§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Viscount Whitelaw
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. Your Lordships may regard my experience in this role as somewhat surprising. The truth is, however, that I regard the task as something of a filial duty as my grandfather was chairman of the London and North-Eastern Railway for some 15 years in the 1920s and 1930s. As a result I have always had a soft spot for the LNER and its great station at King's Cross. Consequently I regard the Bill as an important measure which deserves my active support.
The King's Cross Railways Bill has received almost unanimous support since it was deposited in another place. I am sure that since that time many noble Lords have to a greater or lesser degree become aware of the proposals set out in the Bill. I hope that your Lordships will feel that in this Second Reading debate it is important to set out the technical details in the broader context of transport planning for both London and the regions and in the context of this country's role within Europe.
The Queen's Speech was unequivocal in stating that Her Majesty's Government were committed to the increasing role of the railways in meeting the country's transport needs. That statement of policy must be 756 welcomed but will have value only if appropriate investments are made to improve infrastructure in such a way as to attract people out of their cars and on to public transport.
Certainly within London there is an impatience for London's transport system to expand and break free from the shackles of its Victorian legacy. Furthermore, hopes for a quantitative and qualitative improvement in service are not the prerogative solely of the London commuter. From my own personal experience I share with many of your Lordships who reside beyond the boundaries of London—sometimes far beyond those boundaries—the longing for a convenient and swift interchange for the long distance inter-city traveller.
As a result of many disparate railway companies planning and building railways in the Victorian age, London currently has 13 terminal stations. Only one British Rail route—that via Thameslink—crosses the centre of London. The result has been congestion and multiple interchange on many journeys. Proposals within the Bill will do much to improve that state of affairs.
First, the Bill will provide for the expansion of the very successful Thameslink service and create a variety of new cross-London routes. Your Lordships will recall that Thameslink currently runs from Bedford on the Midland main line in the north to Brighton, Sevenoaks, Croydon and Guildford in the south.
Under the proposals (Works Nos. 4A and 4B) a railway link will be built to connect the east coast main line to Thameslink allowing destinations such as Peterborough, Cambridge, Stevenage and Hertford to have direct services to Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire. The provision of a new low-level station will also allow Thameslink trains to be lengthened to a full 12 cars, offering more seats and therefore maximising the opportunities for that very successful route. The present King's Cross Thameslink station on the Pentonville Road will be replaced by the new station as it is currently too cramped for any expansion and represents a poor interchange with the main line station.
Secondly, the east coast main line which now runs into King's Cross will have a rail connection to the Midlands main line. That will allow Network SouthEast peak services which currently use King's Cross to be diverted to the under-utilised facilities at St. Pancras and expanded to 12-car lengths. I must say to those of your Lordships who, like me, wonder at the marvellous architectural spectacle of St. Pancras, that that must surely represent a renaissance for that once great station, which currently sees scarcely two to three train departures an hour for most of the day.
Those works will also have the benefit of allowing longer InterCity trains to operate from King's Cross to York, Newcastle and Edinburgh, which will increase capacity on that popular and newly electrified route. Expansion of InterCity services to St. Pancras is also permitted by the Bill.
Thirdly, the Bill allows for the integration of King's Cross and St. Pancras stations with a single main concourse building. That superbly designed structure, by the architect Sir Norman Foster, will offer the usual 757 ticketing and information facilities for passengers as well as catering establishments, shops and other services. It will, of course, replace the temporary ticket hall which so disfigures the marvellous frontage of the Cubitt train shed and restore King's Cross to its true glory.
Fourthly, the siting of the concourse and other associated works proposed in the Bill will facilitate the free flow of passengers between the Underground, today's King's Cross, the new low level and St. Pancras stations. Simple interchange over shorter distances at one station will make travel easier for everyone, particularly families and the disabled. It will also end the undesirable problems of congestion which have on occasion led to the shutting of King's Cross Thameslink and Underground stations for reasons of safety.
