HC Deb 24 June 1991 vol 193 cc766-82
Mr. Spearing

I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 5, line 22, at end insert— '(3A) Before completion of Work No. 3A, the promoters shall ensure that any station which may be constructed at Canning Town shall provide the most convenient interchange obtainable between the Jubilee Line and the existing lines of the Docklands Light Railway and the British Railways Board.'. The words "existing lines" are technically correct now because the lines have been laid, but no docklands light railway trains yet run.

Probing amendments are in fashion this evening, and this is no exception. Amendment No. 4 has not been selected, but I think that it would be in order to quote it as it expands the intention behind amendment No. 1. Amendment No. 4 states that the station shall provide optimum convenience of interchange for passengers, as may be obtained within the physical and statutory limitations of the work, and which may incorporate necessary arrangements or agreements for sharing, leasing or exchange of land, track or other facilities". I put that on the record because it could conceivably add a solution to a somewhat knotty problem.

I do not expect the hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne) to reach a verdict on the proposition that I am putting before the House or to respond in detail this evening, except on matters of fact and preliminary comment. I merely ask him to consider the case that I shall make on behalf of the people of Newham and Beckton especially, as well as on behalf of future travellers on any of the three lines involved. I say that, too, to the Minister for Public Transport who is gracing our proceedings this evening. In answer to a question, he stated that he was not yet persuaded of the need for extra expenditure for an interchange at Canning Town. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his customary courtesy. His reply shows that his mind is still open. I must thank the hon. Gentleman also for his courtesy in visiting several sites. He must think that my hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Poplar (Ms. Gordon) and I have been haunting him for the past few weeks. As he will know, however, many transport investments in the areas we represent are causing concern.

Canning Town is a nodal part of east London, and it is no accident that that is so. It is the lowest bridging point of the River Lea. On the east-west alignment we have the continuation of the well-known artery of Commercial road, the A13, which bifurcates at Canning Town, one route proceeding to Barking while the other is a dual carriageway to Tilbury. North and south there is a 19th-century railway that once had four tracks but is now to be used by the Jubilee line, too. Ten years ago there was no electrification there, but now, fortunately, the British Rail lines have been electrified, thanks to a grant from the Greater London council before that body was terminated. The docklands light railway and the Jubilee line come that way, too, so we shall have three high-capacity urban railway lines as well as important bus interchanges, with a bus station planned next to those important stations.

9.15 pm

Ironically, the instruction to the Committee about the regeneration of the area happens to be relevant to the site of the proposed station. The station will be next to the Thames ironworks, where the well-known warship Warrior—now, happily, preserved at Portsmouth—was built, as were dreadnoughts at the turn of the century.

Unfortunately, some of the new buildings such as the booking office and the adjacent bus station will require the demolition of one of the last remaining engineering works in the area—Messrs. J. and J. Downey. I place it on the record that the defects in our procedures led to Mr. Downey's being presented with an estimate of £70,000 for pursuing a petition that he had laid at the Committee stage—I have seen the letter. I pointed out to him that the work could be done for less—but who, for the sake of preserving his business, would not want what he considered the best representation available?

I realise that proposals before the House for changing our procedures on private Bills might mean public inquiries for railway Bills. That would be an improvement, provided that Parliament had the last word. I am not keen on giving any Secretary of State, even the most enlightened, the final power of decision on matters that, as tonight's debate shows, could be discussed and in the end decided by a Committee of one of the Houses of Parliament.

Canning Town station is not only a nodal point—for the first few years at least it will be an important interchange serving the royal docks area. That area will be served by the British Rail line that I mentioned—the north London link to north Woolwich—and the docklands light railway to Beckton, which will serve a large area of housing as well as the north sides of the Victoria and Albert docks.

If people are coming to that area from the Jubilee line, as many of them will, they will have to change at Canning Town. Unlike the well-known arrangements for changing trains at Mile End, for instance, where one can walk across the platform to catch another train going in the same direction, the dominant flows at Canning Town station —at least in the early stages—will mean catching a train going in the opposite direction. As well as that unusual feature, the restraints caused by the physical nature of the area mean that the ideal solution—a transposition of the tracks—would be very expensive, if not impossible.

Unfortunately, in my view and in that of the London borough of Newham, the promoters' plans for the station are defective. The British Rail station would be left about 300 m north of the proposed docklands light railway and Jubilee line station, and the two stations would be connected by a subway running under not only a flyover but slip roads some eight traffic lanes wide. No subway is to the liking of interchange passengers, and this one is especially disliked. The journey will not only involve going along a narrow subway—even if it were widened a little, it would still be narrow—but going up or down a number of stairways. In other words, for most people, it will be a human assault course.

