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Clause 82—(Wardens)

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 19 July 1949

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I beg to move, in page 61, line 30, after "local," to insert "planning."

Clause 82 gives authority for the appointment of wardens, and the first words of the Clause are:—
"A local authority may appoint such number of persons as may appear to the authority to be necessary or expedient to act as wardens …."
Seeing that hitherto the authorities, for the purpose of national parks and access, have been local planning authorities, I put this Amendment down in order to make sure whether, in fact, it was the local planning authority or the local authority that was to appoint the wardens. "Local authority" has a different meaning from "local planning authority." The former is defined in the Local Government Act and includes all sorts of local authorities which are not planning authorities. Consequently, I have put down this Amendment in case there has been a mistake.

I appreciate that the point is one of importance, but I think the words "local authority", do in fact include the similar phrase "local planning authority," and therefore both are covered.

Amendment negatived.

I beg to move in page 61, line 31, after "persons" to insert:

"having a knowledge of country life and of flora and fauna."
The persons referred to, of course, are the wardens who were spoken of on the last Amendment. I believe that one of the main objectives of this Bill is to try to provide visitors from the towns with a better knowledge of country life, both for its own sake and also because, if that knowledge is acquired, there will be far less risk of friction in the national parks between the visitors and the old inhabitants.

I believe that the right channel for that instruction, if it can be managed, is through the wardens. If the wardens are able to give that instruction, it will enormously enhance their authority and enhance it in the best way. They are not required to be policemen in the ordinary sense. They want to guide people rather than to order them about. I believe that in no way can they gain the necessary authority better than by being able to supply visitors with the sort of information they want, which will be very largely in regard to the flora and fauna, plants and animals, in the national parks.

My hon. Friends and I are not wedded to these particular words, which I admit are rather cumbrous, but the Amendment to be made can include their sense. It may be said that we are asking too much and that if we can get wardens who are honest, sober, and reliable, it is rather too much to ask them also to have a know- ledge of flora and fauna. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Hon. Members opposite say "Hear, hear"; but I should like to point out that in another country it was quite customary for all keepers in very much the same position to have to pass an examination in elementary natural history before they got their jobs. In Austria, all the jaegers had to pass the examination in natural history to be able to recognise common birds, plants and so on. Apparently they had no difficulty in doing it. I think that in the course of a few months, the wardens, if they were, as I think they would be, born countrymen, would be able to learn what they were talking about.

I do not want to quarrel with the ambitions of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I would like the wardens to be honest, sober, and have a knowledge of flora and fauna, but I would hate to arrange a priority of these four qualities and embody that in the Bill, because it would be really impracticable. It is unwise to try to describe in a Statute a sort of person to whom one gives an appointment. We have all fairly clearly in our minds the hon. and gallant Gentleman's idea of the type of person we should appoint. I hope that, with that assurance, he will not seek to have this embodied in the Statute, for it would mean embodying in the Statute a long list of qualities, which would not be appropriate.

I do not want a long list. I want a knowledge of flora and fauna. Apparently I am not going to get it, and therefore I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.