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Crossrail 2

Volume 559: debated on Tuesday 5 March 2013

[Mr Mike Weir in the Chair]

I am grateful for the opportunity to introduce this debate.

No debate on London can start without an assessment of where the capital city finds itself. Without doubt, London is the world’s greatest city. No other metropolis can claim to be so vibrant or so beautiful. London is a magnet for the world’s greatest talents, and it is the birthplace of some of the world’s most successful businesses and the adopted home of countless others. This city has been the inspiration to so many of our musicians, authors and artists.

There are thousands of reasons, including London’s great multi-culturalism, that make this a modern city that outfaces the world, but peel away the veneer of the capital’s dramatic skyline, scratch away at the patina of the city’s bustling shopping streets, and we will see one of them—the tube is the engine room that has propelled London’s success story for 150 years.

The Metropolitan line shooting off from Baker Street up towards Harrow and into Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire began to make commuting to London possible. The City and South London railway, to be rechristened the Northern line, first tunnelled deep under the Thames so that people in Clapham no longer had to ride the omnibus to get to Bank or Euston, and in the middle of the great depression it was the Piccadilly line extension north to Finsbury Park on the edge of my constituency that drove growth and jobs to places such as Finsbury Park, Wood Green and Enfield. Yet that history of infrastructure has slowly been squandered by inertia, chronic underinvestment and a cowardly lack of ambition.

There has been relatively little investment since the Victoria line opened in 1967. The opening of the Fleet line, or the Jubilee line as we now know it, was, for the most part, a rebranding of an existing branch of the Metropolitan line. Although the subsequent extension to Stratford was impressive, it was also horrifically over-budget and over-deadline.

Small extensions to the docklands light railway and the construction of the Croydon tramlink have made differences in some quarters, but it is still fair to say that the overall reach of London’s transport network has barely changed for almost 50 years. Sadly, the signs of decay are there for all to see.

Despite the illusion created by Harry Beck’s distorted London underground map that coverage is almost universal, huge pockets of London are actually islands of isolation. Even in 2013, my constituents in the Northumberland Park ward of Tottenham, which has among the highest unemployment rates in London, are served by just one train an hour on weekdays and no trains at all at weekends.

Dalston Junction is just 3½ miles from Tottenham Court Road, but the journey on public transport takes more than half an hour. Huge swathes of south London rely on consistently inconsistent suburban rail services that are plagued by delays, cancellations and overcrowding. [Interruption.] I see my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham East (Heidi Alexander) nodding her head, because she has waited for those trains on many occasions.

That those areas have the highest rates of unemployment, the highest levels of child poverty and the lowest levels of attainment is no coincidence. Without vital transport links, they are starved of investment, bled of ambition and left marooned from the city’s throbbing economic heart. In areas where services are frequent and extensive, users find themselves on some of the most overcrowded and expensive journeys in Europe.

On my right hon. Friend’s point about overcrowding, the section of the underground that goes up to Finsbury Park runs through my constituency. Does he agree that, although in 2007 we had more than four people per square metre in my part of the underground, even after 2021, when more investment is proposed, there will still be more than four people per square metre? That is why I put on record my complete support for Crossrail 2.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. In the morning rush hour more than four people stand per square metre on rail services in her constituency and across London. More than four people stand per square metre on all peak-time District line trains from Putney Bridge to Earl’s Court. The same is true for Victoria line trains from Finsbury Park to Victoria, for all Piccadilly line trains from Finsbury Park to Holborn, for Bank branch Northern line trains from Clapham Common to Euston and for Central line trains from Stratford to Holborn.

In this country it is illegal to transport cattle if there is more than one cow per square metre, to transport pigs if there are more than two pigs per square metre or to transport sheep if there are more than three sheep per square metre. Yet each rush hour in our capital city, more than four human beings cram into every square metre available just to go to and from work. At present, Londoners can only dream of being herded like cattle as they commute to work.

London’s viability as a global centre is already being undermined by a failure to resolve questions over its airport capacity, but the unspoken fact is that we are soon to lose out to our competitors because of what happens to those passengers the minute they leave the terminal building, wherever the new airport capacity is located. As Tony Travers puts it:

“London survives despite, rather than because of, its transport infrastructure planning and implementation”.

There are some who dismiss those concerns. They say that London’s congestion will be relieved once tube upgrades are completed and the long-awaited Crossrail 1 opens at the end of this decade. There will be some relief, of course, but such an attitude ignores the enduring lesson of the past century that, even if the economy stops, London does not. The capital is about to be hit by a demographic tsunami that, worse still, has taken policy makers by complete surprise.

The Mayor’s London plan forecast that the capital’s population would break 8.5 million in 2027. Data from the 2011 census suggest that that will now be exceeded in 2016 or earlier. By 2031, there will be almost 10 million people living in London, more than 1.5 million more than are living here today. An extra 700,000 jobs are expected to accompany that growth over the next 20 years, which means 700,000 extra daily commutes.

I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on securing this debate. In addition to population growth and jobs, does he agree that, as London tries to develop beyond the Olympics in attracting visitors, the last thing inward investors and tourists on short holidays want is a massively overcrowded underground as they go to see the attractions?

The hon. Gentleman makes a good point, and he will know that there are great cities with great histories such as Athens that have been plagued by a sense that they do not work, that they are polluted and that they are not the great cities that many would like. The Olympics made a difference, but, of course, there are big economic problems in Greece. Nevertheless, cities can establish reputations. Before Mayor Giuliani, New York had a reputation for crime and congestion, and the horribleness of getting on the subway there undermined the attempts being made to promote it as a world city.

