Previous Section Index Home Page

We are not talking about needing new services straight away; we are saying that at the moment my constituents, those of other hon. Members, and I
17 Jan 2008 : Column 1147
myself experience delay every day as we come into Waterloo. The trains stop between Clapham Junction and Waterloo because of the lack of capacity at Waterloo and restrictions at Clapham Junction. To give one example, until 1909 there were eight lines between Clapham Junction and Waterloo; now there are only seven. If the flyover between the two stations was removed, there could be eight lines. That would not need to result in extra services, but it would mean that the services already there could run on time, and probably take less time.

Although the Government go on about how they have improved punctuality, they have actually increased the standard length of the journey. It certainly now takes longer to go from my constituency to Waterloo, and part of that is because of pressure at Waterloo. That pressure could be released if those extra platforms were brought into use. I hope that the Minister will spend some time visiting Waterloo to discuss with the people concerned exactly what the problem is and what could be done to put it right.

Stephen Hammond: I entirely endorse my hon. Friend’s arguments. I am not yet sure if he is going to say whether he wishes to withdraw his amendment, but let me repeat that I wish to press amendment No. 4 to a Division, because I am not happy with the response that we have heard.

3.45 pm

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. Perhaps it will assist the House if I indicate that were the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Chope) to withdraw his amendment, I would be disposed at the due time, after consideration of the next group of amendments, to allow a Division on the amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond).

Mr. Chope: I am grateful to you for that indication, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Obviously, I shall not seek leave to withdraw my amendment until I have finished my remarks; if I did, I would not be able to conclude what has been a really good—

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I assure the hon. Gentleman that I was not seeking to cut him off, as I had to on his lengthy point of order.

Mr. Chope: That is very fairly put, if I may say so, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in the light of my earlier provocation.

All the Minister has said is that he thinks that the platforms will be brought back into use by 2014. That is another six years away. Between now and 2014 we will be spending £500,000-plus a year on mothballing them, which is absolutely intolerable. That could still be mitigated, but it was avoidable had action been taken after the Strategic Rail Authority report from the consultants in July 2005.

Norman Baker: Does the hon. Gentleman notice any comparisons or parallels between Waterloo international and the millennium dome?

17 Jan 2008 : Column 1148

Mr. Chope: I used to be the shadow Minister for the millennium dome, so I will not be drawn into a long debate about that saga. The millennium dome was, at all material times, a white elephant; Waterloo international is a very fine building that needs to be brought back into use straight away. The problem with the millennium dome was that it was difficult to find anybody who could make a commercial go of it, whereas everybody is saying, “Let’s get Waterloo station back into full operational use as soon as possible.”

The Government talk about doing something by 2014. If they had a clear plan, the first thing that one would expect them to say—for example, to my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Horam), who made an excellent speech—is, “The hon. Gentleman’s suggestion is feasible,” or, “That is not feasible.” Of course, it would not be feasible if the bridge linking the old Eurostar line that goes over the railway tracks between Clapham Junction and Waterloo to allow services from Petts Wood and Orpington to come into Waterloo were taken away. What depresses me about this debate is that I would have expected a Minister to say, “That’s a good idea—yes, we can do that,” or, “That’s a bad idea—it won’t be practical because we think that our priority should be services coming in from the south-west.” The fact that the Minister does not seem to know which of those options is to be used shows how far we are from reaching any conclusion.

Mr. Ian Taylor: Given that the Government have claimed credit for Crossrail, which has eventually been sorted out, should not they take the blame for not listening to the argument advanced by my hon. Friends and myself several years ago that thousands of commuters would be put out by the failure to integrate the platforms at Waterloo and make the investment at Clapham Junction? There seems to be a balance between Crossrail, where at last the Government have done something, and on Waterloo international, where they have failed.

Mr. Chope: Absolutely, they have failed, and sooner rather than later, more and more people are going to realise the extent of that failure.

I shall quote briefly paragraph 5(4) of the Strategic Rail Authority final report dated 11 July 2005:

That is three years before the Minister says that the platforms at the former international station will be open. That information was available to the Government—I accept that it was not available to him, because he has become a Minister only recently—in
17 Jan 2008 : Column 1149
July 2005. It is clear today that in the intervening period the Government have done absolutely nothing to address the issue.