The provisions complement the powers being sought in the London Underground (King's Cross) Bill which seeks to implement many of the Fennell proposals following the King's Cross fire. King's Cross is already linked to much of London by direct Underground lines; these improvements will help develop existing opportunities for better mobility in London.
Lastly, but by no means least, I must mention the important role King's Cross will play as London's second international terminal. All studies conclude that the new capacity will be required for international services by the end of the century. The low-level station will be long enough to incorporate full-length trains travelling to and from the rest of Europe via the Channel Tunnel.
The station design also allows international trains to approach from the east as and when the rail link to the Channel Tunnel is built or via Thameslink in the interim. The station will act as gateway to Europe for people from all over Britain, whether arriving from the East Midlands at St. Pancras, the North East at King's Cross or from the West Midlands or the North West at nearby Euston, from where they will be conveyed by a passenger link to the international terminal. I wonder whether I shall ever be one of those conveyed: by the time it is completed I shall certainly need it!
For the record, those concerned with direct passenger services from the regions should know that through international trains to and from Birmingham, Manchester, York and Scotland will also travel via the new King's Cross station rather than the slower west London route.
I hope that there is broad support in this House for the aims of the Bill, as there was in another place. However, I am aware that there are some initial anxieties, which I shall try to deal with now. First, there has been a great deal of press speculation recently about delays to the British Rail investment plan and projects such as the new high-speed rail link and the King's Cross terminal being postponed or abandoned. I have naturally discussed those matters with British Rail. It assures me it is satisfied that its proposals remain financially viable and that funding is already agreed with government for the short term as 758 part of the routine financing arrangements for nationalised industries. Funding for the later stages is, of course, part of the current round of discussions with government.
A number of listed buildings or structures are affected by the Bill. Some, such as the gasometer and the lock-keeper's cottage to the western end of the site, will be moved and repositioned when works are completed. Others, such as the Great Northern warehouse, will be preserved in an improved setting. More controversially, three listed buildings will he demolished—the Bell public house, No. 7 Caledonian Road (do not ask me what happens there because I do not know) and the Great Northern Hotel (which I do know). Of all those it is perhaps the latter which raises most concern.
The Great Northern Hotel is a modest hotel (by railway standards) and without doubt has some architectural merit. However, it was built before St. Pancras station and has found itself overshadowed and without a frontage along a main road. While the promoters have no satisfaction in developing a Grade II listed building, they firmly believe —they are supported by the Royal Fine Art Commission—that its sacrifice for the sake of the transportation links and integrated concourse that Sir Norman Foster has designed is justified.
Some of your Lordships may have heard of the Camley Street natural park run by the London Wildlife Trust. That popular destination for many people, including school children, regrettably will he disturbed by the works of the Bill. However, the promoters have given an assurance that the park will be relocated temporarily during the period of construction and returned to a larger site thereafter. That seems a most pragmatic and sensible solution to the problem.
The proposals do not alter the role of freight traffic to and from the Continent after the opening of the Channel Tunnel. The King's Cross project as outlined in the Bill before the House is essentially a passenger project. Freight will continue to be directed to the regions via the major rail arteries around the north and west of London.
Finally, I turn briefly to the Instructions tabled by the noble Lords, Lord Rea and Lord Sefton of Garston. One hundred and fifty nine petitions have been deposited against the Bill in this House. In addition, the two noble Lords have tabled their own Instructions. I hope that they will put them forward. I shall listen carefully to what they say and reply at the end of the debate.
I hope that I have persuaded your Lordships' House of the importance of the Bill. It will offer vital enhancements to South-East local commuting traffic using Thameslink while releasing capacity at the existing termini for mainline InterCity services. Above all, it offers high quality interchange between five main routes. It provides Britain with a quality gateway to the rest of Europe that we can be proud of and which Victorian rail engineers would have applauded for both its vision and scope.
I commend the Bill to the House. I beg to move.
759 Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time. —(Viscount Whitelaw.)
§ 6.12 p.m.
