HC Deb 27 February 1980 vol 979 cc1345-7
13. Mr. Waller

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what proposals he has to have fresh consultations on the Wildlife and Countryside Bill.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Hector Monro)

My right hon. Friend is continuing discussions with interested parties and we intend to publish a paper in the spring describing the revised proposals in detail.

Mr. Waller

Is my hon. Friend aware that hon. Members on both sides of the House are anxious to see this legislation for the protection of vulnerable species enacted as soon as possible? Will my hon. Friend assure the House that he will not allow discussions to be so protracted as to prevent this legislation from being brought forward as early as possible in the new Session?

Mr. Monro

I entirely agree that this is an important matter. There will be no delay once we have dealt with the discussions and consultations that we are now engaged in.

Dr. David Clark

In view of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on common land in 1958, and the recommendations made two years ago by the working party from the hon. Gentleman's Department that the general public should have access to all common land, will the hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that he will consider including a clause in this Bill to deal with this problem?

Mr. Monro

We are certainly considering all these matters and I assure the hon. Gentleman that that issue will be considered. We shall see how the hon. Gentleman's Ten-Minute Bill gets on today.

Mr. McQuarrie

When the Minister consults the representatives of the Country Landowners Association on this matter will he take into consideration the considerable number of people who are employed in rural areas and on the moors? This is an important issue in relation to employment in rural areas.

Mr. Monro

I agree with my hon. Friend that we want harmony in the countryside. We appreciate the traditional pursuits of those who live there. Those people have every right to continue those pursuits.

Mr. Marks

In view of the delay in bringing in this Bill—I presume that that is because of lack of parliamentary time, not because the Government do not like the Bill—will the Government assist the Nature Conservancy Council in taking over any land threatened as a result of the delay?

Mr. Monro

The hon. Gentleman is right. The delay in the introduction of the Bill is purely due to lack of parliamentary time. We are in the closest touch with the Nature Conservancy Council and we listen to its views with great care.