HL Deb 05 October 2000 vol 616 cc1691-755

3.37 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty)

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Whitty.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.


Clause 17 [Byelaws]:

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer moved Amendment No. 213: Page 10, line 14, at beginning insert— ("( ) The Secretary of State or, as may be the case, the National Assembly for Wales, shall draw up model byelaws for the use of access authorities.").

The noble Baroness said: The amendment has the aim of ensuring that model by-laws will be drawn up by the Secretary of State. We do not want to see different by-laws being introduced in different parts of the country, making it difficult for the public to understand which apply in various areas.

That is common sense and the Countryside Agency is drawing up such by-laws. However, it would be sensible to have a provision in the Bill to ensure that they are put in place. I beg to move.

The Earl of Caithness

The Committee returns to a point it debated earlier. I support the noble Baroness's amendment because, together with my noble friend Lord Northbrook, I have put my name to a later amendment which is linked with it. The case for by-laws is well made. I hope the Minister accepts that by-laws need to be as national as possible. If someone wants access to land under the provisions of the Bill it is much better that the by-laws are common throughout England and Wales. There must always be room for slight alterations because of closure orders and the specific requirements of areas. I am sure the Minister agrees that one very good reason for having by-laws is that the police will take much quicker and more effective action than without them, as is well demonstrated in the case of travellers.

Baroness Byford

I rise to speak to Amendment No. 217 which is linked with Amendments Nos. 213 and 214. Amendment No. 217 deals with by-laws. I too believe that the burden of work involved in exercising the power to prepare by-laws would be greatly eased if the access authority had a set of national model by-laws to consult. Various models exist. For example, there are by-laws for access land in the Peak District National Park and Dartmoor. There are also model by-laws for the control of dogs: dogs on leads; dogs on leads by direction; prohibition of dogs from grounds; dogs on seashores and promenades; and the removal of canine faeces from carriageways. Doubtless there are many other precedents. However, there does not appear to be one national model. Both previous speakers suggested that that would be immensely helpful to the general public.

The Secretary of State and the National Assembly for Wales could usefully bring together existing examples to develop a national model set of by-laws for access land which could be made readily available to all access authorities and other relevant interests. That would speed up the process of selecting and preparing appropriate by-laws for any one site or area. The amendment requires the Secretary of State and the National Assembly to prepare model by-laws and, in so doing, to consult the relevant bodies, for example the Countryside Agency, the Countryside Council for Wales, English Nature, MAFF and voluntary bodies such as the CLA, the NFU, the Ramblers' Association and the British Mountaineering Council, all of which have been referred to in earlier debates. Surely, it is possible to develop a consensus on this issue to be reflected in any national model, taking into account existing experience such as that in the national parks.

Baroness Young of Old Scone

By-laws are a useful tool in the management of access land, but I do not believe that we should be over-ambitious about the actions that they can support. Nevertheless, the Minister could find it useful to consider a model set of by-laws to be available in the rare circumstances where that is the best way forward in terms of this Bill.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

I support this group of amendments. I do not much mind who produces the model by-laws, but it would be helpful to have them. I was unable to remain until yesterday morning when the Committee debated the Bill, but, having read the report of it, I believe that the Government still do not understand the aggro that will be created by all the finicky controls and bits of law involved with access land. I do not know how they could have avoided it, but it has happened. There will be a good deal of trouble on the ground once the legislation comes into force. One example is the potential trouble caused by by-laws. Farmers, whether they are tenants, owner occupiers or those running commercial operations, are anxious that the legislation should work. People with little knowledge of the by-laws will arrive. We are told that they cannot come to a common access point, so the by-laws will not appear in any one place.

I would have thought that those who sought access would be unlikely to carry the by-laws in their pockets, although some might. If they moved from one area of access land to another they would require two sets of by-laws. If all the by-laws were different they would not know the relevant ones. The noble Baroness, Lady Young, says that by-laws are a useful tool. That is one view. They are probably a necessity when one runs matters in this way. But if it is not known how by-laws will work right across access land and there is no similarity or common core attaching to them, there will be terrible trouble. People will break the rules; they may even break the law. That will create great problems. The Government must be very careful and ensure that the by-laws are more or less the same across the country, although there will still need to be variations. I hope that the Government can accept one of these amendments.

Earl Peel

I too very much support the principles behind the amendments. I ask the Minister to take particular note of the point made by my noble friend Lady Byford in relation to the Peak Park by-laws. The Peak Park Authority has been involved in access agreements for a great number of years and has tremendous experience of these matters. I would have thought that by-laws developed in areas of the Peak Park would be of enormous importance to these new access areas. I hope that the Minister will take into account my noble friend's comments.

Lord Roberts of Conwy

I do not believe that any of these amendments states clearly what is to be done with the model by-laws and what respect the access authorities are to pay to them. Are they to be adopted universally by all access authorities or simply referred to as model by-laws? The very fact, as my noble friend Lady Byford said, that there are at least two sets in the Peak District and Dartmoor—and, I dare say, elsewhere—means that a variety of by-laws already exists in different areas. From what we know of the areas covered by the Bill and the access land which will develop as a result, it is clear that there will be considerable differences between one area of land and another.

If the Minister is in favour of a model set of by-laws I am sure that he will clarify exactly what its function will be and how much regard access authorities should pay to it. I cannot but notice that the amendments call for the National Assembly for Wales as well as the Secretary of State in England to draw up sets of model by-laws. So it is already anticipated that there will be at least two different sets of by-laws.

Lord Whitty

All of these amendments require the Secretary of State or the countryside authorities to issue model by-laws to access authorities. This afternoon and in earlier debates in Committee there has been a certain misapprehension and ambiguity about the role of by-laws, which the noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Conwy, put his finger on. The main way in which modifications to the national provisions on access land are made is via applications to the countryside agencies in England and Wales. Therefore, most of the local anomalies will be dealt with in that context rather than in the context of by-laws.

We would not expect to see a whole range of different by-laws applying to access land. Nevertheless, there is a role for by-laws. We expect that the combination of existing by-laws and existing civil and criminal sanctions will be appropriate in most cases. Where there are by-laws, it is helpful to have advice from the countryside agencies or the local departments on the nature of those by-laws. It is also essential to recognise that by-laws are regulations appropriate to local circumstances. Therefore, to require on the face of the Bill by-laws to be issued without saying whether they are mandatory or not, and in what circumstances the access authorities would have to adopt them, is missing the point.

The amendment made by the Government at Report stage in another place clearly gives power to the countryside agencies to issue model by-laws and guidelines. It was explained then that those recommendations—they would be recommendations rather than binding on the local access fora—are likely to include advice on where by-laws might be appropriate and useful and how best they should be framed and publicised.

The power to have model by-laws is there. It could be useful to access authorities in these circumstances. The requirement that we issue model by-laws suggests an authority for them which goes beyond the useful role we think they could play. We are in favour of the ability to issue model by-laws and other forms of advice to back up access authorities which wish to issue by-laws. Model by-laws can be helpful to local authorities in these circumstances. If necessary we shall develop model guidance, but to issue the exact form of by-laws, and with the implication that they lay down the law in the form of a by-law which has authority, would not be appropriate. The face of the Bill should not read that way when the power so to do is already there.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

Can the noble Lord not put himself in the shoes of the ramblers? Can he imagine what it would be like going across one piece of access land, knowing that there are likely to be by-laws but not having seen them or having any idea of what they are likely to be, and then crossing to another piece of access land which may have different by-laws and not knowing what the difference is? We very much want the Bill to work. I personally am very anxious about this business of aggro being caused by ramblers not knowing what the rules are. Will the noble Lord not concede that it would be helpful to them if there was a fairly large common element in the by-laws?

That would happen if there was a model which the authorities could follow. None of the amendments requires anything. There is not an assumption either. It would be helpful if there was a model that could be worked on by everyone so that a common core of by-laws can be developed. Surely that would help the ramblers and so help everyone else.

Lord Renton

Perhaps I may follow up what my noble friend Lady Carnegy said. It seems to me that the Minister is in favour of a degree of uniformity. The question is whether that uniformity can best be achieved by the Secretary of State acting under subsection (6) of Clause 17 merely as a confirming authority, confirming by-laws which will vary in their content, or whether he would achieve the purpose much better acting under Amendment No. 217, under which he will publish model by-laws for the various local bodies to follow when they draft by-laws. I should have thought that the Minister's purpose would be much better achieved that way.

Lord Northbourne

Perhaps I may raise a practical issue. The authorities will have to inform people using the access what the rules are. Surely it is better to have a set of standard rules so that the authorities have only to put up a notice saying, "In this particular case there is an additional by-law, which says that you may not do such and such", or alternatively, "In this particular case by-law number so and so, which says such and such, does not apply".

Lord Glentoran

At the risk of repetition, it was quite clear in the debate the day before yesterday that there are very different needs for many areas on many subjects—hence the complexity of the debate. I am anxious to know how the general public—I do not include those who are part of organisations which are able to afford a secretariat and so on—are to be aware of and fully understand their rights.

Lord Whitty

All by-laws, including those on existing access land, may be subject to advice from the countryside agencies, local government bodies and conservation bodies. In the Bill, therefore, there is a duty on the countryside agencies to issue guidance on how by-laws are drawn up. That provides a degree of consistency of approach to those by-laws. To put myself in the boots of the rambler, he will not know in advance exactly how a by-law will apply in a particular case. For example, if there is a restriction on access to water, there may be different restrictions at different times of the year, different hours of the day, and so on. Therefore, if there was a national model by-law a rambler would not necessarily know what hours, what months and what activities were actually covered by that by-law.

I do not object to access authorities seeking advice on achieving consistency in the way the by-laws are drafted. We are all in favour of that. But to talk about model by-laws, which sound on the face of the Bill as if they will be exactly the same and have exactly the same impact on land owners' and ramblers' right across the country, is misleading. That would not be the case. The power to advise on the framework and to develop models for the framework of the by-laws is already in the Bill as a result of an earlier amendment to the Countryside Act 1968. The idea that one would have a standard model does not seem to me to be appropriate. I repeat, by-laws are intended to deal with local situations and they have to vary. Therefore, while their legal structure may be standard the details are bound to be local. To apply anything else would be difficult.