The hon. Gentleman will also know that we have good plans, which we must get on with, to bring High Speed 2 to our country. That will increase the number of morning arrivals at Euston station by 30%. What capacity gains are made by Crossrail 1, the tube updates or the Thameslink programme are set to be wiped out by 2030. By 2031, overcrowding on network rail routes into London and London underground lines will be at the same utterly unacceptable levels as today. On the main north-south lines—the Northern, Victoria and Piccadilly lines—they will be even worse.

The Chancellor is fond of saying that Britain is open for business. Is it open for business if it takes the average worker more than an hour to commute? Is it open for business if we ask our business men and women to travel to and from work in conditions unfit for livestock? Is it open for business if the underground interchanges at the main line termini in our capital city—Victoria, Euston, King’s Cross and Waterloo—must close during rush hour due to dangerous overcrowding? Members will have found themselves in such shutdowns while attempting to get into or out of Victoria station as they commute in this city. What use is High Speed 2 if we must wait an hour and a half to leave Euston station?

As long as London keeps growing, the Government and this Mayor must ensure that our infrastructure is one step ahead, not two steps behind, yet if they pursue the same course that they have trodden during the first half of this Parliament, they will condemn London to some degree of failure. After all, they almost cancelled Crossrail 1 on entering office, the Thameslink programme is beset by delays, they cancelled the third runway at Heathrow and kicked the search for an alternative into the long grass and they cancelled the four-tracking of the west Anglia line, which would finally have provided a decent train service to some of the poorest neighbourhoods in the capital.

The only ambition that this Government presently have for the capital—the only vignette of a solution to the challenge that they face—is the two-station spur of the Northern line to Battersea power station, an extension that will make its Malaysian owners incredibly rich but do little for the businesses in Lambeth and Wandsworth that are being asked to foot the bill.

London needs a game-changer. We need a wholly new project to alleviate congestion, drive growth and improve journey times for Londoners. The Minister will have seen the report, published last month by Lord Adonis and London First, detailing the case for a new line, dubbed Crossrail 2, linking south-west with north-east London. He will also notice the breadth of support for Crossrail 2. It commands the support of London’s businesses: 69% of members of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry say that Crossrail 2 is vital to London, and a ComRes poll showed that 95% of London businesses believe that any cut to transport investment will damage the capital’s businesses in the long term. It commands the support of the major transport unions, and of successive Mayors of London.

The reason why Crossrail 2 unites so many frequent foes is that the case for it is utterly compelling. As Lord Adonis and his colleagues made clear, it is the only way that London will be able to cope with the challenges that it will face over the next 20 years and handle the 700,000 extra commuters who will be working in central London by 2031, and it is certainly the only way to deal with the extra burdens that High Speed 2 will put on congestion in the capital.

Better still, the report sets out the case for a regional and suburban route that will deliver immense benefits to London and beyond. It will finally bring tube stations to Mare street in Hackney, and it will double train frequency to places such as Kingston and Twickenham. It will also free track for South West Trains to increase the number of trains from Portsmouth, Basingstoke, Southampton and Farnham to London Waterloo that serve stations throughout Hampshire and Berkshire. Most importantly, it will provide a reliable train service and huge economic benefits to some of the most isolated and deprived areas of the Upper Lea valley, which includes my constituency.

The line can also be developed from Cheshunt through to Stansted airport, providing a stopping service on new tracks to complement a more frequent and faster Stansted express service. Not only could that mean better use of the excess capacity at Stansted airport, it would mean that communities with some of the highest unemployment rates in the country could benefit economically from having an airport on their doorstep and a new line connecting areas such as Northumberland Park, Edmonton, Tottenham, Dalston, Hackney and Wood Green to central London, Clapham, Wimbledon and Stansted station. It would clearly leverage investment from businesses and developers, create jobs each year after it had been completed and open up the Upper Lea valley as a growth area for the capital.

The right hon. Gentleman is making an excellent speech, and I am grateful to him for allowing me to intervene. Does he agree that London is already well served in its number of runways and its total airport capacity? I think it has more than any other city in Europe, with the exception of Paris, which has one more runway. The problem in London is that we do not make good use of the capacity that we have. The point that he has just made, which is exactly right, is that by extending Crossrail to Stansted, for which the current Mayor of London has been pushing hard, at a stroke we would transform Stansted, which is only half used at the moment, into a natural destination for business travellers, which would in turn relieve pressure on Heathrow. To me, it seems like a no-brainer solution to our airport capacity problem. What does the right hon. Gentleman think?

The hon. Gentleman knows that I tend to agree with much that he says, even though he belongs to another party. He makes his point incredibly well. Stansted is key to London’s development. It is extraordinary that the line currently running from Stansted to Liverpool Street is as chaotic, delay-prone and slow as it is. Clearly, efforts must be made to improve that service. He is absolutely right: a lot of attention has been paid to airport capacity. That is not the subject of this debate, but it is clear that investment in our train capacity, so that people can move around the city, will take a fine eye and focus. I hope that it will command the attention not just of the Mayor, as he rightly pointed out, but of the Government.

Yes, Crossrail 2 is ambitious. Its ambition comes with a price tag, but the central question is: what price doing nothing? What is the price of leaving communities cut off from central London, letting travel across London become more arduous than it is and causing major businesses to leave our capital for more mobile and modern competitors in Asia, Europe and America?

