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Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that in the answer he gave some moments ago he stated that the European Council had some control over the expenditure? Is he aware that in his statement in another place yesterday the Prime Minister said:

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In other words, it is a law unto itself.

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, as ever, makes his point in a vigorous and robust manner. The position is that the European Commission's information budget is agreed in detail with the Council and the European Parliament in accordance with the normal budgetary provisions. As regards the detail of the expenditure within the chapters in the budget as it relates to the European Commission, that is a matter for the Commission.


3.2 p.m.

The Earl of Kinnoull asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in view of the period of blight damage caused to properties by the CrossRail scheme, a decision on its future can now be announced.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): My Lords, a decision on the future of CrossRail will be announced in due course following full consideration of the recent review.

The Earl of Kinnoull: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. In the spirit of Christmas, is he able to be rather more precise as to whether the announcement will be made in a matter of weeks or months in order to lessen uncertainty? Also, what does he expect to be the level of private funding in that important project if it proceeds?

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, the Government realise the disadvantages which come from any period of uncertainty or blight. That is why it is always our policy to take forward as quickly as possible those decisions. However, I regret that I cannot be more specific on the timing of that announcement. It is very clear that if the CrossRail scheme goes forward, it will require considerable private finance input.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, as regards the question of blight, the Government eventually capitulated to the view of the Parliamentary Commissioner and the Select Committee in another place by agreeing to pay compensation in relation to the cross-Channel route. Why did that take so long and is there to be a repetition of that?

Secondly, do the Government still support in principle CrossRail, bearing in mind that they gave considerable support to the idea not so long ago? Do they still think that it is critical to the Heathrow Express and the Channel Tunnel link or not?

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, as regards government support for the project, we certainly recognise that the scheme has the potential to bring significant benefits to those who travel in and out of London and, indeed, through London. The question is what is the best way to produce those benefits.

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The Channel Tunnel rail link and the PCA Select Committee report are matters for another question and they have been discussed in some length in this House. On the general issue of blight, it is a regrettable consequence of major projects such as this that blight occurs, but we aim to minimise it.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, arising out of the latter part of that answer, is it not a fact that the precedent created by the Government on that occasion was extremely unfortunate and created considerable difficulty and anxiety for some people? The House will be interested to know whether the Government will refrain from engaging again in such a policy which, as I say, caused a great deal of unnecessary anxiety to people in that instance?

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, the two situations are totally different. Many of the difficulties which arose in connection with the CTRL issue concerned the fact that a number of different routes were put forward and considered. That is not the case with CrossRail. That is a scheme which has much less variation in it. The parallels which the noble Lord seeks to draw between the CTRL blight issue and that concerning CrossRail exist.

Lord Ashbourne: My Lords, will the Minister tell the House the terms of reference of the Montagu Report? Is that report to be published and, if so, when?

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, the report to which my noble friend referred looked at the structure and ownership of CrossRail in the light of the rail privatisation arrangements; at possible private sector financial contributions; at London travel patterns and employment forecasts; and at the possibility of small-scale alternatives providing some cross-rail benefits at less cost. The review looked at that. The issue of publication is still being considered.

Business of the House: Consolidated Fund Bill

3.7 p.m.

The Lord Privy Seal (Viscount Cranborne): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. In moving this Motion perhaps I may remind your Lordships that on Wednesday of last week the House debated and agreed to a report from the Procedure Committee which once again endorsed the guidance that proceedings on Consolidated Fund Bills are taken formally. This Motion will allow the House to take all remaining stages of the Consolidated Fund Bill today and I hope that that will be without debate.

Moved, That Standing Order 44 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be dispensed with to enable the Consolidated Fund Bill to be taken through its remaining stages this day.--(Viscount Cranborne.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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Procedure of the House: Select Committee Report

The Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Tordoff) My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend the Chairman of Committees, I beg to move the Motion standing in his name on the Order Paper. Without wishing to destroy the neutrality of my position, perhaps I may express a certain pleasure in being, I think, the first member of the Liberal or the Liberal Democrat party for 50 years to move a Motion at the Dispatch Box.

Moved, That the Second Report from the Select Committee be agreed to (HL Paper 15).--(The Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees.)

Following is the report referred to:


    The Committee has considered a proposal by the Leader of the House that Select Committees meeting in Scotland ("Scottish Select Committees") should be empowered to take evidence on certain Government Bills relating to Scotland. Thereafter the Bills would be considered at Westminster either by a Committee of the whole House in the ordinary way or in the Moses room by a Committee with unlimited membership, where no Divisions may take place. This further experiment in considering Bills in Committee off the floor of the House would be an alternative to the Special Public Bill Committee procedure (the "Jellicoe procedure") where the Committee has power both to take evidence and to consider the Bill clause by clause. The Special Public Bill Committee procedure would remain an option for appropriate Government Bills relating to Scotland and for other Bills.

    We recommend that one or more experiments should be conducted in the Scottish Select Committee procedure and make the following detailed recommendations:

    i) The Committee of Selection will nominate Members for each Scottish Select Committee whenever a Bill is to be considered by this procedure.

    ii) A Scottish Select Committee should not have power to amend a Bill.

    iii) The Committee should have 28 days (excluding recesses) from the date of its appointment to complete the taking of evidence.

    iv) In accordance with Standing Order 63, any Lord who is not a Member of the Committee may attend and speak at the Committee's evidence sessions in Scotland. It is desirable that any such Lord should give notice of his wish to attend to the clerk of the Committee.

    v) The written and oral evidence received by the Committee should be printed and available to the House for the Committee (on re-commitment) stage.

    We understand that in the first instance it is proposed that the Scottish Select Committee procedure will be used for consideration of the Deer (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill (HL).

    The Committee will in due course review this further experiment in the consideration of legislation off the floor of the House.

Lord Monkswell: My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord the Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees on the admirably brief way in which he introduced this report of the Procedure Committee.

The whole House will appreciate that one of the strengths of this House is the ability, because we take virtually all our business on the Floor of the House, of every Member, not only on the Front Benches but also on the Back-Benches all around the House, to take part in whatever business is before the House.

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The House will be aware also of the recent practice of the Scottish Grand Committee of another place to meet in Scotland. The practice, which has evolved over recent months, is that that Scottish Grand Committee meets on a Monday morning which enables the members of that committee to return to Parliament and take part in parliamentary business.

Can the noble Lord the Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees say whether consideration has been given to the meeting time of the proposed Scottish Select Committee and whether the Procedure Committee has come to a view that such a committee meeting in Scotland should meet at a time when this House is not sitting? That would imply that the Scottish Select Committee would meet on a Monday morning, on a Friday or when your Lordships' House is in Recess. I should point out that that would enable not only members of that Select Committee to be present in your Lordships' House for the normal deliberation of business; it would also enable noble Lords who are not members of that committee to attend its meetings and benefit at first hand from the evidence presented to it.

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