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The Earl of Caithness: It may not be an issue in the Bill, but it is an important point that it would be helpful to have clarified at this stage. Perhaps if the fifth cavalry can come to the Minister's assistance in due course, the Minister will inform the Committee what the present law is.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The answer is that, where there is an owner and a tenant and, for example, a sporting tenant, there are in existence cases where more than one person can ask a trespasser to leave and that will continue. We do not believe, where there is a tenancy, it is necessary to exclude a trespasser from all the land owned by the freeholder. That could be extremely large, perhaps extending to thousands of hectares in different parts of the country--I do not look at any Members opposite when I say that. More importantly, such a provision would be difficult to enforce. How would a farm tenant know that a person had broken a restriction on a neighbouring tenant's land, or even the land of the neighbour's neighbour? We will of course return to this matter when we come to debate Clause 2. But our view is that this amendment would not be practical and it is not desirable.

Baroness Hamwee: I do not know whether I am the cavalry; I doubt it. But I hope I do not make the situation more complicated. Clause 21 tells us who is an entitled person in connection with Section 2. An "entitled person" is,


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I am sure that the Secretary of State has views as to what descriptions of people will be described within Clause 21(3)(b). Perhaps the Minister could tell us. It would help in taking forward the debate to know whether there is any widening under that. Subject to that, Clause 21(3) supports the common-sense view that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, explained.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I am sure that is right. But the use of the word "prescribed" is always a get-out for government in legislation. We use the word when we propose to prescribe provisions in secondary legislation.

Baroness Byford: I thank the Minister for his response and for the clarification. He said that a trespasser may not know from which land he is excluded and it could be that the owner or tenant has other land. That is a problem to which we will return as discussions go forward. I do not see how any trespasser will know whose land he is on in any case. That is a problem with the Bill and not simply with the specifics raised by my noble friend. We certainly need clarification of owners' and the Government's view on that and I thank the Minister for that response. With those comments I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

9 p.m.

Lord Glentoran moved Amendment No. 15:


    Page 2, line 9, at end insert--


(""designated access point" means a location of access to access land shown in conclusive form issued by the appropriate countryside body for the purposes of this Part;").

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 15 returns to the theme of improving the management of access. It refers to "designated access point"; that is,


    "a location of access to access land shown in conclusive form issued by the appropriate countryside body for the purposes of this Part.

As the Bill stands, persons are allowed to enter access land at any point; for example, they are allowed to climb a wall or fence even if there is a gate 50 metres away. Access, in our view, should be made at specific points. That has many advantages in managing access and in helping people to enjoy it and be responsible users of the countryside. Perhaps I may list some of the points of support. Responsible walkers will want easy and convenient access by gate or stile. Convenient access points will be shown on access maps. The Bill allows entry on to access land at any point. If the land is open to a road, few problems will be caused. If the land is enclosed, difficulties will ensue. Climbing walls or fences is liable to cause injury and damage. The amendments protect dry stone walls. Open boundaries to access land increase difficulties in signing bylaws, exclusions and advice about land. Designated access points can be signed and notification of extra rights, exclusions and restrictions can be given with a sensible number of notices. In other words, anyone wondering

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what is happening on a particular piece of land will go to a known access point--it will be known because it will be marked on the map--and will know what is happening on that piece of access land.

Furthermore, better information can be provided for walkers about how the land can be maintained, its special features, any SSSIs, the wildlife, the expected behaviour and the enjoyment they can derive. It prevents the need for large numbers of signs in the open country showing that land is or is not access land.

Designating access points also concentrates minds at an early stage on the accessibility of land. At Second Reading in the other place, Mr Meacher said that:


    "one must take account of accessibility, which might require a further delay, depending on the circumstances".--[Official Report, Commons, 23/3/00; col. 725.]

These amendments take account of accessibility. Mr Meacher also said that special protection for dry stone walls could be considered in Committee, adding:


    "I accept that the landscape of many areas would be greatly improved if dry stone walls were restored".--[Official Report, Commons, 23/3/00; col. 722.]

I can give Members of the Committee a wonderful example of that in my own province in the Mourne mountains. For several years, there has been a great scheme for restoring dry stone walling and the countryside is wonderful. I see the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, nodding. When Mr Meacher said that he would not devote any more of his speech to dry stone walls honourable Members asked, "Why not?".

Mr Mullin conceded:


    "The idea of designated access points is a good one",--[Official Report, Commons, Standing Committee B, 30/3/00; col. 66.]

but he did not accept that such access should be mandatory. We suggest that the designation of access points in many areas of what will become access land would be a wise and sensible amendment to make to the Bill. It would allow for easier communication with the general public and will allow them to know where they are starting from and the state of the country as regards safety and so forth. Furthermore, it is hoped that educational material will be passed to the general public in a tasteful and sensible way. I beg to move.

Viscount Bledisloe: Once again, we are curiously served by the grouping because, far from having too many issues grouped together, we have too few. We have the definition of a designated access point but no indication of what one is to do with it when one has found it. It becomes relevant only when one turns to Amendment No. 72, which provides that people shall enter only by means of designated access points.

If the Minister wants to tell me that he would rather deal with the matter when we reach Amendment No. 72, I shall immediately stop. Is he saying that or is he agreeing that I should stop on principle?

Lord Whitty: Possibly both, but it is true that the amendment does not involve the mandatory nature of designated sites. That will arise with Amendment

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No. 72. If the noble Viscount is about to talk about mandatory issues, that would be more appropriate when we reach Amendment No. 72.

Viscount Bledisloe: I shall follow the Minister's advice.

Lord Williamson of Horton: I agree with my noble friend that we are in a dilemma because the single amendment with which we are dealing relates to a definition. However, we do not know what will be done with the designated access points at a later stage. It is a paving amendment but there seems to be no pavement after it.

The amendments with which we shall deal later are different because Amendment No. 70 proposes that people should inform themselves at the designated access points. I believe that that is an excellent idea. Amendment No. 72 proposes that they should enter by such points. Therefore, we are now paving the way for different amendments.

Amendment No. 15 provides a definition and as this is the first time we have dealt with the issue of designated access points, I intervene, first, because I believe it is important and, secondly, in a spirit of jubilation because we have reached page 2 of the Bill. But that is en passant.

The given definition must be right and I believe that the proposed definition is good. It provides that the designated access points must be issued in a conclusive form, so there will no great argument about whether they will be here, there or anywhere else. That is important in particular for walkers. They need to know and will go to such points to seek out information which they might gain under the provisions of Clause 19. Furthermore, the amendment allocates the responsibility to the appropriate countryside body, which also seems correct.

Therefore, following the grouping, which in this case contains only one amendment, I support it because I believe that it is a good one.

Lord Hylton: Perhaps I may ask the Minister a question before he replies. I apologise if the point has already been touched on. Does he agree that where access land is surrounded on all sides by non-access land there must be some kind of footpath or other right-of-way agreement in order to make the access land accessible by the general public?


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