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Viscount Falkland: Amendment No. 452K refers to parks, landscapes and gardens which we on these Benches would like to see referred to on the face of the Bill as part of the cultural strategy.

It may have been in the minds of the draftsmen that in some way ancient monuments and sites covered some of the points. I shall mention them briefly with some apprehension, bearing in mind the earlier strictures of the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour. Landscapes, parks and gardens in London are one of the main attractions. They are unique in any capital city. They are more than just places where one walks one's dog, jogs

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or rollerblades. In London, they have a cultural and historic importance, probably unparalleled in most other cities of Europe. It may well be the wish and the intention of the mayor and his assembly to make certain provisions in the strategy for the future planning of these parks and gardens. Many of the historical parks, most notably Vauxhall Gardens and Ranelagh Gardens, played a very important part in 18th century history. I am not quite sure when Vauxhall Gardens, which had a somewhat louche reputation, disappeared and I am not quite sure what kind of activities take place there today. Again, that may be something which the mayor and the assembly might like to consider. This reinforces my point that surely these places ought to be on the list of important areas within the scope of the cultural strategy. I and my colleagues would like to see this added to the list.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: I should like to say briefly that London is justly famed for its parks, commons, gardens and heaths--over 250 of them--and as things stand many of them cross London borough boundaries and get short shrift from the boroughs which may feel not wholly responsible for them. Also, many of them are in complex forms of ownership and they need explicit inclusion in the work to be done by the group.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The issue of open spaces, rights of way and so on covered by these amendments would modify Clauses 301 and 302. I recognise that the existence of parks, open spaces and other recreational areas in London is a very important part of London life. These places are essential to our urban landscapes and to some extent they define London itself, as well as providing historically, and possibly occasionally today, a broadening of experience and taste, to which the noble Viscount referred in relation to Vauxhall Gardens. I think we are all aware of the history and the current value of these open spaces.

Regarding rights of way, the Government will be bringing forward legislation for London and the rest of the country. We strongly recognise the value of rural open space and access to it. That will certainly be a matter of concern to the mayor also. However, the amendments themselves are unnecessary, in my submission, mainly for the same reasons to which my noble friend Lord McIntosh referred just now. Once or twice on earlier occasions I have indicated that the lists in this Bill in most cases are exemplary and not exhaustive. The more comprehensive and exemplary the list becomes, the greater the danger it runs of being regarded as exhaustive. We want to have a certain amount of freedom for the mayor and this group as they develop the cultural strategy.

On Amendments Nos. 452J and 452K, they would add further activities to the list of open spaces, outdoor recreation parks, landscapes and gardens. I am completely sympathetic to the intention behind the amendments, but the mayor must be able to develop policy for the development of open space in important

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aspects, not only in regard to the cultural strategy but also for the spatial development strategy. That does not mean it should be set in this list of the cultural strategy as such. It may well be appropriate to do so, but the mayor does not require this amendment to achieve that.

In addition, the spatial development strategy provides a context for the mayor to develop policy for the promotion of access to open spaces and other similar facilities. That is already covered in the Bill. Amendment No. 454 would enable the authority to pay grants or to provide improved public access to open space, the Thames and other waterways and rights of way in or adjacent to London. Again that amendment is unnecessary. Your Lordships will recall from our earlier debates on Clause 25 that the authority, acting through the mayor, will have a general power to do anything which it considers would further one or more of the authority's principal purposes, including the promotion of social development and promotion of the improvement of the environment in Greater London. Both of these are of direct relevance to the provision of open spaces and therefore to the provision of grants for open spaces. Therefore, if the authority judges that expenditure would meet one of those purposes, it could already act.

