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Mr. Neil Thorne (Ilford, South) : After listening to the debate for over four hours, I was becoming concerned at the way in which few Opposition Members appeared to be in favour of the railways. Indeed, only the hon. Members for Peckham (Ms. Harman) and for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen) advanced arguments in favour of the railways. That is regrettable, because the lifeblood of the future of the nation depends on the railways, which should be receiving much more support, particularly from north country members.

Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North) : The thrust of our remarks is that my hon. Friends and I support the railways, that we recognise the vital necessity of a good rail system for the future of the country and that we recognise the necessity of having a railway network which benefits

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more than London and the south-east. We say to British Rail when we ask for electrification from Aberdeen to Edinburgh, "Do not give us pie in the sky stories about the viability of the link between Edinburgh and Aberdeen. What about the viability of the whole line?" I hope that those who are listening to the debate will prevail on BR to publish the figures on which it decided on the viability of the line from London to Edinburgh.

Mr. Thorne : I am grateful for that reassurance and I hope that when the terminal is built in London--which I hope will be at King's Cross--it will receive proper praise from hon. Members who represent north country constituencies.

British Rail has been unfairly criticised for using the private Bill procedure. My hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, Acton (Sir G. Young) said that the House was not being asked to approve the redevelopment scheme but only the railway works listed in the Bill ; that planning permission was being sought by the developer from the local authority for the redevelopment itself in the normal way. That procedure has existed for a long time. In fact, a number of substantial buildings were erected in this area last century to make provision for the railways that were then in course of construction. Indeed, the third largest party in the House is occupying one of those buildings as its headquarters in Cowley street. It was built especially for the parliamentary work of one of the railway companies, and that was typical of all railway companies last century. So we are talking of a procedure that is well established and one which BR could not avoid. In other words, BR has done exactly what was required of it, and it is unfair for hon. Members to be critical. I was interested to hear what the three hon. Members who represent Newham constituencies said about the desirability of locating the terminus in their area, and, as constituency Members, it was their job to do that. Having examined the matter closely, I find the principle of locating the terminus at Stratford to be flawed. It would have been of some advantage to my constituency in the neighbouring borough of Redbridge if it were to be located there, but it would still be the wrong location because it would not help passengers ; nor would it help people in transmitting between the north country and the centre of London.

In the past there have been substantial goods facilities at Stratford and at one time they included a large cattle facility. As a result, there is a lot of space there which I am sure Newham borough council would have liked to use for this purpose. But it would be the wrong location.

Safety and traffic growth are two of the important issues we have to consider, and the King's Cross area requires immediate attention on both counts. We had that awful tragedy in the Underground at King's Cross and hon. Members have spoken about the number of lines that converge at that point. The House must not simply pay lip service to safety, as we tend to do when such tragedies occur. We must see that action is taken to put matters right. That tragedy is one reason why this project has had to be brought forward as a matter of urgency, regardless of what happens to the remainder of the terminal.

Other opportunities must be explored. I find it greatly encouraging that the growth in use of the railways has been so considerable in recent years that many facilities are now saturated. That means that we must deal quickly with the matters that are before us.

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Many of us have had the opportunity to see what has been done in other major terminals, such as Paris and Washington. We have seen what has been achieved at major terminals throughout the world. There are good opportunities for development at main line railway stations. We can see what has been done at Victoria and what is being done at Liverpool Street. Those who travel to London from the north-east could benefit by having a much better facility at King's Cross. Finally, I urge my hon. Friend the Minister for Public Transport seriously to consider compensation. Projects of the sort that we are discussing involve considerable investment--£500 million has been mentioned--and we must ensure that those whose lives are turned upside down by the implementation of proposals that are made for the benefit of society generally are more than adequately compensated for any annoyance and inconvenience that they suffer. Many other countries recognise that people who have been living in a certain property for the whole of their lives--perhaps 60 or 70 years--do not take kindly to being uprooted and thrown out.

We tend to hedge our compensation with many rules and regulations that provide a little more here and there for curtains and carpets, telephone connection, surveyors' fees and legal costs, for example, when we should adopt a much more robust and helpful approach to ensure that the sting is taken out of enforced moves and other annoyance and inconvenience. I should like to see the Department of Transport releasing bodies such as British Rail from the constraints to which they are subject. They are not allowed to proceed beyond the stringent rules laid down, because the Treasury is terrified that that might raise the cost of future projects. I can assure the Treasury that the cost of those projects would be reduced if the present constraints were lifted because completion would be much quicker. There would be much less hassle if opposition and resentment were not stirred up in every direction. Compensation should be considered much more sympathetically, and I urge my hon. Friend the Minister to take that into account.

11.34 pm

Mr. Gary Waller (Keighley) : Some hon. Members have spoken at almost interminable length about many issues that have relatively little to do with King's Cross. I shall attempt to speak succinctly about King's Cross and especially of what the proposed development would mean for the north of England.

Many hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson), have spoken about what they described as the largest interchange in Europe. What we have at present is not an interchange. We have King's Cross, St. Pancras and Thameslink, and the links between them are extremely poor and inconvenient for passengers. The proposal that we are considering is based on an imaginative concept. It will cost many hundreds of millions of pounds, but it is one that we should support.

The new King's Cross can become the gateway to the north. I believe that it will be built and that those who now oppose the development will be seen to have had their heads in the sand.

