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Lord Beaumont of Whitley: My Lords, I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, is repeating arguments which I thought had been thoroughly dealt with at a previous stage. The fact that we want quiet enjoyment of the parks does not automatically mean, or even imply, any kind of a ban on specific sports. To go as far as he did and say that people in the national parks are not in favour of anyone enjoying themselves suggests a total misunderstanding of what the national parks are for. The mere fact that the national parks are there means that people who use them are enjoying themselves and take great pleasure from that.

My purpose in rising to my feet is not to repeat the arguments which have been put forward by the noble Lords, Lord Williams and Lord Norrie, but to say that the previous desire to have quiet enjoyment was supported in all parts of the House and that certainly includes noble Lords on these Benches. Although we understand why that provision has been taken out, we are sorry. We look to the Government to produce the greatest possible reassurance in the guidance that will be given.

Lord Stanley of Alderley: My Lords, I am informed that the words "quiet enjoyment" could curtail work, particularly agricultural work, in the national parks. I am aware that agricultural activities are often not quiet and certainly they are not peaceful. If there are to be guidelines, I hope that my noble friend can assure me that the "work activities", if I may call them that, will not be affected. I believe that the noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, will support such a view as will the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont.

Lord Chorley: My Lords, I support the remarks made by the previous speakers, with the particular exception of the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, with whom I totally disagree. There was very wide support from all sides of the House when the noble Lord, Lord Norrie, moved his successful amendment. I accept that the Government tried both then, and subsequently in another place, to come up with a definition. It may be that the noble Lord, Lord Williams, is right that that was not

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necessary and it could be done the other way round by case law. However, I believe that the Government tried but they have not come up with a suitable definition. The route by way of guidance is probably the best we can expect at this stage.

I would like to see particular attention paid to the remarks contained in the Edwards report. It states,


    "While we do not support their"—

by "their" it is speaking about such activities as those referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, including motor cycle scrambling, rally driving and so forth—


    "total prohibition in national parks, they should only take place on those rare sites where they do not cause undue annoyance to other park users or damage to the fabric of the parks themselves".

The report says that in most cases other places can be found to carry out those activities.

The point about the Edwards report is that it took the view that there are particular national parks where things can be done which should not be done in other parks. It is that kind of sentiment that one needs to get into the guidance. I do not know how these things are done, but when the Government draw up their guidelines I hope that they will consult with the relevant organisations like the NGOs and the National Trust, because we have a great deal of ownership in national parks. That would be important.

What is most important of all—and here I am taking up a point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Nicol—is that it would be deplorable if this Bill were to reach the statute book with any suggestion that the Government had in any way departed from the principle of quiet enjoyment as a special quality to be promoted and protected in our national parks.

Lord Marlesford: My Lords, perhaps I may add my disappointment to that already expressed by noble Lords on both sides of the House that the Government have been unable to produce an appropriate definition. In a way, I am rather surprised that they have not been able to do so. It is disappointing because it was a crucial part of the Edwards report that quiet enjoyment should be part of the policy towards the national parks.

I believe that most of us know what was intended. I recognise that it would be possible for ill-intentioned people to try to challenge perfectly legitimate activities. As regards what my noble friend Lord Stanley of Alderley said, I find it very hard to believe that anyone would contemplate challenging agricultural activities. That seems to be dicta ad absurdum as an argument.

However, there is a need for tranquillity which is growing in this age. Things that may have been acceptable a while ago are not going to be acceptable. I wonder whether my noble friend Lord Brabazon is right in saying that activities such as rallies would be acceptable forever. Recently I heard of someone with a business—and there is nothing immoral about it—taking people around national parks by helicopter. It is not right that in the future people's enjoyment of national parks should be spoilt by one or two persons being taken around by helicopter.

