HL Deb 03 June 1981 vol 420 cc1312-23

9.32 p.m.

The Earl of Selkirk

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. This is a Private Member's Bill which was introduced into the other place by Mr. Peter Fraser, the Member for South Angus. It passed through the Commons without a Division and, I would add, without a Second Reading, so in that sense we are advancing on new ground in trying to explain the general principles on which the Bill is based.

A few changes took place in the structure of the draft rather late in the proceedings elsewhere. The clauses were renumbered. What are called the Renton recommendations, textual amendments, were introduced in certain clauses. There was, however, very little change to the substance of the Bill, but the appearance is different. Not only that, there were printers' errors, some of which have been reported to your Lordships on the document containing corrections. In Clause 1, subsection (3) is omitted, and accordingly the subsections are renumbered in Clause 1. One other amendment was not reported, and that is to Clause 11, where there is the introduction of two subsections; after "11" it should be marked "subsection (1)", subsection (5) becomes subsection (2), and "(5)" is omitted.

Fourteen years have now elapsed since the Countryside (Scotland) Bill was introduced, when the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, was Secretary of State. The Bill was introduced into your Lordships' House by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, and since then certain things have emerged to indicate that the measure could be improved. Indeed, Lord Hughes introduced a supplementary Bill which would have been covered by Clauses 7 and 10 of this Bill, but that fell owing to the dissolution of Parliament two years ago.

The Bill before the House arises really from two documents, one a park system in Scotland by the Countryside Commission and the other following a working party under the aegis of the Scottish Office consisting of representatives of the Convention of Local Authorities, the Scottish Landowners' Federation, the Countryside Commission, the Scottish Countryside Activities Council, which covers quite a number of bodies which operate in the countryside, and of course the Scottish Office. They consulted some 30 different organisations and I am given to understand that in general terms this small Bill is welcomed by them.

The purpose of the measure is of course the same as the 1967 Act; access to the countryside and the enjoyment and protection of the countryside. The whole question of tourism and leisure, as it is called, has been the subject of the most enormous development in recent years. As a matter of fact, about 50 years ago I was a member of an organisation called the Scottish Travel Association. I believe it was the first attempt to co-ordinate people who were broadly interested in tourism as such. I do not think it did very much, although I understand one thing emerged from it, which was that the late Sir Frederick Ogilvy, who was at one time Vice-Chancellor of Belfast University and subsequently Director General of the BBC, wrote what I believe was the first serious analysis of the economics of tourism. That was the beginning. Today, tourism forms a very substantial part of our invisible exports. The British Tourist Authority said in a recent report that about 17 million people come to this country, giving the benefit of some £.3½ billion to our invisible exports. The BTA added that the local authorities have a fundamental task to perform in this sphere; and so they have in the Bill, and it is only right that they should have.

We are perhaps more interested in what I might call the sociological side—the question of physical health and mental stability—and it is not uninteresting to note that 100 years ago we spent a lot of our time on horseback and walking to work and so on. Today we go mostly by mechanical contrivances of one sort or another. There is an interesting compensation for this change because the young people of today take a tremendous interest in physical exercise; you see people jogging round London and elsewhere quite frequently and there have been enormous developments in skiing, water skating and in sports like hang gliding and sail boarding. All sorts of new sports have grown up and they have made a great appeal to the young people of today.

I should like to compare that somewhat with a quotation from Lord Shinwell's autobiography. That little boy living in the Gorbals in Glasgow tells how he went for a walk in what must have been very lovely countryside outside the town itself. He saw a hedge with wild roses in it, and he writes this: I have never forgotten that hedge. I had no idea such lovely things existed". That was perhaps 80 years ago, but anyone who today takes boys to camp realises that often they know very little about the countryside and the wonders of nature. There is still a considerable element of teaching to be undertaken.

This is of course looking well into the future and there are many points surrounding it. I now propose to read a quotation from the Countryside Commission's most recent report: We should record again our view that the full impact of capital taxation upon the structure of land holding in the wider countryside will be increasingly seen to inhibit sound land management". That is an important point. Sound land management is of the utmost importance, and I hope that within limits this little Bill might make some small contribution to that. The use of the countryside inevitably involves an element of conflict, and we all know that there have been some grand conflicts of one kind or another in Scotland. There is no need for me to go into these this evening, but certainly they have occurred.

