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Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord):
Order. I am reluctant to stop the hon. Gentleman, but he is now giving the Minister a shopping list and may be leading him astray. I remind the hon. Gentleman, and anyone
else who may wish to contribute, that this is a carry-over motion and comments should be restricted to whether the Bill should or should not be carried over.
Tom Brake: Thank you for that intervention, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My point is that the Minister is seeking the Houses support for the motion that would enable the Bill to be carried over, but to get it he must set out Crossrails financial framework. I shall be very brief, but we know about the £5 billion from Government grants and the £5 billion from the supplementary business rate, and about the £5 billion that will be borrowed against Crossrails fare takings from 2017. We understand that the Secretary of State secured an additional £1 billion from the City, and that that comprises £300 million extra from the City of London, £400 million from Canary Wharf and a contribution from BAA.
I hope that the Minister will confirm that that information is correct, as it is key to whether the House should support the Bill being carried over. I do not see how the project could proceed if the financial package is not in place.
Crossrail is desperately needed in London. It will provide the heart bypass operation that Londons transport system needs, and offer people another transport route that will mean that they do not have to rely on the heavily congested arteries that exist already. When he responds, I hope that the Minister will be able to satisfy us about the financial package that stands behind the Crossrail project, as that will enable us to make progress and to approve the Bill being carried over into the next Session.
Clive Efford (Eltham) (Lab): Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr. Raynsford), I want to congratulate a number of people who have been responsible for getting us to this point. First, I should like to offer my warm thanks to my hon. Friend the Minister, who has approached the matter in such a friendly and open-minded way. All of us in south-east London are delighted that the Government have finally accepted the force of our argument that there should be a station at Woolwich, and that that station is now included in the scheme.
I should also like to congratulate the members of the Committeeand in particular its Chair, my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. Meale)on the way that they carried out their deliberations and took on board the arguments from the south-east London community about how essential a station at Woolwich is. I should also like to put on record my congratulations to my local authority of Greenwich. Working with local people, it has led the campaign and also brought the business community on board. We would not be celebrating today without the contribution made by those who will benefit directly from the development of a station at Woolwich.
I should also like to put on record my congratulations to the Mayor of London, who has fought so hard for Crossrail. His support for a station at Woolwich may have been a bit belated, but he got there in the end. We never tire of saying that the score
is now 3-0 to Greenwich on major infrastructure projects: we won the arguments on the docklands light railway and the Jubilee line, and now we have won the one about Crossrail.
The Crossrail project is essential to Woolwichs development as a hub for my community in south-east London and, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich said, for the countrys economy. The scheme must go ahead.
I shall end with a question for the Minister. I am grateful for the written answer that I received today, the final paragraph of which states:
Main construction of the scheme would begin in 2010, and we expect the first trains to run in 2017 as part of a 12-month build up to the full Crossrail service.
I hope that my hon. Friend will forgive me, but we in south-east London are a bit sensitive and are aware that words are open to interpretation. When he responds to the debate, can he confirm that the full Crossrail service will include the south-east extension and the station at Woolwich? I know that it will, but it would be nice to have that on the record.
In conclusion, I congratulate everyone who has brought us to this juncture. Finally, the south-east extension and a station at Woolwich are fully part of the Crossrail scheme.
Mr. Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con): For a project that is unlikely to cost less than £16 billion, ongoing questions about the need for Crossrail are legitimate. At a time when the Government have slashed plans for large-scale tram and train-link programmes outside London and the south-east, the amount being put into London might seem perverse. As a London Member, I have always supported Crossrail, but it is important that we go through the arguments at this juncture. My constituents ask, Why on earth do we need to have a further link running across central London? There are relatively few votes in this issue for me or, I suspect, for any other London Member. Constituents who live in the firing line are perhaps rightly fearful of disruption, damage and inconvenience when the project is finally built.
I believe, however, that there is a great need in central London for the project, not least because of the big problems with capacity. As my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond) pointed out, the project has been mooted for well over half a century, and only the Bakerloo line is running at less than full capacity. To return to the point made by the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake), a number of other tube lines have been extended north and south over the central area in the past 30 or so years. However, it is not practical simply to extend branch lines and bring more people into central London without the capacity-building that Crossrail will offer. It will be a proper addition to the infrastructure within the central district of the City and the zone 1 area, including the west end, which is increasingly important in commercial terms.
The hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington rightly makes the case about funding, but in previous Sessions the funding package was by no means in place. Indeed, the numbers being bandied around at that
juncture were £10 billion to £13 billion, which makes me all the more sceptical about whether the project will necessarily remain within the budget of £16 million. That is the way of things with large-scale infrastructure projects.
