§ House again in Committee.
§ Clause 36 [Supplementary provisions with respect to acquisition of land]:
§ Lord Cornwallis moved Amendment No. 82:
Page 27, line 37, at end insert—
(7) Notwithstanding any enactment or rule of law, in assessing the compensation to be paid in respect of any interest in and acquired under this Act, account shall be taken of any increase in the value of that interest which is attributable to the proposed or actual construction of the facilities mentioned in paragraphs (b) to (d) of section 1(7) of this Act.").
§ The noble Lord said: During the five and a half years in which I have had the privilege of being a Member of this House I have not spoken very often, let alone been brave enough to move an amendment. On the last occasion on which I spoke it was for one minute and seventeen seconds, after which I was bought a drink by a Member of the Government Front Bench on the undertaking that I would persuade my Cross-Bench colleagues to follow my example. I embark therefore with some trepidation and regret that I may detain the Committee slightly longer on this occasion.
§ This amendment is coupled with Amendment No. 137. I should like to emphasise first that there is no 540 disagreement with the use of compulsory purchase powers to acquire the land for the terminal site of the Channel Tunnel. The terminal cannot be built just anywhere. The amendment seeks to ensure that where land is compulsorily acquired for essential commercial purposes full development value should be paid.
§ Secondly, I assure the Committee that this is not in any way a local or provincial effort in the South-East to put right what is widely regarded as an injustice, but is an attempt to clarify and I hope to correct the basis of compensation paid where land is acquired by compulsory purchase on behalf of enterprises which are strictly commercial. This is not a matter of interest solely to property owners in the immediate vicinity of the Channel Tunnel terminal; it is of considerable concern to property owners everywhere.
§ This Government have already returned to the private sector a considerable number of state-owned corporations and are about to return some more. These enterprises when state controlled have been able to use compulsory purchase powers and pay compensation under existing use value terms. It is right that this should continue to be so where the land being acquired is needed for the development of the country's basic infrastructure, road, rail, etc., but I emphasise the word "basic".
§ Where land is required for the ancillary activities associated with such aspects—for example, duty free shops, motorway services, retail shops or reservoir yacht clubs—such land should be paid for at full development value. Is it equitable that a profit-making enterprise should be subsidised by being able to acquire its commercial site at existing use value? I am told, for instance, that the annual turnover on a duty-free shop may be as high as £4,000 per square foot, as opposed to £1,600 per square foot at Marks and Spencer in Oxford Street.
§ The Channel Tunnel is, we are told, a private enterprise commercial venture in which no government money is involved, but is not the land purchased by the Government for the terminal being leased to Eurotunnel on favourable terms? Is not this a government subsidy to the operators at the expense of those dispossessed? If for any reason the tunnel is not built, I understand the land will not be offered to the orginal owners at acquisition prices but sold at full development value with planning permission. If that is so, that is an additional reason for full development value to be paid to the original owners. If full development value is not paid, surely in the event of the tunnel not being built the Crichel Down principle should apply.
§ The Minister will, I am sure, tell the Committee that the owners of land at the Channel Tunnel terminal have all settled. I understand that not all contracts have been exchanged, but even if they have all settled that should not make it impossible to make additional payments if the Committee agrees to make this amendment. It should be borne in mind that many landowners have agreed terms with Eurotunnel under the pressure of having otherwise to deal with the district valuer.
§ I am sure that the Minister will also tell the Committee that there are precedents for the 541 procedures as laid down in this Bill. Just because there are precedents they need not necessarily be right. I am sure that the Minister will tell the Committee that the Channel Tunnel is a special case, but how many more special cases are there to be in the future? I contend that a multiplicity of special cases makes bad law.
§ How many more commercial enterprises are to be assisted to purchase at favourable terms before this injustice is corrected? With the Government's programme of privatisation the whole spectrum of the acquisition of property has changed. The private companies thus created will inherit, or have inherited, compulsory purchase powers. Surely it is time to clarify and correct the injustices and anomalies that the change has brought about. The situation today is not comparable to that of 10 years ago. Even if the Minister suggests a review of all the procedures one must ask when and how long it will take, and how many more special cases would have passed along the motorway before it happens.
§ I once again emphasise that these compensation terms under compulsory purchase are not just a matter of concern to a corner of South-East England. They are of concern not only to those affected by the proposed Channel Tunnel terminal but also to those whose land may be acquired in the future for commercial developments ancillary to new motorways, reservoirs or airport extensions.
§ There is a substantial matter of principle involved, brought about to a large extent by the Government's policies of privatisation. I am not criticising that policy. As the Government have moved to support and encourage free enterprise surely they must also move to correct the situations that that policy has brought about. The Government have changed the circumstances; they should accept that they have to change the character.
§ I accept that there may be a need for compulsory purchase powers to apply to a development of this nature even though it is to be carried out by a private company, but I do not accept that where that company uses such powers for development of a purely commercial nature it should benefit from a compensation code which was evolved for schemes of public benefit. A similar amendment was considered at the Committee stage in the other place and defeated only on the casting vote of the chairman of that Committee. It was supported by members of all parties. I beg to move.
§ Lord Renton
I wish to support the powerful case move by the noble Lord, Lord Cornwallis, with such strength and lucidity. Clearly there will be injustices here. Owner-occupying farmers, as well as other landowners, will be dispossessed in circumstances in which there will not be a transaction between willing buyer and willing seller because there will be no willing sellers if the land is to be parted with merely at existing use values. The developers, who will be the buyers and whose position is reinforced by an Act of Parliament, will be in a strong position to make killings out of a resale, if that is the right expression. However, the developers will undoubtedly be able to resell the land at development values to people 542 operating hotels, workshops and, on a smaller scale, cafes, newspaper offices and goodness knows what. That presumably will apply even to Government departments, such as the Post Office, and to privatised industries, such as British Telecom, which want to occupy some of the land, and the developers will be able to charge them a proper development value. Therefore I suggest that there is an injustice.
I hope that in replying my noble friend will not say, "Yes, there may be an injustice or there may not, but this is not the moment to change the law". Surely if the law contains, or results in, a manifest injustice which will operate in a particular case, that injustice should not be perpetuated simply because the Government are unable or unwilling to find time to have the law changed on a broader basis in the reasonable future. So often we hear the argument, "No, this may he a good thing but we cannot do it now because we must do it right across the board or not at all", even though it results in or perpetuates an injustice. I hope that on this occasion, as it is manifest that there will be an injustice unless something on the lines of this amendment is accepted, my noble friend will consider the matter sympathetically.
§ The Marquess of Salisbury
I also wish to support the amendment so ably moved by the noble Lord, Lord Cornwallis. I entirely agree with what the last speaker said. It seems to me that one of the reasons this procedure has been selected, regardless of its impact on individuals, is that it is an easy way of dealing with a complicated problem. It enables the Government to push through the legislation perhaps far quicker than under any other method of arbitration or purchase by agreement. I do not know whether the Government intend to lease the land to operators at concessionary rates, or whether they are to ask the full market value, but in either case it will be achieved at the expense of the original landowner. It may be that because there are few landowners in this case Her Majesty's Government feel that they can ride roughshod over them.
I should like to look back at what happened in previous debates on other town and country planning Bills. I looked at the 1947 Bill, and in your Lordships' House it appears that the then Government suggested that under planning Bills as proposed only a few rich people would be affected, notably Dukes and Earls. In reply to that debate my father noted that Marquesses were not included. However, he pointed out that a great many small landowners would suffer considerable hardship; and that in any event there should be one law for everyone and not one for the rich and one for the poor.
The general principle on which I understood the Conservative Party was to operate with regard to the valuation of land, and which was adopted by the Conservative Party, was enunciated by the then Lord Chancellor, the late Lord Kilmuir. In introducing to your Lordships' House the Second Reading of the 1959 Town and Country Planning Bill he said:My Lords, the main purpose of this Bill is to put compensation for compulsory acquisition of land on a market value basis. The Bill will put right what has come to be very widely felt as an injustice—the two-price system; one for private sales, the other for public or compulsory purchases".543 It will be recalled that the Franks Committee went out of its way to comment on its dissatisfaction with the procedures relating to land which arises from the basis of compensation. Further in the same speech the late Lord Kilmuir said:The new basis of compensation under the Bill is founded on the principle that the owner of land acquired should receive the value which he could expect to get for his land in a private sale in the open market if there were no proposal by any public authority to buy the land".That seems to be quite clear and whether one is talking about compensation or land values it does not appear that the principle is different.
It seems to me that it does not tally with the proposals in the present Bill, for by using the compulsory purchase procedure Her Majesty's Government have sidestepped the guidelines as laid down by Lord Kilmuir when referring to the process of creating two values for land. We know that the value of this land will escalate enormously once the Bill becomes law. I suggest that the underlying value of the land earmarked for development is clearly higher than the agricultural value, and that private buyers would surely be willing to pay a higher price. In any event, in this case the cost of the acquisition of land is peanuts in relation to the total cost of the scheme. I quote Lord Kilmuir again:By and large, purchasers of land will not now pay development value unless they are certain that they will be able to develop the land; and they cannot be certain of this unless planning permission has been given. Development values, therefore, depend on planning permissions".In this case planning consent will clearly be forthcoming.
Lord Kilmuir went further and said:There is obviously a strong sense of grievance if land is bought from an owner at a low price for some public purpose and it is then sold at a substantially higher price for a different purpose".I do not think that the principle is impaired whether it is for a different purpose or for leasing. As the noble Lord, Lord Cornwallis, has already pointed out, if Her Majesty's Government are relying on precedents, they should rely on good ones. I believe that any likely precedents affecting this case should be classified as bad.
One is dealing with something of a jungle when dealing with planning and valuations. However, I should like to draw your attention to what appears to be a similar state of affairs with a different outcome. We know that when a county draws up a structure plan part of the land in that plan is for one development or another. In that case one can have two fields side by side. One will retain its agricultural value and the other, being sold to developers and having planning consent, will have an enormously enhanced value of perhaps 200 times that of the field next door. But in this case the owner of the land will get the full benefit of the sale whether it is sold to a private developer or to a local authority. There are many other cases, but I shall not detain the Committee any longer.
I should like to make one more quick quotation from Lord Kilmuir. He said:We … need to know the answer to the question: 'With what planning permissions could the land be expected to be sold in the open 544 market if it were not wanted by a public authority?"'.—[Official Report, 14/4/59; cols. 578–583.]For all these reasons, in this case it is surely right to establish what is equitable. What this Bill proposes is not. By adopting the route of compulsory purchase Her Majesty's Government are guilty of a deliberate attempt to prevent the landowners obtaining a reasonable value for their land. This seems to me a grave injustice. The amendment seeks to redress this and I therefore support it.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Lord Stanley of Alderley
I hope the Committee will support this amendment for all the reasons given by the noble Lord, Lord Cornwallis, and by my noble friends Lord Salisbury and Lord Renton. I do not want to repeat the points they have made but I hope that the Committee will seize the real difference between compulsory purchase compensation in the public interest for infrastructure, as opposed to compensation for private commercial enterprises as envisaged in this Bill and indeed, as I see it, to be envisaged in future privatisation Bills.
First, I must point out something that Members of the Committee all know and my noble friend Lord Belstead better than anyone. Agriculture at the moment is facing possibly the most difficult period it has faced since the 1920s. We are all at a loss as to how to deal with the problem and concerned that it is resulting in the whole rural economy suffering. One painless way which has been mentioned by many of your Lordships, and not least by Sub-Committee D, is taking land out of agricultural production. Such a policy will not help the rural economy at all unless the proper, true compensation returns to the owner, and under this Bill it will not. It will go to the speculator. It will go to the City yuppie, to the developer—call them what you like—but it will not go to the real owner.
Our amendment would correct such an injustice so detrimental to our rural well-being. I shall give just one small example to illustrate this point. Take the tenant dairy farmer who is evicted (I use the word "evicted" probably incorrectly) under the present code. He is paid a derisory figure, depending on the value of the land. Unless development value is added to this sum it will in no way allow him to start again, not necessarily in farming—far from it—but in some other business. I totally fail to understand why in such a case he is not even given roll-over relief on his dairy quota; but that is another point.
Secondly, I must point out something else which worries me. I call it "fair trading". This was a point made most forcibly by the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, in the Second Reading debate on 16th February (at col. 903 of Hansard). How can it be fair in respect of those who set up shops, in the Channel Tunnel area in this case, to pay only agricultural prices for their land, whereas next-door—in Dover maybe—a similar trader would have to pay the market rate? If the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury, were here today—I believe he has a shop in Dover—I think he would feel fairly strongly about this.
I believe that this amendment is a precedent for compulsory purchase orders in future privatisations, 545 and it is vital. We are promised more privatisation in the interests of greater efficiency and in returning money and power back to the individual. Fine, but let these compensation terms be reasonable and let them be paid to the individual.
I have been over this compensation course, if I may say so, many times before, not least in connection with the 1981 Act, with my noble friend Lord Caithness, who I see is in the Chamber. I accept that the Government have listened and that they have made some alterations. What is more important, they have given us hope that there is the chance of a more reasonable code. For instance, my honourable friend in another place, Mr. Mitchell, promised to look at this specific point (at cols. 527 and 532 of Hansard) in Committee on 15th January. I ask my noble friend Lord Belstead what is happening.
I just cannot accept the, "Yes, Minister", approach that says, "We have never done anything like this before, Minister. Indeed it is not allowed for in the 1961 compensation code". My noble friend Lord Renton made that point very forcibly a moment ago.
The situation is totally different today. First, this is 1987 and not 1961. In my opinion the Government are, quite correctly, entering upon a massive scheme of privatisation—privatisation for commercial and profitable purposes. I always thought the Government believed that wealth should be held by the individual, and so I ask my noble friend to ensure that the Government practise what they preach. If he cannot accept the amendment this evening, I ask him to come back to your Lordships later with something to show that the Government have at least seized the merit of our argument.
