§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE MARQUESS OF ZETLAND
My Lords, I rise to commend to your Lordships' favourable consideration the South Downs Preservation Bill, and perhaps I should explain in doing so that while I am not myself one of the actual promoters of the Bill I do nevertheless speak for others besides myself. I have behind me the authority of the National Trust, a body which, as your Lordships are no doubt aware, exists for the purpose of acquiring and preserving for the nation properties of historic interest or of natural beauty. Since the Trust was first incorporated by Act of Parliament early in the present century it has acquired, and now holds, a very large number of properties scattered widely over the country. When once a property passes into the hands of the National Trust, it is safe for the nation for all time.
Perhaps I might commend to your Lordships, as an example of successful action on the part of the National Trust, the case of Stonehenge. When the National Trust first interested itself in Stonehenge the actual stones, in a small tract of territory, were in possession of His Majesty's Commissioner of Works, but it was obvious to us that if building was to take place on what I may describe as the Stonehenge skyline, all the charm and attraction of Stonehenge would be irreparably destroyed. As a result, consequently, of an appeal which we made to the public, we were able to raise between the years 1927 and 1929 the sum of£35,000, Which enabled us to purchase 1,400 acres of Salisbury Plain and so secure for the nation for all time Stonehenge and its neighbourhood. But experience has shown 908 that we are not always able by our unaided efforts to secure for the nation properties which clearly ought to be preserved for it. That brings me to the particular part of the country with which the Bill now before your Lordships' House is concerned.
For some years past the National Trust has been striving, with only partial success, to safeguard the Sussex Downs for the nation in the same way that it was successful in safeguarding Stonehenge. We have been able to acquire some 400 acres of farm and downland embracing two of those famous cliffs known as the Seven Sisters, and we are much indebted to the Corporations of Eastbourne and of Seaford for securing other pieces of territory in the neighbourhood; but, though we have tried one plan after another, we have so far failed to secure the preservation of the greater part of the down-land in that locality. Your Lordships can understand, therefore, with what satisfaction it is that we hail the action of the East Sussex County Council in promoting this Bill—a Bill which is designed to preserve in its present state some 40,000 acres of downland, so typical of the beauty of some of the stretches of our English landscape, some 40,000 acres running in an are with an average depth of some two and a half miles for thirty miles westward from Beachy Head.
It may be said that there are already in existence Acts which are designed to enable local authorities to preserve property of this kind. There is the Town and Country Planning Act. Why then, it may be asked, appeal to Parliament for a special measure? Why not allow local authorities under existing Acts to undertake the safeguarding of the Sussex Downs? The answer to that question is really a two-fold one. In the first place, there are far too many local authorities concerned with this tract of country to render it in the least likely that an agreed scheme can be brought into operation in time to serve the purpose which those who have promoted this Bill have in view. It is notorious that all experience has shown that the normal processes under the Town and Country Planning Act are extremely slow. In this case, apart from the two County Councils of East and West Sussex, there are no fewer than twelve local authorities under the Town and Country Planning Act who would be concerned.
909 Then again, there is a question to which in the interests of justice to the owners of the land I personally attach great importance. The question of compensation where it arises will present far less difficulty under the Bill now before your Lordships than it would under existing town planning legislation. I say that for this reason. Under this Bill compensation where it arises would be spread over a wide area, over the area, that is to say, controlled by the two County Councils and by the County Borough Councils of Brighton and Eastbourne. Under existing legislation compensation would fall to be dealt with by the large number of smaller authorities to which I have already referred, some of them with comparatively low rateable values, who would obviously find it difficult to bear the burden which might be imposed upon them.
