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Lord Mountevans: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. I said that the link to the West Coast main line opened up all manner of passenger and freight opportunities that were good for the rest of the country. He will see that when he reads my speech tomorrow.
Lord Sefton of Garston: My Lords, I hope the noble Lord is proved right when we hear the details of exactly what is the link between the north west main line and the Channel Tunnel--not London, but the Channel Tunnel. I hope I am wrong, but I would be very surprised if that is so.
The problem is that all the developments in this country are too London-oriented. People are looking for developments in London and the south east. In my opinion and that of many people in the provinces, too much development is being ploughed into London. It is time some of it was pushed back where it belongs--among the majority of people in this country.
Earl Attlee: My Lords, we on these Benches support and welcome the order which the noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Cadman, have explained to us so well. I also thank the Minister for her kind words. I am sure that we shall have many interesting debates; it is certainly "all change" for us.
I am pleased that the Minister is continuing with the previous government's policy on construction of the high speed link, thereby exploiting the advantages of the private sector in a major Private Finance Initiative or, as it is now known, a private-public partnership.
The line will be routed through east London to achieve the regenerative benefits mentioned by the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Cadman, and many other noble Lords. The order will allow for the construction of the international and domestic station at Stratford. This will make it much easier to travel to and from France and the rest of the Continent from the regions rather than just from the south east, as many noble Lords have pointed out so well.
Of course there will be some objections to the scheme but, as many noble Lords have said, these will be best handled by the public inquiry. It is to be hoped that the inquiry will not be too protracted. The noble Lord, Lord Mountevans, covered that point very well.
In due course the Government may have to make a decision regarding landfill tax and what to do with the spoil from the works. A satisfactory outcome may make it possible to use rail haulage to rail-connected landfill sites rather than use road haulage to landfill sites near London. I do not expect the Minister to respond to this point. It is merely an observation.
The noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, referred to the use to be made of the other Stratford railway lands and Temple Mills. It may be a little late to address the particular issue that the noble Lord raises. However, the planners and indeed the Minister will need to strike a balance between developing derelict railway land on the one hand and not inadvertently constraining future rail developments on the other.
The noble Lord also made some interesting points regarding customs and immigration formalities. The Minister's right honourable friend the Prime Minister is right to maintain the nation's control of immigration. The controls need to be effective but they do not necessarily need to be burdensome. The noble Lord also referred to the upgrading of the twin-track connection between the west coast mainline and the CTRL. With the twin-track facility, any serious problems at St. Pancras Station can be easily overcome. I am pleased that this very wise decision was made.
I have today very briefly studied the plans for the CTRL scheme between Stratford and St. Pancras and I was struck by the opportunities that will be presented to the construction industry. However, it will require large sums of money to build the railway and there will be risks attached to it. I am quite sure the Minister understands that profit is the reward for taking risks. But does she understand the loss of confidence attached to applying windfall taxes to projects that turn out to be successful? The Private Finance Initiative will work, but only if it allows for private profit as well as private risk.
The noble Lord, Lord Cadman, mentioned the "travelator" between the new station and the existing station. Today I detected some doubt as to whether the walkway will be mechanical. I am, I think, much fitter than many of your Lordships. However, I still find long
This order is part of the process initiated by the previous government. We have in progress the Heathrow Express, ThamesLink 2000, the Docklands Light Railway extension to Lewisham, the Croydon tram link and the Jubilee Line extension, all programmes inherited from the previous government. I am sure that the Minister will want to continue this process. I hope that she receives the resources necessary to carry on. I look forward to hearing what she has to say in reply to the debate.
Baroness Hayman: My Lords, this has been an extremely useful if short debate in which there has been a large measure of agreement on the merits of Eurostar's proposals. The noble Lord, Lord Cadman, gave a helpful summary of the proposals and set out persuasively the promoters' case for the House passing the resolution. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, conveyed clearly the Opposition's support for the proposals in principle. Further endorsement was given by all the other noble Lords who spoke in the debate. I hope it will also be given by my noble friend Lord Sefton, with the reassurances about the opportunities that we believe the west coast main line connection will give for regional development and regional passenger travel.
My noble friend Lord Berkeley, the noble Lords, Lord Mountevans and Lord Methuen, and the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, raised their concerns over the issue of immigration controls. Those are technically not transport matters. However, what was clear to me, listening on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, was the strength of feeling on this issue, and I shall certainly take away those representations and put them in front of my right honourable friend the Home Secretary.
Perhaps I may say to the noble Lord, Lord Crook, that I hoped to get inspiration or assistance in replying to him in detail about definitions of "subsoil" and "under-surface". I fear that I am not able to do so this evening but I undertake to write to him on the issues.
The application for the order was made in January by Eurostar (UK) Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of London & Continental Railways, which successfully bid for the contract to build the Channel Tunnel rail link. The works contained in the draft order were not included in the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Act because the decision in principle to proceed with them came too late for inclusion in the Bill without seriously prejudicing its progress.
