Countryside and Rights of Way Bill
Baroness Byford (Conservative)
I thank the Minister for his response. I am glad to hear his confirmation that it was the Government's original intention that the period should be 10 years. Perhaps I may address that point first.
One matter that worries us on these Benches is that attempts to deal with issues that need tackling--and we give the Government credit for addressing them--may well not come to fruition if we do not readily acknowledge that they need tackling quickly. I understand where the noble Baroness, Lady Scott of Needham Market, is coming from. In purely political terms she would oppose any cut-off date; she would not want to see a cut-off point in 20, 30 or even 50 years' time. I respect her view, although I do not share it. I believe that I have not misunderstood the noble Baroness in saying that she would set no time limit at all.
My concern is that, unless local authorities are given strong direction on this matter, as the noble Lord said, they will probably get round to starting it in 2002 and 2003--a further two years down the line. The difficulty that I have with not setting a timetable that is possible to achieve is that matters will be allowed to drift, as they have in recent years. Surely in this age of modern technology and support we can get to grips with this matter.
As the Government have said clearly, and the noble Lord has just repeated--