Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 4440 - 4459)

  4440. CHAIRMAN: No, we do not. We know all about Route B.

  4441. MR HORTON: You have information about it, but whether it is information which, because much of it is from the Promoters, is entirely complete or accurate is another matter, with respect, and that is why I would ask you to listen to Mr Schabas.

  4442. CHAIRMAN: I am going to deal with Route B, as such, first because we are not going to listen to Mr Schabas if he is going to try and promote Route B as part of this Petition. Shall I tell you why?

  4443. MR HORTON: Please, that would help me very much.

  4444. CHAIRMAN: Evidence which Mr Schabas may seek to advance, or might have sought to advance, on behalf of the Spitalfields Society relates to a realignment of the railway's route between Liverpool Street and Whitechapel Station. The proposed route would follow a curve to the south of the route in the Bill. Other Petitioners have sought to persuade the Committee to accept evidence and submissions on this realignment and we have declined to do so. The reason is that such a proposition traverses the principle of the Bill. What is the principle of the Bill? What does it mean? Although it is still a Bill and not an Act, the Committee can obtain much assistance from the rules of statutory construction. These can guide the Committee, as they would a court of law, if the issue were raised before it, and I would refer to Halsbury's Laws, Volume 44(1), paragraph 1399. The most important rule in this context is that the words of the Bill, both clauses and Schedules, explain what the Bill is going to permit and in this case it is quite specific. Clause 1 allows the nominated undertaker to construct and maintain the works specified in Schedule 1. This includes in subsection (1)(b) railways in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Clause 1(2) says, "Subject to subsections (3) to (5), the scheduled works shall be constructed (a) in the lines or situations shown on the deposited plans, (b) in accordance with the levels shown on the deposited sections". Clause 1(3) to (5) allows for deviations to any extent within the limits of deviation, horizontal or vertical, shown on the deposited plans or sections. Subsection (5) is very particular as to the permitted deviation in three of the works by relation to the deposited sections. The route which might be proposed south of Spitalfields does not fall within the lines or limits of deviation in the deposited plans and sections. It could not thus be carried out under the powers of the Bill, but that these lines and sections are central to what the Bill would allow is re-enforced by other provisions of the Bill, for instance Clause 61 which provides machinery to correct mistakes in the deposited plans or sections by means of an application by the Secretary of State after giving due notice to two magistrates. If they find there is a mistake, they may certify accordingly and say what is the error. Their certificate goes to the Clerk of both Houses and the local authority concerned. Thereafter, matters may proceed on the corrected basis.

  4445. Clause 64 says what are the deposited plans and sections. They are those deposited on given dates with replacements and a consolidated replacement sheet. These at the end of the day will go to the Victoria Tower with the signed copy of what by then will be an Act and they are all available to the public and you can go up the Victoria Tower and get out deposited plans for any railway scheme going back since railways began, and I have done it. The various schedules in addition to that relate particularly to specified works, identified by reference to the deposited plans. For instance, Schedule 3 deals with highway stopping-up and also use of subsoil for works even outside the limits of deviation on land set out on a table on pages 92 and 93 of the Bill but basically by relation to the deposited plans. Schedule 6 confines the acquisition of land to sites specified by reference to the deposited plans. This is a large list with different categories of acquisition.

