HC Deb 04 November 1987 vol 121 cc1017-27

10 pm

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

I beg to move amendment No. 2, in page 3, line 33, after 'beauty', insert 'or ecological equilibrium'.

Mr. Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take amendment No. 3, in page 3, line 34, after 'conserve', insert 'together with any area designated as one of special scientific interest'.

Mr. Spearing

There was some consensus in Committee about the Bill's purposes. There was also wide agreement on the form of the Broads Authority outlined in the Bill. There had been a preparatory Select Committee stage, this being a hybrid Bill. The legislation may well have benefited from that unusual, but sometimes effective, procedure.

I have no commercial interest in the Norfolk Broads. My interest is one of recreation and leisure. I might be regarded by the Government, my hon. Friends and people who live in the Broads and the Norwich area — represented by my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Garrett)—as one of the most desirable types of visitors. I have known and visited the area for the past 50 years. I have hired boats from five yards and know a number of others. At present, and for the past 15 years, I have, as a private owner of craft, paid dues to the Great Yarmouth port and haven commissioners. Because of those activities, I inject a certain amount of my parliamentary salary into that area of East Anglia. I think that I have a number of proper interests that may commend themselves to all who have at heart the area's future prosperity and the health of the future Broads Authority.

The problem throughout the Bill and the problem for the Broads Authority is how to reconcile conflicting interests. It is difficult to do that, because they all meet within the charming area of the Broads—on the water, on the surrounding marshland or in the surrounding countryside. Natural though we may assume it to be, we all know that the area was created by man through peat diggings and subsequent inundations and, therefore, what is beautifully natural there has been induced by man and can be destroyed by him equally quickly. That fear has brought statutory provisions together and brought the Bill through various and long stages of gestation to this stage, which will probably be virtually the last time the House will discuss it.

Clause 4 states: The Authority shall— (a)before the end of the period of two years beginning with the operative date, prepare a map showing any areas within the Broads whose natural beauty it is, in the opinion of the Authority, particularly important to conserve". A map is a most useful and accurate tool. It brings together in easily comprehensible and comprehensive form most of the features of an area that are significant for the purposes for which the map has been drawn. The map, which the Authority has a duty to compile, will, in a semi-pictorial way, represent many of the features of the conflicting interests.

Throughout the discussions in Committee, a conflict emerged between those who properly earn their living in the area and wish to develop it commercially —mainly for holiday purposes—and what might be collectively called the interests of conservation. For reasons that I mentioned in Committee, I do not think that one can typify those interests as being navigation versus conservation, because the interests of navigation in the Broads are diverse. People use the Broads for different navigational purposes, and they navigate in different ways. There can be criticism of unsuitable craft with unsuitable engines, travelling at unsuitable speeds. Similarly, there are proper recreational and navigational uses, to which even the most fastidious conservationists would not object. Our problem is how to reconcile those interests in the Broads, and to decide what action the authority will take.

I tabled several amendments in Committee which included the phrase, "the ecological balance". The Minister —we are glad to see him here — was good enough to look kindly on that phrase in several places. For various reasons, he could not accept my amendments—in one case for genuine grammatical reasons; in another, his rejection had something to do with hybridity. I shall not venture into that complex legal area now, unless by some chance the Minister resists the amendment tonight on the same grounds—in which case, I shall comment again later, if I manage to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. However, I hope that the Minister will not adduce that controversial reason on this occasion. As he showed me in a letter, although it may involve complications, the factor of hybridity does not necessarily constrict the House's view, should it wish to change the Bill. I am glad to see the Minister nodding his assent to that.

The amendment adds "or ecological equilibrium" after "beauty". As we discovered in Committee, the two are not the same. The natural beauty of a place may not be imperilled even though its ecological balance may be. For instance, a great deal of the ecological balance may be under the water. We know from what our anglers tell us that there could be great changes to the nutritional bases for fish and their propagation, or to the underwater activities of various plants, which, we are told by the naturalists, do not immediately strike the eye. Mayhem could be created by turbidity, without necessarily affecting what one sees with the eyes. Thus, the importance of ecological equilibrium in its scientific sense, must be added to what we believe is an important feature — natural beauty. That is why clause 4 states that the authority shall, as a duty, produce a map showing all the areas which it believes it is particularly important to conserve — not only areas of natural beauty, but those of ecological significance.

I hope that the Minister will be able to accept the amendment, because I do not believe that it prejudices any of the legitimate commercial interests that we mentioned in Committee, or the successful operation of the Act.