Given the assurances I have given the Committee, I hope that the noble Baroness will not pursue the amendment. There is already a requirement on the countryside agencies to provide advice, guidance and drafting standards. Therefore, there would be some legal consistency but not specific consistency in the detail where by-laws have to address particular local circumstances.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

The noble Lord has dealt with the power to make the by-laws, but what about enforcement? What is the practical position? One finds a person on one's land. One goes up to him and says, "You are in breach of the by-laws". He says, "What by-laws?", so one tries to explain which by-laws. One asks him his name. He gives a false name and a false address. How does one enforce this as a practical proposition? Perhaps I am being terribly naive but it does not seem to me to be much good having a power to do something if there is no effective power of enforcement.

Lord Rotherwick

I believe that my noble friend Lady Carnegy was putting herself in the shoes of ramblers and the Minister went on to talk about having his feet in their boots. One of the questions I thought the Minister was asked was how one would inform those ramblers of the different by-laws. We have talked about things—for example, closure for 28 days—which most ramblers will have to know. How will they receive this information? How will they find out?

4 p.m.

Lord Northbrook

Perhaps I may add to the comments of my noble friend Lord Rotherwick. It would help the by-laws to be better known if all walkers were members of their local branch of the Ramblers' Association, which could publicise the by-laws.

Lord Whitty

I am interested in the advocacy of a closed shop for ramblers. We want to encourage associations to have a wide membership and to publicise this information. We had a lengthy debate about publicising the basic information. Clearly, we shall need to ensure that, as far as possible, the information is available. Indeed, we shall come in a few moments to a group of amendments which deal with publicity.

The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, asked about enforcement. We have already had a wide-ranging debate on that subject. We have existing by-laws which relate to the powers of a landowner to restrict activity. Enforcement occurs in a number of ways—either by the landowner's agents or by the police—and leads to criminal sanctions in many cases. The enforcement issue is important but it does not relate to this amendment, which concerns a standardised form of by-law. I am in favour of a standard framework, or at least advice on a framework, but the details of any by-law are bound to be local.

The Earl of Caithness

Can the noble Lord give the Committee any idea of the timing of the guidance by-laws to which he has referred? It can take a long time to make a one-off set of by-laws. The noble Lord will be aware that it took 12 years to do it for the Basingstoke canal.

Lord Whitty

The Countryside Agency will already be working on it. Bearing in mind that the mapping process is bound to take a few years—we have estimated up to five years—it will take a little time; but, it is to be hoped, not as long as the by-laws for the Basingstoke canal.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

I welcome the Minister's comments about not wanting to centralise and about allowing things to be done locally. My amendment would allow models that could be adopted and adapted. The principle behind the amendment was that it should tie in with the country code, which, following our amendment on the issue, the Government have decided to put on the face of the Bill. Having model by-laws would make it much easier to tie in with the country code. Furthermore, access authorities would have something to turn to, as they will be hard-pressed, too. But I hear what the Minister says about ensuring that the Countryside Agency proceeds with urgency on the matter. I am sure that, between his department and that agency, something will now happen. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 214 and 215 not moved.]

Baroness Byford moved Amendment No. 215A: Page 10, line 14, after ("land") insert ("or land which in their opinion is likely to become access land").

The noble Baroness said: In moving this amendment I wish to speak also to Amendment No. 219A. The purpose of the amendments is to allow plans to be made before land has become access land; for example, during the mapping process. By-laws can then be in place when the access right arises. The Bill gives an access authority the power to put in place measures to ensure that access on access land by the public is not hindered in any way. The amendments give access authorities the power to be putting such measures into place while the mapping process is in progress. I beg to move.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

I support the amendment for the same reason as I supported the previous ones. It is important that people should know what the by-laws are from the moment access is available. I think here of the ramblers. We were told that the ramblers' associations would help, but one thinks of all the ramblers who do not belong to those associations. Parliament is supposed to govern for all the people. We have to think of all the ramblers. It would help the ramblers very much indeed if we could be sure that the by-laws were in place before the access was available.

Lord Whitty

Initially, the Government felt that, since it would not be known until towards the end of the mapping process what land was being mapped, it might be difficult to see how the specific by-laws relating to the locality might be drawn up. Therefore, we did not see the need for this provision. However, we accept that in some areas there may be evidence as to what would happen before the right of access comes into force, particularly if there has already been de facto access in the area, and that therefore there may be the opportunity to draw up by-laws prior to the right coming into force. For that reason I should like to take away these amendments with a view to tabling similar amendments at Report stage.

Baroness Byford

I am grateful to the Minister. Having battled away for many hours, as we did, without gaining much initial reaction, it is lovely early in the day to receive a positive response. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Byford moved Amendment No. 216: Page 10, line 20, at end insert (", and (d) to safeguard public health and safety.").

The noble Baroness said: Amendment No. 216 seeks to safeguard public health and safety. This refers to by-laws to be made on the grounds of public health and safety. Clause 17 provides for by-laws to be made in relation to access land on three grounds: the preservation of order, the prevention of damage to land, and the prevention of conflicts between those using the land and the enjoyment of land by other persons. These powers are identical to those in the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, which provides for by-laws to be made for land subject to access agreements or orders.

This enabling power should be updated—some 50 years on—to take proper account of modern concerns. For example, dog walking and new recreational pursuits on the access land can pose risks to the public which were simply not present to the same degree, if at all in many cases, back in 1949. In particular, it is not clear whether the power to make by-laws under the Bill would extend to the provision of by-laws to safeguard public health and safety. For example, it could be important on some small, heavily used sites in or near villages and towns, such as common land and small areas of heath and down, that the by-laws be made for the control of dog fouling which can pose a serious risk to people, particularly children.

Uncontrolled dogs off leads can also be frightening. Children and other walkers have been affected, as many of us know. Even well-behaved dogs—I should like to think that our dog is well-behaved—can occasionally run amok. There might also be particularly hazardous features or activities on some land that would merit control through by-laws—for example, hang-gliding or para-gliding.

The amendment would make it clear beyond doubt that the by-laws could be made by the access authority to safeguard public health and safety. I beg to move

Lord Renton

I rise to support my noble friend's amendment. I do so for a reason which I mentioned at an earlier stage of the Bill. We have to be careful about the danger that can occur to people if they are rambling after dark. We must realise that some of the country concerned will be land which is rocky or will have cliffs or steep hills. If we do not take the proper precautionary measures for people rambling after dark, very serious accidents could occur, especially to townspeople who are not accustomed to walking on country hillsides.

My noble friend's amendment is extremely necessary, including for the further reason that I have given.

Lord Marlesford

I can see a certain superficial attractiveness in the amendment moved by my noble friend. However, quite frankly, if we start a process whereby by-laws are required to cover aspects of public health and safety, there will be no limit to it. Walking in the countryside presents certain hazards—I hesitate to say that it presents dangers. I do not think that it would be possible to guard against every kind of hazard.

If we put on to public authorities an obligation to draw up specific codes to cover health and safety, I shudder to think of the length, complication and restrictiveness of such an exercise. It will make life in the countryside extremely unenjoyable.

Lord Northbourne

I rise to speak in support of the amendment. Can the Minister confirm whether the existing wording would cover the fouling of waters? I do not think that it does so. The water supply for many villages comes from springs located on access land. They run the danger of being fouled.

Lord Whitty

I agree with a great deal of what has been said during this short debate. I regret that I am unable to sustain my generosity, but the reason why I must resist this amendment is that we consider that the issues raised here either fall under the existing provisions of this clause or are provided for under other powers vested in local authorities. For example, local authorities already have powers in relation to a number of specific safety issues. Furthermore, they have powers that enable them to impose by-laws as regards fouling by dogs. It is not necessary to confer on them additional powers in relation to access land in those respects.

I believe that hang-gliding could almost certainly be dealt with under subsection (1)(c) of this clause because it may impair the enjoyment of the land by others.

As I have said, powers are already in place to deal with the kinds of hazards referred to by noble Lords during this debate. For that reason, I do not believe that it is necessary to repeat them on the face of the Bill.

Lord Renton

Before the noble Lord sits down, although he mentioned other clauses in the Bill which will address these matters, will those other clauses deal with the point I raised as regards the dangers of roaming after dark, in particular if there is mist or fog?

Lord Whitty

As has been pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, I am not sure whether by-laws can be used to address general issues of safety. However, by-laws can be used to address known individual safety hazards such as mineshafts and so forth. Under existing legislation rather than under the terms of this Bill, by-laws may be used for exceptional circumstances of that kind. Similarly, dog fouling may be dealt with under the provisions of other legislation.

Although I have some sympathy with the points that have been made as regards the specific problems, I do not believe that an additional issue has been raised here which needs to be addressed.

Baroness Byford

I am grateful to the Minister and I appreciate his sympathy for the thinking that lies behind the amendment. I accept the concerns expressed by my noble friend Lord Marlesford; namely, that if we are not careful, we shall encounter great difficulties in attempting to get right the balance of the Bill. That is part of the problem here; we need to accept that this is an extremely complex piece of legislation. Indeed, I believe that I made that comment at the start of our debates. The Minister responded by saying that he did not think it was complicated. Nevertheless, we need to get all the details right. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 217 and 218 not moved.]

[Amendment No. 219 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

[Amendment No. 219A not moved.]

4.15 p.m.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer moved Amendment No. 220: Page 10, line 31, at end insert— ("( ) Any byelaws introduced shall be publicised in such a manner as to he quite apparent to users of the access land.").

The noble Baroness said: We have already debated to an extent the issue of by-laws. This amendment seeks to address the matter from a somewhat different angle by putting on to the face of the Bill a requirement that, should by-laws be introduced by access authorities, they should be, publicised in such a manner as to be … apparent to users of the access land".

It would be unfair on the public if by-laws and their attendant penalties were introduced but the public did not know that they were in place. It is essential that people know about such laws.

I shall be interested to learn whether the Minister agrees that such an amendment is necessary to take into account the local variations in by-laws that will inevitably occur on access land. I beg to move.