§ Lord Rea
My Lords, the noble Viscount made a clear and powerful case for the promoters of the Bill. Indeed, we should hardly have expected any less from him. British Rail is fortunate to have such a distinguished advocate. To descend to the vernacular, I have heard the noble Viscount described as a "big gun" in relation to this Private Bill; alternatively, as a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Neither comparison is very complimentary to the noble Viscount, whom we all know to be considerate and thoughtful while wielding his undoubted authority. My noble friend Lord Cledwyn put it pithily a few years ago, after a slip-up by another member of the Cabinet, when he said that the noble Viscount would never make such a mistake himself because "he knows a banana skin when he sees one".
There perhaps we have the real reason why the noble Viscount was asked to shepherd this Bill through your Lordships' House. As I hope to show, while it seems to pave the way for positive benefits for the whole nation, the Bill is in fact full of banana skins —not so much for the noble Viscount, who is much too nimble footed, but for British Rail, its users, the Government and anyone else who invests in the scheme, as well as the local community.
Noble Lords may he curious as to why I, who normally confine myself to health matters, should move this Instruction. One reason is that I have lived and worked as a family doctor for many years in Camden and Islington. In that sense I speak as a constituency member. But I have another geographical constituency which, like that of the noble Viscount, is in the North West—Eskdale in West Cumbria. So I am very interested in good rail connections from that part of the country to London and the Continent. Apart from my own convenience, I am anxious that all regions of the country should have improved rail services and gain from the benefits of the Channel Tunnel.
In fact, although I am frequently forced to use a car, I am thoroughly behind the Government and Mr. MacGregor's campaign to move passenger and freight traffic from road to rail. But for that to happen we need not only better but more economical rail services. I emphasise the latter particularly in the light of this Bill, which authorises the expenditure of £1.4 billion, according to British Rail's latest estimate. Who is to pay for them? Eventually, it will be the rail user himself.
I feel that to move an Instruction to a Select Committee is rather presumptuous, but in this case it is justified because the report of the committee on the Bill from another place, which was published nearly two years ago, contains a number of requests and suggestions directed particularly to the Select Committee of your Lordships' House appointed to consider this Bill. This Second Reading also provides an opportunity for the whole House to hear that committee's recommendations.
760 The suggestions arose because a number of important issues raised during the committee's hearings were dependent on planning and financial decisions which had not been made at the time that it was sitting. The committee hoped that by the time the Bill reached your Lordships' House those matters would have been resolved. It was a hope which, as I shall describe, in many cases has not been justified. Each paragraph of my Instruction relates to specific areas of the committee's concern. I shall describe them and consider what, if anything, has changed in the two years since the report was published.
Paragraph (a) of my Instruction concerns the ability of the promoters—British Rail—to undertake the proposed works. By "ability" I refer to financial ability. I am sure that the engineering skills are there, given the money. I quote from paragraph 39 of the committee report:By the time the committee stage in the House of Lords begins we trust that British Rail's 'thorough review' of the route from the North Downs to King's Cross will be complete and the results announced (assuming that it does not exceed its estimated timescale of six to nine months), and that some of the uncertainties relating to the profits likely to accrue from the property development may also have been resolved. We hope that their Lordships' Committee will satisfy themselves of the continuing viability of British Rail's proposals in the light of any such developments. We note that failure by promoters to satisfy a committee that they could afford to complete their proposed works has on several previous occasions been regarded as grounds for finding the Preamble of a bill not proved".They quote the relevant reference in Erskine May. The paragraph continues:We certainly do not think the bill should be enacted in the absence of clear assurances to Parliament on the various issues which currently remain uncertain".I feel that that final sentence is particularly for the ears of this House.
I refer to paragraph 13:One of the chief arguments deployed by the opponents of the bill was that it is unsatisfactory for Parliament to be invited to approve proposals for a Channel Tunnel terminus before the details of the proposed route and financing of the Channel Tunnel rail link are known. This is an argument with which we have had considerable sympathy. Our proceedings were made more difficult at every stage by the uncertainty over the Channel Tunnel link proposals, an uncertainty which despite the recent announcement by the Secretary of State for Transport … is still very far from being resolved".I believe that the announcement was made in 1990.
