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Crossrail Bill (Carry-over)

Volume 465: debated on Tuesday 23 October 2007

[Relevant document: First Special Report of the Crossrail Bill Committee, Session 2006-07, on the Crossrail Bill, HC 235.]

I beg to move,

That further proceedings on the Crossrail Bill shall be suspended until the next Session of Parliament:

That if a Bill is presented in the next Session in the same terms as those in which the Crossrail Bill stood when proceedings on it were suspended in this Session—

(a) the Bill shall be ordered to be printed and shall be deemed to have been read the first time and second time; and

(b) the Bill shall be deemed to have been reported from the Select Committee and to have been re-committed to a Public Bill Committee; and

(c) the Standing Orders and practice of the House applicable to the Bill, so far as complied with or dispensed with in this Session or in the Session 2005-06 or 2004-05 shall be deemed to have complied with or (as the case may be) dispensed with in the next Session.

That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.

This motion is technical in nature, and will ensure that the Crossrail Bill continues into the next Session. If enacted, the Bill will allow for the construction of the scheme. It is a hybrid Bill. It was introduced on 22 February 2005 and received its Second Reading on 19 July 2005 with a majority of 375. The Select Committee, ably chaired by my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. Meale), commenced its work on 17 January 2006 and completed its—unenviable—task on 16 October 2007, having convened for an impressive 84 sitting days, including a few evenings, and having considered more than 200 petitions. I am sure the whole House will once again join me in thanking the Committee, as well as the Clerks, Hansard reporters and doorkeepers, for their dedication, professionalism and enthusiasm during the past 21 months.

The motion’s purpose is simple. It will ensure that the Bill can be carried over for consideration in the next Session and that all the work that I have briefly described is not wasted. Carrying a Bill over from one Session to another is, of course, well precedented; indeed, this Bill has already been carried over from one Parliament to another.

If the motion is passed, there will be no curtailing of scrutiny in the next Session. There will be the usual opportunities for Members to consider the Bill line by line during the Public Bill Committee stage. Allocation of places on the Committee will be on a first come, first served basis. I urge Members to speak to their Whips as soon as possible if they wish to secure a place. I can say with confidence that the Committee’s deliberations will be measured in days or weeks, rather than months.

Whatever outstanding reservations Members might have about aspects of the project, I do not believe that anyone wants the Bill to be infinitely delayed or, worse still, cancelled, which is what could happen if they object to the motion before us today. I remind the House that there will be a Select Committee in another place to consider remaining concerns of petitioners. With that in mind, I commend the motion to the House.

London is the global city: it is the city of world finance, international tourism and the 2012 Olympics. It competes not nationally or continentally, but internationally and globally, and it therefore needs infrastructure of the highest global stature and highest standard.

I note that this debate can continue until 10 o’clock. An invitation to speak is a temptation to politicians, and the carry-over motion debate in the last Session unexpectedly lasted for two and a half hours. We should resist that temptation this afternoon.

Earlier today in the House, the Secretary of State for Transport said that Crossrail was a triumph for this Government, and it is certainly the case that if the Bill is enacted that will be a triumph for them. However, I should add that that was a failure for a predecessor Labour Government, because such a project was first mooted in 1948—in order to alleviate overcrowding on the Circle and Central lines, which might prompt some participants in today’s debates to say, “Plus ça change.”

This motion commits the Bill to Committee. We have been there several times before, and let us hope that this Committee stage is more fruitful and that Crossrail is built and being used in 13 years’ time—which is how long ago the last Committee stage was—and not just being talked about.

As the Minister also said, the motion is essentially non-controversial and aims to carry the Bill over into the next Session. The Bill proves the convention that hybrid Bills usually last for more than one Session; this one is probably close to creating records because, as he has said, it has spanned not only one Session but one Parliament. Conservative Members echo the thanks to the hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Meale), his Committee and all colleagues who served on it.

The Bill will have taken a long time to reach Committee when it does so in the next Session. In my short time in the House, we have had four debates on the Floor of the House on this and several major arguments, the first of which was over the location of stations—there will now be a station at Woolwich. There have also been arguments about the route—latterly, where to begin it and where to end—about where to have sheds and about funding: who, how much and when. The Government, the taxpayer, the fare box and business were always going to be involved in that, and with all due respect, the Government cannot escape the criticism of dalliance. The suggestion made in the previous Session that the financing be reviewed by Sir Michael Lyons was nothing more than a blind alley.

A deal is now in place, but it will need examination and further clarity. Londoners are already wondering how large the sum is on the cheque that the Mayor has written on their bank accounts. I hope that the Minister will listen carefully and that we will be able to explore the deal carefully in Committee. I am glad that he is making a note of that.

Throughout the parliamentary process, the Conservative party’s position has been to back Crossrail in principle and to ensure that the Bill’s passage through its parliamentary process is as quick as we can possibly allow it to be. That was our position and will remain so. We look forward to Committee, Report and Third Reading. We want those to be swift so that the mental work that has been done on this vital piece of infrastructure can be reflected in the physical work that needs to commence. We support the carry-over motion.

I do not intend to detain the House for any length of time, but it is right that a few additional comments should be made in support of the carry-over motion. I agree with the Minister’s proposal and his remarks about the importance of the Crossrail scheme and the good progress that is being made. I emphasise how vital it is for the future of not only London and its economy, but the whole country. There is little doubt that without Crossrail, transport and traffic in London would grind to gridlock within a short time. Crossrail is vital to the long-term success of our capital city and the economy of our whole country, so it is good news that the scheme is progressing and that a firm timetable is in place to ensure that trains will begin to run from 2017.

