§ 104 After Clause 42, insert the following new clause:
§ "Membership of National Park Authorities, 1972 c. 70.
§ .—(1) In Part I of Schedule 17 to the Local Government Act 1972 (discharge of planning and countryside functions in National Parks) in paragraph 11 after the words "one-third" there shall be inserted the words "(to the nearest whole number)".
(2) After paragraph 12 of that Schedule there shall be inserted the following paragraph—
12A.—(1) The members of a joint planning board, special planning board or National Park Committee established for an area being or comprising the whole or any part of a National Park shall include members (in this paragraph referred to as 'district council members') who are appointed by district councils whose districts comprise any part of that Park (in this paragraph referred to as 'relevant district councils').
§ (2) The number of district council members of such a board or Committee shall be equal to—
- (a) the number of relevant district councils; or
- (b) one seventh (to the nearest whole number) of the members of the board or Committee,
§ (3) The district council members shall be appointed by such of the relevant district councils as may be agreed between those councils or as in default of agreement may be determined by the Secretary of State.
§ (4) The district council members shall hold office for a period of one year and shall be eligible for reappointment; and section 102(5) above shall apply in relation to a district council member appointed under this paragraph as it applies in relation to a member of a committee appointed under that section".
§ (3) In paragraph 14 of that Schedule for the words "subject to paragraph 11 above" there shall be substituded the words "subject to paragraphs 11 and 12A above".
§ (4) In the case of a joint planning board, special planning board or National Park Committee established for an area being or comprising the whole or any part of a National Park, members who are members of relevant district councils (within the meaning of the said paragraph 12A) and are neither members of a county council nor persons appointed in pursuance of the said paragraph 11 shall cease to be members of the board or Committee as from the coming into force of this section."
§ The Earl of Avon
My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 104. This amendment provides a statutory right of representation for district councils on national park authorities. At present such councils are represented on park authorities only on a grace and favour basis at the invitation of one of the councils concerned. I am sure this amendment commends itself to your Lordships. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said amendment.—(The Earl of Avon.)
§ Lord Sandford
My Lords, I moved a similar amendment to this at Committee stage in this House and was glad to withdraw it on an undertaking by the Government that they would move one of their own, and I am very glad now to see it. There are indeed cogent arguments for having a clause of this type. The most direct one is that the district councils now have the staff and experience to handle development control matters in the whole of the rest of England and Wales, and it is sensible that there should be provision for them to join effectively in the discharge of those responsibilities by the county councils in the case of national parks. There is the further reason that district councils have a major responsibility for the health and wellbeing and prosperity of the local economy. That is a purpose which many people feel should be discharged by the national park authorities although it is not statutorily laid upon them. To the extent that districts will as of right be represented on the national park authorities it will be easier for that role to be discharged effectively.
The other function which it is important to have integrated into national park authorities is the function of the housing authorities and those functions are held by the district councils. There is the further reason that the district councils do contain representatives closer to the grass roots than do the county councils, and there is a greater likelihood that the representatives of the district councils on the national park authorities will be resident in the parks themselves. So for all those reasons I think the clause is welcome to the Association of District Councils. As my noble friend says, they have had a place there by grace of the county councils, and in some cases they have had more places than they will get under this clause; they would have preferred more. But this is a satisfactory compromise between the county councils and the district councils.
The House might care to know that this Friday the Association of District Councils are holding a seminar at the offices of the Countryside Commission in Cheltenham. I shall be meeting about 40 or so members of the district councils and we shall be discussing how best to discharge the responsibilities now being laid on them by this clause.
§ Lord Stanley of Alderley
My Lords, I wonder if I might add a further word to the remarks of my noble friend Lord Sandford about representation. I woud ask my noble friend Lord Avon to answer this when he comes to reply. When it comes to the appointments by the Minister—and I think he has to deal with quite a large number of appointments—will he bear in mind the desirability of appointing people whose livelihood and interests are in that area?
§ The Earl of Avon
My Lords, there is no reduction at all envisaged in the present level of appointments made by the Secretary of State to such authorities and in no case will district council representation fall below its current de facto level. In fact, there will probably be a slight increase in representation on two national park authorities, the Peak Park and the Lake District. 601 I am sure that the points made by my noble friend Lord Stanley of Alderney will be borne in mind. I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Sandford for his comments.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.