Public Bodies Bill [HL] — Committee (7th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:30 pm on 28th February 2011.

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Photo of Lord Henley Lord Henley The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 4:30 pm, 28th February 2011

I will not speculate on the make-up of that panel other than what I have said already. I said that the panel should be relatively small. Most of us would agree that to create an overlarge panel would be unwieldy. Having said that, while I was abroad I received an e-mail from the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, suggesting one particular group, while many other noble Lords have sent other suggestions. We want to create a small group but it should be understood by everyone that that group would have the power to consult and to set up sub-groups to ensure that as many as possible are included. I will not give a precise figure about how small that group should be, but it should, as I said, be relatively small and focused. We want to make sure that it reaches out to all the other people and we will make it quite clear to members of that group once we have appointed it, and appointed an independent chairman, that they should be consulting with many of those who have already written to the department or made their views known.

I am not sure whether the noble Baroness will have another opportunity in our proceedings on the Bill to discuss these matters because all the forestry amendments that can be are in this group. One or two amendments cannot be in this group because they would insert clauses after Clauses 17 and 18 and, if those clauses are not there, the amendments obviously cannot be moved. I am sure that the noble Baroness will find ways of tabling amendments should she wish to do so. She will also find ways of speaking to me or to other colleagues to put forward her views about who might or might not be on the panel.

I notice that the noble Baroness has tabled Amendment 174ZB much later on, which cannot be moved because it would come after these amendments and those clauses will not exist. The amendment is also in the names of her noble friends Lord Greaves and Lord Strathclyde, but my noble friend Lord Strathclyde's name is there in error. That amendment mentions the New Forest, Sherwood Forest, the Forest of Dean and Kielder Forest. I was intrigued to see Sherwood Forest mentioned. I had visions of sylvan glades and Errol Flynn skipping around in green tights, with the noble Baroness possibly as Maid Marion. But we will see about that in due course.

The noble Baroness will find her own way of making suggestions about who should or should not be on the committee. All I am saying is that we would like to keep it small and focused. Although they might represent certain groups, we want those on the committee to be there for their individual expertise and experience rather than for representing the particular groups involved.