§ The Earl of Radnor
I should like to support this amendment but I do so with considerable trepidation because my involvement is massive. It is necessary for me to go into it in some detail so that the Committee can judge just where I stand and whether I am biased. Then I hope I shall be allowed to continue to talk about the principle of this matter, at least to some extent.
The involvement I have is that of a landowner. 1 own the land on which the portal of the tunnel is to be built, with a part of the terminal. The Committee will know that the tunnel then passes beneath the hill and almost emerges again on my land, where there is a longish section of cut-and-fill tunnel, and I shall obviously be involved with it in some way or another. Further than that, I have personal ownership within the town of Folkestone and I was a party to forming a trust some time ago which now has considerable ownership there. Furthermore, and perhaps contrary to what may be believed, I have not settled with Eurotunnel as yet. I know that in another place it was believed by some people that Eurotunnel had settled with the relatively few landowners in the district. That is not so in my case.
Having said that, perhaps I can encapsulate my comments by saying that my involvement cannot be that far behind that of the Prime Minister, the President of France and the chairman of Eurotunnel 546 himself. But there is a principle here to be thought of very carefully indeed in view, as my noble friend Lord Stanley of Alderley said, of the future privatisation schemes that may come along.
In the past compulsory purchase of land has been well understood. It may on occasions have been resented but it has been well understood, and on the whole I think the law has worked extremely well. The person who owned the land was not allowed to anticipate what was going on in regard to that piece of land but was allowed to argue with the district valuer in terms of what perhaps lay round and about and what the future might hold in the way of perhaps housing development, commercial development or what-have-you. Compulsory purchase was used for the kind of infrastructure that has already been described; namely, hospitals, roads, schools and developments of that kind. It seemed and still seems to me that that is a very proper and right way to go about the matter.
Now we have a different situation on our hands. For many reasons of their own—and obviously for reasons of the treaty and making arrangements with France among other things—the Government have decided that compulsory purchase must be used in this case. So the seller is forced to sell under the rules by which he would have been forced to sell by reason of matters such as infrastructure, which are so important to the community. However, not everybody feels that the tunnel is best for the community; some people believe that the community will survive very well without the tunnel. Most people in the district are against it, whether they live in Folkestone or in Dover.
However, worse still to me is that the land is to be bought at existing use value, which is a very small value, and then leased on to Eurotunnel, which is a commercial concern beholden to its shareholders. Let us make no mistake about it; Eurotunnel exists to make money, and for no other reason whatsoever. Other people in the Government may feel that it is a good thing to have a tunnel but so far as concerns Eurotunnel, it is out to make money for its backers and its shareholders.
So I believe that we are presented with a position in which money is being taken under compulsion from one citizen and put into the purse of another citizen, the first citizen being a landowner, whether large or small, and the second being the shareholder of Eurotunnel. I suggest that that is entirely wrong and unfair and is a very un-English way to go about it. Furthermore it is a very dangerous way. We have touched on what may or may not be precedents in the past but to have this measure as it now stands as a precedent for the future is extremely dangerous.
§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove
I shall speak very briefly on this amendment. It is interesting that we have spent more time on it than we did discussing the safety aspects earlier. I accept the principle of the amendment. I think that the argument put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Renton, who is now sitting as deputy chairman of the committee, about sheer 547 fairness was absolutely reasonable. This is a commercial venture and the land will be taken for purely commercial reasons, or rather it may partly be for social reasons, because of the nature of the tunnel itself, but, as the noble Earl, Lord Radnor, said, the purpose of building the tunnel is for profit. It may turn out to be of convenience to people but that is not why it is being built.
The idea that land should be acquired compulsorily by one group of people from another group of people and then later sold on at a greatly enhanced value seems to be quite wrong, although when the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, was speaking I had the feeling that I should not be at all surprised to find that there are a few Marquesses and Earls who will have a stake in the Channel Tunnel when it gets going and they may very well have money loosed from one pocket to get it back in another. However, many of the points that have been raised have already been considered by my colleagues in another place when they discussed this Bill.
I find myself in a strange position in supporting the landowners of England in their sale of land, from wherever they originally got it, hoping that they will get a higher development price for it. However, the fairness of the situation indicates that this is the only way. Like my colleagues in another place, I support this amendment.
§ Lord Stanley of Alderley
Before the noble Lord sits down I should like to put his mind at rest. He is also supporting the tenants. That may make him feel a little happier.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Lord Belstead
Some of my noble friends and the noble Lords, Lord Cornwallis and Lord Carmichael, have argued forcefully that compulsory purchase compensation as a matter of principle is unjust if it is to be in favour of a commercial undertaking which is then going to benefit from the compulsory acquisition of the land concerned. First of all I should like to make the point that this Bill is applying the compensation code, which so far as I know has been the law of the land for some time. Indeed, it is the law applying to both commerical and non-commercial projects. This amendment seeks to create a unique exception by providing for enhanced compensation for some but not all of the compulsory acquisitions authorised by the Bill. Under the code the valuation by the district valuer with the right of appeal to the land tribunal is based on the market value of land: namely, the price a willing seller would realise on the open market in the absence of the development for which the land is being taken.
My noble friend Lord Salisbury compared this argument about the basis of paying compensation very unfavourably to the comments of the late Lord Kilmuir when he was introducing the 1959 planning Act. I should like to say to my noble friend that the provisions of the 1959 Act are those which are in 548 force now and which are being applied by this present Bill. The 1959 Act corrected the previously unfair compensation provisions by ensuring that compensation ought to be based on the market value of the land being taken reflecting what the owner actually loses.
However, there is a little more to the story than that because the market value of land of course will reflect any existing planning permissions and may reflect an element of hope value, which is the value of the land based on the possibility that planning permission for a certain type of development might in the future be given; alternatively, those affected can apply to the local planning authority for a certificate of appropriate alternative development under Section 17 of the Land Compensation Act 1961. In effect, such a certificate is a form of hypothetical planning permission, which can have the effect of increasing the value of the land for compensation purposes. So someone who is dispossessed of land by the threat of compulsory purchase is not just left under the law as it stands and the code as we have it with just the existing value. There can be hope value and there is Section 17 concerning alternative development certificates.
I have the feeling that the Committee is very well versed in this matter. Nonetheless I clearly received the message from the Committee that it was felt to be unfair. My noble friend Lord Cornwallis started the debate by saying that it was a question of the general principle. I think that some of the members of the Committee, and in particular my noble friend Lord Radnor, have targeted their remarks on this Bill and said that this basis of compensation is unfair in the case of this particular Bill.
Perhaps I may say in reply that there are many precedents for compulsory purchase powers and for the compensation code applying to works by private developers. The history of compulsory purchase largely begins with the private Bills promoted by railway companies in the last century and the standard provisions in the resulting Acts have developed into the present code. There are more recent precedents of private Bills authorising compulsory purchase by private sector bodies for commercial purposes such as oil terminals and private ports, and compulsory purchase orders have been used by public sector bodies to enable private enterprise developments, notably in town centres. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, will forgive me for saying that although I know he has sided with my noble friends on this matter, if he looks back through the precedents he will find that the last kind of example has surely been used on many occasions when there have been new housing developments around the country.
I am simply saying that the arguments for compulsory purchase at standard compensation are there in the law and in the code and they are particularly strong where the project is in the national interest. I would just remind the Committee that the Select Committee of your Lordships' House, so far as the national interest is concerned, said that it thought the project would bring immense opportunities for 549 the generation of industrial and commercial development throughout the United Kingdom.
There is, however, a further argument, and it was put with some force by the noble Lord, Lord Cornwallis, and my noble friend Lord Stanley of Alderley. Both expressed concern that authorities or indeed privatised undertakings under legislation may compulsorily acquire land, and possibly more land than they really need, through compulsory purchase and then develop the land for some non-essential uses, but uses which would be of great benefit to add to the particular businesses. Nothing is certain in this life, I know, but I should like to assure my noble friends that this is by no means likely to happen. Compulsory purchases must always be justified, either at a public inquiry or to Parliament. The Secretary of State would not confirm a compulsory purchase order if there were not a reasonable prospect of the purpose for which the land was being taken being achieved in the foreseeable future. As to whether that purpose is a desirable purpose, one must, of course, have a look at the particular case at the particular time.
So perhaps I may finally come to the particular case. Once again my noble friends have suggested to the Committee that there is an injustice here. In making its case, this amendment is seeking to distinguish between commercial and non-commercial parts of the tunnel project. The actual tunnel does not fall within the scope of the amendments, being seen by your Lordships who are moving the amendments as part of the public infrastructure, but the terminals do fall within the scope of these amendments. But what public benefit is a tunnel without the means of getting into it? Without the old Dover colliery site, commercial, the non-commercial tunnel could not anyway have been built at all. Moreover, there would surely be unfairness to those landowners who would not benefit from this amendment; compensation should surely reflect the losses which landowners incur, not the totally different value which the development may impart to the land.
So in answer to this amendment, I am, I think, seeking to say two things. First of all, with respect, I do not think that the ways in which these amendments are drawn are themselves very fair, for the reasons which I have just given in those last few remarks. Secondly, if my noble friend Lord Renton will forgive me for saying so, I feel constrained to say that I do not think it is desirable to seek amendments of general principle to a Bill of this kind which is dealing with one specific project.
Nonetheless, my noble friend Lord Radnor made a plea that there is a principle here which ought to be considered with great care. The farthest I can go this evening is to say that I have heard the case which has been put forward by my noble friends and the noble Lords, Lord Cornwallis and Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, and I assure the Committee that I shall draw the attention of my right honourable friends to what has been said in this Committee. I also give an assurance that the Government will take note of the views which have been expressed in this Committee on compensation policy as a whole.
550 However, I am afraid I cannot go further than that on this occasion. I am sure that your Lordships will accept—and I hope you do so—that this really is not the moment to consider amendments to the general law. It is on that final ground that I hope the amendment can be withdrawn.
§ Lord Cornwallis
First, I thank the Minister for that summing up and reply. I note with great interest the remarks which he makes with regard to the general principle. I think the problem with which all of us are faced is that when it comes to trying to bring forward a general principle in any Bill it is never the right Bill in which to bring it forward. If we are not very careful, we shall go from Bill to Bill with the principle unresolved and unstated. It is difficult to resolve the situation in those circumstances.
Those with whom I consulted before moving the amendment were quite clear in advising me that this was not the way to bring this particular principle forward. But what other way do we have of bringing the principle forward? So I hope that if I have understood the Minister correctly, he will use his best endeavours to bring what we believe to be a movement of the goalposts by the Government to the notice of the Minister concerned and that we may―hopefully perhaps before the Report stage of the Bill—have some further message from him on how this can be looked at.
The Minister mentioned Section 17 in his remarks. We are well aware of the uses of Section 17 but it is hardly applicable when the land concerned has been known to be the terminal of the Channel Tunnel for something close upon 100 years. I do not think that anybody in those circumstances could ever have applied for a Section 17 certificate.
Many of the other examples which the Minister cited have been carried out by public corporations and not by private enterprise. I would remind the Minister that when the main railways were put forward, of course there was no development value and no planning. Even today, if you wish to develop the docks or something of that sort, I believe you will have to put forward a Private Bill. Within that Private Bill it is necessary to spell out in complete detail the activities that the enterprise will indulge in and everything must be proved by the committee concerned.
The Channel Tunnel terminal is a catch-all. Nobody explains which piece of land will be needed for what, or what it will be needed for in detail, so I do not believe, the circumstances concerned are entirely the same. Nonetheless, in view of the Minister's attitude to the amendment, with the hope that we may hear more from him before the next stage of the Bill and reserving the right perhaps to bring it forward at the next stage, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 36 agreed to.
§ Clause 37 agreed to.551
§ Clause 38 [Extension of Railways Board's powers in connection with through services]:
§ 9 p.m.
Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 83:
Page 28, line 38, leave out ("requisite") and insert ("expedient")
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 83 and at the same time speak to Amendments Nos. 84, 104, 105, 106, 107 and 108. These are technical amendments to clarify and confirm the powers of the British Railways Board to operate abroad and to enter into contracts with foreign operators and the concessionaires. I think they are more or less self-explanatory but if not I shall be happy to give a more detailed explanation. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 84:
Page 28, line 41, leave out subsection (2) and insert—
("and there shall be added at the end—
(g) to do anything which appears to the Board to be expedient for the purposes of or in connection with the provision by the Board or railway services outside Great Britain.
§ (2)It is within the power of the Railways Board to enter into a contract with any person operating railways services through the tunnel system for the passage of any train of any such person over or along any railway of the Board; and this section gives any person with whom the Board have entered into such a contract authority to use any railway of the board in accordance with that contract in so far as such authority is not given by any other enactment.
§ (3)The assumption by the Railways Board, under any contract with the Concessionaires under which the Board are permitted to use the tunnel system, of any obligations with respect to the exercise of any of their powers, shall not be regarded (if it would be so regarded apart from this provision) as incompatible with the proper exercise of those or any other of their powers.).
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move. I spoke to this amendment when I dealt with Amendment No. 83.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 38, as amended, agreed to.
Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 85:
After Clause 38, insert the following new clause:
§ ("Inland customs clearance facilities
§ —(1) The Secretary of State shall consult with—
- (a)the Commissioners of Customs and Excise;
- (b);the Railways Board; and
- (c)such other persons as he considers to be relevant; with a view to determining whether it would be desirable for there to be established a network of inland customs clearance facilities for the purpose of enabling certain goods entering and leaving the United Kingdom by means of the tunnel system to be afforded customs clearance otherwise than in the county of Kent.
§ (2) In determining that question the Secretary of State shall have regard to the desirability—
- (a) of facilitating the prompt delivery of goods to their ultimate destinations; and
- (b) of promoting economic growth and employment opportunities throughout the United Kingdom.
§ (3) The Secretary of State shall lay before Parliament a report containing the results of his determination under this section not later than 1st August 1988.").
