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Lord McNally: My Lords, during one of the last warm days of autumn, I took my three children on the riverboat from Greenwich to Westminster. As is the custom, one of the boatmen offered us a running commentary as we went down the river. As we passed the headquarters of the Greater London Authority on our left, he said, "And there, on our left, is the new headquarters of the Greater London Authority. As you can see, it was designed by an under-employed window cleaner".
It was a great honour today to hear from that under-employed window cleaner. I thought that I would tell the noble Lord that story because he has had so much praise today that he should hear at least one word from his critics. It was a great pleasure to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Foster.
My other problem arises from hearing the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg. As noble Lords may know, I am one of the revolutionaries concerning reform of this House, and yet, whenever I get out the tumbrels for the hereditaries I think of the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, and his contribution to this House. Yet again, he has made a major contribution by raising the issue of design, and we are all in his debt for that.
My interest in design originated with my membership of the Select Committee on Trade and Industry in another place, then as director-general of the British Retail Consortium in the mid-1980s, and then, since entering this House, becoming associated with the campaigning groups, Anti Copying in Design, known as ACID, and the Federation Against Copyright Theft. Much of their work is about protecting creativity in areas such as music, film and product design, but protecting a good idea and rewarding creativity applies equally to the power and direction of public service procurement.
I agree with the Prime Minister that Britain's future lies in creating a high-skill, high-tech, high value-added economy. But to create and sustain such an economy it is essential that ideas, innovation and
This excellent debate has drawn on the brief produced by the Design Council, which is among my papers. I shall not repeat many of the points that other noble Lords have referred to except to point out that, although it may be a brief for the converted, as the noble Lord, Lord Wakeham, said, it would be well worthy of wider distribution, if only to provide the proselytizers of good design with a good document from which to work.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, that design has great importance in ensuring that our public services are taken up. Too many buildings that house organisations which offer help seem to say not "We are here to help" but "Abandon hope all ye who enter here". It is true that good design can make a building appear friendly to people who may be a little cautious about becoming entangled in the bureaucracy of public service.
Throughout the debate various themes have been taken upfor example, how good design can help in the areas of health and education; in sport and leisure, an issue to which the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, referred; and in tourism. I agree that good signage can be a great help to tourism.
As to housing and housing design in the public sector, I can remember going round a council estate in Southwark with a local councillor 30 years ago, at the beginning of my political career, and him standing there with real pride, looking at the high rise flats and saying, "When I see those high rise flats I see socialism in action". It is worthwhile designers and planners reminding themselves that sometimes they can get it disastrously wrong. Those high rise flats, which were built with such good intentions and such worthy aims, created massive social problems that we have spent many of the past 20 or 30 years trying to repair. In addition to the many virtues advocated today, I urge on the designers and planners a tad of humility.
Another area where public service lateral thinking as regards design can help is in the design of built-in deterrents against theft. Too many products are too easy to steal. There have been exchanges in the House about mobile phones and how slow the companies were in building-in anti-theft devices. Before that, the manufacturers of cars were similarly accused.
There is a whole range of areas in the public service where positive thinking can be of help. We have all learnt something today. Having listened to the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, speak about his hat-stand, my noble friend Lord Rodgers will probably now rush home and take a close look at his Festival of Britain cups and spoons. I recommend that he takes them to the next edition of the "Antiques Roadshow" because he might have some worthwhile heirlooms on his hands.
Like my noble friend Lord Rodgers, I left another place by public demand. One of the nice things about it is that I occasionally get invited back to my old constituency. On 28th March I shall be going back to
One of the lessons to come through the debate is that end users must be involved in design right from the beginning. I am going back to Stockport with a real sense of pleasurealthough slightly fraudulently because it is my membership of the All-Party Design Group which gives me the qualities to present the prizes. As my colleagues know, I have not been renowned in the past for my Armani suits or design consciousness.
The arguments that provoked the competition in Stockport could be rehearsed elsewhere. Good design is a win-win situation. It is a win for the citizen as a taxpayer because, as speaker after speaker has emphasised, good design brings good value. It is a winner for the citizen as the consumer of these services because, again as other noble Lords have emphasised, good design helps the consumer. My Whip is wagging his finger but, if he reads the whip, he will see that I have got 10 minutes. Whips try to control everything.
Finally, as my 10 minutes come up, let me say that good design is good for UK plc. I work with one of the big trade associationsthe electrical manufacturersand it is still in Britain because of the quality of design. Whether in manufacturing or public services, the lesson to be learnt is that design is not the cherry on the cake but the real heart of success.
Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, for several things; first, for having introduced the debate; secondly, for himself having introduced it so well; thirdly, for having introduced a debate which has caused so many excellent, interesting and different speeches to be made; fourthly, as my noble friend Lord Brooke said, for giving us an opportunity publicly to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Foster of Thames Bank, on his excellent maiden speech; and, fifthly, for his adventurous spirit in introducing a debate that is more about ideas than anything tangible. It is true that the ideas have to be linked with discipline and experience, as many noble Lords have said, but the whole concept is very interesting.
Like the noble Lord, Lord Rea, I looked up the definition of "design" in the dictionary. The definition I came up with is completely different from hisI did not notice that there were seven othersand states:
I stress the word "concept" because the Design Council, of which the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, is a member, in its brief for the debate, attaches the word "design" not only to physical objects such as I have described but to much more abstract matters.
I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, and the House will forgive me if I do not attempt to deal with the philosophical concepts of designother noble Lords have spoken to that issue. It will be easier for me if I speak to the more tangible purposes and the need for good, better physical design.
My personal approach to the tangible nature of design is best expressed by the well-known quotation, to which I am glad no one else has referred today because I do not want to feel that I am repeating other noble Lords, from the American poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, which is generally summarised as:
One of my own experiences of the effect of better design was an advertisement, which many noble Lords may remember, from 25 years ago when a company introducing tea used a very elegant-looking teapot. I do not know how much tea the company sold but it was said at the time that thousands of the teapots practically walked off the shelves. I still have one that I use today.
"Design" is not simply about building a better, better-looking or more efficient mousetrap. It is about finding what is sometimes described as a gap in the market, discovering an unfulfilled need and devising the means of filling it. It was so interesting to hear different people's experiences. The noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, talked about having to design things differently for the older person. Like the noble Lord, Lord Chan, I cannot open that wretched thing for pills that is supposed to be safe for children. Everything has had to change considerably. So discovering an unfulfilled need and devising the means of filling it is very interesting and worth while.
I remember my first experience of using a mobile phoneit was during an election in 1984. It was a great big heavy thing; you had to carry around heavy batteries because the thing never lasted long before it needed charging up again. I did not think that it was much use, but today, mobile phones are light and tiny. The only thing you need is good eyesight so that you can see the numbers. However, you can do all sorts of things such as sending text messages and photographs. I have just learnt to do that, which is why I mentioned itI would not have done so otherwise.
A new world-wide industry, of vast economic significance, has developed because of the improved design of the equipment and the technology which, within a generation or so, will make the public phone booth as obsolete as the gas lamp which, in turn, disappeared as a result of the introduction of the better designed, more efficient and less labour-intensive electric lamp standard.
It is clear that design is not limited to making objects better; it is also about bringing into existence more efficient and functional objects. Perhaps this is what the Design Council means when it talks about producing environments for people to work in that are more pleasant or promote more efficient operationsor, preferably, both.
Britain has long been a leader in design in every aspect of invention or in the delivery of services. The Moscow underground may be something of great beauty, but the London Underground map is a classic of design that has stood the test of decades. It has survived the introduction of several additional subway lines and is a model of clarity for locals and foreigners who need to find their way around. In fact, as my noble friend Lord Kirkham mentioned, that is especially so when we compare it with the maps of the Paris Metro or the New York subway. I do not want to be rude to them, but they resemble plates of spaghetti.
The London Underground map is an outstanding case of design improving public service. It also shows that good design can be timeless. In my former business, I used a machine for filling envelopes with forms and literature which is still used to this day. I was amazed to find that the machine that I used was designed in 1906. Apart from adjusting the use of simple knobs rather than complicated nuts and screws it was, in effect, exactly the same. Similarly, the qwerty keyboard, on which I typed my notes today, has served English-speaking typists throughout the world for almost 100 years.
It is beyond argument that well designed schools and classrooms are just as essential for encouraging learning and good teaching as well designed text books, while old-fashioned, decrepit classrooms encourage slovenly habits among the pupils.
In a series of searching Written Questions in another place last summer and autumn, the honourable Member for Stourbridge elicited the information that although the Department for Education and Skills had one of the ministerial design champions, it had not sponsored a single projectat least, not as at 26th February 2002.
By contrast, it is a totally different story at the Department of Health. Research has come up with the fairly obvious conclusion, which many noble Lords have mentioned today, that medical treatment is better and recovery quicker in a pleasant, well designed hospital than in one that resembles a Victorian workhouse.
The noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, is the ministerial design champion for the Department of Health. Scouring through a series of Written Answers, I see that he is commendably mentoring four National Health Service schemes in central Manchester, Birmingham, Leicester and Walsall. To its credit, the Department of Health employs 47 chartered surveyors, 14 architects and four town planners in addition to outside specialist expertise. When someone who knows what to do harnesses that knowledge with whoever is to design a project, that makes it so much better.
