Crossrail Bill

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Clause 56

Application of Act to extensions
Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.
Stephen Hammond: In the same spirit as my comments on clause 54, I want to clarify some points with the Minister. Clause 56 effectively allows most of the provisions in the Bill to apply to any proposed extension of the Crossrail network. Does that mean any extension that is carried out under an order under the Transport and Works Act 1992? I can see that if the network is expanded, it should receive the same statutory support as planned under the network. However, unless I have read the clause completely wrongly, would not an extension to the Crossrail network that occurred or was proposed in the construction period re-hybridise the Bill? The extension would then be subject to the same scrutiny that the hon. Member for Leicester, South has indicated he experienced and enjoyed.
Mr. Harris: I strongly suspect that the hon. Gentleman has read the clause completely wrongly, but I shall try to explain. Clause 56 allows any TWA order that relates to a proposed extension of Crossrail or to provision of a facility connected with Crossrail to apply to any provision of the Bill, with any modifications necessary to the order, or to provide that any provision of the Bill should have effect as if the extension were part of Crossrail.
Let me explain the purpose of Clause 56. As the hon. Gentleman knows from earlier debates, the Bill establishes a bespoke regime for Crossrail. It modifies and disapplies various pieces of legislation, and replaces them with a tailor-made regime that is based heavily on that created by the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Act 1996. Indeed, he will recall from our debate last week that the Bill creates a bespoke planning and railway regulatory regime for Crossrail.
If a TWA order is subsequently sought for an extension to Crossrail—for example, to Reading or Ebbsfleet—or for a new Crossrail facility such as a new station, the TWA order cannot necessarily apply the same regime to the works as is established by the Bill. The reason is that, as a form of delegated legislation, TWA orders are limited in their ability to modify the application of legislation.
Stephen Hammond: For the purposes of clarity, is the Minister saying that a TWA order cannot extend Crossrail?
Mr. Harris: TWA orders have their own scrutiny mechanism, which would apply to any future extension. Any future extension would have to be considered separately, although not as part of a hybrid Bill.
Stephen Hammond: I am following the Minister’s logic, but I think that, in fact, I read the clause correctly, and I still have not had the answer to my question. The question was whether any route extension to Crossrail can be made without it being subject to hybrid Bill provisions, such that it does not require the same scrutiny—nor present the same possibility of petitioning—as was the case for the original route. If that is the correct position, it is a curious one.
Mr. Harris: It is my exact understanding that any future proposal to extend Crossrail—albeit there is no such proposal at present—could be achieved through a TWA order rather than through the hybrid Bill process. Perhaps I could continue to the end of my remarks, and if the hon. Gentleman then has further questions I shall be happy to answer them.
The clause would allow any TWA order to make the necessary provision to ensure that any extension or new facility was subject to the same regime as the Crossrail scheme covered by the Bill. The Government believe that that makes perfect sense. It would be confusing and unhelpful if one regime applied to parts of Crossrail and another applied to others. Having said that, there are safeguards. Certain provisions of the Bill that deal with extension of compulsory purchase powers, listed buildings, buildings in conservation areas and ancient monuments are excluded from such application. Any TWA order that sought to apply the Crossrail Bill regime would of course follow the normal procedures for such orders. Those affected would have the opportunity to object to any aspects of the Bill regime that the order proposed should apply, and have their concerns heard by an independent inspector as part of the TWA order process.
I had intended to conclude my remarks on the amendment at that point, by if the hon. Gentleman has questions, I shall try my best to answer them.
Stephen Hammond: I do no think that I have any further supplementary questions, but the Minister has made some very interesting observations that have expanded on the information contained in the explanatory notes. Given that, and given my understanding of the way in which his remarks tie up with the explanatory notes, we shall certainly wish to the clause revisit on report.
Mr. Harris: For clarification, a TWA order can extend Crossrail. However, without the provisions in this clause, the same statutory regime cannot apply. That is why we need the clause.
Susan Kramer: I thank the Minister for that response, but we are beginning to descend into complete confusion. Is what he is describing a sort of TWA-plus, so that it essentially builds up to the level of protection of the hybrid Bill for the extension, or is he saying that this will be a classic TWA with no more protection than any other project?
