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Lord Donoughue: In speaking to Amendment No. 56A, which stands in my name, I wish to declare an interest as a part-owner of a racehorse exercising regularly, beautifully, on a gallop in west Northamptonshire and also as a member of the Ramblers' Association. So I am conscious of both sides.

The Minister said in opening and indicated in a letter he kindly passed to me that he accepts the basic arguments--not necessarily all the arguments--that have been put forward and that he proposes to bring forward a government amendment which will exempt gallops. On behalf of my colleagues who have supported my amendment, I welcome that and thank him for it. I do not therefore propose to detain the Committee with the full battery of overwhelming arguments I spent much of yesterday preparing, but I shall briefly summarise them in case we have to return to this battle at Report stage.

The basic case, so well put by the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, is one of risk--risk to horses, to riders and to ramblers. Thoroughbreds are very large, very fast and often very nervous. They sometimes emerge in the morning fog travelling at about 30 mph. The risk of accidents, indeed death, is very high. It is higher than that on a golf course, which is accepted in the Bill, when the only risk is to the recipient of the small, if painful, ball, whereas the risk with horses is to several people. A very valuable horse is involved in each case, and possibly a string of horses. From the beginning it has been clear that gallops must be exempted. I am pleased that the Minister accepts that.

Several drafting issues have arisen. There is the question of the definition of a gallop, which I was early officially informed did not have a legislative pedigree. It has a good literary pedigree. It appears in late Victorian literature; it was in The Times 80 years ago, and I have found it in one Act of Parliament, so I am sure that we shall be able to resolve the point.

I accept that designating gallops is serious issue. We do not want to be in a position where individuals can self-designate a gallop, a piece of land on which they

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might ride once a month, as exempt. One solution that I have indicated in the drafting of my amendment is to make use of the Jockey Club list, where trainers and permit trainers indicate gallops when registering.

The Government might wish to interpolate a statutory body such as the Countryside Agency. That ought to be acceptable, provided it is clear that the agency would normally accept the advice of the Jockey Club on this matter.

The issue of times, raised by the noble Baroness, worries me a little. I am aware that there are certain long-established gallops which have access at some times and not at others. I should be slightly concerned if that applied everywhere. It works where everyone knows the gallop, but in certain less well-known gallops it might present difficulties. We do not, for instance, want a rambler with children going onto a gallop at one minute to four because the exemption starts at four and the trainer with 30 horses coming up at one minute past four. It is an issue that we can discuss, and to which I am sure we shall find a solution. Given the Minister's indication of his very helpful approach, it is not my intention to speak further or to press the amendment at this stage. If acceptable to the Committee, I suggest that we allow the Minister to elaborate on what he has in mind. Then, we shall be in a position before Report stage to consult on it and hold discussions and, it is to be hoped, achieve a solution that is satisfactory to the needs of safety in racing and race training, which must be the ultimate priority.

Lord Whitty: In view of my noble friend's invitation, without wishing to curtail further debate it may be helpful if I indicate and confirm most of what the noble Lord said about the Government's intention. We recognise this as a serious problem that has to be addressed. We therefore have in mind the introduction of an amendment that would exempt the right of access to land used for the training of race horses. However, we are not absolutely certain as to the exact formulation involved. As my noble friend indicated, we envisaged that the right of access would possibly be constrained by time: by saying that in general it would apply between the hours of sunrise and midday. But there are some gallops where that would not apply. A separate provision would be required in order to agree other times in appropriate circumstances. Moreover, as my noble friend said, there is also the difficulty of putting on the statute book the precise gallops to which this would apply. The Jockey Club could play an extremely helpful role here as regards exactly how we express that provision. Indeed, we may need to engage in consultation with noble Lords who are interested in this area, as well as with the organisations concerned, before we finally put forward an amendment.

I certainly intend to meet all the anxieties expressed by my noble friend and the noble Baroness. Clearly, there is a safety issue involved that we must address. I hope that the Committee will accept our determination to do so in the best way possible.

Lord Burnham: Before the noble Lord sits down, I am sure that those who are concerned about the matter

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will be deeply grateful for what he has just said about this problem. In many cases it has been suggested that after midday or one o'clock it would be perfectly all right for people to roam on the gallops. However, when he is considering the matter, I ask the noble Lord to bear in mind the serious danger of broken glass and discarded tins, which might well be left on the gallops by ramblers. I do so because of the easy way that such litter could cause damage to horse flesh amounting to many tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Baroness Byford: I think it falls to me to beg leave to withdraw my amendment at this stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Glentoran moved Amendment No. 35:


    Page 48, line 5, at end insert--


(". Any developed land.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is the first in a large and somewhat complex group relating to Schedule 1. I am not quite sure why, but a couple of later amendments could well have also been included in the grouping; namely, Amendments Nos. 39 and 40. However, perhaps we had better leave them where they are so as to avoid any further confusion.

