Crossrail Bill

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Schedule 2

Works: further and supplementary provisions
Stephen Hammond: I beg to move amendment No. 26, in schedule 2, page 63, line 39, leave out from ‘arbitration’ to end of line 40.
The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment No. 27, in schedule 2, page 67, line 7, leave out from ‘arbitration’ to end of line 8.
Stephen Hammond: These amendments and their purposes are identical. Amendment No. 26 deals with disputes over highway access and amendment No. 27 deals with disputes over the discharge of water. Amendment No. 26 proposes that the relevant subsection should read:
“Any dispute with a highway authority under this paragraph shall, if the parties agree, be referred to arbitration”.
That would remove the ultimate power for dispute resolution from the hands of the Secretary of State. Disputes should be referred to arbitration, the process of which should be designed to ensure that a solution is reached. It seems that there is no need for a provision to be written into the Bill that will allow decisions to be made by the Government, rather than by someone charged with arbitration. There is a risk that the Government will not only be one of the parties in the arbitration, but the arbiter as well, which seems to be an inequitable position. Therefore, I look forward to the Minister accepting these sensible and reasonable amendments.
Mr. Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con): I agree with what my hon. Friend has said. Does the Minister not also understand that, in a sense, the Secretary of State’s power is imposed only when the parties disagree at the outset? The danger is that the Secretary of State will get involved in what could be a very difficult political debate between parties that disagree about arbitration. Given the amount of compulsory purchasing and the other elements in which either the Secretary of State is potentially a final arbiter or state bodies own part of the land concerned, it seems the worst of all worlds for the Secretary of State to take on that power. However, as my hon. Friend rightly points out, the parties should be obliged to go to arbitration whether or not they agree.
Mr. Harris: As the hon. Member for Wimbledon knows, paragraph 1 of schedule 2 grants the nominated undertaker general powers to carry out ancillary works additional to the scheduled works. Paragraph 2 allows the nominated undertaker to provide highway accesses, whether permanent or temporary, at the points marked on the deposited plans, except when the highway authority objects on the specific grounds provided. Such access may be similarly provided with the consent of the highway authority—such consent not to be unreasonably withheld—at any other point within the Bill limits. Any disputes about the provision of highway accesses are to be determined by the Secretary of State unless the parties agree that the matter should be referred to arbitration.
Paragraph 8 allows the nominated undertaker to make use of sewers and watercourses for removing water in connection with the construction or maintenance of Crossrail. Any disputes about making use of sewers and watercourses are to be determined by the Secretary of State unless the parties agree that the matter should be referred to arbitration.
The amendments would remove the Secretary of State’s ability, as the hon. Gentleman said, to determine disputes about highway accesses or the discharge of water, meaning that they would in all cases go straight to arbitration. Giving the Secretary of State the ability to determine disputes about various matters is well precedented in projects of national significance such as Crossrail. The provisions are modelled on identical provisions in the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Act 1996, and the Bill contains many other provisions whereby the Secretary of State, sometimes acting jointly with another Secretary of State—for example, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs—will be able to determine disputes.
Arbitration can be a rather time-consuming and costly experience, particularly when both sides do not feel that it is necessary, and the Bill’s approach is to allow for arbitration only when both sides agree. The amendments would ensure that arbitration occurred even when both parties did not want it. The provisions in the Bill worked well in legislation for the channel tunnel rail link, and Ministers are well used to exercising such functions. I therefore urge the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his amendment.
Stephen Hammond: I have listened very carefully to the Minister, to his comments about precedent in other legislation and to the point that the amendments would refer people to arbitration even if they did not want it, which in some cases is extremely helpful. I hope that he has taken on board the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster, who made the point that, in relatively minor cases, the Secretary of State may be drawn into political disputes that he would not wish to be drawn into. Nevertheless, given the precedent in other legislation, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Schedule 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 3

Question proposed, That this schedule be the Third schedule to the Bill.
Stephen Hammond: There was no need to discuss clause 3 because it simply introduced schedule 3, but will the Minister confirm that the schedule deals entirely with the highways that need to be altered for Crossrail and that, given that they were determined by the Select Committee, there is no need for a debate in this Committee?
Mr. Harris: The hon. Gentleman interprets the schedule exactly in the way that I would have done.
Question put and agreed to.
Schedule 3 agreed to.