I agree with the tribute that the Minister paid to the members of the Select Committee and to its Chairman, because they have done a magnificent job. They have had to put a great deal of time into this—84 sittings and more than 18 months’ work, which is hard work by any standard—and they have made a significant impact. As the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond) mentioned, their stalwart efforts have resulted in a station at Woolwich; it is now an integral part of this scheme and that was not the case when the Bill was first presented. It is essential to Crossrail, vital for the regeneration of the Thames Gateway and will be a considerable net contributor to the scheme because, as the Committee pointed out, the cost-benefit analysis is particularly favourable in respect of Woolwich. Common sense has prevailed, and the Select Committee has done its job successfully in ensuring that this provision is incorporated in the Bill. That is warmly welcomed in south-east London. I am pleased to see that my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Clive Efford) is present, because I know that he, too, will wish to congratulate all involved in this progress.

The final comment that I wish to make concerns the funding package. Major progress was made in the recent announcements by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, in his pre-Budget statement, about the funding basis for Crossrail. The hon. Member for Wimbledon was a little churlish about Sir Michael Lyons, because his report came forward with the proposal for the supplementary business rate, which is an integral part of Crossrail’s funding package and has made this possible. It is a big project and the funding is substantial, so it is right that the package should be robust. By seeking support from several different parties, rather than having the cost all falling on the public purse, we have a better prospect of ensuring that the scheme proceeds and is properly funded.

I congratulate the Government on reaching this stage, and the Committee on its magnificent work. I wish the Bill well in its progress to the statute book and the process of constructing this hugely important new rail link in London.

I echo the Minister’s comments about the good work done by the Committee. Remarkably, my hon. Friend the Member for Southport (Dr. Pugh), whom I appointed to serve on the Committee on our behalf, still speaks to me. I give credit to the Committee for ensuring that its work has been relevant and suitably challenging.

I could, I suppose, spend some time giving a brief history of Crossrail, although perhaps not going back to 1948. Suffice it to say that perhaps the most recent emergence of Crossrail was back in 1989, with the central London rail study, which was, regrettably, rejected in 1994 by the then Conservative Government. However, to give them credit, they did ensure that there were protected alignments, so that when the project re-emerged, the route was safeguarded. That was very welcome.

I agree with the Chancellor that Crossrail is essential for the competitiveness not just of the City of London, but of the whole country. I certainly welcome the progress that has been made to date, and I would not want to impede that progress. However, just as the Committee states in the conclusion to its report on page 56 that it is

“concerned that members of the public may struggle to locate information that is relevant to them”,

hon. Members may have struggled to identify information that is of concern to them, especially about the financial framework that has been put in place to ensure that Crossrail proceeds. I hope that when the Minister responds, he will be able to give us some reassurance on that point. For example, the pre-Budget statement refers to the resources that were allocated in the comprehensive spending review to allow the commencement of the main construction of Crossrail. I hope that the Minister can confirm that the phrase “main construction” is simply used to demonstrate the phases in which the work will be done, which would start with the main construction, and is not an indication that all that will be affordable is the main construction, and other components might not be afforded. I hope that the Minister will confirm that that does not represent wriggle room for delivering only part of the project, not the totality of it.

The pre-Budget statement also contains a reference to the Department for Transport contributing around one third of the total estimated cost of up to £16 billion. Is there a defined upper limit on that contribution, given that the statement is a little vague about the Department’s contribution? We need clarity on the £16 billion and where the funding will come from. It is regrettable that hon. Members have had to try to piece together the financial framework from different sources—principally the media—as opposed to having a clear breakdown. My understanding—and I hope that the Minister will confirm it—is that £5 billion will come from Government grants, as stated in the PBS—

Order. I am reluctant to stop the hon. Gentleman, but he is now giving the Minister a shopping list and may be leading him astray. I remind the hon. Gentleman, and anyone else who may wish to contribute, that this is a carry-over motion and comments should be restricted to whether the Bill should or should not be carried over.

Thank you for that intervention, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My point is that the Minister is seeking the House’s support for the motion that would enable the Bill to be carried over, but to get it he must set out Crossrail’s financial framework. I shall be very brief, but we know about the £5 billion from Government grants and the £5 billion from the supplementary business rate, and about the £5 billion that will be borrowed against Crossrail’s fare takings from 2017. We understand that the Secretary of State secured an additional £1 billion from the City, and that that comprises £300 million extra from the City of London, £400 million from Canary Wharf and a contribution from BAA.

I hope that the Minister will confirm that that information is correct, as it is key to whether the House should support the Bill being carried over. I do not see how the project could proceed if the financial package is not in place.

Crossrail is desperately needed in London. It will provide the heart bypass operation that London’s transport system needs, and offer people another transport route that will mean that they do not have to rely on the heavily congested arteries that exist already. When he responds, I hope that the Minister will be able to satisfy us about the financial package that stands behind the Crossrail project, as that will enable us to make progress and to approve the Bill being carried over into the next Session.

Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr. Raynsford), I want to congratulate a number of people who have been responsible for getting us to this point. First, I should like to offer my warm thanks to my hon. Friend the Minister, who has approached the matter in such a friendly and open-minded way. All of us in south-east London are delighted that the Government have finally accepted the force of our argument that there should be a station at Woolwich, and that that station is now included in the scheme.