I am sure that the Minister will have something to say about funding, but it appears that it is finally in place. The City of London corporation provided the vital piece in the jigsaw at its meeting at the beginning of October, although I appreciate that there are concerns about the precipitate decision that was required by the Treasury. However, it was always clear that a fairly substantial financial contribution would be required. My understanding is that there will be a one-off lump sum of £200 million and that the City of London corporation will lead efforts to raise a further £150 million from the Citys financial sector.
Tom Brake: The fact that the hon. Gentleman is using figures that are slightly different from mine reinforces the need for the Minister to provide some clarity. Members need to know that the financial package that has been put in place will be recession-proof. Until we see the figures, we do not know what we are dealing with.
Mr. Field: That is a legitimate point, but the discussion has been going on for some years without any firm funding being in place.
I also pay tribute to Canary Wharf, which is putting up a considerable suma rather larger sum than the City of London corporation, if rumours are to be believed. It will receive the benefit of a station in the Billingsgate market district of Canary Wharf, and that will undoubtedly make an immense difference to Canary Wharfs capacity to build to the south and on South Quay. There will be a proper transport network for all those who wish to work or, indeed, play in that part of London.
The right hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr. Raynsford) pointed out the immense value of getting the transport infrastructure right. Although I am reasonably sceptical of the figures being bandied about, there are estimates that City businesses lose more than £1 million a day because of transport delays. The net benefit of Crossrail will apparently be £30 billion over the next 60 years, and that does not even include its contribution to taxation. I accept that the figures might have been plucked from the sky, but it is essential to compare them with the large costs that will be incurred. The project will also help to create great prosperity and, as others Members have pointed out, the economic success of central London is essential. All recent surveys of businesses within central London have put transport failings and, in particular, public transport failings at the top of the wish-list of problems to be overcome. Crossrail is a positive step forward.
You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will forgive me for touching on one last point. I have ongoing concerns, on behalf of my constituents, about the route. I have discussed my concerns on many occasions, and many petitioners have had the opportunity to put their case during previous deliberations. The process will, no doubt, continue as the Bill goes to the House of Lords
and proceeds through its stages, assuming that the carry-over motion is agreed today.
Without the funding, there was a big risk of a blight on the entire areaa risk that predates our discussions on the Bill. In many ways, it goes back to 1994, when various reserved areas were put in place. That has made life difficult for people living in Mayfair, the Barbican and Bayswater in my constituency, and, I suspect, for people in many other parts of London. They felt that the prospect of those works would lessen the value of their properties, and that a great deal of disruption was likely in the districts in which they lived. I hope that the Bill will move on with great speed. Clearly, there will be great inconvenience for many people who live in central London, or in the other parts of London that will be affected, but the benefits will be terrific in the years ahead. I am glad that Members of Parliament across the House, who perhaps recognise that there will be relatively few votes in the issue come election time, accept that there will be a greater benefit to the capital, and to the commercial and economic interests of the country.
Sir Peter Soulsby (Leicester, South) (Lab): I support the carry-over motion. It is no coincidence that, as Members reminded us, the Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill submitted its report to the House today. I am one of the 10 Members who served on that Committee for the best part of two years. I hope that it will not disappoint the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond) too much if I do not entirely take his suggestion that we should resist the opportunity to speak. I will speak on the Bill, at least for a little while, as it has been such a major part of our lives for so long.
I hope that in this debate on the carry-over motion, you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will permit me to talk a little about the work of the Committee, and the strengths and weaknesses of the way in which that work was undertaken, because I think that it might help right hon. and hon. Members if they understand how we came to be at this stage and the work that we have done. Of course, I share the Ministers hope that that work will not prove to have been wasted. The hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake) reminded us that the House had a Crossrail Bill before it on a previous occasionthe Crossrail Bill that collapsed in 1994. Those of us who have spent the best part of two years on the Bill that we are discussing today will want it to fare better than the other Bill did, and will not want it to collapse. Of course, we are very much heartened in that hope by the fact that the Government have given such a firm commitment to the scheme, seem to have a credible funding package in place, and seem determined not to let the Bill collapse, as its predecessor did. Those of us who have spent so long living with the Bill feel that that makes our efforts appear worth while.
Undoubtedly, Crossrail is an exciting scheme. The Minister used the word unenviable when he described our task, and I have to say that sometimes in the past two years it has not seemed quite so exciting. Since 19 January 2005, we have met to discuss the Bill up to eight times a week, and sometimes during
parliamentary recesses. There were 84 days of public meetings, and sometimes there were three separate sittings a day. We have considered 205 petitions in total. That has not always seemed exciting. There was a mountain of paperwork. We had to consider some 413 written submissions, and evidence bundles began to fill Committee Room 5. At times, rather than feeling enthusiasm for the project, we felt somewhat disheartened and rather irritated by the process to which we were subjected.
