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Orders Of The Day

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 19 July 1949

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National Parks And Access To The Countryside Money (No 2)

Resolution reported:

"That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to make provision for National Parks and for other matters, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of any increase in the sums payable out of such moneys which is attributable to provisions of the said Act of the present Session involving payments out of the Road Fund."

Resolution agreed to.

National Parks And Access To The Countryside Bill

Order read for consideration, as amended (in the Standing Committee).

Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That the Bill be re-committed to a Committee of the whole House in respect of the Amendments to Clause 2, page 2, lines 19, 20 and 32 and Clause 7, page 5, line 11, standing on the Notice Paper in the name of Mr. Silkin; in respect of Clause 9; in respect of the Amendments to Clause 12, page 9, lines 1 and 4, and Clause 13, page 10, line 14, standing on the Notice Paper in the name of Mr. Silkin; in respect of Clause 14; in respect of the Amendments to Clause 22, page 15, line 29, Clause 27, page 18, line 3, Clause 28, page 18, line 12, Clause 33, page 25, line 16, Clause 40, page 30, lines 16 and 25, and Clause 42, page 32, line 26, standing on the Notice Paper in the name of Mr. Silkin; in respect of Clause 47; and in respect of the Amendments to Clause 48, page 37, lines 32, 39 and 43, and page 38, lines 15, 20, 25, 27, 39 and 47, Clause 49, page 39, lines 16 and 20, Clause 59, page 46, lines 35 and 36, Clause 77, page 57, lines 37, 38 and 40, and page 58, lines 5 and 13, Clause 79, page 59, line 18, Clause 83, page 63, line 23, Clause 88, page 66, line 11, Clause 102, page 77, lines 9 and 23, and the new Clauses (General duties of Commission in relation to National Parks), (Power of drainage authorities to do work in nature reserves), (Liability for repair of public paths), (Private street works), (Ferries for purposes of long-distance routes), (Accommodation, meals and refreshments along long-distance routes), (Variation of approved proposals), (Penalty for displaying on footpaths notices deterring public use), (Exercise of powers under Section 13 as respects open country and waterways comprised in access orders), (Application to Isles of Scilly), standing on the Notice Paper in the name of Mr. Silkin.—[Mr. Silkin.]

Amendment made: At end, add:

"and in respect of the Amendment to Clause 83, page 63, line 30, standing on the Notice Paper in the name of Mr. William Morrison."—[Mr. W. S. Morrison.]

Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Bill immediately considered in Committee.

[Major MILNER in the Chair]

Clause 2—(Constitution Of Commission)

3.32 p.m.

I beg to move, in page 2, line 20, after "duties," to insert:

"(b) loss of remunerative time, or
(c) additional expenses (other than as aforesaid) necessarily incurred by them for the purpose of enabling them to perform their duties, being expenses to which they would not otherwise have been subject."
This Amendment will enable the members of the National Parks Commission to be paid for loss of time and for other expenses properly incurred in the course of their duties. As members of the Commission are to serve unpaid, it was thought reasonable that they should be entitled to receive payment for loss of remunerative time in the same way as members of local authorities are.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move, in page 2, line 32, at the end, to add:

"(8) A member of the Commission, other than the chairman or deputy chairman, shall not by reason of his membership be rendered incapable of being elected, or of sitting and voting as, a member of the House of Commons."
The effect of the last Amendment is that it may be held that membership of the National Parks Commission now becomes an office of profit under the Crown and that therefore Members of Parliament will be ineligible. On the Second Reading I expressed the hope that it would be found possible for Members of Parliament to serve on the Commission. The Amendment is therefore necessary in order that they shall not be disqualified.

At the present time Members of Parliament have a fair share of work. I want to know what the Government policy is. Is it intended to encourage Members of Parliament to join this Commission or not? It is not a point on which there is a great matter of disagreement, but I think, and probably other people think, that at present it is not a good thing to encourage Members of Parliament to do this sort of thing. Occasionally we may have someone with particular knowledge whom we might want to act on the Commission, or somebody who has had experience, such as ex-Ministers, of whom there will be a lot in a short time. What is the general opinion of the right hon. Gentleman in this matter?

I thought that if there was a Member of Parliament who was eminently qualified to serve on the Commission, it would be a pity if he were ineligible to do so. However, I would neither encourage nor discourage, and, other things being equal, I would certainly prefer someone who could give ample time to this work.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 7—(Arrangements For Adminis- Tration Of Functions Of Local Planning Authorities As Respects National Parks)

I beg to move, in page 5, line 11, at the end, to insert:

"and where a direction under the proviso to subsection (2) of this section is for the time being in force as respects any authority, there shall be a joint advisory committee established as aforesaid for the purpose of advising that authority and all other local planning authorities whose areas include land in the Park as to the exercise of their said functions as respects the Park, or for that purpose and any other purposes for which such a committee can be so established."
This Amendment is moved in pursuance of a promise which I made on the Committee stage to ensure that there would either be a joint planning board where there were a number of authorities within the area of a national park, or a joint advisory committee. The wording of the Clause as it stood made it possible, although it was never the intention, that where there was not a joint board there would be no advisory committee.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 9—(General Duty Of Commis- Sion In Relation To National Parks)

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

It is proposed later on to insert a new Clause, and we wish this Clause to be deleted.

Question put, and negatived.

Clause 12—(Provision Of Accommoda- Tion, Meals, Refreshments, Camp- Ing Sites And Parking Places)

I beg to move, in page 9, line 1, to leave out from "under," to "the," in line 2.

The effect of this Amendment combined with the next Amendment, in line 4, is to secure that camping sites may be provided by the local planning authorities on land in the neighbourhood of the parks and not necessarily inside the boundaries. There may be cases—I hope they will be very few—where it would be more convenient to provide the camp just outside the national park.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 9, line 4, leave out from "and," to the end of line 6, and insert:

"where the local planning authority is a joint planning board, land in the neighbourhood of the Park which is in the area of any of the constituent authorities shall be treated for the purposes of the last foregoing subsection as in the area of the joint planning board, whether or not it is in that area."—[Mr. Silkin.]

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 13—(Improvement Of Water- Ways For Purposes Of Open-Air Recreation)

I beg to move, in page 10, line 14, at the end, to insert:

"but the exercise of any power under the foregoing provisions of this section as respects such land shall be subject to the provisions in that behalf of the said Part V."
This is drafting, and in preparation for a new Clause.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 14—(Restriction Of Power Under Two Last Foregoing Sec-Tions To Provide Services)

Motion made, and Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.

Clause 22—(Establishment Of Nature Reserves By Local Authorities)

I beg to move, in page 15, line 29, at the end, to insert:

(5) A local authority may, as respects any land which is being managed as a nature reserve by the authority, enter into an agreement with any drainage authority for the exercise by the drainage authority, on such terms as to Payment or otherwise as may be specified in the agreement, of any power of doing work exercisable by the local authority under the foregoing provisions of this section.
This is self-explanatory—

On a point of Order, Major Milner. I did not hear the right hon. Gentleman move the Amendment to leave out Clause 14.

I put the Question although the right hon. Gentleman did not, in fact, formally move the Amendment.

If the hon. Member for Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) will forgive me, it was a question of the Clause standing part, which does not require to be formally moved.

Is it not customary for the Minister to give an explanation on the Report stage why he is proposing that a Clause should be omitted?

We had considerable discussion of this Clause in Committee, and it was a matter which exercised the minds of both sides of the Committee. The Clause, as it stood in the original draft, was attacked on both sides and there was a great deal of interest displayed. Now the right hon. Gentleman has put down a specific Amendment to leave out the Clause and I was expecting him to move it and to give some justification for moving at this stage to leave out a Clause which passed through the Committee stage and into the Bill, but he has not done so.

I am sorry, but we have passed that point; perhaps I was a little too speedy. The right hon. Gentleman on a previous similar Amendment said that he proposed to insert further words later. I do not know whether that is the explanation here. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] In any case we have passed that point and cannot discuss it now.

In all fairness, Major Milner, I would say that the omission of this Clause is controversial. I had anticipated that there might be some discussion on it, and while I think, with great respect, that your Ruling is correct, nevertheless it might save trouble if we had some discussion on the Amendment.

May I draw your attention, Major Milner, to the words used by the Minister on the Committee stage? In discussing this Clause he said:

"I want to say, straight away, that I think the whole Clause wants looking at again. … If the right hon. Gentleman would be willing to let me look at the Clause again, he will have a further opportunity of seeing it in its amended form."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 17th May, 1949, c. 246 and 248.]
It is quite inconsistent with the spirit of that statement that we should not have a discussion here when it is proposed to omit the Clause altogether.

I appreciate the position, but we cannot discuss it now. We will endeavour to find an opportunity of discussion at another stage if that meets the wishes of the Committee, but I am afraid we cannot do anything at the moment and indeed I do not know how far that will be possible. Mr. Silkin.

As I was saying, the Amendment I have just moved to Clause 22, page 15, line 29, is self-explanatory.

I am not clear about these words. The first time that the right hon. Gentleman moved them, or partially moved them, he said they were self-explanatory. We might be told on this occasion whether he has had any consultation with the drainage authorities as to whether they wish to have this co-operation. I imagine they do, but as the Minister has obviously worked out this matter, I want to know if there are many occasions when this is likely to happen. Particularly I would like the Minister to say whether this would cover the large rivers or tidal waters, and how he proposes to deal with them. They will come under the drainage authorities in that they drain large areas. An answer would help greatly to clarify the position.

3.45 p.m.

I hope the right hon. Gentleman is in a position to answer the points put by my hon. Friend. I only rise because we are now on Part III of the Bill which applies specially to Scotland, and the questions which my hon. Friend has asked, cogent though they may be for England and Wales, are likely to be much more so north of the Border where we have local authorities with, in some cases, exceedingly poor rateable values, and it is those which will almost certainly be called upon to bring into existence these nature reserves. The right hon. Gentleman by this time has had considerable experience of local authorities south of the Border and, in drafting these Clauses in Part III of the Bill, I hope he has had some experience of local authorities in Scotland. I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, whom I am pleased to see on the Front Bench, was called in when such consultations were held because there can be no question but that local authorities, particularly small local authorities in Scotland, are jealous of their rights.

The right hon. Gentleman said that this Amendment is self-explanatory. I congratulate him that for once in a way the drafting of these words makes the meaning plain even to an uninstructed layman like myself. It is not always that we have intelligent words in Amendments emanating from the Government Front Bench. Still, the right hon. Gentleman ought not to seek to cloak himself with the straightforwardness of this Amendment, if I may so put it. He is a man in whom there is little guile, but if he does not answer the points put by my hon. Friend and myself he might give the impression that he is trying to cover up some sin of omission regarding adequate consultation with the local authorities.

We all agree about the necessity for these nature reserves but we do not want to see hardships imposed upon local authorities or unnecessary jealousies or frictions engendered as the result of the permissive words in this Amendment. Throughout this Parliament, in much of the legislation we have had with regard to town and country planning, points have been made over and over again as to the necessity of safeguarding the rights of one local authority which may have another local authority or drainage authority operating within its borders. The Committee is entitled to a more lengthy explanation of these points than the right hon. Gentleman has seen fit to give.

In view of the tremendous pressure which has been put upon me, I will gladly explain that this Amendment applies to a local authority which is proposing to manage a nature reserve. Certain work may be necessary and it may be more convenient for the drainage authority to do it than the local authority. In that case this Amendment enables the local authority to enter into an arrangement for the drainage authority to do the work and to be paid. The drainage authority will be at no loss; they will be fully paid. I do not know how often this procedure will occur, but I hope it will occur whenever it is more convenient for the work to be done by the drainage authority than by the local authority.

I see the advantage and am fully in favour of the Amendment. My main point was this: has the right hon. Gentleman actually had consultations with the drainage authority who, presumably, would quite easily have come in and said that they will help in this way?

Amendment agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

I should like just one explanation. We ought to know whether the Clause will cover certain extremely difficult cases of co-operation between local authorities. Take a river of such considerable beauty as the Fal, with three or four different local authorities concerned at Falmouth, Penryn and Truro, besides, perhaps, others. That area, whilst not as beautiful as the Dart, should have one authority to organise the whole area on some form of co-operation. How is that to be worked out? This matter is of vital importance to many of us. The actual case I mentioned is no longer of importance to the Under-Secretary but it is to me and to those of us who inhabit the West country. Does the Clause cover these matters, and is it fairly easy to get local authorities together for the purpose of co-operation?

The short answer is that the Bill does not purport to re-organise local government to that extent. The Clause deals only with local nature reserves and has nothing to do with the administration of the area. Therefore, the hon. Gentleman's question is not relevant to the Clause.

I must contest that. We are not permanently fixing for all time certain reserves. There might be additions, and I was quoting one of them—not that I am asking for that addition or for the reverse. This matter is of importance because the area to which I referred is one of our most beautiful areas. Can the Minister assure us that he has full powers of co-ordination between local authorities?

There are powers under the Town and Country Planning Act to combine authorities for the purposes of planning, but not for running a nature reserve. If it were convenient from a planning point of view to combine a number of authorities, that could be done or an advisory committee could be set up to cover the areas, but not purely for managing a nature reserve.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 27—(Surveys Of Public Paths, Etc, And Preparation Of Draft Maps And Statements)

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Town and Country Planning
(Mr. King)

I beg to move, in page 18, line 3, at the end, to add:

"(7) A highway at the side of a river, canal or other inland navigation shall not be excluded from any definition contained in the last foregoing subsection by reason only that the public have a right to use the highway for purposes of navigation, if the highway would fall within that definition if the public had no such right thereover."
This is really a drafting curiosity. It might have been thought that the definitions of rights of way in Subsection (6) were incomplete; that whilst we have defined "footpath" and "bridleway," we have omitted to define a towpath. By the Amendment, we now include this in the survey.

The hon. Gentleman's explanation of the Amendment is very curious, for the wording of the Amendment contains no reference whatsoever to a towpath. It merely says that a highway shall not cease to be a highway if the public have rights of navigation along the highway. When I first read it I was reminded of the famous "Misleading Case" written, I think, by the hon. Member the junior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Herbert), about the rights of navigation on the Thames Embankment and which rule applied, the rule of navigation or the rule of the road.

Is it not possible to find better wording than Ibis if we merely want to add "towpath" to the definition Clause? Is there any substance in the contention that the rights of navigation along a highway will make that highway cease to be a highway? I am not at present aware of any authority for that proposition; and if it is not the case that the rights of navigation along a highway alter the character of the highway to the extent that it ceases to be a highway, I cannot see why the Amendment is wanted. Its only effect, as I read it, is to provide that a highway along which the public acquire rights of navigation—presumably, because that highway is permanently covered with water—shall none the less not cease to be a highway. I must ask the hon. Gentleman to give some further explanation of this extremely curious wording. He referred to it as a curiosity, and to insert a subsection like this in a Measure dealing with national parks strikes me as a very remarkable curiosity.

I should have thought the position was quite clear. I used the word "towpath" colloquially. It is not enshrined in the wording of the Bill. The Amendment uses the words:

"A highway at the side of a river …."
The hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) can distinguish between that and a towpath if he wishes, but the distinction is not very great. The Bill as drafted defines a footpath and a bridleway and it so defines them as to include a highway at the side of a river. By the Amendment we propose to include this specific definition so that the survey shall include that form of path.

Does the hon. Gentleman say that the definition in the Bill excludes a highway at the side of a river where there is a right of navigation over the highway?

It excludes one upon which there is only a right of passage for the purpose of towing.

But that is not a right of navigation. The Amendment refers to

"a right to use the highway for purposes of navigation …."
There is not likely to be any navigating on the highway.