Clause 4

Overhead lines
Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill
Stephen Hammond: The clause deals with the Electricity Act 1989, which established the regime under which the consents for overhead lines are granted, and disapplies that regime within the deviation limits on other land on which it is intended to build Crossrail. It establishes schedule 4, which details the new consents regime, and then makes provision for the expiry of the disapplication and the application of the consents regime in the 1989 Act.
There are a number of public safety and other concerns when dealing with electricity. The consents regime was put in place so that specialists would deal with the national electricity grid and its distribution. Will the Minister tell us why he feels, therefore, that it is necessary to disapply the normal consents regime in that highly specialised area? Why is that necessary given that many other construction projects are built complying with the 1989 Act consents regime? Why is Crossrail different? Why are these powers necessary? I look forward to him reassuring us that the powers are necessary.
Mr. Harris: I am always happy to try to offer reassurance to the hon. Gentleman. However, I note that he has not tabled any amendments to clause 4.
Stephen Hammond: I did table an amendment, but it was not selected.
Mr. Harris: I apologise to the hon. Gentleman for that mistake.
As the hon. Gentleman said, the clause disapplies the provisions in section 37(1) of the 1989 Act in relation to overhead electric lines installed within the deviation limits, in exercise of powers conferred by the Bill or pursuant to any of the protective provisions in schedule 16. Furthermore, it introduces schedule 4, which makes alternative provision for consent of such lines, and enables the relevant Secretaries of State to grant deemed planning permission alongside that consent, with or without conditions. The construction of Crossrail will require a number of diversions of overhead electric lines, including the two specified in the table in paragraph 3 of schedule 2. Clause 4 and schedule 4 will provide a more tailored, detailed consent regime for the approval of works under the Bill. I had hoped that those provisions would be uncontroversial; they, too, are precedented in the 1996 Act.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 4 order ed to stand part of the Bill.
Schedule 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
9.30 am