When my constituents find in 2011 that they cannot get into Waterloo because of passenger congestion, what will I say to them? I will say that there was an opportunity to increase capacity, but the Government declined to take it. My hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton (Mr. Taylor) referred to Crossrail. That is an incredibly expensive project. For a much smaller investment, the lives of tens of thousands of commuters into Waterloo could be completely transformed, with quicker, more reliable and more comfortable services, safer platforms and more circulation space for passengers.

This has been a disappointing debate, because I had hoped that we would get a clearer picture from the Government, and that the impression I had before the debate that the Government did not have a clue where they were going with Waterloo international would be removed by the Minister’s remarks. I am afraid that that feeling has been confirmed by the Minister’s remarks, so the only way we have of showing our disapproval of the Government’s laid-back attitude on this matter is to divide the House. The best thing to divide on would be amendment No. 4, so I beg to ask leave to withdraw amendment No. 7.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Stephen Hammond: I beg to move amendment No. 3, page 1, line 5, at end add—

The Minister accused me of intellectual gymnastics. This amendment is full of intellectual clarity, so we shall have no problem with it. He will recognise the amendment because it is very similar to one that I tabled in Committee. I tabled it again because, as I said in Committee on reading the Minister’s answer, we would like to seek further clarification, or to press the matter to a Division if we have a disappointing response.

As the Minister said, clause 1 is intended to clear up any potential confusion about whether the Government can continue to provide financial support to the rail link and the services running on it, now that the construction phase is complete and the services are up and running. That is deemed necessary because any future buyer might be in some doubt about it, which is why the clause includes the words:

The clause gives the Secretary of State the power to subsidise HS1 into its operational phase, but it is the stated intention of the Government that this power will be exercised in relation to domestic services only, and not to international ones. The explanatory notes to the Bill say as much:

The Under-Secretary said:

17 Jan 2008 : Column 1150

It is therefore strange that the Government’s stated intention is not reflected on the face of the Bill. Clause 1 states that the Secretary of State may continue to provide funds

However, a large proportion of services on the rail link will be international. Nothing in the Bill prevents the subsidy of services bound for or returning from continental Europe.

The Bill states that

We contend that leaving the clause unamended will not restrict revenue funding to domestic services, as the Government require. Elsewhere, the clause uses the phrase:

Let us ensure that doubt is avoided and ambivalence removed. The amendment would add a new subsection, which states that

We are led to believe that it is not the Government’s intention to fund international services, so let us make it clear in the Bill.

In Committee, I asked the Under-Secretary,

He replied:

The Under-Secretary’s answer was extraordinarily revealing. Although he repeatedly said that it is not the Government’s intention, there is a genuine possibility that the Government will not be able to fulfil their intention.

If it is the Government’s intention that there is revenue funding only for domestic services, let us include that in the Bill for the avoidance of doubt and ambiguity. The Government’s current position appears to be that they offer revenue funding and support to domestic services and not to international services, but only in the long term, not in the short term. That is ludicrous. In Committee, the Under-Secretary told us that my amendment was unnecessary. He said that the power to support rail services under the 2005 Act extended only to the United Kingdom. That may be the case, but, as I pointed out, some of the trains that run on British soil are international services. As his answer showed, the Government may well subsidise some international services in the short term. Being in British territory does not necessarily make a train a domestic service.

Does the Under-Secretary concede that, in the light of his reply in Committee, just because the Secretary of
17 Jan 2008 : Column 1151
State’s powers are restricted by the 2005 Act to funding only services in Great Britain, funding is not restricted to domestic services? Does he concede that some trains that run on British track are international services? If he concedes those points, does he admit that the current wording of clause 1 does not meet the Government’s stated objective? For the avoidance of doubt, my amendment will help the Under-Secretary. I hope that he will accept it in that spirit of help.