Amendment No.3 is about sites of special scientific interest. That is a well-known phrase, which is found in many conservation Bills. I am glad to see that my hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) is present. He has the distinction of having piloted through Acts relating to the conservation of flora and fauna and to areas of scientific interest. I am glad that he has been able to attend the debate. Those areas are specified under other legislation. They are not specified by the Bill and will not be when it becomes an Act. There will be others which may change and which are already there.

The map, which is statutory, would not be useful if it did not include the many areas designated as sites of special scientific interest that are already within the Broads. Perhaps many of the provisions in the Bill will not necessarily apply directly to those areas, but their presence and location and the fact that they are there should be known, or such a map will lack the comprehensive character that I believe everybody would wish it to have.

The map will become a most effective tool for the workings of the future authority. It will enable people to understand the complex inter-relationships of land, air and water that we find in that unique and lovely area. Such a map, particularly if it is comprehensive in the way that I suggest, will enable those with, on the face of it, conflicting interests, to come together and reach a solution to their problems, in an area of human, political and commercial equilibrium which will match the natural equilibrium that we hope to retain for our future enjoyment.

I shall not go further at this stage because I am sure, looking at the well-attended House, that many other hon. Members will wish to contribute to what I believe is a key debate. The natural equilibrium and how it should be sustained and maintained by the authority will be the heart of the matter in future.

Mr. Peter Hardy (Wentworth)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) for his personal reference to me.

I should like to make a couple of points, partly because of my involvement in conservation organisations, such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and partly because I am extremely fond of the Broads. I spent the last year of my Royal Air Force service stationed not far from the Broads.

I should like to reinforce the argument advanced by my hon. Friend. He rightly said that there can be a real difference between that which is beautiful and that which is ecologically important. I do not want to strike a partisan note, but some hon. Members who were present at the first debate on the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Bill may recall that one Conservative Member said that it was an area of uninteresting mud flats, of no attraction or importance, yet it was one of the most important Ramsar convention sites in Europe.

Some parts of the Broads are attractive and should be preserved. To the uninformed, other parts may not seem important. However, hon. Members will probably recognise the significance of an area of reed beds that are not particularly attractive, but are the breeding site of the bittern. Parts of the Broads may be less beautiful than others but they are of considerable importance. The breeding site of the swallowtail butterfly is important because it is the last such site in Britain. Other rare insects, too, inhabit the Broads. The marsh harrier and the bearded tit are vital parts of the Broads fauna.

I hope that the Minister will recognise the validity of my hon. Friend's argument. By all means, let us preserve that which is beautiful, but let us recognise that things that are not beautiful may provide the background from which beauty emerges. We should ensure that the Broads authority takes the message that it has a responsibility not merely to preserve the attractions of the Broads for tourists but to maintain the ecological inheritance of the Broads. If the Minister shares that view, which I believe is widely held in the House, he will no doubt consider my hon. Friend's amendment favourably.

10.15 pm
Mr. John Garrett (Norwich, South)

The point of the amendments, which are linked, is to focus on the fragile ecology of the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads as a matter of paramount importance and on the need to take special measures to protect it. No doubt the House would not wish me to trespass too far at this stage into the central issue which really divides the House. The primacy of conservation over commercial activity, which we believe should be incorporated into the authority's objectives, remains the central issue but the amendments help to illuminate it.

The area covered by the Bill is unique in western Europe. It contains 27 sites of special scientific interest, three national nature reserves and wetland sites of international importance under the Ramsar convention,

The significance of the conservation and preservation of ecological equilibrium in such an area has to be set in the local context. The Anglia water authority area has a higher incidence of pesticides in watercourses than any other water authority area in the country. That is according to the report on pesticides of the Select Committee on Agriculture —a Committee that is famous for taking a balanced view of agricultural interests. Nitrate levels in watercourses in Norfolk are at the EEC limit and are found to go above it from time to time. As a result of the mercury discharges into the Wensum the levels of mercury and cadmium in eels in broadland waterways is the highest in the United Kingdom. Discharge of farm slurry and agricultural waste into rivers is a major problem that erupts from time to time. These facts add up to a very disturbing state of affairs and point forcefully to the need to take a rigorous view of the conservation of habitats.