The proposed station at Stratford will provide a new intermediate stop for international and domestic services using the CTRL. It will enable passengers to make connections with other railway services at Stratford such as the London Underground Central and Jubilee Lines, the Docklands Light Railway, the North London Line and the Great Eastern Line. The station will thus give passengers a wider choice of access to international and domestic services on the CTRL and make an important contribution to the Government's declared aim of establishing a more integrated public transport system.
In addition--reference was made to this point by several speakers in the debate--the development of the station is expected to create sizeable regeneration benefits for the Stratford area, which is a focal point for development at the western end of the Thames Gateway. Taking into account the scope for redevelopment of adjoining lands, including former railway lands, and the wider development opportunities in the Lower Lea Valley and the Royal Docks, the extra employment prospects for the area in the longer term could be substantial.
I listened with care to the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Mountevans, about whether local jobs will be created by the Stratford development. He was right to bring the attention of the House to the fact that that is not always so. At this stage it is difficult to say exactly what types of jobs will eventually be created. However, I can tell the House that LCR is working with the London boroughs of Newham, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest to produce a development framework plan for the Stratford development lands. The boroughs will naturally wish to ensure that as many jobs as possible are created for local people.
The other main proposal in Eurostar's application, which is closely associated with Stratford station--it is the area to which the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, referred and on which he was looking for reassurance--is for a twin-track connection from the CTRL to the North London Line and the west coast main line. This will enable trains to and from the Channel Tunnel to bypass St. Pancras station and transfer directly to the North London Line and the west coast main line, thereby reducing journey times from Scotland, the north and the Midlands to and from mainland Europe. The regional development possibilities that this opens up are substantial. Stratford station would be used as the London stop on these through trains. The twin-track connection replaces the single track provided for in the CTRL Act and would greatly increase operational flexibility and reliability.
The department has received 59 objections to, or representations about, the proposed works. Copies have been placed in the Library, along with a copy of Eurostar's application and the associated documentation. The objectors have raised a number of issues concerning mainly the perceived adverse local impacts of the scheme on especially traffic levels, the environment and businesses. Reference has been made tonight to the importance of making sure that there are other public transport links, not solely dependence on car links, to the Stratford terminal. These are matters which quite properly need to be considered carefully before the order is determined. I am sure that they will be discussed at the public inquiry.
I know that concerns have been raised tonight about the possible length of the public inquiry. It is not within my powers to say exactly how long it will be. I point out to noble Lords--it was an issue that was raised in our debate the other evening--that although we tend to focus on the very long inquiries over major infrastructure projects, the majority of inquiries
The noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, raised an issue regarding the impact of the CTRL on rail freight, which is an area that I know is of great concern to him. He particularly asked about the provision of sidings for the discharge of aggregates and cement to the batching plants, which were covered in assurances given in the passage of the CTRL Act.
There will be one siding with facilities for aggregate discharge. The provision of a second siding providing a simultaneous discharge facility for cement depends on whether the physical constraints of the site can be overcome. I understand that discussions between LCR, the batching companies and EWS on this issue are continuing. I also understand the noble Lord's impatience at not getting a resolution to these matters. I certainly hope that it will be possible to get a reasonably swift resolution.
The noble Lord, Lord Mountevans, raised the issue of access for disabled people to Stratford station. The promoters are required to comply with the advice of the rail regulator and the department's disabled persons transport advisory committee on disability matters as if it directly applied to them. I very much hope that state-of-the-art provision for disabled people will be made in this new development.
If the House passes this Resolution the Secretary of State will have a duty to decide whether the order should be made. His mind must remain open on that decision. In making that decision he must in particular have regard to the inspector's report following a detailed consideration of the proposals and of the objections to them at the public inquiry. The issue for the House this evening is whether in principle the proposals are worthy of going forward for this more detailed examination. If your Lordships judge that they are--as indeed the Government do--this Motion should be supported.
It will be open to the Secretary of State to amend provisions in the draft order or to change the planning conditions attaching to any deemed planning permission in the light of any recommendations by the inquiry inspector. The Secretary of State must also consider the environmental statement in determining whether to make the order.
In the Government's view, the objections that have been made do not raise fundamental issues which might dent our confidence in the overall merits of the proposals, which have been well supported this evening. We are satisfied that the grounds of the objections to the application are of a nature which would be best considered at an inquiry. It seems to us that the proposed works are desirable in principle. They have the potential to bring significant transport benefits by encouraging greater use of the railways, especially for travel to Europe. A new station at Stratford would help towards a more integrated public transport system in London. For the local communities in the East Thames Corridor, there is the prospect of substantial benefits, with more jobs and much-needed urban regeneration.
So the Government have no hesitation in inviting the House to pass this Resolution, while obviously reserving our position on whether, after detailed consideration at a public inquiry, the order should be made. I commend the order to the House.