Agriculture Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate
Committee stage & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansarad) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansarad): House of Lords
Tuesday 7th July 2020

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
Committee stage Page View all Debates Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: HL Bill 112-II(Rev) Revised second marshalled list for Committee - (7 Jul 2020)
There have been many other interesting contributions. I apologise to noble Lords if I have not mentioned them; I cannot possibly do justice to them all. Despite the wide range of contributions, I have been impressed by the common themes that have come out. There appears to be a consensus around what needs to be done to improve the Bill. Let us hope that that spirit of consensus continues as we debate later clauses. I look forward to continuing the debate in that spirit. In the meantime, I look forward to the Minister’s response.
Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Gardiner of Kimble) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, this has quite clearly been an extensive debate; it has been most rewarding for me to hear such a range of views on Clause 1 and financial assistance. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Judd, that I have thoroughly enjoyed this debate. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch: there will be disagreements along the way—I have no doubt—but I think we should all be enthusiastic about the opportunity that we have.

I open by declaring my farming interests as set out in the register. I also say to the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, that I agree with the sound comments he made in many respects. That is precisely why there is an agricultural transition period of seven years and why we are working with farmers on tests and trials, so that we get this right.

Turning to the amendments, as I must and will, I may ask for your Lordships’ indulgence and support in my discussion with the Chief Whip if I go a little over time, because I want to address all the amendments properly.

On Amendment 1, we have chosen to use the term “may” rather than “must”, which is entirely consistent with other legislation. Free from the constraints of the common agricultural policy, the Government need the flexibility to reprioritise and adapt in response to changing environmental circumstances and new evidence. “May” also gives the flexibility to establish and fund schemes for a range of different purposes. The Government set out their long-term vision for what we will use public money to fund in the 25-year environment plan and the policy document published alongside the Bill. I emphasise to all noble Lords and absolutely confirm that there is no doubt that we will introduce new financial assistance.

I agree with the noble Baronesses, Lady Young of Old Scone and Lady Jones of Whitchurch, and my noble friend Lord Trenchard that the construction of the Bill is deliberately broad so that we can embrace almost everything raised on many of the matters. I will have to say that the Government are very clear on some amendments. If, when we come to it, I mention ponies and other breeds, that is the context in which the Government have problems with some of the amendments. We want to ensure that we have it broad deliberately, so that many of the points noble Lords have made are embraced.

On my noble friend Lord Dundee’s Amendment 74, the Government recognise that farms should be incentivised to deliver multiple purposes. However, it will be very hard, if not impossible, to separate farms into single-purpose or multipurpose farms in this way. To take an example, if financial assistance is given for

“managing land or water in a way that protects or improves the environment”

under Clause 1(1)(a), many of those actions are likely to contribute to other purposes, such as mitigating or adapting to climate change in Clause 1(1)(d), reducing environmental hazards in Clause 1(1)(e) and so forth. This would tie the Government into creating systems that attempt to unpick the complexity of the natural environment to meet a bureaucratic requirement—albeit, I accept, a well-intentioned one. I think this was a point the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, made from his experience: beware of creating a bureaucratic monster by trying to have a perfect form.

In Amendments 4, 16, 21, 91 and 236, the noble Earl, Lord Devon, seeks to limit the scope of the purposes for giving financial assistance to the management of land by removing “water”, thereby narrowing what the Government can pay for under future financial assistance schemes. There are critical actions related to the management of water, and indeed of livestock, that the Government would want to pay for, particularly through ELM. For example, the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change can be supported by encouraging farmers to manage their livestock feed, to help reduce emissions that are emitted from livestock. Protecting and improving our environment or our cultural and natural heritage may involve the management of water. For example, creating, maintaining and restoring water-based habitats on farms can support a healthy ecosystem and ensure that we meet our commitments to biodiversity. This may involve the management of ponds, lakes and ditches, which would not be included in a definition of agricultural land.

I take this opportunity to refer to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, about nitrates. The Government have taken action to mitigate nitrate pollution by placing farmers under regulations and providing them with grants. Farmers in nitrate-vulnerable zones are bound by the nitrates regulations.