Surveys by the Norfolk Naturalists Trust have shown the extent of the threat to the landscape and wildlife habitats of Norfolk. Only fragments now remain of hedgerows, heath, natural woodland and wetland. Norfolk has been the site of enormous agricultural development in which the majority of hedgerows have been grubbed up, heathland ploughed and wetlands drained. The land has been soaked in nitrates, pesticides and herbicides, with incalculable long-term effects. Our Broads and waterways are grossly polluted with domestic and farm effluents and residues of agricultural chemicals.

As the area receives increasing numbers of people, the effects will worsen and the statutory authorities will have nowhere near the resources necessary to deal with them. The Broads habitat is under constant threat from the effects of agricultural and residential development.

As the pursuit of so-called balance between conflicting interests, as set out in the Bill, is a virtually impossible task, the fullest weight must be given to interests that are committed to the guardianship of the essential character of the Broads, and the protection of sites of special scientific interest should be very high on their agenda. As we frequently pointed out in Standing Committee, the balance has, if anything, been weighted in favour of commercial interests. Indeed, in the opinion of the Council for National Parks, the measure can be seen as primarily a navigation Bill.

The Broads Authority's action plan for 1987 stated that restoration work on the Broads, which have suffered a serious decline in plants and wildlife, should take precedence over considerations such as tourism. Over the past 30 years, the once-clear rivers and Broads have become algae-clouded and barren.

The Government have persisted throughout their terms of office in taking water pollution too lightly. We know from leaked documents that the Government have permitted safety levels for three notorious pesticides—dieldrin, aldrin and endrin — to be relaxed sixfold to allow existing levels of pollution from those chemicals to continue. The concentration of these pesticides in water and in fish is allowed in this country at levels that are outlawed in Europe and the United States.

It is against this background that we consider the Bill to be inadequate in establishing the objects of the authority. Norfolk watercourses are grossly polluted. That pollution has found its way into most of the Broads. The point of these amendments is to focus on our view that the first object of the authority must be to restore, protect and conserve. The economic value of the Broads will vanish unless its fragile ecology is protected and enhanced. In a small way, these amendments point to the need for meticulous care over the conservation of the most endangered areas by identifying and mapping those areas that are under threat, particularly the sites of special scientific interest. Every week we hear of new damage to such areas from ploughing, drainage and pollution. I know one site of special scientific interest in south Norfolk that may be endangered by the dumping of slaughterhouse waste in the catchment area that lies immediately above this particular patch of wetland.

We need to be constantly vigilant over the protection of these very special areas. In the Broads, the shrinking habitats of the marsh harrier, the bittern, the swallowtail butterfly and rare flora need to be identified and protected. The amendments emphasise that need.

Mr. Matthew Taylor (Truro)

Right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House claim that they are committed to securing the long-term future of the Broads. Why, then, are we shying away from making such a commitment in the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads Bill? To his credit, the Minister has been helpful throughout, but the Bill will formalise and institutionalise the downfall of this fragile landscape.

There has been much muddled thinking. Attempts to find words—to say that the Broads come first have —been equated with conservation elitism. It is time for us all to step back from our particular vantage point and realise that the Bill does not say what we think it says —that the Broads come first. Unless we capture that objective in the Bill, I am afraid that there will be no Broads left to squabble about.

We are in danger of losing sight of what makes the Broads special. We might as well be talking about the boating lake in the middle of Battersea park. The Broads are not just a boating lake. If we have any sense of history or of the special interests of the Broads, we know that we must make special provision for them. Even the bodies that represent the recreational interests, whether they be boating, fishing or walking, appreciate that we must put the Broads first, otherwise their natural beauty will be undermined and their unique contribution endangered. We are talking about the restoration of the Broads, not simply their conservation.

For the sake of the Broads, we must ensure that the overriding duty of the authority shall be to secure the conservation and enhancement of the Broads, and within those purposes to promote enjoyment by the public and to protect the interests of navigation. That is what the amendments are about. It is a change that the Minister has so far resisted, and this is the last opportunity to ensure that that statement of principle is written into the legislation. I hope that the House will take that opportunity.

Mr. Elliot Morley (Glanford and Scunthorpe)

We cannot separate the economy of the Norfolk Broads from the ecology of the area; the two are linked. It is important that a balance should be struck between the conflicting interests of tourism, agriculture, the habitat and conservation. What links them is the fragile nature of the area, its outstanding natural beauty and the outstanding sites of special scientific interest that support a wealth of wildlife.

