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Ulster Countryside Committee

Volume 990: debated on Thursday 7 August 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland why the annual report of the Ulster Countryside Committee to 30 June 1978 was not signed until 20 November 1979 and not published until last month; what action he proposed to take on its principal recommendations; and if he will make a statement.

Staff changes in the secretariat, drafting consultations with the Countryside Committee and a printing dispute combined to produce a regrettable and unreasonable delay in publication. The Government have nevertheless made progress on a number of the recommendations such as the review of legislation. But we have not been able to meet the committee's request for a substantial increase in the number of staff engaged in countryside conservation.

While noting the Minister's very proper censures and trusting that arrangements will be made for this lapse not to recur, will he ensure that special attention is paid to the recommendations of the outgoing committee of two years ago on areas of outstanding natural beauty and on consultation over planning decisions in rural areas?