§ The noble Lord said: Throughout our consideration of the Bill we have emphasised that we 552 must make it offer the utmost value for the economy of the whole of the United Kingdom. This new clause would require the Secretary of State to carry out a consultation exercise with the commissioners of Customs and Excise, British Rail and other relevant persons to determine whether it would be desirable for there to be established a network of inland customs clearance facilities to enable certain goods being conveyed by means of the tunnel system to be afforded customs clearance at places other than the proposed clearance depot at Ashford, Kent.
§ The new clause is based upon an amendment proposed in a Standing Committee in another place, where it was rejected by only one vote. At that stage the Government's reasons for urging its rejection were not at all convincing and, moreover, it is important to ascertain today if we can from the Minister what progress, if any, has been made by British Rail in carrying out its own review of the need for a pattern of inland clearance depots.
§ It is particularly important to ensure that the various regions of the United Kingdom are able to derive the maximum possible benefit from any trading opportunities provided by the tunnel. In particular, unless there is an efficient transport infrastructure for moving components and raw materials to assembling and manufacturing points, British industry will increasingly find itself at a disadvantage compared with France and certain other EC countries.
§ The establishment of a network of inland customs clearance facilities would enable the industries of the various regions to expedite their trade, thus benefiting those regions as a whole. That point was made very strongly in the first report of the House of Commons Transport Committee on the Channel link. I shall not read out that section but for those who may wish to read it it is in paragraph 13(v) on page 207 of the report.
However, in paragraph 145 of the Select Committee report your Lordships report that you agree a modest amendment to the Bill to ensure that British Rail will focus resources on the dispersal of rail traffic from London to the regions. It is also important to quote paragraph 146 of the Select Committee report, which states:
Goods for export must not only be able to travel efficiently, they need to be cleared for customs before doing so. Traditionally in the United Kingdom customs clearance is carried out at sea and air ports. There are only some 22 inland clearance depots in the country compared with 240 in France. At present the criteria adopted for considering whether such depots should he established include a requirement for 30,000 customs entries per annum. The Committee consider that British Rail and the Customs and Excise should urgently re-examine these criteria in order to help industry exploit the advantages of the tunnel project on a national scale.".
In paragraph 26 of their response the Government summarily dismiss the recommendation of the Select Committee that BR and the Customs and Excise should urgently re-examine the criteria. That was not asking a great deal.
§ But I find that paragraph 26 of the Government'sresponse brings in a new argument. They say that in addition to the 22 inland clearance depots in the 553 United Kingdom there are now some 370 traders who are approved for customs clearance of either imports or exports at their own premises. It is very strange that that was not an argument used at all in the other place, and the only reference that the Government make to a re-examination of the criteria is that, while normally a minimum throughput of 30,000 customs entries per annum is required, regional factors are fully taken into account when considering proposals for new inland clearance depots.
§ It seems as if the Government, as someone remarked on another amendment, move the goalposts when they want an argument. The proposed new clause seeks merely to impose on the Secretary of State a duty to investigate and report to Parliament by 1st August next year. That is 12 months. It does not compel the Secretary of State to decide in favour of any particular network of customs clearance facilities or indeed any network at all. It is a very modest proposal but nonetheless a very important one and I hope that the Minister will feel that he can accept the principle that there shall be further consultations with the Customs and Excise commissioners, the railways board and such other persons and that Parliament shall have a report on those discussions.
§ Unless something of that kind is done we shall not be making the maximum use of the tunnel. From this Bench we have argued right the way through that the one big success from the tunnel can be the use of freight transport from all parts of the UK and this amendment is directed to that end. I beg to move.
§ Lord Tordoff
The Minister will not be surprised to hear me say that we fully support the amendment from these Benches. It is very much in the category of the discussions that we were having last Thursday on the necessity for immigration and customs officials to be on passenger trains. I believe in many ways this is more important.
As the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, has said and as I have said from these Benches on many occasions, the major justification for the existence of the tunnel at all is the ability of manufacturing industry in the United Kingdom to reach the markets in the Continent. Quite clearly if that is going to happen in an efficient way there must be an extension of the facilities in the inland depots.
It seems to me that the criteria that are being applied are either being dictated by the Treasury or by someone who is not taking into account the existence of the tunnel at all. I beg of the Government, even at this late stage, to modify their view on this whole question of inland customs facilities.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
We are certainly in agreement that one of the main aims in building the tunnel is that the maximum use of the tunnel should be brought to all regions of the country, particularly, as the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, has said, in terms of freight. We have discussed passengers who will 554 disperse through the whole of the country. However, in that regard the tunnel will be competing with the airlines, and freight is where great benefits may be seen.
I wish to make two main points. First, it is necessary to disentangle inland Customs clearance from the wider issue of the development of international rail services beyond London. There is obviously some connection between the two, but inland Customs clearance depots, or ICDs, as such, are not the key factor in determining how much freight traffic British Rail will be able to attract to its international services. For example, for freight moving in wagon loads to or from private sidings, Customs clearance can be carried out satisfactorily from the trader's point of view at any convenient point between his premises and the tunnel.
A network of ICDs cannot be drawn up in a vacuum. It must depend on the likely pattern of demand for freight services when the tunnel opens. British Rail is investigating the potential market, and this work will provide part of the input to the plan which it is required to draw up under Clause 39. It is only when the market has been identified that British Rail will be a position to identify possible sites for inland clearance depots. An ICD is most unlikely by itself to stimulate a demand which would not otherwise be there.
The Clause 39 plan will identify any sites where British Rail considers that an additional ICD is required. It is already looking at the question. It does not need any prompting from the Secretary of State to examine the role of ICDs. It will then need to discuss with the Customs authorities the requirements it has identified. If there are problems, the Secretary of State is sure to become involved. But it would not be appropriate for him to take the lead in planning a network of facilities which depends crucially on the demand which it is British Rail's responsibility to identify.
The noble Lord, Lord Underhill, referred to the evidence before the Select Committee and the Government's response to it concerning the question of the criteria for ICDs. The Select Committee commented on the small number of these depots and recommended that the basic requirement of 30,000 customs entries a year should be reviewed. As the Committee will know, the Government's response to the committee's report has recently been published. It pointed out that the comparison that has been drawn between the scales of inland clearance in France and the United Kingdom is misleading. In addition to the 22 ICDs in the United Kingdom, there are some 370 traders who are approved for customs clearance of either imports or exports at their own premises. I should have thought that that was probably a more favourable way of doing things than that which the French have.
Following a Rayner study in 1983 and an internal review in 1985, the Customs authorities are now pursuing a policy of concentrating resources at those ports, airports and ICDs where there is sufficient traffic to justify full-time facilities. Customs resources 555 are not unlimited, and it is obviously sensible and in the interests of traders as a whole that the available resources should be deployed in the most cost-effective manner.
The recommendations of the 1985 review and the revised criteria it established for approving ICDs were published and discussed with the trade associations. While normally a minimum throughput of 30,000 Customs entries per annum is required, this is not a rigid standard and regional factors are fully taken into account when considering proposals for new ICDs. The Government do not therefore accept that there is a case for re-examining the criteria at the present time.
In the light of what I have said, I trust that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw the amendment. We are certainly agreed on the importance of seeing that the benefits of the tunnel spread through all the regions. However, I think we can accomplish that without necessarily having more ICDs. Our method of licensing traders for direct Customs clearance is in fact the better one, in many ways.
§ Lord Sefton of Garston
There were two phrases used by the Minister which gave me cause for concern. I was concerned not because he used the sentences but because it seems to me that no one has grasped the very real point that if we are going along with an organisation such as British Rail functioning "only when the market has been identified" and "where there is sufficient traffic to justify the facilities", then this country will get nowhere at all, and will get there very fast if it is in competition with France. The whole point that has been made over the last 40 years is that if, quite rightly, our economy is to grow, and to grow considerably quicker than it is doing at the moment from the point of view of 3 million people, then we must plan and put in situ the facilities to make that growth possible. We do not have to wait till the demand justifies it.
As a small example of the point I am making, at Liverpool's Seaforth container depot British Rail tore up the railway service to one of the biggest container depots in the UK. They said "We will look at it again when the trade coming through Liverpool justifies the provision of that rail link". How much better would it have been if that rail link had been in place? How much quicker would the Liverpool container depot have grown if British Rail had put it in first? I know that the Minister has had a busy day and that the briefs must come thick and fast; it must be awful to sort out the common sense, if there is any, in them. However, I appeal to him not just from the point of view of British Rail, but because of the kind of infrastructure that we need to lay down in advance in order to make our economy efficient.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Lord Tordoff
I understand what the Minister is saying about traders who have their own customs facilities, but those are not the traders about whom 556 we are talking. These days, the Government are always talking about improving the situation in the inner cities and helping small businessmen. I know that the presence of ICDs would not in itself stimulate trade, but it is intangibles such as these that inhibit export trade. If the small businessman in an inner city finds it impossible to put his goods through an ICD, he will not look for export business which is surely available if he goes in search of it. In so far as this Channel Tunnel opens up tremendous possibilities for all sorts of people in this country to find new markets in Europe, the Government should surely be doing everything in their power to facilitate that trade, and should not be waiting for that trade to arrive before putting facilities in place.
§ Lord Mulley
I was extremely disappointed with the Minister's reply, because, although the form of the amendment is not exactly one that would have come from the parliamentary draftsman, the point is surely one which he would have accepted in principle; namely, that the Secretary of State should take the lead in examining the possibility of these additional facilities.
As has been said so powerfully, if you wait until someone comes along with a piece of paper and says "I can guarantee 30,000 every year" you will never do anything, just as British Rail will not provide for the carrying of cycles, because the cycling organisation seemingly, as we understood earlier today, cannot come along with a list of people who guarantee that they will make a profit in six or seven years from now through carrying bicycles. It is a negative attitude. We are not asking for anything to be done except that the matter be looked at.
The Government are rightly concentrating their efforts on further employment, and looking to try to help the inner cities. While I would not claim that having a customs depot will necessarily transform the problems in some of these areas, I am quite certain that there are a number of small businesses in this country, and indeed medium-sized businesses, which have an export potential, but which have been deterred from exporting because of the difficulties about customs, the uncertainty, the forms and all the rest of it.
If they had somewhere fairly near to which they could go and get assistance and advice, it would make an immense difference to their attitude towards exports. Certainly I should have thought that the Secretary of State could well set up an inter-governmental committee or something of that sort to look at the possibility of utilising the extra train facilities and the extra speed that will be available on the lines that my noble friend indicated.
§ Lord Underhill
Everyone seems to agree on the importance of this matter. The House of Commons Transport Committee on the Channel Tunnel expressed its great concern that unless something like this is done we shall lose out on a lot of trade, particularly to Northern France. We have your 557 Lordships' own Select Committee on the Channel Tunnel Bill, which received a considerable amount of evidence and expressed its view in support of the principle of this amendment. I know that Eurotunnel and BR held a number of regional conferences of manufacturers. I should very much like to know what was the general view at those regional conferences, because I should be very surprised if views were not expressed on the lines of this amendment: that some consideration should be given to customs clearance facilities.
When the Minister mentioned the BR plan under Clause 39 I was prepared to bet a large amount of money that my noble friend Lord Sefton would be jumping in, and he did. On this occasion he supports the principle, believing that the institution of an inquiry in order to have another look at the possibility of inland customs clearance facilities would help the area about which he has been talking day after day in relation to the Channel Tunnel.
The Minister says that it is not for the Secretary of State to take a lead in planning these matters. All we are asking is that the Secretary of State should take the lead again in calling for consultations. I should like to know whether part of the resistance to it is from Customs and Excise, because there is a strong suspicion that that is the situation.
§ Lord Tordoff
Would the noble Lord care to ask the Minister what view the Department of Trade and Industry takes? I should have thought that the department was extremely favourable towards this.
§ Lord Underhill
That is a question which I repeat to the Minister, if he would care to answer it and give also the view of Customs and Excise. It might be a question that he would like to keep in mind for the noble Lord, Lord Young of Graffham, when discussing the development of further jobs.
At 20 past nine it would be foolish to divide the Committee, but this is a very important matter. If the Minister could reply to these two brief points—what is the attitude of the Department of Trade and Industry and is there a view from Customs and Excise?—I shall willingly withdraw the amendment
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
The noble Lord will be well aware that the Government speak as one and therefore the Department of Transport, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Treasury, which is concerned with Customs and Excise, all speak with one voice.
I give one assurance to the Committee. In assessing whether an ICD is necessary Customs and Excise is well aware and willing to take account of the fact that a new ICD will up to a point generate its own demand. Such an assessment must of course be realistic and I have to tell the Committee that Customs and Excise has a considerable amount of experience in operating ICDs which have failed to 558 stimulate the demand that would have justified them. It is something that will be looked at very closely.
I apologise for dampening the enthusiasm of Members of the Committee that ICDs automatically generate a tremendous demand for small businesses or for large. It has not always been the case.
§ Lord Underhill
The noble Lord is talking about past experience but we are arguing about the new experience of freight trains going through the tunnel into Europe, which is a new situation. We are talking about that and taking advantage of it.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I accept that of course, but that is something for the future. That is why I say that Customs and Excise will want to look at that point.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn
§ Clause 39 [Railways Board's plan for international through services]:
Baroness Lockwood moved Amendment No. 86:
Page 28, line 47, leave out ("proposals as to").
§ The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 86 at the same time I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 88, 89 and 90 because they all hang together. In doing so I speak on behalf of the Yorkshire and Humberside Association; that is, all the district councils in Yorkshire and Humberside whatever their political complexion. The amendments are also supported by the regional CBI and the regional TUC. In presenting a petition to the select Committee the Yorkshire and Humberside Association was concerned that the benefits of the Channel Tunnel should not be confined to the South-East but should extend to the North—in particular to Yorkshire and Humberside where there is industrial and commercial potential for growth.
§ It was enouraging that the strength of the case was recognised by the Select Committee through the inclusion of new Clause 39. It was also encouraging last Thursday to hear the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, say in the debate on the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, that in the light of opinion throughout the Committee he would be prepared to look again at the situation of trains going north of London having on-train control.
