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Lord King of Bridgwater: I would not want to leave this matter purely in the hands of those in the Brecon Beacons or the Lake District. I would hope to include Exmoor, in terms of the national parks and, in the amendment that is linked with this one that mentions areas of outstanding natural beauty, the Quantocks as well. Certainly, the problems referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, are the same in those areasjust as they are in the enjoining land that does not happen to be part of a national park or an area of outstanding natural beauty.
I agree with my noble and learned friend Lord Mayhew and disagree with my noble friend Lord Crickhowell, who I thought was rather unkind to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours. I think that this is a very promising amendment. The first thing that it does is to accept in principle that there is nothing unacceptable about hunting with dogs, which is an important statement. Although the noble Lord does not want to admit it, he wishes that there were some system that allows for certain sorts of hunting with dogs. I thought that that was what the registration principle was all aboutto allow properly conducted hunting.
I was interested to hear his reference to the 1987 Labour Party manifesto. I suspect that many people were sympathetic to his amendment, which he subsequently pocketed for further use, for the same reason that we have heard many times in another place. It is not the principle of hunting with dogs, but rather, if I may refer to the Freudian remark made by the noble Lord, Lord Harrison, it is the paraphernalia that many people cannot accept. I have received an interesting letter from Mr Douglas Batchelor, the chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, which I mention in connection with the hunt packs of the fells that operate in the national parks mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours. The letter states:
The noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, referred to the impact of tourism, to the number of walkers on the hills and to the impracticability of shooting in many areas. The Government's case throughout the Bill is, largely, that, at all times, shooting is preferable. We know well the number of visitors and tourists on Dunkery Beacon and on Exmoor. Should people be able to use high-powered rifles at any time in such areas free of hazard? As a former Member of Parliament, the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, will know that, the moment that one shot passes within half a mile of a visiting group of schoolchildren walking over Exmoor
In his amendment, the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, has established an important principle: there is nothing wrong with hunting with dogs, provided that it is done in a proper and orderly manner. I commend him for tabling the amendments. I take the same view as my noble and learned friend Lord Mayhew of Twysden: the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, should be supported because his amendment would establish a principle. The principle of registration lies behind it, and it fits properly with the registration concept.
Lord Kimball: Like my noble and learned friend Lord Mayhew of Twysden, I support the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours. The Committee must realise that, in all the areas, we must look after the national sheep flock. It is a rather special sheep flock.
Does the Committee realise what hefting is all about? Hefting is important in moorland areas. For many years, I had a sheep farm in Sutherland. We used to send the sheep away to winter in Aberdeenshire. They came back at the end of their first year and went to a yield herding, where the tups were not put out. They had a second year not being tupped at home in the same area and did not go back to their original herding until they were two years old. Two shears after clipping, they went back to their original herding.
The interesting thing is that, within two or three days of having been on a yield herding and having been down in Aberdeenshire for their first winter, the sheep would automatically gravitate towards the areas from which they had originally comethe good green burn or a particular green area on a hill. That is what it is all about with moorland sheep. We must look after them, not only in the Lake District but in all other moorland areas and in Wales. I hope that the Committee realises the importance of hefting.
Lord Renton of Mount Harry: I must first declare an interest: I live in an area of outstanding natural beauty that may, shortly, be designated a national park. The inquiry into whether the South Downs will become a national park starts in three weeks, so I could find myself moving from an AONB to a national park in two or three years' time.
I am interested in the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours. I notice that there is a sort of gradation about them that may have passed by some other noble Lords. The first amendment refers to national parks in a sheep-grazing area. The second amendment drops the phrase,
I find myself in a bit of a difficulty. My spirit is with my noble friend Lord King of Bridgwater and my noble and learned friend Lord Mayhew of Twysden and not, for once, with my noble friend Lord Eden of WintonI mean my noble friend Lord Crickhowell; he and I sit on the same EU sub-committee, so I am sure that he will have it out with me tomorrow morning.
The national park habit is coming southwards. It started around the Derbyshire Peaks, and it is always said that that is where the idea of a national park was first born in the 1930s. Many people working in the industrial cities around the Peaks found it difficult to get access to the land that is now in the Peak District National Park, as a great deal of it was owned by the water companies, which severely prohibited access for any sort of holiday, walk or hike. The Attlee government's idea of national parks was inspired by the Peak District. The Peak District and the Lake District are still the two largest national parks in terms of budget and number of tourists.
I have declared my interest. If the South Downs are turned into a national parkthat may happen shortlyit will have more visitors than any other and will be bigger than any. We have a lot of sheep that graze. We do not have any fell or moorland. The traditional and difficult way of making money farming the South Downs was not from cerealthe Downs were ploughed during the Second World War only under pressure from the Ministry of Agriculture for more cereals to be grownbut from sheep. There is still a breed of South Downs sheep, which I recommend to noble Lords for the next time that they are shopping. If one can buy South Downs sheep, buy it, rather than New Zealand or even Welsh sheep. South Downs sheep are a traditional means of profit for a farm on the Downs, and we are trying to propagate the South Downs brand, so that farmers may have a bigger income. I declare an interest that I have often declared before: I am chairman of the Sussex Downs Conservation Board.
I sat on the Benches opposite the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, for many years in the other place. He finds himself this evening with a surprising number of supporters whose support he may not be used to. I am sure that he would not wish to have some national parks allowing hunting with dogs in order to protect sheep on fell and moorland, if it was not allowed in other national parks, such as the New Forest, which is about to become one, or the South Downs, which may become one, because they do not have fell or moorland. That would be ridiculous. I hope that, in considering which of his important amendments to press, the noble Lord will pass over Amendments Nos. 25 and 26 and move Amendment No. 27, in which case I shall move my amendment to Amendment No. 27.
I accept that areas of outstanding natural beauty cover considerably more country than the national parks, but they are also getting a higher status. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 encouraged the formation of statutory conservation boards. Those boards are starting to be formed around areas of outstanding natural beauty; the Cotswolds and the Chilterns are two examples. The exception that the noble Lord proposes is important. As my noble friend Lord King of Bridgwater rightly said, it shows that there is a noble Lord on the Government Benches who is willing to accept that hunting should be permitted on certain conditions. That is an important point. However, the exception should be extended, for the reasons that I gave, to areas of outstanding natural beauty, to the national parks that are based on grassland and where sheep are often the farmer's only source of income.
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