I should also like to congratulate the members of the Committee—and in particular its Chair, my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. Meale)—on the way that they carried out their deliberations and took on board the arguments from the south-east London community about how essential a station at Woolwich is. I should also like to put on record my congratulations to my local authority of Greenwich. Working with local people, it has led the campaign and also brought the business community on board. We would not be celebrating today without the contribution made by those who will benefit directly from the development of a station at Woolwich.

I should also like to put on record my congratulations to the Mayor of London, who has fought so hard for Crossrail. His support for a station at Woolwich may have been a bit belated, but he got there in the end. We never tire of saying that the score is now 3-0 to Greenwich on major infrastructure projects: we won the arguments on the docklands light railway and the Jubilee line, and now we have won the one about Crossrail.

The Crossrail project is essential to Woolwich’s development as a hub for my community in south-east London and, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich said, for the country’s economy. The scheme must go ahead.

I shall end with a question for the Minister. I am grateful for the written answer that I received today, the final paragraph of which states:

“Main construction of the scheme would begin in 2010, and we expect the first trains to run in 2017 as part of a 12-month build up to the full Crossrail service.”

I hope that my hon. Friend will forgive me, but we in south-east London are a bit sensitive and are aware that words are open to interpretation. When he responds to the debate, can he confirm that the full Crossrail service will include the south-east extension and the station at Woolwich? I know that it will, but it would be nice to have that on the record.

In conclusion, I congratulate everyone who has brought us to this juncture. Finally, the south-east extension and a station at Woolwich are fully part of the Crossrail scheme.

For a project that is unlikely to cost less than £16 billion, ongoing questions about the need for Crossrail are legitimate. At a time when the Government have slashed plans for large-scale tram and train-link programmes outside London and the south-east, the amount being put into London might seem perverse. As a London Member, I have always supported Crossrail, but it is important that we go through the arguments at this juncture. My constituents ask, “Why on earth do we need to have a further link running across central London?” There are relatively few votes in this issue for me or, I suspect, for any other London Member. Constituents who live in the firing line are perhaps rightly fearful of disruption, damage and inconvenience when the project is finally built.

I believe, however, that there is a great need in central London for the project, not least because of the big problems with capacity. As my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond) pointed out, the project has been mooted for well over half a century, and only the Bakerloo line is running at less than full capacity. To return to the point made by the hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake), a number of other tube lines have been extended north and south over the central area in the past 30 or so years. However, it is not practical simply to extend branch lines and bring more people into central London without the capacity-building that Crossrail will offer. It will be a proper addition to the infrastructure within the central district of the City and the zone 1 area, including the west end, which is increasingly important in commercial terms.

The hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington rightly makes the case about funding, but in previous Sessions the funding package was by no means in place. Indeed, the numbers being bandied around at that juncture were £10 billion to £13 billion, which makes me all the more sceptical about whether the project will necessarily remain within the budget of £16 million. That is the way of things with large-scale infrastructure projects.

I am sure that the Minister will have something to say about funding, but it appears that it is finally in place. The City of London corporation provided the vital piece in the jigsaw at its meeting at the beginning of October, although I appreciate that there are concerns about the precipitate decision that was required by the Treasury. However, it was always clear that a fairly substantial financial contribution would be required. My understanding is that there will be a one-off lump sum of £200 million and that the City of London corporation will lead efforts to raise a further £150 million from the City’s financial sector.

The fact that the hon. Gentleman is using figures that are slightly different from mine reinforces the need for the Minister to provide some clarity. Members need to know that the financial package that has been put in place will be recession-proof. Until we see the figures, we do not know what we are dealing with.

That is a legitimate point, but the discussion has been going on for some years without any firm funding being in place.

I also pay tribute to Canary Wharf, which is putting up a considerable sum—a rather larger sum than the City of London corporation, if rumours are to be believed. It will receive the benefit of a station in the Billingsgate market district of Canary Wharf, and that will undoubtedly make an immense difference to Canary Wharf’s capacity to build to the south and on South Quay. There will be a proper transport network for all those who wish to work or, indeed, play in that part of London.

The right hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr. Raynsford) pointed out the immense value of getting the transport infrastructure right. Although I am reasonably sceptical of the figures being bandied about, there are estimates that City businesses lose more than £1 million a day because of transport delays. The net benefit of Crossrail will apparently be £30 billion over the next 60 years, and that does not even include its contribution to taxation. I accept that the figures might have been plucked from the sky, but it is essential to compare them with the large costs that will be incurred. The project will also help to create great prosperity and, as others Members have pointed out, the economic success of central London is essential. All recent surveys of businesses within central London have put transport failings and, in particular, public transport failings at the top of the wish-list of problems to be overcome. Crossrail is a positive step forward.

You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will forgive me for touching on one last point. I have ongoing concerns, on behalf of my constituents, about the route. I have discussed my concerns on many occasions, and many petitioners have had the opportunity to put their case during previous deliberations. The process will, no doubt, continue as the Bill goes to the House of Lords and proceeds through its stages, assuming that the carry-over motion is agreed today.

Without the funding, there was a big risk of a blight on the entire area—a risk that predates our discussions on the Bill. In many ways, it goes back to 1994, when various reserved areas were put in place. That has made life difficult for people living in Mayfair, the Barbican and Bayswater in my constituency, and, I suspect, for people in many other parts of London. They felt that the prospect of those works would lessen the value of their properties, and that a great deal of disruption was likely in the districts in which they lived. I hope that the Bill will move on with great speed. Clearly, there will be great inconvenience for many people who live in central London, or in the other parts of London that will be affected, but the benefits will be terrific in the years ahead. I am glad that Members of Parliament across the House, who perhaps recognise that there will be relatively few votes in the issue come election time, accept that there will be a greater benefit to the capital, and to the commercial and economic interests of the country.

