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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, first I refer to government Amendments Nos. 89 and 262 which are in this group. We gave a commitment during Committee to table an amendment which would enable access authorities to make by-laws in advance of the right coming into force. These amendments fulfil that commitment. Amendment No. 89 means that by-laws can be made when land is likely to become access land, but the Secretary of State may not confirm them until the land is access land. Amendment No. 262 provides that Clause 17 comes into force two months after Royal Assent.

As to by-laws, I have some sympathy for the observations of my noble friend Lady Young. We do not believe that access authorities should adopt a blanket approach to by-laws. By-laws should be made in response to particular problems which need to be addressed with a criminal penalty. Authorities are unlikely to know in advance whether any activities will cause problems, but we accept that there may be some cases, such as on land where there is already significant de facto access, where the authority sees a need for by-laws. Our amendments will enable by-laws to be made in those circumstances.

I turn to Amendment No. 85. My noble friend Lord Whitty explained in Committee that the countryside bodies were already under a duty, as a result of a government amendment at Report stage in another place, to provide guidance to access authorities about the exercise of their by-law making powers. Those recommendations are likely to include advice about where by-laws may be appropriate or useful, and, once confirmed, how they may best be publicised. We recognise that model by-laws can be a useful way to provide those guidelines. If experience shows that by-laws are needed in a significant number of areas--in other words, where the model is sufficiently widespread--the Secretary of State will consider whether it is helpful to issue model by-laws.

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We accept that model by-laws can be helpful to local authorities. As my noble friend Lady Young says, they may cut short the consultation and planning stage. We shall be very ready to provide them if it becomes apparent that they are necessary and once we know what they are likely to cover. Therefore, one says without any sense of antagonism to Amendment No. 85 that one should let the countryside bodies issue the guidance and see whether it is sufficiently generalised to justify model by-laws. If so, not only would there be no objection to the Secretary of State making model by-laws--with the legal resources available to him, it would be a matter for him rather than the countryside bodies--but we believe that it would be a positively good idea. We just do not want to do it in blanket form.

Amendment No. 86, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, would add that by-laws may be made to secure that those exercising the right of access do not interfere with the enjoyment of the land by the "owner or occupier". I can give the noble Baroness a categoric assurance that Clause 17(1)(c), which refers to the,

    "enjoyment of the land by other persons",

already provides for that. In other words, owners and occupiers are among those other persons. I hope the amendment will not be pressed.

I turn to Amendment No. 90. I declare an interest as a former chairman of the Association for Neighbourhood Councils, which unsuccessfully sought to persuade governments of all parties to extend parish councils to the urban areas of England. There are no parish councils in urban areas. Parish councils, both in urban areas and in rural areas, should have this power. We are happy to accept Amendment No. 90.

Perhaps I may return to Amendment No. 88. The assurance that the noble Lord, Lord Hardy, seeks is that there should be no relaxation of the restrictions on rights of way, which he so graphically described. It is not necessary to clarify the phrase by adding that it applies only to those who are exercising the right of way in accordance with the nature of that right. The exercise of right of way means the lawful exercise of right of way. For example, it would not protect anyone unlawfully driving a vehicle on a footpath or bridleway. I believe that that is the noble Lord's concern. I hope that on that basis he will not press his amendment.

7 p.m.

The Earl of Caithness: My Lords, I thought that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, was going to accept my amendment. I really thought that I had persuaded him because we were so very close. Rather than leaving the decision to the Secretary of State--in the fullness of time, when he has been able to consider it--whether by-laws should be issued, it is important that on the face of the Bill it is stated that it is the duty of the Countryside Agency to provide the model

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by-laws. It is for the various authorities to adapt and adopt them to take account of differing local circumstances.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, we are very close on this matter. I do not believe that there is a difference in substance. Perhaps we may talk about the matter between now and the next stage of the Bill.

The Earl of Caithness: My Lords, this is too good. I have had an offer from the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, to come and vote with me. Now the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, has offered to think about the issue. It is really too good an opportunity. I should be very happy to take up the noble Lord's offer. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 86 not moved.]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 87:

    Clause 17, page 10, line 20, at end insert (", and

(b) any local access forum established for an area to which the byelaws relate").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 88 not moved.]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 89:

    Clause 17, page 10, line 36, at end insert--

("(6A) Byelaws under this section relating to any land--
(a) may not be made unless the land is access land or the access authority are satisfied that it is likely to become access land, and
(b) may not be confirmed unless the land is access land.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Byford moved Amendment No. 90:

    Clause 17, page 10, line 39, after ("district") insert ("or parish").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I thank the Government for accepting my amendments. We were very pleased that the Government tabled Amendment No. 89. Perhaps I may say to the Minister that I understand parish councils are being established in urban areas. I, too, am delighted about that. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 18 [Wardens]:

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Methuen): My Lords, in calling Amendment No. 91, I should say that if that amendment is agreed to, I cannot call Amendments Nos. 92 and 93.

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Viscount Bledisloe moved Amendment No. 91:

    Clause 18, page 10, line 41, leave out from beginning to end of line 2 on page 11 and insert--

("(1) Every access authority and district council shall take such steps (whether by the appointment of wardens or otherwise) as appear to it to be necessary or expedient to achieve the purpose set out in subsection (2) as respects access land in their area.
(2) The purposes referred to in subsection (1) are--").

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, in Committee we had considerable debate about the need to ensure that there is proper wardening or supervision of some kind to ensure the right results. Clause 18(2) of the Bill provides various purposes for which wardens are to be appointed. The first is to secure compliance with by-laws and restrictions. As Clause 18(1) stands at the moment, an access authority has power--I emphasise power--to appoint wardens if necessary or expedient to achieve those objectives, but it does not have to so do. Therefore, one can have a situation where there are by-laws or restrictions which are not being complied with. The access authority may accept that some action, such as, let us say, the appointment of wardens is the only way to achieve compliance. But it can still decide not to take that action. It is wholly unacceptable that one could have a position where the rules were being disregarded and there was no obligation on the authority to do anything about it.

The noble Lord, Lord Whitty, expressed good intentions. I have no doubt that in the initial stages after the Bill is enacted the Government will implement those intentions and seek to provide suitable wardening. But we do not know what will happen later when the first enthusiasm for the Act has gone, perhaps different persons are holding these offices and someone is searching for an economy. Those good intentions may lapse.

If the Government are giving people the right to walk across private land, there has to be an obligation--not merely a power--to provide ways of securing compliance with the restrictions under which they go there.

In Committee, the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, enunciated in forceful language that principle. But she pointed out that there might be ways of achieving the desired result without actually appointing wardens. My amendment is designed with great care to solve that problem by saying that the,

    "access authority ...[or the] district council shall take such steps (whether by the appointment of wardens or otherwise) as appear to it to be necessary or expedient to achieve the purpose set out in subsection (2)".

Thus, the authority has complete discretion to decide what steps, if any--I emphasise if any--are needed to ensure compliance. Only if the authority decides that something needs to be done and then decides what it should do for the best is it obliged to do it. It cannot duck the responsibility. I believe that the amendment covers all the points raised in Committee. Therefore, it should be acceptable to everyone. It achieves the aim that one cannot have a situation where there is no compliance, where everyone agrees that it is necessary to do something about the position but does nothing.

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Amendments Nos. 92 and 93 are on much the same lines. Amendment No. 91 seeks to give the access authority the widest possible discretion as to how to achieve the purpose. Therefore, it should appeal particularly to the noble Baroness, Lady Miller. I beg to move.

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