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Peter Luff: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It is always unsatisfactory if the House votes on a motion the purpose of which it does not understand. The Government have given no explanation of the motion so far. If we do not pass the motion, am I right that the House could not vote on the subsequent motions after Second Reading?

Mr. Speaker: I simply want to take the motion before us and then I will worry about what happens afterwards. The hon. Gentleman asks a hypothetical question. I will know what to do when the House makes a decision. It is up to the House to make a decision.

Mr. Hayes : Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. As you know, the Opposition have tabled an instruction. Will it not be debated after Second Reading? When I took advice before the debate, I was told that there might be an opportunity to do that, but it now seems clear from the Under-Secretary's comments and your ruling that, if we pass the imperfect motion
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that we are considering, which has been criticised by all parties, there will be no opportunity to discuss anything else on the Order Paper after Second Reading.

Mr. Speaker: I shall consult on the matter.

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Alistair Darling) rose—

Mr. Speaker: Let me answer the point of order. If the business motion is defeated, the committal motion and the instructions cannot be debated today.

Peter Luff: They cannot be voted on.

Mr. Speaker: Yes. My apologies—they cannot be voted on today.

Mr. Galloway : Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I promise to brief, though my immediate thought is, "What a way to build a railroad." Is not it possible for a short adjournment to take place while advice is sought about framing the motion in a way that would take account of what has been said? It would be passing strange for the House to vote on a motion that Ministers are not even prepared to defend at the Dispatch Box, so bereft are they of justification for it.

Mr. Speaker: The Secretary of State has indicated to me that he wishes to address the House on that matter.

Mr. Darling: I intend to cover all the points that have been raised in relation to the instruction and the procedures, and to give the Government's view on them. However, as I understand it, if the House agrees to the business motion now, there will be a vote on the   principle of the Bill—its Second Reading—at 10 o'clock. We will then reach motion No. 8, which is the Government's instruction, and if the House does not like it, it can vote it down. Then, as I understand it, the Opposition's instruction to the Committee would be considered. However, the business motion gives the House the opportunity to vote on these matters. At risk of straying from the point of order, Mr. Speaker, may I say that I hope, during the course of my remarks, to be able to accommodate many, if not all, of the points made by hon. Members? I believe that our instruction to the Committee will allow that.

Mr. Speaker: In that case, allow me to put the Question.

Question put and agreed to.
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Orders of the Day

Crossrail Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

Mr. Speaker: Before I call the Secretary of State, I would like to inform the House that the list of my selection of instructions is in the No Lobby.

4.11 pm

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Alistair Darling): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

London has relied on railways and underground lines built largely by the Victorians and it now needs Crossrail if it is going to cope with the needs of the 21st century. The Bill will provide the powers needed to build Crossrail, a new railway that will bring enormous benefits not only to London, but to the south-east and the wider United Kingdom.

As I suggested in the previous debate, I want to cover three main areas. The first involves the procedures involved with a hybrid Bill. During that part of my speech, I want to cover the points raised by. Members on both sides of the House relating to the instructions. The second area involves what the Bill does, and the third covers the proposed route. That might help Members to time their interventions.

The procedures in relation to a hybrid Bill are unusual, so the House would benefit from some discussion on that before we come to discuss the route. I hope that, subject to stretching your patience, Mr. Speaker, I shall be able to give way to all Members who wish to raise points. I recognise that a Bill of this importance, and which impacts on the interests of a large number of people along its route, is bound to be controversial—not necessarily on party political grounds, although some hon. Members are against the proposal on principle—and it is in the interest of the House to debate these matters properly.

I now come to the nature of the Bill. The last hybrid Bill to be introduced to the House, over a decade ago, dealt with the channel tunnel rail link. Hybrid Bills are used for projects of such national importance that it is appropriate for the Government to take the lead in strategic development. However, because they deal with specific private interests, they are dealt with differently in both Houses of Parliament. A hybrid Bill has aspects of both a public and a private Bill. It is introduced by the Government and, like any public Bill, contains provisions that either affect everyone or affect particular classes of people.

The hon. Member for North Southwark and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes) and my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, West (Martin Salter) asked how Crossrail would link into the national network, in relation to trains running to the west of Paddington. I shall come to that issue later in my speech, but I mention it because it will be dealt with by an unusual procedure, because this is a hybrid Bill. If we give the Bill a Second Reading, it will go to a Special Select Committee that will have the power to hear petitions against it. That is
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where people who have concerns about their property or about disturbances, for example, will have an opportunity to be heard. That Select Committee will sit a quasi-judicial capacity. It then goes to a Standing Committee—most of the House will be familiar with that as it is a normal procedure on a Bill—then on to Third Reading and then to another place, where exactly the same procedure is followed.

It is patently obvious that because the Bill has such long stages in both Houses it will take some considerable time to go through Parliament, which means that there ought to be ample opportunity for just about every possible complaint and comment to be heard. As a word of caution, however, the last Crossrail Bill fell precisely because there was a lack of clarity as to the reason for the Bill in the first place—because it was a private Member's Bill, the House never decided on the question of principle—and it eventually collapsed under the sheer weight of objections. I very much hope that we can avoid that fate.

The procedural position is that if the Bill gets its Second Reading tonight, it will be sent to a Select Committee, in accordance with the instruction that we have tabled—to be fair, I think that all the instructions do that—with an opportunity for members of the public and others to petition against the Bill, so that their objections can be tabled, and which the Select Committee can then hear. The point is that there will be ample opportunity for members of the public and Members of both Houses of Parliament to have their concerns dealt with.

Mrs. Siân C. James (Swansea, East) (Lab): For clarification, what, if any, detrimental effect would the construction phase of the Crossrail project have on south Wales rail services relying on Paddington station?

Mr. Darling: I shall come to that later. I know that concerns have been raised by Members representing constituencies to the west of Paddington about access into Paddington station. I will go into that in further detail, but there is no reason why trains coming into Paddington from south Wales and the west country will not continue to be able to do so, as they do now, as they use the fast lines into Paddington, whereas Crossrail will be using the slow ones. I shall explain in greater detail why there will not be the impact that people fear.

Martin Salter (Reading, West) (Lab) rose—

Mr. Darling: I want to deal with the procedural points before giving way again, or we will get tangled up.

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