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Ms Diane Abbott (Hackney, North and Stoke Newington) (Lab): I support Crossrail and the carry-over of the Bill. We in the east end of London have long looked forward to the completion of Crossrail, which will do an enormous amount for regeneration and job creation in our area. We have had to wait 15 years or more, and we do not want any more undue delay. Even today, we can read on the front pages of London's local papers news of a serious drive-by shooting that affected the Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr. Lammy). The jobs and regeneration that Crossrail will bring will be important in the fight against crime and social alienation.
I congratulate my colleague, the Mayor of London, on fighting a hard campaign to bring Crossrail into existence. I join hon. Members who have urged us to support the carry-over motion and to introduce the Bill early in the next Parliament along with concrete proposals for funding the line. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, East (Jane Griffiths)
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on her last speech in this Parliament. She entered the House in the great landslide of 1997 and, although she is stepping down at the election, she has played her part in ensuring that we will win an historic third term. Finally, I would like the Bill to be carried over and speedy progress to be made on Crossrail because the next step is Crossrail 2, which will enable people to travel in splendour from the historic delights of Dalston all the way to Chelsea.
Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North) (Lab): Like other hon. Members, I shall be brief in my support for the carry-over motion, which is essential if we are to make rapid progress in the next Parliament on securing funding for the scheme. To some extent, I agree with hon. Members that, while the Bill is important in putting such provisions into law, we also need an agreement on funding and the cost of the project. Costs are already high. If Mr. Kiley's figure are correct, they are already £14 billion to £15 billion. By the time Crossrail is built, they will be considerably more, because inflation will have increased. We therefore need an agreement on funding and, like many other candidates in the election, I support the scheme and the funding that it requires.
May I draw the Minister's attention to the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) about blight compensation? The line does not go through my constituency, and impinges only on the southern part of my borough but, because it is a massive scheme, it has an impact on everyone in London and could lead to incredible improvements in transport infrastructure. However, blight is a huge factor in long-term planning issues. Businesses and landowners around Heathrow terminal 5 have been given blight compensation from the beginning of that scheme. Unfortunately, people in the path of the Crossrail development, even if they support it, will not have their land purchased under compulsory purchase orders and will not receive compensation in the period in which it fails to go ahead. The planning process would be encouraged if blight compensation were paid from the beginning of such schemes, as that would provide an incentive for promoters, whether in the public or private sector, to develop them as quickly as possible.
John McDonnell: To clarify the point about the development of the third runway at Heathrow and other airport expansion schemes, the proposals for the blight compensation scheme are currently subject to consultation and discussion. However, my hon. Friend is correct that there is a legal duty on the British Airports Authority, working with the Government, to offer blight compensation, which could readily be transferred to other schemes to provide security for long-term planning processes.
Jeremy Corbyn: I endorse my hon. Friend's clarification, and thank him for it. I hope that the Minister has heard what we are saying and recognises that, while supporters of Crossrail want it to proceed to completion, we also want to ensure that the blight problem does not go on forever.
I have no concerns about the involvement of the Greater London authority and the Mayor and London. Quite the oppositeI have every confidence in them,
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because the devolution of planning and transport matters means that they should have that involvement and planning power. Without the effective voice for London that is projected by the Mayor and the Assembly, schemes such as Crossrail would be a lot further behind.
Ms Abbott: Does my hon. Friend agree that far from being concerned about the Mayor's involvement in the scheme, we should accept that that involvement gives rise to confidence? People should not quibble about his involvement, as he should have greater powers, particularly over transport in the south-east of England.
Jeremy Corbyn: I could not agree more. If people had listened to the Mayor of London about the regeneration of the tube, we would have a bond issue rather than a public-private partnership and a great deal of public money would have been saved. I think that everybody now accepts that, and I hope that Crossrail can be similarly funded, as that will turn out to be a great deal cheaper.
The hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Luff) made some legitimate points about the rail network beyond London and the impact of Crossrail. Clearly, the constrictions on the Paddington line require a great deal of examinationthat is a perfectly fair and reasonable point. He will accept, however, that by developing Crossrail we encourage overall rail traffic usage, which has a knock-on effect on the rest of the system. I am sure that he will join me in wanting to secure both the reopening of the line between Worcester and Cheltenham and the twin-tracking of the Honeybourne line through the Cotswolds.
Mr. Luff: I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman's knowledge of my constituency. The line between Worcester and Cheltenham is already open, but he is right about the twin tracking. I agree that Crossrail will make travel in the south-east more attractive, and even more people will travel from the areas served at present by Paddington beyond Reading. We must therefore make sure that capacity issues are thoroughly addressed on the Great Western main line.
Jeremy Corbyn: It is only the one-hour limit on our debate and the imminent dissolution of Parliament that prevents me from talking at greater length about the number of disused lines around the country.
I strongly support the carry-over motion. I hope that it is agreedI am sure that it will beand that we secure the money for the line, leading to the continued regeneration and renaissance of the rail network.
In conclusion, it is only fitting that I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North (Linda Perham) for her effective lobbying on Crossrail in the House, the
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Labour party and many other groups, including the trade union network, in which she and I are both active. I thank, too, my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, East (Jane Griffiths), who has just made her last speech in the House. She has been a great campaigner for improvements to public transport and rail connections to Reading, and we should acknowledge that.
Mike Gapes (Ilford, South) (Lab/Co-op): May I begin by paying tribute to Members who have campaigned for many years for Crossrail, particularly my colleague, friend and neighbour, the hon. Member for Ilford, North (Linda Perham)? I first came to the House in 1992, and as a prospective candidate I remember producing leaflets in 1990 calling for the introduction of Crossrail. I put questions to a succession of Ministers from different Governments from 1992 onwards, but I did not get very far.
I am therefore delighted by the opportunity now afforded us. There was an exhibition in the centre of Ilford a few weeks ago allowing my constituents to look at maps and designs as well as the detail of the proposals. They could see that in my constituency more stations are affected by Crossrail than in any other constituency. The platforms at Ilford station will have to be extended, and Seven Kings and Goodmayes stations will also be affected. Just outside my constituency, Chadwell Heath station will be affected. There is also the loop allowing freight trains to pass passenger trains. There is only one loop on the Crossrail route, and it is in my constituency.
Many of my constituents will therefore be very concerned about the engineering work that will be done from 2006 onwards if the timetable is met, as many people will be affected by a lot of noise, lorries and other vehicles, and by waste being taken away. That will directly affect my constituents in Fenman Gardens in Goodmayes just a few yards away from where the works will be. This is a question not only of commercial blight, but of blight on people's homes and the areas where they live. That is why we cannot have a delay. We must carry over the Bill, bring it forward in the new Parliament as quickly possible and give the reassurance that there will not be further delay, uncertainty and difficulty for many thousands of people, including hundreds of my constituents.
I welcome the fact that we are carrying the Bill over, and I conclude by again paying tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North, the chair of the Crossrail group. I look forward to working with her in the coming Parliament, when she is re-elected to her seat.
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