§ 3.8 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, in commending the Countryside (Scotland) Bill to your Lordships for Second Reading. I welcome the opportunity to introduce 1135 a measure which provides the framework for what I hope will be very real advances in planning the use of the countryside for recreation in a manner consistent with the great natural beauty which is Scotland's heritage. The Government have been much encouraged by the support which the Bill has received from all quarters—not only in another place but among a wide cross-section of opinion outside the House, representative both of the people who live and work in the countryside and also of those who seek recreation and enjoyment in it. I hope we shall see this unanimity of view reflected in our debate this afternoon. We shall no doubt have some points raised, both now and in Committee, on the detailed provisions, but I am sure that the principles of what we are trying to do will not be in dispute.
There may be some people who would instinctively shy away from the notion of planning for leisure. They would argue that surely that is the one precious thing left in life which people should be left to get on with on their own—each according to his own taste—and for which one should not have to plan. But I do not have to tell your Lordships how superficial this argument is, especially when applied to a small but heavily populated country like ours. There is in this country to-day an explosive growth of demand for opportunities for recreation away from the confines of the cities and towns, a demand which all the evidence shows is likely to increase dramatically within the next decade and beyond. Higher education, greater mobility, better standards of living, a greater number of leisure hours, longer holidays and second holidays and more people getting them and taking them—all these factors added together can leave us in no doubt that the demand for recreational facilities is on the upsurge.
And Scotland stands in the mainstream. With its beautiful open country bordering in a unique way the industrial and population concentrations of the Central Belt, its great reserve of wild country, its magnificent coastline, its tremendous sporting potential, it has all the attractions which will increasingly be in demand by our own people and which may be expected increasingly to draw visitors from this side of the Border 1136 and, we hope, from overseas. We believe that with this Bill we now have the chance to get in ahead of the emerging needs and to prepare in a planned fashion to provide facilities for recreation and to guide the ways in which all the different uses of the countryside can best be met. Such guidance is of particular importance in Scotland, where the temptation of apparently empty spaces is to undertake sporadic or badly planned developments. That is why the Bill has been designed with two objectives. They are to provide for the improvement of recreational facilities and for the conservation and enhancement of the natural beauty of the countryside.
There may often be an apparent conflict of interest in these two things, but we hope that under the expert guidance of the Countryside Commission any such conflicts can be resolved, because one thing is certain—resolved they must be. It is no use, on the one hand, providing facilities which destroy or desecrate the very thing which people wanted in the first place; and equally there is little value in preserving something which people cannot properly enjoy. I hope that there will be very few instances where with the Commission's help and guidance these apparent conflicts cannot be reconciled. Certainly I think it would greatly help if we did not even start to get into the habit of thinking of them as conflicting. They are simply two sides of the same coin, and we have deliberately not separated them in the drafting of Clause 1 of the Bill in order that they may come to be regarded as basically one objective made up of two vitally important elements.
The Bill aims to achieve this through two means—the Countryside Commission and individual local planning authorities. I will talk of the Commission in a minute. May I say a little about the position of local planning authorities under the Bill, because this is very important and has been vital to our thinking. The whole Bill is based on the active involvement of local planning authorities in all aspects of the planning and execution of countryside projects. This is fundamental, and the success of the Bill and the success of the Countryside Commission's work will be only as good as the backing and support given by local planning authorities.
1137 We are not setting up the Countryside Commission to detract from the responsibilities of the local planning authorities. The Bill confers wide powers on local planning authorities, gives them special duties and responsibilities and provides for specific grant to them of up to 75 per cent. I am anxious therefore that it should not be thought that the Bill simply exists to set up the Commission. It is equally important in bringing local planning authorities fully into the sphere of recreational and amenity planning, and the Government regard it as of first importance that local planning authorities should rise to the duty and the challenge which the Bill presents.
Before turning to the clauses in the Bill, I think it only right that I should pay a warm tribute to the organisers of the two "Countryside in 1970" Conferences—held in 1963 and 1965—for the way in which they focused attention upon the problems with which this Bill is seeking to deal. The foresight shown by the sponsors of these Conferences has been of incalculable value in bringing to public awareness the pressures on the countryside which I have mentioned and the dangers which can flow from unplanned developments. They appreciated in full measure the inevitability of the increased demands which will be made on the countryside and the absolute necessity therefore of forward planning to meet these pressures in an ordered way. In particular, I am sure that some of your Lordships will be familiar with the report of Study Group 9, which sat under the chairmanship of Professor Grieve and which produced a valuable and comprehensive report on the situation in Scotland. This Bill seeks to give effect to many of the things which they felt should be done.