Principally the Bill relaxes the power of the Secretary of State and leaves more discretion to the local authorities and the Countryside Commission. It also continues the principle of the 1967 Act—that agreement should be by consent. Agreement regarding access to land for the purposes of pathways should be freely entered into. There is an element of compulsion—I shall say a few words about it shortly—when it is impractical to proceed by any other way.

I now wish to turn to the clauses of the Bill, but before doing so I wish to thank Mr. Orr of the Scottish Office, and his colleagues, for the assistance that they have given me in understanding in particular the way in which the Bill dovetails into the 1967 Act, and if I make myself comprehensible to the House, it will be due in large part to the guidance that I have received from them. Clause 1 enables the Countryside Commission to make loans not only to private organisations or people, but also to public organisations. The expenditure can be incurred on their own initiative, without reference to the Secretary of State, but of course it would be subject to the arrangements which he will already have made with them.

Clause 2 extends the concept of open country to include water, which might seem rather obvious. Clause 3 provides a new way to assess land to be used for access. It is I think fairly obvious that there is no open market for paths, pathways, or bridleways, and accordingly there is no basis upon which the district assessor can operate. So he is given the duty of assessing the land in the environment in which it happens to be. I have mentioned compulsion. This can be used when it is essential, when it is impractical to secure a pathway by any other means. The matter must then proceed with the consent of the Secretary of State and compulsion can then be resorted to.

There is a further relaxation of the Secretary of State's power in that when access agreements are reached and there is no objection, there will be no need at all to refer the matter to the Secretary of State.

Clause 6 increases the penalties in line with the reduced value of money. Clause 7 makes quite clear which planning authorities the Bill refers to, and since they vary a little, perhaps I should mention them. The authorities concerned are the Island authorities, the Highland authorities, the Border Region and the Dumfries and Galloway Region. With the exception of those authorities, the duty will lie with district authorities.

Now I come to Clause 8, which concerns regional parks. This, I think, is the most important new concept which enters into this Bill. We do not have any national park in Scotland, and this is a different way, as I see it, of establishing something of the same character. The central point of this is that there is no change of land ownership. This will cover, if necessary, both land held by local authorities and land held by private persons. The concept is that it enables people to go out from the urban areas into open country, and will do so under the general management of the local authority. That means no more than this, as understand it, that they will provide certain facilities. They will provide access, perhaps a car park and sanitary arrangements, and will employ rangers, as they are now called.

I should like to draw attention to this, because I think it is not unimportant. Your Lordships will see that under Clause 10 the local authority can pass by-laws to ensure that people behave. I know it is a little easier to say that than it will be to enforce it, but this is the concept which is there of regulated or managed travel or (shall I say?) passage to enable people to wander into areas which are under certain regulations so that they can see the countryside without interfering with agricultural processes and, I hope, without interfering with forestry processes. I think this is an interesting development which in the future might become very important.

I should add that the designation of these regional parks will be strictly under the general guidance of the Secretary of State. Local land interests will of course be fully informed; their objections will be heard by the Secretary of State; and if they are confirmed by him, the whole thing will then be submitted in a Statutory Instrument to Parliament and subject to the annulment process. I therefore think that this will come into operation only after very careful examination.

I should add, perhaps, that in the event of any planning permission being requested or applied for in the regional parks, consideration will have to be given to the fact that they are regional parks. I think the general picture we have is the development of such places as the Clyde Muirshiel development, that rather lovely country just south of the mouth of the Clyde, and possibly the Pentland Hills; but, of course, that is a matter which will have to be decided later on.

Clause 9 deals with management agreements. It is not very easy to explain exactly what they are, but the purpose is that in particular areas it may be desirable to preserve certain things which would enhance the natural beauty of those areas. What that may mean is a variety of things. It may mean that you will want to grow trees and have rough ground, or it may mean that you will want to avoid trees to provide a view. It may be that you will want to replace a rather unpleasant wire fence with, perhaps, a stone dyke, or a variety of things. This is an open question which will have to be judged by the Commission or by the local authority. Of course, payments will be made for it; but it means that certain undesirable developments might be removed or perhaps prevented. I cannot guage entirely how this will be used, but I think it is a useful power.

