HC Deb 22 March 1989 vol 149 cc1104-27 4.27 pm
Mrs. Ann Taylor (Dewsbury)

I beg to move amendment No. 115, in page 7, line 23, at end insert—' or relating to any land to which this section applies'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments:

No. 116, in page 7, line 41, at end insert— `or relating to any land to which this section applies'. No. 110, in page 7, line 42, leave out paragraph (a) and insert— `(aa) to preserve and maintain public rights of access to areas of woodland, mountain, moor, heath, down, cliff, water areas including reservoirs, or foreshore and other places of natural beauty.'. No. 117, in page 8, line 17, leave out 'and'.

No. 118, in page 8, line 18, at end insert— `or of any other land to which this section applies'. No. 121, in page 8, line 24, at end insert— 'with the exception of access on foot by the public to the land'. No. 119, in page 8, line 26, at end insert— '(6A) This section applies to any land which was owned before the transfer date by a water authority.'.

Mrs. Taylor

The amendments open up an important area of the Bill and I hope that we shall be able to make some progress in our discussions.

The amendments are to clause 7, which relates to: General environmental and recreational duties and which has caused concern to hon. Members on both sides of the House. We all acknowledge that it is important to get this part of the Bill right. When we discussed this matter in Committee, the Minister for Water and Planning gave us many assurances and said that we were worrying unduly about the restrictions on access that might come about as a result of the Bill. He told us that all was well and that there was no need for us to worry. He did not convince us then and he did not completely convince himself, because since our discussions in Committee—not that long ago—the hon. and learned Gentleman has reconsidered the issue.

I do not want to anticipate later debates, but we welcome the Minister's change of heart, as shown by some of the amendments that he is introducing, particularly Government amendment No. 57 on the rights to roam. We raised that issue in Committee and he told us not to worry, but I am glad that he has accepted that there were problems with the Bill as originally drafted.

The Minister for Water and Planning (Mr. Michael Howard)

I am sure that the hon. Lady will recall that during our discussions of these matters in Committee I said that I would keep an open mind and would listen to the argument and that if I was persuaded by the argument I would act accordingly.

Mrs. Taylor

I repeat that I welcome the Minister's amendments. I hope that we shall be able to persuade him to go a little further and that he will be able to reassure us about some of our other concerns about access.

Three main problems still exist with clause 7. The first concerns the weakness of the phraseology in the Bill, in particular the phrase have regard to the desirability of in clause 7. We are still convinced that that phrase does not afford proper protection for the recreational rights now enjoyed by many people.

4.30 pm

The second problem is the need to discover to whom the duties in the clause apply. Will successor companies be included? Amendment No. 119 is aimed at ensuring that the successor companies and any subsidiaries of the new privatised water companies are caught under the obligations that the Bill imposes on water undertakings. The third problem is about charging. Amendment No. 121 deals with that problem and with the pressure on new owners of land to introduce charges even for access on foot: When we discussed these issues in Committee, it was pointed out that the Water Act 1973 put duties on all water authorities and on statutory water companies to make their land available for recreation. Since then some progress has been made; many water authorities have opened up more of their land to the public. Conflicts still arise in some places. For example, the Yorkshire water authority sometimes gives priority to grouse shooters rather than to ramblers. But in general the situation since 1973 has improved and it has been easier to persuade water authorities to open up some of their land.

We pay tribute to those who piloted that measure through the House, including the present Secretary of State for Wales. It is ironic that another Conservative Secretary of State should be sweeping aside that measure, which has worked over the years in the public interest.

The Bill contains two main recreational duties. The first appears in clause 7(2), which states that every relevant body must have regard to the desirability of preserving public rights of access to areas of woodland, mountains, moor, heath, down, cliff or foreshore and other places of natural beauty". When the matter was debated in Committee on 31 January, we interpreted the phrase "public rights of access" to mean just that. But the Minister said that it was wrong for us to conclude that "public rights of access" meant public rights of access, and he said that a wider interpretation covering concessionary routes was necessary or the provision would be an absurdity.

We agreed with the Minister; unless "public rights of access" meant more than simply rights of access, the duty to protect those areas would be meaningless because public rights of access already exist in law and are not in need of special protection. There is agreement on that, it seems.

We are pleased that the Secretary of State has tabled an amendment to end that absurdity. We welcome his move to extend the provision, even though it gives only nominal protection, with the change from "rights of access" to "freedom of access". However, that will be meaningful only if the whole clause has bite and strength. Unfortunately, clause 7 does not have any bite because the duty imposed is only to have regard to the desirability of preserving for the public any freedom of access. That means that nobody need do more than simply think about whether something is desirable. If the new profit-seeking companies decide that the preservation of access is not desirable or that it in some way conflicts with their enterprise activities, the duty will be meaningless.

The second main recreational duty is to be found in clause 7(3). Under the 1973 Act, public bodies managing land owned by the public were told to do what they could to open up their land to the public. Now, what appears to be a similar duty is being placed on the new private water companies.

It is important to remember, however, that private companies are answerable not to the public but to their shareholders. Their priorities will not be those of a public authority. Clause 7(3) states that the National Rivers Authority, water and sewage undertakers and internal drainage boards have a duty to take such steps as are—

  1. (a) reasonably practicable; and
  2. (b) consistent with the purposes of the enactments relating to the functions of that body,
for securing, so long as that body has rights to the use of water or land associated with water, that those rights are exercised so as to ensure that the water or land is made available for recreational purposes and is so made available in the best manner. Those bodies do not have to open up their land if they consider that it is not reasonably practicable or if they think that it is not consistent with the purposes of the enactments relating to their other functions. We accept that there will have to be operational restrictions and that some will be justified in some uses of some of the land. That is bound to be a small proportion of the land, but there will be nothing that the public can do to ensure that these bodies open up the remainder of their land, whereas under the present system the public can publicly press a public body to open up public land to the public, as is right. The ability to pressurise and to make sure that land is opened up will be reduced in future.

There is an important intrinsic difference between a public landowner and a private landowner. While public landowners do not have a perfect record, they have a far better record than private landowners. We have only to consider the record of the statutory water companies, who were under the same obligation under the 1973 Act, to see that they have not opened up their land in the same way that water authorities did in the past. Therefore, we think that the recreational duties are very weak, and we hope that the Minister will accept our point that they should be strengthened.

That brings me to the second question. To whom do these duties apply? Who, exactly, will have to have regard to the desirability of protecting for the public any freedom of access? That is the main point of disagreement between the two sides of the House. I do not think that we disagree on our objective but only on how to achieve it.