Lord Marlesford

I feel that this is a very impractical proposal. Perhaps I may make a simple analogy. Customs posts are often sited on roads at borders between different countries, but it is not possible to arrange for customs posts to run across fields and mountains as well. If people choose to cross borders by those routes, they will not encounter the customs posts.

By definition, as a result of this legislation, access to the country is going to become far less restricted. People will not access such land via places where they would necessarily see the signs. If an obligation is imposed that signposts should be placed everywhere, we shall see a plethora of such signs. I would abhor that.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

Perhaps I may respond to that particular point since I believe that the noble Lord was addressing it directly to me.

I could not agree more that it would be undesirable and inappropriate to litter the countryside with signposts. However, my amendment does not specify in any way the geographical location of such signs. Many ways could be found to achieve this end, but I do not wish to take up the time of the Committee by going into those details. I stress only that I have tabled the amendment because I feel that it will be unfair on the public if such by-laws are not made quite apparent to them.

Viscount Bledisloe

I support the spirit of the amendment, although I am puzzled by the word so carefully omitted by the noble Baroness in her speech. The amendment uses the words "quite apparent", but I am not sure whether she means "totally apparent" or "somewhat apparent", even though she carefully referred only to "apparent" when she moved the amendment at the beginning of the debate. In my view the spirit of this proposal is very good, although that particular part of the flesh may be a little weak.

As the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, made plain when he responded to the earlier amendment, the rules will vary from one area of the country to another. It is that which gives me the greatest concern. How on earth will walkers know what particular rules will apply in a certain place? It is not good enough merely to say that it is their duty to know the law and that if they do not, they will become trespassers. That is because, first, if they do not know the rules and then break them, they will be fairly dusty when taxed with a breach of them. Secondly, the purpose of the rules is not to enable the landowner to create a fuss and turn people off his land. The rules are there to stop people doing undesirable things in the first place. Unless people know what things are undesirable in the first place, they will not be able to avoid doing them.

The Minister has been ducking and weaving about that point. He has not told the Committee how it is intended in practice that the rules relating to particular areas of access land will be made known to the general walker. Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Greaves—who plans a complicated climb for several days, reads the books and so on—a much more casual, ignorant and inexperienced visitor will see a nice bit of land, park his car and start walking across it.

Lord Roberts of Conwy

I am mystified by the wording of the amendment. On first reading it, I thought that in stating that the by-laws should be quite apparent to users of access land this meant that they should be displayed on a signpost easily visible to the user of the access land. However, after considering the amendment rather more carefully, I can interpret it to mean that the by-laws should be published in local newspapers. I prefer the interpretation that the by-laws should be available and easily discernible by the user of the access land. To me, that means that they should be displayed on some kind of signpost, as many local authority by-laws are these days.

Lord Greaves

The noble Viscount kindly referred to the amount of time I spend anxiously reading guidebooks and trying to memorise routes—and trying to conjure up the personal courage to travel them and wondering if I ever will. That may be true in some cases, although, as I said earlier, in many cases the decision to go out is spontaneous. It is taken at short notice and depends very often on certain circumstances, particularly the weather.

The debate has moved away from the amendment moved by my noble friend Lady Miller. I should like to make some points relating to the question of signing in the countryside in relation to points of access, rules and regulations, and general information. Much experience has been gained of signing, particularly in the national parks and in areas such as the south Pennines. It is done in a discreet and attractive manner which does not disfigure the countryside but at the same time provides a lot of information.

Many people going into the countryside want information. They do not want to know detailed rules and regulations. They want to know where the footpaths lead; they want to know the areas in which they can walk; and they want to be told about wildlife and so on. The key is to make sure that the rules and regulations are in the same place and on the same notice as that kind of information. The experience is that the message gets through to people in that way.

Perhaps I may now consider the question of how people get into access land. In general, there are two broad categories of land—although clearly they are not exclusive. First, there are areas which can only be accessed through a small number of access points—via rights of way, stiles in walls and so on. In such areas, those access points are the obvious places to put the information. Again, particularly in the national parks, much has been learnt about doing this in a sensible and discreet way. The obvious place to site the information in those areas is at the access points that people have to use because there is no other way of accessing the land.

The other category is land which can be accessed anywhere—for example, unfenced moorland which has a road crossing it. But even in such places, most people will use the same points of access as everyone else. They do so for two reasons: first, very often people travel to the access land by car or, if they are fortunate enough, by public transport, and they will all stop at a particular place, a car park. Those car parks are useful. They are the places to which a high proportion of people travel before going on to the land, for the obvious reason that they need somewhere to park their cars.

Secondly, no matter what rights are laid down in the legislation or what rights people have in existing areas of open access, the great majority of people will use defined footpaths. That is a fact of life. It is a fact which means that many of the fears that some people have about this legislation are probably unfounded; people will use the footpaths. Where there are not any footpaths at the moment, I hope that landowners will be sensible and define new footpath routes, which the vast majority of people would then use. So the sensible place to put information is where the main footpath goes into an area or where the footpath intersects with a road.

Lord Marlesford

The noble Lord, Lord Greaves, in a sense, makes my point. When I was on the Countryside Commission we spent years campaigning, first, for footpath signs, and, secondly, for signs that were carefully designed so as not to intrude upon the landscape. Various parts of England and Wales have different kinds of signing, many of them excellent. But they certainly do not include great lists of by-laws, warnings and so on. They could not include all that information and remain discreet and sensible. It simply is not practical.

Of course such information can be displayed in some places—the national parks have visitor centres where that kind of information is available—but if the noble Lord is saying that where there is a footpath sign this kind of information could be displayed, I strongly suggest that that would be undesirable.

Lord Greaves

There has to be a sensible compromise. If it is a sign saying simply "public footpath" or "access land", it may well be that one does not want a big sign. But, as the noble Lord said, there is now a great deal of knowledge—I do not think we disagree—about how to provide well designed and unobtrusive signing. I am aware that the Countryside Agency is working on new kinds of signs, which can be adapted to local circumstances by use of local materials but which, nevertheless, will be of a standard form throughout the country.

Often the national parks put the material that people want—information about local birds or local maps—on the front of signs and the by-laws on the back, with a little notice saying "Please observe the by-laws". By and large, people do, and the message gets through.

My final point concerns the question of who enforces the rules in the countryside. Members of the Committee who do not walk or climb may not be aware of the degree to which what might be called "peer pressure" operates among climbers and walkers. I am not referring to people like me—who happen to be Members of this House—telling people what to do, but people generally are concerned about sensible rules and regulations, which have been agreed, sometimes statutorily and sometimes on a voluntary basis, on the use of the countryside being observed by other users of the countryside. There are people who, if they see people contravening the rules, will point it out. Quite often they will not be as polite as Members of the House might be.

Lord Burnham

It is essential that everyone behaves responsibly and sensibly when they are walking. However, I must emphasise that we seem to be talking about some curious person called "a rambler". I am not a rambler; I walk. I would not go within a hundred miles of a ramblers' association; and not within a thousand miles of Miss Ashbrook, even though she is a fairly near neighbour.

I hope it is realised that in the places where I walk in the south there are footpaths which now have an efficient and discreet method of signposting. The same occurs in northern parts of the Lake District, which I know well. All the paths and directions are well signposted. People are told where they may and may not go, and where the paths lead to; but it is done discreetly and can cause no offence to anyone. I am not certain that anything further can be done. All large notices would be offensive purely in terms of their appearance. We have gone as far as is necessary.

4.30 p.m.

Baroness Nicol

Before my noble friend responds, it may be helpful to the Committee if I report some thoughts from the Countryside Agency in the general context of giving information to landowners as well as land users. The agency states: At all stages we will use a wide range of information techniques from colourful leaflets, activity packs and displays to websites, information boards and signs. We will consider the feasibility of a telephone information line and assess the scope for providing information to a range of local outlets, as well as on site. We also plan to commission a range of educational materials, closely linked to the National Curriculum, to help in teaching children and young people about their rights and responsibilities in the countryside, and about its management". I use that quotation to illustrate that getting information across, whether in relation to by-laws or anything else in this context, has been, and is being, addressed by the Countryside Agency. I believe that fears are greatly exaggerated.

Perhaps I may take up the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Burnham. The noble Lord is right: not all walkers ramble, but all ramblers walk. I should like to defend the Ramblers' Association, which gives information to its members and makes sure as far as possible that they observe whatever restrictions are necessary on the land on which they walk.

Lord Burnham

It is a pity that they do not do so.

Earl Peel

I had no intention of taking part in this debate, but the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, made one or two points which are worth focusing on. The noble Lord rightly said that many of the local authorities have great experience in providing signs and establishing the correct and most effective place to site them. However, I believe I am correct in saying that under the Bill there is no duty for them to consult the owner in regard to the erection of signs or on access points. We discussed this matter yesterday. It is a weakness.

The noble Lord made an interesting point. He said that the majority of people who go out into the countryside do so for specific purposes—bird-watching, for example, or whatever it happens to be. But he also said that they do not want to know what the rules and regulations are.

We are coming back full circle on this issue. Once again, we are discussing the weaknesses in the Bill regarding how we get these messages across to people—for example, when land is closed and what the rules and regulations are. I am sorry to have to repeat the point, but again our attention is drawn to the fact that sanctions against those who repeatedly ignore the rules and regulations are non-existent in the Bill. To ask someone to go away for 24 hours is, frankly, nonsense. The noble Lord's comment about people not wanting to know the rules and regulations brought home to me how important it is to get the matter right. We need to get the messages across, and proper sanctions should be in place—otherwise, this will be a complete nonsense.

I am sorry to return to this issue, but in a sense the noble Lord has done us a service. He has given credence to many of my fears in regard to the Bill and, I suspect, those of other Members of the Committee.