In moving this amendment, I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 37, 41 to 48, 54 and 55, which is tabled in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, as well as to Amendments Nos. 56, 58 to 60 and 63 to 65. Amendment No. 51 is tabled in the name of my noble friend Lord Peel. These amendments are designed to make up serious deficiencies in the schedule relating to excepted land; namely, land excluded from the definition of "access land" and, consequently, not subject to the right of access introduced by the Bill.

The large number of amendments listed in this grouping is a sad reflection of the inadequate state in which the Bill has come to this place. The list of excepted land in Schedule 1 barely scratches the surface as regards the need for careful consideration of the impact of the right of access and of those lands which have to be excluded from that right either for the safety of the public or out of consideration for the interests of the owner and other users. We have just had a classic example of that with regard to the gallops.

There are a number of other examples, such as farming, including the proposal to extend the period of time since the land was ploughed or drilled from 12 months to five years. There is also the matter of curtilage. For safety and security we propose that no land within 50 metres of a dwelling-house should be access land. Public safety points are also included, as is the protection of the environment as well as other commercial concerns.

Amendment No. 37, which relates to land comprising a highway, is a probing amendment on the relationship between highways and access land. Highways provide a right of way rather than a right to open-air recreation. If access land includes highways, there are potential problems. Which legal regime

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applies, or do both? Could a person exercising access rights be guilty of obstructing the highway? Can people picnic on roads? Can dog-walkers use footpaths across access land without having their dogs on leads? Would a person using a highway be subject to by-laws under Clause 17?

Amendment No. 41 reads:


    "Page 48, line 5, at end insert--


    (". Land within 50 metres of a dwelling-house.")"

Personal security and privacy can be compromised if people are allowed to wander by homes. The present exceptions for buildings and their curtilage and for gardens are not sufficient. The curtilage is an area of land that relates to a building--commonly, the garden of a house. Although a field would not usually be in the curtilage of a house, it may be next to or immediately behind the walls of a cottage. Keepers' cottages or agricultural workers' houses are often found in open country. The reasons of privacy and security which lead to the present exceptions should be applied in those circumstances.

Amendment No. 42 reads:


    "Page 48, line 5, at end insert--


    (". Land currently used, or used since 1850, as a cemetery or burial ground.")

We suggest that it is inappropriate for such land to be used for open-air recreation. Admission to cemeteries should be a matter for the keepers of those cemeteries.

Amendment No. 43 reads:


    "Page 48, line 5, at end insert--


    (". Land used for the purpose of a sports pitch or an athletics track.")"

The Bill excepts golf courses and racecourses. A similar exception should be made for other sporting facilities. Access rights may interfere with sporting events or training, cause damage to pitch or track surfaces or endanger either athletes or the general public. As the test applied is whether land is "wholly or predominantly" open country, pitches and athletics tracks may be included. Commons are used for cricket matches and other games.

Amendment No. 44 reads:


    "Page 48, line 5, at end insert--


    (". Land being used for the purposes of a film or television studio.")"

Film and television studios often require large open areas. I refer, for example, to the new film studios at Leavesden airfield in Hertfordshire. Filming and preparations would be disturbed by a right of access over that site. Such access might also be dangerous.

I shall not go through the whole list. The examples that I have mentioned are pertinent. I believe that all the amendments that I propose are valid and serious and seek to respect the privacy, security or safety of those concerned. I beg to move.

11 p.m.

Earl Peel: I support in particular my noble friend's Amendment No. 41 which raises an extremely fundamental issue; namely, the whole question of

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privacy and security. The provisions will undoubtedly pose problems in certain cases for individuals living in remote rural areas.

A number of dwelling-houses will be situated close to, if not on the edge of, the new access areas. It is important for the Government to consider this problem seriously. I have no intention of reminding the Committee of the difficulties posed by increased crime in rural areas and of trying to find a policeman to deal with such problems. I am sorry to say that one is extremely unlikely to find one.

I believe that as the access provisions in the Bill begin to bite, a number of additional footpaths will be created on access areas. I suggest that almost inevitably footpaths will develop along the edge of access areas. As it is trodden down and more and more people use it, people living in houses next to the newly created footpath could find that they have an unexpected non-registered footpath. That could lead to difficulties such as a decrease in the value of the house. Perhaps more importantly, it could lead to increased crime.

I hope that the Minister will give the problem serious consideration. With great respect to my noble friend, I do not suggest that it is necessarily the right amendment. We need seriously to consider security and access and dwellinghouses on the edge of access areas. The amendment gives us the opportunity to hear what the Government have to say on this important issue.


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