HC Deb 20 January 1982 vol 16 cc271-2
12. Mr. Jessel

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what recent representations he has received on fishing in lakes and ponds in Royal parks.

Mr. Macfarlane

I have received from my hon. Friend a petition signed by about 800 people protesting against the prohibition of fishing in 1981 in three ponds in Home park, Hampton Court.

Mr. Jessel

As fishing is a healthy outdoor activity which should be encouraged, will my hon. Friend consider carefully what has happened in Hampton Court park at the Wallpond and two other ponds, where for 30 years people have been fishing without hindrance in large and ideal ponds, but now a keen new inspector has been appointed and he is turning everyone away merely because the three ponds are not listed on the permit alongside five other ponds in Hampton Court and the neighbouring Bushey Park? Provided that there is reasonable provision for the conservation of wildlife, will my hon. Friend consider sympathetically extending the permits to the other ponds, especially the Wallpond?

Mr. Macfarlane

I am well aware of my hon. Friend's anxiety, as he came to discuss the matter with me a few weeks ago. It is the problem of conservation and sensible management of wildlife, to which he referred, and the fact that the ponds have been fished for some 30 years which leads to the need perhaps to rotate fishing in the eight ponds so that it may continue in five of them. I am certainly prepared to have studies carried out.

Mr. Jay

Have the Government any proposals to privatise the Royal parks?

Mr. Macfarlane

If we may rely upon the right hon. Gentleman's support, we may well consider it.

Mr. Chapman

Does my hon. Friend agree that fishing rights should be like planning permission, and that if people get away with it for four years they should have established-use certificates?

Mr. Macfarlane

This is becoming a most constructive exchange. I take note of my hon. Friend's point.

Dr. David Clark

May I add to the constructive nature of the exchange and ask the Minister whether he is prepared to enter into discussions with the Royal parks authorities and with bodies such as the National Anglers Council for management schemes in the Royal parks, which might include the use of lead-free weights and so on? In view of the desperate shortage of fishing opportunities in urban areas, will the Government press ahead with a scheme to create urban fishing areas?

Mr. Macfarlane

I am meeting the National Anglers Council on Friday and these are matters that will be discussed.