The requirement of

“managing land or water in a way that maintains, restores or enhances cultural or natural heritage”

includes the management of our wetlands. Just to clarify, the marine environment is not in scope of the Bill, but I was very pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Blunkett, mentioned curlews. A much longer conversation with the noble Lord is required on crayfish. I have worked on this, and there are difficulties. At a later time I will perhaps spend some time explaining the issues.

Clause 1(1)(j) provides for financial assistance to be given for the protection and improvement of soil. This assistance will further aid in meeting this ambition for sustainably managed soils. Soil is clearly one of our greatest natural assets and the Government are committed to having sustainably managed soils by 2030, as set out in our 25-year environment plan, under which we are developing a healthy soils indicator. I also say to the noble Earl, Lord Devon, that the Reduction and Prevention of Agricultural Diffuse Pollution (England) Regulations 2018 define environmental outcomes that land managers must take account to avoid, including soil run-off and erosion. Indeed, civil sanctions are available.

On Amendments 5, 17, 89, 27 and 28 from my noble friend Lord Lucas, the Bill already allows funding for the management of land and water in a way that conserves the environment or our cultural or natural heritage, which could include “conserve” habitats. On the amendment that would expand the definition of “conserve”, Clause 1(5) already includes creating, protecting and maintaining.

Clause 1 allows support for the conservation of species and habitats if it contributes to protecting and improving the environment or maintaining, restoring and enhancing cultural or natural heritage. For example, ELM could support farmers to manage moorlands using traditional grazing techniques and native breeds or provide funding for the creation of new woodlands or flood plains. Clause 1(1)(g) and 1(1)(i) could be used to incentivise farmers to rear rare and native breeds or support measures to utilise crop wild relatives, thereby safeguarding those genetic traits that may offer a way to sustainably increase food production or improve our capacity to adapt to the emergence of new animal or plant diseases. I say to the noble Baronesses, Lady Mallalieu and Lady Jones of Whitchurch, the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, and my noble friend Lord De Mauley that the Government are wedded to the current drafting of the Bill. I say to my noble friend Lord Lucas that the Bill already caters for support for the conservation of newly established crop species that contribute to the provision of public goods.

Amendment 45 touches on existing work taking place to support the development of the UK’s domestic animal feed production. We are already funding research in this area through the Pulse Crop Genetic Improvement Network, a project due to end in 2023. A key part of our programme looks at how to produce better-quality animal feed and potential alternatives to imported soya protein.

On Amendment 76, the Government’s current proposals for the ELM scheme already include a significant space for the direct involvement of local groups. Local nature partnerships would be ideally placed to apply their expertise and ensure that tiers 2 and 3 of ELM are designed to support land managers in the delivery of environmental outcomes by providing the right things in the right places. The Government are already working closely with many of the organisations involved with local nature partnerships.

--- Later in debate ---
Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I want to make sure I get this right. I referred to the 2018 regulations for England about environmental outcomes that land managers must take action to avoid. There is no suggestion of any diminution of standards—in fact, quite the reverse. I will have to write and will put a copy in the Library. I want to make sure that I get all the regulations and how they are interconnected right. There is no intention from the Government on soil quality other than to enhance it, because that is the route to vibrant agriculture. I am most grateful to the noble Earl and will provide full details of all the requirements that will remain.

Lord Bruce of Bennachie Portrait Lord Bruce of Bennachie [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for his very positive response to my amendment, which I never doubted he would provide. When he says that the scheme will be farmer-led, how will that come about and how soon? Is there any timetable for when the structure of direct support for farmers in the context of rural payments will be clarified? I am sure he appreciates that the hill farming sector is extremely vulnerable, fragile and anxious to get a clear steer. How and when will that be provided?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am most grateful to the noble Lord. I did not have an opportunity to flesh out the tests and trials. The tests and trials on the ELM are designed to work with ranges of farmers in different topographies and tenures in all parts of the country. There are schemes that will be suitable. In this case, there are clearly tests and trials with hill farmers in the uplands so that we can ensure that those schemes are in place. Some are under way already and farmers are receiving financial assistance for participating in them.

