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Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, we explained in Committee that we do not believe that it is desirable to place an additional duty on access authorities to publish an assessment of how they have used their powers under Part I. Amendment No. 146 would require the countryside bodies to publish a similar document outlining how they have carried out their various duties and powers under the Bill.

The Countryside Agency is already required to produce an annual report explaining how it has fulfilled its statutory duties. The agency must do so every year rather than every 10 years, as this amendment would require. The publication of the annual report is a requirement under Schedule 13 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Schedule 13 currently refers only to the Countryside Agency's functions under the 1949 Act, the Countryside Act 1968 and the 1981 Act. We therefore propose to bring forward an amendment to ensure that the agency's functions under this Bill are also covered. The Countryside Council for Wales must produce an annual report under Schedule 6 to the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This report relates to all the functions of the council and will include its functions under this Bill.

Amendment No. 147 is similar to an amendment tabled in Committee. It would require access authorities to publish an assessment of the use that they have made of their powers under Part I of the Bill. We explained in Committee that it is neither necessary nor desirable to require authorities to produce yet another statutory assessment of their powers. Local authorities have a range of powers covering the whole spectrum of their responsibilities which they may use to assist them in fulfilling their functions. We expect them to assess and make good use of their new powers under Part I of this Bill, just as they do in relation to other powers. As with the majority of their powers, there is no need for a special statutory duty to be imposed to require such an assessment.

The proposed duty in this amendment is not dissimilar to the duty in Part II to prepare and publish rights of way improvement plans. However, as my noble friend Lord McIntosh explained in Committee, local highway authorities have specific duties to carry out in relation to rights of way which are far more self-contained than powers relating to access land. The functions of access authorities in relation to access must be seen as part of a broader picture in conjunction with the functions of the countryside bodies and, in particular, with those of the relevant authorities. For example, the relevant authorities have

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an important role to play in access through exclusions and restrictions that will provide much of the basis for the exercise of the functions of access authorities to make by-laws and appoint wardens. We stress that access authorities should make careful use of their new powers under the Bill. They need to be able to be responsive to situations as they arise and not be bound by a statutory plan.

The noble Earl, Lord Peel, said that it is important for us to look carefully at such issues. We believe that scrutiny is extremely important and that local access forums will be able to play a key role in reviewing the use that the authority is making of its powers. We also believe that that is the best approach to ensuring that all local authorities properly exercise their powers. I hope that the noble Baroness will not press the amendment.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down I wish to clarify a point. I thought I heard her say that the Government would consider the amendment further and might bring back a measure at a later stage. Did I mishear the noble Baroness?

1 a.m.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I said that the annual report which is required under Schedule 13 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 specifies those functions which must be referred to in the report. I undertook to bring forward an amendment to add the provisions of this legislation to that specification.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, I am grateful for those comments. I thank the noble Baroness for that clarification and for saying that the Government will consider whether some measures need to be added to those that are required to be mentioned in the annual report. However, I am slightly surprised that the Government do not think it a good idea every so often--in addition to the annual report--to review the framework on which the Bill is based.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, we do not believe that it is right to lay down in legislation the rationale for strategic planning in that context. We believe that there will be full and essential monitoring through the annual report. However, in saying that, we do not preclude the body we are discussing from making a judgment in this context. However, we and the public will be kept fully informed through the annual report.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, I shall read what the noble Baroness has said. I have no argument with what she has said. All I sought to indicate was that one usually reviews the operation of whatever business or organisation one is involved in. As I say, I shall read Hansard carefully tomorrow morning. Again I thank the noble Baroness for indicating that the Government may seek to add further provisions in this area. At this stage I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 147 not moved.]

Clause 41 [Orders and regulations under Part I]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 148 and 149:

    Page 25, line 11, leave out from beginning to ("has") in line 12 and insert--

("(3) No order under section 3 or regulations under paragraph 3 of Schedule 2 shall be made by the Secretary of State unless a draft").

    Page 25, line 15, after ("any") insert ("other").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 42 [Interpretation of Part I]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 150:

    Page 26, line 1, leave out (" 1(2)") and insert (" 1(3)").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 4 [Minor and consequential amendments relating to Part I]:

[Amendment No. 151 not moved.]

Clause 45 [Restricted byway rights]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 152:

    Page 27, line 34, at end insert--

("(8A) The powers conferred by section 92(5) must be so exercised as to secure that nothing in section 44 or this section affects the operation of section 53 or 54 of, or Schedule 14 or 15 to, the 1981 Act in relation to--
(a) a relevant order made before the commencement of section 44, or
(b) an application made before that commencement for a relevant order.
(8B) In subsection (8A) "relevant order" means an order which relates to a way shown in a definitive map and statement as a road used as a public path and which--
(a) is made under section 53 of the 1981 Act and contains modifications relating to that way by virtue of subsection (3)(c)(ii) of that section, or
(b) is made under section 54 of the 1981 Act.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 152 I wish to speak also to Amendment No. 153. This is a significant point in that we now finally move to Part II.

Amendment No. 152 relates to the transitional period between enactment of the Bill and the commencement of Clause 44 by orders made by the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales under Clause 92. On commencement of Clause 44, restricted byway rights will be created over each way shown on a definitive map as a road used as a public path (RUPP).

The rights attached to RUPPs are uncertain and local highway authorities are presently required to research each one and to reclassify it as a footpath, bridleway or byway open to all traffic. That obligation will cease when Clause 44 takes effect. Until then, authorities must continue to research their RUPPs and anyone with new evidence of the status of such ways will continue to be able to apply to their local authority for an order modifying the definitive map accordingly.

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Amendment No. 152 would require that such orders, and applications for them, which are made before commencement of Clause 44 but which have not taken effect should be processed to a final determination.

Amendment No. 153 relates to the provision in Clause 46 whereby each road used as a public path over which restricted byway rights are created is to become maintainable at the public expense. It is our intention that private liabilities, for example liabilities of the private landowner, to maintain a RUPP, which is in fact a footpath or bridleway, should be extinguished. We believe it necessary to clarify that because the creation of a public liability to maintain a highway does not necessarily extinguish a private liability. Concurrent public and private maintenance liabilities are not uncommon.

The express provision in Amendment No. 153 would apply only to those RUPPs which are footpaths or bridleways because new rights will be created over them by the Bill. The amendment would not apply to RUPPs which carry full vehicular rights because no additional rights will be created over them and there is no reason why these should be treated any differently from RUPPs which have been reclassified as byways open to all traffic after a case by case investigation under current legislation. I beg to move.

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