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Lord Greaves: I should be grateful if the Minister would do that. We would all be grateful if he could

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come back with a very full story on Report. Twenty-two months is within the two-year period that I was talking about.

Baroness Byford: I thank the Minister for his detailed response. He is well aware that we have grave concerns on mapping. I was told clearly that there would not be any penalties but that there was the possibility of direction. I am not sure what the Minister means by that. Perhaps he could enlarge on it. Does it mean more than just telling the agencies?

If the Countryside Agency has enough cash to do the job, it will be able to push ahead, but there are two possible worries. First, there might not be enough money up front for it to complete the job. Secondly, the pilot schemes will cause delays. I understand from both Ministers who have spoken today that the mapping in the pilot schemes will not be finished for another nine months. Presumably, they will then want to have a review of how the pilot worked in that area. I wonder whether the Minister could indicate whether that will happen; that is, whether there will be a six-month delay before feedback is received from the original mapping pilot project. I am sorry that my question is detailed but I believe that the response would help enormously.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Not at all. I believe that these are entirely proper questions. The timetable for the pilot project in the two regions is as follows: the publication of the draft map should be in month eight; there should be three months for public consultation on the draft map and three months for the consideration of proposed amendments to the draft map; a provisional map should be published by month 18; six months are allowed for appeals to the Secretary of State; and publication of the conclusive map should take place in month 22.

There are lessons to be learnt which can be acted on at all those stages. Once the procedures for the preparation and publication of the draft map in the first eight months has been completed and we know that it works, we do not have to wait for the appeals to the Secretary of State, for example, to know that it is possible to start on that part of the operation in other parts of the country.

I believe that that answer is somewhat fuller than the one that I gave to the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, a few minutes ago.

The other point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, was the issue of direction. I have acknowledged that the power of direction of the Secretary of State to the Countryside Agency, and comparably in Wales, is a power of general direction rather than one which states, "You will proceed forthwith with this particular map". It is a power which states, "You will give priority within your budget to the mapping process in order to achieve the public service agreement which is imposed on you by the department and on the department by the Treasury". That is a rather powerful power of direction and, of course, it is reinforced by the sums of

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money of which I have informed the Committee and which the Countryside Agency believes to be adequate for the purpose.

Lord Judd: I am extremely grateful to my noble friend for his characteristic and full reply to the debate, as, indeed, I am to those who have spoken in support of the amendments. From what has been said tonight, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the intention of my noble friend and the Government is to achieve the proposals as expeditiously as possible. I am not quite certain that the Committee will be persuaded that the muscle for ensuring that is necessarily there in the way that we would like to see it. I believe that anything more specific that can be said on Report in this respect would be helpful.

My noble friend has been very candid about the powers of the Minister. In being so candid, I believe that he has re-emphasised our anxieties. We are interested in the specific maps. If there are doubts about the powers of a Minister to give instructions on specific maps, his generalised powers become rather meaningless.

I finish with the observation that I am slightly worried by reports that, for example, the Countryside Agency and the Countryside Council for Wales do not agree on how long it should take to undertake this task. That seems to me to suggest that there is still work to be done. I remember that in my days in government a seductive argument was used by officials, who said, "Yes, Minister, but we must get it right". Of course we must get it right. We have taken that for granted. However, we must get it right expeditiously. In that context, I thank my noble friend but hope that the Government will have heard the degree of anxiety which exists and will return on Report with an even more convincing case to put before us. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 170 not moved.]

Lord Glentoran moved Amendment No. 171:

Page 4, line 3, at end insert--
("(2) The prescribed period for the purposes of subsection (1)(b) shall not be less than six weeks from when the draft map was first issued.").

The noble Lord said: To some extent, this amendment also concerns the programme of mapping. The objective is quite straightforward. It prevents the prescribed period for consultation being too short for proper representations to be made.

The figure of six weeks is used because I understand that six weeks is the period adopted for representations on development plans in planning. So there is a certain amount of logic in that. It is a safeguard which we feel is extremely necessary. I realise that Members of the Committee want this matter to move quickly, as we all do. But, as the Minister said, it must be done properly. In order to give those concerned time for proper representations about the draft map, six weeks seems to be a reasonable minimum time.

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I shall deal now with Amendments Nos. 186A and 187A, which are grouped with this amendment. Again, we are talking about timings. Once the map is published in its conclusive form, the access rights are established. Up to that point, land managers, farmers, landowners and others with interest in the land do not have to take any action. Local authorities may not have prepared relevant by-laws nor have put in hand the recruitment of wardens and so on. And why should they? That is not necessarily because they are lazy or improvident--although some undoubtedly are. It is because first, the right of access has to be finally established and put on a proper legal footing. Only then will landowners and local authorities start to incur the trouble and expense to which this Bill will put them.

As the Bill stands, it allows no time whatever for those matters to be put in hand. One minute, landowners and local authorities are not liable; then, literally the moment the Queen's consent to the Bill is given, they are liable. This amendment gives them a very reasonable and responsible period of six months in which to make all the necessary arrangements to prepare their plans and by-laws etc in the case of local authorities and generally to put in place their arrangements for the access process to begin. I beg to move.

5.15 a.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I listened a few moments ago with great sympathy to the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, urging us to speed up the process in every way possible, with support from all sides of Committee and in agreement with and supporting my noble friend Lord Judd. Now I hear the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, sitting beside her, saying that we must have minimum intervals and we must not rush things; that it is better to do it right, even if that slows things down. I wonder which voice of the Conservative Party I am hearing.

Lord Glentoran: There was no question of not rushing things. I said that we should do it properly and justly.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Of course. I was teasing. I am allowed to tease at twenty past five in the morning. But if the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, had listened to what I was reading out from the Countryside Agency document, to which the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, referred, he would have heard me saying that the publication of the draft map is expected in month eight and three months is allowed for the publication of the draft map, which is the subject of Amendment No. 171. Therefore, I can say very quickly to the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, that the six weeks which he proposes as being the minimum is too pessimistic. We expect that the period for consultation would be substantially more than six weeks.

Amendments Nos. 186A and 187A would require the countryside bodies to give six months' notice of their intention to issue a conclusive map following the Secretary of State's determination of any appeals

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against the provisional map. He does that on the basis that one minute there is not access and the next there is. I can assure him that we do not envisage that the right of access will normally commence immediately on publication of conclusive maps. I have made it clear that it is essential that there is a programme of information and publicity about the new right and what it entails both for potential users and for landowners. That does not mean that in every instance it will be necessary to have a fixed six-month period between the issuing of a conclusive map and the coming into force of the right.

Under Clause 11(2)(b) and under the review Clause 11(2)(k) the Secretary of State and the National Assembly will be able to make regulations prescribing, among other things, the manner and form in which maps are to be prepared and issued. The regulations will provide for appropriate steps to be taken, such as the preparing of appropriate publicity, where the issue of a conclusive map would cause an immediate and significant impact on the extent of the public's right of access.

I hope that that reassures the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, that we have thought carefully about all the issues raised by all the amendments. We are not unsympathetic to them, but the ground has been properly laid.

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