Some will still say that this is all too sudden and that more time is needed to consider and contemplate before the Government can decide, presumably, to consider and contemplate a bit more. I have sat where the Minister is sitting, as a Minister in different Departments, and I know the business of kicking things slightly into the long grass as one negotiates hard with the Treasury, but let us not forget that Crossrail 2 is quite long in the tooth. Part of the route was originally conceived as early as 1901, only to be dropped five years later. After the second world war, the idea of a Chelsea to Hackney line peppered almost every London rail study. In the early 1990s a route was finally safeguarded, and mutations of it have slowly been making their way between Whitehall in-trays ever since. Successive Governments have already had time to contemplate and consider the plan. It is now time for leadership and action.

As I outlined, London’s congestion problems will come to a head during the next period. The line needs to be open in the early 2030s, which means breaking ground in the early 2020s. We therefore need a hybrid Bill sooner rather than later and, because this project will no doubt be completed, owned and amended by successive Governments, it is critical that we establish cross-party support now, before the parliamentary cycle begins to gear up for the 2015 general election. In that spirit, I invite the Minister to address the inaugural meeting of the all-party group on Crossrail 2 that I am hoping to set up with colleagues here and in the other place over the coming weeks. Most importantly, will he detail exactly when he expects the review of the safeguarded route to begin, with an outline of the process involved, and when he expects it to be complete?

The Government’s role is not only to take leadership on this issue but to empower others to do the same. The most recent comprehensive spending review outlined funding for the Department for Transport only up until 2014-15, scrapping the long-term funding guarantee in previous spending reviews that provided a 10-year forecast of budgets. In December 2012, therefore, we had the ludicrous scenario of Transport for London publishing a 10-year business plan that could only outline funding until 2014-15. If that practice continues in the second spending review later this year, TfL will still have no certainty over its funding settlement after the 2015-16 financial year. It is clear that we need a proper funding settlement and that that need is great. Does the Minister agree that the best way to ensure the delivery of transport investment projects such as Crossrail 2 is to provide the bodies tasked with delivering them with clear indications of their future funding settlement over the long term?

Furthermore, I am sure that all of us who are keen to see more transport investment are concerned at the enduring silence of the Secretary of State for Transport while his Cabinet colleagues are peacocking across television studios to try to spare their Departments from further cuts. I invite the Minister to put all our minds at rest when he responds. Will he announce his membership of the national union of Ministers and will he put on record that he would like to see Crossrail 2 explicitly included in the comprehensive spending review in the same manner in which Crossrail 1 was included in the spending reviews of 2004, 2007 and 2010?

Will the Minister ensure that he does his best to get us into position to have a hybrid Bill shortly, with cross-party support and with some certainty that the dates will hold? Although 2030 or 2031 is still some distance away, we want to be sure of getting there so that we can begin the work now and not delay it until after a general election kicks the project into the long grass, in which case we will not see Crossrail 2 come to fruition during the lifetime of anyone in the Chamber.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Weir.

I congratulate the right hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr Lammy) on securing the debate and on his powerful and eloquent support for Crossrail 2. I am not a London Member of Parliament, but a large proportion of my constituents travel into London daily, while a growing number of Londoners travel out to businesses in Milton Keynes. That is exemplified by the new Network Rail headquarters, which is based in the centre of Milton Keynes. I want to make a short contribution to the debate for two reasons: first, to talk about the improved connectivity that a scheme such as Crossrail 2 could deliver; and, secondly, wearing my Transport Committee hat, to pick up on a couple of the points that the right hon. Gentleman made about High Speed 2 and, once it has been developed, the capacity at Euston.

I know the commuting line to and from Milton Keynes well, and the volume of passengers into and out of Euston at the morning and evening peaks is growing. Getting on a Victoria or Northern line tube train is an art at times; it is not uncommon to let two, three or four trains go through before being able to board one. The upgrade to the Victoria line with the new stock has improved the situation, but I suspect that it has merely bought time and that in a few years the line will be as congested as ever. Having a line such as Crossrail 2 going through Euston, therefore, would be a major benefit to arriving commuter passengers. It would improve connectivity with different parts of London, make public transport more attractive and encourage a modal shift, with all the environmental benefits that that would gain. It would be a win-win for Londoners and for people in the northern home counties and beyond travelling into London. To strike a slightly confrontational note with the Minister, given that he represents Wimbledon, I note that the line would connect Wimbledon to Euston, so it might allow AFC Wimbledon fans to travel to see MK Dons, were the two teams to play each other regularly in future.

The Minister and I agree on many things, but we will disagree in our football team allegiance.

On whether the proposed scheme for Crossrail 2 is the optimal one, I have an open mind. It might be, but a slightly different one could be used, linking with the North London line to Willesden and elsewhere and with extra branches. I have an open mind, but I am happy to support the principle of Crossrail 2.

My second point is in the context of High Speed 2. If HS2 goes ahead with its planned route into Euston, that will deliver a huge increase in the number of passengers into and out of the station. For the reasons I mentioned, I fear that the existing tube network will not be able to cope. Yes, some passengers will get off at Old Oak Common and come into central London via Crossrail 1, but not all will. I suspect that a comparatively small percentage of the arrivals will want Euston as their destination; they will want to travel on to other parts of London. If they are faced with enormous congestion at Euston, the attractiveness of HS2 will be diminished and its business case undermined; however, Crossrail 2 feeding in more people to use HS2 from Euston would augment the business case, about which there has been controversy lately.

The purpose of my contribution was briefly to make those two points. I am supportive of the principle of Crossrail 2 and happy to look in further detail at specific schemes. I am also happy to join the all-party group, once it is up and running. I will not make any comments on the funding, although I agree with the point made by the right hon. Member for Tottenham that the cost of doing nothing might be far too high. I congratulate him once more on securing this important debate.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr Lammy) on securing the debate. I represent a south-east London constituency. My constituents would not necessarily benefit directly from new stations on a Crossrail 2 project. Nevertheless, they would benefit from improved transport links in London more generally, so it is important that we are having the debate today.