Your Lordships may ask: What is the danger against which this Bill seeks to give protection? In the first place, building, particularly unplanned and unsightly building. I wish that any of your Lordships who may be interested in this aspect of the case would travel to that unsightly and unplanned conglomeration of houses which is known euphemistically as Peacehaven, which flaunts itself on the eyes of the traveller between Brighton and Newhaven. All I can say is that when, in my capacity of Chairman of the National Trust, I paid a visit of inspection to the downs, and the sight of Peacehaven fell upon my view, I was staggered by what I saw. There is no order, no properly-planned streets, so far as I could make out, no organised sanitation. There is a mere hotchpotch of buildings of every shape and every size, dumped down in utter confusion upon what still is a commanding, and what at one time was a beautiful, tract of the Sussex Downs. I can assure your Lordships that no nightmare could present the achievements of the jerry-builder in such ghastly guise as they have assumed in the crude and stark reality of Peacehaven.
Protection against the reduplication of Peacehaven is one of the things we seek. But quite recently a danger of another kind has presented itself. A short time ago application was made to the Portslade Urban District Council, which is the town-planning authority for the 910 particular area concerned, by the Brighton Corporation and by the Brighton Motor Racing Track Syndicate for an interim development order under the Town Planning Act permitting them to develop land as a motor racing track. There are others who can speak with greater personal knowledge of this particular proposal than I can claim myself, but as representing the National Trust I say that in our view it would be a desecration of this tract of typical beautiful English scenery if its quiet and its solitude were to be invaded by an enterprise of that kind.
The body which I represent regards the matter of the preservation of this tract of country as one of national rather than of local importance, but it is nevertheless interesting to see what are the views of the local residents with regard to it. The resolution in favour of the promotion of this Bill in the East Sussex County Council was carried by forty-three votes to two with eight members abstaining, and that decision was confirmed at a subsequent meeting by a majority of fifty-two votes to three with only one member abstaining. The East Sussex County Council had been at pains to ascertain the views of the local residents, both the landowners and the public, with regard to the matter before they promoted the Bill. At a conference of the principal private landowners a resolution strongly in favour of the principle embodied in the Bill was passed, and a similar resolution was passed by the East Sussex branch of the Central Landowners' Association, whilst apart from the two County Councils, two only of the twelve authorities representing, I must suppose, the population at large, showed themselves to be opposed to the principle of the Bill.
That is not to say that there may not be matters of detail which both landowners and local authorities may wish to press when this Bill reaches the Committee stage. That may very well be. Indeed, the Eastbourne Borough Council have taken power to petition against the Bill, not because they are not in sympathy with its main object, but merely because they wish to press a certain point upon the promoters of the Bill when it reaches the Committee stage. But these are matters with which we are not concerned to-day. All that your Lordships are asked to do to-day is to 911 agree that a case for a thorough investigation of the matter has been made, and if your Lordships are prepared to give this Bill a Second Reading this afternoon, an investigation of that kind, at which all those whose interests are in any way affected can be adequately represented, will take place. It is in the confident expectation that such a course will prove to be one which commends itself to your Lordships that I now venture to ask you to give a Second Reading to the Bill.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a. —(The Marquess of Zetland.)
THE EARL OF KINNOULL
had given Notice that on the Motion for the Second Reading he would move, That the Bill be read 2a this day six months. The noble Earl said: My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be read a second time this day six months. The Bill is of a most drastic character. It will absolutely prohibit the erection of any new houses (except possibly in connection with agriculture) on any part of the area, defined in the Bill as "the South Downs." It will also prohibit the making of any excavations for the laying of sewers and drains, gas and water pipes, and electric lines, even in connection with existing houses in the South Downs. Moreover, it prohibits housing development in part of the area defined as the South Downs, but parts at any rate of this area are not downlands and are suitable for housing development. It also prohibits the laying of sewers and drains and water pipes; and that prohibition might have serious consequences. The prohibition of the laying of gas pipes and electric lines is very unreasonable indeed.
