§ Motion made, and Question proposed,
§ That the Promoters of the London Underground Bill shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with the Bill, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office not later than the day before the close of the present Session of their intention to suspend further proceedings and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid;
§ That on the fifth day on which the House sits in the next Session the Bill shall be presented to the House;
§ That there shall be deposited with the Bill a declaration signed by the Agents for the Bill, stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill at the last stage of its proceedings in this House in the present Session;
§ That the Bill shall be laid upon the Table of the House by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office on the next meeting of the House after the day on which the Bill has been presented and, when so laid, shall be read the first and second time and committed (and shall be recorded in the Journal of this House as having been so read and committed);
§ That all Petitions relating to the Bill presented in the present Session which stand referred to the Committee on the Bill shall stand referred to the Committee on the Bill in the next Session;
§ That no Petitioners shall be heard before the Committee on the Bill, unless their Petition has been presented within the time limited within the present Session or deposited pursuant to paragraph (b) of Standing Order 126 relating to Private Business;
§ That, in relation to the Bill, Standing Order 127 relating to Private Business shall have effect as if the words "under Standing Order 126 (Reference to committee of petitions against Bill)" were omitted;
§ That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session;
§ That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.—
§ [The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means.]10.12 pm
§ Mr. Robert G. Hughes (Harrow, West)
May I explain, in support of the motion, the purpose of the Bill? The Jubilee line extension would be the first major extension of London Underground since the Jubilee line was opened about 10 years ago. It would extend the Jubilee line from Green Park to Stratford. That would create the opportunity to provide direct underground connections for established communities in two areas: south of the river in Bermondsey and Southwark, and between Stratford and Canning Town. It would also assist the redevelopment of three areas: around Canada water, on the Isle of Dogs and on the north Greenwich peninsula where the Greenwich gas works used to be.
There appears to be some confusion about the route between Canary wharf and Canning Town. I confirm that the route that the promoters intend to put before the Committee is the alignment through the north Greenwich peninsula. That is the route proposed in the additional provision for which the Department has given permission. It would thus bring public rail transport to some parts of the area for the first time.
The debate is on the single procedural question whether the Bill should be allowed to continue into the next Session. I hope that it will. The promoters would not have enough time between now and 20 November, the deadline for depositing private Bills, to prepare a new book of reference, all the fresh plans and the other documentation that is necessary to produce a new Bill incorporating all the amendments in the additional provision.
429 I am aware that not all the decisions so far taken about the Bill are to everyone's liking and, if the Bill is allowed to continue, the Committee will no doubt be asked to consider many areas as part of its consideration of the petitions lodged against it. On the stations at Southwark and Bermondsey, I greatly welcome the decision announced yesterday by my hon. Friend the Minister to the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes). I congratulate the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey on his tenacity and the campaign he has fought to ensure that the line, which will inevitably go through his constituency, will have two fine stations to serve his constituents.
The Committee has been instructed already by the House to consider two further matters. The House will know that the works required to reconstruct the existing station at Westminster to provide for the Jubilee line extension were discussed at length during the proceedings in the Services Committee and on Second Reading, which took five hours on 12 and 24 July. The Westminster issue will be discussed again in Committee as a result of the instruction in the name of the hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Powell).
The second instruction, in the name of the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) and other hon. Members representing east London constituencies, requires the Committee to consider the effects of the railway on regeneration and employment in docklands and the lower Lee valley. I hope that the House will agree that the Committee is the best place for discussion on that to continue, as it is on almost every other matter that could be brought to our attention. There will be two more opportunities to discuss the Bill on the Floor of the House, and if right hon. and hon. Members choose, they can seek to catch the Chair's eye on those occasions.
I believe that the Jubilee line extension can make a major contribution to the improvement of rail transport in areas of London not currently well served. It will contribute to the regeneration of areas of London in need of assistance. It can do that only if it is allowed to continue in the next Session. There is no alternative method of proceeding. Therefore, I urge hon. Members on both sides to support the carry-over motion.
§ Miss Kate Hoey (Vauxhall)
I have no intention of trying to prevent the Bill going on to its next stage, at which we are all aware that many petitioners will bring forward objections. I wish to use this opportunity to place on record some of the views of my constituents, their concerns about the extension of the Jubilee line and the effect that it will have on the Waterloo area, and to issue a warning—not a threat—that there will have to be a substantial change in what is planned at Waterloo before the Bill is given an easy passage in Committee.
The majority of petitioners from my constituency will not be satisfied with anything less than a real attempt to overcome the problem affecting Jubilee gardens—a precious open-space site by the riverside and a public amenity which has been used for many years for all kinds of events. That site will be threatened during the building of the extension because the Bill seeks powers to take over a section of Jubilee gardens as a temporary work site from 430 which all the running and platform tunnels between Green Park and Waterloo will be excavated. The site would also include a temporary access shaft and a jetty for the loading of excavated tunnel spoil on to barges for removal.
I am pleased that London Underground has satisfied us that the riverside walk will be kept open, but more than a third of Jubilee gardens is threatened. The irony is that there is no need for London Underground to use that part of Jubilee gardens. I am sure that it has considered other sites in London and Westminster. Jubilee gardens is simply the easiest because there is nothing built on it, but what seems the easiest and cheapest solution may not be in the best interests not only of the people who live in the immediate environment but of the people of London as a whole.
There is a better site within Jubilee gardens that London Underground would prefer to use. It is not covered in grass and is being used not by the public but as a car park. It is closer to the river and would be cheaper. London Underground has not suggested that site because it is part of the development plans of the County Hall Development Group. London Underground did not feel able to say that it wanted to use that site or to ask the House to give it permission to do so.
All the people in the area believe that that was misguided and that London Underground is proposing an expensive solution when a cheaper one is available. The only problem was that it would have upset the county hall developers. Yet it seems not to matter that the proposed solution will upset the people of Waterloo and of London as a whole.
There is still an opportunity for Department of Transport Ministers and the Secretary of State for the Environment to put their heads together and work out a solution. As the County Hall Development Group has gone bankrupt, it is strange that the Secretary of State for the Environment is continuing to consider planning permission. The London Residuary Body, which did not give evidence to the public inquiry, is being allowed to carry on with the development when there are perfectly satisfactory alternatives for the use of county hall. I am sure that the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) will mention the London charitable trust, which has some good and exciting plans for the development of county hall.
The Minister should get together with the Secretary of State for the Environment and tell anyone who comes forward with a new plan for county hall that he will consider their plan only as part of any planning permission. I hope that the Secretary of State will follow the recommendations of the public inquiry and the inspector and say that the development is not on. The inspector did not want the development to proceed, but was overruled by the Secretary of State, who has given the developers until 7 November to table amendments.
I hope that the Secretary of State will tell the developers that he will consider development only if, as part of that development, they say, "We shall not use this part of county hall until the Jubilee line is finished"—in other words, that planning permission will not be granted for the car park site at county hall, which the developers want to make into a landscape garden for private flats and part of a hotel, unless the Secretary of State is minded to grant it. The Secretary of State should say, "It must be a condition of the planning permission that that part of the site is to be used by London Underground to develop the Jubilee line."
431 That would satisfy London Underground. It would also satisfy people in the Waterloo area, who fear that Jubilee gardens will be lost to public use for at least six to eight years. The county hall development could still go ahead without the use of that part of the site. That seems an obvious and simple solution. I have not been in this place for very long, but I have discovered that often it is precisely the obvious and simple solutions which, for some reason or other, we cannot adopt. I therefore ask the Minister to explain why that cannot be done. I know that London Underground has written to the Secretary of State suggesting that it should be considered if anything should happen to the County Hall Development Group planning application. which I remind hon. Members yet again is already defunct.
