§ Order for Second Reading read.7.13 pm
§ Mr. Thorne
London's docklands have been in decline for many years. An early proposal to help with the regeneration of the area by extending the London Underground through the docklands to Thamesmead had to be abandoned because of the high cost—more than £400 million at today's prices.
A start has been made to revitalise the docklands. By 1985 more than £1 billion had been invested. More than 200 companies have set up businesses, 4,700 new jobs have been created and 1,300 jobs have been preserved. Moreover, 2,000 private homes have been built, of which 42 per cent. have been bought by residents of dockland boroughs.
There has also been a considerable improvement in the road structure. Most important of all, London Regional Transport is constructing a new light railway through the area. Canary wharf is a site of some 71 acres in the Isle of Dogs, two miles to the east of the City. A £1.5 billion development of 10 million sq ft of offices and supporting accommodation is planned by an American consortium. The need for an extension of the City is well known and arises principally from the limited amount of space left to expand it as a financial centre. The consortium has insisted that the development will not go ahead without a rail link from Canary wharf to the Bank, as the existing terminus at Tower Gateway will not tie in with the development physically. Nor will it tie in with the City in the minds of those who would wish to set up business or work at Canary wharf. Hence the promotion of this private Bill.
The Bill is promoted by London Regional Transport. Its powers and responsibilities are set out in the London Regional Transport Act 1984, section 2 of which provides that it shall be the general duty of London Regional Transport, in accordance with principles from time to time approved by the Secretary of State, and in conjunction with the British Railways Board, to provide or secure the provision of public passenger transport services for Greater London. The Act also confers a power to promote Bills. A private Bill has been promoted by LRT and its predecessors in almost every Session since 1963, when the London Transport Board was set up. The present Bill has been modelled on the earlier Acts of LRT's predecessors.
Powers to build the initial railway from Tower Gateway to Island Gardens and from Stratford to Poplar were acquired by the then London Transport Executive through the normal parliamentary procedure for railway construction—the London Docklands Railway Act 1984 and London Docklands Railway Act 1985. Responsibility for funding the railway, cash limited by the Government at £77 million outturn, was through the London Docklands Development Corporation and the Greater London council. The GLC role has subsequently been assumed by London Regional Transport. A small project team, locally based in Poplar, and reporting to a joint LRT-LDDC 506 board, is supervising the design-and-construct contract which was let on a fixed price basis to the General Electric Company/Mowlem railway group. The contract is in the form of a single package covering design and construction and nearly all of the equipment. There are severe penalties should the railway not be ready for opening in mid-1987.
The initial railway links the Isle of Dogs with the important regional centre of Stratford to the north and the eastern side of the City. Much of the route makes use of disused railway line and is re-using existing materials where possible. In the Isle of Dogs, much of the railway is on new viaduct, including new bridges across the West India docks. Progress has been rapid—75 per cent. of the contract work has already been completed and the project is both on time and to budget. Much of the civil engineering work is already complete, even on the northern leg to Stratford, which received parliamentary approval less than one year ago. Track laying is now progressing.
The City terminus, Tower Gateway, in Minories, is adjacent to the British Rail line to Fenchurch street station. It was not possible to link with the Underground at Tower Hill without the expense of tunnelling, and this could not be afforded within the £77 million project cost. A terminus within Fenchurch street station was not possible because the capacity was needed by British Rail and an alternative, a tunnel to Aldgate East, was prohibitively expensive. Proposals have been put forward to improve Tower Hill Underground station to handle the interchange traffic but London Regional Transport recognises the inadequacy of the interchange.
The trains are much faster than buses, they are smaller and faster than conventional rail vehicles and generally serve closely spaced stations. They are automatically driven but each will have a member of staff on board who will check tickets, assist passengers and be able to deal with emergencies. Although the stations are unstaffed they will have closed circuit television surveillance and facilities for passengers to contact and talk directly with the control centre. All stations will be fully accessible to disabled passengers with lifts for wheelchair access.
In the late summer of last year London Regional Transport was approached by the American consortium which is proposing a multi-million pound property development on Canary wharf in the Isle of Dogs. The consortium sees transport as a fundamental requirement for the success of the development and approached LRT with proposals for a westward extension of the docklands light railway to Bank. The view of LRT was that the City extension would be a major advantage to London's public transport infrastructure and would resolve the problem that had been highlighted by the late Martin Stevens of the far from ideal City terminus at Tower Gateway.
The Bank extension proposed by the Canary wharf development consortium leaves the initial railway just east of Tower Gateway and goes into tunnel before reaching the precincts of the Tower. The lines continue in deep level twin tunnels beneath Tower Hill, Byward street, Great Tower street, Eastcheap and King William street. Those tunnels would have a side walkway for emergency evacuation, maintaining the docklands light railway facility of full access for the disabled. Traffic on the extension is estimated at 9,500 passengers in the busiest hour when the development is complete.
A link with the City and the major development at Canary wharf would increase traffic from 6 million to 44 507 million journeys a year. Inevitably some aspects of the initial railway would need to be changed. Trains and platforms for example would be longer and some of the structures would need to be strengthened to accommodate the longer trains. There would be more trains and more frequent services. Other technical changes would be necessary to the track layout at Crossharbour and near Stratford, to accommodate the stepped-up services. A larger station at Canary wharf is also envisaged. The extension would substantially increase jobs on the light railway from about 100 to 200.
LRT sees the scheme as an opportunity to overcome the weakness of the initial docklands light railway City terminus, and to provide an excellent new addition to London's public transport infrastructure in partnership with the private sector.
The principal function of this Bill is to authorise the carrying out of railway works. The authority of Parliament provides protection for the builders of the railway against actions for nuisance. Since statutory authority is required for work, it is also convenient to obtain from Parliament any compulsory purchase powers required. This follows the usual practice.
I do not intend to describe the contents of the Bill clause by clause. However, there are certain features that the House may wish to be aware of. I also wish to mention some significant changes suggested by the promoters which they hope will meet many of the criticisms levelled against the Bill as originally drafted.
In part II details of the works are shown on the plans and sections, which were deposited with Parliament at the time of the deposit of the Bill.
The scheme in the Bill comprises a twin track railway branching off the railway authorised by the London Docklands Railway Acts 1984 and 1985. The extension leaves the initial railway immediately to the west of the bridge over Leman street descending deeply into cut and cover under Mansell street and then into bored tunnels in front of the Tower to pick up an alignment beneath the District line to the west of Tower Hill station. The line then continues westward on a downward gradient following the District line tunnels beneath Great Tower street and Eastcheap to King William street. The tunnels would have walkways which could be used to evacuate trains in the event of emergencies and the platforms are to be long enough ultimately to accommodate trains of three articulated units.
The line of the railway has been planned so that the tunnels are, for the most part, constructed at a depth below the streets so as to avoid any problem of interference with the existing building foundations and inhibition of future building developments.
The arrangements originally set out in the Bill for the terminus at Bank and for an interchange at Tower Hill have provoked a good deal of concern. In particular the City corporation has petitioned against the Bill on the grounds that the Bank station and associated proposals are unsatisfactory and unsuitable.
London Regional Transport acknowledges that the least satisfactory feature of the scheme currently before Parliament is the passenger movement within the station at Bank, which already handles 26 million passengers a year. The light railway extension would increase total traffic at Bank by a third. LRT and London Underground Ltd. were concerned about this and although the original scheme would have worked, LRT decided to re-examine 508 the options available, with the help of consulting engineers, Mott Hay and Anderson, which has considerable experience of tunnelling in this part of central London. It assisted in the Northern Line construction in the 1920s and work on the Waterloo and City line in the 1950s. As a result, a revised arrangement has been proposed for Bank station with the docklands light railway platforms in a different location.
The scheme envisaged in the Bill has docklands light railway platforms below the Mansion House, with the main entry and exit route to a new ticket hall near the top of the Waterloo and City line travolator, below Queen Victoria street. A deep level subway connection is provided to the Central and Northern lines, but passengers to and from the Circle and District lines would need to walk the full length of the Northern Line platform, which is a key concern, and along the existing escalator and subway link to Monument station. The Bill allows for a station at Tower Hill which would meet the needs of passengers interchanging with the District and Circle lines, but there would still be considerable movement along the Bank Northern line platforms. The proposed station at Tower Hill has itself attracted petitions against the Bill.
In the revised proposals the platforms are below the Northern line platforms under King William street. The overrun tunnel would be transferred from Cheapside to Princes street. There would be a new escalator exit to an extended Northern line ticket hall, a facility which would also be available to Northern line passengers. A separate escalator route at the southern end of the station would take interchange passengers to Monument avoiding the Northern line platforms and the present escalator link and would obviate the need for a station at Tower Hill.
The new scheme also has a new deep level subway from the docklands railway and the Northern line through to the Waterloo and City line, with a branch to the Central line. This new route would bypass the existing congested routes via the ticket halls, which are used by 30,000 passengers a day. As with the original scheme, there is provision for lift access to the surface for people with disabilities. The revised proposals would meet the requirements of a number of petitioners against the Bill in its present form.
Despite those major advantages, the revised scheme would cost no more than the earlier proposal. It is against that background that LRT will be asking Parliament for permission to amend the Bill by an additional provision to acquire the land needed. At the same time it will be possible to delete certain powers from the Bill, including the need for any access under the Mansion House. Discussions are taking place with the City corporation which has been supplied with drawings of the revised scheme.
Part III deals with lands powers. This empowers LRT to acquire land or take temporary possession of it. The Bill does not contain provision for compensation for land authorised to be acquired, as the Land Compensation Acts 1961 and 1973 apply automatically once Parliament authorises the compulsory acquisiton.
I should point out that clause 17 provides for LRT to take temporary possession of land in Trinity square, but this provision would not be necessary if the revised scheme is adopted.
I hope that it is clear from what I have said that the Bill would provide a means for London Regional Transport to carry out a valuable development of the public transport network of London. As promoters, London Regional 509 Transport has shown a willingness to amend the scheme when that was shown to be sensible and I am sure that it will do all that it can to ameliorate any remaining fears or problems facing the petitioners.
Much has been made in the press and elsewhere of the connection between the Bill and the Canary wharf development. However, we should not lose sight of the more general benefits of the extension. The improved connections that it would provide would greatly improve ease of access to and from a large part of docklands for the benefit of industrial and commercial regeneration throughout the area. I am sure that hon. Members whose constituencies are served by the railway are well aware of the potential benefits to their constituents in terms of quicker and more convenient travel. I believe that it is in everyone's interests for the Bill to be given a Second Reading so that the opportunity to secure these benefits is not jeopardised.
§ Mr. Peter Shore (Bethnal Green and Stepney)
I should make it clear at the start that I do not intend to vote against the Bill. I shall not do so for the good and simple reason that was touched upon in the last few words of the hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne). The extension of the London docklands light railway from Tower Hill on the edge of my constituency to the new terminal at Bank would greatly improve travel facilities for many of my constituents, especially those in the whole docklands area south of Commercial road, who have long suffered from inadequate public transport.
However, in the interests of my constituency, and having regard to my wider duties as a Member, I feel bound to protest at the astonishingly scanty and contradictory information that we have been given about the proposed railway extension. The hon. Member for Ilford, South need not reproach himself when I say that he has not begun to answer most of the questions that are in the minds of my hon. Friends and myself. I think that the answers to our questions inevitably must be found in what Ministers have to say, and the confusion arises from a great deal of what they have already said.