It is essential that within the context of the Bill the priority of conservation is recognised. If it is not, the economy of the area will be undermined. If people do not go on boating holidays because the rivers are polluted, smelly or because the fish and wildlife are dying, the interests of the people who rent boats will not be served. If we do not control what goes onto the land in terms of run-off and drainage, thus destroying the wildlife, the nature of the area will suffer. It is important that this amendment is adopted to clarify the importance of protecting the Norfolk Broads.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Colin Moynihan)

I have listened to the convictions that have been expressed, not least about the conservation aspects of the Bill, in some of the useful contributions made in the debate. A number of the points will inevitably be covered by the comments that I shall make on Third Reading. I hope that hon. Members will forgive me if I concentrate on the amendments.

Amendment No.2 seeks to import into clause 4 specific reference to ecological equilibrium, in addition to natural beauty, as something which it is important to conserve. I hope that the hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) will note that clause 25(2) already provides that all references to conserving natural beauty are to be construed as covering aspects of ecological significance. I hope to be able to persuade the House that the amendment is unnecessary.

I readily concede that in response to a related but somewhat different amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) in Standing Committee I undertook to devise some revised wording of clause 4(1) (a) that would make reference to the significance of the Broads in terms of its ecology. That is something that we have since thoroughly examined, although we concluded that it would be undesirable and unwise to make any change to the present wording. Our reasons for reaching that conclusion apply equally to the hon. Gentleman's new amendment No. 2, although it raises a number of further objections.

I hall try to explain why any changes to the present wording of clause 4(1) (a) are undesirable and unnecessary. The hon. Gentleman suggested on Second Reading that the wording of clause 2 and elsewhere, as originally introduced, was unsatisfactory. It was argued that unless the term "natural beauty", which the Bill used in various clauses, was widened it would not cover flora, fauna and other aspects of ecological significance, which were of as much importance to the Broads as natural beauty is in its normal, visual sense. In his winding up speech on behalf of the Government my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Energy said that this was an arguable and realistic point and would he looked at carefully. This was done.

We discussed the problem and the possibilities with, among others, the Nature Conservancy Council and the Countryside Commission. As a result, we tabled amendments to clauses 2 and 25 which we put before the Select Committtee in the tilled Bill. The approach that we adopted was to bring the Bill into line with the wording employed in existing legislation relating to national parks in the countryside generally. As I sought to explain in Standing Committee, the effect of these amendments and of the Bill as it is now worded is that, wherever conservation of natural beauty is referred to, the wording expressly covers flora and fauna and geological and physiographical features no less than natural beauty in its visual sense.

10.30 pm
Mr. Hardy

I am not a lawyer and I cannot assess what lawyers would do in seeking to interpret the words of the Bill. Clause 25 refers directly and specifically to conserving. Clause 4 refers directly and specifically to the compilation of a map. That seems to suggest that there could be some doubt about the reference in clause 25 being absolutely secure. It would not do the Minister any harm to accept this amendment. If he does not accept it now, I am sure that there will be an attempt to introduce it in another place.

Mr. Moynihan

I can assist the hon. Gentleman on this point. Where conserving is mentioned in the Bill, including references to a map, it means conserving the natural beauty of an area, and conserving flora, fauna and the geographical and physiographical features. That is why we responded to the hon. Member for Newham, South and to the legitimate concerns expressed on Second Reading. I hope that I can persuade the hon. Gentleman that that was the reasoning behind our response and that there is no exception anywhere in the Bill to our definition of the word "conserving".

Mr. Allan Roberts (Bootle)

My hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark), who dealt with the Bill on Second Reading, is, because of changed responsibilities, not here. He was one of the major architects of changes in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 which affects the map of the areas that we are considering. He supported the idea that this clause should be included in the legislation, because we still do not think that the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 is strong enough to protect areas of special scientific interest. If the Minister accepts the amendment, he will set a precedent that shows that at last the Government are on the side of the environmentalists and are concerned not just about commercial interests.

Mr. Moynihan

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's reference to the hon. Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark) because his contribution was very important. On previous consideration of the Bill it was the intention of the House and of the Government to ensure that clause 4 was closely modelled on section 43 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as recently amended by section 3 of the Wildlife and Countryside (Amendment) Act 1985 which was sponsored by the hon. Member for South Shields. Therefore, I and, I hope, the House would be reluctant to depart from a provision with which the hon. Gentleman was so closely associated, which was so recently considered by the House and which is operating quite satisfactorily in national parks. I understand that some existing maps prepared by national parks authorities under the provisions of section 43 already include sites of special scientific interest.

