UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE To be published as HC 235-xvi
HOUSE OF COMMONS
MINUTES OF EVIDENCE
taken before the
Tuesday 20 March 2007
Mr Alan Meale, in the Chair
Mr Brian Binley
Ms Katy Clark
Mr Philip Hollobone
Ordered: That Counsel and Parties be called in.
The Petition of the West India Dock Commercial Ship Owners.
MR JULIAN CARTWRIGHT appeared for the Petitioners.
20936. CHAIRMAN: The hearing today will be with the West India Dock Commercial Ship Owners.
20937. MS LIEVEN: Sir, perhaps I can just make a quick opening, explaining where we are. I have put up the aerial view of North Dock, which the Committee have seen a number of times so as to orientate themselves. What we are dealing with today is the five commercial boats that lie at the west end of the North Dock, and one can see three of them here. Sir, if you remember, this is the Marriott Hotel and the station is going in in this location (indicating).
20938. If we can go to the next aerial shot, here are the boats, five commercial boats with a variety of uses, and Mr Cartwright will explain the uses to you, I am sure. The difficulty we are in, sir, is that under both scenario one and scenario two of the construction works in West India North Dock, these boats have to be moved. Under scenario one, the dock is partially drained and under scenario two, this area (indicating) is cut off with silt being put under the water and there simply is not any possibility of the boats remaining there under either construction scenario, so the issue is what happens to them.
20939. Now, we have been in extensive discussions already with the Canary Wharf Group and British Waterways, trying to find an alternative home for these boats, and perhaps I can have a plan put up. This is the dock complex, and I will just take a moment to orientate the Committee, but obviously we are in the Isle of Dogs, so the Thames is looping round here. North Dock is right up at the top, and I am indicating the position of the boats at the moment which we are concerned with. This is Belmouth Passage where one gets exit and entry into North Dock at the moment, and this is the rest of the dock complex, stretching down here (indicating). We will see this in a little more detail on Thursday with the Poplar Dock boats.
20940. The preferred location for these five boats is to put them into Middle Branch Dock or Middle Dock, which lies just to the south of the main Canary Wharf buildings. There are difficulties with that and we have discussed it with Canary Wharf. They were initially not enthusiastic because of construction work. They are now, after a meeting yesterday, slightly more inclined to think that that might be a possibility, but we have not got to the stage where any fixed commitments have been made.
20941. The next best option is to put them in South Dock in a location somewhere around here (indicating) and the third option, which I appreciate the commercial boat owners are not keen on because it is somewhat out of the way, is to put them in the north section of Millwall Dock in this kind of location (indicating).
20942. Sir, we are wholly committed to relocation and we are totally committed to talking to British Waterways and Canary Wharf Group and any other landowner whom we may need to gain agreement from in order to find the best possible alternative location for them, so, in truth, there is no dispute with this Petitioner. We are very happy to continue those discussions, we have every intention of doing so, and we are very happy for the Committee to record its desire for Canary Wharf and British Waterways to work with us because the Committee will understand that, to a large degree, the relocation is out of our hands; it depends on the co-operation of third parties and, in particular, British Waterways and Canary Wharf Group, so anything that the Committee can do in terms of asking those third parties to work with us co-operatively will be of assistance to all concerned.
20943. CHAIRMAN: On that point, we are in the process of trying to bring together British Waterways to have an open session where we discuss some of the problems which are clearly to the fore in respect of this site, and we will be doing that very, very soon.
20944. MS LIEVEN: Sir, perhaps I can just touch on that because it may be helpful for later in the week. Those behind me will tell me if I have got this wrong, but in respect of Poplar Dock, which the Committee saw when they went on a site visit, there is a major problem with relocating all those boats together. We have been in discussions with British Waterways and we did suggest to them that they might like to attend the Committee in order to explain in particular their problems with relocating the residential boats to Millwall Dock. I do understand from a conversation that was had yesterday and I think perhaps an email, although I have not seen it yet, that British Waterways are not willing to attend because, to be fair to them, they are concerned that it might prejudice their position, depending on what happens next.
20945. The present position is that I believe they are going to write to the Committee, but they are not going to attend with a witness. That is just a matter of record, sir. We have no power to compel them obviously, nor would we wish to do so because we wish to have a co-operative relationship with them. Indeed, their co-operation is absolutely essential for relocating all of these boats, so the last thing we want to do is upset them by being, as it were, too heavy-handed. Sir, that is where we are with them at the moment, but I understand that by Thursday morning the Committee will have a document setting out British Waterways' position on relocating the residential boats.
20946. CHAIRMAN: We will see what they send us and we will make a decision then, but I am still willing to press for a meeting with them and for them to come to the Committee and I will pursue that.
20947. MS LIEVEN: Sir, as I say, we are very keen to maintain a good working relationship with them. We are, to some degree, and I am perhaps going off Mr Cartwright's Petition on to the Poplar Dock Petition, but we are conscious, having had detailed discussions with them, that, in their view, there are very significant problems in relocating the Poplar boats together into Millwall Dock. Ultimately, sir, it is quite a difficult position for the Promoter. If the landowner in question and the water owner, British Waterways, say adamantly that they cannot do it, that there is no space, then we have to accept what they say, so that is rather where we had got to on that problem, and we will obviously come back to it in a lot more detail on Thursday. If there are any ways in which the Committee feel we should be acting which could assist, we are more than happy to do what we can.
20948. Sir, that is the position on the commercial boat owners, hopefully a more straightforward one than on the Poplar Dock boats, and I will hand over to Mr Cartwright who, I think, has a short statement. Sir, I have Mr Berryman here and he can explain the position in more detail if the Committee wants to hear it, but, on the face of it, we are agreeing with Mr Cartwright, so it may not be necessary to hear Mr Berryman.
20949. CHAIRMAN: Mr Cartwright?
20950. MR CARTWRIGHT: Good morning. I am Julian Cartwright, the Chairman of the West India Commercial Ship Owners Association, and I am grateful for this opportunity to colour in some of the detail relating to our Petition. I have prepared some initial notes and what I would like to do is just cover a few key points for the Committee and perhaps I might then show you some photographs of the area in some detail rather than looking at it from above to give you a better understanding of the vessels involved, the businesses and the concerns that relate to the relocation of those businesses.
20951. My initial thoughts are that we were very surprised, as a very prominent and clearly very visible group of craft, that we had no formal communication from Crossrail at all prior to the presentation of our Petition. It seemed that it was expected that British Waterways, who had no mandate to do this, would communicate with us and tell us what we should do. I did manage to get the necessary paperwork together myself on behalf of some of my members, so initially I would just register surprise that, when other people could be consulted and spoken to in the preparation of all of this, we were ignored and I felt that that was less than fair.
20952. My second point is that I am very much aware of the plight of the other boat owners, the residential users and the leisure boat owners in the docks and I do share their concerns and understand the difficulties, as a boat owner myself. However, in the case of the West India Dock Commercial Ship Owners, our craft are not only our homes, but they are also our businesses, and this relocation places particular pressures on our livelihoods and the difficulties that that brings upon us. I would, therefore, suggest that our need of support from the Select Committee is of the very highest nature because, as things stand, the impact of these changes and the disruption that relocation of the businesses will cause blights the sale of our businesses at this time. Many of our owners have invested heavily in their barges and at some point, myself included, they would rather like to retire, and we regard our craft and the businesses we have created on those craft as being our pension fund. At this time they are totally unsaleable because there is no forward business plan for them and we are really blighted, and I wish to draw that key fact to the attention of the Select Committee.
20953. I do believe that we have worked hard to create commercial agreements with British Waterways which did everything possible to ensure that we had prepared ourselves properly and were on a proper financial footing, and Crossrail coming over the hill at us has rather knocked us sideways, so I really do need your support.
20954. I would like now just to dwell on the two families who actually live on two of the barges as well as conducting businesses on them. One of the families has young children and, if the barges are relocated, they could find themselves in a different school catchment area, needing to go to a different doctor, and the whole business and umbilicus of life which relates to where a family and a business is located is a very great concern and worry to my members.
20955. We do agree entirely with the Promoter, Crossrail, that they are working hard to work with Canary Wharf and British Waterways, but neither of those bodies, as we heard this morning, has any specific duty to find us somewhere and we can only work on their good offices. I would assure you that we, with our own contacts within both of those organisations, will also be working alongside Crossrail to try to reach a satisfactory conclusion, but we are far from happy with what is being proposed at this time.
20956. Perhaps I might just refer to the plan which is 04-002, and I just refer to the two suggested sites for the present time. On this one here (indicating), you will notice that there is a bridge. The bridge actually swings and, therefore, half of the shaded site is completely unusable because it will be swept over by the bridge every time it opens, so the shaded area should be half the size it is. In respect of the area which could be used, which is on the south side of the dock, that is Admirals Quay and the area there is populated by some low-rise buildings which were early Docklands developments. A visit to that area would show that every window of those buildings is fitted with sliding steel shutters. The area is prone to break-ins and vandalism and is, under the shadow of the buildings, provided no light directly, so there is no direct sunlight on to that mooring. The quayside is in fact owned by the property company and not by British Waterways and is in a poor state of repair. That would be our very least favourable mooring for a relocation. It really is most unsuitable and there is absolutely no car parking, which we have at this time, even though a ventilation shaft will be dropped into the car park we currently occupy.
