons— although everybody did. "Commons" were common land only for particular localities, and people who lived elsewhere than in the locality of a particular common had no right to go on that common. The House thought it an unsatisfactory state of affairs, and in 1925 gave the public a legal right to go on commons. At the same time it gave the Minister power to exclude the public from certain areas in the common land, on which, for the first time, under that Act they were given a legal right to go.

The position is very similar, I think, in many ways to the position under this Bill. If a member of the public went into an excluded area, he was not subject merely to the law of trespass, but he was liable to a penalty not exceeding 40s., exactly as is provided in this Bill. It seems to me that that is worth bringing to the attention of the House. In that case, the House was taking these common lands, giving a legal right to use them, and giving the Minister power of exclusion; but, by reason of the fact that the only areas excluded would be excluded for special purposes, saying that that exclusion should be safeguarded by a penalty. The Act was more stringent, in fact, than this Bill, because there was no provision as to inadvertancy. These, I think, are good reasons for the compromise that the promoter has recommended to the House.

Mr. Noel-Baker

I confess that I would much rather that the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Brightside (Mr. Marshall) should be accepted by the House if hon. Members opposite would agree. I think the Bill would be a better Bill if the Amendment were accepted, and if we could get it without destroying the Bill I would vote for the Amendment. But I am afraid that if we did carry the Amendment we should destroy the Bill. The question is not, is this as good a Bill as we can have, but is it a Bill which will improve the present situation as far as rights of access are concerned? In order to judge that matter there are two points which we must take into account. The first is that we are increasing the rights of access and opening a lot of land which has hitherto been closed to those who desire to ramble on it, and the second is whether, in opening that land and increasing the rights, we are impairing or undermining some principle consdered of great importance by those who use the country-side. We are opening a great deal of land and greatly increasing the rights of access. That is one side of the picture.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Brightside said, there are many people, including organisations of ramblers, who consider that this so undermines the principle of the law of trespass, to which they attach great importance, that they would rather give up the Bill altogether. I admit at once— as I think the Attorney-General would admit— that this does, in a limited measure, make an incursion into the law of trespass, but, as he has explained, the real question is, how grave is that evil, if it is regarded as an evil? I think with him, that it is a very narrowly restricted evil. You are only allowing this incursion in the law of trespass for specific reasons within very narrow limits of time and space in respect of land which you are forcing an unwilling landowner to open. If we look at the practical cases raised in the Debate of the water undertaking, the pollution of an area round a lake or reservoir, the area which is to be restricted on account of fire in time of drought, and the closing of places where sheep are breeding during the lambing season, it is evident that the restrictions, if required, should be put on by the Minister. If these restrictions are reasonable, is it very unreasonable to say that there should be a sanction, or is it a very great evil?

My hon. Friend the Member for Durham City (Mr. Ritson) can be perfectly happy in his mind about what is to happen after the lambing and nesting seasons are over. The restrictions will be removed, and people will have the access which he desires them to have. This is not really the introduction of a new principle that is going, in a revolutionary manner, to undermine the law of trespass. It is an extension— and not a very wide extension, if rightly understood— of what has been done by the Law of Property Act, 1925, in respect of commons, and by other Acts as well. My hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) stated the analogy of the restrictions about foot-and-mouth disease. These go interminably further than it is proposed to go in this instance, and the penalties are very much heavier. Farms are closed, and roads and bridle paths leading to farms are closed to the public, and if you go on these roads and bridle paths, where there is serious and grave danger of infection, you are liable to a penalty of £ 50. Some people say that this restricts their rambling. But I would remind the House that the foot-and-mouth disease regulations entirely abolish hunting in places where they are imposed.

I regard this incursion into the law of trespass as a restrictive evil, which, I think, is the price of the Bill. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley when he said that the landowners on their side have made very considerable concessions in the preparation of this Bill, and if we have to accept the Amendment, if the Bill is not to be lost, I hope that we shall not lose the results of the great efforts that have been made in this regard.

3.31 p.m.

Mr. Silverman

The only good reason there could be for rejecting the Amendment would be to say, as has been said, that, unfortunately, a bargain has been made, a compromise has been reached and it is better to abide by the bargain and to keep the compromise that has been agreed upon. That is not the position. This is not a compromise that has been agreed upon. The people concerned in the compromise were those on the one side who wanted access and those on the other side who wanted to prevent access, but most of us have had communications from bodies of people who want access to the land but who are not prepared to accept this compromise.

Mr. Creech Jones

indicated dissent.