For these reasons, we firmly believe it to be unnecessary to make any change to the wording of clause 4 to achieve what is the common objective of the hon. Member for Newham, South and the Government. We are satisfied that the existing wording fully covers matters. It would be unwise to depart from the present wording or to make specific reference to additional aspects other than those set out in clause 25(2). That is because that would tend to cast doubt on whether such wording, if it were used elsewhere —not only in this Bill in the other legislation that we have taken as our model—fully covers that which it ought to cover and which we and conservation bodies have generally believed it covers.

Sir Giles Shaw (Pudsey)

I have considerable sympathy with the amendment. Will my hon. Friend take note that, in seeking to defend the present position, he could take refuge in the fact that, within clause 4 and the amendments that we are discussing, there is provision for the Countryside Commission to issue a review and guidance regarding the Broads Authority's function.

Although I understand my hon. Friend's reluctance to amend the wording already encapsulated in other statutes, he should note that the guidance should he, and should regularly be seen to be, commensurate with the objectives that have been outlined in the proposition for the clause. I hope that my hon. Friend will take steps to make that clearer, either in his remarks tonight or in another place, where, no doubt, these matters can be addressed again.

Mr. Moynihan

I welcome that intervention, not least because it clarifies the important point that was raised in Committee and that we regard as central to the Bill. I shall ensure that during a meeting with the conservation bodies that will take place shortly this issue is brought to their attention. Clause 4 will be a useful vehicle for issuing guidance as a result of the passing of the Bill which, I trust, will take place this evening.

I said that the new amendment raised a number of objections. I believe that the problem that it seeks to satisfy —it fails in that purpose — is that of conserving an ecological equilibrium. That issue was widely discussed in Committee on another amendment that the hon. Member for Newham, South tabled to clause 2. In Committee hon. Members and myself pointed out that the problems of the Broads are not so much those of conserving or maintaining an existing ecological equilibrium, but of halting and reversing ecological decline.

The new authority may well seek to find a new equilibrium or recover one that has long been lost, but that is not what the amendment under discussion seeks. I do not believe it would be helpful to talk in terms of something so problematic as an equilibrium.

Amendment No. 3 seeks to require the authority to show on its map any area designated as the site of special scientific interest. I have already explained that the term conservation of areas of natural beauty includes features of ecological significance. Therefore, it seems probable that any areas within the Broads that have been designated as SSSIs will be judged by the authority as those whose natural beauty is important to conserve and therefore as areas to show on its map. It will be open to the authority to do that, and I do not believe that the amendment is necessary.

Specifically to require the authority to include SSSIs in its map would not sit happily with the requirements placed upon it under subsections (3) and (4) to consult the Nature Conservancy Council and others about the proposed contents of the map. The authority would be required by one part of the clause to consult on a matter which, in another part of the clause, it would have no option about.

Mr. Morley

There are 27 sites of special scientific interest in the Broads. I accept that the authority may include them on the map, but if that is so, why not accept the amendment? Nothing would be lost by accepting it.

Mr. Moynihan

I have tried to point out that the amendment, in its own right, is not necessary. Subsequent to the hon. Gentleman seeking to intervene I clarified the technical reason why the amendment would not sit easily in the clause. Indeed, it would be tautologous and would lead to the problems that I have outlined. That technical reason is important and should be considered by the hon. Gentleman. If he wished it could be considered in another place.

To push the amendment to a vote would cause more problems than it would rectify, even if the hon. Member for Newham, South disagrees with the thrust of my argument.

I must take this opportunity to apologise to the hon. Member for Newham, South if he understood an undertaking that I gave him in Committee to mean that we would amend clause 4 as he now proposes. I understood him to be asking the Government to show all of the SSSIs in the Broads on the one-page map of the Broads that we prepared in connection with the Bill. Despite some raised eyebrows in the Box, I accepted his suggestion because I thought it extremely useful. I am pleased to report that the map is now in preparation and should be available soon. I shall send a copy to the hon. Gentleman, and to others who let me know that they would like one.

It appears that I have given the hon. Member for Newham, South something for which he did not ask. I hope that that will soften the blow of my saying that I do not feel able to give him everything for which he asks with regard to amendment No. 3. He should, I hope, have been persuaded that there is no need for his amendment as I am sure that the maps prepared by the Broads Authority will include SSSIs. Given those assurances, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not press his amendment.

Mr. Spearing

With the leave of the House, I should like to reply to the debate.

I am disappointed. I had hoped that, if amendment No. 2 did not meet with the Minister's approval, amendment No. 3 would. I have a feeling that the Minister is number four in the boat rather than the cox.