In Committee the Minister stated that the extent to which land could be disposed of free of the duties imposed by clause 7 would be severely limited. That conflicts with the advice and the information given in a letter on 4 January from the Department of the Environment to the chairman of Thames regional recreation and conservation consultative committee, which said: These statutory duties will only apply to the plc core business since it would be impossible to justify a blanket extension to subsidiary companies. That worried my hon. Friends and many organisations outside the House. The Ramblers Association, the Open Spaces Society, the British Mountaineering Council and the Youth Hostels Association were so convinced that the Minister was making incorrect statements to the Standing Committee, and that he was misinterpreting the Bill, that they clubbed together and paid for counsel's opinion out of their meagre resources to clarify the legal position. Counsel's opinion stated clearly that the Minister's statement in Committee was wrong. Counsel went on to say—I am sure that the junior Minister has seen this opinion; I know that the Minister of State has— The Minister turns out to be wrong to say that it is not possible, merely by disposing of ownership, to free the use of land from the clause 7 duty. The opinion goes on: The Minister speaks as if the clause 7 duty attaches to the land when in reality it does nothing of the sort. The basic question remains: do the clause 7 recreational duties apply to the land no matter who owns it, or do they apply only to the limited list of relevant bodies defined in the Bill? That is the core of the discussion on this clause.

The purpose of amendment 119 is to ensure that all the duties in the Bill apply to subsidiary bodies. I hope that the Minister will accept that point, because water authorities that are gearing up for privatisation are acting as if the duties will not apply to all the land. I look, for example, to the Yorkshire water authority, which has announced its post-privatisation structure. It intends to split its activities into three divisions, only one of which will be the water undertaker as licensed by the Secretary of State. If the land is owned by either the main holding company or the enterprise division that Yorkshire Water is establishing, which will have a duty to make a profit, that land will escape completely the recreational duties provided for in the Bill. The Minister tells us that the Bill will achieve something that we want it to achieve, but the very clear legal opinion is that it will not.

In a letter of 6 February to Members of Parliament, the Under-Secretary, who will be replying, has made his position clear. I hope that he will accept that amendment No. 119 fulfils the obligations which, in that letter, he spelt out as being necessary. Our amendments make it very clear that clause 7 should be extended so that its provisions will apply to any land owned by the water authority before the transfer date, I hope very much that the Minister will accept that point.

Finally, I want to say a few words about charging, which is the subject of amendment No. 121. Clause 7(5) clearly enables the new owners to introduce charges for public access to open spaces. It says: Nothing in this section or the following provisions of this Act shall require recreational facilities made available by a relevant body to be made available free of charge. The Under-Secretary of State, in his letter, said that he saw no reason to believe that, in practice, access would be made subject to considerations of competition and profit. He said that he found it difficult to envisage circumstances in which the companies would find it sensible or cost-effective to make charges.

However, it is obvious to all of us that, once these private companies are established, their main priority will be to maximise their profits, and they will be under considerable pressure to do so. Therefore, charges will be introduced, and they will be set at a very high level—or at the highest level possible in accordance with the workings of those companies. Obviously, charges cannot be introduced for walking where there are rights of way, or for walking over land where there is a right of access. But most public access to water authority land is not as of right. That is the nub of the debate. In the majority of cases, access is enjoyed only by the permission of the water authority, and it is that access which is under threat and for which charges might be introduced after privatisation.

If the Government have no intention of allowing or encouraging charges to be introduced for rambling I see no reason why they cannot support our amendment No. 121, which states that if charges are to be made for recreation, they should be made with the exception of access on foot by the public to the land". We are talking about large areas of land in areas of outstanding natural beauty which are enjoyed by the public who own it and who have rights of access that have been granted on a concessionary basis by the water authorities. That access is seriously threatened both by the provisions in the Bill which could deny any access and by those that could allow charging.

The new water companies will be operating under considerable pressure to maximise their profits. The access that we have all enjoyed for so long could become a thing of the past if the Bill is enacted unamended. I therefore hope that the Minister and the House will accept our amendments.

4.45 pm
Mr. Gordon Oakes (Halton)

I wish to support my hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) on amendment No. 119 in particular. I have no pecuniary interest, but I should declare an interest as a vice-president of the Association of County Councils. My hon. Friend mentioned several organisations, such as the Ramblers Association. On an all-party basis, the Association of County Councils is worried about what the Government are doing in terms of recreation and conservation as the water authorities are major land owners in this country.

The Association of County Councils is especially concerned about what happened in Committee. It feels that the greatest potential weakness in the draft code proposed by Ministers in Committee was the suggestion that it should apply only to land directly related to water supply and works. I stress the words "directly related". In Committee, the Minister accepted that the vast areas of land currently owned by the water authorities but not used in their core water operations might not be covered by the code, so the water plcs set up by the private companies to manage their non-operational lands will not be covered by the proposed duties in relation to conservation, recreation and public access.

Clause 6 places a duty on those private companies— understandably, because they are private companies—to be concerned with economy and with profit-making, but we are dealing with institutions which hitherto have had a public responsibility. Clause 6 conflicts with anything that the code may state. The private companies can say that they have a duty under clause 6 to make a profit and that any code in operation must he secondary to that.

The Association of County Councils is worried because several councils are affected, including national park land in Cumbria, north Yorkshire, Devon, Somerset and the Peak District. In all those areas, water authorities own large amounts of land, some of which is not directly related to their core activities. The Secretary of State has tabled amendments to maintain public access to certain areas in the Lake District and the Elan valley, but they do not go nearly far enough and they neglect and ignore all the other areas to which the public now have access and where conservation is an issue. Such land is not exactly public land, but the public have rights over the land because it is overseen by a responsible public body rather than one designed purely to make a profit for its shareholders.

Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley)

Is my right hon. Friend fully aware of the Secretary of State's comments yesterday when he made it clear that one of the main objectives of the Bill is the privatisation of the 500,000 acres of land at present owned by the water authorities? My hon. Friend's fears about the future of recreation and access are therefore justified because the lands will obviously be flogged off to make money for the water authorities.

Mr. Oakes

My hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) is absolutely right. The clear object of the Bill is to make money for the shareholders because they will face great difficulties with the European Community and the standards of water purity and sea pollution. The only way for this rip-off to take place and for shares to be sold is by selling the land. I mentioned Devon, Somerset and north Yorkshire. Conservative Members should not think that I am talking about Labour-controlled councils because those are all solidly Conservative controlled, but they are worried about the Bill, as is the Association of County Councils.

I do not want to delay the debate because we face the guillotine, but I plead with the Minister to accept amendment No. 119.

Mr. Richard Livsey (Brecon and Radnor)

I wish to draw the attention of the House to my amendment No. 110 in this series. The amendment draws attention to the necessity To preserve and maintain public rights of access to areas of woodland, mountain, moor, heath, down, cliff, water areas including reservoirs, or foreshore and other places of natural beauty. It is essential that that right should be continued and protection given to those areas after privatisation has taken place, as I fear that it may.

I wish to draw the Minister's attention to an anachronism in my constituency, about 10 per cent. of which, under the Bill, is to be flogged off. We have heard that the Elan valley is apparently to be given some protection. I certainly welcome that because it is an improvement on the present position. That area is particularly important because, since the Water Act 1973 and the rights that have been mentioned came into being, there have been developments at Llanwrtyd Wells in my constituency, to which thousands of walkers on international walks have been attracted. Very often, at the weekend, there are 300 or 400 of them using the rights of way in that area. A tourist industry of considerable importance has grown up in this remote area. People from as far away as New Zealand come to walk there and enjoy the Welsh countryside. It is important that they should have continued access to this part of the world. I assume that continued access will be ensured, partly through the Birmingham Corporation Act 1892. The Victorians were far-sighted enough to ensure that people would have the right to enjoy the countryside and fresh air.