Ms. Gordon

I am glad that my hon. Friend has raised the question of the subway. As he may realise, many women are very much afraid of using such subways, especially given the poor manning of railway stations that we are witnessing these days. Some years ago, I taught in a school on Hendon way—right on the dual carriageway. There was an underpass leading to the school, which was certainly much shorter than the proposed tunnel, but there were a number of cases of muggings, flashers and so on. In the end, the police came to the school and warned parents and children to go considerably further down the road to the traffic lights—a long walk with small children—and not to use the underpass because it was unsafe and a policeman could not be stationed there all the time. The safety of passengers using such underpasses should be taken into account before any such proposal is envisaged.

Mr. Spearing

My hon. Friend has given a graphic example of what many London women know. For such an underpass to be incorporated afresh into what is to be virtually a new station—new, if we have our way as to where the platforms will be—would be a retrograde step on which hon. Members who might otherwise support the provisions should consult their wives and families.

We are talking not only about gender but about people who are disabled or elderly, people with luggage, and women with young children and pushchairs. I am riot saying that we can do without steps and escalators altogether, as the House will see. Nevertheless, one wishes to minimise such difficulties where that is physically possible. In relation to the position of the two stations in question, such disadvantages will be built in. That is certainly not good enough for Canning Town, and. I imagine that it will not be tolerated in Westminster in relation to one or two other stations that are to be built.

The problem is compounded because, at present, the joint docklands light railway and Jubilee line platforms will be alongside each other, with no crossing of the tracks. If the platforms were built on a double deck, instead of going up and down two stairways or two escalators, one would have to negotiate only one stairway or one escalator at the dominant interchanges.

It is clear that there is no ideal solution in respect of the proposed site, but there is certainly a better solution than the one proposed—namely, a double-decker station, with one of the lines above the other, and with escalators between the platforms to give the maximum facility for interchange. If the British Rail line were alongside, with the island platform lay-out, we should avoid the long trek to which my hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Poplar and I have referred.

That was recognised on day 16 of the Committee's sittings. Mr. Bayliss, a renowned transport planner, was brought in to give evidence for the promoters. I have known Mr. Bayliss for many years. He was with the GLC for many years and we are glad to see that, in the last birthday honours list, he received the OBE. He admitted that the arrangements proposed by the promoters were less than perfect and agreed that the borough's proposals would be "easier for passengers".

What I did not realise until relatively recently was the agreed volume of passengers involved. We all know from our own experience that the number of people using subways and crossing from platform to platform at integrated stations is considerable. I understand that the promoters and the borough of Newham have arrived at an agreed estimate of the likely number of passengers interchanging between the docklands light railway and the Jubilee line—about 6,000 per hour at peak periods, I am told.

I suspect that that figure may be what is envisaged for the turn of the century or a bit later. But we must bear in mind the fact that we are building not just for the beginning of the century but well beyond. I suspect that the figure may therefore increase. The figure relating to the interchange between the British Rail line and one of the other two lines is at present much lower, but it, too, could increase considerably if the docklands development goes ahead. The hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne) will probably agree with the general estimate that the interchange could involve up to 10,250 boarding movements per hour.

I understand that the promoters and the petitioner—the London borough of Newham—have gone further in their agreement. Those of us who have observed road construction, and transport planning and economics, know something of cost benefit analysis. I confess that I have been critical of cost benefit analysis in the past, and I still do not adopt such methods. The idea is that, if progress is X mph faster or there are so many more cars on the road, a certain amount of time is deemed to have been saved. The next step is to cost the figures; eventually, a sum is arrived at that favours the construction of the road. The process is ingenious and, up to a point, legitimate.

I understand that that process has been applied to the subway that we are discussing, and to the two sets of stairs. Apparently, an agreement between the promoters and the petitioners provides that, over a period, the time saved by the borough's plans—as opposed to those of the promoters—will lead to a saving of £1.8 million. Capitalised, that will apparently amount to £20 million over the borrowing period, or whatever period is usually used for such calculations.

I stress that I do not use such calculations myself; but, if they are to be adopted by the promoters and the borough, so be it. A strong case seems to have been advanced from the borough's point of view. The extra cost, for a proper station, will be about £8.2 million more than the existing estimates. I say "about" because it could be a bit less, and I suppose that it could be a bit more.

That sounds a huge sum, and indeed it is; but it is additional to the £31 million cost of the construction of the length of railway reaching from the end of the tunnel—where it comes up from the Greenwich peninsula under the Thames—some way towards West Ham to the north. We are talking about an increase of roughly 25 per cent. in the cost of the whole length, including that of the probably quite complex civil engineering works that will be necessary to construct the new subway under the elevated station.