When we roll out the entire ELM in 2024, we want to follow the success in the recording and improving of those tests and trials so that we can ensure that, in the case of the noble Lord’s concern about hill farmers, these schemes will automatically work for them. Hill farmers are key to ensuring that the environmental enhancements we all want are available. I am confident that, working with those hill farmers, we will get the sorts of schemes that will be of benefit and that the farmers will actively wish to be engaged in.

Lord Teverson Portrait Lord Teverson
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for his extensive reply. I was particularly pleased that he mentioned the shared prosperity fund. I realise that it is not a Defra issue, but it is an important structural issue and there has been very little information about when this fund, which is a Conservative Party manifesto pledge, will actually start. While I would like to ask him that question, I am sure he does not know the answer to it as it is not a Defra issue. However, will he really press his colleagues in Government to get this fund going? The EU structural funding is going to end very soon. There will be an end there, and it is very important that the rural parts of that funding start. Will he press his colleagues to get announcements here so that people can prepare and not have this gap?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am most grateful to the noble Lord. Clearly, rural-proofing means that anything we do across Whitehall should be considered in terms of the impact on rural communities, and UK shared prosperity means rural communities. I am also grateful because I can assure him that the whole of Defra takes this approach and, as Minister for Rural Affairs, I get my teeth into this regularly because clearly we need to work with MHCLG so that this goes across all communities and will benefit rural communities, which, after all, have so much to offer the country.

--- Later in debate ---
As I said at Second Reading, the Bill must encourage wholesome food production alongside environmental enhancements. I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, for her remarks on public access for wheelchairs, under Amendment 111, on public rights of way under the Highways Act, also endorsed by my noble friend Lord Rooker. The Minister may respond that this and other amendments are unnecessary and already included in other legislation or the various clauses and requirements of the Bill on payment schemes, administration and good agricultural practice. It is important that a good picture of the framework of the Bill is made explicit. I look forward to the Minister’s response.
Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords for what again has been an interesting debate which has taken us into a range of issues. I shall begin with Amendment 2 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Addington, Amendments 3, 10, 15, 20, 23, 30, 64 and 85 from the noble Earl, Lord Devon, Amendment 65 from my noble friend Lady McIntosh and Amendment 94 from the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, all of which deal with eligibility for financial assistance.

This is of course the Agriculture Bill, and the powers it contains have been designed with agriculture in mind. Schemes are overwhelmingly designed to work for farmers and land managers, and we intend that they will reap the benefits of providing public goods across agriculture, forestry and horticulture. Farmers will, and indeed must, be at the very heart of future schemes, as I have said before.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, that, yes, we want to avoid bureaucracy, but one of the reasons to have these tests and trials across the nation is so that almost all the ranges of what is in Clause 1 are tested, so that we can come forward with a national rollout which we think will be dynamic and work for farmers.

The ELM scheme will pay farmers, foresters and other land managers to deliver environmental public goods identified in the Government’s 25-year environment plan. About 70% of land in England is farmed so, as stewards of our land, farmers will play an essential role in this. That is why tier 1 of the ELM scheme will focus on supporting farmers to farm their land in an environmentally sustainable way. Other schemes, such as those aiming to improve animal health and welfare, will focus on supporting livestock farmers. The noble Lord, Lord Empey, used a word which is important in all of what we have to do: “balance”.

One of the areas where a number of noble Lords have taken contrary views is on assigning this just for, say, agricultural land. My noble friend the Duke of Montrose was right to highlight some of the issues and complexities, as did my noble friends Lord Randall of Uxbridge and Lord Trenchard and the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone. Woodland, rivers and wetlands, among many others, may well be able to deliver important public goods. This is an issue that we need to think through. When we try to be so precise, we might end up missing out if we were to accept some of these amendments. I am very glad that the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, mentioned the restoration of peatland. Many of these features will be managed by farmers on their land, but if we define it as just agricultural land, are we in difficulties about woodland, rivers and wetlands, all of which make a major contribution on one’s farm to how one can enhance the environment? Restricting eligibility to those managing land for agriculture, horticulture or forestry would mean that we risk missing out the important benefits that can be gained when land managers work together. For example, we would not wish for all those managing land in a particular river catchment to lose out on the possibility of joining a scheme just because one parcel of land in the catchment was not agricultural.

