HL Deb 30 July 1986 vol 479 cc833-50

3.4 p.m.

Lord Hacking

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. In promoting and presenting to the House this Private Bill—which has already been passed by the other place—the promoters, London Regional Transport, seek authority for an extension of the Docklands Light Railway from Tower Hill to the Bank of England, to a new station which will, in effect, merge the present Bank and Monument stations.

Under the London Docklands Railway Acts 1984 and 1985, authority has already been granted by Parliament for the Docklands Light Railway to run from Stratford, which is to the north of the Isle of Dogs, and from Island Gardens, which is at the foot of the Isle of Dogs opposite the Royal Naval College of Greenwich, to Poplar, and then join together on a line to Towergate, which is the new proposed station at Tower Hill for the Docklands Light Railway. In other words, if one was to look at it from the City looking east, the railway will run into Poplar, which is at the north end of the Isle of Dogs, and then branch, one branch going north to Stratford and the other branch going south to Island Gardens.

The proposal is that the new Docklands Light Railway, which will be above ground throughout those parts of the line I have just drawn to your Lordships' attention, should go underground at a position alongside Royal Mint Street, which is to the east of the Tower of London, and should travel underground roughly on a route which will take it under Great Tower Street underneath Eastcheap, and will eventually leave it under King William Street with a runover tunnel under Princes Street.

The length of that tunnel will be just under a mile, and the length of line which I have just described to Stratford from the Bank of England will be six miles; to Island Gardens four and a half miles; and to the apex point, which I also have described, it will be two and a half miles. The frequency of service—and the Docklands Light Railway is already largely constructed for those lines for which Parliament has already given its authority and which are expected to open in 1987—will, in ordinary hours, be a train every 10 minutes and in peak hours a train every 74 minutes, running in each direction.

After this extension, if your Lordships give approval to it, at peak hours there will be a train every four minutes from the bank and from the other two stations, Stratford and Island Gardens, and so at the apex point, which is roughly at the position of Canary Wharf, a train will be arriving every two minutes. Those are the present proposals of the promoters of this Bill, but of course if there is greater demand they are willing to put on a more frequent service. The journey time from the Bank of England to this apex point by Canary Wharf will take about nine minutes.

It is proposed that the trains should be automatic but manned. It is also proposed that the stations—or as they may be called "halts" because of the short duration that the trains will stop at them—will be unmanned. The railway will not be linked into the existing Underground network because of the choice of the light railway for it. This has larger carriages which would not fit into the tunnels of the existing Underground system.

Your Lordships may be asking: why choose a different railway, albeit using the same gauge, which will not fit into the Underground system? The reason for this choice for a light railway—which is a comparatively new concept for public transport—is that it has faster acceleration and deceleration because it is a much lighter railway. This will mean shorter journey times. It can cope with steeper gradients and tighter corners, all of which are essential for its journeys above ground in the docklands area.

Another major factor for the choice of the light railway is that it is cheaper to construct. Very rough figures are that the Docklands Light Railway, as proposed (both the original railway and the extension of it up to the Bank of England) will come to a figure just under £200 million, while an estimated figure for the Jubilee Line using conventional track extending into the same area would have been about £500 million. It is not exactly comparing like with like because the Jubilee Line was intended to go rather further east than the proposed DLR. However, it can be stated that the saving amounts to about half the cost of the building of a conventional Underground train track.

The need, my Lords, for this extension arises out of the proposal for a massive new financial centre to be built on what is now Canary Wharf on an acreage of about 71 acres. It will consist of three tall office blocks up to a limit, under the planning permission for them, of 850 feet, although I understand from the consortium that they are only proposing to build one of the towers to that height and the other two will not be as high. The consortium are proposing at the Canary Wharf development to provide a total space of 12.4 million square feet, but not all of that space is usable or lettable. Indeed, only about 10 million square feet of that is usable space, and out of that, if your Lordships will allow me to give one other figure, 8.8 million square feet will be office accommodation. The rest will form shops, pubs, restaurants and other support services. It is proposed that these will be located in concourses perhaps rather like the Covent Garden concourse, although on a larger scale.

The consortium behind the Canary Wharf development are putting a massive investment into it—something in the region of £2.6 billion to £2.8 billion. I am told that is larger than the proposed contribution by the United Kingdom into the Channel tunnel. It is thought to be the biggest private investment project the world has ever known. For those of your Lordships who are interested in following the Guinness Book of Records, it will be larger than the World Trade Centre in New York (which is 10 million square feet) and larger than the proposed new World Financial Centre, also in New York (in the area of Battery Park, for those of your Lordships who are familiar with New York) which will be 6 million square feet.

When completed, Canary Wharf will accommodate 49,000 persons in the financial services industry, including all support services such as cleaning, catering and so forth. It will also create 8,000 further jobs off site, and therefore it will be creating or providing accommodation for no fewer than 57,000 jobs when it is eventually completed, which it is hoped will be in the mid-1990s.

