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The Earl of Onslow: There was recently a group of bell-ringers who were accused of making too much noise and were prevented from ringing the bells. I am indebted to my noble friend Lord Elton for that point, he has just reminded me that I pinched it from him, but it is too good not to be used.

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It is fair to say that we are talking about motorcycles going cross-country through the national parks with a lot of noise, model aeroplanes and high-speed boats. I suspect that none of your Lordships carry out any of those activities. Their attraction is to the young. We must be extremely careful in saying that the young should not have those relatively harmless sports. It is perfectly fair to suggest that they should be rationed, controlled and not allowed everywhere, but we must strike a balance.

If we insert the words "quiet enjoyment", I do not believe that that will enable us to strike a balance. Surely there is a little bit of Lake Bala or Lake Windermere where someone can play on a water-ski without disturbing everyone.

Lord Elis-Thomas: No.

The Earl of Onslow: I believe that there is. Surely there is a small part somewhere where people may be allowed to go cross-country.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley: Will the noble Lord accept that what he is talking about has nothing at all to do with the amendment? The amendment has nothing to do with forbidding anything.

The Earl of Onslow: I do not accept that at all, because it is exactly what we are talking about: promoting quiet enjoyment. Of course that is right, but what we must not do is to exclude some activities, from bell-ringing to motorcycling, which in a small way should be allowed, provided they do not impinge on others. I plead for tolerance from middle age and old age to youth.

Lord Moran: I support the amendment which has been comprehensively and capably moved by the noble Lord, Lord Norrie. The amendment is quite right. Its purpose was defined clearly by the Edwards Committee when it said that:


    "Noisy and intrusive recreational activities should be permitted only on sites where they cause no undue annoyance to other park users and no lasting environmental damage to the fabric of the park itself".

I believe that that is right. The committee defined "noisy and intrusive activities" as,


    "motorcycle scrambling, .. four-wheel drive vehicles away from highways ... trail bikes, powerboats and microlight aircraft".

I am sorry that the Sports Council should have seen fit to oppose the amendment. I take very much the point made by the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, that young people must be able to pursue these noisy activities, but they should pursue them in the right place. I have long suggested to the Sports Council that, for example, it ought to buy some hills which are not of conservation importance and arrange for motorcycle scrambling to take place there rather than scattered throughout the national parks and other parts of the countryside which are precious, and particularly so at present. That is where they should turn their energies.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Williams, I hope that the Government will examine the amendment and if necessary amend the drafting. One point concerns me. I realise that the amendment is not supposed to affect

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traditional country sports. I fear, however, that if accepted as it stands, it would be interpreted by some national park authorities as giving them the green light to stop, let us say, hunting and shooting, which undoubtedly make a noise. That would be a great pity. Perhaps the government lawyers and the parliamentary draftsman should be invited to see whether the principle of quiet enjoyment, which is very important, can be preserved while avoiding the risk to traditional country sports.

Lord Milverton: I support the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Norrie. There is a place for the principle behind the amendment. As previous speakers have said, if the Government cannot accept it, then, as the noble Lord, Lord Williams suggested, I hope that they will say, "Yes, we will look to see how we can improve it." As the right reverend Prelate said, there is an important need for people to have a place where they can go to enjoy quiet, spiritual refreshment and not be disturbed by excessive noise. Whatever some people may say, there are many who appreciate the fact that they can enjoy the beauty of nature and creation and find refreshment, not just physically and mentally, but spiritually too. There is a place for the amendment. I do not believe that we are being unkind to those who want to go roaring about on motorbikes and the like. If anything, often those people need to give a bit of thought to others.

Lord Dubs: I support the amendment and the comment made by the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas. Those of us who enjoy the national parks—I very much enjoy the Lake District—are frequently afflicted by low-flying aircraft which fly beneath us in the valleys. They hunt in pairs and make an incredible amount of noise. I appreciate the enormous skill of the pilots but I have mixed feelings about whether it is admiration of their skill or annoyance at the noise which influences me most. Frankly, after a day of walking on the fells and being "attacked" repeatedly by low-flying aircraft one wishes that they would stop. I appreciate that the pilots have to learn somewhere. I do not suggest that they should be banned from these areas altogether. I wish, however, that the frequency of flights could be moderated. It does not have to happen all day, on week days, day after day. Any noble Lords who walk in the Lake District in August will be aware of what I am talking about. Can the Government reduce the activities of low-flying aircraft? If the amendment is passed, perhaps the Crown will be bound by it.

4.15 p.m.

Lord Elton: I do not think that there is any question that it is desirable—the Committee is agreed that it is desirable—that one should be able to get deep peace and quiet in the national parks. Two questions arise. The first is: should that peace and quiet be available throughout the national parks to the exclusion of any other activity, or should other activities be compressed or restrained within particular areas? I am very much in sympathy with what my noble friend Lord Gisborough said, and also with the remarks of my noble friend Lord Ullswater. I still call him my noble friend in spite of his

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self-declared theft of my lines. The second question is whether the amendment as tabled would have the effect that the Committee wishes in achieving either of those aims.

The noble Lord, Lord Williams of Elvel, suggested that we should discount the effects of the drafting. I accept that government are better at drafting than are Members. One must look at the drafting as an indication of what is intended; one must listen to the mover. Both my noble friend Lord Norrie and, in an intervention, the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, whose name is to the amendment but who has not yet spoken to it, have emphasised that the amendment would not ban anything. Yet most of the debate has been about banning low-flying aircraft, chain-saws and motor-boats. There is a confusion somewhere; the Committee is discussing something that does not appear on the Marshalled List. Therefore there must be a defect, either in what is described or in the actual effect of the amendment.

I suggest that we need not only to listen to what is intended by the amendment, but also to what could be achieved by it as it stands. It strikes in a paragraph of the Bill and affects what the authorities can promote. It changes the order of the words and it adds the word "quiet", which is so attractive and seductive. Either that involves prohibiting noisy enjoyment or it has no effect. Therefore the answer to my first question is that it is right that noisy activities should, where possible, be restrained within particular areas. The answer to my second question is that the amendment would not have that effect.

Lord Gisborough: I return to the matter of low-flying aircraft. I hope that the Government will not succumb to the argument that they should not fly over national parks. None of us likes the noise caused by low-flying aircraft although I must say that it is quite fun to take part in that activity oneself. It is a shattering noise. But, if we want an efficient air force, we have to accept it. The alternative is to have them fly over populated areas. I wonder how many people would prefer that.

Lord Ackner: I had been anticipating that the noble Lord, Lord Renton, would raise this point and would do much better than I could. It seems to me that the amendment will require the definition of what is meant by "quiet" in relation to the word "enjoyment". One achieves nothing by having "quiet" on its own. In fact, one achieves a possible complication because it is a term of art in landlord and tenant work, as it is in vendor and purchaser work. "Quiet enjoyment" is a reference by implication. It is implied in all those relationships that there is an obligation—

Lord Williams of Elvel: I am sorry to interrupt the noble and learned Lord. I am not sure whether he was here when I supported the noble Lord, Lord Norrie, in his moving the amendment. I addressed myself to the point of the drafting. I accepted that there was a problem with the expression "quiet enjoyment" in the context of landlord and tenant legislation. The point I was making—I hope that the noble and learned Lord was

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here and understood it—was that we are asking the Government to accept a principle. The drafting can come later.


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