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Mr. Byers: Full details will be produced by the contractors tomorrow. Offhand, I am not sure of the specific details regarding Metropolitan line rolling stock, and I apologise for that. The information will be published
Mr. Byers: No, it is not the Circle line but the Metropolitan line that is being discussed. The information will be available tomorrow. What I do know about the Metropolitan line is that there will be a 17 per cent. increase in capacity on it in the first 10 years.
Ms Karen Buck (Regent's Park and Kensington, North): Everyone welcomes the commitment to additional investment in the underground to be delivered through a public-private partnership, but because the Government have chosen a model of public-private partnership in which the public have lost confidence, they will need to win the safety and value-for-money arguments not only today, but every day for the next 30 years. The Ernst and Young report says that value for money is
Mr. Byers: The important point is the periodic review. As is only right and proper, London Underground will be in a position to negotiate changes and improvements to meet the needs of the system at that time. That is the important aspect.
Value for money is always a subjective test. I do not regret Ernst and Young's openness in expressing its concerns about the process. I believe that there should be a debate on the issues, and I will not run away from that debate. However, having looked at all the considerations in the round, Ernst and Young reaches the conclusion, based on the figures available to it, that value for money has been achieved.
Angela Watkinson (Upminster): In view of the serious doubts expressed on all sides about the likely success of the scheme, what arrangements will the Secretary of State put in place now to ensure that there is no further disruption or deterioration in tube services to the travelling public, such as my constituents in Upminster, who live at the end of the District line, before, if, or when any noticeable improvements are made?
Mr. Byers: The hon. Lady makes an important point about the disruption, cancellations and delays that people experience daily on the underground at present. As soon as one looks for the underlying reason for that, one finds the chronic lack of investment over generations. Now, we need to get the money invested. The money is there and we have a plan that will secure improvements. Now, we just have to get on with the job.
Ms Diane Abbott (Hackney, North and Stoke Newington): The Transport Sub-Committee under the distinguished chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) has systematically dissected the proposal technically, but I put to the Secretary of State the democratic argument. Whatever the terms of the Greater London Authority Act, the fact is that Londoners have said again and again, using every means available to them, that they have no confidence in the PPP. Londoners' support for PPP was tested to destruction in the campaign for the London mayoralty, and Labour's candidate was humiliated. Londoners do not want this; London's Mayor does not want it; and London's Transport Commissioner does not want it. Does it not make nonsense of regional devolution and does it not show a breathtaking arrogance to force that misconceived scheme down the throats of Londoners, who have said over and over again that they have no confidence in that way of proceeding?
On the democratic points, the position is clear in the Greater London Authority Act, for which the House voted and which Opposition Members opposed. It is for the Government to determine the details of modernisation, which is then transferred to the Mayor and Transport for London.
Mr. Byers: They will know that the reason for that is that we had 18 years of a Conservative Government who did not invest in the underground; denied improvements to the hon. Lady's constituents in Chesham; and did nothing about the Metropolitan line or the District line. That is the legacy that we are seeking to deal with. The Opposition have no solutions to the problems; it is we who are prepared to take tough decisions and ensure that investment goes into the underground.
Mr. Barry Gardiner (Brent, North): My constituents in Kingsbury, my right hon. Friend will know, have endured speed restrictions to Wembley Park tube station for far too long. They will be as delighted as I am that one of the first things to be undertaken in the first year of the programme is the renewal of the southbound track, which will ensure that the speed restrictions are lifted. When they get to Wembley Park station they will, unfortunately, come out on a dilapidated, bankrupt station. Is the Secretary of State aware of the letter that I have received from Transport for London, which states that in its programme it has already identified £100 million for the refurbishment of the station? Does he agree that it is vital that money is spent to make sure that the station can safely control the crowds visiting Wembley and the new national stadium?
Mr. Byers: Members will have an opportunity to see the improvements that will be delivered. The speed restrictions to which my hon. Friend refers are an example of the difficulties that will be addressed in a major track renewal programme. I am aware of my hon. Friend's concerns about Wembley Park station, and discussions are taking place at the moment about the issue.
Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham): We wait four years for a PPP to come along, then this shambles arrives late on a Thursday night after newspaper reports have been written, so little confidence does the Secretary of State have in the PPP. Does the right hon. Gentleman not understand that Ernst and Young has refused to put its name to his fantasy figures? Does he not realise that he will go down in history as the man who thought that the third way meant destroying a private sector company, Railtrack, then, to be even-handed, destroying a nationalised company, London Underground?
Mr. Byers: Yes, Conservative Members all agree. That is where they want to be. Speaking to the Conservative party conference on 23 September 1999, the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) said:
Mr. Stephen Pound (Ealing, North): While bids are being submitted, I could mention that we are still waiting for a down escalator at Greenford station, and we have been waiting since 1943. Most of my constituents and I could live with an integrated system where safety is taken out of the political arena. What we simply cannot live with is more time standing on a platform watching the cancellation board, while people play petty party politics with such a vital issue. Will my right hon. Friend give us some idea of the timetable for implementation? We cannot keep on waiting.