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Column 111City of London (Various Powers) Bill [Money]
Queen's Recommendation having been signified--
That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the City of London (Various Powers) Bill, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any expenditure incurred by the Secretary of State--
(a) in reinstating certain land in Epping Forest temporarily occupied by him by virtue of that Act for road purposes ; (
(b) in reimbursing the Conservators of Epping Forest for such proportion of the costs, charges and expenses reasonably incurred and properly paid by them in connection with the preparation, obtaining and passing of that Act as is attributable to its provisions relating to the grant to him for road purposes of rights over and interests in land ; and
(c) an indemnifying the Conservators against actions, costs, claims and demands brought or made against or incurred by them which are caused by or arise out of the grant of those rights and interests and which are not attributable to the wrongful act, neglect or default of the Conservators, their contractors, agents, workmen or servants. We want to ensure that, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Bill that has just received its Second Reading, the payment of money provided by Parliament is authorised for expenditure by the Secretary of State for one of three purposes--to indemnify the conservators, to reimburse the conservators, and to reinstate the land in the forest temporarily occupied on behalf of the Secretary of State for road purposes.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Sir G. Finsberg) moved the Second Reading in his characteristic expert way and with good humour. Sadly, he was followed by the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) who, without humour and with an
uncharacteristically long speech, managed to turn the fate of a roundabout into the fate of Epping forest. I invite the hon. Member for Leyton to take with him Thames Television or BBC London television cameras, and his hon. Friends the Members for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) and for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes), and to show them the part of the forest which justified his comment that forest land was being stolen.
Mr. Frank Haynes (Ashfield) : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Minister has been on his feet for many moments, but he has not yet mentioned money. If I had been in the Chair, I should have pulled him up by now.
Mr. Bottomley : I think that the hon. Member for Ashfield must be moving from one part of the Chamber to another. In my introductory remarks, I mentioned each of the three parts of the money resolution.
Mr. Harry Cohen (Leyton) rose--
Column 112millions of pounds that they spend on press manipulation. If the Minister takes a camera team and points it from the forest towards the existing roundabout, it will see motorway, but if it points its cameras in the other direction it will see forest land. That is the land that the Minister is stealing from the people of Leyton.
Mr. Bottomley : I fear that the hon. Gentleman may be over exciting his hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) in the same way that he overexcited his hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover. When the hon. Member for Bolsover discovered the time that the first Division was called on the previous business, what the debate had been about and what the hon. Member for Leyton had managed to cover in just over two and a half hours, the face of the hon. Member for Bolsover was quite entertaining.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate made the point that the deal with the corporation of London to look after Hampstead heath was in the great tradition of the City of London and the corporation. They have greatly cared for Epping forest and other parts of London and around, with proper trusteeship over the years. My hon. Friend also paid tribute to the staff, conservators and others who will do for Hampstead heath what they have done for other areas, for which they will receive praise from both sides of the House. I am sorry that working people have received implied insults from Opposition Members, but I hope that they will not receive any more.
Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North) : I am familiar with Highgate wood, which is well administered by the City of London and is a pleasant place. Will the Minister reflect that, under the plans, known as the east London road assessment study, put forward to his Department by consultants, part of Highgate wood would be damaged by the construction of a grade separated road? Has he received representations from the City of London on the matter and the loss of virgin forest, which was originally linked to Epping forest before the rest of north London became built up?
Mr. Bottomley : What the hon. Gentleman wants to discuss may be more properly debated in Committee tomorrow. Perhaps we shall then have the benefit of hearing from the hon. Members for Islington, North and for Leyton, as well as from the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms. Ruddock), who has been sitting patiently listening to the speech of her hon. Friend the Member for Leyton on the merits of the different types of trees on the Green Man roundabout. The Government are normally neutral about private Bills in which no major matter of principle is involved. This Bill and money resolution are exceptions. In principle, the Government strongly support the provisions of part II of the Bill which relates to the grant and exchange of lands. We are pleased to have reached agreement with the corporation of the City of London, as conservators of Epping forest, over the transfer of certain areas of forest land to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the construction of the A12 Hackney Wick to M11 link road. In exchange, the conservators have agreed to accept, for incorporation into the forest, an area of land near Wanstead park. Once that has been acquired from its owners, we shall put it into a fit state for forest use before handing it over to the conservators. The area of this land
Column 113exceeds not only that which will permanently be lost to the forest, but that which will be unavailable only during the construction period. There is a clear gain in that.