I want to discuss another strategic transport project in London—some might call it Crossrail 3—that would bring huge benefits to our capital city. It would improve capacity on transport links between south-east and north-west London, as opposed to Crossrail 2, which improves the links between south-west and north-east London. I urge the Minister, when considering Crossrail 2, to think more strategically about the transport needs of London as a whole. For my constituents, one of the most important issues in public transport is extension of the Bakerloo line from Elephant and Castle, where it currently stops, through Southwark to Lewisham and then to join the Hayes line. That would provide huge benefits in relieving congestion on existing transport routes to London, and would support growth in south-east London and Canary Wharf.

I want to take a couple of minutes to share with hon. Members some of the reasons why that transport route is equally important to the strength of London’s economy. At the moment, my constituents rely heavily on overland trains, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham said. The recent census figures show that one in five of the working population in Lewisham uses trains to get to work, and the number in Bromley is similar. At the moment, south-east London benefits from the East London line, which runs through Honor Oak and Forest Hill to Crystal Palace, but that skirts the western border of south-east London, and the tube network does not extend into south-east London, although we are fortunate in having the docklands light railway.

Overcrowding on overland trains to London Bridge and Cannon Street is unbearable for my constituents. I regularly take the train to London Bridge and it is unpleasant to be stuck in the armpit of a stranger. Overcrowding during the rush hour is intense and there is a desperate need to relieve that congestion. The benefit of bringing the tube network to south-east London would be felt not just in people’s quality of life, but in the planned regeneration projects in south-east London.

Southwark and Lewisham are two of the fastest growing boroughs in London, and it is projected that by 2030 Lewisham’s population will be 346,000, which is 70,000 more than at the moment. The rise in Southwark’s population will be similar. We have a terrifically young population who want to access job opportunities in central London. Those huge population increases in south-east London mean that we must find a way to transport people around. Lewisham plans to build 18,000 homes by 2026, and when new developments go up in our town centres my constituents come to me to ask how people will get on trains because they are already full. There is a desperate need in south-east London to address capacity on public transport.

The links from Lewisham in particular to Canary Wharf are strategically important. Canary Wharf as a commercial and business centre has grown very quickly. I understand that its working population is about 100,000, and I am told that by 2025 it will have doubled to 200,000. We have read about the problems in the financial sector, but there will be huge growth in that part of London. Linking the population of south-east London to those opportunities by extending the Bakerloo line, through a connection to the DLR, is terrifically important. The centre of economic activity in London is shifting eastwards, so when this and future Governments consider how to address strategic transport needs they should look at London as a whole.

Will the Minister tell me and other hon. Members what discussions he has had with the Mayor of London and Transport for London about the possibility of extending the Bakerloo line? I am aware that upgrade work will be done on that line within the next 10 years and it would be good to hear whether that work can be done in a way that allows a later extension to the Bakerloo line. It would be good to know what vision he and TfL have for addressing those transport needs in south-east London.

I was recently speaking to a good friend who is a transport planner. She told me that in London we need to find a way of addressing the next century’s transport needs. The Victorian era left us with a fantastic underground network, and we now need to ask what the 21st century’s legacy will be. Whether it is Crossrail 2 or Crossrail 3, London is a fantastic world city that will continue to grow, and we must find a way of moving people around and getting them from their homes to their jobs so that they can enjoy the most this incredible city has to offer. I hope that the Minister will be able to provide some reassurance that he is on the case and considering how to tackle those transport needs in the next few decades.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr Lammy) on securing the debate, and apologise for the fact that I was not here at the beginning. His battle for Tottenham is akin to the one we fought and, to some degree, won in Hackney. We had poor transport links, and we now have new links that have transformed the borough. For his sake and that of my constituents, I hope that we will see a change.

I want to pick up on the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham East (Heidi Alexander) about the need to absorb growth. It takes me back to when I was mayor of Islington in the late 1990s. Angel station was revamped from a grotty little station to a brand new one with platforms so wide that you could park a car on them. That station is already overcrowded. Canary Wharf just about manages to cope with the crowds as does, arguably, Westminster, but it will not be long—perhaps a decade—before there will be too much growth.

When we set up the mayoral system in 2000, there was a decision on the first Mayor’s desk. His job was to develop transport and planning strategies for London. After much thought and discussion, the then Mayor, Ken Livingstone, decided that we would absorb population growth in London instead of having another wave of new-town building with new towns such as Milton Keynes. London was set to grow from then until 2015—we are still part of the way through that growth—by the equivalent of a city the size of Leeds. All the experience that hon. Members have outlined about the difficulty of squeezing on to tubes, whether travelling from Milton Keynes or Hackney, demonstrates that growth. Whenever I cannot get on the tube, I think back to those discussions when I was a member of the London assembly with my right hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham back in 2000. We are now seeing the impact of that.

Part of that strategy was to have a transport hierarchy. We encouraged people to change their transport habits so that those who travelled by tube would get on the bus, and the then Mayor greatly improved the buses. We then wanted people who travelled by bus to walk and cycle. Cycling increased massively after the 7/7 bombings, when the tragedy made people think about their transport and get into the habit of cycling. I represent the borough that has the highest number of cyclists of any borough in London, and perhaps anywhere in England. The history of it is long-standing, and it has grown with population growth.

