HC Deb 07 February 1983 vol 36 cc620-1
11. Mr. Hooson

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what information he has as to the proportion of members of national parks authorities in Wales who are resident within the park areas; and whether this proportion has varied significantly since May 1979.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

The proportions are 56 per cent. for the Brecon Beacons, 33 per cent. for the Pembrokeshire coast and 44 per cent. for Snowdonia. The corresponding proportions in 1979 were 41 per cent., 33 per cent. and 33 per cent.

Mr. Hooson

Will my right hon. Friend ensure that as many as possible of his appointees to the authorities are people who reside in the national parks, so as to ensure greater responsiveness to the interests of local people?

Mr. Edwards

My hon. Friend will be aware that two-thirds of the appointments to national park committees are the responsibility of county and district councils and that in making my appointments I am primarily concerned with the skills and expertise that individuals will bring, rather than with local representation. None the less, my hon. Friend will be glad to know that, during this Government's term in office, appointments by both the local authorities and myself have represented an increase in the number of those who reside within the national parks.

Mr. Roy Hughes

May we have the same criteria established for having local people appointed to our public bodies, because it is noticeable that there have been some grave exceptions in the appointments made by the Secretary of State? One example is the unknown Ross solicitor who suddenly found himself chairman of the health authority in Gwent.

Mr. Speaker

Order. That does not arise on this question.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

Will the Secretary of State explain the criteria for the selection of his nominees to national park authorities, because some nominees who have been approved by the Countryside Commission are then turned down by the Welsh Office, whereas members of some political parties are nominated by the Welsh Office?

Mr. Edwards

There is no truth in the hon. Gentleman's allegation. I discuss the appointments with the Countryside Commission. The hon. Gentleman will find that I have appointed a wide variety of interests to the national parks committees and that I have included members from several political parties.