The Canary Wharf development has the full support of the City of London, where it is recognised that there is a need for more accommodation for the anticipated increase in the workforce of the City of London. The present workforce in the City of London, I am told, is in the region of 300,000. Over the next 10 years, it is anticipated that there will be an increase of 200,000 to bring it up to a total workforce of 500,000. Therefore the Canary Wharf will be providing about one-third of the accommodation for that anticipated increased workforce.

There is also a need in the City of London for a different form of office accommodation. There is a need for very large floor spacing between floors for electrical equipment—all part of the new requirements for the financial services industry. For example, I refer to computer cabling, communication cabling and other cabled services that have now to be located between floors. When a building is not designed with that floor void it makes it almost impossible to put that equipment in, let alone maintain it. There is also another need in the financial services industry for large dealing rooms. Therefore the Canary Wharf development will enable the financial services of the City of London to expand without destroying the special characteristics of the City, its architecture and its environment.

This is essential for the City and for the Canary Wharf consortium that the complex is closely linked to the heart of the City. Without this essential link the Canary Wharf complex would become a satellite (if it ever went ahead at all), moving away into an orbit which could eventually separate it from the City of London. It is so important to the consortium that this link is established that it has regretfully stated that it would be unable to go ahead with the whole of the Canary Wharf development unless the light railway extension is built to the Bank, as proposed in the Bill. This will give it that essential link with the City of London, and keep it intact and part of the development of the City. That is not to downcry other proposals in transport communications such as the new proposed roads into the area, several of which had already been approved prior to the Canary Wharf consortium coming to the planning board. There is also water there for those who want to travel in a more leisurely way and there is the proposed new airport called STOLPORT.

The choice of Bank Station rests upon several considerations. It will provide direct interchange with no fewer than four other existing lines. I refer to the District and Circle Lines, which go through Monument Underground station; the Central Line and the Northern Line, both of which go through Bank. I refer also to the Waterloo and City Line which terminates at Bank station. To accommodate the arrival of the DLR, it is proposed that there will be other improvements at Bank station. There will be a new ticket office under Lombard Street, new low-level interchanges between all lines and—for those of your Lordships who have had to make the journey—part of these improvements will mean that passengers will no longer have to walk along the platform of the Northern Line as they do currently to travel to and from Monument station when changing from the Circle and District Lines to the other lines.

I mention those improvements because some concern has been expressed by the City and the Corporation of London over the problem of congestion. While expressly supporting the project of the Canary Wharf consortium, the City of London opposed this Bill in the House of Commons on strategic grounds, arguing that the Docklands Light Railway should go to Cannon Street and not to Bank, and also on safety grounds. But both those objections were not accepted by the House of Commons Select Committee and now have been dropped. It suffices to state that the promoters are satisfied that the Bank Underground station is the best station for the Docklands Light Railway to arrive into, and they are also satisfied that there is no danger factor. There is certainly not, as has been suggested in some quarters, any danger of closing the Northern Line.

There are also other benefits of the Docklands Light Railway. The Docklands Light Railway will greatly improve public transport for those who live in the region of Stratford, Bow, Poplar and the Isle of Dogs. It will also provide employment in that docklands area. It is estimated that of that total workforce of 57,000 there will be 21,000 new jobs available for people living locally in that area. As your Lordships know, there are very high levels of unemployment in the surrounding area. I am told the current figure in Southwark is 21,600; in Tower Hamlets it is 16,500 and in Newnham there are 17,600 unemployed. It is therefore estimated that the building of this project will reduce the level of unemployment by 15,000.

Those of your Lordships who remember an earlier figure I gave of 21,000, as the amount of local employment it should provide, may like to understand why there is a difference between that figure and 15,000. It can be simply explained that the figure of 21.000 is expected to include certain people such as wives and so on who are not currently registered unemployed. So it is fair to give a smaller figure for the reduction of unemployment in that area.

Lord Elwyn-Jones

My Lords, I hope the noble Lord will forgive me. It is in fact Newham and not "Newnham".

Lord Hacking

My Lords. I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord. From his days representing that constituency, he is in a better position than I to know. I apologise for my mispronunciation.

Not only will the Canary Wharf consortium project benefit London and the South-Eastern region—I have already mentioned that there will be 8,000 new jobs off site—there will also be tremendous opportunities for British industry throughout the country. I was given a dazzling figure for the amount of carpet, for example, that will be required for carpeting the whole of the complex. I am afraid I have forgotten that figure, so I am sparing your Lordships of one figure in my comments. Suffice it to say that when a project of this size is being undertaken and when the investment, as I have already indicated to your Lordshisp, is to the tune of billions of pounds, then, without my giving further statistics, I think your Lordships will be able to appreciate that there are many opportunities for British manufacturing industries throughout the country to get contracts, contracts for which they will of course compete against competitors overseas; it will be competitive, but nonetheless will give great opportunities.

