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Lord Whitty: My Lords, it is too early to comment positively on that. I understand that Westminster City Council has had discussions with Mitsubishi Materials, the manufacturers of the paving stones, which have been trialed in Osaka, Japan. However, we do not have the full outcome of those trials. It will be a matter for Westminster City Council, in discussions with the manufacturers, to decide whether the paving stones would be appropriate for this area. Should those answers be positive, clearly the Government would be interested. However, it is far too early to comment.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, can the Minister confirm that the basis on which the stones are supposed to work is by converting nitrous oxide into nitrogen and oxygen and so purify the air? Is he also aware that sunlight is a necessary factor in that process? Does he think that our climate in this country might occasionally make it difficult to quantify the result?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, there are such variables. The noble Baroness is correct in describing the chemical process, which requires ultra violet rays. However, I believe that the City of Westminster

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receives sufficient days of sunshine for this process to be effective if everything else applies. There is potential scope, but, as I have said, many uncertainties.

Baroness Sharples: My Lords, can the Minister tell the House whether the stone is a composite or natural stone, such as York stone?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, it is probably natural stone. The only extant example is in Japan, so I doubt whether it corresponds precisely to York stone. It is heavily impregnated with titanium dioxide, which changes the composition.

Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, if the experiments were to indicate wider effectiveness, might not that material also be used near other sources of air pollution, for example, downwind of refineries and sewage works?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the emissions from such installations are slightly different to those from road traffic. I agree that we are primarily dealing with nitrogen dioxide. Once again, there are many uncertainties in this area. It is too early for me to pronounce on the noble Lord's Question.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, if the Government do not like chemicals such as fertilisers and pesticides, what is the virtue of putting down chemicals on the streets to remove chemicals from the air?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the Government are not opposed to appropriate use of pesticides. However, we are opposed to inappropriate use. If the process proves to be appropriate, we shall consider it for wider use. Perhaps I may repeat that this is far too early a stage to comment.

Arms Brokering and Trafficking

2.56 p.m.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to introduce a comprehensive system of licensing for arms brokering and trafficking.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has already said that the Government will introduce a system of licensing for arms trafficking and brokering. That will, of course, require new primary legislation. We will announce our plans for new legislation once we have completed the review of proposals in the White Paper on strategic export controls. That will include details of the controls on arms trafficking and brokering. As to when new legislation will be brought before

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Parliament, your Lordships will understand that that depends on the availability of time in the legislative programme.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Does he agree that the speech given by the Secretary of State to the Labour Party conference on this subject was extremely strong? Indeed, he announced that the Government have decided to introduce legislation. Does he accept that we are now two and a half years down the road from the White Paper on this subject? That seems to be enough time to consult on all the implications. May we therefore hope that the consultation is now complete?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, about the strength of the speech made by the Secretary of State to the Labour Party conference. As regards the time taken since the publication of the White Paper in summer 1998, I acknowledge that that is a long time. However, a number of new issues have arisen since then; notably, the extension of possibilities for licensing, trafficking and brokering, as well as matters relating to licence production and the responses to the two reports of the quadripartite committee of the House of Commons. They are new issues which the Government have to consider in their response to the consultation on the White Paper.

Lord Chalfont: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the brokering and trafficking in arms, especially to third-world countries and those with authoritarian regimes, is an extremely destabilising procedure? Can the Minister assure the House that the Government will consider with great urgency the Question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire? This is a dangerous process.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. That is why the Secretary of State made such a strong statement on this subject. By licensing procedures, we would be seeking to adhere to the principles set out in the statement made by the Foreign Secretary in July 1997 when he expressed our antagonism about arms used for internal repression or external aggression. Clearly, arms brokering and trafficking, either by United Kingdom citizens or companies registered in the United Kingdom, could contribute to those destabilising influences. That underlines the importance of trying to put a stop to such process. However, as the noble Lord will recognise, there are huge practical difficulties in doing that.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, will the legislation include the transport of arms brokered by somebody else? Has the Minister noticed that the allegation that many of

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the shipments of arms for illicit use in African conflicts are said to have been shipped by companies operating aircraft registered in the United Kingdom?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Yes, my Lords. Brokering as opposed to direct trafficking involves persons acting as agents. The legislation will certainly include agents for the transportation of arms.

Lord Burnham: My Lords, are the Government satisfied that there is adequate examination and checks on end-user certificates?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, that again is a difficult area. There is no universal and consistent programme of checking end-user certificates. That is why the European Union produced its code of conduct. It is extremely difficult to check and great efforts are made to avoid public knowledge of what happens to arms after they have been exported. That was a major part of the thrust of the Scott inquiry.

Regent's Park

3.1 p.m.

Lord St John of Fawsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their policy towards the role of the Royal Parks Agency in relation to The Regent's Park.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the Government's policy is to require the Royal Parks Agency to manage Regent's Park, as with all the other Royal Parks, so as to enhance, protect and preserve it for the benefit of this and future generations; to sustain its fabric, buildings and structures; to enhance visitors' enjoyment by improving its services and facilities; and to maximise income where possible.

Lord St John of Fawsley: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. In applying those principles, does he condemn as an act of vandalism the proposal to set up a commercial garden centre in the middle of the park, not far from Queen Mary's Rose Garden and abutting the Garden of Meditation of St. John's Lodge? Will he also get rid of the statues and sculptures of Mr Ronald Rae, which are disfiguring and have disfigured for over 12 months the Nesfield Garden? And while he is in the Nesfield Garden, will he get his agency to remove the hideous concrete platform from which, during the summer, cassettes of bird song were hired out to unsuspecting tourists, thus preventing them from hearing the real song of indigenous birds in the trees?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, if I may take those questions in reverse order, we were not aware that there was still a concrete platform where the so-called "talking trees" had been. We shall certainly look

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into that. The Ronald Rae statues will be removed by March of next year and that area will be returned to parkland.

On what I believe to be the noble Lord's most urgent point, the question of proposals for a commercial garden centre at Chester Road, those proposals are at a very early stage. Plans are being prepared to apply to Westminster City Council for Circular 1884 permission for such a garden centre. Of course, major issues of disturbance, car parking and so forth will have to be considered, both by the Royal Parks Agency and by the local planning authority.

Lord Strabolgi: My Lords, can my noble friend say whether the recent announcement that the Royal Parks have to pay for themselves represents official government policy?


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