20957. The second mooring here (indicating) is adjacent to one of the largest skyscrapers being built in the Docklands at this time and further works, in fact that whole area is a vast building site. This is the Millwall Inner Dock. I am intimately familiar with it because I relocated from that area, after a visitation from the IRA, to West India Quay, and I am aware that British Waterways have concerns that there will continue to be a lot of barge traffic through that area which again makes it less attractive for moorings.
20958. If we could look now at the photographs which I have prepared, I am sorry that they are not of the best quality, but the weather yesterday failed to oblige, although there is no snow visible. This is a view of the residential craft from across the dock. If we can move on to the next one, you see clearly the barges are moored adjacent to West India Quay which is the historic quayside and home of the Museum of the Docklands and Port East Apartments. The quayside is rather like a small version of Covent Garden with a whole series of restaurants and cafes which generate a lot of activity. It is a very pleasant place to be, and a very good advertisement for our craft and it provides us with a lot of visibility for our businesses.
20959. The next one is just a general view, not very clear, so we can move on and we can now start to pick up the craft in question. The first two craft belong to me. The smaller of the two, the Leven, is a restaurant barge and private function suite which has been operating in the Docklands for some 23 years, and we have seen all of Canary Wharf come to this area. The vessel next door, Dana, is the offices for our business and also my home. It is worth noting that in the case of the Leven, the barge which operates for functions of all types, our clients include Canary Wharf themselves, British Waterways, Ogilvy & May, Credit Suisse, Chevron Texaco, Morgan Stanley, Barclays Capital, the London Boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham, Mersk Line, Clifford Chance and HSBC, among others. Therefore, we perform our business and we need to be very closely located to Canary Wharf in order for us to continue, and the distance from the key customers is very important because they will not walk very far, I fear.
20960. If we could move to the next photograph, this is another general arrangement which just shows the craft. Again that is a client view of my own particular vessel, which could be a bit more photogenic!
20961. Another important element of what we have at West India Quay, and which obviously I think we are keen to preserve, is that part of the licensed area of the vessel is the pontoon area which has chairs and tables on it, which during the summer, with the spectacular background of Canary Wharf, provides us with a very attractive venue. The loss of that would significantly impact upon our income.
20962. This vessel is the Purnell Gallery on the Prins. A young couple with two small children live aboard the craft. The craft is engaged in providing facilities for art exhibitions and also provides some function facilities as well within Docklands.
20963. This is the barge Maria which is owned by Mr Roderick James who runs a company called Green Oak Barns. He has equipped the interior of the barge to reflect the designs and possibilities that he can create within a green oak barn, and therefore it is both a showroom and business meeting site for his business, and is located at Canary Wharf because that is very close to where he hopes to find his customers.
20964. Lastly, the St Peters barge. Members of the Committee, this is a particular concern to me. This barge is a floating church and is so popular that it has not one meeting a day but has two sittings for each occasion, and people have to be shuffled out for the second prayer meeting etc to go on. It is very busy indeed and I believe somewhere for the people from Canary Wharf to come and confess their sins!
20965. We can move quickly on and say the concern we have with the St Peters is that it must remain within its own parish. Therefore, if it is located in certain parts of the dock, which are suggested as possible mooring, it would be outside its parish and, therefore, outside its remit. Therefore it needs particular care and attention in find it somewhere within its parish, and where its parishioners can beat a path to its door.
20966. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share with you some pictures of the craft, which I hope give you a better understanding of the little community that we have.
20967. CHAIRMAN: Could we list those photographs as A242.
20968. MR CARTWRIGHT: Thank you. I would ask that if it were at all possible, and I know that the construction methods which are being proposed for the construction of the Crossrail Station seem to change on a fairly regular basis, if there was a construction method which would allow us to remain our far and away preferred to solution to our situation would be to remain where we are - always providing we were able to exit the dock in order to carry out maintenance and repairs.
20969. There was a brief suggestion that some sort of dry dock could be created for the craft within the area. This really is not workable, I have to tell you, from many years of experience with ships. A dry dock would not work. It would have to be a wet dock, which would need to submerge and to lift craft.
20970. The largest craft are 130 feet long and carry about 90 tonnes of ballast, so it would have to be something fairly substantial to lift them. Once you start carrying out repairs, with welding equipment, generators, shock-blasting, paint machinery etc, I do believe the residents and our good friends on Canary Wharf and Port East Apartments would be less than impressed with the noise, smell etc. This is commercial activity which needs to be carried out in a shipyard and would not realistically be possible within the areas available, sadly.
20971. In conclusion, I would just like to say that the Petitioners are not anti-Crossrail at all, and we fully appreciate the long-term benefits that Crossrail will bring to the area and to the wider community, of which we are but a small part. However, we would seek to be left unharmed by the required activity as the Act demands, and would reserve our right to appear before any further select committee in another place. Thank you very much.
20972. MS LIEVEN: Sir, as I said in opening, we are wholly committed to finding the most beneficial possible alternative location for the boats - wholly committed. We are in discussions with Canary Wharf and British Waterways, but Mr Cartwright is quite right, obviously there are other landowners around so some of the alternative locations involve talking to other parties as well.
20973. Can I say, sir, just to emphasise just how committed we are to trying to find a solution to this that apparently our chairman's daughter is one of the leaders of the church community; so Mr Berryman is getting considerable pressure back at the office to find a solution to this problem. Can I also say, sir, that the chances of finding -----
20974. CHAIRMAN: In engineering terms, everything is possible!
20975. MS LIEVEN: That is right! I was about to say even Mr Berryman would say that we will of course explore all options and continue to work very hard on all options. We touched on this last week, and indeed a couple of weeks before that, that there were a lot of issues around this station; but the chances of being able to keep those boats in the dock and get access out, which they must have for repair purposes, is I understand from Mr Berryman very slight. I would not want the Committee to think there was likely to be a magic solution to that one.
20976. CHAIRMAN: In any of the options which were shown earlier, are any in the church parish?
20977. MS LIEVEN: Certainly Middle Branch is, I believe. I am not sure about the other two; I do not know where the parish boundary is. That is an issue which has been raised with us before that we are extremely conscious of. Obviously Mr Oakby's(?) interest makes us all the more knowledgeable about it, but the Committee can see that there are not a lot of options. After yesterday's meeting with Canary Wharf, where they were more hopeful about the possibility of getting the boats into Middle Branch Dock, we very much hope that is a way forward; because I think that is one which is in the right location for the commercial boats, because they do not want to be down in Millwall because it is too far way from their customers ultimately; it is the right location for the church; and it is in a convenient location. From the boat owners' point of view that we understand to be clearly the best option; but it is ultimately at the behest of Canary Wharf.
20978. MR BINLEY: I am slightly concerned about what appears to me (and I may have the wrong impression) to be not the most positive reaction from British Waterways. I do not wish to put words into your mouth, Ms Lieven, in any sense at all but would my impression be correct, or am I mistaken?
20979. MS LIEVEN: Those behind me will correct me if I have got this wrong, but I think so far as these Petitioners are concerned, the principal third party who may hold the solution is Canary Wharf and Middle Branch Dock.
20980. So far as Popular is concerned, certainly any solution for the Popular boat owners staying in the West India Quay complex as a whole turns on British Waterways. I cannot speak as to how completely robust their position on Millwall Dock is, we just cannot tell; but if there is going to be a solution for Popular it totally depends on British Waterways.
20981. Sir, that is not an absolutely straight answer to the question but I hope you get the general impression of it.
20982. MR BINLEY: Yes, I have read between the lines. My second question is, I am really concerned about the people involved here, it seems to me that time is beginning to be of the essence, and I just want to be assured that these good people can come back to us if things do not work out as you intimate you hope they will do. How can that fit in with this process?
20983. MS LIEVEN: Sir, obviously we hope we are beginning to draw to a close the committee hearings in this House.
20984. MR BINLEY: We hope so too!
20985. MS LIEVEN: There is no question whatsoever that these Petitioners can come back in another place and raise the concerns. I think I should say, sir, and again Mr Berryman or somebody else will tug my gown if I have got this wrong, part of the difficulty we have here is timing. We all know, it is not a secret, that there is not a fixed date for Crossrail works to begin. Around Canary Wharf the Committee will know from their site visit, but also from their knowledge, there are a lot of building works going ahead at different times. There is the North Quay development; there are things happening at Heron Quay; you will hear on Thursday or next week about things happening at Wood Walk. Opportunities open up and then they close down again if something changes. It may well be that one absolutely fixed solution is not decided on by the time we leave Parliament altogether; but we are hoping to narrow down the options and to tie the third parties, in particular Canary Wharf and British Waterways, to some clear commitment.
20986. Sir, in terms of coming back, obviously until this Committee is finally closed they can come back here; but, probably more importantly, they can come back in another place if the boat owners feel that we have not done all that we should.
