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Baroness Nicol: My Lords, I too support the amendment. I should like to ask the Minister just one question. Can he assure us that the reason for leaving the Countryside Council for Wales out of the consultation has nothing to do with a possible change in its future status? Some of us are worried about that and would like to be reassured.

Lord Elton: My Lords, I had not intended to intervene on this amendment, but I am so disappointed to hear my noble friend Lord Marlesford couch his support for the amendment in such overtly personal terms that I have to dissociate myself from it. One

20 Mar 1995 : Column 1078

legislates to produce the best results from the machine regardless of office-holders. It is most unfortunate to drag in personalities.

7 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe): My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Williams, explained, the amendment seeks to impose upon my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Wales a requirement to consult the Countryside Council for Wales before making or significantly modifying certain subordinate legislation. It intends to mirror the consultation requirements on my right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food under Clause 82.

As the noble Lord said, the noble Baroness, Lady Hilton, spoke to similar amendments at previous stages of the Bill. I fear my answer today will be little different from those I gave on earlier occasions, although I shall try to amplify my remarks—helpfully, I hope. The Government continue to believe that this amendment is not necessary because the situations in England and in Wales are different. The grounds for including Clause 82 in the Bill were specific to England, relating to the planned transfer of responsibility for the Countryside Stewardship Scheme to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in 1996. The Countryside Stewardship Scheme is currently funded by the Department of the Environment and run by the Countryside Commission. It was in order to avoid any possible doubt that the department and the commission would continue to have a role to play in advising on the scheme which they have developed during its pilot stage that the statutory consultation provision was included on the face of the Bill in relation to England. Furthermore, as I have indicated on previous occasions, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Wales is both agriculture and environment Minister. As the noble Lord, Lord Williams, stressed, he has all the necessary powers to consult the Countryside Council for Wales on this as on other issues and—perhaps the noble Lord did not stress this enough—it equally has the powers to advise him even if he does not ask it. Those powers will continue to be available in the future. It is therefore considered unnecessary for the Bill to provide specifically for that consultation.

The noble Lord referred to the obligation on the Secretary of State for Wales to consult CCW on the designation of environmentally sensitive areas in Wales. The obligation on the Secretary of State for Wales to consult on the designation of ESAs remains unchanged. We are seeking to extend the arrangements in England, following the decision to transfer the Countryside Stewardship Scheme to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. In the light of that further explanation, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness White: My Lords, before the noble Earl sits down, he has not dealt at all with the point that I raised with him, which is that it is useless for the

20 Mar 1995 : Column 1079

Secretary of State for Wales simply to say, "You can talk to me about it afterwards". It is a matter of timing and the Secretary of State for Wales has not been consulting in situations where it would have been desirable for him to do so.

Earl Howe: My Lords, I am clearly not in a position to comment on individual circumstances, but I am informed that it is my right honourable friend's intention to consult the council on all appropriate occasions. There may be special reasons in the cases which the noble Baroness has in mind, such as insufficient time if the matter is of great urgency. If the noble Baroness will give me details of those instances, I shall ask my right honourable friend to look into the matter for her.

Lord Williams of Elvel: My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Earl for spending time and trouble over his response. I think today is the first occasion on which we have heard about the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in this context. This is the first time that that excuse, if I may put it like that, has been wheeled out. We have heard other excuses before about why the Countryside Council for Wales has not been consulted, but this is the first occasion that we have heard that one. It is no more convincing than previous answers. I must advise the noble Earl that I find it merely an invention.

There is a difference between the right to consult, the right to give advice and the duty or obligation on the Secretary of State to consult. It is very clear. The Countryside Council for Wales has the right to offer advice. Under the terms of the Bill, the Secretary of State for Wales has no duty to consult CCW. That is what we are trying to put into the Bill. The noble Earl said that the Secretary of State for Wales has every intention of consulting CCW, particularly on, I imagine, modifying subordinate legislation where it applies to Wales. The issue goes much wider than the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. I imagine that the Secretary of State will live up to that, but if that is his intention, why on earth can it not be stated on the face of the Bill? That provision is specified for England, although I am sure that the Secretary of State and the noble Earl are full of good intentions about consulting the Countryside Commission, the Nature Conservancy Council and all the rest. That is provided for England on the face of the Bill, so why is it not on the face of the Bill for Wales also?

I see that the noble Earl will not budge on this. I must put my national foot down and say that I seek the opinion of the House. I ask sympathy from English noble Lords. I ask them to allow Wales the same as is provided for England. I commend the amendment to the House.

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7.6 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 37) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 56; Not-Contents, 98.

Division No. 4

CONTENTS

Airedale, L.
Ampthill, L.
Annaly, L.
Barber of Tewkesbury, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Dean of Beswick, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Freyberg, L.
Geraint, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L. [Teller.]
Graham of Edmonton, L. [Teller.]
Hamwee, B.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Harrowby, E.
Henniker, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Houghton of Sowerby, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Judd, L.
Kilbracken, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Lawrence, L.
Listowel, E.
Longford, E.
Marlesford, L.
McCarthy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Moran, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Napier and Ettrick, L.
Nathan, L.
Newall, L.
Nicol, B.
Norrie, L.
Rea, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rochester, L.
Russell, E.
Seear, B.
Sefton of Garston, L.
St. Davids, V.
Stanley of Alderley, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Vinson, L.
Walpole, L.
Warnock, B.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
White, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.

NOT-CONTENTS

Addison, V.
Aldenham, L.
Aldington, L.
Ashbourne, L.
Astor, V.
Barber, L.
Blake, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Blyth, L.
Boardman, L.
Borthwick, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Burnham, L.
Cadman, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Carnock, L.
Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Chelmsford, V.
Chesham, L.
Coleraine, L.
Courtown, E.
Cranborne, V. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Cumberlege, B.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Denton of Wakefield, B.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Downshire, M.
Dundonald, E.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elton, L.
Ferrers, E.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Gisborough, L.
Goschen, V.
Greenway, L.
Harding of Petherton, L.
Harmar-Nicholls, L.
Harmsworth, L.
Henley, L.
Hertford, M.
Holderness, L.
HolmPatrick, L.
Howe, E.
Inglewood, L. [Teller.]
Kimball, L.
King of Wartnaby, L.
Kinnoull, E.
Kintore, E.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Leigh, L.
Lindsay, E.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Liverpool, E.
Long, V.
Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Lucas, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Mersey, V.
Milverton, L.
Monteagle of Brandon, L.
Mountevans, L.
Moyne, L.
Norfolk, D.
Northesk, E.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Orkney, E.
Orr-Ewing, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Rankeillour, L.
Rawlings, B.
Renton, L.
Renwick, L.
Rodger of Earlsferry, L.
Rodney, L.
Seccombe, B.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Stewartby, L.
Strange, B.
Strathcarron, L.
Strathclyde, L. [Teller.]
Sudeley, L.
Trumpington, B.
Ullswater, V.
Vivian, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Wise, L.
Young, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

20 Mar 1995 : Column 1081

The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, I beg to move that further proceedings after Third Reading be now adjourned. Perhaps I may suggest that the House returns to this business no earlier than 8.15 p.m. Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.


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