§ Mr. Ray Powell (Ogmore)
County hall could solve a lot of the problems faced by the New Building Sub-Committee. It would help us greatly if we could acquire that building for accommodation purposes. Can my hon. Friend explain in detail her statement that the development group is defunct?
§ Miss Hoey
I thank my hon. Friend for allowing me to elaborate. County hall is sitting empty across the river. There are many rooms in that building. I am sure that all the hon. Members present have been to see county hall at some stage. The development group envisaged turning the building into an elaborate hotel. I think that the Government's plan was that people could come in from France on the channel tunnel fast rail link and stay at a super-duper hotel at Waterloo while having private treatment at St. Thomas's hospital just round the corner, which the Government want to allow to opt out of the national health service. That is one scenario, anyway.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right that county hall is sitting empty. The development group has gone bankrupt. Unfortunately, however, there was a joint planning application between that development group and the "ultra-democratic" London Residuary Body—the body set up to take over and look after all the responsibilities of the GLC and the ILEA. I know that my hon. Friend comes from a long way away from London, and that is why I am going into a certain amount of detail. County hall has been in London's use as a public building for a very long time. Labour Members believe, and I know that my colleagues in the other opposition parties also believe, that the building should be maintained for public use by Londoners.
Now that the development group has gone bankrupt, there is no plan and any new developer may not want exactly what the County Hall Development Group had in mind. We now have the opportunity to save and speed up the extension of the Jubilee line while satisfying those who do not want Jubilee gardens to be threatened. However, the gardens are not threatened only by the Jubilee line extension. Had that been the only threat, we could probably have lived with it and London Underground could have used a part of the area which would not involve taking out too much of the green space, but the gardens are also threatened by the development of county hall and by the south bank development.
Jubilee gardens is being whittled away. I share hon. Members' concern about the problems that will arise in the immediate area of the Palace from the extension of the Jubilee line, but many of the staff and Members of this 432 place walk over Waterloo bridge at lunch time and use Jubilee gardens as a place of respite, to escape the noise, and so on, that we face.
I hope that I have made my point as simply as I intended. There is a solution to the Jubilee gardens problem. The Secretaries of State for Transport and for the Environment must talk, and they must get together with London Underground. It must be made clear to the Secretary of State for the Environment that he must not consider any proposals for county hall unless they allow the London Underground developers to use the area that I have suggested for their work on the line. There will still be problems, but they will not be so serious. The people living around Waterloo are not against the Jubilee line as such, although they may think that it is not the best line for London. We do not want to have to slow down the work, or stop it altogether, but we do want to save Jubilee gardens for Londoners—and there is another way.
§ Dr. John G. Blackburn (Dudley, West)
First, let me pay warm and generous tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Hughes), who introduced the motion; secondly, let me with equal sincerity—as the House would expect of me—commend the hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Powell), who for some years has been the Chairman of the New Building Sub-Committee. I have had the privilege of serving on that Sub-Committee, and—although I do not represent a constituency in the metropolis—I believe that the work in which I have been engaged allows me to make some valid points.
I feel that I must confine my comments to the procedural motion. I accept without question what my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West said about the benefits that the line will bring, and the provisos outlined so clearly by the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Miss Hoey); but I am particularly concerned about the implications for Westminster.
As hon. Members will know, for many years—I am prepared to be quoted on 11 years—there has been a fierce struggle to obtain a new building for us. The building has now been selected and, albeit late in the day, has almost been completed. It is at Westminster station. Many hon. Members use the station; I use it twice a day, and I know how much the public need an improved service. That is one of the blessings that would result from the Bill.
I am a believer in the honourable occupation of compromise, and my work on the Sub-Committee and the discussions with London Underground suggest to me that we are rapidly approaching the point of compromise—good, sound, acceptable compromise. That would be a blessing for the House, especially in regard to the raft that would cover the line and thus give the House an opportunity to proceed with phase 2 of the Bridge street development. The motion is important to every hon. Member who seeks accommodation that is worthy of those who are elected to this place.
I was filled with anger when I examined the original proposals of London Underground. The concept of depositing soil in Parliament square was a violation of all that was sacred to me. That proposal is now almost historical, however. Quiet and sober consideration of the work that has gone into the scheme generally by London Underground, the parliamentary draftsmen and the New rBuilding Sub-Committee, which has worked with great 433 industry and enthusiasm to improve the lot of hon. Members, will lead to the judgment that a great deal will be placed in jeopardy unless the carry-over motion is agreed to. I hope that the House will approve it.
The hon. Member for Vauxhall has exercised her sovereign right to represent her constituents. I understand that many will petition against the Bill and that there will be difficulties in Committee, but if the motion is agreed to there will be two opportunities on the Floor of the House to consider the petitions and submissions that are presented to us. The rights of those who wish to make their 434 feelings known will be denied unless consideration of the Bill is allowed to continue next Session.
There is much at stake and this is a momentous occasion in the life of London, the city that we love. It is a momentous occasion also for London Underground. It is vital that the House should allow the Bill to proceed and for energetic and enthusiastic debate to take place in Committee. I wish jealously to safeguard the right of the House to debate it on two further occasions.
If the House approves the procedural motion, it will achieve a great deal for the people of London. This is an historic moment, and perhaps more important than the return of the Bill to the House. I give my wholehearted support to the motion.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)
Some hon. Members may regret the fact that we are having this debate and I offer them my apologies because I objected when this motion could have gone through on the nod last week. However, this evening I am, happily, able to be much more positive, because, thanks to the Minister's intervention yesterday, to which the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Hughes) referred, my principal objection to the Bill as it stood has now been dealt with.
The Bill eventually secured its Second Reading on the basis that there would be a range of stations. The hon. Member for Harrow, West has already referred to that. However, uncertainty had arisen about two of the new stations—not the interchange ones. Coincidentally—at least I hope that it was coincidental—both are in my constituency. Parenthetically, I should add that it is fairly rare to have a constituency with a two-part name and to find that new stations are to be named after each of the parts. I am grateful for that. Much work was done over the summer to try to make sure that the two stations would be a firm part of the Bill—that they were not just on the map, but that they would be built.
I am grateful to the hon. Member for Harrow, West for his generous comments a few minutes ago. I have no doubt that if the result of our two-round contest in 1983 had been slightly different and he had become the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey instead of more belatedly becoming the hon. Member for Harrow, West, he would have fought equally as tenaciously for the stations. I have no doubt that that is the right position for any hon. Member representing the constituency.
The result is that we now have the Minister's assurance, for which I am grateful. I should like to say to him and his officials, to London Underground, and to the members and officers of my local authority, Southwark, that the result that we have achieved, of being able to provide the information to satisfy the Minister and the Treasury that the Southwark and Bermondsey stations are justified, has been a tribute to our sensible and positive co-operation.
I hope nonetheless that the Minister will be able to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to deal with one point arising from his written answer in yesterday's Hansard because there has been some ambiguity attaching to a report of his announcement in one edition of yesterday's Evening Standard. A sentence towards the end of the answer states:The Government are therefore prepared to approve construction of both stations provided the cost of the project as a whole can be held within agreed cost limits."—[Official Report, 23 October 1990; Vol. 178, c. 97.]I hope that I am correct in my understanding that the stations of Southwark and Bermondsey stand or fall with Parliament's agreement to the line as a whole and with the construction of the line as a whole. The article in the Evening Standard suggested—it was the only press article that I have seen that contained such a suggestion—that the announcement was conditional and required further Treasury endorsement. It is important that we have it on record—this is what I understand and certainly what the Minister's answer implies—that approval has been given, that the money is there, and that the people of Southwark and Bermondsey can now know that they are part of the plan.
