HL Deb 19 October 1981 vol 424 cc634-5

136 Page 53, line 44, leave out '54, 56' and insert 54 to 56'.

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, I beg to move that the House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 136.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said amendment.—(The Earl of Avon.)

As an amendment to Amendment No. 136:

136A At end insert (" [Publication of dedication of footpaths and bridleways]").

Lord Melchett

My Lords, Amendment No. 136 would bring the new clause introduced by Amendment No. 126 into operation one month after the passing of the Act, rather than leave it to be brought in by the Secretary of State through regulations. I hope that this amendment will ensure that things are implemented rather more speedily than would be the case if the Bill were left as it is, and that, again in the interests of getting everything moving quickly, the noble Earl will be able to accept it. I beg to move.

Moved,That this House doth agree with the amendment to the amendment.—(Lord Melehett.)

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, in contrast to the other provisions in Part III of the Bill which are to be brought into operation one month after enactment, these relate to powers, whereas Amendment No. 136 imposes a specific duty on local authorities to publicise the dedication of footpaths and bridleways flowing from agreements under Section 25 of the Highways Act 1980. The Government consider that one month is not long enough for local authorities to obtain copies and absorb the contents of the Bill and to implement the additional duties it imposes upon them. I emphasise the difference between powers and duties. I would prefer for this reason to leave the provisions of Amendment No. 126 to be brought into effect at a later date.

I agree with the noble Lord that there is no reason why they should not be brought in before the new definitive map review system and various changes being made to the public path order provisions and we will endeavour to bring them in at the earliest opportunity. In the circumstances, and with this assurance, I trust the noble Lord will be prepared to withdraw his objection.

Lord Melchett

My Lords, before the noble Earl sits down, he said "at the earliest opportunity". This is one of those code words which Government use when they do not want to tell you anything. Can the noble Earl go any further than that and give us an indication of whether it is likely to be months, or weeks, or years? Could he be a little bit more definitive?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, obviously I cannot be more definitive because this is going to depend a great deal on the speed at which everything is happening at that particular period. The point is that it cannot be within one month, but we shall do it as soon thereafter as we possibly can.

Lord Melchett

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for that helpful assurance. I accept that those of us who have been living with this Bill may not think it would take a month to read and understand it but that others, coming to it afresh, may find it rather more complicated and that local authorities will need a little time to digest and implement the new powers which they have. In the light of the noble Earl's assurance, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment to Commons amendment No. 136, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Motion agreed to.