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Lord Bach: Yes, my Lords.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 10 not moved.]

Lord Carter moved Amendment No. 11:

"( ) "The relevant date" means—
(a) in relation to England, 20th January 2005;
(b) in relation to Wales, 19th May 2005."

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 72 [Traffic regulation on byways etc in National Parks]:

Baroness Byford moved Amendment No. 12:

"(A1) No order shall be made under subsection (2) with respect to any road which would have the effect of limiting access to land, with or without mechanically propelled vehicles, or a person with an interest in that land or their invitees.
(A2) In subsection (A1) "interest" shall have the meaning given in section 71(1) of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006."

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this is a minor matter but I seek clarification from the Minister. We debated the issue at length on Report. The amendment would ensure that safeguards are included in the legislation to prevent the making of traffic regulation orders over access to private land for those who make use of that land primarily for business purposes. If I reflect him correctly, on Report the Minister stated that he simply did not share my fears on this. I may be misrepresenting him, which I certainly do not wish to do, but at a subsequent meeting the possibility arose that regulations might be made to prevent restrictions of access where access was needed for longer than the eight-hour allowance provided under national park traffic regulation orders.

I said at the previous stage that I was not satisfied with the Minister's response to a very real concern for the well-being of businesses in national parks and I would be grateful if he could enlighten me on the presence of those regulations, which I do not believe have yet been clarified sufficiently. I beg to move.

5 pm

Lord Bach: My Lords, as the noble Baroness said, Amendment No. 12 is similar to an amendment that she tabled on Report, which sought to place limitations on the new traffic regulation order-making powers given to national park authorities by Clause 72. The aim is to ensure that that these powers could not be used to unreasonably restrict access to land by persons with an interest in that land.

I have explained that we have given the matter careful consideration, but we have not changed our view. I recognise that there is concern that the
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statutory purposes of national park authorities might at some point lead to those authorities paying less regard to the needs of landowners than local highway authorities would. I do not share that view. National park authorities have a duty when pursuing their statutory purposes to seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities. They are used to doing so across the range of their responsibilities, which—after all—include carrying out the functions of the local planning authority.

In any case, local highway authorities, when making decisions about any matter that might affect a national park, are also required to have regard to the national park statutory purposes. Therefore, if we consider it correct to give the national park authorities powers to make traffic regulation orders, we should do so under the same terms as they are applied by local highway authorities, and the existing safeguards will apply. That is the approach that we usually adopt when entrusting powers to the national park authorities and so far it has proved well founded.

I want to reassure the noble Baroness and the House that Clause 72 provides for the modification of the national park authorities' TRO-making power, through regulations under subsection (3) of the new section of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. But I do not envisage that such regulations will be needed to protect access to land by those with an interest in that land. I hope that that is a slightly fuller explanation than was given last time, and I invite the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister. The issue has been raised with us following the discussions on Report because it was felt that it was not clear enough. I am grateful to the Minister for placing on record further clarification and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Bach: My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Bach.)

Baroness Byford: My Lords, before the Bill passes, I would like to place on the record the thanks of these Benches to Ministers for the way in which they have dealt with the Bill. There have been some contentious issues to overcome. While I would have liked the whole loaf, half a loaf tonight in the protection of the rights of way is welcome. I would also like to express the disappointment of my noble friend the Duke of Montrose. Sadly, through a family death, he had to be in Canada and so was not able to be with us, but I know that he would like to join me in expressing our thanks to the Ministers and other noble Lords.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I associate these Benches with the thanks to the Minister. We have had disagreements at times, but we now have a Bill that will, I hope, make the next steps in rural England and, indeed, in relation to the
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environment in urban communities. From our perspective, this is perhaps more a case of a loaf and a half: we would have liked a bit less carbohydrate in the Bill, but I will not go back there. I, too, thank the Ministers for their time and effort in talking to us between the Bill's stages.

Lord Bach: My Lords, I thank the noble Baronesses on behalf of the Government for those kind comments, which I return in turn. This is an important Bill, shortly—I hope—to become an Act of Parliament. That is something that all sides of the House want to see happen as soon as possible. I am extremely grateful for the help that has been given to the Government by noble Lords from all parts of the House. The Bill has been improved significantly since it came to the House; it is now a better Bill.

I pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Haskins, who in a sense is the author of a great deal of the Bill. I also mention my noble friend Lord Whitty, my predecessor, who was in charge of the Bill when he was a Minister at Defra. Certainly not least, I thank my noble friend Lady Farrington for the important part that she has played in our proceedings. I am grateful to noble Lords in all parts of the House, not least the Cross Benches, where a great deal of the expertise on this subject resides.

On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons with amendments.

Compensation Bill [HL]

5.05 pm

Read a third time.

An amendment (privilege) made.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass. In so doing, I want to fulfil a commitment that I gave on Report to reflect on the creation of the new Clause 2.

Noble Lords, particularly the noble Lords, Lord Hunt of Wirral and Lord Goodhart, will know that I certainly agreed with the sentiment that lay behind the new clause but at that point could not accept it. In our previous deliberations the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, made a comment on Ministers who changed their minds. I think that it was meant to be complimentary. I took it as such. I recognise that it is a sign of maturity in anyone if they are able to reflect again and change their mind. Therefore, I am pleased to announce to the House that we shall accept the amendment as it stands. We will not seek to change it in any way. I am grateful to the noble Lords, Lord Hunt and Lord Goodhart, for showing me the way on this occasion.

The Bill is an important contribution to a much wider programme of work. The Government are taking forward many other important initiatives, on
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which I am proud to lead, to tackle perceptions of a compensation culture and to improve the system for valid claims.

I am extremely grateful to all noble Lords for the constructive spirit in which they have debated the Bill, which leaves your Lordships' House in a better shape than when it arrived.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Baroness Ashton of Upholland.)

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