Lord Whitty

As my noble friend Lady Nicol said, the whole question of conveying information on by-laws is but a small part of conveying information on the totality of access rights. This matter arose in the debate that we had a couple of nights ago on the need for the countryside agencies to ensure that there is adequate publicity to inform people about their rights, about the land to which they apply, and about the restrictions and variations on that land. I do not think that it is sensible specifically to pick out by-laws; nor is it sensible to suggest that there will be new signs up and down the country on every potential point of access. Clearly, there will be preferred points of access, sensible points such as car parks, and other points where most people accessing the land will cross. We do not want a plethora of signs across the country. But where the by-laws clearly change what are otherwise the normal rules of access, it is important that that is conveyed to the majority of people who use the land.

As to how that arises and who is consulted, we discussed this at some length the other day. Preferred points of access and other local rules will be discussed by local access forums and others, and local landowners will have a major part in that structure.

The countryside bodies will want to advise access authorities about the form of publicity, and that will be done in the general context. In some cases it may well be that access authorities—as is done in the national parks and by the National Trust—will want to print out the totality of the by-law and stick it on the back of the notice. I am not sure how effective that it is; and that may lie behind the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Greaves—which was, I think, slightly misinterpreted by the noble Earl, Lord Peel. The full detail and the legal jargon of by-laws may well pass people by, but the key message needs to be conveyed. For example, on a piece of National Trust land that I use frequently, the trust does precisely that. On the back of the logo there is the full by-law, but there is also a notice on the front stating that dogs must be kept on a lead, which is part of the by-law and is the main message that needs to be put across. Providing the full by-laws locally—

Earl Peel

On a number of occasions the noble Lord has understandably referred to the National Trust. It must be remembered that the National Trust—and my noble friend Lord Marlesford knows a great deal about it—is a well-endowed organisation. It has considerable resources at its fingertips, and it is able to deal with these problems in-house. Many of the people who will be affected by these access proposals do not have the resources and will therefore rely very much on the access authorities to carry out the kind of approach referred to by the noble Lord. I hope that he will bear that in mind. The National Trust is a rather different animal from the kind of people about whom we are talking, who will have to deal with these very real problems on the ground once the Bill is on the statute book.

Lord Whitty

I referred to the National Trust and national parks and many other pieces of more private access land where we presently manage to convey the main messages about the way in which the rules apply, and by and large those rules are followed. The noble Earl is right: under the Bill the responsibility falls entirely on the access authorities. By-laws are but a small part of what they need to convey. Particular landowners may want to add information, but there is no requirement in the Bill for them to do so. As the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, said, we do not want to see notices all over the place attempting to convey the content of a rather complex by-law.

Lord Roberts of Conwy

Will the Minister clarify this point? Is there not an obligation on the access authority to publicise its by-laws? Under subsection (5) of this clause, Sections 236 to 238 of the Local Government 1972 apply. A person on access land may well be subject to legal proceedings if he breaks a by-law and may suffer as a result. Is there not at least an obligation on the access authority to make sure that the user of access land is aware of relevant by-laws?

Lord Whitty

There is indeed an obligation on local authorities to ensure that the public are made aware of the existence of by-laws. The by-laws were on view yesterday in St James's Park where I took a walk at lunchtime. However, I suppose that is a royal park rather than a local authority park and therefore is not a good example to mention as royal parks enjoy plentiful resources. However, as regards most parks and open spaces, local authorities are obliged to publicise by-laws.

The point I am making is that although that process enables people to check the by-laws, the most effective way to get across the key message of the by-laws may be somewhat different and somewhat more blunt. It is up to the access authorities to seek guidance from the Countryside Agency to ensure that adequate publicity is given to the by-laws in the interests of the people who are likely to use the land in question. As the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, and the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, said, there are a number of ways of publicising by-laws which do not intrude on the countryside and do not require landowners to undertake that task themselves. It is in that context that the need to publicise specific by-laws needs to be considered rather than in the terms of the amendment that we are considering. I hope therefore that the noble Baroness will not press it.

Lord Renton

I was interested in what the noble Lord said, but I wonder whether he can amplify it a bit. By-laws are publicised sometimes on notice boards out in the open and sometimes by being printed in pamphlets which are available to the public if they happen to be near a suitable office. However, as regards the rambling by-laws, how does the noble Lord contemplate that they will usually be publicised?

Lord Whitty

We have just been through that. There are many different ways in which they may be publicised. The Countryside Agency will advise access authorities on that matter who will decide on the best way to publicise them in a local area. In some cases they may be situated in car parks; in other cases they may be printed in literature that will be made available; in yet other cases they will be situated in places where people are likely to pass. There will probably be a combination of all those methods. The by-law information will form only part of the total information that is to be made available. For that reason I object to dealing with it specifically as the amendment proposes. As I say, I hope that the amendment will not be pressed.

Baroness Byford

Before the noble Lord sits down, I hope that he will comment on the question posed by my noble friend Lord Peel with regard to the purpose and the use of by-laws if they are not to be enforced and no sanction is to be imposed. The noble Lord has answered fully the other questions that have been asked but did not respond to the point made by my noble friend.

4.45 p.m.

Lord Whitty

There is always a sanction in relation to by-laws. A breach of a by-law invokes a criminal penalty. We shall return to the matter of enforcement. The agents of the landowner or of the access authority may draw people's attention to the by-laws and be able to enforce them. The question of sanctions is clear in relation to by-laws. It is in most cases a criminal sanction.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

Does the Minister accept that although this is not what the public thought they were going to get when they heard about the Government's intention to create a right to roam, what will be needed is an enormous advertisement constantly being put in the newspapers which states, "Going walking? Find out the rules"?

Lord Whitty

Something of that nature may help when access rights are implemented. However, what walkers will really need is more detailed local information. That will be a matter for the access authorities.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

I thank the Minister for his reply. I found the debate useful. I say to the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, that I use the words "quite apparent" in my amendment in the sense that my American brother-in-law uses the word "quite" when he says, "You look quite nice". He assures me that that means very nice.

Viscount Bledisloe

I say to the noble Baroness that on the whole it is undesirable that we should legislate in "American".

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

I do not think that I am in a position to comment on that. The point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, illustrates why I considered it necessary to table the amendment. As the Minister said, by-law breaches incur a criminal penalty. A duty to publicise by-laws on the part of an access authority is different from having to make them "quite apparent". One can fulfil one's duty in that regard by putting up a small sign somewhere. I feel strongly that the public should be protected in some way. I hope that the Minister will reflect on that. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 17 agreed to.

Clause 18 [Wardens]:

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer moved Amendment No. 221: Page 11, line 1, at beginning insert— ("( ) The Secretary of State shall ensure that sufficient funding is available to enable an access authority or district council to comply with this section.").

The noble Baroness said: This is possibly the most important amendment that I shall move in the whole of Part I. Therefore I make no apology for the length of the case I intend to make for it.

The amendment seeks to ensure that sufficient funding is available to access authorities or district councils to comply with the provisions of Clause 18(1) on the appointment of wardens. The regulatory impact study mentions a cost of £2.2 million per annum, whereas the Local Government Association's estimate is £5.46 million per annum. I seek to explore the gap between those two figures and seek an explanation from the Minister as to how the Government intend to fund this particularly important service. The appointment of wardens is a key provision and yet the financing of wardens is discretionary as the Bill is drafted at present. However, other provisions in the Bill are not discretionary in this regard; for example, the hearing of appeals. As I say, the appointment of wardens is absolutely key to the success of open access. It would be disastrous if some of the statutory provisions were to be adequately funded, but not the appointment of wardens.

The amendment seeks to ensure that access authorities can meet the need to appoint wardens and can be assured of obtaining sufficient funding from the Government. Wardens—or "rangers" as I prefer to call them, as that is the accepted term for people who work in open spaces, whereas I believe that "wardens" usually work in prisons—will be essential to make the opportunities offered by the Bill work. They will be essential to monitor the interface between the public enjoying the access, landowners trying to manage their businesses and make a living from the land, and wildlife. Their presence will be essential to prevent conflicts occurring.

The Bill states that an access authority "may appoint such number". That is the correct terminology as the access authorities are in the best position to judge what is needed in that regard. However, estimates vary according to the kind of access land that is being managed and the pressure upon it. For example, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in its report, Land Management Implications of Enhanced Access estimates that in the densely populated heaths and commons of southern England one ranger per 400 hectares is the minimum. With back-up, tools and administration, it estimates this is likely to cost £35,000 to £45,000 per 400 hectares. The same report estimates a moorland cost of about £24,000 per year for two rangers who cover about 2,000 hectares and spend half their time on visitor management.

Members of the Committee may have received the Local Government Association's report, Costs to Local Authorities of New Access Legislation. That is an informative report which I hope the Committee and the Minister have received. It was published last week. The detail is extremely useful. Having consulted widely with its membership of national park authorities and local authorities, it concludes that management costs will be about £3.50 per hectare. That is an average; the figure will vary widely. Members of the Committee will be aware that local authorities which face these costs are the very authorities which are struggling with the difficulties of delivering services in sparsely populated areas.

If sufficient funding is not provided by central Government to enable them to appoint an appropriate number of wardens, they will not be able to do so. They will be unable to cut further their social services budget, and the cost of maintaining, for example, a rural schools network has already involved choices. I believe strongly in maintaining that rural school network. However, choices are sometimes made that rural roads will suffer. Provision of rangers will be somewhat towards the end of that list. If no finance is supplied, it will be difficult to fit that cost into the budget.

Appointing rangers is a choice for local authorities but one that they are unlikely to be able to make if they do not have the money. Under the Bill, local authorities will have to give evidence at mapping inquiries, estimated at about £2,500 per inquiry. They may have to enforce means of access. The order will cost about £2,000 per case and the hearing £2,500. They may have to conduct detailed investigations of queries over common land, again about £2,000 a case. They will not have a choice over those but they need to be able to make the choice of appointing an appropriate number of wardens.

In addition, the costs of dealing with footpath erosion, especially in the national parks, are already unable to be met. That problem is likely to increase. Lake District erosion is estimated to be £2.5 million over the next five years, with probably a similar programme after that. I gather that the national figure is even higher.

