HC Deb 08 November 1999 vol 337 cc737-8

Lords amendment: No. 216, in page 76, line 14, leave out ("Transport for London shall not") and insert ("Neither Transport for London nor the Authority shall")

Mr. Hill

I beg to move, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to discuss Lords amendments Nos. 217 to 222 and 567.

Mr. Hill

When the Bill left this House, clause 141 and parts of clause 140 placed restrictions on Transport for London's ability to dispose of operational railway and tramway land. The clause is designed to prevent the permanent sale of key operational assets, primarily underground and docklands light railway lines and stations. Transport for London is required to obtain the Secretary of State's consent to such disposals. However, the Bill as drafted required Transport for London to obtain the Secretary of State's consent to any disposal of operational railway or tramway land. The Government acknowledge that this formulation was unduly restrictive. It might have meant that Transport for London had to seek consent to all land disposals, instead of just those involving underground and DLR lines and stations.

The amendments, therefore, gave effect to a previous ministerial undertaking that the restrictions on disposal of land would be refined to give Transport for London some operational flexibility over its property portfolio.

The amendments change the definition of operational land, so that the Secretary of State's consent to disposal will not be required when the land in question is comparable to land in general, rather than land used for railway purposes. Amendment No. 220 provides that where underground or DLR lines or stations cease to be used for railway purposes, disposal will not be permitted without the Secretary of State's consent for a period of five years thereafter, or such other period as the Secretary of State may determine by order.

We think that the amendments strike the right balance between the need for Transport for London to have some operational flexibility and the protection of key operational assets.

Lords amendment agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 217 to 222 agreed to.

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