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Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 30:

("(c) any other interests especially relevant to the authority's area.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 100 [Isles of Scilly]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 31:

    Page 71, line 4, leave out (", 130B".") and insert ("to 130D", and

(b) before "146" there is inserted "137ZA(5)".").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 103 [Commencement]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 32:

    Page 71, line 32, after ("7") insert ("(apart from paragraphs 5A and 5B of that Schedule)").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 32, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 49, 51 and 52.

Your Lordships will be aware that these amendments arise from a debate initiated by my noble friend Lord Williams of Elvel on the vexed question of how to tackle the increasing unlawful use of motor vehicles on footpaths and bridleways. Noble Lords throughout the Chamber expressed concern that we should address the problems identified by my noble friend in his previous amendments and in the debates that he initiated.

Schedule 7 to the Bill makes various changes to Section 34 of the Road Traffic Act, under which it is an offence to drive on a footpath, a bridleway or a restricted byway. The new Section 32(2) creates a presumption that, where a way is shown on a definitive

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map as a footpath, bridleway or restricted byway, it should be treated as such unless evidence is produced to the contrary.

During the Report stage, we agreed to a further government amendment increasing the burden of proof on the defence to show evidence of vehicular rights on the balance of probabilities, rather than the lesser burden of proof which had previously existed. The agreement of the House was conditional on my undertaking to see whether I could go further to meet the concerns expressed by my noble friend Lord Williams of Elvel. I believe that we have done so but in a way different from his amendments. The problem about definitive maps is that they are not definitive because they contain some serious errors. For example, on the latest definitive map a section of the A40 in Herefordshire is marked as a footpath. Therefore, there are problems with using it as prima facie evidence.

Nevertheless, we have thought further. Amendment No. 32 is a paving amendment to Amendment No. 52, which would make it a offence in certain circumstances to drive on a way shown as a footpath, bridleway or restricted byway whether or not that highway carried full public vehicular rights of way. It would do so by inserting a new Section 34A into the Road Traffic Act. That would require a defendant, in addition to proving the existence of full vehicular rights of way, to show that it was reasonably necessary to drive the vehicle to gain access to land in which he has an interest or to which he is a visitor but not a trespasser, or that it was reasonably necessary for him to do so in the conduct of a his business; for example, travelling in his car as a garage mechanic to mend a vehicle.

That would mean that people who were travelling for access to premises would be distinguished from motorcyclists tearing across the countryside, or 4x4 drivers going as far as they could along a footpath for a picnic. We believe that we must protect the position of people seeking access to premises, not only owners but others with lawful access. We also recognise that this is an extremely complex area and we have all tried tackling the problem in different ways.

We are not entirely sure that we have fully tackled it, which is why we have retained an ability to cover other categories of people who might reasonably need to drive on the way which is shown as a footpath, bridleway or restricted byway. That is why we have included in Amendment No. 52 the provision for the Secretary of State to make regulations prescribing other circumstances in which the defence, under subsection (2), would be available to such a person. Amendments would also be made to Section 195 of the 1988 Act to provide that regulations were to be made by statutory instrument and would be subject to the affirmative procedure.

Amendment No. 49 is consequential on Amendment No. 52. I beg to move.

Lord Williams of Elvel: My Lords, as my noble friend pointed out, I have pursued the issue during our debates in this House. I am grateful to him and to those

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who have worked behind the scenes for ensuring that we have reached a satisfactory solution. I believe that we have. As my noble friend said, it is not entirely perfect, but nothing is in this world. We must go along with the proposal and therefore I shall not move my Amendments Nos. 48 and 50.

I have only one brief question to ask my noble friend, who I believe has done very well in respect of this matter. Will he indicate when the provisions will commence, because the amendment indicates a later date? Having asked that niggling question, I am grateful to my noble friend, who has been most helpful.

10.30 p.m.

Lord Williamson of Horton: My Lords, as my name is also on Amendments Nos. 48 and 50, I should like to join with the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Elvel, in thanking the Government for these amendments. I would recall that we had one amendment already included in the Bill. That was already an improvement, with the words "unless the contrary is proved" as a correction to the Road Traffic Act 1988. That was a step forward. Some of us wanted to go a little further in the direction of making the definitive map conclusive. However, I think the Government have responded very satisfactorily indeed to the request that we put forward, and I am happy to welcome these amendments.

Baroness Scott of Needham Market: My Lords, one of the fascinating parts of our debates during this process has been to see how, from the rather controversial nature of Part I, we moved into quite a large degree of consensus on certain parts of Part II. The issue of vehicular use of rights of way has worried many of your Lordships. There were two distinct, but related, issues. One is the present issue, the so-called Grimsell Lane issue--and I know that the local authority officers from Derbyshire who first raised it are rather thrilled at the notoriety that Grimsell Lane has now achieved as a result of their campaign. The other issue related to the way in which vehicular rights come on to the definitive map, because people can prove that in times gone by the way was used by horse and cart. I am rather sorry that the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, has not brought back her amendment on the subject, because there is more to do here and I suspect that long after this Bill has been passed we shall continue to debate the subject of vehicles on public rights of way.

Returning to the present issue, I am very pleased at the way in which the House has worked together and the Minister has pulled strings, almost within the last few hours, to find a way forward with which we can all agree. From these Benches we would like to extend our full support to him, together with our thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Elvel, for going a long way to resolve a rather thorny issue, particularly for the people of Grimsell Lane in Derbyshire.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, I rise very briefly to echo the words of other noble Lords. The noble

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Baroness, Lady Scott, asked why I had not brought back my amendment. Actually, I thought I would not make any further advance on that. All of us in the Chamber realise that there is a real ground issue needing to be addressed and I hope that at some future stage the Government will look at this thorny issue. I too should like to add my thanks to the noble Lords, Lord Williams of Elvel and Lord Williamson of Horton. We are grateful to the noble Lord the Minister for coming back with an amendment which means that the amendments submitted by those noble Lords will not be moved. It reflects the House at its best when there is a problem and we can come together to overcome it. We are happy to support this amendment.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I too give my thanks particularly to my noble friend Lord Williams, who was the driving force behind this. Several of your Lordships, including the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, have had long discussions on this matter over the past few weeks. I am told that we finally managed to submit this amendment at 4.55 yesterday, with a reasonable degree of consensus behind it. I am very thankful to everybody concerned in that process.

To answer my noble friend's question, Amendment No. 32 would require new changes to Schedule 7, perhaps to be brought in by commencement orders to be made by the Secretary of State. That means we would need a scrutiny process for the regulations. Clearly, I could not possibly pre-empt Parliament's consideration of those regulations, but our intention would be to make them as soon as possible. The remainder of Schedule 7 comes into effect two months after enactment of the Bill, as provided for in Clause 103.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer moved Amendment No. 33:

    Page 71, line 35, at end insert (", and

section 98").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this small amendment addresses what I believe to be an oversight. The Government kindly tabled an amendment to deal with a concern which we raised initially about the registration of town and village greens. The point of the amendment was to prevent a loophole which would stop town and village greens being registered, thereby allowing them to be regarded in some cases as development land. This amendment simply seeks to ensure that the provisions of this clause and many others can be implemented within two months of the Act coming into force.

We understand from the Minister's reply that there is good reason why paragraph (b) of subsection (1A) and subsection (1B) cannot come into effect within two months. However, we believe that subsection (1A), which relates to the use of that land, can begin within two months. I ask the Government to accept our amendment. I beg to move.

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