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Lord Elton: My Lords, as the prison budget is now locally managed, will it be ring-fenced within the individual prison budget?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I shall have to come back to the noble Lord on that matter. I shall happily try to provide him with a fuller response.

I believe that the noble Earl and the noble Lords, Lord Elton and Lord Addington, asked about basic skills screening and testing. These basic skills tests are standardised. All prisoners are required to complete the basic skills agency screening test which is available in two forms and is the same. It is now the case that prisoners should take this test only at first instance and that the results of the test travel with them and advise their treatment throughout their time in prison.

With his interest in dyslexia, the noble Lord, Lord Addington, asked how seriously we take that issue. Of course we take it seriously. All prison education departments are obliged to identify a prisoner's individual learning needs. That includes dyslexia. A dyslexia information guide was issued in February 1999. It includes a positive indicator questionnaire for use with prisoners which is of tremendous value and I think will be helpful to those working within the prison education service.

We have been increasing resources. Over 1998-99, resources have increased from £40.4 million to £40.89 million and we are providing extra money within the Comprehensive Spending Review funding programme. Over the next three years, £30 million will be spent on education.

My allocated time is drawing to a close. As the noble Baroness, Lady Linklater, said, this valuable debate is worthy of more time. However, we have been able to focus on some of the improvements in the delivery of education in prison establishments. The Government are not complacent. We believe that the Government have had an important opportunity to show that we have a clear strategy for improving the opportunities for prisoners to change.

Education provision within the Prison Service requires to be seen as part of the wider forces for change. The direction of education is determined by the What Works strategy and the need to ensure that provision is linked to relevant outcomes so that the likelihood of reoffending is reduced. That informs our whole approach. I believe that the Prison Service has risen to the challenge of change by setting clear and measurable targets. Those targets will bear greatly on the levels of achievement for which we strive from the

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service and from every individual prisoner. Every effort is being made to offer relevant opportunities to offenders so that they can lead purposeful lives on release. Education is at the heart of it. We believe in education. We think that we can achieve great things. Much progress has been made but, as ever, there is more to do.

Countryside and Rights of Way Bill

8.32 p.m.

House again in Committee

Clause 69 [Limestone pavement orders: offence]:

[Amendment No. 519 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List]:

Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen moved Amendment No. 520:

    Page 43, line 46, at end insert--

("( ) In section 34 of the 1981 Act (limestone pavement orders), in subsection (4) for "or disturbs" there is substituted ", disturbs or sells".").

The noble Baroness said: My noble friend Lady David is unfortunately unable to be in her place today. However, she raised this issue at Second Reading on 26th June. My noble friend has asked me to move the amendment on her behalf and I am happy to do so.

It is a small but important amendment. Limestone pavement on a global scale is extremely rare and is one of the rarest features in Britain's landscape. It is irreplaceable. It is a habitat which has been created over thousands of years. As such, it is not a renewable resource in any sense of those words.

In Britain, limestone pavement is home to 16 rare or threatened plant species. A range of butterflies and moths use the limestone flora associated with the pavement and the wren and wheatear make their nests in it. Limestone pavement is also known as waterworn limestone. As such, it is often used in garden rockeries. But most gardeners are totally unaware of both its origins and rarity and of the fact that one of the world's rarest habitats is being destroyed. If they were so aware, I am sure they would not use it because there are alternatives. Sandstone, granite, slate and deep-quarried limestone are readily available and more environmentally acceptable.

In England, limestone pavement is protected by orders which make it illegal to remove stone or damage pavement. But in the remainder of Britain and Ireland there is no legal protection. Research has shown that the increased protection in England has put Irish pavement under greater threat. Sadly, the UK still harbours unscrupulous extractors who continue to remove limestone pavement from wherever they can obtain it. That is why the selling of limestone pavement must also be an offence.

Some organisations believe that the continued damage shows that the legislative protection of limestone pavement is inadequate. The wildlife trusts and the limestone pavement action group are calling

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for a trade ban on the sale and purchase of limestone pavement in the UK as the only way effectively to halt its destruction. A combination of legislative enforcement and awareness-raising is needed to control demand and protect limestone pavement habitats in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. A sympathetic response to the amendment would assist in this process.

Lord Jopling: I have a good deal of sympathy with what I believe are the sentiments underlying the amendment. I do not want to bore the Committee by repeating a speech I made earlier on limestone pavements. However, in a previous incarnation I represented more limestone pavement areas than any other Member of the House of Commons. Some of the great limestone pavements existed in my former constituency in the north-west of England. In either 1978 or 1979 I think that I was the first person ever to propose amendments to a Bill to preserve limestone pavements. Therefore I hope that the noble Baroness who proposes the amendment will understand my passionate desire to protect limestone pavements.

I am in favour of almost everything the noble Baroness said. However, I am not in favour of the amendment in the terms proposed. I regret that I have seen the amendment only recently and have not had time to consider the 1981 Act. To add the words "or sells" to the legislation would be admirable if it referred to selling limestone pavement after it had been extracted from where it naturally occurs. I believe that that is the noble Baroness's desire; she nods assent. However, by inserting into the legislation the words "disturbs or sells" one makes it illegal for a landowner where limestone pavements exist to sell them in situ and preserve them, as we all wish.

I sympathise with the noble Baroness's intention but the amendment is not well worded. If the noble Baroness and I were to get together, perhaps we could find a way of saying, "disturbs, or sells after it has been disturbed". I hope that that is her intention; again the noble Baroness nods. If a landowner has limestone pavement on his land and he or his family want to sell it, it would be unfair if he could not do so because of the amendment. I am sorry to be pedantic but it is important to make these points at this stage.

Lord Hardy of Wath: I shall be brief. I recall the long-standing constituency interest of the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, in the matter. He has made a valid point, but I commend my noble friend Lady Gibson on the powerful case that she has presented. I hope that some suitable action will be taken.

I have missed most of the Committee stage, and earlier withdrew an amendment that might have been relevant. It would have provided for the confiscation of vehicles used in committing crimes--particularly rural crimes--not least those used to take limestone pavement. It is a profitable crime that costs nothing to commit. The criminals simply take a vehicle to the appropriate limestone pavement area, smash some pieces of rock and then sell them at astonishing prices. It is a crime that has been committed for a long time

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and should not be tolerated. I hope that, while taking note of the significant point made by the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, Ministers will hold discussions with him or with my noble friend Lady Gibson to secure the right form of words to put an end to a practice that is destroying a significant part of our natural heritage.

Lord Glentoran: I shall also be brief. I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Gibson, on moving the amendment. She mentioned Ireland. We should be European, not parochial. If we are going to take action to protect limestone pavement in this country, we should protect it also in Ireland and other European countries. I hope that the Government will consider the whole issue, to cover the trading, importing and selling of limestone pavement, because it is unacceptable.

Lord Greaves: I do not have much to add to the eloquent speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Gibson. The limestone pavements of the North of England are some of this country's most glorious landscapes. No doubt there are more spectacular examples in other parts of Europe and elsewhere in the world, but we cannot afford to lose those features. The same applies in Ireland, where the limestone pavement at The Burren on the west coast is probably even more important botanically than that in the North of England.

If a form of words can be found that clearly outlaws the trade in pieces of limestone pavement, we shall support it enthusiastically. We add our voices to those asking the Government to come back on Report with something constructive.

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