The Bill is really unnecessary. I was not impressed by the arguments used by the noble Marquess when he referred to the Town and Country Planning Act, 1932. I know that one noble Lord who is in favour of this Bill knows the Town and Country Planning Act very well—I refer to the noble Viscount, Lord Gage—and I think he will agree that this Bill is totally unnecessary, having regard to the existing powers under the Town and Country Planning Act. The Brighton Corporation have themselves spent considerable sums of money upon this object by purchasing land not only within the area defined in the Bill as the South Downs but outside that area, and both within and without their Borough. They 912 have also permitted large areas of their land to be reserved as downland either in their own town-planning proposals or in those of other authorities.
The Bill seriously affects the Brighton Corporation as undertakers for the supply of water and electricity. The Corporation's areas of supply for water and electricity include the whole of their Borough and many districts and parishes outside. A large part of those areas is in the South Downs. As regards the Brighton Corporation's water undertaking, the Bill, if passed, would prevent the Corporation from making any extension in the South Downs of their system of water mains, or supplying water to any houses in the South Downs not now being supplied. It would also prevent them extending their system of underground adits for collecting water and conveying it to their existing pumping stations (of which there are four close to the land defined in the Bill as the South Downs) in so far as the extensions would be under any part of the South Downs. The Bill would also prevent the Corporation erecting a contemplated pumping station at Balsdean, to the east of the Borough, where adits have already been driven and the yield of water has already been proved. Thus a large sum of money which has already been spent on those works will be wasted. Further, as regards the Brighton Corporation's electricity undertaking, the Bill would prevent the Corporation from laying down or erecting any new mains, cables and works for the purposes of the undertaking in any part of the South Downs not now being supplied.
Generally, the Bill would prevent the Brighton Corporation from developing or allowing to be developed for housing or any other purposes any parts of their lands which are within the South Downs as defined in this Bill. The Corporation of Brighton, and incidentally I myself, believe that the primary if not the sole purpose of the promotion of the Bill is the prevention of the construction and use of a motor racecourse upon lands in the urban district of Portslade-by-Sea which belongs to the Corporation. The Brighton Corporation are under obligation, if called upon, to lease the land for this purpose, and they have stipulated conditions which they think adequate for the preservation of the amenities. They deny that the track would seriously affect 913 the amenities of the South Downs, but on the other hand they are of opinion that it would be of great value to their Borough and the neighbouring authorities. I may say, in passing, that Brighton has always been exceedingly keen on its own amenities, and I am perfectly certain that Brighton would never have authorised or suggested a motor racecourse if they had thought that it was going to spoil the amenities of the district.
Further, under the general law relating to town planning, an appeal to the Minister of Health against the refusal of the Portslade Council to permit development of the land in the manner proposed, has already been lodged. I submit that no case can be shown for special legislation for dealing with this matter which is now under the consideration of the tribunal appointed to deal with these matters by the Town and Country Planning Act, 1932. The Bill is far too rigid in its terms, particularly Clause 3. No provision is made for the modification of the restrictions imposed by that clause by an independent tribunal if future circumstances should render such a course proper.
Finally, why was this Bill introduced in February? The right time of the year to introduce Bills is in the autumn—in November. Why is it such an urgent matter that it must be rushed through at this time of the year, which is not the right time of the year? I really!hope, my Lords, that you will not give this Bill a Second Reading.
Leave out ("now") and at the end of the Motion insert ("this day six months"). —(The Earl of Kinnoull.)
§ EARL BUXTON
My Lords, with the leave of the House I would say a few words in regard to this matter. I will endeavour to be as brief as possible, because I know that your Lordships are interested in another measure which is to be considered to-day; but I would like to reply to my noble friend behind me who, on behalf of the Brighton Corporation, is opposing, this Bill. May I point out to him two things? In the first place he does not seem to be aware that this Bill deals solely with what you may call the bare downs, above the developed part of the country, 914 and that there is no prohibition in the sense which he has suggested of all those matters to which he has referred. There is a prohibition in principle against buildings and against works of any sort which are likely to interfere with the amenities of the downs and make them less popular and less useful to the public at large; but in the case of the area covered by the County Council, that Council will be able to agree to any proposal which seems to them reasonable within any possible development of the downs, combined with protection for the public interest.