The Minister says that amendment No. 2, which speaks of "ecological equilibrium" and what, in the "opinion of the Authority", it is "particularly important to conserve," is unnecessary and that the point is covered anyway. I shall examine how he says it is covered. Clause 25, the interpretation clause, provides in subsection (2): References in this Act to conserving the natural beauty of an area include references to conserving its flora, fauna and geological and physiographical features. The Minister maintains also that conserving is dealt with in clause 2(1) (a)

It is my experience that, when Ministers resist amendments saying that they are unnecessary, one's antennae should twitch. They are usually not averse to including amendments "for the avoidance of doubt" of their own or lawyers' making. Because the amendment is otiose in the mind of the Minister, or at least some of his colleagues, I have different doubts. His maintaining that clause 25(2) covers the point is, I am afraid, the reverse of reassuring. It immediately suggests that there is a one-way valve in the wording which means that the clause could not apply if it came to a fight in the courts.

I have a different interpretation. Equilibrium is not stationary. It is like the mobiles that were fashionable a year or two ago. It can be different shapes. The statutory definitions clause, however, is stationary and rigid. There is no mention of the relationship between natural beauty, flora, fauna, geological and physiographical features. Rather, they are specified as individuals and distinct elements. We are talking about the total relationship between them. If there is any place in Britain where the total relationship is mysterious to scientists—even today they are researching certain aspects all over the place —it is in the wetlands and the ecological balance and the relationships between otherwise stationary features. What makes me even more worried is the little phrase which Hansard will reveal. I have no doubt that it is carefully drafted. The Minister said that the inclusion of the phrase would raise additional aspects. It is one of the major aspects. No wonder he does not want it in. I see that the hon. Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Thompson) is present. Perhaps other Conservative Members have contacts in other places. In a sense, the Minister has let the cat out of the bag — or let the coypu out of the bag; they are the same in this respect — in relation to the Government's intentions in resisting the otherwise acceptable amendment.

10.45 pm

I am more worried about the second amendment. Although I understand that clause 4 mirrors other legislation — I gather that is one of the reasons the Minister said that it was not necessary to have SSSIs mapped — we have seen the importance of equilibrium because of the relationship between wet and dry land. It is not so intense in other national parks. In any case, the Minister said, "Oh well, they will be consulting the Nature Conservancy Council and representative bodies. If they say that they should be in, they probably will be". In colloquial terms, that is what the Minister said, although he did mention the Nature Conservancy Council. I take it that if an SSSI is on the map, the map will not be illegal. However, it might be, as the Bill refers to preparing a map showing areas of natural beauty within the Broads. Would any additions to that be illegal? I do not suppose that they would be if the Minister has advised us that other things could be added.

What about adding other things to the map? For the avoidance of doubt, would it not be a good thing to have such matters in? Does the Minister suggest that they are not significant or that they should not be mapped somewhere? Indeed, to the contrary. In a gracious reference to a little misunderstanding that we had — Hansard Will show it—he said that he thought that it would be a good idea to have it on a map. Indeed, that has been done, but the map is not in the Bill. The map is for the guidance of the Committee. No doubt, it will be resurrected in another place, pinned on the wall and the SSSIs will be shown. If they are not there they should be —although, if the Minister said that that they will be there, I am sure that they will. It is good to have the map for Committee discussions. We know that SSSIs are important places. Why should they not be specified in the Bill? The Minister's resistance adds to our worries. We believe that his resistance is based on some other criterion which is not immediately apparent.

Mr. Hardy

Another argument fits that which my hon. Friend is presenting to the House. He will be aware that, in 1973 I introduced a Bill to protect budgies. It was not adequate, although we thought that it was at the time. The matter was examined in connection with another Bill which I successfully piloted through the House in 1975. We thought that it would he adequate, but it was not. We then thought that the Wildlife and Countryside Bill 1981 would be adequate. Experience showed that it was not. My hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark) then brought his amending legislation into the House. It took 10 years to get it right. Although I am not a lawyer and am not particularly well versed in legal matters, I take the view—my hon. Friend might share it—that it is better to have too much rather than too little in the Bill now.

Mr. Spearing

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend for pointing out precedents that show even greater wisdom than my drafting of the amendment supposed. I am grateful to him for the scientific evidence of the need to be comprehensive in these matters. The reasons that the Minister adduced—and I am sure that he did his best—do not add up. For that reason, I think that some of my hon. Friends will show our dissatisfaction in some suitable way.

Amendment negatived.

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