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Lord Whitty: The noble Lord is right. Subsection (4) of my amendment is intended specifically to avoid such establishment orders being regarded as hybrid and, therefore, going through an enormously complicated procedure here--which, thank God, we have managed to avoid for most of the legislation that we have passed. Indeed, it would not be appropriate to regard this as a hybrid instrument that would discriminate and affect one group of persons as against another.

There is no substantive change to local residents by bringing in the existence of an AONB. It is just one particular form of managing the AONB. The same planning rules will apply as refer to AONBs without conservation boards. There is no detriment--certainly not a discriminatory one--to local people. Therefore, there is a need to ensure that this is not treated as a hybrid instrument. It is a fairly common device, although the noble Lord may not like it because it is common.

I am not quite sure of the purpose of Amendment No. 527C; indeed, I do not believe that it would make any difference. However, if it did, it would remove the limitation on the provisions that can be included. So it would give rather wider powers. As I say, I doubt whether it would have much effect but, in so far as it could, it would probably be in the opposite direction to that desired by the noble Lord.

Amendment No. 527D deals, again, with a pretty standard kind of provision, which allows proper flexibility. The noble Lord may not like such flexibility for the Secretary of State, but successive Secretaries of State have used such provisions in legislation. When one draws up regulations, especially ones that may have to apply to different parts of the country and take account of local circumstances, it is important to have a degree of flexibility. I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord will not press his amendments.

Lord Marlesford: Amendment No. 527B deals with the hybridity issue. I suppose that I am ignorant in this respect, but I am horrified to hear that it is common practice in legislation to declare that statutory instruments that are hybrid should not be treated as such. I regard the parliamentary provisions for dealing with hybridity as a most important part of our democracy. I do not see the distinction between primary legislation and secondary legislation which may be declared hybrid. As I understand it, the objective of having a hybridity procedure has always been to prevent governments from discriminating between classes of persons who, apart from discrimination, are the same in other respects.

I am very worried about this provision. It is possible that it is much more common that I thought. I shall certainly make some enquiries as to whether or not I

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am wrong. I suggest that the concept of hybridity is central to our parliamentary democracy. I wonder why it is in this Bill.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I am grateful to the Minister for his reply. I am also grateful to my noble friend Lord Marlesford for his intervention. He raised the precise principle that worries me. I believe that I understood the Minister's response. Provided that he can give me an assurance at a later stage--he need not do so tonight--that the power could never be used other than to disbar the specific matter that he described, we would probably not have any problem with it. However, I always suspect that such clauses are simply an excuse to save the parliamentary draftsman from having to draft precisely what it is that the Government do mean. I accept that that is part of the problem with legislation.

Amendment No. 527C was not supposed to affect the substance and consequences of the Bill; it was simply designed to reduce the number of words. It deals with the question of prolixity. I shall study what the Minister said on Amendment No. 527D. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 527C and 527D, as amendments to Amendment No. 527A, not moved.]

On Question, Amendment No. 527A agreed to.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 528:


    After Clause 71, insert the following new clause--

MANAGEMENT PLANS

(" .--(1) Every conservation board shall, within two years after the date on which they are established, prepare and publish a plan which formulates their policy for the management of their area of outstanding natural beauty and for the carrying out of their functions in relation to it.
(2) Subject to subsection (3), the relevant local authority in respect of an area of outstanding natural beauty shall, before the end of the period of three years beginning with whichever is the later of--
(a) the commencement of this section, or
(b) the date on which the area is designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty,
prepare and publish a plan which formulates their policy for the management of the area of outstanding natural beauty and for the carrying out of their functions in relation to it.
(3) Subsection (2) does not apply where, before the end of the period mentioned in that subsection, a conservation board has been established for the area of outstanding natural beauty.
(4) A plan prepared under subsection (1) or (2) is to be known as an area of outstanding natural beauty management plan.
(5) A conservation board or relevant local authority may, instead of preparing a plan under subsection (1) or (2),--
(a) review any plan for the management of the area of outstanding natural beauty which has been prepared before the commencement of this section--
(i) by a local authority, or
(ii) by a joint committee established by two or more local authorities, and
(b) adopt the plan as reviewed as their area of outstanding natural beauty management plan, and

