Is it fair that people in the Peak district national park should have planning decisions taken by those who are not their direct representatives? Would my hon. Friend's constituents in Bristol, West feel kindly if their planning decisions were taken by people who were not direct representatives?
I am not sure that the analogy entirely works, because many councillors who take planning decisions about my constituency do not come from Bristol, West. However, there is a real problem behind what my hon. Friend says. There are not enough local residents among the county and local authority appointees on the national parks boards. I have tried to rectify that by making sure that seven out of the 11 that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State appoints are local residents, but I endorse my hon. Friend's point.
Will the Minister pay tribute to the Lake District planning board for the excellent way in which it manages the affairs of the Lake District national park? Does he accept that the excellent work being done by the European Year of the Environment committee in promoting national parks and other areas of environmental interest and concern will greatly benefit our people?
I am happy to endorse the hon. Gentleman's tribute to that park, and to all the parks. We have increased the supplementary grants to the national parks by 13 per cent. this year in recognition of the valuable work that they are doing. It is vital that their publicity campaign, to which the hon. Gentleman referred, shows our people what there is to find in the parks.
Is my hon. Friend aware that of the 184 people who make up the members of the seven national park boards in England and Wales, only 42 live in the areas of the parks? Is he also aware that on the Peak district planning board, of the eight people appointed by the county council only one lives in the area of the Peak park? What other planning authorities are there where people are not directly elected or do not have to meet certain residential qualifications?
There is a problem which, in the Peak district, in particular, is bound up with political divisions, because supporters of the Labour party tend to live in cities rather than in the countryside. I urge those councils, Labour-controlled though they be, to take care to represent the interests of those who live in the area as well as the interests of those who visit from outside.
I am not sure that the hon. Gentleman would find overwhelming support for that view other than, perhaps, in the farming community. We need to maintain the balance between national, recreational and farming interests. We try to do that and I think it has been recognised that we have not done it too badly in recent years.
Will my hon. Friend consider carefully what steps he could take to advise the administration of the national parks on how to deal with the serious litter problem? Is he aware that many of the people who go into the national parks despoil the countryside by scattering litter all over the place? Will he greatly increase the penalties for that offence?
Proposals for increasing the penalties are before the House. Perhaps I could return to the first question about the Peak parks. I have seen the work of the well organised ranger service. The rangers collect tons of litter at the end of each week in the summer. This is a most appalling phenomenon. The penalties for causing litter are quite high, but the difficulty lies in getting the local courts to impose worthwhile fines.