20987. MR BINLEY: I am concerned about the vagueness of their recourse to action by the boat owners. That does concern me. My view of this whole thing has been that the Promoters are the interlopers into existing sites, existing businesses and existing homes. Consequently the Promoters need to go way out of their way to ensure that the people disaffected by the project (which is supposedly for the good of the people of this country, locals specifically) should not be so disaffected. I have not heard from you how we might guarantee that for these people?
20988. MS LIEVEN: Sir, it is a difficult one here. We absolutely accept the need to do what can be done for these people. There is no equivocation on this. I put this one into Mr Mould's famous speech about the Stepney Green church. We will do everything we can but unfortunately in this one, unlike some where it is simply a question of handing over some cash or digging a bigger hole, we are ultimately at the say-so of other parties; because we cannot simply say, "We'll solve your problem and we'll move you to Middle Branch". We will commit to doing everything we can in terms of talking to third parties. It is very helpful if the Committee makes its view very clear because that helps us with third parties.
20989. MR BINLEY: Just one more question I do apologise but I am concerned. I recognise the ever-changing nature of this whole development site, because that is what it is, and the development is only part completed. I recognise there are opportunities open which are closed within a very short time; and I recognise that big, great tower blocks often take precedence over what are very small people in little boats - and I do not mean that in any rude sense at all.
20990. Is there not a way, at the very end of the day, within a given timeframe, that Crossrail will need to fully and properly compensate these people if that becomes necessary and that that compensation sits way outside the code? Is there an undertaking that can deal with that?
20991. MS LIEVEN: Sir, there is an entitlement to compensation in the Act under the Bill for interference with private rights of navigation. There is no possible question that these people's private rights of navigation -----
20992. MR BINLEY: I think you misunderstood my question. I want you to tell me something different and something special. Are you people going to do that?
20993. MS LIEVEN: Sir, I can tell you the something special, because there is a specific clause in the Bill about private rights of navigation which is specific to Crossrail, so there will be compensation available. The precise extent of that compensation very much depends on exactly what is claimed, and on the legal basis of what is claimed. Sir, that is as far as I can go. Obviously if the Committee wants us to go further then the Committee can say so.
20994. Can I say, sir, I do not understand. In all our discussions with the commercial ship owners I do not think their primary concern is compensation.
20995. MR BINLEY: I recognise that.
20996. MS LIEVEN: They want a good alternative mooring, and we are doing everything we can to achieve good alternative mooring; but behind that there is the safety net of their right to compensation.
20997. CHAIRMAN: I really need your advice here. I am a great believer in the fact that commonsense usually prevails at the end of the day. Taking you back to your statement a little bit earlier about the position of British Waterways being helpful in this matter, it is true to say that this Committee does not have the powers to order them to come before the Committee. Can you advise me, what if this Committee were minded (and I am saying this because I want it on the record) to recommend that the Promoters compulsorily acquire the dock or have reason to? Would that be possible within the remit of the powers of the Committee?
20998. MS LIEVEN: Sir, there are two different docks which we are talking about. So far as Middle Branch Dock is concerned, I do not know the detail of where is being proposed - I know it is Middle Branch Dock but I do not know exactly where and I do not know exactly how it interfaces with Canary Wharf Group's development aspiration - but I think both us and Canary Wharf Group would be very, very unhappy with some kind of blanket recommendation that we promote an additional provision to compulsorily purchase land there, because it could have truly knock-on effects on development rights there.
20999. Sir, what I know of the discussion yesterday, I think with a fair wind and a bit of assistance from the Committee in terms of talking -----
21000. CHAIRMAN: That is what I am trying to get to now. As I understand it, it is possible the Committee could put some kind of decision like that albeit difficult to pick up after the event. If we are not being given the help, the guidance and the participation that we seek, could we not then in return say, "We would have little other option but to look at both these scenarios"?
21001. MS LIEVEN: Sir, I would strongly urge, as far as this Petition is concerned and Middle Branch Dock, that would be the wrong way to go. Cooperation with Canary Wharf Group will be much more productive. I am speculating because I do not claim to have full knowledge of the detail of Middle Branch, but what would happen is we would promote an additional provision potentially in the light of your request, and then that would be bitterly opposed by Canary Wharf Group and potentially by other occupiers around Middle Branch Dock.
21002. CHAIRMAN: Having heard your remit and response to that, what about Poplar Dock?
21003. MS LIEVEN: Can I just make one final word on Middle Branch, sir. We understand from the discussions we have had with Canary Wharf Group that they see these commercial boats as being an asset to Middle Branch Dock. They are not opposed to having them in principle. It is a question of getting them to fit in with their timetable. If we put that one to one side.
21004. Sir, the position with Poplar is significantly more complicated. If we could just put up the plan, please. Obviously to some degree I am adlibbing because we were going to deal with this on Thursday. The Committee will remember Poplar Docks up here, and we also have the Blackwall Basin boats here. Between the two there are over one hundred boats. You will hear on Thursday, or whenever we hear their petition, there are question marks over how many of those boats leave the dock regularly anyway. There is a division between the ones that are used residentially primarily and some that are used mainly for leisure purposes. The leisure ones obviously leave a lot; the residential ones, some leave but some do not leave so much. There are issues there.
21005. If the Committee is minded to try to find a home for all of them for three and a half to five years, which is the time we are talking about, which gives them access out into the Thames then there are effectively two options: there is the Royal Docks, which are way off over here somewhere, which have various problems, including the fact they have to go through the Thames Barrier to get to them, but where there is space for the whole lot potentially to go together; and then there is the West India Dock complex of which we have Millwall Inner Dock here and Millwall Outer Dock here.
21006. What BWB are saying to us is that as far as Millwall Outer Dock is concerned there is a sailing club going on there and I think there are certain other activities which are planned there but, as far as both are concerned, there are residential blocks and houses round the dock. It is British Waterways' case, as I understand it and I have not seen their detailed submission, that there is neither space in these docks for all these boats but nor is it at all feasible to put in the pontoons and the associated infrastructure that would allow all hundred‑odd boats to go into either Millwall Inner Dock or Millwall Outer Dock, so that is their position. What they have said to us, and I think this will probably be in the letter that they will write to the Committee, is that if we do promote an additional provision in either Millwall Inner or Outer Dock, they will fight it tooth and nail and they expect adjoining occupiers to fight it as well. It is really for them to explain why, but my understanding is it is a combination of the uses that they already have in the dock, the impact on the residential properties around, the infrastructure concerns and their development plans for the docks in any event. Sir, as a matter of law, there would be difficulties with an additional provision because we would be seeking only temporary powers and we would probably have to take the land permanently but those problems are probably superable, I am not suggesting they are not, but it is important that the Committee understands we had lots of discussions with British Waterways about this and they are absolutely adamant in their opposition. To some degree, I stand here as a middleperson because it is British Waterways which is saying all of this to us. Could I put it colloquially, sir: there is nothing in what British Waterways is saying to us which is so obviously wrong that we can say, "That is rubbish, we are not going to pay any attention to you". We are faced with a statutory undertaker and a landowner who is saying, "Absolutely no way" to us and we are slightly caught in the middle here. I hope that explains the situation. We certainly are not keen, to put it mildly, to promote an additional provision which we know will be bitterly opposed. Where we have promoted additional provisions so far has been in circumstances where we are seeking to make as many people as possible happy and where we know there is going to be relatively little opposition, certainly compared with the original proposal; here, we are caught between two forces.
21007. CHAIRMAN: Could I say that is helpful, albeit not the fullest reply. What I have to say is that, for the record, British Waterways have been asked to come along and help the Committee in its endeavours and they are refusing to do that. It is true to say that we cannot force them to attend, but if common sense is to prevail - bear in mind what I have put on the record today, an option which may cause them difficulty in which they may or may not have to petition against in the future - I hope that they take a common sense attitude. They might have a look at those words, then reflect on them and see if they can come back and talk to us and answer the queries we have put before them, because one of the main considerations that members had after the visit to Poplar was to see how we could try and get this family of people and keep them together. It is a serious consideration because it is their petition to us and we would have to look on their petition fairly, so we cannot really do that if all the options are closed down. It was made perfectly clear to us by them that for them to go there was not an option in their respect. British Waterways is not normally an antagonistic organisation and it is not known to be and I hope they will be sensible and agree to come to us if requested in the next day or so.
21008. MS LIEVEN: Sir, I am very content to leave the matter there and we will ensure ‑ I am sure you will as well ‑ that those words are brought to the attention of the British Waterways' agent after this hearing.
21009. CHAIRMAN: Mr Cartwright, you wanted a moment.
21010. MR CARTWRIGHT: Thank you. The first point I would make is perhaps something I should have mentioned earlier and I am sure it is something that has been raised by the Poplar Dock owners, that there is no Landlord and Tenant Act or any similar legislation which protects people living on boats, you do not have any rights in that regard. I believe that some submissions were submitted to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, but I have not seen anything come out the other side yet. That obviously places them in a particularly vulnerable position and your protection is of great value to us.