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It is an unsatisfactory legislative process that we cannot define the problem and yet we are told that there will be guidance. At the very least the Government should have provided—and have had time to provide—some draft guidance so that we see the kind of things that they have in mind. I do not cast any aspersions on the Government's intentions. I take at face value their earlier commitment to the principle of quiet enjoyment, which was contained in the Edwards report. But we need to be given more detail of the kind of thing that would be in the guidance. I agree with the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Williams, that we must have a clearer idea of the vires of what the guidance would be.

The Earl of Lytton: My Lords, at the risk of prolonging this discussion, I would like to say from this Bench that I support what the Government have been doing. With so many voices saying that the term "quiet" should precede "enjoyment", in throwing my hat into the ring I would like to bring some of my own experiences to bear on this matter.

The Minister has quite rightly pointed out the difficulties of definition. I considered that myself in the light of some knowledge of commercial landlord and tenant where the term "quiet enjoyment" is a commonplace piece of terminology. But outside that rarified world of commercial activity, it clearly means different things to different people. Noble Lords will perhaps remember that I moved an amendment late in the proceedings in this House before the matter left for another place. It was evident to me, as it must have been to many others, that there was no consensus as to what that term meant. That is a very dangerous precedent and message to send out attached to an Act of Parliament.

I accept that the national parks authorities should not be in the business of encouraging noisy activities, but acoustic matters are only one part of the equation. It is possible to be a hostage to fortune because of the lack of interpretation and definition. The provision is being treated by local authorities as "a duty to prevent". I say that with a degree of certainty, having recently been in a national park local planning inquiry where I was obliged to challenge a reference to commercial shooting. There were other references to other things about quiet enjoyment, but that was the particular matter about which I was concerned. I must explain why that was the case. I run a shoot commercially. It probably makes the difference between the estate balancing its books as against making a thumping loss. It also gives rise to a managed activity which enables investment to be made in things which could not otherwise be afforded.

I am satisfied in my own mind that that national park authority and other local authorities will latch on to the principle of quiet enjoyment, like it or not, as a facility to decline consent for planning permission for anything that might be associated with a certain amount of noise. It is not just a matter of a particular class of activity; it is a question of quantum and of intensity of use. That brings in considerations of frequency and timing. These are the critical factors and they are matters of management. They are not a matter of absolutes whereby someone says that motoring is inherently noisy and walking is inherently quiet. If a large number of people walk along a footpath past someone's farmstead—I had

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reason to see the result of this when I took a potential purchaser round a farm last year which had a coastal footpath running next to it—it can create disamenity. This matter depends on one's point of view, on one's standpoint and on the position of the recipient of the acoustic or other disamenity. It is important that we get that straight.

Therefore I do not believe that it is just a question of clarifying what national park authorities should promote. As I said, I tried to get that clear at a late stage in this Bill. However, what is more to the point is what it is that they should reject. That is, if I may put it this way, the hidden agenda that people in the countryside are so worried about; that there is this unstated raft of activities which for whatever reason are considered inappropriate. As someone who farms and owns land in a national park I cannot accept that.

It has nothing to do with my activities, but I have been brought up with the concept of multi-use and multi-activity. I do not believe we should say that national parks are not appropriate places for the activities of the motorist or the power boat user. There ought to be the concept of national parks being used as the lungs of the nation, if you like, for all, and none, as the case may be. I have been brought up with that concept ever since I have managed my particular part of Exmoor.

I finish by supporting what the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, mentioned. I wish to reassure him that the citation of the Exmoor national park—noble Lords may recall that each national park has a citation attached to it—refers to it as fine country for motoring.

5.30 p.m.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I did not think that this group of amendments would be what one might call an easy ride, not only because your Lordships have discussed this matter frequently before and hold strong views on it, but also because you passed an amendment to insert the words "quiet enjoyment" into the Bill and another place has taken them out. I would not have expected your Lordships to change your views on that. This is a difficult matter. My noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter asked me whether "quiet enjoyment" appear in any other statute. As far as I know, the words do not.


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