Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 7320 - 7339)

  7320. MR CAMERON: Yes, it puts in place a mechanism. If a Transport and Works Act Order is brought forward, a specific mechanism which is precisely the same as that which was proposed for Stratford station is in place and what it means is that the hybrid-type procedure can be followed when it would not otherwise be followed, my Lord.

  7321. CHAIRMAN: I think that is a matter for legal submission.

  7322. MR CAMERON: Mr Berryman, I am going to give you the last opportunity to identify any disadvantage to Cross London Rail Links from introducing this provision.

   (Mr Berryman) I do not see that, purely from Cross London Rail Links' perspective, there is any advantage or disadvantage through introducing this provision. I think, as I said a moment ago, it is a matter best dealt with by legal submission.

  7323. MR CAMERON: Can I just have one moment. I think those are all the questions I have for you but I want to check. Thank you very much.

Re-examined by MS LIEVEN

  7324. MS LIEVEN: There is one point I wanted to clarify, Mr Berryman, so that the Committee are completely clear on this. Does the fact that a scheme is safeguarded mean that a decision has been made to build it is a good use of public funds?

   (Mr Berryman) No, I would not put it as strongly as that, but it does mean, as I think Mr Cameron said, that there are potential public benefits which have to be weighed against the blighting impacts of a safeguarding direction. Sometimes those benefits which arise from a thing which is safeguarded can be a very long way in the future, but I think if government felt there was no case ever likely to arise for building something they would not be prepared to make a safeguarding direction. In fact, I would go a bit further and say they would need to be convinced that there was a probability or possibility at least that some public benefit would accrue.

  7325. MS LIEVEN: Thank you.

  7326. LORD YOUNG OF NORWOOD GREEN: How rigorous is the sort of cost:benefit analysis then, at that stage? You say they would not do it unless they felt there was some possibility of public benefit accruing.

   (Mr Berryman) Yes.

  7327. They would weigh against it the possible effect of blight. Would they also take into account any alternative solution?

   (Mr Berryman) I think they may do. It rather depends on the circumstances. I think the best way of looking at that is that a review of alternatives would be made before a decision was even taken to go to the next stage, which is to do safeguarding. Safeguarding is quite a preliminary stage in a project. The works in the Bill which we are talking about now, most of them were safeguarded in 1992. So there is potentially quite a long time between a safeguarding direction being made and the works actually being authorised. A safeguarding direction would not be made if the Secretary of State felt there was no hope of anything ever coming of it. Is that making sense?

  7328. LORD YOUNG OF NORWOOD GREEN: I think it does. There has to be a probability that it would take place?

   (Mr Berryman) There has to be a reasonable expectation that there would be some benefit from doing it. Having said that, there are many examples of safeguarding, even property acquisition, which have taken place for schemes which have subsequently been cancelled. Perhaps one that your Lordships might be familiar with in the recent past is the widening of the North Circular Road in London, where large swathes of property were safeguarded and then a decision was made subsequently not to proceed with the scheme. That can and does happen all the time. I do not think the safeguarding would be made in the first instance unless the Secretary of State at the time felt there was a reasonable prospect that the scheme would be brought forward in due course.

  7329. Do you take the view that it is worth safeguarding?
  (Mr Berryman) In this case?

  7330. Yes.
  (Mr Berryman) I do. I am, obviously, influenced by my experience on this and other projects. If the line for Crossrail had not been safeguarded in 1992 it is very, very, very unlikely that this proposal could have been brought forward because buildings with piled foundations would have been built on the safeguarded route. Getting railway tunnels through London now is a bit like threading a needle; I do not think we would have been able to do it very easily if that safeguarding direction had not been made in 1992.

  7331. LORD YOUNG OF NORWOOD GREEN: Thank you.

  7332. CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much, Mr Berryman.

The witness withdrew

  7333. CHAIRMAN: Ms Lieven, perhaps you would deal with the legal points about Option 1.

  7334. MS LIEVEN: Certainly, my Lords. That is what I was going to start with. In my submission, Option 1 should be seen as having two parts: the first part is that you are being asked to recommend to the Secretary of State that she establish powers under the TWA to bring the extension of Ebbsfleet forward without delay and to amend the Bill as follows.

  7335. In my submission, if the Committee made that recommendation and the Secretary of State accepted it, then there would be something close to an obligation on the Secretary of State to bring such an Order forward without delay. That is not to say that the Secretary of State could not resist doing so, and one gets into difficult areas of public law as to the circumstances in which she could not do so, but by the Committee making that recommendation and the Secretary of State having accepted that recommendation through this process there does come a very strong onus, if I can put it like that, on the Secretary of State to bring forward the Order.

  7336. LORD YOUNG OF NORWOOD GREEN: The safeguarding order?

  7337. MS LIEVEN: No, my Lord, this is to bring forward the actual TWA Order to take it to Ebbsfleet. In my submission, in opening Mr Cameron was rather playing down what he was asking this Committee to do, because that recommendation is a strong thing and although it does not legally oblige the Secretary of State to bring forward a TWA it does—if the Secretary of State accepts it—put a very strong onus on her to do so.

  7338. The second part, looking at it in this way, is the proposal for the amendment of clause 57, which effectively deems the proposal to be of national significance. That does not oblige, that part, the Secretary of State to bring forward the Order, but it does mean that the scheme is accepted to be of national significance. Again, that puts an onus or an added weight to what would then be this TWA, which would clearly be used by the London Borough of Bexley and others who were in favour of the extension, to seek to push that Order further up any queue or any priority list for funding.

  7339. So, my Lords, the way my learned friend is putting this Option is that it is really a fairly meaningless thing and there would be no harm to anybody and it would just be a nice kind of "icing on a cake". In my submission, it is more than that because of those two limbs. I will come to the merits or demerits in a moment, but in my submission there is absolutely nothing that the Committee has heard today that would justify a finding that going from Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet was of national significance—absolutely nothing that would support that case. My learned friend has cited the example of the Stratford station on CTRL—a wholly different case on its merits, because we are talking about an international railway there and a major new interchange that was to serve a very wide area. Here we are talking about a relatively limited extension which we quite accept has benefits to some of the people of south-east London, but in my submission to suggest that it is of national significance is really to stretch a point beyond its natural breaking point.



 
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