Mr. Bottomley : I am not sure why the hon. Gentleman feels it necessary to talk during my speech. He spoke at great length himself, and if he will allow me to proceed, I shall be happy to give way to him shortly.
When the road is completed, the lid of the tunnel at George Green will be reinstated and the appearance of that green will be much as it is today. At the Green Man interchange--it is the place that most concerned the hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Bolsover ; I await a report from both hon. Members on how they count the different types of trees--there will be a net loss of green land of about 1.25 acres, due principally to the new road running parallel to Cambridge park and to the diversion of Whipps Cross road. The surface roundabout will be smaller. Again, the tunnel lid, while remaining in the ownership of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport, will be landscaped, be available for public use and dedicated to the forest. People will be able to reach it quite easily by means of the subways on the pedestrian, cyclist and equestrian route which will provide a safe link from Leyton flats to Wanstead flats.
The hon. Member for Leyton may remember our tour around the high street, where we saw the work that the Department has paid for on the A12 to make life better for his constituents, which shows our concern for them. Any suggestions to the contrary that might be inferred from his two and a half hours speech were, I am sure, unintended and due to his having been unable to find the right words. In any case, the hon. Gentleman, with his concern for vulnerable road users, will have noted that access to this central space is not regarded as particularly attractive for cyclists, equestrians or pedestrians. If the hon. Gentleman wants to tell me that he often sees cyclists or horse riding around the Green Man roundabout I shall stand corrected. I do not often see them there ; I do not even see pedestrians there often--
The dimensions of the subways and the surface of this part of the route have been chosen to allow horse riders passage without dismounting and without the dangers of grade crossings on busy roads. The money in this resolution covers that. My hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate dealt with the provisions that are relevant to equestrians.
In addition, the landscaping proposals associated with the road will provide an extra 11.5 acres of green space between the Green Man interchange and Temple Mills. Just over half of it will be open to the public ; all of it will be readily visible to them. Both the size of the forest and the amount of other green land in the vicinity of the route will increase as a result of construction of the road. That is in addition to the other environmental measures incorporated in the design of the road to mitigate its effects on its surroundings. I repeat what was said in our earlier debate--that 40 per cent. of the cost of the A12 Hackney to M11 link is
Column 114devoted to environmental improvement or protection. That makes it one of the roads with the highest proportion of spending on environmental protection--
Mr. Cohen : Will the Minister compare that with the schemes that I suggested earlier in Epping and in Hatfield, not to mention others? Where are the measures to improve the environment to be implemented? They will go to Wanstead, not to Leyton or Leytonstone.
Mr. Bottomley : The hon. Gentleman has not got it right. We must go over the matter at another public occasion, not necessarily with an enormous audience, step by step ; or perhaps I can arrange a briefing for the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman is a man of generous impulse, and I am sure that he will be willing to examine carefully the details of how it is proposed to build the road in his constituency. I am sorry that he has not so far had an opportunity to do that, but it is right for me to make the opportunity available to him again. If a road is ever again proposed in his constituency, perhaps we can explain it once, or even twice, to the hon. Gentleman so that he does not need two and a half hours to tell the House about what is proposed.
The hon. Gentleman's most significant point was about the A1 motorway at Hatfield. As I explained to him when he brought his local council and the representatives of Beazers to the Department, I think one and a half years ago, the A1M proposal came from the local authority. It asked if it could, at no extra expense to the Department, cap the road and develop on top. I said to the hon. Gentleman and his associates that if that could be put forward with the link on a time scale that was compatible with the road and if the extra cost did not have to be borne by the Department, we would not only cheerfully consider it, but might think it possible. As the debate went on, some of the earlier estimates of cost turned out to be incorrect. Although there might not have been total agreement between Beazers and the Department, there was more general agreement towards the end of the discussion than there was at the beginning about the acceptable slopes, the gradients, for the road. Of course, that affected the potential cost. I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Leyton because I think that he was the first London Member to raise the question of private finance for roads in London. I hope that it will be possible to build on some of the ideas that he put forward on how to get private sector contributions for better roads for the environment, for industrial access, for jobs and to reduce road casualties. Conservatives may claim the credit for those ideas, but the hon. Gentleman thought of them first.
Mr. Cohen : I shall certainly not do that again because I and Beazers got a nasty snub for taking the Government at their word. Did not the Minister's Department say to Beazers that it wanted £4 million in advance for future maintenance costs? The Department refused to accept anything less and put the kibosh on it and demanded the payment of all the costs of Atkins, the consultants. The Department even demanded its own office costs so determined was it to kill that private scheme. I shall certainly not try that again because the Government are not being honest.
