Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 7360 - 7379)

  7360. CHAIRMAN: No, thank you very much, Ms Lieven. Now, Mr Cameron.

  7361. MR CAMERON: My Lord, can I follow Ms Lieven's lead and deal with procedure and then merits. On procedure, as we have got Option 1 on the screen, as Ms Lieven says, there are two limbs to Option 1. The first is to recommend that the Secretary of State establish powers under the 1992 Act to bring the extension of Ebbsfleet forward without delay. The second, of course, is to amend the Bill. As far as the first is concerned, Bexley would wish that the Secretary of State did bring this order forward, funded it and it formed part of Crossrail, and I make no bones about that. However, what the request is, that the Committee make this recommendation to the Secretary of State, would not oblige the Secretary of State to bring such an order forward but would be a strong encouragement. We are not asking any more than that. Before such an order was brought forward a thorough analysis of benefit:cost ratios and all the other aspects would have to be carried out as part of the Transport and Works Act procedure, so it does not pre-empt the carrying out of that work and following those procedures.

  7362. The second element of our request to the Committee can stand or fall independently of the first element. The second element is to seek the amendment and if the Committee was with Bexley on this some minor redrafting might be necessary if it was to be limited to the extension to Ebbsfleet, I accept that.

  7363. CHAIRMAN: I do not think we need worry about that. On this wording, the effect of it would be not to deem it to be actually of national significance, but to ensure that the procedures that would apply, if it was of national significance, would apply to this Order. That is the effect of the amendment because, if one looks at the wording of the proposed subsection (2)(a) and then if your Lordships were to turn on, and we have set out section 9 of the Transport and Works Act at page 10, the effect is not to say that this is of national significance, but the effect is to say that it be treated in the same way that it would be treated if the Secretary of State was of the opinion that it was of national significance.[56]57

  7364. BARONESS FOOKES: Deemed to be.

  7365. MR CAMERON: In effect, but the wording is to add the words "or relate to, or matters ancillary to, the construction of the extension to Crossrail", and that would be added on to subsections (1) and (2) of section 9 so that the procedure would then apply. The effect of the procedure is that the Order would be brought before both Houses of Parliament and, if a resolution was passed in favour of that proposal, no point could be taken in effect on the principle that was approved in those resolutions, so it is a purely procedural amendment. It just means that any Transport and Works Act Order that was to be promoted would have to follow this procedure when it would not otherwise have to follow it. The advantage of that is that the principle of the scheme would be endorsed by both Houses of Parliament and it is hoped that any inquiry would then be limited in scope and the principle could not be challenged, and that would be the effect.

  7366. Now, if that amendment were accepted, and I am just dealing with the second part of Option 1, there would be no immediate cost to the Secretary of State because she would not have to promote an Order.[57]58 All it means is that, if she does promote an Order, she gets the assistance of this provision. There is no cost and there is no obligation to proceed. Bexley actually very much hope that the Secretary of State would proceed.

  7367. CHAIRMAN: It puts the Petitioners against the hybrid Order in a very difficult position in the same way as Petitioners against this Bill are in a difficult position; they cannot oppose the principle.

  7368. MR CAMERON: They could not oppose the principle by the time it got to a Transport and Works Act inquiry. The advantage of that is that it would assist the Secretary of State in promoting such an Order. Therefore, on the merits of that amendment on its own, and I appreciate it was a matter of law, but Mr Berryman, when I asked him, saw no advantage or disadvantage in his view, so neither he nor the Promoter has identified a disadvantage in this particular aspect of the amendment that the Petitioner seeks. If there is no disadvantage, no cost and, I submit, considerable advantage if and when the Secretary of State comes forward with an Order, what, I ask on behalf of Bexley, can be the reason for rejecting this request, this element of it? That is the way that I have put the case before this Committee.

  7369. CHAIRMAN: I think it is the `without delay' point that is part of the trouble.

  7370. LORD BROOKE OF ALVERTHORPE: It does not say "if" and "when".

  7371. CHAIRMAN: It promotes it over and above other schemes.

  7372. MR CAMERON: My Lord, yes that is the first element of Option 1, but the second element to make this amendment is "to facilitate", the word I have used, or "to smooth the way if and when". That is the second element. Now, coming back to the first element, I accept that what Bexley is asking for is for some assistance to the Committee and an indication that this is a desirable scheme, but, if the Committee were against me on that, I would still seek the amendment.

  7373. LORD YOUNG OF NORWOOD GREEN: You mean you would seek the second part of the amendment as your Option 1(a), if you like?

  7374. MR CAMERON: My Lord, yes. It is undesirable, but I would seek that, if that is the amendment that I would seek, so what that would mean would be that, if and when the Secretary of State came forward with an Order, and it is not some remote possibility, we know that it is at least a possibility and almost a probability because the Secretary of State recognises the benefits and is promoting safeguarding, so it is likely that such an Order will be promoted at some time, so what my Lord, Lord Young, has described as "1(a)" would smooth the way or facilitate that process if the Secretary of State came forward with an Order.

  7375. LORD JAMES OF BLACKHEATH: Are you saying, Mr Cameron, that you have an accidental ambiguity in the first two lines there and that what you are really wanting to say is, "now to bring the extension to Ebbsfleet forward and to amend the Bill as follows", and it is not without delay and the implication that you have got to do the building now without delay, but that you just want the decision now?

  7376. MR CAMERON: My Lord, no, our initial request is that it be brought forward without delay. What I am trying to say is that, as a second best, my "and" is my amendment and I would much rather, on behalf of Bexley, have that encouragement, but, if it was not forthcoming from the Committee, as a second best, I ask for the amendment.

  7377. LORD JAMES OF BLACKHEATH: It is a very onerous demand, that point, without some restructuring.

  7378. MR CAMERON: My Lord, it is my submission that the amendment itself is not onerous at all. It assists the Secretary of State if and when she comes forward with a proposal. As far as the first part is concerned, that is more onerous and, if the Committee were against me on that, I would urge you to provide some encouragement even if it does not go as far as "without delay".

  7379. LORD JAMES OF BLACKHEATH: I think that is what I was saying.

56   57 Committee Ref: A35, Options for Select Committee (8) (BEXYLB-44_05A-010) Back

57   58 Committee Ref: A35, Option 1-Recommend TWA Order plus amendment which designates scheme as scheme of national significance (BEXYLB-44_05A-003) Back

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