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Lord Haskel: My Lords, does not my noble and learned friend agree that the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, and the noble Lord, Lord Marsh, were being uncharacteristically unfair to him? Some of their complaints may be justified. However, it seems to me that they should be directed towards the directors, who were experienced businessmen. Where were their antennae? Where were they when all the financial shortcomings and lack of financial controls were going on? Does my noble and learned friend agree that perhaps it is time for some of the directors to put their heads above the parapet and take some of the flack?

Noble Lords: Hear hear!

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I am not prepared to start pointing the finger at anybody at this time. In the context of what has happened it is important to try to ensure an orderly conclusion to the project.

Lord Chalfont: My Lords, as someone who has never been to the Dome and has no intention of so doing, I had not intended to intervene today. However, I must confess and ask the noble and learned Lord to accept that I am distressed at the way in which

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this seems to have turned into a party political scrap, and the way in which some of this has been directed at the noble and learned Lord. With the greatest respect to the noble Baroness, it seems to me that there is a case here of firing at the wrong target. When I was in the Army, that was a court martial offence.

The noble and learned Lord was handed a package marked "The Crown Jewels". When he came to open it, it was a can of worms. He should not be held responsible for that, but the donor of the package. There are many long trails of incompetence leading back through this whole story. No one party or person can possibly be blamed. I hope, therefore, that many illustrious heads will fall before we can legitimately fire at the noble and learned Lord.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for the remarks concerning my personal position. However, as I have said, I am keen not to point the finger at anybody, but to ensure that the project reaches an orderly conclusion.

Lord Boardman: My Lords, in the Statement the noble and learned Lord said that when the facts were known to him, he took certain action. One of the key facts which we assume has been inquired into, is what would be the rundown costs. What was he faced with? Who concealed the answers to those key facts from him? Was anyone fired for so doing or did the Minister not bother to ask?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, there was a figure for rundown costs. I shall not say what that was. That figure was then investigated by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which came up with a much higher figure. That was one of the main reasons for the problems which emerged during August. There have been changes at the company. It would be wrong for me to say here, before people have had a chance to defend themselves, the names of the people involved.

Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen: My Lords, does my noble and learned friend agree that when we debate the Dome in this Chamber we should always remember those who are often forgotten in the midst of party political thrust; that is, the workers in the Dome? The regeneration of the area gave many of those workers employment for the first time in their lives. Many of them are young; many are black. I ask the Minister to support me in urging people not to forget that the regeneration of Greenwich produced thousands of jobs for people who did not previously have work and who, when the Dome closes, may not have work in the future.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I am grateful for that intervention. I entirely agree. Perhaps I can make a point which is not made often enough; that is, that 4,800 people work at the Dome. They are the ones who are totally innocent in this story. They remain totally committed to the Dome. I hate to mention once

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again the opinion polls in relation to the Dome, but over 90 per cent of its visitors say that the staff are first class. The staff need to feel that people are committed until 31st December and let us remember, whoever else's fault this problem is, it is not theirs.

Lord Naseby: My Lords, will the Minister clarify for us the exact position in relation to the £43 million? Is that now a gift to the company; is it a secured loan; or is it just totally unsecured?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, it is a grant to the company.

Lord Clarke of Hampstead: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, drew attention earlier to the fact that the Dome concept had all-party support. That statement has been repeated once or twice since. Can my noble and learned friend say whether that support is reflected in the membership of the Millennium Commission? Who, apart from the representatives from the Government, are members? Are there members from other political parties? I do not ask that in any sense of looking for a scapegoat; I am seeking to find a balance as to who was involved and would appreciate the Minister's comments.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, the Millennium Commission is an independent body. It has members from the Government and is always chaired by whoever holds the post of Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. It also has two members from the Conservative Party; that is, the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, and Mr Michael Heseltine. It also contains a mix of business people and people from the world of the media and entertainment, who all contribute to its deliberations.