I support the carry-over motion. It is no coincidence that, as Members reminded us, the Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill submitted its report to the House today. I am one of the 10 Members who served on that Committee for the best part of two years. I hope that it will not disappoint the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond) too much if I do not entirely take his suggestion that we should resist the opportunity to speak. I will speak on the Bill, at least for a little while, as it has been such a major part of our lives for so long.

I hope that in this debate on the carry-over motion, you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will permit me to talk a little about the work of the Committee, and the strengths and weaknesses of the way in which that work was undertaken, because I think that it might help right hon. and hon. Members if they understand how we came to be at this stage and the work that we have done. Of course, I share the Minister’s hope that that work will not prove to have been wasted. The hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake) reminded us that the House had a Crossrail Bill before it on a previous occasion—the Crossrail Bill that collapsed in 1994. Those of us who have spent the best part of two years on the Bill that we are discussing today will want it to fare better than the other Bill did, and will not want it to collapse. Of course, we are very much heartened in that hope by the fact that the Government have given such a firm commitment to the scheme, seem to have a credible funding package in place, and seem determined not to let the Bill collapse, as its predecessor did. Those of us who have spent so long living with the Bill feel that that makes our efforts appear worth while.

Undoubtedly, Crossrail is an exciting scheme. The Minister used the word “unenviable” when he described our task, and I have to say that sometimes in the past two years it has not seemed quite so exciting. Since 19 January 2005, we have met to discuss the Bill up to eight times a week, and sometimes during parliamentary recesses. There were 84 days of public meetings, and sometimes there were three separate sittings a day. We have considered 205 petitions in total. That has not always seemed exciting. There was a mountain of paperwork. We had to consider some 413 written submissions, and evidence bundles began to fill Committee Room 5. At times, rather than feeling enthusiasm for the project, we felt somewhat disheartened and rather irritated by the process to which we were subjected.

I am afraid that I will speak for a little while longer. I want to begin by considering the way in which the members of the Committee were selected. Those right hon. and hon. Members who have had a chance to have a look at our—

Order. I hate to reduce the hon. Gentleman’s time addressing the House, but we do not need to go down that line at this stage unless it is very pertinent to why the Bill should be carried over.

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I entirely accept your guidance on that matter. There will no doubt be other occasions on which I shall be able to refer to that strange and unsatisfactory part of the process.

We as a Committee were charged with a quasi-judicial role in relation to the Bill. We provided an audience for petitioners, and we were successful in concentrating the efforts of the promoters and the petitioners to reach agreement, often outside the Committee Room, and in taking a view of the particular circumstances of those who petitioned against the Bill. That enabled us to make sensible proposals with regard, for example, to the traders in Smithfield, whose situation is undoubtedly different from that of many other traders who might be affected by a similar Bill.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr. Raynsford) reminded us, we had the opportunity to argue forcefully and successfully, supported by him and other right hon. and hon. Members, for the station at Woolwich, and we proposed amendments to the Bill to enable a station to be built. We picked up a wide range of other issues, some as major and significant as the way in which Liverpool Street station should be modified, and some apparently trivial but important to the people affected by them, such as how people’s back gardens would be affected and whether a couple of metres of land should be taken. That may be significant to them, but not of the same significance to the scheme as matters such as Liverpool Street.

We have been able to respond appropriately to the cases put to us. To some extent we were hindered by the fact that the Committee can only be reactive in its response. It sits, essentially, to hear petitions and respond to petitioners against the Bill. It cannot be proactive. Although we took opportunities to make visits and to examine more generally some of the matters before us, issues about how hybrid Bill Committees operate could usefully be re-examined in the light of our experience, before a similar scheme comes before the House, possibly after a gap of some 10 years, as with the present Bill.

As is evident from our report, we hope that the Committee in the Lords will consider the fundamental issue of the public, Members of the House and, ultimately, Members in another place fully understanding what the Bill requires, as opposed to what it permits. We as a Committee felt that a list of amendments and undertakings was not sufficient. There should be an opportunity for Members and the public to gain a better understanding of what is permitted and what is required by the Bill.

I gave one example when I referred to Liverpool Street station. Although the Committee was anxious that that should be dealt with in a particular way, as a result of the process that we had gone through we could not be certain what would be delivered when the promoters built in the area. Similarly, the major triumph for the campaign for a station at Woolwich merely permits a station to be built there. In conjunction with that permission having been granted, the Government have gone to great lengths to ensure that an appropriate consortium is brought together and a funding package is made available to enable a station to be built, but it is not, as I understand it, a requirement of the Bill that such a station should be provided. That is an example of one of the issues that the Committee thought should be borne in mind both as the Bill continues its passage and more generally when we consider how hybrid Bills are dealt with in future.

It would have been useful if the Committee had had an opportunity, like Public Bill Committees, to hear evidence on some of the issues. We could have done so in respect of ground-borne noise, the compensation code, freight—we have specifically suggested that the other place might wish to consider freight—or whether a floating-slab track was appropriate. Such issues could usefully have been the subject of evidence sittings at the outset. Those sittings would have enormously helped the Committee to consider the significant number of petitions, although we did do that, and to do its job consistently throughout the process. They would have enabled Members who could not attend all sittings to understand the wider picture.

The Committee has come to the end of the process and we are enormously grateful for the support of the staff of the House: the Clerks—particularly the excellent Committee Assistants—and the various parts of the House administration, which have helped our work. We were enormously helped by the promoter’s counsel, who enabled us to understand some of the issues that in an ideal world we would have wished to explore independently. They helped us to make the system work flexibly.

