Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 10180 - 10199)

  10180. MR ELVIN: There are provisions in the regulations which I can show you.

  10181. CHAIRMAN: If you could tell us about that before the end of the day, it would be very helpful.

  10182. MR ELVIN: There is, and I will have it distributed it now just so you have it, the Department's note on clauses 40 and 41 which I will refer to when I close at the end of both cases today; I am going to refer to the note so I thought it was probably better if I circulate that in advance. You also have the note on costs which I will ask Mr Berryman to speak to in due course.

  10183. CHAIRMAN: I think we can start again at 2.30 pm.

The Committee adjourned from 1.07 pm until 2.30 pm

  10184. CHAIRMAN: I trust that the parties dealing with freight and that sort of subject will forgive me, but I would like to interpose the SS Robin Trust for a very short statement on a matter that we, as a Committee, have been to see and I think they have something very brief to say. Is that right?

  10185. MR LEWIS: Indeed, my Lord, that is right. I am here to deal briefly with the return of the Petition of the Trustees of the SS Robin on behalf of the Promoter, and I say "briefly", my Lords, because I am happy to say that we have managed to reach agreement in this matter and shortly I will ask my learned friend, Mr Robin Knowles QC, who is here to represent the Trust, to read out his statement. That statement has been agreed between the parties, my Lords.

  10186. Before that, insofar as it may be helpful for me to jog the memories of the Committee, you will recall of course from your site visit that the SS Robin, if we can put up the plan, is, my Lords, the oldest-surviving complete steamship in the world, located here at the west end of North Dock which is part of the West India Quay dock complex in the Isle of Dogs, just west of the DLR bridge (indicating).[30] Now, the Crossrail station, my Lords, is to be built here (indicating) and, as part of those construction works, you will see that a dam is to be erected here (indicating) and the current proposal is that the boat will have to be moved slightly westwards here (indicating), but that of course creates a challenge because the normal practice is that commercial vessels need to be maintained and dry-docked at least once every two and a half years. This water will be locked in as this part of the construction works for some five years and the Trust understandably had some concerns and we had to have some negotiations with them in relation to that, my Lords.

  10187. Well, I am pleased to say, having given that background, that it gives me great pleasure to confirm that we have managed to reach an agreement with the Trust and an acceptable solution to both parties which, we are confident, strikes an appropriate balance between ensuring that the Crossrail works are able to go ahead, but doing so without prejudicing this most important element of British naval history, so, with that introduction, my Lords, I pass the baton to my learned friend.

  10188. CHAIRMAN: And it does not upset your heritage grant?

  10189. MR LEWIS: My learned friend will be in a position to give you further details on that. The application is in train, my Lord, and we can understand that the first stage of that application will be dealt with later in the year, but I think that my learned friend is in a better position to update you on the position in relation to that.

  10190. MR KNOWLES: My Lords, to deal with that briefly, the answer is no, it does not upset the path which is an adjusting path of engagement with the National Lottery. May I put the position to the Committee shortly, and, as my learned friend indicates, in agreed terms.

  10191. Your Lordships are aware that the Petitioner was previously before the Committee on 19 March. The Petitioner asked the Committee to take no action then other than to defer the Petition for a period pending further work which the Petitioner and the Promoter were to undertake during that period. The Committee kindly agreed. The context of that request was that the Petitioner and the Promoter were embarked on what were then constructive discussions, supported by survey work and by examination of the financial options and relocation options. The Committee was informed that there was potential for the discussions to resolve the concerns.

  10192. As your Lordships have heard, agreement has been reached and this could scarcely be more important or welcome. As the oldest surviving complete steamship in the world, your Lordships will recall that the SS Robin is one of only three vessels in London listed by the National Register of Historic Ships as a `Core Collection' vessel, the highest category for vessels of extraordinary maritime importance, reflecting Britain's world-class naval history. The other two in London in that class are Cutty Sark and Belfast and, as the Chairman of this Committee noted on the last occasion, the disaster that happened to Cutty Sark placed further emphasis on resolving the present problem.

  10193. CHAIRMAN: It is being repaired though, is it not?

  10194. MR KNOWLES: Yes, so we may have the best of all outcomes across the board. To give a further indication elsewhere in the United Kingdom, the Core Collection includes the Victory, the Great Britain, the Discovery, and the Mary Rose; we are in that league.

  10195. CHAIRMAN: And not Warrior?

  10196. MR KNOWLES: I cannot be sure, but I think Warrior is on the list.

  10197. CHAIRMAN: She deserves it.

  10198. MR KNOWLES: Perhaps I can respectfully agree with that remark as well. Now, the vessel is going to be moved from West India Quay so that works may be undertaken on it. If the works, as currently envisaged, can be completed by the year end, then the vessel will be brought back into West India Quay. It will then be locked in for the duration of the works. In the event that the vessel, however, cannot return in time to be locked in for the duration of the works, it will be brought back to an alternative, suitable mooring until it can return to West India Quay after the Crossrail works are complete.

  10199. It will be no surprise that these arrangements involve material financial support, and that includes support from the Promoter. It is right to note that there are default arrangements in the event that the works needed are found to be so great as to be out of reach financially, but clearly that is an equation that also involves the Lottery and other fund-raising initiatives.

30   Crossrail Ref: P67, Isle of Dogs Station-Scenario 2 Construction Method Site Plan (TOWHLB-XR6-002) Back

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