21011. In the submission that we made, we made three suggestions. Our obvious preferred and desirable solution is to find something within the West India Dock complex. We realise, because we know the dock well and the difficulties that all parties face in trying to resolve this issue, that it may not be possible to put everybody together and it may be possible that some people decide where they are offered is not where they want to be. Therefore, as a second proposition, we propose that Crossrail assists in relocation and compensation for those people who have to go away to find something else in the London area which would be suitable for them for the period. The third solution, if they decide that the whole thing is just getting too awful and too tremendous and they have to stop, is that they are compensated and go away and cease to be a problem at all for Crossrail. I put those together as propositions, understanding the sheer enormity of the problem and so splitting us up - the church may need to go within its parish; other people may need to go somewhere else - is not what we want but are not so critical as the Poplar Dock boaters who are more residential and a family community. We are a business community but very small and we could be split up if we had to.
21012. With regard to the Middle Branch Dock option, which I am pleased to see is moving back into interest, the area to the east of the Docklands Light Railway on the plan is, in fact, completely developed and that area, whilst not wonderful, would provide a viable alternative and I believe is one that Canary Wharf and British Waterways are looking at. Certainly, some of the barges could be accommodated there, providing parking and access for business purposes are available. The only problem with the Middle Branch Dock is, because it is not part of the main dock complex, the water became quite stagnant and, therefore, is heavily oxygenated and there is, in fact, an oxygenation system that bubbles water into this. I am not a great scientist, but I do know that if you put a tin box in highly oxygenated water it will rust quite quickly despite your best endeavours. Therefore, I think it may be necessary ‑ and I have not gone into this in any great depth, I have only become aware of it this morning ‑ for any craft that go in there to be specially coated to protect them from this highly oxygenated water. Certainly, the craft that is already moored in there I know came out of the water not long ago and has already started to rust through in quite a remarkable way and the owner was only showing it to me last week. That is a small consideration, which I would obviously look to Crossrail to assist us with should that become an issue and I would need to know more on the science of that. Thank you, sir.
21013. MR BINLEY: I am still concerned about the limited time resource, quite frankly. I am not happy that I understand how that is going to work to ensure that these good people can fully claim the rights which they need to claim.
21014. MS LIEVEN: I may have misunderstood your question, sir, but could I answer a question anyway. So far as the bit of Middle Branch Dock that Mr Cartwright was pointing to, which I think is this area here, the east side, that is where Mr Berryman has been talking to Mr Berry of Canary Wharf about and that area is separated from the area where development is likely to be going ahead over here, so we are hopeful that we will be able to reach agreement with Canary Wharf with a bit of assistance from this Committee before we finish the parliamentary process. Hopefully, on timing there is a good window there.
21015. Sir, could I make two other points as I am on my feet. As far as the issue of water quality in Middle Branch is concerned, Mr Berryman is happy to say that we will look into it. He instructs me that he does not think there is likely to be too much of a problem and it should be sortable, so it looks like one that could be overcome with proper treatment if there is a problem at all. So far as compensation is concerned, sir, what I would like to do with the allowance of the Committee is to write to Mr Cartwright and the Committee in the next 48 hours setting out our understanding of their compensation rights. Sir, I would like to do it that way because I have not Mr Smith here today and because Mr Cartwright is absolutely right that boat owners are in a different position to commercial occupiers on the land because they do not have the protection of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, that is why I referred in answer to a question from Mr Binley earlier to the interruption of private rights of navigation. That is precisely in order to ensure that these people are entitled to compensation because it is not something that is covered standardly under the Compensation Code but as far as the precise perimeters of that compensation are concerned, sir, I do not feel myself qualified to give chapter and verse on it. I think it is important we take instructions from our property advisers and check with Mr Smith. The last thing I want to do is to say anything that is incorrect, to give Mr Cartwright the wrong impression and then cause trouble, so if we can deal with it that way. We will write to Mr Cartwright and the Committee in the next 48 hours setting out our understanding of the compensation rights that arise here so then everybody understands. Mr Smith is attending to give evidence on Poplar Dock and if the Committee wants to ask any questions of him then that might be an appropriate moment.
21016. CHAIRMAN: Both of those are helpful: first, the letter, which we will look forward to receiving, and, secondly, the matter that negotiations will continue to see if you can find a solution to this.
21017. MR BINLEY: You clearly are mindful of our concerns of timing, you will take that into account and make sure that you do come back to us. If the hopes you have do not come to fruition, we still have to solve this problem if that is the case. As long as there is an undertaking from you to come back to us within the time frame, I am happy.
21018. MS LIEVEN: Thank you, sir.
21019. CHAIRMAN: That concludes this morning's hearing. The Committee will next meet at six pm this evening.
Adjourned until 6 pm
Ordered: That Counsel and Parties be called in.
The Petition of Woodseer and Hanbury Residents Association
MR STEPHEN WHALE appeared on behalf of the Petitioners
21020. CHAIRMAN: We will return now to the next petition, which is a return to the petition of Woodseer and Hanbury Residents Association. Mr Whale, can I just say at the beginning I realise that you were not aware that gowns and wigs were worn. I just put it on the record that it is for you to check that. We are not going to stop you from proceeding today but you are a lawyer and it is one of the oldest professions in the world, so to speak, and I think you appreciate that your colleagues in your industry are having to wear these gowns you have omitted to do that on this occasion and I think you should feel a little bit guilty about that fact.
21021. MR WHALE: I do, and I apologise. No discourtesy is meant. I am afraid it was neither checked nor communicated to me. I am about as formal as I could be without gowns.
21022. CHAIRMAN: I think it is pretty clear that you are still a lawyer without the gown.
21023. MR WHALE: Indeed, I am.
21024. CHAIRMAN: Anyway, that point has been made. Before we proceed I would like Mr Elvin to remind the Committee.
21025. MR ELVIN: Sir, you will recall that this petition last came before the Committee on Day 68 on 31 January when the Committee adjourned the matter just after it had begun on the basis that certain matters were raised in the evidence of Mr Schabas. You asked for the matter to be dealt with by correspondence. That, in fact, occurred. Letters were received on behalf of the Woodseer and Hanbury Residents Association with material from Mr Schabas, Mr Carpenter and some other material. That was followed shortly by a letter from the Spitalfields Small Business Association. I wrote to you on behalf of the Promoter on 1 March comprehensively responding to the matters raised in both sets of correspondence.
21026. Sir, so far as this evening is concerned you will have it on the record, because I raised this last time and, indeed, so far as the letter is concerned of 1 March, the major concern that is being raised with the Committee by this Residents Association is not an AP3 matter, which is the question of the alternative tunnel alignments. That is a matter which was ventilated on the main Bill petitions last summer. It is a matter which does not arise, as I informed the Committee last time, as a result of AP3. I have set out a number of matters which are pertinent to that in the letter which, unless you want me to read them into the record, I will not, they are set out in some detail as to where, in fact, alignments can be seen to have been considered.
21027. That being so, you wrote to the Association yourself making it clear that although the Association could come back on AP3 matters they did not have locus to raise other matters not relevant to AP3. I am sure your clerk will have advised you on the locus provisions and the provisions in Erskine May. The interest in the petition has got to arise in relation to the matter which is being petitioned, which is AP3. Thank you, sir.
21028. CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Mr Whale?
21029. MR WHALE: Sir, matters seem to have taken another curious turn. Those behind me I could hear express some surprise at the reference to my learned friend's 1 March letter which I have never seen and I am told that they have never seen. Quite how that has come about I know not but it is the first that they and I have ever heard of it. I do not know if Mr Elvin can help the Committee and myself on how it was communicated or by what method.
21030. CHAIRMAN: It is a surprise to me, Mr Whale, because it was my understanding that it was copied to the Petitioner.
21031. MR ELVIN: Sir, the position as I understand it from Mr Walker is it is a letter to you and we left it to the Committee to decide whether or not the Committee thought it appropriate to copy it. I can certainly let Mr Whale have a copy. (Same handed)
21032. CHAIRMAN: Mr Whale, you have got a copy now. Do you want a short adjournment to read it?
21033. MR WHALE: I would be very grateful for that, sir.
21034. CHAIRMAN: We will adjourn for ten or 15 minutes.
After a short break
21035. CHAIRMAN: Mr Whale, can I first of all apologise. It is not normal that such things as this happen; we try for it not to happen at all, and all I can do is apologise in that respect.
21036. MR WHALE: I am very grateful for that. It does confirm that we have not had sight of this letter before. Obviously I have had a brief chance to look at it and to take some instructions. With your leave, I have got some observations on it and then what I would regard as more substantive reasons as to why you ought to hear the Association this evening. Are you content for me to proceed in that fashion?
21037. CHAIRMAN: I would just like to point out to you what we have already communicated to you, which is about AP3 and the southern alignment and all the debate which we have had about that. You will appreciate that we, as a Committee, have been assigned a job by Parliament and within that they have already decided on the alignment and where stations should be.
