HC Deb 04 December 1991 vol 200 cc256-7
13. Mr. McFall

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the work of the Edwards committee on national parks for England and Wales.

Mr. Trippier

We welcome the general thrust of the report of the Edwards panel and the recommendations for the future of the national parks put to us by the Countryside Commission and the Countryside Council for Wales. We have already announced our intention to establish independent authorities for the eight national parks currently run as county council committees. We are considering very carefully the other recommendations from the countryside agencies.

Mr. McFall

Given that the Government have broken two of their manifesto pledges—the implementation of the Common Land Forum and increased protection for national parks—will the Minister give an assurance now that he will implement the recommendations of the Edwards committee in full? Given the comments of the right hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Patten), when he was Secretary of State for the Environment, that national parks were the jewels in the crown, does the Minister not think it fair that that should apply to the entire United Kingdom, not least to my constituency which contains Loch Lomond which is facing ecological disaster as a result of the political intransigence of the blockheads in the Scottish Office in Edinburgh?

Mr. Trippier

I cannot give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that he seeks that I will agree with everything that the Edwards committee has recommended, but I can certainly assure him and the House that I will respond positively to the recommendations. On the precise matter that he raised regarding Scotland, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has set up working parties to advise on the need for early action on the Cairngorms, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. My right hon. Friend has asked Scottish Natural Heritage to consider how to protect Scotland's special areas more effectively in the future.

Mr. John Greenway

Will my hon. Friend assure the House and my many constituents in the North Yorks moors national park that whatever new structure he puts in place to manage the parks, the planning policy guidance given to the park authorities will give the social and economic needs of the people who live in the parks a high priority in the considerations for planning permissions?

Mr. Trippier

I am happy to give my hon. Friend that assurance.