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Part of Commons Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 25th April 2006.

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Photo of Dan Rogerson Dan Rogerson Shadow Minister (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) 10:45 am, 25th April 2006

I beg to moveamendment No. 95, in page 2, line 37, at endinsert—

‘(4) By agreement alocal authority may delegate its responsibility as a commonsregistration authority to another commons registrationauthority.'.

I addmy best wishes and I am delighted to be serving under yourchairmanship, Miss Begg. The amendment  tabled by my hon. Friends the Members for Eastleigh (Chris Huhne) andfor Brecon and Radnorshire (Mr. Williams) and myself seeks to add alittle flexibility with regard to how commons registration authoritiesmay co-operate with each other in the exercising of their functionsunder the Bill. I, in my quick year as a Member of the House, have seena number of powers passed on to local authorities in all sorts ofareas. I am well aware, through talking to colleagues that are membersof those local authorities and indeed to officers, of the vast range offunctions that they are required to carryout.

Inevitably, somelocal authorities, acting as commons registrations authorities, willhave an area of specialism in such matters because they are responsiblefor large areas. I fear that I may refer to Bodmin moor a few timesduring our proceedings. Cornwall, my own commons registrationauthority, has large areas of common land and therefore has officesdedicated to dealing with it. However, I am sure that smaller or indeedurban local authorities have far fewer commons within their boundariesand therefore may not be able to devote resources to having specificofficer expertise to deal with commonsregistration.

The hopeis that if the Minister accepts the amendment, the commons registrationauthorities will co-operate. Those with more specialism could offer tosupport those that have less. Presumably, there would need to be someagreement on resources on that, should that be a problem. It wouldensure that landowners and people who have rights over common land, inwhichever authority the commons are based, would be able to haverecourse to specialist officers with the time and resources to resolveany issues that may need to be resolved. That would allow a sensiblepooling of resources and expertise so that all commons, their users andthe homes on them, will benefit from the advice and support ofspecialists.