436 However, I do have one quibble about the statement made by London Underground, as promoters, in relation to tonight's debate. The promotional statement sets out three major benefits—a direct connection to the west end and to west and north-west London, connection at Waterloo, serving the commuter suburbs to the west and south-west of London, and a connection at London Bridge, serving the commuter network to the south and south-east of London. I do not dissent from that, but I hope that London Underground now agrees—this has been agreed by the Minister, and all hon. Members who represent London constituencies have argued the point in previous debates—that if the underground line extension is to be justified there must also be some benefit to the people in the communities along the line. It should not just be a line to provide connections for people coming from outside London or the suburbs of London. That is a completely inadequate justification for this proposal.
I do not say that there is no validity in commuter links or that there is no need for the line to be connected properly to Canary wharf. However, happily, as a result of the instruction tabled by the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) and others of us on Second Reading, the line must be as the Committee is now instructed to make it. It must be integral to the regeneration of local communities and industries. If it is not, the line will be simply a commuter drain. If it is, it will become an important part of the public transport infrastructure in London.
I hope—the Secretary of State was kind enough to refer to this in his reply to me in transport questions on Monday—that increasingly we shall see an extension of public transport in south-east London. The Secretary of State recognised that we have been badly served over many years. The area is still a white hole on the map. At last, thanks to the announcement this week, there are now marks on the map of south-east London where there will be provision of public transport. There needs to be more. The hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms. Ruddock), who speaks from the Labour Front Bench, the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Ms. Hoey) and others of us, as well as colleagues who represent constituencies north of the river, have all been sympathetic to that need.
I hope that this will be only the first of several new proposals, and the Minister will know that we hope that hot on the heels of the extension of the Jubilee line will come the extension of the east London line north and south of the river and other provisions.
I wish now to flag up a few specific matters which I know will be dealt with in Committee. I welcome the fact that we shall debate them, but I wish to register that there are matters to be resolved if the general environment of Londoners, particularly those who live along the line, is to be improved, not disadvantaged.
I endorse what the hon. Member for Vauxhall said about the need to rethink the siting of the work in and around Jubilee gardens. I have no doubt, as the representative of the other part of Waterloo, that one could find a way of preserving that green space. Jubilee gardens is the only significant green space along the south of the river. There is a car park immediately next to it, which is far less valuable as an amenity, and I hope that everything will be done to make that, and not the gardens, the work site.
Along the line—I shall limit myself to the parts that affect Southwark—where there are station sites or work 437 sites London Underground will need to address obvious environmental concerns. I shall simply list them. The traffic implications will have to be considered. In many areas the implications are enormous, including to the west at Union street and Ewer street. I hope that it will be possible to create temporary sidings at Ewer street so that spoil can be removed and materials can be brought in by rail, not by road. That would be far more advantageous. The road network in that part of north Southwark is horrendously congested already. I hope that we shall not add to the congestion.
It appears that there are alternatives to the Druid street site which are away from major roads and junctions. One is in Maltby street and another is on the old Sarsons vinegar factory site. There will be a lot of construction in the area. Phase 2 of the Hay's wharf site is probably about to be developed. Guy's hospital is having a phase 3 development. We cannot add more construction and congestion to that area without great disruption to minor and major arterial roads.
Further along there is a site called Ben Smith Way, which is to be used for construction, although not of a station. There is substantial anxiety in the neighbouring community, particularly about traffic movements. It is a tightly knit residential community. There is an area of sheltered dwellings for old people. There is great anxiety that we reduce lorry movements and that previous difficulties in enforcing controls on construction traffic are not repeated. We must also have a proper system of accountability whereby people's complaints can be dealt with efficiently as and when any environmental nuisance is caused.
The House will be aware that the roads into south-east London, Jamaica road and Lower road are horrendously blocked during peak hours and traffic is stationary. We cannot afford to add to that congestion both in the interests of my constituents, who must cope with the fumes and the noise, and everyone who uses those major routes. Engineering works and new traffic signals will be required to ease congestion. We should also provide the shortest possible routes for lorries.
I hope that an underpass will be provided under Jamaica road, a very busy road, when the Bermondsey station is open. I do not suggest that that underpass should be open when the station is closed as that might be unsafe for people to pass through at night, but when the station is open there should be a safe alternative route underneath the road.
One of the greatest concerns has been voiced by my constituents in the far eastern end of the constituency at Surrey docks, before the proposed line goes under river to Canary wharf. The Minister will be aware that a late change has been proposed for the Canada Water station site. It now intrudes into the Canada estate instead of being located away from it. The estate is a traditional one with a high density and high-rise blocks. For the past 10 years it has been subject to much building work. The residents have now been informed that work on the new station will also spill over on to the estate. I hope that there is an engineering alternative to that unacceptable proposal. Another six years of disruption to that community would be too high a price for those residents to bear.
438 The other great fear about this new station site is that car users planning to travel to central London will park close to the station. The Canada estate and the streets round it face the prospect of many drivers seeking to find a space. I hope that we shall be able effectively to limit that additional car presence around the estate.
Just before the line goes under the river another works site has been proposed at Durands wharf—on another green space. I do not want to be unpopular with my colleagues north of the river, but is it necessary for this new park to be used as a major work site? Surely there is an engineering alternative that could use the river or a site on the other side of the river—one which is not so important in environmental terms as Durands wharf.
I look forward to the successful progress of the Bill. Perhaps it will be a race against the date of the general election, but I hope that the Bill clears the House by next autumn. I hope that in the meantime the Committee can resolve all the important environmental issues to the satisfaction of the people of Southwark.
I hope that the least noisy trains will be used. I understand that consideration is being given to reducing the decibel limit from 40 to 35 decibels, as practised in the United States. I understand that the best quality resilient track is now available. I hope that that track and quieter trains are used because the least noise the better.
We must also ensure that the provision of an underground system does not lead to additional motor traffic along the route. Local authorities must be able to exercise planning controls and the private transport user must be subject to transport controls. If that happens we shall have a line of great environmental benefit to the area. I hope that that will be the achievement of the Bill which, if the procedural motion is approved, will be carried over for further debate into the next Session of Parliament.
I am grateful for the constructive attitudes that have been displayed by so many people so far. I believe that we are in sight of an extremely succesful addition to the London public transport network. I welcome that and I hope that the motion is approved tonight.
§ The Minister for Public Transport (Mr. Roger Freeman)
The Government strongly support the principles behind the Bill, and therefore support the carry-over motion. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Hughes), who spoke succinctly, eloquently and persuasively.
The House will know from the earlier Second Reading debate that the Government have a substantial interest in the objectives of the Bill and strongly support it. In previous debates, I have given the extent of public money that is committed to this line.
It might be for the convenience of the House if I briefly deal with two points that were debated by the House in July, before the summer recess, and have been touched on already by hon. Members. The first is the provision of stations at Southwark and Bermondsey, which has been a matter of particular concern to the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes). I always have absolute admiration for the way in which he can produce so many penultimate points in any speech he makes. On 24 July, I told the House that it was the Government's policy that stations should be built at Southwark and 439 Bermondsey. I also said that further analytical work was to be carried out to confirm that the case for those stations was positive.