The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, the noble and learned Lord is perhaps too young to remember the Tanganyikan groundnut scheme, but this situation reminds me irresistibly of that. Is he aware of the quote from Julius Caesar:


    "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,

But in ourselves, that we are underlings"? The Government have not been able to sell the Dome to Nomura. They are now trying to hawk it around to anybody who will buy it. People will sit on their hands and wait until the price goes down. What happens when nobody buys the Dome because the queries raised by the question of my noble friend Lord Tebbit have not been answered? At the end of the year the Government will be left with an unsold Dome--running it, or whatever--because the likelihood of anybody buying it when they see a distressed sale, especially in the East End of London, is nil.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, this situation is not like that of the Tanganyikan groundnut scheme. This was a scheme which everybody hoped would work. Everybody knew the risks, the main one of which was whether it would achieve the visitor

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numbers. It did not achieve those numbers. But nobody was in any doubt that that was one of the factors which had to be satisfied for it to be a success.

We are not hawking the Dome around. As I described in my Statement, discussions are presently taking place with the person who was second in the competition list. I set out what would happen in that regard. If a sale cannot proceed, we shall look at other options. I do not believe for one moment that the market regards this as a distressed sale.

Criminal Justice and Court Services Bill

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That it be an instruction to the Committee of the Whole House to whom the Criminal Justice and Court Services Bill has been committed to consider the bill in the following order:

Clauses 1 to 4, Schedule 1, Clauses 5 to 11, Schedule 2, Clauses 12 to 19, Schedule 3, Clauses 20 to 25 Schedule 4, Clauses 26 to 61 Schedule 5, Clauses 62 to 65, Schedule 6, Clause 66, Schedule 7 Clauses 67 to 73.--(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Countryside and Rights of Way Bill

3.55 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.--(Lord Whitty.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES in the Chair.]

Baroness Byford moved Amendment No. 1:


    Before Clause 1, insert the following new clause--

PURPOSE OF THIS ACT

(" . The purpose of this Act is to--
(a) create a structure for mapping countryside in preparation for open access;

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(b) make provision for public access to the countryside;
(c) set out a mechanism for granting public access upon completion, in whole or in part, of the mapping process;
(d) control traffic of all kinds in areas of natural beauty and on land other than roads;
(e) strengthen the law relating to nature conservation and the protection of wildlife;
(f) receive Government proposals for developing areas of outstanding natural beauty; and
(g) make necessary consequential changes.").

The noble Baroness said: The purpose of introducing this new clause to the Bill is for clarification. At present the Bill leaves several aspects unclear. It is unclear that mapping and access are two separate issues. It is unclear that mapping will be wholly funded centrally, but that the costs provided for access will not; it is unclear that the mapping operation will start immediately and last continuously for up to eight years; it is unclear that access provisions will start two months after Royal Assent, mainly to mountain and registered common land; and it is unclear that the Secretary of State may allow access permissions to continue in fits and starts over a further two to seven years. Therefore much is unclear.

The appointment of wardens and the authorisation of by-laws will not begin until access permission is granted. On the day that the Bill receives Royal Assent, most of the 47 million adults in England and Wales will consider that they have the right to roam--indeed, many consider that they have that right now. They will believe they have that right wherever, whenever and however they choose. But on the day that this Bill receives Royal Assent almost all of those people will be wrong.

Should the Committee consider that to be an overstatement, Clause 77 spells it out. The Government cannot have fully considered its implications. On the day of enactment, prison terms for wildlife violations become enforceable. The short titles of the Highways, the Wildlife and Countryside Acts and of this Bill are recognised. The implementation timetable is enforced. Two months later comes an automatic implementation of the provisions relating to access and to excepted land, to coastal land, to mapping, to the designation of appellate powers, to the rules for increasing the protection of wildlife, but not--I emphasise "not"--the amendments to the existing law necessary to enforce them. All the rest happens when the Secretary of State says so and that will depend on the success and timetable of the mapping programme.

I hope that I have so far demonstrated why we on this side of the Chamber feel that the Bill as it stands is muddled. It tries to cover too many topics in one and will result in confusion for walkers, land managers, local authorities, the police and anyone else who has an interest in the countryside. Indeed, our great fear is that as it stands this Bill will destroy the very things that the Government are trying to protect.

We are strongly supportive of the increased wildlife protection contained in the Bill; of the attempt to end the delays in the establishment of footpaths and other rights of way and to provide reasonable public access

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to open country. However, we feel that that will not be achieved without a balance between the various competing interests and full funding from the centre to pay for all the necessary changes.

English Nature, in its most recent parliamentary briefing, states that the purpose of the Bill can be achieved only with proper funding. Access needs to be managed if the very wilderness and wildlife which so many people prize so highly are not to be adversely affected. English Nature also states that the infrastructure of wardens, notices, information and incentives must be adequately provided. I know that the Minister has great respect for English Nature and its views on wildlife. If it underlines what we on these Benches are saying, I am sure that he will pay great attention.

