§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Patrick McLoughlin)
I beg to move amendment No. 74, in page 39, line 3, at end insert—'(6) In subsection (5), for the words "large-scale map" there shall be substituted the words "map of a scale not less than 1:2500".(7) After subsection (5) there shall be inserted—(5A) Where a harbour revision order includes provision for extinguishing or diverting a public right of way over a footpath or bridleway, there must be annexed to the order a map of a scale not less than 1:2500 on which the path or way concerned, and in the case of a diversion the new path or way, are plainly delineated.".'.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)
With this it will be convenient to consider Government amendments Nos. 82 and Nos. 76 to 80.
§ Mr. McLoughlin
The amendments result from our debates in Committee on footpaths and bridleways in harbour areas and from representations made by organisations on behalf of footpath users, especially by the Ramblers Association.
The affect of the amendments is to enable a harbour authority to use orders under the Harbours Act 1964 to stop up and divert a footpath subject to the constraints that normally apply to developers in the Highways Act 1980 and the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The one thing that we have not provided for in the Bill is consultation with bodies representing the interests of footpath users. We have agreed with the Ramblers Association that, on the comparatively rare occasions when footpaths are affected, we should ensure that it is consulted by administrative means. That assurance will be generally welcomed by all Members of the House and by the Ramblers Association.
The specific issues that the amendments address are, first, the circumstances under which a harbour authority can use the powers under the Harbours Act for stopping up or diverting a public path; secondly, the criteria to be used by the Minister making such an order; and, thirdly, the procedural requirements for the notification and advertisement of any such proposal.
§ Ms. Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent, North)
The amendments are welcome. I understand that there has been much consultation between the Department and the Ramblers Association. I should like to record our appreciation of the changes that have been made.
Will the Minister be prepared to use his administrative powers to ensure that anybody likely to use paths around harbours and the areas covered is notified directly by an applicant for an order? We have made much progress and a notice will now make it clear which footpaths will be changed, but it would be helpful if the Minister would 360 assure us that, under amendment No. 78, he will ensure that an applicant directly notifies user groups of changes to footpaths.
§ Mr. McLoughlin
With the leave of the House, may I say that that is certainly our intention, and we hope to abide by that spirit.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Amendments made: No. 82, in page 39, line 10, at end insert—
'(4) In subsection (7), for the words "large-scale map" there shall be substituted the words "map of a scale not less than 1:2500".
(5) After subsection (7) there shall be inserted—
(7A) Where a harbour empowerment order includes provision for extinguishing or diverting a public right of way over a footpath or bridleway, there must be annexed to the order a map of a scale not less than 1:2500 on which the path or way concerned, and in the case of a diversion the new path or way, are plainly delineated.
2A. In section 17 (procedure for making harbour revision and empowerment orders) after subsection (2) there shall he inserted—
(2A) Neither the Secretary of State nor the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food shall make a harbour revision or empowerment order which provides for extinguishing a public right of way over a footpath or bridleway unless he is satisfied—
(2B) Neither the Secretary of State nor the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food shall make a harbour revision or empowerment order which provides for diverting a public right of way over a footpath or bridleway unless he is satisfied that the path or way will not be substantially less convenient to the public in consequence of the diversion.
2B. In section 18 (harbour reorganisation schemes) in subsection (3), for the words "large-scale map" there shall he substituted the words "map of a scale not less than 1:2500".'.
No. 76, in page 39, line 25, at end insert—
'3A.—(1) Section 57 (interpretation) shall be amended as follows.
(2) After the definition of "the Boards" there shall be inserted—
"bridleway", in relation to England and Wales, has the same meaning as in the Highways Act 1980 and, in relation to Scotland, has the same meaning as in Part III of the Countryside (Scotland) Act 1967;".
(3) After the definition of "fishery harbour" there shall be inserted—
"footpath", in relation to England and Wales, has the same meaning as in the Highways Act 1980 and, in relation to Scotland, has the same meaning as in the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984;".'.
No. 77, in page 39, line 33, leave out from 'bridleways' to the end of line 41 and insert
'for the purposes of works described in the order or works ancillary to such works'.—[Mr. McLoughlin.]
'(6) After paragraph 16 there shall be inserted—
16A. Imposing or conferring on the authority duties or powers (including powers to make byelaws) for the conservation of the natural beauty of all or any part of the harbour or of any of the fauna, flora or geological or physiographical features in the harbour and all other natural features.".'.
§ It is ultra vires for a Minister to insert, for environmental reasons alone, a direction in a harbour order. In other words, the Minister cannot insert any form of protection for environmental features in a harbour because the reasons for which harbours orders can be made do not include such matters.
§ The amendment attempts to insert such provisions, not least for harbour revision orders. It attempts to amend schedule 2 of the Harbours Order 1964. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds does not believe that the Minister currently has the power of consideration of the environmental assessment to amend the draft order. The Minister should have that power, especially as the term "harbours" will encompass areas of outstanding natural beauty and great diversity of animal and plant life. I sincerely hope that the Minister will accept the amendment—I think that he might.
§ Ms. Walley
We have pursued the issue of conservation duties and have expressed our concern about wildlife and fauna all along. We certainly hope that the amendment will be accepted.
I have here copies of correspondence between me and the Minister and I shall read out a paragraph from one of his letters to me, because it might be helpful:You also asked for an assurance that the Secretary of State would be able to refuse a harbour revision order on nature conservation grounds. I am happy to give that assurance. It would be perfectly proper for the Secretary of State to decide that the adverse environmental effects of a harbour works were such that the order should not be approved.Although that reply goes some way towards dealing with issues covered in the amendment, assurances from Secretaries of State and Ministers are not the same as a duty written into the Bill. We share that concern with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
I understand that there is an analogy with other legislation currently under consideration—I am thinking of the Sea Fisheries (Wildlife Conservation) Bill. If that Bill were to reach the statute book, it would impose a duty on various bodiesto have regard to the conservation of marine flora and faunaduring the discharge of their functions. If the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food can incorporate such a duty into legislation being considered elsewhere, why at this stage have we only assurances, not a duty on the face of the Bill? I hope that the Minister will be able to accept one more concession.
§ Mr. McLoughlin
The amendment is a small but useful provision which makes explicit the possibility of including conservation matters in harbour revision orders as in local Acts. I therefore recommend that the House supports it.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Amendments made: No. 78 in page 40, line 23, at end insert—
'(2A) In paragraph 3, after sub-paragraph (b) there shall be inserted—
(ba) if provision is proposed to be included in the order extinguishing or diverting a public right of way over a footpath or bridleway, the applicant shall—
No. 79, in page 40, line 48, at end insert—
'(7) In paragraph 14(3), for the words "(b) and (c)" there shall be substituted the words "(b) to (c)".'.—[Mr. McLoughlin.]