HC Deb 02 July 1996 vol 280 cc714-5
10. Sir Michael Neubert

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to enhance the riverside amenities in the vicinity of the north Greenwich peninsula in preparation for the holding of the millennium exhibition there. [33942]

Mr. Gummer

We shall ensure that the Greenwich peninsula is properly reorganised and redeveloped in a manner that will be not only important for the millennium exhibition but valuable to the citizens of London for the rest of the century. If my hon. Friend has any supplementary questions, I shall be happy to answer them.

Sir Michael Neubert

Does my right hon. Friend accept that it is important that the millennium exhibition should not introspectively gaze only at its navel but should look outwards to the river, that great but greatly underused natural highway which flows through our capital and around the north Greenwich peninsula? Impressive though the Jubilee line extension will be when it is completed, should we not give every encouragement to those wishing to experience an approach to the exhibition from the water, as was the case with the festival of Britain, when more than 5 million people took to the Thames for their transport?

Mr. Gummer

The Thames should be used as one of the accesses to the millennium exhibition. It is also important that we improve that area of London, which has been particularly damaged by successive Labour councils in the borough of Greenwich, where the development has not been helped. I hope that the effect of the single regeneration budget, which is certainly one of the ways in which to help that development, will enable other sources to be tapped. The river is crucial to the overall development of an area which, sadly, has been neglected for many years.

Mr. Spearing

Is the Secretary of State aware that immediately to the north of the chosen millennium site at Greenwich are two sites available in the London borough of Newham? As he knows, the first is within 500 yd of the millennium site and is the two and a half miles of the royal docks. It has great potential for development, including a national exhibition centre. Secondly, within a mile to the north, the lower Lea valley could add to the millennium celebrations 100 acres of land for which the Government have so far failed to provide a reasonable and imaginative scheme, as we should all like.

Mr. Gummer

Much as I respect the hon. Gentleman, who has made a great contribution, I wonder how he can celebrate all the work that has been done by the London Docklands development corporation in view of the extent to which he and his fellow socialists attacked it and said that it was unacceptable. The LDDC has done more for London's development than any other organisation, perhaps for a century. I merely hope that when it winds down and hands on many of its responsibilities to the boroughs, the hon. Gentleman will ensure that those boroughs do half as good a job as the LDDC has done.