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Sir Geoffrey Finsberg : I appreciate, Madam Deputy Speaker, that this is a Second Reading debate. I am speaking of things that should be in the Bill--I would not be able to do so on Third Reading--and I am contending that, within the Bill, there should be a reference to the footbridge where there are powers to make works. I shall not stray beyond that.

Mr. Robert G. Hughes : It may be helpful if I seek to reassure my hon. Friend. As he will know, it is not possible for anyone other than the chairman of London Transport to give the assurance that my hon. Friend seeks. I consulted London Transport officials both before this debate and while my hon. Friend has been making his speech. The chairman's letter from which my hon. Friend quoted dated 24 April states :

"My statement that we would consider the position"--

that is, in respect of the bridge--

"was not just a platitude."

I am asked to tell my hon. Friend that repairs to the bridge have certainly not been ruled out, but must be properly considered. I know that a meeting has been arranged between my hon. Friend and the chairman of London Transport, at which I hope progress will be made.

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As my hon. Friend said, there will be other opportunities for him to pursue the matter--and to block the Bill, if he wants. I am not sure that I can go further this evening.

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg : My problem is that the chairman stated in a subsequent letter that he had been advised that

"it is not a practical option to repeat the sort of repair work eventually done at that time."

Therefore, I am not at all certain as to the true position. I want to be clear that I am in order in referring to the issue that I have, and in seeking a specific provision in the Bill to cover it, because I do not want to abuse the procedures of the House.

Madam Deputy Speaker : Currently, the hon. Member is in order.

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg : Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. The Bill makes reference to "connected purposes"--and they include possession of land, incorporation of land provisions, and so on. Clause 46 of the 1893 Act to which I referred earlier refers to the protection of the vestry of St. John, Hampstead. It states : "Whenever the Company"--

that is, the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire railway "shall break up or disturb any part of the soil or surface of any road or footway in the said parish for any of the purposes of this Act, the Company shall within four months after any such road or footway shall have been broken up as aforesaid complete and finish the works of the Company, and shall make good and restore every such road or footway to the satisfaction of the surveyor to the vestry". I could continue to quote from that legislation and remain in order, but instead I will make the point that the Act does not say anywhere that a right of way is to be extinguished--but that is clearly the intention which has been clearly expressed in the letter to me from London Underground. That is not the way that it ought to proceed. In continuing, I shall seek to remain strictly within the rules of the House in respect of private legislation and Second Reading debates. A letter from the Combined Residents Association of West Hampstead states :

"I am writing to offer you my congratulations for the stand you have taken over the closure by London Underground of the West Hampstead footbridge and your tactics in blocking their Bills until they agree to make the necessary repairs or proffer some reasonable proposal."

I welcomed the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West, and I look forward to my meeting with the chairman of London Transport. However, I am confused by the contents of his second letter, which appears to mark a change of position since his original communication.

Mr. Robert G. Hughes : It is difficult to make a judgment without seeing the letter from which my hon. Friend quoted, but when the chairman of London Transport commented that it would be impracticable to repeat the previous repairs exercise, perhaps he was referring to work to bring the bridge back into service for five to eight years--and that, were London Transport to undertake any work, it would be more permanent. Perhaps my hon. Friend will find that interpretation encouraging.

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg : My hon. Friend makes an interesting point, but I cannot yet say whether I am encouraged by it. Had London Underground carried out normal annual maintenance, the situation would not have arisen.

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I refer again to the letter from the combined residents association :

"First, the cost figure of £400,000 sounds excessive. It brings to mind the inflated cost estimate for the repair of the Ribble Valley viaduct on the Settle-Carlisle railway line by British Rail when they were proposing its closure. If my memory is correct, once the line was reprieved the figure became much lower! Surely there must be a reputable private sector contractor in need of work who could do the work for less."

