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Earl Attlee: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, for explaining my amendments a little, but I should like to expand upon what she said. Clause 128 allows the Secretary of State to direct the mayor to revise the transport strategy if it is inconsistent with national transport policy and detrimental to any area outside Greater London.

Amendment No. 350 provides that no such direction shall take effect if,


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As an alternative--and to tempt the Minister--I have also tabled Amendment No. 351, which proposes to delete this clause. I accept that this might be a little bit of a blunt instrument, but the Secretary of State should not be able to dictate the contents of the transport strategy to the mayor against the wishes of the assembly. For him to be able to do so would undermine the integrity of the authority's strategy for transport in London.

This matter returns to one of our central objections to the overall philosophy of this Bill. If there is to be a London authority it should be a genuine one treated as being composed of responsible adults and not tied to the apron strings of the Secretary of State. I follow absolutely what the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, has just said about that. The Minister now has a choice of amendments to accept; the only question is which one he will select. He could choose the amendment from the Liberal Democrat Benches or he could accept one of ours.

Lord Bowness: My Lords, will the Minister explain to your Lordships why he considers it necessary to have this draconian power in relation to transport when Clause 33--which the House has already dealt with which concerns the mayor's strategies--already contains an obligation to ensure that the strategies, including the transport strategy, are consistent with national policies and international obligations? It seems to me that the Government must have in mind something very particular with regard to transport and that if they wish this specific power to be included in relation to transport they seek in effect to be the transport authority for London, and the mayor and the assembly will be a sham.

6.15 p.m.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I am grateful to the Opposition for giving me a whole range of possibilities in terms of meeting their objective. I am sure it will disappoint them greatly when I say that I shall not accept any of them.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, that, as I understand the position, the powers in Clause 33 require the mayor to have regard to the need to achieve consistency with national policies. There are no additional powers for the Secretary of State in that clause. The powers with regard to transport are much greater than for any other local authority. Therefore we consider that we need at least reserve powers in this area. We considered carefully what the balance of power should be between the mayor and the Secretary of State. Let me make it quite clear--as noble Lords' speeches may have elided this--that these powers could not be triggered simply because the Secretary of State thinks the strategy is out of step with national policies. It must be out of step with national policies and be detrimental to areas outside Greater London. Therefore there is a double hurdle to clear before the Secretary of State could use these powers.

One can envisage a situation in which the mayor might pursue an extreme anti-car policy, or indeed an extreme pro-car policy, for the GLA area, which

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would undoubtedly have serious effects on neighbouring areas. Essex, for example, might object seriously to such a policy. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, that ideally such situations would be sorted out between the Greater London Authority and neighbouring authorities, but where that did not occur and where a neighbouring authority could clearly demonstrate that its interests were being harmed the Secretary of State must have a reserve power to intervene in such extreme circumstances.

I regret that these amendments would remove that ultimate power. I therefore hope that noble Lords will not pursue them. Indeed it would be to the detriment of those areas which immediately surround London--and, potentially, other areas of the country too--if we removed these powers from the Bill, or left the position subject to voluntary action. As I say, I hope that these amendments will not be pursued.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I am disappointed but not surprised. I knew that reserve powers for extreme cases would be mentioned. The noble Lord, Lord Bowness, made precisely--but much more carefully--the point that I made about Clause 33. There is no sanction if the mayor breaches Clause 33. That makes one wonder about an awful lot of the Bill. However, I shall not spend time wondering about that as I shall probably tempt the Government to make practically the whole of the Bill subject to directions by the Secretary of State, clause by clause, and we have enough of that as it is. We profoundly disagree with the Government's approach to this matter. Having made that point entirely clear, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 348 to 351 not moved.]

Clause 129 [Duties of London borough councils etc.]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 351A:


Page 71, line 12, at end insert--
(“(4) In exercising any functions in relation to the management of roads or traffic in a Royal Park in Greater London the Secretary of State shall have regard to the transport strategy.
(5) In this section “Royal Park" means any park to which the Parks Regulation Act 1872 applies (see sections 1 and 3 of the Parks Regulation (Amendment) Act 1926).").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 351A I wish to speak also to the amendments that are grouped with it. This takes us to a new area. However, at two points during the Committee stage we touched on how the Royal Parks relate to the mayor's transport strategy, particularly in relation to highways. We undertook to return to that matter. The government Amendments Nos. 351A, 484ZA and 493D seek to fulfil that undertaking by requiring the Royal Parks Agency to have regard to the mayor's transport strategy and to introduce for the first time a statutory consultation arrangement between the Royal Parks and the local highways authorities. The details are spelt out in the amendments. I hope, therefore, that as noble Lords expressed concerns earlier they will accept that these

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amendments meet the situation where decisions relating to Royal Parks could undermine borough or GLA strategies in regard to highway transport in particular. I beg to move.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, I hope that the Minister can explain this matter further. I have always been concerned about Hyde Park in particular, which is an important traffic artery from the north to the south. Apart from that route there is only Kensington Church Street, where traffic flows in the one direction, and perhaps Park Lane where it flows in both directions. All kinds of steps have been taken in the park to reduce the traffic flow. Consequently the same volume of traffic no longer passes through, but there is now quite a lot of stationary traffic emitting fumes. I know that an underpass has been proposed to solve the problem of the fumes, as people like to walk in the park without breathing in fumes. But who would make a decision on that? I believe that in time there will be demands for traffic relief measures in Hyde Park.

Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend the Minister on a most excellent series of amendments. I expressed concern about the omission of such measures previously. I assume that they will mean that those who run the Royal Parks will not be able to close the Mall to traffic for three weeks for resurfacing without consulting someone. The person they may consult may have some professional knowledge as to how that may be done without closing the Mall to traffic for three weeks. As I say, this is an excellent series of amendments.

I have two further comments which I think are relevant. The Royal Parks Agency might appreciate that it would be nice to see speed limits enforced in the parks occasionally. We have a cycling strategy for London. There are a few white lines and a few paths in Hyde Park. However, you get to Hyde Park Corner--thank goodness something is being done about that--and then you try to get through the Mall and down Constitution Hill. Those are wide roads but they have no facilities for cyclists whatsoever. Cars travel extremely fast on those roads. I hope that this measure will provide an opportunity for the best professionals in the GLA to impart some of their knowledge and introduce some modern thinking to the parks agency. I support what has been done in Hyde Park to reduce the speed of traffic. I do not agree with what the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner, said; I think it is important to reduce traffic speed in a place where there are many pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. It may be a through route but it behoves car drivers to go at a reasonable speed. I congratulate my noble friend and support the amendment.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I should like to correct him.

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I was not complaining about the speed; I was complaining about the fumes from stationary traffic. That is a rather different matter.


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