HC Deb 12 January 1987 vol 108 cc8-9
6. Mr. Spearing

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what consultations he has had with the London Docklands Development Corporation concerning the funding of the Beckton extension of the docklands light railway.

Mr. David Mitchell

We expect to receive LDDC's formal proposals for financing the Beckton extension of the docklands light railway later this month. In the meantime my officials, together with those of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, have been discussing with LDDC the form that those proposals might take.

Mr. Spearing

Is the Minister aware that everybody in the area wants that railway, and wants it to be provided by public funds? There is also a desire for it to be routed via Canning Town. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it is open to him to let the Second Reading of the Bill go forward, and if he receives the financial guarantees from the LDDC that he seeks, then and only then should he approve its construction? Is that not the best way to proceed?

Mr. Mitchell

I am in some doubt whether everyone takes the view that the railway should be provided by public funds. The LDDC believes, and its research suggests, that large increases in land values in the docklands when the railway is built can be harnessed to pay for it. I plan to visit the area to see for myself on Wednesday this week, and I hope to see the hon. Gentleman on that occasion.

Mr. Stanbrook

Is my hon. Friend aware that this is a very important and desirable development, which will bring great advantages to the people of that part of London? Will he give all the assistance that the Government are able to give to that project?

Mr. Mitchell

I am well aware of my hon. Friend's interest in and connections with the area. I hope that I shall also have the opportunity to see him on my visit on Wednesday, and I shall keep in mind the point that he made.

Mr. Tony Banks

As the railway will be funded by private developers—indeed, it is just a developers' railway—may I point out that there are other transport needs in Newham that must be met? That is why my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) and myself argue that the railway should be provided out of public funds so that it can meet public need in the area.

Mr. Mitchell

If the same objective can be achieved without use of the public purse, it seems to be wholly desirable that it should so be.