On the face of it, the Bill is about extending the London docklands railway for a relatively short but important distance from Tower Hill to the Bank Underground station. That extension raises important questions of finance and engineering, the positioning of the Bank terminal to avoid congestion and rail management and control.
However, the Bill is about much more than that. It is about another and related proposal. It is about the massive development, as a major offshoot of the City of London, of Canary wharf on the Isle of Dogs. It is also about major changes in the capacity and design of the London docklands railway. I refer to the stretch between Tower Hill and the Isle of Dogs, which is now being built and is due to be completed next year. So close is the relationship between the proposed development of the offshoot of the City at Canary wharf and the Bill that it is true to say that for the Government and the financial interests that are backing them the two projects are mutually dependent. If there is no Canary wharf development, there will be no 510 City extension of the docklands light railway. Equally, if there is no City extension, there will be no Canary wharf development.
My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) had that put on the record clearly when he questioned the Secretary of State for Transport on 13 January. He asked:Will the Secretary of State confirm that the westward extension will go ahead only if the Canary wharf project goes ahead first?The Secretary of State replied:
Yes, sir."—[Official Report, 13 January 1986; Vol 89, c. 757.]We are concerned with two problems. First, there is the railway extension, which is the immediate subject of the Bill. Secondly, there is the Canary wharf development, about which we have virtually no information other than that which has been provided by the public relations advisers on behalf of the financial sponsors of those projects. It is strange, indeed ludicrous, that the relevant information should be kept from the House and our constituents, but for that we must blame the Secretary of State for the Environment, to whom I wrote some months ago as soon as I heard of the Canary wharf development, for his refusal to hold a public inquiry.
The scale and importance of the development at Canary wharf is not in doubt. The proposal is to build up to 10 million sq ft of purpose-built office accommodation to house the latest information technology and to serve a massive banking and financial service complex at Canary wharf. According to the promoters, this will have an estimated work force of 49,000 in executive, clerical and associated jobs, and at least another 8,000 workers to provide off-site support services.
The promoters' claim has been backed by the preliminary findings of the independent Henley Centre, which claims that about 21,000 of the 57,000 jobs would go to local residents in the docklands boroughs. I believe that it is the largest office development ever proposed in the United Kingdom. But, incredibly, simply because Canary wharf lies within the Isle of Dogs enterprise zone, where industrial and commercial development is exempted from the national regime of town and country planning, the Secretary of State for the Environment feels able to refuse to hold a public inquiry.
What the impact will be of this vast additional work force, if the estimates turn out to be true, on the Isle of Dogs and on the borough of Tower Hamlets, what effects there will be on land use and land prices throughout the area, what additions of rail and road transport will be required to service this vastly increased working population, and what the environmental effects of making this massive additional transport provision will be on the residential community, we simply do not know.
I have urged the Secretary of State to call in the development, to appoint an inspector and to hold a public inquiry. In spite of his previous refusals, I repeat that call tonight. There is no reason why, with an energetic Secretary of State and a well-chosen inspector, such an inquiry should take more than six months to hold. If the Secretary of State had accepted my plea last October, the inquiry would by now be more than half way over and be concluded by the early summer—well ahead, I suspect, of the conclusion of the legislative processes affecting the Bill.
§ Mr. Shore
Indeed, that may be true, as my hon. Friend says. Without such an inquiry and the information that it would provide, we cannot make any real sense of the Bill. If the Secretary of State continues to refuse an inquiry, the instruction that I have tabled today, which calls uponthe committee to consider the economic social and environmental effects of the provisions of the Bill on persons living and/or working in the area served by the dockland light railwaywill be a poor but next best thing, together, of course, with the committee proceedings on the Bill.
I shall turn direct to the proposed City extension. Can the Minister confirm that since the Bill was published a major change — of course he can confirm this — has already taken place? The hon. Member for Ilford, South has told us that London Regional Transport has agreed a new layout of the Bank terminus. The intention now is to bring it out at King William street, with direct connections with the Northern line, as opposed to what seemed to be the Waterloo and City line connection and a ticket hall below Queen Victoria street. This is a substantial change in a matter of four months, and I would like to know whether it has been fully researched, and whether it has met the objections laid by the City of London corporation. In any event, as the hon. Member for Ilford, South fairly reminded us, it will require what is called an additional provision to the Bill.
Can the Minister tell us about the control and financing of the proposed City extension line? We have had a series of statements, mainly in written answers to questions, from both the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary of State. On 11 November 1985 the Under-Secretary said:I understand that London Regional Transport is currently examining proposals for a privately financed extension of the Dockland light railway westwards to Bank." — [Official Report, 11 November 1985; Vol. 86, c. 78.]A fortnight or so later, on 27 November, the Secretary of State for Transport said:An understanding has now been reached with it"—the Canary wharf consortium—that it will contribute £30 million towards the construction of the extension and, unless others can come forward, secure underwriting of an agreed privatisation scheme. My right hon. Friend"—I assume that he is referring to the Secretary of State for the Environment—and I have endorsed this understanding.He added:
There will be opportunity for other people who are interested in owning and operating the extended railway to put forward alternatives to the consortium's proposal."—[Official Report, 27 November; Vol. 87, c. 565.]The following day, 28 November, the Under-Secretary spelt out the Government's approach when he said:The Government believe that any further investment in the docklands light railway should be privately funded, and that the railway should be owned and operated in the private sector." —[Official Report, 28 November 1986; Vol. 87, c. 674.]As recently as 13 January the Secretary of State, replying to an oral question, said:it is a very important breakthrough that the provision of public transport can now be contemplated in the private sector. "—[Official Report, 13 January 1986; Vol. 89, c. 757.]The intention is clear. Such an extension should be privately financed, privately run and privately managed.
The idea of spatchcocking a privately owned railway into a publicly owned and run London Regional Transport 512 rail system is bizarre. It raises incredibly complex questions of integration with the surrounding public transport system, not to mention the major problems involved in financing its operating costs. Is this still the Government's intention? Is it the intention of the Canary wharf consortium? According to my information, the consortium neither wishes nor intends to turn itself into a railway operating company.
I am informed that the consortium has discussed making a financial contribution with the Secretary of State. That is why the Secretary of State referred to the contribution of £30 million in the statement of 27 November. Are we correct in believing that that contribution has been increased, by negotiation, to about £45 million? If that is so, what form will it take? What form will any other financial contribution take? Will it be a grant, a fixed interest loan, a share in the equity, or what?
What is the Secretary of State's current forecast for the total cost of the City extension? Is it still the estimated £70 million, the figure quoted last November when the Bill was first published? These are important questions. Unless the financial arrangements are satisfactorily concluded, and unless it is clearly understood that this extension line will be a publicly financed operation, there will be no certainty that, when the Bill is passed, the work will be successfully concluded or that the line can be kept solvent in the years ahead.
We are entitled to ask about the implications of the City extension line for the rest of the docklands light railway, the stretch that will run from Tower Hill to the island garden on the Isle of Dogs. The implications are both financial and physical.
With regard to finance, Ls it still the Government's intention — I quote once again from the Secretary of State for Transport's statement on 27 November 1985—to offer … to any appropriate person who is prepared to construct the City extensionthe management, ownership and control of the rest of the London docklands railway? We are entitled to a reply to that question. We need to know because, if I have understood correctly the Secretary of State's statement, the go-ahead for the City extension line is
subject to final agreement between LRT and the consortium on the detailed design and costs of the City extension, and on the particulars of the privatisation scheme, and to the completion of a master building agreement between the consortium and the LDDC on the Canary wharf development, as well as to the consent of Parliament to the Bill" —[Official Report, 27 November 1985; Vol. 87, c. 565.]We have no information on the physical implications of the City extension for the London docklands railway, a large section of which is now under construction, except an explanatory note issued in February by London Regional Transport. I think that the hon. Member for Ilford, South drew on this document in his speech. The explanatory note states that the City extension link and the major development at Canary wharf will increase traffic from 6 million to 44 million journeys a year, with an hourly peak of about 9,500 passengers along the proposed City extension line. That is a massive, sevenfold increase in the carrying capacity required of the London docklands railway now under construction.
London Regional Transport's brief modestly states:inevitably some aspects of the initial railway would need to be changed. Trains and platforms for example will be longer and some of the structures would need to be strengthened to accommodate the longer trains. There would be more trains and 513 more frequent services. Other technical changes would be necessary to the track layout at Crossharbour and North Stratford to accommodate the step up service. A larger station at Canary Wharf is envisaged.According to my rough calculations, instead of two-coach trains, at least three coaches would be required and the frequency would increase by seven to roughly one train every one and a half minutes during the day.
The initial railway, now under construction, has been designed for far lower capacity and frequency. What are the expected costs of this vastly increased train service? What figure can the Secretary of State put upon it? What will these major modifications of platforms and rolling stock do to the estimated date when the new service will come into operation? Large stretches of the new service will run through residential areas in my constituency. What estimates have been made about the likely environmental effects? Most important, what is the likely increase in noise disturbance?
What are the implications of the proposed new developments for road traffic in the area? If Canary wharf generates about 57,000 new jobs on the Isle of Dogs, what proportion of the employees working there can be expected to come by car, as opposed to rail? I have seen estimates of the use of the rail link as high as 35 to 40 per cent., and as low as 20 to 25 per cent. On the first assumption, about 30,000 people will travel to Canary wharf by car, and on the second assumption it will not be far short of 40,000 people. This takes no account of the delivery vehicles and messenger services that would also be involved.
Has any estimate been made of the capacity of the road system between the City and the Isle of Dogs to cater for this vast increase in road traffic? Is the highway wide enough? What are the implications for the use of the so-called docklands northern relief road and for Cable street, which lies between? What are the likely environmental and noise effects of such a massive increase in road traffic? How will a horrendous bottleneck be avoided on the Isle of Dogs, and what parking facilities have been planned for this great mass of commuter cars?
I do not know the answers to those questions, nor, I suspect, does the Secretary of State. Sensible planning is not an optional extra, a luxury, a bureaucratic exercise. It is an essential requirement for making sure that we can avoid a monumental snarl-up of traffic, with attendant great and unnecessary disturbances to residential communities that lie on the route of the proposed road and rail routes.
I had hoped to be able to move the motion that I tabled:That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill to consider the economic, social and environmental effects of the provisions of the Bill on persons living and or working in the area served by the Docklands Light Railway.That is not to be, as the Instruction has not been called. However, I hope that these matters will be considered as the Bill proceeds.
§ Mr. Michael Heseltine (Henley)
I listened with great interest to the speech of the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore). He asked a bewildering range of questions about the impact of the extension of the railway or the proposal to build offices in the east end of London.
514 I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman would have been able to contribute to this debate like no other man because he was Secretary of State for the Environment for many years and has represented an east end constituency for many years in this House. If it had been possible to make these great calculations and to work them out with the precision that his questions implied, if there is a sort of planning environment and if there are answers, why did he never find them? What did the right hon. Gentleman do with that opportunity? There was no shortage of consultation, investigation or analysis. The whole environment of the east end of London was about inquiry, discussion, forecast and planning, but it was not about anything that mattered. Nothing happened. The right hon. Gentleman, who presided over the whole fortunes of the area and one of the most exciting reclamation schemes in the world, left a desert for this Government. That was the legacy that the Government inherited.
§ Mr. Heseltine
I shall not give way at this stage. Indeed, the hon. Gentleman was equally guilty.