As the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey has already expressed a wish to know, I am sure that the House will also want to know the outcome of that work. The appraisal showed that, on current costing, the economic case for the stations was positive and as strong as that for the line itself provided that, in Southwark's case, direct passenger access was provided between it and British Rail's Waterloo East station. That will entail additional cost of £8 million, which will not be provided out of the existing provision for the line, but will be from incremental funds provided by the Department of Transport.
Therefore, the Government are prepared to approve construction of both stations, provided that the cost of the project as a whole can be held within agreed cost limits. The hon. Gentleman asked me what was meant by that statement. I told him when he came to see me two days ago that nothing sinister was implied. The Government mean by that statement that, as with any project, if costs of the entire line—including but not specifically Southwark and Bermondsey stations—and of tunnelling and engineering work, begin to exceed the real terms provision made by the Government for the line's construction, the Government, any Government, would have to reconsider what parts of the line could be built—indeed, whether the line itself could be built—within the available funds.
My statement should not be taken to read that, simply because I am confirming Southwark and Bermondsey now, if there were problems in the financial provision for the line, those two stations would be the first parts to be dropped. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will take that assurance in the spirit in which it is offered. Therefore, there is no question of London Transport or the Government seeking to withdraw provision for Southwark and Bermondsey stations from the Bill. I am mystified by the article in the Evening Standard—no further conditions have to be met with regard to the Treasury. The article was inaccurate.
Secondly, I gave the hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Powell) an assurance that the Government would give serious consideration to the recommendation of the New Building Sub-Committee that the concrete raft which will form the foundation for phase 2 of the new parliamentary building should be paid for in its entirety by the London Underground. But for this, the London Underground has already given all the undertakings sought of it, as acknowledged in the third report of the Services Committee. I said that I believed that that outstanding issue must be addressed in the autumn, and, I hoped, before any Select Committee considered the Bill.
I am therefore pleased to inform the House tonight that the Government are prepared for London Underground to undertake to provide and pay for a raft over the entire site if and when the funding for the phase 2 building has been approved. However, I am sure that the House will understand that, as that undertaking requires expenditure other than strictly required for the purposes of the railway, the Select Committee will have to consider whether additional express powers need to be given to the underground to enable it lawfully to give and discharge this undertaking.
It is only reasonable that that offer, made by the Government with the full concurrence, understanding and 440 agreement of London Underground, is conditional upon the building above the raft going ahead. I am sure that the hon. Member for Ogmore will see the logic behind that. We have tried to respond in a constructive and prompt fashion to his request.
I know that the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms. Ruddock), who may seek to speak in the debate, has raised with me the issue of access for disabled people and doubtless she will wish to return to the subject. London Underground is studying the issue of access to the Jubilee line extension by disabled people, and taking the matter seriously. I understand that it has decided that lifts should be provided to facilitate access to stations. It has appointed consultants to consider the implications and to evaluate the risks of allowing wheelchair users on the extension. But it must have paramount regard to its safety obligations for all passengers and staff, as well as to considerations of reasonable practicability and cost.
If the hon. Lady, whom I know is deeply and specifically interested in the subject, would like to pursue the subject with the Department of Transport alter tonight's debate, I should be happy to meet her and answer any specific questions through Parliament.
There are 95 petitions against the Bill, and it awaits examination by a Select Committee. It would be right that the Bill should be allowed to continue so that the House can reach a conclusion on the expediency of the Bill arid its detailed provisions. If the motion is carried, the House will have further opportunities to consider the arguments for and against the Bill.
The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey hoped that the Bill would attain Royal Assent by autumn next year. I hope that he is right. I share his sentiments, so that, with Royal Assent, but only after proper and detailed consideration of all the points that have been and will be raised, Londoners, particularly those in south-east London, in the docklands area and east London, will benefit from this major extension to London's underground.
§ 11 pm
§ Ms. Joan Ruddock (Lewisham, Deptford)
As others have said, this is a technical carry-over motion. The Minister has clearly given his strong support to the extension of the Jubilee line and I regret that that forces me to take the time of the House to question whether the Government's commitment to London Underground is as strong as he suggests.
Today we have news of a leaked memo from the managing director of London Underground Ltd. to all the Underground managers which calls into question the Government's commitment to providing Londoners with an affordable, accessible and efficient underground system.
London Transport's business plan is now in disarray. It is heading for a loss of between £35 million and £40 million, and the leaked memo catalogues the stark reality of trying to run an underground system within the straitjacket of Government financial constraints. It calls into question future capital programmes.
Members are here tonight debating the carry-over motion and, if it is successful and the Bill goes to Committee, other hon. Members may spend up to 12 months debating its merits. But we cannot be wholly confident of the future extension of the line and of London Underground.
441 On Monday, I tackled the Secretary of State about the £40 million loss. In his facetious reply, he gave no acknowledgement of the difficulties that have been outlined in today's memo. Many of the directives in the memo are relevant to tonight's consideration of the carry-over motion. On capital projects, it says:Projects approved but not committed to contract will not go ahead in this financial year. All projects under way will be assessed to determine savings.On staffing, it says:Reductions in overtime and recruitment are required." The consequences of that are outlined in the memo as unplanned closures of stations and station booking halls and restrictions and reductions in services.We are told that the Victoria line will continue to be six trains short for the rest of this financial year. The Jubilee line is to be three trains short for the rest of this financial year. Station cleaning is to be reduced and there is to be a reduction in engineering. When the London public appreciate that those engineers whose time is to be reduced are those dealing with signals, they will be only to conscious of what that means to the delivery of services. More trains will be stuck in tunnels for longer.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)
Order. I have to be careful not to allow this to turn into a general debate on London Underground, and I hope that the hon. Lady will now direct her remarks more directly to the motion before the House.
§ Ms. Ruddock
I am conscious of what you say, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I have limited my remarks. There is much more that I could say on the issue, but I do believe that, in considering a major investment of this kind, and debating a motion about continuing with it, we should feel some confidence about the Government's commitment to extending the underground system, yet they are already failing to fund it appropriately.
§ Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)
My hon. Friend's remarks are relevant because, if the Government's commitment and that of London Regional Transport is to the completion of the line as outlined in the Bill, is there not likely to be a knock-on effect—or knock-back effect—in many of the operating areas that my hon. Friend outlined—unless, of course, the report to which she referred is a fabrication? Also, obtaining powers to construct a line places no obligation on the promoters to complete it. The Thames or so-called River line was abandoned, so if it was necessary to keep within financial constraints, the promoters might construct a line from Green park to Canary wharf and then take it no further.
§ Ms. Ruddock
My hon. Friend makes his case admirably. There can be no doubt that the report, which we believe to be utterly authentic, undermines our confidence in the Government's support for London Underground Ltd.
Despite that report and the gloomy prospects of continuing misery for those who use the existing tube lines, we will support the carry-over motion—not least because we expect a change of Government before construction of the new line begins, and thus a change of attitude towards public transport as a whole.
§ Mr. Freeman
I remind the House that, under this Government, investment in London Underground is some two and half times greater than it was under the stewardship of the Greater London council. The hon. Lady can confirm that, in giving consent to the depositing of the Jubilee Bill and indicating their strong support for its principles, it follows that financial provision has been made for the entire line. It is not a matter of approving the project in principle and not providing the necessary resources to make it happen.
§ Ms. Ruddock
The Minister may give that assurance, but, despite the approval that he and the House gave London Transport's business plan, we all know that its budgets and financial targets are so severely awry that measures of the kind that I have outlined must be taken. That will mean a reduction in what are already poor services to Londoners.