I rise only to rescue the draftsman, who, I think, is probably quite correct in suggesting the Amendment which has now been moved, from the wholly inadequate explanation which the Parliamentary Secretary has given of its purpose. Of course, as has been pointed out by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller), the Amendment cannot possibly add "towpath" to the previous subsection. The Amendment only says that a highway shall not be excluded from the definition for a particular reason, and one has to find a towpath included by implication in the previous words. The previous words, as mentioned by the Parliamentary Secretary, are "footpath" and "bridleway," and I think that the reason why these words or some like them are required is explained by the words "but no other" in line 36, where the sub-paragraph reads:

"'bridleway' means a highway over which the public have the following, but no other, rights of way. …"
Of course, in the case of a towpath there may be a right which includes the right of pulling a barge on the river. It may be, therefore, that an Amendment of this kind is required. I do not suggest that the draftsman was wrong in suggesting to the Minister the inclusion of some such new subsection as the Amendment proposes, although, even so, I should have thought that the addition of a proviso might have been a little neater. But I am bound to say that the words chosen to carry out this purpose are about as puzzling to the layman as any words that could possibly have been produced. While I am quite certain that my right hon. and hon. Friends have no intention whatever of opposing the Amendment, I hope that the Minister will look at the words a little further before the Bill goes to another place to see whether he cannot find something a little clearer.

I hope that some effort will be made to alter these words in order to get in a simpler manner the result which we all want. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary, whose explanation I was following, to look at line 38 on page 17. I wonder whether the point is not already covered where Subsection (6) reads:

"'bridleway' means a highway over which the public have the following, but no other, rights of way, that is to say, a right of way on foot and a right of way on horseback or leading a horse, with or without a right to drive animals of any description along the highway."
Would not a towpath be covered by that case where a horse is being driven along the highway?

4.0 p.m.

I can see the position in regard to towpaths, but what is the position with a tidal waterway, such as the Dart, where one cannot get between two points to houses at high water, and possibly not at low water, but where there has always been the possibility of driving a car between them? That is a matter of some importance which I hope the Minister will look at between now and a later stage.

The hon. Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson) assumed that craft on a river are always pulled by a horse, but we wish to include a pathway by a river where there are towing rights, whatever those rights may be, and the definition as it stands excludes a path along which there is a sole right of towing. This Amendment inserts that exception, and I do not think it could be put more plainly.

I do not think the Parliamentary Secretary has got this right yet. If there is a right of towing, surely that would be a public right, and if it is a public right, it will be a public right of towing either by a human being or by a horse. There is no question of a public right of towing by machine having arisen. If there is, I should be interested to know from the Parliamentary Secretary whether any such right has been established alongside any river, or canal. The public right of towing must be by human beings or by horses. If that public right exists, surely it comes within the definition of "bridleway" because there will be a right of way on foot or a right of way leading a horse. If that is not covered, I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to pay some attention to the words of the Amendment he is seeking to insert, because the effect of that definition is not to include a footpath or towpath by the side of a river used for the purposes of towing, but to provide that a towpath shall not be excluded where it is a highway if the towpath is used for purposes of navigation. I have never heard of a towpath being used for the purposes of navigation and I suggest that the wording of the subsection is wrong.

I hope the Minister will not agree to alter this. It seems clear to me that one does not need to be in a boat to navigate it, as the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) will realise if he has sailed a boat and the wind has gone dead on it. I do not see why one could not sit in a car and pull the boat, with someone steering it. That would be a very easy thing to do. I have seen a tractor pulling a boat. Navigating means moving a boat on water and for that one may use a machine, a car, a tractor, oneself or a horse.

I agree with part of the remarks of the hon. Lady the Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning). It is true that one may make use of a towpath for the purposes of navigation. My only ground of dissatisfaction is that the Parliamentary Secretary has again made a mess of it. He has not even got it right now. He spoke of a right to use the towpath solely for navigation, but, if he looks at the position of the word "only" in the Amendment, he will find that it provides nothing of the sort. The words we have to consider—and I am defending the draftsman from the wholly inadequate explanation of the Parliamentary Secretary—are:

"shall not be excluded from any definition contained in the last foregoing subsection by reason only that the public have a right to use the highway for purposes of navigation."
The Parliamentary Secretary has supposed the words to be "for purposes of navigation only," which is something quite different. The words in the subsection are required by the draftsman because of the words of limitation contained in the definition Clause. I give as an example the words in subsection (6), "but no other." Having regard to the obvious difficulty that these words have caused and to the fact that the Parliamentary Secretary has, on several occasions, made a mess of trying to explain the matter, I suggest that it should be looked into carefully in another place to see whether it can be dealt with, not by a new subsection, but by a proviso in the definition Clause.

I am not interested in towpaths but in places where there is access to a tidal way. We have had no answer to that point, although I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary intended to answer but accidentally forgot to do so. The point may not arise on this Amendment, but this seemed to be a suitable opportunity to raise it, as some part of my constituency is affected.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

I very courteously asked for an answer to a question which affects my constituency very much, as it does also the present constituency of the Parliamentary Secretary. He might tell me and his own constituents whether their rights are fully protected. I think they are, but I want to be sure.

The Clause is not designed to protect any particular part of the country or any particular person. It is a definition Clause and we are dealing with the definition of rights of way. Therefore, the point raised by the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) does not arise.

On page 18, line 3, the last word but one is "so." It is difficult to attach any meaning to that word there and I think it should be omitted.

I am afraid the Parliamentary Secretary has not completely answered my question. Here we have perfectly clearly a right of way for navigation on tidal waters. With that have grown up rights of way and access from point to point when the tide is down. I am sorry I have not had an answer from the Parliamentary Secretary, because this affects a great many people. I hope that at some stage the matter will be made clear.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 28—(Provision Of Information By Other Local Authorities)

I beg to move, in page 18, line 12, at the end, to insert:

(3) Any arrangements made under this section for the provision of information by a parish council shall require the council to cause a parish meeting to be held for the purpose of considering the information to be provided by the council; and any arrangements so made for the provision of information by the council of a rural district shall, as respects each parish in the district not having a parish council, require the representative body of the parish or a member of that body to cause a parish meeting to be held for the purpose of considering the information to be provided by the district council in relation to the parish.
This Amendment carries out an undertaking which was given to the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling). It secures that in all cases a parish meeting shall have an opportunity to consider information provided by the parish council for the purpose of helping to draw up the draft map showing rights of way. The Amendment also deals with the case which the hon. Member had in mind in which there is no parish council. The Amendment provides that in any event the views of the parish shall be taken into account. I need hardly elaborate further the details of the Amendment. I think they explain themselves.

In thanking the hon. Gentleman for having tabled this Amendment, I should like to say that it not only stems from an Amendment which I moved in Committee but it is, I am sure, due in part to the sympathetic interest of the Parliamentary Secretary, who told us that he had not only been a parish councillor for ten years but had actually attended meetings of his parish council.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 33—(Periodical Revision Of Maps And Statements)

I beg to move, in page 25, line 16, at the end, to insert:

"Provided that if within such time (not being less than twenty-eight days) as may be specified in the notice any representation is made to the authority that as respects the whole or part of their area a revised map and statement prepared as aforesaid would differ from the definitive or last revised map and statement,—
  • (a) the authority, after considering the representation and affording to the person by whom it was made an opportunity of being heard by a person appointed by the authority for the purpose, shall determine whether the representation is well founded and shall serve notice of their determination on the person by whom the representation was made;
  • (b) any person aggrieved by a determination of the authority under the last foregoing paragraph may, at any time within fourteen days after the service upon him of the notice of determination, serve notice of appeal against that determination on the Minister and on the authority;
  • (c) where notice of appeal is duly served under the last foregoing paragraph the Minister, after giving to the appellant and to the authority an opportunity of being heard by a person appointed by him for the purpose, shall either dismiss the appeal or direct that effect shall be given to the representation;
  • (d) if the authority determine that a representation is well founded or the Minister directs that a representation shall have effect, the authority shall be required to prepare a revised map and statement in consequence of the review, so however that where the representation relates to part only of their area they shall not be required so to prepare a revised map and statement for any other part of their area."
  • Clause 33 provides for a periodic review of the footpath map, and it contemplates the possibility that a county council may take the view that there has been no change of circumstance since the last map was prepared. That view may be disputed, and this Amendment provides machinery, which did not originally exist, for disputing such a decision. The machinery is similar to that which is provided for a person who alleges, when the survey is being made, that a footpath which was not included ought to have been included.

    We on this side of the Committee agree with this Amendment. We think it is necessary that there shall be provision for the revision of these maps and the designation of footpaths in both directions, that is to say both for adding them and taking them away.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    4.15 p.m.

    Clause 40—(Exercise By Other Autho- Rities Of Powers Under Sections 38 And 39)

    I beg to move, in page 30, line 16, at the end, to insert:

    "Provided that, in relation to the creation of rights of way in a National Park, this subsection shall have effect as if—
  • (a) references to the council of a county included references to a local planning authority whose area consists of or includes any part of the Park, and
  • (b) references to a county district in the county included references to a county borough or county district any part of which is comprised in the area of such a local planning authority."
  • This Amendment gives effect to a promise which I made to my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Mr. Symonds) to the effect that machinery should be provided by which the Minister could, if it was thought desirable, transfer the functions of creating new rights of way from the county district councils and the county borough councils to a joint planning board. This Amendment achieves that.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendment made: In page 30, line 25, leave out from "subsection," to second "the," in line 28.—[ Mr. Silkin.]

    Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 42—(Diversion Of Public Paths)

    Amendment made, in page 32, line 26, leave out "(5)," and insert "(4)."—[ Mr. Silkin.]

    Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 47—(Liability For Repair Of Existing Public Paths)

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

    It is proposed to delete this Clause in order to incorporate some of its provisions in a new Clause.

    Question put, and negatived.

    Clause 48—(Liability For Repair Of New Public Paths)

    Amendment made: in page 37, line 32, leave out subsection (1).—[ Mr. Silkin.]

    I beg to move, in page 37, line 39, after "order," to insert:

    "being—
  • (a) an agreement or order made by a local authority who are not the highway authority as respects the path in question, or
  • (b) an order made by the Minister under subsection (3) of section forty of this Act where, in relation to the making of a public path order creating the right of way in question, the appropriate authority for the purposes of the said subsection (3) is such a local authority."
  • It may be convenient to the Committee to consider this Amendment and the next four Amendments together. Their combined effect is to provide more effective machinery for dealing with the procedure by which new paths are made up to the necessary standard before they are taken over by the highway authority for maintenance. In particular they deal with a number of circumstances, a rather complicated one of which is where the highway authority and the local authority are the same. They deal also with the case in which a new path is being created by the direction of the Minister. They are purely machinery points.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made: In page 37, line 43, leave out from second "the," to end of line 44, and insert:

    "local authority mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b) of this subsection, as the case may be."

    In page 38, line 15, leave out from first "the," to "to," in line 17, and insert "path shall not be required."

    In Page 38, In line 20, leave out from "the," to "to," in line 21, and insert "path shall not be required."—[ Mr. Silkin.]

    I beg to move, in page 38, line 25, to leave out from the beginning, to "may," in line 26, and to insert:

    "it shall be the duty of the highway authority to carry out any work specified in a certificate under subsection (1) thereof; and where the authority have carried out the work they."

    The hon. Member could not have heard the Minister suggest that this and the previous four Amendments should be taken together. I heard no words of dissent from the Opposition and I took it that that was agreed. Therefore, there is no further opportunity for discussion at this stage.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendment made: In page 38, line 27, leave out from "authority," to "any," in line 28, and insert:

    "on whom a copy of the certificate was served."—[Mr. Silkin.]

    I beg to move, in page 38, line 39, to leave out subsection (7) and to insert:

    "(7) Where a public path order—
  • (a) is made in compliance with a direction of the Minister under subsection (3) of section forty of this Act and is so made by the local authority who, on the coming into operation of the order, become the highway authority as respects the path in question, or
  • (b) is made by the Minister under the said subsection (3) in a case where, in relation to the making of a public path order creating the right of way in question, the appropriate authority for the purposes of the said subsection (3) is that local authority,
  • the following provisions shall have effect, that is to say:
  • (i) the local authority specified in paragraph (a) or (b) of this subsection, as the case may be, shall survey the path and shall certify what work (if any) appears to them to be necessary to bring the path into a fit condition for use by the public as a footpath or bridleway, as the case may be, and shall furnish the Minister with a copy of the certificate;
  • (ii) if the Minister is not satisfied with a certificate made under the last foregoing paragraph, he shall either cause a local inquiry to be held or shall give to the local authority an opportunity of being heard by a person appointed by him for the purpose and, after considering the report of the person appointed to hold the inquiry or the person so appointed as aforesaid, shall make such order either confirming or varying the certificate as he may think fit; and
  • (iii) subject to the provisions of the last foregoing paragraph, it shall be the duty of the highway authority to carry out the work specified in a certificate made by them under paragraph (i) of this subsection."
  • This provision relates to a case where the Minister has made an order in default of the local authority. The Amendment provides for the carrying out of the necessary work to enable the footpath to be put into a usable condition. It is rather elaborate, but different circumstances arise when the Minister makes an order from when a new path is created at the instance of the local authority, and therefore the Amendment is necessary.

    The whole matter is rather wide, and I should have thought that the various points might have been explained to the Committee, as most hon. Members have had very little time to study what has happened. I ask the Minister to explain particularly what is meant by:

    "if the Minister is not satisfied with a certificate made under the last foregoing paragraph, he shall either cause a local inquiry to be held …"
    In what circumstances would the Minister express dissatisfaction with what was going on?

    The Minister would be dissatisfied with the certificate if the work proposed to be done on that certificate seemed to him to be unsatisfactory for the purpose of providing access for the public along that path.

    That really means that the Minister has the power—which, of course, he has—and obviously, from the tone of that reply, he intends to use his power to interfere as often as he can.

    No, I did not say that. If the hon. Member has carefully studied this, which I quite appreciate he has not, he would realise that we are dealing with the case of a defaulting authority, when the Minister has to step in after a public inquiry. In such a case the defaulting authority might be reluctant to put the footpath into a reasonable state of repair. In those circumstances the certificate might be unsatisfactory, and that is why the Minister must have the right to step in, although no Minister seeks to step in more than is necessary, or to interfere unduly with the functions of the local authority.

    I have got rather further than that; I understand all those points. Many local authorities, however, are very worried about the number of times which local authority work is interfered with by Government Departments. Although I suppose we must accept this, I am not happy about this power of interference.

    As I understand it, the power under this Clause applies only in the case of new footpaths. Are there similar powers of upkeep and repair in the case of existing paths?

    With regard to existing paths, the existing law applies. In my view those powers have, been clarified and to a certain extent strengthened.

    I ask the Minister to consider again the advisability of having powers to repair existing footpaths. There are a good many cases where they have got into a terrible state of disrepair.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move, in page 38, line 47, at the end, to add:

    "(7) The foregoing provisions of this section shall apply to any public path created by a diversion order with the substitution of references to such an order for references to a public path order and of references to subsection (5) of section forty-four of this Act for references to subsection (3) of section forty thereof."
    This Amendment is designed to bring the procedure for a diversion order into line with that for a public path order for agreement; that is to say similar powers are available here regarding the footpath created as a result of a diversion as for a new path.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 49—(General Provisions As To Long-Distance Routes)

    Amendment made: In page 39, line 16, leave out "and."—[ Mr. King.]

    I beg to move, in page 39, line 20, at the end, to insert:

    "(c) for the provision and operation of ferries where they are needed for completing the route; and
    (d) for the provision of accommodation, meals and refreshments along the route."
    We are indebted to an hon. Member on each side of the House for the two parts of this Amendment; the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling) in the case of the ferries and the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Hastings) who urged in Committee that there should be provision for accommodation, meals and refreshments, particularly along long-distance paths. Both provisions are made. I suggest that we do not discuss them at length at this stage but accept them formally, because here they are merely mentioned, whereas on two later Amendments we shall be able to discuss them at length.

