Clause 60

Crossrail Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 5:00 pm ar 27 Tachwedd 2007.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Correction of deposited plans

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport)

I beg to move amendment No. 71, in clause 60, page 36, line 14, at end insert—

‘( ) The Secretary of State, upon making an application under subsection (1), shall give notice that he has made such an application to all those affected by such an application.

( ) The Secretary of State, upon receiving the decision of the justices under subsection (2), shall inform all those affected by the decision as to the outcome of the application made under subsection (1).’.

The clause sets out what will happen if a mistake is discovered in the deposited plans, or in the grandly named book of reference. The Secretary of State may apply to two suitable justices—however widely or tightly that may be defined—in order to correct any inaccuracies identified. A copy of the justices’s decision will be deposited in the House of Commons and in the offices of the relevant local authorities.

That is fine, but I do not think that it goes far enough. I fear that there may well be a situation whereby people affected by mistakes, and therefore changes to the deposited plans, are likely to remain blissfully unaware of them  unless they are frequent visitors either to the Private Bill Office here or to the offices of their local authority.

To avoid such a circumstance arising, it seems only right that, if the Secretary of State is applying to the justices for the mistake to be remedied, those who will be affected by the change when the Secretary of State refers that case to the justices and sees their decision should be informed. That is what the amendment would do. It would ensure that those who are affected by the changes are informed that the changes are about to take place.

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

The clause sets out the procedure for the correction of the deposited plans or the book of reference should any errors be found in the description of the land or the ownership or occupation of the land. The hon. Gentleman’s amendment, if approved, would require the Secretary of State, before making an application to two justices of the peace, to amend the deposited plans or book of reference deposited with the Bill to notify first those affected by the application. It would also require the Secretary of State to notify the same people of the justices’s decision.

I understand the intent behind the amendment. Those directly affected by any proposed amendment to the plans or book of reference should clearly be aware that such a change is being sought. However, I point out that that is already provided for in subsection (1), which requires the Secretary of State to give not less than 10 days’ notice to the owners and occupiers of the land. That is the subject of the proposed amendment, and, once an application has been determined and a certificate issued, copies of the certificate are lodged in Parliament and with the relevant local authority. I assure the hon. Gentleman, therefore, that the plans and book of reference cannot be amended in secret, without those most directly affected knowing about it. I had hoped that those provisions would not prove contentious, as similar provisions are common in private Acts for railways.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport)

I thought that the Minister, for the sake of novelty, was going to use the 1895 Act.

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

The hon. Gentleman is just showing off now. With the explanation that I have given, I hope that he will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport)

I think I will feel able to do that, but there was never any suggestion that either the hearing or the plans were to be conducted in secret. I take what subsection (1) says, but the amendment would add to that, because the clause implies that notice be given to the owners of the land that will be affected by the change. However, other people might also be affected. Also, as I understand it, the clause  does not necessarily require that those people be informed of the decision, only that the decision be placed in the House of Commons or in local area offices.

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

The hon. Gentleman refers to people, other than the owners of the property, who may be affected. He has not submitted an amendment to that effect, but if he had, is there not a danger that this would be a nebulous and never-ending process if every person who believed that they had been affected would have to be notified?

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport)

Actually, the amendment states “all those affected”, so there is no question of it being nebulous or open-ended. There is a clear definition and I have tried in the amendment to find some way of defining who should be notified. I accept that “all those affected” might be a wide proposal and I have listened to the Minister and think that he is clearly trying to reassure me that my fears are ungrounded given what is already in the Bill. I, therefore, beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 60 ordered to stand part of the Bill.