Also, just to give another figure, during the construction period there will be 7,000 jobs available and. also, the construction of this project will greatly benefit England's construction industry firms, five of whom are already committed to this work, and also the consultants who will help them. I hope that that will provide some comfort to the noble Lord, Lord Sefton of Garston, and others. I note that the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, is chairman of the North West Economic Planning Council and in that capacity I hope that that will give him some comfort; although I notice that his proposed Instruction to the Committee is put on a narrower base.

Above all, I hope that the Bill will be judged as an essential ingredient in the expansion of the financial services of the City of London. Their record is good. Their contribution towards the balance of payments in 1975 was £1 billion and in 1985 it is estimated to be £7 billion. I am not going to give an estimate for 1995, but it will be most surprising if there were not large advances on the contribution of the City of London to the balance of payments out of the expanded use of its financial services. I am conscious that many noble Lords are due to speak in your Lordships' House today. I have tried to indicate to your Lordships the essential ingredients of this Bill and I commend it to your Lordships. I hope that your Lordships will agree to a second reading and I hope that this Bill will therefore be sent swiftly to the Select Committee. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.—(Lord Hacking.)

3.23 p.m.

Lord Sefton of Garstonrose to move, That it be an Instruction to the Committee to whom the Bill is committed that they have regard to the consequences of the proposals contained in the Bill on the rest of the South-East Region and in particular on the City of London.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have gone through a fairly traumatic experience in the last two or three days, but I do not think that anything I have gone through in the last three days is as bad as the period I have gone through in the last 17 minutes. The last time I mentioned the London Docklands Development Corporation in this Chamber I said that I had been on a vist there, kindly arranged by the noble Lord, Lord Mellish, and that when I arrived there and was shown around I was terrified; it frightened the life out of me. The noble Lord, Lord Hacking, has just reduced that fright by comparison to minuscule proportions; for when he read out the details (which I shall study with great interest in Hansard) it seemed to me that what we were talking about was not the regeneration of London docklands; it seemed to me that we were talking about the creation of a new capital city one-third the size of London.

The noble Lord, Lord Hacking, did not disagree with that kind of general statement. One could not take anything other than that meaning from the figures that were read out. I got my details from the New Civil Engineer. That newspaper seemed to be particularly well informed, better informed than I was, on the question of London docklands; because, in spite of the fact that the papers in regard to the annual report for London docklands, were laid on the Table of the House several days ago, if not weeks ago, they are still not available in the Printed Paper Office in this House. If one wants details of the London docklands annual report, one has to turn to the Daily Telegraph of this morning. That is where I got some of the details.

When I first suggested that this Bill should have something said about it, one of my colleagues suggested that it was too late. After all, why should I oppose this now? Well, I have not said that I am opposing it. Why should we delay it any further? The noble Lord Lord Hacking, has given us a reason. My instruction is not hostile to the Bill. My instruction merely says, "Look again". Let me disabuse anybody in this House in regard to my record concerning development corporations. I am not the chairman of the North West Planning Council, although I held that office. But if everybody believed everything that is in Who's Who, they would believe everything in the newspapers, and that—

Lord Hacking

My Lords, my source of information was Dod's.

Lord Sefton of Garston

Well, my Lords, Dod's is just as bad as Who's Who. For 21 years I was in the new towns movement and for seven of those years I was the chairman of Runcorn Development Corporation. I was a member of (and later the chairman of) the North West Planning Council and the first proposal for development corporations in urban areas came to the last Labour Government over my name along with the name of every other political leader on Merseyside. So I am not antagonistic to the concept of urban development corporations—not in the least.

But this has ceased to be—and I would not have said this before today—merely a regeneration of London docklands. This has now become something extra, something much bigger. Let me tell your Lordships why I thought some words should be said about this Bill. I have no need now to go into the magnitude of the task that the London Docklands Development Corporation have set their hands to. Let me pose some problems. I apologise for any delay that has been occasioned to the following Bill. It seems that if I had not opened my mouth last week, this would have gone through on the nod—with all those proposals!

It is said that this is merely an extension of a line to link the City of London. Has anybody asked the question, why? The London Docklands Development Corporation do not ask that question. When I went on the visit there I asked a senior officer of the development corporation, "Who do you have on the staff who studies these proposals, such as Canary Wharf, to see what consequential effect it has upon the rest of London?" The answer was a shrug of the shoulders; they had nobody.

The Bill—and it is a bit misleading—uses the word "corporation". That could be taken to mean either the London Docklands Development Corporation or London Regional Transport; they are the people responsible for the Bill. The Bill says: of the said corporation that the works authorised and the powers conferred by this Act will advance the securing of such regeneration". If London docklands is to be regenerated, it can be regenerated only within the context of the South-East and within the context of London. If any excessive provision for anything in the London docklands area is made to the detriment of other parts of London, that is not regeneration; that could have the opposite effect.