Although the decision was announced last year by Mr. Rifkind that the Channel Tunnel fast link route would go to Stratford, no plans are yet available detailing the route of the link from Stratford to King's Cross. However, by building the proposed new station, with the alignment proposed in the Bill, any link will have to be tunnelled most of the way from Stratford to King's Cross entering from a southeasterly direction. The Bill prejudges where that link will be built and puts out of court other possibly much less expensive alternatives. One alternative is an overland route using the existing north London line. Therefore, although the decision to route the Channel Tunnel link to Stratford has been made, paragraph 27 of the Special Report states:With each successive postponement the details of the proposals have become murkier rather than clearer. We have 761 therefore been placed in the situation we have all along wished to avoid, of having to take a decision on the Preamble while lacking certain significant pieces of information".I submit that we still do not have all those pieces of information. That was made clear to me at British Rail's demonstration to your Lordships three weeks ago. One spokesman stated that the tunnel from Stratford to King's Cross would be about one mile long, but was immediately corrected by another spokesman who said that it would be about six miles long.
On the financial aspects of the scheme, estimated costs according to British Rail are now £1.4 billion. Of that, £830 million will go to building the new low level station. It appears that half of that sum, £410 million, will be for the Channel Tunnel link, and £420 million for the Thameslink works which, conveniently, will be eligible for grant. However, it remains to be seen whether the Government agree on that apportionment of the costs or whether they will be willing to provide the grant. A further £570 million will be required for other rail works in and around the new station, including the proposed Norman Foster passenger concourse referred to by the noble Viscount. In order to make way for that, the listed Great Northern Hotel will have to be demolished, as the noble Viscount described.
One estimate of the cost of building a tunnel from Stratford to King's Cross at £50 million a kilometre is £400 million. That sum will have to be added to the cost of the exercise making the cost of the Channel Tunnel link from Stratford to King's Cross £810 million. The overall cost of the line from the Channel to the terminus was estimated in June 1991 to be about £4.25 billion. Thus at £810 million, the last leg to King's Cross will represent nearly 20 per cent. of the total cost.
At this stage it may be helpful to ask from where the funding for the project will come. All costs attributable to the facilities for international passenger services will have to be covered by internally generated British Rail funds or privately negotiated loans, because Section 42 of the Channel Tunnel Act prohibits public subsidy to international rail services. Some of the costs of domestic services will be eligible for government grant. I referred to that in relation to the Thameslink. However, that will be dependent on the decision of the Minister at the time, and wider policy judgments, to use the Department of Transport's phrase.
I shall not go into the financial details. For one thing, I am not competent; for another, that will be the task of the Select Committee. However, I draw your Lordships' attention to a recent study on behalf of the King's Cross Railway Lands Group on the financial viability of the project. The group's conclusion is worth noting. The study states:Despite BR's claim that the King's Cross project is still financially viable, all available information suggests that when BR eventually puts forward its investment case for the project, it may fall far short of Government requirements. The project may also need considerable Government loans and grants, and the Government may not be prepared to provide the sums required. Because of these problems, when the Government decides on the overall plan for the Rail Link 762 at the end of this year, it may decide to instruct BR to adopt an alternative cheaper route between Stratford and King's Cross that would come to a station at a different location in the King's Cross/St. Pancras complex.There is therefore a clear possibility that the King's Cross project is not financially viable, and if Parliament enacts the King's Cross Railways Bill, BR may never carry out the works".An important source of funding for British Rail will be the development of the 120-acre site to the north of King's Cross and St. Pancras Station by the London Regeneration Consortium. In 1988 it was thought that that would net some £280 million for British Rail. At that point that would have provided 60 per cent. of the estimated cost of the project. Since then the cost of the project has tripled hut, conversely, the property market has slumped. The London Regeneration Consortium project includes 5.5 million square feet of office space which it was thought would command a high rate of return. But all that has changed, as we well know, and whether the LRC is now in a position to continue with the development must now be in serious doubt.
