Purposes of National Parks

Part of Clause 60 – in the House of Commons at 8:30 pm on 28th June 1995.

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Photo of John Greenway John Greenway , Ryedale 8:30 pm, 28th June 1995

We have discussed that in this debate but my hon. Friend makes his point firmly and strongly. I do not think that there is any need for me to add to it.

I want to concentrate on what the Bill will say if the Government's amendment is passed. We are in danger of thinking that what will be left on the face of the Bill will be worthless. On the contrary, the first point to make is that understanding and enjoyment, as opposed to quiet enjoyment and understanding, and the promotion of opportunities for those things are not exclusive, but complementary to the requirements for conservation and enhancement of the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage. When we take those two things together, we have a formidable tool for the national park committees, not just to ensure tranquillity generally and conservation of national park countryside, landscape, and wildlife, but to promote understanding.

There is insufficient understanding of the working life of people in national parks. That is certainly the case in my constituency in north Yorkshire. Their working life is not understood. I say to the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mrs. Campbell) that, when people talk about banning fox-hunting, they do not understand that, for example, the Saltersgate and Farndale hunts probably go out only two or three times a year and on foot, and that they involve not the rich, landed gentry sitting on horses and enjoying a big social event, but working people.

Eventually, when we come to readdress all this in the fulness of time, we will perhaps look back and think that we spent far too much time worrying about the word "quiet" and not enough time attending to the role of the national parks in promoting understanding of the life and cultural heritage of the park. I want the Government to encourage people to do that more. When it comes to having to come down on one side or the other in this conflicting argument, in my book the people who work and live in the park are the people of whom we have to take the most notice. They generally have grave misgivings about the word "quiet".

The only real complaint that I have had about anything going on in North York Moors national park—if we put low-flying RAF jets to one side—is a serious problem. I know that my right hon. Friend the Minister has also struggled to try to do something about it. It involves the mess and damage caused by four-wheel drive vehicles. When we have finished with this legislation, we need to get the national park committees to obtain legal opinion on whether the new provision will enable us to do something about such vehicles. Frankly, the mess that they are making on some of the bridleways in the North York Moors national park, and, I dare say, elsewhere, in no way conserves or enhances natural beauty.