HL Deb 31 October 1989 vol 512 cc138-9

2.53 p.m.

Lord St. John of Fawsley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will designate the royal parks as conservation areas.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment (Lord Hesketh)

My Lords, the designation of conservation areas is primarily the responsibility of the local planning authorities. Greenwich Park and Regent's Park have already been designated.

Lord St. John of Fawsley

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for what I take to be an eirenic reply. Does he agree that these royal parks constitute a most important part of our national heritage? Is it not right to protect them from the proposed disruptions arising from ventilation shafts for a new underground railway, earthworks for power lines and commercial encroachments from the suggested equestrian centre? Would not conservation status help the parks to resist such depredations?

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, the noble Lord raises a number of points in his supplementary question. The basic position is that the royal parks are there for the enjoyment of the public. We, along with the management of the parks, will resist proposals for developments which are incompatible with the parks' historic status or value. As regards a restaurant, the Serpentine Restaurant has proved to be expensive and will be replaced. However, I can assure your Lordships' House that the department will look to the assistance of the Royal Fine Art Commission for advice on this great redevelopment when it occurs.

Lord Strabolgi

My Lords, will the Government do something about St. James's Park? That is surely one of the most beautiful parks in the world. The lake is much polluted, and particularly at the Whitehall end it is very smelly. Will the Government ensure that the lake is cleaned out more often?

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, I shall certainly draw the point that has been made to the attention of the superintendent.

Baroness Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe

My Lords, will the noble Lord tell us how his noble friend spells the word "eirenic", and what it means?

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, I was hoping that I, too, might receive illumination on that point.

Lord Hailsham of St. Marylebone

My Lords, is it not well known that eirenic means friendly and peaceful?

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, yet again I pay the price for not having a classical education.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, does the protection afforded by the declaration of an area as a conservation area extend to protection at Christmastime from parliamentary Questions about pelicans?

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, I am sure the noble Lord is well aware that, much as the department may wish to control Questions concerning pelicans, they are completely outside our control.