We should compare that area with another part of my constituency—the 21,000 acres that the Welsh water authority owns in the Brecon Beacons national park, where there are a number of reservoirs at Talybont, Dolygaer, Pontsticill, Taf Fechan and other places. At present, people have access in those places to go to the foreshore for fishing and other recreational pursuits. There are rights of way through the area, which is on the edge of an area with a population of 1 million people in south Wales—mainly in Glamorgan—who make great use of those access facilities at the weekend for their enjoyment. If subsidiary companies are formed for recreational purposes by, for example, Welsh Water plc, it is absolutely vital that access continues to be allowed to that land.

I am pleased that Government amendments Nos. 61 and 62—I realise that we are not discussing them now—indicate a considerable change of heart on the part of the Government in relation to allowing more access, which I welcome. However, we must also consider charging, and the desirability to have regard, as the Bill puts it——

Mr. Nicholas Soames (Crawley)

I entirely sympathise with the point that the hon. Gentleman is making. Is he not aware that substantial safeguards on precisely the points that he raises are already built into the Bill?

Mr. Livsey

The Bill contains some safeguards, but we have tabled our amendments because those safeguards are insufficient. That is certainly the view of many people outside the House. There is no doubt that the interpretation of the Bill, after privatisation, will be vital in determining whether people will have ready access to the land. Concern has been expressed by the Countryside Commission, the National Trust and the national parks about such problems. It is to be hoped that the Government will accept the amendments as improvements to their own and ensure cast-iron guarantees of access so that people may continue to enjoy areas that they have previously enjoyed, especially areas of outstanding natural beauty.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)

I shall press the amendments of my hon. Friends because I am keen to ensure that conflict does not return to the countryside. As a young person I went out walking and climbing from Manchester virtually every Sunday for 10 years. I remember the end of an era when there was considerable conflict between walkers and climbers, and between gamekeepers and water bailiffs. Fortunately, most of that conflict has disappeared from the countryside as a result of access agreements and a more enlightened attitude by water authorities and others.

I still remember when we had lumps of peat thrown at us by one of the water bailiffs who wanted us off the rock climb. I also remember when we were taken off Stockport water authority land on the banks of Kinder Scout simply because we brewed up with a primus stove. I shall not recount to the House all the tricks that we got up to as teenagers in order to get revenge on the water bailiffs and gamekeepers, but certainly some of them had nothing to do with maintaining water purity.

I do not believe that the Government deliberately want to bring back an era of conflict in the countryside, but I warn them that if sufficient people find that their rights of access to the countryside have been diminished, they will fight hard to protect them. I fear that, perhaps as a result of the misdrafting of the Bill, or the Government's failure to put the case clearly, there is much confusion. Many people feel that, as a result of that confusion, and the inaccuracies within the Bill, that conflict may return. It is the duty of the House to ensure that the Bill—however bad —is clear and does not encourage future conflict in the countryside. People's rights of access should be clearly set out.

I am concerned about three major points. First, existing rights should be absolutely guaranteed for the future. Secondly, anything that people have previously enjoyed free of charge should not be charged for. Thirdly, the legislation should encourage the establishment of new rights.

5 pm

There will not be much problem about recorded public rights of way, but in many parts of the country there are many public rights of way which have never been recorded. Although they might be put on the map at some point, on the whole no one has argued about them because they are de facto rights of way—one can see the path clearly—and for 10 or 15 years no one has stopped people using them.

In the Peak district and increasingly in other national parks and in areas within them that are owned by the water authorities there are areas that are subject to access agreements which have played a major part. I want an absolute guarantee from the Minister that all such areas are protected in the legislation, not only in the context of the new water companies but in that of any subsidiary bodies to which they may give rise. My hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) said that the Minister claimed in Committee that the new bodies would be bound to protect public rights and that any subsidiary bodies or new companies resulting from changes of ownership of the land would he so bound.

It seems that counsel's opinion suggests that the Minister was wrong, and we need to clarify whether the Minister still believes that his opinion was right and why he thinks that the legal opinion is wrong—if he does. We need a guarantee at the end of the debate that all existing rights will be continued by the water companies in their water activities and in any other use or sale of the land into which they enter.

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

In order to assist the hon. Gentleman on this specific point, may I tell him that counsel's opinion, to which he referred, said that in certain circumstances the duty might not be effective. These limited and technical circumstances are being considered carefully, but generally speaking, if the undertakers continue to use the land transferred for their functions, the duties will bite in full.

Mr. Bennett

The Minister said that the Government are reviewing the position. Is that an undertaking that if he cannot give us a clear statement today a clear statement will be given to the House of Lords where, if necessary, the Government will table amendments? Would the Minister like to give us that assurance?

Mr. Moynihan

I made it clear that, as we have just received counsel's opinion and have listened carefully to the representations made by my hon. Friend the Member for High Peak (Mr. Hawkins) and the Ramblers Association, it is right and proper that we should consider the limited and technical arguments that have been put forward. If we see the need to return to the House and take the matter further, we shall. We do not believe that the position of the Ramblers Association, as set out in its press release, is accurate, but we accept that counsel's opinion referred to specific circumstances which we need to review in detail. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will welcome that.

Mr. Bennett

The Minister has not made it as clear as I should like that he will table an amendment, but I think the gist of his point is that, if necessary, he will. I am sure that the other place will examine it carefully.

The Minister talked about water undertaking activities. The bodies about which I am concerned, such as the Ramblers Association and the Peak and Northern Footpaths Society, want a guarantee that the duty will apply not only to land retained for water gathering but to land which may be passed on to other bodies. In large areas in the west Pennines, where water gathering was established in the last century, water-gathering activities are no longer particularly economic because of the better use of water and the bigger reservoirs at Hirlmere, Hawes water and Vyrnwy have come into use. Some of those reservoirs might be taken out of use—I know that there are safety arguments, and so on. I am determined that not only the water authorities but any bodies to which they dispose of land will have this duty.

Access must be free. I hope the Minister will make it absolutely clear that there is no intention to charge people who go on foot. I accept the argument for charging for some services such as car parking.

I want to press the Minister on new rights. I am sure that he is well aware that one of the problems, particularly in the Pennines but also elsewhere, is that the overuse of some footpaths has led to severe problems of erosion. There is a great deal of concern about the Pennine way, some sections of which have to be protected artificially because of the large numbers of people who use them. One of the best ways of protecting paths is to encourage people to use alternatives. By developing access agreements the Peak District national park has enabled people to go to areas such as Kinder Scout, where they can choose where to go rather than follow a specific footpath that might suffer dramatically from erosion.