When the Government at last began to grapple with the problem of bringing hope and life to the east end of London, two people were conspicuous in seeking to frustrate the Government's endeavours. The Government decided that the time for dialogue, consultation and planning was over and that it was time for results, and the first step that we had to take to get results was to wrest the decision-making capability from the hands of the right hon. Gentleman and the Labour party.
§ Mr. Spearing
I remind the right hon. Gentleman of the day when he and the present Secretary of State for Northern Ireland visited my constituency and the whole of the Beckton area. The London Docklands Joint Committee, which was established by the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) under the previous Conservative Government, had a Beckton district plan, under which the Thames water authority installed more than £20 million-worth of drainage works, and land reserved for public housing has now largely been taken over by private developers. When the right hon. Gentleman visited the area, were not those works in full swing?
§ Mr. Heseltine
I have no doubt that there were infrastructure works such as the hon. Gentleman described, but I remember the open spaces and the unforgivable dereliction which characterised the east end of London for most of the post-war period.
§ Mr. Shore
The right hon. Gentleman's account is a travesty of what happened. He knows perfectly well that the docklands area was allowed to rot. Under the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon), nothing happened. It was not until I came to the Department of the Environment and made the docklands area one of the six partnership areas, including Liverpool, that inner-city policy was given a whole new impetus and things got moving. The right hon. Gentleman merely took the credit for the foundations that we had built, and imposed on the area an alien and unwanted London Docklands Development Corporation.
§ Mr. Heseltine
I do not dispute the right hon. Gentleman's claim that it was a partnership area. It was a partnership of the various Labour-controlled east-end London boroughs, which suffocated the area and denied access to the private sector for more than a decade. The Government brought about a partnership—not a wholly private sector-inspired operation—between the east-end boroughs and the private sector. The consequences of that can be seen today from one end of the east end of London to the other, not just within the urban development corporation area, but in the peripheral areas that surround it. It is alive with building activity.
We started with homes. At that time Opposition Members said that people in the east end could not afford and did not want homes in that area. They were content to see those people go to the new towns in order to buy their homes, leaving behind increasingly under-provided areas of housing and inadequate public-sector housing. Today, in the east end of London, the private sector is leading the most exciting new home explosion in any inner city.
§ Mr. Heseltine
If I remember correctly, when I went to Beckton to open some of the first houses, they were priced at less than £30,000, and they were sold principally to the council tenants whom we were told did not want to buy them. Therefore, the Government alone unleashed the aspirations of the east enders which had been denied them during the post-war period. The credit for that goes to the Government, and to no one else.
§ Mr. Heseltine
I shall not give way. I do not wish to take up the time of the House for more than a few minutes.
The issue if simple. Having now begun this exciting reclamation in partnership with the public and private sectors, do we intend to back the commitment that we unleashed upon it, or to return to dialogue, consultation, planning, further figures and more investigations, which we had to get rid of when we took over the reponsibility? My view is 100 per cent. clear: we must make and fulfil every commitment we know how to that exciting regeneration of the east end.
If I were to make only one potentially adverse criticism of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport, it would be that I do not believe that there should be any long doctrinal discussions about whether the link must be financed by the public or private sector. It is unrealistic to think that railway connections must be financed privately, and there is hardly any precedent for it. The infrastructure for regenerating inner-city areas or opening up regional areas is usually provided in the public sector. If my right hon. Friend can do a good planning deal with those who wish to develop Canary wharf, I should be the first to praise him for it. To risk losing the development would be wholly unacceptable. There is a horse trade to be done, and I have complete faith in my right hon. Friend's ability to do just that. We must not allow the deal to be prejudiced.
I support the view, which is more closely related to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment than to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport, that the Canary wharf project should 516 not be called in. One of the purposes of establishing enterprise zones was to give certainty and clarity to people who wanted to develop so that they would develop quickly within the environment of the urban development corporation, and jobs would come on stream quickly. Once again, the Labour party is returning to its original position of frustrating the dynamism that the enterprise zone has unleashed.
§ Mr. Sydney Chapman (Chipping Barnet)
My right hon. Friend, as a former Secretary of State for the Environment, was the begetter of the special development order implementation. Will he confirm that the Secretary of State would have to be satisfied that all the real issues to which the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) referred, were solved before he issued the special development order, and that in any case the special development order would come before the House? Essentially, the only difference between that route and a public inquiry is that a public inquiry would take not six months but years, as the record and experience of major public inquiries show.
§ Mr. Heseltine
As my hon. Friend kindly reminds me, I have experience of the special development order. It can be a relatively speedy and thorough process, opening up wide discussion of the plans under consideration. It can be processed quickly through Parliament, if Parliament is prepared to allow that to happen. On one occasion I used that technique, and it led to a successful conclusion of the planning process, although, sadly, the building was never built. That is one of the ill fortunes of life.
What is on offer in the east end of London today may be the most exciting urban reclamation anywhere in the western world. It exists because the Government have created a partnership between the public and private sectors and funded the public sector, where necessary, and because the private sector has responded on a scale beyond the wildest dreams of those of us who believed in the project only a few years ago.
I hope that the Government will give all the support necessary to my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne) and that the Bill will get a Second Reading. Any difficulties that need to be ironed out can be dealt with expeditiously in Committee, and this additional resource can be put behind the dramatic success already under way in the east end.
§ Mr. Ian Mikardo (Bow and Poplar)
I shall not waste time or abuse the patience of the House by commenting on the distorted rewriting of history to which we have just listened, and which is highly characteristic of the one who did the rewriting.
The achievements of the London Docklands Development Corporation have been funded with money taken from local authorities. I do not know what the right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) calls a partnership when, from 110 acres of housing land in Tower Hamlets, 102 acres were given to the docklands corporation, leaving the borough council with only eight acres. That is a bit of a one-sided partnership, is it not? If that money had been made available to the London Docklands Joint Committee, I am sure that all that has been done would have been done and would have been done in the greater interests of the area.
517 One thing, however, would have been different. Any action would have been carried out in the knowledge that there are tens of thousands of people living in the area. The great trouble with the docklands corporation and the proposed Canary wharf project is that the people in charge believe that they are building on a green field site. They ignore the fact that there are 15,000 people on the Isle of Dogs. When road transport is considered, those in charge of the two bodies I have just referred to simply try to find ways of coping with the 50,000 people who come on to the island every day. They think that they can solve that problem with the Canary wharf scheme.
Nobody seems to have noticed that half the working people go off the island to work. They must use the same narrow, winding and inadequate roads. There are also many secondary schoolchildren who leave the island to attend school. There is a good secondary school on the island, but some children leave the island to attend denominational schools. Those children must use the same narrow, winding, and, in one case, highly dangerous roads. Housewives also leave the island to shop. They go to Chrisp street market, Roman road market and Stratford market. They must use the bus facilities, which will be swamped by the people using the Canary wharf.
None of those considerations has been taken into account. The right hon. Member for Henley dismisses talking to people as contemptible consultation. He considers it to be dreadful, abject and most reprehensible to take the interests of people into account. That would be a reprehensible tendency of a Labour Government to consider people's welfare. The right hon. Gentleman would obviously believe that that could not be sufficiently condemned. All that the hon. Gentleman is concerned about is property and money.
Having passed over the right hon. Member for Henley, I should like to thank the hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne) for the careful and patient way in which he expounded the contents of the Bill. I have great sympathy for the hon. Gentleman. The poor chap has been pitchforked into the job of moving the Second Reading of a Bill which is concerned with a part of London with which he has no constituency connection and which therefore he does not know very There is no earthly reason why he should know it well. He has also been pitchforked into moving the Second Reading of a Bill which he, unlike some of us with constituency interests, comes to at very short notice.
Some of us have been involved in great detail in this Canary wharf lark for many months. I think that the hon. Member for Ilford, South performed well to enter this new world which he knows nothing about, making it sound as if he was on relatively safe ground.
As the hon. Member for Ilford, South and my right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) said, the Bill is not simply concerned with the railway; it is also concerned with Canary wharf. They are, as my right hon. Friend quoted the Secretary of State for Transport as saying, "inseparably linked." I repeat what my right hon. Friend said: if there was no Canary wharf, there would be no City extension and we would not be having this debate about the Bill.
The House has a responsibility in this debate to consider the wider effects of the Bill and to take them into account. The House must consider the effects that the Bill will have 518 on the lives of the people who live on the Isle of Dogs —if the right hon. Member for Henley will forgive me for that impertinence—and of the people who do not live there. Many people already come from other parts of London to work on the Isle of Dogs.
The House must also consider the effects that the Bill will have on the operation of the rest of the light railway. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney made that point. The affected parts of the light railway will be the section running from the eastward end of the City extension through the borough of Tower Hamlets and the northern part of the borough of Newham through to Stratford East station.
Like my right hon. Friend, I must make it clear that I am not, in principle, opposed to the railway, to the City extension or to the Canary wharf project. The railway and the City extension, as my right hon. Friend said, will provide a valuable transport facility. Of course, anything, absolutely anything within reason, that will create employment is warmly welcomed. The Opposition do not oppose these matters in principle.
Why, then, did we table a blocking motion to the Bill? My right hon. and hon. Friends and I did so for several reasons. The first was to precipitate the debate and to get, as my right hon. Friend has said, more information from the Government and the sponsors about what is to happen. We have not been given much information so far. The explanatory statement from the sponsors, part of which the hon. Member for Ilford, South read out this evening, is rather arid, thin, contentless and colourless. Our first object in precipitating the debate therefore, was, to learn more.
Our second purpose was to create time to consider all of the effects and implications of the project. A lot of thinking remains to be done. Many of the problems that arise from these developments have not yet been thought through.
Another purpose was to enable us to use the time made available to enable our constituents whose lives will be changed by the projects to have a say about the proposals and how they want to see the projects develop. I am sure that the right hon. Member for Henley will dismiss that with contempt, as he does not care about people.
It is important that we should provide time to allow the people whose daily lives will be changed to have a say. None of our lives will be affected, but some tens of thousands of people will be affected and it is important and an essential part of our democracy that they should have an opportunity to express their views.
The Bill, even in its narrowest interpretation, has aroused opposition from many people and organisations who believe that their interests may be prejudiced by it. That is why no fewer than 20 petitions against the legislation have been presented. They are a pretty formidable and rather interesting lot. They include Barclays bank, the Midland bank, the National Westminster bank and the Bankers Clearing House Ltd. In addition, there are 10 other companies, mostly either finance companies or property companies.
There are also some rather different petitioners, such as the corporation of the City of London, the Wardens and Commonality of the Mistery of Fishmongers of the City of London, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the trustees of the London Parochial Charities for the City Parochial Foundation, the right rev. and right hon. the Lord Bishop of London, the London Diocesan Fund, the 519 Rev. Prebendary Dr. Hugh Fearn, the Rev. E. Chad Varah, the Rev. Peter A. Delaney and, last but by no means least, the Master, Wardens and Assistants of the Guild, Fraternity or Brotherhood of the Most Glorious and Undivided Trinity. If I had that lot up against me, I would give in gracefully for fear of what might happen to me in the afterlife! The House will readily see from that list that the Bill's sponsors have brilliantly succeeded in doing what few people can do—uniting in opposition to them both God and Mammon.
One petitioner in particular, MEPC plc, a property company, is curious and intriguing. Its vice-chairman and managing director is Mr. Christopher Benson, who is also the chairman of the London Docklands Development Corporation. His position with MEPC plc is one of his 18 company directorships, which. I suppose, might be why we do not see so much of him these days around the docklands.