I should also like to pay tribute to the valuable work done over many years by local authorities, public bodies and voluntary organisations in pursuit of many of the aims now included in this Bill. I would not suggest that they should regard this Bill as the culmination of their efforts, but I hope that in a very real sense they will have a feeling of identity with the provisions which it makes. Thinking particularly of the many voluntary bodies active in the countryside field, I am sure that the Countryside 1138 Commission will wish to lean heavily on their knowledge and experience, and I would express the hope that they will in no sense feel that their missions will be any less important in the future. I would deprecate, and I am sure that the Commission themselves would, any general slackening of this effort in the future. What we can look forward to, however, is the Commission playing a co-ordinating role among organisations, and perhaps assisting in some way with their work.
May I now turn to the clauses in the Bill. Clauses 1 to 9, which together form Part I of the Bill, deal with the setting up of a Countryside Commission for Scotland and set out the responsibilities, duties and powers which we feel it should have. Clause 1 provides for the actual establishment of the Commission and defines its general role, which is concerned with the provision, development and improvement of facilities for the enjoyment of the Scottish countryside and the conservation and enhancement of its natural beauty and amenity. We see the Commission as both leading the way in the development of recreational facilities in the countryside and ensuring that the public have adequate access to open country; and also, at the same time, acting as a watchdog to prevent spoliation and to make sure that when facilities are created they are in harmony with their surroundings and in keeping with a high standard of development. This will be a formidable task and, as I have already said, balancing the various considerations will not always be easy. We are convinced that there must be a central agency on the lines now proposed, to build up the necessary experience, knowledge and expertise, to enable the balance to be struck and to lay down the guide lines of countryside policy and standards.
With regard to the composition of the Commission—and here Clause 1 is backed up by Schedule 1—I think there will be general agreement that in view of the many different pieces, large and small, which go to make up the countryside jigsaw, it is right that the Commission should be largely a representative body. It is accordingly provided that the Commission should consist of up to 14 members and that in making 1139 appointments there should be consultations with local authorities and other countryside interests. It is the intention to make these consultations on as broad a basis as possible, so that the many organisations I have already mentioned who have interests in the countryside may feel reassured that their particular aspect of country life is not being overlooked and so that the Commission itself, when established, may be able to bring a widely informed view to bear on the determination of policy.
Although Schedule 1 provides that members of the Commission may be paid, it is the Government's intention that, with the possible exception of the Chairman, the Commissioners should be unpaid. There has been a good deal of discussion about this in another place, and in order to make the Government's position quite clear on this point I should like to quote the words used by my honourable friend the Minister of State in summing up the issues. He said:My right honourable friend has asked me to make quite clear that he is still firmly of the view that the members of the Commission should be unpaid, with the possible exception of the Chairman whom we would probably want to recompense for the greater amount of time he will necessarily have to devote to the Commission's business. My right honourable friend's view is unequivocally in favour of the type of Commission I have commended to the Committee, unpaid and broadly representative, although not directly so, of a wide span of countryside activity and operating through a high calibre staff."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Scottish Standing Committee, 20/6/67, col. 451.]The clause also provides that the Secretary of State may give general directions to the Commission. It is not the intention that this power of direction should be used other than sparingly, but it is important that there should be a safeguard to ensure that the Commission operates within the general context of the Government's plans for Scotland as a whole.
Clause 2 provides for the procedure by which "the countryside" will be defined for the purposes of the Bill. We gave a lot of thought to this provision and we should have liked to be able to find a simple clear-cut definition for the purpose, but unfortunately it became clear that this could not be done without creating a host of undesirable and largely unforeseeable anomalies. We shall therefore be embark 1140 ing on a mapping exercise which will clearly define for both local authorities and the Countryside Commission (after consultation with them) the areas which are designated as countryside. This will very largely be a once-and-for-all exercise and has the additional merit that, when completed, it will be unaffected by any possible reorganisation of local government which may emerge in the future.
The clause binds the Secretary of State to complete the mapping within a year of the passing of the Act, although this period can be extended up to two years by Statutory Instrument. It is certainly our hope that the bulk of the work will be completed within the first year but, until it is, the clause provides for an interim definition of the countryside to be in force—this is stated as beingthe landward areas of counties and the areas of small burghs containing, according to the last published census, a population of less than 5,000 inhabitants.I should make it clear—as I know some of your Lordships will be particularly concerned on the point—that the countryside under either method of definition will comprehend the coastline.
