Clause 8

Crossrail Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:00 am ar 22 Tachwedd 2007.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Extinguishment of private rights of way

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport)

I beg to move amendment No. 9, in clause 8, page 5, line 41, leave out subsection (4).

Photo of Ann Winterton Ann Winterton Ceidwadwyr, Congleton

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment No. 10, in clause 8, page 5, line 44, leave out subsections (2)(b) and (4)’ and insert ‘subsection (2)’.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport)

Amendment No. 10 is necessarily a consequential amendment to amendment No. 9, which I am sure that the Minister will wish to accept.

The clause deals with the extinguishment of private rights of way. Subsection (2) extinguishes private rights of way,

“in the case of land acquired after the coming into force of this Act, at the appropriate time.”

It is clearly a sensible power; private rights of way could not and should not take precedence over land acquired for the building and construction of Crossrail, and, therefore, cannot take precedence over the land on which the railway is also operating.

However, subsection (4), which amendment No. 9 seeks to address, appears to act contrary to the purpose of subsection (2)(b). Clause 8(4) states that:

“Subsection (2)(b) does not apply to a right of way that is excepted”,

which effectively counters and reverses subsection (2)(b), rendering the provisions in it null and void, because the Secretary of State can direct that the right of way be excepted from extinguishment. It seems to us that the Secretary of State could effectively acquire land for the purposes of construction, yet allow the private rights of way to persist. That would seem to be potentially injurious to the citizen and disruptive to the building and operation of Crossrail.

If the intent of clause 8(4) is to allow the Secretary of State to regrant rights of way after the end of construction, during which land that may have been required for build but not operational purposes had its private rights of way extinguished, that is understandable. If that is the intent, perhaps the Minister will explain how subsection (4) will achieve it. Otherwise, subsections (2)(b) and (4) appear to be contrary in purpose. Therefore, the amendment would help the Government by removing that contrary aim.

Photo of Tom Harris Tom Harris Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 10:15, 22 Tachwedd 2007

The purpose of clause 8 is to extinguish most private rights of way over land held by the Secretary of State where that land is required for or in connection with the Crossrail project. That will ensure that the Crossrail works can be carried out safely and effectively. Such provision—I suspect that the hon. Gentleman knows what I am about to say—is well precedented in previous private Acts for railways and can be found in the Channel Tunnel Act 1987.

Some private rights of way are protected under the clause. For example, subsection (3) provides for certain rights of way to be excluded from being extinguished. Subsection (4), which amendment No. 9 would delete, further enables the Secretary of State to direct that particular private rights of way are not automatically extinguished under subsection (2) and, therefore, the hon. Gentleman’s amendment would take that right away from the Secretary of State and remove that additional protection. Therefore, I cannot ask the Committee to support it.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport)

I am listening carefully to what the Minister is saying and following his logic, but will he explain under what circumstances the Secretary of State will want those powers?

Photo of Tom Harris Tom Harris Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

There are circumstances when we will want to protect some rights of way. One example that was considered with regard to the clause is the rights of way that help utility operators to maintain their apparatus. Amendment No. 10 would allow subsection (5) to be altered in association with amendment No. 9, so I cannot support it either.

Although the hon. Member for Wimbledon appears to be concerned about the Secretary of State’s involvement in relation to the extinguishment of private rights of way, that particular role is intended to help to protect such rights of way from extinguishment when reasonably avoidable. Therefore, I urge him to withdraw the amendment.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport)

I have listened carefully to the Minister and, as he rightly said, anticipated his comments about precedent—I sometimes feel a little like the barman who says, “The usual?” when a customer comes in.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport)

If that is what the Minister drinks.

I am fully aware that the clause aims to give protection, but I seek the exact circumstances in which private rights of way will be accepted. The Minister has given a perfectly plausible example, so I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 9 ordered to stand part of the Bill.