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Whether the Royal Parks Agency (RPA) consulted (a) the Palace of Westminster authorities and (b) Westminster City Council over the closure of the Mall for three months and the consequent congestion in Whitehall and Parliament Square; and whether the RPA is to reimburse the relevant police authorities for the extra work involved in dealing with the disturbance to normal traffic, or the bus companies whose schedules are being disrupted; and [HL1028]
Whether the closure of the Mall was professionally planned by an outside agency; if so, by whom; and at what cost.[HL1029]
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Programming of works within the Royal Parks is an operational matter for the Royal Parks Agency (RPA); the approval of Ministers for the closure of the Mall was not required.
In planning the works on the Mall, which involve resurfacing the road and carrying out safety improvements at accident blackspots, the RPA consulted Westminster City Council, as the local highway authority, and the Metropolitan Police. In accordance with their advice, the RPA has sought to concentrate works in the shortest period in order to minimise disruption to traffic, and this requires total closure for three weeks. The Palace of Westminster authorities were not consulted. No payments are made to police authorities or bus companies for traffic disruption arising from essential roadworks.
Tarmac Services are the agency's works management contractor and professional advisors, appointed to carry out maintenance works to the hard fabric of the Royal Parks. For the Mall roadworks, Tarmac appointed Peter Brett Associates as specialist traffic management consultants. Their fees are estimated at £49,000.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Yes. The Government consider that the increased number of events being planned for 1999 will add to the attractions of the parks for very many visitors and will, in conjunction with the Government's increased public funding of the Royal Parks Agency announced by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State on 14 December 1998, enable the Royal Parks Agency better to maintain and enhance the parks for the benefit of all visitors.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Responsibility for the subject of this question has been delegated to the Royal Parks Agency under its Chief Executive, Mr. David Welch. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.
In the absence of the Chief Executive, Mr. David Welch, I have been asked by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to reply to your parliamentary Question about ticket prices for concerts in Hyde Park this summer.
Ninety-six thousand, five hundred tickets, at a maximum price of £17.50, will go on sale for the concert in aid of the Prince's Trust. There will also be up to 3,500 corporate hospitality tickets, the prices for which are expected to range from £90 to £225.
For the nine concerts to be held in July, the price of tickets has been fixed at a maximum of £35 per head. The number of tickets to go on sale will not exceed 16,500, plus 1,000 corporate hospitality tickets for each concert. The price of the latter will be fixed at a maximum of £130 per head.
Ticket prices for the Proms in the Parks concert have not yet been fixed but are expected to be no more than £12.50 per head. The maximum number will be 40,000, with an expected 1,000 corporate hospitality tickets. A concert for children is also proposed but no details have been agreed.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Four members of staff in the department are involved in day to day administration of the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 as one of a number of heritage-related responsibilities. None has been specifically trained in heritage management, but all have a background in providing general policy advice to Ministers. In carrying out administration of the 1973 Act, officials act on the expert advice of the Advisory Committee on Historic Wreck Sites and the Archaeological Diving Unit, which is contracted to the department to report on the suitability of wreck sites for designation under the Act. Officials also have at their disposal complete records relating to previous administration of the Act and policy on underwater archaeology, together with sets of desk instructions, to ensure continuity. The Departmental Spending Review proposal to give English Heritage additional powers with regard to underwater archaeology is designed to address the concern that policy should be undertaken by heritage professionals rather than civil servants.
What are the primary function and purpose of Scotland House in Brussels; and what new functions will attach to Scotland House not currently carried out in the European Community by Her Majesty's Government; and [HL1046]
How many staff will be permanently based in Scotland House in Brussels; and what will be the designations of the posts, the salary grading of each post and the total salary and wage costs; and [HL1047]
Whether the services provided by the proposed Scotland House in Brussels will be available to Members of both Houses of the Westminster Parliament; and[HL1048]
What will be the initial cost of furnishing and equipping Scotland House in Brussels; and [HL1049]
What is the anticipated annual cost of maintaining Scotland House in Brussels; and[HL1050]
Whether Scotland House in Brussels will be based in a purchased or rented property; and what is the anticipated cost attaching to either option; [HL 1088] and
Whether costs incurred by Scotland House in Brussels will be borne solely by the Scottish Office or whether some costs will be borne by other Departments; and, if so, which.[HL1089]
The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): There are no plans to open an office to represent the Scottish Parliament in Brussels. That possibility will be a matter for consideration by the parliament itself.
My honourable friend the Minister for Housing, Transport and European Affairs announced on 30 March 1998 that two Scottish Office officials would be posted to the UK Permanent Representation building in Brussels to examine the options for establishing such a presence.
My right honourable friend announced on 9 February that arrangements are now in hand to establish a representative office for the Scottish Executive, to be in operation when the Executive and Parliament assume their full powers on 1 July 1999. The office will co-locate with Scotland Europa, and the term "Scotland House" covers the combined presence, rather than the Executive's office alone. The precise functions of that office will be determined by the Scottish Executive in due course.
If the office is to be in operation by 1 July, staff have to be recruited and accommodation identified over the next few weeks. The plans announced by my right honourable friend on 9 February envisage six members of staff, four of whom will be Scottish Office officials, at the following grades:
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