It is curious that the LDDC is one of the three progenitors of the Bill, yet its chairman is petitioning against the Bill. I understand that that anomaly may soon be resolved. Mr. Benson may not be in charge of MEPC plc for much longer because, according to a report in one of the Sunday newspapers, the company will be taken over by Trafalgar House. Trafalgar House is run by Sir Nigel Broackes, who preceded Mr. Benson as chairman of the LDDC. Truly, the world of the big property tycoons is very small. The appointment of two chairmen of the corporation from that small world is one reason why, in all its operations, the corporation cares a great deal about property and money and does not care very much about people.
As the hon. Member for Ilford, South pointed out, in addition to that formidable list of petitioners, there may be some more objectors. As the hon. Gentleman explained, an amendment to the Bill is proposed. This has been made necessary by the revised plans for the Bank station. The Bill's sponsors need the consent of the House for an additional provision. To allow for the further objections to that additional provision, the sponsors will have to allow for more time. This will provide some breathing space to enable some sort of inquiry to be conducted. I do not necessarily think that it should be a statutory planning inquiry. I agree with the right hon. Member for Henley that that would take so long that it would be inappropriate.
I should like to give the House and, at the same time, the Bill's sponsors, the LDDC and the Canary wharf consortium a list of the matters which they will have to consider in detail before the Bill can complete its passage through the House and the other place. Those matters fall into two groups. The first concerns the light railway and the other concerns the Canary wharf scheme which the railway and the City extension are built to serve.
The first group presents some difficulties, for the reason that my right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney expounded with such exhaustive clarity. The problem is that we do not know for sure who will operate the railway. As I understood it, the Secretary of State intended first — my right hon. Friend quoted the references — to privatise the railway. He proposed to give away, for nothing, a railway worth £77 million of public money. That would have been a greater rip-off of the nation than selling British Telecom for half its true value.
The Secretary of State discovered, to his horror, that he could not privatise the railway because no one was willing 520 to take it off his hands within the straitjacket of the rigid limits he had imposed or, its capital expenditure. He therefore passed it back to London Regional Transport, where, as I understand it, it is for the moment and where some people—including, was glad to hear, the right hon. Member for Henley — want it left. There are persistent rumours and reports that the Secretary of State intends some sort of privatisation, if he can manage it, and that he is even prepared to put in a lot more taxpayers' money to enable him to give away this public asset.
That leaves us not knowing where we are. The sponsors of the Canary wharf project—the consortium and the LDDC— also do not know where they are. They are very unhappy about this indecisive waffling by the Secretary of State from one policy to another. I have a copy of a report presented by the chief executive of the LDDC to the meeting of his board on 21 February. I obtained it through a leak—it is not just the Ministry of Defence and the Department of Trade and Industry that have become leaking vessels. The chief executive told the board that the indecisiveness of the Department of Transport about the ownership and, consequently, the financing of the railway, including the City extension—that waffle by the Secretary of State—had beenexasperating for the Consortium and indeed for us"—for the LDDC.
I look forward to the Minister's reply. Perhaps he will throw some light into this murkiness. If he can, all concerned—not only I bust the docklands consortium, the London Docklands Development Corporation and all those who live in the area—will be grateful to him. He should do his best to put at rest all the doubts and worries that have been created by the Secretary of State.
As I said, the problems fall into two groups, of which the first group concerns the railway, and there are five difficulties concerning that aspect. One is the cost of the first stage railway—or, as the sponsors call it, the first and second stages; there were two Bills, Nos. 1 and 2. As we have heard, the cost of that has been limited—come what may, said the Secretary of State—to £77 million and not a penny more.
That sum was originally for one two-coach train running every seven and half minutes. Under this measure, with a City extension, we shall have a much higher frequency — one every one and a half minutes or thereabouts—and the trains will be 50 per cent. longer. That will mean more rolling stock, but it must all come out of the £77 million. That additional rolling stock will mean a larger maintenance organisation, necessitating more maintenance equipment, and that will cost money. We shall also need bigger stations, and that will mean some of the existing stations being structurally altered.
Although I am not an expert, I understand that the main change as a result of the greatly increased frequency will be in the signalling and control system. The trains will be automatic; a member of staff will be on board, but they will not be driven by a driver. They will be controlled from a central point. That is why the signalling system is the key to the whole business.
A signalling system that will do for one train every seven and a half minutes—because, in layman's terms, it has a time gap in which to unwind and reclock on— will not do for a frequency six or more times greater. All that will involve a lot of money, and nobody has said where it will come from. Theoretically, it must still all come out of the £77 million.
521 I suspect that the Canary wharf consortium turned its nose up at the idea of taking it over, because it was being asked to buy a pig in a poke. The consortium knew all about the piglet, but it was suddenly told that it was no longer a piglet but a whacking great pig, and nobody would say how big it was. The poke was not to be any bigger, anyway, so that the consortium did not know whether it could get the pig into the poke. I suspect that that is why it gave the thumbs down to the Secretary of State when he tried to offload the railway on to it.
I come to the noise factor. It is true, as others have said, that the noise of automatic light railways—in some respects they are not much more than tramways—is much less than the noise of conventional trains. But three coaches going by every minute and a half, in many cases at the level of bedroom windows, is still a noise nuisance. There is a great difference in the noise level between a three-coach train every one and a half minutes and a two-coach train every seven and a half minutes.
I regret to say that people who have been dealing with the noise problem of the eastern part of the docklands light railway do not have much confidence in the willingness of the DLR to meet their valid objections about noise.
In the northern area, at the point where the railway, having gone northwards from the Isle of Dogs, turns east towards Stratford, there is a change of level and the railway moves up what is called the Bow incline. At that point there is a row of nice houses belonging to the Victoria Park housing association. The plans cut a little off the gardens of some of the houses there and place the railway virtually along the back walls of all of them.
I tried to help the people living in those houses, and the Victoria Park housing association, by convening meetings at the time of the No. 2 Bill, and we thought all was well. When the new Bill was presented I received a letter from the director of that association. In it he recalled how we met in July 1984—when the No. 2 Bill was in Committee—and went on:I have been pressing DLR for further information about the likely noise levels and for improvements in noise reductions, so far without any success whatever. In particular, I have been asking for the following:
One would have thought that they would not be difficult assurances to give.
- (1) Assurances that the noise specification will be achieved and enforced;
- (2) Revised noise prediction calculations now that the details of the design have been finalised. It would be reassuring to know if the predictions were better than those presented at the hearing. Equally, if the predictions are worse, we are entitled to know;
- (3) Assurances that maintenance standards will be adequate."
He cannot get that information. It does not augur well judging how tender the light railway authorities will be with the huge volume that will be involved.
- "(4) The noise barrier to be raised, preferably to two metres. It is quite clear that this would have significant benefits, but no reason has been given for not including it;
- (5) A copy of the simulation tape that has been prepared; and
- (6) Details of the noise reduction measures included in the final design."
Some of the requests made by the Victoria Park housing association and the owners of the houses have the full support of the surveying team of the London borough of Tower Hamlets. That does not make a ha'penn'orth of difference. The docklands railway board, if it does not want to tell, does not. It is not right that residents should 522 not be able to get the information. Even worse, it means that there will be a great deal of scepticism about how far the railway will have managed to cope sensibly with the increased noise problems arising from longer trains and higher frequency.
My third point of concern is whether there will be, between the light railway, the rest of LRT and the London area of British Rail, harmonisation of the ticketing system, fares, travel cards and concessionary fares. If the railway is to remain with LRT, that will be relatively easy, although we would still want an assurance that it will be done. If it is to be privatised, then, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney pointed out, the harmonisation will be difficult.
§ Mr. Stephen Ross (Isle of Wight)
This is an important point on which I back the hon. Member to the hilt. He must, make sure that this is written into the contract. Such a provision was not written into the contract when Sealink was privatised and now there is considerable trouble with concessionary fares, through booking and the rest.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I am grateful to the hon. Member for his support. It is a pretty obvious point. There is nothing very clever or difficult about it and it should be attended to.
The fourth of my five points is that the people of the area should be provided with a proper system to handle passenger complaints. LRT has its arrangements, so if the railway stays with that body, there will be no difficulty, but if it is privatised, the people of the area will have no recourse, except through the expensive mechanism of the courts, against being badly treated, low safety standards or a failure to honour any undertakings. I should like to hear from the Minister about that as well.
The fifth and last point is about the extension of the railway into the southern part of Newham. If, as I hope, my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am sure he will have a great deal to tell us about that. I apologise for having gone on for so long, but 20,000 of my constituents are affected by this proposal. I have been living with it since the beginning of last year, and I have been trying to learn something about it.
The second group of matters that concern my constituents derive from the Canary wharf scheme, where the rail extension is to be built. Everybody in the area—I not the least—warmly welcomes any possibility of creating jobs in an area of low employment. There have been a number of wide-ranging estimates on how many jobs will be created. I strongly suspect that all of them are exaggerated. The highest estimate is shown by the report produced and widely advertised, including in The House Magazine, by a consultancy firm called Henley. I do not know who is responsible for commissioning the report. The company kindly sent me a copy, but I received it only yesterday evening, perhaps because it did not want me to have the time to read it too carefully. Now that I have read it, I am discovering that the methodology behind its conclusions on job creation is not merely flawed and naive, but laughable.
If any of us were setting out to estimate the number of jobs that would be created in Canary wharf, we would do it by first discovering what firms were to be located there, secondly, what they would be doing there, thirdly the work load that would be generated when firms are there, and 523 fourthly, how many workers would be required to carry that work load. There is nothing clever about that—it is the way to go about estimating how many jobs are required.
However, this was not what Messrs. Henley did. Almost incredibly, in its lovely glossy booklet—I bet the cover is worth more than the content—the firm said that there will be so many million square feet of office space, and that each worker requires so many feet of working space. The company then divided the one into the other and, hey presto, calculated the number of workers who will be given jobs. QED. Can anyone conceive of anything more rubbishy than that as a methodology for a serious piece of economic analysis? Whoever paid for that report should be trying to get his money back, because he has been conned.
If anybody should think that all that I have said is just my personal view, I point out that the LDDC attaches no more credence to the report and its estimate than I do, because it has just commissioned another report from a major firm of accountants, on exactly the same terms of reference, so obviously it does not believe a word of what the Henley report says. It is a fairy tale, and it would be wrong to make any plans based on that so-called analysis.
None the less, however unsoundly based the estimates of new jobs are, however exaggerated they may be, if we can get only a quarter as many of the jobs that it suggests will be created, and if only a quarter of that quarter will be jobs for local people, that will be a godsend in an area in which unemployment is double the national avearage.
However, there still remain four causes for concern about the effects of those developments on the quality of life of the people who live on the island,. The first is the environmental blight of those three phallic symbols stuck up in the middle of the island, which will be pretty ugly. They will destroy the best view in London—the view across the river to those lovely buildings at Greenwich. I am not speaking of my say-so when I say this. It is noteworthy that the Royal Fine Art Commission, which gave a modified welcome to the Canary wharf design, is rapidly retreating from its position and beginning to question the design.
