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M.4: Roadworks

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: The Highways Agency anticipates that in the short term any reduction in the number of car journeys on this section of the M.4 will be small. To check this it is undertaking traffic surveys before and after the introduction of the bus lane and this will include counts of the number of cars and measurement of their journey times. It will also be checking traffic flows on other routes to check whether any traffic has diverted from the motorway.

Its hope, which I share, is that in the medium term the reduction in, and increased reliability of, bus and coach journey times will encourage a number of drivers to switch from using their cars.

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Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the assertion by the Highways Agency in the Written Answer by Lord Whitty on 22 April (WA 167) that the bus, coach and taxi lane between Junction 3 and the elevated section of the M.4 motorway will reduce the operating costs of buses, coaches and taxis, whether road safety will be improved or worsened by the provision of the bus, coach and taxi lane between Junction 3 and the elevated section of the M.4 motorway.[HL2298]

Lord Whitty: The Highways Agency forecasts that the combination of the reduced speed limits, revised signing and road markings and the installation of the bus lane will reduce accidents on the eastbound carriageway between Junction 3 and the elevated section of the M.4 motorway by about 20 per cent.

Trafalgar Square: Pedestrianisation

Lord Northfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made on the proposals to pedestrianise parts of Trafalgar Square; and when the work will begin.[HL2247]

Lord Whitty: The proposal to pedestrianise the north side of Trafalgar Square was included in the "World Squares for All" Masterplan produced by Sir Norman Foster and published in August 1998. The masterplan covers the historic area around Trafalgar Square, Parliament Square and Whitehall and seeks to redress the balance between vehicles and pedestrians, improve the historic environment and give the area back to Londoners and visitors to enjoy.

Westminster City Council appointed consultants on 9 March 1999 to carry out the initial and detailed design for Phase 1 (covering Trafalgar Square, St. Martin's Place and Northumberland Avenue) which is expected to take 18 months. Subject to funding and consents being in place, implementation could start in spring 2001.

Flood Defence

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made in developing targets for flood and coastal defence operating authorities and in developing the Environment Agency's general supervisory duty for flood defence.[HL2377]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): We are pleased to announce the publication of interim targets for flood and coastal defence operating authorities and elaboration of the Environment Agency's supervisory duty. We have placed a copy in the Library of the House.

The targets are designed to assist in developing a seamless and integrated service of flood forecasting, warning and response, as well as a more certain delivery

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of government policy towards flood and coastal defence. They follow recommendations, which the Government accepted, in last year's Agriculture Select Committee's report on flood and coastal defence and in the independent report on the Easter 1998 floods.

These interim targets will, among other things, set in hand arrangements for flood and coastal defence assets to be identified, recorded on a central database and their integrity assessed. There are also targets in relation to other important issues such as completion and implementation of water level management plans and shoreline management plans, as well as wider environmental objectives.

These targets, and elaboration of the Environment Agency's supervisory duty, have been developed in full co-operation with the agency, the Association of Drainage Authorities and the Local Government Association and in consultation with a wide range of relevant organisations. We have been impressed by the strong support we have had both for the overall approach we have adopted and for the particular measures we are introducing.

A more comprehensive set of targets, and further elaboration of the Environment Agency's supervisory duty, will be developed over the next year for adoption from March 2000. We will continue to work in a consultative way and we shall continue to keep Parliament informed of developments.

Channel Islands and Isle of Man

Lord Wallace of Saltaire asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man are formally territories of the United Kingdom.[HL2045]

Lord Burlison: No. The United Kingdom comprises Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are part of the British islands. They are internally self-governing dependencies of the Crown, not of the United Kingdom.

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Starred Questions

Lord Campbell of Croy asked the Leader of the House:

    Whether the time allowed for an individual Starred Question and its associated supplementary questions is now limited to 10 minutes, as indicated by her on 28 April (H.L. Deb., col. 313), even if more time is available, within the 30 minutes allotted daily to Starred Questions, because of withdrawals or expeditious treatment of the other three Questions.[HL2305]

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): No. In the self-regulating Chamber, self-restraint in the use of time is essential. Time limits have increasingly been required because more Lords wish to participate. Noble Lords now regard the time provided as a right rather than a maximum. It is well understood that Starred Questions should end within 30 minutes; within that period no time limits are enforceable other than to ensure that all Questions tabled have a fair share of the time. The report from the Working Group on Procedure in the Chamber, chaired by the noble Baroness Lady Hilton of Eggardon, did recommend an expectation that the Clerk would call the next Question when the clock showed a certain number of minutes had elapsed on each Starred Question, but the Procedure Committee did not support this change. Where they are fewer than four Starred Questions, noble Lords may still use the time available; it would not be right for the Leader of the House to suggest that less time should be used for three Questions.

Isabel Allende

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How often the Prime Minister has met Isabel Allende; and what comments he has made in her presence about Salvador Allende.[HL1784]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Prime Minister has meetings with organisations and individuals on a wide range of subjects. By convention it is not the practice of governments to disclose details of such meetings.

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