I am afraid that I will speak for a little while longer. I want to begin by considering the way in which the members of the Committee were selected. Those right hon. and hon. Members who have had a chance to have a look at our
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I hate to reduce the hon. Gentlemans time addressing the House, but we do not need to go down that line at this stage unless it is very pertinent to why the Bill should be carried over.
Sir Peter Soulsby: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I entirely accept your guidance on that matter. There will no doubt be other occasions on which I shall be able to refer to that strange and unsatisfactory part of the process.
We as a Committee were charged with a quasi-judicial role in relation to the Bill. We provided an audience for petitioners, and we were successful in concentrating the efforts of the promoters and the petitioners to reach agreement, often outside the Committee Room, and in taking a view of the particular circumstances of those who petitioned against the Bill. That enabled us to make sensible proposals with regard, for example, to the traders in Smithfield, whose situation is undoubtedly different from that of many other traders who might be affected by a similar Bill.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr. Raynsford) reminded us, we had the opportunity to argue forcefully and successfully, supported by him and other right hon. and hon. Members, for the station at Woolwich, and we proposed amendments to the Bill to enable a station to be built. We picked up a wide range of other issues, some as major and significant as the way in which Liverpool Street station should be modified, and some apparently trivial but important to the people affected by them, such as how peoples back gardens would be affected and whether a couple of metres of land should be taken. That may be significant to them, but not of the same significance to the scheme as matters such as Liverpool Street.
We have been able to respond appropriately to the cases put to us. To some extent we were hindered by the fact that the Committee can only be reactive in its response. It sits, essentially, to hear petitions and respond to petitioners against the Bill. It cannot be proactive. Although we took opportunities to make visits and to examine more generally some of the matters before us, issues about how hybrid Bill Committees operate could usefully be re-examined in the light of our experience, before a similar scheme comes before the House, possibly after a gap of some 10 years, as with the present Bill.
As is evident from our report, we hope that the Committee in the Lords will consider the fundamental issue of the public, Members of the House and, ultimately, Members in another place fully understanding what the Bill requires, as opposed to what it permits. We as a Committee felt that a list of amendments and undertakings was not sufficient. There should be an opportunity for Members and the public to gain a better understanding of what is permitted and what is required by the Bill.
I gave one example when I referred to Liverpool Street station. Although the Committee was anxious that that should be dealt with in a particular way, as a result of the process that we had gone through we could not be certain what would be delivered when the promoters built in the area. Similarly, the major triumph for the campaign for a station at Woolwich merely permits a station to be built there. In conjunction with that permission having been granted, the Government have gone to great lengths to ensure that an appropriate consortium is brought together and a funding package is made available to enable a station to be built, but it is not, as I understand it, a requirement of the Bill that such a station should be provided. That is an example of one of the issues that the Committee thought should be borne in mind both as the Bill continues its passage and more generally when we consider how hybrid Bills are dealt with in future.
It would have been useful if the Committee had had an opportunity, like Public Bill Committees, to hear evidence on some of the issues. We could have done so in respect of ground-borne noise, the compensation code, freightwe have specifically suggested that the other place might wish to consider freightor whether a floating-slab track was appropriate. Such issues could usefully have been the subject of evidence sittings at the outset. Those sittings would have enormously helped the Committee to consider the significant number of petitions, although we did do that, and to do its job consistently throughout the process. They would have enabled Members who could not attend all sittings to understand the wider picture.
The Committee has come to the end of the process and we are enormously grateful for the support of the staff of the House: the Clerksparticularly the excellent Committee Assistantsand the various parts of the House administration, which have helped our work. We were enormously helped by the promoters counsel, who enabled us to understand some of the issues that in an ideal world we would have wished to explore independently. They helped us to make the system work flexibly.
As I hinted earlier, there are issues for the House on how Committees dealing with hybrid Bills should be appointed in future. There are questions about the powers given to them andas is evident in our reportabout the instructions given to them. I hope that despite those issues, the House will feel that we have done our work conscientiously, well and thoroughly. I hope that we have helped reassure the House that the Bill can be carried over with confidence.
It is appropriate that the carry-over motion should have come from the Committee, with our report, to the House, and that backing and funding should be being given just as the last hybrid Bill to have been successfully steered through the Housethat for the
channel tunnel rail linkis having such a dramatic impact at St. Pancras, where the link will soon open. I speak with confidence on behalf of the majority of the Committees members in saying that I hope that what we have produced in the past two years to take forward the Crossrail Bill will ultimately result in something that will equal the importance of the channel tunnel rail linknot only to London, but to the infrastructure of the United Kingdom in general.
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