HC Deb 26 July 1960 vol 627 c134W
Sir A. Hurd

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has reached any conclusions on the Report of the Royal Commission on Common Land.

Mr. Hare

Yes. This Report brings out clearly the difficulties caused to all concerned, including commoners and the general public, by uncertainty as to the nature, ownership and extent of common land and common rights. It makes valuable recommendations, for establishing the facts and interests by means of registration.

Under the Commission's proposals registration would take some twelve years. The facts relating to each common must, of course, be established thoroughly; but it seems to me possible that the procedure might be considerably shortened. There might then be much to be said for introducing legislation to enable a start to be made with registration, and for dealing in a later measure with the other matters raised in the Commission's Report.

These other matters include of course provision for the better management and improvement of common land, its preservation, the public right of access and the wholesale repeal of existing legislation. These are important matters, but it will be difficult to make worth while progress with them until more is known about the facts and interests, both generally and in relation to each common.

My Department is putting suggestions on the lines indicated to the local authority associations and other interests for discussion in the autumn. I will make a further statement when those discussions have taken place. Until then I cannot, of course, commit the Government on the question of legislation.