Mr. Silverman

I think there is a good deal of evidence. Many hon. Members have had communications which are very emphatic on the part of people who are entitled to be heard on this matter and who say: "Much as we want this Bill, much as we want access, we would prefer not to have the Bill rather than have it unamended in the way suggested." Therefore, the hon. Member for Shipley is not in a position to say that an agreed compromise has been reached, because one block of people who ought to have been in that compromise make it clear that they do not agree. For my part I should like to make it perfectly clear that when you are doing something for the first time— I still contend that it is so, in spite of the analogy given by the Attorney-General— to make it a criminal offence merely to be upon land, then you are doing something so dangerous as to outweigh any of the other advantages that remain in the Bill. I hope the Amendment will be pressed to a Division.

3.33 P.m.

Mr. Paling

I feel very strongly about this matter. It is such a grave departure that we very much regret it on this side of the House. The Attorney-General mentioned what was done in 1925. He said that something similar was done then. We had to agree to that legislation, although some of us thought that there were bad things in it. Because there were bad things done then, we do not see why we should extend the bad principle. I do not know whether that Bill in its penalties embraced such a list of penalties as are included in this Bill, in addition to the £ 2 fine for ordinary trespass. People have had this right from time immemorial and every step ought to be taken to protect that right. Anything that would seek to take the right away, is a very wrong sep.

Question put, "That the word 'unintentional' stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 86; Noes, 70.

Division No. 80.] AYES. [1.15 p.m.
Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.) Howitt, Dr. A. B Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Assheton, R. Hulbert, Squadron-Leader N. J. Ropner, Colonel L.
Bossom, A. C. Hunloke, H. P. Rosbotham, Sir T.
Campbell, Sir E. T. James, Wing-Commander A. W. H. Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)
Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Samuel, M. R. A.
Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Liddall, W. S. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Crooke, Sir J. Smedley McEwen, Capt. J. H. F. Tree, A. R. L. F.
Denville, Alfred Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Edmondson, Major Sir J. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Waterhouse, Captain C.
Gridley, Sir A. B Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Watt, U.-Col. G. S. Harvie
Grimston, R. V. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Hannah, I. C. Palmer, G. E. H. York, C.
Holy-Hutchinson, M. R. Porritt, R. W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Radford, E. A. Mr. Turton and Mr. Macquisten.
Adams, D. (Consett) Furness, S. N. Oliver, G. H.
Adamson, Jonnie L (Dartford) Gallacher, W. Paling, W.
Adamson, W. M. Gardner, B. W. Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Price, M. P.
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Green, W. H. (Deptford) Ramsbotham, H.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Batey, J. Grenfell, D. R. Ritson, J.
Beaumont, H. (Batley) Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Bevan, A. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Russell, Sir Alexander
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Hardie, Agnes Schuster, Sir G. E.
Brooks, H. (Lewisham, W.) Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Shinwell, E.
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Hayday, A. Silverman, S. S.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Simpson, F. B.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Smith, E. (Stoke)
Bull, B. B. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Smith, T. (Normanton)
Butcher, H. W. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Smithers, Sir W.
Cary, R. A. Hume, Sir G. H. Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald
Charleton, H. C. Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Sorensen, R. W.
Chater, D. Leslie, J. R. Spens, W. P.
Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead) Lloyd, G. W. Stephen, C.
Cluse, W. S. McEntee, V. La T. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Collindridge, F. McGhee, H. G. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. MacLaren, A. Thorne, W.
Daggar, G. Mander, G. le M. Thurtle, E.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Tinker, J. J.
Denman, Hon. R. D Mathers, G. Viant, S. P.
Dobbie, W. Messer, F. Walker, J.
Ede., J. C. Montague, F. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.) Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Ellis, Sir G. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Mr. Creech Jones find Mr. Marshall.
Fremantle, Sir F. E. Noel-Baker, P. J.
Division No. 81.] AYES. [3.34 p.m.
Albery, Sir Irving Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Ramsbotham, H.
Assheton, R. Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)
Barrie, Sir C. C. Hely-Hutchinson, M. R. Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Benson, G. Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)
Blair, Sir R. Howitt, Dr. A. B. Samuel, M. R. A.
Bossom, A. C. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Brocklebank, Sir Edmund Hunloke, H. P. Sandys, E. D.
Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.) Hutchinson, G. C. Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) James, Wing-commander A. W. H. Smithers, Sir W.
Bull, B. B. Keeling, E. H. Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald
Butcher, H. W. Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Campbell, Sir E. T. Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R. Southby, Commander Sir A. R.
Cary, R. A. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.
Channon, H. Liddall, W. S. Spens, W. P.
Chapman, A. (Rutherglon) Lipson, D. L. Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)
Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead) Llewellin, Colonel J. J. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) McCorquodale, M. S. Tasker, Sir R. I.
Dalton, R Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Touche, G. C.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Macnamara, Lieut.-Colonel J. R. J. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Denville, Alfred Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest Turton, R. H.
Dugdale, Captain T. L. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Duggan, H. J. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth) Waterhouse, Captain C.
Duncan, J. A. L. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Watkins, F. C.
Edmondson, Major Sir J. Montague, F. Watt, Lt.-Col. G. S. Harvie
Ellis, Sir G. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.) Nicolson, Hon. H. G Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Furness, S. N. Noel-Baker, P. J.
Gridley, Sir A. B. Ponsonby, Col. C. E. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Grimston, R. V. Price, M. P. Mr. Creech Jones and Lieut.-Colonel Heneage.
Hannah, I. C. Procter, Major H. A.
Adams, D. (Consett) George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Paling, W.
Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford) George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Ridley, G.
Adamson, W. M. Green, W. H. (Deptford) Ritson, J.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.) Shinwell, E.
Batey, J. Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Silverman, S. S.
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Hardie, Agnes Simpson, F. B.
Bevan, A. Harris, Sir P. A. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Smith, E. (Stoke)
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Hayday, A. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Charleton, H. C. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Sorensen, R. W.
Chater, D. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Stephen, C.
Cluse, W. S. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Cooks, F. S. Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Collindridge, F. Lathan, G. Thorne, W.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Leslie, J. R. Thurtle, E.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) McEntee, V. La T. Tinker, J. J.
De la Bère, R. McGhee, H. G. Viant, S. P.
Dobbie, W. MacLaren, A. Walkden, A. G.
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Mathers, G. Walker, J.
Ede J. C. Maxton, J. Windsor, W. (Hull, C)
Foot, D. M. Messer, F. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Frankel, D. Oliver, G. H.
Gardner, B. W. Owen, Major G. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mr. Marshall and Mr. Mander.