Excellent figures are available from Bob Cartwright's research in the Lake District. He prepared it on behalf of the Association of National Park Authorities. Parks are making an excellent use of voluntary rangers, but even those volunteers cost money. Let us take the North York Moors with four rangers and five vehicles. It estimates that it will take on 50 additional voluntary rangers, and with provision of information and local access forums the total costs under Part I of the Bill will come to an extra £302,000 per year—and that is with extensive use of volunteers. I have not quoted the costs under Part II. For access authorities they will be higher—we shall deal with them later; the Government have made their own estimate. Neither have I dealt with the costs of AONBs, which are under-funded. Again we shall deal with those later.

How do the Government intend to fund access authorities for the increased costs of the discretionary aspects of the Bill and the gap between the regulatory impact assessment and the authorities' own assessment—it seems very fair—of what their costs will be? Will they make a blanket increase based on the area of land and the way in which and how much that land is used by the public? What formula are they likely to use? I beg to move.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

I am very glad the noble Baroness moved this amendment and that she spoke in the way that she did. I, too, received a communication from local government councils on the subject. It was extremely interesting. The Minister has sitting beside him the noble Baroness, Lady Farrington, who knows as much as anyone in this Chamber about how local government works and the pressures upon it.

All of us who have been in local government know how keen governments are to pile expense upon local authorities without adding to their funding. When the noble Baroness winds up, perhaps she will tell us whether she is asking for ring-fenced funding. I am not keen on encouraging ring-fenced funding because I am a believer in the discretion of local government. The noble Baroness spoke of this issue being a matter of choice for local government so she is probably not asking for ring-fenced funding. However, when she replies I, and I think the Committee, will be interested to know.

I hope that the Minister listened to her questions which were very much to the point. I hope that the noble Lord will reply with a fairly detailed answer.

Earl Peel

The noble Baroness raises some important questions. I, too, have seen the figures to which she referred. It is incumbent on the Government to give a clear answer.

Having been involved with the Yorkshire Dales for many years, my experience of the warden system there brings me to a somewhat cynical outlook. The largest privately owned estate in the Yorkshire Dales entered some years ago into an access agreement with the national park authorities. It was assured that it would be provided with a proper warden service. Over the years the wardens have become depleted. I do not know the present level. For all I know, it could be down to one lone warden—or, in the words of the noble Baroness, one lone ranger. It is an unsatisfactory outcome. It is essential that if the Bill is to work effectively we must have a proper warden system which will be an important link between the general public and those who wish to exercise the access provisions in the Bill.

The noble Baroness referred to the figure of £3.50 per hectare. On the matter of costing—it is slightly irrelevant but it may be indicative of the Government's attitude towards funding—in the Peak Park the cost to local owners of the access provisions for areas where access has been negotiated was in the nature of £4 per hectare. That seems to have been forgotten conveniently by the Government. There are no realistic provisions in the Bill for meeting the true access costs. The noble Baroness puts forward the realistic figure of £3.50 per hectare. I shall listen carefully to the Minister.

Viscount Bledisloe

I share the view of the noble Baroness that this is an important provision and topic. I venture to suggest that she is wrong to say that it is correct for Section 18 to say "may" appoint. I support the amendment in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, which is grouped with this amendment; I hope that he will speak to it in a moment. It changes "may" to "shall".

The noble Baroness is right that it shall be for the authority to decide how many wardens are needed. But if "may" remains in the provision, perhaps I may explain to her that if the local authority decides that it needs four wardens, it does not have then to appoint them. The discretion should be to decide what is needed. If there is only a tiny area of access land in one's area one may not need a warden. Having decided that, there should be the obligation to appoint them. Unless there is an obligation on the local authority to supply them, her amendment does not achieve what it intends. The noble Baroness wants funds to enable local authorities to comply with this section. If they have a discretion as to whether to appoint a warden, no funds are needed to comply with the section. It is only if they have to appoint wardens that funds are needed to enable them to comply. Having done a little lawyerly nit-picking, subject to that point the noble Baroness's amendment is not only important but also vital.

Without wardens, the Bill will be a farce and a con on those whose land is subject to the new access right. It is full of things that walkers should not do, but if there is no one there to see that they do not do them, they will happen and the poor landowner will have to put up with it. Unless the Government can assure us that wardens will be in place and, taking up the point made by the noble Earl, Lord Peel, will continue to be in place for longer than just the initial period, the Bill is doomed to cause trouble and to be deeply unfair to landowners.

It is wholly right that the necessary funding should come from central sources. The areas we are talking about—the Lake District and, to make sure that I do not offend the noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Conwy, Snowdonia—are in relatively poor rural areas. Rights are being given so that the urban or semi-urban dweller may spill out of his city and walk over the land. The costs of that should be funded nationally, not by the local authorities that happen to have the pleasure of having Snowdonia, the Peak District or the Yorkshire Dales in their area. They probably do not have the funds to take all the measures that are needed to control the urban dweller when he comes out. Going back to my point about the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, it is the urban dweller wandering around in his plimsolls and jeans, not the well equipped noble Lord, with his proper walking shoes on, who will cause trouble and need assistance. I strongly support the amendment and Amendment No. 222 in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Caithness.

5 p.m.

Lord Greaves

Does the noble Viscount accept that, except in major honeypot areas such as the Peak District, the majority of people who walk in a given area of countryside are relatively local, many of them living in the countryside themselves? I cannot say whether they always wear plimsolls or sandals.

Viscount Bledisloe

That may be so at the moment, but surely the point of the Bill is to give rights and encouragement to a whole lot of other people to whom that does not apply.

Lord Bridges

I support the amendment. As the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, said, funding is very important. That applies not just to wardens, but to a range of activities covered by the Bill. If we are to be convinced that the Bill will work, it would be helpful to have some reassurance about the Government's intentions. For example, local authorities already have responsibilities for footpaths, which we will deal with later in the Bill, but they often do not act on them because they are inadequately funded. I take note of the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, about ring-fencing or earmarking funds, presumably in the rate support grant. These issues are fundamental to the success of the Bill.

Lord Roberts of Conwy

The noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, said that this was one of her most important amendments in this part of the Bill. It is certainly a very important subject. I, too, have seen the letter from the Local Government Association, which hired a consultancy group—I believe that it is called ENTEC—whose figures differ considerably from the estimates provided by the Government. The LGA rightly points out that authorities have not done a great deal about their responsibilities for footpaths because they do not have adequate resources. Like many of us, the LGA fears that authorities will not be provided with adequate resources for the purpose specified in Clause 18.

The appointment of wardens will be at the discretion of local authorities, but they will be key to the implementation of the Bill and ensuring that by-laws are respected. When I moved an amendment at our last sitting that would have required those taking advantage of night access on the hills to give prior notification to the access authority, I imagined them telling a local warden on behalf of the authority. They would know the area where the night walker or climber intended to go and would probably be able to give guidance.

Earl Peel

Is the noble Lord suggesting that the warden should be on night duty as well as day duty?

Lord Roberts of Conwy

I certainly suggest that. We have agreed to the Government's proposal for night access, so surely the access authority must take some responsibility for what happens on the land during the day and the night. It cannot avoid the responsibility of knowing who is on its access land day and night.

I acknowledge the importance of wardens to the access authority, but we do not want too much multiplication of appointments. We want an adequate supply of wardens, but not a glut of them. Many local authorities with access land will be on the borders of national parks. They may wish the parks to take certain responsibilities from them for access land. I anticipate that in my area of north Wales, Snowdonia National Park will exercise substantial responsibilities on behalf of the bordering local authorities, even to the extent of securing warden services for them.

Baroness Young of Old Scone

From my background in managing nature reserves over the past 10 years—in some cases very extensive nature reserves that will have extended access provisions under the Bill—I should like to put a little caution into some of the statements that have been made.

The successful implementation of Part I will depend on adequate management of access and proper dissemination of information. Wardens will have a role to play in many areas. In some circumstances, it will be difficult to police the access conditions without wardening arrangements. However, in many other areas wardening will not be required. Much will depend on the pressure of access, the nature of the land and the conditions that are laid on by by-laws or by restrictions under Part II. Therefore, if we are to use money cost-effectively in this area, I believe that we need to be realistic about where and when wardening will be appropriate.

I turn to another cautionary point. Governments of all complexions have an unhappy knack of robbing Peter to pay Paul. It would be unfortunate if budgets in the same department for the countryside and conservation agencies—budgets intended for the improvement of the conservation status and management of those areas—were to be raided disproportionately in order to enhance considerably the funds available to local government for wardens. It is not an unknown phenomenon which governments provoke from time to time. I believe that it would be unfortunate if, in extending access to those wonderful areas, we were inadvertently to precipitate a situation whereby the conservation status of those areas suffered due to lack of funds.

Earl Peel

Before the noble Baroness sits down, does she accept that, when one is dealing with a national nature reserve, one is dealing with a different land type from the ones that we are discussing in this Bill? Generally speaking, people who enter national nature reserves do so from fairly fixed areas where it is possible to put up signs and do all the things that we believe this Bill is so short of. At the same time, one can manage the access in a much more restrictive and effective way, if one so wishes. Therefore, I note what the noble Baroness says, but I believe that it is a little disingenuous of her to compare a national nature reserve with the type of land that we are talking about under the Bill.

Baroness Young of Old Scone

Perhaps I may clarify the matter for the benefit of the noble Earl, Lord Peel. Some national nature reserves are, indeed, quite restricted in size, and access is available only through a small number of points. However, I am not speaking simply from a background of management of national nature reserves. I am also talking about the extensive management of large-scale nature reserves in the voluntary sector where the type of scale that we are talking about in relation to upland and moorland areas is replicated. They do not have a single point of access. They are very lightly wardened because the voluntary sector is of course, as the Committee knows, excessively poor.

Generally speaking, the problems experienced are not substantial. Therefore, my point is that we must be realistic in differentiating between areas where wardening will definitely be required and will be essential and other areas where, I suspect, the type of light supervisory arrangements that exist in many extensive reserves in the voluntary sector is satisfactory.

Viscount Bledisloe

Perhaps I may reassure the noble Baroness that no one is suggesting that wardens should be appointed except where they are needed. It will be for the authorities to decide whether any—and, if so, how many—wardens are necessary or expedient. If they decide that none is required, they do not appoint any. The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that when they decide that they are necessary, they do not then say, "But we can't afford it and therefore there won't be any".

