Crossrail Bill

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Clause 8

Extinguishment of private rights of way
Stephen Hammond: I beg to move amendment No. 9, in clause 8, page 5, line 41, leave out subsection (4).
The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment No. 10, in clause 8, page 5, line 44, leave out subsections (2)(b) and (4)’ and insert ‘subsection (2)’.
Stephen Hammond: Amendment No. 10 is necessarily a consequential amendment to amendment No. 9, which I am sure that the Minister will wish to accept.
The clause deals with the extinguishment of private rights of way. Subsection (2) extinguishes private rights of way,
“in the case of land acquired after the coming into force of this Act, at the appropriate time.”
It is clearly a sensible power; private rights of way could not and should not take precedence over land acquired for the building and construction of Crossrail, and, therefore, cannot take precedence over the land on which the railway is also operating.
However, subsection (4), which amendment No. 9 seeks to address, appears to act contrary to the purpose of subsection (2)(b). Clause 8(4) states that:
“Subsection (2)(b) does not apply to a right of way that is excepted”,
which effectively counters and reverses subsection (2)(b), rendering the provisions in it null and void, because the Secretary of State can direct that the right of way be excepted from extinguishment. It seems to us that the Secretary of State could effectively acquire land for the purposes of construction, yet allow the private rights of way to persist. That would seem to be potentially injurious to the citizen and disruptive to the building and operation of Crossrail.
10.15 am
If the intent of clause 8(4) is to allow the Secretary of State to regrant rights of way after the end of construction, during which land that may have been required for build but not operational purposes had its private rights of way extinguished, that is understandable. If that is the intent, perhaps the Minister will explain how subsection (4) will achieve it. Otherwise, subsections (2)(b) and (4) appear to be contrary in purpose. Therefore, the amendment would help the Government by removing that contrary aim.
Mr. Harris: The purpose of clause 8 is to extinguish most private rights of way over land held by the Secretary of State where that land is required for or in connection with the Crossrail project. That will ensure that the Crossrail works can be carried out safely and effectively. Such provision—I suspect that the hon. Gentleman knows what I am about to say—is well precedented in previous private Acts for railways and can be found in the Channel Tunnel Act 1987.
Some private rights of way are protected under the clause. For example, subsection (3) provides for certain rights of way to be excluded from being extinguished. Subsection (4), which amendment No. 9 would delete, further enables the Secretary of State to direct that particular private rights of way are not automatically extinguished under subsection (2) and, therefore, the hon. Gentleman’s amendment would take that right away from the Secretary of State and remove that additional protection. Therefore, I cannot ask the Committee to support it.
Stephen Hammond: I am listening carefully to what the Minister is saying and following his logic, but will he explain under what circumstances the Secretary of State will want those powers?
Mr. Harris: There are circumstances when we will want to protect some rights of way. One example that was considered with regard to the clause is the rights of way that help utility operators to maintain their apparatus. Amendment No. 10 would allow subsection (5) to be altered in association with amendment No. 9, so I cannot support it either.
Although the hon. Member for Wimbledon appears to be concerned about the Secretary of State’s involvement in relation to the extinguishment of private rights of way, that particular role is intended to help to protect such rights of way from extinguishment when reasonably avoidable. Therefore, I urge him to withdraw the amendment.
Stephen Hammond: I have listened carefully to the Minister and, as he rightly said, anticipated his comments about precedent—I sometimes feel a little like the barman who says, “The usual?” when a customer comes in.
Mr. Harris: Martinis again.
Stephen Hammond: If that is what the Minister drinks.
I am fully aware that the clause aims to give protection, but I seek the exact circumstances in which private rights of way will be accepted. The Minister has given a perfectly plausible example, so I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 9 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 10

Planning: general
Stephen Hammond: I beg to move amendment No. 11, in clause 10, page 7, line 7, at end insert—
‘(c) the development falls within the limits of deviation for the scheduled works.’.
The Minister has often said that I might anticipate what he is about to say, but he might equally anticipate what I am about to say. Clauses 10 to 15 deal with the planning issues that affect Crossrail. The general presumption is that planning permission will be granted unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Clause 10 provides for the deemed planning permission to exist under part III of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Subsection (1) provides that planning permission be granted for the development except where limited by subsection (2). The amendment would put a further restriction on the process. At line 7, it would insert new paragraph (c), which states that
“the development falls within the limits of deviation for the scheduled works.”
The effect of subsections (1) and (2) is that any land stated for the use of the Crossrail development will be deemed to have planning permission. Why should it be any land? The amendment would impose a reasonable restriction on the Secretary of State or the nominated undertaker.
As I have said before, there is a deemed route and a schedule of works. There are agreed limitations of deviation to that route. As with previous amendments, I contend that the limits of deviation are a fair restriction on those powers. By adding that the development must fall within those limits of deviation, the amendment would have the effect of deeming planning permission for developments on the deemed route and land outside the route that is within the deemed limits of deviation, but not on land beyond that. In my opinion, that is fair.
As the Minister will remember, we have gone through the arguments as to why there ought to be some restriction on the powers, while still giving flexibility. I think that the amendment satisfies both those tests. I trust that he will find it reasonable and fair.
Mr. Harris: I stand reluctantly to disappoint the hon. Gentleman once again. The amendment would require separate planning permission to be sought for any works authorised by the Bill that were not scheduled works and which fell outside the limits of deviation. In practice, that would affect a wide category of works—for example, alterations to existing stations, electrification and signalling works on the existing network, and works to mitigate settlement impacts. All those things often take place outside the limits of deviation of works.
Requiring separate planning permission to be sought for such works would undermine the very purpose of the Bill, which is to obtain deemed planning permission for the works reasonably required to enable Crossrail to be built, where there has been appropriate environmental assessment. The amendment would expose the project to the risk of severe delays as local authorities considered applications for such works under the 1990 Act regime. That would include the possibility of public inquiries. Works other than scheduled works are, like the scheduled works themselves, subject to the detailed consent regime set out in schedule 7. The Government believe that that provides for the appropriate scrutiny.
Mr. Field: I am very curious about this issue. Can the Minister give examples of any stations that are outside the limits of deviation? Given the importance of stations within a railway project, I cannot foresee any of the stations being outside the limits of deviation. That puts a coach and horses through his argument on the works in the vicinity of stations themselves.
Mr. Harris: No doubt inspiration will descend upon me shortly, but I can reassure the hon. Gentleman—for example, on the issue of signalling works. Crossrail will result in a large step change in the number of through trains going through the capital city. That will have a knock-on effect on capacity demands elsewhere on the network. Therefore, if we are to accommodate the extra people travelling through the centre of the city, works might be needed at stations not associated with Crossrail.
We anticipate significant increases in passenger numbers throughout London. If we have to make changes to signalling, tracks or stations that do not lie directly within the Crossrail line, it is incumbent on us to ensure that we can carry out those improvements without imposing undue delay on the construction of Crossrail.
The Government believe that the Bill provides for the appropriate scrutiny of detailed matters, given the deemed planning permission that will have been given to these works.
It being twenty-five minutes past Ten o’clock, The Chairman adjourned the Committee without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.
Adjourned till this day at One o’clock.
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Prepared 23 November 2007