HC Deb 07 March 1979 vol 963 cc1228-9
2. Mr. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will introduce legislation to enable the board of the Peak District national park to be democratically elected.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Kenneth Marks)

We have no immediate plans to change the arrangements for the administration of the Peak District national park. Following the Sandford report, the Government accepted that there would be advantage in reviewing the administration and staffing of national parks generally in 1981.

Mr. Knox

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that those of my constituents who live in the Peak park feel that the board is insensitive to their wishes and tends to place the interests of visitors above theirs? Does not the hon. Gentleman think that there is a great deal of merit in allowing them to elect a board direct, which would then be answerable to them?

Mr. Marks

The majority of the 33 members of the board—22 of them—are representative of councils in the national parks. The problem with the Peak park is that there are six county councils and nine district councils with areas within the park. When the Local Government Bill 1972 was being presented by the previous Government, strong representations were made by the district councils but were not accepted. My view is that the counties should give more consideration to representations by district councils.