Purposes of National Parks

Part of Clause 60 – in the House of Commons at 7:45 pm on 28th June 1995.

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Photo of Mr Robert Atkins Mr Robert Atkins , South Ribble 7:45 pm, 28th June 1995

I am tempted to congratulate you. Mr. Deputy Speaker, on racing through that lot of amendments. We just about kept up with you, one way or another.

I preface my remarks on this aspect of the Bill by saying that, following the amendment that appeared in another place, which inserted the word "quiet" to give the effect of "quiet enjoyment" of national parks, we spent a considerable amount of time discussing that proposal in Committee. I understand and appreciate the considerable interest that was expressed in another place about the issue. Many views were expressed not only by those with an interest in the national parks but by those who were interested from a legal point of view. The Law Lords and others, for example, argued about whether the issue was well defined by use of the word "quiet".

I must say that I was, initially, sympathetic to the points made, but hon. Members know that some concern was expressed about exactly what "quiet" meant. Many hon. Members will be aware that, although the notional attraction of the word "quiet" in the context of quiet enjoyment of the parks has some appeal, plenty of noisy things go on in those parks, not least industry. I know, for example, that there is quite a lot of quarrying for slate in the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Jopling). The same applies in other hon. Members' constituencies, and they appreciate that such quarrying occasionally involves the use of explosives and a lot of noise of one form or another.

As I said in Committee, I was most impressed by the problems that were put to me by the Royal Automobile Club. Hon. Members will know that, as a former sports Minister, I am only too well aware of the importance of the main RAC rally, which attracts more people, numerically, in terms of participation and support, than almost any other sporting event in the United Kingdom. The RAC also licenses a number of other rallies around the country, all of which are conducted to a high standard and are much loved and enjoyed by many people.