§ Moved that the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Stanmore.)
My Lords, I will not detain your Lordships on this Bill for more than a few moments, but there is a matter of some importance to which I think attention should be drawn. For more than fifty years it has been the custom to include in private water bills what is known as a Birmingham clause, giving public access for air, exercise and recreation on any common land which it is proposed to acquire and enclose. Under this Bill 150 acres of common land will be enclosed in an area of great beauty which is to be the first and most important of our National Parks. The Cumberland County Council have been strongly pressed to insert the customary Birmingham clause into this Bill, but they have refused to do so. I am sure your Lordships will agree that the principle of public access to common land must be safeguarded, and the Standing Committee on National Parks, the Council for the Preservation of Rural England and the Friends of the Lake District are strongly pressing for this amendment. The National Trust, which owns such large properties in the Lake District would, I feel sure, take the same view. I have been urged to move an instruction to the Committee to this effect, but I feel that that particular machinery, so effective in the recent Dedham Vale Case, should not be used too often, and I hope that what I have now said on this important matter of principle will reach the ears of the Committee.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a.