In an article on Canary Wharf in the Independent on Sunday this week, under the heading "A Mistake?—Then who made it?", it states:London has 40 million square feet of empty office space with 100 million more already in the pipeline. Most of it will not now be built … Projects like the proposed developments around King's Cross and Paddington will almost certainly be shelved for a decade or more".Paragraphs (b), (c) and (d) of my Instruction direct the Select Committee to consider the environmental impact of the scheme and whether life for the residents, the workers in the affected area, can be made any better during the works and afterwards. I especially ask the Select Committee to consider paragraph 57, in which a detailed suggestion is made, and paragraph 62, which discusses an environmental code,intended to regulate the short-term environmental effects of the works (such as lorry movements, noise, vibration and dust), but that the terms of the Code have not yet been finalised. Their Lordships' Committee will be entitled to probe further into these matters, and we hope they will do so".Paragraph (e) asks the committee to consider carefully the impact of the proposals on local traffic and to consider whether satisfactory arrangements have been made to cope with the expected increase in numbers of people using the station. The report states:We regard the statistics we have been given—regarding congestion—as alarming. It is clear even from British Rail's own forecasts that the impact of the proposals on road traffic will be severe. These figures, moreover, are regarded as an underestimate by the Department of Transport; and they have to be seen in the context of existing heavy congestion in the area and the Department's forecasts of a continued increase in London traffic generally over forthcoming years. We believe that a satisfactory solution to the potential problems of increased traffic must be found before the bill is allowed to proceed to Royal Assent".Those are strong words. The committee must decide whether the proposed ticketing hall, road improvements and so forth will be able to handle the increased traffic. There is little possibility of increasing the capacity of the Underground system. Already four lines stop at King's Cross. The proposed widening of Euston Road and Pentonville Road to six lanes will not help but will merely shift the traffic jam up the 763 road. I take care to avoid that road, except at dead of night, because of the slow crawl and even now I am not impressed.
It will be clear to your Lordships that I am not happy with the Bill as it stands. I believe that British Rail could come up with a cheaper scheme which would achieve many of the Bill's aims, generate less local traffic and allow the railway lands to be developed in imaginative ways with more affordable housing, workshops for light industry and recreational facilities instead of costly offices of doubtful benefit which will further swell the commuter traffic.
A link line from Stratford could be brought in overland at a fraction of the cost of a tunnel with a loop terminating at a renovated St. Pancras station. As the noble Viscount said, that would be a fitting gateway to London from the Continent. Links from Stratford to the North and the North West could be built to enable direct links from the Continent without the need for them to pass through central London. They would be less expensive than building a tunnel. They would not be significantly slower and might even be quicker by cutting off a corner. If the trains are full of northerners who are heading for Europe they will not need to stop in London.
While I have not been a great supporter of the Docklands Development Corporation I believe strongly that London will be improved by decentralisation. The decision to use Stratford as the main Channel link terminal was in keeping with that concept. It will help to take the pressure off an overheated area of London instead of increasing it.
§ 6.33 p.m.
§ Lord Sefton of Garston
My Lords, I must make clear at the beginning that I am not opposed to the King's Cross Railways Bill. I have no doubts about its principle, but I do have some doubts about how the decision on it was taken. However, the Bill's aim in trying to bring within the community of Great Britain the northern parts of this land is perfectly good and no one should oppose it. Those northern parts are declining, whether or not we like to admit it. For example, during the past 10 years Liverpool's population has declined from 850,000 to 500,000. If we allow the resources in the north of England to diminish still further we shall diminish the whole of Great Britain. I hope that in time the link will provide the necessary fillip to increase prosperity in north-east Wales, Merseyside and the North West.
I had expected to speak tonight only in relation to my Instruction. However when I saw the position of my name in the list of speakers I thought that I had better give time to the many representations that I have received about the Bill, in particular about the west coast. I wish to ask several questions before we reach the Vote on the Second Reading. For instance, when will the West Hampstead new chord be built? Many people may not know what that is because it does not appear in the Bill. It is one of several items which do not appear in the Bill with which I wish to deal. It is an important link at West Hampstead which I assume British Rail will link efficiently to the North 764 West and west coast main line into the Channel Tunnel. It is important to know when that will happen.