Who are the people who are going to travel on the extension? the New Civil Engineer—and, as I say, it is difficult to get information from the corporation itself—talks about 2,000 commuters an hour at peak daily times from the City of London east to the docklands area. I repeat: 2,000 commuters per hour east from the City of London. I always thought that a commuter was a person who left home, commuted a considerable distance to his workplace, and then journeyed back again. Is it suggested that the home site is in the City of London? There are not enough people living in the City of London to people the offices which are already there. So why does the commuter movement come from the City of London?

It poses another question. If the numbers of staff are to be accommodated in offices in the Canary Wharf development, where will they come from? And how long will it be before the pressures generated by the provision of those jobs in London's docklands lead to an intensification of the demand for new towns in the green belt around London? If that happens, it will not be regeneration.

Lord Mellish

My Lords, I am finding the noble Lord's argument very intriguing. First of all, as far as I can understand what he is saying, the regeneration of docklands has gone on too quickly and it is too big. If I may say so, that is a criticism that I never dreamt I would ever hear. That is the first point.

Secondly, the noble Lord asked where these people were coming from. As we have already heard from the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, it is expected that 57,000 will be new jobs. I repeat: 57,000. And there can be no doubt that there will be a great deal of interlinking between the City on the one hand and the Canary Wharf scheme on the other hand. Obviously there will have to be a network of transport in order that both sides can meet. This is not anti-City; this is a partner-ship with the City. Surely it is right and proper that facilities should be provided for people to do their proper job, call them what you like.

Lord Sefton of Garston

My Lords, I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Mellish, has difficulty in understanding what I am saying, but I should not have thought that many people shared that difficulty in this House. Let me first of all say that I have not said that this regeneration, so called, is too big. I have merely said that in my opinion there are grounds for belief that the regeneration is of the wrong kind. It could well be that the proper regeneration for London docklands would be to solve the housing problem that exists in the South-East and in London, and thereby in one fell swoop also solve the problem of the commuting periods in the present City of London. That may be an answer. Of course the noble Lord, Lord Mellish, does not agree that that is an answer, but I do not expect him to agree. The only time he has ever visited Merseyside is once in about 20 years, so he is very biased towards the City of London.

Lord Mellish

No, my Lords.

Lord Sefton of Garston

My Lords, I did not want to introduce that note, but it is a factor; and in listening to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, one could almost detect the belief that London is the most important place.

A noble Lord

Hear, hear!

Lord Sefton of Garston

My Lords, it might be right: I do not know. We talk of 25,000 passengers at peak time. What will be the consequences of that upon the travelling public in the City of London? Certainly we shall not get to the situation where either London Regional Transport or the London Docklands Development Corporation or anyone else will in fact study the consequences of these proposals upon the rest of the South-East of England and upon London.

One cannot discuss the regeneration of London's docklands, as I have just intimated to the noble Lord, Lord Mellish, without discussing housing problems in London. What a farcical situation we have when there are people in the United Kingdom talking even about moving into London the ships that were used as hotels in the Falklands in order to house London's homeless. That is the situation. How did we arrive at that situation? The noble Lord, Lord Mellish, intervened and said that this is going to be a partnership between the City and Canary Wharf; but is it?

Lord Mellish

Yes, my Lords.

Lord Sefton of Garston

My Lords, will financial institutions really continue along the lines that part of their operations shall be in the City of London and part shall be on Canary Wharf? Is that what we are being told? I do not believe that is credible. I believe that in time pressure will be brought to bear from those people that they should be sited in one place so that they can carry out their duties more efficiently.

What will happen then if they decide to concentrate on Canary Wharf? What threat will that be to the City of London? You cannot possibly talk about the kind of massive development that has been proposed for the City of London and which has been outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, without talking of the consequences over a very wide area indeed. Will London Regional Transport give some consideration to the effect their proposals will have on the rest of London? Of course they will not.

The noble Lord, Lord Mellish, keeps muttering away and says "They have done that". But London Regional Transport do not even consider the question of one-man operated buses when they are talking about the congestion in London which is caused by them. London Regional Transport do not even consider it worthy of note that the waiting time for buses has already increased during the first year that they have been in control. They do not seem to care, and I do not wonder at it because the Government have placed upon them the responsibility of making a profit. It is a great tragedy that the Greater London Council has ceased to exist, because that was the only organisation that was prepared to look at London-wide problems and the relationship between transport operation and the rest of the county area.

I referred to the fact that it has been a very traumatic experience. I did not want to make a long speech about this problem because, if I did, I would start going into the question raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, about the rest of the country and the effect this will have on the rest of the country. I merely wanted to keep to the Instruction printed on the Order Paper, which suggests that we ask the Committee to, have regard to the consequences of the proposals contained in the Bill on the rest of the South East Region and in particular on the City of London". I should have preferred to speak last, because I did not want to reply in a debate about the general situation of the proposals of the London Docklands Development Corporation, because of course I would know that such a subject is so big that we could spend the rest of the day debating its consequential effect. All I wanted to do was to see whether or not there was opposition to the Instruction; but I am quite content that, if the Instruction is accepted, the Committee will have a look at this problem and then come back with a report. We could then perhaps debate the report.

