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Baroness Byford: I should like to speak to the amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, and also to my amendment in this grouping. I thank the Minister for indicating that the Government will return with some amendments that will enable the access forums to be established.

The reason that my amendment included parish councils in an area of access land--and I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hardy of Wath--is that in the past one has often found that the consultation takes places at either county or district level and that it does not go down to parish level. Often, some of the problems that will occur are on the ground at parish level. It was not meant to exclude others but we wanted particularly to have them included.

Perhaps I may refer what was said by Mr Mullin when the matter was debated in the Commons on 20th March. It is important that I raise it. He said:

which he clearly recognised. But he went on to say:

    "It is important not to push such matters through in the teeth of local opposition, but to ensure that all local interests are properly represented".--[Official Report, 20/3/00, Commons; col. 814.]

In responding to this group of amendments, perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, will clarify the difference now that there will be a provision on the face of the Bill in spite of possible opposition locally. I am not sure how the Government see themselves as squaring that. On these Benches, we welcome and support the setting up of local access forums, or "fora"--I do not quite know which one to say.

I should like to highlight the problem that has been raised by other Members of the Committee on the question of funding, on which I suspect the Minister will respond. Perhaps I may comment also on the size of these groups. One point that has emerged from the discussions that I have had with various groups is that if we are not careful we may see yet more layers of bureaucracy, which would take more time and delay the very process that we are trying to achieve. Although I know that the Minister will return with a specific proposal at Report stage, it would be helpful if he would respond to one or two of the queries that have been raised at this stage. If he cannot, perhaps he will take away our comments for specific consideration.

Finally, I highlight this whole issue. We on these Benches would be more reassured if we had some basic national formula or view on the local access forums. I accept that there will be flexibilty; that is inevitable, depending on the kind of area that they will cover and

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cope with. But it would be helpful to have a basic framework on which to build. If the Minister will answer those comments I shall be grateful.

Lord Whitty: I am grateful for all contributions. I believe that, broadly speaking, we are all moving in the same direction. I shall have to consider many of the points that were made and take them back to my colleagues before we come up with the final proposals.

As the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, indicated, there is a vital role in achieving common sense solutions at local level. Although some matters can be prescribed at national level by legislation or guidelines, many matters can only be resolved by maximising the degree of consensus at local level both in anticipation of the new rights and in operating those rights. As the noble Lord also said, there is a role in relation to Part II of the Bill.

I think we should return on Report to issues such as membership and how far we want to lay that down nationally. We want to retain a degree of flexibility while recognising that there are interest groups other than those prescribed in the original amendment which would need to be considered for membership.

So far as concerns funding, we have indicated that we have in mind adequate funding. That will include funding of the access authorities and the local access forums. I said "forums" that time. Obviously the key issue involved in this section is to sort out the plural! All of us are a bit schizophrenic about this. I expect that the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, and I have some vague recollection of someone trying to teach us Latin. In my case, it was probably when it was still a living language! It is some time back. I am assured that Fowler's Modern English Usage prefers the word "forums" and has done so since 1926. Therefore, I suspect that any final version will be set out in line with that and with the noble Earl's original prescription.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: Before we leave the subject of forums and funding, can the Minister say whether the Government have considered how these maps will be paid for? There will be many maps on the go. As the noble Lord will know, the Ordnance Survey Department holds the copyright. An Ordnance Survey disk covering about 2,000 acres of land costs something like £40 a year. Anyone who has the use of that disk has to pay more. Therefore, there will have to be some kind of funding to deal with the Ordnance Survey, or a great deal of money will be exchanging hands. Does the noble Lord know anything about that? If he does not, perhaps he will agree to take it into account when considering what all this will cost.

Lord Whitty: I should perhaps undertake to take the matter into account. Most people will acquire their maps in the same way as at present. It is the provision of public information that will need to be covered by the funding. This will certainly be taken into account.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: I thank the Minister for his comments. I believe that the Government have been well served in this instance by

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the Countryside Agency, which produced draft guidance on local and national park authorities' local countryside access "forums"--a word with which we seem to be sticking. That seems to have pre-empted many of the issues that noble Lords raised tonight, including the size of the membership and how to stop it becoming unwieldy by suggesting that the 16 to 20 members network with others. The draft guidance issued at the beginning of the month will provide a very solid and sound framework, which means that it should not take too long to perfect the system. I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 19 to 21 not moved.]