Public transport is another important matter, particularly the objective of persuading more people to use it rather than their cars. I suspect that penal taxes will not be the answer. Instead, getting people to
I give credit, however, to the Civil Service for the efforts that it has conspicuously made over many years to redesign many of the forms that it sends us for a variety of purposes, so that they are clearer and easier to fill in by members of the public. The noble Lord, Lord Gavron, mentioned that as well. Doubtless, they are better because it is probably easier for computers to read them, but it is very important none the less.
The debate has shown that there is a consensus in favour of good design, not just for aesthetic reasons but for sound, commercial and environmental reasons, and in the interests of efficiency, delivering essential public services. I shall be very interested, as I am sure all your Lordships will be, in hearing the thoughts that the Government have to offer, not in the form of general platitudes or talk about more departmental design champions, but indicating what active steps they are taking to encourage good design in every field in which the Government, as the font of all public services, have an interest.
The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, on securing this quite excellent debate. As the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, said, it comes at an important time. This Government have increased levels of capital investment in our public services to their highest, in real terms, for well over a generation. In just four years, we have doubled levels of investment to some £38 billion in 200304.
I echo, too, the views of my noble friend Lord Pendry and others. These levels of capital investment are essential to deliver our main ambition, which is the reform of public services. The relationship between this ambition and the role of good design can be simply stated. Understanding and responding to customer experience is the key to successful public service reforms. By redesigning our systems for tracking the views of the users of our public services, we can then redesign services to match more closely the public's needs and priorities. As the noble Baroness, Lady Flather, and the noble Lord, Lord Bhatia, have emphasised, we need that stronger focus on customer needs.
The Government also believe that it is vital that public servants, politicians and other professionals think imaginatively about innovative ways in which we can realise the huge potential of good design to improve and even revolutionise sectors of our public services. As the Prime Minister stated when launching the Better Public Buildings initiative in 2000, we have
Good design is not just a matter of aesthetics, although we should always be aware of the profound impact of attractive products and distinctive buildings on the reputation of institutions and towns and the self-esteem of those who live and work in them. Good design is also about utility and service delivery. Better designed hospitals allow medical staff to deliver higher standards of healthcare and encourage patients to get better quicker, as we have heard. Staff and pupils can no doubt advise on how better designed schools can make teaching more pleasant and productive. Carefully designed local environments help the police to fight crime and promote community safety. In short, good design is a necessity for all our people, not a costly indulgence for a minority of aesthetes.
I hope to persuade the noble Lord, Lord Wakeham, therefore, that this Government have learnt from experience that good design need not cost more over the lifetime of the product or building. That is a lesson my colleagues in the Treasury would readily endorse. Good design can also demonstrate how new technology can promote better ways to build, manage and maintain new facilities. When one considers that design investment is usually only about 0.1 per cent of the total cost of building, maintaining and delivering services within a public building, one can see the potential for improvement. As the noble Lord, Lord McNally, warned, whether through municipal ambition or private speculative building, all around us in the public realm is the dismal evidence of past failure and the false economy of saving through the neglect of decent design.
As my noble friend Lord Borrie said, we must be alert to the lessons of that history. Given past mistakes, this Government have also had to start from a poor position. In contracting, the public sector was not often a competent client. In the 1980s and 1990s, building projects typically suffered cost over-runs and delays of some 60 per cent. That is why we invited Sir John Egan to produce his report on Rethinking Construction, which demonstrates how the standardisation of procurement techniques and the transfer of construction risk to the private sector could help us control our capital expenditure plans. By setting tough targets, we now have far more buildings delivered on time, on budget and with fewer defects.
I, too, share the fond memories of the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, of those exciting early days of the Design Council in the 1950s and 1960s. He was pleased to learn that we have resourced two organisationsthe Design Council and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE)to champion the pursuit of quality design across the procurement process. We understand that we can achieve the most efficient procurement process in the world, but unless we have a committed client working with talented designers, we will still end up with a poor product. We need only to look back at some of the disastrous public building strategies of the 1960s to see that future generations
We certainly have no cause for complacency. As the Audit Commission recently reminded us in respect of school design, we are still not achieving on a consistent basis the standards we strive for. Nevertheless, in responding to the debate, I want first to set out what we consider we have achieved to date before considering what more we need to do.
We have heard from distinguished former Ministers, such as the noble Lords, Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville and Lord Wakeham, who in their time effectively championed good design and we try to maintain that tradition. Following the launch of the Better Public Buildings programme in 2000, the Prime Minister appointed the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, to chair a group of ministerial design champions.
