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Lord Walpole: That refers to listed buildings only. We were trying to take it slightly further than that and to take a lot of buildings around the countryside which are unlisted but which are desperately important in the countryside scene.

Earl Howe: Some elements of schemes which are or will in future be operated by agriculture departments involve the conservation of historic landscapes such as parkland—for example, the historic landscape option of Countryside Stewardship—or the preservation of archaeological and historic features such as earthworks and stone walls under the environmentally sensitive areas scheme. The Bill was drafted with that in mind and Clause 80 allows the relevant Ministers to make

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grants for anything which is conducive to the conservation or enhancement of the natural beauty or amenity of the countryside. We believe that this is fully sufficient to allow payments to be made for the conservation of historic landscapes and the preservation of historic and archaeological features. We do not believe that it is appropriate to go further than that in the context of this Bill.

My noble friend Lord Wise referred to farm conservation schemes run by national parks. I note the suggestion that the Government might want to adopt the conservation schemes run by national park authorities. I should be grateful if my noble friend will send me details of the schemes to which he referred.

Amendment No. 315A, spoken to by my noble friend, seeks to provide powers for the making of regulations to allow national park authorities to administer conservation grant schemes, such as Countryside Stewardship, on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture and the Secretary of State for Wales. The Government do not consider that this is necessary since, in practice, such powers already exist.

If a scheme introduced under Clause 80 were specific to a national park and it was agreed that the national park authority should act as the Minister or Secretary of State's agent in administering the scheme, there would be no difficulty in providing for this under current legislation. Similarly, there would be no difficulty in the Minister or Secretary of State designating another body as his agent if he deemed it appropriate.

I have gone slightly out of order for which I apologise.

Amendments Nos. 314B and 324C in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, and the noble Lord, Lord Walpole, are intended to ensure that payments to promote public enjoyment of the countryside may only be made by the relevant Ministers where such enjoyment is consistent with the interests of conservation. The Government believe that properly managed public access can in many instances be fully compatible with conservation of the rural environment and that access should only be promoted where this is the case. However, we consider that it is unnecessary to include this principle as a requirement in the Bill because of the duty of balance under the Agriculture Act 1986 to which I have already referred. We believe that this duty is sufficient to ensure that Ministers will in practice take conservation into account in promoting public access.

This group of amendments also includes that tabled by my noble friend Lord Peel, but I do not believe that he spoke to it. If he agrees, I shall not reply to it at this stage in view of the lateness of the hour.

Earl Peel: I am very grateful to my noble friend.

Earl Howe: Amendment No. 315B in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, seeks to make all conservation payments under the schemes covered by Clause 80 subject to a strategic assessment of their likely environmental effects. The Government do not consider that this is necessary since the primary purpose

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of all of these schemes is to address specific environmental needs and priorities, or to promote public enjoyment of the countryside in a way which is compatible with environmental protection. We already monitor carefully the environmental effects of each of them and monitoring reports are published as appropriate. A requirement to carry out strategic assessments on all conservation grants would, we believe, lead to unnecessary bureaucracy and delays in getting desirable conservation work under way.

I recognise that all of these amendments in their several ways are intended to be helpful. The fact that many seek to widen the scope of the clause is, I believe, a sign of the very high regard in which incentive schemes such as Countryside Stewardship are held. The clause has deliberately been drafted to allow Ministers to make a wide range of payments related to different aspects of environmental land management. I am confident that it provides a sound basis for the future promotion of environmentally friendly farming in Great Britain.

With those rather lengthy words of explanation, I hope that the noble Baroness will withdraw her amendment.

I am very grateful to the Minister for his careful answer. The amendments have been brought forward because of the concern expressed by CPRE about some areas which have continued to deteriorate despite the 1986 Act. There is very much to consider in what the Minister said. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 314 to 314D not moved.]

Earl Peel moved Amendment No. 315:


Page 87, line 32, at end insert:
("( ) make provision for grants to be paid, where appropriate, to both the owner of any land and the occupier of that land where the owner is not also the occupier.").

The noble Earl said: I deliberately did not speak to this amendment in the previous grouping because it covers a different subject. The objective behind the amendment is to try to clarify that both landlords and tenants can be joint participants in environmental land management schemes introduced under this clause, where it is appropriate. As currently drafted, it is not clear that payments could be made to both the owner and the tenant under such schemes.

Clearly there are cases where the needs of environmental land management will require both the landowner and the tenant to be participants in the scheme for it to be really effective. For example, landowners could be responsible, as in the Yorkshire Dales ESA, for the upkeep of barns, which is not a tenant's responsibility, and yet the tenant is responsible for the conservation and management of the surrounding hay meadows.

We are talking about integrated management, which incorporates both landlord and tenant. I can think of woodlands being another example. I could go on, but because of the lateness of the hour I shall not. I am merely trying to establish from my noble friend the Minister whether this scheme will be payable to both landlords and tenants.

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There is one specific point that I should like to make here, because it has occurred quite often in the past. Will a landlord who does not have a holding number qualify for grant under this scheme? I can think of a number of occasions in the past with different grants where it has been difficult for the landlord to obtain the grant even though he is the person who will put up the money. It is a complex business, as I am sure the Committee will appreciate, but I should be grateful if my noble friend could give me an answer to that question and ensure that both landlords and tenants will qualify for payments under this clause. I beg to move.

Earl Howe: My noble friend has explained that the amendment is designed to enable the appropriate Ministers to make conservation grants to both the landlord and the tenant in cases where they might participate jointly in environmental schemes. That might arise where, for example, the tenant has day-to-day control over normal farm management, but the landlord is responsible for features such as field boundaries. The Government entirely agree that in such circumstances the Minister should be able to make payments to both the landlord and the tenant, and indeed the central purpose of Clause 80 is to enable the Minister of Agriculture to operate countryside stewardship which already includes such joint agreements. For that reason Clause 80 was drafted carefully to allow the Minister to

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make grants to any persons who do, or who undertake to do, anything conducive to conservation or public enjoyment of the countryside.

We believe that this wording is fully sufficient to allow the relevant Ministers to make payments to both a landowner and a tenant as part of the same agreement where appropriate.

My noble friend asked me whether the recipient of the grant needed to have an agricultural holding number. Perhaps I may write to him about that as I would not wish to mislead the Committee on that point of detail. I hope that with that general explanation my noble friend will be somewhat reassured and feel that the amendment is unnecessary.

Earl Peel: I am extremely grateful to my noble friend, and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 315A and 315B not moved.]

Clause 80 agreed to.

The Earl of Lindsay: I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

        House adjourned at ten minutes past eleven o'clock.

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