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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I do not believe that there is a single answer to that question. People will know what their rights are more clearly. I believe that to be the truth of the matter. As to whether there is more or less opportunity for them, that will depend upon adding together a whole number of judgments regarding individual cases. Walkers will make their claims as will landowners; indeed, there may also be counter-claims in both cases. It is not for me to predict the balance between the two. We would, of course, like the legislation to provide more scope for walkers, but we cannot guarantee that.

Baroness Byford: I, too, should like to comment on these amendments. I accept what the noble Lord has just said. Certainly, from our point of view, anything that brings a degree of certainty to the issue--indeed, the position is still very uncertain, unless we follow the line that the Government are taking--must be an improvement. However, I had not read into the amendment the fact that the intention was to put the burden of proof back into the equation. I thought that we were taking the date in the amendment as "the cut-off date" and that anything that had not been on the definitive map prior to that would simply not be there.

I certainly cannot comment on the Minister's good but rather long explanation. I shall read his response, but I believe that any measure that brings certainty will be welcomed by walkers and by those who own and manage the land in question. If the position is uncertain, that is a nightmare. We need to consider the matter further rather than accept the position as it stands at present. I hope that the noble Baroness will not press the amendment.

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I wish to comment further on the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy. Clauses 59 and 60 contain much improved provisions for removing obstructions from rights of way. That should be an encouragement for walkers.

Baroness Scott of Needham Market: I am grateful for the Minister's response which I shall read in Hansard with great interest and with a hot towel on my head! There are some key issues involved here. The noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, reached the heart of the matter when she asked whether walkers would have more or fewer opportunities to roam. I suggest that it is a little disingenuous to say that the removal of obstructions is a major advantage. Clearly, that will be welcomed by walkers, but they have every right to expect to use public rights of way without their being obstructed. I am talking about the creation or deletion of public rights of way. The concern I have about the whole tenor of Part II is that the balance is tipped to make it easier for rights of way to be removed rather than created.

In lowland arable areas, such as Suffolk where I come from, there will be little new access provision under Part I. We rely on the public rights of way network for access to the countryside. I am keen to ensure that there is no loss of access. My noble friend Lady Miller will return to that issue.

Baroness Byford: Before the noble Baroness sits down, I should add that I, too, have links with Suffolk where my family's farm is situated. It has public rights of way. New pathways are being established through the various countryside schemes which are too many to mention. Certainly my family is negotiating new pathways on our land. I hope that the noble Baroness will not assume that because the Government are talking about old pathways that are perhaps not recorded, new pathways will not be made available. As I declared earlier, our land is not access land, but it has pathways across it and we are trying to negotiate more. I am sure that is the right way forward. I should hate the noble Baroness to think that there is only one way forward and that there will be no more pathways in the future. I believe that there certainly will be more pathways.

Baroness Scott of Needham Market: I am grateful for those comments. I do not wish to downplay the kind of agreements that the noble Baroness mentioned. They are indeed valuable but, sadly, they are not as numerous as we might hope. However, in the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendments Nos. 323 to 333:

    Page 57, line 18, after ("byway"") insert--

("( ) after "the map shall" there is inserted ", subject to subsection (2A),",").

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Page 57, line 35, at end insert ("--

(a) subsection (1)(d) and (e) have effect subject to the operation of any enactment or instrument, and to any other event, whereby a way shown on the map as a restricted byway has, on or before that date--
(i) been authorised to be stopped up, diverted or widened, or
(ii) become a public path, and
Page 57, line 36, leave out from ("way") to ("with") in line 37 and insert ("so shown").

    Page 58, leave out lines 2 and 3.

    Page 58, line 5, at end insert--

("(2A) After that subsection there is inserted--
"(3A) Where as respects any definitive map and statement the requirements of section 53(2), and of section 55 so far as it applies, have been complied with, the map and statement are to be regarded for the purposes of subsection (3) as having been modified in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this Part whether or not, as respects the map and statement, the requirements of section 54 have been complied with."").
Page 58, line 20, at end insert--

("(6C) Regulations made by the Secretary of State may require any surveying authority--
(a) to keep such other documents as may be prescribed by the regulations available for inspection at such times and places and in such manner as may be so prescribed, or
(b) to provide to any other surveying authority any document so prescribed which that authority is, by regulations under paragraph (a), required to keep available for inspection."").
Page 58, line 22, leave out from ("Where") to ("area") in line 25 and insert--

("(a) different definitive maps and statements relate to different parts of a surveying authority's area,
(b) as respects so much of each definitive map and statement as relates to that area the requirements of section 53(2), and of section 55 so far as it applies, have been complied with, and
(c) there is no part of that").
Page 58, leave out lines 34 to 39 and insert--

("(2) The power conferred by subsection (1) is not exercisable by a surveying authority if the definitive map and statement relating to any part of the authority's area is").
Page 58, line 45, leave out ("Subject to subsection (2),").

    Page 59, leave out lines 1 to 25.

    Page 59, line 33, at end insert--

(" . In Schedule 14 to that Act (applications for certain orders under Part III), in paragraph 4(2) at the end there is inserted "(which may include a direction as to the time within which an order is to be made)".
. In Schedule 15 to that Act (procedure in connection with certain orders), paragraph 9 is omitted and after paragraph 10 there is inserted--
"Hearings and local inquiries
10A.--(1) Subject to sub-paragraph (2), subsections (2) to (5) of section 250 of the Local Government Act 1972 (giving of evidence at, and defraying of costs of, inquiries) shall apply in relation to any hearing or local inquiry held under paragraph 7 or 8 as they apply in relation to a local inquiry which a Minister causes to be held under subsection (1) of that section.
(2) In its application to a hearing or inquiry held under paragraph 7 or 8 by a person appointed under paragraph 10(1), subsection (5) of that section shall have effect as if the reference to the Minister causing the inquiry to be held were a reference to the person so appointed or the Secretary of State.

9 Oct 2000 : Column 70

(3) Section 322A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (orders as to costs where no hearing or inquiry takes place) shall apply in relation to a hearing or local inquiry under paragraph 7 or 8 as it applies in relation to a hearing or local inquiry for the purposes referred to in that section.".").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

6.45 p.m.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendment No. 334:

    Page 60, line 3, leave out from beginning to (""restricted") in line 7 and insert--

("11.--(1) Section 57 of that Act (penalty for displaying on footpaths notices deterring public use) is amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (1), for "road used as a public path" there is substituted "restricted byway".
(3) In subsection (3), for "or road used as a public path" there is substituted "restricted byway or byway open to all traffic".
(4) After that subsection there is inserted--
"(4) In this section--
"byway open to all traffic" has the same meaning as in Part III of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981;"").

The noble Baroness said: This amendment is technical. It relates to Section 57 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 which makes it an offence to display a notice deterring public use of a way shown on a definitive map as a footpath, bridleway or road used as a public path. Highway authorities are under a duty to enforce this offence.

Schedule 5 currently amends Section 57 in consequence of the redesignation of roads used as public paths (RUPPs) as restricted byways. However, under the current wording there is some doubt whether the offence would be enforceable in respect of a restricted byway which carried full vehicular rights and was, therefore, a byway open to all traffic. A consequence is that the Bill could make the offence unenforceable in circumstances in which it may presently be enforced. We do not want to weaken Section 57, and Amendment No. 334 would ensure that the status quo is maintained. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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