§ It is less encouraging to hear his response tonight to the amendments tabled by my noble friend Lord Underhill dealing with ICDs. My amendments follow from what my noble friend was saying. A comprehensive rail infrastructure with facilities for passenger and freight services is important to the North to ensure that the full benefits of the Channel Tunnel are felt there.559
§ My amendments to Clause 39 are intended to ensure that the plan envisaged under that clause is sufficiently comprehensive to enable the regions to take full advantage of the opportunities available. My amendments provide the opportunity for comment to be made on the proposed plans without causing unnecessary delay. They make provision for the plans to be publicised through channels which will be known in advance. They also provide for the Secretaries of State who are likely to be involved in the development to be fully aware not only of the plans but of the comments on the plans.
Under Clause 39 as it stands the plan which British Rail is instructed to prepare is constrained by the financial resources likely to be available to it. The clause provides for:
measures which the Board consider ought to be taken by any person in the United Kingdom or France",
which indicates that others as well as British Rail are likely to be involved in the plans which British Rail is to draw up. It is important therefore that the plan is not restricted by British Rail's financial constraints. For example, other sources of funding might be available such as the European Regional Development Fund. It might be possible, indeed it should be possible, to involve private business as well as local government in the plans. A whole range of people and organisations are likely to be involved.
§ In Yorkshire we should like to see the plan cover options for the provision of fast, direct routes for passengers and freight from the regions to the tunnel. From Yorkshire and Humberside the most direct route would be an improved Snow Hill tunnel. I know that some Members of the Committee are likely to recoil at the possible cost involved in that. The £80 million that the improvements to Snow Hill would cost are small compared with the total cost of the Channel Tunnel and compared with the benefits that are likely to result.
§ It is also important that we argue, for example, that the benefits of the Snow Hill tunnel will accrue to areas in the North which are already assisted areas under assisted area status. It will also be part of the European transport network. That has already been recognised by the loan from the European Investment Bank to Eurotunnel as part of its pre-funding of the tunnel. There are precedents for such action; for example, the Leeds-Bradford Airport and the Manchester Airport. We should like to see all the options presented in the report and fully examined.
§ The development of new passenger and freight services from the regions offers the biggest stimulus to the rail network that this country has had in this century. It offers, for example, the prospect of through-sleeper services to Paris and Brussels and for the development of many new types of rail freight services. These benefits should not be concentrated in the South-East only; they should extend to the North.
§ The question of on-trains Customs and immigration clearance was discussed last week. We hope for encouraging information at the Report stage. Inland Customs services, as my noble friend 560 Lord Underhill indicated, are very important. At the moment British Rail's commitment is to the South only. On the other hand, if we look to the Continent we see that Customs clearance is carried out much nearer to the point of production. We see other developments. The Nord-Pas de Calais region, for example, has received considerable investment with new railway links to maximise the benefits of the tunnel. Nord-Pas de Calais has similar problems to the rundown, traditional industries of northern England. It also receives assistance from the European Community. If the North is to compete with regions such as this, it must also have good links to the tunnel. There are other factors which the plan will need to cover. I shall not go into them in detail but it is clear that it needs to be a fully comprehensive plan.
§ The amendments that I am proposing tonight are very modest, seeking to extend the scope which Clause 39 already introduces for ensuring that the Channel Tunnel is a national link and not just a South-East link. Recent press advertisements, referred to in an earlier debate, from both British Rail and Eurotunnel strike the right psychological note about the comprehensive nature of Channel Tunnel services and the integration of these services into the British Rail system. But much has to be done before the content of those advertisements becomes a reality. My amendments go some way towards helping this objective. I hope that they will meet with your Lordships' support.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I compliment the noble Baroness for having moved this amendment. Once again it gives us the opportunity to discuss the fact that this Bill and the proposed tunnel will bring benefits throughout the country and not just in the South-East. That is the message that, certainly, the Government have been trying to get across for a very long time.
On a lighter note, I am somewhat surprised to hear, looking at the amendment, that publication in the London Gazette is thought to offer a guarantee of wide public dissemination. I am not certain that I have ever met anyone who has ever read it. I was certainly not aware of that fact.
More seriously, if there is any anxiety that the board might publish a plan in a hole-in-a-corner manner so that no one knew about it I think that that anxiety can be dismissed. I cannot imagine the British Rail Board wanting to do so since it has every interest in letting potential customers know what services are in prospect. I have no doubt that the board will publish the plan widely and that it will be happy to receive any pertinent comments. However, I do not think that it would be appropriate to place the board under an express duty to invite comments. A statutory requirement of that kind is usually related to situations involving formal objections and public inquiries.
I cannot believe that anyone will be inhibited from letting the board have comments on the plan simply 561 because there is no explicit invitation to do so. The proposed amendment would make it more difficult for people to comment because of the three-month time limit it would impose on representations. That is a point which should be borne in mind. I do not think that it is necessary to write into the Bill a requirement that the board should forward the comments and the plan to particular Ministers. The relevant Government departments will receive copies of the plan in the ordinary course of their day-to-day contacts with the board. There can be little doubt that the board will also tell the departments about any representations concerning the plan which are relevant to them. The board should not, however, be obliged to forward actual copies of each and every representation. They could be very numerous and the Government departments mentioned will not necessarily have any responsibility for adjudicating upon them.
The noble Baroness pointed out that new Clause 39 was brought forward by the Government in fulfilment of an undertaking given in another place by my honorable friend the Minister of State at the Report stage. It was originally proposed by members of the party of the noble Baroness. This approach is very much modelled on the original Opposition proposal. We believe that it is the right one.
Clause 39 is a valuable addition to the Bill which will help both British Rail and other interested parties to ensure that the benefits of the tunnel are dispersed as widely as possible. The noble Baroness asked particularly about the European Regional Development Fund. It is for local authorities and other bodies in assisted areas to put forward candidate projects initially to the Government for ERDF support. There is no reason why they should not do so in this case. If such projects were put forward to the Government, the Government would consider them with others when deciding what to submit to Brussels. As for the possibility that British Rail should have a limitation on funds, Clause 39(4) requires BR to take into account only the limitations upon its own sources of finance in putting forward proposals for action by other persons including the Secretary of State or Commissioners of Customs and Excise. British Rail cannot be required to take account of limitations on those persons' finances because they lie outside British Rail's knowledge. Equally it cannot sensibly consider alternative or additional sources of funds available to those bodies.
I hope the noble Baroness will appreciate that I very much share her concern that the benefits should be spread right round the country, and I hope that what I have been able to say will give her some reassurance. I do not think that the amendment as drafted will help much and I hope that she will be prepared to withdraw it.
§ Viscount Sidmouth
While having sympathy with the amendment, I do not believe that it is realistic to press it too hard at present because of the hard fact that, as the Minister has said, in commercial terms British Rail has to justify any expenditure on this 562 project. It is a fact that what it proposes at the moment—that is, to make maximum use of the three existing routes between London and Folkestone with a terminal at Waterloo and the ancillary services—will just about do the job on the traffic forecast. However, if I may make a prophecy, I believe that if not before the tunnel is opened then very soon afterwards, rather than tinkering with the existing routes with all their restrictions of loading gauge and so on, the case will become overwhelming for what the Italians call a diretissima between London and Folkestone. If that is so, the bringing up of the Snow Hill trans-London link will make maximum use of that direct line. As the Minister is well aware, it has far better potential connections with both the east coast and west coast main lines, and those advantages, in addition to the future existence of a direct line, will make the case for the whole thing very strong in the light of the traffic which I hope and believe will develop.
§ Lord Underhill
Before my noble friend replies, perhaps I may say in passing that I thought she put up an excellent case in justification of the four amendments. Nothing the noble Viscount, Lord Sidmouth, has said in any way opposes the principle of the amendments. He is discussing what might be certain points in the British Rail plan. Nothing the Minister said appeared to render the amendments valueless. People want to know where they will see the plan. Whatever may be the Minister's views about the provincials and the London Gazette, once authorities and organisations know that it will be in the London Gazette if they do not already take it—and many of them do—they will know that that is the place to look.
There is nothing in the amendments to which the Minister should take exception. We know that the Government work together. Paragraph (e) of Amendment No. 89 relating to the plan being sent to the various Ministers is surely nothing that he would oppose. The Ministers will consider the plan and they will consider the representations. People want to know whether they will have the right to submit representations which will be considered. That is all that this series of four amendments is asking for.
§ Baroness Lockwood
I must thank the Minister for his response, and in particular for sharing my concern about the need to extend the benefits of the Channel Tunnel throughout the country. Having said that, however, I am disappointed at his response to my amendments.
If I may put his mind at rest in relation to the London Gazette, it is not that it is a firm favourite in the North but it is a recognised medium for public announcements. If there is such a framework as my amendments aim to establish, then local authorities and all bodies that are interested in British Rail's plan will know where to look for the proposals and the time limits in which they can respond. They will be preparing for them. Therefore I am disappointed that he does not see the advantage of including them in the clause.
563 I am sorry that the noble Viscount, Lord Sidmouth, feels that it is not realistic to press the amendments at the present time. If we are planning in advance and looking ahead, then this is exactly the time to press such amendments and not wait until events overtake us. However, I shall not press the amendments tonight. I shall look carefully at what has been said in this and previous debates and then determine whether or not to bring the amendments back at a later stage in the Bill's transit through this Chamber. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 87:
Page 29, line 17, leave out ("31st December 1989") and insert ("1st August 1988").
§ The noble Lord said: This amendment seeks to make the Railways Board prepare a plan under Clause 39 (3) by 1st August 1988 instead of, as the Bill as it stands has it, by 31st December 1989. It is all tied up with the whole question of the clearance depots, which we consider of great importance. In an earlier debate last week many noble Lords suggested that it was only for this reason that the idea of the tunnel was given much credence outside the South-East of England. I find it difficult to believe that the railways are not already working out plans for the Continental through services. They must have some ideas. To wait until 31st December 1989, two and a half years from now, seems ridiculous. Therefore, we ask that this be brought forward and be done in considerably less time.
§ That would give the railways a chance, and the customers a chance, to make a decision. Once they know the sort of pattern British Rail are talking about and the volume they are trying to cater for, they will be able to think in terms of the estabishment of a network of inland clearance facilities linked to the board's determination of the sites for certain goods depots.
§ A lot of this must have already been done by British Rail and we should like to speed it up. To move from two and a half years' leeway for British Rail to make their plans and to bring it down to just over a year is perhaps asking a little too much, but I hope that the Minister will see this as part of the feeling of goodwill that the tunnel still has in parts of the country. If he could concede this it would be quite a boost to the whole idea of the tunnel outside the South-East of England. I beg to move.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
This is a fairly straight-forward issue. It is a question of the sensible deadline for the preparation of the plan called for by this clause. The feeling that the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, expressed is that 31st December 1989 would be insufficient time to implement the plan before the tunnel opens in May 1993. The noble Lord mentioned again the inland customs depots as a factor. 564 Obviously the appropriate deadline is a matter of judgment. In fact, there will not be a clear separation between planning and implementation. The two processes will overlap. British Rail has already done a great deal of preliminary planning on tunnel services, and its plans will evolve continuously right up to and beyond the opening of the tunnel. Each part of the plan will be implemented as soon as it is practicable to do so, and there therefore will be a whole series of start dates for the various elements.
The question is, when will the plan have achieved a sufficient degree of comprehensiveness for it to be sensible to publish it. We consulted British Rail before settling on 31st December 1989, though some argued that that might even be rather early bearing in mind that it will still be three and a half years before the tunnel opens. The counter to the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, is that the sooner British Rail is required to publish its plan the more provisional its nature is likely to be.
We consider it sensible to give British Rail a reasonable period of time to research market data and work out a plan based on it, while still leaving time for consultations to be undertaken once the report is published. It seems to us, and indeed to British Rail, that the date in the Bill strikes a reasonable balance. I hope that I have been able to persuade the noble Lord that that is the case.
§ Lord Taylor of Gryfe
I was a member of the British Rail Board for nearly 11 years, and if there was one thing we were good at it was producing plans. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Mulley, will recall the booklets for plans that we were able to produce in British Rail on its future development, corporate plans, freight plans, and so on.
I hoped in the light of representations made by the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, that the Minister would have agreed to go back to British Rail and say "All right, we have had this expression of view. Do you feel that you could expedite this?". The amount of work that has been done on the Channel Tunnel within the British Rail Board is enormous. I suspect that to delay this for two and a half years is rather overdoing it. While not pressing the amendment, I urge the Minister to make representations to the British Railways Board in the light of what has been said in the Committee tonight.
§ Lord Mountevans
I wonder whether the Minister before he replies could confirm that British Rail does a great deal of planning. In recent years it has become apparent that when British Rail puts a plan to the Secretary of State and the Government approve it, it tends to get on with it quicker than the plan allows. I am thinking of the East Coast electrification, of the electrification to Peterborough and of the Hastings line electrification. All those projects came in ahead of schedule in terms of the time originally allowed in the plan. Would it therefore not be prudent to let British Rail present its plan at the latest possible moment in the hope that in the light of its recent 565 performance it will be able not only to deliver it on time but to fine tune and refine it? The Minister laid stress on that in his earlier remarks.
§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove
I should like to ask the Minister for clarification. Although 31st December 1989 is the point at which the plan under this section must be produced, does it all have to be done at once? Am I correct in my impression that the plans will be evolved gradually, although the date for the final of the first stage before the continual review is 31st December? It would have some effect if we could hope that there would be interim plans before the final plan is passed.
As the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, said, British Rail has lots of experience in these matters and it must have a number of plans already being evaluated. If at this point the Minister could give that kind of assurance, I should be willing to withdraw the amendment.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I think that the best thing I can do is to draw to the attention of British Rail the remarks made in Committee this evening. I certainly undertake to do that.
