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Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, perhaps I may say, first, how wonderful it is to see the noble Baroness back. As much as I dread answering Questions at this Dispatch Box, it is a pleasure to see her today and to answer her question.
Part of our community care plans is that the ground rules should be flexible. Nothing is directed from the centre in order that the local needs of a disabled person and the conditions in the local area can take full play.
Lord Murray of Epping Forest: My Lords, does the Minister agree that giving up paid work, with the consequent loss of income, pension and friendship, is a major catastrophe for those who have to go into caring and should be avoided if at all possible? As part of her initiative, therefore, will she consult the CBI and the TUC with a view to ensuring that in employment arrangements special provision is made for carers? For example, there could be provision for career breaks and the reinstatement of carers if it is possible for them to return to work; if the carer is able to continue work on a part-time basis, provision could be made for part-time and flexitime arrangements to enable that person to continue working; and special needs leave could be provided where possible as a positive way of encouraging people to stay at work as long as possible.
Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, the noble Lord asks an interesting question. I am sure that everyone agrees that it would be wonderful to be able to do everything possible to help a carer stay in work, have the required breaks and so on, but we do not live in a perfect world. The very best I can offer the noble Lord is that I shall ensure that someone reads his question in Hansard so that I may have some better advice for him on another occasion.
Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, as the noble Baroness knows, the Bill has completed all its stages in this House and it is now a matter for another place. It would therefore be quite inappropriate for me to comment on what she has said.
Lord Ashley of Stoke: My Lords, I hate to spoil these amicable exchanges, but is the noble Baroness aware that, although she knows the eligibility and necessities and I know them, 50,000 other people do not? There is no point in saying that the Benefits Agency is doing the work. The Government should step in to supplement the work of the agency. Those 50,000 people are suffering poverty quite needlessly because of ignorance. Can we not help?
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of National Heritage (Lord Inglewood): My Lords, traffic consultants have monitored the effect of the changes to the new road layout and have found no effect on traffic outside the park. The agency submitted the proposal to Westminster City Council for consideration under Department of the Environment Circular 18/84 and discussed it with the Friends of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens and other park users. A further six-month review survey will be undertaken in September of this year.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. Will he confirm that the pollution levels in the park have increased under the new arrangement? Will he also inform me of the exact position as regards National Lottery money? The park's original recommendation was to have an underpass but it was said that it could not be afforded. Can the park
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, my noble friend asks two questions. Emissions in the park will increase slightly as the speed of traffic going down this section of road reduces but that will not be significant in comparison with the levels of emissions on roads outside the park.
My noble friend asks about possible lottery funding for some kind of tunnel or underpass. Such a proposal was put forward as worthy of consideration by the so- called Jenkins Report on the Royal Parks review. After consultants' work and consideration, the Royal Parks Agency does not feel that that is probably the right way to proceed because of the visual environmental damage it might cause. In addition, there is the problem of cost. The park could apply for lottery funding for such a proposal, although there would be severe problems about finding the appropriate matching funding.
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, that was the shorthand for the full name, which was The Royal Parks Review, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. It also set out the names of the members of the review group, which was chaired by Dame Jennifer Jenkins.
Lord Kennet: My Lords, can the noble Lord say whether this expensive and rather hefty change in the road has any connection with plans for the future of the Serpentine Gallery; and, if so, what connection? What do the Government consider the future likely to be? Will he also confirm that the Serpentine Gallery has no planning permission for any extension or enlargement?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the scheme in question is part of a larger scheme. This tranche costs approximately £140,000. It is for your Lordships to decide whether the traffic improvement in the park merits the expenditure. The noble Lord asked about the Serpentine Gallery. I am not aware that the traffic calming measures for the road through the middle of Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens have anything directly to do with any possible changes in the gallery. Nor am I aware of any planning permission that may be outstanding or any authorisations under Circular 18/84 which relate to it.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, can my noble friend assure me that when the future surveys are done they will look particularly at the north to south evening traffic, which I find is backed up to Bayswater Road every evening between around 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.? In view of the increased level of emissions to which he referred, can he in particular have this checked in the summer months?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I am most grateful to my noble friend. The review is intended to look into all aspects of the traffic. The points that my noble friend raises will be dealt with by the survey.
Lord Richard: My Lords, I wonder whether the Minister can help me. Will this traffic calming measure be permanent? If it is, I wonder whether he could say to his right honourable friend that the amount of disruption being caused by traffic calming measures in the centre of London is perhaps having the opposite effect to that which is intended. The work around Buckingham Palace was supposed to calm the traffic but I do not detect any great calm in the traffic going round Buckingham Palace. Indeed, the absolute opposite is the case. Will this happen again in Hyde Park?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the noble Lord raises a number of points. We are all opposed to road rage in the metropolis. What has occurred in Hyde Park is extremely modest--very modest indeed. Further proposals are intended to be put into operation in order to ameliorate the traffic conditions and also to assist pedestrians in Hyde Park. I am sure that noble Lords on all sides of the House will agree that those aspirations are thoroughly laudable.
Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that there is nothing moderate or modest about these proposals? They cause the most frightful nuisance. There is a trail of traffic in the morning and in the evening. Good heavens, why on earth can it not be done away with?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, what has been carried out in Hyde Park recently is as follows: one built-up pedestrian crossover point across the road, two sets of lines painted across the road indicative of future crossovers and the treatment of the surface at the side of the roads has been changed in order to create two parallel parking areas and to improve the footpath and cycle track. That is about as modest a change as one can imagine. There are plenty of problems to do with the traffic in central London. Part of the point of the scheme proposed for the park is to try to make it better for everyone. As my noble friend said, there are serious problems at present.
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