Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I hope that I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, on this point. I must be careful to avoid double negatives. The amendment would provide that anyone with an interest in land would have a right of appeal against the decision of the countryside bodies, on a review, not to exclude land from maps of open country or registered common land. I hope that I have got that right.

The amendment is not necessary. A review will in essence be very similar to the initial mapping exercise. There will be similar opportunities for the public to comment on draft maps, and for owners and others with an interest in land to appeal against the showing of land on provisional maps.

Clause 11 allows the Secretary of State and the National Assembly to make regulations concerning the procedure to be followed on a review. Subsection (2)(k) envisages that a review will go through similar processes involving the issue of draft, provisional and conclusive maps; and there will need to be rights for comments and objections to those maps similar to those provided by the Bill during the

3 Oct 2000 : Column 1481

initial mapping process. Subsection (4) of Clause 11 specifically enables provision to be made for appeals against the countryside bodies' decisions.

The purpose of the regulations will be to apply the procedures set out in Chapter I to the slightly different circumstances of a review, including the right of landowners to appeal against the showing of land on maps. So I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, that there is no need for the amendment. The Bill will provide what he wants in its present form. There is no question that persons with an interest in the land will have a right to appeal against provisional maps on a review, as the amendment seeks.

Lord Jopling: Last week, when we met for the first day in Committee on the Bill, I referred to the Commons Registration Act 1965. I asked the Minister whether all the registrations had been finalised with regard to appeals or arguments. He told us that some of the land registered as common land under the Commons Registration Act 1965 was still in dispute. As I recall, the noble Lord referred to some land in Wales, and so on.

The Minister just said that the purpose of my noble friend's amendment is already covered by the Bill. If there is an appeal by someone over land marked as "access land", what happens if part of it is still under dispute under the 1965 Act? It seems to me that there are two imponderables here; in other words, two arguments going on at the same time. I am not quite sure how one would resolve the situation. One could come to a decision over access land but the dispute over the registration of common land could be settled at a later time. That might upset the first decision regarding an appeal over access land.

I hope that the Minister understands what I am trying to say. I am no lawyer; he is. I hope that he can give me some idea. I am perfectly prepared to continue talking until he receives a reply from his advisers. Alternatively, any of my noble friends can make a contribution if they wish. I see that the Minister looks pregnant with reply, so I shall take my chance.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I shall take a stab at it without advice. I am not a lawyer, I am a humble market researcher. I do not claim any qualifications of the kind to which the noble Lord referred. We have given answers on this point or similar points on a number of occasions during the course of the Committee proceedings. The answer has always been that we are not seeking in this Bill at any stage to overturn the provisions of the Commons Registration Act 1965. If there is an appeal on registered common land, it either will not be shown on the common land register as registered common land and, therefore, will not be put on the statutory access map; or, alternatively, it will be shown as registered common land on the common land register at the time of the statutory mapping, so it should be shown on the statutory maps. The principal point that I wish to make is that the two processes are independent and that there are only those two options.

3 Oct 2000 : Column 1482

Lord Glentoran: I thank the Minister for his reassurance; indeed, this is perhaps my lucky morning in that I am receiving plenty of reassurances that my amendments are not needed. I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 190 to 193 not moved.]

Clause 10 agreed to.

Clause 11 [Regulations relating to maps]:

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer moved Amendment No. 194:

Page 6, line 39, at end insert--
("( ) Before making any regulations under this section, the Secretary of State or, as may be the case, the National Assembly for Wales, shall consult such bodies as appear to them to be representative of persons who will be affected by sections 4 to 10.").

The noble Baroness said: This amendment seeks to add into Clause 11 the requirement that the Secretary of State should consult such bodies as appear to him and the National Assembly for Wales to be representative before altering anything in Clauses 4 to 10 by regulation.

Clause 11, as it stands, is widely drawn and gives the Secretary of State power to change much of what we have discussed in relation to previous amendments and much that we have not. We believe that it is reasonable for the Secretary of State to consult on what he proposes to do before changing any of these fairly sensitive provisions by regulation. I beg to move.

6.15 a.m.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I suspect that there is little difference between the noble Baroness and the Government on the need for consultation before introducing regulations on mapping.

We all recognise that there should be extensive consultation between government, landowners, users and others on the form such regulations should take. The regulations will, after all, fill in the detail about how the mapping process will work. We do not claim to have all the right answers about that, and we shall need and want to hear what others have to say. In particular, we would expect the National Countryside Access Forum to be involved in such matters.

However, noble Lords will also recognise that there is nothing unusual about not stipulating the precise requirements for consultation on the face of the Bill. That has been common practice in legislation brought forward by both the present and past governments.

There are good reasons for that. Apart from the fact that it is normal practice for government to consult on draft regulations whenever possible, there may be occasions when amending regulations are needed to correct minor errors or to make small but necessary improvements in respect of relatively minor issues. In such circumstances, it would be absurd if the Government were obliged to pursue the full panoply of consultation such as required by this amendment. Indeed, there may be consensus among the organisations affected that amending regulations

3 Oct 2000 : Column 1483

should be made as quickly as possible--but the Secretary of State would not be able to act until he had consulted with the very organisations which might have requested him to act in the first place. Time and resources would be wasted.

I can therefore assure the noble Baroness that we have every intention of consulting on major sets of regulations required under Part I but that, realistically, there must be some flexibility in deciding to what extent consultation is appropriate in different circumstances. That principle has been accepted in much of the legislation which has passed through this Chamber. I hope that the noble Baroness is reassured by that explanation.

Lord Glentoran: I support the noble Baroness's amendment in the hope that I understand the meaning of the word "features". I believe that that would be a valuable insertion in the Bill. As I have said before on several occasions, the mapping process forms the basis for this Bill. If it is not well thought through--I refer to the features that should appear on the maps--much time and a good opportunity will have been wasted. Any measure is valuable that will result in the highest standards being achieved and the most intelligible product being obtained. The amendment that seeks to insert the words,

    "the features that must appear on the map",

is a wise and sensible one.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: In the hope of getting towards breakfast sooner, the noble Lord has been kind enough to support Amendment No. 196 although we were debating Amendment No. 194. I gratefully accept his support. With the leave of the Committee, perhaps I may speak to Amendment No. 196 so that we may deal with the two amendments together.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: Perhaps it would help if I state that Clause 11 provides for the Secretary of State and the National Assembly for Wales to be able to make regulations relating to the issue of maps of open countryside and registered common land. Regulations under this clause may supplement but not vary the provisions set out in Chapter I of the Bill. The regulations would cover matters of detail which, although important, need not be in primary legislation.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: I thank the Minister. I presume that features are a matter of detail, albeit an important one. We have spent some time debating the issue today. I hope that the Government will accept the amendment.

The Minister is correct to say that this Government and the former government have brought in much by regulation. From these Benches we have frequently questioned whether that is always appropriate. I understand what the noble Baroness says on that. As

3 Oct 2000 : Column 1484

regards Sections 4 to 10, I shall consider whether we should be content with the answer. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 195 and 196 not moved.]

Clause 11 agreed to.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page