A Minister champions good design in each government department with a significant capital expenditure programme. This group has been meeting for more than two years and it has made impressive progress. Each department now has a clear action plan for improving design standards which it is systematically implementing. Those are monitored by the CABE.
That system of champions has been replicated across the public sector so that, for example, every NHS trusthospital and primary carenow has its own design champion. The same applies to regional development agencies, the Housing Corporation and a growing number of local authorities. Each Minister is personally mentoring between one and four large capital projects to understand and influence the procurement process first hand.
Each department has been working hard to improve design standards. The importance of design in healthcare is reflected in empirical evidence from around the world, which demonstrates that high standards of design lead to quicker patient recovery times and improved levels of staff recruitment and retention.
Let me amplify the example of good practice in health given by the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, and cite one of the studies mentioned by my noble friend Lord Rea. The University of Nottingham compared three healthcare environments before and after they were redesigned. The schemes included a cardiology ward with improved lighting, better external views and the clustering of beds in smaller groups; and a coronary day-care unit with better beds and patient facilities, larger windows and a visitors area. Measured healthcare improvements included lower pulse rate and blood pressure readings among patients; shorter post-operative stayseight days down from 11 days; and lower prescribed drug intakes. That is a remarkable outcome and the contribution of the noble
The Department of Health recognised early on that the NHS was achieving inconsistent standards of design in the early stages of its hospital building programme. There were some clear winners, such as the Norwich and Norfolk hospital, but some designs were out-dated in terms of our desire to create patient-focused environments. As a result, the NHS appointed His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales as its design champion and has partnered CABE on a variety of initiatives to improve standards. It has set up a design review process, which should help reassure your Lordships, so that every new hospital project is scrutinised for its quality at the key stage of the PFI process. It has revised its guidance to ensure that it reflects up-to-date healthcare management.
As the noble Lord, Lord Chan, may know, the NHS has also introduced a system of design quality indicators to help all the users of a hospital to be involved in the design process. Finally, it has sent the CABE to help individual hospitals and primary healthcare providers in the early stages of the design process. On hospital signage, I trust that the designers will take note of the lady mentioned by my noble friend Lord Gavron, who, like myself, does not have the Latin, and design something more functional.
The recent Audit Commission report tells a similar story in the education sector. A few years ago, the then Secretary of State for Education asked PricewaterhouseCoopers to explore the main impacts of capital investment in schools on pupil performance. It found that capital investment had the strongest influence on staff morale, pupil motivation and effective learning times. In the early years of this Government, we found that there was a considerable variation in the extent to which the LEAs and individual schools were responding to the design challenge. There were some real success stories, but too many schools were providing environments that were functional but not inspiring.
In response, the DfES has partnered both the CABE and the Design Council to drive the message home. The CABE is now working with every LEA going into a major round of PFI school procurement to act as a confidant and adviser in the early stages of that process. Both organisations are serving on the School Buildings Advisory Group, which also includes educationists, head teachers and designers. The DfES has recently published the results of Classroom of the Future, which used design and innovation to plot a series of responses to the changes in education environments we can expect over the next 10 years and beyond.
Perhaps most significantly, the Secretary of State is commissioning a series of exemplary primary school and secondary school designs, which will combine great architecture and urban design with a drive to maximise the benefits of off-site modular construction techniques. These exemplars will draw on the best
I cannot match the breadth of aesthetic influence on the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, of his school days, but I was fortunate enough to attend Scotland Street school in Glasgow. Sadly, it was the only school ever built by the brilliant Charles Rennie Mackintosh and I wish I had taken my school desk away with me when I left.
As the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, mentioned, the department has been funding an organisation called School Works to examine new ways of involving pupils and teachers in the design process. Its first active case study was the Kingsdale secondary school in Southwark, which has just achieved a 20 per cent increase in the number of pupils achieving at least five GCSEs at A to C grade level.
All this effort does not start just when children enter primary school. Among our most successful design initiatives have been Sure Start centres and Neighbourhood Nurseries. In both cases, we used national design competitions to set the standards of design at the outset of those initiatives.
The noble Baroness, Lady Warwick of Undercliffe, and the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, reminded us of the importance of educating an ever more creative generation of graduates. I trust that this debate will demonstrate to students of design the broad and strong support for their future role, as witnessed by the entertaining contributions of the noble Lord, Lord McNally, and the noble Baroness, Lady Miller.
On courts and prisons, the Lord Chancellor has pioneered new approaches to the design of court buildings. Again from the outset he has used CABE as a critical friend. He has also employed the internationally-renowned architect, Ian Ritchie, to set appropriately high standards for these landmark buildings.