Clause 10 gives the control of public paths, in so far as they are on local authority property, to the local authority; but where access agreements have been made it will be by the planning authority. They can make by-laws (which, of course, is with the consent of the Secretary of State) as to how they should be operated; and, of course, they will have a ranger service to deal with them. Clause 11 deals with noise and the possible conflict between those who go into the hills and want to be quiet and those who go into the hills, frankly, to make a noise.

I have in mind, in particular, motor-cyclists. It is perfectly fair that those who are keen on motor-cycling should have a proper opportunity to go scrambling. In fact, I know some motor-cyclists who want to go motor-scrambling, but they do not know quite where to go. It is equally true that those who want peace and quiet should be able to go to places where quiet is almost insisted upon; that is, one does not want to have conflict between people who want to use the open countryside for very different purposes. Here, the idea is to give what one might call guided toleration; the guidance of the local authority and the tolerance of different people of one sort or another. I remember that the late Duke of Montrose once said that if one knew there was a tourist on the mountainside, it quite added spice to stalking a deer. That might be a slightly two-edged sword but I have some idea what he had in mind.

I have received representations from some parts of the CBI that this power to impose quiet might affect various industrial activities such as quarrying. I do not think this is possible. The CBI had in mind that some area which had planning authority for quarrying might subsequently have a period of silence imposed upon it. I cannot believe that any sensible local authority would do this, but, if one reads the terms of Clause 11, it states there that the purpose is to preserve quiet and not to impose quiet. Therefore, I feel it would be quite impossible to use this power to prevent some quarrying operation from using its lorries or anything of that kind.

Clause 12 deals with the payment of compensation to officers of the Countryside Commission who leave prematurely and I believe that is a quite natural power and one that should be available. This is quite a small Bill. It carried the powers and duties of local authorities and of the Countryside Commission just a little further. I hope that the Bill will restrain vandalism and will add a little to the health and happiness of the people of Scotland. My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Earl of Selkirk.)

9.52 p.m.

Lord Ross of Marnock

My Lords, the House should be grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk—as should the original sponsors of the Bill in another place—for taking on the onerous task of seeing this Bill through your Lordships' House and for treating us to a very clear, lucid and comprehensive introduction to the Bill. Like the noble Earl, I believe it is a pity that this Bill received no Second Reading in the other place because when one reads the debates at Committee and Report stage in another place one does not get a full picture of the proposals within their full setting as a further extension or projection of the 1967 Act and its relevance to the present day. I am sincere in offering my congratulations to the noble Earl. Indeed, I feel that I should extend those congratulations to the Government because there is no doubt but that this is not a Private Member's Bill; it is a Government Bill. It has been known in the past for Governments to persuade a Private Member to take over a Bill for which they cannot find time in their legislative programme. This is obviously the case in respect of this Bill. I notice, for instance, that when the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, sought an explanation he did not go to the sponsor of the Bill but to the Scottish Office. How very sensible of him in respect of this particular Bill.

Perhaps I should now declare one or two particular interests. First, I was the Secretary of State who had to "carry the can" for the original Bill. It was I who set up the first Countryside Commission in Scotland. Secondly, I was equally responsible for the reappointment in February 1960 of the commission's present chairman. I notice that it has been suggested in another place that I did something wrong and that someone who was a fellow Minister told me all about his feelings on the matter. I have a very good memory. I appointed Dr. Jean Balfour because I thought she had done a first-class job. She had great authority and enthusiasm. She had experience and knowledge of what she was doing and she was fair in all the things which were brought to my notice.

I can remember February 1976 very well because about two months later I ceased to be Secretary of State. Having handled one Prime Minister for about eight years, I was not going to break in another one. But the interesting point concerning a person who suggested that he had fallen out with me over this is that I think one of the last duties I did, certainly as Secretary of State and probably in a more private party capacity, although I was still Secretary of State, was to go to that gentleman's constituency. He had plenty of opportunity to deal with this particular point with me at the time. I have a reasonably good memory. He may have felt something, but he did not convey his displeasure to me. It may be that he is confusing that occasion with some other occasion. However, that is the first thing: my responsibility for the Countryside Commission.