As regards reviewing the plan, paragraph (b) of Clause 39(3) states that British Rail:shall keep the plan under review and from time to time revise it".I was referring to that paragraph when I said that it will keep the whole matter under review. However, I shall draw the remarks to the attention of British Rail. I have no doubt that representatives will read what has taken place without the need for me to draw attention to it. I shall certainly do so in any event.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Atnendments Nos. 88 to 91 not moved.]
§ Clause 39 agreed to.567
Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 92:
After Clause 39, insert the following new clause:
§ ("Dispersal of international passenger trains
§ .(1) Before commencing the construction of Work No. 21 in Part III of Schedule 1, the Railways Board shall assess or cause to be assessed in consultation with the London Planning Advisory Committee and such London Boroughs or the City Corporation as may be affected, the desirability of dispersing international passenger trains starting in or ending in London to two or more terminals in the Greater London area, including dispersal along a single cross-London line such as the Snow Hill route previously advocated by the London Borough of Lambeth.
§ (2)The Railways Board shall review or cause to be reviewed in consultation as specified in sub-section (1) above the assessment specified in sub-section (1) above, at intervals of 1 and 5 years after the commencement of international passenger services at Waterloo, and at 5-yearly intervals thereafter.
§ (3)The Railways Board shall present the findings of such assessments to the Secretary of State, and shall make them available to the public at a reasonable cost thereof.
§ (4)Such an assessment shall take into account railway operational matters, traffic generation, pollution, environmental effects, effects on local communities, benefits to international and domestic public transport passengers, the integration of transport facilities, and the provisions of development plans prepared under the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 or the local Government Act 1985.
§ (5)If it appears desirable to the Secretary of State, the Railways Board shall be required to prepare a plan under this section to disperse international passenger services in London.")
§ The noble Lord said: This new clause is an attempt to persuade the Government to keep an open mind on the question of whether only one terminal is possible for London. A part of me believes that ultimately this is possibly the right answer and there will he only one terminal. However, there have been rumblings from a number of groups.
§ I know that many Members of the Committee have been given copies of a document from the Association of Waterloo Groups. There is something rather sad about the fact that here is a small group of people whose community will be torn to pieces by the new development. They have the feeling that they have not been thoroughly consulted. There is no way in which the area around Waterloo will be the same after the next five years or so. There is therefore a worry, and the amendment attempts to point out some of the difficulties which we envisage. We hope that the Government will keep clear and open minds about the possibility of another London terminal.
§ I have read the report and the Government's reply to it. I am always worried when we suddenly have figures of 11 million passengers coming from an area like Waterloo or anywhere else. When we see figures such as those I sometimes wonder how they are arrived at. There are many examples even of the Department of Transport, with its expertise, occasionally getting things quite seriously wrong. I do not blame it for that because it is not easy to get the figures right.
§ However, this area will suddenly have an enormous number of people coming into it. There will be problems of parking. Should the Government not decide that ordinary parking cannot be handled in an area such as that and say that there will be a centre for dispersal, with people arriving and then being moved out by Underground or some other 568 form of public transport? I think that the idea of putting a huge number of vehicles in that area was again discussed in Committee last week. The noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, who works near Waterloo, said that there is not a great deal of room on the roads for additional traffic at most times of the day. It will be particularly difficult when this enormous number of vehicles comes in. I hope that the Government will consider saying that the area cannot handle it all and will make a central dispersal point.
§ The amendment asks that serious thought should be given to the dispersal of international passenger trains through London. However, failing that, we ask that the railways board shall review the situation or cause it to be reviewed in consultation as specified every five years after the commencement of international passenger services at Waterloo and every five years thereafter. In other words, this is an attempt to ensure that there is some compulsion; that the board does not drift towards a crisis but will look at the situation every five years under statute. It will need to be aware of exactly what is happening so that we shall not suddenly be hit with something that cannot be handled.
§ I can see difficulties in dispersing passengers around London, although I am sure it can be done. However, I think that there are a number of things the Government can do—first, look again at the question of dispersal and, secondly, as the traffic builds up, as we hope that it will, assess every five years the question of whether dispersal is possible. I beg to move.
§ 10 p.m.
§ Lord Mountevans
We trailed this amendment profusely when we were discussing Amendment No. 21A last Thursday night. It was also discussed to a certain extent just now in connection with the amendments moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood. It seems to me that what it is really about—and I should like to ignore emotional expressions from the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, such as the community being torn to pieces by this new development —is whether the choice of Waterloo was right and whether we should stand by it.
So far as I understand it, the Select Committee found nothing wrong in the choice of Waterloo. Among other things, in this amendment we are being asked to consider whether in the mid-1990s, when the Channel Tunnel will be hopefully alive and operating, Waterloo will be able to cope with some 159,000 passengers per day, as opposed to its average of perhaps 135,000 passengers per day now. I should like to suggest to the Committee with perhaps a bit of help from that excellent journal Modern Railways, and in particular the April 1962 number, which devoted no fewer than six pages to an August Bank Holiday Saturday at Waterloo, that Waterloo can certainly cope with these figures and that then, as now, the infrastructure around Waterloo can cope as well.
If Members of the Committee cast their minds back to the very early 1960s, they will remember that 569 not very many of us had access to cars. Most of us went on holiday in Britain, since the overseas package holiday had not really been invented; and most of us went by rail. Do not let us forget that in those days a lot of us worked a five-and-a-half or six-day week, which meant that we worked on a Saturday. In August 1961 one finds that Waterloo was capable of dealing with perhaps 175,000 passengers on a Saturday, purely on the commuting side of the business. Commuters can drift through Waterloo blindfold. They are creatures of habit; they know where they are going and they know whence they come. More interesting is the fact that Waterloo could deal with 49,000 holidaymaker-passengers on a peak Saturday like that. It dealt not only with its commuter traffic, which I have already discussed, but with the holiday traffic—to Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. It dealt with regular Channel Islands traffic, with three boat trains in and out each day. It dealt with liner and cruise ship traffic, which could amount to 11 or 12 trains on a Saturday. It dealt with race traffic. There was Ascot, Hurst Park (still in those days), and Sandown Park. The extra traffic emanating particularly from the holidaymakers and racegoers was calculated at 49,000 on a busy Saturday. Waterloo coped even if passengers did queue down the taxi road to Waterloo Bridge Road, which I can certainly remember doing, as, I suspect, can one or two other Members of this Chamber. The station coped and so did the infrastructure. There is no record of Lambethans complaining bitterly then about peak Saturdays at Waterloo. Indeed one hears very little about Lambethans complaining now.
The Committee will remember an exhibition at Waterloo promoted by British Rail when it sought to put its case and invited people to comment. To help promote the exhibition it ran a mail drop to some 85,000 householders in Lambeth and Southwark. It seems significant that of those who signed the visitors' book at the exhibition only 158 were residents of the areas covered by those two councils. That fact does not square with the remark of the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, about a community being torn to pieces by this new development. If the community felt that way, why did people not go to the exhibition? There was a questionnaire: why did they not answer it? Was theirs the negative attitude that if we put our heads in the sand it will go away?
I believe that Waterloo is the right choice and that the Select Committee was right, if I quote it correctly, in saying that there was nothing wrong with that choice. I do not believe that the Snow Hill tunnel offers a viable alternative. I use the word "viable" because it seems to me that to reconstruct the Snow Hill tunnel to take Channel Tunnel trains as I envisage them, or as they are at present envisaged by British Rail, would cost vastly more than any other works that we are currently proposing in terms of developing the railways to cope with the Channel Tunnel.
The amendment also suggests that there should be one-year and five-year reviews. I do not feel that we need to legislate for such reviews because no doubt there will be one-year and five-year reviews anyhow 570 and if major changes need to be made, British Rail will seek to make them. It will not simply put those reviews under the concrete and hope that they will be hidden.
As for Work No. 21, so far as I understand it, that is almost entirely upon railway land as already designated and operated by British Rail. I find that also difficult to square with the remark about a community being torn apart. It seems to me that if a tunnel is built under the existing platforms of Waterloo that is hardly tearing apart a community.
Subsection (4) of the amendment appears to seek to legislate for the Labour Party's manifesto plank on the Channel Tunnel which argues that there should be a wide-ranging public inquiry. To a certain extent so does subsection (1). The Labour Party did not win the general election although it fought on that plank, among others. It seems to me that if one has lost the election on a manifesto which includes such a plank, one should not seek to legislate it into a Bill of this kind.
Lastly, I should like to take up the remark about parking made by the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael. It is my understanding that British Rail is keen to negotiate with Lambeth council on the provision of parking, not least within the site of Waterloo station as already defined. The unwillingness of Lambeth council to treat on the subject seems to me to be wrong-headed and I do not feel that we should give it additional bites of the cherry by introducing or accepting this amendment.
§ Lord Brougham and Vaux
If I heard the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, right—and I apologise if I heard him wrongly—I have the feeling that he said that the people around Waterloo were not consulted. That is not the point at all, they were consulted but they broke off the negotiations. On page 15 in paragraph 104 of the report, the Committee recommend that Lambeth Borough Council should forthwith reopen discussions.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I think that the issue of Waterloo has been discussed at great length both in this House and in another place. An enormous amount of work was done by the Select Committee of your Lordships' House on whether Waterloo should be the London terminal for the rail link. In the Government's view the Committee were right to rule out any fresh assessment of the principle that the terminal should be at Waterloo. There will, of course, be many opportunities to discuss and refine the details, but the basic choice of location must, I think, now be accepted. British Rail have already a great deal to do if they are to complete all their works in time for the opening of the tunnel. If they now had to divert their energies into conducting another round of studies and consultations on the case for Waterloo, there would be a serious risk of the whole programme of works being delayed, with damaging repercussions on the viability of British Rail's investment and an obvious risk that British Rail would not be able to begin services when the tunnel opened. If British Rail did find themselves with that problem it would no doubt also affect through services to parts of the country other than London. Furthermore, assuming 571 the choice of Waterloo were confirmed yet again, which I have no doubt it would be, there would then be even less time for British Rail to discuss and develop solutions to meet any detailed points of concern.
The noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, as has been mentioned by other noble Lords, said that the local area had been torn to pieces by this proposal—
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
Would be or will be torn to pieces by this proposal. I cannot see that. The noble Lord, Lord Mountevans, gave an indication of the actual increase in traffic which will take place. Waterloo is already an extremely busy station and goodness knows how many commuters go in there every day. I also recall that it was not so many years ago that Lambeth actually wanted Waterloo to be the London terminal of the Channel Tunnel link. They seem totally to have ignored the fact that over 500 jobs will be created by this. So I very much hope that Lambeth Borough Council and the various community groups who have opposed Waterloo will now accept the Select Committee's judgment and that they will join with British Rail in discussing how the adverse effects of the development may be minimised and its positive benefits for the neighbourhood maximised. I hope that the negative and head-in-the-sand attitudes will finally be removed.
I have more sympathy for the suggestion that further reviews should be carried out after international services to Waterloo have begun. It is self-evident that if the traffic to the Continent grows from year to year after the tunnel has opened there must eventually come a time when the capacity of Waterloo is exceeded. But that time is unlikely to be soon. British Rail consider on the basis of their traffic forecasts that Waterloo will have sufficient capacity until at least the year 2003. But forecasting is an imperfect art, as we have been reminded on various occasions, not least on the M.25, particularly in totally new circumstances such as those which would be created by the opening of the tunnel. It is only when the tunnel is opened that actual traffic growth can be observed and this will give British Rail a clearer idea of what additional facilities are likely to be needed and in what time-scale. It is not sensible to impose on British Rail the sort of rigid time-scale for review which this new clause envisages.
I would also remind the Committee that if British Rail do identify a need for additional facilities at some time in the future, they will have to follow the normal procedures involving either a Private Bill or a planning application before the development can go ahead. In the unlikely event that British Rail had not consulted interested parties on their proposals, objectors would have had every opportunity to put their views across under either of these procedures.
Noble Lords will not be surprised that I cannot recommend this new clause as being either desirable or necessary. I hope that the noble Lord will be able to withdraw the new clause and that we may also be 572 able to put the Waterloo issue to bed once and for all tonight.
§ Lord Sefton of Garston
I am disappointed. I thought that for once the Minister was going to take into consideration the real issue contained in the amendment. Up to now all we have heard from the opponents of the amendment is the British Rail case. It could have been the manager of British Rail speaking here. Is there nothing else involved but British Rail or does the City of London and the Greater London authority exist for the existence of British Rail? I thought that British Rail was a service industry that was intended to service an area in a correct way and that that area should be the United Kingdom.
The amendment calls for the first examination of an alternative to bringing the international trains right into the centre of London. That is the issue and it is just as alive now as when Colin Buchanan on behalf of the Government of this land produced a book called Traffic in Towns. It would be just as well if some of the people who produced these specious arguments, which are all based on British Rail's expertise and experience, looked back at some fundamental planning principles. One of those is that one cannot plan a good life for a city if one slavishly follows the idea of the traffic operators that they will go into the centre of the town without any restrictions.
The real reason that British Rail wants to go to Waterloo is because it knows damn well that that is the cheapest way to compete with the airlines. Of course it is. We can now be offered transport from Paris right to the centre of London. British Rail tried to defeat the air ferry from Liverpool to London with the same argument. I have no quarrel with that in the commercial world, but we are not talking just about the commercial world. We shall be shortly when the Government go ahead in a headlong fashion and privatise British Rail. I am concerned about the interests of all the citizens of this land and that means that we should have proper planning.
When this matter was referred to yesterday someone accused me of not knowing London as well as I know Liverpool. I shall wear that badge with pleasure but I know a little about London. I was told that there was no tube station at Clapham Junction, but I never said that there was a tube station there. Yesterday I referred to Clapham. The language I used was "the other side of Clapham".I said that I could get into the centre of London inside 10 minutes. I can do so from Wandsworth Common. I was merely using that example to illustrate that within 10 minutes' travelling time one begins to reach an area where it is possible to plan terminals with onward distribution. After all, British Rail has just told us that next year it intends to introduce a through service to Clapham Junction from the North, so that must be the right area to start examining.
