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Earl Attlee: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. However, in view of the considerable expenditure that must have been incurred at Westminster Tube station, does he find it satisfactory that at that station only one ticket machine accepts notes? Is he aware that that machine was out of order at 12.45 this afternoon? Finally, is he confident that his honourable friend Mr Livingstone will be able to sort out London Underground?

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: My Lords, noble Lords will be interested to know that a PFI known as Prestige has been working with London Underground. New ticket machines have already been provided for all London buses. The company has also gated 96 per cent of the Tube network. The PFI will provide new ticket machines at Underground stations, including the installation of 317 new touchscreen machines by March 2001. In addition, 50 "Queuebuster" machines will be installed in the busiest stations by the summer of next year.

One multi-fare machine operates at Westminster Underground station, along with half a dozen of the simpler and more basic machines. Furthermore, ticket windows are staffed by three people at peak times and two at all other times of the day. I am sure that Mr Livingstone is looking forward to taking on the challenge of running London Underground, just as we have done over recent times.

Lord Haskel: My Lords, has my noble friend had an opportunity to visit some of the stations on the new Jubilee Line extension? Does my noble friend agree that, along with Westminster itself, stations such as Canary Wharf and Canada Water provide wonderful

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examples of British architecture? Any extra money that has been invested in them has proved to be money well spent.

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: My Lords, after the problems we faced towards the end of last year in driving the Jubilee Line extension to its conclusion, I have been delighted to note that a great deal of extremely positive comment has since been made about the Jubilee Line. Indeed, as my noble friend has suggested, the stations have already garnered many design awards. In addition, the PPP we have planned for the Underground should increase by up to one-quarter and perhaps even one-third the frequency of the trains travelling on that line.

Lord Ezra: My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that, although Westminster Tube station may have taken longer to build and cost a little more than was intended, the end result is a worthy structure that will serve well the travelling public in this important area of London? Can we take it that this good example will be followed in the improvements to be carried out on the rest of the Tube system?

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: My Lords, I confidently anticipate that the PPPs we intend to put in place by the middle of next year will bring in £8 billion in investment which will help to upgrade the entire Tube system, along with the £5 billion that is to be invested in maintenance. I look forward to the Tube system benefiting considerably from the biggest financial boost that it will have received for a long time.

Lord Peston: My Lords, my noble friend is right to emphasise the engineering triumph of the Jubilee Line and of the stations, which are a credit to our country, but as regards a more primitive level of engineering, is there any hope that the roadworks being undertaken outside the Palace of Westminster will be finished during our lifetime, so that one can walk safely from here to there?

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: My Lords, with some trepidation I should tell the House that we have been promised an early conclusion to some of the roadworks outside the Palace of Westminster. I look forward to some of the amendments that we intend to introduce in the Transport Bill, which will be considered by noble Lords later. It is hoped that progress can be made on all roadworks, but in particular those that affect London.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, is the Minister aware that I took through its stages the Private Member's Bill for the Jubilee Line extension and, to that extent, I should declare an interest? I strongly support the view expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Haskel; namely, that the individual stations of the Jubilee Line, each designed by a different and highly skilled architect, are tributes to British architecture. However, can the Minister tell the House

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whether there is any suggestion of returning to the private Bill procedure? At least the Jubilee Line has been built, whereas projects like the Heathrow fifth terminal are still far from completion because of the changed procedures on transport issues. Are the Government considering a review of this matter?

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: My Lords, I am not aware of any intention to review this procedure. However, if I am wrong about that, I shall write to the noble Baroness. What I can say is that in our 10-year plan, drawn up in consultation with our colleagues at the DETR, we looked at the length of time generally taken to realise projects in the UK, and in particular at extremely large ones. We concluded that, once more elegant procurement systems are put in place, along with better planning, we should be able to advance the time taken, if not by one-half, then by one-third of the current length of time.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, is the Minister not being rather too kind here? Is not the truth that we have suffered from years of under-investment as a result of the failure of the previous Conservative government to address the problems of the London Underground? The reason the service is so poor and is not universally of the standard demonstrated at Westminster is that the Conservative government neglected the whole system.

