Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 5160 - 5179)

  5160. Entitlement to protection under the settlement policy set out in the Information Paper is, however, not dependent upon having entered into a Deed. That is made clear in the Paper itself. The reason for that is that the settlement policy under the Information Paper forms part of the Promoters' environmental minimum requirements to which we have referred you already, and that is explained in Information Paper D2 and, in particular, in paragraphs 4.1 and 4.2 which deal with controls which lie outside the Bill itself, but are particularly focused on property mitigation and protection of which the settlement procedure forms an important component. Compliance with the environmental minimum requirements is to be secured by the Promoters by contract with the nominated undertaker, as is explained in paragraphs 2.4 and 2.5 of that Information Paper.

  5161. Finally, on a question raised by Lady Fookes, I think, on Tuesday, the procedures described in Information Paper B3 are intended to secure compliance with undertakings and assurances, and, my Lady, within that Information Paper you will find a description of the terminology that has been used, that is to say, undertakings and assurances, commitments, which is the genus, if you will, of which undertakings and assurances are species, to use the biological analogy. You will also find an explanation of compliance arrangements and also of the contents of the register of undertakings and assurances and the fact that it is a document which, as my Lord, the Lord Chairman, observed, is dynamic in the sense that it is being updated from time to time, and a final version of that will obviously be issued at around the time at which the Bill secures Royal Assent.

  5162. I ought to make clear in answer to one question, which I think was raised for me by my Lord, Lord Brooke, and that concerned how the settlement policy was dealt with under the register of undertakings and assurances. I have a note in relation to that and I can try to --- I have mislaid it. I have found it. The position is that the settlement policy, as set out in the Information Paper D12, is in its entirety included in the register as entry 22 on page three and there is reference to the Deed as entry 23 on the same page. You should see those references in front of you. Essentially, the settlement policy and the Settlement Deed procedure are enshrined within the environmental minimum requirements on a two-fold basis, both by inclusion within the register and, as I have explained previously, as part of the extra bill controls which form the property mitigation arrangements which will be secured by contract between the Promoter and the nominated undertaker. I hope that deals with the question as to compliance procedures which was raised before me, I think, on Tuesday this week.

  5163. It may also be helpful, and this will be my last point I think before I read out my concluding paragraph, just to explain that the relationship between policies set out in Information Papers and undertakings or assurances contained on the register is as follows: in general we have adopted the approach of producing Information Papers setting out our policy or general approach to a subject or issue and if there are what we regard as being commitments, that is to say assurances or undertakings or both, in the Information Papers, then they are extracted and placed on the register in their own right. For example, a topic Mr Thornely-Taylor has dealt with in evidence, on groundborne noise and vibration, Information Paper D10 sets out our policy and approach but the actual commitments in that paper to do certain things such as to adopt a maintenance criteria, those have been extracted and put on the register as well. If it is of interest, and I will say on the record, those commitments in relation to groundborne noise and vibration are found at entries 18 to 21 and at 459 to 460 within the register. The settlement approach is slightly different because rather than try to extract a multitude of separate commitments from the Information Paper on settlement we thought it sensible simply to include the whole of that Information Paper including the Deed as two entries within the register of undertakings and assurances and that, as you have seen from entries 22 and 23, is precisely what we have done. The reason for that was we felt if we included the whole of that policy in its entirety and modern job lot that would give the maximum reassurance to those affected, or potentially affected, by the impact of ground movement, that the entirety of that policy procedure was enshrined in the Secretary of State's commitments, the Promoter's commitments, in that way. I hope that is tolerably clear and, having explained that, I can simply say in conclusion, and for the reasons I have given, our submission is the undertaking sought by Mr Wheeler, which you recall he read out to you at the close of his presentation on Tuesday which in effect would be to repeat the Phase 3 Stage 1 settlement process in a modified form, we say is not justified and, that being the case, would simply add unnecessary costs to the project itself.

  5164. Those are our submissions in relation to that, the issues raised by Mr Wheeler, unless of course there are any questions arising?

  5165. CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Mr Mould.

  5166. LORD YOUNG OF NORWOOD GREEN: Just a brief question. I think you covered this before, are you going to notify all those people who fall within the 10mm boundaries of the need for them to enter into a Deed of Settlement?