Mr. Tom Harris: In response to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond) that my answers in Committee were revealing, I assure him that that was not the intention. I am not sure whether my response to his questions will be any more persuasive or reassuring today than they were in Committee. Nevertheless, I will try.

Let me say again that it is not the Government’s intention to subsidise international services through a franchise or any similar arrangement. Furthermore, the power to support services in the 2005 Act extends only to Great Britain. The Secretary of State does not have the ability to fund continental train services. The current structure of Eurostar UK Ltd preserves the distinction between charges paid by London and Continental Railways and charges paid by the other owners—SNCF and SNCB, the national railway operators of France and Belgium respectively. The cost and revenue-sharing protocols under which Eurostar is managed ensure that LCR pays only the access charges on the UK side and half the charges for the tunnel.

4 pm

Clause 1 does not give the Secretary of State a new power. It does, however, clarify that she has the same commercial flexibility to support HS1 as she has for the national rail network. Technically, that would include the ability to support cross-channel train operators in the same way as domestic franchise operators are subsidised, but Eurostar is an open-access operator and therefore has no franchise arrangements with the Government. However, as Eurostar UK Ltd is historically loss making and relies on future public support, through the access charge loan and guarantees of its rolling stock leases, to which the hon. Gentleman referred, it is fair to expect the company to continue to require support in the short to medium term if it is to remain financially viable and be able to run services.

The access charge loan has a limit of £184 million at January 1997 prices, which in current value terms will be roughly £500 million next year. Eurostar UK’s rolling stock leases currently have a capital value of £175 million. The amendment would call into question the Secretary of State’s ability to provide either the funding that has already been agreed through the access charge loan, the guarantees of rolling stock leases or any other means. That would place Eurostar in an unsustainable position, which would affect the value of HS1, too. Despite the hon. Gentleman’s suggestion, far from adding clarity, the amendment would increase the likelihood of doubt about the Secretary of State’s powers under the clause. I therefore hope that he will see fit to withdraw it.

17 Jan 2008 : Column 1152

Stephen Hammond: I have listened carefully to the Minister and have no doubt that his stated intention is that no subsidy should be given to international operations. I have also listened carefully to what he said about Eurostar. However, I fail to see how the amendment could do anything other than add clarity.

Mr. Harris: Trust me.

Stephen Hammond: The Minister may say that, but I have learnt in life that that is not always a wise thing to do, although I know him to be a generous, affable and able man.

I accept the Minister’s explanation of why he thinks the amendment is not necessary. However, we shall watch carefully to ensure that the short-term funding that he says is necessary does not extend into long-term funding. If that happened, that would be contrary to the Government’s stated intention and become a problem for them. With those caveats, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed: No. 4, page 1, line 5, at end add—

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 166, Noes 259.
Division No. 49]
[4.3 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Alexander, Danny
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baker, Norman
Barker, Gregory
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Beresford, Sir Paul
Binley, Mr. Brian
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Browning, Angela
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, Sir John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, Philip
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duddridge, James
Duncan, Alan
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Field, Mr. Mark
Foster, Mr. Don
Francois, Mr. Mark
Gauke, Mr. David
Gidley, Sandra
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Greenway, Mr. John
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Stephen
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan

Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heath, Mr. David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Holmes, Paul
Horam, Mr. John
Howarth, David
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Kramer, Susan
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Leech, Mr. John
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mercer, Patrick
Milton, Anne
Mulholland, Greg
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Osborne, Mr. George
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr. James
Penrose, John
Price, Adam
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Rogerson, Dan
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, Mr. David
Russell, Bob
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swinson, Jo
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Teather, Sarah
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, Mr. Roger
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wright, Jeremy
Yeo, Mr. Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. David Evennett and
Mr. Brooks Newmark

Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, rh Ed
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, rh Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Crausby, Mr. David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs. Claire
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, John
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hood, Mr. Jim
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Kennedy, rh Jane
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, Mr. David
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
Meale, Mr. Alan
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura

Moran, Margaret
Morgan, Julie
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Salter, Martin
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Vaz, rh Keith
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Alan Campbell and
Mr. Sadiq Khan
Question accordingly negatived.
Next Section Index Home Page