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Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer moved Amendment No. 213:



("( ) The Secretary of State or, as may be the case, the National Assembly for Wales, shall draw up model byelaws for the use of access authorities.").

The noble Baroness said: The amendment has the aim of ensuring that model by-laws will be drawn up by the Secretary of State. We do not want to see different by-laws being introduced in different parts of the country, making it difficult for the public to understand which apply in various areas.

That is common sense and the Countryside Agency is drawing up such by-laws. However, it would be sensible to have a provision in the Bill to ensure that they are put in place. I beg to move.

The Earl of Caithness: The Committee returns to a point it debated earlier. I support the noble Baroness's amendment because, together with my noble friend Lord Northbrook, I have put my name to a later amendment which is linked with it. The case for by-laws is well made. I hope the Minister accepts that by-laws need to be as national as possible. If someone wants access to land under the provisions of the Bill it is much better that the by-laws are common

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throughout England and Wales. There must always be room for slight alterations because of closure orders and the specific requirements of areas. I am sure the Minister agrees that one very good reason for having by-laws is that the police will take much quicker and more effective action than without them, as is well demonstrated in the case of travellers.

Baroness Byford: I rise to speak to Amendment No. 217 which is linked with Amendments Nos. 213 and 214. Amendment No. 217 deals with by-laws. I too believe that the burden of work involved in exercising the power to prepare by-laws would be greatly eased if the access authority had a set of national model by-laws to consult. Various models exist. For example, there are by-laws for access land in the Peak District National Park and Dartmoor. There are also model by-laws for the control of dogs: dogs on leads; dogs on leads by direction; prohibition of dogs from grounds; dogs on seashores and promenades; and the removal of canine faeces from carriageways. Doubtless there are many other precedents. However, there does not appear to be one national model. Both previous speakers suggested that that would be immensely helpful to the general public.

The Secretary of State and the National Assembly for Wales could usefully bring together existing examples to develop a national model set of by-laws for access land which could be made readily available to all access authorities and other relevant interests. That would speed up the process of selecting and preparing appropriate by-laws for any one site or area. The amendment requires the Secretary of State and the National Assembly to prepare model by-laws and, in so doing, to consult the relevant bodies, for example the Countryside Agency, the Countryside Council for Wales, English Nature, MAFF and voluntary bodies such as the CLA, the NFU, the Ramblers' Association and the British Mountaineering Council, all of which have been referred to in earlier debates. Surely, it is possible to develop a consensus on this issue to be reflected in any national model, taking into account existing experience such as that in the national parks.

Baroness Young of Old Scone: By-laws are a useful tool in the management of access land, but I do not believe that we should be over-ambitious about the actions that they can support. Nevertheless, the Minister could find it useful to consider a model set of by-laws to be available in the rare circumstances where that is the best way forward in terms of this Bill.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: I support this group of amendments. I do not much mind who produces the model by-laws, but it would be helpful to have them. I was unable to remain until yesterday morning when the Committee debated the Bill, but, having read the report of it, I believe that the Government still do not understand the aggro that will be created by all the finicky controls and bits of law involved with access land. I do not know how they could have avoided it, but it has happened. There will be a good deal of trouble on the ground once the legislation comes into

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force. One example is the potential trouble caused by by-laws. Farmers, whether they are tenants, owner occupiers or those running commercial operations, are anxious that the legislation should work. People with little knowledge of the by-laws will arrive. We are told that they cannot come to a common access point, so the by-laws will not appear in any one place.

I would have thought that those who sought access would be unlikely to carry the by-laws in their pockets, although some might. If they moved from one area of access land to another they would require two sets of by-laws. If all the by-laws were different they would not know the relevant ones. The noble Baroness, Lady Young, says that by-laws are a useful tool. That is one view. They are probably a necessity when one runs matters in this way. But if it is not known how by-laws will work right across access land and there is no similarity or common core attaching to them, there will be terrible trouble. People will break the rules; they may even break the law. That will create great problems. The Government must be very careful and ensure that the by-laws are more or less the same across the country, although there will still need to be variations. I hope that the Government can accept one of these amendments.

Earl Peel: I too very much support the principles behind the amendments. I ask the Minister to take particular note of the point made by my noble friend Lady Byford in relation to the Peak Park by-laws. The Peak Park Authority has been involved in access agreements for a great number of years and has tremendous experience of these matters. I would have thought that by-laws developed in areas of the Peak Park would be of enormous importance to these new access areas. I hope that the Minister will take into account my noble friend's comments.

Lord Roberts of Conwy: I do not believe that any of these amendments states clearly what is to be done with the model by-laws and what respect the access authorities are to pay to them. Are they to be adopted universally by all access authorities or simply referred to as model by-laws? The very fact, as my noble friend Lady Byford said, that there are at least two sets in the Peak District and Dartmoor--and, I dare say, elsewhere--means that a variety of by-laws already exists in different areas. From what we know of the areas covered by the Bill and the access land which will develop as a result, it is clear that there will be considerable differences between one area of land and another.

If the Minister is in favour of a model set of by-laws I am sure that he will clarify exactly what its function will be and how much regard access authorities should pay to it. I cannot but notice that the amendments call for the National Assembly for Wales as well as the Secretary of State in England to draw up sets of model by-laws. So it is already anticipated that there will be at least two different sets of by-laws.

Lord Whitty: All of these amendments require the Secretary of State or the countryside authorities to

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issue model by-laws to access authorities. This afternoon and in earlier debates in Committee there has been a certain misapprehension and ambiguity about the role of by-laws, which the noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Conwy, put his finger on. The main way in which modifications to the national provisions on access land are made is via applications to the countryside agencies in England and Wales. Therefore, most of the local anomalies will be dealt with in that context rather than in the context of by-laws.

We would not expect to see a whole range of different by-laws applying to access land. Nevertheless, there is a role for by-laws. We expect that the combination of existing by-laws and existing civil and criminal sanctions will be appropriate in most cases. Where there are by-laws, it is helpful to have advice from the countryside agencies or the local departments on the nature of those by-laws. It is also essential to recognise that by-laws are regulations appropriate to local circumstances. Therefore, to require on the face of the Bill by-laws to be issued without saying whether they are mandatory or not, and in what circumstances the access authorities would have to adopt them, is missing the point.

The amendment made by the Government at Report stage in another place clearly gives power to the countryside agencies to issue model by-laws and guidelines. It was explained then that those recommendations--they would be recommendations rather than binding on the local access fora--are likely to include advice on where by-laws might be appropriate and useful and how best they should be framed and publicised.

The power to have model by-laws is there. It could be useful to access authorities in these circumstances. The requirement that we issue model by-laws suggests an authority for them which goes beyond the useful role we think they could play. We are in favour of the ability to issue model by-laws and other forms of advice to back up access authorities which wish to issue by-laws. Model by-laws can be helpful to local authorities in these circumstances. If necessary we shall develop model guidance, but to issue the exact form of by-laws, and with the implication that they lay down the law in the form of a by-law which has authority, would not be appropriate. The face of the Bill should not read that way when the power so to do is already there.


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