Baroness Young of Old Scone

Perhaps I may respond to the noble Viscount's point. I believe that the second point that I made was that we need to be very clear about the circumstances in which such wardening, if funded by central government, would be required. Inevitably, alas, governments do rob Peter to pay Paul. The same department is also responsible for the budgets for agencies such as the Countryside Agency and, indeed, English Nature, in which I must declare an interest.

I should hate to think that the value of the land and that some of the useful collaborative and funding arrangements undertaken by such bodies with landowners would be squeezed in order to fund demands from local authorities. In some cases, those demands will be justified but, in others, they will need to be examined with a degree of scrupulousness.

Lord Mancroft

What always appear to be relatively simple issues at first become more and more complex as the debates develop—I see that the clock shows that we have been debating this amendment for 28 minutes. However, there is no doubt that the issue raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, is extremely important. It is important for a number of reasons, most of which have been discussed. However, the one that I consider to be most important is that it is a test. It demonstrates whether the Government are to put their money where their mouth is.

During the first day of the Committee stage of the Bill, we established that, as in so many pieces of legislation, the devil will be in the detail. A few minutes ago we talked about the difficulties of publishing information. That has a cost implication, too. Now we are talking about the cost of wardens. The noble Baroness, Lady Young, was immensely helpful when she said that costs will vary from area to area and that different types of land will require different levels of wardening and, therefore, of expense. That is quite right.

The noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, pointed out entirely correctly that the level of costs is dependent on whether the Government will obligate the access authorities to appoint as many wardens as they need, whether the number be one, two or four. The next amendment, in the name of my noble friend Lord Caithness, places that obligation upon them. Of course the obligation should be in place because it is the wardens, rather like the signage that we discussed in the previous batch of amendments, that will make the Bill work.

We must have wardens and the access authorities must be obliged to provide them. They must therefore have the funding in order to do so. In many ways, whichever way one looks at this particularly complex issue, at the end of the day it comes down to a question of whether the Government really mean what they claim they mean in regard to the Bill. Are they really prepared to allow such access? Of course, my noble friend Lord Roberts was absolutely right: if we are to have night access, which we shall now have—the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, described it as 50 per cent of the access—then presumably we shall need 50 per cent, or, in this case, 100 per cent more wardens. It is obvious that if one doubles the amount of access, one needs to double the number of wardens. Clearly, we cannot have people wardening 24 hours a day; that would be silly.

Therefore, whichever way one looks at this matter and from whichever angle one comes at it, this is a very important amendment. It asks whether the Government are prepared to back the principle that they regard as so important. It asks whether they are prepared to back it with their money and not to oblige local authorities or access authorities to strip their budgets elsewhere in order to pay for that principle. If central government is not prepared to pay for the principle, frankly it is worthless and the Bill will not work.

5.15 p.m.

The Earl of Caithness

I say to my noble friend Lord Mancroft that it is not the Government's money; it is our money as taxpayers.

Lord Mancroft

Of course, my noble friend is entirely correct. It is our money, but it is the Government in their usual generous way who are dishing it out on our behalf, whether we like it or not.

Baroness Byford

I rise to raise three quick points with the Minister. Before I do so, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, for putting forward the amendment. Those of us who took part at Second Reading will remember clearly two points that were raised. One related to the practicality of the Bill and the other to funding. This amendment hits on that very issue and I thank her for that.

First, when the Government carried out an assessment of the costs of access, did they include in their estimates a night-time provision for providing wardens? As my noble friend has just reiterated, if night-time access goes through, and the Government are obviously keen that it should, it will incur another 50 per cent of the costs. Therefore, if that was not accounted for, the estimate will be even higher than it was originally.

Secondly, presumably the Government will consider putting money through the SSA—the standard spending assessments. While I mention that, perhaps I may also remind the Government that virtually all access will be in rural areas. However, the very rural counties have had cuts recently in their standard spending assessments. I simply raise that as an issue. I do not know what the Minister wants to say about it.

Thirdly, what will the role of the wardens be? We have been talking about wardens acting purely as keepers of law and order. I believe that originally we talked about them helping the general public by providing advice and making sure that things were running in an orderly fashion. We also discussed the possibility of their having conservation responsibilities. Those are my three short points.

Lord Whitty

This has been an interesting debate. A number of assertions have been made. We certainly share the view that it is important that adequate wardening takes place, although I am not sure that wardens will solve all the problems to which Members of the Committee have alluded. A number of important, what I might call political, issues have been raised and perhaps I should begin with those. That is unusual for me because I am trying to deal with the Bill in its legal form.

First, I deplore the attempt by the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, perhaps inadvertently, to open up a huge urban/rural divide. This is not the case. The majority of people who will benefit from these rights are not hordes from urban areas who have never been in the countryside before. They fall into two broad categories. In my experience, it is not people in the centre of towns who resent the current situation. The biggest resentment comes from the people who look out of their back window every day and see the top of the moor that they can never visit freely themselves. That group of local people will take great advantage of the opportunity.

The second group are those who, like the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, have enjoyed many parts of the countryside and rambles of varying degrees of difficulty and strenuousness but have enjoyed the existing areas of vacant access. They want to go to other areas with people who are experienced in the countryside. The idea that we have to police the access areas heavily is not the case. Clearly, we want to extend the enjoyment of our countryside, but the people who will take advantage of the new acreage opened up to them are those who live in, and have knowledge of, the countryside or their friends who accompany them. That is one quasi-political point.

In response to the noble Baroness, I make a straightforward political point. The experience and suspicion of many people in relation to local government financing has been that over the past 20 years we have suffered from a severe restriction in the resources provided to local authorities, however it has been provided. That has been reversed very substantially and generously. Yes, it is all our money but it is money that is being deployed on behalf of all of the people. I refute directly the idea put by the noble Baroness—and the figures will prove it—that the rural areas have been squeezed by this Government. In fact, they have had some of the most generous settlements they have ever had. Unlike the period of government of her party, when the inner-city areas were severely squeezed to the detriment of society as a whole, we have been generous to the whole of the population of Britain, including in particular the shire counties and the shire districts. So we want to fund the access authorities in order that they can fulfil their obligations under this Bill.

I thought that I had made clear the position of funding twice on the previous occasion. Obviously, I was not clear enough, so I will try again. The £2.3 million that the Government put in the regulatory impact assessment is part of what will be required during the current spending review period of three years—that is, before the access rights come into play—for all the preparatory work required by access authorities, others and in particular the countryside agencies so we can build up to manage effectively the right of access. It is much more difficult to give specific figures on the funding needed once the access land is opened.

I cannot entirely tie the hands of future Chancellors of Exchequer or the present Chancellor who will probably still be in office. Nevertheless, we have made it clear that we will wish to fund the management of the right of access and that we would expect the cost of that to be four or five times the figure in the regulatory impact assessment. One can compare that figure and that estimate of what will be required with the estimate made in the report of the LGA. That was referred to by several noble Lords. It suggests that the access provisions of the Bill will require local authorities and national parks to spend about £4.5 million per year, excluding the funding for local access forums. The figure to come out of that would be much less than the figure to which we have said we are committed to funding in the longer term.

Moreover, that larger figure would include some of the funding for the countryside agencies. So we agree with the LGA and its consultants that £5.5 million is the ball-park figure for the on-going management of this scheme required by local authorities. The cost of employment of wardens and the back-up would be paid from that figure. I hope that that makes clear and underlines the degree of commitment to funding that this Government are prepared to make now and our commitment to making this system work.

Exactly how the money will be conveyed may be a matter for future Chancellors. I am not absolutely certain that I would rule out a specific fund, although pressed to do so by the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy. It is more likely to come through the general funding of local authorities because that is a general approach. There would be obligations on local authorities requiring them to spend it, including on the employment of wardens where appropriate. We would not want wardens to be appointed with such a wide range of responsibilities referred to sometimes in this debate, but clearly wardens are required in order to make sure that the main provisions of the Bill operate.

Is the noble Earl willing that I deal with the other amendment in this clause because he did not speak to it?

The Earl of Caithness

I purposely did not speak to that amendment because I think that the two issues are distinct although there is a common thread. I would like to tackle my particular point separately.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

Does what the noble Lord said about the funding mean that the large, generous amounts of money which the Chancellor has told local government it is to receive to assist with its responsibilities in relation to schools, roads and social services will be reduced by the figure which must be spent on wardens and other functions which have to be undertaken because of this Bill? Will that have to be subtracted? Local councils would like to know that. Is the cost of this new responsibility included?

Lord Whitty

Members of the Committee will be aware that the whole issue of local authority finance is subject to a major review at present. We are talking of a period beyond the current review when these access rights will come into play. I cannot answer the noble Baroness absolutely. I may have inadvertently referred to costs being four to five times the figure in the regulatory impact assessment. However, what I was trying to convey was that we would provide four to five times that figure in order to carry out the access provisions. That would be additional money to the other responsibilties for local authorities. What I cannot be absolutely clear about is whether we will have a ring-fenced fund of some sort on which local authorities would draw or whether it would be part of the general allocation to local authorities—for which the SSA in these areas would reflect the obligations of this Bill. But it is extra money. I hope that that clarifies the funding position and that in the light of those assurances the noble Baroness will not puruse her amendment.

Lord Willoughby de Broke

Will the noble Lord answer the point or agree with the point made by my noble friend Lord Roberts about the possible need for wardens to control or to monitor night access? Is that something the noble Lord has thought about or something he may want to answer later? Is it something that ought to be considered?

Lord Whitty

Unlike certain noble Lords, the Government have always assumed that access means 24-hour access, as it does in relation to access land in general at present. We have always assumed that there will be night access. Our estimates are based on the inclusion of night access, as are estimates from the Local Government Association.

5.30 p.m.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

I thank the Minister for his reply and I thank him for spelling out that the Government agree with the LGA figure and that there will be additional money for some of the other work to be carried out, for example, through the agencies. That is all very helpful.