The Bill must provide not only a balance and adequate funding; it must also define a clear timetable. At this moment we do not know when the mapping will commence, how it will proceed or when it will finish; nor do we know whether the Secretary of State intends to wait until the whole task is completed before he starts to implement rights of access and so forth.

We know that the preparations of the invitations to tender were due to be completed by the end of July. I should be grateful to the Minister for his assurance that the project is on time. The process, from the issue of the tender documents to the awards of contracts, will take roughly six months. The mapping will then take from two to seven years. Again, I should be grateful for the Minister's assurance on those points.

Much of our countryside is already open to access through our national parks, the National Trust and voluntary agreements, but much is closed to the public. Unless the Bill is clearly understood, and its timetable and necessary limitations accepted, those with legitimate interests in private land will find their rights violated and their privacy invaded. Government departments will also come into this category and I wonder how they will cope with the situation where the public believe that they have the right to roam, but where mapping has not been completed, wardens have not yet been appointed, and by-laws are not yet in place.

I fear that there may be an increase in violence. Already those who manage the land are suffering from the attentions of those who want to take what is not theirs. How much worse it will be if we allow the Bill to pass knowing that its main provisions will not come into operation for years.

Furthermore, and on the other hand, what about the users? They need to be secure. Walkers must be certain that they have the right information to ensure their safety. Everyone must have a clear understanding of their rights and responsibilities.

The Bill as it stands is a muddle. It covers too much ground and lacks the basics. Every businessman knows that for projects to be successful, they must be simple, measurable, attainable, realistic and

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timetabled. I have grave doubts whether that is possible, which is why I have tabled this purpose clause. I beg to move.

4 p.m.

Lord Renton: I warmly support the amendment. In some ways, it is the most important amendment we have tabled. I should first confess that in the past 130 years there has been only one advisory committee to enable government, Parliament and Whitehall to get the drafting of Acts of Parliament right. It was called the Committee on Preparation of Legislation and I had the honour to be its chairman. Its most important recommendation reads:


    "Statements of purpose ... should be used when they are the most convenient method of clarifying the scope and effect of legislation ... when so used, they should be contained in clauses and not in preambles".

We might well have recommended that they should not be contained in the Long Title either. This is a long Bill which deals with a variety of issues. A few short phrases in the Long Title does not in law have the effect of enabling the Bill to be properly interpreted and applied.

The Bill requires much clarification and we shall deal with that during our long discussions. However, in my opinion, it is vital that there should appear at the beginning a statement of purpose of the kind proposed by my noble friend. I do not say that it is perfect or that it cannot be improved. Indeed, in one respect, which I shall mention, it should be improved later. The amendment states:


    "The purpose of this Act is to ... create a structure for mapping countryside in preparation for open access".

The Bill attempts to do that but we must make it clear that that is one of its purposes. The proposed purpose clause does so. Paragraph (b)--


    "make provision for public access to the countryside"--

is a broad statement but we later discover in the Bill that public access is not ubiquitous; it is limited. Perhaps paragraph (b) should make it clear that "public access" is as defined in the Bill and not just any public access. In that respect, that paragraph might on Report be amplified.

The proposal in paragraph (c), which reads,


    "set out a mechanism for granting public access upon completion, in whole or in part, of the mapping process",

is very good and would help in interpretation. Reference is also made to controlling traffic. Paragraph (e) reads:


    "strengthen the law relating to nature conservation and the protection of wildlife".

It should be made known at the start that that is one of the main purposes of the Bill.

I turn to the part of the amendment which I believe requires modification. Paragraph (f) reads:


    "receive Government proposals for developing areas of outstanding natural beauty".

I am worried about that because "development" nearly always means building of one kind or another. It may be residential, industrial, social or for other purposes, but it is not a purpose of the Bill to

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encourage, in a broad sense, the development of areas of outstanding natural beauty. Therefore, I believe that that paragraph must be amended.

Finally, paragraph (g) states:


    "make necessary consequential changes",

which is a technical phrase.

I believe that we are indebted to my noble friend for putting forward such a clause. We do not have enough such clauses in our long and complicated Acts of Parliament and I hope that the Government will consider it sympathetically.


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