The then Mayor invested massively in bus transport, and bus ridership rose 7% during the first two terms of the London assembly and Transport for London. I am sure that the Minister is aware that Transport for London is a model for a good transport authority. Sadly, there is a slight reversal with the stealth cuts in bus services. The frequency of the 242 bus in my constituency has fallen from 10 an hour to around seven an hour. It is the only bus serving the Clapton Park and Nye Bevan estates to and from Homerton hospital, and with six bus stops on those estates the cut in service is a big one for my constituents. When I raised the issue with Transport for London, it argued that the East London line, which I will mention in a moment, solved the problems. Well, that is not the case for someone who lives on the Clapton Park estate and who has to walk up the hill every morning, or for older ladies or men who have to wait for the bus so they can take their shopping home.

The 38 bus has recently seen a similar reduction, with every other off-peak bus turning at Hackney Central. That is fine for people who want to get off there or anywhere between there and Victoria, but not for those who live anywhere between Hackney Central and Clapton pond, as many of my constituents do. I therefore urge the Minister to look back at the glory days of London bus travel and to bear these issues in mind when he looks at budgets and policy for buses. Unless the bus service is good, the transport hierarchy will not work. People will not get off the train and on to the bus, because they will not be sure the bus will get them where they want to go on time. Once we lose that reliability, things could start going backwards from the huge achievement we saw in London.

To return to the issue of my constituency and borough, London was to absorb the huge growth I mentioned. My hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham East described what has happened in her neck of the woods. Similarly, Hackney grew by 30,000 people between the last two censuses. Those are mostly under-fives, and I confess I have contributed to that, having given birth in the past few years. There are also a lot of young people in their 20s and early 30s. Another 30,000 people will be born in Hackney by 2020, so there will be exponential growth. A lot of that has been boosted by some of the new private and public sector housing developments.

That is putting public transport under great pressure, and we need to look at how we change travel routes. Boosting the North London line was a great move by Transport for London, and we all applauded the fact that it took over the route. We had a disciplined campaign in support of the East London line, which serves stations from Dalston Junction, slightly north of my constituency —it was in my constituency when it was built, but we then had a boundary change—right down to New Cross. The line has been hugely successful—it is impossible to get a seat in the morning—and that has made a big difference.

We can all learns lessons from the East London line campaign as we campaign for the much-needed benefits of Crossrail 2. It was a disciplined campaign. We were all urged to ask not for lots of whizzy things to make our stations even more beautiful, but for basic stations and basic rolling stock to ensure that we had the service running. Of course, we were fortunate that there was an existing rail line. There were regular meetings between local authorities, officers and elected Members from across the board. Every time a problem came up, we discussed how we would deal with it as a group, rather than striking out alone to argue that Hackney should have something better than Tottenham, or that Tottenham should have something better than Hackney, much as we might have felt like doing that. We realised it was better to focus on discipline and to achieve the ultimate end. The East London line opened in 2010, and it has been a huge success.

I hope the same discipline can be applied to the new all-party group on Crossrail 2. I would certainly join it and support my right hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham. The line would link Dalston Junction to Tottenham Court Road and mean an 11-minute journey; it will change things phenomenally. [Interruption.] If only I had time to go shopping in Tottenham Court road. I am thinking more of jobs for constituents who could work in the area.

When I was on the London Assembly, I also represented Waltham Forest. The council had a good plan at the time—this was between 2000 and 2004—to get people into jobs at Stansted airport. The transport links were there to make that easy. Hackney, which is virtually the same distance away, but which did not have the transport links, did not have the same jobs programme. The difference was phenomenal, and that has been one of the things driving my support for these new transport links. I saw the stark difference transport links made when I represented the boroughs of Waltham Forest and Hackney.

When we build railway lines, there are also issues about homes. There has been a housing boom along the East London line. That is quite a good thing. If we are to change travel habits and travel patterns, we need people not to go through the centre of London, so it is good to boost our suburban and outer-London areas. However, there is also the issue of prices and rents going up, which has a huge impact on many of my constituents. I am delighted that, among other developments, Peabody is building a number of affordable housing units at Pembury Circus, with a mix of properties for rent, sale, social rent, part-buy and so on. After a long campaign by me and many residents of the Kingsland and Haggerston West estates, London and Quadrant Housing Association is finally building there. Those changes are happening close to the rail links, and that will make a difference.

Let me say in passing, although it is important, that Hackney is very much against the Government’s proposal to allow offices to be easily converted into homes under a light-touch planning rules. That would be disastrous for my borough, where there are jobs, and where office space is used properly by a range of creative businesses. Those businesses are an engine room for the British economy. I hope bits of the Government are having a word with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government about the folly of his race to build inappropriate homes in the wrong places. The occupants of No. 10 and No. 11 regularly appear in Shoreditch, which the Prime Minister calls “Tech City”, although it is still known as Shoreditch to the people who live and work there, while someone else’s Department is saying that we should turn vacant offices into homes. That would be a mistake. Those properties would be chichi loft apartments for certain strata of people, not homes for local families who live in overcrowded conditions in my area. Although I want travel links to spur the building of homes—again, building homes near transport links fits into the hierarchy of transport because people have to travel less if they live near stations—I do not want that to happen at the expense of our valuable office space.

Generally, I support Crossrail 2 and Transport for London taking on more rail. I congratulate the Minister on his openness in talking to Members early about plans to pass more rail lines to the Mayor of London and Transport for London. Whoever the Mayor is, I support Londoners, through their Mayor and Transport for London, being more in control of the lines that serve them and help them get to their jobs. That is a good step. I hope we will see a similar openness and engagement from the Minister on Crossrail 2. I know he is not in a position to wave a magic wand or, more importantly, a cheque book at the moment, or to give us absolute deadlines, but I hope that, in the spirit of openness he has shown on other issues, we can have a similar dialogue. We can help him argue our case in the heart of Government for Crossrail 2, which will make a huge and beneficial difference to my constituency if we do it right and get cracking.

