13. Mr. Michael Mc Nair-Wilson
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what discussions he has had with the chairman of the National Farmers Union about bridleways across farming land.
§ Mr. Gummer
I met the deputy president of the National Farmers Union on 13 October, when we discussed, among other things, the question of access to the countryside.
May I urge my right hon. Friend to consider setting up an inquiry into the current network of bridleways? May I suggest to him that there should be an expansion of the bridleways to meet the huge increase in riding as a leisure pursuit, so as to take riders off busy country roads and lanes and to assist farmers who find that the lines of some traditional bridleways are detrimental to good agriculture?
§ Mr. Gummer
I am sure that my hon. Friend is right to stress the need to accept within the countryside the demands of access, which very often run counter to some of the demands of conservation and agriculture. The Ministry tries hard to bring those different demands together. In the meantime, we are discussing with others how best to help gain access to bridleways in the environmentally sensitive areas where we are directly responsible. My right hon. Friend the Minister is discussing with the Countryside Commission how pest to continue to try to produce better access to the countryside for the rider and the pedestrian.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. Before we start on Prime Minister's Question Time, may I appeal to the House for less noise at Prime Minister's Question Time. It is my asessment that noise has increased since we returned after the general election. I do not think that that is good for the reputation of the House and it is not in line with our traditions.