Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 10200 - 10219)

  10200. So the Committee is simply asked now to receive the short report that I give in agreed terms, to note the fact of that agreement and the Petitioner will then withdraw its Petition. It is important to recognise that there are uncertainties ahead, not least in terms of the extent of the works needed and also including the risks that are inherent even in moving the vessel a reasonable distance for works to be undertaken, but the Petitioner and the Promoter have, by working together, achieved the ends that each has responsibility for and, I would respectfully submit, the public interest is served by a Crossrail that is built and a vessel that is retained rather than lost.

  10201. Quite apart from the national heritage at stake, the period from the construction of the Robin, which was in Blackwall on the Isle of Dogs in the late 19th Century, through to the construction of Crossrail in the 21st Century represents three centuries of British engineering history. The Petitioner is committed to ensuring that the medium- and long-term future of the vessel lies in educational and other public use. There is, moreover, the prospect of some future collaboration between Petitioner and Promoter towards that end.

  10202. My Lords, thus far I have spoken in terms that are agreed between the Petitioner and the Promoter, but, at the risk of just taking a few more seconds, I should like briefly, with your leave, to add the following. The Trust would wish to pay tribute to the professionalism and courtesy it has enjoyed in its dealings with Crossrail employees, led by Mr Tony Walters, Chief Engineer, with the Promoter's Parliamentary Agents, Winckworth Sherwood, and, further, with the Department for Transport, represented by Mr Colin Poole. The Trust further acknowledges its deep gratitude to the City firm, Travers Smith, which has acted for the Trust pro bono in the contract work involved over the last weeks. I record my own respect, as counsel, for the careful and constructive part played by my learned friend, Mr Gwion Lewis, and might I also thank your Lordships. It was the time that you graciously allowed to the parties and, I might say, the words of encouragement that you thoughtfully used on the last occasion that have helped enable this outcome. It is not an overstatement to say that this issue has been a material stage in saving the Robin for the nation. The Robin will leave shortly for the works to be undertaken and that day and the day of its return should be very great days indeed. I thank your Lordships.

  10203. CHAIRMAN: I do not think words of gratitude will ever go amiss and I think those who have received them will be very much appreciative. Thank you very much.

  10204. MR LEWIS: My Lords, can I also take the opportunity to express the Promoter's gratitude to the Trustees and to my learned friend for the constructive manner in which this matter has been approached. Their commitment to the cause, my Lords, has been clear from the outset and I think it is fair to say that a fair amount of midnight oil has been burnt this week in an effort to resolve the Petition in time for our appearance today. This is a good-news story for Crossrail, my Lords, and one of the headline achievements of the hearings that have taken place before your Lordships' House and, as far as the Promoter is concerned, we wish to put it on the record that we do see this very much as marking a change in our relationship today from one of Promoter and Petitioner to one of two partners working in collaboration to secure a long and successful future for the SS Robin. I am grateful for the opportunity and the time you have given us to resolve it, my Lords.

  10205. CHAIRMAN: I think it is double eulogies all round! Thank you both very much. Mr Elvin, I have been looking at your note on clauses 40 and 41. It seems to me that this is the sort of thing that ought to be dealt with in the public bill committee stage.

  10206. MR ELVIN: With respect, that was our view as well, my Lord.

  10207. CHAIRMAN: It is not immediately clear to me whether there is going to be a clause stand-apart provision in the recommittal, but, if somebody moved an amendment to leave out clauses 40 and 41, the Minister could make a statement which incorporates what you have put in this note. It must go on the record somewhere.

Promoter's Closing on Railway Issues

  10208. MR ELVIN: Well, my Lord, that note is a formal submission to the Committee and I was going to adopt it as part of my submissions in due course, but it is an explanation for your Lordships. As I understand the matter to the extent that this issue is raised, the real issue is not really clauses 40 and 41 as a whole, but it is clause 41(3) which is the real issue, the power of direction.

  10209. CHAIRMAN: Yes, it is.

  10210. MR ELVIN: So it really turns on that, and your Lordships will see from the note that the principal concern is because there are interactions—I mentioned this, I think, last week—with the PPPs and London Underground which are unregulated by the Railways Act, there are concerns that those contracts which do not enjoy the jurisdiction of the ORR and the Olympics duty could otherwise obstruct Crossrail actually happening and that, we consider, would be contrary to the will of Parliament in enacting what will be the Crossrail Act in due course. That is the principal reason, as I said, I think, last Tuesday, for the inclusion of the power.

  10211. CHAIRMAN: But I think it would be a good thing if somebody like Lord Bassam were to repeat something along the lines of this statement on the floor of the House so that it will be in the official record and people can refer to it. I do not know who is going to put down an amendment, but, I dare say, you can find somebody.

  10212. MR ELVIN: It certainly will not be me.

  10213. CHAIRMAN: Well, thank you very much for that; that is very helpful.

  10214. MR ELVIN: My Lord, I think we have reached the stage where I was going to call Mr Berryman (a) to answer Lord Brooke's questions on costs and (b) for Lord Berkeley to ask some questions of him.

  10215. CHAIRMAN: By all means.

  10216. MR ELVIN: I had agreed with Lord Berkeley that I would tender Mr Berryman for cross-examination in due course. I think Mr George had quite a long go last week, but I said to Mr George that clearly Mr Berryman is tendered for cross-examination should he have any further matters that he did not raise last week.


Examined by MR ELVIN

  10217. Mr Berryman, the only point I want to take up with you is the issue of costings for the infrastructure works. We have produced, as I say, in my best writing, the figures for the infrastructure works and they include one item of works requested by the Rail Freight Group, which is Chadwell Heath—I do not think it is requested by EWS—and the West Drayton loop, which in fact comprises two of the six items sought by EWS. The total cost of all of those items is £445 million of which two-thirds is covered by the cost of the Acton dive-under and the Heathrow Junction.[31]

  (Mr Berryman) That is correct.

  10218. Can I just ask you the question firstly, are the costings of the infrastructure works which are listed in the Bill included in the estimates which have led to the funding of the project?
  (Mr Berryman) Yes, they are.

  10219. Are they simply included as costings or are there funding arrangements for contingency and the like?
  (Mr Berryman) There are indeed contingency arrangements, a number of different aspects of the contingency. It is something referred to often as optimism bias in the Treasury documents. I think the optimism bias is to allow for people like me who are unrealistically optimistic in how much it will cost to build works.

31   Crossrail Ref: P69, Note on infrastructure works (SCN-20080501-005) Back

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