§ Mr. John Bowis (Battersea)
I have seen the report to which the hon. Lady referred, but I do not think that it was necessarily leaked; rather, I believe that it is generally circulating. That report is a criticism not of the Government's commitment to London Underground but of some of the management's operating practices, and is also partly the consequence of less being realised from assets such as land than London Underground anticipated. The hon. Lady should also make it clear that entirely exempt from those proposals is anything to do with safety. Clearly, expenditure on safety aspects will go ahead.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman is both taking too long and going wide of the motion. I said earlier that this is not the occasion for a general debate about London Underground.
§ Ms. Ruddock
The hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis) claims that safety expenditure will be safeguarded, but morale is being deeply eroded, and that contributes to the level of safety and care provided by managers and staff. The report reflects nothing less than a very serious situation.
Inevitably, the Government's response to the needs of London's travelling public has been piecemeal. The extension of the Jubilee line is among those piecemeal measures, albeit an expensive one, in that every authority in London—including the Conservative-controlled London Boroughs Association—has repeatedly requested a strategic plan.
The extension of the Jubilee line should of course be part of an overall plan for the whole of the capital, one which is necessary if we are not to end up in a state of terminal paralysis. But as the Government persist in this approach, it is our duty as an Opposition to try to get the best possible result from any proposals that come before us.
Many reservations and questions were raised on Second Reading. I am happy to acknowledge that some of the problems have been satisfactorily resolved. Most importantly, the case for new stations in Bermondsey and Southwark has been accepted. As a south London Member, I am acutely aware of the inadequacies of public transport south of the river and of the sterling efforts made by the boroughs of Southwark and Lewisham in lobbying London Transport for new infrastructure.
443 I very much welcome the commitment given by the Minister in answer to the question asked by the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes). I remind the Minister, however, of the view strongly held by me, my colleagues in south London and the boroughs of Lewisham and Greenwich, that the proposed extension to the Docklands light railway must be an essential part of any planned increase in public transport south of the river. I hope that he will allow a Bill to be deposited on that, too, in November.
Will the Minister confirm what has been said by the sponsor of the Bill tonight—that the line and the alignment through the Greenwich peninsula is certain, and that talk of reconsideration is not warranted? Will he also confirm that a route to the royals is being safeguarded in case it is subsequently possible to extend the line further?
Finally, as the Minister said, on Second Reading I expressed our acute disappointment at London Underground's apparent unwillingness to make the new section of line fully wheelchair-accessible. I acknowledge what the Minister has said tonight about the assurances that there will be lifts and stations, and that further consideration is being given to making the line fully wheelchair-accessible. I shall certainly take up his offer to meet him and to pursue that point, because we believe that all extensions of lines and all new underground lines should indeed be fully accessible to people with disabilities.
Despite these objections and the reservations that we still have, we are happy to give support to the carry-over motion. We hope that in Committee the further problems will be satisfactorily resolved.
§ Mr. Ray Powell (Ogmore)
I shall not delay the House unduly at this late hour. I have no wish to repeat the arguments put to the Government and the House on July 12 and 24, because on those occasions the members of the New Building Sub-Committee made their objections known forcefully, and the Government have responded as the Committee would have expected.
I refer first to the report by the Select Committee on House of Commons (Services) on the new parliamentary building phase 2 and the Jubilee line proposals that we debated some time ago. Paragraph 44 described the undertakings that the Committee requested from London Underground as follows:
I shall concentrate on the last paragraph.
- "(i) that London Underground should agree to implement Option F, and that all costs incurred as part of the London Underground works in connection with Option F should be borne by London Underground itself;
- (ii) that London Underground should agree to pay for the concrete raft; and
- (iii) that London Underground should accept all the recommendations aimed at minimising environmental impact put forward by the independent consultants in the Environmental Impact Assessment inasmuch as they relate to Westminster Station and Parliament Square."
I was pleased by what the Minister said about the raft. I understand, as I am sure that all members of the New Building Sub-Committee will understand, that before any concrete proposals are made by the Government or London Underground for payment for the raft that is to be built there will have to be guaranteed funding for the building to be erected above the raft.
444 There could be a change in Government before the final decision is made. I am sure that after the work that has been put in by my Committee no Government would attempt to stop the development, which is well overdue. If the public could see the conditions in which some hon. Members, who represent up to 80,000 constituents, have to work, they would be horrified. Some hon. Members have to work six or seven to a room. They have to do a tremendous amount of work in a confined space—for example, in the Cloisters. If an outside firm made its staff work in such conditions, it would be breaking the law, but the law does not apply to the Palace of Westminster, so hon. Members have to tolerate deplorable conditions brought about because Governments have not been prepared to pay to provide proper accommodation.
My hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Miss Hoey) spoke about county hall, which is only five minutes walk away and has massive committee rooms, plenty of office accommodation for staff, secretaries and even Ministers. Whatever Government we have over the next couple of years, whether the present Government or an incoming Labour Government, should look closely at what should be done with county hall. It should be taken over to provide reasonable accommodation for hon. Members. One of the main reasons why I was prepared to take the Chair of the New Building Sub-Committee was my interest in accommodation and my concern at the fact that hon. Members have not had the necessary standard of accommodation.
This is all relevant to the extension of the Jubilee line, because had it not been for this development by London Underground, phase 2 of the new parliamentary building would be well advanced. In all probability, plans would have been accepted, Government finance would have been granted, and we should have been in the process of building phase 2. Many interests and organisations are demanding accommodation. Women Members of Parliament are asking for creches and child care facilities, other Members would like a gymnasium, a swimming pool or squash courts, but the main priority of every Member of Parliament is office accommodation.
I pay tribute to the hard work put in by the members of the New Building Sub-Committee on the development of phase 1 and the planning and discussion of phase 2. I am grateful for the remarks made by the hon. Member for Dudley, West (Dr. Blackburn) on this. I assure the House that all members of the Committee have unanimously supported the Committee's decisions in discussions with the Minister and other bodies so as to ensure that phase 1 is completed.
The report states that Members of Parliament will soon have accommodation in phase 1. I believe that the Minister has been persuaded to accept one of the three proposals regarding the building and financing of the raft by London Underground because of the persuasiveness of the Opposition Deputy Chief Whip, my hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Mr. Dixon), who is a member of the Committee and has continually argued for that proposal.
I am glad that the Opposition Front Bench supports the carry-over motion. The sooner the Bill leaves its Committee stage, the sooner we shall be able to appoint architects to design phase 2 which will provide additional accommodation for Members.
I hope that, with your permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Minister will be able to reply to a point that I wish to put to him. I am worried about access to the House of 445 Commons because of the new development in Parliament square. I hope that the Minister will say something about the proposals presented to him on 12 and 24 July regarding Parliament square. Traffic will be disrupted for about six years. It cannot be right and proper for traffic to be disrupted for such a long period. It is an environmental issue.
As time is short, I intend to bring my remarks to a close. I hope, however, that the Minister will be allowed to speak again.
§ Mr. Freeman
I am sure that I shall not have a chance to catch your eye again, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to make a substantive contribution, but by way of an intervention may I point out that it is not for me, as a Transport Minister, to comment on specific details. That is a task for the Select Committee. However, I understand the concern about Parliament square. After the Select Committee has carefully considered the proposals for the boarding up of Parliament square, the Department will work closely with London Underground and London Regional Transport to ensure that the disruption is minimised. However, the answers to the hon. Gentleman's questions must be provided by the promoters when the Select Committee considers the Bill.
