Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill First Special Report




1.  The Crossrail Bill provides for a "railway transport system running from Maidenhead, in the County of Berkshire, and Heathrow Airport, in the London Borough of Hillingdon, through central London to Shenfield, in the County of Essex, and Abbey Wood, in the London Borough of Greenwich"[2]. The said railway transport system is a proposal affecting primarily London and the South East of England. The intention is to deliver a railway with a frequent train service across the capital by 2017. The route will begin in Maidenhead and Heathrow and travel via Paddington, Liverpool Street, and Stratford to Shenfield, and via Whitechapel to Abbey Wood. The railway will travel underground through central London between Paddington and East London.

The History of Crossrail

2.  The proposals for such a transport scheme are not unique to this Bill. Parliament considered a Crossrail Bill over a decade ago. That Bill, promoted by Transport for London, was developed following the 1989 Central London Rail Study. It was presented as a private Bill to the House of Commons on 22 January 1991.

3.  However, the Bill was blocked at several of its Parliamentary stages. The 1991 Bill had 314 petitions deposited against it. At that time, an Opposed Bill Committee was appointed to hear those cases and it subsequently sat for 7 months. The Bill was finally rejected by that Committee on 11 May 1994. The Committee reported that the case for the Bill had not been made and the Bill was therefore not passed by the House. However, the Government issued Safeguarding Directions to protect the alignments of the route through central London and ensure that no developments could occur which would prevent the Crossrail scheme from being built in the future. We note, as did the House of Commons Committee in their Special Report[3], that the Safeguarding Directions have had a long term impact on some of the landowners along the route.

The Promoter of this Crossrail scheme

4.  The Department for Transport and Transport for London formed a 50/50 joint venture company, Cross London Rail Links (CLRL), to promote and develop the Crossrail scheme. The Department of Transport is referred to as the 'Promoter' of the Bill in this Report.

5.  The construction of a project such as Crossrail requires the authority of Parliament in the form of an Act. The Crossrail Bill was accordingly presented before Parliament by the Secretary of State for Transport on 18 May 2005.

6.  The Bill is a hybrid bill because, although promoted by the Secretary of State as a matter of public policy, it adversely affects the private interests of certain individuals and organisations who may therefore be entitled to have their objections considered by a Select Committee under a quasi-judicial procedure akin to that for private bills. Objections are made by depositing a petition against the Bill in either, or both, House(s).

The Powers conferred by the Bill

7.  The Bill will confer a range of powers on the nominated undertaker[4] to build and operate Crossrail. These include the right to construct and maintain Crossrail and the other associated and enabling works. These works are summarised in the Environmental Statement[5] and the explanatory memorandum accompanying the Bill. A summary of the main powers sought in the legislation follows below:

    (a)  The Bill will grant deemed planning permission for the construction of Crossrail and other associated and enabling works. The Bill will also remove the need for listed building consent under Section 8 of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.

    (b)  The Bill will provide for the demolition, alteration or extension of the listed buildings specified in the Bill where this is necessary to construct the scheme and it removes the need to obtain conservation area consent under Section 74 of the 1990 Act, for the demolition of buildings and other structures specified in the Bill within designated conservation areas where this is necessary to construct Crossrail and the other associated and enabling works.

    (c)  The Bill will confer powers of compulsory acquisition or temporary possession of the land needed to construct Crossrail and it authorises the stopping up or closure of highways and other public thoroughfares both permanently and temporarily, and the alteration of highways.

    (d)  The Bill also gives the Promoter enabling rights to use certain rail facilities to be taken, or varied, for the purposes of providing Crossrail services; it authorises interference with navigable waterways; and it confers other powers required in connection with the construction and operation of Crossrail and other associated and enabling works.

    (e)  There are provisions in the Bill that will deem planning permission to be granted for the authorised works, but such permission is to be subject to conditions requiring the approval of the local planning authority for certain matters of detail. The extent of matters subject to approval under these conditions will depend upon whether the local planning authority is a 'qualifying authority', that is, has given an undertaking to the Secretary of State about the way in which it will handle applications for approval of details. For qualifying authorities, the matters subject to approval will include certain construction arrangements. Where works affect highways, the Bill will also provide for certain matters to be subject to the approval of the relevant highway authority.

8.  In short, the Bill provides the legislative framework to allow the construction of Crossrail. It amends existing powers, where the Promoter deems necessary, to ensure the construction and operation of the proposed transport scheme.

The House of Commons Select Committee

9.  A Select Committee in the House of Commons considered petitions deposited against the Bill in that House. It sat for 84 days in public and private between 17 January 2006 and 18 October 2007 and considered cases presented on 205 of the 457 petitions deposited against the Crossrail Bill, and against the four sets of Additional Provisions deposited by the Government.

10.  As a result of its sittings the Committee made certain amendments to the Bill to meet, in whole or in part, the requirements of Petitioners where they judged that to be appropriate. There were also a number of issues where the Committee made recommendations or suggested a course of action to the Promoter instead of making an amendment to the Bill. The Committee's Special Report was published on 23 October 2007 and explained some of the decisions and recommendations they made.

The Passage of the Bill to the House of Lords and the Formation of this Select Committee

11.  Once the House of Commons Select Committee had introduced the four sets of Additional Provisions and reported the Bill, the Bill went through its remaining stages in the House of Commons—namely Committee on re-commitment, Report and Third Reading. The Bill was then brought up to the House of Lords and read for a first time on 14 December 2007.

12.  This Select Committee was appointed on 17 January 2008 in the following terms:

Committee Appointment Terms

13.  Members of the Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill were selected in part because they did not have any local or personal interests in the Bill, ensuring that they could judge impartially each case before them.

Crossrail Bill, HL Bill 14, page 1 Back

3   House of Commons Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill, First Special Report, Session 2006-07, HC 235, volumes I-V. The Report relates to the present Crossrail Bill.  Back

4   The nominated undertaker is the person who in due course will be appointed to construct Crossrail. Back

5   The Environmental Statement can be found online at: Back

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2008