That is a fairly strong case in itself. Given that the work is part of a huge project, the mind boggles at the additional sums that will be spent in Parliament square on, for instance, the engineering works that will be needed for the Waterloo interchange involving the existing railways. I asked the promoters whether they could give me an idea of the cost of other stations, but, understandably, they were unable to do so. I do not complain about that, because I know that contracts and commercial confidentiality are involved.

Hon. Members may not know about the other investment being put into other modes of transport. I do not underestimate the importance of the station that we are discussing. I do not vouch for the correctness of this information, although I believe that it is more or less correct: I understand that, when it is completed, the capacity of the docklands light railway will be about 10,000 people per hour. The capacity of the Jubilee line, at its maximum, will be about 20,000, and that of British Rail will be 2,500, or perhaps a bit more with luck. That means that up to 30,000 people an hour could be passing through the station, perhaps more in the next century.

Once the trains are running, it will not be possible—or, at any rate, it will be very expensive—to make changes which might be considered urgent in 50 years' time. I refer to the kind of complaints made about the Central line and others that were built around the turn of the century.

Interchange is not the sole prerogative of public transport although we always think in those terms. Every time we jump into a car and reach a major intersection or roundabout, we are at an interchange. That is true whether one is on two feet, four tyres, or two tyres.

9.30 pm

I mentioned earlier the other investment being made in the area. Within one mile of the site of the Canning Town underground station and bus interchange, a number of remarkable works are under way. On the A13, there is the intersection with Prince Regent's lane, where, happily, there is at last to be an underpass. Consultations have improved the design and perhaps the construction of that development, which I understand will cost around £45 million.

The Canning Town flyover is to be widened, and the works associated with that important river crossing, according to a borough estimate—I understand that we do not yet have a final figure from the Department, probably because surveys are still being made—will cost at least £20 million. That work is immediately adjacent to the station. The Leamouth interchange with Abbots road and Leamouth road, which is currently the location of interim works, will eventually cost £8 million. That work will comprise just a few slip roads and other roads close to the new station.

Also under construction is a new tunnel and underpass bang through the middle of what was the East India dock. A feature of that work is a listed wall, which will remain above the tunnel—and the cost of that will be around £35 million. A little further to the west there is the Preston road flyover, costing £10 million. Those works together will cost in the region of £117 million.

My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) may ask about the lower Lea crossing. That will provide a duplicate for the A13. I have not included it in the figure of £117 million, for it will cost just a modest £25 million. Therefore, in and around the location of the new station, investment in roads of about £120 million is to be made. Expenditure of £8 million, more or less, to provide a decent station must be viewed in relation to that figure.

The docklands light railway will serve my constituency, other parts of Newham, the Beckton area, the custom house area, and, if some people have their way, it might even extend across the river to Thamesmead, which would be sensible. Even without an extension to Thamesmead or Barking, the importance of the interchange with the Jubilee line and with Canning Town cannot be doubted. The same is true of the interchange with the north London link towards Highbury, Islington, and all stations to Watford and further north.

I only ask that the promoters have further discussions with the borough about the facts that I have mentioned, all of which I hope are correct, and will give an undertaking to consider those matters further. Although I have suggested two amendments, it may be that none is required.

My understanding is that undertakings will be given and agreements reached that will enable the matter to proceed without any formal petitioning, questioning or long days before a Committee in the other place. That would be a happy solution. Despite some aspects of the Bill's introduction and purpose, about which some of us have reservations, I do not think that anybody would wish it to be delayed. Therefore, those undertakings could contribute to the speed of its passage. It is in that spirit that I commend my thoughts to the promoter and to the Government.

Mr. Ron Leighton (Newham, North-East)

I wish briefly to support the eloquent case put by my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing). I hope that the Minister, with what was described as his open mind, will have found my hon. Friend's case as persuasive as I did.

Historically, the east end of London has always had second best. It has always been the poor relation. It has been what I might describe as the backside of London. It was the place where London put its sewage works, gas works, chemical works and noxious industries. It has always had the sticky end of the stick. Whether in housing, health, educational achievement, leisure facilities, employment, income, life opportunities or transport, the east end has always had the worst of the deal.

I view my job as one of trying to even up the position between the east end and the west end, and of ensuring that people in the east end have opportunities and choices as good as those available to people in the west end. It is now becoming possible, perhaps for the first time, to make some progress. London's centre of gravity is now moving towards the east. The proposed new railway line is an example of that. I say "new", but the idea of the railway line is not new. It was first proposed a long time ago, and then again by the Greater London council. There was a time when it was called the Fleet line. We have been waiting for it for a long time.

What is new is the influence that the developers have brought to bear. They built Canary wharf and other developments, but then found that there was no transport infrastructure and no planning, so no one could gel to their developments. They brought great pressure to bear—perhaps much more than Members of Parliament representing the east end could bring to bear. They also brought their cheque books to bear—perhaps only to a limited extent, but it helped.

