asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will use his powers under the National Parks Act to expedite the preparation of maps and statements relating to the footpath survey.
My right hon. Friend is ready to consider using his power of direction if it is in fact likely to secure faster progress. This may not be the case where a large number of rights of way are in dispute.
In welcoming that reply, may I ask my hon. Friend to follow up his inquiries to see whether something cannot be done, particularly in the case of those counties which show no interest in getting on with the job and which are over 10 years behindhand?
My right hon. Friend is aware of the delays and is actively considering the best way of speeding things up.
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will appoint staff that could be seconded to assist county councils in completing their footpath surveys.
This is the county councils' responsibility, and my right hon. Friend thinks the work is best done by their own staffs.
Is not my hon. Friend aware that in some instances counties make the excuse that they do not have staff to carry out this work? In that case, cannot something be done to help them?
I appreciate that. On the other hand, this is essentially work in which local knowledge is important, because it depends upon the assessment of footpaths which are very much a local matter. It is, therefore, difficult to see how help from the centre would speed things up.