    In thanking the hon. Gentleman for this addition to the Bill, I take it that there is no reason why meals, and refreshments should not in suitable cases be provided on the ferry so as not to mess up the countryside.

    I would point out that this will add considerably to the cost. We may have to provide a large number of ferries and a large amount of accommodation for meals and refreshments. It is rather amazing that, after the warnings we have had in the last few days from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, we should be calmly and easily accepting this enormous cost; but that is in keeping with a good many other things in the Bill, and the Chancellor must be very worried about some of them.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

    This Clause has, of course, been more or less agreed on, but we are in the curious position, in this Clause, of adding to the public costs at a time when we are urged to do everything to reduce them. That is a most curious position.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 59—(Access Agreements)

    I beg to move, in page 46, line 35, to leave out "either," and to insert:

    "of either or both of the following descriptions, that is to say."
    This Amendment, and the Amendment proposed in the next line, to leave out "or" and to insert "and," provide that in assessing compensation payment may be made in respect of the making of an access agreement both in consideration of the making of the agreement and by way of contribution in regard to the expenditure incurred by the person making the agreement. In Section 59 (2), as it stands, these two methods of compensation are alternative; but it is recognised that there may be a case where both types of payment ought to be made. There is an Amendment on the Order Paper in the name of the right hon. Gentleman on the same lines, but I think that this way of doing it is preferable as a matter of drafting.

    4.30 p.m.

    The same point had occurred to me. As the Clause was drafted, it appeared that these payments which are enabled are mutually exclusive of one another; that is to say, a person could be paid for one but not for the other. I had put down an Amendment later to secure the same effect as this Amendment. I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for accepting the suggestion.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendment made In page 46, line 36, leave out "or," and insert "and."—[ Mr. Silkin.]

    Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 77—(Information Services To Be Provided By Commission)

    I beg to move, in page 57, line 37, to leave out "and."

    This Amendment and the next two Amendments on the Order Paper could conveniently be taken together. They provide that the National Parks Commission may give to the public information about long-distance routes, as well as information about national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty. This follows as a consequence of other Amendments.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made: In page 57, line 38, after "beauty," insert:

    "and long-distance routes for which proposals under section forty-nine of this Act have been approved."

    In Page 57, In line 40, at end, insert:

    "or persons wishing to use such routes."—[Mr. Silkin.]

    I beg to move, in page 58, line 5, to leave out "to use," and to insert "that."

    This Amendment and the next two Amendments could conveniently be taken together. They provide for the Commission taking such steps as appear to them expedient for securing publicity for the avoidance of damage by the public. In Committee the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling) suggested—I think with the full agreement of the Committee—that it might be desirable in certain cases that the Commission should use some other body for the purpose of carrying out this publicity, and that it should be in a position to contribute towards their expenses. These Amendments make provision for that.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made: In page 58, line 5, after "publicity," insert "are used."

    In Page 58, In line 13, at end, add:

    "(3) For the avoidance of doubt it is hereby declared that the steps mentioned in subsection (1) of this section include the making of contributions towards expenses incurred by other bodies of persons."—[Mr. Silkin.]

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

    I should like to ask for some explanation of this Clause. I think many hon. Members are not happy about certain parts of it, particularly that part which we have just amended, which refers to the need for publications for the purpose of preventing damage. On the other hand, we have seen rather an excess of Government publications of certain types. I saw one the other day about electricity. I should like the Minister to give us some idea how he intends to use this Clause. The public should be told what the right hon. Gentleman thinks and what sort of literature to expect. It would be interesting to know whether he will endeavour to see that the pamphlets issued—perhaps at 1s. or 6d.—are sold at roughly cost price.

    I should like to add to what my hon. Friend has said by asking the Minister what he has in mind as suitable methods of publicity for encouraging a proper standard of behaviour on the part of persons in national parks and other areas. In particular, has he any programme for reducing the appalling mess caused by litter left by the public? I should like him to say whether he has in mind that it should be put down by a prosecution in suitable cases or whether, on the other hand, he proposes to employ wardens who, by sweet persuasion, will endeavour to persuade the public that freedom should not really include freedom to make a mess.

    All these matters are very interesting, but they really fall outside the provisions of Clause 77, which deals only with the kind of publicity which the National Parks Commission shall carry out. When I am asked what the Commission will do, or how they will exercise their authority, those questions run counter to the whole of the discussion we had in Committee, where the burden of the case was that the Commission should be given the maximum amount of freedom. However, if I am asked what I have in mind in relation to the type of publicity, I would say, speaking as a townsman, that there is a good deal of ignorance on the part of townsmen about what constitutes damage to farming interests. I do not think that much of the damage is wilfully caused. The leaving open of gates, and so on, very often is due to the fact that the townsman does not appreciate the damage which might result.

    One of the methods of publicity ought to be designed to inform the townsman in the simplest possible way what are the results of some of the conduct which is most complained of in the country. As the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling) knows, there will be by-laws. He has studied the Bill. There will be bylaws and, I suppose, there might even be prosecutions. I hope not, because I do not believe that that is the right way in which to achieve the results which we all have in mind. The short answer to the questions which have been asked is that one must leave this task to the people in whose hands it has been put. I hope to set up a responsible body of National Parks Commissioners, and I think that they can be trusted to provide suitable forms of publicity.

    I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the information he has given. A great part of this Bill applies to Scotland. This Clause will affect a new national park which is just coming into being in my constituency.

    The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head. It is coming into being. If he says that this Clause will not apply to that park, I must accept his words. I certainly think that Part VI of the Bill applies to it. Having that in mind, I support what my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) said.

    The right hon. Gentleman has now replied about the necessity of the National Parks Commission doing all in their power to inculcate in the townspeople who will be using these parks the idea that the right of using these beauty spots will also carry considerable duties in the way of good behaviour and of leaving them in the same condition as that in which they found them. We know that in the past there has not been proper education in this direction, and that in consequence many people who live in dreary surroundings quite thoughtlessly behave in an irresponsible way. It has not always been their fault, but, under the progressive régime—I am told it is progressive—of the Socialist Government and under this Bill, the general body of the public, whether living in town or country, will have to realise their obligations in that respect.

    The right hon. Gentleman seemed rather querulous about some of the points put to him and said that they were matters for the Commission to decide. Of course, it is for the Commission to decide, but, since the right hon. Gentleman and this House are calling the Commission into being, the Minister must not take it out of place if we offer a few suggestions on how that Commission should proceed, and particularly in regard to standards of behaviour. The widest publicity should be given by pamphlet, which can be done moderately cheaply, drawing attention to the facilities which are being provided up and down the country for the town dwellers. Unless wide publicity is given, particularly applying to the national parks in some of the remote areas, I do not think advantage will be taken of them to the full extent that it should.

    The Minister has suggested that the difficulties concerning damage and litter can be dealt with adequately by education of those concerned, but I do not know how he suggests that those concerned are to be reached in order to give them the necessary education, or by whom that education is to be given. Is he proposing that it should be given by his Department through the Press, for instance, or by notices in the schools, or in what way is it to be given? On the question of leaving gates open, while this may be very serious for the people concerned, it is very difficult to reach the people who offend in that direction in order to educate them so that they will not leave gates open.

    There is also the question of expense involved in the measures to be taken to prevent litter, whether by the employment of guardians or curators or persons policing the areas.

    4.45 p.m.

    I am sorry if I went outside the Clause, Mr. Diamond, but I was certainly referring to matters to which the right hon. Gentleman himself had referred. On this question of information, I was asking who is to pay for the giving of such information and how it is to be given. Is it suggested that the cost should fall on the rates of the counties concerned, or is any cost incurred in giving information to be borne by the right hon. Gentleman's Department? It seems to me that this is a considerable question which ought to be answered. Under this Bill, a large number of people are to be introduced into areas where they have certainly never been before. The footpaths in my part of the country, and there are a great number of them, are purely local footpaths for the convenience of the local people. How is information about these paths to be conveyed to the people who may come into the locality from the towns in the future?

    On a point of Order. May I draw your attention, Mr. Diamond, to line 5 on page 58 of the Bill, which makes it quite clear that this Clause deals not only with information as suggested in the title, but with methods of publicity for the prevention of damage and for good behaviour? In other words, it includes exhortation, advice and many other things besides information.

    I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling), who has just put such an interesting point of Order, for helping me in a matter which I had noticed myself. I rose to express my great sorrow that the Minister did not answer one question, which should have been quite easy for him, whether the leaflets or pamphlets to be issued to people who may use these footpaths will be charged at approximately the cost price. This is a matter of considerable importance, and I asked the Minister in what way he wished to develop this suggestion. I was hoping that he would tell us that one of the things he will do is to get the Minister of Education to help to publicise these matters in the schools. That would have been the first thing which anyone really keen on this matter would have done, but the right hon. Gentleman did not do that and presumably had not thought of it. There are many ways which he could have told us concerning how this new body will use the schools for information purposes.

    I also hope that he will use another body as well, and I refer to the military Services, which are sometimes very good and sometimes less good. We ought to have methods of publicity for our national parks in the Services on the lines of posters saying: "This beautiful park belongs to you; it is yours, but please do not despoil it in any way." There are many ways in which such publicity could be used, but we do not expect this Government to be practical, and it is only natural that it is left to a Tory hon. Member to lay down what a Government Department should do. [Interruption.] I hear one hon. Gentleman opposite muttering to himself. If he wishes to interrupt, I will give way. No? The hon. Gentleman says it is not worth it. If he does not think it is worth while being nice, I take the opposite view.

    What I said was that I did not think it was worth while interrupting the hon. Gentleman, if he really wants to know what I said.

    I must not follow that interruption. I am quite sure from the speeches which I heard that the hon. Gentleman would not make an interruption which was worth while replying to. I think a useful purpose has been served by this discussion on the encouragement of an extended use of these national parks and the necessity to preserve these properties which are so valuable from the nation's point of view. I am sure that a proper Government would do a great deal to instruct people through the education and other authorities. I am glad that at least some of us have thought the thing out, and I hope that the Minister will now consider the matter.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 79—(Application To Areas Of Outstanding Natural Beauty Of Provisions Relating To National Parks)

    Amendment made: In page 59, line 18, leave out from "eight" to "subsection," in line 19, and insert:

    "paragraph (d) of subsection (4) of section (General duties of Commission in relation to National Parks)."—[Mr. Silkin.]

    Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 83—(Restriction Of Traffic On Certain Roads)

    I beg to move, in page 63, line 23, at the end, to insert:

    "(7) Where an order under this section has been made by the Minister of Transport as respects any road, he may give to the highway authority directions as to the exercise by them in relation to the road of their powers under section forty-eight of the Road Traffic Act, 1930 (which provides for the erection of traffic signs); and any directions under this subsection—
  • (a) may require the traffic signs to be placed in pursuance thereof to be of such size, colour and type as may be specified in the directions, notwithstanding that the size, colour or type may not be one prescribed for the purposes of the said section forty-eight;
  • (b) shall be enforceable, on the application of the Minister of Transport, by mandamus."
  • This Amendment provides for the case where the Minister of Transport has made an order restricting traffic on a road in a National Park or in an area of outstanding natural beauty. It then becomes necessary to give directions to traffic as to alternative ways, and it may be necessary to provide signs. This Amendment enables the Minister of Transport to give directions to the highway authority as to the kind of signs that are to be put up.

    I agree with the Minister that some such subsection as this is proper and right. The only remarks I wish to make are not so much for his ears as for the ears of a representative of the Ministry of Transport, which I regret to see is not represented on the Government Front Bench at this moment. We are concerned here with signposts and signs in some of the most beautiful parts of this country. Unfortunately, the Minister of Transport has an appalling record in the matter of design and care for amenities. Needless to say, I shall not revert to that matter which the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) and I were able to mention on a previous occasion, which will be in the minds of many Members at this moment. I would call the attention of Members to something they may have observed very recently.

    Until comparatively recently, we had signposts put up by, or at the instigation of, the Minister of Transport which were reasonably well designed and clear. The words were in black and the background was white. They were not too ugly and they were perfectly clear. But in more recent days, quite suddenly, we have seen signs in three colours all over the country. The Minister of Transport has decided to put up a sign with a yellow background, with white and then black upon it. This has two disadvantages. First, it is perfectly hideous; yellow is a particularly disturbing feature in ordinary street architecture and in the countryside. Secondly, it is much more difficult to see what it says. In fact, it has every possible disadvantage.

    I do not want to enlarge on that or say anything controversial. I want to say, what I believe every Member who has any care for amenities will agree with, that there happen to be at least two bodies in this country who are giving very careful thought to good design and good design of the furniture of roads, to highways, footpaths and so forth, namely, the Royal Fine Art Commission and the Council of Industrial Design, which act together and collaborate and are urging and are anxious to persuade the Minister of Transport to consult them on all road signs, street furniture and so forth.

    I beg the right hon. Gentleman whose care for some of the beauty of the countryside I do not doubt—there would be little motive for this Bill unless he had some care for these things—to observe what the Ministry of Transport are doing at the present time. While we are granting these powers to the Minister of Transport, because some such powers are right, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will convey, what I feel sure is the unanimous wish of this Committee, to the Minister of Transport that, in exercising the powers we are giving him, he should have some regard to decency and good design and should consult the two bodies I have mentioned.

    Even though no representative of the Ministry of Transport is here, and I really think that a representative ought to be here to answer on this and other Clauses, I presume that the Minister of Town and Country Planning has some information about what is in the mind of the Minister of Transport as to how this Amendment will be put into effect. In particular, I should like to ask what is the intention in regard to the colour of these signs. Can we have an assurance that the hideous yellow which is so much favoured by the Automobile Association will not be used for these signs, a great many of which will be in the depths of the country? I should also like an assurance that before any decision is reached on the matter the Royal Fine Art Commission will be consulted.

    I hope that the hon. and learned Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss) realises it is not possible for me to deal effectively with what he has said, because it is really a matter which is directed to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"] He has other things to do, I presume; this Bill has been quite capably handled by the Minister of Town and Country Planning and his Parliamentary Secretary. But I give the hon. and learned Member the assurance that I shall inform my right hon. Friend of what he has said, and of what the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling) has said—I shall even send him a copy of their speeches.

    I shall take particular care, as the Minister of Town and Country Planning, to confer with my right hon. Friend to ensure that these signs are not as bad as the hon. and learned Member fears. On the other hand, I do not entirely share his view about them, nor the views of the hon. Member for Twickenham. I do not think that yellow is necessarily an ugly colour. I think it is a very good colour. All I can say is that we do realise the importance of not doing anything in relation to signs which will be out of harmony with the beautiful surroundings in which they will be placed. I hope that both Members will accept that assurance.

    5.0 p.m.

    I should have thought that when a Clause giving additional powers to the Minister of Transport is being discussed, one of two things should happen—either a representative of the Ministry should be present, or the competent Ministers who are here should be empowered to answer for the Minister whose powers are affected. I am sorry if the right hon. Gentleman has not noticed the more recent yellow atrocities which have been put up, and which have the disadvantage of being extremely disfiguring and far less clear than those which they have replaced.

    I am not asking that my word or even the right hon. Gentleman's word should be taken, but that the Minister should consult the two bodies set up by the Government for the express purpose of being consulted on matters of this kind. I have made my point, with which I believe Members opposite are in full sympathy, and I am confident that the right hon. Gentleman will press his colleague rather more hardly than he has so far indicated.

    Lest it has been overlooked, may I observe that orange and blue are colours which are most striking and that it is not true to say that all orange and blue colours are less distinctly seen than black and white colours? There may be some reason for this change—perhaps to prevent accidents—but while sharing the view that some authority should be consulted as to the duty and suitability of these signs, I do not believe it should go forth that only black and white signs should be used, as they are not the most distinctive colours.