Secondly, there is the road congestion to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney referred. As hon. Members will know, the Isle of Dogs is shaped from north to south like a pear, with the stem at the top end and the bulbous bit at the bottom. A single road goes round the outside like a great "u". It is wider at the bottom than it is at the two prongs at the top. The western side enters from the roundabout in West India Dock road. The eastern side enters from Preston's road. The whole of the road is narrow. The western entrance to the island is narrow and winding and there is a swing bridge. It will be great, will it not, if the swing bridge is opened when 30,000 people are coming on to the island. There are already tailbacks from there to the mainland. There are considerable tailbacks at both entrances. One may imagine what it will he like with all this lot coming through.
The western side is even worse. The road is narrow, winding and dangerous, and it curves. There is a very high wall along one side of the road, which creates blind bends. They are terribly dangerous. Huge numbers of people— 30,000 a day—will be coming to the island on that road, in addition to the people who already come to the island. Some of them already have to wait quite a long 524 time on public transport before they can get there. With a contraflow of islanders going off to the mainland to work, housewives going off to the mainland to shop and children going off to the mainland to school, there will be absolute chaos.
Improvements can be made, but what is the time scale? No borough programme has been approved for road improvements. No projects have been approved which could be implemented in the near future. There is much talk of a new link with the island from the east of the A13. However, there will be great problems to overcome. It will not be possible to get away from a planning inquiry there because it is not in the enterprise zone—or a large part of it is not in the enterprise zone. That is years and years away.
The third of the four matters that cause concern is the displacement of existing business. I shall trouble the House with one more letter from a constituent. I should not do so if it were not germane to the matter under discussion. It is the most pungently practical letter that I have received from a constituent in all my years as a Member of Parliament. It comes from the managing director of a small company that is located in the London docklands development zone on the Isle of Dogs. I ask the House to listen to what this chap says. He writes:A little over five years ago we moved into a primitive disused PLA warehouse, part of what had been grandly rechristened 'Quayside Industrial Estate'. The dilapidated state of the area was reflected in the low rents but we were promised future landscaping, car parks and all amenities. Regardless of subsequent increases in rent and rates, none of these things materialised.This is the great London Docklands Development Corporation that the right hon. Member for Henley was lauding to the skies.
My constituent went on to say:none of these things materialised and the environment has continued to decline rapidly. However, in spite of all the difficulties we have prospered and now give work to some 24 full and part time employees. On Wednesday 20 November 1985, the right hon. Nigel Lawson MP presented us with an award 'for contribution to the regeneration of Docklands.' Only a few days earlier we had received notice to quit from the London Dockland Development Corporation who wished to re-develop our site. They say they are prepared to compensate us to some degree for loss or expenditure incurred in the enforced move, but they are not prepared in any way to assist in our relocation. Unfortunately, now that the developers can see rich pickings on the horizon the prices and rents being asked for the new units are completely beyond the likes of our modest enterprise and we are effectively being booted out of the very area that we helped to resuscitate. We feel"—this is a real cri de Coeur—that we were pioneers, we belong here and have every right to remain part of Docklands future. The 20 or so people we employ are the real east enders, not middle class software analysts and finance brokers moving 'out east' from Weybridge and Gerrards Cross. We are in the last throes of our battle to remain in Docklands. Unless we find some help within the next few weeks, the LDDC will have won and the people of the Isle of Dogs will have sadly lost another 2,000 jobs.That is the great London Docklands Development Corporation which the right hon. Member for Henley lauds.
§ Mr. Spearing
Will my hon. Friend note that the great LDDC has put compulsory purchase orders, in very similar circumstances, on a dozen or more units in my constituency, including land owned by the London borough of Newham? It is not just happening in Tower Hamlets and on the Isle of Dogs.
§ Mr. Mikardo
That is absolutely right. I should not be surprised if it were happening on the south side of the river as well. We shall possibly hear about that if the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) speaks this evening. Certainly it is happening all over this area. But what worries me is that what has happened up to now is only a tiny fraction of the amount of disclocation and removal of existing businesses that will take place as a result of the Canary wharf scheme. It will be 10, 20 or 30 times as great as it is now.
The strangest part of the story that I have just read out from this letter is that some time ago the London Docklands Development Corporation gave an undertaking that all businesses being thrown out of their premises would be not only compensated but resited. That undertaking was given to this chap who wrote to me and to everybody else, including the companies that have just been mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South.
A local newspaper reported an undertaking that had been given by a spokesman for the corporation. According to the newspaper report, he said:The businesses have our assurance that they will not be financially disadvantaged. They will receive full disturbance compensation.He added:All tenants are to be offered alternative accommodation in the docklands area and possibly within the Enterprise Zone.That clear and unequivocal undertaking has been flagrantly and, I am sorry to say, characteristically dishonoured by the corporation.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
The problem is even worse for those of us who are in those parts of the docklands area that are not in an enterprise zone. We suffer not only from the relocation, for which we are also seeking undertakings if we are to support other schemes, but from the natural sucking of jobs into areas which are included in an enterprise zone. That is a double pressure which militates against those of us who represent constituencies to the south of the river. They have identical problems, identical high levels of unemployment and identical employment needs. We are willing to get on with dealing with those problems if we are given the chance and also the guarantees that I hope that the Minister can start to give us tonight.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I am absolutely sure that the hon. Gentleman is completely correct. The enterprise zone creates problems at its edges and by the drawing of its boundaries. The only people who are benefiting from the enterprise zone are the landlords, not the entrepreneurs. The concessions that are given to those who rent industrial premises on land within the enterprise zone make the land more valuable. There are large capital profits being made not by manufacturing companies, but only by property companies.
Finally I turn to the question of an inquiry. As I have said, one could understand genuine resistance to a formal planning inquiry. If my right hon. Friend is right in saying that it could be done in six months, we could do it even starting now because it will be all of six months before all the petitioners are dealt with, it will be all of six months before all the questions are answered and it will be all of six months before Credit Suisse First Boston will be able to raise the huge amount of money which is involved. As I understand it, that money is not turning up as quickly and 526 as easily as it had expected. I think that there would be time even for a statutory inquiry if we could be sure that it would take six months. I am bound to say, although I differ from him on other matters, that I think that the right hon. Member for Henley was right in casting doubt on whether a statutory inquiry could be that quick.
I cannot for the life of me see why the consortium, in co-operation with the development corporation, should not hire a hall on the Isle of Dogs for a week and appoint one person of a type who would carry public recognition— an authoritative person, a person who would be recognised as being impartial and fair—or perhaps a bench of three. They could sit there for a week and all those who have anything to say about how their lives will be affected or how their businesses will be affected or what their worries are about the Canary wharf scheme could come along and say it. Then, when those on the bench had listened for a week, they would write a report, and they could do it in two or three weeks, I am sure, and publish their findings—not statutory, not binding on anyone, not involving the Secretary of State, but it would be a big step forward. I think that it would do a great deal to get over some of the difficulties and frictions which exist and which I fear will intensify in the next few months.
The right hon. Gentleman said that the whole purpose of an enterprise zone was to avoid the delay of inquiries. One understands that. However, the Canary wharf scheme is quite different from anything that was envisaged as escaping public inquiry. This is sui generis: it is a one-off; there has never been anything like it. It will have effects on a large community. It will have effects not merely in the borough, but all the way from the City to the constituency of the hon. Member for Ilford, South and equally on the south side of the river. Many people are potentially disadvantaged.
Consultation by the development corporation up to now has been a sham. It consists of its making up its mind what it is going to do and sometimes telling people what it has made up its mind to do. That is not consultation. There was set up—I was very pleased about it, I wanted it, and I was delighted when it happened—a joint Canary wharf working party between the development corporation and the docklands forum, which is the umbrella organisation of all the community groups in the area, and what happened? The critical meeting of that joint working party had to be cancelled because the corporation did not produce the documents which it had firmly promised for that meeting as a basis for discussion at the meeting. It just treats everybody with absolute contempt in that way.
I end as I began, by thanking the hon. Member for Ilford, South for his introduction to the debate, but I must tell him and the sponsors of the Bill that between now and Report we shall monitor carefully how far the sponsors have gone towards meeting our constituents' reasonable requests before we decide what should be our final attitude to the further progress of the Bill.
§ Mr. Charles Morrison (Devizes)
As there are still several hon. Members who wish to speak in the debate, I should start by assuring them that it is not my intention to speak for quite as long as the hon. Member for Bow and Poplar (Mr. Mikardo) spoke.
I should like to declare an interest as warden of the Ancient Mistery of Fishmongers, but neither that petitioner nor any of the other petitioners, so far as I know, 527 is petitioning against the Canary wharf development. All they are doing is petitioning against some aspect or consequence of the London Docklands Railway City extension.
The hon. Member for Bow and Poplar spoke with his usual charm and humour. Justifiably, he has expressed concern, explicitly and implicitly, about the welfare of people, but surely people will be best served by the new jobs, the new opportunities and the new facilities which will come with such an exciting development as Canary wharf. Even if the Henley Centre is a little wrong, I suspect that the benefit that the development will produce in jobs will he considerable. I have no doubt that many hon. Members would be thrilled to bits if they had this kind of development in their constituencies. I can tell the House that my hon. Friend the Member for Calder Valley (Mr. Thompson) has been getting steadily greener in the course of the debate, as it has become clearer how many jobs are going to result from the development.
Hon. Members may with some justification wonder why the Member for Devizes is speaking in the debate. In truth, I am speaking in place of my Friend the Member for the City of London and Westminster (Mr. Brooke). I should emphasise that I am not delegated by him to say anything that I shall say but, as his representative in the sense that at weekends he is my constituent and as therefore I am the person to exercise judgment as to what is in his best interests, and since, as a Minister, he is debarred from taking part in the debate, my objective to try to speak to some of the interests of many of those people and institutions which he represents. My hon. Friend attended the beginning of the debate, but he had to depart, to his regret and chagrin, on ministerial business.
In particular, I speak for the corporation of the City of London and some others of those who have petitioned against the Bill. That stated, I want at the outset to emphasise again, and to make it abundantly clear, that I am strongly in favour of the Canary wharf development. I am fully aware that in order to achieve the success that that development deserves, it is essential that it should have good connecting transport and railway connections. However, those railway connections cannot be constructed without full account being taken of the interests of others. Thus, it is not my intention—far from it—to oppose the Bill in principle.
Furthermore, I am fully aware that negotiations between the sponsors of the Bill and those concerned about certain aspects of it are continuing. Indeed, I had hoped that the negotiations would have been brought to a successful conclusion before the Bill came before the House. If that had happened, I would have withdrawn my name from the motion in the names of the hon. Member for Bow and Poplar and others. But the Bill has come forward rather more quickly than I expected and the negotiations are not concluded.
My aim tonight is to ensure that doubts which have been expressed to me by the City corporation and others are given consideration. The revised terminus scheme at the Bank, first canvassed by London Regional Transport on 20 February, leaves unanswered a fundamental, if implicit, objection voiced in the City's petition against the original scheme that a Bank terminus approach of any kind would not serve the long-term interests of those using the City as their place of employment or those envisaged to he using the railway from the docklands area.
528 The City corporation's preference for a Cannon street/ Monument new station is directed to ensuring that those whose destinations lie west beyond the City do not further exacerbate the critical congestion above and below ground in the Bank area. Even though I am not a regular visitor to the City, I am well aware of that congestion.
If a future Blackfriars extension were allowed for, some of the through passenger traffic would not interchange in the City at all. Moreover, the unrealised part of the east-west vision of the 1970s Jubilee line would be preserved for the benefit of Londoners generally. Particularly preserved would be the future extension from Blackfriars to Charing Cross to meet the existing terminus of the Charing Cross/Stanmore/Jubilee line, being the section already constructed. However good the interchange arrangements claimed for the revised Bank terminus proposal, it is at an unacceptable penalty to those working in the City and to the proper east-west strategy of London Regional Transport for the future.
