HL Deb 20 June 1988 vol 498 cc496-7

2.51 p.m.

Baroness Strange asked Her Majesty's Government:

What proposals, if any, they have to provide riding for the disabled in central London.

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, there are a number of individual stables and clubs in central London which provide opportunities for disabled riders. The development of additional facilities is a matter for individual stables and clubs to pursue in liaison with the British Horse Society, the Sports Council and the Riding for Disabled Association.

Baroness Strange

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for his courteous and interesting reply. Is he aware that Miss Lilo Blum's stables currently provide riding for the disabled at Hyde Park Corner and the ponies are ridden round to Buckingham Palace, to the indoor riding school three times a week? The stables are due to be closed down in October when the Grosvenor Estate redevelops St. George's Hospital as a hotel. The stables, which I beleive are not part of the hotel complex, are due to close although they are in a listed building.

Perhaps I may also declare an interest. Is the Minister aware that my noble kinsman and kinswomen in the late '60s and early '70s occupied the grooms' quarters above Miss Lilo Blum's stables and were very fond of and devoted to many of the horses on which we sometimes rode in Hyde Park?

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, I am most interested to know of my noble friend's previous accommodation! The difficulty is that all disputes involving renewals of leases are viewed as contractual matters and must be settled between the landlord and the tenant.

Lord Strabolgi

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that before the war there were several stables around Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens offering horses for hire? There is now only one and that is to be closed down, as the noble Baroness said. Can the Government do more to encourage riding in the Row?

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, we are at this moment considering proposals from the Rotten Row Tercentenary Committee for an equestrian centre to be funded by private subscriptions in the area of White Horse Gate in Hyde Park. We hope to make a decision on this shortly.

Lord Ennals

My Lords, if, as I presume is so from the reply given by the Minister, the Government see merit in riding for the disabled—and I know many noble Lords certainly do—could they explore alternative prospects in view of the likely closure, including perhaps an approach to the Grosvenor Estate to finance such a scheme? I understand that that estate has the odd copper, and it might offer to assist.

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, we all agree on the need to provide opportunities for people with disabilities. My right honourable friend is currently conducting a review of the provision for sportsmen and sportswomen with disabilities. The review group expects to report early in 1989.

Lord Annan

My Lords, how on earth are poor town-bred children to learn to ride if these stables are closed down? Will the noble Lord make representations to the Grosvenor Estate suggesting that it would be in the best and the highest traditions of the British aristocracy to take this into account when the estate renews its leases?

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, I understand that the disabled riders also currently ride from the Royal Mews, the Knightsbridge Barracks and the Ross Nye riding establishment.

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