I think that is was the noble Lord, Lord Hampton, who told me that I did not know what I was talking about, and he suggested that British Rail had investigated all the alternatives. I said that British Rail did not investigate all the practical alternatives; 573 British Rail investigated only those alternatives and those criteria that British Rail itself laid down.
The amendment calls for a much wider survey. The Minister has once again advanced the argument that we heard over Canary Wharf and now there are some doubts about Canary Wharf. As I said in my closing speech on Canary Wharf, things were being done in a hurry and we had to give the position; otherwise, we were told, those great American and Swiss benefactors would move out of the country, taking the money with them, and we should not get Canary Wharf. Well, it looks as though we have the Bill and we may not get Canary Wharf. We were also told about the haste and the hurry in the private enterprise sector when it wanted to buy another newspaper.
Now we are told that there is a hurry about this and that British Rail does not have the time to investigate. If British Rail knows that and has convinced the Minister of it, then the Minister will know the timescale involved, first, for when the operation would have to start to make Waterloo a possible success; secondly, when British Rail intends to start it; and, thirdly, when it intends to complete the project. He should know that. If British Rail told him there was a hurry, it should have told him those three things. I do not think that it has. 1 think it has put down a bald statement. I think it is a specious excuse on the part of British Rail.
Let me close on this note. I may not know London as well as I know Liverpool. However, I know Liverpool. I know that at the moment it has a very good commuter service between the city and the outlying suburbs. I also know that if it had been up to British Rail that commuter service would not have been possible. It wanted to rip up two of the railway lines that were key elements. I think that the amendment should stand.
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ Lord Taylor of Gryfe
I wonder whether the Minister can comment on the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, when he said that the reason Waterloo was chosen was that it was commercially more attractive. If that is so, I regard it as a very important argument. We must keep in mind that the whole project is being financed by private capital and therefore must be attractive and viable. There is no claim on the state for financing this project. Was that a serious consideration in the decision to concentrate on Waterloo?
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
Yes, indeed it was. It was largely a commercial decision on the part of British Rail. If British Rail intends to be in business it must attract passengers to travel between Paris and London and Brussels and London on its railway. British Rail looked at something like 13 different alternatives in the London area and it came down, after a great deal of investigation and looking at many alternatives, to Waterloo.
The noble Lord, Lord Sefton, will be able to look at all the arguments if he reads the report of the Select Committee. It dealt with the matter at length. It has been gone over many times. Of course it was a 574 commercial judgment. It was made for the benefit of the potential passengers on British Rail who might conceivably want to go to Paris from the middle of London but who will probably not be persuaded to go out somewhere south of Clapham Junction, as the noble Lord is suggesting.
§ Lord Sefton of Garston
There are alternatives. You can bring the train from Paris right into the centre of London. Nobody wants to go to Waterloo and stay there. Who would want to stop at Waterloo for any length of time? If you get to Waterloo, you are going to go somewhere else. Let me put this to the Committee. It may be that somebody will want to come from Paris, call into London and then go to Heathrow. Perhaps that person will want to go to Gatwick. What will he do? Will he go into Waterloo and then go to Gatwick? British Rail has been boasting about its service to Gatwick. It is much easier to move from the Clapham Junction area to Gatwick than to go from Waterloo. If you want to go to the West Country, it could be much easier to move there from the Clapham area than it is from Waterloo.
I am not suggesting that people should be stopped at Clapham. I am suggesting that the Minister opens his mind to embrace this idea that there is another possibility, provided it is properly discussed and provided we hear experts, other than those from British Rail. Just as aircraft come into Heathrow, because it is evident that they cannot be brought into the centre of London, the facilities are then improved elsewhere. Elsewhere does not just mean the 13 alternatives that British Rail put forward.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I should like to know who the other experts are who suggested somewhere else. British Rail has been into this extremely carefully and the Select Committee looked at its evidence with great care and at great length. Waterloo appears to me to be the answer but I am not an expert on this; I take the word of those who are and who have looked into it extremely carefully.
I do not understand why anyone should conceivably want to go from Paris to Gatwick by train. If you wanted to go from Paris to Gatwick you would go by aeroplane. I would also point out that Ashford is also on the route down. There will be a terminal there which will capture a good deal of South-East out of town traffic. British Rail is anticipating 1 million or more passengers a year who will use that terminal.
§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove
The Minister suggested that this would be the finish of the argument about Waterloo. I suspect that it will not be and that in a few years' time there may be a revision from British Rail. It has happened before when it has come to different conclusions.
On the question of the association of Waterloo groups, I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord 575 Mountevans, that I do not think this is a suddenly trumped-up group. The Minister may know more than I do, and the noble Lord, Lord Mountevans, may know more than I do, but it seems to be a very representative collection of interested people in the Waterloo area. I still maintain that you will not be able to have a terminal of this sort there, dealing with the traffic that we are talking about, without an irreversible change. For instance, one of the suggestions that this group made is that house prices will undoubtedly go up. There will be a big change in property values and the local residents will not be able to compete.
However, I can see that there is no possibility at this stage of getting further, and I suppose I should be grateful for the fact that the Minister saw some merit in the question of a periodical revision, although he was not willing to give us on the face of the Bill any specific time. But he said that British Rail would periodically assess the value of Waterloo and whether it needed another terminal somewhere else. I shall read the Minister's words with great care. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 40 agreed to.
§ Clause 41 [No government grants to Railways Board in respect of international railway services]:
§ On Question, Whether Clause 41 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ Lord Tordoff
I have given notice of my intention to oppose the Question, That Clause 41 shall stand part of the Bill. I shall not detain the Committee more than a couple of minutes and in the end it is not my intention firmly to oppose the clause.
I wanted to take the opportunity of briefly raising the question of no obligation with respect to international railway services being imposed on the railways board under Section 3 of the Railways Act 1974, which is what the clause states. It is all part—is it not?—of the Government's intention not to subsidise this whole system. I was interested when we were discussing Amendment No. 81 to hear that the transport supplementary grant for Kent would have special treatment for the schemes that are being put up by the Kentish men or the men of Kent who were speaking from the Government Back-Benches. That is all right. That is the road lobby. When it comes to the rail lobby, that is a different matter.
If this whole system is going to work properly—and we come back over and over again to what happens in the remoter parts of the country—and if through-rail trains are to work, there have to be provisions at the far end not only for Customs but for container ports and freight handling. At the moment, British Rail has been dismantling a number of these freight terminals because they are not viable. Again, if the whole thing is driven only by market forces, I believe that those services will not be as productive and successful as they might be.
The Government ought to be putting money into the infrastructure at the terminals in the distance—in 576 Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, and so on. I believe that the opportunity for the Channel Tunnel to entice freight into our ports as well as on to our railways is important. I have said before that the ability to take ships into Liverpool or into the other west coast ports, to load their goods on to a train and to get them into central Europe quicker than the boats can get to Rotterdam, is an important factor for the rail tunnel. That is one of the reasons why I support it. Without the infrastructure at the ports and without the freight handling terminals within our industrial areas, that will be delayed. The Government ought not to be taking powers under Clause 41 to deny any obligation to give the appropriate grants to the Railways Board to fund such projects. Having said that, I do not intend to oppose the Question, That the clause stand part of the Bill.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I will briefly reply to that because it makes a change to have to defend a situation where the Government have declined to give support to the railway or, indeed, the tunnel system as a whole. It has been made very clear to us in the past in this Chamber that this system has to operate competitively, in free and fair competition with the ferry system, and that is why we have introduced Clause 2 and also Clause 41. It was to meet the concern of the ferry operators that government funds might leak to the concessionaires in breach of the treaty through the medium of government support for British Rail's tunnel services.
I have listened carefully to what the noble Lord said and with much of it I am in agreement—namely, the way in which the benefits of the tunnel should spread throughout the country. It is an important principle of the Bill that this system should be in the private sector and not subsidised by taxpayers' money. That is why Clause 41 is in the Bill. I think if we attempted to remove it at this stage the wrath of the ferry operators, among others, would be something that the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, might not wish to face.
§ Clause 41 agreed to.
Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 93:
After Clause 41, insert the following new clause:
§ ("Transparency of arrangement with and investment by British Railways Board.
§ .—(1) Subject to subsection (2) below, it shall be the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that—
- (a)any arrangement between the Concessionaires and the Railways Board; and
- (b)any proposed investment by that Board;
§ (2)If in the opinion of the Secretary of State any arrangement or proposed investment should not be made public because of commercial confidentiality he shall ensure that the arrangement or proposed investment concerned is examined by such independent person as he considers appropriate.
§ (3)The independent person referred to in subsection (2) above shall he required to certify whether in his opinion—
- (a)the arrangement has been made on arm's length commercial terms; or
- (b)the proposed investment complies with commercial investment criteria.")
§ The noble Lord said: I am very glad the Minister finished his last remark by saying that this was a private sector matter and that no government money would be involved. It is clear from the amendment which I am now proposing to move, which is a new clause, that the purpose is to ensure that there are safeguards so that not only will the Government not be giving money towards the construction and the running of the Channel Tunnel but there should be no government support through the British Railways Board for the concessionaires of the tunnel. If any money is given, the arrangement should be as transparent as is possible with investment by the British Railways Board. In other words, we should know about it.
§ I am sure that, having said what he did in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, the Minister will agree, at least in principle, that any concessions or arrangements made by the Railways Board should be obvious for all to see. It should be a matter of commercial confidence and there should be an arbiter who makes a decision. The arrangements should be arm's length commercial arrangements and the proposed investment should comply with commercial investment criteria. I am sure the Minister will only be too pleased to accept the principle of this amendment. I beg to move.
§ 10.30 p.m.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I agree in principle with the noble Lord's desire, but I cannot accept that it is necessary or appropriate to impose the further safeguards called for in this new clause. The noble Lord recognises that contracts entered into by the board in pursuit of its commercial activities are likely to be commercially confidential. His proposals for independent examination in such circumstances are aimed at overcoming that difficulty, but even with that feature included the proposals are not acceptable to British Rail or to the Government.
British Rail is required to act commercially in providing services through the tunnel. It is precluded from receiving government grant in support of those services. Yet it is not to be trusted to enter into any arrangement with Eurotunnel on commercial terms. And it is apparently not considered capable of taking its own decisions about what is a commercial investment. I find these propositions frankly insulting to British Rail management. If the noble Lord were running a business which involved him entering into a contract with Eurotunnel, he would not expect the terms of that contract to be opened up to public scrutiny so that it could be judged whether he had made the right commercial decision.
I hope that, on further consideration, the noble Lord will accept that we have in Clause 41 placed an effective bar on government funds leaking to Eurotunnel through BR, and that he will feel able to withdraw this new clause.
§ Lord Mulley
The Minister is probably right when he says that he can understand why British Rail is reluctant to give any information, but this is a two-way situation. I know only what appeared in the 578 press at the time. I understood that Mr. Morton of Eurotunnel was anxious to make arrangements as to how payments from British Rail and the French railways would be made before the trains went through the tunnel because he considered this important to him in obtaining the finance necessary to carry forward the project pending the equity issue which, I think, is contemplated for the autumn.
As I understand company law and the requirements of the Stock Exchange, the tunnel's commercial success or failure may depend on the cash flow and the revenue. I understand that in a press release it has been stated that 50 per cent. of the tunnel's capacity will be made available to the railways. Clearly, the amount they will pay for that capacity is crucial in determining whether people will invest. Whether the amendment is accepted or not, I hope that we shall have an assurance from the Minister that the Government will not withhold information from the public, who will be invited to invest in the project. I am bound to tell the Minister that I shall not be one of those investors.
It would be wrong in principle for the ordinary British investor to subscribe the large sums involved without a full disclosure of the recent agreement made by British Rail and the concessionaires. I understand that Members of both Houses of Parliament have sought such information and have been told, as the Minister said, that the contracts are commercial and cannot be disclosed. Any prospectus I have seen inviting the public to invest in a company has to disclose all relevant contracts, both personal, for services rendered, and commercial, which would have a bearing on the future viability and profit capacity, including in many cases, profit forecasts of the company concerned. I should have thought that without knowing what the railways are paying to use the tunnel it would he difficult to ask for public investment.
§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove
I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Mulley for expanding on what I said. I thought that the Minister would have accepted those remarks. I was slightly peeved that he took exception to what I said as if I did not trust British Rail. It is not that I do not trust British Rail. About nine years ago when the Transport Select Committee of another place dealt with this question there was a big debate as to whether it was to be a mousehole or a proper tunnel carrying freight as well as passenger trains. It was the Treasury which insisted that British Rail could not commit itself because of its public service obligation to guarantee a throughput for whoever was running the tunnel.
It was considered by the Treasury that if any guarantee was given it would come out of the PSBR. I never quite understood why with a huge sum like that, no matter how little was given by British Rail, it would still, in the Treasury's view, be part of the PSBR. It is not an issue that has been dreamed up, but a matter that has been apparent for a very long time. Either directly, or in the way suggested by my noble friend Lord Mulley, there could be an advance about which we did not know or which was unfair to the ordinary shareholders of the UK who are providing some of the public service obligation in 579 another way to British Rail. It is a matter on which we need a proper answer.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
Perhaps I may first explain that the usage contract does not require British Rail to make any payments to Eurotunnel before the tunnel opens. They have agreed to pay a minimum monthly usage charge based on a proportion of the forecast traffic tolls. In British Rail's view this represents a low commerical risk and in return they will be entitled to use 50 per cent. of the capacity of the tunnel for through trains.
On the public service obligation, none of the services through the tunnel will be a part of that. They will either be InterCity or freight, which do not attract the PSO.
On the prospectus—the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Mulley—there is nothing in the Bill to suggest that anything in the prospectus to investors will be any different from any other prospectus issued under United Kingdom law. Therefore if it is a requirement in the prospectus—I cannot say whether it is as I stand here—that these details will be given, so they will be. There is nothing in the Bill that says that anything in the prospectus for this issue should be any different from any other issue.