To pick up on the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham East about Crossrail 3, if we do not get Crossrail 2, Crossrail 3 will be a pipe dream. However, we need to start now, and we need to lay the framework. We need to be disciplined about the planning, and we need to make sure all the ducks are lined up.

The Minister has here the nub of a body of people, from inside and outside London, who are willing to argue the case for Crossrail 2, and others would have liked to be here today but could not be. We will do anything we can to make this case stack up. We can always argue for the best and most wonderful railway line, but, above all, we want a railway line, and we can compromise if that is what it takes to get it delivered. However, we really want and need this line in my constituency and in London.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr Lammy) on securing the debate. I also congratulate Members who have spoken on their knowledgeable and passionate speeches about their constituencies and the links they need.

There is little doubt that the taskforce’s final report set out a strong case for Crossrail 2. Credit should be given to Andrew Adonis, a former Labour Transport Secretary, and London First. The report is well researched, and it good to see a growing consensus, particularly on the line of the route. That is a tribute to the knowledge and hard work of all those involved.

The case for a new rail line between Hertfordshire and parts of Surrey and Middlesex, via a new tunnel between Tottenham and Wimbledon, is based on the increasing congestion that will accompany the projected rise in population and employment in London over the coming decades. As the report says—my right hon. Friend touched on this—employment in London is expected to grow by 700,000 in the next 20 years, with the population overall rising by 1.5 million. Increased congestion is expected to be particularly severe on an alignment running south-east to north-west, and that will not be significantly alleviated by Crossrail 1 or Thameslink.

Crossrail 2 has the potential substantially to increase capacity, relieving congestion on some crowded sections of the underground, particularly on the Victoria, Northern and Piccadilly lines. That could take great pressure off some major termini interchange stations, such as Euston, King’s Cross, Waterloo and Victoria. Beneficiaries would include commuters coming from as far afield as Southampton and Portsmouth.

This is clearly a persuasive document—almost as persuasive as the passionate speech by my right hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham—but there are questions to be answered. Crossrail 2 is an expensive project. The report costs it at about £12 billion. How will it be paid for? What relationship does it have to HS2, which was recently given the go-ahead by the Government, at a cost of £34 billion?

There is growing consensus that the completion of the second phase of HS2 will have significant consequences for the London transport system. Again, the report makes that clear. Even without HS2, passenger arrivals at Euston in the morning peak period are set to rise by 30% by 2031, and HS2 would perhaps double the number of people arriving at that time. That would seem to make the Crossrail 2 interchange at Euston essential. If HS2 and Crossrail 2 are interdependent schemes, surely their planning and funding must be looked at together.

I repeat my question, however: where is the money to come from? It has been suggested that the funding stream from Crossrail 1 could be redirected to Crossrail 2, but has not that money already been allocated to HS2? Obviously HS2 and Crossrail 2 cannot be funded at the same time with the same moneys. Could businesses make a contribution? After all, they will undoubtedly gain, as well as commuters. At the time of Crossrail 1 the then Labour Government gave the Mayor the power to introduce a business rate supplement. Could that happen with Crossrail 2? Has the Minister had any discussions with the Mayor or with businesses about contributing to the cost?

Indeed, what discussions have been taking place at all? I should like to know how much preparatory work the Government have already undertaken on the project. In particular, what analysis have Ministers made of the impact on London’s transport system of HS2 without Crossrail 2? That is the crucial question.

Transport systems are naturally interlinked. One part affects the others. Crossrail 2 is about London, of course, but it connects to other parts of the country. Our transport policy needs to be nationwide. How does the Minister think Crossrail 2 fits in with the bigger transport picture? It is vital that essential transport projects in other parts of the country should not be adversely affected by the concentration of funding in one geographical area, despite that area’s undoubted importance.

I congratulate the right hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr Lammy) on securing the debate and on his eloquent and intelligent speech. His opening remarks rightly stressed the history, from which, of course, we can learn. He is right: here we are celebrating 150 years of London Underground. London has long relied on transport for its prosperity. The first underground trains, in the 19th century, brought prosperity to London and the suburbs, as the right hon. Gentleman said, but that process has continued through the extension of the bus network in the 20th century, and today’s concentration on other aspects of travel, such as bikes.

The future of London’s economy will depend on transport systems, and the right hon. Gentleman is right to say we must think about what London needs in the long term to meet the demands of the economy, as well as of the people who live here. A modern, customer-focused transport system should meet that rising demand. Several hon. Members have referred to the demand forecast that shows that, without additional investment, crowding, on which we have made some progress, will return to unacceptable levels. There have been several comments on the growth of this great city, and it is right to think about the challenges that will arise as we try to meet demand for 2030 and beyond. The debate about Crossrail 2 is an opportunity to consider how to meet some of the challenges.

I welcome the work that has been done by Transport for London and London First. The hon. Member for Makerfield (Yvonne Fovargue) was right to praise the work that Andrew Adonis did. The proposal was also supported by the Mayor. I understand that it would provide a north-east to south-west transport link that would complement the current Crossrail project, and that it would complement and work alongside the tube upgrade project. It would also have the potential to support increased journeys right across the capital. As several hon. Members have pointed out, it would also, of course, help to create jobs, both directly, in construction, and indirectly, in communities. The right hon. Member for Tottenham spoke about what it could do for his constituency, and it would also have an effect in Hackney and the Lea Valley. Perhaps I should declare an interest, because I hope that it will bring jobs to Wimbledon too.

