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Lord Judd: My noble friend will know that I feel a great affection for him and that I have a high regard for all that he brings to the Dispatch Box. This short debate has been tantalising. It could have led us--this is not the hour at which we should allow ourselves to be led--into a deep philosophical discussion about land, ownership and rights. We cannot go down that road at this stage, but I do not believe that my noble friend has his heart in the argument that consultation and involvement are the same as people knowing that in a certain circumstance they have a right to appeal.

There is an issue to consider here. We have heard from one side of the argument the phrase "natural justice". A feeling exists as regards natural justice. The Bill has been described as conferring a "right to roam". The Government may not endorse that phrase, but neither have they denied it. People are declaring that they have a right and that they wish to pursue that right.

I believe that it would be extremely sad if what is undoubtedly one of the best and most imaginative pieces of legislation to have come from this Government--about which I feel positively enthusiastic, as do many other people up and down the country--should be marred in any way by a suspicion that justice is being limited in this sphere. For that reason, I ask my noble friend to ensure that when we reach the Report stage this is looked at again, not least in terms of whether the drafting of the Bill is too restrictive once we come to appreciate the full implications of the Human Rights Act and the practice that will follow from its culture. I look forward to hearing more convincing statements at that stage.

Baroness Byford: Before the amendment is withdrawn, perhaps I may ask the noble Lord, Lord Judd, to clarify his final comment. Given the response from my noble friend Lord Marlesford, is he suggesting that, not only in addition to the access provision already being made by the Government, he would wish to see additional access? Is that the reason why anyone could make a claim? I should like to clarify the position, which at present appears a little unusual.

Lord Judd: I am grateful to the noble Baroness for that question. I should like to make two points. First,

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with any decision that has been made, people need to feel that if it is one that they do not accept, they know that it has been looked at independently and assessed independently. That is a terribly important principle in our law and in our approach to administration.

Secondly, I should like to make a practical point. If the Bill is to work as well as it should, people need to understand and feel positive about the decisions that are made. For those reasons, I believe that the procedures that I have advocated would help in that respect. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 177 to 181 not moved.]

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 [Appeal procedure]:

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer moved Amendment No. 182:

    Page 4, line 28, leave out ("may, if he or it thinks fit") and insert ("shall")

The noble Baroness said: Amendment No. 182 would remove from the Secretary of State the ability to judge whether he or it--in the case of the National Assembly for Wales--thinks it fit, first, for an appeal to continue in the form of a hearing, or, secondly, to call for a public inquiry. That discretion would be replaced with an obligation.

This amendment was tabled in case the Minister did not feel that it would be appropriate, although his reply to the amendment tabled by his noble friend Lord Judd suggested that appeals should be heard by members of the public. Furthermore, in particular at the beginning of this process, it is likely that precedents will be set by appeals. We believe that it would be unfortunate if these controversial issues, which may well arise at the beginning of the process, were to be taken by written representation, thus excluding local people from hearing each other's views and coming to an understanding of those views.

We believe that, at this point in the process, it would be better if inquiries were heard in public. I beg to move.

Lord Greaves: As the Minister is about to deal with appeal procedures, perhaps he will respond to the point I made about third party representation at appeals.

6 a.m.

Lord Whitty: In general, either the appellant or the decision-making body may require the appeal to be by way of a hearing. Where the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales is aware of a significant public interest in an appeal, Clause 7 allows for the appeal to take the form of either a normal hearing or a local inquiry.

We fully intend that wherever there is a particular and significant public interest in an appeal, the appeal will take the form of a hearing or, if appropriate, a local inquiry. On the other hand, I do not believe that it is necessary for all appeals to take that form. It would be a waste of time and resources, both for the

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decision-making body and for the appellant, to provide that there must be a hearing even where the appellant does not want one and where there is not a significant public interest in the matter. In such cases, a written appeal will be more sensible. It will provide certainty about the right of access more quickly for both the landowner and the users. Unnecessary hearings, which neither party to the appeal nor the public wish to attend, would be both costly and a waste of time.

In dealing with appeals, the Secretary of State will be aware of where there is a particular interest. The countryside body--which, after all, made the decision against which the appeal is being taken--will inform the Secretary of State of the extent of any public interest in the showing of the appeal land on draft maps. Of course, the countryside body or the appellant may require that the appeal takes the form of a hearing. Whatever form of appeal procedure is used, it is usual for the Secretary of State to write to anyone who has made representations about the case to inform them of the appeal.

In terms of the question from the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, we would expect such hearings and local inquiries to follow the same practice as in planning cases--in other words, the inspector would be able to ask to hear representations from third parties--but the right of appeal would be confined to the landowner.

Similar procedures would apply in cases where someone with an interest in land has applied for a closure or restriction--for example, on land management grounds--and the application has been turned down. We believe that that pattern provides adequate discretion to the court as to the form of the hearing. Where there is a wide public interest, the objectives of the amendment would in any case be met.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: I thank the Minister for his reply. It goes most of the way towards allaying my fears. If we can be assured that where there is a significant public interest there is likely to be an inquiry, that will be helpful. It would not be helpful if it was simply because, as the Minister mentioned in the previous case, the appellant did not want one. In the light of the Minister's reply, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 7 agreed to.

Clause 8 agreed to.

Schedule 3 [Delegation of appellate functions]:

[Amendments Nos. 183 and 184 not moved.]

Schedule 3 agreed to.

Clause 9 [Maps in conclusive form]:

[Amendments Nos. 185 to 187A not moved.]

Clause 9 agreed to.

Clause 10 [Review of maps]:

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer had given notice of her intention to move Amendment No. 188:

Page 6, line 31, leave out ("ten") and insert ("five").

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The noble Baroness said: These amendments seeking to shorten the period within which a review should take place were tabled before we knew that the Government would accept the amendments on the local access forum, particularly at the start of the mapping process. Their acceptance of these facts means that there is a likelihood of the original map being much more acceptable. Therefore, I do not intend to press the amendments.

[Amendment No. 188 not moved.]

Lord Glentoran moved Amendment No. 189:

Page 6, line 34, at end insert--
("( ) A person having an interest in any land marked as access land, open country or common land may appeal--
(a) in the case of land in England, to the Secretary of State, or
(b) in the case of land in Wales, to the National Assembly for Wales,
against the failure of the appropriate countryside body to remove a designation of that land as open country or registered common land.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is fairly self-explanatory. It takes us back to appeals, but this time the amendment relates to the review 10 years on. At the end of line 34 on page six--at the end of the clause referring to the requirement for a review not more than 10 years after the access has started--our amendment would require that there should be inserted:

    "A person having an interest in any land marked as access land, open country or common land may appeal ... in the case of England to the Secretary of State, or ... in the case of land in Wales, to the National Assembly for Wales, against the failure of the appropriate countryside body to remove a designation of that land as open country or registered common land".

That presupposes that the land has changed in character and that, under the definitions of the Act, it should no longer properly be recorded as access land. The amendment as drafted is straightforward. I beg to move.

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