21038. MR WHALE: If you are referring to your own recent letter to the Association, I have that well in mind, indeed I think it is in the bundle that we have provided for you. It is my job, as it were, to try to persuade you that the evidence that we would like to adduce tonight is referable to AP3, and that is what I would like to do.
21039. CHAIRMAN: You do it for a living, you have got to try and put it in that context.
21040. MR WHALE: Yes. All I would ask at the moment is for me to explain to you why it is referable to AP3. Mr Elvin may say he is not persuaded and then it will obviously be a matter for you and your Members.
21041. So far as the letter goes, I have just one or two introductory observations. The letter seeks, in a sense, to respond to representations both of my Association and the SSBA who obviously are formerly separate formerly separate Petitioners. I can understand why the letter seeks to address both the representations but that distinction ought not to be lost on you.
21042. At the foot of the third page there is a reference to an allegation by Mr Schabas as against Mr Berryman and the letter goes on to conclude at the foot of that page that you have already heard Mr Berryman's evidence and rejected Mr Schabas' assertion. For my own part, I cannot see how that conclusion has been reached. Yes, you have heard from Mr Berryman but where the rejection comes from, I know not. Be that as it may, on the last occasion Mr Schabas was in the middle of his evidence when proceedings when suspended. You invited him to write to the Committee, which he has done. To my mind that does not sit well with a submission that his evidence has already been rejected.
21043. What I had in mind this evening was for Mr Schabas, in a sense, to try and make good his allegation. He can be cross-examined by my learned friend, Mr Elvin, and can be asked questions by Members.
21044. There is a presumption at the top of the fourth page as to advice that may or may not have been given by previous counsel for the Association. The Association are content for me to say to you that that presumption is misplaced.
21045. Can I then turn to why, in the Association's view, its petition is directly referable to AP3? Those are the matters of substance that I alluded to a moment ago. The first point is that there is, as a result of very recently disclosed material, that is to say, and you have it in your bundle, a map. This might be an opportune time to have a look at that.
21046. CHAIRMAN: We will list this as A243. (Document so marked)
21047. MR WHALE: For the moment I do not think we need to put the map on the screen, I just simply want to advert to it and the date of its production. This is drawing A00/4 revision A which shows a number of alignments for the track. This was supplied to the Association on 24 January of this year. Their position is that this goes to the adequacy of both the Supplementary Environmental Statement and Crossrail's consideration of other routes. It is really two points: firstly the adequacy but, secondly, the fact that it has only been disclosed so very recently. The Promoter had promised to consider the southern route. The Association's position is that has not been done adequately or at all and this map is referable to that.
21048. The next point is that the Pedley Street tunnel worksite has been excluded and the Association's position is that has major implications for two things: firstly, the case for going through Spitalfields at all and, secondly, the need for a shaft in Hanbury Street.
21049. In your letter of 14 March 2007, Sir, if we might take that up, and again that is in the bundle, you very correctly reminded the Association on the purpose of the proceedings and you said that the general alignment of the tunnel and stations are part of the principle of the Bill and in my submission that reference to a general alignment does not preclude some consideration of other alignments. Limits of deviation have not been identified. I understand there has been an interim finding on the Hanbury Street site but no report to the House as such on that.
21050. The remit of this Committee is to consider petitions, which obviously plainly you are doing, and to report recommendations including as to compromise, and the Association's case on the alternative routes or the adequacy of the exercise to discount them, goes to the subject of compromise.
21051. Just as a matter of procedure and fairness, in my submission the House and this Committee ought to be concerned to ensure that the Environmental Statement of the Promoter complies with the relevant regulations and does what it is supposed to do. There is in the bundle for tonight advice from other counsel which says it is not adequate and this is an issue that the Committee ought to countenance.
21052. I understand, and I have seen the transcript of it, that on Day 74 of this Bill on 21 February 2007 the Promoter sought to submit that the petition of the Residents' Society of Mayfair and St James ought not to be considered for very similar reasons to those that had been advanced today. Mr McCracken QC, who was representing the Petitioners, put forward a number of points and I would like to adopt those. The first is that this is a petition by a group of residents whose homes and area are affected. Mr McCracken submitted, and again I adopt, that you should be very cautious, very cautious indeed, before refusing to hear the Petitioners. You have afforded them the chance to return, they are grateful for that, there are witnesses here, and they say their evidence is directly referable to AP3 and you ought to at least give them the chance to put that case before you.
21053. As I have already said, you suspended the hearing on 31 January because of, on the face of it, a serious allegation. Mr Schabas is here and, as I have said, he can be questioned by you under oath and by the Promoter; that has not happened before.
21054. The Association already nurses a sense of grievance as to the consultation exercise by the London borough of Tower Hamlets; that I know is not the responsibility of the Committee. That grievance would be compounded if they were to be shut out and, if I may say so, particularly in circumstances where, on my feet so to speak, I on their behalf am having to address a letter that was not forwarded to them and was apparently sent some two weeks or so ago. Those factors all militate in favour of giving them this opportunity to say to you why AP3 is directly an issue.
21055. CHAIRMAN: Can I respond, before you go on further? In relation to the letter I accept that and I have already issued apologies on behalf of the Committee.
21056. MR WHALE: I am grateful for that.
21057. CHAIRMAN: I think we can deal with it in that respect. What I am going to do is, at the end of this hearing, if you want to write a letter to this Committee in response to that letter, then we will take that as evidence. I think that is reasonable.
21058. MR WHALE: Would that be instead of evidence tonight or as well as?
21059. CHAIRMAN: No. You can go away from here and write a letter in response to the Committee. That is not instead of.
21060. But can I deal with one or two other matters? You referred to Mr McCracken and you intimated that perhaps we should not exclude Petitioners. That is why we are here tonight ‑ we have not. This Committee has the power to exclude anybody, really, if they think it is irrelevant to hear, or indeed to invite other people, as we did this morning, who perhaps do not wish to come to this Committee and we have tried to put pressure on them. So we are not trying to exclude people; we will, wherever possible, hear them.
21061. Can I refer to the question of whether or not this has been fully examined? The Association did have the opportunity last summer in respect of raising issues on this, and in fact as I read through from the letter which you are going to deal with on Days 39‑42 there was debate on the site of Hanbury Street and the alignment, so we have heard the arguments. You appreciate you do this for a living; what we have here is a number of provisions which are coming in at various stages and we do get in this place some degree of repetition, and if we do not draw a line on it, particularly when we move into the new areas of consideration, we will be here for ever, and we cannot do that. It might be very good for people who earn a living at such things but it does not move things forward where decisions have to be made.
21062. MR WHALE: I have impressed upon Mr Schabas the terms of your letter and the need to avoid repetition and irrelevance at all costs, and I have prepared a few questions, and they are only a few, again because I am mindful of the terms of your letter.
21063. So far as the debate about last year is concerned, the problem with that, so far as the Association is concerned is that it is only in January of this year that they have had disclosure of these additional documents so they did not have the chance to debate and air that last summer. So there has been a change since last summer.
21064. CHAIRMAN: Can I deal with Mr Schabas? I wrote to Mr Schabas and asked him to elaborate on the matters and he did not do that. He just referred to the transcripts and came back to us in respect of that, and that was not what we were asking for. So there was another opportunity there and he did not actually take it up.
21065. Would you like to respond to that?
21066. MR WHALE: Perhaps I can speak for Mr Schabas, I do not know, but I suppose if and when he gives his evidence today you would be able to explore that with him and seek his explanation. I do not think I can properly give an explanation for the terms of his letter, and it could be put to him by Mr Elvin that for whatever reason he chose not to respond directly to your letter, and you can see if you are impressed with his explanation or not. That is the way I would suggest you proceed.
21067. CHAIRMAN: What I want to avoid is a situation where this Committee is used as a battle of ideas between individuals. Mr Schabas has not appeared in front of this Committee once, he has appeared in front of this Committee more than once, and made accusations in that visit also. There was nothing new in what he was saying but it was a repeat of last time, and we were not really interested in taking that forward without any fuller evidence to the fact. That is why I wrote and said: "Look, will you elaborate?" I do not want to be either misused or abused as a Committee; we cannot proceed like that.
21068. Just to put on record one fact, whilst Members are protected in this place members of the public are not, and whatever they are saying is up for challenge in the normal way, so we are trying to protect the individuals.
21069. MR WHALE: If I might respond on that, I do want to reiterate that the planned questions I have are very much mindful of your letter of 14 March.
21070. So far as protecting others are concerned, I would have thought that for the Promoter's benefit the better outcome would not be to leave on the record the terms of the aborted hearing but rather to give the Promoter the chance to test Mr Schabas' allegations today.
21071. CHAIRMAN: But why did he not put it in writing?
21072. MR WHALE: I cannot properly give an explanation for that, as I say.
21073. CHAIRMAN: He has come to the Committee and said various things ‑‑-
21074. MR WHALE: With your leave that would be the first question I could ask him.
21075. CHAIRMAN: Let me just go back to Mr Schabas. Mr Schabas has been before the Committee a first time and we questioned Mr Schabas during the course of that and he presented his arguments. He then came back in for a little bit, he repeated some of his allegations but went down the same course. The hearing was then suspended and we wrote to him asking him to elaborate, which he has not done. I do not think we are agreeable to go down the path of Mr Schabas appearing again.