§ Mr. Powell
I am grateful to the Minister. Those appointed to serve on the Bill will read his remarks and ensure that hon. Members, through the Serjeant at Arms, have access to the House. I can imagine how much disruption would be caused if the road were raised. I am sure that all hon. Members would be glad of an assurance from the Minister that he, as well as the Select Committee, will bear the matter in mind. I am sure that the members of the New Building Sub-Committee will be looking to ensure that the observations that they have made in their reports are well and truly observed.
§ Mr. Ron Leighton (Newham, North-East)
Some generous tributes have been paid to the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Hughes) and his eloquence. I happily join in them. However, I must enter one small caveat. He suggested in his opening remarks that there was no need for any discussion this evening. I do not agree. There are many matters that should be ventilated, especially because of the entirely unsatisfactory private Bill procedure under which these matters are dealt with. This is one of the few opportunities for ordinary Members of Parliament to have a say in what we all understand to be an important matter.
§ Mr. Robert G. Hughes
I should like to make it clear that, whatever the hon. Gentleman may have understood from my remarks, I welcome the debate. The points being put forward are serious and need to be considered. I am listening to them and I know that the promoters are listening and will take account of all the points made by hon. Members.
§ Mr. Leighton
I am pleased to hear that.
I received in my mail today—as I am sure did other hon. Members—a statement on behalf of the promoters in support of the carry-over motion. It says that since the Bill was deposited last November, London Regional Transport has been given leave to proceed with an 446 "additional provision" which would alter the Bill's proposals in three ways. The first is changes to the station arrangements at Westminster, the second is a change at London Bridge station and the third is an alteration in the route. I draw attention to that alteration in the route which will take the line by way of the Blackwall peninsula at Greenwich. That is a major change taking the line from the north side to the south side of the river. Presumably the people on the north side of the river have an opinion about that. People undertook development there and some development is in prospect on the understanding that the Jubilee line was going to run there. Now, all of a sudden, it has been snatched away. What consultation was there with interests north of the river?
I am pleased that the statement from the promoters also refers to the instruction we gave on Second Reading on the need for the regeneration of local communities and industries. Of course, there are no local communities or industries on the Greenwich peninsula.
The change concerning what happens to the line when it leaves Canary wharf is a major one and I have heard no proper explanation for it. The additional provisions for the Bill lodged by the promoters will take the route from Canary wharf under the Thames into the Greenwich peninsula, where a new station is proposed. From that station, the proposed route again crosses under the Thames and goes up to Stratford. Some questions should be asked about that and I hope that we can hear some sensible comments tonight.
Cost is not irrelevant or unimportant. We heard what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms. Ruddock) about the information that she received recently. We have heard the Minister's references to the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes). He had an assurance that he would get his stations only if there was enough money. It was not a cast-iron or, to vary the metaphor, copper-bottomed guarantee. In view of what my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, Deptford said, if it will cost much more to tunnel under the Thames twice perhaps the guarantees given to the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey are not quite so firm.
The route will be considerably longer than originally proposed. Not only will that be much more expensive, but two additional Thames crossings will have to be tunnelled, perhaps in difficult conditions. I do not know what expert opinion we have on how difficult it will be to do that tunnelling, but I should like to know what it will cost and who will pay. Is there any cost to the taxpayer, or will it be paid for by private interests? Parliament wants answers to those questions.
The railway is being paid for very oddly, with subventions from developers and I think that British Gas put up some money. The private Bill procedure for the expenditure of vast sums of public money is unsatisfactory. I ask these questions to see whether we can get some answers.
British Urban Development was set up from II major firms in the construction industry. Its purpose was to carry out redevelopment in the inner cities. The Prime Minister, in particular, looked very kindly on it and it was created virtually with her patronage. It was going to do great work in the inner cities, but unfortunately it is being scaled down because of dwindling Government support, the recession and the downturn in the property market. My hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Miss Hoey) mentioned county 447 hall. I think that that- group was to develop county hall but has now gone bankrupt. As there is so much risk in this line of business but insufficient incentives for firms, they are contracting out of this development.
British Urban Development and British Gas are still paying at least lip service to the development at the Greenwich peninsula. A proposal has been made to develop housing and some small industry. I want to know a bit more about that and how firm it is. I hope that I am not being too insensitive if I say that many of the 11 firms are well known for contributing to the Conservative party. They certainly have much clout and have been able to change the route and take the line under the Thames twice to that site. I think that British Gas has offered £25 million. Is that why the development is being proposed? If we pass the motion, the Select Committee that will consider this will want to ask whether £25 million was available from people on the other side of the river. Is the route of the line to be decided by some sort of auction, with developers offering different sums of money?
We want to know whether the developers of the Greenwich peninsula will deliver. What guarantees are there that they will? My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) and I heard much talk about development in the royal docks. The area was taken out of the the control of the local authorities and put under the control of the London Docklands development corporation—an allegedly dynamic body that was supposed to develop the area. That was 11 years ago, and not a single brick has been laid. If that project has failed, what guarantees are there in respect of the Greenwich peninsula? Is the development viable, and is it fundable, bearing in mind the fact that we are talking about a derelict contaminated gasworks site. Are we sure that the development will take place?
The original route through the Leamouth area on the northern side was decided because of the support that it would give to the regeneration of docklands. It forms a vital part of the transport infrastructure planned by the LDDC for the area. I have not heard the LDDC say anything about the matter. What is the development corporation's view? Or is it inhibited because the Government are its paymasters? Perhaps it is not allowed to have a view. Many of those who have spoken to me believe that the reason for the original decision—which the promoters now want to alter—to run the tracks of the Jubilee line through the Leamouth area, supporting the regeneration of docklands and the east side of London, was sound, and that it constituted a vital element in the success of the regeneration.
Let us consider the development in the Leamouth area and the vast number of people who will be working there. If the Jubilee line does not run through the area, other forms of public transport will be needed, because the private motor car will not be sufficient to move the staff around. The docklands light railway will not be enough; we all know that. Presumably, therefore, those people will be transported by bus, and that will clog up the roads.
Transport will also be needed on the Greenwich peninsula. I have heard a number of ideas about what could be done there, one of which involved the provision of a light railway, linking Westcombe park British Rail line with the peninsula. The DLR should also be extended from Island Gardens on the Isle of Dogs, via Greenwich, to Lewisham.
448 In Newham, we want the royal docks to be developed. Ah! I see the Minister for Industry standing at the Bar of the House, wearing a white tie. I have half a mind to order a cup of coffee from the hon. Gentleman, but perhaps that would not be appropriate.
§ Mr. Leighton
Two sugars, please. The service in this place is wonderful, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and the hon. Gentleman's dress is a splendid example of the sort of uniform that might attract foreign visitors to county hall if ever it were developed as a hotel.
In Newham, we want the Jubilee line extended to the royal docks. That will cost a lot of money, and I have asked about this because I want to know whether the money will be available. Two years ago, we were told that the route would be safeguarded. But as far as I know, after two years of talk, nothing has been done to safeguard it. When will that route be safeguarded?
The step plate junction is a subject close to the heart of my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South. It is the facility that will be necessary to extend the Jubilee line to the royal docks. There are a number of question marks hanging over the project's technical feasibility and the availability of funds. Is the money available—if not, when will it be available—for the step plate junction?
May we have an assurance that the engineering works will be committed? I am advised that they cannot be carried out once the trains are running; I may be wrong, but I should like to be reassured about the junction. On the original route, the junction would have a gentle 45-degree curve, which could be accommodated. The other proposed route—coming up from the south, from the Greenwich peninsula—would, however, involve a 135-degree curve. I am advised by some people that that would be impossible to implement.
