§ 3.14 p.m.
§ The Chairman of Committees (Lord Aberdare)
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.— (Lord Aberdare.)
§ Baroness White
My Lords, I have no wish to impede the passage of this Bill, to which some very important amendments have been made in another place; but there are petitioners against it and it will therefore go before an Opposed Bill Committee for examination. In my view it would be inappropriate to seek to give formal instructions to that committee on a Bill which has the blessing of the Devon County Council, the Dartmoor National Park Authority and the Countryside Commission. However, I believe there is one area of disquiet to which it is proper to draw attention. The establishment under this Bill of the Dartmoor Commoners' Council gives statutory functions to a body which understandably is composed primarily of graziers holding stock on the commons. There are to be two representatives of the National Park Authority, of whom one must be a person appointed by the Secretary of State after consultation with the Countryside Commission.
I understand that the other public body with environmental responsibilities—the Nature Conservancy Council—had hoped for representation but that this has not been accorded. Under an amendment to the Bill, it will be given prior notification of activities which may affect simply those areas which have been designated as having special scientific interest. I understand also that by private agreement it will receive minutes of the Commoners' Council meetings. But there will not necessarily be anybody on that council who has the desirable knowledge of or interest in the wider ecological and habitat considerations which could be affected by the activities with which this Bill is concerned. I think I may properly express the hope that the examining committee will take this matter into account.
§ Lord Aberdare
My Lords, as the noble Baroness has correctly said, there are three petitions against this Bill, and if they are not withdrawn they will be heard by a Select Committee. I certainly will make sure that the remarks which the noble Baroness has made are drawn to the attention of the committee. I beg to move.
§ On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Select Committee.