Clause 3 sets out the duties of the Commission and specifically charges them to keep under review all matters relating to the provision, development and improvement of facilities for the enjoyment of the countryside, the conservation and enhancement of its natural beauty (which I should make clear includes flora and fauna and features of geological or physiographical interest) and the need to secure public access to the countryside for the purposes of open-air recreation. In the exercise of this power, the Commission will be required to consult with such local planning authorities and other bodies as appear to them to have an interest, and it might be convenient for me to mention particularly at this point, as I am sure your Lordships may be wondering about our intentions, that, flowing from this provision, we should expect there to be the closest co-operation and co-ordination of activity between the Commission and the other three major Government agencies working in the Scottish countryside; that is, the Forestry Commission, the Nature Conservancy and the Highlands and Islands Development Board. With all three, the Commission 1141 will be enjoined by administrative directives to work in close liaison on all matters of mutual interest, and I do not anticipate any particular difficulties in operation.
This clause also charges the Commission to encourage, assist, concert or promote the implementation of any suitable proposals from private persons or other bodies which they consider are conducive to the attainment of their own objectives; and it establishes a mutual right of direct access between the Commission and Ministers and any public bodies. The other duties laid down in this clause will be more conveniently dealt with when I come to subsequent clauses in the Bill to which they relate.
The powers of the Commission are detailed in Clause 4, and the more important of these would enable the Commission, at their discretion, to establish committees, conferences or other appropriate bodies where they feel this would assist them in their work. This could be to assist them regionally, in relation to specific areas of Scotland, or functionally in relation to specific duties. The clause also enables the Commission to place at the disposal of local planning authorities the services of any of its professional or technical experts in circumstances where it is considered that special skills are required to further particular projects. I regard this as a very important provision, because there is no doubt that cases will arise from time to time when the development of tourist and recreational facilities in an area will raise specially difficult problems of planning or where problems of conservation will require specialist knowledge which local planning authorities cannot be expected to have within their own resources. The precise arrangements and terms for these secondments would of course need to be agreed with the authority concerned in each case. Other important provisions in this clause will enable the Commission to engage in research activities—a basic requirement in any organisation of this sort—and also to engage in publicity or educational work designed both to deepen the appreciation of members of the public in countryside matters and to educate them in the proper use of, and behaviour in country areas.
1142 We now come to Clauses 5 and 6, which contain very important provisions to enable the Commission themselves to undertake development projects or schemes designed to facilitate the enjoyment of the countryside or to conserve or enhance its natural beauty or amenity. It will be seen from the terms of Clause 5 that the intention is for the Commission's activities under this head to be essentially of a pioneering character. In other words, we see the Commission operating in this sphere not basically as a provider of facilities, but rather as blazing the trail and showing and proving what can and should be done in a variety of differing circumstances. This could range from the siting, planning and landscaping of a caravan or camping site in or near a particularly sensitive scenic area to the integrated planning of what may hitherto have been considered as conflicting uses of land or water, or providing a prototype information centre with new techniques of presentation and display. I have no doubt that the Commission themselves will have no difficulty in identifying a number of imaginative projects which they can use effectively for demonstration.
Although the powers conferred on the Commission by Clause 6 are very wide—ranging from the compulsory acquisition of land (subject, of course, to all the normal safeguards) to the carrying on of a business—we do not at all envisage that the Commission will become involved in such enterprises in any contining executive sense. The powers must be available, however, in order not to circumscribe in advance any of the activities in which the Commission might wish to engage for demonstration purposes.
Clause 7 contains an important provision enabling the Commission to make grants or loans to persons other than public bodies where they are pursuing projects conducive to the attainment of any of the purposes of the Bill as a whole. It will be one of the conditions under which financial assistance is given under this clause that the circumstances must be such that it is preferable that the project should be carried out by a private person or organisation rather than by a public body; and it will of course be an essential condition in the arrangements governing grants and loans under this clause that each project must be of demonstrable value to the community. 1143 Only in the most exceptional circumstances will approval be given for more than 75 per cent. of the cost of a project to be financed by the Commission, thus bringing the assistance under this clause into line with the payment of countryside grants to local authorities. This grants and loans clause is on similar lines to that operated so successfully by the Highlands and Islands Development Board.