The danger is that the promoters are so absorbed —perhaps understandably — in achieving a business and commercial link between the Bank and the new financial centre at Canary wharf that they totally ignore the wider community interests of those who will live and work in docklands in travelling any further westwards than the City.
In addition to that major strategic criticism, I want to bring to the attention of the House the City's concern about the following main detailed considerations. There is a severe reservation about the closeness of the new tunnels at one metre underneath the existing Northern line tunnels and stations. The proposed pedestrian link from the Waterloo and City line to the Central line is too close to the foundations of the Mansion House. I am sure that the Canary wharf developers would be horrified if anything ever happened to the Mansion House. The new option at King William street proposes the complete stopping up of Lombard street and Bucklersbury, and that, not surprisingly, is completely unacceptable. That option would lead to increased congestion at Monument and along the south side of Cannon street. It does not tackle the problem of passenger flows from Cannon street to the Bank.
The corporation of the City of London's preferred option remains the one identified by its engineers at Cannon street. That would allow the traveller on the Docklands Light Railway to continue westward to interchange with the District and Circle lines and to join the southern region of British Rail at Cannon street or to take a travolator link to Bank station. It should be emphasised that from Cannon street to Bank would take no more than five minutes by travolator.
Comparing the latest London Regional Transport scheme with the City's option, the last report of the corporation engineers says:Firstly, although both schemes are quite complex in engineering terms, there are far greater risks associated with the construction of the LRT scheme. The proximity of the proposed DLR step plate junction and the new southern escalator tunnels to the existing Northern Line running tunnelsa gives rise to serious concern about the continuous operation of services along the Northern Line during the construction of the DLR.Secondly, the LRT scheme pre-empts any possibility of a further westward extension, whereas the Cannon Street Option is capable of extension. It is based on the design for a Jubilee Line station at Cannon street, and so the DLR could be extended along the route of the Jubilee Line if it has been preserved. This is of particular importance at a time when extensions to London's 529 overcrowded underground system are being sought. Following the introduction of travel cards and the simplified fare structure, there has been a considerable increase in public transport demand. Furthermore, should predictions for rapid increases in the City's employment transpire … a system that is capable of extension would be of great merit.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I am most grateful, as I am sure the whole House is, to the hon. Gentleman for giving us the up-to-date view of the City Corporation, which is a very important element. May I suggest that the Cannon street solution has one additional advantage, in that a roofed-over Cannon street would make an ideal site for a heliport?
§ Mr. Morrison
That is a very interesting suggestion, which will no doubt be taken into account by the corporation and by the promoters of the Bill.
Although the City corporation is pleased to note the willingness of London Regional Transport to consider alternatives to the original proposals, it is not happy about the latest London Regional Transport scheme. That is why it is continuing to petition against the Bill.
I turn to the concern of those petitioners who wish to obtain a more satisfactory basis for compensation. Some of those petitioners would be partly, or perhaps wholly, relieved of that concern if the City corporation's preferred scheme was adopted. Be that as it may, I should like to remind the House that the normal basis for compensation payable by an acquiring authority — for example, in cases such as the construction of an underground railway by London Regional Transport—is the same as for other compulsory purchasers of land or interests in land.
First, there is compensation for the land actually taken. In this case the land that would be taken is merely subsoil at a depth of about 100 ft. The value of that is almost nominal; it might be a few pounds per metre run of tunnel. In addition, however, where an owner retains land contiguous to the land taken, he is entitled to claim compensation for injurious affection if the land retained is reduced in value due to the acquisition and the works.
To establish a claim for injurious affection, one has to demonstrate that the market value of the land retained is reduced. That is difficult enough when there is clearly immediate damage and it is merely a matter of deciding how much the potential sale price is reduced. It becomes much more difficult when damage may or may not be felt at some indefinite date many years hence. For example, when a perfectly sound building is leased and produces a good income for a term expiring in perhaps 25 years' time, at that date it may or may not be found expedient to arrange for a redevelopment, the cost of which may or may not be increased due to possible complications arising as a result of the presence of a tunnel a long way below the surface of the land.
By the time that one has taken into account doubts about the amount, if any, of the extra costs of development and whether the development will take place and one has deferred the estimated extra cost for 25 years, the answer is that compensation for injurious affection will be very low. Furthermore, it is extremely difficult to demonstrate by market evidence that a purchaser of the property today would pay any less for the building because of that possible future problem.
My basic point is that a developer should not be permitted to enhance his scheme by damaging other people's property without paying to the full for that 530 damage. The fair solution might be to require the developer to provide for compensation to be paid in future when the damage occurs and can be assessed properly. I have no doubt that this matter can be thrashed out in Committee, but it is of great importance to several petitioners. I cannot believe that it is beyond the wit of the promoters to meet most of the arguments being put forward by the petitioners. I certainly hope so, as I believe that the Canary wharf development is of tremendous importance and holds out great hope for the future.
§ The Minister of State, Department of Transport (Mr. David Mitchell)
It might be helpful if I give the Government's view of the Bill.
When the Bill was deposited in November, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made a statement explaining the Government's views on matters as we then saw them. We had reached an understanding with the Canary wharf consortium that it would contribute £30 million to the construction of the extension and secure underwriting of an agreed privatisation scheme. The understanding was subject to final agreement between London Regional Transport and the consortium on the detailed design and costs of the City extension, and on particulars of the privatisation scheme. It was also contingent on the completion of a master building agreement on the Canary wharf development between the consortium and the London Docklands Development Corporation. The whole understanding was, of course, subject to parliamentary approval of the Bill.
In making our statement, we expected the design and costing exercises to be completed before tonight's debate. I am pleased to be able to tell the House that since then good progress has been made in refining the design, specification and estimated cost of the extension of the docklands light railway to the City. In the light of this work, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne) has explained, amendments are to be sought to the Bill to improve the interchange arrangements with the existing Underground network. I am sure that this will be widely welcomed, and I hope that the amendments will be accepted. More generally, the Government are satisfied with the progress which has been made by LRT in developing a workable and soundly based design for the new extension.
In parallel with the work on the design of the railway, LRT and the Government have been discussing with the Canary wharf consortium detailed proposals for the privatisation of the whole railway, as envisaged in the November agreement. The consortium has recently told us that it no longer feels able to secure the underwriting of a privatisation of the railway. Instead, it has suggested going forward on the basis that the railway will be built and subsequently operated within the public sector, but with finance being provided by the consortium for its construction.
My right hon. Friend has told the consortium that, subject to acceptable terms being agreed, he is prepared to see the extension built and operated in the public sector. We have not ruled out the prospects of privatisation for all time, but the thorough consideration that this has been given in our detailed discussions with the consortium suggests that it is not a practical option at the present time.
Negotiations are in hand with the consortium to explore the mechanisms for financing the construction of the 531 railway extension, taking into account projections of profit and loss on the combined railway. The LDDC is also engaged in negotiations with the consortium on the wider aspects of the Canary wharf proposals. The Government will wish to take an overall view of progress on all fronts before agreements are finalised by LRT and the LDDC. Needless to say, the project will not go ahead unless the Government are wholly satisfied with the deal.
The proposed City extension to the docklands light railway would provide an additional impetus to development, not only at Canary wharf, but elsewhere in the docklands. It should also benefit local people by giving them improved connections to the Underground network.
§ Mr. Spearing
The Minister has just said that the Government will not go ahead until there is a successful conclusion to the deal. Therefore, will he confirm that further discussions need to take place between himself, the promoters and the Canary wharf consortium, and also, possibly, in respect of the master building agreement? Is the hon. Gentleman saying that the principle of going back to the public sector has been agreed, but the financial details have yet to be agreed?
§ Mr. Mitchell
Broadly speaking, what the hon. Gentleman has said is correct. I shall spell it out a little more in a moment.
The Government have considered the content of the Bill and have no objection, in principle, to the powers sought by LRT. A number of matters have been raised in correspondence with the promoters by the Department, and I would expect these to be cleared up satisfactorily. In particular, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment is somewhat concerned about the impact of the proposed redevelopment of Tower Hill station and the effect of tunnelling and other works on the historically and archaeologically important areas immediately surrounding the Tower of London. Also, for a temporary period during construction, the movement and management of the many tourists in the area will be seriously disrupted. Therefore, although my right hon. Friend is not against the scheme in principle, he wishes to reserve his position on that aspect for the time being.
During our earlier discussions, the hon. Member for Bow and Poplar (Mr. Mikardo) sought clarification of the current state of play and was worried about what he called "indecisiveness". That matter was also raised by the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore). He drew attention to parliamentary questions which were answered last November and contrasted them with the current position. The fact is that, as negotiations proceed, the situation is one of constant change. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has been very forthcoming. Perhaps in retrospect, if he had waited he might not have been faced with this particular charge today.
I am sure that no hon. Member would expect me or any other Minister to conduct any part of these negotiations on the Floor of the House. I can say that there has been no indecision. We are still in the process of negotiating the best deal for the Government and the public. That does not mean giving the consortium just what it wants. I have explained that the consortium felt unable to underwrite the privatisation of the whole railway. It is the consortium which has changed its mind. We have responded positively to the new situation.
The hon. Member for Bow and Poplar also mentioned noise. That is a matter for LRT, and no doubt it will 532 explain it to the Committee. The hon. Gentleman also mentioned the harmonisation of the light railway's and LRT's concessionary fares and pensioners' passes. I can give him the assurance that he sought. It will be frilly covered by LRT.
The hon. Gentleman asked also about a public complaints system. I can confirm that the LRPC will apply, as to other parts of the public network. I believe that Dr. Eric Midwinter and his colleagues on the LRPC will be happy with that.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I am grateful to the Minister for the precise answers that he has given to some of my questions. However, I am a little worried about the parts that he has not answered. I hope that I am not attaching undue significance to the omissions. I asked about fares and fare structures being harmonised with LRT.
§ Mr. Mitchell
Those are matters for LRT. I hope that I shall be able to conclude by leaving sufficient time for my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South to respond to issues which have been raised concerning LRT.
The hon. Member for Bow and Poplar asked about safety standards, which is really a matter for LRT. However, I can tell him that rail safety legislation will apply. He asked a number of questions about jobs, but this issue is somewhat outside the scope of the Bill.
Both the hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney addressed themselves to traffic and environmental effects on the road system. The LDDC undertakes transport planning in its area in conjunction with the Department of Transport and the boroughs, and it is currently examining the highways implications of the Canary wharf proposals. This work will reveal whether it will be necessary to extend and rephase existing plans for road connections to Canary wharf, and whether substantial on-site parking provision, as planned by the developer, will be sufficient.
The hon. Member for Bow and Poplar warmly welcomed the prospects of job creation, but drew attention to many petitions, including a number from City institutions, both spiritual and temporal, and expressed anxiety about the effect on his own life in the hereafter. I am sure we all hope that he will remain here long enough to see many jobs created as a result of the initiatives that flow from the introduction of the enterprise zone by this Government.
The hon. Gentleman drew attention to the interlinking between the Canary wharf development and the western extension. As he rightly said: no development, no DLR extension. It is only the request from the consortium for the rail link that has caused the expenditure to arise in the first place. The hon. Gentleman complained that there was no planning inquiry. I cannot speak for Mr. Travelstead, but I feel that if there were riot an enterprise zone and the projects had to pass through the normal planning consent arrangements, it is highly likely that Mr. Travelstead and any other substantial developers would run to the other side of the world before even considering undertaking the development.