    I do not wish to disturb the Liberal Party from their slumbers, but I must say that I was horrified at the Minister's reply—and it takes a lot of what this Government have done to horrify me. Apparently the Minister did not consult the Minister of Transport at all. We are used to that kind of thing, but I should have thought that on an occasion like this there would have been consultation beforehand about the way in which these powers should be carried out. This sloppy way of carrying on shows up badly today, when we have so much to do. The Minister should take more trouble in working out these matters; there should be greater co-ordination between Government Departments.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move, in page 63, line 30, at the end, to insert:

    "(8) The powers conferred by this section are additional to and not in derogation of the powers conferred by other enactments, and the powers conferred by section forty-six of the Road Traffic Act, 1930, as amended by section twenty-nine of the Road and Rail Traffic Act, 1933, to prohibit or restrict the driving of vehicles, or of any specified class or description of vehicles, on any specified road shall be exercisable on the ground that the road cannot be used, or cannot be used without restriction, by any such vehicles without prejudicing the comfort and enjoyment of other persons using the road or of the public generally."
    Since I raised this matter in Committee I have had some correspondence with the right hon. Gentleman on the subject, and he has been good enough to send me a reply to the letter which I sent to him. Perhaps he would like to know that the Amendment which I have moved was put on the Order Paper before I received his reply. Having regard to the contents of his letter I am not very confident that he will accept the Amendment now, but, since I wish to be persuasive, I should like to make it clear that I do not propose now to press it to a Division. I wish merely to put two or three points before him in the hope that they may be considered when the Bill goes to another place and that they may be met to some extent in the interests not only of the particular purposes for which I have moved the Amendment, but also of the public and some Government Departments.

    This Clause deals with the restriction of traffic on certain roads. We are now getting a multiplicity of different provisions in different Acts under which traffic can be restricted on roads. To give only three examples, there is the provision mentioned in my Amendment, that is to say, Section 46 of the Road Traffic Act, 1930, as amended by Section 29 of the Road and Rail Traffic Act, 1933, which is the most general provision; there is the provision in the Special Roads Act, passed not very long ago; and there is also the provision in this Clause.

    I do not think it is for the convenience of the public, of amenity societies, of lawyers, of local authorities or of representatives of the various classes of traffic which are liable to be restricted, that there should be so many different sections of different Acts under any of which a restriction may be imposed, and that there should not be any cross-reference on the face of the Statute to these different powers. The purpose of my subsection is twofold: First, it is to make clear at the outset that the powers conferred by this Clause are additional to and not in derogation of powers previously conferred; secondly, that the general powers contained in Section 46 of the 1930 Act, as amended, can be used on grounds of amenity.

    I always give one example when arguing this point, in the hope that it will be generally known to Members in all sections of the Committee. I take the example of the beautiful green road known as the Berkshire Ridgeway, which may be known to many Members. I believe that all who know it will desire—and I am sure the Minister of Transport desires—that there shall not be unrestricted motor traffic on that green road. It is not certain that the required restriction will be imposed under either of the other statutory provisions I have mentioned, that is to say, the statutory provisions other than that which I have specifically named in this new subsection.

    Those paths or roads which will be protected as through routes will very often be lengthy routes, and a comparatively small section may not be protected as a through route. On the other hand, under this Clause, unless the road is in the area of a national park the powers apply only in an area of outstanding natural beauty. There may be questions where that is arguable; I think it would be for the convenience of everybody, and not least the Ministry of Transport, that their powers under Section 46 of the 1930 Act should be exercisable on the grounds of amenity, if the road is completely unsuited to the traffic proposed to be restricted. If we have something like the Berkshire Ridgeway, which has been used by pedestrians and riders of horses for at least 7,000 years, we should protect it, quite apart from whether it comes under these two more restricted classes of provision which I have named.

    I think the hon. and learned Gentleman will agree that this question has really been fully ventilated, for, not only did he raise the matter in Committee upstairs, but he also raised it with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport and again with me in correspondence. Therefore, there can be no question that we are not all fully alive to the point he has made. The consistent answer has been that we accept his point, and that it is met by Section 46 of the Road Traffic Act, 1930.

    Well, that is what we say; we say that that Section enables traffic to be restricted on grounds of amenity.

    May I correct the right hon. Gentleman? He is really making a slip. That has never been maintained either in the discussions upstairs or in our correspondence. The Ministry of Transport supported a Private Member's Bill which I promoted before the last war precisely because they were confident that they could not use the Section on grounds of amenity. The point raised in the correspondence has been that powers subsequently taken meet the point, but not that Section 46 meets the point. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that he is making a slip.

    I am sorry; the hon. and learned Gentleman is right. It is the Amendment to the Special Roads Bill which amended Section 46 of the Road Traffic Act which it is stated—and which I am advised is so—enables the Ministry of Transport to restrict traffic on roads on the grounds of amenity. It is not Section 46 as it was, but Section 46 as now amended. But the point remains that it is contended, all parties being fully alive to the point which the hon. and learned Gentleman makes, that his case is met and that there is no need for further amendment of the law.

    However, in view of the persuasive way in which the hon. and learned Gentleman moved his Amendment, I am quite prepared to look at it once more, and to have a word with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport. If it should then transpire that the advice given to us is either wrong or in any way doubtful, I am quite prepared to see that the matter is put beyond any doubt. But, on the advice I have, it would be absurd to amend a law which at the present time appears perfectly clear. For these reasons, I regret that I cannot advise the Committee to accept the Amendment.

    In view of what the right hon. Gentleman has said and his promise to look into the matter between now and when the Bill is considered in another place, after giving him the assurance that I have reasons of a formidable kind for thinking that the law without such amendment is not quite adequate, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

    This Clause deals with the restriction of traffic, and I wish again to bring before the Minister the anxiety felt by all the road users of the country concerning the power he has under the Bill to close roads, especially main roads. For instance, the trunk road and the Class 1 road represent 28,000 miles out of a total of 155,000 miles of roads of all kinds. We think it wrong that there should be the risk and the fear hanging over these road users that in time a road may be closed or may be diverted as a result of this Bill. These roads, as everybody knows, are essential for the carrying of goods as well as for passenger traffic of all sorts, and form the main traffic routes of Great Britain.

    5.15 p.m.

    The Minister may say, as he said to me in Standing Committee that the power may never be used. In column 478, the right hon. Gentleman said:
    "I can assure him that the power to close a trunk or classified road will be used with very great circumspection."
    Again, in column 475, he said:
    "I am impressed with the feeling that one can go too far in restricting the flow of traffic on the King's highway."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 26th May, 1949; c. 478 and 475.]
    That may be so, but even though the Minister has expressed his sympathy, there is a danger of a distinct loss of road facilities towards the upkeep of which, after all, the motorists and the transport companies have contributed, as indeed have local rates, and it seems wrong that this power should remain in the Bill.

    How many roads run through these national parks? There is one trunk road, No. 5, in North Wales, which goes through one of the first areas which it is proposed to make into a national park. It is the Llangollen-Bettws-y-Coed-Capel-Curig-Bethesda road. Then there are three Class 1 roads in the same category, Windermere to Cockermouth, Windermere to Penrith, Barnsley to Manchester, and Brixton to Leek in the Peak District. On Dartmoor there is the Ashburton to Tavistock road. I should have said there are five, altogether, of these Class 1 roads, which will, I think, convince anyone that this is a most important matter and needs very careful examination even at this comparatively late stage of the Bill. Instead of proceeding by way of this power in the Bill, could not something be done on the lines of another Bill passed this year dealing with the main road through the New Forest, in which it was specifically laid down that traffic could not be restricted on that road except under the general law, by Section 46 of the Road Traffic Act, 1930? I suggest to the Minister that that is a far more satisfactory and an equally effective way of meeting the requirements of the Bill as regards national parks, and I commend it very strongly for his consideration.

    I am amazed at the hon. Member for Royton (Mr. Sutcliffe) bringing a nightmare into the light of day in the fashion he has done. Surely this is a litle power which the Minister is taking to himself in order to provide that in particularly quiet places, useful for the recreation of the community, there shall be some safeguard. The hon. Gentleman mentioned the Buxton to Leek road. I think I know the particular stretch he has in mind; it is where the road runs over open moorland. It would be quite fatuous to suggest that that should be closed. What is intended, I understand, is that where other arrangements can be made without inconvenience to the commerce and travelling public of the country, they should be considered. I think all men of sense and goodwill who want to enjoy the countryside would, in this day of hurly-burly, like to think that we shall have that consideration, and that the pleasant places will be quiet and will be places where we can properly recreate ourselves. I think the hon. Member has a nightmare for which there is no tangible substance.

    We had a discussion on this matter in Committee and I should like to repeat, very briefly, what I said then. I think some such power as this is absolutely essential if we are to have regard to the convenience and the enjoyment of the people who are to come into the national park areas and the areas of oustanding natural beauty. But the hon. Member for Royton (Mr. Sutcliffe) need have no fear that these powers will be arbitrarily used. He spoke as if the Minister of Transport could or would arbitrarily decide that a certain road should be closed, particularly a trunk road, and that that would be that; but I would refer him to the terms of Clause 83, which require that the council, who would take the first step, have to take into account:

  • "(a) the reasonable requirements of members of the public as users of traffic of the description proposed to be restricted;
  • (b) any reasonable requirements for such traffic to have access to premises situated on or near the road; and
  • (c) any other special or local requirements as to the use of the road by traffic of that description."
  • Therefore, they have to take traffic requirements fully into consideration before they decide to put forward the proposal for restriction of traffic.

    That is not the end of it. If they do put forward such a proposal, then it is open to the users of the road to object to the restrictions and the Minister of Transport has to hold a public inquiry at which the objectors can put forward their case. It is only after that, and after considering what alternative facilities are available, that the Minister is empowered to make an order. I think the road users are fully protected against any arbitrary use of Clause 83; they will have the fullest opportunity of stating their case, and I can assure the hon. Member that the apprehensions which he and those for whom he speaks feel, and which he has voiced here, are entirely without any justification.

    Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 88—(Power Of Minister To Defray Expenditure On Long- Distance Routes)

    I beg to move, in page 66, line 11, at the end, to add:

    "() Subject as aforesaid, the Minister may defray or contribute towards expenditure of a local authority incurred under section (Ferries for purposes of long-distance routes) of this Act or incurred in the exercise of their powers of acquiring land, erecting buildings or carrying out work under section (Accommodation, meals and refreshments along long-distance routes) of this Act."
    The Committee will remember that previously we discussed briefly both the provision of ferries for purposes of long-distance routes and also the provision of accommodation, meals and refreshments. We have not come to the full discussion that may take place later when we turn to the two new Clauses on the Order Paper, but we have come to the financial provision which will be needed in both instances. The provision is that "the Minister may defray or contribute towards" both the ferries and the work under the Clause for accommodation, meals and refreshments along long-distance routes.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    Clause 102—(Interpretation)

    I beg to move, in page 77, line 9, after "river," to insert "canal."

    We are here simply enlarging the definition of a waterway to include canals as well as lakes and rivers.

    This Clause defines an open-air recreation and it excludes from the definition of an open-air recreation organised games. I wonder why?

    Perhaps I can assist the hon. Member in allowing him to catch my eye on the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." At the moment we are considering an Amendment to line 9.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move, in line 23, at the end, to add "and the laying of turf."

    The Committee will agree that the local planning authority ought not to be obliged to sow grass where the quickest and cheapest way of doing the job is to lay turf. This Amendment, therefore, adds the words "and the laying of turf" after the word "grass."

    Amendment agreed to.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

    The definition of open-air recreation positively excludes organised games. I wonder why, because it would seem to me that cricket is an open-air recreation and perhaps also an organised game. Boating may be an open-air recreation and, if there were boating sports or a regatta, it might be considered to be an organised game. This is important because if we look back at Clause 13 we see that powers are taken there for the local authority to spend money in providing facilities for open-air recreation but not, as will be seen, for organised games.

    Clause 14 has been omitted from the Bill by the Minister's action, which is very surprising since it was in the original draft and the Government are now taking even greater powers than were originally in the Bill to use the taxpayers' money to build hotels, restaurants, pavilions and other amenities for the entertainment of the people, thereby competing with the private interests that are concerned in this matter. In view of all that, it seems very surprising to me that organised games should be left out of this definition.

    Personally, I object to the Government and local authorities entering into this competition with private entertainment purveyors who can do the job very much better than the Government or the local authorities; nor do I see why taxpayers or ratepayers should be asked to subsidise these services. Nevertheless, if the authority is to have this power, then it should be a complete power, and organised games should certainly be included. I therefore ask the Minister to explain why this definition has been drawn so narrowly.

    5.30 p.m.

    I am grateful to the hon. Member for Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) for the way in which he made his point. I think he has made a point which, at any rate in Committee, was not fully brought out. Certainly we do not intend to make any kind of distinction between the value of one kind of game or recreation and another. At the same time, I would

    New Clause.—(GENERAL DUTIES OF COMMISSION IN RELATION TO NATIONAL PARKS.)

    5(1) It shall be the duty of the Commission as soon as may be after the commencement of this Act, and thereafter from time to time, to consider what areas there are in England and Wales falling within subsection (2) of section five of this Act, to determine in what order they should be designated under subsection (3) of that section, and to proceed with their designation at such times as the Commission may determine.
    (2) The power of the Minister to give directions under section three of this Act shall extend to the giving of directions as to the order and time of designation of the said areas, notwithstanding that the directions may be of a specific character.
    10(3) As respects areas designated as National Parks, it shall be the duty of the Commission—
    15(a) to consider, generally and in relation to particular National Parks, in what way action needs to be taken under this Act and the Act of 1947 for the purposes specified in subsection (1) of section five of this Act, and to make such recommendations with respect thereto to the Minister and to local authorities as may appear to the Commission to be necessary or expedient, and
    (b) to keep under review the progress made from time to time in accomplishing the said purposes and to make to the Minister, to local authorities or to other persons, such representations as appear to the Commission to be necessary or expedient as to any matter affecting the accomplishment of those purposes.
    20(4) Without prejudice to the generality of the last foregoing subsection, it shall be the duty of the Commission, subject to and in accordance with the following provisions of this Act in that behalf—
    25(a) as respects any area designated as a National Park, to give advice to the appropriate planning authorities as to the arrangements to be made for administering the area as a National Park;
    30(b) where it appears to the Commission, as respects any particular National Park or part thereof, that the preservation or enhancement of the natural beauty thereof presents special problems or requires special professional or technical skill, to notify their opinion to the appropriate planning authorities and, on the application of any such authority in any case where it appears to the Commission expedient for the purposes specified in subsection (1) of section five of this Act, to place the services of officers of the Commission

    ask him to bear in mind that recreation or organised games may be carried out on access land. Let us take an example. Where there is access water it may not be unreasonable for a person to sail his boat over it. There would be no cause for objection in that case. However, an owner's reaction to a game of football on access land is a point which possibly requires further consideration. I am happy to be able to tell the hon. Gentleman that he has brought up a point of interest, and that we should like to study it, to see if some similar provision to that which he suggests could or could not be suitably incorporated in the Bill.

    May I ask why in the interpretation there is no definition of "open country."