I do not know whether anybody has read today's Daily Telegraph, in which the London Docklands Development Corporation's report seems to boast that London's land values have increased five times, with all the consequential effects on housing prices. I do not know whether anybody has considered the Halifax Building Society's report, which said that perhaps the only possible way to get house prices in London back to a normal state of affairs was to talk about decentralisation, and not the further creation of more and more jobs in a city already overprovided with jobs. Noble Lords may have read, also in the Daily Telegraph today, the comments of the Reverend Jim Kennedy, who said that he did not think the London Docklands Development Corporation was contributing to a regeneration, when in his area, covered by the London Docklands Development Corporation, the cost of a one-bedroom flat was now standing at £109,000.

Lord Mellish


Lord Sefton of Garston

My Lords, of late years the noble Lord, Lord Mellish, seems to have become an expert on what he has just shouted out. Some of the stuff I have heard from him in the past few months has been worse than rubbish. Furthermore, it reveals a complete inability to have an open mind and to see what is happening and be prepared to admit that perhaps the London Docklands Development Corporation, of which he was the deputy chairman, has gone too far in one direction.

I make this statement against the background of a loss of 2,500 jobs in Weybridge. This does not concern anybody in Weybridge. Again, the Daily Telegraph this morning says that 2,500 jobs is no problem. Provided anybody can afford to live in Weybridge, they will get a job. Already employers have rung British Aerospace, wanting to take on their employees who are being sacked. There is no unemployment problem, and to create another 80,000 jobs is a step that should not be taken lightly—certainly not on the basis that the Government created the London Docklands Development Corporation to regenerate the docklands and then left them to it. Reasons should be given for doing these things.

People talk about unemployment in the South-East. It is only two weeeks ago that we heard that a newspaper advertisement and publicity for eight jobs in the south attracted 400 applicants, not from the south where these unemployed people are supposed to be, but from the north, and in the end eight people who volunteered to come all the way down south for a job were interviewed by the persons concerned. These are all underlying—

The Earl of Halsbury

Will the noble Lord give way? May I point out to the noble Lord that he has taken longer to move the Instruction to the Committee than my noble friend took to move the Second Reading of the Bill? Would it be possible for us to get on with our business?

Lord Sefton of Garston

My Lords, I am fully aware that I am one minute over the time of the mover of the Second Reading of the Bill. He also has a right of reply, and I hope that he will be able to answer some of the questions that I have posed. However, I am also aware of the fact that people who are oriented towards London cannot be bothered to speak about the problems that affect the rest of the country and that whenever anyone spends 18 minutes talking about those kinds of problems and the real problems that stem from the over-capitalisation of the South-East, those people get impatient and want the speaker to stop. Well. I am sorry, but, if these people have a conscience, I am prepared to torment them with it because there should be a conscience about what is happening in the South-East.

As I said before, the description given by the noble Lord. Lord Hacking, is a description not of regeneration but of the idea of creating a new capital in the South-East. I for one am not prepared to let it go without querying it and—

Lord Bellwin

My Lords—

Lord Sefton of Garston

No, I am not giving way, my Lords. I have just been told off for taking too long. I gave way to the noble Lord, Lord Mellish, who robbed me of two minutes, and I am not giving way to anybody else. If the noble Lord wants to contribute, let him put his name on the list and let us hear him. There is bags of time between the winding up and the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare. I wanted to put down my name to speak at that point but I was stopped because of the procedure of the House. If I had been allowed to put down my name at that point, the House would not have heard this speech. All your Lordships would have heard would have been an acceptance that the House was sensible enough to agree to this Instruction, and that, before we go any further helter-skelter into the problems that London docklands is putting in wait for us, at least we should have a look at this. I hope that the Committee will agree. I beg to move.

Moved. That it be an Instruction to the Committee to whom the Bill is committed that they have regard to the consequences of the proposals contained in the Bill on the rest of the South-East Region and in particular on the City of London.—(Lord Sefton of Garston.)

3.42 p.m.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Aberdare)

With the permission of the noble Earl, Lord Limerick, I shall intervene rather earlier than the point at which my name appears on the list of speakers in order to explain some of the procedural arrangements in regard to this private Bill in the hope that we might be able to abbreviate the discussion this afternoon.

I do not wish to give any opinion on the views that have been expressed about the merits of the Bill, but merely to express the hope that your Lordships will give it a Second Reading.

The fact of the matter is that, unlike the case of a public Bill, a Second Reading of a private Bill does not imply approval of its purposes, but it does allow the Bill to be referred to a Select Committee where a full investigation can be made of all the matters that have been raised by the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, among others. If your Lordships give the Bill a Second Reading, it will be referred to a Select Committee. There are 15 petitions against the Bill, and so the Select Committee will be hearing a wide variety of objection to it. I assure the House that these petitions cover a wide spectrum and will be closely investigated by the Select Committee.