Column 115of them cheerful--to all and sundry. Some of them were directed to hon. Members but we can bear that. However, he also said some rough things about people outside and I hope that they have the kindness to recognise how deeply the hon. Gentleman feels about the matter and how mercurially he sometimes reacts to what is going on. In the original conversation with Beazers, I said to the hon. Gentleman--I think to his satisfaction--that if a proposal came forward which did not involve public expense, the Department would be keen and happy to consider it. That was the original proposal and anyone who complains that the terms have changed is looking at the matter in the wrong way.
If the hon. Member for Leyton had an unanswerable case, he could have made it in about 10 minutes. However, he was aware that his case was answerable and perhaps he kept speaking so that many hon. Members who wanted to take part in the debate were not able to do so. We have established that the size of the forest and the amount of other green land in the vicinity of the route will increase as a result of the construction of the road. That is in addition to the other environmental measures incorporated in the design of the road to mitigate its effect on its surroundings.
Anyone who has an opportunity to drive out of London on the A12 will see the impact of the existing A12 trunk road on the hon. Gentleman's constituency. He is right to be in favour of building this new road, and the fact that he wants to continue to add environmental considerations is a worthy aim. We should remember that all such issues are not covered by the Bill. The Bill and the resolution cover the exchange land, the indemnification and the compensation--the payment to the conservators of the forest. The hon. Gentleman should support the Bill, and I hope that on reflection he will realise that perhaps he was using a parliamentary tactic in voting against it. If he does not realise that, his constituents will not understand why he does not support the Bill.
Sir Geoffrey Finsberg (Hampstead and Highgate) : I hope that we can clear up one point in this debate on the money resolution, which touches on exchange land. Will my hon. Friend the Minister make it perfectly clear that his Department will meet the reasonable costs of putting that exchange land into a condition acceptable to the City of London, so that what the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) said in the previous debate about the Department being mean was as nonsensical as most of his other remarks, because it will have to meet the bills presented by the City?
Mr. Bottomley : My hon. Friend makes an important point. The Department will have to do that, but it is plain that the City of London (Various Powers) Bill is different from most private Bills. It is necessary to have this Bill to be able to make the exchange of land between the City of London and the conservators of Epping Forest. It is also necessary to have the new road to provide relief from the through traffic in the constituency of the hon. Member for Leyton. The Department will meet all the proper costs, charges and expenses reasonably incurred by the City, and people will want to ensure that neither the forest nor the City is harmed by this necessary road.
Column 116to this land as scrubby old sewage land, and we would all agree that that is right. However, is it not also right to say that the scrubbier the land, the greater will be the improvement when the Department gets hold of it?
Mr. Bottomley : My hon. Friend has, characteristically, made a point briefly that the hon. Member for Leyton failed to make at some length. The land, which is virtually unusable, will be treated so that it becomes part of the forest, and in future centuries it will be looked on with pride, just as the forest and most of Hampstead, as the hon. Member for Leyton said, are now. Therefore, it is important that we extend the forest, and the net provisions of the Bill of which we are discussing the money resolution are designed to enhance the environment, to grow the forest and to make sure that life improves.
Mr. Cohen : The Minister and the House will have heard me say that I do not begrudge the development of such land for the people of Wanstead. However, can the Minister, in his heart of hearts, say that this land will benefit the people of Leyton? It is supposed to be compensation for land that is going, and it is the fault of the Department that the land is going.
Mr. Bottomley : I hope to be able to explain to the hon. Gentleman-- not at great length because I do not want to fall into his manner of speaking and mode of delivery, so perhaps on paper--that there will be more land in his constituency that will be both available and on view to his constituents than there is at the moment. If we go on making these exchanges across the Floor of the House we run the risk of boring our colleagues. The interest among those on Government Benches is rather more resilient and robust. I do not want to suggest that this is only because my right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary is here.
Mr. Corbyn : The Minister can rest assured that there is a great deal of interest in the Bill among Opposition Members and the only problem is that they are not all here. The Minister seems to be playing one bit of land off against the other. All of us would welcome the restoration of some scrubby old sewage land into parkland or forest, but that could be done anyway, irrespective of the problem that my hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) is experiencing. As I understand it from visiting the area with him, the nub of his point is that he wants, and understandably so, extra parkland to compensate for the loss within the area of Waltham forest that is not some distance away. It is possible to do both things, so perhaps the Minister can address his mind to that.
