Clause 6

Crossrail Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:30 am ar 22 Tachwedd 2007.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Acquisition of land within limits shown on deposited plans

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport)

I beg to move amendment No. 6, in clause 6, page 3, line 19, leave out ‘Secretary of State’ and insert ‘nominated undertaker’.

Photo of Ann Winterton Ann Winterton Ceidwadwyr, Congleton

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment No. 7, in clause 7, page 4, line 14, leave out ‘Secretary of State’ and insert ‘nominated undertaker’.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport)

The Bill deals with the powers and authorisations necessary to build Crossrail. Those powers are vested in either the Secretary of State or the nominated undertaker. The Secretary of State clearly has the power to nominate the nominated undertaker, so the power in the clause to acquire land is vested with the Secretary of State. What will happen if a nominated undertaker has already been nominated? Will that nominated undertaker also require the power to acquire land compulsorily?

By inserting “nominated undertaker”, the amendment would cover circumstances in which the nominated undertaker was not the Secretary of State, and if it was the Secretary of State, those circumstances would also be covered, because the Secretary of State and the nominated undertaker could be one and the same at any time.

This is a simple amendment, but on reflection perhaps I should have drafted it so that the power would be vested not in the Secretary of State or the nominated undertaker, but in the Secretary of State and/or the nominated undertaker. None the less, I believe that it would fill a potential gap in the Bill, but if I am wrong I look forward to the Minister enlightening the Committee as to why the Secretary of State alone is sufficient, and not also the nominated undertaker.

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

I am tempted, but not quite enough. The amendments are workable, but not desirable. Many of the powers are conferred on the nominated undertaker who will undertake particular works. However, in the Bill, as in the 1996 Act before it, we have deliberately chosen to vest the compulsory purchase powers in a public authority because of the special sensitivity of such powers, and to give added public confidence in the exercising of those powers. I shall explain how they will work.

The nominated undertaker will design his works, and as part of that will establish what land is required to undertake those works. He is unlikely to need all the land within limits specified in the Bill plans, so this is a selective process in determining what is required. Under the amendment to clause 6, he would proceed directly to serving notices to treat, which initiate the  acquisition process. However, under clause 6, there is a further stage. The nominated undertaker’s land requirements will be submitted to the Secretary of State, or the Greater London authority and/or Transport for London if devolved to them. The public authority must then satisfy itself that the issue of notices to treat is appropriate. That is intended to provide additional public confidence in the process for acquiring land compulsorily.

The same public accountability issue arises in the amendment to clause 7. Generally, if the nominated undertaker finds that he needs land outside the Bill limits—for example, for mitigation works—he will seek to acquire that land by agreement. Only if that fails will the nominated undertaker need to seek compulsory acquisition. As in clause 6, clause 7 will require the nominated undertaker to submit his proposals to the Secretary of State, the GLA and/or TfL, which will then decide whether seeking a compulsory purchase order is appropriate.

For projects that do not involve a public authority, compulsory powers will be exercised directly by the body responsible for the works. There is nothing wrong with that, but for a hybrid Bill, since the Secretary of State is the promoter, there tends to be an expectation among those affected of her continuing accountability for the exercise of the compulsory purchase powers. For those reasons, I want to maintain the provisions of clauses 6(1) and 7(1). They are precedented and will help to maintain public confidence and accountability. I therefore urge the hon. Member for Wimbledon to withdraw the amendment.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport) 9:45, 22 Tachwedd 2007

I have been listening carefully to the Minister, and I am pleased that he was tempted by our amendment—it is indeed tempting. His point about accountability is powerful. I was tempted to divide the Committee, but, having listened to him, I shall resist that temptation, although I give him notice that I might wish to test the matter on Report. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 6 ordered to stand part of the Bill.