As to the Instruction which has been moved by the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, I suggest that your Lordships should accept it and allow it to go to the Select Committee. The Select Committee will then be able to go into it fully. There is no objection to it in procedural terms. The Select Committee will make a special report to the House on its consideration of the Bill, on its consideration of the petitions of the Bill and on the Instruction, and it can then come back to the House and be considered on Third Reading.

Therefore, I very much hope that the debate can be somewhat shortened. We have listened with interest to what the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, has said. I suggest that it is far more appropriate that this is referred to a Select Committee where the whole matter can be fully gone into.

Lord Geddes

My Lords, may I ask for a point of clarification. If the Instruction is accepted, will it in any way delay the ultimate passing of the Bill, assuming that the Committee came back with a favourable recommendation?

Lord Aberdare

No my Lords; the Committee would have to go into the particular matter contained in the Instruction as well as the petitions, and it would then have to come back to the House. What the House does on Second Reading of the Bill is up to your Lordships, but there should be no unnecessary delay.

Lord Mellish

My Lords, would the noble Lord not agree that the best way to deal with this is for the Select Committee to get on with its job as quickly as possible and report back to the House as quickly as possible?

Lord Aberdare

My Lords, that is what I was trying to say, but the noble Lord expressed it rather better.

3.45 p.m.

The Earl of Limerick

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, has moved the Second Reading with his customary clarity and command of the subject, for which we are grateful. I rise to speak in support of the Bill. I have two messages. One is that many of these matters about which comments have been made this afternoon are for examination in the Select Committee. The second is that short speeches should be the order of the day. I wish, therefore, feeling myself like Roman Gaul to be divided in looking at the subject in three parts, to make some brief comments from these three points of view. The first is the City commercial, the second is the City corporate, and the third is the City property holder.

The City commercial I see from the point of view of the British Invisible Exports Council and of an international bank. The standard of life in this country depends upon our success in the invisible trades. I have cited figures in the House quite recently on that and do not feel called upon to do so again. I will give only one figure; namely, that the net surplus in the tradeable sector for 1984 was £7.5 billion—40 per cent. higher than the previous year—and all the indications are that this figure is still growing. It is obviously important that it shall grow yet further. For this purpose we need more space for the development of financial services, and the developers of this project have made it clear that they are not willing to proceed with it unless there is a railway to provide the level of communications that is required.

What is the relevance of the Canary Wharf project? It will provide 10 million square feet of office space on 71 acres. That is a contribution towards the extra 30 million square feet needed for an estimated additional 200,000 jobs in the service sector which can in no way be provided in the City of London. The noble Lord, Lord Hacking, referred to the 49,000 new jobs expected to be generated, of which 21,000 will be for local residents. Those, of course, are within the 200,000 total estimated extra jobs.

The point that I think should be made in comment on the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, is that this project is not in any sense in competition with something else that might happen. Either it is going to happen or it is not. If it does not happen, we shall be denying ourselves the opportunity to provide the space that is required by those who are going to provide jobs and income for this country through the expansion of financial services. I can speak at length about that, but I will not.

How do people get there? They do not get there by walking from the north. They do not, except in very small numbers, get there by walking through the Greenwich foot tunnel; and they do not arrive by rowing-boat; they arrive by public transport. They arrive through the existing public transport scheme as it is going to be improved by the proposals in the Bill. It is expected that this railway will bring 80 per cent. of the commuters into docklands.

For that to happen there must be the procedures in this enabling Bill, and therefore I suggest that we should not risk any delay in those procedures by going into matters that are germane to this project. So much for the City corporate.

For the City civic, I should like to say very briefly that the position of the City of London, the Corporation, has been somewhat misrepresented in these discussions, and in the publicity attending them; and I have informed myself in detail on that position. The Corporation of the City of London has been represented as being opposed to the Canary Wharf scheme and docklands. That is not so. The corporation has consistently supported the regeneration of docklands, and indeed moved the Billingsgate fish market there at the beginning of this decade.

The Corporation has a public duty to look at the railway extension proposals not only on behalf of its ratepayers, but also on behalf of those hundreds of thousands who work in the City. Of course, as the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, knows very well, the population of the City of London is only 5,000 people. Everybody who works in the City is a commuter. The point of the transport extension scheme is that it will link in with existing transport extensions to enable people to get there other than by walking. The present Bill was introduced to make up for the strategic shortcomings of the existing docklands railway scheme and will, of course, ultimately be capable of extension to the Royal Docks, to the STOLPORT and to the regeneration area in the Royal Docks. However, and regrettably, there was no consultation with the City of London until the plans were finalised and that gave rise to the objection and to a good deal of misunderstanding.

It was on the basis of the technical advice given by its experts that the Corporation was obliged to take the view that the scheme terminus under King William Street should be opposed on two grounds: first, that it was unsafe; and, secondly, that strategically it was in the wrong place. On first seeing the plans for the new terminus, the consulting engineers immediately expressed their concern about the safety of the proposal and the matter was the subject of a lot of professional consultation and advice. It is now to be hoped that the lengthy analysis of the engineering difficulties in the building under the Northern Line, and the significant changes made by the promoters, will lead to a safer docklands light railway running tunnels and station under King William Street.