An interchange must provide not only for people travelling from the furthest corners of the country but for Londoners and those who commute to London. The

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capital's transport infrastructure suffers greatly from the large number of termini that are a consequence of the development of railway companies in the last century. There is now an opportunity to combine two of those termini into something that can be a great future asset.

It has been said that the procedure adopted for the Bill is an inadequate substitute for a proper planning inquiry, but that procedure is appropriate for a project having a national dimension--which the future of King's Cross clearly has. There is nothing unusual or irregular about adopting the private Bill procedure, which permits the construction of railway works in just the same way as the many railway Bills brought to Parliament in the past.

As has already been pointed out, an application for outline planning consent to construct the above-ground complex has been submitted to Camden council. I welcome the comments of my hon. Friend the Minister concerning clause 19, which will provide an adequate safeguard.

The hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) mentioned traffic problems. The Bill provides an opportunity to ease many of them. Other hon. Members spoke of the existing level of congestion affecting rail passengers, especially commuters. However, the better facilities and easier access to trains that the Bill permits are bound to be welcomed by them.

Mr. Dobson : Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Waller : I have very little time left, and I know that one of my hon. Friends wishes to intervene.

The north favours King's Cross as a second terminal. I say that confidently, knowing that all sides of industry--chambers of commerce and organisations promoting development in Yorkshire--are anxious that King's Cross is chosen. The hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) referred to the possibility of a second terminal at Stratford. However, if one studies the map, Stratford cannot possibly be justified as the location of an interchange. But an enhanced King's Cross will improve capacity for InterCity trains by rearranging tracks, extending platforms, and improving access from many parts of the country. Right hon. and hon. Members representing the interests of other regions will also identify the opportunities that King's Cross offers.

As to timing, the proposed works--including the new low-level station--are needed as soon as possible. That is why we should consider the Bill now and not wait for a future Channel tunnel rail link. If passengers travelling to and from the north, as well as Thameslink passengers--whose existing separate station is already congested--are properly to benefit, one cannot wait for developments that may take some time to realise.

Architectural considerations relating to the above-ground works will be examined when Camden council scrutinises the relevant planning application. The architecture of the proposed concourse, which will bring together the two stations and link them with the new sub-surface platforms, is imaginative. It makes use of a great deal of glass, and allows the architecture of the existing grade 1 buildings to be seen by all. By sweeping away many substandard buildings, much will be done to improve the local environment. I see this as an exciting project. I hope that the House also welcomes it and will give the Bill a warm reception.

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Mr. Chris Smith rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to. Question put accordingly, That the Bill be now read a Second time :--

The House divided : Ayes 211, Noes 41.

Division No. 189] [11.39 pm


Alexander, Richard

Allen, Graham

Amess, David

Amos, Alan

Arbuthnot, James

Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)

Atkins, Robert

Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)

Baldry, Tony

Banks, Robert (Harrogate)

Barron, Kevin

Batiste, Spencer

Beaumont-Dark, Anthony

Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)

Blackburn, Dr John G.

Boscawen, Hon Robert

Boswell, Tim

Bottomley, Peter

Bottomley, Mrs Virginia

Boyes, Roland

Brandon-Bravo, Martin

Brazier, Julian

Bright, Graham

Brooke, Rt Hon Peter

Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)

Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick

Buckley, George J.

Budgen, Nicholas

Burns, Simon

Burt, Alistair

Butterfill, John

Caborn, Richard

Carlisle, John, (Luton N)

Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)

Carrington, Matthew

Carttiss, Michael

Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda

Channon, Rt Hon Paul

Chapman, Sydney

Chope, Christopher

Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)

Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)

Clelland, David

Colvin, Michael

Conway, Derek

Cook, Robin (Livingston)

Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)

Cope, Rt Hon John

Couchman, James

Cousins, Jim

Cunliffe, Lawrence

Currie, Mrs Edwina

Curry, David

Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)

Davis, David (Boothferry)

Day, Stephen

Devlin, Tim

Dixon, Don

Dorrell, Stephen

Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James

Durant, Tony

Eggar, Tim

Fallon, Michael

Favell, Tony

Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)

Fishburn, John Dudley

Forman, Nigel

Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)

Forth, Eric

Foster, Derek

Fowler, Rt Hon Norman

Fox, Sir Marcus

Franks, Cecil

Freeman, Roger

French, Douglas

Gardiner, George

Garel-Jones, Tristan

Gill, Christopher

Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles

Gow, Ian

Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)

Grist, Ian

Ground, Patrick

Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn

Hague, William

Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)

Hanley, Jeremy

Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)

Harris, David

Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney

Haynes, Frank

Hayward, Robert

Heathcoat-Amory, David

Heddle, John

Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael

Hinchliffe, David

Hind, Kenneth

Home Robertson, John

Hordern, Sir Peter

Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)

Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)

Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey

Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)

Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)

Hunt, David (Wirral W)

Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas

Irvine, Michael

Jack, Michael

Jackson, Robert

Janman, Tim

Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)

Key, Robert

Knapman, Roger

Knight, Greg (Derby North)

Lamont, Rt Hon Norman

Lang, Ian

Latham, Michael

Lawrence, Ivan

Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel

Leadbitter, Ted

Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark

Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)

Lightbown, David

Lilley, Peter

Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)

Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)

Lofthouse, Geoffrey

Luce, Rt Hon Richard

Lyell, Sir Nicholas

MacGregor, Rt Hon John

McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)

Maclean, David

McLoughlin, Patrick

Major, Rt Hon John

Mans, Keith

Maples, John

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