As I hinted earlier, there are issues for the House on how Committees dealing with hybrid Bills should be appointed in future. There are questions about the powers given to them and—as is evident in our report—about the instructions given to them. I hope that despite those issues, the House will feel that we have done our work conscientiously, well and thoroughly. I hope that we have helped reassure the House that the Bill can be carried over with confidence.

It is appropriate that the carry-over motion should have come from the Committee, with our report, to the House, and that backing and funding should be being given just as the last hybrid Bill to have been successfully steered through the House—that for the channel tunnel rail link—is having such a dramatic impact at St. Pancras, where the link will soon open. I speak with confidence on behalf of the majority of the Committee’s members in saying that I hope that what we have produced in the past two years to take forward the Crossrail Bill will ultimately result in something that will equal the importance of the channel tunnel rail link—not only to London, but to the infrastructure of the United Kingdom in general.

I am another veteran of the saga—and, indeed, of the Jubilee line extension process, the saga before it, which involved a private Bill and carry-over, and lasted a long time. We all owe colleagues who volunteer or are volunteered to serve on such Bills our thanks, and we do that without exception in this case. They have no direct interest, as the issues do not bring constituency benefits.

I support the motion. With this sort of measure, it is imperative that the job is done properly, which requires use of the system for carrying Bills from one Session to the next. That is what has been proposed and it has the unqualified support of all the voices that I have heard so far from around the House.

I should like to add three things about what remains to be done in the continuing debate and about why we need to complete that debate. First, we need to follow up the questions about funding posed by my hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake) and the hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Field). The Bill is about plans and powers to build, but it does not automatically deliver the money to build—that has to come from elsewhere. The worst possible outcome would be that we carried the Bill over to the next Session, it completed its stages in Parliament and received Royal Assent, and there then remained some uncertainty about funding. There has always been Government resistance to this being a publicly funded enterprise, for reasons that I understand. It is welcome that the City of London recently announced that it is going to contribute and that the Canary Wharf company has put something into the kitty, as it did for the Jubilee line extension. Given that this is a private Bill, which is not quite the same as a Government Bill albeit that it has Government backing, I hope that the Minister will say that as well as Government support for the process he will offer his Department’s support to ensure that the funding continues to come together so that by the time the Bill receives Royal Assent we will know the funding is in place.

I assume that the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends agree that it is essential that when we get the Bill into Committee we are allowed to examine the funding package. I hope that the Minister will give that reassurance.

I entirely agree, and my hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton and Wallington and I deduce that the hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Field), who is my parliamentary neighbour, believes that too.

Does my hon. Friend agree that there is not only the potential scenario whereby the funding package is not agreed but one whereby part of the funding package is provided to enable the main construction to happen, perhaps the tunnel from Liverpool Street to Paddington, but not to complete the extremities?

That element is absolutely imperative. I see the hon. Member for Reading, West (Martin Salter) in his place. This proposal is not just for Paddington to Liverpool Street—it is to link the lines west of Paddington and the places east of Liverpool Street, and it has to be a complete package.

Secondly, the timing of this carry-over motion is intriguing. We might have had it as one of the last bits of business this Session with a general election coming the day after. We had an announcement by the Prime Minister and others on the Friday before the famous Saturday when Mr. Andrew Marr told the nation that we were not going to have a general election: a slightly odd ambassador for the Prime Minister, but there we are; cometh the hour, cometh the man. On that day, the Prime Minister was very clear that the funding was in place. A week later, the Mayor of London appeared to be rewriting the funding script in a press conference at City hall. Will the Minister not only give the undertaking that funding can be examined in Committee but ensure that by the time we start that process he has had all the key players round the table to ensure that the Government are satisfied that our London regional government, the private sector contributors and the UK Government have all their ducks in a row?

Thirdly, this is potentially a momentous year for London Transport because we are about to see the opening of the cross-channel rail link in its new terminus. I have to say that that particularly disadvantages my constituents and those of my neighbours, because getting to Waterloo is fantastically easy and convenient, as indeed it is from here, whereas getting to St. Pancras is less easy and convenient. However, we fought that battle and the die has been cast. If that opens on schedule, as I hope it will—I think that it is all teed up to happen—it is important that we have not only the international connections but the national connections east, west, north and south. Some of us have always said—I deduce it in the words of the hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster—that this cannot be done without giving thought to the communities who live along the line covered by the Bill. The Minister will know, although it is not his particular responsibility, that we have had the mother and father of battles south of the river to ensure that the Thameslink proposal—a north-south access route to improve travel through London, which was originally called Thameslink 2000, and is a good proposal in principle—did not have a major destructive impact on the area around Borough market in my constituency, which is a conservation area and an historic part of central London. I am still not convinced that what is proposed will satisfy the double requirement of the national interest and the local one.

If the Crossrail Bill is to be carried over and receive Royal Assent, it is a prerequisite that the interests of the communities that bear the burden of construction, and the disruption that it will cause, are properly heeded. It is no good having a fantastic line under London, with great east-west links from one side to the other, while the centre of London is disrupted unrealistically and excessively in the interim. By definition, there will be huge disruption during the next few years because of the Olympics, which I support. There will be the works for the north-south Thameslink route, and there has been work on the St. Pancras line. Crossrail is a good project, but the money needs to be in place, and the communities affected should experience minimal disruption and receive some of the benefit.

Crossrail is a line of benefit to London and the United Kingdom as a whole. I wish it well, but there are significant remaining questions to be answered.