On 27 April, Mr. E. Dixon, chairman of the Jubilee and Bakerloo users group committee, wrote to the chairman of London Underground as follows :

"Some of our users in west and south Hampstead are very concerned about the closure of this bridge. I know myself that its condition has been suspect for a considerable number of years--having on occasion to use it to travel between Canfield Gardens and Crediton Hill, or on going from Broadhurst Gardens across to the relevant part of Finchley Road. Usage of the bridge may be low, but it will be appreciated that the Charterhall scheme at Finchley Road will probably have a significant effect in this regard.

Now the bridge is a right of way. As such it is part of the trade-off under which we are unable to travel on the Jubilee line (or alternatively the Metropolitan or BR Marylebone lines). Surface railway lines in urban communities are often highly antisocial in their severance effects (as I and my neighbours know to our own heavy cost in time in Camden's nearby Kilburn ward, when the railway was there first'. However, its privileged position is accepted, notwithstanding the local detriment, and (though this does not apply at all to the Marylebone line and only most marginally to the Metropolitan line), there is at least some trade-off in usage of the line by the local community, and in the associated spin off benefits. However, in local terms the balance is seriously adverse ; yet the operator is not compelled to address this by providing bridges where none existed and there are no rights of way.

By precisely the same token, the privilege of the right of way falls to be accepted by you as the operator and by us as the benefiting users of the railway line. This is not a matter in which the luxury of priorities' can be indulged. It is basic to the operators' right to operate over the land in question and to ours as service users to travel there and we call upon London Underground and British Rail to meet the relevant obligations."

I acknowledge of course the importance of a Bill that includes the words "safety measures" in its title. However, that does not mean that we should give the Bill a fair wind without protecting the interests of our constituents or--as hon. Members on both sides of the House have said-- those of English Heritage. Otherwise, the inclusion of the words "safety measures" in any Bill could allow it to pass happily through the House.

What opportunities does the Bill provide for improved safety measures and for satisfying the demands of my Hampstead constituents ? The closure of the bridge in question adds at least 10 to 12 minutes to the journeys of pedestrians, who are compelled to walk the entire length of Broadhurst gardens, into Finchley road and on to Finchley road or Frogmore stations, or to reach the public library in Arkwright road.

London Transport ought not to be allowed this Bill without a clause which would guarantee the perpetuation of the right of way which stems back more than 100 years, providing a footbridge over the railway lines that I mentioned.

It is incumbent upon a public authority that promotes legislation not to ride roughshod over a particular interest affecting local people in an area. I am wondering whether London Transport hoped that once the bridge was closed

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the problem would quietly go away and no one would notice. However, that is unlikely to happen in constituencies like Hampstead, where constituents are prone to letter writing and are active in bringing matters to the notice of their Member of Parliament. On this occasion I had already written to the chairman of London Transport because I realised the problem early on.

If someone gives an undertaking in an Act of Parliament and later seeks--it does not matter whether it is 50, 80 or 100 years later--to abolish it, it leads one to wonder whether any undertakings given in this Bill, or in any other promoted by a public authority, such as a local council or the railway authority, are worth the paper they are printed on. That is my worry. It is easy to shrug off a responsibility, but that is not what Acts of Parliament are for, and I do not believe that the House welcomes that concept. However, if we pass this Bill that is the risk that we are running.

Footbridge No. 26, Granny Dripping's steps, had been closed and was due to be extinguished. Why is there no reference to its demolition in the section of the Bill on various works to be carried out, because that must be a safety measure? Why is there no reference to abolition of the right of way? At least that would give the House the chance to say whether that should happen. Or, as an alternative, why is it not stated that powers will be taken in this Bill to repair or renew the bridge?

I know the chairman of London Transport, who is a highly honourable and reputable man, but I have to face the facts as they are presented to me at this stage. I emphasise the word "facts". They do not give me confidence that I can return to my constituents and tell them that Granny Dripping's steps are saved and will be replaced, and that they will be able to walk across them on their lawful business, either to go to West Hampstead north London link station, or to the library or the development which is under way to provide a vast new supermarket for the benefit of local people.