At the same time, Ministers at the Home Office are working with the Design Council and the independent design organisation, the Do Tank, to rethink the design of prisons. The importance of that issue was highlighted by the noble Baroness, Lady Flather. As I learnt previously from the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, the cost of keeping a prisoner in gaol each year is twice the cost of Eton School's fees and six out of 10 ex-offenders are still returning to prison within two years. We have to work harder to incentivise those building and managing our prisons to design systems of detention which place greater emphasis on improving the future life chances of the prisoner, and reducing the probability of reoffence.
Of course, the role of design in the delivery of public services is not confined to the delivery of public buildings. In a few days' time, in another place, the Deputy Prime Minister will be publishing his Communities Plan which will set out how this Government intend to create neighbourhoods in different parts of the country which offer the better quality of life which the noble Lord, Lord Kirkham, rightly demands. We face two different problems: the
The Deputy Prime Minister has already announced at the Urban Summit that CABE will be asked to set up a new unit, CABE space, to champion the design and management of public space, including parks, playgrounds, squares and streets. At present, over half of local authorities have no strategy for making the most out of their green spaces. It is not surprising, therefore, that 30 per cent of the population will not use our parks at all.
Part of the process is designing places that are safe. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is currently working with the Home Office, CABE and the police to revise the planning guidelines on designing out crime. Again, there are many empirical studies that show a clear relationship between good urban design and improved community safety. We need to use Secured by Design principles, including increasing natural surveillance and reducing rat-runs, to help local communities and the police deter criminal and other anti-social behaviour.
I hope that your Lordships will agree that this programme of activity demonstrates our commitment to raising our consciousness across Government when it comes to investment in quality design. But we cannot be complacent. I want to close by concentrating on what still remains to be done. Last year, we asked CABE and the Office of Government Commerce to review our design performance in the procurement of public buildings. The report of their review was published last October. The 11 recommendations they made have been accepted by every government department and by the National Audit Office.
Let me add to the praise of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Chesterton, and many others. I feel particularly privileged to speak in the same debate in which the noble Lord, Lord Foster of Thames Bank, makes his maiden speech. It was an outstanding contribution which I take to heart as a Minister. In a previous life, as chairman of the Scottish Media Group, I was fortunate enough to be a tenant in his wonderful ITN building in Gray's Inn Road; and before that as a journalist who once worked in the old newspaper building which stood on the site I congratulate him on the dramatic use he made of the depth of the old print room. As a former Transport Minister, I should say that if one wishes to travel on the Tube, go to Canary Wharf. The station, designed by the noble Lord, Lord Foster, is well worth the journey.
The noble Lord, Lord Borrie, spoke of transport. I understand the problem with taxis. I see them also mutating into people carriers in many of the market places up and down the land. The noble Lord and I are both impressed by the advances made by London Transport with its low-floor buses, and so ondespite the fact that it is at the expense of that splendid classic, the Routemaster, which is a splendid vehicle as long as one does not fall off the platform.
The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, mentioned noise barriers. On the transport side, I assure him that we are very conscious of the needs there. The noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, spoke persuasively of the changing needs of an ageing population, comments which should carry across Government. I listened with great interest to the noble Lord, Lord Gavron, and the experience with the Royal Opera House and its thoroughly enjoyable outcome.
In conclusion, I agree with the general thrust of the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, and other noble Lords who have spoken so persuasively from their wide experience of business. We all agree that we have extraordinary design talent in this country, arguably the best in the world. We are already reaping the benefits of that design talent in export receipts. It would be a missed opportunity if we were not to maximise the use of that talent in our drive to improve the quality of public services. We want the best designers and the best architects designing new public buildings and products. Our message to the private sector is quite simple. If you do not employ this design talent, you are reducing your chances of winning business from the Government. Once again, I commend the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, on securing this debate and congratulate both the Design Council and CABE on their work to date. They enjoy our full support for the future.
Lord Freyberg: My Lords, I congratulate all noble Lords who contributed their impressive and considerable expertise to the debate. I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Foster, on his extremely informative and accomplished maiden speech, bringing to bear his enormous knowledge in this area. We all look forward to his future contributions on this and other matters.
I know how seriously the Government take the question of design in public services. The fact that current measures are frequently not achieving the high standards is no reflection on their interest in the subject but evidence that there is no single, simple set of criteria which can be implemented. However, I hope that the Minister will agree with me when I say that it is well worth persevering to improve all aspects of design in the public sector and that when a high standard is achieved, even in just one project, rewards are enormous. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.
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