Fourthly, the arguments put by the City Corporation were sufficiently meritorious for the matter to be put formally to the Opposed Bill Committee and after six days that committee rejected the Corporation's arguments by a majority. They may have been influenced in coming to that conclusion—it is not for me to say—by the closing speech for the promoters, when counsel said that if the Bill was not passed for the station at King William Street, London Regional Transport would withdraw the Bill.

Therefore, the position of the City Corporation is this. It has now formally and openly accepted the position of the Commons Committee and has announced that it will not be opposing the Bill further on these fundamental grounds. However, like other City institutions—it is one of 15 petitioners in the House of Lords—its petition has been lodged to enable the necessary negotiations to be concluded, to obtain the protection required for its highways and buildings and those who use them during the building of this new Underground railway in the City with its very congested environment. The petition is neither intended nor expected to delay the passage of this Bill.

Finally, the Corporation of London hopes that in due course further discussions can take place on its own constructive proposals for the "Greater Bank" option at Cannon Street. This follows the full feasibility studies undertaken by the consulting engineers for the extension to, and the terminus at, Cannon Street to make the integration of this railway more effective with the existing London Transport system. That is the position of the Corporation of the City of London and I thought it well that it should be on record.

I should like to make one last comment from the point of view of the City property owners. In that capacity—as a trustee of a charitable foundation—we were party to an objection at an earlier stage in another place concerned with the rights of property owners who might be time-expired for claiming compensation for developments in relation to the construction of the tunnel, and the inhibition that might be placed on them for their future developments. This is a technical matter and is best left to the Select Committee. I therefore have no hesitation at all in commending the rapid passage of this Bill through your Lordships' House.

3.55 p.m.

Lord Mulley

My Lords, I can be very brief, but I think it right to indicate support for the Bill on two grounds. First, together with other Members of your Lordships' House and Members of another place, I went on a parliamentary visit to Canary Wharf and saw it and its related developments. We were all very much impressed. But as the noble Lord. Lord Hacking, has already said, the Bill is not concerned with whether or not those developments should take place. The necessary approvals have already been given. Equally, the statutory approval for the railway has already been given and in both cases the construction is well advanced. This Bill is concerned only with an extension, because, quite clearly, if it is going to be a viable addition to the City, it is essential that there should be good transport from this development to the City of London.

Whether or not one likes what is happening in the City of London, it is going to happen and there will be a demand for extra space with which the limited scope in the City itself cannot possibly cope; and, of course, it is much better and will be much better to do it by railway, rather than by congested roads. Therefore, as a matter of principle, for what I think is the only major city in the world which has neglected its traffic development since the last war, it is very necessary that this should be a railway development.

My only other point has already been dealt with at great length and very ably and clearly by the Chairman of Committees, Lord Aberdare. I think it would be quite wrong, apart from the consideration that this Bill has passed another place, to vote or argue against the Second Reading of a Private Bill. That is a view I took for many years in the other place. I think that the promoters of any Private Bill are entitled to go to a Select Committee where they have to prove their case and where all the people who object have the opportunity of being heard. For these reasons, I hope very much that the Bill will pass.

I do not object to the Instruction, although from my point of view I would willingly have rejected that, too, because I think it is bound to take longer. In fact to do the job properly, as the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, has indicated, would not be a job for a committee on the narrow point of whether or not the railway should be extended. It would involve something like a Royal Commission to do a real study of the problems of the South-East and of the City of London. But I hope that the Bill will quickly go through.

3.57 p.m.

Lord Auckland

My Lords, the very helpful observations of the Chairman of Committees have enabled speeches to be much briefer than usual. I intervene for two reasons. First, I declare a non-financial interest in that I am the non-executive director of a small civil engineering company which will benefit by the construction of this light railway because it is in that area. Secondly, I believe there is a need for more organisations to move out of the City of London. Like the noble Lord, Lord Mulley, I have been very quickly round this area and it is very impressive to see the excellent way in which construction has gone so far. The light railway itself will of course be absolutely essential because the only transport at the moment is through a very antiquated railway system to places like Shadwell, Wapping, and so on, where the trains run very infrequently and can get very crowded. So for that reason alone, I believe that this light railway is needed.

Mention has been made of the terminus in King William Street. As one who uses that entrance to the Bank station fairly frequently, I think there is some concern about the safety problem here; but that is a matter for the Select Committee to look into. With those few words, and hoping that the Select Committee will study all these matters very carefully, I support the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, in his very clear moving of this Bill.

4 p.m.