I rise, as other hon. Members have, to support the carry-over motion. None of my comments should be construed in any other sense than that I am really pleased for my colleagues in south-east London, and I congratulate them on their successful campaign for the Woolwich station. It will enhance the Crossrail scheme, and I am pleased that the Committee has gone down that route.

I am delighted for London as a whole, but as a Reading Member, hon. Members would expect me to express some disappointment that the Committee report makes scant reference to the evidence given by the hon. Member for Reading, East (Mr. Wilson) and myself, petitioners from the Reading area, and the Thames Valley chamber of commerce. In fact, I was somewhat surprised to find that the Select Committee report is incorrect, and one of my reasons for speaking today is that I wish to put that fact on the record. The report refers to:

“Petition No. 65 – Michael Salter MP”

and goes on to refer to the Olympic games and the funding package. Actually, my evidence on 5 July did not touch on any of those subjects. My evidence resulted from a petition that I presented on behalf of the Reading Evening Post, and major businesses in the Reading area, including employers such as Microsoft, Foster Wheeler Energy, Yell, MCI, Reading borough council, Reading chamber of commerce, Transport 2000 and around 250 local businesses, residents and commuters. The petition was quite clear. It says:

“We the undersigned are concerned that the Crossrail Bill currently before Parliament includes provision for the western terminus to be located at Maidenhead rather than Reading and that no provision is made for a western rail link to Heathrow airport. It is our view that these two measures would yield significant benefits to the Reading area and enable Crossrail to properly realise objectives to “connect the UK”. We also urge Parliament to ensure that the final Crossrail scheme does not impede the current high speed rail services into Paddington from Reading and the West.”

On the summary page of the Committee’s report it says, quite clearly:

“The Committee has only commented on cases where it deemed necessary. It all other cases, the Committee was satisfied with the undertakings and assurances offered by the Promoter to the Petitioner.”

No member of the Select Committee who was present on 5 July can have been in any doubt that there was a serious question mark over the assurances and undertakings given by the promoter, because there is no case for locating a western terminus for Crossrail at Maidenhead. The motto of Crossrail was, from memory, “Crossing the capital, connecting the UK”. I have no beef with Maidenhead, but one cannot connect anywhere with it. Reading is the second busiest station outside London, and is second only to Birmingham New Street in that regard. It is a major rail hub.

If there is to be a terminus significantly west of London, it has to be in Reading. The hon. Member for Reading, East, other petitioners and I made the point that Crossrail is a stopping service. We currently enjoy a good, fast, high-speed train service into London from the west. My hon. Friend the Member for South Swindon (Anne Snelgrove) is nodding, and I know that hon. Members from Bristol and Wales share our concern. If a stopping service from Maidenhead interrupts the successful high-speed service into London from the west, Crossrail will impede a major transport artery.

If Crossrail comes west of Paddington or Ealing Broadway, it should go to Reading. However, it can come to Reading only if we upgrade the infrastructure. That case was made on 5 July and should have been included in the Select Committee report, but has not been. That is regrettable.

I want briefly to consider the potential rail link to London Heathrow. It is nonsense that Reading, which is at the heart of silicon valley—

Order. The hon. Gentleman is rehearsing arguments that have probably been heard previously. He knows that he must relate his remarks to why the Bill should or should not be carried over. Perhaps he would like to do that.

Certainly, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am speaking about paragraph (b) of the motion, which states that

“the Bill shall be deemed to have been reported from the Select Committee”,

but the Select Committee report fails to mention the packs that were given in evidence.

Order. The hon. Gentleman has already been able to put that on record. He has dealt with the matter. He should now talk about whether the Bill should be carried over.

Notwithstanding the fact that the arguments for a western rail link into Heathrow airport have not been made in the Select Committee report although they were made in the evidence session on 5 July, the Bill should be carried over, because Crossrail is a vital infrastructure project for Reading. All that Reading Members and the community of Reading want to achieve is to ensure that if the scheme comes to Reading, it should happen in a proper, co-ordinated way. If it does not come to Reading, that will be an opportunity lost. However, for goodness’ sake, let us not destroy our effective high-speed train service into London Paddington from the west.

I support the carry-over motion. I thank hon. Members who served on the Select Committee; it must have been a thankless, albeit important task. However, I slightly admonish that Committee’s members because they did not do justice to the petitions from interested parties from Reading that were presented to the Committee.

Reading station is at the heart of my constituency. Although the Bill cannot now consider Reading as the western terminus, we should take the opportunity, whenever Ministers with responsibility for the subject are in the Chamber, to remind them of the importance of Reading being the terminus. It is also important to remind them that there is a method of getting the terminus to Reading: it can be done through an order under section 1 of the Transport and Works Act 1992. I hope that in due course the Under-Secretary will appreciate the force of the arguments that the hon. Member for Reading, West (Martin Salter) and I, and others from the Reading area, presented. Indeed, many Members of Parliament with constituencies west of London made representations, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May), who does not want the western terminus to be at Maidenhead, and sees the sense of it being at Reading. Maidenhead is a ludicrous end point; Reading is a far more appropriate place for the western terminus.

Another important point, which has already been made, is that siting the western terminus at Reading could be combined with a link into Heathrow from the west. Indeed, the upgrading of Reading station, which will happen in future, will be Crossrail-proof, and prepared for a link into Heathrow.

I support the carry-over motion.