§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove
I shall read with great care what the Minister has said. We shall keep it beside us during the publication of the prospectus. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove moved Amendment No. 94:
After Clause 41, insert the following new clause:
§ ("On-train immigration and customs controls.
§ .—(1) In the event of provision being made for any United Kingdom immigration or customs controls to be carried out on board trains which are providing international railway services, any additional cost of providing such controls on board those trains (instead of at fixed locations) shall be borne by the Railways Board and shall be treated for the purposes of section 41 of this Act as expenditure properly attributable to revenue account and referable to the provision of international railway services.
§ (2) In this section "international railway services" has the same meaning as in section 41 of this Act.")
§ The noble Lord said: This amendment seeks to ensure that we get Customs and immigration control on the trains and that the charge will not be placed on the taxpayer but on British Rail.
The new clause would ensure that the additional costs were treated for the purposes of Clause 41 of the Bill as:
expenditure properly attributable to revenue account as is referable to the provision of international railway services".
thus ensuring that the costs cannot be funded by the Government.
§ On 23rd April 1987 evidence was given on behalf of the Government to the Select Committee of this House that roughly half as many officers again would be required to administer on-train controls compared with fixed-point controls. That is in the Minutes of Evidence at page 24. The Select Committee stated that 80 Customs staff would be likely to be required 580 to carry out checks on trains, while only 30 would be needed if controls were carried out off the trains at Olympia. Immigration staff would also need to be increased but not by so great a proportion.
§ Counsel for the Government stated to the Committee on 23rd April that paragraph 15 of the concession makes provision for the additional costs caused by these different types of controls to be borne by the concessionaires in the case of the shuttle service. In the case of through trains, however, the relevant body is British Rail. Counsel said that discussions as to whether British Rail would have to bear the additional costs of the extra personnel is a matter which has not yet been resolved. The amendment that I have put forward seeks to help the Government to resolve this matter. I hope that the Minister will accept the amendment in the spirit in which I am moving it. I beg to move.
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara
I first confirm that we are looking urgently at whether there should be an early commitment—which I explained last Thursday—to provide on-train controls for through trains going beyond London. This amendment would require British Rail to pay any additional costs associated with on-train controls if it is decided to have them.
Despite the persuasive case put up by the noble Lord, the Government believe that the amendment would be prejudicial to reaching the appropriate and fair solution and are therefore opposed to it. The Government's starting point is the commitment that I set out to the Committee last week to be evenhanded between services using the tunnel and competing services, whether they are the ferries, which will be in competition with Eurotunnel's shuttle services, or the airlines, which may be the main competitors of the through train services.
The general approach of HM Customs and the immigration service is to provide facilities for all persons entering or leaving the UK in the most efficient, practicable way. In cases where operators or users require special facilities, there are certain precedents for HM Customs, although not immigration, to receive payments for extra services.
The Government therefore certainly do not rule out charging the operators for the additional costs of on-train controls. But such an approach does presuppose that there is a practicable alternative way of carrying out the controls at less cost to the Customs and immigration services. As we have heard, however, it has been argued that there is no reasonable and practicable alternative to on-train controls for certain trains. If one follows that argument, one concludes that there can be no such thing as additional costs. It is a fact that in the past Customs and immigration authorities have adjusted to the different circumstances of new forms of transport, and their services are, with a few exceptions, provided free of charge.
The arguments are therefore not clear-cut. It is nearly six years before the tunnel opens, and I ask the Committee not to tie the Government's hands in the task of reaching a fair solution to this question. I hope that with that explanation the noble Lord will be prepared to withdraw his amendment.
§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove
I am grateful to the Minister. I am sure he sees the dilemma that we find. There could be an argument that the cost would be the aspect that would defeat the assessment on the Customs and immigration on the through service. It would be a pity if such a thing happened and it would do great harm to the acceptability of the tunnel in the country as a whole.
On a matter such as this no one wants to tie the Government's hands. We want them to look at these matters with as open a mind as possible, bearing in mind the responsibilities they have to the whole country. Therefore I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clauses 42 to 45 agreed to.
§ 10.45 p.m.
Baroness Nicol moved Amendment No. 95:
After Clause 45, insert the following new clause:
§ ("Consequential Developments
§ Having regard to development pressures likely to arise from the construction of the Channel Tunnel and other new transport infrastructure to the east of London, the Secretary of State shall within six months of the date of passing of this Act lay before Parliament a report giving guidelines for the protection of the natural beauty, wildlife interest and amenities of the countryside.")
§ The noble Baroness said: The purpose of this amendment is fairly clear. I shall be as brief as possible in view of the hour. A recent report prepared for the Council for the Protection of Rural England highlights a number of issues in connection with the development of the Channel Tunnel and points out that the tunnel is only one of a number of factors which are likely to result in unprecedented development pressure in Kent and the South-East. The report identifies the major thrust of development pressures as originating in and from London, especially East London, following the City's Big Bang, the extension of the M.11 motorway through East London and new economic activity in the docklands
The Government agreed with the Council for the Protection of Rural England in a letter dated 10th October 1986 that the Channel Tunnel would indeed create:
strong pressures for development in Kent".
However, they rely on the Kent structure plan and the Kent impact study to regulate these pressures and so too does the report of the Select Committee which we have before us.
The Minister will probably answer that safeguards exist in the Kent county structure plan and the Kent impact study, but these can no longer be relied upon. The Kent structure plan is in the process of review and I have in my possession a copy of the recommendations that are being made as part of that review. The findings of the Kent impact study are a material factor in the review. The structure plan is likely to play a more prominent role than the impact study. The consultation document containing the new policies, which is to be published today, includes references to the need to provide,
an ordered basis for the release of green field sites and to examine the potential for releasing sites within the green belt for retail operations
in response to the new demands created by the Channel Tunnel and the M.25".
I use this just as an illustration, but the pressures are real. As regards the Kent structure plan there is every indication that the pressures will win and that Kent will yield. In any case in the longer term the Government have already said that structure plans will be abolished though we do not have a date for that.
§ Even if the structure plan was not in danger the issue would need to be dealt with on a different basis, because it is a regional issue and not a county one. There is no evidence that other adjacent counties are addressing the issue even to the extent that it is being done in Kent. The CPRE therefore believes, and I support the view, that this amendment is essential to provide for a full regional analysis of likely development pressures and to identify measures for securing the protection of the wildlife, landscape and amenity of the countryside. It is simply an attempt to have established guidelines against which applications can be measured and developers will know from the start where the line is likely to be drawn. I beg to move.
§ Lord Kilbracken
In rising to support my noble friend in this amendment I hope the Committee will agree that the publication of guidelines along these lines would be extremely important and desirable.
My one criticism is that it is confined to:other new transport infrastructure to the east of London",whereas in this case the development in other parts of the country, not only in the east, is being affected. The suggestion is for guidelines for the protection of the beauty, interest and amenities of the whole countryside. I should prefer the wording to be different but the principle is there and I hope the Minister will view it favourably.
§ Lord Belstead
I recognise that the Channel Tunnel and other major infrastructure projects will create strong pressures for development. Nevertheless, local planning authorities already have powers to control unsuitable development and they are encouraged to apply them by well established national policies for the protection of the countryside as a whole, to which the Government remain firmly committed. That is the nub of the answer which I give to both the noble Baroness and the noble Lord.
The noble Baroness referred to structure plans being succeeded by a different system of district development plans, which we believe will have advantages. The new system will still require district development plans to be in conformity with county policies for the area, and any way the forthcoming review of the Kent structure plan will be carried out under the existing development plan framework and procedures. Its timing is such as to enable the results of the Kent impact study, which is being undertaken under the aegis of the Kent joint consultative committee and due to be completed by the end of this month, to be considered.
I was sorry to hear that the noble Baroness did not have very much confidence in the results of those procedures, but I do not think that that is a reason for 583 simply plucking away the responsibility from county level, for the structure plan review will address the impact of the Channel Tunnel and will seek to balance the need to encourage development with the need to protect and enhance the countryside. I suggest that that is the proper context in which matters concering consequential development should be considered in a way which will give all interested parties an opportunity to comment both during the formal consultation processes and at the examination in public. There is also a continuing forum for such matters to be fully aired in the Joint Consultative Committee, to which I have just referred, and in which the Government are of course also a partner.
These issues were all raised before the Select Committee of your Lordships' House and the committee indicated that they were "confident that these concerns are best dealt with at local level". If the noble Baroness will forgive me, although I listened carefully to her, I think that the answer that the Select Committee gave is the right answer.
§ Baroness Nicol
I am grateful to the Minister for his, as usual, courteous reply. I still feel that there is an argument to be made for a regional approach on this and I should still like to see general guidelines for the protection of the country side which were outside any local plan, because quite often there is a conflict when the boundary is crossed. I shall read carefully what the Minister has said, and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clauses 46 and 47 agreed to.
§ Clause 48 [Interpretation]:
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendments Nos. 96 to 98:
§ Page 33, line 25, leave out (", 16A, 17A, 18A, 19A, 20A")
§ Page 33, line 27, leave out ("Bill for this Act") and insert ("Channel Tunnel Bill")
§ Page 33, line 29, at end insert ("in April 1986 and the plans and sections so deposited in July 1986;")
§ The noble Lord said: With the leave of the Committee, I should like to move Amendments Nos. 96, 97, and 98 en bloc. The amendments are consequential on the Bill being reintroduced. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendments agreed to.
§ [Amendment No.99 not moved].
Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 100:
Page 33, line 47, leave out ("(together with its supplementary protocols and arrangements)")
§ The noble Lord said: I spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 2. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to
§ [Amendment No.101 not moved.]584
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No.102:
Page 34, line 18, at end insert—
(" "substance" means any natural or artificial substance, whether in solid or liquid form or in the form of a gas or vapour;")
§ The noble Lord said: I spoke to this with Amendment No. 45. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 48, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 49 agreed to.
§ Schedule 1 [The scheduled works]:
Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No.103:
Page 36, line 27, leave out ("the")
§ The noble Lord said: This amendment simply deletes a redundant word. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Schedule 1, as amended, agreed to.
§ Schedule 2 [Supplementary provisions as to the scheduled works and other authorised works]:
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendments Nos.104 to 110:
Page 43, line 13, at end insert—
("() references to the company are references to the Concessionaires;")
§ Page 43, line 22, at end insert ("and").
§ Page 43, leave out lines 27 to 33.
§ Page 43, line 36, leave out ("railway").
Page 43, line 40, at end insert—
("(5A) For the purposes of the provisions of the said Clauses Acts so incorporated and applicable to the Concessionaires and the Railways Board—
§ Page 44, line 22, leave out (", water or") and insert ("or waterpipes,").
§ Page 46, line 10, leave out ("all conditions (if any)") and insert ("any conditions").
§ The noble Lord said: With the leave of the Committee I should like to move Amendments Nos. 104 to 110 en bloc. The first five amendments I spoke to with Amendment No. 83, and Amendments Nos. 109 and 110 are purely drafting. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendments agreed to
§ [Amendment No. 111 not moved.]
Baroness Nicol moved Amendment No. 112:
Page 48, line 37, after ("Board") insert ("shall not carry out any preparatory work or site clearance and").
§ The noble Baroness said: In rising to move Amendment No. 112, with the Committee's leave, I shall also speak to Amendments Nos. 113, 114, 115, 116 and 122. I hope that the Committee will bear with me if I take just a little longer than usual to sort out those amendments, but I think that in the end we shall save time.585
§ The purpose of all these amendments is to achieve, if we can, the preservation of some part of Scrubs Wood, with which I am sure all noble Lords are now familiar because there has been a lot of publicity about it, to make sure that consultations about it are adequate, and to ensure if possible that at least a measure of the wood— if possible, most of it—can be restored and that there are adequate funds with which to do it.
§ I shall now work through the amendments as quickly as I can. Amendment No. 112 deals with the question of clearance works: that is, works which could be undertaken by British Rail before the actual work on the depot starts. It appears that earlier redrafting, which involved moving government amendments from their position after the description of works, has reduced the strength of the provision by allowing the consultation about the effects of construction rather than all works including construction. That would mean that there is nothing to stop clearance work being carried out and, as you will appreciate, that could be very destructive in a nature reserve. That could be done immediately. We seek to secure consultation prior to any work, preparatory or otherwise, so that the possible detrimental effect of that work can be minimised. I believe that British Rail would be sympathetic to this, and 1 hope that the Government will be too.
§ I understand that British Rail has given an assurance that should the project fail for any reason they would be willing to discuss the possibility of leasing the area as a nature reserve. It would be a pity if it were to be destroyed in the meantime by preparation works. Some damage has already been done during survey, and proper consultation in the future would reduce the possibility of this kind of thing happening again.
§ On Amendment No. 113, we feel that the Nature Conservancy Council should be added to the list for consultation. This seems a sensible move. It has been very helpful over the whole project and it would seem not unusual to want to put it on the list. I hope that that, too, is something the Government will be prepared to accept.
§ I am afraid that this is quite a complicated exercise. The arguments as regards Amendment No. 114, are the same as for Amendment No. 112. We then come to Amendment No. 115, which is concerned with the putting back of what has been removed. It is felt that the money being suggested by British Rail—I think a sum of £36,000—is really far too small to be of any use. In a scheme of such high overall cost—we have heard a lot about it this evening—the estimates which have been offered by the London Wildlife Trust and the Scrubs Wood Group seem modest enough. As I have said, the figure suggested by British Rail is totally unrealistic. It would be interesting to know how they arrived at it. The cost of the depot we are discussing is £41.9 million, and in that context £36,000 to reinstate a nature reserve seems peanuts. Surely the re-locating of what is a very important reserve to the people who live around it—because after all it is an urban area and there is nowhere else within easy reach where people can enjoy access to a 586 nature reserve—seems important enough to justify just a little more expenditure.
§ Finally, as regards Amendment No. 116 in this small group, if in the first instance the amount of land used for the depot was as small as possible, obviously it would reduce not only the upset felt by the residents but the possible cost of reinstating the nature reserve. In addition, it would give an advantage in reinstating the nature reserve in that a lot of the scrub land could be saved and there would not be a break of several years before it could be re-established.
