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Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, we do have the courage of our convictions. They are philosophical convictions about the freedom of local government and of each local authority to take decisions for itself.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, I accept that. I trust that I was not suggesting that local authorities should not decide. I am a great stalwart of local authorities, having a brother who is a county councillor and a sister in law who was a district councillor for many years. The amendment would not take that discretion away from local authorities. I have tried to explain that to the noble Baroness. I beg leave to test the opinion of the House.

7.18 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 11) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 55; Not-Contents, 160.

Division No. 4


Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Arran, E.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Buscombe, B.
Byford, B. [Teller]
Campbell of Croy, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Chadlington, L.
Colwyn, L.
Craig of Radley, L.
Craigavon, V.
Cranborne, V.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Dundee, E.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Glentoran, L.
Hanham, B.
Hereford, Bp.
Hooper, B.
Howe, E.
Kingsland, L.
Liverpool, E.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mancroft, L.
Marlesford, L.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Montrose, D.
Moynihan, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Newton of Braintree, L.
Noakes, B.
Northbrook, L.
Northesk, E. [Teller]
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Palmer, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Peel, E.
Renton, L.
Renton of Mount Harry, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Seccombe, B.
Selborne, E.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Vivian, L.
Waddington, L.
Weatherill, L.
Wilcox, B.
Williamson of Horton, L.


Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alderdice, L.
Amos, B.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Attenborough, L.
Bach, L.
Barker, B.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Billingham, B.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Chandos, V.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Crawley, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Dholakia, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Elis-Thomas, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Ezra, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Falkland, V.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Gale, B.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gilbert, L.
Goldsmith, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grabiner, L.
Greaves, L.
Greengross, B.
Grenfell, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Haskins, L.
Hattersley, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Hooson, L.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Islwyn, L.
Jacobs, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. (Lord Privy Seal)
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lockwood, B.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Methuen, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Mitchell, L.
Molloy, L.
Morgan, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Newby, L.
Nicholson of Winterbourne, B.
Nicol, B.
Northover, B.
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
Parekh, L.
Peston, L.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Razzall, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Rennard, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rogers of Riverside, L.
Russell, E.
Russell-Johnston, L.
Sawyer, L.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Sharman, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shepherd, L.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Warner, L.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Watson of Richmond, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Winston, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.
Young of Dartington, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

23 Nov 2000 : Column 1005

7.27 p.m.

[Amendments Nos. 12 and 13 not moved.]

Clause 19 [Notices indicating boundaries, etc.]:

Earl Peel moved Amendment No. 14:

    Page 12, line 44, at end insert--

("( ) Any notice erected under subsection (1) in relation to any area of access land which has, in whole or in part, been notified under section 28(1) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (the "1981 Act") shall--
(a) state that the land has, in whole or in part, as appropriate, been so notified;
(b) indicate, in the form of a map or otherwise, the extent of the land so notified;
(c) state the nature of the offences created under section 28P(6) of the 1981 Act.").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, the offence created under Section 28P(6) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 provides a potentially powerful deterrent to the abuse of restrictions under Schedule 2 or Chapter II on access land on SSSIs. Anyone who intentionally or recklessly destroys or damages flora and fauna or intentionally or recklessly disturbs fauna on an SSSI is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £20,000 or, on conviction following indictment, to an unlimited fine.

However, for an offence to arise under Section 28P(6)(b) the person involved must know that what he destroyed, damaged or disturbed was within an SSSI. For the offence to be helpful in tackling abuses of the right of access on SSSIs--we return to this question again, I am afraid--it is essential that steps are taken to advise the public of access land which is, in whole or in part, notified as an SSSI.

Therefore, I ask the Government to consider an amendment such as this one or perhaps one of their own. Unless such notices draw attention to the existence of an SSSI, anyone who abuses his rights in relation to an SSSI and causes damage, destruction or disturbance could simply plead ignorance. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, under Clause 19, access authorities have powers to erect notices informing the public of the boundaries of access land and of the effect of restrictions and exclusions in force on the land. We amended Clause 19 at an earlier stage to ensure that such notices could include any other information about access land which the authority considers appropriate.

Amendment No. 14 would require access authorities, when erecting any such notice, automatically to include information on the extent of

23 Nov 2000 : Column 1006

any land in the area which was designated as a site of special scientific interest, together with information about the offence created under 28P(6) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

We believe that the Bill makes ample provision for the protection of sites which are sensitive in terms of nature conservation, allowing for closure of access or restriction of access. Where land is in need of additional protection, by-laws can be made. The effect of such closures, restrictions and by-laws is exactly the sort of information we would expect access authorities to display on notices erected under Clause 19 and, in appropriate cases, access authorities may wish to identify that certain access land falls within an SSSI and refers to the offence in Section 28P(6).

However, it is not in every case desirable to draw public attention to the status of SSSIs. There are cases, for example, where it is important to protect rare or delicate flora and fauna from the attention of thieves. In general, however, there is no objection to measures to publicise the existence of SSSIs. Indeed, new SSSIs will need to be publicised in the local press. There is already much information about them on English Nature's website.

To go further by requiring every notice erected under Clause 19 to show details of such land is simply unnecessary. A notice may be wanted just to point out a suitable means of access. It would not be desirable for all notices to contain information about everything to do with nature conservation. We, too, share the concerns raised by the noble Earl that sites of special scientific interest are fully protected. It is for that reason that we cannot accept the amendment. We believe that not only would it sometimes be unnecessary, but deeply inadvisable to display information where the access authority does not wish to draw attention in detail to the existence of the SSSI.

Access authorities can include information on a notice erected by them and may use their powers to do it under Clause 19(1)(b)(iii). In the light of that reply, I hope that the noble Earl will see fit not to press the amendment.

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