Mr. Bottomley : My hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate concluded his speech with a reference to "1066 and All That". What we have in all this is the opportunity to improve Leyton and the forest. The hon. Gentleman asked whether we have the exchange right, and we have. The detailed consideration can take place in Committee. When debating the money resolution it is time to restate the areas of land to which some of the sums are related. Having done that, perhaps the House would believe it right for me to conclude my remarks.
The net loss of open space at the Green Man interchange will be about 1.25 acres. The amount of land to be brought back in Leyton high road to the Green Man at Temple Mills will be 11.5 acres. On my reckoning, that is a factor of about 10 : 1. That strikes me as improvement
Column 117rather than deterioration. We have already established that for equestrians, pedestrians and cyclists, the Green Man interchange will improve.
We have had it accepted that the land in the forest will be greatly improved and added to. I believe that the House will probably want to follow Second Reading by passing the money resolution, and I commend it to the House. I hope that it will be possible to continue developing the environment and the number of jobs in east London and reducing the casualties. The development is much needed. Anyone who travels through the area will know that the road that we are discussing will provide uplift. The road has been needed for the past 10 years and I hope that tonight we shall move it on its way forward.
Mr. Steve Norris (Epping Forest) : I am keen to support the money resolution and in so doing to refer to a part of the Bill, to which the resolution refers, that did not receive the exposure on Second Reading that I and many of my constituents, and those of my hon. Friends the Members for Wanstead and Woodford (Mr. Arbuthnot) and for Walthamstow (Mr. Summerson), would have liked. As I know that they wish to add their remarks to the resolution, I shall endeavour to be brief.
However, before referring specifically to the Bill I wish to pay my tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Sir G. Finsberg) for the, as ever, competent and professional way in which he introduced the Bill on Second Reading. I pay a short tribute to my predecessor, Sir John Biggs-Davison, who took a considerable interest in the matters that we are discussing and who was a great friend of Epping forest over many years.
I have received a great deal of help in evaluating the issues that concern the great natural inheritance of Epping forest from John Bessant, the superintendent of the forest, and the members of his committee, who kindly entertained me on an extremely instructive tour of the forest. The professional advice of the City remembrancer and his staff has been of great assistance to all hon. Members who have an interest in the forest. A distinguished former Member of this place, John Harvey, offered his advice to me from an early stage of my by-election campaign, for which I am extremely grateful. The problem that is referred to in clauses 9 and 10 impacts immediately on the money resolution. Those clauses relate to the problem of horse riding in Epping forest and how the means of repairing the damage that is caused by it should be financed. Although Epping forest is the size of Ashdown forest--Ashdown forest is probably its nearest equivalent in the south of England--it is very much nearer to London than Ashdown. It receives a degree of use that is disproportionate to its size. I understand that there are about 600 registered riders who use Ashdown forest, and the
superintendent's estimate of the likely number of riders who would be licensed to use Epping forest, if such a scheme were to be introduced, would be about 2,000. That is understandable and proper because many residents in the constituencies of the hon. Members for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) and Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn), for example, the two Opposition Members who have had the good fortune to participate in an extraordinarily interesting debate this evening that will feature prominently in all our lives, enjoy going to the
Column 118forest. It is a marvellous lung of greenery and opportunity for recreation away from the busy city. However, there are many more of us today even than the City fathers envisaged when they rescued the forest from the depredations of enclosure.
The problem arises from overuse by a few irresponsible riders. My hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate identified problems in three areas. First, a few irresponsible riders are damaging the forest floor. Secondly, the forest floor is itself a vital part of the forest and its conservation is extremely important to the management of that amenity. Thirdly, a great deal of cost is attached to that exercise.
Given that clause 9 of the City of London (Various Powers) (No. 2) Bill 1971 gave the conservators the power to regulate the places that horse riders may use, we face the question of how avoiding the damage so caused should be financed, and whether riders should be made responsible for meeting at least part of that cost.