Moreover, the noble Earl behind me has stated that the Brighton Corporation will be unable to carry out various works which they have to do, if this Bill is passed. He is entirely wrong in that idea. If he will look at the Bill, he will see that what is part of the present authority of the Brighton Corporation is excluded from the authority of the County Council, and remains under the full authority and control of the Brighton Corporation. Therefore all his remarks with regard to the limitation on Brighton's activities are not arguments which ought to be used against this Bill. Then he asks what is the urgency in regard to this matter. The urgency has already, I think, been explained by the noble Marquess who introduced the Bill in, if he will allow me to say so, a very interesting and admirable speech. The urgency is this, that for some years past, under the Town Planning Acts, various authorities in East Sussex have combined together in a joint advisory committee. That committee sat for some six years. It was promoted by the Brighton Corporation. Its chairman was a Brighton alderman, and its honorary secretary the town clerk of Brighton, and Brighton took a very honourable part in this matter, as indeed it has done in the past in regard to the protection of the downs. That committee, however, has been unable to come to any real conclusions, and as the noble Marquess opposite said just now, it has really shown that to carry out such a very delicate and difficult occupation as that of town-planning, covering a large area and a large number of authorities, it is almost impossible for the diverse interests of large bodies, with the difficulties of arrangement, to come to any degree of unanimity such as would enable these town plannings to become Acts of Parliament.
915 The result was that the Brighton Corporation—I am not in any sense blaming them for it, because I think they have a good reason for their action in one way—have withdrawn from the town-planning committee, their argument being that this committee has been too long an advisory committee, and ought now to undertake executive powers, and that it has been unable to do. The effect of the renunciation of their membership by the Brighton Corporation resulted in a complete break-down of all this town planning, which it was hoped would come to fruition by general agreement. The result will be that unless this Bill is passed, or some other authority put in possession of this stretch of the South Downs, which is purely downs and has nothing to do with the country below, there will be nothing whatever to prevent any of these authorities, or the owners of this land, from doing what they like with regard to these downs, and they could carry out these various operations, which in my opinion would not be advantageous from the downs point of view.
The noble Marquess referred to a place which is notorious in this country—Peacehaven. That has been due to the fact that no town-planning scheme was in operation in that part of the country at the time when Peacehaven was undertaken. It is too late, however, to remedy that. Proposals are before various authorities to extend building operations, such as at East Dean and in two places near Brighton, all of which will encroach enormously on the amenities, advantages and beauties of the downs, and above all there is this matter of the motor racing track, to which I will refer in a few minutes. My noble friend behind me complains on behalf of the Brighton Corporation that their authority is going to be undermined by the County Council. I have pointed out to him that that is not so, and that so far as their present position is concerned it will not be interfered with. They do, in fact, own a considerable part of the downs, but that is under another authority, and they will be treated like any other owner, who will receive proper treatment under the provisions of the Bill.
The best argument, I think, as against the argument of my noble friend behind me, as to whether this Bill is required 916 and how far it meets the general opinion in East Sussex, is shown by the fact, which has been already stated, that no fewer than twelve out of fourteen authorities are in favour of the Bill in principle, although in some cases they reserve the right to suggest Amendments. Only two authorities are opposed to it and they are the County Borough of Brighton and the Borough of Hove. That appears to me to be an immense argument in favour of this Bill. I am perfectly prepared to agree that in some respects the Bill is rather too harshly drawn. The reason for that, I understand, is that in the case of a Private Bill of this sort, when it goes to a Committee, you cannot extend its provisions but you can always allow greater elasticity, and I have no doubt whatever, though I have no authority to speak on their behalf, that the promoters will endeavour to meet all legitimate complaints, because it is their object that the Bill shall work smoothly.