I and my hon. Friends welcome the new line; it is better late than never. We are interested in what happens to the line when it goes past Canary wharf and in particular when it reaches Canning Town. As my hon. Friend explained, that is the junction of three lines—British Rail, the docklands light railway and the Jubilee line. It also has several important roads.

There are a large number of designs for that very important station—I believe in excess of 20. The Minister will remember that the designs were laid on the table before us when I was sitting in his office. There were about 20 separate designs for the station, ranging from the good to the bad. Which of those 20 splendid designs have we got? We have got the bad one, the inferior one. Why, yet again, has east London got the inferior one? It comes down to money, to the cost.

My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South said that a proper, decent station would cost £8.2 million extra. The Minister will remember that this was discussed recently at Question Time. He told me that I was wrong when I said that it would cost £8 million. He said it would cost £7 million. My hon. Friend was overdoing it, therefore, when he said that it would cost £8.2 million to build a decent station. According to the Minister, it would cost only £7 million.

The cost of the line will be £1.2 billion, or thereabouts. I always distrust nice, round figures such as 1.2 billion. It will cost not £1.2 billion but thereabouts—give or take £7 million or £8 million, or £70 million or £80 million, or £100 million or £200 million. My mathematics is not very good. I cannot work out what, in percentage terms, £7 million is of £1.2 billion, but it must be an infinitesimal decimal— recurring, I should have thought. We are talking peanuts —of small change, in terms of this project, in order to give the east end of London a decent station.

This is a green field site. We are building something new for the next century, for the next millenium. My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South said that the British Rail line has been in existence for well over a century. This station will be there for well over a century —indeed, for much longer. When the centre of gravity of London has moved to the east, that station will be used by millions of people, especially after 1992 and all the developments that will take place.

To move from the Jubilee line to the docklands light railway, we shall have to go through that awful, long tunnel. Why on earth is a bad station going to be built when we have the opportunity to build a decent one, of which we could all be proud? We shall be spending £1.2 billion, but we are jibbing at spending £7 million to give the people of the east end, at this extremely important junction of three lines, a decent station.

It is not only Newham borough council that says that. The Leamouth group of private business men also says it. These are people with substantial interests in the private sector. They carried out enormous developments in the Leamouth area on the understanding that they would get the Jubilee line. That was contained in the first proposal that came before the House.

However, that decision was changed. The route is now not on the northern side of the river but to the south of the river. It goes to the Greenwich peninsula. Those business men were told, "Never mind; you expected to get the Jubilee line and you invested many hundreds of millions of pounds in your developments. We snatched the line away, but never mind; you're going to get the docklands light railway." If that is all that they are to get, they will be very interested in the interchange between the Jubilee line and the docklands light railway which is to serve their area. To reach their area from the Jubilee line, people will have to change at Canning Town.

The Minister knows that the developers there want a decent station. Big people in the private sector are pleading for a decent, proper, world-class station at Canning Town. The truth is that nobody is satisfied with the proposed station at Canning Town. I do not think that London Underground believes that it is the best option, but it is hampered by the financial constraints imposed by the Government. The private sector and local authorities are not satisfied. We ask the Minister, for whom many of us have much respect and who has shown in answers to our questions that he has an open mind, to consider the proposal carefully and not to build an inferior station. We are building for the future, so let us build something of which we can be proud.

We made many mistakes by allowing development on the Isle of Dogs before the transport infrastructure was in place. I want the Jubilee line to be run into the Royals, but London Underground is making the mistake of providing only a template junction. We want not a template junction but the railway to run into the Royals—we should place that on record—and a decent, world-class station at Canning Town.

9.45 pm
Mr. Thorne

The hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) was kind enough to say that amendment No. 1 is a probing amendment. I take his remarks in that spirit.

It is clear that the station at Canning Town would be better if we were starting from scratch, but that is not so. We must take into account the cost, and I strongly dispute the point that the east end gets the worst of everything. We are debating a Bill under which £1,300 million will be spent on providing a facility essentially for the east end. That shows that hon. Members believe that it is an important part of the metropolis. As the hon. Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) said, the centre of gravity of the metropolis is moving east. Many of us welcome that, especially given the excellent work that has been carried out by the London Docklands development corporation and others.

I know the Canning Town area quite well, because I attended school with a boy whose father was the resident engineer at Silvertown Lubricants, which had a large storage depot in Canning Town way. I frequently visited him during the school holidays, and from our travels on our bicycles we got to know the area extremely well. I have much sympathy for the people of the area, but we must accept that there are certain constraints and we must achieve value for money.

Insufficient emphasis has been placed this evening on the alternative connections. There is a perfectly good British Rail-Jubilee line connection at West Ham station, which is a short distance up the line, and the docklands light railway has a good connection at Custom House. We are not saying that people are deprived because they must change trains at this junction. The hon. Member for Bow and Poplar (Ms. Gordon) mentioned ladies naturally not wanting to use subways late at night, but they can easily change nearby on the same line.