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(c) publish it under subsection (1) or (2) within the time required by that subsection.
(6) A conservation board may, within six months of the date on which they are established, adopt an area of outstanding natural beauty management plan prepared for their area of outstanding natural beauty by the relevant local authority as their area of outstanding natural beauty management plan, and publish it under subsection (1).
(7) Subject to subsection (8), a conservation board shall review their area of outstanding natural beauty management plan before the end of the period of five years beginning with the date on which it was published and, after the first review, at intervals of not more than five years.
(8) Where a conservation board have adopted a plan under subsection (6), the first review must take place before the end of the period of three years beginning with the date on which the plan was published.
(9) Where an area of outstanding natural beauty management plan has been prepared under subsection (2), the relevant local authority shall review the plan before the end of the period of five years beginning with the date on which it was published and, after the first review, at intervals of not more than five years, but this subsection does not apply where a conservation board has been established for the area of outstanding natural beauty.
(10) Where a conservation board or relevant local authority review any plan under this section, they shall--
(a) determine on that review whether it would be expedient to amend the plan and what (if any) amendments would be appropriate,
(b) make any amendments that they consider appropriate, and
(c) publish a report on the review specifying any amendments made.
(11) In this section "relevant local authority" means--
(a) in the case of an area of outstanding natural beauty which is wholly comprised in one principal area, the local authority for that area, and
(b) in any other case, the local authorities for all the principal areas wholly or partly comprised in the area of outstanding natural beauty, acting jointly.").

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 529. These amendments represent an extremely important element in the Government's strategy. They require a management plan to be prepared and published for every AONB. Normally this would be done by the local authority which has the responsibility, or by a number of local authorities working together. In cases where an AONB conservation board comes into being, the duty to prepare the management plan would transfer to that board.

The Government propose to allocate additional funding to the Countryside Agency to enable it to provide grant support for the production of management plans. Local authorities and conservation boards preparing those plans will be expected to work closely with local people and local groups who are stakeholders in the AONB so as to develop a shared vision with a shared commitment on the future of that AONB. The Countryside Agency intends to issue guidance next year on the recommended content of those plans. As I said earlier, the agency is working closely with the Association of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The experience gained by the national parks authorities which already prepare national park management plans under the Environment Act 1995

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will be helpful. AONB management plans, like the park plans, will be expected to set out the management board's policy for the management of the AONB and the carrying out of its functions. We therefore accordingly expect management plans to contain both high level aspirations for the overall stewardship of the AONB and specific objectives on the work of the managing body--the local authority or the conservation board. These amendments set out the timescale for the preparation of plans. Generally, local authorities will be required to prepare and publish a plan within three years of this legislation coming into force and a conservation board within two years of its establishment. Plans will have to be reviewed at intervals of not more than five years. There is a provision for a local authority in the first instance to adopt a previously existing non-statutory management plan provided that it is reviewed by that authority first. I believe that these are sensible provisions. I beg to move.

12.30 a.m.

Lord Dixon-Smith moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 528, Amendment No. 528A:


    Line 35, after ("authority") insert ("or joint committee").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is designed to aid the clarity of the Bill. The proposed new clause in government Amendment No. 528 states at subsection (6):


    "A conservation board may, within six months of the date on which they are established, adopt an area of outstanding natural beauty management plan prepared for their area of outstanding natural beauty by the relevant local authority".

Amendment No. 528A seeks to add the words "or joint committee". The proposed new clause in government Amendment No. 528 mentions at subsection (5)(a)(ii) a plan prepared by a joint committee. For the sake of clarity the wording of the proposed new subsection (6) ought to be consistent with that of the proposed new subsection (5) in regard to a plan prepared either by a local authority or a joint committee.

Amendment No. 528 requires conservation boards to prepare a management plan within two years of their establishment. They can do that by adopting an existing one, modifying an existing one or creating a new one. They have a considerable period of time in which to do that. However, we thought that it would be beneficial for them to state which route they intended to follow in establishing a management plan. I beg to move.


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