Baroness Byford moved Amendment No. 22:

    Page 2, line 14, at end insert--

(""open air recreation" means recreational activities necessarily carried out in the open air;").

The noble Baroness said: In moving this amendment I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 67 and 69. These amendments deals with the definition of "open air recreation". It may sound ridiculous, but the amendment defines that expression as meaning,

    "recreational activities necessarily carried out in the open air".

The phrase "open air recreation" is not defined in the Bill. My amendment would prevent it being any recreation carried out in the open air. Outdoor rock climbing, hill walking, kite flying, orienteering or walking outdoors are obviously normal pursuits that we assume would be covered by the amendment. However, organised football games or other sports would, I presume--again, I should like the Minister to clarify this--not be included.

The Bill mentions walkers in particular. Therefore, I assume that that is what is meant by "open air recreation". I have tried to make one or two suggestions as regards what I believe it includes--namely, rock climbing, hill walking, kite flying, orienteering and walking outdoors--but obviously that would not include organised games played outdoors. I should be most grateful for some clarification on that point.

Amendment No. 67 suggests leaving out the words "remain on" and inserting "walk over". When the Bill was introduced, the Minister made it absolutely clear that it addressed the right of access on foot for the purpose of walking; in other words, the "right to roam". It was for walkers and not for other recreational groups. The current reference to "open-air recreation" makes this far from clear. Indeed, it also has the effect of complicating the Bill by necessitating much of the content of Schedule 2.

If this amendment were accepted, there should be no need to specify that those exercising this new right of access over the land defined as access land must not bathe, hold organised games and so on. It should be clear that this Bill facilitates walking from point A to B, or wherever people may wish to walk within their legitimate means. Thus anything at odds with that is not permitted by the Bill. Clearly if while walking one

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stops for a rest or a sandwich, one should not be in danger of being prosecuted for not physically walking at that particular moment. I hope that the Minister will take that into account. We need greater clarification and that is why I have proposed the inclusion of the words "walk over".

Amendment No. 69 states,

    "Page 2, line 23, after ("recreation") insert ("on foot").

At Second Reading in this House the Minister twice said (at cols. 629 and 749) that the right of access would be a right of access "only" "on foot". I believe that was intended as an assurance, but it would be helpful to have it on the face of the Bill. If it was not intended as an assurance, I shall be more inclined to press the amendment.

In the Commons a similar amendment was resisted on the grounds that it would exclude wheelchair users, or prevent people taking photographs (cols. 103-109). I accept that the amendment as drafted is technically slightly flawed as someone who is in a wheelchair cannot be walking. However, wheelchair users are specifically enabled to have access to the land under Schedule 2(1)(a). The reference to Section 20(2) of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 is a reference to wheelchairs. It is unlikely that an owner or occupier would object to a walker taking photographs (provided they did not infringe privacy), but specific provision could be made to allow the taking of photographs if this was thought to be necessary. In any case, stating that access is on foot would surely not prevent someone taking photographs.

Including the words "on foot" would make it immediately clear that the right of access did not include access by bicycle, on horseback, or by motor bike, microlight, hang-glider, helicopter or those modern things with wheels on which one stands and whisks along--I am not sure of the terminology for them.

The amendments may seem a little unnecessary but it would be helpful to be given some clarification on these matters. I beg to move.

9.45 p.m.

The Earl of Caithness: I support my noble friend on these important amendments which open up a completely new concept of access from the one we have been used to in this country. At the moment the public have a right to pass and repass over a highway. That is changed by the Bill which states that any person is entitled "to enter and remain"--that is a completely different concept from that of pass and repass--

    "on any access land for the purposes of open-air recreation".

My noble friend has mentioned a few kinds of recreation that people could undertake on access land. There are a number of definitions in the Bill. In the interests of the future good working of the Bill, I hope that the Minister will reconsider this issue and that it will be more tightly defined; otherwise I can envisage more court cases arising.

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I say to my noble friend Lady Byford that it is not up to us to get the drafting of an amendment correct; our job is to convey the principle and to convince the Government that the principle is correct. It is then up to their "fifth cavalry" to get the drafting right at a later stage.

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