The question is, does the House want to spend £7 million or £8 million on a facility that will not increase revenue in any way? We must get the best value for money in our transport infrastructure. We must consider other schemes—for example, the cross-rail project—where we want to spend money but where we cannot if we spend unnecessarily in a particular part of London.

The Committee went into the matter in considerable detail. Its job was to listen to counsel and to consider the cases put forward by the London borough of Newham, LRT and others. At the end of its detailed consideration, it concluded that the promoters' proposal was right and proper. I therefore ask the House to support the promoters in rejecting the amendment, unless the hon. Member for Newham, South withdraws it.

Mr. Freeman

I suspect that the hon. Members for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) and for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) think that I am the villain of the piece, in the sense that Government controls on the total cost of the line forced London Regional Transport, correctly, to ensure that maximum value for money was obtained from the funds available. If money were no object, there is no question but that there would be an interchange of all three lines. There would be a double-deck interchange between the docklands light railway and the Jubilee line and a north London interchange, so that passengers could move freely from one platform to another. But money is an object.

I am sure that, on reflection, the hon. Member for Newham, South would agree that the argument that that money has been spent already in the east end is not logical and rational. One must still justify an additional £7 million in relation to the total expenditure on the Jubilee line. The argument of the hon. Member for Newham, North-East that this is a small proportion of the total cost—under I per cent.—is not intellectually justifiable. Every item of expenditure must be justified.

I conclude by offering two positive comments which are outwith the responsibility of LRT, for which my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne) speaks. If the subway is taken over by LRT to maintain its security, and it therefore must be closed at certain times of the night, I assure hon. Members that, in terms of providing alternative access 24 hours a day above or across the road, the Department of Transport will work closely with the London borough of Newham in ensuring that adequate re-provision is made. It is accepted that adequate re-provision must be made.

The Royals extension is not the subject of the Bill, but I assure the hon. Member for Newham, North-East that I share his view. In the long run, we want the Jubilee line extended to the Royals to permit the future development of those docks in the same way as the docks on the Isle of Dogs have benefited from the development and provision of transport infrastructure. There is nothing in the Bill that is inconsistent with what I believe, and what I suspect the hon. Gentleman believes, will happen—an extension and development of the Jubilee line.

Mr. Spearing

The hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne) exceeded the terms of my request. He did not say that he would consider the case; in effect, he considered it and rejected it. The hon. Gentleman has every right to do that. I am sorry that he reached that conclusion, although I understand some of his reasons.

We must question what is necessary. I am not convinced that this arrangement would occur in "a particular part of London" if it were in the west end. To take up the important theme of my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton), if it is not satisfactory for the west end it is not satisfactory for the east end either. As a born and bred Londoner, I make that constituency point very strongly, and I am sorry that it has not been sufficiently recognised.

Of course, money is important but, as I said, we do not know what extraordinary expenditure might be needed underground in other parts of London, not least in the underground station serving the interchange of the District line very close to where we stand. Therefore, I am sorry that the hon. Member for Ilford, South responded in the way that he did although he has a right to do so because he represents the promoters of the Bill.

I agree with the Minister that a lot of money has been spent, but the point of my illustration was that it has been spent on another model of transport. Therefore, if more were spent on the rail mode it would not be out of kilter with what it has already been agreed to spend on roadways close to the station. There are other road routes even further away to which I did not refer. Nevertheless, this exchange of views has been useful and I am glad that it has taken place. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment by leave, withdrawn.

Queen's Consent, on behalf of the Crown, signed—

Motion made, and Question proposed, That Standing Order 205 (Notice of Third Reading) be suspended and that the Bill be now read the third time.—[The Chairman of Ways and Means.]

Mr. Thorne

The House will recall that the Bill if enacted would permit the construction of a nine-mile or 15-km extension to London Underground's Jubilee line, from Green park in the west end to Stratford in the east. This project originates from the east London rail study.

The railway will pass through Westminster, Waterloo, London bridge, docklands and West Ham. It will bring transport benefits by serving areas hitherto not on the main tube network and development benefits in helping to sustain and extend the regeneration of the docklands urban development area. This is a matter set down by the House at Second Reading as a specific instruction to the committee. The Bill has been amended, following exhaustive examination during 22 days in Committee. The Committee found that the case for the preamble to the Bill had been proved, and considered six issues on which it wished to place specific requirements on the promoters.