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: My Lords, there is no doubt that the Underground has suffered from under-investment in the past. We believe that the route that we are taking through the PPP will help over the next 30 years by, initially, pumping in an additional £8 billion in investment and £5 billion for maintenance. We believe, too, that the private sector expertise that will be brought in to work alongside public sector operational management will ensure that we put in place the kind of system that a capital city such as London deserves.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: My Lords, can the Minister tell us whether he has resolved his differences with his honourable friend the mayor of London as regards the ownership of, and methods of dealing with, London Underground? Does the Minister have any fears about whether such differences may delay the implementation of the various programmes that we all desire?

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: My Lords, only last week I held an amicable meeting with Mr. Kiley and Mr Livingstone to discuss transport in London. I am sure that they left that meeting assured that the Government are just as concerned as they are to ensure that London has in place the best possible public transport system. Noble Lords may know that the PPP is well on course. Best and final offers have now been invited for the two deep Tube contracts, while bids for the sub-surface railway contract were received in September. The next stage of that competition is about to commence. The mayor is fully aware of our determination to push ahead with that process.

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Transport Bill

3.7 p.m.

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now further considered on Report.

Moved, That the Bill be further considered on Report.--(Lord Macdonald of Tradeston.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Clause 116 [Postponement of scheme]:

Lord Dixon-Smith moved Amendment No. 105:

    Page 71, line 23, at end insert--

("( ) The authority or authorities in question shall compensate any operator of a local service for any losses incurred by it as a result of such postponement.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, there is a certain irony in the fact that we are meeting this afternoon to discuss a transport Bill when we have encountered a degree of disruption to the transport system across the country which has reached quite unprecedented levels. Some of that disruption is due, unfortunately, to what I would refer to as human intervention. For that reason, perhaps this afternoon we should draw a veil over that particular subject because, to a certain extent, points have already been made about it. More important, however, is that it would not now be appropriate to embark on that kind of discussion. Other occasions will arise, in particular when more is known about the detailed effects of the storm and the railway engineering works. It will be more appropriate to deal with the subject at that point.

Everyone in the House today will be aware of the difficulties faced by the transport sector as a result of last night's most extraordinary storm. However, the damage and disruption has not been confined to the transport sector. The storm has caused immense personal damage to many ordinary citizens. I am sure that we all wish them a speedy return to what can only be described as the status quo ante. I say that because I believe that, once a little time has elapsed, the disruption that has been caused both to property and to personal health will be seen to be even more damaging than the present disruption to the transport system.

This small group of amendments deals with quality partnership schemes and quality contracts. Amendment No. 105 addresses a small point. Where a quality partnership scheme is brought into being, the authority bringing forward such a partnership scheme has the power to delay its implementation. Having arrived at all the agreements and having set it up, it can at that point unilaterally delay matters. We do not think that that is likely to be fair to the contractor or contractors with whom the transport authority has made the agreement. The amendment therefore seeks to insert additional wording into the Bill which would provide that if costs are incurred as a result of any disruption or delay to the introduction of a scheme, the relevant contractors should be compensated for any financial loss they suffer.

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Amendment No. 110 concerns quality contract schemes, which are different from quality partnership schemes in that they set out to create a local monopoly in bus services. We do not like the idea of creating monopolies at all and we do not think this is an appropriate way forward. However, we recognise that the Government are determined to go down this particular route. One also has to recognise that occasionally the problems of providing a bus service are so difficult that such arrangements may appear to be the only way to proceed.

Amendment No. 110 deals with one of the two particular problems that we have in relation to the Bill at the moment. The Bill provides that a scheme may be made if it is the only practical way to implement the policies of the transport authority's bus strategy and if it is economic, efficient and effective. Those words are a well-known mantra with which we all try to work--but they are a mantra. Bearing in mind that a quality contract scheme can last for up to 10 years, we do not believe that that should be allowed to stand.

It is perfectly conceivable that, over the period of a quality contract scheme, circumstances may change before the scheme is due to cease. They could change for a whole host of reasons--developments in the community, new employment moving into an area and so on. Amendment No. 110 seeks to refer back the length of the scheme to the purposes for which it was originally created and, if those purposes are no longer being fulfilled, the quality contract scheme should cease. That is not an unreasonable argument and I ask the Government to consider the issue carefully.

Amendment No. 111 refers back to the question of delay. The same power of unilateral delay exists for quality contract schemes as for quality partnership schemes, where the transport authority can devise a quality contract scheme and then delay its implementation. The amendment seeks compensation for losses as a result of a postponement. These are matters of justice and good practice. I commend the amendments to the Government. I beg to move.

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