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Lord Whitty: My Lords, the whole point of the suspension of sales, except where legally binding commitments apply, was to ensure that we had an adequate assessment of the implications of any potential sale. The Springburn Road, Glasgow, works, to which I believe the noble Lord is referring, was subject to an option agreement which gave the adjoining landowner the option to purchase the site. That option was exercised back in May 1998, at which point the board was legally bound to sell the site. Therefore, the sale process has been allowed to continue despite the general suspension of land sales.
Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: My Lords, can the Minister tell the House, first, whether he is satisfied that the land required for extending the capacity of Birmingham New Street Station is still safeguarded? Secondly, can the noble Lord tell us why he has not yet provided a list of sites which have been sold or where a
Lord Whitty: My Lords, Birmingham New Street is of course Railtrack rather than British Rail land. I understand that negotiations are taking place between Railtrack and developers in that respect. However, that process is not subject to the suspension that applies to British Rail land. Nevertheless, we would expect Railtrack to strike a balance between its own commercial interests and its obligations as a licensed network operator to maximise the transport benefits. As regards the list of properties disposed of by British Rail, I can tell the House that I have today replied to a written Question tabled by my noble friend Lord Berkeley. My response updates the Written Answer I gave to him on 16th March. Accompanying that will be a full list of the sites involved, a copy of which will be placed in the Library of the House.
Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I await the Answer with keen anticipation; it will be very interesting. However, I remain slightly suspicious because the freeze announced last summer started thawing the very next day. Having read the list, and assuming that there are still some interesting sites left, can my noble friend the Minister explain whether the wider railway and freight industry--and I declare an interest here as chairman of the Rail Freight Group--will be consulted on future sales and whether the strategic rail authority will be able to purchase or take over from British Rail the sites which seem specifically important?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, the assessment by British Rail indicates that only about 10 per cent. of its sites would be appropriate for transport use. The intention is to list those sites and, it is recommended, offer them to transport operators and local authorities who might put them to transport use. The strategic rail authority, and indeed the new chair of British Rail, will need to take a view on the process. However, that is the position at present.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, a proposal by Madam Speaker to move the statue of Sir Walter Raleigh to St. Margaret's churchyard has been approved in principle by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. In May 1997, and again in November 1998, Westminster City Council refused planning consent for
Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that reply. With the amount of support there is for moving Sir Walter Raleigh's statue, does not the noble Lord think that Westminster City Council's planning committee has procrastinated long enough and if it does not like the site favoured by Madam Speaker and the Minister, why does it not suggest other sites? The point is to move the statue from its present site where it looks ridiculous.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, during previous Questions on this matter we all agreed in the House that Sir Walter Raleigh's statue is out of place on Raleigh Green outside the Ministry of Defence for no other reason than that it is much smaller than the other three statues sited there. I believe that is a matter of common accord. Despite some temptation I am not sure that I wish to disagree with Westminster City Council's planning committee. It has gone through the proper procedures and the Dean and Chapter have appealed against its refusal. There will be a public inquiry on 6th May to which the noble Baroness can, of course, give evidence if she wishes.
Lord Strabolgi: My Lords, as Sir Walter Raleigh is a national figure of historic importance why is this matter left to Westminster City Council? Cannot the Government consider some sites away from the capital which are associated with Sir Walter Raleigh?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the location of all statues will be in the area of some local authority. We cannot get away from that by going outside London. In London the role of the Secretary of State, and therefore of the Government, is restricted to giving approval for the erection of statues under the Public Statues (Metropolis) Act 1854. That prevents the Secretary of State from taking an active role in the development of proposals. However, I am sure that all local authorities and all of those responsible for statues will take account of what my noble friend says.
Lord Annan: My Lords, is it true that Westminster City Council's excuse as regards this matter is that it would create a precedent if the statue were placed where Madam Speaker wishes it to be placed? Would it not be possible for the council to say that it could be placed there but that that should not be taken as a precedent for other statues? If that is not satisfactory to Westminster City Council, will it consider the following sites: Poets' Corner, Millbank, near which Sir Walter lost his head, and Horse Guards Road, which I have suggested before to the noble Lord, in a place between the statue of Lord Mountbatten and the statue of Lord Clive, where it would be in competition with neither?
Lord Morris of Manchester: My Lords, if the statue of Sir Walter Raleigh is resited will it hasten the long overdue provision of a Whitehall site for an Anzac memorial? Meanwhile is my noble friend aware that this would be most warmly welcomed in Australia and New Zealand as well as by the all-party Anzac group of MPs and Peers, in which, as its president, I have the honour to declare an interest?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am grateful for my noble friend's comment. Of course he is right in saying that if and when Sir Walter Raleigh's statue is moved there will be a space for another statue. That sounds like a worthwhile suggestion. I wish to be slightly more helpful to the noble Lord, Lord Annan. The reason for choosing St. Margaret's churchyard is that Sir Walter Raleigh is buried there. That is considered more appropriate than Old Palace Yard--our car park--where he lost his head.
Lord Burnham: My Lords, it is suggested to me that this is a defence issue. The Minister stated that to place the statue outside St. Margaret's would be detrimental to the environment. Does he consider that it is more detrimental than the hot-dog stands that are there at present?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I did not suggest that that was my idea. I read out what the City of Westminster expressed in ineffable local government language. The noble Lord may wish to make his observations about hot-dog stands direct to Westminster City Council.
Lord Davies of Coity: My Lords, in view of the outstanding performance yesterday I wonder whether the Minister would consider that when the statue of Sir Walter Raleigh is removed, we put in its place one of Neil Jenkins.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): My Lords, John Battle, the Minister for Energy and Industry, announced on 30th March that the Government were launching a new wave energy programme. More broadly, Mr. Battle also announced publication of a consultation document entitled New and Renewable Energy--Prospects for the 21st Century, reporting on the outcome of the Government's review of new and renewable energy policy, including wave energy, and seeking views on the proposals contained in the consultation document. Wave energy has also been boosted by its inclusion in the third order under the Scottish renewables obligation, where three projects have been awarded contracts.
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