I hope that I am an eminently reasonable man, and I am tempted not to continue for too long tonight, in view of what my hon. Friend for Harrow, West has said. I appreciate that those who are guiding him tonight-- pleasant though they may be--do not have the authority. Because I am seeing the chairman and the deputy chairman of London Regional Transport later this week, I am inclined to adopt a reasonable attitude.

I have many other matters to talk about. As you will appreciate, Madam Deputy Speaker, there are several schedules and 33 clauses in the Bill, and as you rightly said, keeping strictly in order, if I spoke for five minutes on each--because my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West did not explain much of what was in the Bill--I could take 33 times five minutes. I am not sure whether my hon. Friend would be able to find the 100 Members necessary to bring the debate to a close this evening. However, I shall talk about one or two items, not all 33.

Clause 25 makes certain provisions for the protection of the British Railways board. I remind the House that, in the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Railway (Extension to London, &c.) Act, 1893, clause 46 was for the protection of the vestry of St. John, Hampstead. As I said earlier, that protection is about to disappear by a back door method. How safe is the protection outlined in clause 25? The clause talks about "designated property" and "plans" which include

"drawings and particulars and approved plans'".

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All that sort of information appears in the 1893 Act, which talks about maintaining

"to the satisfaction of the surveyor of the vestry all footways, bridges works and conveniences as shall be necessary for the safe and commodious ingress and egress to and from the houses on the line of the works of the Company in the said parish and for the preservation and continuance of an uninterrupted supply of gas and water to the said houses".

I wonder whether the chairman of British Rail is as happy today with the protection that has been given to his board as he was when the Bill was drafted. Further on, the Bill talks about the railways board giving

"to the engineer not less than 28 days' notice of their intention to commence the construction of any of the specified works". It also states :

"The specified works shall when commenced be carried out ... with all reasonable dispatch and as little interference as may be with the conduct of traffic on any railway of the railway board and the use by passengers of designated property".

I believe that the 1893 Act could give powers to the vestry of St. John, Hampstead, which became the metropolitan borough of Hampstead in 1899, and the London borough of Camden in 1965. Therefore, the surveyor of the London borough of Camden, who is by default the surveyor for the vestry, could demand that certain works be carried out,

"and the Company shall also defray the expense incurred by the vestry".

It would be interesting to know whether, if the London borough of Camden decided to carry out work to repair the bridge, London Underground would decide that it could do it better and that it would rather do so than let the descendant of the surveyor of the vestry of St. John, Hampstead carry out the work. That is one reason why I am a little uneasy.

Clause 24 deals with the incorporation of protective provisions. It protects gas, water and electricity undertakers. I draw the attention of my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West to its reference to section 42 of the London Transport Act 1963, which applies to the protection of the gas, water and electricity undertakers, and section 13 of the London Transport Act 1976, which applies to the protection of the sewers of Thames water authority. Does that refer only to sewers and foul-weather sewers or to the pipes that provide fresh drinking water? There is a difference between the water mentioned in the 1963 Act and the sewers in the 1976 Act, but the Bill is not clear.

Clause 24 becomes less clear further on, because subsection (2) refers not to Thames water authority but to Thames Water Utilities Ltd. Is that a reference to foul sewers and fresh water?

It would be wiser and kinder if I began--only began--to draw my remarks to a conclusion, as my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West tells me that I might have read more into the words of the chairman of London Transport than I have so far. That would allow other hon. Members to take part in the debate, but I cannot promise that I shall be as generous on later stages of the Bill.

As I should not wish to fall foul of a future ruling from the Chair--I have carefully kept my comments in order tonight--I shall table probably a dozen amendments, which might provide me with the time to make London Transport realise, if it does not realise now, that I am serious about acting in the interests of my constituents. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West will be able to answer the point that I made about

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water, but I give notice that, if necessary, I shall return to the subject, much invigorated, with a variety of amendments that I shall draft carefully with those who understand how they should be drafted so that I cannot be told by the Minister or the promoter that they are out of order. I await the next instalment.