3.42 p.m.

Mr. Creech Jones

I beg to move, in page 11, line 1, to leave out from "intentional," to the end of the Sub-section, and to insert failure to observe, or contravention of, a limitation, condition, or direction, prohibiting him from entering upon land to which this Act applies, or upon any particular area therein. This is a slight drafting Amendment, designed to alter the word "trespass" to "a limitation, condition, or direction" made by the Minister.

Mr. Noel-Baker

I beg to second the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

3.43 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Captain Austin Hudson)

I beg to move, in page 11, line 2, at the end, to insert: and (b) it shall not be an offence under this Section to draw or drive a motor vehicle on any land within fifteen yards of a road, being a highway or any other road to which the public has access, and on which a motor vehicle may lawfully be driven, for the purpose only of parking the vehicle on that land, so however that nothing in this paragraph shall be construed as affecting the law of trespass to land, or any right or remedy to which any person may by law be entitled in respect of any such trespass, or in particular as conferring any right to park a vehicle on any land. I have had a word with the promoters of the Bill, who are prepared to accept this Amendment, and I ask the House to accept it in order to bring the position of the Bill into conformity with the Road Traffic. Act of 1930. We were rather afraid that Clause 6 (a) of this Bill would affect the proviso and Sub-section (1) of Section 14 of the Road Traffic Act. The words that I propose to insert here reproduce the relative parts of that Section. We prefer that the motor driver should park his car off the highway rather than on the highway; and these words give him authority to do so within 15 yards of the road. The Amendment will not confer any new privileges on drivers of motor vehicles and it will preserve the rights of property owners under the law of trespass.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That: the Bill be now read the Third time."

3.45 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Heneage

I would like to congratulate the promoter and the opponents of the Bill on having met in order to get an agreed Bill. I pay a tribute to the promoter especially for his tact and for the consideration which he has given to the Bill. I would like also to pay a tribute to the property owners for the way in which they have met representatives of the other side and tried to come to an agreement. In this matter, we are suffering from what might be called the bad boys on both sides. If there had not been bad landlords on the one side, and on the other side people who dropped cigarette ends carelessly, there would have been no need for this Bill. Personally, I think it is a pity that the Bill has been necessary. My hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) said that in his part of the country the landowners have no difficulty in allowing people all over the place, and I know that there are many landlords who welcome people on their property and in some cases explain points of interest to them. Unfortunately, that is not the case in other places.

I want to draw attention to what I consider to be two mistakes in the Bill, which it might be advisable to rectify in another place. In the Clauses dealing with mining institutions, I think it is dan- gerous to have phraseology which is different from that in other Bills dealing with mining. Then, in the Clauses where there is reference to water undertakings, the phraseology is not the same as it is in the model Clauses in connection with water undertakings. I suggest that in both these cases the phraseology ought to be the same.

In conclusion, although I am sorry that this Bill has been necessary, I think it will do a great deal of good both from the point of view of the countryside and the fitness of the people. Certainly, it is largely owing to the work of very useful associations, such as the ramblers' associations, that it has been possible to get the Bill through its various stages and to obtain agreement.