  4446. Reading the Bill as a whole, clauses and schedules, which is the correct way to interpret a statute and so we hold the way in which the Committee ought to interpret the Bill. There is an intimate connection between the powers conferred and the places where they may be exercised, and it does not include Route B. In that case, why can the Committee not recommend an amendment to the Bill to provide for this more southerly route at Spitalfields? There is a very simple reason. The realignment of that route would require the introduction of additional provisions and a further petitioning period. This House, as the second House, has no power to obtain additional provisions. Standing Order 73(2) relating to House of Lords private business says that petitions for additional provisions cannot be received in the case of a bill brought from the House of Commons. Standing Order 73(1) and (2) reads like this: "(1) A petition for additional provision in a private bill ? (a) shall be signed by the petitioner and shall have annexed thereto a printed copy of the provisions proposed to be added and (b) shall require the sanction of the Chairman of Committees before it is deposited in the office of the Clerk of the Parliaments; (2) No such Petition shall be received in the case of a bill brought from the House of Commons". In accordance with this Standing Order, in Erskine May there is a passage which says: "the power of a Committee to admit clauses or amendments has already been described. It should be noted, however, that additional provisions may not be obtained in the second House. Similarly, and as a consequence of this, it is a well-established rule that a clause conferring powers upon the Promoter struck out in one House should not be re-inserted in the other and restrictive amendments imposed by one House on the Promoters shall not be reversed by the other. This Committee does not have the power to recommend the Promoters to realign the route between Liverpool Street and Whitechapel Station in so far as that has been requested by various members of the Spitalfields community. I am afraid I think that is definitive.

  4447. MR HORTON: It is, my Lord, and I am very grateful to you for having taken the trouble to set that out so fully because obviously it helps the Petitioners, but it is precisely because of that I had sought to take a different approach, as you know I am repeating myself.

  4448. CHAIRMAN: Yes, I am perfectly prepared to deal with your additional approach that the EIA has not been complied with, but it is no use arguing for Route B at the moment. The only way in which that could be done is that the House as a whole comes to the conclusion that the EIA Directive has not been properly complied with and what it does then I simply would not know, but it would have to do something about it. It would have, no doubt, to consider the main alternatives. That is not the point about Route B at the moment.

  4449. MR HORTON: It is to this extent. I am sorry to press it, my Lord, because I am risking repetition. If the proper test for the compliance with the Directive is whether an alternative is of such quality as to rank as a main alternative is objective, then obviously the House in due course, as your Lordship tells me that is a decision for the House, needs material to make that judgment. It is one thing for it to say it is an objective test, but it then has to ask itself whether there is a particular alignment which was not but should have been considered as a main alternative because we know Route B was not considered as the main alternative.

  4450. CHAIRMAN: No, we do not.

  4451. MR HORTON: Yes, we do.

  4452. CHAIRMAN: It was considered.

  4453. MR HORTON: Not as a main alternative. That is the whole case.

  4454. MR ELVIN: In that case, your case disappears if it was a main alternative.

  4455. MR HORTON: It does not, Mr Elvin, that is the whole point. Previously, and I think the petitions tend to be worded in this way before I came into this matter, what Petitioners have said is it was a main alternative but was not referred to in the ES and, therefore, the Directive was breached. My case and, Mr Elvin, I challenge him, if that is not too confrontational, to deny this, the Promoter's case is it was never regarded as a main alternative, that is why it is not in the ES. I accept that, I accept that the Promoters never treated it as a main alternative, therefore did not refer to it in the ES, therefore did not give main reasons for rejecting it. I am riding in on the back of that and saying objectively it plainly should have been. All I am seeking to do at this stage, if your Lordships feel you need it, and your Lordship just having said to me that you thought it had been considered a main alternative, it may be that your Lordships already see that it plainly ranks and has the attraction of a main alternative in which case I am pushing ---

  4456. CHAIRMAN: Plainly what?

   4457. MR HORTON: I do not know obviously whether your Lordships—because your Lordship just indicated to me that you understood the Promoters had regarded it as a main alternative ---

  4458. CHAIRMAN: I think I may have been wrong in that.

  4459. MR HORTON: With the deepest respect, I do not want to go to the Tower for it, but your Lordship was wrong on that and I think Mr Elvin would accept that. Their case has always been we never selected it as a main alternative. I say objectively the Promoters should have done so. You might feel two things. You might feel, as a committee, that it is not for you to tell the House whether something objectively should be considered as a main alternative, it is for the House in due course to consider it and all you can do is report to the House that is a question they need to consider. Or you may feel that you can simply assist the House by saying, "We heard some evidence—it was not in great detail—but sufficient to satisfy us", although clearly the House could disagree with you, "as the Committee that objectively it should have been considered as a main alternative".

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