Crossrail Bill

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Schedule 16

Protective Provisions
Stephen Hammond: I beg to move amendment No. 75, in schedule 16, page 218, line 23, leave out from ‘arbitration’ to end of line 27.
The Chairman: With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 76, in schedule 16, page 225, line 4, leave out from ‘arbitration’ to end of line 8.
No. 77, in schedule 16, page 229, line 33, leave out from ‘arbitration’ to end of line 37.
No. 78, in schedule 16, page 232, line 45, leave out from ‘arbitration’ to end of line 49.
No. 79, in schedule 16, page 236, line 6, leave out from ‘arbitration’ to end of line 10.
No. 80, in schedule 16, page 239, line 46, leave out from ‘arbitration’ to end of line 2 on page 240.
I do not want to regurgitate the concern that we have had all the way along about arbitration. All I will say is that, given the fact that there will be a very real relationship between the nominated undertaker and the Secretary of State, we do not want the situation where—we have been through this before—the defendant is trying his own case.
It seems to me that the arbitration process that should be employed should be fair and independent, and the Secretary of State should not intervene in that process. The decision of a third party arbitrator will enjoy the benefits of authority and impartiality. The Secretary of State, however much they believe themselves to have a duty of responsibility, cannot be seen to be independent. Therefore, it should not be the job of the Secretary of State to resolve disputes of this kind.
Mr. Harris: Schedule 16 contains protection for various bodies and statutory undertakers whose interests and functions may be affected by the powers of the Bill. In each case, there is provision for determination of disputes, with the nominated undertaker to be referred to arbitration if the parties agree or if the dispute relates to the amount of payment. Otherwise, the dispute is determined by a person appointed by the relevant Secretary of State; that is the Secretary of State for Transport, together with—where it is a different Secretary of State—the Secretary of State who has the responsibility of overseeing the statutory undertaking in question. In other words, for the water industry it would be the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and so on.
The hon. Gentleman’s amendments would require all disputes to be referred to arbitration. May I refer him to the response that I gave in relation to the similar issues in respect of amendments Nos. 26 and 27? Giving the Secretary of State the ability to determine disputes on various matters is well precedented for projects of national significance and follows similar provisions in the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Act 1996. Arbitration can be a time-consuming and costly experience that may not be consistent with the timely implementation of the project.
In this case, however, we have gone beyond the precedent in CTRL in spelling out that disputes are to be determined by a person appointed by the Secretary of State and we have also provided that any disputes about the amount of money payable will be settled by arbitration: such disputes would not hold up implementation of the project in the way that a dispute over approval of plans of the works might do. The statutory undertakers concerned have the additional reassurance that the Secretary of State responsible for them will be one of the Secretaries of State appointing the person to determine the dispute.
Stephen Hammond: As the Minister said, we have had this discussion several times. The Channel Tunnel Rail Link Act has been our precedent on a number of occasions although I think that we have accepted this afternoon that we should not necessarily follow it slavishly.
I listened carefully to the Minister. The latter part of his argument was the most compelling in that he said that he has already undertaken consultation and has already worked with the nominated bodies that might be affected by the clause. They have had the chance to put in their own amendment, which has been accepted. That being so, it would be wrong of me to try to impose something that was not being sought by the people I am seeking to protect and who already feel that they have the protection. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Schedule 16 agreed to.

Clause 59

Power to devolve functions of Secretary of State
Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.
Stephen Hammond: This will be a short contribution, but it is obviously an important clause. It will allow the Secretary of State to devolve some of the powers that she has given herself to other bodies. Certain provisions in this Bill qualify for being liable to be devolved either to the Greater London authority and/or Transport for London. Could the Minister tell us in what circumstances the Secretary of State envisaged delegating the exceptional powers that she has taken and the rationale behind that?
Mr. Harris: Clause 59 allows the Secretary of State, by means of an order, to devolve certain provisions of the Bill to the Greater London authority, Transport for London or to both. This power is necessary to allow the flexibility for the Crossrail project to be taken forward by these bodies, if that is in the best interest of delivering the project most efficiently.
To answer the hon. Gentleman’s question directly, he will know that it is intended that the Mayor and TfL will be responsible for the delivery of the project, and the powers in clause 59 might be needed to facilitate their taking the project forward. That said, I have to disappoint him because it is not yet clear which of the powers that are listed in subsection (7) will be devolved to the Mayor and/or TfL or whether the project governance arrangements that have been announced could be better delivered by other means. However, we believe it is right that the Secretary of State should be capable of devolving specific powers in the Bill if that is what is decided should happen.
Stephen Hammond: I note the Minister’s comment that it is not yet clear whether the Government’s provisions in the Bill might be delivered by better means. Does he intend to come to that conclusion before the Bill completes its passage through the House?
Mr. Harris: I remain to be corrected, but when I referred to governance I did not mean anything in the Bill. Not every detail of governance is included in the Bill and I would not anticipate having to bring forward amendments to that effect.
To set my general remarks in context, it might help the Committee if I summarise the proposed project governance arrangements. Cross London Rail Links Ltd will continue as a project delivery vehicle for Crossrail. The Department for Transport will remain as a co-sponsor of the project and will form a joint sponsors board with Transport for London to supervise the project. The Department and TfL will execute a series of formal arrangements that will specify how the project will be taken forward. CLRL will become a wholly owned subsidiary of TfL, but with a level of independence needed to focus solely on delivery of the Crossrail project for its joint clients.
CLRL will have a board dominated by independent, non-executive directors chosen for their skills in delivering so-called mega-projects—not a phrase that I am particularly comfortable with— and free to appoint a world-class team at market rates. The written statement issued by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport that accompanied the publication of the heads of terms provides more detail about how the Department and the Mayor, as co-sponsors, will take the project forward. I hope that the explanation that I have given and the material with which I supplied each member of the Committee yesterday persuades hon. Members to accept the clause.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 59 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 60