If I may say just one word further with regard to the reasons why the Bill is introduced, one of the great reasons—the noble Earl behind me says it is the main reason—is that it has been proposed in the Brighton area, on land leased by Brighton, to create what is called a super-racing track on one spur of the downs. That part of the downs, if this proposal is carried through, will have all its amenities, and advantages from the public point of view, completely destroyed. The proposal is that 1,100 acres of pure downland should be leased by the Brighton Corporation to this company. On this land they will enclose 400 to 500 acres, and within that have a racing track of four and a half miles, fencing it all in. A great part of it will be on the skyline, and the whole of it, with the exception of a few acres, above the 300 ft. contour which comprises the bare downs above it. It seems evident that such a proposal as that will entirely destroy all the advantages and all the amenities of the Sussex Downs in that part of the county.
I say frankly it is not so much the actual track itself to which I object. It is more the fact of there being that track, which will bring immense numbers of people there, over the downs, to the destruction of the amenities. The promoters estimate that some half a million 917 of people will attend these meetings. These half million have to come and go. They cannot come and go by sea, and they will not, many of them, come round by Brighton or Portslade. They can only come therefore over the downs themselves, and one can figure to oneself what that would mean from the point of view of the maintenance of these downs as open spaces for the public benefit. It would involve large, wide roads, and the whole of the amenities, and especially those of the Devil's Dyke, the most beautiful part of the country, would be destroyed by this track. I appeal to your Lordships on the ground of urgency: unless this Bill is passed there is nothing whatever to protect the South Downs from incursions and disfigurement of that sort. It will, it seems to me, be a most fatal error on the part of those who are proposing this track unless we can obtain the Second Reading of this Bill. I am quite sure that when the Bill has been read a second time all the points to which my noble friend behind me referred will be met as far as they possibly can be, so that when this Bill becomes an Act it will carry out the object of preserving the beauty of the downs while, at the same time, suitably meeting any objections that may be made.
§ LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM
My Lords, I do not wish to express any opinion on whether or not it is advisable that the public should have the enjoyment which my noble friend beside me (Lord Zetland) says he thinks they ought to have, but if they are to have that enjoyment they ought to pay for it, and they ought to compensate the owners. I find that Clause 11, the compensation clause, says:No person shall be entitled to compensation under the provisions of this Act in respect of—(a) any structure erected or act or thing done after the first day of January, nineteen hundred and thirty-four….I venture to appeal to the Lord Chancellor upon this question. That is retrospective legislation. It says that when a man has done something under the belief that he had the power to do it, my noble friend comes along and says: "Oh no, you must not do that, because we have fixed an arbitrary limit, January, 1934, before which you can have compensation but after which you cannot have 918 compensation." That seems to me to be an extraordinary provision in a Bill promoted by a Conservative. We are living in queer times, but I sincerely trust that when the Bill goes to Committee the Select Committee will take out that clause and substitute another clause which will give proper compensation to everybody whose property is affected.
THE CHAIRMAN or COMMITTEES (THE EARL OF ONSLOW)
My Lords, perhaps I may be allowed to say one or two words to your Lordships on the previous history of Bills of this kind. Within my recollection in your Lordships' House there have only been two for a number of years past—namely, the Whitgift Bill, which was to interfere with certain buildings at Brighton, and the Adelphi Estate Bill of last year. Of course there have been other Private Bills the rejection of which has been moved on Second Reading, but they were not quite on all fours with the present Bill. In regard to the Whitgift Bill, the noble Earl, Lord Donoughmore, who then occupied the position which your Lordships have done me the honour to entrust to me, urged upon your Lordships that it was desirable that the Bill should go to a Committee upstairs, but the House, without a Division I think, decided to reject the Bill on Second Reading. I need not, I think, refresh your Lordships' memory as to what occurred with regard to the Adelphi Estate Bill of last year. That went to a Committee which dealt with it, and eventually it was passed—I hope to the satisfaction of all concerned.