8.33 pm

Mr. Robert G. Hughes : With the leave of the House, I shall try to answer some of the points that have been made by hon. Members and work myself up to a crescendo to answer some of the points that were made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Sir G. Finsberg).

In fact, I shall start with my hon. Friend, who asked whether the escalators would be standard or special escalators. Special escalators will be installed, because most escalators cannot take the load of several tonnes of passengers at a time for 24 hours a day in a dusty environment while remaining in place as a fixed staircase to facilitate maintenance and emergency procedures. Although they will be ordered from several suppliers, they will all be built to a standard London Regional Transport heavy-duty specification. The implication is that spares will be interchangeable.

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg : That is helpful, but I cannot understand-- perhaps my hon. Friend will arrange for someone to write to me about this-- why escalators cannot be a standard length. Escalators should be a standard length, except for the last part, which might have to be a different length. One of the reasons for the appalling delays in repairing escalators is that the length of each one is different. I know that they will be the same specification, but they are all different sizes. Can that be avoided in future?

Mr. Hughes : I am grateful for my hon. Friend's comments. I remember such debates from my experience on Greater London council. His remarks have been noted and I shall ensure that the promoters write to him.

The hon. Member for Islington South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith), who explained that he would not be able to remain for all the debate, asked about clause 31, which was also mentioned by the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes). The clause has been substantially modified since the Bill was deposited in the light of the comments of the Opposed Private Bill Committee that considered the King's Cross Bill. It has been limited to specified buildings and to only the purposes needed for the Bill's objectives. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment supported that modification, which was made on Third Reading in the other place, and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Transport instructed the chairman of London Regional Transport to give an undertaking to consult local authorities and English Heritage. The chairman of LRT has agreed to do so.

The Bill proposes to delist only one listed building--it is important to put that in perspective--that previously had consent for partial demolition. All other demolitions and alterations are minor--new entrances and protection against settlement--and in each case consent will be sought from the planning authority for all changes and alterations.

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Mr. Simon Hughes What is the listed building that is proposed for demolition?

Mr. Hughes : I shall ask the promoters to write to the hon. Gentleman about it ; I should quite like to know as well. Clause 31 seeks to secure all necessary consents through Parliament so that Parliament's will cannot be thwarted by subsequent decisions and to avoid delay. I can give an assurance that the three local authorities concerned have been consulted and, so far, have not opposed the proposed works.

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg : My hon. Friend will recall that I specifically requested that a locus for English Heritage should be included in the Bill. Is he prepared to say that that will happen?

Mr. Hughes : I hope that the assurances I have given are sufficient for my hon. Friend. I do not know enough parliamentary draftsmanship to know whether such an inclusion is possible, but I shall ask the promoters to write to my hon. Friend to ensure that that point is explored. However, the assurances that I have given on what will happen are firm ones. London Regional Transport wants to maintain a constructive attitude towards English Heritage and it will seek to consult it at all relevant stages.

My hon. Friend the Member for Westminster, North (Sir J. Wheeler) spoke about the planning powers in the Bill and the concerns of the city of Westminister, which have principally arisen because clause 31 supplants that city's responsibilities. I have been instructed that the city of Westminister does not object to the works proposed at Tottenham Court Road. The clause simply avoids any risk of overriding Parliament. I repeat my earlier assurance that it is LRT's intention to consult on every stage of the process.

The hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks), who is unable to be present because of another appointment, spoke about the environmental impact of the work and road surfaces. Environmental impact studies have been carried out for all the proposed works and were exhibited to the Committee in the other place. The work requested by the hon. Gentleman has already been done. The hon. Gentleman also spoke about the problems caused by digging up the roads, the disruption caused and the state of the road surfaces. An undertaking has been given to each of the highway authorities concerned that the work on the highways and footpaths will be carried out in such a way as to leave them in an acceptable condition. All the work will be carried out subject to a code of construction practice agreed with the local authorities. That code will cover working practices, noise, dust emissions and lorry movements. The work on London Bridge will take three years, at Holborn, three years and at Tottenham Court Road, four years. I appreciate that those works will cause disruption, but as much as possible has been done to seek co-operation with the local authorities under the code of construction.