May I say that for my sins, or my virtues, I am also responsible for the Scottish Tourist Board. I set that up as well. In my present capacity I am the deputy chairman of the National Trust for Scotland and I know the extent of liaison there is between the National Trust and the Countryside Commission. I am a member of a country park committee which is mainly that of Cunningham District Council and members of the National Trust and I know there how much we depend on the Countryside Commission for help and for advice and for support in the ranger services and other aspects of the work in this country park which is one of the newer country parks in Scotland.

I will go further. I am the ex-Member of Parliament for Kilmarnock which was my constituency for 33 years. The latest country park in Scotland is in Kilmarnock at Dene Castle. The park was opened by Mrs. Jean Balfour on Saturday last and I know the extent to which they are indebted for help, and financial help, from the Countryside Commission in respect of achieving that. I think that from that one may conclude that I am fairly well in on all this business.

In the last Countryside Commission report it was stated by the chairman, speaking on behalf of the whole commission, that for years they had been concerned to get amendments to the 1967 Act and they told of how the working party which had been set up in conjunction with the interests, the local authorities, the Countryside Commission, the land-owning interests and with the recreational countryside interests, were working things out. The first thing I want to know is this—and this is where I think it is a great pity we did not have the people truly responsible for this Bill, the Government, in command, because I have to address my remarks on this not to the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, but to the Government. Does this meet all the points that have been worrying the Countryside Commission in relation to their need for further legislation? I am as much in the dark as anybody. I do not know. Or have aspects of what they considered their policy been turned down?

One of them is rather sweeping. I notice that the Countryside Commission are not without ambitions. They pointed out that in England there is a public authority, a public body, the National Parks, which can handle matters of taking into ownership desirable parks of the country. It may well be by gift; it may well be as a result of setting off against death duties; it may well be in relation to some other way in which this becomes available to the Government. However, in Scotland there is no national body. There is of course the National Trust. It is not a public body, it is a private charitable trust. The Countryside Commission seemed to suggest that there is a limit to what the National Trust can do because of their endowment requirement. I know how essential this is from our present deliberations on certain problems in relation to suggestions made to us. The requirement is to get sufficient money for the proper endowment, maintenance and upkeep of certain lands and properties. I wonder whether the fact that there is no public body was put to the Government and what their relationship and response would be. I certainly would tend to question the ambitions of the Countryside Commission in this respect, and it may well be that this could be done in more ways than the one that seems to be suggested—although it was very sensitively done—in the commission's report.

There is no doubt that even if we had that within some public national authority it would not solve all the problems that arise and all the conflicts that arise where one gets the conflict of interest over the proper use of the land: the conservation aspect against the development aspect. We saw this very much highlighted in 1974, when, because of the urgency and the satisfactory nature of the site that was being suggested, the Government decided that certain areas of Scotland of outstanding natural beauty which were in the ownership of the National Trust, and so were inalienable except for certain special parliamentary procedures, should be taken over. The Government wanted the sites for building an oil rig.

This is where you come up against it right away. We found oil in the North Sea and the far North Sea, and the onshore effect of that immediately hit areas where there were a sparse population and tremendous interests in relation to the scenic beauties of the countryside. Remember that Glasgow and the River Clyde was at one time probably one of the most beautiful spots in the whole of Scotland. Industrial development scarred it, although there are improvements coming now. You have to make that balance in respect of development and in respect of preservation for the further enjoyment of all the people of an area. That is not easy.

I am glad that we have this renewed emphasis on the scenic heritage of Scotland, for it is a priceless birthright to the Scots to be able to go there and enjoy it. However, the people who live there also want to work there. The 40 areas of scenic beauty that had to be carefully watched were listed, and there are great areas of the Highlands and Islands. There has to be more and more understanding by conservationists and the people who want development. That is what it comes to in the present circumstances. I am glad that the commission are going about more and meeting local authority people, and I hope they will reach a balanced point of view between them as to what can be done. I think this is where some of the troubles have arisen, not just with the commission, because it happens with other people, but between the commission and the local authorities in the highland areas and especially in those areas where a great stretch of the area is going to be treated specially, because so much of their area is in it in relation to development.

Commissions that are set up by the Government are just the same as local authorities: none of them are endowed with the quality of infallibility, and the more they get together and reach a balance, the better it will be. I hope that is something that will come from the extension of the powers there, because the fact that we are now giving statutory authority to what has been happening for nearly two years—that is to say, the Government just using the Countryside Commission as their agents to give grants to local authorities for countryside matters—means that there will now be more direct contact between the local authorities and the commission. That has been happening since, I think, some time in 1969 and now the de facto situation has been made de jure. We now have that into the Bill itself.

