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Lord Lucas: My Lords, it was a matter for decision by the Government. The Government consulted Oxford and Cambridge. I do not see that it is a matter for any other university.

Lord Glenamara: My Lords, how do the Government justify the enormous differential between the funding of Oxford and Cambridge colleges and the funding of colleges in provincial collegiate universities—for example, Durham?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I do not want to go into a long discussion of exactly how the higher education funding formula works. I should be very happy to write to the noble Lord if he has a particular question to ask. But the basic answer to the question is that it is on the basis of excellence.

Lord Glenamara: My Lords, is the noble Lord saying that the tuition in Oxford and Cambridge is better than the tuition in Durham? Is he really saying that? If he is, he ought not to be doing that job.

Lord Phillips of Ellesmere: My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that there has long been a dispute between

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the research councils and the British Academy on the one hand, and the collegiate universities on the other hand, as to whether those bodies should pay postgraduate fees to the colleges in those universities? To many people that seems a rather strange situation. Can the Minister tell the House whether the Government have any plans to change it?

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I am not aware of any plans to change it but I shall happily write to the noble Lord and confirm what I have said.

Environment Bill [H.L.]

3.25 p.m.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Viscount Ullswater): My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now further considered on Report.

Moved, That the Bill be now further considered on Report. —(Viscount Ullswater.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Clause 59 [Duty of certain bodies and persons to have regard to the purposes for which National Parks are designated]:

Lord Vinson moved Amendment No. 180:


Page 65, line 23, leave out from ("have") to end of line 25 and insert ("a duty to work with and sustain local communities within the National Park and to have regard to their economic and social well being.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I should like to give to the House the apologies of my noble friend Lord Derwent, who has been called abroad unavoidably.

I believe that this new amendment, which appears to have wide support, brings together the threads of a major concern raised at the Committee stage; namely, that the Bill as currently framed gives insufficient weight to the duty of care that we believe the national park authority ought to have for the interests of those who live and work in the park, without whose co-operation the daily management of our national parks would be virtually impossible.

There are two main constituents to the national park. First, there is the visiting public and, secondly, those who are visited—those who actually live and work there and on whom, certainly in the case of upland farmers, the national park depends for its overall appearance and attractiveness. Out of season and in inclement weather it is those people who populate the national park and sustain both its economic and environmental fabric. Many of us believe that the Bill must make more central and positive the recognition of their importance and purpose. We fear that unless that is done, little will prevent a divergence of attitudes developing between them the park wardens and the general public, which will be greatly to the detriment of the good working relationships that are needed.

The full impact of public access falls on the residents of the park. They are the people who repeatedly have to deal with the daily problems of the park, such as gates being left open, livestock escaping, picking up litter that

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has been discarded, lost ramblers wanting to use their telephone and their lavatories and drivers whose cars are stuck and need to use a tractor for recovery. Often they find that it is a pleasure to help such people; but on occasion they meet with downright rudeness. They are the unpaid custodians of the park. Their good will is essential.

Let us imagine an upland farmer talking to a park warden today. As things stand he could easily and rightly say to that warden, "You don't care a damn about me and my lot. You never do anything for us. So why should I do anything for you?" How much better if, on the other hand, the warden could reply, "On the contrary, my authority cares deeply about your welfare and you know that we shall do everything we can within reason to sustain you." If, as a consequence of the new section, he can truthfully reply that the interests of those who live and work in the park really do concern him, how much more likely is it that a constructive and agreeable working relationship will be built up between the administrators and the administrated, the visitors and the visited, to the benefit of all? Surely that is the kind of practical working relationship that we should wish to foster if we wish to see the national park arrangements working out satisfactorily on the ground.

I understand that, not surprisingly, the Association of National Parks, with the chairmen and chief officers of the parks, favour this amendment, as it will facilitate its work if the inhabitants feel that they are on the same side. Clearly they recognise its difficult but important task of balancing interests.

At Committee stage, in an amendment put forward by my noble friend Lord Derwent, it was proposed that the parks should foster economic and social well-being. However, we recognise that "foster" is perhaps too proactive a word. We feel that the revised wording of this amendment accurately reflects what is needed. In so doing, it does no more than take the wording from the new guidance to the national parks:


    "to work for and with local communities".

But it introduces those words nearer the heart of the Bill, which will give them a greater degree of force—certainly far greater force than being left in the guidelines per se, where they could easily be overlooked.

Noble Lords will notice, however, that the wording of the amendment has been carefully chosen. The word "for" has been deleted and "sustain" has been substituted for it. The word "sustain" has been chosen because it carries no economic commitment but only a moral one. In no way do we seek—nor indeed would it be proper—for the national parks to be obliged to give economic support. But this new clause gives that authority an obligation. It is not an overriding obligation, but an obligation to work with and sustain local communities within the park and to have regard to their economic and social well-being. What is proposed in no way overrides the clear remit of the authority to manage the parks with the environment as its paramount consideration but it gives that authority a duty of care—a duty to care—for the inhabitants of the park, the

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unpaid custodians, the unpaid wardens, to preserve it and maintain it. Without their co-operation the parks would be virtually unworkable.

This amendment remains subordinate to the main clauses of the Bill. It has the support of the officers of the Association of National Parks and I believe that its general thrust will be acceptable to the Government. I hope the House will find in its favour. I beg to move.

Lord Williams of Elvel: My Lords, I do not think anyone would disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Vinson, that the well-being of local communities in the parks is a matter of concern. But the question posed by this amendment is: what is the role of the national park authorities; and how should that be reflected on the face of the Bill, if indeed it should be reflected on the face of the Bill at all? In other words, should there be a third purpose?

The Bill as drafted strikes the right balance between the statutory purposes of the parks, which are conservation and recreation, and the social and economic responsibilities of the park authorities. The drafting as it stands reflects the recommendation of the Edwards Report and provides the right legal framework for the guidance that may follow which may indeed refer in rather more detail to what the national parks should be doing. It is in that circular that all the constructive recommendations which Edwards made on working in partnership with local communities are best set out in detail. Those should not be on the face of the Bill. To try to insert this kind of detail into the Bill would distract from and would rather muddy the primary legislative framework which describes the vital relationship between park purposes—why the parks are designated at all—and the importance of having regard to the social and economic matters in pursuing those purposes.

It is our belief that the local communities within the parks are best served by the national park authorities doing what they are empowered to do under the Bill and by the local authorities, which are, after all, representative of local communities, providing the help, sustenance, economic development and so on. The two should not trespass one on the other. The national park authorities should not be burdened with any more than is in the Bill at the moment. Although I understand that the noble Lord's amendment is moved with the purest, best and right motives, I have to say that we shall not be supporting him if he decides to press it to a vote.


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