Correction of deposited plans
Stephen Hammond: I beg to move amendment No. 71, in clause 60, page 36, line 14, at end insert—
‘( ) The Secretary of State, upon making an application under subsection (1), shall give notice that he has made such an application to all those affected by such an application.
( ) The Secretary of State, upon receiving the decision of the justices under subsection (2), shall inform all those affected by the decision as to the outcome of the application made under subsection (1).’.
The clause sets out what will happen if a mistake is discovered in the deposited plans, or in the grandly named book of reference. The Secretary of State may apply to two suitable justices—however widely or tightly that may be defined—in order to correct any inaccuracies identified. A copy of the justices’s decision will be deposited in the House of Commons and in the offices of the relevant local authorities.
That is fine, but I do not think that it goes far enough. I fear that there may well be a situation whereby people affected by mistakes, and therefore changes to the deposited plans, are likely to remain blissfully unaware of them unless they are frequent visitors either to the Private Bill Office here or to the offices of their local authority.
To avoid such a circumstance arising, it seems only right that, if the Secretary of State is applying to the justices for the mistake to be remedied, those who will be affected by the change when the Secretary of State refers that case to the justices and sees their decision should be informed. That is what the amendment would do. It would ensure that those who are affected by the changes are informed that the changes are about to take place.
Mr. Harris: The clause sets out the procedure for the correction of the deposited plans or the book of reference should any errors be found in the description of the land or the ownership or occupation of the land. The hon. Gentleman’s amendment, if approved, would require the Secretary of State, before making an application to two justices of the peace, to amend the deposited plans or book of reference deposited with the Bill to notify first those affected by the application. It would also require the Secretary of State to notify the same people of the justices’s decision.
I understand the intent behind the amendment. Those directly affected by any proposed amendment to the plans or book of reference should clearly be aware that such a change is being sought. However, I point out that that is already provided for in subsection (1), which requires the Secretary of State to give not less than 10 days’ notice to the owners and occupiers of the land. That is the subject of the proposed amendment, and, once an application has been determined and a certificate issued, copies of the certificate are lodged in Parliament and with the relevant local authority. I assure the hon. Gentleman, therefore, that the plans and book of reference cannot be amended in secret, without those most directly affected knowing about it. I had hoped that those provisions would not prove contentious, as similar provisions are common in private Acts for railways.
5.15 pm
Sir Peter Soulsby: Give us an example.
Mr. Harris: I understand that the clause is modelled on a similar clause in the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Act 1996.
Stephen Hammond: I thought that the Minister, for the sake of novelty, was going to use the 1895 Act.
Mr. Harris: The hon. Gentleman is just showing off now. With the explanation that I have given, I hope that he will feel able to withdraw his amendment.
Stephen Hammond: I think I will feel able to do that, but there was never any suggestion that either the hearing or the plans were to be conducted in secret. I take what subsection (1) says, but the amendment would add to that, because the clause implies that notice be given to the owners of the land that will be affected by the change. However, other people might also be affected. Also, as I understand it, the clause does not necessarily require that those people be informed of the decision, only that the decision be placed in the House of Commons or in local area offices.
Mr. Harris: The hon. Gentleman refers to people, other than the owners of the property, who may be affected. He has not submitted an amendment to that effect, but if he had, is there not a danger that this would be a nebulous and never-ending process if every person who believed that they had been affected would have to be notified?
Stephen Hammond: Actually, the amendment states “all those affected”, so there is no question of it being nebulous or open-ended. There is a clear definition and I have tried in the amendment to find some way of defining who should be notified. I accept that “all those affected” might be a wide proposal and I have listened to the Minister and think that he is clearly trying to reassure me that my fears are ungrounded given what is already in the Bill. I, therefore, beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 60 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
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