I have no great desire to make a very long speech. May I say I am very glad that what used to be Clause 1 is now about 9, 10 or 11, or something like that. Imagine starting up an important Bill like this—this may well be the influence of a Private Member in another place. The first clause used to be that one in relation to noise. Quite frankly, I am willing to have a good look at this one. I know that makes the Minister of State shudder, but it is very important indeed. It is only the noise related to motor vehicles and motor engines: it may be tractors. Somebody talked about snocats and aeroplanes, and there is also the definition of "places of quiet". How shall we define that? I was being told last night that I lived in a place of quiet. I thought there was going to be relief for me here until I discovered that all the scheduled aircraft that fly from Prestwick are not involved in this. I am sure the people who like to play golf at Troon in an area of quietness, when they are making that important putt in the British Open Championship, would be glad that there was some bar on a plane landing at Prestwick at that very moment; and of course Troon golf course is on the flight path.

I thought about what would happen at Ayr. There is a lovely racecourse in the very centre, where private planes arrive with jockeys. Jockeys of course are very important people these days. It is not the owners of horses who arrive by plane but the jockeys. However, that will not be in it at all, and these can be covered by other things. There are the matters of the definitions, limitations and exceptions, and I wonder whether the clause is worth while at all. The Government could have taken a little longer about it.

The subject of parks is important because it may well be that what we do about regional parks might influence our whole policy in relation to this. The Government have just had a report. I do not know whether Tony Stodart has arrived here yet. Perhaps this is why we are getting this through before he arrives here. He is one of the recently ennobled Scots, and he has just produced a report for the Government on overlapping powers. That is part of the hangover from local government reorganisation. One of the troubles is: who will be responsible for the parks—the regions or the districts? Yet here we are setting up regional parks, with a recommendation to the Government from their own committee that parks should go to the districts. If they go to the districts, that will pose very considerable problems.

When Scotland's first country park, Culzean country park, was set up, the Secretary of State—I shall not tell your Lordships who was Secretary of State at the time—managed to get together three local authorities, Ayr County Council, Kilmarnock Town Council and Ayr Town Council. They joined together to create this park with the National Trust, with all the land round about Culzean Castle. It had a tremendous success. But what will happen in relation to that, if we get statutory insistence that that park should be a purely one-district park? It draws people from the whole of central Scotland. I regret that we have not had a debate on the Stodart report, because I do not think that what we are doing here will necessarily, in the long run, be the right thing to do about parks.

I have talked about grants and noise, but what about footpaths? I know that the Countryside Commission have been dealing quite a lot with footpaths, and trying to create a West Highland Way to link up with the Pennine Walk and elsewhere in the Highlands. Will this still be the responsibility of the regions? As I understand it, it will be purely a district function, because the report talks about dealing with matters with the region. We had better get that straight, too, because we want it to be of advantage to Scotland, rather than look at it from the point of view of the pride of local authorities.

On the whole, this is a useful Bill. There is a lot to discuss in it and there is a lot that I should have liked to say about it tonight. But, on the whole, let us not despair of getting that co-operation which is necessary between the local authorities and the commission in respect of their new place in the planning procedures.

One of the things I have noticed is the growth of interest of young people. I spent last weekend in Muirkirk. I nearly blew my top when I saw a Question from, I think, an English Baroness about the behaviour of British supporters at an England-Switzerland game. I am glad to say that there were British supporters at the West Lowlands hike of the Boys' Brigade last weekend, when over 400 youngsters spent more than two days hiking over the hills and moors of Muirkirk and all around, without a thought to what was happening elsewhere. They were intent on testing themselves against the hills, thereby appreciating the value of that countryside recreation which is invaluable to the people of Scotland, and which more and more people, in various ways, are beginning to value and to participate in.

There are quite a number of points that we can talk about in Committee, but the noble Earl need not despair. There will be no great opposition, because this is now his Bill and I welcome the measures that are being taken to extend the work and the powers of the commission and, in many cases, of local authorities in respect of the countryside.

10.15 p.m.