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

    35at the disposal of the authority, for such period as may be agreed between the Commission and the authority and on such terms as to payment or otherwise as may be so agreed with the approval of the Minister;
    40(c) to assist such authorities in formulating proposals as to the exercise by such authorities of their powers under this Act for securing the provision of accommodation, access for open-air recreation and other facilities for persons visiting National Parks and otherwise as to the exercise of their powers under this Act as respects National Parks, and to consult with such authorities with respect to the recommendations to be made by the Commission as to the payment of grants by the Minister under this Act;
    45(d) to give advice where any Minister consults the Commission as to proposals for development of land in a National Park, or the appropriate planning authority consult them (whether in compliance with a requirement imposed under this Act or the Act of 1947 or otherwise) in connection with the preparation or amendment of a development plan or in connection with an application for permission to develop any such land;
    50(e) to make recommendations to the Minister and, where appropriate, to other Ministers as to any proposals for the development of land in a National Park, being proposals for development in a way which appears to the Commission to be inconsistent with the maintenance of the area as a Park; and
    55(f) if in any case the Commission are not satisfied that effect will be given to their recommendations or advice as to any matter mentioned in the foregoing paragraphs of this subsection, to refer the matter to the Minister and to advise the Minister as to the exercise of any powers of direction or enforcement (including powers of making orders) conferred on him by this Act or the Act of 1947.
    60(5) Nothing in this section shall be construed as modifying the effect of any provision of this Act whereby any specific power or duty is conferred or imposed on the Commission or whereby an obligation is imposed on any other person to consult with the Commission.
    65(6) In this section the expression "appropriate planning authority" means a local planning authority whose area consists of or includes the whole or any part of a National Park, and includes a local authority, not being a local planning authority, by whom any powers of a local planning authority as respects a National Park are exercisable, whether under the following provisions of this Act in that behalf or otherwise; and references in this section to a Minister include references to any Board in charge of a Government department.—[Mr. Silkin.]
    70

    Brought up, and read the First time.

    I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    This Clause is to replace Clause 9 which has been deleted by an Amendment which I moved earlier, and it is being moved in pursuance of the promise which was made in Committee that we would endeavour to collect all the various functions and duties of the Commission into one Clause, instead of their being distributed over various parts of the Bill. This new Clause does that, but in the course of so doing it makes a number of amendments which I should like to indicate very briefly.

    The first is in subsection (2), which gives to the Minister a right to give directions under Clause 3 as to the order and time of designation of the areas. Clause 3 gives the Minister power to give directions of a general character, and it was thought desirable that the Minister should, with his special knowledge of the proposed national park areas, indicate to the Commission those which he thought should be dealt with first because of importance or because of urgency. In that is included the question of time and the rate of progress.

    The second amendment is contained in subsection (3, b). That is largely a verbal amendment. The hon. and learned Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss) was rather disturbed about the words in the Bill—to keep "under surveillance." We have now altered that to "keep under review." I am sorry the hon. and learned Gentleman has gone out, because I am sure that these words would have given him great happiness.

    Then there is subsection (4, e) where we have made an amendment of the general powers as they were. This paragraph is intended to give the Commission a right of direct access to Government Departments. That was a point that was made in the course of the discussions. I think that that right is inherent in the Bill, but it is now made explicit.

    Lastly, there is subsection (4, f), which gives to the Commission a right which was always intended, namely, that if its advice is not taken by the various authorities to whom it gives advice, it should have the right to refer the matter to the Minister, with a recommendation in some cases that he should use his powers in default. Subject to those four variations the new Clause is really an incorporation of the various functions in the Bill which, as I said, previously were distributed in different parts of the Bill.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause read a Second time.

    I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed new Clause, in line 8, to leave out "and time."

    This is an Amendment to subsection (2) which, as the Minister has pointed out, introduces a new situation. It is one of the new factors we find in trying to draw together all the powers of the Commission under the Bill. The Minister has explained to the Committee that already, under Clause 3, he has powers of general direction to the National Parks Commission, but that he sought under subsection (2) of the new Clause a new specific power of direction with regard to its duty of designating areas as national park areas. The purpose which the Standing Committee had in mind when this Bill was upstairs in asking for the powers of the National Parks Commission to be drawn together in one Clause was primarily to make those powers look a little more impressive. Most of us felt that the National Parks Commission emerged with a very vague status indeed. Its powers were scattered and diffused all over the Clauses. We felt that the body would not start its very important life with any proper status and air of authority. It was to increase the authority of the National Parks Commission that we asked the Minister to draw the powers together; and he agreed to do so.

    Now that he has done it, what do we find? We find he has introduced a new subsection and a new power of interference by the Minister which finally whittles down to their lowest point the puny powers which the National Parks Commission already had. Indeed, it is very significant that what the Minister is doing in the subsection is to attack the only duty in the whole of this Clause in which the Commission has the power of determination as against the power of recommendation. Quite clearly, the Minister has had cold feet over the revolutionary action he was taking in leaving any power of determination to the Commission at all. He has had second thoughts between the Committee stage and now. He has thought to himself, "Good heavens, we have left here to the Commission powers of determination, of the designation of areas as national park areas."

    If hon. Members will look carefully at this new Clause, they will see that under subsection (3, a) the Commission is to have the duty to make recommendations; under subsection (3, b) to make representations; under subsection (4, b) to notify its opinion; under subsection (4, c) to consult with authorities in the making of recommendations; and under subsection (4, f) to refer matters to the Minister and advise. The Commission has one power of determination left, and that is the power of choosing the areas which shall be national park areas. Faced with that situation, the Minister decided that he clearly could not go on, and must, in addition to his powers of general direction under Clause 3, single out this last fling of independence by the National Parks Commission and nail it down.

    What does he do? He says that, in addition to having general powers of general direction, he shall have powers of special direction as to order and time and designation of the special areas. The Minister has said that what he is concerned about is to see that the most urgent jobs are done first. As I am a very reasonable person, I would, most reluctantly, concede to the Minister the right, perhaps, to put in a word about priorities. All right, let him have that power to see that priorities are considered, a power which he has already. If he feels that one area urgently needs dealing with, for instance, the Norfolk Broads, let him have the power of direction of priority to see that the Norfolk Broads are dealt with before there is any further deterioration. Let him have that. But I do beg of him to accept this very modest little Amendment, so that he shall not, in addition to the priorities, settle the entire "when" as well—the time when any area shall be designated.

    I suggest that if the Minister takes that power he might as well take the whole power of designation and make that advisory, too, because he who settles "when" in this matter also settles "where." Supposing the Commission want to choose the Lakeland area, the Minister can make it impossible for the Lakeland area ever to be designated as a national park area by saying, "Not today; not tomorrow; and not the day after tomorrow." By deferring it he can make it not a national park area at all. If the Minister does not accept this humble, innocent little Amendment, he will in effect be saying to the National Parks Commission, "Your final power, your last remnant of authority, shall be stripped from you, and you shall emerge finally as merely an advisory body and nothing else."

    I am much obliged to the hon. Lady for the very moderate and reasonable way in which she has moved this Amendment. I understand that her conception of being reasonable is grudgingly to admit something which is inevitable. She accepts that the Minister ought to have the right to direct the Commission as to the order in which they should designate. I think that must be right. Incidentally, I should like to correct her on one point. She referred to this one ewe lamb of determination which the Commission had, and which was now being taken away from them. In fact, they have not even this one ewe lamb, because they never did have the right of determination of the designated areas. All they could do was to designate and see if the Minister would approve or otherwise, even under the provisions as they originally stood. The Minister could always have said, "I refuse to confirm a designation order because I think you ought to have done something else first." So that really there is no great change in the situation.

    I think that the Minister ought to have control over the time, and therefore over the rate, at which these designations take effect. The hon. Lady assumes that this power will be used in one direction only, and that is to slow down. Does it not occur to her that it might equally be used to expedite designation? It is just as reasonable to assume the one as to assume the other. Here let me put in a plea for the possibility of being slow, and of asking the Commission not to hurry with designations. After all, conceivably they might decide to designate a dozen national parks all at one time, and I think that that would give the Ministry and local authorities very serious administrative indigestion. It really would cause great difficulties if they proceeded too rapidly. Some local authorities have more than one national park in their area, and it would be rather embarrassing if the Commission decided entirely to disregard administrative considerations and to designate a number of national parks together, or very rapidly one on top of the other.

    5.45 p.m.

    Furthermore, the hon. Lady may scorn such mundane matters as finance, but one does have to take it into account. It may be that national considerations make it essential that we should proceed rather more slowly than we otherwise might have done. This subsection gives us that power. On the other hand, under this we can direct the Commission to go more rapidly than they otherwise would have done. I think that those powers are essential. The hon. Lady always proceeds on the assumption that no Minister, either past, present or future, is to be trusted, and that only the National Parks Commission is to be trusted, even though it has not yet been set up. I can assure her that Ministers normally have a due sense of responsibility, and having passed a Measure of this kind I think that Ministers will be anxious to do the right thing and ensure that it is a success, that national parks are designated in due course and with due speed, having regard to all the circumstances.

    I think that these words must remain because they are essential for the proper administration of this Bill. In these circumstances, I hope that my hon. Friend will not press the Amendment. My own conception of the thing at present is that the Commission will designate all the proposed areas very much within the period recommended by the Hobhouse Committee. I see no reason at the moment for departing from their suggestions, but the Minister must have the opportunity of reconsidering the matter and making other proposals if he considers it essential.

    Could the Minister tell us what time the Hobhouse Committee recommended?

    Amendment negatived.

    I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed new Clause, in line 20, at the end to insert:

    "(c) to keep under review all cases where a direction has been given under subsection (2) of section seven of this Act, and to make representations to the Minister if at any time they consider such a direction should be revoked."
    I cannot emulate the passion of my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), and even if the Minister refuses to accept this Amendment I shall not be able to accuse him of nailing down the only fling of independence the Commission possesses. Nevertheless, I hope that the Minister will give serious consideration to this quite important point. Briefly the point is this. Some concern was felt on all sides of the Standing Committee at the powers under Clause 7 (2) to provide that in certain circumstances in areas of national parks there shall only be joint advisory committees with the power in the hands of the local planning authorities. That is a rather doubtful experiment which may not lead to the powers which we want to see exercised being exercised in any co-ordinated way where these directions are given.

    In exercising the direction in Clause 7 (2) the Minister has to consult the Commission before the direction is actually made. Once such a direction is made we should like to feel that it is the specific duty of the Commission to watch what is happening in these areas, and if they are not satisfied that the joint advisory committee is a satisfactory body to administer a national park they should have the power to go back to the Minister and make representations to him, saying that the direction should be revoked. That is the short point covered by the Amendment. I hope the Minister will accept it, or, failing that, that he will give us an assurance that the Commission already possesses this power under the new Clause.

    I hope the Minister will resist this Amendment. The posi- tion has been considerably strengthened by the Government Amendment to the proviso in subsection (2), which was moved earlier, and which insisted that there should be a joint advisory committee. I believe the reasons that were given during the Debate on the Committee stage by myself and other hon. Members on this side are reasons which are permanent and not likely to change. I do not wish to go through them in detail, but the main points of our argument supporting an advisory body as against a joint planning board were, first of all, that the area of the particular potential national park that was referred to, namely, all the South Downs from Eastbourne, is some 80 miles long and very narrow with bad communications from end to end.

    In order that the members of the joint planning board should be able to attend the meetings they would have long distances to travel, involving practically a whole day's journeying for one meeting of only a few hours. This would present considerable difficulty to those responsible for getting the type of people we want to serve. I went on to say that it might be simpler to meet in London, which, of course, would take a whole day and involve considerable expense.

    It does not seem to me that those reasons are likely to change, and the idea of keeping the matter under review means a sort of probation on responsible bodies like the county councils—not one county council but three county councils, East and West Sussex and Hampshire—and the county boroughs of Brighton and Eastbourne. It is a little derogatory to local government bodies of the highest kind, particularly those with the records which those bodies I have mentioned possess.

    I do not want to weary the House by repeating what was said in Committee, and stating what these county councils and county boroughs have done to preserve the Downs, but it will be remembered that under the none-too-powerful machinery of the 1932 Act, East Sussex managed to preserve an area of 28,000 acres, which cost the county council £60,000, besides other moneys spent by rural districts who supported them Brighton, of course, has bought freehold a very large Down area, as has East- bourne. With their record, and in view of the arguments for a joint advisory committee rather than a board, I hope the Amendment will be resisted.

    Not altogether for the reasons given by the hon. and gallant Member for East Grinstead (Colonel Clarke), I also ask the Committee not to accept this Amendment. It is largely unnecessary. The case where the Amendment would arise is where there is a joint advisory committee set up under the provisions of Clause 7, and the Amendment would put on the Commission the duty of watching the progress of the advisory committee and keeping it under review, presumably to make representations if it were found that the advisory committee was unsatisfactory. I have never found constant watching over a particular body is a satisfactory process. Somehow things never go so slow as when there is constant supervision.

    We do not want the Commission to be constantly keeping under review all these advisory committees, and I do not regard that as necessarily their function. I regard their function as watching the progress of the work that is to be done in creating a national park and providing the necessary facilities. They have ample powers, and, indeed, under Clause 7 they are required to keep under review—the hon. and learned Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss) will be glad to note the words "keep under review"—the progress made from time to time in accomplishing such purposes. That is what they ought to keep under review rather than a joint advisory committee.

    If it should be found that the purposes of the joint advisory committee are not being properly carried out they will make representations. They have been specifically empowered to make them, and naturally the question of the position of the advisory committee will come up for consideration, while consideration will be given as to whether the lack of progress in carrying out the purposes is due to the fact that there is an advisory committee rather than an executive one. In that way they will get an opportunity of making suggestions. It is the words "keep under review" that I personally do not like. I hope my hon. Friend will not press the Amendment, particularly as I give him the assurance which he has asked for that in all cases where an advisory committee is found not to work there are ample facilities for the Commission to make representations, which it is the duty of the Minister to consider, and, if he considers it necessary, set up a joint planning board in its place.

    In view of what my right hon. Friend has said, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed new Clause, in line 49, at the end, to insert:

    "(e) to make recommendations to the Minister with regard to applications for permission to develop land in a National Park as to the most effective administration for the purposes of National Parks of all statutory provisions applicable to such applications and such permission and in particular (without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing words) of subsection (4) of section sixteen and section twenty of the Act of 1947."
    The right hon. Gentleman will remember that on the last day of the Committee I raised by a new Clause the question of enabling high standards of building to be enforced in the national parks. Owing to the desire to make very rapid progress, my arguments and those of the Parliamentary Secretary were very briefly made. This Amendment, of course, is rather different, and I hope that the reason why I want some new words, either those proposed or some on the same lines, can be explained clearly to the Committee and that it will command general sympathy.

    6.0 p.m.

    It is obvious that materials used for roofing, for example, will make a great difference in a national park. It may be that a slate roof instead of a roof of corrugated sheeting will have a very different effect on the landscape. It is, of course, a fact that under the provisions of the 1947 Act the planning authority has control of design, elevation and so forth. It is, however, possible that the desirable control of, say, the use of appropriate materials may be rendered a dead letter by one or other of two things; either by the planning authority not enforcing the use of what may be a more expensive material or by the authority, or the Minister on appeal, saying that the development can be permitted only if such a more expensive material is used and the developer not being prepared to go to that expense.

    When I raised that difficulty in moving a new Clause during the Committee stage, the Parliamentary Secretary—I have already explained how I sympathise with him in the necessary shortening of his argument—put forward an argument which seemed to say that my point would be met in one or other of two ways. It could be met in certain circumstances by an adjustment of the development charge, and in other cases by the fact that compensation would be payable under the law as it stood. There will, however, be cases where neither of those things will be true. The rebuilding of a man's own premises, where the question of amenity may be very directly concerned, does not attract either a development charge or any question of compensation.

    In the words that I propose to add, I am asking for nothing more than that a duty shall be placed on the Commission to watch the development in national parks and applications for permission to develop land there, and to make representations to the Minister on the most effective administration, for the purposes of national parks, of all the statutory provisions applicable to such applications and such permission. I have some hope that the Minister will have no great objection to my words so far, even if he has no great enthusiasm for them. If he is prepared to accept my words down to that point, I am prepared to drop the last two lines of the Amendment I have on the Order Paper. Amateur drafting is never entirely satisfactory, not least when it is done in a hurry by a lawyer, and it may be that the words from "and in particular" to the end of my Amendment the Minister will not think wholly appropriate. It is my view that the development of land in national parks should be watched by the Commission, who should advise the Minister on the most effective administration, for the purposes of national parks, of all statutory provisions that may be applicable. I believe that my view is generally shared in the Committee.

