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Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, perhaps I may remind the Minister that those noble Lords who have spoken have mentioned only the gallops in the south of England. Middleham in the north is just as important as Newmarket.

Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, we know that!

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I would never cross swords with the noble Baroness to suggest that the north of England was any less important than the south. The number of such sites needs to be clearly identified. We need to see whether different arrangements apply and we must try to reconcile the right of access with the provisions for gallops. Clearly, we need to face up to that situation.

The noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, raised a number of points in relation to water. The Bill primarily concerns access on foot and therefore does not deal with issues relating to water.

The issue of wardens and rangers was raised. Local authorities will be able to appoint wardens to help manage access, where appropriate. It is not the case that they will be needed everywhere. The Government's impact assessment suggested that the extra cost of wardens could be of the order of £1.5 million to £2 million per year. That cost will fall on local authorities, but they will receive increased funding to take account of the additional burden. It is difficult to forecast how many extra wardens will be needed. But we expect the provision to be targeted at those areas which are most in need of coverage.

The Duke of Montrose: My Lords, I thank the Minister for giving way. I asked in my speech whether legislation exists to allow the Government to ring-fence the money they give to local authorities so that they cannot use it for other purposes which they may feel are equally deserving.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I have already indicated that local authorities will receive additional resources. It is our general philosophy, usually supported throughout the Chamber, not to ring-fence money to local authorities but to allow them some discretion in making their own decisions. In the passage of the Local Government Bill, certainly in England--the noble Duke may have a different experience--there was general all-party support for more discretion for local authorities in that regard. But additional resources will be provided to cover that point.

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The issue of overall costs was referred to. I indicated the amount of money we estimate will be necessary for wardens in the first instance. Other costs clearly arise. We estimated that the annual cost to the public sector--both local and central government--will be around £2 million, with a one-off expenditure of around £6 million to set up the operation of the access provisions. That is for England. It will be for the National Assembly for Wales to allocate funding within Wales and not for me. Clearly the countryside agencies will receive part of that additional funding.

Questions of compensation were raised. It is not our general view that it is appropriate to pay compensation to landlords simply for the limited interference which access will give in relation to their landowner's rights. A range of features has been built into this system to minimise the potential adverse effects. The statutory rights will be confined in the way I described. Landowners and farmers will continue to be able to use their land as they see fit. They will have a minimum of 28 days each year for complete closure and more should they need it for land management purposes. There is not an obvious loss of income or additional expenditure which falls to landowners as a result of this access provision.

The noble Earl, Lord Peel, referred to the provisions under the 1949 Act. But that is not exactly the same. That Act deals with specific landlords affected by specific issues and clearly there was discrimination between landowners in that respect. In this Bill the new rights apply to all landowners and there is therefore no differentiation or any human rights case on that front.

Clearly a person who damages property--to go back to the point of the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers--commits both a criminal offence and a civil wrong. There is therefore available under the existing criminal law damages in both the civil and criminal courts. But to repeat my point, the fears expressed are exaggerated

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or alarmist. We have already an example, as my noble friend Lord Dubs indicated, in the Lake District. It has been open to access and it has equally extensive stone walls and all the other features to which reference has been made and the presence of a large number of walkers throughout the year, particularly in the holiday season. Likewise, the National Trust has extensive experience of managing nearly 1,000 square miles of open countryside. Yet the number of incidents of criminal damage in those areas is very small. There is no reason to presume that this would be any different in the areas--admittedly, very substantial areas--of additional private land that we are opening to access by these provisions.

I believe that that is enough from me tonight. We have opened up a few problems on this Bill and there will be some interesting developments during the Committee stage. Some amendments will be brought forward by the Government and no doubt other noble Lords will wish to table amendments, which I look forward with interest to reading.

Lord Northbrook: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, perhaps I can make one point--

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I trust that the noble Lord will listen to what I have to say. I believe that my noble friend the Minister has had an exceptionally high number of interventions during his response. If the noble Lord is willing, I feel that it is reasonable at this stage for us to allow the Minister to finish. After all, this is Second Reading and we have the Committee and Report stages before us in which such points may be pursued. I am certain that my noble friend will respond in writing should any question be put by the noble Lord.

On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

        House adjourned at sixteen minutes past eleven o'clock.

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