Clauses 8 and 9 were designed to provide for the Commission to exercise a wide and persuasive influence on all aspects of countryside planning. I use the word "influence" advisedly. We do not want to see the Commission become deeply involved in matters of day-to-day planning control. As the Commission establishes itself, however, and we hope with the resources of experience and knowledge which it will build up gains the confidence of authorities in dealing with the more specialised aspects of countryside planning, it is hoped that a good working relationship can be achieved which will greatly assist the authorities in the exercise of their planning functions.
If it should be felt that any particular areas require a more detailed form of control—either over all development or any particular class of development—then Clause 9 provides the machinery for this and associates the Countryside Commission with it. I should emphasise, however, that before designating areas for this special form of control we shall need to have very good cause shown as to why it is necessary, and we expect the powers to be used very sparingly. With the emphasis which we are placing in general on greater delegation of planning control away from central Government, it would not be consistent to be imposing a more rigid form of control through this Countryside Bill. Nevertheless, having said that, we must have regard to the fact that there are in Scotland areas of such unspoiled magnificence and beauty, or of such high amenity potential, that they cannot be too carefully watched at all levels of Government to ensure that any developments which might be proposed are in complete harmony with the surroundings.
The actual provisions of Clause 9 translate into the Countryside Commission 1144 context the arrangements which have in fact existed in Scotland for the last 19 years, and which have I think worked well and successfully. Under these arrangements the Secretary of State has issued directions in respect of five large areas of especially high amenity (these are Loch Lomond/Trossachs; Glen Affric/Glen Cannich/Strathfarrar; Ben Nevis/Glencoe/Black Mount; the Cairngorms; and Loch Torridon/Loch Maree/Little Loch Broom) and these directions require that the local planning authorities must inform him of all planning applications within the designated areas so that he may decide whether to intervene or not in the way in which they are dealt with. I believe the local planning authorities have generally welcomed the direct involvement of the Secretary of State in these areas of truly national significance, and I am sure that the joint discussions of problems which have arisen have been of considerable mutual advantage. When the Countryside Commission come on the scene and make their own recommendations to the Secretary of State about the designation of areas for this special form of control the existing arrangements will lapse, but I should not expect any new arrangements to be more widespread or more detailed in control—in fact, rather the opposite; there is already room now for a looser form of control in some areas, and with the advent of the Commission I hope this can be achieved.
Part II of the Bill makes detailed provision for empowering local planning authorities and the Secretary of State to make access agreements and orders, or to acquire land in order to secure public access to open country for open-air recreation. These provisions are something new for Scotland, but they have existed in very similar form in England and Wales since the passing of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act in 1949.
Hitherto, the opinion has been held that such provisions were unnecessary in Scotland. This view was often very largely—and erroneously—based on the belief that there is no law of trespass in Scotland and that every Scotsman enjoys as of right the freedom of the countryside. This is excellent as a sentiment and I hope your Lordships would agree that it represents the spirit of what we are 1145 trying to achieve, and that we should like to preserve the feeling that every Scot should have the maximum freedom to enjoy his own country.
As a pure matter of fact, however, there is very little difference in the law of trespass between Scotland and England. In both countries it is a civil offence against the personal right of property, and not a criminal offence. In Scotland, however, damages can be secured against a trespasser only if it can be established that he has actually caused damage, and the difficulty of doing this has tended, in the past, to give rise to the belief that the law did not exist. The one difference here with the law in England is that this side of the Border nominal damages are awarded against the trespasser without the necessity of proving that damage was caused. What all this adds up to in practical terms is that on both sides of the Border no one has the right to enter anyone else's property without his consent, and if he does so he can lawfully be ordered to leave—and, if necessary, can be ejected. I should warn that in the latter case the ejector is not entitled to use any more force than is properly necessary. He also, of course, has to have regard to his own size and the size of the person he proposes to eject.
It is clear, therefore, that there must be provision in Scotland for securing access for the general public to open country in circumstances where this is being refused or where difficulties are arising—and, much as I deplore it, I am afraid this does tend to happen. Being realistic, too, I think your Lordships will agree that these difficulties are likely to increase in the future rather than decrease, having regard to the increasing pressures to which country areas will be subject from the numbers of visitors and their motor cars and coaches. As the weight of numbers goes up, the willingness of owners to allow unregulated access over their land must be expected to go down. So we must make statutory provision to confer reasonable rights of access. The clauses in Part II are based very largely on the well-tried provisions of the English 1949 Act and contain all the necessary safeguards for owners' rights and for compensation.
