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Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial: Kensington Gardens

Lord Blaker asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Committee met on 11 November to consider progress on the four proposals set out in its preliminary advice to HM Government, published on 24 June. Following that meeting, the Treasury issued a press release summarising progress and copies are available in the Library. In relation specifically to the proposals for Kensington Gardens, the memorial committee proposed, having listened to the views of local people on the early, outline proposals for Kensington Gardens, that a memorial walk should be established through Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, the Green Park and St. James's Park; that there should be

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improvements to the children's playground to the north of Kensington Palace to create an area dedicated to the Princess where disabled and able-bodied children could play and which might be used as a blueprint for children's play facilities around the country; and that necessary repair work in the Dial Walk area south of Kensington Palace should be implemented. The Royal Parks Agency has been asked to take these proposals forward, in close consultation with the local authorities and local residents' groups.

Planning Law: Ecclesiastical Exemption

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action, if any, they propose to take following the report by Mr. John Newman on the functioning of the ecclesiastical exemption from the application of planning law.[HL662]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Welsh Office have

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now completed a programme of discussions with denominations and other organisations to consider the recommendations in Mr. John Newman's review of the exemption. My honourable friend the Minister for the Arts is today placing in the Libraries of both Houses a document which gives details of the changes in denominations' procedures agreed in the course of the discussions. Copies will be circulated to interested bodies.

Against this background, the Government are satisfied that the six denominations which currently enjoy the ecclesiastical exemption should retain it for the time being. This includes the Baptist Union, which Mr. Newman recommended should be the subject of a further review after a year and whose internal procedures have therefore been re-examined by the two departments. We would envisage a further review of the exemption regime as a whole during the life of the current Parliament. Meanwhile we look to the denominations to keep up the momentum of change as required and expect to see substantive progress in all areas where the need for further work has been identified.

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