I want a guarantee that there will be clear powers to ensure that new access agreements can be created on water land in cases in which that would clearly be in the interests of the conservation of footpaths or of an area in general. There must be no charges for such access agreements. All the national parks make the point that the Government have not been overgenerous with their funding, and that there are problems with paying for access agreements. At the moment the Peak district park makes only modest payments, which usually go to local farmers rather than to the water authority or the large landowners. I should not like any restrictions on the development of new access agreements because the new water companies demanded large sums of money.

I want a guarantee that the Minister will introduce clarity and ensure that conflict in the countryside does not arise. I want him to guarantee that existing rights are preserved and that no system of charges will be introduced. There must be a system that will ensure that new and greater access to the areas that are held by the water companies can be opened up.

Mr. Christopher Hawkins (High Peak)

The hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) said that the opinion of the Ramblers Association's Queen's counsel firmly stated that the duties imposed in the Bill for recreation and access did not relate to land whoever it was owned by. The opinion was not quite as firm or all-embracing as that, although I agree with the hon. Lady that certain aspects are not properly protected in the Bill. I arranged the meeting between my hon. and learned Friend the Minister and the Ramblers Association and its QC at which the association expressed its worries.

I thank the Government for responding to the anxieties of the public, especially in areas such as my constituency, which has been mentioned several times, and for tabling amendments to meet some of those concerns.

I support what the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) said; we want to know that the Bill will protect not only the legal and statutory rights of access but all existing rights that have been agreed on a voluntary or permissive basis by the water authorities, sometimes in a public-spirited way to which I pay tribute. I also agree with the hon. Gentleman that we do not want people to be charged for access to the national parks or to have little people with machines asking for money for tickets as climbers come down a steep limestone face in the Peak district. There is a case for some areas of the countryside to be freely available—by which I mean, at no charge—to members of the public.

It would greatly help to increase public support for the Bill if Ministers made it clear that these rights and freedoms will be protected. If they are not fully protected by the amendments tabled today, which I welcome—I am pleased that my hon. Friend intervened to say that Ministers are still considering the legal advice that has been given to them—I hope that steps will be taken in another place completely to clarify the issues so that the public do not feel that the Bill removes current rights to access.

Mr. Chris Mullin (Sunderland, South)

As I am sure you will be aware, Mr. Deputy Speaker, we live in the age of the looter. Public assets which have been accumulated over 100 years due to the foresight of our ancestors are now, in every walk of life—and water is only the latest —being auctioned off to the highest bidder and the proceeds used to fuel the illusion of prosperity. No doubt the perpetrators will be in Bermuda by the time the roof comes in, and the Labour party will then be called in to clear up the mess.

When this subject was raised in Committee, Tory Members became quite agitated when I said that behind the urbane and civilised men and one or two women on the Conservative Benches lay every species of spiv and con man known to civilisation. I know that some Conservative Members care about what happens to the great land assets owned by the water authorities, but they are very few. That must be our conclusion, particularly because only one Conservative Back Bencher has had anything to say on this issue today. Increasingly we are falling to the tender mercies of the estate agents and accountants who clutter up the Conservative Benches.

What is about to happen to the half a million or more acres of some of our most beautiful landscape owned by the water authorities is, I am afraid, a result of the actions of Conservative Members. There have been many references to beautiful landscape in the Peak district national park, in Thirlmere and in Kielder which is within the Northumbrian water authority area close to my constituency. Reference was also made to the Elan valley.

Yesterday the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton (Mr. Latham) entered special pleas for exemption from proposed development for land in or near his constituency. It would be easier to take such pleas seriously if there was a general concern on the Conservative Benches about what might happen. It is a little distasteful to hear Conservative Members asking for exemptions or assurances from Ministers simply for a particular landscape or site which happens to be close to their constituents and their own backyards. We would like to see the measures in clause 7 addressed to all the assets and not just to those where personal concerns are involved.

Mr. Deputy Speaker, did you see that excellent "Panorama" programme on Monday evening about the impending privatisation of the water authorities? It contained an interview with a farmer in Thirlmere in the Lake district. He was a water authority tenant who had farmed there all his life, as had his father before him. The father was recovering from cancer and was worried whether the tenancy would survive to be handed on to his son. He was also concerned to know whether the cowsheds on his farm were to be handed over for development and turned into luxury yuppie housing. We may have thought that it was basic enough to get an assurance about this as it must be the easiest case in the world for such an assurance to be forthcoming. However, "Panorama" could not obtain an assurance from North West Water that there were no such plans. That provides a clue about the future and it must be matched against any assurances which we may receive from time to time from the Government Front Bench.

All the signs are that those who are about to buy up the water industry and the land that goes with it consider the assets ripe for looting and can hardly wait to get their hands on it. Clause 7 brings us to the heart of the matter. It is a grudging acknowledgment by the Government that there are assets worth preserving and that there is something worth handing over to our ancestors.

As my Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) said from the Opposition Front Bench, and as many hon. Members of all shades of opinion have said, it is pathetically weak to use phrases like "having regard to", "take into account", "desirability" or "reasonably practical". The purpose of the amendment is to mitigate the great damage which we believe will be inflicted on the half million or so acres owned by the water authorities.

5.15 pm

The concern is very widespread. All the members of the Standing Committee were deluged by briefs from every conceivable interest. Only in the past few days, I received a brief from the Council for the Protection of Rural England which states: There is no technical justification why the freehold of the half a million acres of land currently owned by the water authorities should be transferred to the new water utility PLCs. It also states: There are currently no effective arrangements in the Bill to safeguard the existing public interests which are currently enshrined in all water authority land under section 48 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. The Secretary of State's watchdog role over the clause 7 environmental duties is hopelessly inadequate, since he will only be able to intervene on a sporadic and post hoc basis. That is not a party political broadcast from the Labour party. That is the view of the Council for the Protection of Rural England which enjoys the support of many people who, on most issues, take the opposite view from that of my hon. Friends and I.

The CPRE proposes something more robust than is contained in the amendments. It wants to see all the land presently vested in the water companies handed over to the National Rivers Authority and administered and protected in that way. Our amendments are more modest in the hope that they will extract a generous reply from the Minister.

Amendment No. 121 seeks to exempt from charges access on foot to water authority land. Amendment No. 119 seeks to bring all water authority land within the miserly protection proposed in clauses 7 to 9. We had a discussion in Committee about the code of practice provided for in clause 9, which is supposed to give effect to the good intentions in clause 7. The essential flaw is that the code of practice is completely unenforceable. It is totally advisory and no one need take the blindest bit of notice of it and all the signs are that that is what will happen. The most outrageous flaw—we have pursued the Minister about this—is that the code of practice does not apply to land hived off to subsidiary companies owned by privatised water companies. It will not apply to land which is sold.

We pursued the Minister up hill and down dale over that. He wriggled a great deal, but we eventually extracted one or two points. He said that the code and the good intentions in clause 7 would apply to what he called all "operational land". There is no definition in the Bill of "operational land". We do not know whether that is land on which a sewage station or a reservoir is located. We do not know whether the definition is wider than that. However, we have some clues.