    There is no disagreement in principle between us on this Amend- ment, but I do not think the Amendment is necessary. I find myself, therefore, unable to take part in the Dutch auction to which the hon. and learned Member invited me. When I have explained to him why the Amendment is unnecessary, he will probably agree with me. I do not dispute at all the desirability of the Commission watching the type of development that is taking place in national park areas and areas of outstanding natural beauty. That is essential, if we are to maintain and enhance the beauty of the areas as is provided for in the Bill. Undesirable or unharmonious development can very definitely mar the beauty. This injury can be done in a great many ways other than that which is contemplated in the Amendment. The hon. and learned Gentleman probably recognised that, by offering to delete the last two lines in which he particularises two cases.

    I should like to provide that the Commission should have the opportunity of seeing definite classes of application for development which come before planning authorities. I have the power to ensure that that takes place. Under Section 15 of the 1947 Act, which is in a way a re-enactment of the Act of 1943, the Minister can direct planning authorities to refer to him any individual application for permission to develop, or all applications of a particular class, and he can then refer those to the National Parks Commission. It is definitely my intention to do that.

    I should like to consider very carefully the particular classes of case to which this Amendment should apply. Obviously, one does not want to overload the machine or to force the National Parks Commission to set up an elaborate organisation of its own to examine large numbers of applications for development. Nor does one want to slow down the time taken for giving the decision in regard to development which this proposal must inevitably involve. We want to do that in the smallest number of cases, but a matter for careful consideration is the class of case which it will be necessary to refer to the Commission for advice.

    Moreover, it will be a matter of trial and error. It may be, for instance, that it is unnecessary to refer to the Commission at all a large number of cases or the class of case which at one time one thought one should refer to them. One will find that local planning authorities are dealing with that class of case quite satisfactorily. I do not altogether share the fear of the hon. and learned Gentleman that, by and large, the local planning authorities will not deal with these cases satisfactorily. It will be a matter of trial and error, and perhaps of considering in the first instance what kind of case I should direct local planning authorities to submit to the Ministry and thence to the Commission. The class of case may change from time to time.

    Another point which the hon. and learned Gentleman may have overlooked is that there will normally be on every planning committee in the areas about which we are speaking a number of persons who are co-opted and who have been appointed on the recommendation of the National Parks Commission, and their special job will be to keep an eye on these applications and to see that in proper cases, where the local planning authority looks like going wrong, the Ministry are informed and, presumably, also the National Parks Commission. If a decision is given which is in conflict with good development, the Minister has power to revoke. That power has been fairly frequently used in the past and would be used again if necessary. Therefore, I think that ample powers exist for doing what the hon. and learned Gentleman wishes, and I can assure him that they will be used to the fullest. In these circumstances I hope that he will not press the Amendment, because the Bill is already long enough, among other reasons, and one does not want to overload it.

    I am about to take the course which I think will be agreeable to the right hon. Gentleman, but I should like to make it clear that I was not fearing so much that the planning authority would not do its best but that under the powers it might find that the best was not good enough. Let us take the case of wishing to impose the use of a certain roofing material where a much cheaper roofing material might be available and might not be inappropriate in a quite different district. It may be a little difficult for the planning authority or the right hon. Gentleman, however anxious they may be to secure the use of the right material, to do so, unless it carries some right of compensation to the person concerned. It may be objected that that is not directly dealt with in my Amendment, but the National Parks Commission could advise if that is—

    How does the hon. and learned Gentleman confer these powers by his Amendment?

    By giving a duty to the National Parks Commission to watch these matters and to advise the Minister. One of the things they might clearly be compelled to advise the Minister would be certain quite brief but necessary new legislation. Having made that extremely handsome admission, let me say how glad I was to hear the Minister say how valuable he thought the powers were which I managed to get into the Act of 1943. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will consider whether it is desirable to insert any further words in another place. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed new Clause, in line 70, after "in," to insert "the."

    When introducing the new Clause, the Minister drew attention to one new point in it, namely that in subsection (4, e) he had made it clear beyond all doubt that the National Parks Commission should have direct access to Ministers on any point which they thought of sufficient importance. The last words in the Clause are:
    "References in this section to a Minister include references to any Board in charge of a Government department."
    I want to make sure what the right hon. Gentleman means by those words. Is he visualising the Board taking charge of the department or the department taking charge of the Board? There are boards in charge of Government departments. I cite the Board of Trade, which includes among its membership Mr. Speaker and the Archbishop of Canterbury. I am told that this august Board very seldom meets for the purpose of discharging its duties and that its president alone exercises this lofty jurisdiction. There is also the Board of Admiralty in whom is vested the power of what used to be the Lord High Admiral of England.

    It may be that the words:
    "Board in charge of a Government department."
    refer to the Board of Trade and the Board of Admiralty. If so I should have thought it better to put the words in the Clause because the words are ambiguous as they now stand. The draftsman may not have kept abreast of recent political developments. There has been a vast proliferation of boards in the lifetime of this Government. We have the Coal Board and we are threatened with the Iron and Steel Board. If hon. Members opposite get their way, we may have a great number of boards which, if they are not entirely in charge of Government Departments, are at least powerful instruments of policy of these departments, and it may be held that the Minister is in charge of them. It would probably not be very easy to find out who takes charge in every case.

    6.15 p.m.

    I should like the Commission to have direct access not only to the Board of Admiralty, the Board of Trade and other Ministers but to other boards and authorities as well. When we consider the object at which we are all striving with so much unanimity on both sides of the Committee—to preserve to some extent the amenities and natural beauties of the areas to be considered as national parks—it is clear that potentially great offenders exist among those boards. The Electricity Authority has frequently offended or called attention to itself by erecting cooling towers, which are not objects of beauty, in rural areas, and for the purposes of their necessary service to the public they have to carry high tension wires and pylons over a great deal of open country. The Gas Authority has at its disposal for the disfigurement of our land unsightly objects, which are no doubt necessary, called gas holders. There has recently been a dispute about a gas holder at Otford.

    I move this Amendment with an exploratory intention. My view is that if the Minister really means in the words he has used the Board of Trade and the Board of Admiralty, he should say so specifically. If, on the other hand, he means to include all these other authorities, he should use words which are wide enough to do so, because although coal has a board, the others are called authori- ties, councils and goodness knows what. If the Minister would undertake to look at this again and make it clear that the Commission can go to the Electricity Authority or the Gas Authority with a protest about a project without having to go through its Minister in every case, it would be an advantage to the Bill.

    An Amendment in my name which has not been called was designed to deal with much the same point as this Amendment. I hope that the Minister will indicate that the National Parks Commission will have the kind of power envisaged in this Amendment to go direct to a body such as the British Electricity Authority. Let us imagine that the National Parks Commission was in existence. Plans are afoot for a hydroelectric scheme for North Wales. They are known to be drawn up by the British Electricity Authority, and very responsible people like Mr. Justice Birkett, the chairman of the Standing Committee on National Parks, and many others are very concerned.

    It would appear to be reasonable and sensible that at this stage of the drawing up of the plans by the British Electricity Authority, the National Parks Commission, becoming cognisant of the proposals, should have the power to go to the British Electricity Authority and say to it direct, "These proposals are very interesting and important. We recognise the need for electricity, but they will have serious repercussions on North Wales from the point of view of amenities and national parks." In that way it would be possible to get the view of the National Parks Commission and of the British Electricity Authority together, perhaps by the Chairman of the National Parks Commission taking Lord Citrine out to lunch and getting some reasonable adjustment of views at the planning stage.

    If this Amendment is not accepted, if the only meaning of this part of the Clause is confined to the Board of Trade and the Board of Admiralty—who never meet and who therefore can never take any interest in the National Parks Commission—it would mean that, in order to have that desirable interchange of views at this stage, the National Parks Commission would have to go to the Ministry of Town and Country Planning, that Ministry would have to go to the Ministry of Fuel and Power who, in turn, would have to come back to the British Electricity Authority before there could be even informal or reasonable discussion of these proposals. That would be a more elaborate and expensive procedure and more gentlemen would have to take each other out to lunch before we could get a reasonable exchange of views.

    Therefore I hope the Minister will either accept this Amendment or will indicate that in his view it will be right and proper for the National Parks Commission and the British Electricity Authority to get together in the planning stage when developments that will affect national parks areas are discussed.

    First as regards the clarification of the new Clause, I would say that what was intended was the narrower of the two alternatives put forward by the right hon. Gentleman.

    The Board of Trade and the Board of Admiralty. That was the intention. Whether it is right or not is another matter, but that is what we meant by using the words we did. Of course, I hope that the Chairman of the National Parks Commission will use freely the right he has in the Bill of having informal talks with the chairmen of other similar bodies or of nationalised undertakings, and even of receiving a lunch from the Chairman of the Electricity Authority rather than giving one. I think a great deal can be done by informal discussion, and there is nothing in the Bill or in the new Clause which prevents that. In fact, it will be encouraged.

    Of course, in the end, if there is disagreement it is bound to get back to the Minister. Neither of the two chairmen at the end of the day can themselves determine a case where there is disagreement, and the Chairman of the National Parks Commission will have to come back to the Minister of Town and Country Planning, the Chairman of the Electricity Authority will have to go back to his Minister, and the two Ministers will have to argue it out and possibly bring in other Ministers as well. That is unavoidable. As I visualise it, there will be a good deal of agreement arrived at as the result of informal discussions, and I shall encourage them to the fullest possible extent.

    Whether it is necessary to put words into the Bill to indicate something which to me seems to be perfectly obvious, I am not sure. I should like to think about it again to see whether it is desirable to put in something, and whether the simple expedient of the right hon. Gentleman is the best way of doing it. I have my doubts on the latter point because it seems to me to be open to the same charge of ambiguity as is the Clause itself, but I gladly give an undertaking to consider the matter again at a later stage in order to see whether it is necessary to put something in the Clause which at the moment is explicit in my view.

    I have listened to what the Minister has said and I agree with him that perhaps this is not the best way of expressing what is desired. However, there still remains the point of the ambiguity of the language used. The expression "any Board in charge of a Government department" might be read to mean either a Board like the Board of Admiralty or the Board of Trade, or a Board like the Coal Board, and the words "in charge" do not make it clear. I accept the assurance of the Minister that the Act will be so administered as to encourage the National Parks Commission to go direct to the executive boards such as the Electricity and Gas authorities or, at least, that there will be no hindrances placed in their way. While I think it would be better to say straight out, "Board of Trade and Board of Admiralty," as the Minister has undertaken to look at this matter again, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be added to the Bill."

    I am sorry that for a moment I was away from the Committee when the Minister mentioned the words in line 17 "to keep under review." That is a much better alternative to the one I attacked in Committee, but I still wish to make it clear that the new words are not mine. The other matter to which I would call the attention of the Minister and, through him, of the draftsman is that in line 46 he has the words "consult them." That seems to me to be good, straightforward English. In two other passages in this Clause he has "to consult with." He had better make up his mind which of the two forms he believes in and have it uniform throughout the Clause and throughout the Bill. Personally I think it is better to consult somebody than to consult with him.

    Although I am grateful to the Minister for collecting together the general duties of the Commission in one Clause, I think we are entitled to ask how the Commission will work in regard to the powers given in this Clause and in regard to its constitution. Later on the Order Paper there is a new Clause standing in my name and that of my hon. Friends—(Welsh Parks Commission)—which provides for the setting up of a Welsh Parks sub-commission. I understand from the Table that that Clause is not in Order and that it will not be called, so I should like to say a word or two about that aspect of the National Parks Commission now.

    We had a full discussion in the Standing Committee on the proposal whether there should be a sub-commission for Wales, bearing in mind that over 1,300 square miles in Wales are intended to be designated as national parks. We there made the point that a National Parks Commission sitting in London cannot possibly understand the rural economy in Wales or the Welsh way of life sufficiently to advise the local planning, authorities in regard to their duties under this Bill. The consideration of this Clause confirms me still further in that point of view.

    The National Parks Commission has to designate the areas. Among those areas it has to designate will be areas in Wales. Surely that should be the task of a sub-commission sitting in Wales composed of people from Wales who know the conditions there? It has, further, to keep under review the progress made by local authorities. That again, I submit, cannot be done from Whitehall. It has to advise local authorities on local matters, to deal with special problems and to tender advice to the Minister. None of those things can be dealt with as effectively by a central commission as by a local sub-commission.

    6.30 p.m.

    The hon. Member for West Wolverhampton (Mr. H. D. Hughes) referred to the very important hydro-electric proposals for North Wales. He rather alarmed me by suggesting that the future of the area and the people most concerned with the proposals—the people who live there—could be disposed of by a lunch between the Chairman of the National Parks Commission and the Chairman of the British Electricity Authority. The person who would be in the best position to discuss those proposals and their effect on the countryside would be the chairman of a Welsh sub-commission.

    I am very sorry that the Minister has not accepted the lead given to him by the Minister of Agriculture in the setting up of an agricultural land sub-commission for Wales. We have met the Minister on this point and have put our arguments to him, but we have had no adequate reason from him why this proposal was not accepted. We certainly did not receive a satisfactory answer from the Parliamentary Secretary during the Committee stage. I hope that the Minister will say something about it before we leave the Clause.

    I wish to reinforce the arguments which have been put forward by the hon. Member for Merioneth (Mr. Emrys Roberts). I understand that this is the only opportunity we shall have during the progress of the Bill to discuss that important Amendment to the new Clause which appears on the Order Paper.

    The Clause leads us, as Welsh Members, to ask for special consideration to be given to the national parks in Wales. I hope that by now hon. Members will have read the reply given in Committee by the Parliamentary Secretary, a reply which was one of the most disappointing ever given during the Committee stage of the Bill. We are not asking the Minister for anything new. We are simply asking, if possible within the Clause, for power to set up a sub-commission in Wales. We already have such bodies under the Agriculture Act, 1947, and under the Hill Farming and Forestry Acts, whereby a body of persons with powers delegated to them by a national Commission—not all the powers of the Commission, but matters delegated to them by the Commission—may discuss questions which are of significance to Wales.

    It may be asked why we need such a body in Wales. The answer is that we are a nation of our own. We have our own language, our own national library and our own national museum, all of which have something to do with a national parks sub-commission. Every county council in Wales has agreed with the new Clause and I hope, therefore, that the Minister will say something about our proposal. Even the Welsh Tourist Board, and every Welsh committee of which one can think, have been in favour of it. The only person who says nothing at all about it is the Minister, who has a great deal of love for Wales, but whose Department has let him down. I cannot understand why he has not helped us. Amongst the suggestions which have been made to my right hon. Friend, it has been suggested that we should have two Welsh members on the Commission. That would be all right if there were only three members on the Commission, but it is possible that we might have only two members out of nine or 10. Rather than have one Welsh member on the Commission, I would much prefer that that member should be the chairman of a Welsh sub-commission.

    I hope that the Minister will give us greater assurances and a better reply than the Parliamentary Secretary did, so that we can tell our people in Wales that his Department are sympathetic and will look at the matter again; and that if the national parks in England do not come up to expectations and those of Wales do, the status for which we ask may be given to Wales at a later stage. I beg the Minister to give us some assurances better than the replies we have had from the Parliamentary Secretary.

    I support the hon. Members for Merioneth (Mr. Emrys Roberts) and Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Watkins), who have put forward a perfectly reasonable request. It is not often that it lies within the power of my right hon. Friend to make such a gesture as this to the Welsh people. It is obvious that Wales will have a delightful park area of its own, but under the terms of the new Clause the Central Commission will have to advise the Minister on the development of land in that area. Surely the Welsh people themselves should have a voice in the development of land in Wales. We are giving the Minister an opportunity to make the Bill something really substantial for the Principality. I earnestly trust that he will realise that the advice which has been given to him is not only well-meant but is worth taking.

