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Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 12705 - 12719)

Ordered at 10.05am: that Counsel and Parties be called in.

  12705. CHAIRMAN: Ms Lieven, we might as well start.

  12706. MS LIEVEN: Yes, my Lord. My Lords, before we start with the Petitioners for the day, there are a few housekeeping matters to deal with and, just to mention where we think we are on the programme, we believe that the only Petitioners who are going to attend today are the Residents' Association of Mayfair, the Coalition, and Mr Walters. If there is anybody else, perhaps they will make themselves known to us, but we believe that everybody else is not attending.

  12707. Now, so far as housekeeping matters are concerned, I am just going to touch on the matter raised by Lord James yesterday with myself and Mr Berryman and then Mr Taylor is going to touch on railway issues where I think there is something to say. I am conscious that there are two other outstanding issues. One is noise from construction trains in response to a question asked yesterday by Lord Brooke. We are still doing some work on that, so we will try and let the Committee know what information we have got later in the course of the day. The other is to provide some kind of summary of where information has been made available in respect of the Coalition. I believe that is being sorted out as I speak, but I will touch on it in opening when I get to the Coalition and the Society and the Mayfair residents.

  12708. CHAIRMAN: I think it may save a great deal of time.

  12709. MS LIEVEN: My Lord, I hope, as I say, that it is being sorted out. If I can just start by dealing with the matter that Lord James raised with myself yesterday. Yesterday evening Lord James drew our attention to the existence of a large burial site in the area of Farringdon Station, that is, between the market building and Charterhouse Square.[1] This is a map not in quite the same form as our usual maps, but these are the Crossrail platforms at Farringdon (indicating). Farringdon Tube Station is over here to the west (indicating), this is the Lindsey Street ticket hall and this is Smithfield Market (indicating) and what is shown with the little crosses is an historical burial site, and you can see, as Lord James has suggested, that it is much easier to see on the screens in front of you.

  12710. LORD JAMES OF BLACKHEATH: Can we zoom in on it?

  12711. MS LIEVEN: We can try, but your Lordships will still find it easier in front of you. This is believed to contain victims of the plague and probably victims of anthrax at the same time. I would just confirm to your Lordships that we are aware of this issue and the site is marked off on our maps accompanying the Environmental Statement and this is one I have put before you. The Museum of London Archaeological Services are our specialist consultants on the matter and, together with our design consultants for the area, will be responsible for management of the issue. The design consultants have just produced the first draft of the written scheme of investigation, one of which will be produced for each of our sites, and thus draw attention to this matter. The section of the written scheme of investigation referring specifically to health and safety is not yet drafted, but will take into account best practice measures for dealing with these matters, so we are very grateful to Lord James for referring us to it. As you can see, we have a good knowledge of the area and we have the matter in hand.

  12712. LORD JAMES OF BLACKHEATH: Ms Lieven, at the risk of reducing your gratitude, can I ask a small supplementary question please. Do you have a record of how many bodies went into the pit?

  12713. MS LIEVEN: No.

  12714. LORD JAMES OF BLACKHEATH: The figure I have got from Professor Hutchinson is 682, all from anthrax, so it was not a bubonic plague pit. Apparently, anthrax was brought into Smithfield with some contaminated meat in 1520 and the result was the near wipe-out of the entire residential area of Smithfield Market itself at that time. Therefore, the issue here is that you cannot expect to have an easier ride because part of it is bubonic and not harmful; it is all anthrax and, when the Metropolitan Line was cut in 1890, it did emerge and it did kill people.

  12715. MS LIEVEN: Well, my Lord, we are very conscious of the issue and what I have confirmed to the Committee today in absolutely clear terms is that we will use best practice in this area to ensure health and safety. I do not want to raise huge concerns—

  12716. LORD JAMES OF BLACKHEATH: But it has not, I think, been covered in any previous reports or statements on Crossrail, so I hope that whatever process of control is going to be conducted will be incorporated in some statement following this so that it can be openly and publicly monitored for everybody's comfort in the future.

  12717. MS LIEVEN: My Lord, absolutely it will be. Can I just say that we, I believe, literally have an aircraft hangar full of reports on Crossrail. There are vast quantities of reports which of course this Committee has not needed to look at at all or be concerned with. This matter has been considered in reports and will continue to be so in further more detailed investigations, so I am really very keen that we put both the Committee's, but also potentially the public's, mind at rest about this because we do not want scary headlines where we have considered the matter and we really are fully in control and in knowledge of what is happening here, so I just want to make that very clear.

  12718. CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Ms Lieven.

  12719. MS LIEVEN: I am now going to turn over to Mr Taylor to deal with an issue on railways.



1   Crossrail Ref: P80, Route Window C6b: Farringdon Station (SCN-20080508-002) Back


 
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