Several weeks ago, the hon. Member for Delyn (Mr. Raffan) was told by the Secretary of State for the Environment that 95 per cent. of the Elan valley—88,000 acres—would be regarded as "operational land". If that is so, it is quite encouraging. However, there is nothing in the Bill to suggest that it is so. I suspect, as many of my hon. Friends and people outside this place suspect, that this rather pathetic protection will apply to a damn sight less than 95 per cent. of the 550,000 acres currently owned by the water authorities.

We take note of what the Minister confirmed in Committee—that "operational land" would apply to 95 per cent. of the Elan valley. Other hon. Members have drawn the Minister's attention to the counsel's opinion and no doubt the Minister will want to comment on it. Our amendments are modest and do not do justice to the outrage that is understandably felt about what will happen to parts of our most beautiful landscapes. I commend them to the House.

Mr. Pike

I shall be brief because we want to hear the Minister's comments on these important amendments before we vote under the guillotine.

Leaving aside the Bill's privatisation aspects, clause 7 and the related provisions, more than any other, have been the subject of lobbying of right hon. and hon. Members in all parts of the Committee. That shows the genuine concern that is felt and why, despite moves made by the Government since the Committee stage, it is necessary to make further amendments. The Minister said that he is considering legal opinion and may make further changes, if he deems that appropriate, when the Bill is considered in another place. I accept the basis on which the Minister gave that assurance, but I hope that he will also be prepared to meet representatives of the organisations that are expressing concern.

Even at this stage, it is unsatisfactory for the Minister to give just this House and another place assurances about the Government's intentions, because they must also convince others outside. Even if the Minister does not recognise this, there is a credibility gap about the Government's intentions between them and the Ramblers Association, the British Mountaineering Council, the Greater Manchester countryside unit, the CPRE, and the National Trust. I could rattle off the names of organisation after organisation and read out any number of comments from various briefs, including one from anglers. The Minister must convince not only Parliament but those outside who are actively concerned about ensuring that in respect of access to land currently owned by water authorities the status quo will be at least maintained if not improved.

Many more people are concerned about the Government's real intention, having heard of the response made by the Secretary of State for the Environment in yesterday's main debate, when he said that one of the Bill's important objectives is the privatisation of 500,000 acres of land. We have said all along that that was the Bill's fundamental objective, and that the only way in which privatisation will pay is by people making money from the land they can acquire. The Secretary of State let that out of the bag yesterday, underlining that that was the Bill's main objective. Whether or not he did so intentionally, I do not know—but he did it.

The organisations whose fears we are expressing will be even more fearful of the consequences of clause 7 if amendments are not made. If the Government are not prepared to move today, there will be even less time available for dealing with that aspect, because the Bill has only to pass through the other place. I hope that the Government recognise the genuine fears that exist and that they must do something if they are not to lose the confidence of people throughout the country who want to ensure that recreational opportunities—whether for rambling, angling, or whatever—are retained.

Mr. Moynihan

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I are more than happy to meet relevant bodies to discuss the important issues that have been raised. Yesterday, I met representatives of the Sports Council, and a couple of days ago I met the chairmen of all the regional councils for sport and recreation, when we discussed those issues in considerable detail. My hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Water and Planning met with my hon. Friend the Member for High Peak (Mr. Hawkins) and other representatives of the Ramblers Association. We shall of course continue to consider representations, not least those on recommendations concerning the code of practice, which Ministers can still review.

The hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) reflected on my right hon. Friend's comments of yesterday evening, but he should have listened more carefully to my right hon. Friend's remarks about land. Most national parks land is, and always has been, in private ownership. Ninety-seven per cent. of the Yorkshire dales national park is in private ownership, and—if one includes 10 per cent. held by the National Trust—88 per cent. of Exmoor is privately owned, yet one does not see that land desecrated and spoilt by undesirable development.

It is an inescapable fact that proper regulation does not require public ownership. If it did, not one acre of land on these islands would be other than in public ownership. With planning controls and the proper regulation that we support and are providing, land can be as well protected in the private sector as in the public. If public bodies do not need land for proper public functions, why should they have it?

The Bill preserves in full, in clause 7(2) and (3), the present obligations of water authorities to have regard to the desirability of preserving public rights of access to land and to put their water and land to the best recreational use. Those are broad and substantial duties, but in Committee my hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Water and Planning said that we wanted to consider ways in which they can be further strengthened, clarified and updated. Public access to the water authorities' estates is of great importance because the authorities hold in highland and upland areas much land of great environmental and recreational significance.

We concluded that the general power in clause 180 to vary by order local statutory provision as a consequence of the Bill shall not apply to so much of such provisions as concerns public access and amenity. That is particularly relevant to the Manchester and Birmingham local Acts, and my hon. and learned Friend gave an assurance in Committee that the Government have no intention of using that power to revoke or amend the important provisions of those Acts, which provide for public access to the Elan valley and to parts of the Lake district and Peak district.

Mr. Roger Knapman (Stroud)

Does my hon. Friend accept that the Forestry Commission already charges the public for access to some of its land in my constituency, even when they are on foot?

Mr. Moynihan

I accept that, and it is vital that the flexibility that exists and has operated well in the past does not change in the future. I shall deal later with the specific subject of charging. My hon. Friend makes a pertinent point, because to accept the amendment would be to lose the freedom to make appropriate charges, not least to meet the cost of restocking rivers with fish—an activity requiring much energy, effort and financial expenditure. If charges are necessary for that purpose, there should be no prohibition on their being made in future.

The Ramblers Association and other interested bodies welcomed our assurances, but after further discussion on rights of way, we agreed that it is right that our firm intention should be reflected in the Bill. Some concern has been expressed about clause 7(2), which imposes on the National Rivers Authority and the undertakers the obligation to have regard to the desirability of preserving public rights of access to water authority land, and about whether that provision should be much clearer about its application to permissive or concessionary routes and, further, to the important and significant right to roam. We concluded that it is important to amend the Bill to embrace all those rights, to ensure that, in future, not just statutory rights of way but permissive or concessionary rights of access and the right to roam are embraced. We achieved that by proposing an amendment to leave out the words "public rights" and insert for the public any freedom of access to make it explicit that we are preserving for the public freedom of access to the land in question—whether one is considering statutory rights of way, permissive or concessionary rights of access, or the right to roam. I very much hope that the two Government amendments that relate to this debate will be welcomed by both sides of the House.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Moynihan

No. I shall move on and rapidly cover the other points that were raised.

The hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) raised three significant and important points, and I shall swiftly respond to them.

5.30 pm

The amendments focus on the central features of the general environmental duties concerning conservation, public access and recreation to be imposed on the NRA and the appointed companies. I remind the House of the scope of our proposals. First, they preserve for the privatised industry all the present duties of the public sector. That includes the duty to further conservation and to put its water and land to the best use for recreation. Those duties are supplemented by a duty on the NRA generally to promote conservation and recreation. In addition, all the duties are made enforceable by the Secretary of State who is to take into account how far the companies have complied with the code of practice which we have already published in draft and which represents the fullest expression so far of what good practice in those matters represents. Therefore, there are absolutely no grounds for arguing that conservation, access and recreation are inadequately covered in the Bill. The water industry will be subject to fuller and clearer obligations after privatisation. Those obligations are more substantial than those attaching to any other industry in the country in the public or private sector.