The Committee endorsed London Underground's proposal to route the line through the north Greenwich redevelopment site, rather than on the opposite side of the river through Brunswick, as certain petitioners had requested. It stressed the importance of the fullest possible access for the disabled consistent with general safety. It also requested an amendment to the effect that Nos. I and 2 Bridge street, opposite the House, should not be demolished until, by resolution, the House has approved a design for the new parliamentary building, and following full and close consultation with English Heritage.

The Bill is to be amended to remove any possibility of surface works in Parliament square. A protective clause is to be added so that the work site in Jubilee gardens is to be kept some distance from county hall. A full structural survey of the tower blocks on Canada Water estate in the London borough of Southwark is to be carried out. All these requirements were unreservedly accepted by the promoters, and the Bill has been accordingly amended.

I know that some hon. Members have particular concerns, and perhaps the most general is the matter of disapplying the listed buildings controls. Members of both Houses have expressed their disquiet at such powers being incorporated in other Bills for major public works. What the Committee on this Bill has accepted is that such powers should be exercised only as a last resort, and in relation to a schedule of specific properties and to no others. Only one listed building required demolition, and that is remarkable for a project of this magnitude going through the heart of historic central and inner London. Others are included in the schedule as requiring possible alteration, but detailed design work should make it possible to delete some of them from the schedule.

Of particular interest to hon. Members will be the proposals as they now affect the immediate area around Parliament. When the Bill was last before the House as a whole, it involved substantial works in Parliament square itself, as well as on the existing Westminster Circle and District line station. Following detailed review, and close co-operation with the New Building Sub-Committee, I am happy to say that a design has now been evolved which completely avoids the square, and which should dovetail well with Parliament's own needs for new space.

The same architect—Mr. Michael Hopkins—will be responsible for both station design and our own new building. The promoters' proposals require demolition of 1 and 2 Bridge street, but I believe this loss will be heavily outweighed by the advantages, in terms of a satisfactory resolution of the complex needs of the two projects which have to be integrated on this important site. I understand that the Treasury has now agreed to Mr. Hopkins being instructed to design the new parliamentary building.

I know that a number of other matters have concerned some hon. Members—

It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Ordered, That, at this day's sitting, the London Underground Bill and the Lords Amendments to Commons Amendments to the Natural Heritage (Scotland) Bill [Lords] may be proceeded with, though opposed, until any hour.—[Mr. Kirkhope.]

Question again proposed.

Mr. Thorne

I am sure that the House will none the less wish to give the Bill its Third reading so that it can move to another place.

Mr. Simon Hughes

I support the Bill receiving its Third Reading. It is nearly a year since it began its Second Reading and it has juddered a bit in the year in between, both upstairs—

Mr. Freeman

indicated dissent.

Mr. Hughes

The Minisster seems to be saying that there was never even a vibration. If he thinks that that is the case, I am happy that it should be so.

It has always been clear that the line was needed and that substantial benefits will accrue to London, west and east, when it is built. Earlier today I reflected on the line's most immediate benefits. It will be possible to travel easily from Green Park or Westminster to Waterloo and London Bridge, both main line termini, which is not possible at present. It will also be possible to travel easily from Waterloo to London Bridge, which it is not possible to do at present. Furthermore, the traffic travelling by road between those two places will be reduced.

There will therefore be practical transport and decongestion benefits as a result of the Bill and the building of the line. There will also be a reduction in the general level of pollution caused by traffic congestion. I hope that there will be great benefits in terms of increased accessibility to parts of London for people such as my constituents, who have been plagued with lousy public transport and being "the gap on the map".

I hope also that the line will mean new job opportunities and that it will be part of a network of improvements for which the Minister and the Government will evidence their support in November—such as the east London line extension, which will bring into the public transport system and network many parts of London which hitherto have not been part of it.

The great difference between today's debate and the Second Reading debate is that today we have been talking about transport, whereas on Second Reading we spent most of our time talking about Parliament square and the parliamentary buildings. Clearly, the hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne) was right to say that those problems have been dealt with because no hon. Member has sought to argue today that our heritage is being destroyed—[Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)

Order. Grave discourtesy is being shown to the hon. Gentleman who has the Floor. There are too many conversations taking place. I should like to hear what the hon. Gentleman has to say.

Mr. Hughes

You are very kind, Madam Deputy Speaker.

Today we have been debating transport and construction issues—and that, in itself, is progress.

Having reflected on the last year, I find that the Bill is proof that the proposals first advanced are never the last word. There has been some flexibility, and I pay tribute to the promoters and to all who have brought about some changes of heart. I say without reservation that Russell Black and his team in the Jubilee line project office have co-operated in all respects and at all times have facilitated answers to inquiries and dealt helpfully with my questions. I could not have asked for better co-operation. It has helped to put a little political and parliamentary pressure on them as well as pressure from constituents at public meetings and from local authorities. We have been able to make changes to the benefit of the project and I hope that more changes will be made in the other place.

