Lords amendment: No. 172, in page 68, line 21, at end insert—
("(4) In exercising any functions in relation to the management of roads or traffic in a Royal Park in Greater London the Secretary of State shall have regard to the transport strategy.
(5) In this section "Royal Park" means any park to which the Parks Regulation Act 1872 applies (see sections 1 and 3 of the Parks Regulation (Amendment) Act 1926).")
§ Mr. Hill
The amendments follow discussion in this House and in another place about the relationship between the Royal Parks Agency and local highway and traffic authorities in the context of road closures and other changes regarding highways and traffic. In the light of those discussions, we have amended the Bill to require the Royal Parks Agency to have regard to the mayor's transport strategy, and to introduce for the first time a statutory consultation arrangement between the royal parks and the local highways and traffic authorities.
Lords amendment No. 172 provides that the Secretary of State—which in practice means the Royal Parks Agency—must have regard to the mayor's transport strategy when carrying out any functions relating to the management of roads and traffic in a royal park.
Lords amendment No. 372 provides that, if the agency proposes to carry out functions that are likely to affect a road for which another authority is the highway authority, it must consult that authority. Similarly, if a highway authority proposes to carry out functions that are likely to affect a royal park, the authority must consult the agency. The one exception is that, when it would not be reasonably practicable for the agency to consult the highway authority—or vice versa—before the functions are carried out, each may go ahead and tell the other body afterwards.
Lords amendment No. 414 provides that, if the agency proposes to carry out functions that are likely to affect a road for which another authority is the traffic authority, the agency must consult the authority and Transport for London. Similarly, if a traffic authority proposes to carry out functions that are likely to affect a royal park, it must consult the agency. Again, the one exception is that, when it would not be reasonably practicable for the agency to consult the borough or Transport for London—or vice versa—before the functions are carried out, the agency or the traffic authority may go ahead and tell the other body afterwards.
§ Mr. Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington)
I support the amendments. It is entirely right not only for local authorities and other bodies but for the Secretary of State, who is responsible for royal parks, to have regard to the mayor's transport strategy.
728 There are a number of main arteries in London that pass through the royal parks, the opening and closing of which can have a major impact on roads in their vicinity. I hope that, for that reason alone, the House will support the amendments.
§ Mr. Brooke
I, too, appreciate the moves that the Government have made. In Committee on 16 February, at column 599, in response to a mischievous and provocative speech by the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone)—I say that in friendly terms—I made paving reference to a point that I came back to on clause 179. In columns 963 and 964, I raised the problem of the lack of connection in traffic control between the royal parks and the rest of Greater London, including the adjacent local authorities. The then Minister for Transport in London, the hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Ms Jackson) explained that there were no powers to enable the bridging of that gap.
The matter was debated twice in Committee in the Lords. On 19 October, Lord Whitty moved these amendments, which are an excellent development. It is a vindication of the parliamentary process that we have come to such a good solution—one that people surrounding the royal parks have been crying out for for ages. I salute the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions for being such a pleasure to do business with, in marked contrast with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which has cut funding to the royal parks, insisted that they must have a series of concerts, interrupting their quietude, and allowed a series of Albanian hot dog vendors to run not in a manner that is liable to turn the royal parks into a version of Coney island. I unreservedly commend the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.
§ Mr. Hill
I am grateful to the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Mr. Brake) for his kind words. I also pay tribute to the outstanding contribution made by the right hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Brooke) on the issue. The Bill and the whole of London have benefited from it and we are very grateful to him.
§ Lords amendment agreed to.