In amendments Nos. 115 to 118 the House is asked to apply those duties not only to the performance of functions but to the ownership of land. Amendment No. 119 seeks to extend the duties to any successor owners of the land. Let me begin with the proposals that the duties should attach not only to the performance of functions but to the ownership of any land. The central question is simple. The general environmental duties in the Bill are special ones designed to apply specifically to water industry functions, reflecting their uniquely extensive impact on the environment through the collection and control of water resources, draining operations and pipelaying and sewage activities. The nature of those functions, and not any characteristics of the land in question, requires those obligations. What logic could there be in applying them to the ownership of that land? It would create a quite unparalleled protective regime for land, based not on any special quality or requirement of the land, or any pressures or operations to which it might be subject, but simply because the land happens to be or to have been in the ownership of an appointed company.

Hon. Members can imagine the absurdities to which the amendments would lead. One can readily visualise small patches of urban land of no conservation or amenity value whose use for housing, employment or some other social need was for ever blighted by the need for further conservation and recreation in ways related to the performance of functions that it no longer serves. The general management and use of land outside the special functions of the industry are matters for the planning system to regulate.

The same considerations apply to amendment No. 119 which would extend the duties to any successor owner of the land. As long as the conservation, access and landscape duties apply to the performance of all water industry functions, full and sufficient protection is afforded.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Moynihan

No, I cannot give way.

The hon. Lady stated that "having regard to" duties are ineffective. That is wrong. Under that duty the water authorities have been opening up access and taking down fences since 1974, and, in any case, the Bill makes the duty fully enforceable by the Secretary of State. It is also irrelevant. Ramblers and climbers are further protected by the duty in clause 7(4) on companies to put their lands to best use for recreation. That is an unqualified duty, not a "have regard to" duty.

The hon. Lady referred to counsel's opinion about transfers to subsidiary companies. I hope that I have made it clear to the House that the opinion suggests that in certain circumstances the duty might not be effective. As I mentioned, we are considering the limited and technical arguments in the opinion, and if a technical amendment to the Bill is necessary, we shall table such an amendment, but, generally speaking, if undertakers continue to use any land transferred for their functions, the duties will bite.

Finally, the hon. Lady referred to charging. Nothing in the Bill changes the present position. The provision in clause 7(5) exists simply to make it clear that companies, like water authorities now, can charge for the use of recreational facilities. That must be right, as that flexibility needs to continue. The scare stories put about by Opposition Members are quite wrong. For the most part, the water authorities do not charge but allow people to roam freely on their lands in the highlands and uplands. Quite reasonably, there are often charges for car parks and jetties, but not for ordinary access on foot. Where no specific facilities are provided, the levying of charges has usually been considered unrealistic and impractical. Without the amendment, that sensible and pragmatic position is expected to continue.

I have touched very briefly on the main points raised in the debate. I apologise to the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) for not giving way, but it gives the Opposition Front Bench the opportunity to respond.

Ms. Walley

Because of the guillotine, there is not time for me to raise with the Minister some of the important comments made and issues raised in the debate. The Opposition wish to make clear three basic points. First, we want clause 7 to have teeth, and our amendments give the clause teeth. Secondly, the Minister tells us that he is currently having discussions with the Ramblers Association, the Sports Council and other bodies. Now is the time for action. The Bill will soon be the law of the land and, unless we receive some real assurances from the Government, there will no longer be any time for further talks.

Access to land is an old problem which has been with us for a century. Organisations such as the Ramblers Association have been campaigning for proper access to land, whether it is in private or public ownership. We want there to be public access to all the land in the ownership of the water authorities post-privatisation. When we debated this matter in Committee it appeared that there was no difference between the views of the Government and the Opposition, yet the necesary provisions are still not spelt out clearly in the Bill.

The amendments are very clear, and if the House accepts them, or if the Government give us an assurance that they will accept them in another place, we shall ensure that there is access to all the land, which people throughout the country have campaigned and fought for for years, and for which in certain parts of the country they are still campaigning, with the help of organisations such as the Ramblers Association. For that reason, we feel that the amendments are important.

Thirdly, if the Government consider that it is not necessary to include our amendment which would remove the right to charge people for access to the land on foot, why does he not accept it now? Does the Minister envisage that in the future the new companies will not charge only for facilities, which would not be unreasonable, and that it will be in order for new companies to charge people to travel on foot over land which has been open for a long time?

Amendment negatived.

Amendments made: No. 61, in page 7, line 42 leave out `public rights' and insert 'for the public any freedom'. No. 62, in page 7, line 46 leave out 'rights' and insert 'freedom'.

No. 26, in page 8, line 21 at end insert— '(4A) It shall be the duty of a relevant body, in determining what steps to take in performance of any duty imposed by virtue of subsection (3) or (4)(c) above, to take into account the needs of persons who are chronically sick or disabled.'.—[Mr. Moynihan.]

Amendment proposed: No. 121, in page 8, line 24 at end insert `with the exception of access on foot by the public to the land'.—[Mrs. Ann Taylor.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 204, Noes 285.