Part III of the Bill contains a number of important provisions for the creation 1146 of public paths and long distance routes, which are in many ways complementary to Part II and which again are well precedented in the 1949 Act. A public path means a footpath or bridleway, and the purpose of a long distance route is to enable the public to make extensive expeditions on foot, on pedal cycle or on horseback. Your Lordships will not need me to remind you of the great joys which Scotland has to offer for walking, pony-trekking and climbing away from the vehicular routes, and how vital it is—now more than ever before—that these opportunities should be safeguarded or, where necessary, created or completed. We must see to it that none of these pursuits is handicapped by lack of statutory powers to protect it. The purpose of Part III of the Bill is to provide this protection. In the implementation of these provisions we shall expect to see the Commission working in the closest co-operation with local planning authorities.
Part IV of the Bill confers a number of miscellaneous powers on various authorities. I will briefly highlight the main clauses. An extremely important provision—indeed, one of the major ones in the Bill—is contained in Clause 48. This clause deals with the establishment of Country Parks—defined as a park or pleasure ground (and that could be infinitely variable, both in size and in the nature of recreational facilities provided) which is sited in the countryside and whichby reason of its position in relation to major concentrations of population affords convenient opportunities to the public for enjoyment of the countryside or open-air recreation".Local planning authorities are charged with assessing the particular needs of their areas for these country parks and to keep this need under review; and it is proposed that the Commission should pay particular regard to this problem and should advise and assist local planning authorities in discharging their responsibilities.
In framing the clause we have had particularly in mind that this is very much a two-way operation: there are those urban authorities who export people into the countryside in large numbers, and there are the rural authorities who are at the receiving end; and it is essential that the two should get together and make joint arrangements. The clause, 1147 therefore, provides for this very necessary co-operation; it empowers the setting up of a joint committee to plan the facilities required; it enables authorities to act as agents for each other and, very important, it provides for the cost of establishing a Country Park to be shared between authorities on terms which would have regard to the prospective use of the park by the inhabitants of the areas of the respective authorities.
I hope that there will be a spirit of willingness on both sides to make this concept succeed. If urban pressures can be significantly absorbed in this way, it will have a most beneficial effect all round—in greater enjoyment for the individual and his family; in relieving congestion on the roads and lay-bys, and in evening out the demand on the more crowded spots which exist at the moment and which are much over-used because of the lack of suitable alternatives.
Clause 49 extends to local authorities the power they already have to provide caravan sites to enable them to make similar provision for camping sites. There has been a deficiency in the past and, with the growing demand for camping facilities, it is important that it should be remedied.
I should perhaps say a special word about Clause 50, since this gave rise to a somewhat belated but nevertheless vigorous reaction in another place. The clause empowers local authorities to make arrangements for securing the provision in the countryside—either by themselves or by other persons—of accommodation, meals and refreshments; and refreshments in this context is defined in Clause 77 as including excisable liquor. It is this latter point which has caused some raising of eyebrows, although it is really not very clear what those who have raised the matter feel should be done about it. Perhaps I should therefore put the clause in perspective. It is not intended as an open charter for local authorities to get into the retail drink business. On the contrary, I envisage this particular power being very sparingly used. In the first place it is governed by the proviso in the clause which restricts the provision to circumstances where facilities are inadequate or unsatisfactory. This will almost certainly be because the venture is commercially 1148 uneconomic; otherwise there would be no shortage of private entrepreneurs ready to step in; and the local authority will not themselves lightly become involved in an uneconomic venture of this sort unless they consider it their duty, having regard to the purposes of the Bill, to do so. And they will also have to convince their ratepayers that this is an activity which they should engage in. With all these hurdles, therefore, this is something which, by the nature of things, will not be done very often.
Another point which has been raised is that it is objectionable that the local authority, applying for a licence, should appear to act as judge in its own cause because of the common membership between the authority and the licensing court. This, however, pre-supposes that courts and local authorities cannot be trusted to act responsibly, and that is a suggestion which I cannot for one moment accept. The whole framework of this Bill is that public bodies will exercise their discretion and use the powers they are given reasonably and responsibly. We could not proceed on any other basis, and I do not think the present instance is any exception. The Second Report of the Guest Committee saw nothing objectionable in the present arrangements between local authorities and licensing courts, and I am content to rest on their view, although I am aware, of course, that the noble Lord, Lord Balerno, who was a member of that Committee, did not agree with all their recommendations.
