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Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 530 to 532:


GRANTS TO CONSERVATION BOARDS

(" .--(1) The Secretary of State (as respects England) or the National Assembly for Wales (as respects Wales) may make grants to a conservation board, of such amounts and on such terms and conditions as the Secretary of State or the Assembly thinks fit.
(2) Before determining the amount of any grant which he proposes to make to a conservation board under this section, or the purpose for which the grant is to be made, the Secretary of State shall consult the Agency.
(3) Before determining the amount of any grant which it proposes to make to a conservation board under this section, or the purpose for which the grant is to be made, the National Assembly for Wales shall consult the Council.").


    After Clause 71, insert the following new clause--

INTERPRETATIVE AND SUPPLEMENTARY PROVISION

(" .--(1) In this Part, unless a contrary intention appears--
"the 1949 Act" means the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949;
"the Agency" means the Countryside Agency;
"area of outstanding natural beauty" has the meaning given by section (Designation of areas)(3);
"conservation board" has the meaning given by section (Establishment of conservation boards)(1);
"the Council" means the Countryside Council for Wales;
"liability", in relation to the transfer of liabilities from one person to another, does not include criminal liability;
"local authority" means a principal council within the meaning of the Local Government Act 1972;
"principal area" has the same meaning as in the Local Government Act 1972.
(2) Any reference in this Act to the conservation of the natural beauty of an area includes a reference to the conservation of its flora, fauna and geological and physiographical features.
(3) This Part does not apply in relation to any of the lands mentioned in section 112(1) of the 1949 Act (Epping Forest and Burnham Beeches).").


    After Clause 71, insert the following new clause--

CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS AND TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS

(" . Schedule (Areas of outstanding natural beauty: consequential amendments and transitional provisions) (which contains consequential amendments and transitional provisions relating to areas of outstanding natural beauty) has effect.").

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On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Renton of Mount Harry had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 533:


    After Clause 71, insert the following new clause--

PUBLICATION OF RESPONSE TO MANAGEMENT PLANS

(" .--(1) The appropriate national authority shall, in respect of every management plan which it receives, within six months publish a response setting out--
(a) the steps which the authority intends to take to further the objectives in that management plan; and
(b) the extent to which the policies of the authority may conflict with that management plan and the steps which the authority intends to take to resolve that conflict.
(2) In this section--
"appropriate national authority" means--
(a) in relation to a national park or area of outstanding natural beauty in England, the Secretary of State or the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; and
(b) in relation to a national park or area of outstanding natural beauty in Wales, the National Assembly for Wales.
(3) In this section--
"management plan" means--
(a) a National Park Management Plan published by a National Park authority in accordance with section 66 of the Environment Act 1995; or
(b) a management plan in respect of an area of outstanding natural beauty published by a conservation board or relevant local authority in accordance with section (management plans).").

The noble Lord said: I shall study the Minister's words carefully. I may wish to return to this matter on Report because I believe that it is important. However, in the meantime, I shall not move the amendment.

[Amendment No. 533 not moved.]

Lord Glentoran had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 534:


    After Clause 71, insert the following new clause--

POACHING OF DEER

(" . After subsection (4) of section 1 of the Deer Act 1991 (poaching of deer) there shall be inserted--
"(5) If any person fails to comply with a requirement under subsection (4) above or wilfully return to the land, an authorised person may apprehend such a person and convey him or cause him to be conveyed to a constable as soon as conveniently may be."").

The noble Lord said: I do not believe that Amendments Nos. 534, 535 and 536 in this group are appropriate at this stage of the Bill. I shall not move the amendment.

[Amendments Nos. 534 to 536 not moved.]

Lord Renton of Mount Harry moved Amendment No. 536A:


    After Clause 71, insert the following new clause--

CONSERVATION BOARDS: FINANCES

(" .--(1) A conservation board shall have power in respect of every financial year beginning after the establishment of that board to issue levies to the councils by whom local authority members fall to be appointed to it, and accordingly section 71 of

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the Environment Act 1995 shall apply to a conservation board as if references in that section to a National Park authority were references to the board.
(2) The Secretary of State (as respects England) or the National Assembly for Wales (as respects Wales) may make grants to a conservation board for such purposes, of such amounts and on such terms and conditions as the Secretary of State or the Assembly thinks fit, and accordingly sections 72 and 73 of the Environment Act 1995 shall apply as if references in that section to a National Park authority were references to the board.").

The noble Lord said: I listened carefully to the Minister's words. I cannot say that I agree on the point about not levying local authorities but I shall consider his words carefully. I beg to move.

Baroness Byford: As I said earlier, I wish to raise only a simple point in relation to my noble friend's amendment. He knows what I said.

Perhaps I may raise an important matter in relation to this part of the Bill which has not been touched on tonight. My noble friend was kind enough to arrange a meeting with his colleagues from the management of the various boards of the AONBs. Although we are dealing with the question of a facility which will enable conservation boards to be set up, I should not like this opportunity to go by without referring briefly to the position of the smaller boards, which other noble Lords have mentioned.

My noble friend will correct me if I am wrong, but at that meeting many of the smaller boards, which are informal groups, expressed their concern regarding their funding. Again, I am more than willing to be corrected, but they do not see their way forward as becoming part of a big conservation board. Certainly, the indication from the groups to which I spoke that evening was that there may be only two or three groups which wish to become full conservation boards. However, the other more informal groups are extremely anxious that they should be able to carry on their work. They spend much of their time in the act of conserving. Conservation is the very nature of the work they do.

The Minister said that money will be made available to the boards and I ask him to put on record that those smaller, informal groups will not be overlooked. Their needs will be smaller compared with those of the larger boards but those small needs may be more crucial--although my noble friend will not agree with me--in order for them to be able to continue on a day-to-day basis.

It is not that I do not agree with what my noble friend said and I understand where he is coming from, particularly with regard to his South Downs board. I well understand the position in which it finds itself. But many of the other smaller groups are not looking to establish a bureaucratic regime and are extremely anxious about their future. Perhaps the Minister will give some further clarification as to how the money is to be allocated and how much which will go to the full conservation boards and how much will go to other less formal boards.

Lord Whitty: I said earlier that in terms of the allocation of the sums available for AONBs, there will

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be no discrimination on the basis of whether or not there was a conservation board. The allocation will be made on the basis of the needs of the AONB. I hope that that is sufficient to meet the noble Baroness's concerns. We may return to this issue on Report.

Lord Renton of Mount Harry: My noble friend on the Front Bench raises a very important point, and one which is certainly recognised by the larger groups which either have a conservation board or a substantial joint advisory committee.

I hope that we do go forward along this route. I believe that it is extremely important that the smaller, less formal groups should know from where they will receive their money. I hesitate to disagree with my noble friend. We are not going to set up a bureaucratic regime but we want to know that we have sufficient finance to put into practice long-terms plans with farmers, stewardship schemes and so on. Clearly, the small groups also need that information. Clarification would be extremely helpful. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


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