HC Deb 03 July 1995 vol 263 cc8-9
8. Mr. Lidington

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to lay before the House an order under the Transport and Works Act 1992 to authorise a public inquiry into the crossrail project. [30125]

Dr. Mawhinney

No firm date for an application under the Transport and Works Act has yet been set.

Mr. Lidington

Given the acknowledgement by the Government, by local authorities along the length of the proposed crossrail route and by organisations such as London First and City Corporation, representing the City of London, that crossrail would bring enormous benefits to London and to the whole of the south-east, may I impress on my right hon. Friend the need for urgency in this project? Has he set a date by which the new review, which he has commissioned, of the feasibility of crossrail should be completed and the report given to him and his Cabinet colleagues?

Dr. Mawhinney

It is a matter of record that my hon. Friend has taken a long, detailed and informed interest in the subject, and I pay tribute to him for that. He will be encouraged to know that the study that I have put in place is being carried out alongside the preparation of the application and I have asked for the study to be made available to me before the end of the year.

Mr. Spearing

Does the Secretary of State recognise that the crossrail project, in principle, has cross-party and all-London support? This is not only because 61 of the 66 central London stations would be accessible from a crossrail route, but because the line would run from Heathrow through central London and possibly out to Stansted. Will he confirm that the review that he has commissioned will look at some of the proposals that were not used and that if the Bill procedure proves to be faster than the order procedure under the Transport and Works Act 1992, that procedure would not be entirely disregarded as the way forward?

Dr. Mawhinney

I understand that there is cross-party support for the scheme and I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for drawing attention to that fact. I believe that he would agree that we need to look carefully but quickly at the changed circumstances to ensure that any crossrail project that comes forward is well founded and well based. That is what we are seeking to do at the moment.

Mrs. Gillan

My right hon. Friend will know how important the crossrail project is to my constituency. Has he had an opportunity to look at the research that has been produced by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, which estimates that the project will create 20,000 long-term jobs and will add £1 billion to the gross national product? Can my right hon. Friend hasten the project, and make sure that it does not remain on paper but becomes a reality?

Dr. Mawhinney

I must be careful in responding to my hon. Friend—whose points I well understand—because I will have a quasi-judicial role later in the process if crossrail proceeds. I understand the economic importance that is attached to the project. On the other hand, my hon. Friend will recognise that, if and when the project goes forward, it must do so on a solid basis so that we can look forward to crossrail adding the benefit and value that all of us would wish to see.

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