(2) if he will institute an inquiry to consider what financial assistance is required to help the national parks authorities to carry out their duties to better effect.
I am reviewing the proposals that have been made for amending the legislation governing national parks. This review includes proposals affecting the structure and the functions of national park planning authorities. I am considering the question of financial assistance as part of this review and I shall not be in a position to make a statement until the necessary consultations are completed.
When is the Minister likely to introduce some of this legislation? Does he not agree that the time is coming when, if we are to maintain the beauty of the national parks, the responsibility should fall on the nation and not upon those people living in them, who often find it a very heavy burden living in the national parks because of some of the decisions of the national parks authority?
I appreciate the hon. Member's attitude towards national parks. Obviously there will not be legislation this Session, but one hopes that it will be produced as soon as possible.
Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that when he considers legislation he will bear in mind the desirability of having a single planning authority for each national park, even though it crosses the boundaries of various planning authorities? Will he at the same time ensure that the joint planning boards or whatever are set up will be truly representative of the people who live in the national parks as well?
As my hon. Friend is aware, I am studying the proposals that have been put forward by himself and others for legislation to amend the National Parks Act. These proposals contain suggestions for improving the existing arrangements for equipping national park planning authorities to carry out their functions and I assure my hon. Friend that this point will receive my most active and sympathetic attention.
While welcoming my right hon. Friend's reply, may I ask him to keep clearly in mind the fact that our national parks without staff to do anything about development and proper use are something of a farce and that some hon. Gentlemen opposite made definite proposals 13 years ago about which they never did anything?