I have received, as have many of my right hon. and hon. Friends, a great deal of correspondence about the matter, which is clearly divided into two camps. The horse riders' organisations take the view that any further incursion on the right to ride in the forest would be unreasonable. There have also been substantial representations--not least a petition, fetchingly bound in green velvet by Peggy Bitten, which contains 5,000 signatures--clearly expressing the view that responsibility for horse riding in the forest should be matched by a system of registration and charging to ensure that at least part of the cost of that exercise is met by the riders themselves. The scheme suggested by the conservators incorporates a modest charge for enjoying the forest's facilities. I am pleased that the City of London authorities indicate a likely charge of about £50 per animal. Because the charge will essentially be levied on the beast, any person who wants simply an occasional ride from the stable will not find himself having to meet the entire cost of a licence but only the equivalent of a few pence per day. I note also that a charge of £40 to £50 would not represent a significant part of the cost of maintaining a horse. The various estimates I have seen--and I thank goodness that I have no female children--suggest that the cost of keeping a horse varies between £2,000 and £4,000 per year. I could not be more pleased that none of my children has expressed the vaguest interest in horse riding, and I propose ensuring that that remains the case.
Despite the fact that there is a good case to argue for registration to catch the few irresponsible riders, and for making a charge so that part of the cost of maintaining the rides is borne by the riders themselves, it is in a sense even more important to ensure that horse riders are not unreasonably discriminated against by any of the Bill's provisions. After all, riders are as entitled to use the forest as are walkers, bird watchers, or harriers. It was for that reason that, shortly after I returned to the House, I originally blocked the Bill to ensure that proper discussion took place between the City of London authorities and the various bodies that made representations to me.
I am delighted that the City authorities have expressed a willingness to delete the proposed subsections (3A), (3B) and (3C) in clause 9, and to make provision in clause 10 for a more general scheme of registration. Those are both useful changes, which go properly hand in hand with a system of registration and charging.
Column 119I think it entirely proper for the money resolution to be approved. It adheres to a spirit clearly enunciated in the Bill that those responsible for the consequences of their leisure activities in the forest should make at least some contribution to the cost of repairing the damage. A more general principle, which I consider vital, is that while the forest is there for the enjoyment of all who wish to go about their business lawfully, engaging in their chosen recreation, the conservators' overriding responsibility is not to favour riders, walkers, bird watchers, harriers or any other group, but to ensure that the forest that we inherited is passed on to future generations in at least as good a state as that in which we found it.
Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North) : I am sorry that I was not able to be present for much of the Second Reading debate--as my hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) pointed out, I was detained elsewhere-- but I think that it would have been difficult for me to catch your eye in any case, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because of the interest in it.
I share the fascination of the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Norris) and many others with the history of open space in London and the south- east. It is a history of the struggle of ordinary people who wanted space for themselves. They prevented the enclosures in Epping forest, just as in my constituency radical members of the Metropolitan Board of Works obtained Highbury fields for us. I am concerned by some aspects of the Bill, and by the expenditure prescribed in it. I well understand the problems relating to the use of Epping forest. I have visited the forest many times and enjoyed it very much, although I once had to swim in a pond there in mid- winter because my dog had been caught in a branch and was in danger of drowning. The forest is a beautiful place and, indeed, very overused.
The Bill states that the conservators will try to regulate usage by horse riders--I understand that, because of the damage that they do to the tracks in the forest--and proposes the introduction of charges, provided--I quote from clause 10(1)--
"that taking one year with another the aggregate amount raised by such charges shall not exceed the reasonable costs incurred by the Conservators in undertaking the activities to which charges made under this subsection relate."
I am concerned about that, and about subsection (2), which states :
"Charges made under subsection (1) above may make different provision for different cases or circumstances or different areas of Epping Forest."
An important principle is at stake here. First, as the hon. Member for Epping Forest pointed out, the forest was rescued from the enclosures for all time for the public good--for the free usage and enjoyment of ordinary people. If a charging system is introduced, we shall have departed from that important principle. What worries me even more, however, is that the wording is something of an open book. It says that the charges should amount to no more than the "reasonable costs" that the conservators may incur in the necessary works, but there appears to be very little definition of what "reasonable costs" might be. If those costs become very high and the entire cost of the works is passed on to the users--in this case, horse riders
Column 120--it may deter poorer children from schools rather than riding schools, and handicapped children, from riding and enjoying the forest in other similar ways. The Bill appears to be departing from a very important principle.
Mr. Arbuthnot : The hon. Gentleman is concerned about the introduction of charges in Epping forest. Does he not accept that riding horses is the only activity that is carried on commercially on Epping forest land that is not charged for and that very many other activities on Epping forest land attract charges?
Mr. Corbyn : Yes, I accept the hon. Gentleman's point. In a sense, it emphasises rather than takes away from my point. When children in areas such as mine, which is not a particularly wealthy area, want to take up horse riding--there is no reason why they should not, because horse riding should be available for all--they find that to have to pay for riding on open lands on top of the cost of the tack and the training makes it prohibitive.