Lord Geddes

My Lords, we are indeed indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, for the very able and technically detailed way in which he introduced this Bill. I am also conscious of the request (should I say?) from the noble Lord. Lord Aberdare, to keep the length of speeches to a minimum. I have therefore reduced mine to about 25 per cent. of its former length. Dredging up my almost non-existent knowledge of the Latin language, I recall that if you start a question with the word "non-ne" it assumes the answer "yes". I start this question not in Latin but with the word "non-ne".

Is it not to the advantage of the United Kingdom that the City of London should want not only to continue as the premier financial city of Europe but to expand in that role? Having already declared that I am assuming the answer "yes" to that question, it would seem to me quite extraordinary to forego the offer, if that is the right word, of a development at Canary Wharf as colossal as the one that the noble Lord, Lord Hacking, has outlined, and a very substantial contribution to the cost of the LDR extension; because that is effectively what would happen if a Second Reading was not given to the Bill.

I have worked in or about the City of London for a quarter of a century or more. Each year the pace of business life and therefore the cost of time becomes greater. If I may put it as simply as possible, the difference as I see it between the terminus of this railway being at Tower Gate or at the Bank is almost certainly the difference between one meeting or two meetings. Equally important in the longer term is the most important prospect of a direct rail link between the centre of the City at the Bank and the STOLPORT in the Royal Docks.

Finally, I have personal experience of the disruption caused to a city by construction of an Underground railway. I happened to be living in Hong Kong during most of the construction phase of the mass transit railway and I was a frequent visitor to Seoul in the Republic of Korea during that city's construction of an underground railway system. Let us not pretend that it does not cause inconvenience. In both cities there was inconvenience both to pedestrians and to vehicular traffic, but it was certainly not disastrous. The end result, certainly for Hong Kong, has transformed life, particularly for the travelling public. One thing is for sure: if a job is there to be done it must surely be done to the greatest effect, which in this context must mean a terminus—an interchange—at the Bank. I wholeheartedly support the Bill.

4.3 p.m.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, the House will be grateful to the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees for enabling everyone to be extremely brief in their speeches. I intervene from this Dispatch Box in an individual capacity to support the Bill for a number of reasons. First, noble Lords will recall that I was a member of the Select Committee which led to the formation of the Docklands Corporation. This is part of the development of that work. Without the light railway the full development of the Docklands Corporation could not have taken place.

Secondly, this will affect areas outside docklands. Here I must declare an interest, because I live at Buckhurst Hill in Essex. There will be a connection at Stratford, which is on the Central Line, into the docklands area itself, and, if the Bill is approved, through to the Bank. I believe that all the matters that have been raised by my noble friend Lord Sefton can be dealt with at the Select Committee. If the scheme at Canary Wharf is desirable then the extension must take place. An extension right into the City from where I live would be of great benefit as the people would not have to travel by the various routes they use now.

I hope that the Committee will look very carefuly at these directions. My noble friend Lord Sefton was right to raise them. The scheme affects the South-East and Greater London, but I believe the committee can look into that. I hope that the Bill will have a Second Reading and that we shall have the report from the committee fairly soon.

4.5 p.m.

Lord Hacking

My Lords, after your Lordships' House has laboured so hard and for so long over many long and complex Public Bills, it is not surprising that on the second to last day before the end of term your Lordships should show a certain impatience. Therefore I think the most appropriate course for me to take is to suggest that we adopt the advice of the Lord Chairman and send this Bill as swiftly as possible to the Select Committee.

I believe it was important to have this Second Reading debate. I believe it was important that the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, raised many of the points that he did. But the noble Lord having raised those points, I would suggest to your Lordships that the best course is for the Select Committee to give them consideration. Indeed, as the person who has introduced the Second Reading of this Bill I have no difficulty with the Instruction that has been suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Sefton. It would seem, indeed, to cover the matters that, in any event, the Select Committee would take into account when considering the Bill.

Perhaps, therefore, I may give advance notice and I shall have no objection—if that is any influence on your Lordships' House, although it may not be—to the Instruction being given to the Select Committee as drafted by the noble Lord, Lord Sefton. Therefore it falls on me to thank all noble Lords, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, for their contributions to the debate. This is an important Private Bill for reasons that I tried to explain to your Lordships in my opening words. We have now discussed it, and I beg to move.

On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Select Committee.

The Deputy Speaker (The Earl of Listowel)

My Lords, does the noble Lord, Lord Sefton of Garston, wish to move his Instruction?

Lord Sefton of Garston

My Lords, I am advised that I should now move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. Before doing so, I think I should apologise to the House because of the unnecessary length of the debate that has taken place. Wait until you hear the reason for it! It would not have been that long if I had had my wish to speak at the end of the debate. It was not my wish to speak at the beginning, but having been compelled to speak at the beginning I thought I should put all the points that I wanted the Committee to consider in case anybody opposed the Motion. However, as nobody has opposed the Instruction I have great pleasure in moving the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. I beg to move.

Moved, That it be an Instruction to the Committee to whom the Bill is committed that they have regard to the consequences of the proposals contained in the Bill on the rest of the South-East Region and in particular on the City of London.—(Lord Sefton of Garston.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.