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Lord Whitty: By and large we have gone through these arguments. As I think the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, suggested, these amendments would remove another, even more important, part of the structure of safeguards with regard to the use of these powers. The only time that we would wish to use the powers is where there is a genuine threat to significant numbers of people which is significantly abnormal and outweighs the public interest--by and large, that is the interests of the local people--in keeping a right of way open.

The effect of Amendments Nos. 373 and 386 would be to allow a right of way to be closed even if there were only a handful of crimes committed by people using it. I appreciate the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Renton, that the word "high" is not defined. However, by definition, that is a relative term. We are talking about unusually high levels of crime. It might be helpful if I were to say a little more about the process. I think that it was slightly misunderstood in the earlier debate.

High levels of crime would in the first case be identified by local authorities on application for a designation. The designation of the area is for the Secretary of State. Introduction of orders under that designation would be a matter for the local authorities. There would be a local element of application once the area had been identified as an abnormally high risk area.

The idea that we should use these provisions frequently to close footpaths and bridleways does not seem appropriate. The vast majority of crime is committed on premises. People have access on roads and pavements. Far more villains pass down the A13 than down the average rural footpath, but I should not be in favour of giving Essex County Council the ability to close the A13. One has to be proportionate. One has to recognise the number of people likely to be affected and to make a judgment as to the likelihood and incidence of crime within that area relative to the overall community. That is why the balance is built in there. That is why the process has to be robust and vigorous before such designations and orders can be made.

As regards the point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, it should not be left entirely to county councils although they can initiate the process and make the orders under such designation. It needs a tighter control than that; otherwise significant parts of our rights of way system could be under threat for reasons which purport to relate to crime but do not. I hope that the noble Baroness will not pursue the amendment.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil: As he so often does, my noble friend Lord Renton puts his finger on the point. The Minister's reply leaves me wondering what the answer is to the question that the noble Lord should be facing. What is the point of putting words into a Bill of which no one knows the meaning?

Lord Bridges: The Countryside Agency is unaware of there being any link between rights of way and

11 Oct 2000 : Column 347

criminal activity; and the formal closure or diversion of a path would be unlikely to deter the determined criminal from pursuing his crime. What is important is that the procedure for creating or altering rights of way should be transparent, clear and open to everyone.

Lord Renton: In view of what has been said by Members of the Committee since the Minister replied to the debate, perhaps I may implore him to think again. The noble Lord must try to achieve certainty.

Lord Mishcon: I wonder whether the Committee would agree that if a tribute were paid, as it so often is, to the high level of debate in this Chamber we should have no difficulty whatsoever in agreeing to it.

Baroness Byford: I shall not be deterred. The Minister has not answered my simple question on how one judges high levels of crime. I wish to test the opinion of the Committee.

4.3 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 373) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 85; Not-Contents, 144.

Division No. 1


Aberdare, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Barber, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Biffen, L.
Blatch, B.
Boardman, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Brightman, L.
Buscombe, B.
Buxton of Alsa, L.
Byford, B.
Caithness, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Carver, L.
Clark of Kempston, L.
Cobbold, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Courtown, E.
Crathorne, L.
Crickhowell, L.
Cumberlege, B.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Elles, B.
Elton, L.
Fookes, B.
Glenarthur, L.
Glentoran, L.
Hanham, B.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L. [Teller]
Higgins, L.
Hogg, B.
Hooper, B.
Howe, E.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Inglewood, L.
Laird, L.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Lucas, L.
Luke, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Marlesford, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Monson, L.
Montrose, D.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Northbrook, L.
Northesk, E. [Teller]
O'Cathain, B.
Oxfuird, V.
Palmer, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Peel, E.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Prior, L.
Pym, L.
Rawlings, B.
Reay, L.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Ryder of Wensum, L.
Seccombe, B.
Selborne, E.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Stodart of Leaston, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Vivian, L.
Wilcox, B.
Willoughby de Broke, L.
Young, B.


Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Amos, B.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Avebury, L.
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Bath and Wells, Bp.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Billingham, B.
Blackburn, Bp.
Blease, L.
Bledisloe, V.
Borrie, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Bridges, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Christopher, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Craig of Radley, L.
Crawley, B.
Currie of Marylebone, L.
Darcy de Knayth, B.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Ezra, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Geraint, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Goldsmith, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grabiner, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Greaves, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hereford, Bp.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Hooson, L.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Islwyn, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Judd, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Laming, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Lincoln, Bp.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
Maddock, B.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Marsh, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Mishcon, L.
Mitchell, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Nicol, B.
Northbourne, L.
Parekh, L.
Peston, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Portsmouth, Bp.
Prys-Davies, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Roll of Ipsden, L.
Sandberg, L.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Serota, B.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shepherd, L.
Sheppard of Liverpool, L.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Strange, B.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taverne, L.
Tenby, V.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Wakefield, Bp.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wigoder, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

11 Oct 2000 : Column 349

[Amendments Nos. 374 and 374A not moved.]

4.13 p.m.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendment No. 375:

    Page 63, line 17, leave out ("opposed") and insert ("unopposed").

The noble Baroness said: This amendment and the others in this group are mainly technical. Amendments Nos. 378, 379, 383, 388, 390, 394 and 395 relate to local authorities' existing powers under the Highways Act 1980 to divert rights of way and to the new powers in Schedule 6 to the Bill for local highway authorities to divert rights of way to prevent crime, increase school security or protect sites of special scientific interest. In some cases when diversions have been made under current legislation, the public right of way over the existing line has been extinguished before the newly diverted route is ready for public use. The amendments will prevent that by postponing the extinguishment until the local highway authority has certified that any necessary work on the new route has been carried out.

Amendment No. 412 relates to the provisions in Schedule 6 that enable local highway authorities to close or divert rights of way to prevent crime in areas designated by the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales. The areas are to be designated by order and the intention is that such orders should be made by statutory instrument subject to the negative resolution procedure. The amendment provides for that.

Amendment No. 412A makes it clear that the Secretary of State's existing powers to require applicants for closure or diversion orders to enter into an agreement with the responsible local authority about costs will be delegated to the inspector dealing with a case on appeal.

The remaining amendments in the group deal with minor technical points and small corrections to amendments tabled in another place. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 376 not moved.]

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