When the Jubilee line is extended, which I hope that it will be in the future—perhaps under another Government—it will, ideally, cross the river at north Woolwich and go to Thamesmead.
I have, I trust, raised one or two legitimate questions. They are difficult to deal with under the private Bill procedure, but I hope nevertheless to receive some clear and specific answers.
§ Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)
On Second Reading, I gave the Bill qualified support. I therefore of necessity, support tonight's motion.
When I questioned my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms. Ruddock) about the will to complete, the Minister gave me an assurance for which I thank him. Perhaps my thought was a little unworthy—in relation to trains stopping only at Canary wharf, that is—but, as the Minister knows, the promoters are not obliged to complete any works for which an Act is provided. In any event, the Minister has cleared the matter up by giving me a Government assurance that the necessary funds will be available.
This is the season of carry-over motions, and we have some congestion on the private Bill railway. Comments have been made about private Bill procedure, which I think are best dealt with by way of example. We all know that the major delay is caused by a clash between national 449 energy policy and the little matter of 50,000 miners' jobs. That, of course, is part of the reason for our being here, night after night, until rather late, but I shall not deal with that now.
What I do wish to discuss, however, is an alternative procedure which might make a carry-over motion unnecessary in this instance. It has been suggested that railway Bills should be treated like proposals relating to motorways and referred to a public inquiry. Judging from the detailed comments about open spaces that we heard earlier, some hon. Members may consider that a good idea. What I favour, however, is an examination by a Joint Committee of both Houses—preferably before Second Reading—which would assure itself that any appropriate preliminary steps had been taken before a private Bill came to the House. Had such a procedure been adopted earlier, private legislation involving the channel tunnel, King's Cross and, indeed, the matters that we are discussing now would in my view have been dealt with much more expeditiously.
I am opposed to leaving the final decision with the Secretary of State rather than the House. The issues raised by the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes), for instance, should not be dealt with by means of an ordinary planning inquiry, in which event the decision would lie with the Minister; here, it lies with the House, and with a Committee appointed by the House to look into the merits of the case. I think that that system should be retained—albeit with some form of ring fencing outside—to ensure that all the preliminary procedures, including consultation with landowners and boroughs, have been undertaken before Second Reading.
I wish to emphasise the importance of three broad issues which were dealt with on Second Reading. The regeneration of docklands and the lower Lee valley has been mentioned by many hon. Members. Inquiries have been made about the security of the step plate junction, and I am puzzled how the matter has arisen. The junction consists of concentric expanding rings in the tunnel—it was the design for the tunnel under the Thames, or near it, on the north bank in Canning Town and it was always in the plan. I understand that the design has been incorporated in the variation order, and I see that there are signs of agreement with that in the Chamber. A typical rumour has circulated and it is right that inquiries have been made, but there may be some misapprehension about the safeguarding of the route. As I understand it, that safeguarding will lie in the junction, which can be constructed only prior to the initiation of trains. The scheme will permit a branch through the royal docks, should that be found necessary in future, and that makes sense. Had there been sufficient and proper time to take the line over an existing or proposed bridge, or through a tunnel, into Thamesmead or Woolwich, that would have been a good strategic planning stroke to come from a future Bill.
I referred on Second Reading to the Westminster/ Charing cross problem, and I mention it again for the consideration of the Select Committee. Should the interchange with the District line be at St. James's park as the Committee wanted, at Westminster where the promoters want it, or at Temple which I have suggested as an alternative? If the interchange were at Temple, there 450 would be the facility of continuing with the present route via Charing cross or Trafalgar square, which are relatively near.
The curve of the line—curves have been mentioned in respect of Canning Town—at Green park would need to be transposed to a curve through Temple, or there would have to be a similar one. I am not convinced that that could be achieved. I have no doubt that the Committee will consider the matter, and I hope that the promoters will be preparing a variation order—they will if they are wise—in the event that the Committee finds that there is a better way of serving the general needs of London and getting rid of all the problems at Parliament square.
I make no apology for raising the subject of regeneration again. It is an example of the value of the parliamentary Bill procedure as a long-stop for anything that may come earlier. On Second Reading, the hon. Member for Wanstead and Woodford (Mr. Arbuthnot) talked about one of his constituents, a Mr. Downey, who has a business in my constituency. Indeed, the hon. Gentleman, who represents one of the Buckhurst Hill areas, devoted his speech to the just needs of Mr. Downey and his business. Mr. Downey owns a small engineering business by a filling station in Canning Town. It is one of the remnant industries of east London, and stems directly from the shipbuilding and ship-repairing tradition which, alas, is all but extinct in the area now. I believe that in 1906 a Dreadnought was built on the site close to where Mr. Downey has his workshops.
Compensation is causing some difficulty. I pay tribute to the work of some of the officials, some of whom may even be listening to what I have to say, in trying to find Mr. Downey alternative accommodation. The fact that he has two disparate businesses may make their job difficult. I understand, however, that it will be difficult for Mr. Downey even to continue with his engineering business, which has a relatively full order book. That is something which I believe the House will not tolerate. Will the Committee tolerate it, bearing in mind the instruction that the House has already issued?
Mr. Downey is a gentleman of private enterprise. He is engaged in a business that would gladden the hearts of Conservative Members and one of which I approve because it is concerned with engineering and tangible things. It leads to items being made that people want, and it is conducted on good private enterprise lines which Conservative Members constantly applaud.
The private Bill procedure is meant to ensure that people get proper compensation. Because of the importance of regeneration, the LDDC and the instruction, such people should be permitted and enabled to carry on their productive businesses. My constituents should be enabled to continue their employment in a traditional east London industry and, if necessary, to carry out training and have apprentices so that if demand for Mr. Downey's fabrications increases, his industry can continue to meet it. At the moment, however, there is no guarantee of that.
I have been invited to be involved in the search for a solution but, as both myself—the Member representing the constituency in which the business is located—and the hon. Member representing Mr. Downey's constituency, who is present in the Chamber today, have pointed out, hon. Members should not have to spend any more time on mediation. I am glad and proud that Parliament can consider the fate of individual businesses and, in the 451 traditional phrase, "the details of Mrs. Smith's pension" on the Adjournment. That is absolutely right and cases such as this are why we want to retain the private Bill procedure. However, once the House has given an instruction, and once the idea of proper compensation, enshrined for centuries, is embedded in the legislation, I believe that the promoters and others concerned should be enabled to get on with it.
I conclude where I began, considering the value of at least part of the private Bill procedure for railways. We can see what is happening at the moment with the procedure for roads. Not very far from the end of the Jubilee line at Oxleas Wood, the former Secretary of State for the Environment approved a road and not a tunnel. We are talking about a tunnel for a railway. At a stroke of his pen—in perhaps just 15 seconds' work—the Secretary of State ruled that the inspectors' report on Oxleas Wood would be completely disregarded and decided that there should not be a tunnel there. No Secretary of State in the future—I do not care what party he belongs to—or future Administration in 20, 30 or 50 years' time should be given such a power in relation to tunnels for railways.
That is why I end where I began. Although we want the private Bill procedure to be improved, I believe that the case of Mr. Downey and the former Secretary of State's decision over Oxleas Wood prove that we should only modify our procedures and not hand the power of the House and its Committees to some personage who will be seated at a desk opposite the House in Whitehall.
§ Mr. Robert G. Hughes
With the permission of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall seek to answer some of the important points that have been made, and to do so as briefly as possible. The promoters are extremely grateful for all the points that have been made, and careful note has been made of the important views expressed by those hon. Members who represent constituencies that will be affected by the line.
