Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 7380 - 7399)

  7380. LORD YOUNG OF NORWOOD GREEN: When I looked at Option 1, I was looking at it in its entirety and I had trouble with that because you were asking us to make a recommendation where I did not feel, and I suspect some of my colleagues did not feel, that we had enough current evidence before us to enable us to make that recommendation, and it was a strong recommendation, as you freely admit. Now, you are saying, "Well, okay, I am prepared, if you like, to amend my own proposition", if you will pardon me reverting to my old trade union parlance, "and delete the first three lines and my new proposal for Option 1 starts at, `As an amendment to clause 57'", if I understand you correctly, or you would not like to do it, but, in getting some recommendation, you would be prepared to see that as a fallback position?

  7381. MR CAMERON: As put by Mr Lewis to me just now, it would be better than nothing!

  7382. LORD YOUNG OF NORWOOD GREEN: It is the half a track.

  7383. MR CAMERON: But the wording of the option was "and", so there were two elements to it, and I know I am sounding like a lawyer, but I am one. Of the two elements, if we got one of them, it would be better than nothing, but I still urge you to consider the first element of the request. That is on procedure.

  7384. Can I turn to merits and I seek to make four points on procedure. I have not addressed you on the second option because the second option is in effect the first sentence of Option 1. On the merits, there are four points. The first point is what I would describe as `context' for the case, and I would just remind the Committee that, until November 2004, which was post the Montague Review of July 2004, the line to Ebbsfleet formed part of the scheme, so it was promoted by the Secretary of State, not as part of the hybrid Bill, but it was promoted as part of the scheme by the Secretary of State, so we are not suggesting something that has come into Bexley's mind as a good idea to add on some limb somewhere. We are just saying let it go back to how it was when it was first proposed, so it is a scheme which has received due consideration, been through the Montague Review, come out of the Montague Review and was still promoted for consultation purposes in September 2004 and taken out in November 2004. The reason that the Promoter has given for removing that line was impact on service reliability. That is the reason. Cost has been raised, but it was not cost and that is clear from the exhibits we have put in. That reason, service reliability, no longer holds good because a solution has been found which is the four-tracking from Slade Green to Dartford. Therefore, in terms of the merits, it has been through the process, it was taken out for one reason, that reason is capable of being overcome, and that is the context for our petitioning point.

  7385. The second point I wish to make is this: that the benefit:cost ratio provides an indication of whether a project can be considered to be good value for money and there is no effective dispute that the extension to Ebbsfleet based on current figures satisfies the criteria in that the benefit:cost ratio is, by agreement, as good as that for the whole scheme, so it cannot be rejected in terms of cost because, otherwise, the whole scheme should be rejected in terms of cost as a similar benefit:cost ratio.

  7386. The third point is that the regeneration benefits of extending the line to Ebbsfleet are significant. It is an area of London where there are significant pockets of deprivation, and you have the figures in front of you. Mr Donovan explained that north Bexley is not, in his words, in the same category of the leafy suburb of Bexley which might be imagined, and the figures are there. The Belvedere example is given and that is described as an `opportunity area' in the London Plan. It has land available to create jobs and provide for housing and both those factors, housing and jobs, could be given a significant boost, and you have the figures in front of you, if the line were extended. Indeed, part of Crossrail's original business case, and again you have the figures, was that employment would increase significantly in Belvedere if this scheme went ahead, so there are significant regeneration benefits.

