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Baroness Byford: My Lords, perhaps I may ask the Minister a question before she sits down. She said that there was no requirement on landowners to bear the cost. Can she direct me to that provision in the Bill? It may be that I am not looking in the right place.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, at no point does the Bill impose a duty on the landowner to

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provide facilities. It is not possible to point to a place in the Bill because there is no such requirement on the landowner.

The Earl of Caithness: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for her reply. There is common ground between us. I tabled my amendment in order to ascertain what happens when a facility is clearly required but the access authority does not have the money. The access authority could well agree with the landowner, saying, "We could not agree more. Something needs to be done but we have no money because we decided to spend it on social security care and so on. It is too bad for those who want access to that piece of land. They will have to put up with the situation and so will you".

The Minister slightly misunderstood my point. The purpose behind my amendment is to force the access authority to do something. I take issue with her on a point, also made in Committee, that car parks can become commercial ventures. That is so only in very limited circumstances. By and large, car parks providing access are not paying ventures. They generally cost money to run either because someone must be paid to collect the money or because meters have to be provided. Alternatively, they must be free of charge.

I hope that the Government will ensure that the access authorities provide such facilities because they will be needed. I agree that there will not be a plethora of them--no one wants that in the countryside--but only when they are badly needed will the access authority act and spend the money. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.45 p.m.

Clause 17 [Byelaws]:

The Earl of Caithness moved Amendment No. 85:

    Clause 17, page 10, line 10, at beginning insert--

("( ) The appropriate countryside body shall issue draft model byelaws which access authorities may adapt to take account of differing local circumstances.").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, we return to model by-laws. It is another amendment which the Left wing of the Labour Party--I am sorry, the Liberal Democrats--will meet half way but never the whole way. They will sit on the fence and say, "We quite like what you are saying but we are not going to do anything about it".

There should be draft model by-laws and I have taken on board what was said in Committee. I believe that the countryside body should issue national by-laws which give certainty to owners and occupiers and to those who want access to the country. I beg to move.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, I support the amendment and wish to speak to my Amendments Nos. 86 and 90. Amendment No. 86 ensures that under by-laws walkers do not interfere with the rights of owners and occupiers in managing and enjoying their own land. We believe that that is most important.

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By omitting that requirement it might be argued that owners and occupiers are not specifically covered, except in so far as they are "other persons" referred to in the Bill. That is manifestly not the case because owners and occupiers have rights of ownership or tenancy over the land, entitling them to do things which walkers are not able to do.

Secondly, the point should be made that owners and occupiers have no fewer rights over the land than walkers. After a suitable interval, most people have a long holiday period. Many have five weeks plus statutory days, making 36 days in all. Under the Bill, the Government propose to allow owners and occupiers only 28 days in total, with no statutory days. An amendment recently moved would allow for Saturdays. We believe that we should allow owners and occupiers at least the right to a by-law to protect enjoyment of their own land in their own way.

I turn to Amendment No. 90, which I hope the Minister will accept because the Government have previously made suggestions about parishes. Much of the land over which open access will be granted is remote from large towns which tend to house the seat of local government. Parish councils can be miles away from the district offices. Unless parish councils can enforce by-laws the procedure for following up infringements will be long-winded and costly, and there is a danger that many will go by the board. That will lead to a growing awareness that the law is weak, and certain persons and interests may be tempted to take advantage of the situation.

By and large, people who live in urban areas do not suffer to the same extent as those who live in more rural areas. I refer to the practice of fly-tipping lorry loads of rubbish across gateways and minor roads and the disposal of litter, to which we shall return in later amendments. If those who live in urban areas find an intruder in their home the nearest policeman is likely to be only a couple of miles or just a few minutes away. For that precise reason, in the countryside an intruder is much more likely to finish his self-appointed task than to run for it immediately, knowing full well that the police will not be quickly at hand.

A parish council is much more immediate than a district authority. If circumstances require urgent attention the council can be convened in days, and for that reason we have tabled Amendment No. 90 which seeks to include a parish council.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I am sorry that the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, believes that we have been sitting on the fence. We have voted vigorously on all amendments.

The Earl of Caithness: Always with the Labour Party!

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, we have always voted according to our beliefs.

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I turn to Amendment No. 85 which was debated at length in Committee. We agreed then that model by-laws were important. Clause 17(3) makes plain that the access authority must consult the appropriate countryside body. We are pleased that, with the addition of Amendment No. 87 which has already been spoken to by the Government, the local access forum must also be consulted. We believe that that is particularly important when model by-laws are adapted to take account of differing circumstances.

I have no particular qualms about supporting the noble Earl's amendment, but I do not want him to believe that he has forced me into it. I am not sure that the amendment adds a great deal to what is already on the face of the Bill, but for what it is worth it appears to be a worthy amendment.

I understand the purpose of the amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Byford. Perhaps the remoter parishes should have power to enforce by-laws. From my experience, the difficulty is that some parishes do not want that responsibility. However, the amendment says "may enforce" and the responsibility can be left to the county or district council. Therefore, I believe that that is a perfectly reasonable request.

Lord Hardy of Wath: My Lords, I refer briefly to Amendment No. 88 in my name. I have tabled this amendment in order to make a suggestion to the Government. Earlier in our debate today my noble friend Lady Mallalieu said, quite properly, that the public would be given rights which they had not previously held. The problem is that sometimes the public may not accurately perceive what those rights are. There is at least the possibility that the public will assume that the present regulations which govern public rights of way are to be relaxed under by-laws. However, public rights of way--certainly footpaths--may be seriously damaged if a relaxed attitude is taken to them. A public footpath is for people to walk and the Bill is designed to extend access to people on foot.

Unfortunately, in many parts of the country people use wheeled vehicles on footpaths. I am strongly in favour of the provision of an adequate network of bridlepaths, but in areas where they are not in abundance some people take their horses on footpaths. In that event, particularly following weather of the kind that we are now experiencing, footpaths may be virtually impassable except by a young athlete. If we are to promote exercise, good health and so on, it is necessary to remind people that when the Bill becomes law the regulations which govern public rights of way should continue to specify that public footpaths are for people on foot and that bridlepaths are for people on horses; and I am not sure that wheeled vehicles should be used on either of them.

I hope the Government ensure that there is no public misunderstanding. For that reason, my amendment seeks to insert the words,

    "by those acting in accordance with the nature of the right".

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I shall not press the amendment. However, the Government would be wise to take careful note of the need, which I hope I have addressed in my brief remarks, to provide clear and positive advice to the public when the Bill is enacted.

Baroness Young of Old Scone: My Lords, I should like to touch briefly on Amendment No. 85. These days my heart sinks when I hear the word "by-law". The making of by-laws under the Local Government Act procedures is tortuous in the extreme. It involves consultation with anyone with any interest whatever in the site, which can range from individuals, parish and district councils, statutory undertakers and Uncle Tom Cobbley and all. With a favourable wind, it takes a minimum of about six months, and often longer. Amendment No. 85, which is concerned with model by-laws, has merit in that anything that helps to take the pain out of the process should be supported. I am not sure, however, that it needs to be on the face of the Bill; it should perhaps merely be an admonition to the Countryside Agency.

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