4.45 pm
Mr. Harris: I am not sure whether I can add to the comments that I have already made. The situation remains that a TWA order can extend Crossrail. The hon. Lady mentioned safeguarding. The decision to safeguard, for example, the route to Reading is on my desk, and I will be considering that in the very near future. That would simply keep options open, so that in the future the Government could choose, through a TWA order, to extend Crossrail to Reading. Once again, I must emphasise that that is not what the Government propose at the moment. I talked merely about safeguarding. However, that is the process that would have to be gone through if Crossrail were to be extended either westwards to Reading or south to Ebbsfleet.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 56 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 57 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 15

Reinstatement of discontinued facilities
Stephen Hammond: I beg to move amendment No. 67, in schedule 15, page 213, line 39, at end insert—
‘( ) Where the site on which the facility was situated prior to discontinuation is available for re-use, the facility should be reinstated under sub-paragraph (1) for the original purpose of the facility and on this site.
( ) Where the site on which the facility was situated prior to discontinuation is not available for re-use, the facility should be reinstated under sub-paragraph (1) on a site as close as possible to this site.’.
Schedule 15 is obviously important, in that it deals with the steps that must be taken to reinstate facilities that have necessarily been taken out of use as a result of the construction of Crossrail. Paragraph 1(4) provides that the reinstatement
“need not be on the site where the facilities were situated prior to discontinuation.”
Of course, in a perfect world, once Crossrail was up and running, we would be able to return buildings and facilities affected by construction to their original state and, in most cases, to their original location and no one would know that it had been a construction site before. This is not a perfect world and I acknowledge that in a number of cases it might not be possible to do that. However, as the Bill stands, there is no obligation on the nominated undertaker even to try to reinstate the disused facilities in their original location.
My amendment is designed to address that gap in the Bill. If the amendment were to prevail, the nominated undertaker would have a duty to reinstate the facility on its original site if it were possible physically to do that. If it were found to be physically impossible, he would have to reinstate the facility as near to the original site as he could. That seems a logical and reasonable way to ensure that the damage caused by Crossrail construction is, to as great an extent as possible, reversed once the construction work is done and reversed in such a way that the original facility is put back in its original state. I look forward to the Minister commenting on the amendment.
Mr. Harris: As the hon. Gentleman said, the amendment is perfectly reasonable and sensible. Nevertheless, I ask my colleagues to resist it if it is pressed to a vote, because it is not appropriate to this clause. Schedule 15 relates to the reinstatement of facilities that have been discontinued as a result of the construction of Crossrail, and provides for conditions to be placed on the deemed planning permission granted by the Bill for such reinstatement if it has been environmentally assessed. That reinstatement may be on the original site or elsewhere within Bill limits, which is to say that it must be within the limits set out in the Bill for land to be acquired or used. For example, there is a concrete batching plant at Royal Oak that falls within an area that we need for a worksite. We are in the process of negotiating an agreement with the owners of the plant regarding the provision of a replacement facility. The amendment would mean that any such replacement facility would have to be placed on, or as close as possible to, the original facility.
Proximity to the original site is not the only, or even the most important, factor when deciding on the most appropriate site for reinstated facilities. Generally speaking, Crossrail works will have altered the site and the former location of a facility may no longer be the best one. When deciding on the best location for a reinstated facility, there may be a number of factors to balance, including the operational needs of the business, the operational needs of Crossrail and the impact on neighbouring sites. Depending on the circumstances of the case, it is possible that all of those factors might point towards relocating the facility. The availability of sufficient land within the limits set out in the Bill for land to be acquired or used, may also be a consideration.
That said, for facilities that we intend to reinstate, we currently expect to put the replacement facility very close to the site of the original, where practicable. For instance, there is a Travellers’ site in Tower Hamlets that will need to be used for a worksite. To meet the desires of the Travellers and the local authority, we plan to relocate them to a site adjacent to the existing one. I believe that it overlaps the existing site. We do not think that it would be appropriate always to constrain the position of a new site in the manner proposed. It would not necessarily result in a location that pleased anyone. Local amenity considerations regarding the site of replacement facilities could mean that it would be wrong, in planning terms, to reinstate near an existing site.
Sir Peter Soulsby: I will not harp on for too long about what was discussed at the hybrid Bill Committee, but I will back up what the Minister has said. At that Committee, a number of the representations were made about those who will have to be relocated temporarily and about whether it was appropriate for them to be reinstated on the original site or whether some alternatives were to be found. Those who were to be affected had an opportunity to petition and many took it.
To accept the amendment would be too prescriptive. The solutions that were found were in some cases quite creative, but in almost all cases meant that the petitioners whose land was to be affected would find themselves in a better position than they had been in.
The Minister mentioned one example of a concrete batching plant. That was a case that we spent a considerable time on and came to some particular solutions that were satisfactory to all parties concerned. I understand the intention behind the clause, but suggest that it is unnecessary, given the consideration at the hybrid Bill Committee and that which will be given in another place.