Division No. 130] [5.39 pm
Allen, Graham Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)
Anderson, Donald Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Battle, John
Armstrong, Hilary Beaumont-Dark, Anthony
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Beckett, Margaret
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Ashton, Joe Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Bermingham, Gerald
Bidwell, Sydney Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Blair, Tony Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Blunkett, David Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Boateng, Paul Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Boyes, Roland Illsley, Eric
Bradley, Keith Ingram, Adam
Bray, Dr Jeremy Janner, Greville
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Johnston, Sir Russell
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Buckley, George J. Kennedy, Charles
Caborn, Richard Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Callaghan, Jim Kirkwood, Archy
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Leadbitter, Ted
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Leighton, Ron
Cartwright, John Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Lewis, Terry
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Litherland, Robert
Clay, Bob Livingstone, Ken
Clelland, David Livsey, Richard
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Coleman, Donald Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) McAvoy, Thomas
Cook, Robin (Livingston) McCartney, Ian
Corbett, Robin Macdonald, Calum A.
Corbyn, Jeremy McFall, John
Cousins, Jim McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Crowther, Stan McKelvey, William
Cryer, Bob McTaggart, Bob
Cummings, John McWilliam, John
Cunliffe, Lawrence Mahon, Mrs Alice
Cunningham, Dr John Marek, Dr John
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I) Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Dewar, Donald Maxton, John
Dixon, Don Meacher, Michael
Dobson, Frank Meale, Alan
Doran, Frank Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Douglas, Dick Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Moonie, Dr Lewis
Eadie, Alexander Morgan, Rhodri
Eastham, Ken Morley, Elliott
Evans, John (St Helens N) Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Fatchett, Derek Mowlam, Marjorie
Faulds, Andrew Mullin, Chris
Fearn, Ronald Murphy, Paul
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Nellist, Dave
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Flynn, Paul O'Brien, William
Foster, Derek Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Foulkes, George Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Fraser, John Patchett, Terry
Fyfe, Maria Pendry, Tom
Galbraith, Sam Pike, Peter L.
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
George, Bruce Prescott, John
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Quin, Ms Joyce
Godman, Dr Norman A. Radice, Giles
Gould, Bryan Randall, Stuart
Graham, Thomas Redmond, Martin
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Reid, Dr John
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Richardson, Jo
Grocott, Bruce Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Harman, Ms Harriet Rogers, Allan
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Rooker, Jeff
Haynes, Frank Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Rowlands, Ted
Heffer, Eric S. Ruddock, Joan
Henderson, Doug Salmond, Alex
Hinchliffe, David Sedgemore, Brian
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Sheerman, Barry
Hood, Jimmy Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) Skinner, Dennis
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Hoyle, Doug Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S) Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Soley, Clive Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Spearing, Nigel Wigley, Dafydd
Steel, Rt Hon David Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Steinberg, Gerry Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Stott, Roger Wilson, Brian
Strang, Gavin Winnick, David
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Taylor, Matthew (Truro) Winterton, Nicholas
Turner, Dennis Wise, Mrs Audrey
Vaz, Keith Worthington, Tony
Wall, Pat Young, David (Bolton SE)
Wallace, James
Walley, Joan Tellers for the Ayes:
Wardell, Gareth (Gower) Mr. Allen Adams and
Wareing, Robert N. Mrs. Llin Golding.
Adley, Robert Devlin, Tim
Alexander, Richard Dicks, Terry
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Dorrell, Stephen
Allason, Rupert Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Dover, Den
Amess, David Dunn, Bob
Amos, Alan Durant, Tony
Arbuthnot, James Dykes, Hugh
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Eggar, Tim
Ashby, David Emery, Sir Peter
Aspinwall, Jack Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Baldry, Tony Fallon, Michael
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Favell, Tony
Batiste, Spencer Fenner, Dame Peggy
Bellingham, Henry Fishburn, John Dudley
Bendall, Vivian Forman, Nigel
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Benyon, W. Forth, Eric
Bevan, David Gilroy Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Biffen, Rt Hon John Franks, Cecil
Blackburn, Dr John G. Freeman, Roger
Body, Sir Richard French, Douglas
Boscawen, Hon Robert Fry, Peter
Boswell, Tim Gale, Roger
Bottomley, Peter Gardiner, George
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Gill, Christopher
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Glyn, Dr Alan
Bowis, John Goodhart, Sir Philip
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Goodlad, Alastair
Brazier, Julian Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Bright, Graham Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Gorst, John
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Gow, Ian
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Buck, Sir Antony Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Budgen, Nicholas Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Burt, Alistair Gregory, Conal
Butler, Chris Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Grylls, Michael
Carrington, Matthew Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Cash, William Hague, William
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Chapman, Sydney Hampson, Dr Keith
Chope, Christopher Hanley, Jeremy
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hannam, John
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'Il Gr')
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Harris, David
Colvin, Michael Haselhurst, Alan
Conway, Derek Hawkins, Christopher
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Hayes, Jerry
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Cope, Rt Hon John Hayward, Robert
Cormack, Patrick Heathcoat-Amory, David
Couchman, James Heddle, John
Cran, James Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Critchley, Julian Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Curry, David Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Holt, Richard
Davis, David (Boothferry) Hordern, Sir Peter
Howard, Michael Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Pawsey, James
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Porter, David (Waveney)
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Portillo, Michael
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Powell, William (Corby)
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Price, Sir David
Hunter, Andrew Raffan, Keith
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Irvine, Michael Rathbone, Tim
Irving, Charles Redwood, John
Jack, Michael Renton, Tim
Janman, Tim Rhodes James, Robert
Jessel, Toby Riddick, Graham
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Key, Robert Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Kilfedder, James Roe, Mrs Marion
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Rossi, Sir Hugh
Kirkhope, Timothy Rost, Peter
Knapman, Roger Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Ryder, Richard
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Sackville, Hon Tom
Knox, David Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Lang, Ian Sayeed, Jonathan
Latham, Michael Scott, Nicholas
Lawrence, Ivan Shaw, David (Dover)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Lilley, Peter Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Shersby, Michael
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Sims, Roger
Lord, Michael Skeet, Sir Trevor
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
McCrindle, Robert Soames, Hon Nicholas
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Speller, Tony
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Squire, Robin
Maclean, David Stanbrook, Ivor
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Steen, Anthony
Madel, David Stern, Michael
Major, Rt Hon John Stevens, Lewis
Malins, Humfrey Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Mans, Keith Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Maples, John Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Marlow, Tony Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Sumberg, David
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Tapsell, Sir Peter
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Mates, Michael Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Maude, Hon Francis Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Mellor, David Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Miller, Sir Hal Temple-Morris, Peter
Mills, Iain Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Moate, Roger Thorne, Neil
Monro, Sir Hector Thurnham, Peter
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Morrison, Sir Charles Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester) Tracey, Richard
Moss, Malcolm Tredinnick, David
Moynihan, Hon Colin Trippier, David
Mudd, David Trotter, Neville
Needham, Richard Twinn, Dr Ian
Nelson, Anthony Waddington, Rt Hon David
Neubert, Michael Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Nicholls, Patrick Waller, Gary
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Warren, Kenneth
Norris, Steve Watts, John
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Wells, Bowen
Oppenheim, Phillip Wheeler, John
Page, Richard Whitney, Ray
Paice, James Widdecombe, Ann
Patnick, Irvine Wiggin, Jerry
Patten, Chris (Bath) Wilshire, David
Patten, John (Oxford W) Wood, Timothy
Woodcock, Mike Tellers for the Noes:
Yeo, Tim Mr. David Lightbown and
Young, Sir George (Acton) Mr. Alan Howarth.

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment proposed: No. 119, in page 8, line 26, at end insert— '(6A) This section applies to any land which was owned before the transfer date by a water authority.'.—[Mrs. Ann Taylor.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 200, Noes 298.