    I must support the Welsh Members on this occasion. I belong to another Celtic race and I say quite frankly that on these occasions it is absolutely right and just that there should be a really strong protest in the House of Commons on the point of view which has been so ably expressed by three Welsh Members today. All too often very little sympathy is shown in Whitehall for distant places. In expressing my support for what has been said on behalf of Wales, and in hoping that the Minister, in the short time left to him, will give them the sympathy for which they have asked and which they deserve, I hope I may go further and express the view that other Governments in the future also will give that sympathy which is deserved.

    Just as it is necessary to make this appeal for Wales on the Clause which is before us, it is equally necessary that we should appeal for consultation with local interests for a park which might be set up in, say, North Devon or Cornwall. For all these places far away from London, it is only right that on such rare occasions as people like myself get the opportunity of speaking in the House of Commons we should speak up for our people and for the areas we represent. It is all very well for people from London, Yorkshire and the big towns—they are strong and powerful—but we are not used to being called the "Celtic fringes"; I should prefer to call them the centres from which originality really springs. We get our chances all too seldom.

    I wish that on this occasion, when Welsh Members and a representative of the West Country have been speaking, we could get a sympathetic reply from the Parliamentary Secretary, who still represents a West Country constituency. I wish also that we could have allied to us today the noble Lady the Member for Anglesey (Lady Megan Lloyd George), whose name and courage we all respect, and whom we expect on this occasion to speak in the name of Wales, for which she and her family have done so much, although naturally she has not that distinguished Liberal outlook of her brother at the present time.

    I should like to assure hon. Members who have spoken on this matter that the problem of Wales has received very serious and sympathetic consideration. I realise that to some extent the fact that a sub-commission of the kind referred to has been set up and sanctified under the agriculture and forestry Acts is an encouragement to them to ask for more. I congratulate the hon. Member for Merioneth (Mr. Emrys Roberts) on his ingenuity in finding a way of circumventing the Rules by speaking on the Amendment which has not been called.

    I very much regret that after the most careful consideration I am not able to do anything like that for which the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends have asked. I will give the Committee the reasons. I think the agriculture and forestry Acts are a false analogy. In the case of those Acts a body was set up as an executive body to do a job on the spot. I suppose there is some case for setting up a sub-committee or sub-commission of those bodies in order to do the job in Wales, but, in the case of this Bill, it has been pointed out over and over again, sometimes as a criticism of the Bill and sometimes as a virtue, that the National Parks Commission is purely an advisory body.

    What the hon. Member and his friends are asking is that there should be another committee set up in Wales to advise the advisers. [Interruption.] Is not that so? That will be their function. I thought their function would be to advise the Commission—

    That has been the case put up, that it would be a body which would advise the Commission on the discharge of their functions in Wales.

    And advise local planning authorities in Wales, looking at Wales as a whole.

    A sub-commission of the Commission is a body answerable to the Commission itself. If it is now suggested that it should be a separate, independent body that is going much further than is even contained in the agriculture and forestry Acts. Apparently, the appetite of the hon. Member increases. I thought the claim always was that it should be merely a sub-commission of the Commission and should be anwerable to the Commission itself.

    In the course of making his case, the hon. Member found it necessary to attack the Commission. What do these advisers, sitting in Whitehall, know, what can they know about Wales, or Northumberland? What can they know about Dartmoor, Exmoor or any other park when they are sitting in Whitehall; therefore, why a Commission at all? Surely the arguments put forward against the Commission dealing with Wales apply with equal force to the Commission dealing with other parts of the country.

    I know that hon. Members cannot help that, but they would destroy the Commission altogether. If they say that the Commission is of no value, what is the value of a sub-commission of a Commission which is of no value?

    Northumberland is not a separate nation; Wales is. The Minister must grasp that essential fact.

    However sympathetic one may be to Welsh nationalism, this is not a Bill to promote Welsh nationalism. It is a National Parks Bill and is designed to promote the welfare and progress of national parks. The hon. Member has not said a single word to show in what way the national parks would be furthered by setting up this sub-commission.

    He made a great point, and I sympathise with him, that these parks should be administered by people who under-Wales—and so they will be. That is the whole purpose of the manner in which the Bill has been drawn; that the national parks should be administered by local people. Therefore the National Park of Snowdonia will probably be administered by a joint board consisting of Caernarvonshire and Merioneth. I presume that the members of those county councils are all Welshmen, fully familiar with conditions in North Wales and capable of representing the outlook and views of North Wales, and they will be the people actually responsible for administering those national parks. The people responsible for administering the Pembroke National Park will be members of the Pembroke County Council, presumably all Welshmen, although I understand that Pembroke is the most English speaking county in Wales.

    6.45 p.m.

    I withdraw that statement. But that is the position, that each of the national parks in Wales will be administered by the appropriate local authorities, which will consist of Welshmen.

    Therefore, we shall get all the local colour and advice and nationalism we can possibly want. There is a regional office for Wales of the Ministry of Town and Country Planning and at the head of that office there is a Welsh speaking Welshman, born and bred in Wales and knowing all about Welsh conditions. That office is fully capable of advising, where necessary, on Welsh matters, and, in fact, the representative of my Ministry in Wales keeps us informed on Welsh conditions and on everything else we may have to know about Wales There is also the National Council for Wales, which was recently set up.

    That National Council for Wales is presided over by a Welshman and there are Welshmen on it who are, presumably, there to advise about conditions in Wales on cultural and other matters.

    Yes, if it is thought necessary they are there available. There will be others. There will be co-opted on to each of the planning committees a number of people recommended by the National Parks Commission and the bias will be in favour of people who are familiar with the conditions in the national parks. They, also, will be an effective link between the local authority and the National Parks Commission. With all this machinery there is no fear whatever that the views of the people of Wales, the views of the people who will be affected by the national parks, will not fully be before the National Parks Commission and the Minister.

    There is the further point which I made when I saw the hon. Member for Merioneth and his colleagues. I promised him that I should be prepared to consider, if suitable, representation of Wales or the appointment of one or more Welshmen to the National Parks Commission. My hon. Friend the Member for Central Cardiff (Mr. G. Thomas) thinks that is not sufficient. If that is rejected—

    that is one more means of ensuring that the views, hopes, aims and aspirations in Wales will be fully before the Commission. This case cannot be made out on the grounds of achieving the purposes of this Bill. This is quite naturally and understandably a means of raising the national prestige of Wales which may be a very desirable object, but it is not the object of this Bill. It is my business to ensure in this Bill that the national parks are administered in the most efficient and economical manner without the creation of unnecessary machinery. I hope that is being achieved while at the same time achieving all the legitimate purposes of those putting forward this scheme.

    I intervene briefly to say how disappointing the Minister's reply has been—as disappointing as the reply we received in Committee upstairs. The Minister has on occasion shown great sympathy and understanding of Welsh problems but he has today shown a singular lack of understanding. He has missed the point of the whole proposal and suggestion put forward by my hon. Friend. He says, "You attack the Commission," and refers to the fact that there are no representatives from Northumberland or Cornwall. I fully appreciate and support the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) in claiming kinship with my race, a kinship which I am glad to acknowledge on all occasions. As I say, the Minister refers to the fact that there is no representative from Northumberland, etc.

    The whole point is that we are asking for representation not because we are a county but because we are a country. The right hon. Gentleman has completely missed that point here. Under this Bill a larger proportion of the land of Wales than of England is to be designated as a national park. Is it not reasonable that we should be allowed even to advise advisors if that is necessary, and I am sure that they will need advice—to advise them how these national parks should be formed and administered particularly if any special problems affecting the Principality arise? An important problem is arising now in connection with the hydroelectric scheme which it is suggested should be incorporated in the most famous of the two national parks. It might be said that these are problems which affect us in a purely economic sense, but if the right hon. Gentleman has any understanding of Welsh feelings he will know that they affect us in a much more fundamental way.

    I would ask him to reconsider this matter. He has not given us a single reason why we should not have a sub-commission. He threw in an observation at the end of his speech about administration. That is the same old argument which is always put up when a reasonable claim is made on behalf of Wales—tidiness of administration, the argument "We cannot do because it will complicate matters, it will have to go through more channels." But if one knows that it will mean as it will in this case, more effective administration why not meet the claim? It would be far better to do so. The Minister will secure far smoother working of this machinery if he has a Welsh sub-Commission because he will find that Welshmen are much more easily dealt with by Welshmen—or Welshwomen.

    Therefore, I again ask him to reconsider the case which has been made. I say, in all seriousness, that these continual refusals to acknowledge the reasonable claims of the Welsh people are exacerbating Welsh feeling. Is it really worth doing that in regard to this Amendment? What will it cost the right hon. Gentleman to give what he is asked to give? If he gives it he will find a ready response and a national response in Wales. If he does not give it he will be surprised at the public feeling which will be aroused.

    I think that the Committee should now be able to come to a decision. In any event it is doubtful whether the discussion is in Order.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause added to the Bill.

    New Clause—(Power Of Drainage Authorities To Do Work In Nature Reserves)

    Where the Nature Conservancy, a local authority or any other person enter into an agreement with a drainage authority for the doing by that authority of any work on land managed as a nature reserve by, or under an agreement with, the Conservancy or a local authority, no limitation imposed by law on the capacity of the drainage authority by virtue of the constitution thereof shall operate so as to prevent the drainage authority carrying out the agreement.—[ Mr. King.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

    I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    This Clause has already been discussed in reverse by the Committee. We previously asked the Committee to approve a Clause giving powers to the Nature Conservancy and local authorities running a nature reserve to employ a drainage authority as their agent. This Clause permits drainage authorities to be employed as the agent of the Nature Conservancy or the local authority in carrying out work where the Nature Conservancy or the local authority require them to do so.

    This new Clause draws attention to the fact that water may be of vital importance to nature reserves. That is so throughout the Fenland area. I welcome this new Clause, but I should like to express regret that it does not go far enough. In order to explain my reasons, perhaps I might explain the position in regard to a private nature reserve in my constituency. Hon. Members will recollect that when the Fens were drained a large proportion of the natural wild life of those parts disappeared, for various reasons. This private nature reserve is included in the area administered by the Middle Level Commissioners, and in it there are two very famous and exceptional butterflies. Those butterflies are there because they live on a rare plant which is very thirsty and which must have water, and if the level of the water is lowered by the drainage commissioners there is a danger that the plant will die and that the two rare butterflies will have nothing upon which to feed and will be exterminated within the British Isles.

    It may be that there are others as well. I am speaking of species and not individual specimens; I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his intervention.

    The recent exceptional dry weather we have had brought matters to a head recently for this nature reserve. The level of the water sank lower and lower, and the society which is responsible for the nature reserve had to arrange a hasty meeting with the drainage commissioners, who were most fortunately co-operative and amenable in the matter. One can envisage circumstances, however, in which there might be a conflict of interest. In reading Part III of this Bill, which deals with nature conservation, I am a little surprised to find that there is no provision, so far as I can see, to ensure that there shall be a sufficient level of water in all nature reserves where that matter is of importance.

    Therefore, while welcoming this Clause because it at least introduces some reference to co-operation between the Nature Conservancy and the drainage board, I regret that it does not go further and make it obligatory on the drainage board to maintain that level of water which will enable the Nature Conservancy to be an effective nature reserve. By the amplification of this Clause in another place, it would be possible to achieve that aim. I shall be glad to hear what the Parliamentary Secretary has to say about the point.

    The hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Renton) has made a most interesting speech, but the burden of his complaint is that there are not even greater powers in the Bill, or specific powers, dealing with the problem which he raised. I scarcely think that one would expect to find that provided in the Bill. The Bill contains no kind of limit on the sort of agreement into which the Nature Conservancy may enter with a drainage board. If problems arise in the Nature Conservancy or if there is an agreement with a private reserve, there is nothing in the Bill to prevent the taking of such action as the hon. Member has indicated should be taken.

    7.0 p.m.

    Well, it is the duty of the Nature Conservancy to carry out their function, and their function is to conserve nature. If it is necessary to do what the hon. Gentleman suggests, they have the full right to enter into agreements with drainage boards to do that.

    Supposing that they fail to obtain the necessary co-operation from the drainage board, what is to happen then? Is the Nature Conservancy to withdraw and surrender its intention, or what is to happen?

    —which cannot possibly be answered. In this country we have a variety of local authorities and any one of them may fail to agree with another on any subject. It is impossible to lay down in an Act of Parliament which authority in such circumstances shall be able to dictate to the other, and that is what the hon. Gentleman is asking.

    The Parliamentary Secretary described my point as a hypothetical one. I thought I had explained—I hope with some clarity—that it was a practical point, based on circumstances which have occurred during the past few weeks, and may very easily occur again. Surely this is a matter which must receive further consideration. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will at least give an undertaking to consider the matter further. I am quite willing to give him the facts which will enable him to get in touch with the authorities concerned in this particular case, if that would be of assistance to him.

    Let me say at once that I would be most interested to receive the particulars of any such difficulty, if the hon. Gentleman will let me have them; but so far as the law is concerned, I do not think that he has produced any argument to make one think that this particular Clause should be altered.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

    New Clause—(Liability For Repair Of Public Paths)

    (1) Subject to the following provisions of this Part of this Act, the rule of law whereby a highway is repairable by the inhabitants at large shall apply to all public paths, whether coming into existence before or after the commencement of this Act, notwithstanding anything contained in any enactment passed or made before the commencement of this Act; and accordingly the enactments relating to highways so repairable shall have effect in relation to all such public paths.

    (2) Without prejudice to the generality of the last foregoing subsection,—

  • (a) no order made under section twenty-one of the Highway Act, 1864, or section twenty-four of the Highways and Locomotives (Amendment) Act, 1878, (which sections provide for the making of orders for discontinuing the maintenance of unnecessary highways) shall have effect after the commencement of this Act as respects any public path; and
  • (b) after the commencement of this Act no proceedings shall be instituted under either of the said sections for an order relating to a public path.
  • (3) Where apart from this section any person would be under an obligation to repair a public path, whether under any enactment, or by reason of tenure, enclosure, prescription or otherwise,—

  • (a) the operation of subsection (1) of this section shall not release him from the obligation, but
  • (b) if in the performance of their duty under the said subsection (1) the highway authority repair the public path, they may recover from the said person the necessary expenses of so doing:
  • Provided that the right of recovery conferred by paragraph ( b) of this subsection shall not be exercisable unless, before repairing the path, the highway authority have given notice to the said person that the path is in need of repair, specifying a reasonable time within which he may repair the path, and the said person has failed to repair the path within that time.—[ Mr. King.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

    I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    I am very conscious that this is apparently a lengthy and formidable Clause, and the Committee may therefore expect me to introduce it at some length. In fact, I do not think it is so formidable as it appears. Those hon. Members who have followed the Bill through in Committee, and are familiar with the old Clauses 47 and 48 (1), will realise that this is not very much more than an improved drafting of those two Clauses. The first five or six lines will please the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling) and the hon. Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson) and one or two other hon. Members, who during the Committee stage, urged that further provision should be made on the question of the repairability of footpaths; particularly footpaths where there was presumed dedication. I think that the first six lines bring out the point well, and make clear that we have now made provision, as far as anyone would reasonably wish, that all paths are repairable by the inhabitants at large. That is the most important effect of the Clause now before the Committee.

    Although this Clause is somewhat like the old Clause 47, I never thought that the old Clause was very clear or satisfactory. I think that everyone is in favour of the repair of footpaths being placed upon the inhabitants at large—because they use them and it is only right that they should repair them—without all the obscurity which at present surrounds that liability. It does appear however that we shall have a double liability; a liability on the inhabitants at large and another liability on the person liable under an Act or under an Enclosure Award or ratione tenurœ.

    I personally intensely dislike subsection (3). It might be said that we do not wish to relieve someone of an existing liability and that we ought to have this Clause. But if we once decide to make public footpaths repairable by the inhabitants at large we must release the other person from the liability, otherwise we shall have a constant war at law between the highway authority and the person whom they claim is at present liable. That is my broad objection to the way in which this Clause is drafted.