The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey spoke about the co-ordination of work at London Bridge. I listened with great interest to what he said about what has happened and what might happen. I share his sympathy for his constituents who live near London Bridge--an area which is being disrupted constantly. The scheme at London Bridge will be constructed in conjunction with the Jubilee line works, using the same

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working site. The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey is right to assume that the project will be under the control of the Jubilee line project team. The hon. Gentleman made two specific points about the location of two of the entrances to the station. It seems that, when it comes to the ticket hall at Borough high street, the hon. Gentleman wants a meal in the restaurant rather than a bank account at Barclays.

Mr. Simon Hughes : That might be unwise.

Mr. Hughes : Perhaps a cashcard would be better.

I am advised that the Barclays bank building cannot be used as a station entrance because, given the location of the escalators, that would put it on the "paid" side of the fare gates--apparently those escalators cannot be moved. The entrance must be further south than the Barclays site would allow.

Planning consent will be sought from the London borough of Southwark for 31 to 37 Borough high street. A planning brief is being prepared to outline the acceptable uses and developments. I am advised that no undertakings to build residential property were given, but I appreciate the emphasis that the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey put on the importance of such property. Reading between the lines of the instruction that I have been given, I believe that this matter should be taken up, with vigour, with Southwark borough council. I accept that it is an important one.

Mr. Simon Hughes : At present those properties are used for residential and commercial purposes. I understand that the implication was that that mix of use would continue and, obviously, this matter should be resolved. I am sure that the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Hughes) appreciates that I am keen that London Underground--it will acquire the site if the Bill goes through--should support such a mixed development. It will be responsible for the redevelopment and it should not seek to replace the small amount of residential accommodation with a non-residential development.

Mr. Hughes : I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that clarification. It is important that there should be a mixed development. The promoters will have noted the hon. Gentleman's remarks. The planning brief will be prepared shortly and it is important that those who want the mixed development to be retained should put their argument strongly.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate made me think about a film that is known by a different title in the industry. "A Bridge Too Far" is often known as "A reel too long". If we have a bridge too far for LRT, will it be known as "Granny Dripping's steps"? I am sure that we are all impressed by my hon. Friend's enormous concern for his constituency. Those of us who have worked with my hon. Friend in the House and outside know that to be his customary concern, which is of prime importance to him.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making a speech of reasonable length and he made his points forcefully. My hon. Friend will know that I am not trying to soft-soap him. If I wanted to do that I should have intervened and sought to curtail his speech. My hon. Friend has expressed the concerns of any hon. Member seeking to protect the rights of his constituents.

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My hon. Friend raised specific questions about undertakings that were given in the past, some way back. He asked what they meant in terms of LRT and British Rail and what liabilities they may or may not have. Those issues must be explored in great detail at the meeting that my hon. Friend is to have with the chairman and other officials of LRT.

The cost of building the bridge must also be examined. My hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate has had great experience of local government in London and he will be aware that the cost of anything fluctuates depending on the hoped-for result at that time. I am sure that he will pursue the matter with vigour.

I am unable to answer my hon. Friend's question about clause 24, which relates to the London Transport Act 1963, and section 2 of the London Transport Act 1976. He asked whether section 2 refers to foul sewers and/or fresh water. I have asked the promoters to prepare an answer for my hon. Friend as it is important that the matter should be got right.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Minister and the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) for their support for the Bill. It is important for London, for every single London constituent, for every Member who represents London and for every hon. Member whose constituents travel to London. I urge the House to give the Bill the Second Reading that it deserves.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time, and committed.

