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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 Mr Peter Griffiths Mr Peter Griffiths , Portsmouth North 8:30 pm, 28th June 1995

When moving the amendment, my right hon. Friend the Minister drew attention to the fact that public perceptions of this part of the Bill have changed during the time that it has been under discussion. When the phrase "quiet enjoyment" was introduced into the Bill in the other place, I received a good many representations from constituents. I should add that all my constituents and I are townies, and that therefore we have a special interest in the qualities of the national parks because that is where we go for recreation and enjoyment. At first, the representations were all in favour of the new words because they have a simple charm about them. The trouble is, it is because they are so simple that I believe that they are misleading.

The word "quiet" is an easy word, but it can mean different things to almost every individual. If somebody hears a noise and shouts, "Be quiet," he means not that one should carry on with quiet enjoyment of one's activity but that one should stop and be silent.

The national parks are quite noisy places. All sorts of activities are taking place. People live there and some make their living there; there are roads passing through them on which there is heavy traffic; aircraft fly overhead and, although we may not necessarily approve of it, military activities take place.

All those things are happening there, so the parks are noisy places. When we get away from the noise into areas where there is less sound, the sounds made by individuals carry long distances. For example, whistling to a dog can be intrusive in a quiet area. I am not sure whether it is possible to have the quiet morris dancing that the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) mentioned. It is clear that whether an activity is irritating simply because it is noisy depends on the part of the national park in which it takes place.

The amendment would not simply take out the word "quiet" before the word "enjoyment". This is not a clash between enjoyment and quiet enjoyment: those who want quiet enjoyment are not arguing against those who want noisy enjoyment. Instead, amendment No. 193, wisely I believe, puts before any question of enjoyment, whether quiet or noisy, the word "understanding". That is the priority.

People who go into the national parks, for whatever purpose, should understand what the parks are there for. They should understand the activities that take place there before they start the enjoyment.