Stephen Hammond: I listened to the hon. Gentleman and noticed that when the words “concrete batching plant” crossed the Minister’s lips, there was a facial contortion. I can only assume that that case took up rather a long time at the Select Committee. I am glad that they came to some concrete solutions.
I am glad that the Minister accepts that we are on to something and I take his point that there are a range of options beyond those that I specified in the amendment. As the clause is drafted, there is no firm obligation to restore sites as close as possible to the original site. I take the Minister’s point that it will be done as much as is practically possible in as many cases as possible. I take his point that the amendment may be worded too tightly. We may wish to redraft the amendments before Report and I therefore beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Stephen Hammond: I beg to move amendment No. 68, in schedule 15, page 214, line 20, leave out ‘he thinks’ and insert ‘might reasonably be considered’.
This amendment and the following one are relatively small modifications to the wording of paragraph 2 of the schedule, which deals with planning permission issues that may arise as a result of the reinstatement of disused facilities.
The amendment simply replaces the words “he thinks” with “might reasonably be considered” in the context of the method used by the Secretary of State to publish any directions relating to deemed planning permission in his report. I will not dwell long on justification of the amendment; the Minister will be able to see the thought process behind it. It implies that rather than just thinking about the matter he might have to undertake some consultation. The small change in the wording would allow the Secretary of State to carry out his or her duties in a way that is responsible, appropriate and seen to have been accountable.
Mr. Harris: Amendment No. 68 relates to the requirement to publish any directions given under schedule 15 to condition deemed planning permission for reinstated facilities or to disapply or modify the application of schedule 7 to such works. As the duty to publish is a duty placed on the Secretary of State, she must be the one to decide what is the most appropriate manner to do so. Moreover, I remind the hon. Gentleman that the Secretary of State is under a general duty to act reasonably. Although it is a minor change and in the hon. Gentleman’s view it would not change it a great deal, the amendment does not add very much to the Bill and I ask him to consider withdrawing it.
Stephen Hammond: It is a minor change but its purpose is to ensure that the Secretary of State not only acts in a responsible way but is seen, and proven, to be doing so. That is the thrust of several of our amendments. I am disappointed that the Minister will not accept the minor changes in the wording but it is not worth dividing the Committee on the proposal. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Stephen Hammond: I beg to move amendment No. 69, in schedule 15, page 214, line 23, at end insert ‘and any other relevant interested parties’.
I will not detain the Committee with this amendment, which we wanted to be on the record. Hon. Members will recognise that it is nearly identical to several others we have debated this afternoon and in previous sittings. In order to build and run the Crossrail network the Government and/or the nominated undertaker will need to intrude on private property and existing infrastructure, which is inevitable with a project of this scale. The key thing is to ensure that it is done in a right and proper way.
To keep disruption to a minimum, all affected parties must be kept informed and consulted and that is the motive behind the amendment. When deemed planning permission is provided by means of a direction, the details should be circulated to the owners and occupiers of the land over which permission is given and to anyone else who might be affected. That might incur a little additional work for the Secretary of State but it will ensure that all the appropriate people are made aware of any of the proposed works. I hope that the Minister will be tempted by this minor wording change.
Mr. Harris: The hon. Member for Wimbledon started by saying that the amendment was identical to previous amendments. I am about to use arguments against it that are identical to previous arguments.
Schedule 15 already requires copies of the directions to be given to the owners and occupiers of the land to which the deemed planning permission relates, and to the relevant planning authority, as the persons with a clear and identifiable interest. It also requires the Secretary of State to publish the directions, so that they will be available to those who are less directly affected.
5 pm
Amendment No. 69 would create an unnecessary administrative burden. It would require the Secretary of State to give copies of any directions given under schedule 15 to
“any other relevant interested parties”.
That would place a potentially large burden on the Secretary of State and it could lead to lengthy arguments, perhaps even legal arguments, about whether all “relevant interested parties” have been identified.
The hon. Gentleman is a member of a party that consistently and regularly lectures the Government on over-regulation of industry. I would have thought that, in the interests of deregulation and simplification alone, he would wish to withdraw the amendment.
Stephen Hammond: But of course if we were to listen to and follow the logic of the Minister’s answer, that way dictatorship lies, in that the powers would be invested only and entirely in the autocrat and they would be subject to no scrutiny at all. I am sure that the Minister would not want to confuse the over-regulation by his Government in one area with the under-consultation of his Government in another area. None the less, I have listened to the Minister and I am happy to accept his invitation. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Schedule 15 agreed to.
Clause 58 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
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