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Page 66, line 4, after ("apply") insert ("to the owner or operator of any mine").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment is consequential on Amendment No. 29. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 32 not moved.]

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

Viscount Ullswater moved Amendment No. 33:


Page 67, line 17, leave out from ("shall") to end of line 19 and insert ("seek to foster the economic and social well-being of local communities within the National Park, but without incurring significant expenditure in doing so, and shall for that purpose co-operate with local authorities and public bodies whose functions include the promotion of economic or social development within the area of the National Park.").

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, at Report I undertook to introduce an amendment in response to concerns expressed by my noble friend Lord Vinson and other noble Lords, that proper attention should be given to the interests of local people by the national park authorities. I was grateful for the opportunity to look again at wording for an amended Clause 59 to achieve our common purpose. We have very carefully considered the issue, and Amendment No. 33 is our response. Amendments Nos. 35, 36 and 47 are minor amendments, consequential on Amendment No. 33. I address them all.

It was the feeling of my noble friend Lord Vinson and other noble Lords that the interests of local communities and the contribution they make to the continued success of the parks are not always given sufficient weight in the deliberations of the park authorities. They felt that the duty on the national park authorities to


would not ensure that the new authorities would be seen to be sufficiently positive towards the interests of local people. What noble Lords sought was, I believe, a means of encouraging the national park authorities to recognise their responsibilities towards those who live and work in the parks.

I believe that, in amending the duty introduced in Clause 59 to one which requires the national park authorities to,


    "seek to foster the economic and social well-being of local communities within the National Park",

we have paved the way for a more positive attitude on the part of the new authorities which will ensure that they both take these responsibilities seriously and are seen to do so.

We have discussed several alternative words in our debates on the issue of a strengthened duty. We considered these very carefully in drafting this amendment. We concluded that the strongest consensus could be secured for the concept of "fostering". In

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Committee, when we discussed the amendment of my noble friend Lord Derwent there was an impressive array of support for the term "to foster", including my other noble friends Lord Annaly, Lord Gisborough, Lord Lyell, Lord Onslow, Lord Renton, Lord Shuttleworth and Lord Willoughby de Broke; and other noble Lords, Lord Chorley and Lord Elis-Thomas, and the noble Earl, Lord Lytton. I have also been made aware that this phrase has a number of powerful supporters outside your Lordships' House, including the Association of National Parks.

"Foster" is surely a word which most closely expresses that sense of responsibility which I have already suggested must lie at the heart of the relationship between the national park authorities and their local communities. We chose this word in preference to alternatives such as "sustaining" or "promoting". Both of these might be felt to carry too strong an implication of active, financial support for local communities which we continue to believe it would be inappropriate for the national park authorities to take on.

At Report, a number of Peers acknowledged that the national park authorities should not assume the role of promoting economic and social development in the areas of the parks, nor compete with those agencies which already have economic and social development powers, and the associated funding. However, there was, I believe, a universal emphasis that the national park authorities must work in the closest co-operation with those bodies.

The second element of Amendment No. 33 clarifies both issues. The national park authorities should seek to foster the economic and social well-being of local communities,


    "but without incurring significant expenditure in doing so, and shall for that purpose co-operate with local authorities and public bodies whose functions include the promotion of economic or social development within the area of the National Park".

The revised wording of this duty thereby encompasses both the concept that the national park authorities should take a positive view of the well-being of their local communities, and that in doing so they should co-operate with local authorities and other agencies whose task it is to promote the social or economic development of rural areas.

Nor does the revised duty in any way undermine these primary purposes for which the parks exist. On the contrary, I believe it enhances and reinforces those purposes, the achievement of which will be impossible without active and wholehearted co-operation between the national park authorities and those who live and work in the parks. I beg to move.

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Ampthill): My Lords, I should remind the House that if Amendment No. 33 is agreed to, I shall be unable to call Amendment No. 34.

The Earl of Lytton: My Lords, I welcome the amendment. Bearing in mind the time that the Minister gave to me and other noble Lords who went to see him, it would be churlish not to thank him for bringing the amendment forward. It does not wholly fulfil my expectations, but no doubt the Minister would say that

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my expectations were not capable of being fulfilled in the terms I would have wished. It is a fair try so far as it goes. I am pleased to see that national park authorities should foster economic and social well-being, although I am concerned about the way in which that duty is hedged around with caveats.

On a general point, I cannot help wondering why there is a degree of paranoia among conservation groups, and perhaps to some extent in the department, which receives their views, as well as those of people like myself, in connection with social and economic activities in national park areas. If all that social and economic activity were to stop overnight, I have to ask whether the resultant abandonment would be an improvement to national parks, from the point of view of their appearance or of their durability in the longer term. I suspect that it would not and that it would, over time, be a source of public outcry. If that supposition is correct, why is there apparently nothing on offer except ever more regulation and prescriptive control? I believe that we are beginning to see the diminishing returns of so much regulation. If we are not careful—and this is one of the reasons why I was so keen to see social and economic purposes included on the face of the Bill—land managers will be asking why on earth they should bother any more. If the interests of those who live and work in national parks are not to be held in equal balance with those other interests that are national park purposes, then I question to what extent we are talking about the durability of the handiwork that they and their predecessors in title have put in to make those areas what they are.

Perhaps therefore the Minister will be kind enough to clarify one matter for me; namely, whether he shares my expectation for the future that national park authorities will take a proactive approach? Perhaps they may not have the direct duty to foster social and economic activities, but they must nonetheless take a proactive approach and build that proactivity into their local plan approach. Secondly, can he say that they will no longer be able to write into their local plan documents that social and economic interests are not primarily their responsibility? I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say.

Lord Williams of Elvel: My Lords, I am bound to say that I disagree with the noble Earl, particularly on his last point. National park authorities are not economic development agencies and should not be seen as such. To say the least, I find the government amendment rather strange. It goes well beyond the duties laid upon the two agencies that we have discussed at some length throughout the course of the Bill. The two agencies are required to have regard to the economic and social well-being of the local communities. Now, according to the Government, we are imposing on national park authorities, which are, after all, meant to be there, as the purposes of Clause 58 state, for a very particular reason, duties which are greater than those that are imposed on the environment agency and SEPA. That seems to me to be odd.

Secondly, there seems to be a contradiction between the government amendment and the purposes of national parks, as defined in Clause 58. National park authorities

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are to be planning authorities. They are to assess planning applications according to the criteria and purposes that they have and make decisions thereon. If they are required not only to have regard to their own purposes but also to have regard to stipulations in the government amendment—and that includes co-operation with other planning authorities, such as local authorities which have planning jurisdiction outside the national parks, and public bodies whose functions include the promotion of economic or social development within the area of a national park—who wins? Is it the purpose of the national park, or is it the duty to co-operate with those people who promote economic or social development within their area? There seems to be a very serious contradiction here. I am rather surprised that the Government have brought this amendment forward.

I understand that the Government wish to have something to placate those who moved amendments at earlier stages in the Bill. But I simply do not think that this amendment, as it stands, logically works. It cuts straight across Clause 58 of the Bill.


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