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Second Schedule—(General Restric-Tions To Be Observed By Persons Having Access To Open Country Or Waterways By Virtue Of Part V Of Act)

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 19 July 1949

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I beg to move: In page 84, line 23, to leave out sub-paragraph (h).

May I say at once that it is not my desire to see sub-paragraph (h) deleted and nothing put in its place. I raise this matter as a matter for my constituents who are deeply concerned about it. My constituency as, no doubt, many others of like notoriety, is famous in one part for its great stretches of wild daffodils which are the delight not only of my constituents but of many hundreds of thousands of people who come to look at them. Under the existing law one cannot restrain people from picking wild daffodils and therefore destroying their beauty for other visitors. The wild daffodil is a flower which propagates by its seed and if one plucks a daffodil one loses future daffodils.

I took the opportunity of making a personal examination of what was happening a few months ago, and I can tell the House that when I arrived there I found a tradesman's van ensconced in the centre of the daffodil area. A commercial transaction was going on. They were getting the daffodils and loading up the van although all round the Council for the Preservation of Rural England and other societies locally interested had put up warning notices asking people to restrain these individuals from this selfish practice.

As I went further along the next 20 miles I found the road was strewn with bruised daffodils that had fallen from bicycles or other vehicles. Unless we can do something by this Measure that very great area of beauty, Farndale, will lose its beauty because Parliament has not done anything about it. I ask the Minister to apply his mind to this problem. We in the North Riding of Yorkshire have been the most forward county in our planning schemes. We were the first county in England to pass an interim planning scheme, yet we have failed to deal with this problem of the type of wild flower propagated by seed. Looking at sub-paragraph (h) I feel that the Minister has also failed to cope with the problem.

I ask the right hon. Gentleman to find, either here or in another place, a form of words to preserve, not only for my constituents but, what is more important, for the people of the whole of the north of England, a sight of beauty that has existed in the past and which, unless he takes action, will be lost for ever. I beg him to find a stronger form of words. If we stopped the picking of all wild flowers we would be creating unnecessary hardship. There is no harm in children picking daisies or buttercups but when we get commercial undertakings destroying acres of daffodils, they are doing something which is not in the interest of national parks, and this part of my constituency is in the area of a national park.

I am sure the whole House will agree with the spirit of what the hon. Gentleman has said. I am bound to say I do not find it easy to reply, but he has moved an Amendment in the opposite sense to what he wants done and this makes life a little confusing. I was a little puzzled when I saw the Amendment on the Order Paper, but I now understand that the hon. Gentleman only wants to draw attention to the matter. I would not claim that the Bill sets out to do away with all the troubles about which we have heard. I would claim however that it does not make them worse but makes them better. Here in the Second Schedule it makes a person who commits the sort of thing about which the hon. Gentleman complains a trespasser. He is that already. Further, under the Bill it is possible for by-laws to be created and there will be further penalties. I suggest, therefore, that in this Bill, having regard to its object, we have done all we can.

May I interrupt on one point? Sub-paragraph (h) does not deal with picking of the wild daffodil. It deals with the injury or removal or destruction of a plant. It is the destruction of the propagation which is not included in this paragraph.

Yes; I am convinced of that. I should like to have time to read through this Second Schedule, because from the words which the hon. Gentleman has quoted, it is an arguable point. If after further examination I find there is more in the point than I thought, we shall take steps to deal with it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: In page 84, line 28, at end, insert:

"or to fasten it if any means of so doing is provided."—[Mr. King.]

Bill read the Third time, and passed.

[See Col. 1385, 20th July, 1949.]