The Minister for Public Transport has been kind enough to tell me that the assurance that I sought on the Southwark and Bermondsey stations is as firm now as it was last autumn. I place that on the record, because it is important to dispel people's fear that in a recession or time of economic difficulty some of the stations along the line might be removed. It would be helpful if the Minister could confirm that statement. Now that we have a commitment to all the stations, Southwark and Bermondsey must also remain.

Those interested in the Bill will remember that in the Committee and elsewhere there has been much debate about the alignment of the line in the Canada Water area. Constituents of mine have petitioned—with only partial success—for one of the two alternative routes to be adopted in that area to avoid disturbing residential communities in and around the Canada estate, near the mouth of the Rotherhithe tunnel. Those constituents, the local authority and I are still not happy with the current alignment and the location of the works. They were disappointed that their views were not upheld by the Committee and others, too, were surprised that the Committee did not uphold their argument.

I hope that a way will be found in another place to accommodate their concern. I understand that petitions will be presented and it may be possible, even at this late stage, to find a way to realign that part of the route so as to avoid disrupting that community. A way must be found to minimise the disturbance to them and it will be up to the other place to work out the best way. I hope that that is not regarded as a finished issue and that the other place will note that work remains to be done. The bus interchange links at Canada Water are still under debate and that, too, must be ordered in a way which minimises disruption.

When we debated the listed buildings in Parliament square, the main issue was the effect on our heritage in this place. There is still concern that the architectural work along the line should be compatible with some of the important lists and that the quality of the London Underground buildings must be of the highest standard, reflecting the local built environment and local history—for example, the station on Jamaica road in Bermondsey. I understand that we are awaiting a decision on the architect for the parliamentary phase 2 buildings. It would be helpful if the Minister could make that announcement tonight, as I gather that the decision has been made but not announced. Work could then proceed in that context, too.

I hope that, if the Bill receives its Third Reading tonight, is successful in another place and becomes law some time later this year, the provision of this additional underground line will not be to the detriment of other underground routes in London. There is occasionally a veiled threat that once we have a new line we may not need all the stations on the other lines. In the past, the east London line through Southwark has been something of a line in the corner, but it need not be so if we link it with an east London line extension down to Peckham, New Cross and Lewisham. We do not want stations to be closed just because a new line is opened. Stations such as Rotherhithe and Surrey docks must remain open.

There is a prospect of our having a new line. We have been vigilant to ensure that there is no environmental disruption while it is built, but residents still have enormous concerns. I hope that the debate on the new clauses and amendments will have made the agenda clear and that all those responsible will respond in an even more constructive way in the days ahead.

10.9 pm

Miss Hoey

On Third Reading, I must say that I hope that the move towards recognising the need for transport, especially in south London, is the beginning of what is needed. I hope, as the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) said, that this is not the end of other tube lines, but the beginning of new development and money going into public transport in south London.

I place on record on Third Reading, too, the concern that I, with other Opposition Members and many Conservative Members, still have that we are wholly ignoring the important green open space of Jubilee gardens beside the river. It is not acceptable that the Bill should be given its Third Reading when so little assurance has been given on how that area can be preserved.

Given the way in which it was possible for things to be changed in order to protect Parliament square, it will be disgraceful if the Bill comes back from the House of Lords without our having satisfied the wishes and needs of the Waterloo area and Jubilee gardens. I know that many hon. Members want to get on to the Natural Heritage (Scotland) Bill, but we are talking about heritage here, too. We are talking about a piece of London which is unique. It is disgraceful that we have not been able to find a way to protect that site in dealing with that most unco-operative and unimaginative body—the London residuary body.

I express my thanks to those concerned with the London Underground Bill, especially to Russell Black, and I echo all the thanks for their work in trying to do what they can. I and other Opposition Members know that they have been tied by the way in which the London residuary body—a public body—has behaved on the issue.

The issue will not go away. The Bill will receive its Third Reading tonight and I will not oppose that, but I have great faith that the House of Lords will show far more sense on the issue than the House of Commons has, and that we shall indeed preserve Jubilee gardens for the future of Londoners.

10.12 pm
Mr. Bowis

Like all hon. Members who have spoken in the Third Reading debate, I very much welcome the Bill. Like the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) and the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Miss Hoey), I congratulate the promoters and especially the sponsor, my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne), who has steered the Bill through the House and who has listened to many points.

Like the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey, I will raise an issue for consideration in another place, unless my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South can convince me on the point this evening. In dealing with private Bills, we need to look carefully at what is being slipped through. On occasion, Bills have slipped through the removal of the need to go through certain planning procedures. In the Bill, we have the removal of the need to go through certain consultative procedures. I refer especially to clause 35, which removes the need to consult on the removal of a stretch of existing underground line once the new line is opened.