21076. MR WHALE: He is the Association's only planned witness for this evening.
21077. CHAIRMAN: What I am saying is we have heard him before; there was nothing substantively different in what he brought up last time; we have written to him asking him to fill out what he has previously alleged and there has been nothing new. He declined to do that. We cannot go on and on. The matter about which we are here today is AP3 and how it is affecting the Petitioners. It is the narrow area in the Additional Provisions 3.
21078. MR WHALE: If you are effectively saying that you are not prepared or you simply do not want to have Mr Schabas repeat any allegations, or even mention any allegations, you could simply exclude that topic and I could simply invite him to answer questions which I say are directly referable to AP3.
21079. CHAIRMAN: I will agree to that, but if it comes back to AP3 I will rule it out again.
21080. MR WHALE: I appreciate that.
21081. MR ELVIN: Can I raise a couple of points, sir?
21082. CHAIRMAN: Yes.
21083. MR ELVIN: Mr Whale simply fails to understand what the position is here, with respect. Clearly the Committee will judge for itself in a moment with Mr Schabas, but can I just make three short points and ask the Committee to keep these in mind?
21084. Firstly, Mr Whale simply has not grappled with the point you made very clear in your letter, that the issue of the alignments is part of the principle of the Bill and Mr Schabas is only being called to deal with the alignments issue. If that is what he is doing he is asking him to go against the Committee's view that this is a Bill principle issue approved on Second Reading.
21085. CHAIRMAN: Can I respond? What has just been said to the Committee is that he is not going to talk about the alignment and not going to repeat the allegations.
21086. MR ELVIN: He has not told you he is not going to talk about the alignment. Mr Whale has failed to understand your first point in your letter about the principle of the Bill. Clearly we ought to try and see what happens but I am just asking you to bear that in mind.
21087. The other point I would like you to bear in mind, and clearly you will reach your own view on this, sir, is that Pedley Street is not part of AP3. It was a non‑hybridising amendment. The removal of Pedley Street did not require an AP; it is not dealt with in the AP3; it is a non‑hybridising amendment made in the context of the third supplementary Environmental Statement; therefore issues arising from Pedley street do not come into AP3 and the issue of the alignment and the location of Hanbury Street has nothing to do with AP3. The alignment is fixed to other factors and, as the Committee well knows, the Hanbury Street shaft was selected for reasons which are gone through in detail in the ES, and you made your decision.
21088. CHAIRMAN: We are not going to revisit Hanbury Street; we have taken evidence and a decision on that.
21089. MR ELVIN: Absolutely. Thank you, sir.
21090. CHAIRMAN: Mr Whale?
21091. MR WHALE: Thank you, sir. I do think it is proper for me to say to you that I cannot pretend that if I call Mr Schabas he is not going to talk about alignments. Mr Elvin, in fairness to him, is entitled to have me say that. It is not a case of me not grappling with your letter. As I explained in my submissions a moment ago, I submit that this Committee in this House would want to be satisfied that, whatever alignment might have been chosen or whatever terms might have been provided to you, that had been done in a way that was both adequate and lawful and, secondly, the Association is responding directly to an undertaking that the Promoter gave that it would look at a southern alignment.
21092. MR ELVIN: Just to help you, what we said we would do is we would issue further environmental information on the alignments. That is nothing to do with AP3 ‑‑-
21093. CHAIRMAN: I understand.
21094. MR ELVIN: ‑‑- it is in SES3.
21095. CHAIRMAN: Yes. Mr Whale, we have dealt with the alignment issue; it is not within AP3 and we are not going down that route today. It is not within the provisions we are asking for and which your clients have petitioned on. It is only matters within AP3 that they have asked to come to this hearing on, so let us hear their case. Changing the alignment is not in the provision.
21096. MR WHALE: Could I beg your indulgence further with two minutes' adjournment so that my client can just take stock of what has been said about Mr Schabas and what he may or may not say, and what you have just said?
21097. CHAIRMAN: Yes. Two minutes.
After a short break
21098. CHAIRMAN: Mr Whale?
21099. MR WHALE: If I may call Mr Schabas, please.
MR MICHAEL SCHABAS, recalled
Examined by MR WHALE
21100. MR WHALE: He has been sworn before, I do not think he needs to be re-sworn.
21101. CHAIRMAN: No, we remember.
21102. MR WHALE: The swearing itself! The transcript of the suspended hearing records Mr Schabas' expertise. That in itself was not the first time he appeared but the Committee still wanted him to go over that again. Would you like him to do that again?
21103. CHAIRMAN: No.
21104. MR WHALE: Mr Schabas, do you have a bundle? Yes, you do. If Members could please go into the bundle that has been supplied by the Association this evening, you should find in there an advice dated 29 January 2007 written by Richard Harwood of counsel. It is paragraph ten of that advice where the conclusion is reached that: "The Environmental Statements and its supplements are therefore deficient in failing to explain the main alternatives considered and providing insufficient comparison of the Crossrail proposal with the alternative they describe to understand what their reasoning is and to evaluate its correctness." Mr Schabas, you are not a lawyer but you are an expert, do you have any comment or observation or any evidence on the Environmental Statement and its adequacy?
(Mr Schabas) Yes. I have to be careful, I do not want to say what I am not supposed to say. Having read the Environmental Statement, to me everything in it and everything subsequent to it continues to be deficient in methodology. There is no systematic analysis of alternatives. There is no attempt to trade-off costs between different alternatives and where costs cannot be estimated use pairwise comparisons, which is a methodology that we used on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and on other projects I have been involved in. I do not see tables listing the alternatives and listing the trade-offs between the choices. I do not see an effort made to identify whether there really are fatal flaws. Frankly, I do not see an effort by the Promoter to try very hard to come up with alternatives that might work. That is just lacking through everything I see. It is the easiest thing in the world to say something is wrong with one route or another, there is no such thing as a perfect route, and the analysis - I can go into more detail - shows a clear bias to trying to always justify the route that they have previously picked. The alternatives analysis has been done after the fact to justify their choice.
21105. Can I now invite you and the Committee to go to the plan I mentioned earlier this evening. It is plan A00/4 revision A. There is a full-size colour plan. As I have explained, this plan was disclosed to the Association I represent on 24 January this year. Mr Schabas, my question for you is what if any are the implications of this plan and its disclosure?
(Mr Schabas) Okay. This shows that there was briefly a consideration of alternative routes between Liverpool Street and Whitechapel, either of which, I think, complies with the Second Reading direction. The Whitechapel Station they have got is not directly under the existing Whitechapel Station but it connects with it. Alternative B also connects with Whitechapel Station very correctly. Alternative B clearly is a better alignment in railway operational terms. It may or may not be more difficult and more expensive in terms of construction and environmental impacts. This drawing was withheld, I believe, and has only now been released and I do not see any supporting analysis of any detail. There is, I believe, a one page note with a few, "Well, it's not so good for this" and "it might not be so good for that", sort of thing. I have seen no analysis to show that they seriously looked at alternative B and I think they should have and they should have then; I do not know why they did not actually.
21106. Do you know if the routes on this map are the same routes as were subsequently considered as alternatives?
(Mr Schabas) No. In 2004 just before the Hybrid Bill went in they commissioned Mott MacDonald to do a more detailed analysis. I can only speculate but I think somebody thought, "We need something more substantial to show that we have done our homework". Having gone through this report, which is dated 21 June 2004, it has the same flaws although in greater length as the previous analysis, it is not systematic, there is no real attempt to quantify most of the impacts, it is bias and prejudiced. I would like to go through some of the points in it and explain, if I can.
21107. Can I just stop you there because you have prepared, and everyone here should have received, an analysis. You referred earlier to a table and you have effectively done a table with on the left-hand side --- Sir, it looks like that. (Same indicated)
(Mr Schabas) Yes. This is not what they should have done. The table that they should have done would have had many more columns and rows and real numbers in there, and obviously I am not equipped to produce that.
21108. Before you get into the detail can you first of all explain to the Chairman and honourable Members what this document is, when did you produce it and what is its purpose.
(Mr Schabas) I produced it this afternoon.
21109. MR ELVIN: Sir, I have not seen this.
(Mr Schabas) The left-hand side is actually straight out of the text of the ---
21110. CHAIRMAN: I have just been reminded that both sides can make mistakes.
21111. MR WHALE: Sir, if I may, there was in fact no mistake on our side. It was sent to Mr Walker this afternoon.
21112. CHAIRMAN: Mr Elvin said he has not seen it. It is normal to see documents a little in advance of the afternoon. I apologise for it being even later than that. It is usually more than 24 hours before.
(Mr Schabas) I apologise for not doing it sooner.