I am very mindful of what the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, and my noble friend Lord De Mauley said about native breeds. The Government are currently developing the details of the ELM scheme with stakeholders, including eligibility criteria. The ELM discussion document was reopened on 24 June. The Government’s view is that the Bill as drafted strikes the right balance between affirming the Government’s support to fund farmers, foresters and land managers under future schemes and providing a helpful degree of flexibility in designing future schemes.

There was a very interesting discussion about well-being. We had important contributions. Clause 1 could be used to contribute to the delivery of societal benefits, including engagement with the environment. The ELM could fund the creation of new paths, such as footpaths and bridleways, and could support access to water and waterways, such as lakes and rivers, which allow for—yes—enjoyment of the countryside. I have a bit to do with this very important area, particularly in relation to loneliness: I represent Defra on the ministerial task force on that. The noble Lord, Lord Empey, also mentioned social prescribing, health and well-being. Defra and the DHSC, working jointly, are bidding, through the shared outcomes fund, to develop a mental health project to support scaling up nature-based preventive and therapeutic interventions, working with PHE, NHS England, the MHCLG and Natural England. I am genuinely interested in how we craft the Bill. We think that “enjoyment” covers all that would be required. If a farmer was going to engage with something like social prescribing or health and well-being, then that is part of environmental enhancement. I am not promising anything, but I am interested in a conversation on how we encompass all this. With what the nation is going through with this crisis, the Government place great importance on this area for health, well-being, mental health and social prescribing.

I turn to Amendment 106, in the name of my noble friend Lady McIntosh. It was great to see the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, even if it was only on the screen. The Government recognise that schemes should, of course, be available to tenant farmers. It is the Government’s intention that the ELM scheme will provide funding to those carrying out the management of the land or water to deliver the environmental public goods. My noble friend Lord Inglewood, an experienced land manager, spoke wise words when he referred to the range of issues. The Government are engaging with a wide range of different types of farmer and land manager, including tenant farmers, to inform the development of ELM and to understand and address any particular issues, including in relation to tenant farmers, to which my noble friend Lady McIntosh’s amendment refers.

In response to the noble Earl, Lord Devon, I say that the Government are designing future financial schemes to be accessible to as many farmers and land managers as possible, including those who work on common land.

I turn to amendments which deal with conditions placed on recipients of financial assistance. I reassure my noble friend Lady McIntosh that the Government recognise the importance of the issues listed in her Amendment 103 and are committed to supporting their delivery, both through schemes that will be delivered under Clause 1—I will not go through the list of what they are—and wider government initiatives. On the issue raised by the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, I say that we already have robust domestic regulatory protections in place that require all farmers and land managers, irrespective of whether they receive financial assistance or not, to meet stringent standards. I was interested in what the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, said. These rules include the farming rules for water, which protect against water pollution, and the welfare of farmed animals regulations, which protect farm livestock, a point that the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, referred to. These protections will continue.

The Government are reviewing, in partnership with industry, where we can make improvements to our regulatory regime. There will be some areas where the Government will raise standards. As announced in the clean air strategy, the Government will require and support farmers to take more action to reduce ammonia emissions, for example. Where appropriate, we will look to provide greater scope to remedy underperformance before sanctions are applied. The Government agree with Dame Glenys Stacey that advice has an important role in an effective regulatory system.

--- Later in debate ---
Lord Grantchester Portrait Lord Grantchester
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I rise merely to press the Minister on his statements around the different levels of tiers and how payments may differ as the higher tiers are approached. I wondered whether this was going to become clear in the regulations or whether there is a bit of experience of how many people will be applying under the different tiers. Will it be defined in regulations?

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Clearly, we know that there are 80,000-plus claimants under the BPS at the moment. Obviously, the range of opportunities, with regard to numbers, will depend on clusters and how many farmers will want to group together—as we have had with farm clusters in other schemes—and those that wish to have individual, predominantly tier 1 consideration. Again, clearly this is why the trials are going on; they will show how that is going to work with the varying tiers and indeed how they all interrelate.

