Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 6900 - 6919)

  6900. MS LIEVEN: My Lord, it is a little complicated and, I must say, I was very confused until very recently. The position is that the two-track scheme, which is what was originally being considered in 2002 and 2003, has been safeguarded, but the Promoters are clear, and I do not think Bexley disagree with this, that that would be a thoroughly unsatisfactory solution because it would put in jeopardy the efficient operation of the rest of the Crossrail network. Mr Berryman will tell me if I have got this wrong, but, if Crossrail is going to go to Ebbsfleet at any point, then it is almost certainly going to have to go under the four-track scheme because that is the only way to give sufficient operational robustness. The four tracks are not safeguarded. The safeguarding is being consulted upon at the present time.

  6901. BARONESS FOOKES: By whom?

  6902. MS LIEVEN: Well, the Secretary of State is consulting the local authorities and other stakeholders.

  6903. CHAIRMAN: Ms Lieven, can the Government bring forward amendments at the recommittal in terms of either Option 1 or Option 2?

  6904. MS LIEVEN: Option 2, my Lord, as I understand it, would not require any amendment to the Bill; it is merely asking your Lordships to make a recommendation. Option1, as I understand it, could be brought forward as an amendment and would not require resubmission to the other Place. I am afraid Mr Berryman has used the dreaded word "re-hybridisation"; it would not be a rehybridising amendment which means it would not have to be considered afresh by a House of Commons Committee. There will be a number, as I understand it, of minor amendments to the Bill in the course of the House of Lords; for example, there were always amendments to protective provisions.

  6905. CHAIRMAN: We have the whole question of the railway clauses, have we not?

  6906. MS LIEVEN: Indeed, my Lord. So those amendments are not considered rehybridising and, therefore, they do not have to go back to a fresh Commons Committee, so I would put it as a relatively painless kind of amendment—relatively so.

  6907. CHAIRMAN: They would be Lords amendments that would go back to the House of Commons for amendment in the ordinary way. It is Public Bill procedure.

  6908. MS LIEVEN: Exactly, my Lord. Yes.

  6909. BARONESS FOOKES: But even Option 1 is a recommendation for something to happen, not a requirement? Had it been a requirement I take it that would have been constitutionally different?

  6910. MS LIEVEN: I believe that is right, my Lord. I think all this Committee can do is recommend—that is my recollection from earlier proceedings—and I think that is all Mr Cameron is asking the Committee to do.

  6911. MR CAMERON: My Lord, that is right, "to recommend that the Secretary of State establish powers ... and to amend the bill as follows". We are asking the Committee not just to recommend but to amend the Bill in those terms but, as Ms Lieven has just indicated, that would not be a rehybridisation, if that is the right word, of the Bill and, therefore, it would not, in effect, extend the scope of the Bill and would not need to go back to the other House. That is why we have put it forward in this way, because it is a means by which the Committee can indicate its support in the future for an extension to Ebbsfleet, if the Committee is persuaded of these matters, without causing any procedural difficulties. That is why we have put it forward in this way.

  6912. CHAIRMAN: All right, Mr Cameron. I think we had better hear you on this.

  6913. MR CAMERON: Thank you, my Lord.

  6914. The case put forward by the London Borough of Bexley is that all possible and practical steps should be taken to facilitate the extension of Crossrail from Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet. That is the point that Bexley wish to make. The reason Bexley wish those steps to be taken is that the extension would secure very significant social, economic and regeneration benefits.

  6915. CHAIRMAN: Is there any disagreement about that?

  6916. MR CAMERON: No, my Lord, not as I understand it, and I would hope that we will not trouble the Committee for too long on the details of those benefits, although we would wish to draw them to the Committee's attention.

  6917. CHAIRMAN: Yes, but they would all have to be explored under the 1992 Act if an extension was proposed?

  6918. MR CAMERON: They would, my Lord. The purpose of the amendment that we are seeking is to bring any Order made under the 1992 Act within the provisions that would apply to nationally significant projects, and the purpose of that is that there would then have to be a resolution for both Houses on the principle, so in effect one would have a hybrid Transport and Works Act Order, and during the course of the Transport and Works Act Order inquiry there could be no challenge to the principle of the Order. That is what we are seeking to achieve; that is what happened at Stratford, and the Order in that case was approved and went ahead. So we are trying to introduce a method whereby the principle of an extension can be considered by both Houses of Parliament to avoid unnecessary and extended and protracted investigation of those matters at a subsequent inquiry.

  6919. CHAIRMAN: If we were to accept your suggestion in Option 1 would that, in itself, affect the principle of the Bill?

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