§ A draft undertaking from the railways board to the borough of Hammersmith states that the board will use its best endeavours to locate its work. I believe that we should take it up on that point and keep the amount of land used as small as possible. I understand that the local authority responsible for the land which adjoins Scrubs Wood is willing to allow part of it—if not as much as is needed—to be used as a nature reserve. So there is no problem in that respect.
§ Amendment No. 122 is a simple case of adding the London Wildlife Trust to the list of those to be consulted. After all, it knows more about the area than anyone else. The Nature Conservancy Council has recommended that the London Wildlife Trust should be involved. British Rail's report states the need to involve the trust in management.
§ 11 p.m.
§ Lord Kilbracken
I support my noble friend on this series of amendments. The Committee must be quite well acquainted with Scrubs Wood and will not need reminding of its importance as a habitat not only of insects and plants, including trees, but in particular of birds which are my interest. Some 99 species are recorded as having been found there, many of them breeding species. But many more are migrating birds using the land on their way to and from warmer climates.
The existence of Scrubs Wood arises solely from the complete neglect over many years of the area alongside the railway by British Rail and its predecessor the Great Western Railway. Therefore, after decades, a little wilderness has grown up alongside the railway track. That does not say much for British Rail. But it has accidentally created a marvellous habitat for wildlife. I feel that British Rail has behaved so badly over the area that it no longer has any claim to it. Ornithologists and bird watchers in the area have established a kind of squatters' right to it.
So far as one can tell from the description of the work to be carried out, it is basically the construction of a railway line and the establishment of a maintenance shed. The need for it arises in order to provide maintenance facilities for British Rail for rolling stock and locomotives using Waterloo. So much new transport will be entering Waterloo that there will have to be new ways of maintaining the stock. I am not at all clear why, in order to maintain rolling stock using Waterloo, it must be taken to Wormwood Scrubs and maintained there. That apparently is the intention. I should have thought that it would he better for the work to be done 587 somewhere south of London rather than bringing it through London to the Scrubs.
Amendment No. 112 includes the carrying out of any preparatory work or site clearance along with the other matters enumerated in line 37. It seems to me to be clearly necessary and I do not see that there can be any objection.
The thinking behind Amendment No. 115 is that an environment has been created in which birds will breed. It is now intended to destroy about half of that environment. There is an area of two or three hectares on the westerly extremity which is to be left as it was so that the birds can continue to breed there and use it as a staging post in their flight to Africa or wherever. The proposal is to plant young trees and let the land grow wild in another part of Wormwood Scrubs so that the birds can nest there and rest their weary wings when the rest of the site has been taken over by a maintenance depot and some railway sidings.
That is certainly better than nothing. However, any Member of the Committee who knows anything about birds will know that one cannot just persuade birds to go and nest somewhere else. If one takes away half their habitat and puts down some trees half a mile away, it will take seven to 10 years before another habitat is created and by then the birds will have flown away or maybe stopped coming to Britain; or maybe they will not be nesting any more or will be nesting elsewhere.
It is the purest luck if, having planted a lot of trees elsewhere in Wormwood Scrubs, then in seven or 10 years' time the garden warblers, willow warblers, chiff chaffs and others come and build their nests there. In my opinion the right course is to leave Scrubs Wood as it is and build the depot somewhere else.
§ Lord Belstead
We have already made provision in Schedule 2, paragraph 11 of this Bill for consultation with the local authorities and the London Wildlife Trust, so that they can offer advice on the mitigation of the harmful environmental effects to which both the noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, and the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken, have referred, when the North Pole depot, as it is called, is constructed on the edge of Wormwood Scrubs.
However, these amendments go a good deal further than that. In the Government's view they go too far. Two of the amendments, Nos. 112 and 114, require consultation before preparatory work is carried out. During the proceedings of the Select Committee, the London Wildlife Trust raised the question of extending the consultation requirement to clearance of the land and asked British Rail to give an undertaking that it would not at any time alter the site in any way without adequate prior consultation. The noble Baroness said that she thought that British Rail was sympathetic to that course. Indeed, British Rail was able to give an assurance that if the London Wildlife Trust wished to identify a particular species or habitat that it wanted to preserve or remove, that opportunity would be given. I believe that we ought to accept that assurance in good faith.
588 The next amendment requires consultation with the Nature Conservancy Council. I understand that the NCC is content with the arrangements about consultation on the North Pole works and is not itself seeking statutory consultation. If I may say so, I believe that this fact renders that amendment unnecessary.
The next amendment seeks to extend consultations further to embrace landscaping and associated works on a replacement area for land lost at Scrubs Wood. British Rail undertakings on this matter have already been offered to the local authorities before the Select Committee. As the noble Baroness said, the board will carry out or contribute toward planting and other works in accordance with a scheme to be agreed, to a maximum cost of £36,000.
When the noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, said that she wondered about the basis of that figure, I can tell her that it is based on an illustrative scheme that has already been prepared by British Rail, and the Select Committee felt that British Rail could not be expected to do more. I must say that the Government share that view.
Amendment No. 116 seeks to ensure that as much British Rail land at Scrubs Wood as possible is left for the purposes of nature conservation. British Rail has already offered the local authorities an undertaking that it will use its best endeavours to locate the facilities and works so as to maximise the area of land to be conveyed to the council for use as an ecological park. Again, I think that the undertaking given ought to be accepted in good faith.
Finally, Amendment No. 122 seeks to give a statutory right of consultation to the London Wildlife Trust, and I do not think that the London Wildlife Trust ought to have a higher profile than the voluntary environmental bodies in Kent. Indeed, this amendment would put the trust on the same footing as the statutory conservation bodies which are mentioned in the Bill.
The environmental bodies have received an assurance from the local planning authorities that they will be consulted on matters which affect their interest. I am pleased to say that the London boroughs within whose boundaries Scrubs Wood is located—that is to say, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Ealing—have both agreed to consult the London Wildlife Trust and other appropriate bodies on the same basis as the Kent environmental bodies are to be consulted. I therefore believe that the substance of what is being sought in this final amendment has already been given in those undertakings and that that matter ought to rest there.
I am sorry to sound resistant to all these amendments but it is because I genuinely feel that each has been met by the undertakings which have been given—undertakings which I think ought to be accepted.
§ Lord Kilbracken
Can the noble Lord say whether the figure he mentioned of £36,000 is intended to include the purchase of the land, or merely the planting, care and maintenance of the land?
§ Baroness Nicol
The Minister seems to base his case on the need to trust the undertaking given by British Rail. I am sorry to say that the damage that has been done to the site as a preliminary to survey work has been done within the last two weeks, which is after the undertaking was given. Noble Lords can scarcely be surprised therefore if the London Wildlife Trust and the other local groups feel a little diffident about accepting the rest of British Rail's undertakings. I am sorry to have to undermine the Minister's argument but this is a fact, and somewhere I have photographs of the damage.
As far as the £36,000 is concerned, I understand that that would roughly pay for the fencing around the area. The London Wildlife Trust has just received a report from land use consultants giving them details of the possible cost of reinstatement of Scrubs Wood together with certain environmental works. The report is broken down, and I shall not bore the Committee with it at this hour of the night, but the total cost is approaching £250,000, not £36,000. Certainly, the trust's own estimates were somewhere in the region of £140,000. So I do not think that we are talking about realistic money when we talk about £36,000.
However, I can see that we are not going to get anywhere this evening and I am afraid that at this stage I must withdraw the amendment. However, I do so very reluctantly because I am aware of the feelings of the trust regarding British Rail's undertakings. I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 112.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Earl Cathcart)
I should point out that only Amendment No. 112 was moved and that we have been debating, because they were spoken to initially, Amendments Nos. 113, 114, 115, 116 and 122, which were never moved formally. So those amendments are not moved.
§ [Amendments Nos. 113 to 116 not moved.]
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendments Nos. 117 to 120:
§ Page 59, line 21, leave out ("for all purposes of the law relating to highways")
§ Page 59, line 32, leave out from beginning to first ("the") in line 35
§ Page 60, line 36, after ("were") insert (", as from the commencement of its construction,")
§ Page 61, line 3, after ("Act") insert ("which involve the construction or alteration of a highway")
§ The noble Lord said: I hope that it is convenient to the Committee if I move Amendments Nos. 117 to 120 en bloc. These are technical or drafting amendments and I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendments agreed to
§ Schedule 2, as amended, agreed to.590
§ Schedule 3 [Planning permission]:
§ 11.15 p.m.
Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 121:
Page 64, line 53, at end insert—
§ ("Protection of site at Holywell Coombe)
§ 6A.—(1) No part of Work No. 3 shall be constructed in any part of the protected site.
§ (2) Nothing shall be done in any part of the protected site in connection with the construction of that work except necessary drainage work and landscaping of the site.
§ (3) No part of that work shall be constructed, and nothing shall be done in connection with the construction of that work, anywhere else unless—
- (a) the southern boundary of the protected site is fenced; or
- (b) that boundary has been fenced but the fencing has been temporarily removed because it was necessary to remove it in order to carry out necessary drainage work or landscaping of the site.
§ (4) In this paragraph "the protected site" means the area of land at Holywell Coombe in the district of Shepway (town of Folkestone) bounded on the southern side by a straight line between National Grid reference points 622058E 138078N and 622138E 138095N, on the western and eastern sides by straight lines passing due north from each of those points to the limit of deviation of Work No. 3 and on the northern side by that limit.").
§ The noble Lord said: Representations were made to the Select Committee by the Nature Conservancy Council and other environmental bodies about the impact of the railway tunnel on two scientifically interesting geological deposits in Holywell Coombe which contain a rich collection of animal and vegetable fossils. The original alignment of the tunnel would have destroyed or severely damaged both deposits. However, in response to representations Eurotunnel agreed to move the centre line of the tunnel to a more southerly alignment—which would save the northern deposit—and to contribute £100,000 towards a rescue dig of the southern deposit.
§ The Select Committee recommended (in paragraph 33 of its report) that the revised alignment should be written into the Bill. This amendment gives effect to that recommendation, by defining a protected area south of which all the construction works must take place. Incorporation of these requirements in Schedule 3 will mean that they become planning conditions of the deemed planning consent conferred on the concessionaires by Clause 9 and I hope that the Committee will feel that this is the right way to proceed. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ [Amendment No. 122 not moved.]
§ Schedule 3, as amended, agreed to.
§ Schedule 4 [The A20 improvement works]:
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendments Nos. 123 to 133:
§ Page 69, line 47, after ("with") insert ("the").
§ Page 69, line 56, after ("with") insert ("the").
Page 73, line 47, leave out from beginning to ("the") in page 74, line 1 and insert—
("6.—(1) On the date on which this Act is passed").
§ Page 74, line 18, leave out ("certified under sub-paragraph (1) above") and insert ("on which this Act is passed").
§ Page 74, line 36, leave out paragraph 7.
§ Page 75, line 3, leave out ("7 above") and insert ("9 below").
§ Page 75, line 13, leave out from beginning to first ("the") in line 16.591
§ Page 75, line 17, leave out ("(without prejudice to paragraph 7 above)").
§ Page 75, line 23, after ("Act") insert ("made in relation to the roads which become trunk roads and special roads by virtue of paragraph 6(2) above").
Page 75, line 25, after ("Act") insert ("made in relation to the roads which become trunk roads by virtue of paragraph 6(4) above"). Page 75, line 27, leave out from beginning to ("above") in page 77, line 11 and insert—
("10.—(l) The carrying out of any of the A20 improvement works which is not the construction of a highway and the stopping up of any highway in pursuance of Part II of this Schedule shall be treated as having been authorised by an order under section 14 of the Highways Act 1980 made in relation to the roads which become trunk roads by virtue of paragraph 6(4) above.
§ (2) Subject to sections 21 and 22 of that Act as they apply by virtue of sub-paragraph (1)").
§ The noble Lord said: The first two amendments correct tiny slips and the second batch are technical amendments concerned with the status of the A.20 improvement works. If the Members of the Committee wish for a more detailed explanation I shall of course give it but otherwise I beg to move these amendments en bloc.
§ On Question, amendments agreed to.
§ Schedule 4, as amended, agreed to.
§ Schedule 5 [Supplementary provisions as to acquisition of land]:
§ [Amendment No. 134 not moved.]
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendments Nos.135 and 136:
§ Page 80, line 38, leave out from beginning to ("the") in line 41.
§ Page 80, line 43, leave out ("those purposes") and insert ("the purposes mentioned in those sections").
§ The noble Lord said: The first amendment deletes superfluous words and in doing so corrects an inconsistency in the drafting. The second amendment is consequential on the first one. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendments agreed to.
§ [Amendment No. 137 not moved.]
§ Schedule 5, as amended, agreed to.
§ Schedule 6 agreed to.
§ Schedule 7 [Protective provisions]:
§ Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendments Nos.138 to 147:
§ Page 88, line 28, leave out ("constructing or carrying out works of maintenance on") and insert ("carrying out any work for the construction or maintenance of).
§ Page 88, line 32, leave out ("such part") and insert ("the work").
§ Page 88, line 35, leave out ("construction of such part") and insert ("carrying out of the work").
§ Page 88, line 38, leave out ("that part of the works") and insert ("the works").
§ Page 88, line 39, leave out ("constructed") and insert ("carried out").
§ Page 88, line 42, leave out ("part of the works") and insert ("work").
§ Page 88, line 43, leave out ("constructed and") and insert ("carried out,").
§ Page 88, line 43, leave out ("or"").
§ Page 97, line 35, leave out ("be caused or").
§ Page 97, line 42, leave out ("or interference").592
§ The noble Lord said: These amendments eliminate an ambiguity and an inconsistency in the drafting. I beg to move them en bloc.
§ On Question, amendments agreed to.
§ [Amendments Nos. 148 and 149 not moved.]
Lord Mulley moved Amendment No. 150
Page 100, line 38, at end insert—