'(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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.