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These amendments all relate to the commencement of Part II of the Bill. Amendment No. 318 to Clause 44 and Amendments Nos. 560 and 561 to Clause 77 are consequential on Amendment No. 557, the effect of which would be to give the National Assembly for Wales the power to make orders bringing Part II into effect in relation to Wales. Under the Bill as it currently stands, only the
Amendment No. 554 to Clause 77 deals with a different commencement issue. As the Bill is currently drafted, none of the provisions in Part II takes effect automatically two months after enactment. All depend on commencement orders being made. The reason for this is that implementation of many of the provisions depend on secondary legislation or statutory guidance being in place. That takes time to prepare and, where necessary, to be approved by Parliament. However, a number of provisions are not so dependent. They are Clauses 48, 54, 55, 60, 61, 62 and 63 and Schedule 7. We have concluded that commencement of those need not wait for orders to be made and Amendment No. 554 makes provision for them to take effect automatically two months after enactment.
Amendment No. 562 to Clause 78 relates to Clause 77(5). This latter provision already provides that commencement orders may appoint different days for different areas. Amendment No. 562 would provide clarity so that where a commencement date is fixed for one area "the commencement date" means that date in relation to that area and is not interpreted as meaning, for example, any earlier date that has been fixed for another area. That is to avoid ambiguity.
My noble friend skilfully anticipated the Government's intentions in respect of Clause 63 and Schedule 7. I hope that he will be willing not to press his amendments. In answer to his comment on an earlier amendment, I should like to place it on record that I for one, as a Government Whip, always listen carefully to everything said in debate by Members of your Lordships' House. I beg to move.
Lord Renton: Perhaps the Minister will be so helpful as to explain one small point. Amendment No. 562 refers to "that area". What area is contemplated? I have glanced at earlier provisions of the Bill to see whether there is a definition of "area", but I have not yet found one. Can the noble Baroness help me on that point?
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: To the best of my understanding, it is that area which is defined in order for the commencement to proceed. It will be defined by the access authority in terms of an appropriate division of the land. It is also particularly important with regard to the fast-track that may affect part of the geographical area and not other parts of the same geographical area or ownership of land. In other words, it is the area to which the commencement order applies.
Lord Jopling: I have not been able to find in the Bill some of the matters which arise from the remarks of the noble Baroness a few moments ago. She said that it would be possible to have different commencement dates for different areas. She then said that the areas would be discrete. I should have thought that on different sides of a hill from a watershed one could have two different dates for two different adjoining pieces of land. I can see the sense of having that. She said that that was to avoid ambiguity. If two adjoining pieces of land or two separate pieces of land across a valley or a dale had different commencement dates, that could give rise to a certain degree of confusion. Do the Government accept that there could be a certain amount of confusion in the minds of the public who have not been through the Bill? They may have heard that there is one commencement date and imagine that that commencement date would apply to all the land in the area. How much notice of the commencement date will be given? What will the access authority do to publicise the commencement date? Will the date always be put in the local paper?
These are important matters. Until the noble Baroness spoke a few moments ago, I had imagined that the commencement dates would be the same for all areas. I can envisage people not understanding what she said, although I can understand the good sense of having the different commencement dates. It would be helpful if the noble Baroness could clarify that point.
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My noble friend Lord Williams of Elvel chided--I think rather gently--the Liberal Democrat Front Bench for not joining in the debate. Had all noble Lords been present for the whole of the previous part of the discussion--including very lengthy talks on the subjects of publicity and the process of such publicity--I believe that my noble friend might have been slightly more timid about provoking even more noble Lords to speak.
For the record, I should like to say that we held extremely detailed and lengthy debates on the process of publicity, and consultation on the means of publicity and the importance of that kind of process because it is necessary that the public should understand exactly what will apply to different areas. The publicity would surround and be a part of the process of producing a commencement order and would further define the area to which the commencement order applied. I am sure that the noble Lord is aware that, as a result of taking into account the real concerns expressed by those responsible for land management, many occasions will arise when different rules and restrictions will apply in different
Lord Glentoran: I thank the noble Baroness for putting forward her explanations and arguments and I have no wish to return to many of the debates that we have held previously. However, perhaps the noble Baroness could give me some reassurance on one or two points. I understand that the fast track process is by no means set in stone and that the Government will come forward with their thoughts and suggestions at a later stage.
Perhaps I may return to a point that was raised earlier today; namely, the question of strategic plans forming a part of the process of ensuring that there is clear understanding. I am concerned that, on the day the Bill is passed and given Royal Assent, the world outside will believe that access is there for all. Can the noble Baroness give a reassurance--I shall give way to the noble Lord.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The last two interventions from the Conservative Benches have concerned Part I of the Bill. This has nothing to do with fast track procedures, mountain land or registered common land. This concerns the provisions covering the commencement of rights of way.
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: In case the position of the Liberal Democrat Front Bench is again misinterpreted, I should like to put on record the fact that we have remained silent at this point because we spoke at length on these issues when speaking to other amendments. Indeed, the Minister was kind enough to point that out. I do not wish to take up the time of the Committee by repeating myself.