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The Earl of Lytton moved Amendment No. 178B:

Page 64, line 26, leave out ("the next following subsection") and insert ("subsection (2) of this section").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 178B, I should like to speak also to Amendment No. 178C and 178D in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Barber.

The purpose of this group of amendments is to explore further the amendment which was moved and agreed to in Committee to revise the second national park purpose. I thank the Minister and his officials for the help which they gave in relation to the wording of the amendment. I also declare an interest as a farmer in a national park.

In Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Norrie, gave an extremely comprehensive explanation as to what he meant, and in particular what he did not mean, by the

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term "quiet enjoyment". My amendment is intended to reinforce that explanation and to ensure that it is defined clearly on the face of the Bill.

The noble Lord referred in particular to his amendment being concerned with the type of recreations which national parks were to have a statutory purpose to promote. My amendment is nothing to do with banning any recreational purpose but is everything to do with the purpose of promoting. I should like to make that very clear.

The purpose of the amendment is to define "quiet enjoyment". It defines it as:

    "enjoyment in ways which are not likely to disturb the tranquillity, or otherwise detract from the special qualities, of the areas in question".

That is what national parks will have a purpose to promote. That is the first part of the amendment and I hope that we can all agree that that is the intention underlying the amendment that was agreed to in Committee and that my interpretation is correct.

In Committee, we heard a great deal about noisy activities and the effect that they have on the enjoyment of the parks by others. A view is held in some quarters that such activities should be banned. As I understand it, in Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Norrie, explained that he did not intend that any activities should be banned as a result of the introduction of the term "quiet" in the second national park purpose. Therefore, my second amendment sets out to ensure that that intention is made explicit on the face of the Bill. It makes clear that,

    "no person shall be under a duty to prevent"—

and I stress the last three words—

    "reduce or restrict noise in [national parks] by reason only of the reference ... [to promote] opportunities for the quiet enjoyment of those areas".

There may well be other reasons why noise should be prevented or reduced and I believe that there are other means to control noisy activities, but concentrating on the particular point at issue, the purpose of my second amendment is to make it clear that the word "quiet" in the Bill would not in itself be a reason to prevent such activities from taking place.

More particularly, I would go further and say that it is certainly not my intention that the existing powers to prevent noisy or damaging activities should be circumscribed —far from it. The whole idea is that the amendment should leave them intact. I believe that that was the noble Lord's intention in Committee. The amendment is intended to probe whether that is in fact the case. My intention is to clarify the term "quiet enjoyment".

The wording of the amendment, into which a good deal of careful thought has been put by others, may not be perfect. I would be the first person to recognise the fact that reconciling the different views of what is actually meant by the word "quiet", and from whose standpoint, is a vexed and difficult area.

I turn now to the amendment tabled in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Barber. On my yardstick, if I may put it that way, I believe that his amendment takes matters quantifiably further than the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Norrie, by introducing the concept of

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"lasting" damage and conflict with enjoyment by the public, in addition to the concept of acoustic disamenity. In my opinion, that highlights the dangers of leaving the term "quiet enjoyment" undefined on the face the Bill. I believe that that is something of a slippery slope due to poor definition.

The concept that I should like to flag here is that of multi-use recreational facilities in national parks as an integrated entity with existing land use activities. National parks are not wilderness areas, although parts of them may be—and, in that respect, some more than others. Nor are they mere tourist fleshpots, though that certainly applies in some limited areas. In many cases, they have to cope with extremely large visitor numbers at times and I feel that that poses the greatest challenge of all. However, in the past, the parks have catered for a broad spectrum of activity. I believe that that should continue and that no single interest should be unnecessarily pre-emptive of others. I beg to move.

Lord Williams of Elvel: My Lords, I was not sure whether the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, wished to intervene at this point, but perhaps I may make our views of the amendment as clear as I can. I recognise that there is some need for a definition of the term "quiet enjoyment". However, after the noble Earl's introduction, I am unclear whether the amendment is a government effort—he seemed to imply that it was drafted by officials in the Department of the Environment—or whether it is an individual, solo performance by the noble Earl. Nevertheless, I am sure that the Minister will clarify the position in his response. I see that the noble Earl wishes to intervene. I give way.

The Earl of Lytton: My Lords, I am much obliged. I expressed my concerns in the past about the lack of definition of the words "quiet enjoyment" and, indeed, did so in a letter to the Minister. I must admit that the formula of words in the amendment is not mine; it comes from the department. The purpose of the amendment is purely to open the way for debate on this matter and to try to achieve a better definition. As it is a probing amendment, it is not one that has any consequence for us this evening.

Lord Williams of Elvel: My Lords, I am not quite sure where that gets us. Perhaps it gets us one step further.

I find the first half of the noble Earl's amendment perfectly acceptable but I have some difficulty in understanding the second half. Its language seems rather tortuous. Clearly, it would be very difficult for a national park authority, which is after all a planning authority, to make a distinction when called on to make a planning decision as to whether it was accepting or refusing the application by reference only to quiet enjoyment or for other reasons. That requires a sudden change of hats which would be difficult to put into practice.

I am therefore more attracted to the amendment which I hope will be spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford. If some conjunction between the two could be achieved by the Government, they would do the whole House and the Bill a service. I believe that some

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definition is needed. I am not sure that the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, has got it absolutely right. However, I believe that the Government have an opportunity to include a provision which makes sense and improves the Bill.