If, as it is rumoured, British Rail, and in particular the Channel Tunnel link, is to go into the private sector, will a new Bill be required or will the private sector be able to proceed with that part of the development relating to the Channel Tunnel? I think that we should have the answer to that question. Surely it is important to know whether French railways will be franchisees or part owners of a British railway line. Perhaps that is envisaged and the Government or the proposer of the Bill will tell us whether it is possible under the new scheme.
I have been told that the London Regional Consortium has promised to contribute £400 million towards the cost of King's Cross. The figure of £400 million rings a bell. Another line in London was to receive £400 million and the Select Committee considering the Bill was told that almost certainly an agreement was in force. When I questioned that agreement it was thought to be rather infra dig of me but I discovered that there was no agreement. Therefore, can we be given the details of any agreement that exists? Is it to be signed before the Bill receives Royal Assent? Can we have a guarantee that if a promise is made the money will be paid? When I said that Olympia & York would not pay the £400 million for the Jubilee Line to Canary Wharf I was told by Members on the Front Bench to withdraw the statement. The story is different now and we need to know the answers to my questions.
Are the Government's plans for the east Thames corridor still the same? Is it still thought that there is a need for massive investment in the east Thames corridor as a result of not properly working out the Channel Tunnel project? Is the Government's attitude still the same or has the demise of Canary Wharf and Olympia & York made any difference to their thinking? Are the estimates which were prepared for King's Cross still pertinent, or have they been re-examined? Those questions relate to the King's Cross Railways Bill. In spite of the doubts raised in my mind I support the Bill because I believe that it is almost the only hope that the North West has of having a direct link to Europe. I repeat that I do not oppose the King's Cross Railways Bill.
Perhaps I may turn to my Instruction. An article in the Independent dealt with the new Cabinet committee under Mr. Steven Norris, MP, which will deal with the integration of planning and decisions taken in regard to London. It stated:The sub-committee's formation marks a sharp departure from Mrs. Thatcher's repeated denial of the need for any strategic body for London".That is a step forward and we are beginning to make sense. The older Members of the party opposite will begin to realise that we are talking sense in regard to planning. Having spent 25 years in the new towns' movement and having seen the success of their strategic planning of course I agree.
The Ministry concerned says that the new committee is fulfilling that strategic function for London. The most important of those functions is how to integrate land use and traffic management.
765 Equally, when you are planning a major hospital or school development you might need to see how this results in the infrastructure. Those are the Ministry's words and I give them merely to demonstrate that there are people in the Government who believe, as I believe, that land use and the planning of transport and the infrastructure should be treated as one subject because one relates to the other.
My Instruction is outside the scope of the Bill. Therefore, if a petitioner comes along and petitions on that issue he will be told that it is outside the scope of the Bill and that no Opposed Bill Committee is empowered to hear evidence relating to matters outside the scope of the Bill. When British Rail kindly invited me to a meeting I thought I would ask what it would do about strategy, just as I asked the London Docklands Development Corporation whether it had considered the effect of the buildings in London Docklands on the rest of London. I was told that it had not even been considered.
I am now told that British Rail has not carried out any survey as to the possible effects of this development of railway lands on the rest of London or, indeed, upon the rest of the country. Therefore, we reach a situation where this is the only opportunity we shall have, unless the Instruction is carried, to discuss the very real implications of the development of the railway land in King's Cross. Unless the Instruction is carried, it will not be possible to discuss that matter. I have personal knowledge from the committee which considered the Jubilee Line extension of how one can be obstructed. Believe me, there is no more frustrating experience from which one could suffer.
Therefore, I sought to make sure that the question of the strategic land use should be incorporated in any study with regard to this Bill. The only survey which British Rail mentioned to me was one carried out by Time Out magazine. What the hell Time Out has got to do with the railway transport infrastructure in London is beyond me, but that was the only survey referred to.
