Purposes of National Parks

Part of Clause 60 – in the House of Commons at 9:15 pm on 28th June 1995.

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Photo of Mr Robert Atkins Mr Robert Atkins , South Ribble 9:15 pm, 28th June 1995

Well, there it is—it has leaked out. The Labour party is interested only in those who visit and "recreate" in the national parks. The difference between Labour and us is that we are concerned about the jobs and livelihoods of people who live and work in the parks as well as about their recreational concerns and activities. Much has been made of amendment No. 267 which, as Opposition Members were right to say, was first tabled in another place. It had to be withdrawn because there was no consensus across the party divide or among those seeking to define "quiet" on what the amendment meant.

The point that my right hon. and hon. Friends and I have been trying to make is that we believed that the proposal originally predicated by adding the word "quiet" attracted notionally, as my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, North (Mr. Griffiths) said, but that, when it came to it, the people who live and work in and understand the parks said that they did not think the definition was right. They asked whether we could redefine the concept. We tried, and one of the reasons that we tabled Government amendment No. 193 so late was that we were trying, right up until the very last minute, to find a definition of "quiet" that would prove acceptable.

I should have preferred not to have such a long debate on a matter that was relatively uncontroversial in Committee and on which there was a degree of consensus. We tried hard to find a new definition but could not do so, and I was determined not to ignore the views of organisations such as the Royal Automobile Club and the National Farmers Union or of the people who live and work in the parks and the country landowners.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale mentioned Earl Peel, who has done signal work. Anyone who knows anything about the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds will know how he protected Swaledale and introduced some birds back into the area. He has made a great contribution, but he was one of their lordships who expressed great concern about the definition of "quiet" because of what it would have done to his conservancy.