Clause 36

Crossrail Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 11:15 am ar 27 Tachwedd 2007.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Disapplication of franchising and access exemptions

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport)

I beg to move amendment No. 21, in clause 36, page 25, line 27, at end insert—

‘( ) Before the Secretary of State exercises the power under subsection (1), he shall consult such persons likely to be affected by the exercise of the power.’.

I am sure that the Committee’s usual good humour will return after the previous, slightly more controversial debate. The clause allows for the disapplication or modification of certain franchising and access exemptions. The exemptions in question are those that remove the  ORR’s task of approving or directing access contracts and those that prevent Heathrow services from being franchised. What is missing from the clause is any hint of consultation—that has been a recurring theme of my comments throughout our sittings. The Committee will notice that the Government sometimes want to reassure us that consultation will take place even though there is no such provision in the Bill. I believe that to make the Bill work and to ensure that the exercise of the exceptional powers that are being granted to the Secretary of State is transparent, consultation procedures should be included in the Bill.

As we have said several times, Crossrail is a massive undertaking. Its implications are not just physical, as they affect a complex web of agreements that characterise the railway industry. To facilitate the multiple changes required to expedite such a project, the Bill should adjust existing legislation, but the clause fails to ensure that those who will be affected by the changes are given the voice that they should be allowed prior to those changes coming into effect. My amendment gives the clause the necessary transparency and gives those who have not been given a voice the voice they should be allowed.

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

Clause 36 is needed because the railway clauses in the Bill work by making use of the regulatory system for the national rail network. However, the London underground and Heathrow spur networks, which are affected by the Crossrail proposals, are exempt from that regulatory system. The clause therefore enables parts of those exemptions to be amended or revoked where necessary to facilitate Crossrail services.

The Railways (London Regional Transport) (Exemptions) Order 1994, which is relevant to the Transport for London infrastructure, provided an exemption from the outset of rail privatisation, and hence modern rail regulation. Similarly, the Railways (Heathrow Express) (Exemptions) Order 1994 provided an exemption for the Heathrow spur. The clause enables parts of those orders to be amended or revoked, which would remove the exemption from rail regulation as regards capacity allocation and franchising, for purpose of facilitating Crossrail services.

Clearly both BAA, as the owner of the Heathrow network, and Transport for London, in its role in relation to the London underground, are important players in the Crossrail project. There is no need for the hon. Gentleman’s amendment, as those parties are already involved specifically and individually in determining how best to manage complex interactions between Crossrail, the Heathrow spur and London Underground networks. Given that changes to exemptions would require a statutory instrument subject to annulment in the House, it is inconceivable that the affected parties would not be consulted before such a measure was made. I therefore hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw his amendment.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport) 11:30, 27 Tachwedd 2007

I have listened carefully to the Minister’s answer. He said initially that BAA and TfL, via the network of arrangements, were to be consulted. Will he clarify exactly what they are or whether they are the contracts that are already in place?

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

Consultation will inevitably take place in the circumstances referred to in the Bill. Essentially, the purpose of the hon. Gentleman’s amendment, as he has already said, is to require the Secretary of State to consult. However, I believe that it is unnecessary.

Both parties are already closely involved in the project plan for Crossrail and are very aware of any effect on their own individual networks. BAA has petitioned against the Bill at Select Committee stage, and we are in discussions on the issues that it has raised. There are a number of interfaces in which the Crossrail team, the Cross London Rail Links Ltd, BAA and London Underground are already having the discussions that he wants to mandate in the amendment.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport)

I thank the Minister for answering the question that I wished to have clarified. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 36 ordered to stand part of the Bill.