My hon. Friend the Member for Richmond Park (Zac Goldsmith), in an intervention, talked about extending the proposed line northwards to Stansted. That should be an option for both TfL and the Mayor to think about in the planning stages. I hope that they will do so, and that they will work in conjunction with Network Rail. Several hon. Members pointed out the interconnectivity and linkages of the systems. It would be inappropriate for the Mayor to think about connecting the line to Stansted without making sure that he was working in conjunction with Network Rail.

Does the Minister recognise the fact that the Maidenhead connection off Crossrail 1 is at the same distance as the Stansted connection would be for Crossrail 2? If we have achieved that connection into what might be called the south-east/London shires, for Crossrail 1, a Mayor should be able to do it for Crossrail 2.

I recognise that fact about distance. I was agreeing with the point about linkages and interconnectivities in planning, development and, hopefully, later construction; I think that the right hon. Gentleman was agreeing with me. Something particularly worth considering is what the work has spared—not only at Maidenhead, but some of the works further out at Reading. That is all as a result of work on Crossrail. The linkages with Network Rail are hugely important.

The case has been made, this afternoon, that Crossrail 2 will offer essential congestion relief and help to meet demand on the underground and at London termini. Also, as the right hon. Member for Tottenham and the hon. Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier) said, it will offer essential access and opportunity to areas of London that are less well provided with public transport at the moment, as well as suburban connectivity.

It is right to say that, as with Crossrail 1, the genesis of the idea was not the report; it has been around a long time. The idea of a Chelsea-Hackney line has been around in one form or another for many years; some people can trace it back to before 1920, I think. The proposals for Crossrail 2 have similarly generated wide support, and they would benefit London, without question.

The issues for the Mayor and TfL to consider carefully include the scheme engineering design and technical design, the consultation process and the views of those who will benefit, and the route alleviation procedures. They will also need to consider how the route will be funded. Those are clearly some of the challenges. For my part I reaffirm that the Government will work with TfL to safeguard the route for Crossrail 2, which is scheduled to start later this year. It is essential that we do so, because we have agreed with TfL that the previous safeguarding, which was last updated in 2008, would leave several areas uncovered. I was asked about that, and my understanding is that the safeguarding process for the new route will start in April.

I am grateful for that assurance. There is some urgency about the matter, which I hope the Minister recognises, and I am concerned about a hybrid Bill—something that must come from the Government. I hear what he said about the Mayor, and that is obviously right, but, as Crossrail 1 comes to an end in about 2018, we want a transfer of engineers, project managers and others on to Crossrail 2. I suspect that that will be part of the Mayor’s thinking, and I hope that the Government would support that approach, and understand why it is sensible.

I understand entirely the right hon. Gentleman’s point. That is why, in terms of the next stages, the challenge for TfL—I could have gone into it in greater depth, but he understood the point that I was making about why it is important for TfL to lead—is to go from the London First report into schematic detail and engineering detail. Those sorts of issues can be thought about and a business case properly developed only once the initial work is done. Clearly, one challenge for the Mayor and the Department—the Department wants the Mayor to undertake the challenge—is to look at building a comprehensive business case in the near future.

The right hon. Gentleman challenged me, saying that he had sat in my place and that he knew some of the tricks about discussions with the Treasury, and pushing things into the long grass. I also sat in his place and made exactly the same challenge to Ministers. He will know, as the hon. Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch said, that I do not have a cheque book in my back pocket and I will not be wielding it this afternoon. I can, however, give this commitment: before the next spending review, the onus is clearly on the Government to give serious consideration to Crossrail 2, its business case and the options for funding, and we will do so. The challenge, therefore, is for the Mayor to come forward with a proposition—a business case—that could be delivered in time for this spending review, and if not, it potentially looks to be a post-election issue. We can commit to giving the issue serious consideration, but the Mayor needs to develop that business case.

The Government’s record on making those commitments has been good. We have protected capital spending in spending round 10. We are determined to invest in essential infrastructure to support the economic recovery, both in London and nationally. We want to prioritise the schemes that offer best value for the taxpayers’ pound and the best growth potential. The business case must be developed and it is essential, therefore, that the Mayor and TfL show that the efficiency of the spending that they are using in this spending round, and in this spending review period, can be continued. The Mayor needs to ensure that there is the same rigour as has been seen—we would like to see more rigour—in terms of the efficiency of how he is spending the taxpayers’ pound when he develops the business case. For instance, it is also clear that in central Government we have borne down on administrative costs in that area. Administrative costs across Whitehall in this spending review have gone down by 33%, which is important. It is important to show that where we are spending the taxpayers’ pound, we are spending it efficiently.

The right hon. Member for Tottenham was slightly unkind to the Government—I would expect nothing less—in terms of the picture that he gave about investment in London. It was certainly not a picture that I recognised. A massive amount of transport investment is going into London. The Government have clearly, and rightly, recognised that London is the economic engine of the UK economy. In the last spending review, we provided TfL and the Mayor with a settlement, despite the tough economic environment, that allowed progress on the tube upgrade, Thameslink, and Crossrail. They have had certainty through this spending round, and another settlement and spending round will allow them to make their case.