Environmental Assessment

Motion made and Question proposed,

That, with effect from the beginning of the next Session of Parliament, the following Standing Order be made :

27A.--(1) Subject to paragraph (8) below, in the case of a Bill authorising the carrying out of works the nature and extent of which are specified in the Bill on land so specified, there shall be deposited on or before 4th December in the Private Bill Office and at the Public Departments at which copies of the Bill are required to be deposited under Standing Order 39, either

(a) a copy or copies (as specified by paragraph (2) below) of an environmental statement containing, in relation to the works authorised by the Bill, the information set out in Schedule 3 to the Town and Country Planning (Assessment of Environmental Effects) Regulations 1988 (referred to below as "Schedule 3") or such of that information as the Secretary of State may in any particular case direct, or

(b) a copy or copies (as so specified) of a direction by the Secretary of State that no such statement is necessary in relation to the works authorised by the Bill.

(2) The number of copies required to be deposited under paragraph (1)(a) or (b) above shall be three in the case of a deposit at the Department of the Environment and one in any other case.

(3) Where any such works authorised by a Bill relate to two or more distinct projects each project may be treated separately for the purposes of paragraph (1) above ; and the references in sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) of that paragraph to the works authorised by the Bill shall accordingly be construed, where the paragraph applies separately to each project, as references to the works comprised in that project.

(4) Notwithstanding any direction given as mentioned in paragraph (1)(a) above, any environmental statement of which copies are deposited under this Order shall contain the summary (referred to below as "the non-technical summary") required by paragraph (2)(e) and, where material, paragraph 4 of Schedule 3.

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(5) Where the Secretary of State has given a direction as mentioned in paragraph (1)(a) above, a copy of the direction shall be deposited with every copy of the environmental statement deposited under this Order ; and every copy of a direction so deposited or deposited under paragraph (1)(b) above shall be accompanied by a statement by the Secretary of State of his reasons for giving the direction. (6) Copies of every environmental statement deposited under this Order shall be made available for inspection, and for sale at a reasonable price, on and after 4th December, at the offices at which copies of the Bill are required to be made available under Standing Order 4A ; and there shall also be made available separately on and after that date at those offices, for inspection and for sale at a reasonable price, copies of the non-technical summary.

(7) The reference to Schedule 3 in this Order is a reference to that Schedule as amended from time to time and includes a reference to the corresponding provision of any regulations which re-enact the Town and Country Planning (Assessment of Environmental Effects) Regulations 1988, with or without amendment ; and references to particular paragraphs of Schedule 3 shall be construed accordingly. (8) This Order does not require the deposit of copies of an environmental statement in relation to any works for which planning permission has been granted.'.-- [The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean) : Mr. Speaker has selected the following amendments in the name of the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) :

(a),in line 7, leave out either (a)'.

(b),in line 12, leave out from or' to end of line 13.

(c),in line 12, leave out of that' and insert additional'. (d),in line 13, leave out from direct' to end of line 15. (f),in line 16, leave out (a) or (b)'.

(h),in line 21, leave out references' and insert


(i),in line 21, leave out sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) of'. (j),in line 25, leave out from (4)' to end.

(k),in line 29, leave out paragraph (5).

I suggest that it would be for the convenience of the House if we were to debate the motion and the amendments together. If the hon. Member wishes to move his amendments formally later, I shall give him the opportunity to do so.

8.50 pm

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South) : I am obliged to you for that introduction, Mr. Deputy Speaker. What you have suggested is what I, given time, may do. We have reached this business a little later than we expected. It is important that, when there is a grievance, the House should discuss a single bridge over the Metropolitan line, but we have now moved to very important matters relating to environmental legislation that will affect the whole country for years--possibly 10, 20 or even 50 years. The change in Standing Orders relating to what is wrongly called private legislation can determine what Committees of the House may take in evidence and what they recommend to the House. Indeed, a Committee may even dispose of a Bill before sending it back to us. These are not small matters ; they are the ball-bearings on which the wheels of democracy turn. The purpose of this debate is to determine whether the House should agree to new Standing Order No. 27A concerning private business.

In principle, everybody agrees that there should be such a Standing Order, introducing a near-requirement for an environment assessment to accompany all Bills requiring works to be carried out. However, there are several question marks over what has happened. First, there is the question whether the procedure that the Department of

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