Lord Elis-Thomas: My Lords, far be it from me to speak for draftsmen in the Department of the Environment or the Welsh Office, or for my noble friend, but the amendment has a certain attraction. It sets out at greater length the general principle of quiet enjoyment. It attempts to define it, but then does not relate it to specific activities. That seems to be the intention of the amendment.

We are on a positive track. Earlier in the debate some of us may have sidetracked the House by referring to specific examples of noise or activity which disrupted the "quiet enjoyment" of parks. That may have prevented the Government from seeing the validity of utilising this definition. If we can reach a definition of quiet enjoyment as a general principle in terms of park objectives which does not predetermine decisions in respect of specific activities that might seem to conflict with that principle, we shall have achieved something. For those reasons, on balance I am attracted by the amendment.

Lord Chorley: My Lords, we have two entirely different amendments on the same point. I hope that we can treat them both as probing amendments. The noble Earl, Lord Lytton, said that his was a probing amendment. I hope that we can treat them both as such, because I believe that we need to explore the question more thoroughly.

On reflection, I have been wondering since the Committee stage whether we need to define quiet enjoyment in the Bill. Reference was made at Second Reading to similar phrases in landlord and tenant law. So far as I am aware, quiet enjoyment in that sense has never been defined by statute but in the courts we nevertheless seem to get along quite well.

As regards Amendment No. 178C, I too find it acceptable up to the semicolon. Then I run into difficulty with the second part. I listened very carefully to what the noble Earl said about the second part of the amendment, but I read it as having the opposite effect to that intended. The amendment states that:

    "no person shall be under a duty to prevent, reduce or restrict noise".

It seems to me that, whatever level of noise emerged over time, the authority would have no power to reduce or restrict it. I hope that that is wrong. Since we have learned that the provision was drafted at the DoE, perhaps the noble Viscount will tell me whether I have it right or wrong. It is rather crucial.

Amendment No. 178D seems reasonably satisfactory, although I should like some reference to the words "intrusive activities"—a phrase used by the Edwards Review Panel. I believe that the key lies in the word "intrusive" in relation to special qualities of a park rather than concentrating narrowly on noise. If we need a statutory definition, do we need to spell it out in detail? Would we not do better to arrange perhaps for some guidance note, although clearly not the kind of guidance used in the 31st January draft circular?

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It seems to me that the problem is getting the right balance. I thought that the Edwards Review Panel got it about right. The Edwards Report states:

    "We recognise the intrusion caused by several noisy sports...While we do not support their total prohibition in national parks, they should only take place on those rare sites where they do not cause undue annoyance to other park users or damage to the fabric of the parks themselves. In most cases, there may be more appropriate sites outside the parks, and recreational provision of this kind should be determined on a regional scale".

That is the essence of the Edwards Report. Perhaps that could be the basis of guidance.

11.45 p.m.

Lord Barber of Tewkesbury: My Lords, I had not realised that we had got as far as the amendment in my name. My noble friend Lord Lytton has, happily, helpfully said nearly everything that I was going to say. My main aim in moving the amendment is to seek to bring a sense of purpose and urgency in finding a definition that will fit.

I do not wish to repeat much that has been said, but I wish to make this background point. I refer to the sense of relief that we all had when the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Norrie, was carried. It dealt with the question of "quiet enjoyment". All of us who work with the parks in one way or another realise how vulnerable and fragile these marvellous places are. However well we try to protect them, any close personal association with them brings a sense of unease because their integrity will be extremely difficult to maintain; such is the strength and variety of the inevitable pressures which beset them. Here, in this successfully amended clause, was some provision to help.

Perhaps I may make clear a few points, even if they have been made before. It was made clear in the debate on Second Reading that the purpose of "quiet enjoyment" does not preclude a wide range of other activities taking place. It does not preclude noisy sporting undertakings. Planning controls, traffic regulation orders and by-laws are mechanisms available for quelling noisy sports. It does not affect field sports, as some people have mistakenly suggested. The sweet cry of hounds and the sound of 12 bores remain unaffected. It means primarily that the parks do not have the statutory purpose of promoting the whole recreational range.

However, it was also made clear at the Committee stage that much difficulty lay in defining the term of "quiet enjoyment". I do not believe that we have got much further forward at this stage, beyond suggesting that Amendment No. 178D is slightly less obscure than the amendment in the name of my noble friend Lord Lytton. I still cannot understand the latter part of his amendment.

I have no intention of wandering idly into legal fields which are terra incognita to me and out of bounds. But I am advised by one legal source that a statutory definition of "quiet enjoyment" in the context of national parks is not essential because the expression does not have an existing statutory definition elsewhere. An accepted understanding of its meaning in landlord

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and tenant affairs, for example, has evolved through case law. But clearly there is a need to explore further as to legal and non-legal definitions that are proper and practical in application.

The amendment, which is supported by many bodies—not least the Countryside Commission and the Countryside Council for Wales—has been stitched together with some care as a step down the road to a clearer view. I offer it for consideration, although I have no doubt that some refashioning and re-honing may well be desirable. I repeat that I feel anxious—and I think I speak on behalf of large numbers of people—that we must have a sense of purpose and urgency in eventually establishing precisely what the definition should be. In that spirit, I commend Amendment No. 178D.

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