Mr. Norris : I follow the hon. Gentleman's point, which is perfectly fair. However, he will accept, I am sure, that the system that the conservators have said that they wish to adopt in respect of charging suggests that a child in the hon. Gentleman's constituency would simply hire a horse for the afternoon, in which case the child ought to be charged only for that part of the day cost of the annual allowance, which would be 10p or 12p.
Mr. Corbyn : That is fair enough, and the way that the hon. Gentleman puts it is understandable, but the wording in clause 10 is fairly open ended and does not provide the kind of guarantees that hon. Members whose constituencies border Epping forest want. When the Bill is considered in Committee I hope that the clause will be amended and tightened and that these costs will be reconsidered. We want to protect the forest and regulate its use as far as that is necessary, but we must not discriminate against the very people who use the forest. Hon. Members who represent and live in the area are fortunate to have the forest on their doorstep, but it is also on the doorstep of many other people in north London. We enjoy going there. Epping forest once extended as far as Queen's wood in Hornsey and Highgate wood and to parts of Hampstead heath. Queen's wood and Highgate wood are still virgin forest, as is Epping forest. That, in an urban area, is remarkable.
I tabled an instruction on clause 11, but it was not selected. Clause 11 provides for a change in the length of the fencing of the Blackfriars underpass footpath from 1,200 ft to 1,282 ft. That extension of the fencing will prevent the footpath from being used. The City of London (Various Powers) Act 1977 authorised the construction of the Blackfriars underpass. The change would make the area very pedestrian unfriendly. Many people who travel by train to Blackfriars go to the Mermaid theatre in the evenings. The area between the City of London and the City of Westminster is becoming a motorway. We should not encourage high-speed traffic if there is little pedestrian access to neighbouring buildings. An urban motorway in that area should not be allowed to develop.
Sir Geoffrey Finsberg : I appreciate why the hon. Gentleman could not be here earlier, when I went to some trouble to explain the clause. I made the point that there is no access to buildings from this so-called pedestrian way, which is highly dangerous, and that there are plenty of other ways of reaching the buildings to which the hon.
Column 121Gentleman refers without going along a very narrow pedestrian path that would cause danger to both pedestrians and road users.
Mr. Corbyn : I understand that. I repeat my apology for not being able to be here earlier. I have tried to walk along that piece of pavement and I concede that it is very dangerous. My general point is that I do not like the idea of separating roads and pedestrians in that type of urban area because it creates traffic problems in the future.
Mr. Peter Bottomley : Most of us would like traffic to be buried wherever possible. That is where the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) and I agree. It is probably best to give the whole road space to pedestrians. It may be possible to reverse the hierarchy in that way in areas that do not have to carry through traffic. One of the best courses is to do what the City has done, which is take traffic away from people and give people back the space.
Mr. Corbyn : That would be nice, but I can think of many parts of the City that are choked all day with unpleasant exhaust fumes. Some of the beauties of the City, such as the areas around the Guildhall, St. Paul's and the Monument, are unpleasant to visit. I often take visitors there, but they frequently want to leave quickly because it is not pleasant to visit such an environment. I hope that we can get more traffic out of the City rather than attract more into it. My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) has also tabled an instruction, but he is unwell. He telephoned me this morning. His instruction, which was tabled on Friday, concerns the draft strategic guidance for London, which has been issued by the Secretary of State for the Environment.
Mr. Corbyn : I understand the need to speak to the costs of the Bill. My hon. Friend wants to include in the Bill a provision which would lead to expenditure on the protection of ancient monuments in the City. My hon. Friend is anxious about the palace of the Roman governor of London, Julius Agricola. I hope that there will be an opportunity to raise such issues in Committee. What has happened today at the Rose theatre in Southwark shows that there is enormous feeling among ordinary people that our history should be preserved and not have speculative office blocks built on it.
Mr. Hugo Summerson (Walthamstow) : Does the hon. Gentleman also accept that there is strong feeling among the people of Walthamstow that the Bill should be passed so that the forest floor in that part of Epping forest which is in my constituency is no longer cut up by riders?
It being three-quarters of an hour after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, Mr. Deputy Speaker-- put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted Business) :--
The House divided : Ayes 101, Noes 19.
Column 122Division No. 200] [11.8 pm
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)
Beith, A. J.
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Buck, Sir Antony
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)