    The Parliamentary Secretary may say it was also in Clause 42. Many people did not like Clause 42. In my view this new draft is worse than Clause 42 because it does not clarify the position in this respect as did Clause 42. Subsection (3, b) of the proposed new Clause states:
    "if in the performance of their duty under the said subsection (1) the highway authority repair the public path, they may recover from the said person the necessary expenses of so doing."
    The "said person" is the person they deem to be liable for the repair of the footpath. That is very unfair on that person because it takes no regard to what is the extent of his present liability. I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary and his legal advisers will well know that there is no more complex part of the law of England than this question of highway law and the law regarding the repair of footpaths. I am sorry that there are no legal advisers present at this time to assist us.

    I think I am right in saying, and with his legal knowledge the Parliamentary Secretary will correct me if I am wrong, that the present law is that the standard of repair of footpaths shall be the standard existing at the time of dedication. Therefore, if the dedication was in the old days when these footpaths were tracks across the country, we cannot ask the person liable for repair to make some horrid asphalt path in their place. The highway authority may well have to repair that path on quite a different standard, but as this Clause is drafted they could put the bill on the person liable for the whole extent of that cost. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will try to meet us on this point.

    I am sure that every hon. Member will have had experience of many examples of long disputes in villages on this question of the liability of footpaths. Since I have represented my constituency I have had many such experiences with villages. I should be pleased if the whole of the correspondence could be removed from me, and that the highway authority could take it over. It is unfair to place on people of small means this very expensive liability which is imposed on them by the drafting of this Clause, especially by the words:
    "… the necessary expense of so doing."

    I can only make it clear that no additional liability is placed on anyone by this Clause.

    I am sorry there is no Law Officer of the Crown present this afternoon. I should have thought that if we could not have had present the English Law Officer—in view of certain matters happening today—one of the Scottish Law Officers could have helped us. The Clause states:

    "… they may recover from the said person the necessary expenses of so doing."
    I cannot see how the Parliamentary Secretary can glibly say that it does not give them the power to recover more than the existing liability. If he inserts wording that it shall be subject to that proviso I think it will be all right, but I hope he will get some legal declaration on this matter.

    I wish to ask one question about the repair of stiles, and so on, which run across footpaths. After reading the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Standing Committee, I am not clear where the liability lies. I gather that if in the past the repair of the stiles has been the responsibility of the occupier or owner of the land, that liability remains. In circumstances where the authorities have to do the repair of stiles and gates, I wish to ask what is the position where a footpath leads from one farm to another. Under the regulations governing T.T. herds, it is necessary for a farmer to have a double fence between his land and that of his neighbour. If that is to be effective, there must be a double stile. If the existing stile is repairable by the highway authority, is it the liability of the authority to put up the double stile which is necessary if the farmer is to comply with the regulations? If the farmer is responsible for repairing the stile, and he puts up a double stile, will the inhabitants be able to remove the second stile on the ground that it is an obstruction?

    I wish to put a question which presents a little difficulty and which requires consideration. There may be a public right of passage on foot without a public right for the passage of vehicles. For instance, the owner of land on which there is a road leading to a mill may want to use that road for vehicles, and he may have to keep it in repair himself without being under any legal obligation to do so. In addition to that use by him for his vehicles, there may be a public right of passage on foot. In that sense, it is a public highway. This Clause puts the duty of repairing that public highway on the local authority. Is the local authority to repair that route up to the standards of fitness for foot passengers, or is it to accept the obligation of making that road adequate for the carriage of vehicles? That is a position which is bound to arise in a number of cases where there is a public right of passage on foot, but no greater public right than that.

    My second question is similar to that put by my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton). Cases may arise where there is an obligation on someone else to repair a public path, which is only an obligation to a limited extent—an obligation which is shared jointly by many occupiers under the Enclosure Acts. As I see the position, if the local authority acts under subsection (3), it could recover the total cost of repairing that highway from any one of the adjoining occupiers who under an Enclosure Act might be liable to contribute in some degree to the expense of the repair. It seems to me to be wrong that by virtue of this Clause the liability of someone else should be increased. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will consider that matter and try to meet the point by a drafting Amendment at a later stage.

    7.15 p.m.

    My hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) mentioned a footpath running across two farms on land which was fenced because of the presence of a T.T. herd. The problem he mentioned has already arisen in my constituency, and I should think that it has arisen elsewhere. It arose where there was a path on which there was a gate which it was necessary to maintain. As far as I know, it has never been held that the local authority was responsible for complying with any sort of regulations affecting T.T. herds. That may be right or wrong. It is the occupier who is responsible for complying with those regulations and, surely, it is the duty of the occupier to maintain an appropriate fence and the gates which may be part of it.

    I should like to know more about the position in which a highway is repairable by the inhabitants at large—in other words, by the local authority. I believe that the Parliamentary Secretary has already said that that has always been the law. Local authorities have always been liable to maintain any highway in their area. However, the question of what sort of maintenance they think is appropriate and necessary is a very different matter. I hope that under this Bill there will be no question of bringing pressure to bear on local authorities to metal long footpaths or rights of way leading across country which are very little used by the local people, for the benefit of possible visitors from London and elsewhere. Will any pressure be put on the local authority to maintain these highways at a much higher standard than the present one? I hope that we shall have an assurance from the Parliamentary Secretary that this Clause will not be used to interfere with the discretion of highway authorities in this matter.

    This has been an interesting Debate and I appreciate the various points made by hon. Members. First, I will deal with the major point and, secondly, I will refer to the number of small legal subsidiary questions which, frankly, are difficult to answer straight away, and some of which I cannot attempt to answer. The major point was raised by the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton). There is a problem here, and it is not easy to solve it. We are left with laws of past centuries which provide that it is the duty of private persons to repair certain roads. To many of us that seems to be out of date and generally undesirable. Most of us would agree that the public interest would be better served if that kind of private obligation were removed. At the same time, we must face the fact that it cannot be any purpose of this Bill to remove from a landlord or the owner of a path any obligation—usually a financial obligation—attached to it.

    I hope that the hon. Gentleman has given consideration to the recommendation on this very point in the Report of the Special Committee on Footpaths and Access to the Countryside. That Report said:

    "The surviving liabilities of individuals for the repair and maintenance of rights of way … are of little significance, and difficult to establish. The trouble of ascertaining the degree of liability and of supervising the work of maintenance is frequently more costly in time and money than prompt repair by the authority. We recommend, therefore, that they should no longer be enforceable."
    It was understood that this Bill was to give effect to that recommendation.

    I was well aware of that. We have studied the Report. It does not deal with the financial aspect.

    The solution we have adopted is that in future the highway authority should be responsible for maintaining the path or road. But if the highway authority can discover, and can prove, that some other private person was, and still is, responsible for the upkeep, then they can reclaim from that person the amount properly spent upon the road. As the hon. Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson) pointed out, many of these obligations are so obtuse and obscure that it is questionable whether a local authority would find it worth while to try to claim at all. I have no doubt that, in some cases, they would drop to the ground, but, where a claim can be submitted and proved, that obligation is laid upon the highway authority to make that claim and recover, in the interests of the community as a whole, what they can recover.

    That is the position under the new Clause, and I think it is reasonable, though I am bound to admit that in the Ministry we have had the gravest doubts about how best this can be arranged. I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend, who is not here at the moment, will read with great care the speeches made on this point, and it is quite possible, although this is not a promise, that if we can find a better way of dealing with the problem we shall be glad to do so. Beyond that, I do not think I ought to go.

    There were a number of subsidiary points put to me, and may I deal first with that about T.T. herds? In so far as the hon. and gallant Member for Petersfield (Sir G. Jeffreys) was thinking of the creation of new paths—

    I think the main point is that it would not be policy to create new paths at all.

    I never suggested, or thought of suggesting, the creation of new paths, but there are to my certain knowledge existing paths and highways which run between farms where there are T.T. herds and where difficulties do occur.

    I do not want the Committee to derive any kind of fear that we are going to interfere with anything which may affect T.T. herds. A highway authority assumes responsibility for maintaining the length of the way. Sometimes, it is not easy to discover whether the stiles mentioned are across the way or alongside it. In so far as they were across the way, it would be the duty of the highway authority to maintain the path, but they would not assume any responsibility for anything like gates, stiles or anything else which was not necessary to transit by passengers. Nor do we think that they are bound to do anything more in the way of maintaining the standard of the surface than the standard of surface at the time of dedication.

    There is one point which the Parliamentary Secretary has not cleared up. Supposing it is the liability of the farmer to put up a double stile, have the public the right of pulling it up and throwing it away as an obstruction?

    Has the hon. Gentleman in mind the stile going across the footpath or alongside the footpath? If the stile is already there as a right, it remains there; there is nothing in the Clause about anyone removing it, and anyone who tried to remove it would be a trespasser and liable to prosecution.

    Is the hon. Gentleman going to reply to the speeches of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) and myself?

    I think we must ask the hon. Gentleman to go further and deal with this serious point. In subsection (3) we may well have a heavier burden cast upon a person who is under an obligation to repair a public path than now exists. If the hon. Gentleman will say that it is his desire not to increase that burden by this new Clause, and that, if necessary, he will import words into it to make that quite clear, it will satisfy my hon. Friend and myself on that point. The hon. Gentleman said nothing about that, nor did he say anything at all in answer to the point which I myself raised.

    I am sorry if I did not grasp the hon. and learned Gentleman's first point. I think the result at which the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton has arrived was reached by omitting to read line 15, which reads:

    "(3) Where apart from this Section any person would be under an obligation to repair a public path"—
    and, later, it goes on—
    "shall not release him from the obligation."
    With the removal of that obligation, I admit that nothing further could be recovered from him than the expense which he would have incurred if he had done what he was in fact in law bound to do. That is the interpretation which I place upon the new Clause, but we are sometimes wrong, and it may be that I am wrong now. If I am wrong, I shall certainly take the point and be glad to look at it again, but that is our intention.

    I do not think it is relevant to whom I refer it, so long as we get justice.

    I am afraid I am not clear or satisfied with the explanation of the Parliamentary Secretary regarding the liabilities of an owner who puts up a double fence across a footpath at the edge of his farm in order to comply with the regulations regarding an attested herd. Presumably, there was always one gate there, and that was all right, but if the owner puts up a second one, he may render himself liable for causing an obstruction; the public would have the right of uprooting it or getting rid of it, and he would have no power of getting compensation.

    I can see the same thing happening in other cases of farms in open arable country, where a farmer, in full accordance with good husbandry, was going to put a ley down to grass, when it would be necessary to have a fence which did not exist before, as well as another gate. Would that farmer be liable to be accused of placing an obstruction across the path? It seems to me that the two cases are very similar, though they are both cases not likely to arise today and have not arisen very often in the past, because there were no T.T. herds and the system of ley farming was not involved as it is today. I think this important point should be cleared up so that farmers may know where they stand in this matter.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause read a Second time.

    I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed new Clause, in subsection (3), to leave out "whether."

    This Amendment, and the following Amendment, in line 16, to leave out
    "or by reason of tenure, enclosure, prescription or otherwise"
    are concerned with the same point. The purpose and intended effect of the two Amendments is that subsection (3) would then read:
    "(3) Where apart from this section any person would be under an obligation to repair a public footpath, under any enactment"—
    the provisions of (a) and (b) would apply, and the liability would rest upon him. I have listened with close attention to the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary, in which he has explained why this new Clause has been moved. It is in partial fulfilment of what I regard as the undertaking given by the Minister during the Second Reading of this Bill, when he said:
    "The Bill provides, for the first time, for a liability for the maintenance of footpaths. This will now rest fairly and squarely on highway authorities."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st March, 1949; Vol. 463, c. 1478.]
    7.30 p.m.

    The House understood from the Minister's statement, and from part of the original Clause in the Bill, that it was the intention of the Government to give effect to the very important recommendations of the Special Committee on Footpaths and Access to the Countryside, presided over by Sir Arthur Hobhouse. The Parliamentary Secretary says that he has given careful attention to Chapter IV. The Committee pointed out, what was already known to lawyers and those concerned with legal administration, that there is no branch of the English law which is more difficult and obscure than the law relating to footpaths and rights of way and the obligation that rests either upon certain individuals or upon local authorities to repair these footpaths and keep up these rights of way.

    The kind of difficulty which arises is largely caused by the Highways Act of 1835, Section 23 of which provides that no road or occupation way dedicated or created after 20th March, 1835, shall be deemed to be repairable by the highway authority unless the individual or body dedicating gave notice to the authority and complied with certain conditions. Naturally, and I have had personal experience of this, when the liability for the upkeep of a footpath depends on whether the dedication had taken place before 20th March, 1835, it is a matter that involves a very great deal of research; it is extremely difficult to bring home a liability of that kind. After dealing with the matter at some length, the Committee pointed out that when highways are created by Statute, it is possible for an obligation to maintain them to be laid upon private individuals who benefit by their creation. They then go on to give three different ways, none of which, they say, is of much practical importance, in which individuals may be held responsible to maintain these rights of ways ratione tenurae, ratione clausurae and ratione documenti.

    They go on to point out—and I will venture to read some of this again, because it is extremely relevant, not only to the Amendment but to the reconsideration which the Parliamentary Secretary has undertaken to give to this Clause, reconsideration without commitment or obligation, as I fully realise—that the present state of the law is unsatisfactory, not only because of the fact that the obligations depend upon what was the state of facts in March, 1835, but because different local authorities interpret their obligations under that Act in different ways. They then go on to say, in effect, that we should take this opportunity to clear away this whole jungle of decided cases and the many problems which are still undecided, and put the financial and legal responsibility fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the local authorities in the way that the Minister thought he was doing when he introduced this Bill on Second Reading, when he certainly said that it was being done.

    I was very much surprised at what I understood to be the interpretation the Parliamentary Secretary put a few moments ago upon paragraph 68 of this Report. I will read it again.
    "The surviving liabilities of individuals for the repair and maintenance of rights of way … are of little significance, and difficult to establish, The trouble of ascertaining the degree of liability and of supervising the work of maintenance is frequently more costly in time and money than prompt repair by the authority. We recommend, therefore, that they should no longer be enforceable."
    If I understood the Parliamentary Secretary aright, he understood that as meaning that the financial liability should continue as it is at the present time, and that all that the local authority would undertake would be the actual carrying out of the repairs to the footpaths. I am bound to say that I do not think the word "enforceable" can possibly bear that meaning. It does I think mean, in view of the comparatively small expenditure involved, that the whole of this unprofitable learning, dating back to the earliest times, should be swept away and that the highway authorities should fairly and squarely undertake liability for it.

    I now come to the Amendment which I have moved. The Parliamentary Secretary may say that it is not a very logical one, but it is genuinely intended to meet the point which the Minister made during the Committee stage when this matter was under discussion. He said that he had a good deal of sympathy with the recommendations on this point in the Hobhouse Report, but went on to say that he felt a good deal of hesitation in undertaking a liability for the ratepayers which at present rested upon private individuals.

    In the new Clause, the financial obligation is preserved in any case where under any enactment, or by reason of tenure, enclosure prescription, or otherwise, there is any financial liability. When we begin to ascertain whether there is a liability under prescription or otherwise we are apt to get involved in the most difficult points of law, and in even more difficulty in ascertainment of fact, because it has to go back so very far. Therefore, we are moving this Amendment in order to do away with obligations that can only be proved with very great difficulty.

    The reason that we are leaving in "any enactment" is that if there is any private Act of Parliament which, for example, authorises an enclosure, where the obligation is printed and can be pointed to and where no great difficulty or cost is involved in proving that liability, then there we would propose that that liability should continue. It is in order to clarify this position, to do away with all this uncertainty, and to avoid long and costly litigation, often, in the words of the Committee, far more costly than actually getting the job carried out, that I move this Amendment.