Now we have a Bill of a similar kind, and I would respectfully urge your Lordships not to refuse this Bill a Second Reading, but allow it to go to a Select Committee, where it can be thoroughly considered, and witnesses and counsel can be heard, and all interests represented. By doing so your Lordships will not by any means lose control of the Bill. That has been well-established with regard to other Bills, but it will give an opportunity for every interest to be heard. The noble Earl opposite who invited your Lordships to reject this Bill mentioned a very large number of subjects which, I gather, seemed to him to require careful consideration. It seems to me that is an argument for sending the Bill to a Select Committee. The noble Lord, Lord Banbury, also raised a point on a clause 919 which he hoped the Select Committee would take out, so that my noble friend also is agreed that the Bill should have a Second Reading and should go to a Select Committee. I think that would be the most satisfactory course. I am not dealing with the merits of the Bill, about which I am afraid I know little. But, as regards procedure, I think it is desirable that the Bill should go to a Select Committee.
§ EARL HOWE
My Lords, it so happens that no less than seven years ago I was called in by the people behind the idea of making a motor race track at Brighton in order to give them some sort of opinion as to whether the track, if constructed, would be a good one, and as to whether the position generally was suitable. Before giving any opinion I asked them whether they would assure me that they would in no way interfere with, or allow to be interfered with, the amenities of the area in question. A number of reasons have been advanced by the noble Marquess and the noble Earl opposite as to why this Bill should be given a Second Reading. They have quoted Peacehaven. There is nothing to be said for the collection of shacks which composes that hamlet. But the real reason why this Bill has been introduced has undoubtedly to do with the proposed motor race track, and there has been an extraordinary amount of misrepresentation and prejudice with reference to it. The noble Earl opposite has stated that the area affected is only 1,100 acres in extent. The noble Marquess in introducing the Bill explained that the area, covered by the measure was thirty miles east and west and about fifteen miles north and south. An area of 1,100 acres cannot really be said seriously to interfere with so large an area of territory.
When a motor race track is talked about everybody imagines a sort of Brooklands. Nothing of the sort is contemplated here. All that is intended is to construct an ordinary road, with no concrete banking, and no unsightly buildings. The area is close to the old fever hospital, which is hardly a thing of beauty. It is close to the Brighton Golf Club, and there are some very unsightly buildings round the area, so that it cannot be said that the area is exactly sacrosanct. Something has been said about the opinions of the people in the 920 area. One thing that has not been mentioned is that the other day there was an election there, for the Portslade Urban District Council, and four of the candidates who opposed the track on the Council were defeated, while the people who were in favour of the track were elected. Therefore it cannot be said that opinion is entirely on one side in this matter. I shall not oppose the sending of this Bill to a Select Committee. All I want to do is to remove from your Lordships' minds a prejudice which exists against motor race tracks. It is, of course, not intended to have motor racing on this area of the downs every day throughout the year. The meetings will be limited to about half-a-dozen at the outside.
My Lords, I have had the privilege of sitting in your Lordships' House for a considerable number of years, but this is the first occasion on which I have ventured to address your Lordships, and I therefore ask for that consideration which your Lordships invariably give to one addressing you for the first time. I think that there will be few of your Lordships found to oppose the Second Reading of this Bill, and I should not have risen to speak on this occasion, on a somewhat crowded afternoon as regards business, if it had not been that two points which I and those I represent have put to the Sussex County Council have not been met, in fact, have not received any satisfaction whatsoever. There is a danger in a Bill of this kind that in an excess of zeal for preserving open spaces and beauty spots a certain amount of needless restriction may be placed upon people who have used those spots for various reasons, and there are two words in the definitions in this Bill which come into this category. They may be small points, and I should not have mentioned them were it not for the fact, as I have said, that we have not been able to receive any satisfaction regarding them.
In the definitions the word "excavation" includes any disturbance of turf, and under the definition of "structure," curiously enough, we find the word "tent." This is the first time I have seen a tent described as a structure, and it is just another example of the extraordinary stretch of which our language is capable. These two words taken in 921 conjunction with the next clause of the Bill mean that all camping over this large area, not all of which is entirely downland, is going to be made very difficult, if not impossible, far those who wish to camp there. Your Lordships will have been aware that during the last few years there has been going on in this country rather a remarkable phenomenon; I think I may so describe it without exaggeration. There has been almost an historical reaction against the crowdedness of modern methods of living, which is sending young people particularly in larger numbers every year for their holidays under canvas. I think it is almost as important that we should preserve and seek to encourage this sort of holiday as it is to preserve our open spaces, because, after all, the two things run very much in conjunction.