I do not think I would feel comfortable taking it any further than that at this stage, only because this is work in progress. I should think it will go on beyond enactment, but what I will do is make sure that—obviously, there will be continuing work on this and regulations will be coming forward—when we get to further stages of how ELM is coming forward, noble Lords are kept informed.

Lord Addington Portrait Lord Addington
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his usual courteous and informed reply. However, the point that I was trying to raise seems to have got slightly lost: namely, where do we find out who is going to be eligible? If the answer is “We do not know”, I think we might have to come back and dig again to find out exactly where that is placed, but at the moment I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

--- Later in debate ---
As we have all said, there is a limited budget. We will be fighting over that limited budget and we have to be responsible about how we do it. In the meantime, I beg to hear the response from the Minister.
Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords. This has been an important debate. When preparing for today, I never realised that we might hear references to Leviticus—but it is an interesting way forward. I will begin by replying to the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Addington, and I will also take in Amendment 100, tabled by my noble friend Lady Hodgson.

I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch. Public access to the countryside provides a huge range of benefits, including improving physical and mental health, and supporting local communities and economies. Spending time in the natural environment, as a resident or a visitor, can reduce stress, fatigue, anxiety and depression. It can help boost the immune system and encourage physical activity, and it may reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as asthma. It can combat loneliness and bind communities together.

Here, the word “balance” comes up again. In my experience, the countryside is about balance. It is overwhelmingly not in the interests of any farmer to fall out with their neighbours, because, in the end, we all have to find a way through. My noble friend Lord Cormack, the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie of Downpatrick, the noble Lord, Lord Judd, the noble Earl, Lord Devon, and the two noble Baronesses from the Front Benches spoke of this.

The noble Earl, Lord Devon, said that these things need to be handled well. Well, we all need to try to handle things well, but this is an area where inflammatory language is extremely unwise. I do not think that we are going to get anywhere unless we work collaboratively. That is why we have this power. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Addington, that we have a power in the Bill to provide financial assistance to support public access to, and enjoyment of, the countryside, farmland and woodland. That is a good basis from which we should be working.

The Government are supporting and enhancing access to the countryside in a number of different ways. I am very pleased that tourism was raised. The completion of the England coastal path—the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, knows I have written to him—was delayed, unfortunately, because of coronavirus, but we are working on this. Not only domestic but overseas visitors thoroughly enjoy walking in this country, so we are supporting our network of national trails and ensuring that rights of way are recorded and protected, as well as developing ways to support access through the environmental land management scheme. One of the most rewarding elements of my responsibility for the England coastal path has been to join many people of a range of abilities and disabilities at openings of some of the England coastal path. For instance, there are platforms that settle well into some of the dunes to enable people in wheelchairs to get out into the dunes while keeping away from tern nests. Again, it is all about balance in how we organise these things.

I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, and the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, that there are three ELM tests and trials looking at issues concerning access, and these will help us understand how the scheme could work in a real-life environment. For example, the ELM scheme could fund the creation of new paths, such as footpaths and bridleways, which provide access for cyclists, riders and pedestrians where appropriate. It could support access to water and waterways on someone’s land. In particular, the Mendip Hills trials will work with farmers and land managers in the Mendip Hills to explore a range of issues relating to creating access infrastructure—another point made by the noble Lord, Lord Addington, and the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson. The tests will conclude in 2021 and will be very helpful. I say also to the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, that funding may be given under Clause 1(1)(b) to support access to water bodies and waterways in the countryside, farmland and woodland, which could provide access to those locations. Our ELM scheme will reward land managers for the public goods that they deliver, which could include granting of public access to water.

My noble friend Lord Trenchard asked about trials. We need to have these trials and that is why I do not think the discussion we are having is immensely valuable. We should not try to ring-fence the detail at this stage in this primary legislation; we need to be pragmatic to get the right results, because it is by getting those right results that we will encourage more farmers to feel that this is their scheme and access is not a forbidding element of the financial assistance package. Defra continues to liaise regularly with other key stakeholders, including the NFU, of which I declare my membership, Ramblers, with which I have a lot of good relationships, and the British Horse Society, of which I declare my membership, among others, to discuss access and Covid-19 recovery opportunities.

