§ 2.35 p.m.
My Lords, I beg to ask first the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, before accepting Sir John Nott-Bower's recommendation of underground garages in Hyde Park, involving long delay and heavy cost, they will give immediate relief at no cost, by using on mid-week days unfrequented surfaces such as Rotten Row from Marble Arch to Victoria Gate.]
§ THE MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO (THE EARL OF MUNSTER)
My Lords, I would call the noble Lord's attention to a statement made by my honourable friend the Minister of Works on December 14 last about arrangements for parking motor cars in the Royal Parks in Central London. These arrangements provide for motor cars to be parked along the whole of the North, East, South and West Carriage Drives of Hyde Park, except where it would be dangerous or cause congestion, and at the place already appointed near the Magazine. These arrangements were agreed after the matter had been most carefully examined by my honourable friend the Minister of Works, my right honourable friend the Minister of Transport and the police. The noble Lord will be aware that my honourable friend has to balance the interests of all those who use the Royal Parks. Rotten Row and other horse rides are kept for their traditional purposes, and my honourable friend does not feel that he would be justified in sacrificing them for the parking of motor cars.
My Lords, I must say that I do not find that Answer very satisfactory. Would the noble Earl impress upon the Government the 509 fact that, to many of us, the idea of burrowing under Hyde Park, at huge expense and with long delay, is fantastic so long as there are large surfaces in Hyde Park and other Parks still open for use in this matter? To talk about the part of Rotten Row of which I speak in this Question—namely, from Marble Arch to Victoria Gate—as being used for horses for their traditional purposes is, if I may say so, not true. The horse there is unfortunately almost Obsolete, certainty during day time in mid-week; and on Saturdays and Sundays only a small posse of riders may be found there. If the broad stretch of Rotten Row were reserved for their purposes I suggest that, under present-day conditions, that would be enough. The part of Rotten Row of which I speak is absolutely unused by horses, as also are other parts of Hyde Park and parts of other parks. Those places could be made available for cars, and I hope the noble Earl will be good enough to impress that feeling upon the Government.
§ LORD HADEN-GUEST
My Lords, before the noble Earl replies, may I ask whether it is not desirable to consider this matter in a bigger perspective, and to realise that, for pleasure purposes and for casual visits, the motor car is quite out of date in London at the present time; and that we ought to see that we do not have, day after day, this frightful congestion of people who come up from long distances by car when they could better come up by Tube? I understand that a number of noble Lords do come up by Tube to this House. Would it not be better to have the whole matter looked into very carefully indeed before any desecration of the Park, such as is suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Blackford, is undertaken?
§ THE EARL OF MUNSTER
My Lords, I will certainly convey the views of the noble Lord, Lord Haden-Guest, to my right honourable friend. As regards the question asked me by the noble Lord, Lord Blackford, I would say that if it were decided that cars should be parked in the North Ride—and that is roughly corresponding to Rotten Row—it would be necessary, I understand, to re-surface the whole of that ground with a hard surface capable of maintaining motor cars 510 upon it. That, as the noble Lord will realise, would involve a very vast expense indeed.