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("(2A) An authorised person who believes that any person on access land is or has become a trespasser, or has committed any offence, on that land may require that person to give to him full particulars of his identity.
(2B) Any person failing, without reasonable excuse, to comply with the requirement in subsection (2A) shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 1 on the standard scale.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a less contentious amendment. In moving it, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 29 which, once again, is purely a definition provision. It defines, for the purposes of Amendment No. 20, what is an authorised person.

Amendment No. 20 seeks to deal with what can be done with someone who appears to be breaking the rules on access land. This Bill is full of good intentions and rules governing the behaviour of those who exercise their access rights, but there are virtually no teeth for dealing with them. The amendment is a modest attempt to improve the situation. If an authorised person believes that someone on access land has broken a rule or committed an offence he can demand from that person particulars of his identity and it will be an offence for that person to fail to give such particulars unless he has a reasonable excuse.

Surely it must be right that a warden or an owner or his representative can discover who owns a misbehaving dog or who has damaged his wall. I recognise that the amendment still leaves the problem of what the authorised person can do if an offender refuses to answer. The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, and I had a discussion in Committee about someone who, when asked to do something, replies with expletives that would be deleted if repeated in the House. That problem will always be there, but this amendment would provide an offence if someone failed to give such particulars.

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In Committee I suggested that one should be able to find out who was on access land. That was said to be an infringement of liberties. However, the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, accepted that there might be arguments in relation to someone who had committed an offence or broken the rules.

I hope that the Government recognise that those who need to enforce the rules will need help and that they should therefore accept the amendment. There is no point in having schedules in the Bill full of things that one should not do if nothing can be done effectively about someone who breaks the rules. If it is not possible to find out who the person is, not even the first steps can be taken to do anything about it. I beg to move.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, I support the amendment. Remembering what the noble Baroness said, I shall not cover past ground. However, this is an important amendment. Many noble Lords are concerned that there may be circumstances in which people should be taken to task and there is little enforcement in the Bill. If the amendment is not accepted by the Government, it begs the question: how will sanctions be imposed to obtain a balance between those who are on access land lawfully and those who are not?

Lord Northbourne: My Lords, I support the amendment. It is the crucial amendment of the Bill. If there is no way to enforce the by-laws and the regulations, the Bill is manifestly unfair. I believe that legislation is liable to fail if it is perceived by one party or another to be manifestly unjust. If there is no way of enforcing the rules for the use of access it will be manifestly unjust.

Baroness Hamwee: We on these Benches are unhappy with this amendment. We must be careful when creating new criminal offences. I draw the distinction between a criminal offence, which this amendment seeks to include in the Bill, and the position under the civil law between different parties. The two amendments together, particularly given the criminal nature of subsection (2B) as proposed, would amount to creating a police force or possibly an excuse for vigilantes from which I am sure noble Lords would want to distance themselves. I take some of the points made by the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, about seeking a balance and avoiding confrontation rather than encouraging it. I fear, however, that the amendment might have the contrary effect and we cannot support it.

Lord Jopling: My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, will she be kind enough to answer the points made by the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe? How would she deal with the situation in which an authorised person had found someone on his land who was a trespasser or who had committed an offence? How can the authorised person do something about

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that? It is not good enough for the noble Baroness to say, "We don't like it". She must tell the House how she and her party would deal with such a situation.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I drew a clear distinction between the criminal and civil situation. I believe that this situation is no different from someone living in an urban area finding a trespasser in the garden.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, perhaps I may place on record the fact that at no stage have I criticised the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, who has not repeated herself--unlike one or two other noble Lords!

In Committee, we debated whether wardens, landowners and their agents should be able to request identification from people on access land. The Government's position has not changed in response to this amendment.

We do not believe it is right that such "authorised persons", if they happen to believe that a person is a trespasser or has committed an offence, should be able to require such information to be provided. That would be contrary to the position not only in public places, such as on the street, but also when someone trespasses (or indeed commits an offence) not only in someone's garden, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said, but in a noble Lord's home.

If someone has lost the statutory right, they may be treated as a trespasser in the normal way. If someone has committed an offence, he will lose the statutory right but can also be dealt with in the usual way by the authorities. No one, apart from the police in certain circumstances, can require identification from someone in the street, or in his home, even when that person has committed an offence. We do not believe that an exception should now be made for access land.

The noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, and the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, referred to situations in which people were being extremely difficult. The noble Viscount referred to a person who responded with a range of expletives. He may agree that if one were to ask such a person for his name his response could be a further expletive.

