Schedule 6

Crossrail Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:45 am ar 22 Tachwedd 2007.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Acquisition of land shown within limits on deposited plans

Question proposed, That this schedule be the Sixth schedule to the Bill.

Photo of Peter Soulsby Peter Soulsby Llafur, Leicester South

I want to take the opportunity, as one of the survivors of incarceration in the Select Committee, to draw attention to the significant number of properties that are included in the schedule. I remind Members who did not have to suffer that incarceration that the Select Committee gave landowners and others affected, many of them by schedule 6, the opportunity to petition against the Bill and have their interests considered.

We received a large number of petitions and took careful consideration of the impact on the petitioners.  In particular, we listened to the cases that they made to us on how compensation will be applied and how compulsory purchase will affect their interests. As a result of hearing those petitions, we were able to seek from the Government and the promoters of the Bill amendments to their proposals, which mitigated to some extent the situation of petitioners and landowners.

It is also worth my reminding the Committee that those whose land and interests are included in the schedule will have a further opportunity to petition, should they wish to do so, when the Bill goes through the Lords. We can be reassured that the interests of those affected were taken into account at the early stages and that those people will have a further opportunity to have them considered, if they wish.

Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Ceidwadwyr, Cities of London and Westminster

I very much endorse what the hon. Gentleman has just said. I did not have the privilege or otherwise of being incarcerated in the Select Committee, not least because my constituency will be fundamentally affected by the Bill, particularly in the City of London, Mayfair and Bayswater. I have recently had correspondence with Paddington Residents Active Concern on Transport. There is a sense among local residents that they had their day in the sun. They are grateful for the opportunity to petition, and they recognise that that is only part of the process and that they will have further opportunities to make their views clear to the House of Lords. They feel that they were dealt with courteously by the Select Committee and were able to put their points strongly.

There are a number of residual problems. Without getting down to the narrow specifics, they are broadly to do with noise and vibration from trains underneath certain residential areas. We have already debated the 15-m limit, rather than one of 20 or 25 m or a floating slab track underneath, which could be extremely expensive, and the Minister will have had the matter well rehearsed with him. There are also ongoing issues of a highly localised nature, and common sense needs to prevail in relation to changes in traffic.

Obviously, those changes will be a particularly big issue in the centre of London while works are ongoing. Moves to make particular roads one way or to make existing one-way roads two way could have an immense knock-on effect for a locality, particularly around Paddington. Again, I am reassured that the Committee was in listening mode during consideration of the hybrid Bill, and I hope that that continues going forward.

I think that there is an understanding from people in central London; they recognise that it is important to have Crossrail. Equally, a lot of residents understandably feel great worry about the noise and disruption, and obviously there are concerns about the likely costs to the London council tax payer. However, the biggest issue, as I see it, is blight.

At this stage, we need to get on with the project. The worst possible scenario would be either failure of the financing or a very long-winded parliamentary process, such that people who live in the vicinity of the project find that their whole life is blighted.

I know that we will come on to the issue of blight under clause 7 and further schedules that try to ensure that, where there is blight, it is kept to an absolute  minimum. This process of scrutiny has been useful, but we need to get on with the work to ensure that the effect on the residential amenity—which is clearly going to be suffered by many tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people—is kept to an absolute minimum.

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

I had not intended to do anything other than formally move the schedule, but given the comments made by the hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster and by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South, I shall make a few closing remarks.

First, this is not the first time, and it will not be the last, that I have paid tribute to the work that my hon. Friend and other hon. Members did on the Select Committee. This Committee should indeed be very grateful to them. That leads me to the comments made by the hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster. A great many of the concerns felt by private individuals along the Crossrail route were fully expressed in the Select Committee, which is why, of course, it took 21 months of hard work to hear all those concerns.

I appreciate the comments that the hon. Gentleman has made, and I know that he has been an active Member of the House in representing his constituents’ concerns, specifically with regard to the effect of Crossrail on his constituency. In fact, I believe that he and I have corresponded on one or two of those issues. He can be reassured that the process that we are going through in this Committee, obviously with specific reference to schedule 6, will allow everyone who has concerns about Crossrail to express them—to have, as he put it, their day in the sun. I have no doubt that, with a fair wind in Committee, on the Floor of the House and in another place, the delays that he is worried about will not occur.

Question put and agreed to.

Schedule 6 agreed to.