Schedule 5

Temporary possession and use of land
Stephen Hammond: I beg to move amendment No. 28, in schedule 5, page 98, line 25, leave out ‘28’ and insert ‘56’.
The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment No. 29, in schedule 5, page 100, line 26, leave out ‘28’ and insert ‘56’.
Stephen Hammond: The amendments are identical. The schedule deals with the temporary possession and use of land. Whether the land is to be used for the construction of works, as with the lead amendment, or for the maintenance of works, as with amendment No. 29, the nominated undertaker is required to give only 28 days’ notice to the owners and occupiers of land of which he intends to take possession. That is not long if one has to make necessary arrangements and move off one’s land.
I seek to be fairer to those who are to be required to move off their land, and I think that 56 days, or two months, is a more suitable period. Given the length of advance planning that has gone into this project and the advance notice that will be given to people, giving 56 days’ notice should not cause the nominated undertaker any problems. I hope that the Committee will look favourably on the amendments.
Mr. Harris: It is no surprise that we are having a debate about extending 28 days to 56, but I had expected it to be in a slightly different context.
The schedule allows the nominated undertaker temporarily to take possession and make use of land in connection with Crossrail works. It requires that 28 days’ notice be given by the nominated undertaker to the owners and occupiers of the land before possession is taken for constructing and maintaining the works. The amendments would double that notice period.
The 28-day notice period for the temporary possession of land is sufficient and well precedented in many private railway and hybrid Bills, as well as in the Department’s model clauses, which consider 14 days appropriate. Doubling the notice period would impose additional inflexibility on the nominated undertaker when it came to carrying out Crossrail construction and maintenance works efficiently.
Cross London Rail Links is already in touch with many of the relevant owners and occupiers, and, in many cases, has agreements in place for a longer notice period where the matter is of particular sensitivity and could reasonably be accommodated by the nominated undertaker. Agreeing such arrangements case by case is the appropriate solution when these matters arise. I therefore cannot support the amendment, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be satisfied by my assurances and withdraw it.
Stephen Hammond: I thank the Minister for his reply and I am pleased to hear that the Department has doubled the period recommended in its model arrangements. I am also pleased that he thinks 28 days a suitable notice period; I am sure that he will think the same on other matters, otherwise the Government might lose some members, I suspect. Having listened to his assurances and his concern about the restriction on flexibility, and taking on board the fact that the Government have already moved some way on this, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Mr. Harris: I beg to move amendment No. 1, in schedule 5, page 101, line 27, leave out paragraph 6 and insert—
‘6 Section 13 of the Compulsory Purchase Act 1965 (c. 56) (refusal to give possession to acquiring authority) applies for the purposes of this Schedule as if—
(a) references to the acquiring authority were references to the nominated undertaker,
(b) references to compensation payable to the person refusing to give possession were references to compensation payable under this Schedule, and
(c) in subsection (1) for “this Act” there were substituted “Schedule 5 to the Crossrail Act 2008”.’.
The amendment is purely technical and reflects a recent change to the law on the enforcement of compulsory purchase orders. The change means that High Court enforcement officers and the high sheriff of each county can enforce compulsory purchase orders in England and Wales. The amendment will apply that change to the enforcement of powers in the Bill to take temporary possession of land.
Stephen Hammond: I have listened carefully to the Minister, but I seek some reassurance. Paragraph 6 of the schedule sets out the arrangements for enforcing the provision of any land, be it compulsorily purchased, required or taken temporarily, if the owner fails to give up or hinders the taking of possession. I can see why the Government might want to tighten sub-paragraph (3), and we would welcome that, but the amendment will mean that the paragraph applies only to land that is compulsorily purchased, as it enacts section 13 of the Compulsory Purchase Act 1965. That does not seem to allow the flexibility that the Minister wanted in other clauses or to have the same wider power implied in paragraph 6(1), which states that if the nominated undertaker is authorised, they can
“enter on and take possession of any land”.
Indeed, the explanatory notes reinforce that position. They refer to the arrangements for the
“enforcement of any possession required”
of any land. Is the Minister satisfied that there will be no circumstances in which the power to enter and take land might not exist following agreement being given to Government amendment No. 1?
Mr. Harris: I can reassure the hon. Gentleman that his concerns are unfounded. The Government do not believe that that will be the effect of the amendment. To clarify, the 1965 Act does not provide for compensation for temporary possession. Schedule 5 will give an entitlement to compensation
“to the owners and occupiers of land...for any loss which they may suffer by reason of the exercise in relation to the land of the power or powers conferred by this paragraph”—
that is, paragraph 4. It follows the precedent set by previous railway Bills and the Transport and Works Act 1992 model clauses.
The amendment is about the office holders who will be able to enforce orders, and not the effect of those orders. It simply identifies who is responsible for an order. I hope that that gives the hon. Gentleman enough reassurance.
Amendment agreed to .
Question proposed, That this schedule, as amended, be the Fifth schedule to the Bill.
The schedule requires 28 days’ notice to be given to the owners and occupiers of the land before possession is taken, and the possession is time-limited to one year after completion of the works, unless the owners agree otherwise. Compensation may be payable for such possession, with any disputes about such compensation to be determined under the Land Compensation Act 1961.
Paragraph 2 requires the nominated undertaker, before giving up possession of any land used under paragraph 1, to put the land in question back into such condition as may be agreed in a scheme between him, the owners of the land and the local planning authority, or as determined by the appropriate Ministers. The paragraph also sets out what such a scheme may and may not require.
Paragraph 3 allows the nominated undertaker to use any road situated on land specified in paragraph 8 of schedule 6 for the passage of persons or vehicles. Compensation may be payable for any loss suffered as a result of such use, with any disputes about such compensation to be determined under the 1961 Act.
Paragraph 4 allows the nominated undertaker, during the maintenance period of any work, which is defined as being up to five years from the date on which the work is brought into general use, to enter upon and take possession of land within the Bill limits and within 20 m of any scheduled work, if such possession is necessary for maintaining the work. The power granted by the paragraph does not apply to any house or garden, or land not subject to compulsory purchase under the Bill, and the nominated undertaker must give at least 28 days’ notice to the owners and occupiers of the land before possession is taken.
The nominated undertaker may remain in possession of such land only as long as is reasonably necessary, and must, before giving up possession, restore the land in question to the reasonable satisfaction of the owners of the land. Compensation may be payable for any loss suffered as a result of such use, with any disputes about such compensation to be determined under the 1961 Act.
Paragraph 5 allows for private rights of way to be temporarily suspended and provides that compensation may be payable to anyone who suffers loss as a result of any such extinguishment, with any disputes about such compensation to be determined under the 1961 Act.
Paragraph 6 sets out the arrangements for the enforcement of any possession required under the paragraph should the owner or occupier of the land in question refuse to give up possession of it or hinder the taking of possession. It makes similar provision to that applying to the taking of possession following notice of entry on a compulsory purchase.
Stephen Hammond: We are grateful for the Minister’s extensive explanation of the schedule. I noted halfway through that explanation the interesting and welcome comment that compensation will be paid, and will be determined by an independent body, not the Secretary of State. In other cases, the Secretary of State wanted to take those powers upon herself.
Question put and agreed to.
Schedule 5 , as amended, agreed to.
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Prepared 23 November 2007