The Minister says that there might be a pot. I am concerned that it should not be yet another bidding round for local authorities; that it should be their money as of right in whichever way the Government decide to give it to them. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, about the fact that, on the whole, we do not like ring-fenced funds. Local authorities are well able to make their own decisions. We do not see this as a fight between the conservation bodies and agencies. I should remind the Committee of my interest as a Somerset county councillor. But the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Young, impugn a motive which simply does not exist. We do not want to take the money away. We want a recognition that local government is paid for what it has to do.

The Minister has reassured me that the Government intend to put sufficient financing behind Part I. If he is able to say anything more at a later stage about the way in which his department thinks that that might be delivered, that would be extremely helpful. But in the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Earl of Caithness moved Amendment No. 222: Page 11, line 1, leave out ("may") and insert ("shall").

The noble Earl said: Before I start on this amendment, perhaps I may say how sad I was to hear what the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, felt about surveyors. She might think that I belong to an "institute". In fact, I am a fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. I believe there to be a significant difference between the two words.

I listened with great care to the last debate that we had and in particular, to what the Minister said. I was very pleased to hear that the local authorities are now awash with funds and that he believes there is a need for wardens. But there has been a need for wardens in the past. The local authorities have had the finance available to them, but they have not chosen to use it in order to supply wardens where there have been access agreements.

My noble friend Lord Peel gave the example of the Yorkshire Dales where an agreement had been entered into and, over time, other spending had taken priority for the local authority. If the funds which we discussed on the last amendment are not to be ring-fenced, there will be the usual local government argy-bargy which has been going on for years about how it is to spend its finance. My great fear is that although there is plenty of good intention, there is very little good action.

I know that the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, has much greater experience of local government than I. But she will have to compete against other demands in Somerset if she is to secure funds for wardens. Over time, it is unfortunately the non-statutory areas of local government which are squeezed and which traditionally have been squeezed. We have seen that in Surrey and elsewhere. That is what gives me the great concern that I have about the word "may" in line 1 of Clause 18. I believe that that should be "shall". There should be a firm duty on the access authority or the local authority to provide a wardening service.

How that wardening service is then constructed and made up is a matter for the local and access authorities and it will vary from area to area. It occurred to me that those authorities could use some initiative in this regard. The noble Baroness, Lady Miller, referred to voluntary wardens. The employees of the landowners or farmers might take on, with a little bit of help from the access authority, that extra work.

I can remember when I started my career in farming being irritated by some obstruction in the middle of the field which I was told I could not plough. I had to go round it. It would have made a lot more sense had I been told the full value of that particular obstruction; that other people wanted to come to see that obstruction; access was to be given to it; and those were the reasons why. I should have then understood the situation far more clearly and it would not have been such an irritation to me. I am sure that there are many small areas in which local people, living on the land, could be used in a wardening type of service for some extra finance, which would be of extra benefit in the rural areas. It would enhance their knowledge of the countryside and they are the best people to transmit that knowledge to those who wish to make use of those provisions.

However, I return to the fundamental point. It is absolutely right that there should be a wardening service. The noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone, said that there is a vital role for those wardens to play in most areas. Of course, it will vary from area to area. But there must be a duty on the access authority to provide them. I beg to move.

Baroness Young of Old Scone

Perhaps I may gently correct the noble Earl on his interpretation of my statement about wardens. I said that wardens will be important in some areas, not in most areas.

Lord Northbourne

I support the noble Earl's amendment. The difficulty about a power rather than an obligation is that it leads to very wide variations between local authorities in the degree to which the power is implemented. From what I see in other contexts, central government have remarkably little ability to coerce local authorities into performing their optional functions. I have in mind the provision of youth services where the provision varies between the best and worst authority—£8 per head as against £236 per head. Therefore, wide variation between local authorities is a serious risk.

I am prepared to bet that the Minister will not like the idea of this amendment. However, I draw his attention to one other factor. I am informed that in response to a scheme relating to rights of way in north Hampshire and West Sussex, the commissioner for local administration, in reply to complaint No. 1340H of 7th December 1976 questioned whether a highway authority could justify putting resources into discretionary work rather than using those resources for its statutory responsibilities.

Baroness Byford

I rise to support my noble friend's amendment which would mean that the Bill would read: An access authority or a district council shall appoint such number of persons as may appear to the authority making the appointment to be necessary or expedient, to act as wardens as respects access in their area". This is a very sensible amendment. I am sorry that the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, left the word "may" in her amendment because that weakens the matter. This amendment improves the wording of the Bill.

Lord Mancroft

There is an important point in this amendment which it is worth bearing in mind. If the Minister does not accept the amendment and if it is left as currently drafted, it may appear necessary or expedient to the authority making the appointment— in other words, it recognises that it is necessary or expedient—but it has no obligation to appoint so it does not appoint. Therefore, the authority has recognised the necessity for a warden. That takes into account the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone, in that there are some areas where they will not be necessary. However, there are some areas where the authority, and perhaps everybody else, recognises that wardens are necessary, for whatever reason it may be, but it still will not appoint them. That is the problem that this amendment solves. Therefore, it is simple and eminently desirable.

Lord Roberts of Conwy

All three clauses, which are miscellaneous provisions relating to the right of access, are discretionary as far as local authorities are concerned. The fact that they are discretionary leads one to try to conceive of a situation in which by-laws are not passed by an access authority, in which wardens are not appointed and notices indicating boundaries, and so on, are not erected. Many of us fear that that situation will occur on access land.

A further important point in relation to those clauses is that they involve the restrictions to be imposed under Schedule 2. Clearly, the wardens have an important role in enforcing those restrictions as well as the by-laws. It seems to me that the absence of wardens in such a situation would wreck the Bill. Nevertheless, one must emphasise that whether wardens are appointed or not is entirely at the discretion of the local authority. That point was made early in our debates by the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe.

Lord Rotherwick

In answer to a previous question the Minister said that he felt that those who live at the bottom of a hill and want to experience the delights of going up a hill are not the kind of people who damage the environment. He said that people like the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, who choose to go on one type of walk one day and another type of walk another day, or do a climb one day and another climb another day are not the kind of people to damage the environment. I totally agree with him.

The Minister misunderstands if he believes that walkers and ramblers damage the countryside. If that were so, the countryside would be in ruins because of the large numbers. No, it is a small percentage of people who visit the countryside who damage it. It is the odd person who dismantles a monk at the top of a reservoir and throws it in; it is the odd person who dismantles part of a deer fence; it is the odd person who tends to pick up a sign and throw it away. For that reason I welcome the amendment of my noble friend as it would strengthen the situation by saying that the authorities shall appoint wardens.

In this Bill we are trying to avoid conflict. It is most important that we lessen the conflict between the land manager and those accessing the land. If we can be sure to have these provisions in place, we can look forward to good co-operation between them.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

The Minister said that he thought that there may be earmarked or ring-fenced funding for such a matter. Is that correct, even though the Government do not want it to be mandatory? The two do not go together.

5.45 p.m.

Lord Whitty

I am trying to be careful not to tie the hands of future Chancellors. I shall leave the commitment of additional funds and how they will be channelled to be dealt with by someone closer to the point where the access rights become a reality. I understand the logic of the question posed by the noble Baroness, but in this area it is important to leave a degree of discretion with the local authorities.

The Government recognise the importance of wardens, but we want to be flexible about how we channel resources and about the balance of wardening as against other methods of ensuring that the access provisions work as they appear to the individual local authority. The provision would require local authorities to put their resources into wardening when that may not be the priority locally and there may be other ways, as the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, indicated, such as having others to provide and designate the wardening.

We need a degree of flexibility. The word "shall" would be too mandatory, albeit that it is still subject to identification, and so forth, and it would not necessarily impose an obligation on those authorities that did not require wardening, but it would mean that other ways of providing that wardening, or equivalent cover, would not be available to them. I believe that there is such a wide variety of access land to be managed by access authorities that we need some discretion.

While I understand the points that have been made, it is important that local authorities ensure that the access provisions are properly managed. In most cases wardening will be an important aspect, but I do not believe that we should make it mandatory as provided for in the amendment of the noble Earl.

Lord Skelmersdale

I find that the most extraordinary answer that I have heard in this House for a long time. The Minister talks about discretion for local authorities. Local authorities have as much discretion in Clause 18(1) as is necessary with either "may" or "shall". The point is that having identified the need for wardens, my noble friends want them to be appointed. That is absolutely right.

Lord Whitty

I agree that the two positions are not a million miles apart but at the edges there may be local authorities that can provide the wardening service in a different way than by appointing their own wardens. We want to cover that situation. Therefore, some discretion is needed at the edges. I hope that we do not fall out over this matter, but it seems to me that the amendment of the noble Earl would deny a small amount of discretion.

Viscount Bledisloe

If a local authority believes it can provide the service in another way, it is not necessary or expedient to appoint a warden. The Minister is saying that the first purpose of having a warden is to secure compliance with the restrictions. A landowner may ring the local authority to say, "On my land the restrictions are consistently being ignored; I cannot do anything about it; surely there should be a warden". The local authority will say, "Yes, we accept that it is absolutely necessary to have a warden because that is the only way of securing compliance with the restrictions; nonetheless we have decided not to appoint one". Is that satisfactory?

Lord Swinfen

The first line of the clause says that the council "may", or if the amendment is agreed "shall", "appoint". It does not say "employ". It is quite possible for the local authority to appoint someone as a warden who is in the employment of a local landowner or a tenant fanner. The authority may decide that it is necessary or expedient to have a warden, but the clause is drafted in such a way that it does not have to pay for that warden, or at least not the whole of the warden's salary. It can find someone who is working locally, who may be self-employed, to work as a warden at a low salary or not a full salary. The word in the Bill, which has been drafted by the Government, is "appoint" and not "employ".

Lord Whitty

It is indeed. "Appoint" implies that the wardens are responsible to the local authority; that whatever the contractual relationship is with that local authority, they are responsible to it. But there can be situations where the person performing the wardening task is not responsible directly to the local authority; for example, it might be a neighbouring authority or a neighbouring parks authority, or in some cases even a local landowner. Therefore if we make this provision mandatory, problems will arise. So I wish to maintain a little flexibility.

