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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:00 pm on 28th February 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Williams of Crosby Baroness Williams of Crosby Liberal Democrat 5:00 pm, 28th February 2011

My Lords, I shall be extremely brief, but first perhaps I might follow the right reverend Prelate's comments by saying that I have been puzzled from the very beginning of this Bill. I find it extraordinary that the New Forest has been protected by primary legislation dating from 1877 through to 1970, yet essentially a process of statutory orders can overtake and indeed overrun those original primary Acts. Therefore, my first question is how such Acts can be so easily set aside and whether one should reconsider the way in which consultation on legislation takes place.

My second and only other question concerns the impact of the Localism Bill. Those of us who care about the forests have now established that this legislation was very unwise. However, I am not clear whether that Bill will insist that decisions on forests are taken at the most local level. The regions where the feeling is greatest are the ones that are most closely related to the forests on which they depend. That is probably where the decisions should be taken, rather than statutory proposals being made centrally.

Let us bear in mind the lessons of this Bill-the deep lessons of how the British public hold forests as very dear and very important-and let us make sure that, when the Localism Bill emerges, there will be no attempt to go back to central control over the future of the forests.