Clause 51 confers an important power for the provision of parking places specifically to enable members of the public to enjoy the countryside. This is a badly needed provision in some areas and could have a significant effect both on the enjoyment of the country by the general public and on road safety and the free flow of traffic. The remainder of the clauses in Part IV deal with a number of miscellaneous, but nevertheless important matters, and I hope your Lordships will forgive me if I do not cover them all in detail now. There are, however, just three other clauses in this Part on which I should just like to say a little.
Clause 58 confers powers on the Forestry Commission to enable them to provide recreational facilities on the land which they have at their disposal. We have come to the conclusion that the 1149 Forestry Commission's powers in this respect need strengthening. That is the purpose of this clause. The Forestry Commission have, of course, for a long time provided recreational facilities in their forest parks and these have been a very valuable and much appreciated amenity. We hope to see these activities continued and expanded in the future and, as I said earlier, the Forestry Commission and the Countryside Commission will be working in the closest co-operation.
Clause 59 gives the Secretary of State powers to acquire land under the Forestry Act. In Scottish Standing Committee (col. 409), my honourable friend, the Minister of State, said:The clause requires that action is taken where land is reasonably required and where it is in proximity to other land in the Commissioner's hands. I would like to give an assurance—and I hope this is adequate to the honourable Member's purpose when he called this a probing Amendment—that we are regarding this as a rounding-off provision only … It is important that this is not seen as a sweeping clause which might affect the value of land held by an owner next to the Forestry Commission, the fear being that, perhaps, the clause would be used for purposes wider than is our intention. I give that assurance so that people may realise that we regard this clause as a rounding-off provision only to be used marginally and, I hope, naturally, with commonsense all the time on the part of all concerned.Clause 60 confers on the Secretary of State similar powers to those in Clause 58 for providing recreational facilities in respect of land which he holds for a variety of different purposes. This makes good a deficiency which has existed so far. Clauses 61 to 63 are directed towards getting the maximum benefit for recreation out of Scotland's lochs, rivers, reservoirs and canals. One of the most significant recreational trends in the last ten years has been the phenomenal increase in demand for water sports. Sailing has increased twenty times over during this decade; rowing and canoeing have both increased; the demand for water ski-ing has grown spectacularly. Angling has grown vastly more popular since the war—and, of course, swimming is always popular. These various activities on water are not always compatible with each other—and that is a problem of co-ordination and control to which local authorities and the Countryside Commission will have to give urgent attention. 1150 But that is a separate problem. What the three Clauses 61 to 63 are aiming to do is to make provision for the improvement of waterways and to bring as much water as possible into recreational use.
Part V of the Bill deals with a variety of general, financial and supplementary provisions, a number of them in common form, and I do not think I need go into them all in detail at this stage. I would, however, draw your Lordships' attention to Clause 65, which provides that:In the exercise of their functions relating to land under any enactment every Minister, government department and public body shall have regard to the desirability of conserving the natural beauty and amenity of the countryside.This is a clause with a wide general effect which is on lines suggested by "The Countryside in 1970" Conference, and I feel sure it will commend itself to your Lordships as a timely reminder to all arms of Government of the importance of conserving the countryside in any actions they undertake.
Clause 66 empowers the Secretary of State to pay grant to local authorities up to 75 per cent. of expenditure in respect of the exercise of the powers conferred on them in the Bill, and provides that the Countryside Commission may make recommendations to the Secretary of State with regard to these grants. This is an important new specific grant which is tangible evidence of the importance which we attach to these countryside endeavours. I earnestly hope that it will act as a real encouragement to local authorities. Clause 67 empowers the Secretary of State to defray or contribute towards expenditure incurred in connection with long distance routes, and here again I hope that positive action will be taken by local authorities in co-operation with the Countryside Commission.
My Lords, the Bill is a long one—I have been aware of that for a long time. My speech has been a long one—I have become increasingly aware of that as time has gone on, but I hope that what I have said will not do anything in any way to diminish the commendation which I give to the Bill to all who love the Scottish countryside and who believe that both the Scottish people and their visitors should be enabled to enjoy it at its glorious best. It is in that spirit that I 1151 commend the Bill to your Lordships for Second Reading, and I hope it is in that spirit that your Lordships will receive it.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Hughes.)