It may be right to remove such a piece of underground line—I do not dispute that today. My purpose is to say that it should have been a matter for consultation, as are all other such line closures under legislation. In 1984, the House set up the London Regional Passengers Committee. It changed the name of the old Transport Users Consultative Committee for London and, in so doing, removed the word "consultative". However, it strengthened the rights of consultation for the people of London through the LRPC.

Under the London Regional Transport Act 1984, the LRPC is given the right to be the vehicle to receive objections from users of London Transport. There is a requirement for a notice to be published and users can submit objections to the LRPC which then considers them and makes recommendations to the Minister. The Minister considers the recommendations, any other matters relating to the economy, and the social implications of the decision. He may, if he thinks fit, add conditions to the Bill requiring the interests of passengers to be taken into account.

London Regional Transport has asked passengers to submit views in writing, which have been taken into account. The Bill in its present form bypasses the rights of the consumer because one of its clauses removes the need to fulfil the obligations of Acts of Parliament in relation to closing the stretch of line between works IA and 1B, which we know as Green Park and Charing Cross. I hope that that is not setting a precedent and that we shall retain the right of London Transport passengers to be consulted. I hope there that there will be more time in the other place to consider that further, so that we can wholeheartedly and, unanimously welcome the Bill.

10.16 pm
Mr. Freeman

I add my congratulations to those that have been expressed to my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Thorne). My hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis) spoke about the procedure in relation to Charing Cross. That will not set a precedent, and parliamentary procedure has dealt fairly with the issue of the closure of the Green Park to Charing Cross lines. There is no change in relation to Southwark and Bermondsey stations. I outlined that on Second Reading about a year ago.

The commission to design the new parliamentary building at the site of Nos. 1 and 2 Bridge street is being let by the Department of the Environment to Michael Hopkins and Partners. That is the first step in the design of the new building which, I hope, will facilitate the construction of the Jubilee line. The Government strongly support the Bill and hope that the other place will give it speedy passage so that the line can bring benefits to all parts of London.

10.17 pm
Ms. Ruddock

I shall be brief, because the House has made good progress. The Committee did a good job and it has not been necessary to raise too many issues on Third Reading. The Opposition support the extension of the Jubilee line and welcome the Bill. We are critical of Government priorities and the lack of co-ordination in the Government's transport policy for London. However, the extension of the line will provide new and useful access for many people, especially those in south London, to the underground system.

Some of the difficulties encountered in Committee have not been resolved and it is apparent from what has been said, especially by my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Miss Hoey) in connection with Jubilee gardens and Canning Town, that there will be a need for further debate in the other place. From what the Minister said it is clear that finance is preventing the resolution of some of the difficulties. We regret that, because the amounts are relatively small in relation to the task in hand.

New underground projects take the best part of a decade to complete and will be in use for many decades. To curtail small additional expenditure at this stage and, for example, to forgo the possibility of some money for Jubilee gardens because of the attitude of the London residuary body is unjustified. We hope that when those matters are further pursued in the other place there will be a different and more positive resolution.

Despite those small outstanding matters, we are happy to agree to Third Reading. I should like to place on record our thanks to the Jubilee extension team for its considerable co-operation, its supply of briefings, its assistance and its answers to our questions.

However, we regret that the powers of the London Regional Passengers Committee have been reduced in the way that the hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis) outlined. Although the Minister has assured us that that does not create a precedent, we feel that it is both regrettable and unnecessary to have removed from the Committee the opportunity for proper consultation. However, I welcome the Bill and wish it well in its passage through the other place.

10.20 pm
Mr. Thorne

With the leave of the House, I thank the hon. Members for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes), for Vauxhall (Miss Hoey) and for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms. Ruddock) and my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis) for their support for the Bill. I am sure that we all wish it a speedy passage through the other place. I do not wish to repeat anything that my hon. Friend the Minister has already said, but I emphasise one point. The branch line from Green Park to Charing Cross will remain open and available for special occasions. It will not be completely closed, but there will not be a regular service on it.

I must take issue with the hon. Member for Deptford on costs. If we were to spend unnecessarily between £50 million and £100 million on this project, it would put in jeopardy other important measures that will benefit the transport-using public in London. We have to take account of the overall cost, which is not as little as has been suggested. One hon. Member said that £7 million was chickenfeed, but I do not agree. It is an important sum of money, for which we must have good value.

I hope that the House will speed the Bill on its way. The Jubilee team of London Regional Transport has done a splendid job. It has been at considerable pains to ensure that hon. Members on both sides of the House have had their queries and concerns answered. That is of great importance when dealing with private Bills. I hope that it keeps up that good work, because if it does, the Bill will soon receive Royal Assent.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That Standing Order 205 (Notice of Third Reading) be suspended and that the Bill be now read the Third time.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.

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