  7387. On that point, can I just draw your attention to the extract from the Crossrail Review which was put in by the Promoter as one of their exhibits, the first exhibit I think.[58]59 Paragraph 2.75, just before the part that is highlighted, the third sentence, says, "Benefits would arise from further switching from crowded national rail services with congestion and journey time improvements ... extension to Ebbsfleet would also support the regeneration of the Thames Gateway", so the Montague Report recognised the regeneration benefits that would be derived from extending the line to Ebbsfleet. The part highlighted in that document is the service reliability point, but that is capable of being overcome by the four-tracking, so that is my third point on the merits, the first point being it was part of the original scheme; the second point a positive benefit:cost ratio; the third point, significant transport and regeneration benefits, and my fourth point responds to the improvements to infrastructure point made by Ms Lieven. Yes, there will be improvement to infrastructure in the area but notwithstanding those improvements the benefit:cost ratio is still positive, and the actual benefit to people living or seeking work in the area is demonstrated by page 49 of our exhibits and, yes, page 49 is based on 2001 figures but it gives a very broad indication of the massive increase in the number of people who could reasonably be expected to work at Belvedere if this change came about.[59]60 That is just an example based on Belvedere: of course, the same would apply to the stations to the east.

  7388. My Lord, those are my submissions, unless I can assist on any other procedural points or on the merits.

  7389. CHAIRMAN: Mr Cameron, my colleagues are asking me about an amendment which leaves out "without delay", as it were.

  7390. MR CAMERON: My Lord, I think it is the same answer that Mr Lewis asked me before: we would prefer "without delay" but would welcome any encouragement, and if the words "without delay" were omitted it would be much better than no words at all.

  7391. CHAIRMAN: Ms Lieven, you took this point, and I know we had a statement in the Budget about funding for Crossrail. Has there been any commitment at all for funding for an extension to Ebbsfleet?

  7392. MS LIEVEN: No, my Lord, absolutely not. The only commitment is to take forward the safeguarding proposal—that is there is no funding and no commitment to fund an extension to Ebbsfleet.

  7393. CHAIRMAN: Any more than there is for the extension to Reading?

  7394. MS LIEVEN: Any more than there is for the extension to Reading, that is correct, my Lord.

  7395. My Lord, can I just raise one point on Mr Cameron's amended proposal, which is that it does, in my submission, potentially leave the landowners along that route in some difficulty if they get to a TWA. It is not at all clear to me how a provision that falls under section 9 of the TWA works in practice when you get to the TWA inquiry, but to the degree that it means that the principle of the extension is established then it does put those people at potentially quite a material disadvantage at an inquiry in circumstances where this was not part of the original Bill proposal, and was not even part of the original Bill proposal that this provision should apply.

  7396. It is difficult to tell quite how much weight to give to that but, in my submission, it is something that the Committee should consider when there is an open-ended commitment that at whatever time, if ever, a TWA comes forward, section 9, if it still exists, will apply to that TWA, and I just put it as a point to put into the balance as to whether the Committee feels that, on the evidence you have heard today, it is justified to make that decision at this stage.

  7397. Of course, those people can go to the TWA inquiry and object to the TWA, but the whole point of Mr Cameron's amendment is that it will make it that much more difficult for them to do so. That is what it is intended to achieve.

  7398. CHAIRMAN: I want to clarify this. If the principle is established under that section of the 1992 Act—heaven knows what will happen if there is a Planning Bill—but for the moment, is it possible for objectors to put forward the equivalent of a request for additional provisions so as to change the principle?

  7399. MS LIEVEN: I do not believe it is, my Lord, no; I am not conscious of any equivalent procedure. Mr Walker, who was in attendance at the Stratford Channel Tunnel Rail Link inquiry, tells me it is not. I should say it is not at all clear as to quite how section 9 works. My instructions are that at the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Stratford TWA inquiry, which followed the precedent that Mr Cameron has told you about, in fact the principle of the scheme was discussed and considered, but ultimately the Inspector recommended that the scheme went ahead, as indeed it did, but it is not quite as clear-cut as with a hybrid bill, where it is simply not possible for a Petitioner to come before this Committee and say: "We do not think this Bill should proceed at all".

58   59 Crossrail Ref: P49, Extracts from Crossrail Review, Adrian Montague, 2004 (BEXYLB-44_04-055) Back

59   60 Committee Ref: A35, Population & Employment west of Belvedere (5) (BEXYLB-44_05A-049) Back

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