New Clause 26 - Parliament Square

Traffic Management Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:30 pm on 10th February 2004.

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'(1) Parliament Square shall be deemed to be a strategic road for the purposes of section 56(1) of this Act.

(2) No change in the designation of Parliament Square under subsection (1) nor reduction in vehicular carriageway width nor change in traffic-flows shall be made unless approved by a Resolution of each House of Parliament.'.—[Mr. Greg Knight.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

The new clause speaks for itself and I hope it commends itself to the Committee. We all know that at the beginning of every Parliament the first thing we do is to move our Sessional Orders. There is a good reason for that. Members need to ensure that they have access to and egress from the building without hindrance if they are to discharge their work as Members of Parliament properly.

There has been a rumour for some time that the Mayor of London would like to pedestrianise Parliament square. Last year, quite by accident, I came across a plan by some obscure architect to partially pedestrianise Parliament square under the ridiculous slogan, ''World squares for all''. The plan was not about world squares at all, but about moving traffic out and allowing pedestrians in. That may be fair enough in some parts of London, but if a partially

pedestrianised Parliament square impedes the speed with which hon. Members reach this place, we and the other place should at least have a say before any plans are implemented.

When I discovered that proposals were afoot, I raised the issue with the then Leader of the House, the right hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook), but much to my surprise and his, he did not know about it. He made inquiries and indicated that he was quite concerned that if the proposals were not dealt with sensitively and sensibly, they could impede the work of Members of this place. All I am seeking to do is ensure that, if a change is proposed in future, Members of both Houses have the right to express their opinion.

Photo of Mr Brian White Mr Brian White Labour, North East Milton Keynes 6:45 pm, 10th February 2004

If the right hon. Gentleman is concerned about speed of access to this place, why does he not do what many of us do and use the underground system, which is by far the best way to gain access?

Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

If the hon. Gentleman, who lives a very short distance away from this place, thinks that those of us whose constituencies are more than 200 miles away can always bring down all our luggage and papers on the train, carry them off the train, go to an underground station and travel for half an hour across London to get here, he needs to visit Yorkshire and places further north to see how difficult it is always to travel without using a motor car. I try to vary the modes of transport that I use to get to this place because I like using the train, but there are occasions when I need to use my car because of the documentation and luggage that I need to carry. I expect to have access to our underground car park, which was constructed for the use of hon. Members when they are going about their business.

Photo of John Mann John Mann Labour, Bassetlaw

The right hon. Gentleman should let the train take the strain. Some of us who travel from the areas that he mentioned always go by train and find it by far the most efficient and environmentally sound way to travel.

Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman should discover the delights of owning a classic car, because he would find that driving is not a strain.

Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

No, it is not a Metro.

This is a fairly modest new clause. We should have a say if there is to be a change.

Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

The new clause may be modest, but it is irrelevant to the Bill.

Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

Of course the new clause is in order; that is why it was duly selected.

There may be a conflict with Sessional Orders, and perhaps that needs exploring with regard to ingress to and egress from this place, but the Traffic Management Bill is not the place to deal with that

issue. What offends me most is the first provision in the new clause. Again, we see a new creature—a Stalinist centralising tendency on the part of the Conservative party. In the first instance, under clauses 56 and 57, it is for the Secretary of State, working with Transport for London through the Mayor or the other way round, to determine what the strategic road network should be in relation to the network management duty in clause 16. That is not the job of this Committee or the centralising Conservative party. The issue is, in the first instance, about the Secretary of State working with the Mayor and in co-operation with the boroughs, not least including Tory-led Westminster, which I am sure the right hon. Gentleman did not consult fully on the new clause. I suggest that he does so.

The sentiment about a clash with Sessional Orders may be an issue to take up with the Leader of the House and the relevant authorities, but this is not the place to pick one street out of all the streets and roads that may form part of the strategic network in addition to TFL's network. For that reason, the new clause is otiose and unduly specific. I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should seek to withdraw the motion and take up the matter of Sessional Orders and ingress and egress for his fancy Jensen with the Leader of the House, and that he should not try to squeeze that issue into the Bill.

Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

That was a very poor reply from a Minister who up to now has given the Committee detailed and comprehensive answers.

Parliament square is unique, because it is our main access route to this building. After the next election and another 18 years of Conservative rule, followed by a Labour Government with a small majority, Labour will lose the vote because Labour Members cannot get across a pedestrianised Parliament square, and the name McNulty will be mud. I want to test the view of the Committee.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 4, Noes 8.

Division number 49 Adults Abused in Childhood — New Clause 26 - Parliament Square

Aye: 4 MPs

No: 8 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly negatived.

Photo of John Redwood John Redwood Conservative, Wokingham

On a point of order, Miss Begg. Will we vote on new clause 28? I should like to do so.

Photo of Anne Begg Anne Begg Labour, Aberdeen South

There is a problem. We have passed that new clause by dealing with new clause 29. In addition, the wording of new clause 28 is such that if it were voted down, I could not call new clause 31, because the two are too similar.

Photo of John Redwood John Redwood Conservative, Wokingham

They are very different, Miss Begg. One contains only one speed limit, and the other contains two. The Committee would like to put both to the vote. I urge you to let us vote on both.

Photo of Anne Begg Anne Begg Labour, Aberdeen South

My judgment is that the two new clauses are similar. It is up to me to call amendments and new clauses. If new clause 28 were moved, I would not call new clause 31. The hon. Member for Bassetlaw, who tabled new clause 28, has already indicated that he does not want to press it to a vote.

Photo of John Redwood John Redwood Conservative, Wokingham

The Committee did not give him leave to withdraw it.

Photo of Anne Begg Anne Begg Labour, Aberdeen South

The hon. Member for Bassetlaw could not withdraw the new clause because it had not been moved. He indicated during the debate, however, that he was not keen to press it. We have moved past new clause 29, which means that we have also moved past new clause 28.

Photo of John Redwood John Redwood Conservative, Wokingham

I said that I wanted the Committee to vote on new clause 28 at the point when it was originally debated.

Photo of Anne Begg Anne Begg Labour, Aberdeen South

I was not aware that you did so. None the less, my decision is that I shall call new clause 31. The two clauses are sufficiently similar to mean that I should not want to call both.

Photo of David Wilshire David Wilshire Conservative, Spelthorne

Further to that point of order, Miss Begg. May I suggest, in view of what has been said, that if the official Opposition retable new clause 28, on which we wish to vote, you will look sympathetically on ensuring that it is selected on Report?

Photo of Anne Begg Anne Begg Labour, Aberdeen South

That is not a matter for me; it is a matter for Mr. Speaker, but I am sure that he will read the Official Report.New Clause 31 Motorways (maximum speed-limit)