I say to my noble friend Lord Caithness and the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, that one of the ways we are going to get this right is by getting people around the table. That is why Defra has a stakeholder group advising on rights of way reform that brings together landowners, users and local authorities to develop a consensus on areas for change and the necessary implementation. I am anxious to get this as far forward as possible, and my noble friend Lord Caithness keeps me on my toes. He ought to recognise, and I am sure he does, that we are dealing with a number of issues in terms of legislation and it has not been possible to bring forward the deregulation package on rights of way reform that we all desire, but I cannot engage in a mission impossible when we have many other demands on the Government’s legislative plate and the delays because of coronavirus.

On the conditions land managers must meet in order to take part in the scheme, the current wording enables a range of different conditions to be set and, again, we will work with stakeholders to develop these. Of course, land managers’ legal responsibilities in relation to access over their land will still be applicable.

The noble Lords, Lord Rosser and Lord Greaves, and my noble friend Lord Moynihan raised points about meeting baseline regulatory standards. We expect farmers and managers to meet regulatory standards, regardless of whether they are claiming an ELM payment. This is voluntary; I would resist entirely if noble Lords thought this was an opportunity to start instructing people what they should do on their land, beyond their legal responsibilities and requirements. In the ELM discussion document published on 25 February, the Government explained that they are also exploring whether establishing compliance with relevant regulatory requirements should be an entry requirement for tier 1 of the ELM scheme. The Government are committed to maintaining a strong regulatory baseline, with proportionate and effective enforcement mechanisms. All farmers and land managers must continue to comply with regulatory standards and obligations, including those on public access.

A number of noble Lords, including the noble Earl, Lord Devon, the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, the noble Baroness, Lady Scott of Needham Market, and my noble friend Lady McIntosh of Pickering, raised the Countryside Code. The messages in the Countryside Code are being promoted widely, via Natural England’s local and national partner organisations, as well as landowners and managers. Defra and Natural England have recently released some targeted communications to tackle specific issues such as wildfire and littering. In response to the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, there was a discussion in Defra about this. Local authorities already have the powers to make bylaws to prohibit barbecues in public spaces. That is the way it should be done, because that is the way that local communities and local authorities can work together. There is legal provision for that, so it can be placed in the local context.

Footpaths, bridle paths, byways, and open-access land are all important in making sure that as many people as possible can enjoy our natural environment. However, it is important to ensure that the Bill enables public support for all types of access, including access to water, and access on other legally designated types of path.

I turn to Amendment 88. Clause 1(5) clarifies that

“‘better understanding of the environment’ includes better understanding of agroecology”.

The clause, as drafted, already allows the Secretary of State to give financial assistance to support farmers, foresters and other land managers so that they can improve public understanding of the environment, for example through educational visits.

On Amendment 34, in the name of my noble friend Lord Lucas, Clause 1(1)(b) states that the Secretary of State may give financial assistance for or in connection with

“supporting public access to and enjoyment of the countryside, farmland or woodland and better understanding of the environment”.

This will allow us to pay for matters such as educational infrastructure, to ensure that our farmers have the right facilities to host farm visits, including school visits.

In response to my noble friend Lord Blencathra and the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, last year was the Year of Green Action, a year-long drive to get more people from all backgrounds involved in projects to improve the natural world. Due to the positive reception from all audiences, young people will continue to be able to take up these opportunities and provide a crucial viewpoint on these important matters.

There was mention of young people and littering. My experience, I am afraid, is that people of all generations are culpable on this. We have to engage young people in the quest to improve our environment. Candidly, dropping litter should be an anti-social behaviour. We should all lead on this as best we can.

I am chided by my noble friend Lord Caithness. I might get tetchy with him if he starts saying that I do not answer questions. I endeavour to do so as often as possible. In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Clark, my legal advice is that Clause 1(1)(b) allows support for access to forestry land equalling woodland. I hope that is helpful to my noble friend Lord Caithness.