3.47 p.m.

Captain Heilgers

I was one of those who moved the rejection of the Bill on Second Reading, and subsequently withdrew opposition on the undertaking of the promoters that they would accept all reasonable Amendments. I want to say that they have fulfilled that undertaking most loyally, and I should like to congratulate them on what they have achieved and offer them my full support.

3.48 p.m.

Brigadier-General Brown

As one who has had a good deal of responsibility in the negotiations that have taken place in connection with this Bill, I should like to say that I think the fact that the promoters of the Bill have made reasonable Amendments is one of the reasons this very difficult Measure has passed through its various stages. Considering the numerous problems which the Bill raises, and considering that there are seven or eight different societies concerned with it, all of them having different points of view, I think a great tribute ought to be paid not only to Sir Laurence Chubb, for having brought those societies together, but also to the promoters of the Bill for the courteous way in which they have met all suggestions that have been made.

Although some hon. Members may disagree with me, I want to emphasise that this is not only a landowners' Bill, but also a public authorities' Bill. In some cases the restrictions that were placed on landowners affected public authorities, such as water undertakings, much more than they did the landowners. I think that a fair compromise has been reached, and I believe that in another place, although the Bill may be amended in some ways, it will be left very much as it is. The Measure will be of great advantage to hikers, whose rights in the past have not been clearly stated. I believe that when the hikers realise the concessions that have been made by the landowners, who have placed rights of many centuries standing in the hands of the Minister— who may be a Minister in a National Government or a Minister in a Socialist Government— and entrusted him with those rights, they will recognise that the landowners expect to be treated reasonably in return, and that the code of manners embodied in the Bill is one that ought to be carried out. I believe that with good will on both sides the Measure can be carried out in such a way as to prove a blessing to the people of the country and an advantage to the landowners as well.

3.50 p.m.

Mr. Noel-Baker

I wish to say a word of congratulation and appreciation to the promoter of the Bill for his devoted labours. He has worked with great skill, persistence and tact, and if this Bill does what he hopes, he will have earned the gratitude of many people throughout the country. We, on this side, appreciate the spirit which has been shown by hon. Members in all parts of the House during the discussions on the Bill. A real attempt has been made by everybody to understand the other person's point of view, and there has been shown a real desire to open the country to those who would use it for health, exercise and pleasure. I hope that when the Bill is better understood it will be even more appreciated than it is to-day.

3.51 p.m.

Mr. Turton

I break into this symposium of mutual congratulations only in order to say that I do not share the views of those who have been congratulating each other on the merits of the Bill. I regret the Bill, and I think we would be far better without it. The hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Noel-Baker) said that when people understood the meaning of the Bill better it would be more appreciated. I hope the Bill will be made simpler in its terms before it becomes an Act of Parliament, because it is very ill-drafted, and there are many words used in it the meaning of which will require long discussion in the courts. I hope that when the Bill goes to another place, if it does go there, it will be licked into shape and will come back to us better drafted, and perhaps as different from its present form as the present form is different from the Bill which the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) first introduced. I do not congratulate the hon. Member upon the Bill, but I wish to thank him for the way in which he met me in regard to two drafting Amendments to-day.

3.52 p.m.

Mr. Creech Jones

I wish to thank hon. Members for the generous things they have said of me, and to express on behalf of the promoters of the Bill our sincere thanks for the co-operation which has been given to us by all the interests involved. I appreciate the fact that there is some disappointment in regard to certain Clauses, but I feel that, on the whole, it does record a considerable public advance, and I hope that national organisations and local authorities will avail themselves of the opportunities which it affords, and that there will be, as a result, a much larger measure of access. I wish to add my thanks to the Commons, Open Spaces and Foot-paths Protection Society, and particularly to Sir Laurence Chubb for the enormous amount of work which they have done. At the same time, I thank the Minister who has helped to pilot the Bill through its various stages and the Government advisers who have been associated with the drafting of its Clauses. I hope that the Bill will prove of enormous advantage to ramblers. I appeal to them to use its provisions, and I hope that local authorities will open up stretches of country which have hitherto been closed to their citizens. This is the end of a 50 years' struggle, and marks a definite social advance.

3.54 p.m.

Mr. Mander

Although I do not like the Bill at all in its present form, and think that it is very doubtful whether it ought to be allowed to pass into law— and it could easily be stopped— at the same time I want to associate myself with what has been said about the magnificent work done by the promoter and those who have worked with him to try and get agreement. They have got agreement and done all they could possibly do, but, personally, I feel extremely doubtful whether we ought to allow the Bill to pass into law at all.

Question, "That the Bill be now read the Third time," put, and agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.

Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 2.

Adjourned at Five Minutes before Four o'Clock, until Monday next, 24th April.