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Lord Derwent had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 255ZB:

Page 65, line 21, leave out ("have regard to") and insert ("foster").

The noble Lord said: I have already spoken to Amendment No. 255ZB, which seeks to make the national park authorities foster,

I am grateful to those Members of the Committee who supported this compromise amendment. I am disappointed that the Minister did not feel able to support me, but we may not be so far apart. I am seeking to include in the Bill what is already in the guidance; that is, that the parks should work for all and with the local communities. I shall therefore return to the matter at Report stage having sought to find acceptable compromise wording in the meantime.

(Amendment No. 255ZB not moved.]

Viscount Addison moved Amendment No. 255A:

Page 65, line 23, at end insert ("in ways that are compatible with, or which further, the purposes specified in subsection (1) of section 5 of this Act.").

The noble Viscount said: In moving Amendment No. 255A, I declare an interest as vice-president of the Council for National Parks. The amendment seeks to clarify the socio-economic duty of national park authorities so that it is carried out in ways that are compatible with or further the national park purposes. The amendment follows the wording recommended by the National Parks Review Panel which was concerned that its socio-economic duty was fulfilled,

    "in such a way that the environmental quality of the Park is sustained and, where possible, enhanced".

The amendment is, in shorthand, to make sure that development in the national parks is sustainable.

As presently drafted my feeling is that the clause contains an ambiguity and the amendment is intended to remove any trace of doubt about the relationship between the national park purposes and that duty. It says that a national park authority, in pursuing the purposes of conservation and recreation, shall have regard to the social and economic well-being of the park communities.

There is anxiety that that could mean, for instance, that in designating a local nature reserve the park authority must have regard to the local communities' social and economic interests. I hope that that is not the intention. Instead, my hope is that the Government intend Clause 59 to echo the National Parks Review Panel's view that,

    "while the local economy is fundamental to the future of the parks, support for the economic activity should be seen as a means of achieving national park purposes rather than an end in itself".

The panel attributed a supportive role to the national park authorities, helping bodies whose work already is to foster the social and economic interests of local

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communities. Those bodies include the Rural Development Commission, the Welsh Development Agency and local authorities. I therefore seek clarification to remove any ambiguity from Clause 59. I beg to move.

Baroness Nicol: I rise to support the amendment, to which I added my name. The national park purposes, redefined in the legislation, are the reasons for designating national parks in the first place. As I said on an earlier amendment, there is a difference between the reasons for designation and the role of the national park authorities. Clause 59 is a helpful clarification of the roles of the authorities, but I share the anxiety of the noble Viscount, Lord Addison, that it is not as precise as the National Parks Review Panel intended.

The panel said that giving the national park authorities a role in support of the appropriate agencies, which already have a socio-economic mission, would,

    "provide a unique opportunity to bring together the aspirations of the local communities with the pursuance of park purposes, and to minimise the conflict between them".

I am sure that the noble Earl, Lord Peel, is in favour of that wording. The kind of work the panel identified for the national park authorities was supporting the creation and maintenance of suitable employment opportunities, particularly where those opportunities contributed to the park purposes. It also said that the authorities could do more to assist the local authorities and others to provide low-cost homes for residents on low incomes—I saw a useful example of that in the North Yorks park, which did an excellent job in that regard—principally by the use of their planning powers. We have already seen other examples in addition to those in the North Yorks park. Therefore clarification of the role of the authorities as set out in Clause 59 is necessary.

Viscount Ullswater: As I informed the Committee during our discussion on Amendments Nos. 254, 254ZA, 254A, 255ZB, 255B and 260, we believe that the well-being of local communities is vital for the continued success of the national parks as living, working landscapes. The duty which we introduced in Clause 59 with respect to the economic and social needs of local communities underlines the importance which we attach to that issue. That duty will ensure that the new authorities take into account the economic and social well-being of their local communities as they carry out their functions and duties in pursuit of park purposes.

The establishment and functions of national park authorities will have effect for the purposes of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of their areas and promoting the understanding and enjoyment of their special qualities by the public. It will not be possible for the national park authorities to set aside those purposes as they consider the wellbeing of their local communities. Therefore, I would ask my noble friend to withdraw the amendment.

Viscount Addison: I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, for her support. It is most

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important that the kind of development that takes place in the national parks is seen to be sustainable. The national parks cover 10 per cent. of the land area of England and Wales and provide a unique opportunity to act as test beds for environmentally friendly practices, enabling them to make an essential contribution to sustainable development. That is in the interests of the park communities, as it will sustain their vitality for future generations and it will protect the parks for the nation.

I am also grateful to my noble friend Lord Ullswater for his reply. He has most helpfully clarified the Government's intention that the socio-economic duty should be carried out in such a way that it is compatible with or furthers the national park purposes.

Lord Vinson: The words "sustainable" and "sustainability" concern me in one context. The noble Viscount has made an appropriate reference to the fact that it is everyone's wish to sustain communities. But at the end of the day one sustains communities by sustaining their jobs. The words "help sustain employment", if written into the amendment, would give heart to the expression that those promoting the Bill really do want to have some concern for communities. As it stands, this could be yet another mechanism for tightening the screw on any form of employment activity that went for planning permission.

Lord Elton: I do not want to prolong the debate unnecessarily. However, I do not see the word "sustainable" in the amendment and I am slightly mystified by the last exchange. It seems to me that the words in the amendment are almost tautological in view of what is on the face of the Bill already and are merely saying, if one reads the Bill as it would then be, that an authority,

    "in pursuing in relation to the National Park the purposes specified in subsection (1) of section 5 ... shall have regard to the economic and social well-being of local communities within the National Park in ways that are compatible with, or which further, the purposes specified in subsection (1) of section 5".

In other words, when it is doing something, it must do it. I think it is enough to say it once, is it not?

Viscount Addison: I thank noble Lords for their interventions. I was trying to point out that the duties were a cornerstone recommendation of the National Parks Review Panel and support the case that a third socio-economic purpose for national parks is not what was intended. I am concerned to see the legislation quite clear on this point. We may need to return to it. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 255B not moved.]

Lord Norrie moved Amendment No. 256:

Page 65, line 26, leave out ("have regard to") and insert ("further").

The noble Lord said: I made it clear at Second Reading that the subsection of Clause 59 which gives the duty to all public bodies in relation to national park purposes was to be welcomed. The fact that this duty covers all public bodies, with the wide definition given in the same clause, is certainly a step forward. The

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National Parks Review Panel, however, recommended that the duty should be to "further" national park purposes rather than simply to "have regard to" the purposes.

The Government had said that they were considering this legislation. I quote from the Government's 1992 policy statement on national parks:

    "To place a duty on all government departments to further, as far as reasonably practicable, national park purposes in carrying out their functions in the parks".

Yet what has emerged is somewhat weaker than that. The National Parks Review Panel report concluded that a duty of this nature was necessary because experience showed that sectoral policies within government had sometimes,

    "worked against the purposes of national parks".

They have rarely worked positively to help to achieve those purposes. A duty to further the purposes would provide a positive incentive to public bodies. I beg to move.

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