The hon. Gentleman will know that the consortium has made a series of presentations of the scheme to the docklands boroughs, local Members and community and environmental groups. In response to the views expressed at these meetings it has modified the scheme to move one of the towers further east to take it out of the line of Wren's Greenwich axis.
533 The right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney talked about the cost of modifications to the existing DLR arrangement. It will be between £7 million and £10 million. The right hon. Gentleman asked who would pay. The answer is that that issue is part of the negotiations with the consortium. It is included in the estimated cost of £92 million. The right hon. Gentleman talked about the effect on the environment. That is a matter for LRT. He asked whether modifications could be carried out to the existing railway without delay to its opening, and I assure him that they could be. We still expect the opening to take place in July 1987.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) demonstrated the arid failure of the old methods of planning blueprints, Socialism and bureaucracy to create the jobs and the rebirths that are so necessary. In contrast to that is the bustling activity that has been brought about by the lifting of planning and other restraints in the enterprise zone. I am sorry that Opposition Members have learnt nothing and still hanker for the old methods which failed so miserably in the past. My right hon. Friend the Member for Henley was right—the enterprise zone and the LDDC have unlocked the opportunity which Mr. Travelstead and his colleagues are now seizing. I am glad my right hon. Friend supports this significant United States investment in the docklands area.
My hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Morrison) recognised the difficulties of my hon. Friend the Member for City of London and Westminster, South (Mr. Brooke), who, as a Minister, is unable to participate in this debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Devizes raised a series of questions on behalf of the City, including the linkage into the LRT and BR network, structural matters between the docklands light railway and some of the existing tubes, the closeness to Mansion House foundations, the effect on Bucklersbury, and compensation matters. These are matters for consideration not by me but by LRT and the promoters of the Bill, but I have no doubt that they will be dealt with when the Bill proceeds, as I hope it will, to Committee.
My hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South demonstrated, in his introduction to the Bill, the benefits to the dockland areas and the preparedness of himself and his fellow promoters of the Bill, so far as practicable, to meet legitimate points made by petitioners.
There are 20 petitions against the Bill and they relate to property interests along the proposed route of the railway. The petitioners will have an opportunity to present their objections to the Select Committee. The Committee will be in a better position than we are tonight to examine the issues involved in detail. It will have the added advantage of hearing expert evidence. I therefore recommend to the House that the Bill be given a Second Reading and allowed to proceed in the usual way to Committee for its detailed consideration.
§ Mr. Peter Snape (West Bromwich, East)
The Bill before us deserves our wholehearted support. I have been guilty of repeatedly boring hon. Members over the years by my support for the railway industry and railway schemes, especially new ones.
I congratulate the hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne) on the detailed manner in which he introduced the 534 Bill. However, although his speech was detailed and outlined many of the Bill's provisions, we are bereft of some vital information. I attach no blame to him because vital financial information is lacking. To use the words of the Minister, "negotiations are still taking place" at the Department of Transport.
The problem with the Bill is not that negotiations are not being conducted "on the Floor of the House" to use the words of the Minister—none of us would expect that—but that negotiations appear to have been conducted in the habitual manner of this Secretary of State. That is by nod, wink and leaks from Marsham street. The odd off-the-record remark and semi off-the-record briefings to various journalists and others are regarded as a suitable way of charting the advance, or otherwise, of this project over the past few months.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) rightly described the Bill as scanty and contradictory. That point was emphasised by my hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Poplar (Mr. Mikardo) in his drawn-out, but nevertheless extremely informative, contribution. My hon. Friend mentioned that the original estimate, approximately £77 million, was for a railway consisting of two-coach trains running every seven minutes. The more detailed project which is before the House tonight envisages a train every one and a half minutes. That, as my hon. Friend correctly pointed out, involves more rolling stock and a fairly complicated signalling and control system which would allow the trains to run automatically.
It is some years since I had anything to do with signalling control systems on British Rail mainline, but even more years have passed since the Secretary of State played trains on the nursery floor, which is presumably how he qualified for his present post. I hope that the Minister will agree that new signalling schemes are fairly expensive, and that if all the costs are to be contained within the original estimate of £77 million—
§ Mr. Mitchell
I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman was, not only in deep conversation when my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne) introduced the Bill but was not listening when I replied to that precise point. I gave a figure of between £7 million and £10 million, and said that it was covered by the existing negotiations and would be in addition to the £77 million.
§ Mr. Snape
I apologise if I missed that part of the hon. Gentleman's speech. However, he has still not answered the central question, which is where the money is coming from and how the scheme is to be financed.
A mixture of leak and innuendo has surrounded the scheme. First newspapers reported that rich Americans were descending on our shores, anxious to caste as much largesse as possible into docklands, to build and operate a railway system. I hope that I am not sceptical by nature, but I find the scenario envisaged by some of our more sensational newspapers rather surprising. I noticed at the time that the Secretary of State looked rather pleased with himself, so I thought that he may have got it wrong again but that, on the other hand, he may have got it right, and that that would happen. Then we heard that only £30 535 million of private capital would go towards the overall cost of the project. Again, the Marsham street rumour machine went into action, and we heard that the Secretary of State had threatened to cancel the whole project because not a penny of public money was to be used on it. He is not over-fond of railways at the best of times, and new ones in docklands are guaranteed not to appeal to him.
Then, in a Cabinet Committee—those things that do not meet because we never hear about them — the number of jobs involved was pointed out to the Secretary of State, and the ante was upped to £45 million for additional costs. I hope that I did not miss this part of the Minister's speech, but we still do not know who will own the railway, if it is ever built. There are some gaping holes in the project, as we see from the Bill. Will it be the Department of Transport, the London Docklands Development Corporation or London Regional Transport? We are entitled to know.
§ The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Nicholas Ridley)
My hon. Friend the Minister made that clear.
§ Mr. Snape
In that case, the Secretary of State can stand up and tell us. After all, this is his pet project, and none of us knows who will eventually own the project, including hon. Members with a direct constituency interest and involvement. If the information is available, we should like it now.
§ Mr. Mitchell
If the hon. Gentleman had listened to what I said earlier, he would have discovered that LRT would own and register the project. I made that clear in my speech, and I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman was not with us.
§ Mr. Snape
That was not how I interpreted the Minister's remark. I heard that part of his speech, and he made it clear that LRT was responsible for operating the system, but only because our rich Americans, unlike some of the Conservative party's less enlightened Back Benchers, know full well that dollars, pounds and profits are not normally to be made from running a railway system. The benefits of running the docklands railway are not immediately quantifiable. They are similar to those with which we justify the nation's road building programme—that is, that time is saved, life is saved because of the lack of accidents, and better communications are achieved, giving a boost to the economy. One cannot stuff such profits in one's pocket and walk away with them.
As I have said, no one particularly wants to operate the railway as a private enterprise operation. That is why the Secretary of State and his hon. Friend the Minister of State must still satisfy us as to where the cash is coming from and in whom the ownership will eventually be invested if the project goes ahead. I am only sorry that the hon. Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor) was not in his place tonight, as he might have learned a salutary lesson that privatised railways do not appear in the whole of capitalist United States of America. Even there, they believe that the running and operation of the railway system is best left to professional railwaymen.
§ Mr. Shore
My hon. Friend has brought from the Minister of State an astonishing set of facts. In his statement the Minister of State confirmed that the City extension and the dockland railway is to be run by London Regional Transport. The Minister of State said that it will 536 be a publicly owned and publicly financed part of the railway system. Throughout the whole of November 1985 and January of this year the Minister of State and the Secretary of State told the House and the people that they insisted upon a privatised railway scheme. We now want and are entitled to know whether the building of the City extension is dependent upon the consortium making a particular contribution to the total cost otherwise we are discussing a measure which may never see the light of day.
§ Mr. Snape
I think that my right hon. Friend has encapsulated the whole dilemma facing the Department of Transport. If the project goes ahead, a considerable amount of public money will be involved.
We all know that the Secretary of State is reluctant to use public money in such areas and the changes that we have seen over the past half an hour, since the Minister of State rose to speak, included an admission which was consistently denied throughout the later months of last year and has only just been revealed.
There is one other matter that I wish to raise.
§ Mr. David Mitchell
Did the hon. Gentleman also miss the point in my speech when I referred to the fact that it was the consortium that had changed its mind on how to proceed in the matter?
§ Mr. Snape
I am well aware that there have been some changes of mind in various areas in connection with this scheme. I will swap one change of mind by the Secretary of State for one change of mind by the consortium. We will be no more enlightened about the likelihood of the scheme if we do that, but at least some reality will have entered the corridors of the Department of Transport.
§ Mr. Mitchell
I ask the hon. Gentleman to read my speech as he did not hear me when I delivered it.
§ Mr. Snape
I always read the Minister of State's speeches with great interest as they are usually more factual than those of his right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State.
I would like to draw the Minister's attention to a petition from the War Graves Commission. I understand from some communications that I have received from my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott), who takes a deep interest in these matters, that the War Graves Commission is petitioning against the Bill because it cannot get a satisfactory reply about the fate of Trinity Gardens where the terminus will be built. I further understand that the Tower Hill war memorial is on the site of Trinity Gardens. That is a war memorial to the 36,000 seamen who died in the two world wars.
The main point in the War Graves Commission's petition against the Bill is that it believes that it would not get satisfaction if London Regional Transport were to take over the development of the area. The House will be aware of a private Member's Bill which is going through the House and which has the support of both sides of the House. It proposes to make all military vessels war grave areas. Regrettably, it does not include the Merchant Navy. The National Union of Seamen and merchant seamen generally feel that, in the Government's eyes, merchant seamen are second-class people in death as well as in life.
§ Mr. Snape
That is certainly why the War Graves Commission has petitioned against the London Docklands Railway (City Extension) Bill. The commission suffers from the same lack of information as hon. Members about the Government's intentions.
There is some justification for the Government's attitude. I understand it—once again, the Secretary of State has got it wrong. This happens frequently. Let us hope that, this time, he does not finish up in court as a result. Unless we receive proper information, I for one do not believe that the Bill will go ahead. As one who believes in railway extensions generally and in new railways in particular, I think that that would be eminently regrettable.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)
I am grateful for having been given the opportunity to speak in the debate, because I have responsibility in my party for general planning matters and have a constituency interest as a docklands Member. I speak conscious of the interests of my colleagues who form the opposition on the Newham council and on the Tower Hamlets council and who are directly involved in and may, indeed, be running Tower Hamlets after May, when they will make their views more clearly known.
We welcome the announcement that the railway will operate in the public sector. The Minister of State must accept that that is a complete change of Government policy. Three options are available, none of which is ideal in its management. We welcome the fact that of the three groups—the Government, the LDDC and the LRT—the LRT will run the railway.
We still need answers to the questions that have been asked. If the debate has done one thing, it has revealed a certain amount of information. It has confirmed that what was always going to be a loss-making project, according to the Minister's analyses in the answers given in the House since November, will be financed generally, because it is a matter of general interest to London, and to east London in particular, that we should have this railway. It will not serve just the the people going to work at the Canary wharf scheme. As hon. Members representing constituencies north of the river have said, it has much wider employment implications. We welcome that. It will be helpful to know at an early stage the new arrangement between the consortium and the LRT, and the contribution that has been negotiated.