21113. CHAIRMAN: I am responding to Mr Elvin's protestation that he was not aware of it.
21114. MR WHALE: I honestly do not know why Mr Walker did not pass it on. The timing of it was today.
21115. CHAIRMAN: Can I just say we have dealt with it now.
21116. MR WHALE: Mr Schabas, please tell the Committee what this document's purpose is?
(Mr Schabas) I just thought it would be easier to understand the points with a note for people to understand because there are quite a few. In the Mott MacDonald report for the base scheme, which is the Crossrail Bill scheme, they identify 11 bullet points which are called advantages and three which are called disadvantages. On Option D, which misses Spitalfields entirely, does not go through or under a listed area, historic preservation area, in the same way. It goes under a developed area, you cannot go from Whitechapel to Liverpool Street without going under something, but Option D is identified as having only one advantage and ten disadvantages, which is very impressive if you are counting advantages and disadvantages. This is a pretty superficial way to make choices and you would like to think there was some more analysis behind that. When you just read the words behind these bullet points it gets even more disturbing. The first point CLRL cite for why they prefer their scheme is that: "The shaft is located within a position that is favourable in terms of railway alignment and journey times, intervention and ventilation requirement." To me that is a general and meaningless statement that could be applied to any option actually. It is not factual evidence, it is not specific as to why it is a better or worse one. They could put that down as an advantage or a disadvantage on any line. I guess you could say a railway through the Sahara Desert on a nice flat plain is probably more advantageous for operation and ventilation. Most of the next points are points basically saying, "We have worked hard on this and we have done our best to make it as good as we can", and, again, it is not surprising given this is the one they have been working on for the better part of a decade. Any of these reasons could apply to any of the options as well, we just do not know. It says it has been designed to construct it wholly within London Clay and to avoid aquifers. We do not know whether any of the others do or do not do the same, and there should be a table and a matrix with at least a "yes" or a "no". The third one is that it is well suited for a construction adit to the Pedley Street shaft. I know that is a legal and technical issue but it seems to me being near the Pedley Street shaft is not important any more, so that is one less so-called advantage of this scheme. The fourth is that it has been developed to minimise impact on the buildings on Princelet Street and Hanbury Street. That is hardly an advantage of this scheme, the other routes do not go under Princelet and Hanbury Street so they avoid it entirely. It is a bit like saying, "I didn't shoot your mother last week". It does not require demolition of buildings 61-67 Princelet Street; again, none of the other options do that, so it is a kind of negative thing. The base scheme has no major conflicts with known building foundations. There are two important qualifiers: no major conflicts, we would like to know what a minor one is; and no known building foundations, and again I think they are accepting they do not know. Again, they do not provide this for all of the other options, they do not know for any of them. They know that some have got likely conflicts but they have not quantified that. "The shaft head building has been designed to accommodate over site development", again that applies to all of the options, they can all have the shaft head building designed to have over site development. No road closures required, again none of the other options require road closures that I am aware of. That ground borne noise and vibration is minimised due to increased depth, again these are enhancements to the scheme but basically everything they cite as an advantage frankly is not an advantage. There are no advantages that they have cited here to this scheme that could not equally apply to the other options. In terms of disadvantages they correctly state that it goes under Grade I and Grade II listed buildings, which seems to me to be actually quite important, and buildings 68-80 Hanbury Street will be demolished, which is pretty serious. This is one of the largest environmental historical impacts on the route. There is no mention in the disadvantages of the speed restricting curve coming out of Liverpool Street which to me is actually quite an important disadvantage looking at the drawing, and I will come back to that. They turned it around on Option D. Option D is a different one from this map that was shown, but it is one that does go south from Liverpool Street and swings around and goes into Whitechapel Station on the Bill alignment. They cite as one of the advantages of Option D that it avoids the tight alignment at the eastern end of Liverpool Street but then goes on to say that: "..this will not reduce the journey time as the affected length is within the deceleration zones into and out of the station." I have not seen any calculations and I have not done any calculations, but I suspect that statement is not true. Crossrail trains are very long, they are ten and eventually will be 12 cars long. One of the problems with designing a railway is the front and the back of the trains have to go at the same speed and that means when you go through a speed restricting, curve, and this is a speed restricting curve, you cannot speed up above the maximum speed of that curve until the entire train is off that curve. So although having the curve near a station is less bad than having it in the middle, midway between stations, it is still not a good thing to have a sharp curve like that.
21117. CHAIRMAN: Can you remind me how this applies to AP3 provisions?
(Mr Schabas): Yes, because AP3 relates to the shaft at Hanbury Street and the alignment through Hanbury Street, I believe, and the argument they have used for why that is the preferred route specifically is the alternative analysis they have chosen, and why they picked that route, and I go through these reasons and I say the whole methodology is grossly inadequate. The other barrister who was here last time, Ms Lieven, put it quite well actually in shooting down one of the other Petitioners. She said you have to systematically and carefully look at all these alternatives, and that to me is exactly what has not been done in going through these points, and when I read this not only has it not been done but it is laughable. The analysis is so inadequate for a scheme of this size. Maybe if you are doing a garden shed, yes, but you are not supposed to do it this way. You are supposed to go through them systematically and have a matrix and a table and try to assign costs to these, and to say that it has no impact on journey times in this case is nonsense. It almost certainly will have an impact on journey times and on operational costs, and they should have calculated that and that should be in the table added up. Instead they go on and refer to the difficulties of the shaft at Pedley Street and give ten disadvantages, and I think three or four of them relate specifically to Pedley Street. Number 4, additional length of tunnel added to Pedley Street; number 5, increase in quantity of spoil; number 6, increase in spoil from the tunnelling operations, and they total £620,000 and £450,000. I am not sure if the person who wrote that had a sense of humour but in a project the size of Crossrail those numbers are not usually decisive in the choice of an alignment. You can get a flat probably in Hanbury Street for that if you are lucky now, but they are using Pedley Street as the justification for this alignment, and, again, I would like to see the table putting out the matrix saying that if you still had the shaft, and it is not relevant now because you do not have the shaft but the analysis should be weighing off the additional costs of a longer shaft, if you had to have it, against the cost and the operational implications of the curve at Liverpool Street. If you do option D you avoid that curve near Liverpool Street station. You have other impacts; you go near and under the foundations of some buildings and there will be costs associated with that, but they do not tell us those, they do not try to weigh them out, and there is no evidence that they have actually done any evaluation. The whole approach is, I have suggested before, not to look at alternatives and that is evident here.
21118. MR WHALE: And what about the route map and the Supplementary Environmental Statement? Is that an approach that is different there, or is the same kind of approach repeated?
(Mr Schabas): Reading this, and it is half a page ‑‑-
21119. Just tell the Committee what you are looking at.
(Mr Schabas): I am looking at the Supplemental Environmental Statement, SES3, page 43, 3.5.9 through 3.5.12. It is four paragraphs and maybe I misread it but I thought that it said that the Promoter did say they would undertake to look at the relative merits of a tunnel alignment south of Hanbury Street. On the map that is attached they have not looked at the alignment B we spoke about before to Whitechapel but only looked at an alignment that swings down and then back into the existing Whitechapel station, so they have first of all constrained themselves. That may be fair enough in that they do not want to unstick the whole alignment; they are trying to get on the right angle to go into Whitechapel station that is in the Bill and not change that. They do not mention that they did that and they probably should have. They constrained themselves. Maybe they were not aware of it or maybe they did not want to mention it. They then say, "Of course you cannot really closely follow roads because you would not be able to stay within Crossrail design standards". That is true but previously they have admitted that the scheme they have does not follow Crossrail design standards. The curve into Liverpool Street is substandard. They then say that if they do something with a minimum radius of curvature there is an increase in the degree to which it passes between relatively modern buildings with deep foundations ‑‑
21120. CHAIRMAN: We are back into the southern alignment. The earlier points were dealing with the Environmental Statement, and we are now back into where I did not hope to be.
21121. MR WHALE: We are on the Environmental Statement, sir.
21122. CHAIRMAN: Yes, we are, but we are also on the southern alignment. Would you try and keep your witness to the areas where he can go?
(Mr Schabas): I understand. The conclusion of this, having cited the various disadvantages in the same way that they had in the Mott MacDonald report, is the same kind of approach. There is no system to it, it is just: There is this good thing and this one, and there is this bad one and this bad one about the alternative. The concluding paragraph says, "Although some of the alternative sites provide some slight improvements in terms of issues such as visual amenity and socio‑economic impact, these are outweighed by the overall adverse impact associated with each." Well, there is nothing to support that conclusion here. They have cited some positive things and some negative, but there is nowhere anything showing that they have tried to add them up to see whether, in fact, they do add up the way they would like them to.
21123. MR WHALE: Shall we move on, sir?
21124. CHAIRMAN: Yes.
21125. MR WHALE: Mr Schabas, I was going to ask you for the implications, in your own view, of the exclusion of the Pedley Street worksite for (a) going through Spitalfields at all and, (b), a Hanbury Street shaft and the need for it. I hope I make myself clear?