Viscount Bledisloe: My Lords, I find the Government's response deeply unsatisfactory. In Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, said that he had considerable sympathy with the position and that where an offence had been committed there was an argument in favour of such a provision. In certain circumstances, one can ask another person for his identity. If you are involved in a car accident, you are required to exchange particulars, even though you may be wholly innocent of fault. If someone is in your house unlawfully, you can physically detain him until the police arrive and find out who he is. It is not good enough merely to say, "You are not meant to let your dog run wild". When I find a dog running wild, I cannot find out to whom it belongs even though it is savaging my land and has caused damage.

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The provision is a recipe for physical violence because the only thing the owner is entitled to do is to find a couple of other people, pick the chap up and physically throw him off the land. I do not believe that the Government's desire is that in such circumstances people should come to fisticuffs. Those who do not like the amendment must surely recognise that they must come forward with action that the warden or owner can take if he finds someone misbehaving who will not stop or give his name. Do the Government really expect violence to take place and the person to be forcibly ejected?

The position is deeply unsatisfactory and I hope that the Government will think of something to do about it. I shall return to the matter in some form or another at Third Reading but, for the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 21:


    Page 2, line 35, leave out subsection (4) and insert--


("(4) If a person becomes a trespasser on any access land by failing to comply with--
(a) subsection (1)(a),
(b) the general restrictions in Schedule 2, or
(c) any other restrictions imposed in relation to the land under Chapter II,
he may not, within 72 hours after leaving that land, exercise his right under subsection (1) to enter that land again or to enter other land in the same ownership.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we debated in Committee whether wardens or landowners and their agents should be able to request identification--I beg your pardon, I am reading the wrong brief! That has not happened to me for years!

We gave an undertaking in Committee--does that sound better?--to consider the case for extending the period during which the statutory right is lost where someone breaches a restriction. We have considered the matter very carefully. We are aware that breaches of restrictions may well be very minor--for example, feeding a handful of grass to a horse--but we accept that in order properly to protect the interests and the needs of those owning and managing the land, and effectively to discourage people from breaching the restrictions, we should extend the period for which the statutory right is lost.

The amendment will ensure that a user who fails to comply with subsection (1)(a) by damaging a wall, fence and so on, or who breaches a Schedule 2 restriction or any other restriction imposed under Chapter II, will lose the statutory right for 72 hours after leaving the land. We believe that 72 hours is a reasonable time for the right to be lost in such circumstances.

We have always emphasised that those exercising the new right of access should be responsible and this amendment is intended to promote that message.

Perhaps for the convenience of the House I may respond to Amendment No. 21A, which is an amendment to Amendment No. 21. The amendment

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would mean that someone in breach of a restriction would lose the right of access to all access land, not just land in the same ownership.

As we explained in Committee, we do not believe that someone who breaches a restriction, perhaps to trivial effect, and thereby becomes a trespasser should lose the right of access to all access land. On a practical level, it would simply not be possible to enforce that. There is a good chance that if a person is asked to leave an area of access land because he has breached a restriction, should he return in the next 72 hours he will be identified by the owner, or the owner's agent, and challenged. But if he lost his right of access to all access land, it is unlikely--indeed, impossible--that anyone would even know that he had breached a restriction on other land, and therefore would have no reason to ask him to leave. Even the walker might not know of his breach if the landowner of the land on which the breach took place was not bothered by it and allowed the person to remain on the land.

If a walker who has been in breach moves on to other land in different ownership, he must continue to abide by the restrictions or he will lose his right of access to that land, too. That is a practical requirement which both landowners and walkers will be able to understand.

Opposition Amendment No. 22 is covered by Amendment No. 21. I beg to move.

7.30 p.m.

Baroness Byford moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 21, Amendment No. 21A:


    Line 9, leave out ("other land in the same ownership") and insert ("any other access land").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I thank the Government for considering our earlier amendments and tabling Amendment No. 21. I believe that a period of 72 hours makes good sense. The noble Lord has responded to Amendment No. 21A. While I understand the direction from which the noble Lord comes, the problem, which I explained to the Minister recently, is that a person will not know on which land he is walking. Amendment No. 21A means that the walker will clearly know that he is not allowed on any access land for 72 hours, which I believe is at least half a step forward compared with the argument just put forward by the Minister. The noble Lord said that that would not be enforceable because nobody would know on which land he should or should not be. However, I thought that this Bill sought to place responsibility on people who intended to use access land. The walker would know that he was not supposed to be on the land for the next three days. While I have listened to the Minister with great interest, I shall reflect upon the matter, and I hope that the noble Lord will do likewise.

I am aware that my amendment does not provide a total solution to the problem, but at least a person who has committed an offence and is told not to go onto the land for 72 hours--whether or not he ignores it is up

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to him--knows that he should not be on any access land for that period. We believe that that is a sensible step. I beg to move.


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