With the leave of the House, I would like to respond to as many as possible of the points that have been made in this short debate. First, I thank the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond) for the support that he and his party have given the Crossrail Bill. Being able to make cross-party comments and secure cross-party support for such an important Bill has certainly made my job an awful lot easier. However, I take issue with him on a couple of points. It is rather unfair to blame the late Earl Attlee for any failure in previous Crossrail Bills. If we are looking for historical precedents, I suggest that the Crossrail Bill that fell in 1994 is perhaps a more accurate one.

In the interests of ensuring that history is correct, the Minister will therefore want to say that when that Bill fell, it fell in Committee, and that it was Labour Members who voted against it.

That was before either of us was a Member of the House, so I will move swiftly on.

The hon. Gentleman made one critical remark about previous comments that ministerial colleagues and I have made about the importance of the Lyons review of local government finance, which was raised when I first spoke about Crossrail on 31 October last year. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr. Raynsford) correctly said, it was always important that the Lyons review was put behind us and that we had its conclusions before us, so that we could see exactly what the structure of local government finance was before we set about constructing a financing package. An important part of the Lyons review was the possible introduction of the supplementary business rate. I will say something about that later, but obviously I do not want to dwell too much on the detail, rather than on why we wish to carry over the Bill.

My right hon. Friend again paid tribute to the Crossrail Bill Committee, and I echo that tribute. The hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake) talked about the importance of Crossrail to the competitiveness of our capital city. He also talked about his concern about public information, which is a valid point. The Government must learn from the experience of the past two to three years the importance of getting accurate information to the public timeously, so that they can be reassured about whatever effect the construction phase of Crossrail in particular will have on local communities.

I thank the Minister for picking up on that point. Do the Government already have any proposals in mind about how they would make information more readily available?

I cannot offer any specific details today, but I will be more than happy to follow that point up in Committee.

The hon. Gentleman talked about the main construction. I can confirm that the main construction of Crossrail referred to previously involves everything down to the light bulbs. “Main construction” means exactly what it says—the full construction of the Crossrail scheme. He asked about the Department for Transport’s contribution to financing. The figure of £16 billion is now well established. I have absolutely no reason not to believe that the figure is robust, as figures for previous capital projects arguably have not been. I would be extremely disappointed if the huge amount of work already carried out has led us to anything other than a reliable end figure for the total cost of the construction of Crossrail, of about £16 billion in outturn figures.

The hon. Gentleman referred to Crossrail as London’s heart bypass. That is a phrase that I like a great deal, and which I will now pilfer from him and use as if it were my own. To return to the finance package—the hon. Member for Wimbledon asked about this as well—the financing of the Crossrail scheme is not part of the Bill that will come before the Public Bill Committee, which will sit next month. I therefore cannot guarantee that detailed discussions can take place in Committee. That would not be a matter for me, but for the Chairman of the Public Bill Committee.

I would, however, like to take this opportunity to clarify one aspect of the financing. The hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington talked about the three-way split between the DFT contribution, the fare payers’ contribution and, as he said, the supplementary business rate. The third part is in fact the supplementary business rate and contributions from the Corporation of London and other City institutions. Much of the detail of the agreements with third parties is covered by confidentiality agreements to protect their commercial interests, and I hope that hon. Members will understand that I do not want to commit to giving any more details at this stage. However, when such details become available, I will be happy to place them in the Library.

We were seeking to discuss those matters in Committee to obtain reassurances about the robustness of the funding package, notwithstanding what the Minister has already said. I hear what he says about those matters not being part of the Bill that will be before the Committee. Will he therefore give some thought to allowing the Committee to avail itself of its facility to take independent evidence at the start, and to seeking the Committee Chairman’s approval to hear such evidence on funding? Alternatively, will he agree to have a meeting with me and the representative of the Liberal party to reassure us about the funding?

Those are productive, positive suggestions. It is not for me or for the Government to decide how the Public Bill Committee stage should be structured, but I would be more than happy to invite the hon. Gentleman and the representative of the Liberal party to hold exactly that kind of discussion. Ever since I took over this remit, I have tried to involve the hon. Gentleman and to make our deliberations as cross-party as possible. I believe that that is to the benefit of the project, and I am more than happy to place it on the record that I will try to effect the opportunity that he has proposed.

My hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Clive Efford) paid tribute to the Committee and welcomed the Government’s previous commitment to building a station at Woolwich. He also asked for reassurance on the south-east arm of Crossrail to Abbey Wood. He will have to learn to accept yes for an answer. The full construction of Crossrail will take place at the same time. We expect services to begin in 2007, with a steady increase over the next 12 months. Those will include services to Abbey Wood.

The hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Field) has expressed a great deal of interest in the project from the beginning. He has been a critical supporter of it, for obvious reasons, and has expressed particular concern for his own constituency interests, which is absolutely understandable. He also said that there were no votes in Crossrail for any Member whose constituency lay along the route. I will not pass comment on that, but whether Crossrail provides political advantage for any party is beside the point. It is the right thing to do for London and for the United Kingdom, and that is why it is going ahead.

My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South (Sir Peter Soulsby) is, I believe, the only member of the Select Committee present today. He is easily identifiable as a member of the Committee, as are all its members, by his pale skin. He gave us a taste of the work that the Committee had done, and suggested that that work had been carried out conscientiously, thoroughly and well. I agree with him on every point that he made.

The hon. Member for North Southwark and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes) also raised concerns about the finance package, and I hope that I have managed to address some of the points that he raised. As far as the Government are concerned, there is no uncertainty about the funding package for Crossrail; otherwise, the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State would not have announced the go-ahead for the project on the date that the hon. Gentleman mentioned. I will not pass further comment on the suggestions that he made about the timing of that announcement.