  5167. MR MOULD: I think the answer is yes and the purpose of the guide is to achieve that. What I would expect to happen in practice is that the guide will be sent to all those who occupy buildings within that location.

  5168. LORD YOUNG OF NORWOOD GREEN: Can you explain in paragraph 14, which helpfully you have got up on the screen where it says: "Entitlement to protection under the settlement policy set out in D12 is not dependent upon having entered into a deed", but it seems to my mind there is a clear advantage in entering into a Deed of Settlement.[26] Am I right in assuming that?

  5169. MR MOULD: I think you are and the reason why is the reason I have given, it provides you with a direct contractual relationship with the nominated undertaker and one only has to think for a moment about the practical advantages of that. It is that you will feel that you can speak directly to the nominated undertaker and say, "Look, I would like to have a look at the report which you prepared in relation to my building. I would like the following points perhaps to be revisited. Do you think you might do so?" As I say, I will make very clear, I shall be very surprised and unhappy if he did but if he was to express some reluctance about that without good reason, then one would have the comfort of saying, "All right then, if you won't do it, I shall go off and seek impartial, independent information on that point from an independent expert". I think there is that advantage. We are trying to reassure people that if they do not take advantage of the Deed then they will not lose the benefits of the settlement policy. Speaking for myself, if I were such a building owner the first thing I would do whilst Royal Assent is being obtained is to say, "Can I have a deed, please?"

  5170. BARONESS FOOKES: What is the route for those who do not enter into such a deed of settlement, which you are strongly advocating, if they are unhappy or dissatisfied?

  5171. MR MOULD: They would then need to approach the Department. There may be a number of routes. Strictly, in the Information Papers which I have mentioned, you will find that the Promoters will secure by contract with a nominated undertaker compliance with, amongst other things, the policy set out in the settlement paper. One's first port of call would be to get in touch with a civil servant in the Department, to say, "Look, this has not happened in the way in which it should. Could you please get on to the nominated undertaker and sort it out." Under the terms of our emerging Community Relations Strategy, we are going to have a local framework of liaison and points of contact. People who might feel, if they have a relatively minor concern, that ringing up someone in the Department for Transport is perhaps a little bit excessive will be able to raise that concern locally.

  5172. BARONESS FOOKES: Is that the one-stop shop that has been spoken of?

  5173. MR MOULD: That would be the obvious way of dealing with it in the context of Spitalfields, yes. In the cases of minor damage, for example, there is a small claims procedure that will be operating during the course of the construction works. That can be found explained in another Information Paper—I think in the F series of Information Papers. I will be corrected if I am wrong, but there is an arrangement as well which will be put in place so that people can go to an identified officer, a complaints commissioner.

  5174. BARONESS FOOKES: That would be after they have gone through the normal procedures, if one may call them that. Is that is the appeal procedure, going to the complaints commissioner?

  5175. MR MOULD: I will check that because I would not want to undersell what we are doing.

  5176. BARONESS FOOKES: No. You also want to make it clear for those who might be affected.

  5177. MR MOULD: This is F5, paragraph 2.1: "For those who are unhappy with an aspect of the construction of Crossrail the first step would be to complain to the Secretary of State or the nominated undertaker. It is where the complainant feels that the complaint has not been satisfactorily addressed that the complaints commissioner has a role to play." Lady Fookes, you are absolutely right. The first port of call is either the Department or the nominated undertaker and it is in the case of the latter, as I say, that the Community Relations Strategy envisages that there will be local points of contact. We have mentioned the one-stop shop which is, I suggest, likely to be the emanation of that. Alternatively, of course, if we do in due time have a Liaison Panel that is functioning to everybody's satisfaction—which we very much hope we shall—that would be another place to which one could go, so that the Liaison Panel could say, "We think we ought to look at our own routes" or whatever it may be.

  5178. BARONESS FOOKES: You can see that from the point of view of the ordinary person saying "Contact the Secretary of State" sounds rather alarming.

  5179. MR MOULD: I suppose those of us in the know would read that as "Contact the Department and speak to a civil servant."

26   Crossrail Ref: P38, Ground Settlement-Note of Promoter's Closing Submissions (SCN-20080313-028) Back

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