I am concerned to ensure that this scheme and others are properly integrated within London's transport systems. Various assurances are needed. We need to know whether, as the site development goes ahead, there will be substantial disruption.
§ Mr. Ridley
Why does the hon. Gentleman always refer to himself as "we"? Only the editor of The Times and the Queen are allowed to call themselves "we".
§ Mr. Hughes
I think it is safe to say that I normally manage to speak for a united group of colleagues. Indeed, our unity is manifested by the presence of my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich (Mr. Cartwright), whose views I think I reflect adequately.
We want an assurance that, as building takes place, there will not be massive disruption at the bridge crossings—especially Tower bridge, which is raised from time to 538 time—as this would clearly disrupt commerce in central London. We need to know whether that aspect has been taken into account.
We will need to know—
§ Mr. Hughes
The House will need to know, and the public interest requires that we know, exactly what is likely to be the view of the Government and the promoters in response to the views expressed by the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Morris). The hon. Gentleman appeared to be saying, unless we on this side of the House misunderstood him, that the City is not happy with the revised scheme as now proposed, that it does not find it acceptable and that, therefore, it has not reached agreement with the promoters on the right way forward. This is a second go at the scheme. Clearly there is not agreement, and I hope that the hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne) will bear that in mind.
The matters of substantial concern are reflected in the Instructions that have been tabled. People living in my constituency and in other dockland areas north of the river appreciate that a development such as this can have massive benefits. We hope that that will be so, and that is why my hon. Friends and I will not oppose the measure on Second Reading.
At the same time as producing a properly integrated transport system in south-east London, it must be acknowledged that there are still bits of the jigsaw to be put in place—the Minister knows of my interest—and we look for links between this scheme north of the river and access to similar development sites south of the river, with proper integration between the two. I say that because at present, in the area south of the river, my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich and I have a white hole in our transport system, with no light railway, let alone extensions, proposed.
May we be reassured that land values will not escalate, pricing local firms and housing interests out of the market? We must feel certain that local firms and jobs will not continue to be relocated as part of a scheme which, though acceptable and advantageous as a development, could be a substantial threat to other interests. I hope that we shall receive those assurances, in part from the promoter tonight and, later, from interested parties. Without those assurances, my hon. Friends and I will not be satisfied.
§ Mr. Spearing
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it possible for other hon. Members to be called prior to what will be the second speech from the promoter of the Bill?
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne), speaking for the promoters of the Bill, rose. It would at this point normally be his turn to speak, and I think that the House would now wish to hear him.
§ Mr. Mikardo
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I would think it wrong if my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing), an objector to the Bill, a proposer of an instruction which was not called and an hon. Member with a great constituency interest were not allowed to speak in the debate. On those grounds I urge you—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. If the hon. Member for Ilford, South, who began by asking for the leave of the House does not have the leave of the House, he cannot speak. Does he have the leave of the House?
§ Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)
I assure the hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne) that I understand why he rose. About 10 years ago I was responsible for a private Bill on behalf of what was then London Transport. That Bill was concerned with buses. I appreciate his predicament, knowing what it is like to be the promoter of a measure of this type, and I hope that he appreciates my position.
This has been a remarkable debate. It has shown how the Standing Orders of the House in relation to private business do their work. We have had two surprises, both within the last hour. The first was in relation to the principle of public transport. My hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Poplar (Mr. Mikardo) is usually accurate. On this occasion he got it slightly wrong, in that I am not opposed to the principle of the Bill. It could be a valuable addition to the infrastructure of rail transport in London, something which I have for long championed, and it is refreshing, after some vacillation, to see the Government Front Bench apparently agreeing with that.
Secondly, I have discovered that I am to some extent attracted to the Bill because it promises to provide more employment, increased opportunities and a degree of regeneration in east London, perhaps affecting the London borough of Newham. We have to ask ourselves what type of employment and whether it will be an advantage, on balance, to the whole of east London.
I have some doubts about the nature of the desire for increased employment. My hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Poplar has already explained that, surprisingly enough, the LDDC is giving notice to quit to people on the margins of the enterprise zone, people who are providing a service to the City. The firm that he mentioned is thriving because it is there, handy for the City, but the LDDC is asking it to get out, despite the fact that 25 people are working there, no doubt on relatively modest incomes. The same thing is happening in my area, in the Silvertown viaduct, where the LDDC has sent letters to my constituents telling them that it wants to acquire the area by compulsory purchase, so they will have to get out.
We hear that the railway will increase employment for east London, and the LDDC has agreed it in principle, but I then look to what is happening in Silvertown, particularly the compulsory purchase orders on small firms. These are the very enterprises that the Government, day after day, say that we should have, the firms that are very much in favour with the Prime Minister, and with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who went to give the firm in my hon. Friend's constituency a certificate. In principle — the words that encapsulate our feelings—we are in favour, but we want to know what the practice will be.
There are also problems with the line that is already being built. The London borough of Newham wants a station built at Pudding Mill lane, but the map issued by London Regional Transport says of this site:Future stops when funding permits.540 We want the stops there, and at Carpenter's road, to serve an area of employment. If the line already being built cannot have extra stations — it is only a fast track, however useful a form of transport—what real concern has the LDDC or the LRT for employment? Perhaps the trouble is the cash limit of £77 million. Perhaps some arrangements can be made, because the stations are not particularly big.
The second surprise on the turn round of private as against public enterprise are the City objections. When I looked at the LRT plan which came to us about three or four days ago and saw the revised layout for the Bank station, I thought it ingenious. I thought, "Right, they've got it." The original plan would have made the tube subways around Bank station congested, and was not on. However, this one looked all right and I assumed that it had been cleared with the corporation of London. Now we hear from the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Morrison), properly speaking on behalf of the hon. Member for Calder Valley (Mr. Thompson) that that is not to the liking of that body. We are surprised by that opinion, although it has come late in the day.
Several points have worried us. The first is ownership. In the last hour there has been a change. Private ownership was insisted upon by the Secretary of State for Transport, logically in a way. Now, in face of the facts of life, he has had to change his view. However, I detected that the Minister was not happy about what he had to say—he will correct me if I am wrong—because he said that he does not rule out future privatisation if that is considered desirable by the Government. The Minister is having it both ways. He says, "We will get it built by private enterprise because the consortium wants it." That is despite what the Minister wants. If it makes money—I do not suggest that it will, but it might make money— the Minister says that it can be privatised. And if it makes a loss for the Consolidated Fund, it, like British Leyland, can be sold. If it were put into private hands after a number of years—if, heaven forbid, the Government continue for that long—it might be sold not to General Motors but to a consortium. There would be no guarantee then about the level of fares. Although our gravest doubts about ownership have been set at rest to some extent, question marks still remain.
When we entered the Chamber today we thought that this enterprise was going to be funded by Mr. Travelstead and his colleagues. However, we now find, although the Minister did not make it explicit despite his careful reading of his script, that it is to be funded partly by the consortium, presumably at the level of £30 million to which it was committed in the written answer of 27 November. We must therefore assume, because I do not think that the Minister spelt it out, that the Government will provide the balance, which will be in the region of £40 million to £50 million, including perhaps £10 million for London Regional Transport to carry out the agency work.
Is the Minister able to tell us whether that money will come out of the Consolidated Fund? Presumably it will, with the balance to be made up by the Department. However, discussions may be continuing on that matter.
The House has a right to know the answer to this question. This is taxpayers' money. All Conservative Members are anxious that taxpayers' money should be spent properly or not spent at all. They do not believe in public transport. The Secretary of State for Transport has shown his lack of faith in public transport by his previous 541 Bill, which is not an Act, that covers buses. We know where that has led him—straight to General Motors. We should like to know how much of the money for the construction of this line is to come from private sources and how much of it is to come from the Consolidated Fund. Is it to come out of the transport supplementary grant? Is it included in the public expenditure White Paper?
All of these questions have yet to be answered. It is unlikely that any Bill dealing with railways has come before the House in the past with so many unanswered questions and with so many big changes having been announced during the closing period of its Second Reading debate. It is possible that the promoters are not entirely in charge of the timetable and that events have caught up with them. For instance, what about the master building agreement? We have been told by the Secretary of State for Transport, who I am glad to see is on the Treasury Front Bench, that it depends upon the master building agreement for Canary wharf going ahead. The two go together. There is doubt now about how quickly the railways Bill will go through. If the master building agreement is not agreed by the end of March or by April, why go to all the expense of promoting a Bill which will involve a lengthy Committee hearing? The City corporation will back the petitioners to the hilt, will it not? We should be told whether or not the promoters intend to proceed to the next stage of the Bill if the master building agreement is unlikely to be dealt with.
I turn to the impact of the docklands light railway on the London Borough of Newham. We have heard that money is available for the western extension—
§ Question put, That the Question be now put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 126, Noes 5.542
|Division No. 95]||[9.59 pm|
|Alexander, Richard||Bottomley, Peter|
|Alton, David||Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard|
|Amess, David||Bright, Graham|
|Ancram, Michael||Brooke, Hon Peter|
|Ashby, David||Bryan, Sir Paul|
|Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)||Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)||Butterfill, John|
|Batiste, Spencer||Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)|
|Bellingham, Henry||Cartwright, John|
|Bendall, Vivian||Cash, William|
|Best, Keith||Chapman, Sydney|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Chope, Christopher|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Cope, John|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Crouch, David|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina||Neubert, Michael|
|Dicks, Terry||Norris, Steven|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.||Ottaway, Richard|
|Dover, Den||Owen, Rt Hon Dr David|
|du Cann, Rt Hon Sir Edward||Page, Sir John (Harrow W)|
|Dunn, Robert||Page, Richard (Herts SW)|
|Durant, Tony||Portillo, Michael|
|Dykes, Hugh||Proctor, K. Harvey|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Raison, Rt Hon Timothy|
|Forth, Eric||Rathbone, Tim|
|Fox, Marcus||Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)|
|Franks, Cecil||Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas|
|Galley, Roy||Roe, Mrs Marion|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Gow, Ian||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|Greenway, Harry||Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')|
|Gregory, Conal||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)||Shersby, Michael|
|Ground, Patrick||Sims, Roger|
|Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Hanley, Jeremy||Stern, Michael|
|Harris, David||Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)|
|Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Henderson, Barry||Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)|
|Hickmet, Richard||Thurnham, Peter|
|Hirst, Michael||Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)|
|Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)||Tracey, Richard|
|Hunt, David (Wirral W)||Trippier, David|
|Jones, Robert (Herts W)||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Key, Robert||van Straubenzee, Sir W.|
|Knight, Greg (Derby N)||Waddington, David|
|Knox, David||Wallace, James|
|Lawler, Geoffrey||Ward, John|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Wardle, C. (Bexhill)|
|Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Watts, John|
|Lester, Jim||Wells, Bowen (Hertford)|
|Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)||Wheeler, John|
|Lyell, Nicholas||Whitfield, John|
|McCrindle, Robert||Wiggin, Jerry|
|MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Major, John||Wolfson, Mark|
|Malone, Gerald||Wood, Timothy|
|Mather, Carol||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Maude, Hon Francis||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Mitchell, David (Hants NW)||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Monro, Sir Hector||Mr. Gary Waller and|
|Moynihan, Hon C.||Mr. Rob Hayward.|
|Haynes, Frank||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Prescott, John||Mr. Don Dixon and|
|Skinner, Dennis||Mr. Alf Dubs.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
§ Question put accordingly and agreed to.
§ Bill read a Second time and committed.