The hon. Gentleman also talked about the impact of Crossrail on local communities. The work of the Select Committee over the past 21 months or so has been specifically related to dealing with such concerns, and that has been done in a very robust and effective way. Of course, there will also be an opportunity for a Select Committee in the other place to hear any outstanding concerns from communities or businesses on the Crossrail route. The hon. Gentleman finished by saying how important Crossrail was to the United Kingdom as a whole. As a Scottish MP, I believe that it is vital to our capital city and to maintaining London’s prominence in the financial market.

My hon. Friend the Member for Reading, West (Martin Salter) made some pertinent remarks before you asked him to curtail his comments, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I would say to him and to the hon. Member for Reading, East (Mr. Wilson) that I accept that the arguments for extending Crossrail westwards to Reading are persuasive. However, it is not the Government’s intention to redraw the Bill as it stands at the moment. After many months of hard work, we have reached the stage at which we can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel, and at which the Bill will be given Royal Assent.

However, it will be up to any future Government to decide, if they so wish, to extend Crossrail. We have already safeguarded the route from Abbey Wood down to Ebbsfleet, and we are considering whether similar action should be taken with regard to the route west from Maidenhead to Reading. We will make an announcement on that shortly. It is not in the interest of the Bill substantially to alter the principle behind it by extending the route westward from Maidenhead to Reading at this stage. I understand why the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) might feel disappointed at that, but I hope that all hon. Members will understand that we need to grasp this opportunity to get a Crossrail Bill through Parliament.

Members representing Maidenhead, the two Reading constituencies and other points west of London understand the Minister’s reluctance to impede the Bill’s progress, but will he tell us whether anything in the process following the passing of the legislation would allow Crossrail to terminate at a point further east than Maidenhead, with the possibility of a further review of a western terminus at a later date?

I am afraid that the answer is no. I do not want to encourage the House to believe that we could reopen this issue and readdress the principle behind the Bill following its passage through Parliament. It will be for a future Government and a future rail Minister to decide whether such changes should be made. I can reassure my hon. Friend, however, that, because Crossrail services will be commuter services, they will use the slow lines out of Maidenhead into Paddington. I would not therefore expect the fast services from Reading to be impeded.

I am grateful to the Minister for giving way to me, especially as I have been present in the Chamber only for a short time. He has mentioned the benefits of Crossrail. If the service runs on the slow lines and Maidenhead becomes the end of a sort of metro, my constituents will not benefit from Crossrail. It will double the length of time that it takes them to travel from Maidenhead to Paddington. It would make sense for Maidenhead, Reading and the whole of east Berkshire if the line were to be extended to Reading.

Will the Minister also clarify his response to the point just raised by the hon. Member for Reading, West (Martin Salter)? The hon. Gentleman asked whether it would be possible for the line to finish east of Maidenhead and then to be extended further to the west. He did not ask whether it could finish west of Maidenhead. I want to ensure that the Minister’s answer was in response to that question, and not to the one that he might have thought that he heard.

Order. Before the Minister responds to that last point, which I am happy for him to do, I must remind the House that we cannot open up the whole debate again. We are talking about the carry-over motion.

You took the words right out of my mouth, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

That subject has not been raised with me before, and I am more than happy to seek advice on the issue and to write to the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) and to my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, West.

I speak as someone who was brought up in Reading, although I am speaking for neither Reading, East nor Reading, West on this matter. Does the Minister not realise that to halt the route at Maidenhead would be to make a mockery of all that the Government are trying to do to achieve an integrated transport system, for the very reasons outlined by the hon. Member for Reading, West (Martin Salter)?

I shall not pass judgment on the point that the hon. Gentleman is making. The principle of the Bill was decided by the House a long time ago, and I see no advantage either to the House or to the Crossrail project in reopening the issue at this stage.

The hon. Gentleman has not been present for any part of the debate, so I hope that he will forgive me if I now conclude my remarks.

Several hon. Members have rightly commented on the impact that Crossrail will have on their local area. It will deliver significant economic benefits, but it is simply not possible to build a major construction project in a densely populated area such as London without there being some adverse impacts, albeit mainly temporary ones, on the people living and working near the intended route. We have sought throughout this process to reduce those impacts. We have set out in detail the environmental statement deposited with the Bill. In subsequent volumes, as the Bill has progressed and changes have been made to the scheme, we have set out what we expect the significant impacts to be, as well as our strategies for minimising them. The Government intend to publish a report on the environmental impacts in advance of Third Reading, to assist in determining the desirability of the project in the light of the measures that the Government have put in place.

This has been a useful and informative debate. The contributions of colleagues on both sides of the House have not only reflected expressions of interest in the project, but made a serious contribution to knowledge of the issues. I look forward to similar debates here and, in due course, in Committee. In the meantime, I commend the motion to the House.

Question put and agreed to.


That further proceedings on the Crossrail Bill shall be suspended until the next Session of Parliament:

That if a Bill is presented in the next Session in the same terms as those in which the Crossrail Bill stood when proceedings on it were suspended in this Session—

(a) the Bill shall be ordered to be printed and shall be deemed to have been read the

first time and second time; and

(b) the Bill shall be deemed to have been reported from the Select Committee and

to have been re-committed to a Public Bill Committee; and

(c) the Standing Orders and practice of the House applicable to the Bill, so far as complied with or dispensed with in this Session or in the Session 2005-06 or 2004-05 shall be deemed to have complied with or (as the case may be) dispensed with in the next Session.

That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.