(Mr Schabas): Sure. I think the drawing from six years ago that was withheld shows that, if you were going to go from Liverpool Street to Whitechapel with a high speed modern railway you would have to have a good reason to swing up with a sharp curve up and through and under Spitalfields. The only reasons that I can see for doing that are historical. One, that they were originally going to go directly to Stratford in the 1994 Bill, and then when they came to deposit the Bill this time they wanted to have a tunnel worksite near to the Great Eastern Railway and the shaft at Pedley Street, and when those two reasons go away anybody building a modern high speed railway would not run the route that way. You would go to Whitechapel if you have to go to Whitechapel but you would do it more directly, or you would at least try to and you would look at it and they have not done that. To be honest, and this is nothing to do with Petitioners, if you are trying to fund this scheme I would think you would look at ways to make this scheme better and more direct.
21126. CHAIRMAN: Mr Whale, just to repeat, we have dealt with the alignment and we have dealt with the Hanbury shaft. These are decisions that have been made and we are caught by.
21127. MR WHALE: You will be content to hear I have no more questions, I hope and think, that have any bearing on that subject at all. I only have two questions but if I tell you what they are then you can tell me if you are interested in the answers.
21128. CHAIRMAN: Yes.
21129. MR WHALE: The penultimate question was to ask the extent to which the Promoter has, in fact, adopted the same methodology as was adopted for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, and that goes to, you can see, the adequacy of the assessment and all the rest of it, and the final question I was proposing to ask Mr Schabas was whether he was in a sense a lone expert in the wilderness or whether there were any other experts that subscribe to his point of view. Are you happy for him to answer those two questions?
21130. CHAIRMAN: Yes.
21131. MR WHALE: Mr Schabas, the first was about CTRL, you recall.
(Mr Schabas): I do not see any evidence - in fact I see evidence to the contrary - that they fall into anything like the analysis that was done on CTRL, where we exhaustively tested alternatives; we did not drop an alternative unless we were absolutely certain that it was inferior to something else that worked; and we got it just about right. There were one or two places where even in the Hybrid Bill changes had to be made but we tested it to distraction. We did not come in with prejudices saying: "This is the one we have drawn; let's fight to keep it, we don't want to have the trouble to change this." We took the other approach and said: "Look, we are not going to get this Bill if we do not do our job right." We actually paid people to come up with whacky alternatives. "We are going round this side of the village, what if we went round the other side of the village?" I think it was proven in the success of the CTRL project, and I do not see that here.
21132. What was the approach to residential areas in the CTRL?
(Mr Schabas): We had a rule of thumb that we should never take more than four or five residential properties in one place or we might have a residents' association fighting us. We tried very hard to do that and I think, with a couple of exceptions, we did succeed in doing that.
21133. Thank you. Finally ‑‑
21134. CHAIRMAN: Just before you move on, Mr Whale, Mr Hopkins has a question.
21135. KELVIN HOPKINS: On CTRL, I think it was the case that a fairly substantial proportion of the line is tunnelled underneath the existing railway line, and therefore it did not have the problems that would necessarily arise with Crossrail.
(Mr Schabas): Well, it is 99 kilometres and it generally falls within existing transportation corridors, but that does not mean it is directly underneath the railway lines. Even when it runs into St Pancras under the North London Line it swings out under people's homes. It has to. It even goes under the homes of some members of the House. So if it got through Parliament more easily I think it was because of hard work, not because it had an easier route. Indeed, the first time I met Mr Berryman on the subject in 1999/2000 it was because I said: "If you are going to build a railway from Paddington to Canary Wharf" - at the time he did not think he was going to Canary Wharf - "why go under central London? Why not go under the river? You won't have any Petitioners if you go under the river".
21136. CHAIRMAN: We have dealt with that option also. I understand.
21137. MR WHALE: Thank you, sir. Mr Schabas, there is then my question about whether there is any common ground between you and any other experts, or whether you were on your own on this one?
(Mr Schabas): There are not many experts who have taken the time to look at the specific details of the alignment through Spitalfields, but two have and they are notable, Whitby Bird and Ove Arup, both noted engineering firms, and they have basically come to the same conclusion: that there is not enough evidence here to show that the southern alignments do not work and that they might not be better than Crossrail's chosen route.
21138. MR WHALE: Sir, what I propose before I tender Mr Schabas for any questions in cross‑examination, if there are any, is just to make a couple of points to you if I may. Firstly, I would like to reiterate again the terms of the written advice which was alluded to and which was in your bundle from Mr Harwood on which the Committee might feel it wants to seek another opinion to see if that opinion is shared by other learned counsel. So I commend that to you.
21139. The second document I want to remind you of or draw your attention to is the list of undertakings that were presented to this Committee on the last occasion, which are also in your bundle headed "Spitalfields Undertakings - Presented to the Select Committee on January 31 2007". Those are undertakings with which the Promoter has been familiar for many weeks, and through their counsel or outside this hearing the Association invites the Promoter to provide essentially these or some of these undertakings so you have that for your benefit. The Promoter might not see it for its benefit but it is there anyway, and that invitation is provided to them.
21140. That, I think, is the end of my role, at least for the moment. I am going to invite Mr Elvin to ask questions of Mr Schabas if he so wishes.
21141. MR ELVIN: I would have thought it was for the Committee to invite me rather than Mr Whale. Sir, since Mr Schabas has merely gone over old ground I see no point in prolonging the matter by cross-examination. I will make some short submissions. Thank you.
21142. CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Mr Schabas.
The witness withdrew
21143. CHAIRMAN: Would you like to sum up, Mr Elvin?
21144. MR ELVIN: Yes. I have answered all the points already, they are in my letter of 1 March.
21145. Sir, Mr Schabas is quite clearly a man who has no difficulty in making accusations about lack of care and lack of reasons in consideration. Can I just ask you when you are considering this matter just to look at Mr Harwood's opinion. You will recall Mr Schabas was telling you that for alignment B no reasons were given, but Mr Harwood actually sets out the reason why Option B was rejected in paragraph five of his opinion. The Heron Tower was the reason Option B was rejected. Mr Schabas has not even noticed that, so great is his zeal for saying that we have somehow tried to look at the alternatives in an appropriate way.
21146. We come down to this, Sir: the issue of alignment is a matter of Bill principle; the issue of the Environmental Statements are a matter upon which representations can and have been made. I have set out the relevant position to the extent that the Committee wants assistance in my letter of 1 March. The fact is the obligation is to give an account of the main alternatives study in outline. We have done that in Chapter 6. It is not a duty, as Mr Schabas thinks, to provide vast amounts of detail for every small section of the track. Can you imagine, sir, what would have happened if we had produced an Environmental Statement which had looked at the all the possible alternatives, which is what Mr Schabas seems to think, and analysed them for each square mile affected by the scheme. You would have had an Environmental Statement which would have made a mockery of public consultation because no-one would have seen the wood for the trees . That is why the European obligation is simply to give an outline of the main alternatives study. We are dealing with one of the biggest rail projects in the last 150 years. It has looked at alternatives, the alternatives were progressively refined, as I have said on a number of occasions to the Committee now, to the Business Case which was published in July 2003. That was then examined and the main alternatives then at that stage were looked at by Mr Montague in providing the Montague report and that fed into the Bill. The Environmental Statement does that and I have set out the various references in our letter of 1 March. This is, I repeat, going over old ground and I have made a number of submissions on this already.
21147. I reject the suggestion that there is a breach of the environmental assessment requirements and I certainly reject the unsupported and wilfully perverse allegations by Mr Schabas, even contrary to the advice which he relies upon, which says that reasons have not been given in outline in accordance with the directive. Sir, I ask you to reject this matter.
21148. CHAIRMAN: Mr Whale?
21149. MR WHALE: Briefly, if I may. I am bound to say I would have thought that if insinuations were going to be made about Mr Schabas in closing submissions m y learned friend might at least have put to Mr Schabas in cross-examination some of the matters on which he now relies.
21150. The next point is that if this is - to adopt Mr Elvin's words - the biggest rail project for 150 years, one might have thought that the Promoter would do all it could to assess these alternatives to satisfy you and the House and those I represent that that had been done. The recent disclosure of material drawings and material reports and the shortcomings that Mr Schabas identifies clearly suggests that analysis has not been undertaken. This is a situation where during the course of this long project matters have been excluded, such as Pedley Street, which have major implications for the case for going through Spitalfields. This is not an objection that can simply be dismissed out of hand as going over new ground in circumstances where very new and relevant material has only recently come to light.
21151. That is all I would like to say in closing. I thank you again for allowing the Association to return.
21152. CHAIRMAN: Just to be clear in what I said a little bit earlier, Mr Whale. Today you have received a copy of the letter.
21153. MR WHALE: Yes.
21154. CHAIRMAN: I am going to give you time to respond to that in writing. When your reply is received I am also going to do the same with the Promoter and give a copy of your reply to them so they can respond to the Committee also.
21155. MR WHALE: That seems perfectly fair and reasonable to me.
21156. CHAIRMAN: Thank you for saying that. That concludes today's evidence. The Committee will next meet absolutely certainly next Wednesday. It may be that the Committee will have to reconvene before then. If it does then members of the public and everybody else, the Promoter and representatives, will also be informed.