Spending review 10 provided a multi-billion pound funding package for Crossrail, and we can think of the package coming through: for instance, there is £4.5 billion for the tube upgrade programme. The Jubilee upgrade that was completed last year has increased capacity by 33%. The Victoria line upgrade that was completed in January this year gave another 21% capacity. Delays on the underground have been reduced by more than 40% since 2007. That is not to be complacent. This is exactly the challenge. We have done these things to catch up. This is the 150-year celebration, and both the previous Government and this Government have made that investment to catch up. The potential for Crossrail 2 is the future.

The Minister rightly describes London as an economic powerhouse. I am pleased that the Government recognise that, and it has led to some investment. Will he illuminate for us the internal discussions in Government about whether his Department, obviously buying into that agenda through the investment in transport, has had any conversations with the Department for Communities and Local Government about its policy to convert offices into homes? It is the crack cocaine of developers and a quick buck for the owner of the property, but it means devastation for the economic powerhouse for which he professes Government support.

I am here to talk about what my Department is doing for transport to ensure that London remains an economic powerhouse, and I wish to continue on that line. I am sure that the hon. Lady will want to make that point to my colleagues—I am sure that they have heard it before. None the less, I do not think she would wish to stop all office development, or all offices with the potential for conversion being developed. It may or may not be the crack cocaine in certain areas, but it is providing essential housing in other parts of the capital. I have seen a number of social housing schemes being developed from old office blocks in south London as well, so one needs to be a careful about over-generalising.

The point I was making a moment ago is that the Government are, and have been, spending a huge amount of money on the tube upgrade system and the tube upgrade plan. The Mayor of London and the Secretary of State for Transport opened the Clapham Junction to Surrey Quays link of the London Overground, completing the overground orbital network, which allows people from south London to commute to the City and Canary Wharf without travelling through central London.

I know that will be of some benefit to the constituency of the hon. Member for Lewisham East (Heidi Alexander). I hear her points about the Bakerloo line. I say to her again that, as she will recognise, transport in London is a devolved issue, and it would be for the Mayor to come forward with proposals to the Government. Any proposal for London Underground to extend the Bakerloo line further in south-east London is a matter for the Mayor and TfL. They would have to come up with a plan, and potentially, if they seek to fund it in sponsorship with the Department, come to the Department. It is not for the Department to impose the proposal on TfL or the Mayor.

I hear what the Minister has said, but he will have heard my case about the population increase in south-east London and the existing problems with overcrowding on the overland rail network. Would he undertake to discuss the Mayor’s current thinking on the Bakerloo line extension with him?

Whenever I meet the Mayor, I discuss many things with him. I promise that when I next meet him—in one of our regular meetings—I will make sure that that is on the agenda. I hope that the hon. Lady will recognise that any proposal to extend the underground is a matter for the Mayor and TfL.

The Government are committed to extending the Northern line into Battersea. The funding agreement with TfL has enabled Crossrail to go ahead. The Government are making a contribution of some £5 billion over the lifetime of the project. That will transform the south-east, delivering faster journey times, and it is likely to generate 14,000 jobs during the peak construction period. It will have a major impact on London’s economy, and I therefore accept the potential for Crossrail 2 to have a similar impact.

On the Northern line extension, the Minister will recognise that it involves two stations. There has been quite some coverage of the Malaysians who now come to own Battersea power station and of the very luxurious flats that attract a lot of money. There is some disquiet, particularly in the London borough of Lambeth, that local people are being asked to pick up a tab for effectively two stations; the stations are, of course, important to London’s development, but there are other transport options around. I want some clarification on the funding formula for the Northern line extension, because Crossrail 2 could benefit the area greatly, and I am slightly worried that Londoners will be saddled with a bill that could overrun into billions, as the Jubilee line extension did.

I hear that point. I shall say two things to the right hon. Gentleman, if I may. He will recognise that although the Northern line extension involves only two stations, it has the potential to achieve a transformational impact in terms of housing development, job creation and journey times to the City and the west end—further job creation. He has asked me about the funding package. Because I am not clear on some of the elements of commercial confidentiality, I will, if I may, write to him and set out what is in the public domain or what I am allowed to tell him. I do not want to be injudicious and I hope that he will accept that as my response.

In opening the debate, the right hon. Gentleman showed that Crossrail 2 could have huge potential for his constituency. The Government have supported his constituency through the London enterprise fund, aimed solely at Tottenham and Croydon. There is further potential to regenerate London directly through some of the aspects of the Localism Act 2011 that are going to the Mayor. None the less, it is clear that the key thing is to ensure that the transport system is fit for the development and the regeneration of London, not only for our generation, our children’s generation and our grandchildren’s generation, but for the generation of Members of Parliament who will be sitting here in 100 years’ time saying that this was a new Victorian age.

The Government are clearly committed to supporting transport in London. Of course, it should not be the default position that the Government fund everything. In a world of constrained public sector resources, it has been recognised, rightly, that there is a role for alternative financing mechanisms, such as tax increment financing and the community infrastructure levy. I have no doubt that in formulating the business case for Crossrail 2, the Mayor will be considering those as well. We want TfL, London boroughs and the Mayor to share in the profits of London’s growth, giving them a much greater incentive to invest in business-friendly measures and to work with business to develop the measures that will ensure the regeneration and continued growth of this great city. That is one reason why some of those important changes took place in local government finance.

The Government will continue to support London, continue to support transport and continue to support infrastructure, not just today but tomorrow and through the next spending review. I welcome this debate on Crossrail 2. It has been an excellent debate. It has highlighted the potential for Crossrail 2 and what it might deliver for London. I note the invitation to address the all-party group’s inaugural meeting; I would be delighted to accept. The key challenge now is for the business case to be developed, so that it can be properly assessed and the project can move forward.

Sitting suspended.