There is a caveat here. We have made it clear that the general power is not to be used to duplicate the role of the London borough councils or other public bodies. The noble Lord, Lord Phillips, is correct in saying that some of the open spaces are in complex ownership. The vast majority are run either by London boroughs, the City of London or the Royal Parks Agency. The sponsoring departments are different, but they have those as well. The role of the London boroughs and other public bodies which have responsibility for parks and open spaces should be respected, and the GLA would not act in those areas. However, where the GLA can usefully act is on the co-ordination of joint initiatives by agreement with other local authorities and public bodies. Without this amendment, it will certainly be able to do so.

Another point concerning Amendment No. 454A is that it refers to areas adjacent to Greater London. As I have said, the power of local authorities is exercisable only in relation to the promotion of their principal purposes, specifically to Greater London itself. The authority would therefore have to demonstrate that any action outside Greater London was intended to further its principal purposes. In practice, it could do so only with the agreement of adjacent areas, and that is something which is not covered by this clause.

Nevertheless, I recognise the importance of open spaces. I believe that all the powers these amendments would convey are already in the Bill, as is the ability to cover these aspects in the cultural strategy, which is clearly there. I hope that these amendments will not be pressed.

Baroness Hamwee: I should like to ask just one question, but I cannot help reflecting aloud on the vision which is conjured up, following my noble friend Lord Falkland having said what he did about Vauxhall Gardens, that the mayor might also have some

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responsibility for Soho, since Vauxhall Gardens does not fulfil its original function. He also talked about open spaces being places where roller-blading is done. I think he meant that in a general sense and I am sure that he did not mean to talk about your Lordships roller-blading. But it does conjure up a nice picture.

I should like to ask about the Royal parks, which the Minister has just mentioned. Their management is a separate matter because they are under a distinct ownership, but I am conscious of the work which is done by groups of friends in respect of the different parks. I do not recall the full title, but there is a federation of the groups of friends. Are they a matter to which the cultural strategy group would have regard? I appreciate that there will be no power of direction either on their part or on that of the mayor with regard to their management, but I am unclear as to how they fit into the general scheme of things.

Lord Whitty: The Royal parks are administered by the Royal Parks Agency, which is an agency of the DCMS. That is where the powers arise: they are basically the agency's powers. There are different situations, in so far as London boroughs own many open spaces. In other cases open spaces are owned by trusts or the Corporation of London, but so far as Royal parks specifically are concerned, they are run by the agency.

Baroness Anelay of St. Johns: I am grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in this small debate about open spaces and recreation. I note the comments of the Minister that the Government do not believe these amendments are necessary because, hey presto, it will all be done anyway since there is some provision somewhere which allows the mayor and the authority to do in effect more or less anything they like. But there is concern on these Benches that one needs to be able to probe more carefully into what powers they will actually have, how they will be carried out and what activities may be covered.

I believe that there are some activities which are so important to the future of London that they will need to be included on the face of the Bill. But I am pleased to have the reassurances given by the Minister with regard to these amendments. One will need to read carefully in Hansard what has been said and consider other matters between now and Report. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 452J.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.30 p.m.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede moved Amendment No. 452JA:


Page 158, line 33, at end insert--
("( ) education as it relates to the promotion of artistic creativity;")

The noble Lord said: The amendment is grouped with Amendments Nos. 453, 453ZA and 453A. In anticipation of my noble friend's reply, I "got the message" from the previous debates that lists are exemplary, illustrative but not exclusive. I understand the point.

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The purpose of moving the amendment is to draw attention to the importance of educational outreach activities; that is, bringing arts into local communities and institutions, including schools in particular. It is recognised that in recent years the arts have made a substantial contribution to the health and creativity of the capital through the involvement of professional artists within the community at all levels and in a wide variety of environments. One example in the City of London is the outreach activities undertaken by the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. They involve both staff and students in projects in local communities of east London as well as in more than 30 schools.

As regards broader community projects, it is worth recording that outreach activities extend to community centres, hospitals, hospices and even to prisons. Recognising the importance of such activities and the anticipated co-ordinating role of the cultural strategy group, it seems to me to be appropriate that reference is made to such activities and that they would fall into the responsibility of the cultural strategy group. I beg to move.


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