Old Palace Yard - Question

– in the House of Lords am 11:18 am ar 7 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Berkeley Lord Berkeley Llafur 11:18, 7 Mawrth 2024

To ask the Senior Deputy Speaker what discussions he has had in the past year on plans to remove through-traffic from Old Palace Yard to improve safety and the environment.

Photo of Lord Berkeley Lord Berkeley Llafur

I am very grateful to the Senior Deputy Speaker for his Answer. Would he not agree that the existing traffic through Old Palace Yard and the confusing pedestrian crossings are unsafe and not very attractive from an environmental point of view? Will he add his weight to and participate in these ongoing discussions to pedestrianise Old Palace Yard and move those barriers a bit further away—obviously, we need security—so that everybody can enjoy Old Palace Yard without fear of being run over?

Photo of Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lord Gardiner of Kimble The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, The Senior Deputy Speaker, Chair, Standing Orders (Private Bills) Committee (Lords), Chair, Standing Orders (Private Bills) Committee (Lords), Chair, Committee of Selection (Lords), Chair, Committee of Selection (Lords), Chair, Liaison Committee (Lords), Chair, Liaison Committee (Lords), Chair, Hybrid Instruments Committee (Lords), Chair, Hybrid Instruments Committee (Lords), Chair, Procedure and Privileges Committee, Chair, Procedure and Privileges Committee

My Lords, I recognise what the noble Lord has said. I should say that the political oversight group comprises Mr Speaker and the Lord Speaker, so we already have substantial weight on the parliamentary side. The initial concept design work is being undertaken by a consortium of engineers and architects, and we hope it will be finished by the end of the year. It will then need to go out for consultation to the statutory authorities and local residents, and implementation would be drawn up thereafter.

Photo of Lord Collins of Highbury Lord Collins of Highbury Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Equalities and Women's Issues), Shadow Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and International Development), Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

My Lords, if my memory serves me correctly, I first saw the plans for this that the noble Lord mentioned when I was on the Finance Committee, five years ago. These plans have been thought about for five years, mainly because of the huge security risk at the front of this building, which is still not being addressed. What is the noble Lord’s estimate for the timetable for this work being undertaken? Last time I asked, I was told that it was down to Westminster City Council; well, at least we have a Labour council now, so maybe progress will be made.

Photo of Baroness Randerson Baroness Randerson Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Transport)

My Lords, my issue is rather more modest. It concerns the road safety of pedestrians using the light-controlled crossing immediately outside Peers’ Entrance. The time delay on that crossing is so long that the vast majority of pedestrians who are new to the area think that it is not working. As a result, they go out and basically play in the traffic, dodging cars. Can the noble Lord please use his good offices to put on some pressure—this could be done really quickly—to deal with the time delay on that crossing and make it safer and more effective?

Photo of Lord Ranger of Northwood Lord Ranger of Northwood Ceidwadwyr

My Lords, I declare my interest as the former director of transport policy for the Mayor of London. I therefore have some acute insight into this issue around traffic management, pedestrian safety and pedestrianisation. In fact, there was a scheme in 2008 to pedestrianise part of Parliament Square but, when it was looked at extensively, there was an issue post the pedestrianisation of Trafalgar Square; what would happen to traffic flow if there were any incidents in the area? It was considered that we would have gridlock within 10 minutes if we also pedestrianised Parliament Square. Taking that information into account, I urge my noble friend the Minister to please be cautious about any further pedestrianisation. There is a delicate balance between traffic flow and pedestrian safety, which has to be managed with the huge increase in cycling that we all welcome. I hope that all these things will be taken into consideration in any future scheme.

Photo of Lord Touhig Lord Touhig Llafur

My Lords, I support the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, about that crossing. It is extremely dangerous, it takes a long time and I am sorry to say to the noble Lord who spoke previously that cyclists seem to pay no attention whatever to a red light. I crossed there a little while ago and a cyclist bore down on me; he did not have a bell but he did shout “ding-ding”.