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Baroness Byford: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken, and I also thank those who do not agree with me. The joy of this House is that we have to make judgments at times. Obviously there are times when we disagree, and this is a very important clause.

I understand where the noble Lords, Lord Chorley, Lord Cameron and Lord Greenway, the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, and the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, are coming from. I do not agree with their position but I respect their views. I think that some form of inclusion in the Bill, such as we are suggesting, would be of benefit.

I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone, for her honest reflection of what happened when English Nature came into being. Although it was some years ago, and I accept that the noble Baroness said that times have moved on, it is clear that there may be times when the sort of amendment that we are proposing today would benefit the new board when it is set up.

It is a difficult issue. In my opening remarks I asked the Minister about how the Government would come back with guidance if it were necessary. They considered the issue originally on that Monday, and then changed their minds three days later and decided that guidance was not relevant or that they could not do it. How, even if it were in a delayed period of time—I should like the Minister to clarify that for me—would the Government be able to come forward with some form of guidance?

If it is not possible now, I do not understand how it could be possible in the future. Whatever reasons the Government had thought about at the time must be as
27 Mar 2006 : Column 560
relevant in the future. In his response to the amendment, the Minister said that if at some time in the future it were considered necessary, it would be possible to give statutory guidance, but he gave no indication how soon that might be or how it might be achieved. Only a week ago, we were told that it was not possible.

This is Third Reading, so I am in the very difficult position of having to put the amendment to a vote, as the Minister is unable to give me answers to the legitimate questions that I have raised. In the normal course of events, I would have thanked the Minister for his guidance and accepted the fact that it could be reviewed. However, he is unable to tell me how he would achieve that or what the time limit would be. It is not being reviewed in a three-year or a five-year period. We have been given no indication whatever on that.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I am put in a very difficult position. Questions should be put to the Minister while he is on its feet and before he sits down. With the leave of the House, if I correctly sense the good will of the House, the Minister could reply. Questions at Third Reading must be put to the Minister while he or she is speaking.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, I am very grateful. I was a little too slow to do that. I apologise.

Lord Bach: My Lords, I shall do my best. If I repeat myself, I apologise. At the moment, we are strongly against a clause to the effect of that put forward by the noble Baroness. We do not believe it is necessary; we think we should leave the matter to the independent judgment of Natural England. As I said, if, in the course of time, it becomes clear that the decisions of Natural England, or perhaps one subset of decisions, would benefit from statutory guidance on how to resolve the conflicts, we have the option, at any time, of adding to guidance that is already in place—of course, if Parliament were to agree—and issuing such guidance, following consultation. Our power to do that is set out in Clause 15(3). I make it clear that we do not feel there is any need for guidance at this stage. We think the matter should be left to the independent judgment of this important new body. But if we are wrong about that and if, in the future, that view is taken, we can issue statutory guidance.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, I thank the Minister and I thank the House for allowing the Minister to respond. However, he has not answered any of the questions that I asked him. The first was on how to achieve statutory guidance. Earlier we had been told what the situation was in a letter that we received from Alun Michael on the Monday, but by Thursday we were told that it was not possible to have guidance. Secondly, the Minister has given no indication that that may be reviewed at some time in the future. I do not want to get on the wrong side of things, but I am forced to test the opinion of the House.
27 Mar 2006 : Column 561

4.09 pm

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 3) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 82; Not-Contents, 193.

Division No. 2


Anelay of St Johns, B.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Biffen, L.
Blaker, L.
Bridges, L.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Byford, B.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Chorley, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L. [Teller]
Crickhowell, L.
Cumberlege, B.
De Mauley, L.
Denham, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Eccles, V.
Eccles of Moulton, B.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Ferrers, E.
Fowler, L.
Garel-Jones, L.
Geddes, L.
Glentoran, L.
Goodlad, L.
Goschen, V.
Hamilton of Epsom, L.
Hanham, B.
Henley, L.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Hooper, B.
Howard of Rising, L.
Howe, E.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Hylton, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Kalms, L.
King of Bridgwater, L.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Lucas, L.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
Mar, C.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Moore of Lower Marsh, L.
Moran, L.
Morris of Bolton, B.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Naseby, L.
Noakes, B.
O'Cathain, B.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Palmer, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Patel, L.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Rees-Mogg, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Selsdon, L.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Shephard of Northwold, B.
Skelmersdale, L.
Stewartby, L.
Swinfen, L.
Tanlaw, L.
Thatcher, B.
Trenchard, V.
Tugendhat, L.
Turnbull, L.
Waddington, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Wakeham, L.
Walpole, L.
Windlesham, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.


Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Ahmed, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Amos, B. [Lord President.]
Anderson of Swansea, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Avebury, L.
Bach, L.
Barker, B.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Bhattacharyya, L.
Billingham, B.
Bilston, L.
Bledisloe, V.
Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury, B.
Borrie, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Bragg, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Cameron of Dillington, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L.
Chidgey, L.
Christopher, L.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cobbold, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Corston, B.
Crawley, B.
Dahrendorf, L.
Darcy de Knayth, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Dearing, L.
Desai, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Drayson, L.
D'Souza, B.
Dubs, L.
Dykes, L.
Erroll, E.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Fearn, L.
Filkin, L.
Foulkes of Cumnock, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Garden, L.
Giddens, L.
Golding, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Brookwood, L.
Grantchester, L.
Greenway, L.
Griffiths of Burry Port, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Hannay of Chiswick, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Harrison, L.
Hart of Chilton, L.
Haskel, L.
Haworth, L.
Hayman, B.
Henig, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Holme of Cheltenham, L.
Hooson, L.
Howarth of Breckland, B.
Howarth of Newport, L.
Howe of Idlicote, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L.
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jones, L.
Jordan, L.
Judd, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Kinnock, L.
Kirkwood of Kirkhope, L.
Laird, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lipsey, L.
Livsey of Talgarth, L.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Ludford, B.
McDonagh, B.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
McKenzie of Luton, L. [Teller]
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Maxton, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Moonie, L.
Morgan of Drefelin, B.
Morgan of Huyton, B.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Murphy, B.
Newby, L.
Nicol, B.
O'Neill of Clackmannan, L.
Oxford, Bp.
Parekh, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Peston, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Prosser, B.
Prys-Davies, L.
Radice, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Rennard, L.
Richard, L.
Roberts of Llandudno, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rooker, L.
Rosser, L.
Rowlands, L.
Royall of Blaisdon, B.
Russell-Johnston, L.
St. John of Bletso, L.
Sawyer, L.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Sheldon, L.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Simon, V.
Slynn of Hadley, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Snape, L.
Soley, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Taylor of Bolton, B.
Temple-Morris, L.
Tenby, V.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Triesman, L.
Truscott, L.
Tunnicliffe, L.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Wall of New Barnet, B.
Walmsley, B.
Warner, L.
Warnock, B.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Whitaker, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williamson of Horton, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

27 Mar 2006 : Column 563
4.20 pm

Clause 18 [Commission's general purpose]:

[Amendment No. 4 not moved.]

Clause 19 [Representation, advice and monitoring]:

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