What finer way of visiting the South Downs could there be than to camp within easy reach of them or even on them Therefore we take exception to that particular point. It is particularly important at this juncture in our history, when the statistics as regards the physical health of the younger people especially are not very encouraging, that we should take that point into consideration. I am bound to admit that this new enthusiasm has had two very unfortunate results. It has given rise in the first place to what. I may term the "camp hog." We probably all know him, and some of us who live by the sea suffer very much from him. There are two sorts of campers. There is the person who does not realise that camping is an art to be practised and for which a good deal of training is necessary, and I really think the term "camp hog" properly describes such people who root up the turf, leave behind them insanitary conditions and make themselves generally a nuisance. Another result has been as regards those who are used to camping in a proper and orderly manner under supervision. It has been found that sites are not easily obtainable and are getting more and more scarce and more and more expensive, especially within convenient reach of great centres of population.
I do hope this Select Committee will take these points into consideration and will avoid as far as possible doing anything which will upset or in any way interfere with this new urge, of our young people to take their holidays out-of- 922 doors. This is not the first time we have been faced with the same difficulties. On at least two occasions Bills have been promoted in Which camping has been barred or very seriously threatened. In the case of these two other Bills we were successful, and I appeal to the promoters in this case. I certainly would congratulate the East Sussex County Council on bringing this valuable Bill forward, but I urge that when the Bill goes to Select Committee these points with regard to camping may be taken into consideration. After all it is very easy to prohibit things. Prohibiting a thing costs nothing. It is very easy to do; but it is not always good legislation. Surely it is better in all these schemes that we should make allowance for the new urge of camping, as is done in America, and in Germany and in many other parts of the Continent, and make definite arrangement for it by scheduling certain areas where camps may be held, thus making the South Downs easily get-at-able by people who cannot afford motor cars and cannot afford in other ways to visit them.
§ LORD PONSONBY OF SHULBREDE
My Lords, I am sure the whole House will appreciate the speech which has been delivered by the noble Lord, Lord Hampton, and recognise the authority with which he can speak with regard to camping and. holidays for the younger generation. I feel confident that the point he raises will be considered very sympathetically by the Committee to which this Bill will be referred. I am personally very glad to hear him speak of the new urge for country life amongst the young. I thought people could only enjoy themselves in these days in company with a motor horn and a wireless set and a couple of gramophones wherever they went. I speak as a Sussex man. This is not a political question, and I part company with my noble friend behind me. Poor unfortunate Sussex is suffering for its beauty and popularity. The attack has begun from the south, and from Chichester right up all the way beyond Brighton the coast has been desecrated by lines and rows and groups and masses of ill-built, ill-designed, shabby buildings which are spreading like a malignant growth over the countryside. It is really very pressing from the Sussex point of view that it should 923 be protected. These downs are undoubtedly one of the great beauties of England and should be preserved at all costs. Therefore, I am warmly in favour of the Bill.
The matter of a motor racing track is not such a little matter as my noble friend Lord Howe believes. It does not represent simply a harmless little bit of alteration in the downlands. I remember quite well when Brooklands was first started and its promoters said: "There is nothing in this. It is just a circular route for a few cars to run on." I[...] do not think anyone considers Brooklands a very fine rural area now. It is the crowd, as the noble Earl said, which is important—it is the crowd which such a track will bring, that will mean still further desecration of this beautiful part of the country. Whatever our feelings on the details may be, I consider that the noble Marquess, Lord Zetland, has made out a strong case for this Bill going to a Select Committee and I hope your Lordships will vote in favour of it.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived, and Bill read 2a accordingly.