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Baroness Nicol: My Lords, before the noble Viscount sits down, can he reassure those of us who asked the question that the Government still intend to work within the spirit of the Edwards Report, both here and in another place?

Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, I believe that the spirit of the Edwards Report is captured by the words in the new purposes contained in the Bill. The purpose of bringing forward the legislation is to capture the intention of the Edwards Report.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker: My Lords, I am unable to call Amendment No. 34 as it has been pre-empted.

[Amendment No. 34 not moved.]

Viscount Ullswater moved Amendments Nos. 35 and 36:

Page 68, leave out lines 2 to 7.
Page 68, line 16, at end insert:
("(6) In this section, "local authority"—

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(a) in relation to England, means a county council, district council or parish council;
(b) in relation to Wales, means a county council, county borough council, district council or community council."").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Williams of Elvel moved Amendment No. 37:

After Clause 82, insert the following new clause:

("Consultation before making or modifying certain subordinate legislation for Wales

.—(1) The Secretary of State for Wales shall consult the Countryside Council for Wales before—
(a) making any legislation to which this section applies (other than a modification of any such legislation);
(b) modifying any such legislation in a way which changes the purpose of the legislation in question; or
(c) modifying any such legislation in a way which modifies, in a respect which he considers material, any conditions subject to which grants or other payments are payable under that legislation.
(2) The legislation to which this section applies is—
(a) any order under section 18 of the Agriculture Act 1986 (orders establishing environmentally sensitive areas);
(b) any regulations under section 81 above;
(c) any statutory instrument which concerns the management of land and whose primary purpose is the promotion of—
(i) the conservation or enhancement of the natural beauty or amenity of the countryside (including its flora and fauna and geological and physiographical features) or of any features of archaeological interest there; or
(ii) the enjoyment of the countryside by the public.
(3) This section applies in relation to any legislation only so far as relating to land in Wales.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we have had discussions at previous stages of the Bill about Clause 82, as amended on Report, which gives power to the Countryside Commission to be consulted by the appropriate Minister.

The duty that the Minister shall consult a number of bodies, including the Countryside Commission, is not reflected in an analogous duty on the Secretary of State for Wales in respect of Wales. In Committee and at Report stage the noble Earl, Lord Howe, argued that in some way Wales is different statutorily. I accept the noble Earl's argument in one respect that CADW, which we originally had in our amendment at Report stage, falls into that category. That is why the amendment that I am now putting before your Lordships does not include consultation with CADW, since, as the noble Earl quite properly pointed out, if the Secretary of State for Wales was required to consult CADW he would be consulting himself, and that is not something which we would like to see in legislation.

But the Countryside Council for Wales is a different matter. That body is almost exactly analogous to the Countryside Commission for England. Clause 82 imposes an obligation on the Secretary of State to consult the statutory countryside agencies in England but not in Wales or Scotland. That is wholly inconsistent with the existing statutory obligations on the Secretary of State for Wales to consult CCW before designating Welsh environmentally sensitive areas.

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The obligation to consult CCW on ESAs in Wales was imposed in 1990, deriving from 1986 legislation which required the Secretary of State to consult CCW's predecessors in Wales. The relevant institutional arrangements and statutory powers in Wales are exactly the same now as they were in 1990.

The stated purpose of what is now Clause 82 by the noble Earl, Lord Howe, at Report stage was to extend the approach which already operates successfully in setting up new ESAs. The noble Earl told us that that was the whole point of the clause. But it fails to do that in Wales. I agree that the Countryside Council for Wales has the right to offer advice if it wants, but that is far different from saying that the Secretary of State for Wales is obliged to consult that body as the Secretary of State in England is obliged to consult the Countryside Commission, which, as I say, is an analogous body.

I believe that the argument is irrefutable and rests there; namely, that Wales should have what England has. I cannot see why the Government cannot agree to that. I beg to move.

Baroness White: My Lords, it is many years since I was Minister of State at the Welsh Office, but in environmental matters I have maintained a very good group of informants. I can rely on them to tell me the effects of the attitude of the present Government. My noble friend Lord Williams of Elvel is absolutely right. If the situation is left as it is now, that means that the Countryside Council for Wales may offer advice. But it is a matter of timing.

It is frequently the case that the Welsh Office does not consult. When the Welsh Office has told the world what it intends to do, it is then too late for the Countryside Council for Wales to offer its advice. It is very largely a matter of timing. All the information which I have been able to find in the recent past makes it clear to me that the most important word in this proposed amendment comes in line 2; namely, "before". The Countryside Council for Wales should be consulted before and not after the Welsh Office has disclosed what it intends to do.

It is an absurd situation. One is told that one can offer one's advice, but what is the use of that when the Welsh Office, without consulting the Countryside Council for Wales at all, has gone public? I would very much like to know how the Minister will reply, supposing that he himself was possibly partly responsible for the activities of the Countryside Council for Wales. I am quite sure that he would not be happy.

Lord Thomas of Gwydir: My Lords, I shall be very short indeed. I would like to endorse everything that has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Elvel, and the noble Baroness, Lady White. It is absolutely essential for Wales to have this amendment if Clause 82 is to be in the Bill. It would be almost an affront—certainly to the Countryside Council for Wales—if the amendment was not accepted. Therefore, I ask my noble friend to consider very carefully that it is important for Wales that this amendment is accepted.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley: My Lords, we on these Benches take the same view as all the previous speakers

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and believe that this amendment is part of the importance of taking seriously the Welsh environment and the right of the Welsh people to be consulted through their representative or semi-non-representative bodies. It is an absolutely worthwhile amendment and we hope that the Government will accept it.

Lord Moran: My Lords, I would like to support this amendment very strongly. I have mentioned this problem at earlier stages of the Bill. I still cannot understand how Wales can be discriminated against in the way that it is at present as regards the responsibilities of English Nature in England and the Countryside Council for Wales in Wales. I am sure that the amendment is right and I very much hope that the Government will accept it.

Lord Marlesford: My Lords, I so much agree with the word "irrefutable" used by the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Elvel. I totally support the amendment and, if necessary—and I am sure that it will not be—I shall support him in the Lobby.

I suppose that one must peer behind this paradox which is not there. In one way or another most of your Lordships have had experience of how governments operate—whether as Ministers or civil servants or merely as teenage scribblers writing about politics—and realise that in the jungle of Whitehall people fight for their own personal empires and beliefs. Very often that causes governments great difficulty in coming forward with sensible ideas.

We know that the present Secretary of State for Wales does not believe in this kind of thing. The sad fact is that he pursues his own personal beliefs and dogmas with a lack of humour or humility. It strikes me that it would be very sad if the Bill, which will last a great deal longer, were to be adapted to the personal prejudices of the Minister who at this very instant is occupying that post.

What I suppose I am really saying is that I believe this amendment fulfils a role which Parliament has a perfectly legitimate role in fulfilling—that is to say, to get the Government out of a hole caused by squabbling inside Whitehall. I hope we shall find that the amendment is warmly welcomed by the Government.

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