We are probably making a meal of this point. As has just been said, the outcome of the noble Earl's amendment would still leave some discretion to local authorities. However, it would not leave discretion in that specific area. Therefore the Bill's present wording is rather better than the implications of Amendment No. 222.

Lord Rotherwick

Perhaps I can ask a small question. Who has the responsibility for ensuring that the lands are wardened? If Clause 18(1) stands, it may be that local authorities do not wish to take on that responsibility. Who will then be responsible for ensuring that the lands are wardened?

Lord Whitty

The access authority has the responsibility for ensuring that access is managed properly. Whether or not that involves wardening and, if so, how it will be provided, is a matter for their judgment.

The Earl of Caithness

This has been a useful debate and I am grateful to all Members of the Committee who took part.

I want Amendment No. 221 to work. The best way of making it work is by inserting "shall". I agree with the Minister that it reduces the flexibility slightly. But that is not a bad thing. I do not believe the Minister's heart was in his brief on this one. He was just beginning to see that there was quite a good argument against him.

Amendment No. 222 strengthens the hand of the local authority in negotiating for funds. The fact that those within the rural departments of local authorities have a statutory duty rather than a non-statutory duty will certainly strengthen their hands when they seek to obtain funds. And we have to set that little flexibility which the Minister wants against the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone, who said on the previous amendments that if there were not wardens in appropriate places, conservation status could suffer.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

The noble Earl made a direct reference to my amendment and how Amendment No. 222 would strengthen it. Perhaps I can say therefore that I feel there is a difficulty with his amendment.

I fully understand the spirit of Amendment No. 222. But there are a number of ways in 'which local authorities could choose to exercise this provision; For example, in partnership with farmers or in taking out contracts with conservation organisations. In that regard I must declare an interest as Vice-President of the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers which does an immense amount of work in national parks and other open spaces. So there is a vast number of ways in which this clause could be fulfilled if the money was in place.

Therefore, although I entirely applaud the spirit of the noble Earl's amendment—that there will be people on the ground once the money is in place—I am nervous about using the words, "shall appoint". Although I understood the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Rotherwick, if we were going down that route I would have looked at wording which said, "shall ensure that". I am not very happy with the words, "shall appoint". It is much too definite in taking a local authority down a certain route. After all, they often choose to fulfil obligations in imaginative ways and that is what the "best value" regime is all about; that local authorities should move away from direct employment and into a range of different methods of carrying out their functions.

For those reasons I do not support the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, in his Amendment No. 222.

Earl Peel

Before the noble Baroness sits down, perhaps I can say that I do not understand how my noble friend's amendment can in any way interfere with "imaginative ways". All it does is ensure that the wardening system is in place. That does not in any way impinge on the idea of imagination.

Viscount Bledisloe

Unless these people are appointed as wardens, technically they will not have the power that wardens have under the Bill. But they can be volunteers; they can be members of the noble Baroness's association; they can be anybody. But they must have a ticket from the access authority saying that they are the wardens and they have been appointed. That is all "appoint" means.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

The difference between the two arguments is that, on the one hand the noble Earl's amendment says, "shall appoint", and on the other the spirit of my amendment is to say "shall ensure that the land is wardened".

Viscount Bledisloe

It can only be wardened by people who have been appointed, otherwise they will not have the powers under the Bill.

The Earl of Caithness

That is the telling argument for using the word "shall". I agree with the noble Baroness that we need some flexibility. When I moved the amendment I said that we should have some innovative ideas from local authorities. But if this question of the word "appoint" still worries the noble Baroness, we could come back to that at a later stage. I hope she will reconsider her thought and help me to help her to help the Bill work by having "shall" rather than "may".

5.55 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 222) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 64; Not-Contents, 119.

Division No. 1
Anelay of St Johns, B. Listowel, E.
Arran, E. Luke, L.
Astor of Hever, L. Lyell, L.
Attlee, E. Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L
Beaumont of Whitley, L Mancroft, L.
Biffen, L. Marlesford, L.
Blatch, B. Masham of Ilton, B.
Bledisloe, V. Monson, L.
Boardman, L. Montrose, D.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Bridgeman, V. Northbourne, L.
Bridges, L. Northesk, E.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Norton of Louth, L.
Burnham, L. Park of Monmouth, B.
Byford, B. Peel, E.
Caithness, E. Perry of Southwark, B.
Colwyn, L. Renton, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L. Roberts of Conwy, L.
Courtown, E. Rotherwick, L.
Dixon-Smith, L. Ryder of Wensum, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L. Seccombe, B.
Elton, L. Selborne, E.
Flather, B. Selsdon, L.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L. Shrewsbury, E.
Gardner of Parkes, B. Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Garel-Jones, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Gibson, L. Skidelsky, L.
Glentoran, L. Stewartby, L.
Hanham, B. Swinfen, L.
Howe, E. Weatherill, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L. Williamson of Horton, L.
Kimball, L. Willoughby de Broke, L.
Acton, L. Barker, B.
Addington, L. Bassam of Brighton, L.
Ahmed, L. Berkeley, L.
Alderdice, L. Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Alli, L. Billingham, B.
Amos, B. Blackstone, B.
Andrews, B. Borrie, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L. Bragg, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B Brookman, L.
Avebury, L. Burlison, L.
Bach, L. Carter, L.
Chandos, V. McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Christopher, L. McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
Clarke of Hampstead, L. McNally, L.
Clinton-Davis, L. Maddock, B.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L. Mallalieu, B.
Dahrendorf, L. Mar and Kellie, E.
David, B. Massey of Darwen, B.
Davies of Oldham, L. Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B. Milner of Leeds, L.
Desai, L. Mishcon, L.
Dholakia, L. Mitchell, L.
Diamond, L. Molloy, L.
Donoughue, L. Nicol, B.
Dormand of Easington, L. O'Neill of Bengarve, B.
Dubs, L. Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
Elder, L. Peston, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L. Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B. Prys-Davies, L.
Faulkner of Worcester, L. Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Filkin, L. Rea, L.
Gale, B. Rendell of Babergh, B.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B. Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Goldsmith, L. Rogers of Riverside, L.
Goodhart, L. Russell, E.
Gould of Potternewton, B. Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Greaves, L. Sawyer, L.
Grenfell, L. Sharp of Guildford, B.
Hamwee, B. Shore of Stepney, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Simon, V.
Harris of Haringey, L. Stone of Blackheath, L.
Harrison, L. Strabolgi, L.
Haskel, L. Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Hayman, B. Thornton, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B. Tomlinson, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B. Turnberg, L.
Howells of St. Davids, B. Turner of Camden, B.
Howie of Troon, L. Uddin, B.
Hoyle, L. Walker of Doncaster, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L. Warner, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L. Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Jay of Paddington, B. (Lord Privy Seal) Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Jeger, B. Wilkins, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L. Williams of Crosby, B.
Judd, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B. Winston, L.
Lea of Crondall, L. Woolmer of Leeds, L.
Lipsey, L. Young of Dartington, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L. Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

6.6 p.m.

Lord Glentoran moved Amendment No. 223: Page 11, line 7, after ("17") insert (", with closures and restrictions under sections 21 and 22,").

The noble Lord said: With this amendment we remain with wardens. The proposal makes sense and is clear. I trust that the Government will find ways to fund wardens; dare I suggest that the Countryside Agency should become a beneficiary of the National Lottery?

Opening large areas of land to public access for the first time will inevitably lead to problems. I believe that no one in the Chamber, including the Minister, has any illusion about that. That is why we are here, debating the best ways of pre-empting those difficulties so as to smooth the way.

Clause 18 provides for the appointment of wardens, albeit at the discretion of the access authorities. I hope that at the Report stage we shall succeed in changing the provisions relating to that discretion, putting more pressure on the authorities to appoint wardens.

While the clause gives the necessary powers for wardens to secure compliance with by-laws to advise and assist walkers and to perform any other various and interesting duties which the authorities see fit, there is no mention of how the landowners are to enforce the restrictions which the Bill provides.

We suggest that it is not fair that landowners should first be forced to open their land to public access whether they like it or not and then that they should be forced to enforce those grudgingly given restrictions unaided. If a landowner secures a restriction, is he to turn back hoards of ramblers, all of whom will be deeply suspicious of his motives and disinclined to believe what he tells them? If they decide to ignore him and walk on, how is he supposed to stop them?

On the other hand, a duly constituted warden bearing his official papers will be believed and, for 99.9 per cent of the time, respected. Therefore, for the sake of equity and tranquillity wardens should be given power to enforce compliance with every requirement impartially, whether on behalf of the access authority or the landowner.

Members of the Committee will be aware that all over this country, and perhaps in others, wardening schemes are a service to everyone to help make the experience of the countryside or locality more pleasurable. I see the policing role of the warden (if I may call it that) as a minor part of his job. That role is a comfort to all concerned. The warden can be summoned on the telephone to assist, whether it is a call from a landowner who has trouble with unruly visitors or a group of people who, with the use of a mobile telephone, wish to call for help, or whatever. It may be that the warden is able to work in an educational role.

The amendment seeks to insert on the face of the Bill in Clause 18 as part of the duties of the would-be warden the ability to assist with closures and restrictions under Clauses 21 and 22. That clarifies the situation. I believe that it is important to put that on the face of the legislation because there is already a list of his other duties in the Bill. Some of the wardens, not all, will be remunerated. When assessing the workload and writing the job description of a particular person the access authority will need something substantive from which to work. I beg to move.

Earl Peel

I should very much like to support the amendment.

Lord Whitty

It may be for the convenience of the Committee if at this stage I indicate the view of the Government on this matter. Although it is arguable that enforcement and restrictions are already covered under subsection (2)(c), I rather agree that this matter should be made explicit on the face of the Bill. If the Committee agrees, I shall take this away and provide an amendment which covers not only Clauses 21 and 22 but any exclusions or restrictions under Chapter II. I hope that that is acceptable to the noble Lord.

Lord Glentoran

I am grateful to the Minister for agreeing to take it away. I am sure that he will find the right terminology when we come to Report stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 18 agreed to.

Lord Glentoran moved Amendment No. 223A: After Clause 18 insert the following new Clause—

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