I shall not go into all the arguments that have been made about procedure, especially the private Bill procedure, because that is a complicated matter that is outside the scope of this debate.
The hon. Member for Vauxhall (Miss Hoey) referred to the problem with Jubilee gardens. I well understand the point that she is making on behalf of her constituents. The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) also made the point that Jubilee gardens is the only green space in the area and that there will be enormous problems if building has to be carried out there. However, as the hon. Lady also said, she and the people she represents are not against the line. She knows that, if the line is built, there will have to be some digging. She and the promoters are at one in seeking to have the building site located on the car park if possible. I shall not stray into the political areas of discussing how possible that may or may not be or should or should not be. Nevertheless, they are at one and LUL will be seeking to locate the building site on the car park.
My hon. Friend the Member for Dudley, West (Dr. Blackburn) hit the nail on the head in many regards, but especially when he said that improvements for hon. Members, and the new building that everyone desires, are in danger if the motion is not passed. That is the context 452 in which we should put both his remarks and the valuable speech about the new building of the hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Powell).
I was tempted by the hon. Member for Ogmore when he talked about the prospect that county hall could be used for offices. I used to have an office in county hall which was about the same size as that enjoyed by the Prime Minister at the back of the Chair in this building. If it meant that I could have that office back, I should be in favour of moving into county hall.
§ Mr. Hughes
Until there was a Division, as my hon. Friend says.
The Committee of the hon. Member for Ogmore has made a valuable contribution on the new building and the traffic in Parliament square. It is fair to say that the close working relationship that has built up between the PSA and London Underground has ironed out many of the problems that were raised by the hon. Member for Ogmore on Second Reading. Of course, problems remain to be ironed out, but I hope that the promoters will examine the problems outlined by the hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members today and that further improvements can be made before the building work starts.
I thank the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey for his kind words. He talked about the cost of the project. He asked whether the stations were linked to the project or to the cost of the project. The hon. Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) also made that point. It is clear from everything that I have read and from what my hon. Friend the Minister said that the stations of Southwark and Bermondsey are linked to the project going ahead. There is not much point in having the stations if one does not have the line. There is no suggestion that the line would go ahead without the stations. That is important. I think that the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey was satisfied on that point.
The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey also said that the line should serve communities and help to regenerate them. He said that it should not be merely for commuting into the rest of London. The hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) also made that point. That objective is clear, as I said in my introduction to the debate.
The hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms. Ruddock) made a speech that was interesting but not necessarily germane to a carry-over motion. I take to heart her point about wheelchair accessibility, and I hope that the promoters take it to heart too. We must work towards making people in wheelchairs real members of our society, with the rights that they deserve. We need to do some work on that. That was not in my brief, but I thought that I would say it.
§ Ms. Ruddock
I remind the hon. Gentleman that I also requested an assurance on safeguarding a route to the royals. Will he come to that point?
§ Mr. Hughes
I was coming to that specific point.
As the hon. Member for Newham, South said—in a sense in response to his hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-East—the safeguard for the route to the royals is the fact that the step plates are integral to the 453 building of the line. That has been clearly stated by the promoters. Without the step plates, the new line cannot be built to the royals. That is the guarantee. Guaranteeing the specific route is a matter for the Government, and no doubt that will have to be pursued. However, it may not need to be pursued because the step plates are guaranteed.
The case of Mr. Downey was raised by the hon. Member for Newham, South. There has been some correspondence——
§ Mr. Leighton
I am counting the hon. Gentleman's remarks and wondering whether he is responding in order in which the speeches were made. After replying to my hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Mr. Powell) he leapt over me to my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing). Does he intend to come back to me by some sort of step plate? How is he arranging his speech?
§ Mr. Hughes
Rather like the pudding after the meal, I am saving my reply to the hon. Gentleman until last.
There has been correspondence between London Underground and my hon. Friend the Member for Wanstead and Woodford (Mr. Arbuthnot) on Mr. Downey. The local authority and LUL are doing everything possible to find a new site. I know that my hon. Friend will not let Mr. Downey's case go by default and he will ensure that his constituent is satisfied before the Bill proceeds to the statute book.
The hon. Member for Newham, North-East asked the important question about whether the line should go north or south of the river. The east London rail study identified two possible alignments between Canary wharf and Canning Town—via either the Greenwich peninsula or the Brunswick foreshore. The pressure of the November deadline on LRT to deposit a Bill last year made it necessary for it to reach a decision to plan on the basis of the shorter and cheaper alignment via Brunswick. The Bill was deposited on that basis.
Subsequently further discussions were held with property developers and landowners, whose interests would be affected by both alignments, to ascertain whether they would be prepared to meet the additional costs of providing a station and changing the route as necessary. Each of the interested groups offered to contribute, but the financial case for proceeding with the Greenwich alignment is more robust and offers additional benefits as it opens up the area to public transport.
In contrast, Brunswick will be effectively served by the Beckton extension of the docklands light railway. Accordingly, the Government authorised the deposit of an additional provision to change the alignment to go via Greenwich—LRT is committed to promoting the Bill as amended by that additional provision. LRT is convinced that the better route in terms of maximum use by passengers is that via the Greenwich peninsula. That decision, however, in common with many other matters that we have discussed, should be discussed in Committee.
Without the motion, there will be no line, at least for the foreseeable future. If we approve the motion, we shall get the line that Londoners desperately need.
§ Mr. Leighton
Am I right to understand that there was some kind of auction and discussions with property developers and landowners and that sums of money were 454 offered? I believe that the hon. Gentleman said that the case for one route was more robust than that for the other. I do not know what that means.
We already know that, in the long term, the docklands light railway will not be adequate for the traffic it must carry. The Committee should point the spotlight on this matter and examine it most carefully. It should discover how much the various offers were worth. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman can tell us the answer, because, as he said earlier, that might not be in his brief. Does he know what was offered by whom?
§ Mr. Leighton
Perhaps we cannot deal with the matter here because of unsatisfactory procedures, but it is something that must be dealt with.
§ Mr. Hughes
The crux of the argument advanced by the hon. Member for Newham, North-East is that this matter should be discussed in Committee.
On Second Reading, people asked why this particular route had been chosen, given the announcement about the east-west route. The answer lies in cost-benefit analysis. LRT believes that that analysis proves that the Greenwich peninsula is a better route than the other, which happens to be cheaper. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the Committee should discuss the matter.
Without the carry-over motion, the Committee cannot discuss any matter, and London will be deprived of a desperately needed railway.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That the Promoters of the London Underground Bill shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with the Bill, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office not later than the day before the close of the present Session of their intention to suspend further proceedings and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid;
That on the fifth day on which the House sits in the next Session the Bill shall be presented to the House;
That there shall be deposited with the Bill a declaration signed by the Agents for the Bill, stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill at the last stage of its proceedings in this House in the present Session;
That the Bill shall be laid upon the Table of the House by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office on the next meeting of the House after the day on which the Bill has been presented and, when so laid, shall be read the first and second time and committed (and shall be recorded in the Journal of this House as having been so read and committed);
That all Petitions relating to the Bill presented in the present Session which stand referred to the Committee on the Bill shall stand referred to the Committee on the Bill in the next Session;
That no Petitioners shall be heard before the Committee on the Bill, unless their Petition has been presented within the time limited within the present Session or deposited pursuant to paragraph (b) of Standing Order 126 relating to Private Business;
That, in relation to the Bill, Standing Order 127 relating to Private Business shall have effect as if the words "under Standing Order 126 (Reference to committee of petitions against Bill)" were omitted:
That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session;
That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.