Division No. 131] [5.51 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Fearn, Ronald
Allen, Graham Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Anderson, Donald Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Flynn, Paul
Armstrong, Hilary Foster, Derek
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Foulkes, George
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Fraser, John
Ashton, Joe Fyfe, Maria
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Galbraith, Sam
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) George, Bruce
Battle, John Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Beckett, Margaret Godman, Dr Norman A.
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Gould, Bryan
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Graham, Thomas
Bermingham, Gerald Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Bidwell, Sydney Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Blair, Tony Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Blunkett, David Grocott, Bruce
Boateng, Paul Harman, Ms Harriet
Boyes, Roland Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Bradley, Keith Haynes, Frank
Bray, Dr Jeremy Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Heffer, Eric S.
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Henderson, Doug
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Hinchliffe, David
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Buckley, George J. Hood, Jimmy
Caborn, Richard Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Callaghan, Jim Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Hoyle, Doug
Cartwright, John Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Clay, Bob Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Clelland, David Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Illsley, Eric
Coleman, Donald Ingram, Adam
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Janner, Greville
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Johnston, Sir Russell
Corbett, Robin Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Corbyn, Jeremy Jones, leuan (Ynys Môn)
Cousins, Jim Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Crowther, Stan Kennedy, Charles
Cryer, Bob Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Cummings, John Kirkwood, Archy
Cunliffe, Lawrence Leadbitter, Ted
Cunningham, Dr John Leighton, Ron
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Lewis, Terry
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I) Litherland, Robert
Dewar, Donald Livingstone, Ken
Dixon, Don Livsey, Richard
Dobson, Frank Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Doran, Frank Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Douglas, Dick McAvoy, Thomas
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth McCartney, Ian
Eadie, Alexander Macdonald, Calum A.
Eastham, Ken McFall, John
Evans, John (St Helens N) McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Fatchett, Derek McKelvey, William
Faulds, Andrew McTaggart, Bob
McWilliam, John Rowlands, Ted
Mahon, Mrs Alice Ruddock, Joan
Marek, Dr John Salmond, Alex
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Sedgemore, Brian
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Sheerman, Barry
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Maxton, John Skinner, Dennis
Meacher, Michael Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Meale, Alan Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Soley, Clive
Moonie, Dr Lewis Spearing, Nigel
Morgan, Rhodri Steel, Rt Hon David
Morley, Elliott Steinberg, Gerry
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Strang, Gavin
Mowlam, Marjorie Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Mullin, Chris Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Murphy, Paul Turner, Dennis
Nellist, Dave Vaz, Keith
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Wall, Pat
O'Brien, William Wallace, James
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Walley, Joan
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Warded, Gareth (Gower)
Patchett, Terry Wareing, Robert N.
Pendry, Tom Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Pike, Peter L. Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Wigley, Dafydd
Prescott, John Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Quin, Ms Joyce Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Radice, Giles Wilson, Brian
Randall, Stuart Winnick, David
Redmond, Martin Wise, Mrs Audrey
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn Worthington, Tony
Reid, Dr John Young, David (Bolton SE)
Richardson, Jo
Roberts, Allan (Bootle) Tellers for the Ayes:
Rogers, Allan Mr. Allen Adams and
Rooker, Jeff Mrs. Llin Golding.
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Adley, Robert Budgen, Nicholas
Alexander, Richard Burt, Alistair
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Butcher, John
Allason, Rupert Butler, Chris
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Butterfill, John
Amess, David Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Amos, Alan Carrington, Matthew
Arbuthnot, James Cash, William
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Chapman, Sydney
Ashby, David Chope, Christopher
Aspinwall, Jack Churchill, Mr
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Baldry, Tony Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Colvin, Michael
Batiste, Spencer Conway, Derek
Bellingham, Henry Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Bendall, Vivian Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Cope, Rt Hon John
Benyon, W. Cormack, Patrick
Bevan, David Gilroy Couchman, James
Biffen, Rt Hon John Cran, James
Blackburn, Dr John G. Critchley, Julian
Body, Sir Richard Currie, Mrs Edwina
Boscawen, Hon Robert Curry, David
Boswell, Tim Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Bottomley, Peter Devlin, Tim
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Dicks, Terry
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Dorrell, Stephen
Bowis, John Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Dover, Den
Brazier, Julian Dunn, Bob
Bright, Graham Durant, Tony
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Dykes, Hugh
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Eggar, Tim
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Emery, Sir Peter
Buck, Sir Antony Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Lawrence, Ivan
Fallon, Michael Lee, John (Pendle)
Fenner, Dame Peggy Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Fishburn, John Dudley Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Forman, Nigel Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lilley, Peter
Forth, Eric Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Franks, Cecil Lord, Michael
Freeman, Roger Luce, Rt Hon Richard
French, Douglas Lyell, Sir Nicholas
Fry, Peter McCrindle, Robert
Gale, Roger Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Gardiner, George MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Garel-Jones, Tristan MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Gill, Christopher Maclean, David
Glyn, Dr Alan McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Goodhart, Sir Philip McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Goodlad, Alastair Madel, David
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Major, Rt Hon John
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Malins, Humfrey
Gorst, John Mans, Keith
Gow, Ian Maples, John
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Marlow, Tony
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Gregory, Conal Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Mates, Michael
Ground, Patrick Mellor, David
Grylls, Michael Miller, Sir Hal
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Mills, Iain
Hague, William Miscampbell, Norman
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hampson, Dr Keith Moate, Roger
Hanley, Jeremy Monro, Sir Hector
Hannam, John Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'Il Gr') Morrison, Sir Charles
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)
Harris, David Moss, Malcolm
Haselhurst, Alan Moynihan, Hon Colin
Hawkins, Christopher Mudd, David
Hayes, Jerry Neale, Gerrard
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Nelson, Anthony
Hayward, Robert Neubert, Michael
Heathcoat-Amory, David Nicholls, Patrick
Heddle, John Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Norris, Steve
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Oppenheim, Phillip
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Page, Richard
Holt, Richard Paice, James
Hordern, Sir Peter Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Howard, Michael Patnick, Irvine
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Patten, Chris (Bath)
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Patten, John (Oxford W)
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Pawsey, James
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Porter, David (Waveney)
Hunter, Andrew Portillo, Michael
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Powell, William (Corby)
Irvine, Michael Price, Sir David
Irving, Charles Raffan, Keith
Jack, Michael Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Janman, Tim Rathbone, Tim
Jessel, Toby Redwood, John
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Renton, Tim
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Rhodes James, Robert
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Riddick, Graham
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Kilfedder, James Ridsdale, Sir Julian
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Kirkhope, Timothy Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Knapman, Roger Roe, Mrs Marion
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Rossi, Sir Hugh
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Rost, Peter
Knox, David Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Lang, Ian Ryder, Richard
Latham, Michael Sackville, Hon Tom
Sainsbury, Hon Tim Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Sayeed, Jonathan Thorne, Neil
Scott, Nicholas Thurnham, Peter
Shaw, David (Dover) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Tracey, Richard
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Tredinnick, David
Shersby, Michael Trippier, David
Sims, Roger Trotter, Neville
Skeet, Sir Trevor Twinn, Dr Ian
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Soames, Hon Nicholas Waddington, Rt Hon David
Speller, Tony Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W) Waller, Gary
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Walters, Sir Dennis
Squire, Robin Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Stanbrook, Ivor Warren, Kenneth
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Watts, John
Steen, Anthony Wells, Bowen
Stern, Michael Wheeler, John
Stevens, Lewis Whitney, Ray
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Widdecombe, Ann
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood) Wiggin, Jerry
Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N) Wilshire, David
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Wolfson, Mark
Sumberg, David Wood, Timothy
Tapsell, Sir Peter Woodcock, Mike
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Yeo, Tim
Taylor, John M (Solihull) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman Tellers for the Noes:
Temple-Morris, Peter Mr. David Lightbown and
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley) Mr. Alan Howarth.

Question accordingly negatived.

It being after Six o'clock, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the Order [6 February] and the Resolution yesterday, to put forthwith the Question on an amendment moved by a Member of the Government up to the end of clause 9.

Amendment made: No. 27, in page 9, line 28, after `Council', insert— the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England'.—[Mr. Howard.]

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