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Mr. Paul Tyler (North Cornwall) (LD):
I strongly support the procedure of carry over. As the Minister will know, there was all-party support in the Modernisation Committee for it, in precisely the circumstances that are before the House this afternoon.
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Can my hon. Friend give any indication, or has the Minister given him any indication, as to whether the capacity problem at Paddington will be addressed? One advantage of the carry over is that we will have more time to consider the issue. As things stand, there is already a capacity problem for lines and platforms, and, as my hon. Friend has already said, this could dramatically affect the mainline services from Cornwall and the far west.
John Thurso: My hon. Friend raises one of the problems that I hope will be discussed in detail during the passage of the Bill. I am sure the Minister has noted those concerns, which I share. All those issues need to be dealt with during consideration of the Bill, but today it is important that the carry-over motion be passed. I shall certainly support it.
John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab): I support the carry-over motion, very straightforwardly, because if it is not passed a number of companies in my constituency will face further prolongation of the blight on the development of their operations. To name just two, Leemark Engineering and HG Timber have been told that Crossrail will be taking some of their land, which will prevent them from implementing their expansion plans, and therefore prevent them from increasing employment among my constituents. Any further delay will not only prevent the future planning of their businesses, but have an overall impact on the confidence in my constituency in relation to future investment by businesses.
The carry-over motion is important and I support it, but it is more important that we bring the Bill forward very quickly after the election. In addition, we must bring it forward with guaranteed security of funding. We cannot allow this to remain as speculation. In that case, many of us will campaign during the general election to secure that commitment from the Government. After getting on for 20 years of discussion of Crossrail, we cannot again allow the issue to continue to blight the lives of many of our constituents.
Mr. Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con): May I first say a few words about the hon. Member for Reading, East (Jane Griffiths)? She said that this is her swansong in the House. I am a Reading boy, and I narrowly missed the Conservative nomination for Reading, East in 1997. I would have ended up being the losing candidate against her, so it is probably just as well that things worked out as they did. She has been a fine servant to the House.
May I also say a few words about the hon. Member for Ilford, North (Linda Perham), who may or may not return to the House? That may apply to me; I am taking nothing for granted in this election. She has played a tremendous role in the all-party group on Crossrail, but I want to pay a personal tribute to her. I am a London Member of Parliament and we have worked and spoken together on a number of issues. We are in the middle of an election campaign, but I know that her Conservative opponent, Lee Scott, is an extremely strong admirer of all the work she does. The people of Ilford, North have
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been well served over the last eight years, and I hope they continue to be well servedperhaps under different coloursin the years ahead.
Like other Members, I support the carry-over motion, and I support Crossrail very firmly. There is little doubt that it is essential to London's future competitiveness and growth. In many ways, the biggest threat to the competitiveness of the capital is our transport system. All business regards this as the single most important issue that faces London and it is important that we have proper investment of the £10 billion, and rising, across London's transport system over the next few years. Obviously, Crossrail should be part and parcel of that.
I endorse the words of the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell), who is absolutely right that we need to get the funding together, but we must ask, "Where is the money?" On one level, one might say that it is the height of political cynicism for the Government to have talked the project up in the way that they have in the last year or so. They have talked about the green light being given to Crossrail when little more than a flickering amber light has been given.
I accept that my party pulled the plug on the project over a decade ago when we were in government, but equally, here we are just before a general election, desperately in need of this investment. It is of national, and indeed international, importance that London and the London region have that investment. The Government must lead the way with their financing, because we cannot carry on taking London's continued economic success for granted.
If I may, I shall finish with a few words on some local concerns over the route. In Mayfair, for example, there is a grave concern that, although three routes were proposed, the Government seem to be running with a consortium with a single route only. I would like to know why other routes were not considered in more detail. I hope that we will have an opportunity on Second Reading, after the election, to explore this a great deal further. There is little doubt, particularly without the finance being in place, that there is a blight on many tens of thousands of my constituents in Westminster, and I suspect on hundreds of thousands of constituents in London and beyond. The same applies to parts of Bayswater and the City of London.
I support the carry-over motion, not least, as the Minister rightly pointed out, owing to the fact that the cost of petitions and all the preliminary work would be wasted if we had to revisit all this. I hope that on Second Reading we shall have a robust debate about the management of the issue and of the route, because the uncertainty is the worst thing for the ongoing blight that affects not only the residential population, but the businesses on which we rely in this country.
Linda Perham (Ilford, North) (Lab):
Today's carry-over motion is vital, because it will allow the Crossrail Bill to be suspended until the new Parliament commences. I cannot overemphasise the importance of ensuring that this momentum is maintained and that Second Reading take place as soon as possible in the new Session.
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I commend the support that the Crossrail project has throughout the country and throughout the House, as well as in the business community, which is also anxious that the project go ahead and that the motion allow us not to lose any time with the project going forward.
I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, East (Jane Griffiths) for her support for the project and her kind words. I also thank the hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Field) for his kind words about my role as chair of the all-party Crossrail group. We have worked hard to support the project, and all the group's members support the carry-over motion.
Everyone knows about Crossrail's benefits for Londonthey have been well rehearsed. It is essential that the project go forward because of the contribution it will make to the economy, adding £19 billion to the UK's GDP and creating 120,000 jobs in London alone. In addition, the 13 construction contracts are worth about £300 million each. The benefits to east London are also well known. Those of us who represent that part of London believe that the area needs more investment and regeneration.
Hon. Members have asked about funding and the Minister mentioned the £10 billion price tag. Finance and funding are matters that carrying over the Bill will allow us to address in the new Parliament, and I am sure that those issues will be discussed and ironed out come the summer. However, questions about funding should not take priority over passing the carry-over motion.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Jeremy Corbyn) said, we hope that Second Reading will be scheduled to take place as soon as possible after in the new Parliament. I am sure that the Minister supports our aim of getting the usual channels to allow that to happen.
Mr. Peter Luff (Mid-Worcestershire) (Con): It will not have escaped your attention, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I am the only Member seeking to catch your eye who does not represent a London or south-east constituency. I have a confession to make: I woke up to Crossrail a bit too late, although I have always supported the project in principle. I remind the House that there is nothing new about Crossrail: the first such services operated in about 1860, when trains on the Great Western main line went through to Farringdon on what are now the Metropolitan and Circle lines. Sadly we lost the service at some point in the late 19th century
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