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (The Earl of Mansfield)

My Lords, whatever its origins, the Bill comes to this House as a Scottish Private Member's Bill. They are fairly rare. It gives me particular pleasure to lend the support of the Government to this measure which, as my noble friend has said, is modest in scale and yet is of considerable importance. I should like to extend my congratulations to my noble friend Lord Selkirk who has taken over responsibility for the Bill in your Lordships' House. I know that all his endeavours will he supported by all those with an interest in the Scottish countryside, whatever that interest happens to be.

It is only natural that Scottish countryside legislation should require some adjustment after a decade and a half of operation. That the proposals in this particular Bill are so modest and have, so far, at any rate, proved so uncontroversial is I believe a good sign that the situation in Scotland on the provision of access to and amenities in the countryside generally is developing along lines broadly acceptable to all the interests involved. As my noble friend has indicated, certain parts of the Bill have come to the House before: in the Countryside (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill which was introduced by the previous Administration and which died with it. But here they are again, almost unchanged, and that is to be welcomed.

A number of these measures are indicative of a continuing change in the countryside; namely, its increasing use as a recreational facility, especially by people from our urban areas. Both noble Lords have drawn attention to the 13th annual report of the Countryside Commission which states that: Informal recreation in the countryside is an essential part of the way of life of large numbers of people. As a consequence, recreational provisions for tourists and others must be made in order to conserve the countryside and allow productive land use to continue with minimal intrusion or damage by visitors.". It would be damaging to all the interests to ignore this phenomenon or to hope that the problem which the Countryside Commission has identified will somehow resolve itself unaided, although I do believe that those who use the countryside are much more aware of their responsibilities than they have been previously.

The report of the commission has illustrated the opening of the West Highland Way. It might well have been that there would have been a picture of me, because I opened it, except that the rain was coming down so hard that the commission have prudently merely included a photograph of the map. Nevertheless, it brought home to me personally the importance of the West Highland Way. This was particularly so when last week, on Government business, I had the pleasure and privilege of flying up part of it in a helicopter to go to an Outward Bound school at Locheil where I was also privileged to see how young people can enjoy the Scottish countryside in a very different way.

Lord Ross of Marnock

My Lords, the helicopter flight must have created a lot of noise.

The Earl of Mansfield

The early adjustment of existing legislation along lines as modest as those which are before us will, I believe, do much to preserve and enhance the recognition and respect by farmers, landowners and those seeking recreation of one another's interests in this most important element of our national heritage, the countryside of Scotland. I have no doubt that with the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, sitting opposite, the Bill will be subjected to a fairly rigorous Committee and possibly Report stage. No doubt we shall go into the problem of noise in the countryside and whether or not a helicopter on a scheduled service should cause any, even when it is bringing undoubted mobility and very great benefit to the people who live in the Highlands and Islands, particularly in the vicinity of Fort William.

The noble Lord asked me a couple of questions and I have no doubt that there will be some more in Committee. In effect he asked whether this particular Bill meets all the points that the Countryside Commission have—or had—in relation to potential legislation, if I may so term it. Of course, nobody can ever expect to be totally satisfied. There was a proposal that would have given the Commission the right to manage land for conservation purposes and to that end to acquire land by agreement only. The Government took a policy decision not to proceed with this proposal.

There was also a proposal to set up special parks, and that was not acceptable to CoSLA because it would have given the park authority, not being an elected body, planning powers within the park. Those are two items which no doubt to a lesser or greater degree provided a measure of disappointment to the commission. The noble Lord also drew attention to the Stodart Report and the functions of local government which it examined. The report is indeed important and the Government are considering it. Any changes which may be required by legislation, including those which may relate to Clause 8, will be effected when the decisions have all been taken and certainly need not affect this Bill or our consideration of it. Therefore, I commend this measure to your Lordships and wish my noble friend a fair wind for the Bill's passage.

10.23 p.m.

The Earl of Selkirk

My Lords, I thank the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, for the welcome he has given to this Bill and I hope it will proceed. I should like to thank particularly the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, for the very kind and generous things which he said. I agree that he showed characteristic common sense in re-appointing Dr. Balfour and I should have thought that nearly every serious student of the countryside would be in full agreement with that. I do not think I doubted the warmth of his heart towards the beauty of the countryside and the need for young people to enjoy it, but I am glad that he expressed those views and I think it is valuable that he should do so.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.