I shall now give some examples of what happens when a decision is taken to shoot from the hip, as a certain notable politician had a habit of doing with the full agreement of other people. We shot from the hip with the Channel Tunnel. We decided to build a Channel Tunnel. In this Chamber I tried to get that decision referred back to a Select Committee which could have examined its possible consequences. Although 22 people voted for that, the Government went on their merry way.
When the Channel Tunnel Bill was discussed it was said that we should only need Waterloo station. What has happened since? It seems that we now need King's Cross, Stratford and the eastern development to make sure that the line into Stratford is justified by further developments in the east Thames corridor. Yet there has still been no consideration of the consequences of that upon the rest of this region, never mind other regions.
We then discussed the Docklands Light Railway, which was closely connected with the London Docklands Development Corporation. I have no 766 doubt that it was believed that the light railway would solve all the problems. That legislation came to this House and I opposed it. I see that the noble Lord remembers that.
§ Lord Sefton of Garston
My Lords, when we discussed that legislation I pointed out that the proposal to build Canary Wharf, which the railway was intended to serve, was stupid. As matters stood then it was an irresponsible decision to agree to the building of a development equal to one-third the size of London. I was pooh-poohed at the time, but today the front page of the Evening Standard seems to suggest that I was right. It was an irresponsible decision of such magnitude that it is almost beyond belief. If the two people who came over from Canada to build it—encouraged by politicians—had had any sense they would have known what was happening in London. Nobody else seemed to know. Therefore, the Docklands Light Railway was built, as was Canary Wharf, but that was not enough.
What do we have now? It is now proposed to build a Jubilee line extension to which O & Y were to give £400 million. Again, there is that figure of £400 million. Do I need to repeat what has happened about that? Of course I do not. The decision was made too quickly and anybody with a modicum of sense as regards planning for a city like London would have known that it would kill the rest of the market. There was already office space to spare and there would have been more office space to spare if we had moved some of the civil service jobs from London to the regions where they are needed. That is the answer to the problem rather than the building of Canary Wharf in order to line developers' pockets.
We are now talking about moving 5,000 civil servants into Docklands while the buildings in Marsham Street are to be pulled down. The Government are boasting about being open and free with all information. The Foreign Secretary is saying that the only reason to keep matters secret would be because they are of grave national importance. I asked why the buildings in Marsham Street are to be pulled down and I was told that the report which makes that recommendation is commercially sensitive. Is that really a matter of supreme national importance? Therefore, why are the buildings in Marsham Street to be pulled down? I do not believe that they should be demolished; rather that they should perhaps be sold. I choose my words extremely carefully but I suspect that if the desire to move 2,000 civil servants' jobs to Canary Wharf or somewhere else had not been uppermost in someone's mind the buildings in Marsham Street would not be pulled down. The Government should not be allowed to do that unless they tell Parliament the reasons for it. We should be told why the recommendation to pull them down was made so that the reasons can be examined by an independent firm of architects and developers to see whether they are acceptable.
I knew it would happen. I cannot give your Lordships all the examples I have here. However, the whole emphasis of my Instruction is to ensure that 767 before fundamental decisions are taken we should look at the consequences as far as we can ascertain them. Surely to God there is nothing wrong with that. It need not hold up the development. A committee could look at the problem and perhaps say, "We have looked at King's Cross. We have seen the terrible conditions which exist in that area". I have been there and seen those conditions which are scandalous and an affront to any capital city. Something should have been done long ago. However, should we build offices or should we try to solve, to some extent, two of the major problems facing London; namely, commuters and homelessness? Why build offices? Why not build homes and decent recreation facilities? We could then cut down the need for so many people to commute to the area and satisfy the needs of some homeless people so that they can be housed decently. Thus we could rid ourselves of two of the evils in the city of London.
Finally, I like railways; who does not, especially at my age? One looks back and remembers the "Puffing Billy" with the steam coming out of its funnel. As a hobby, enthusiasts clean and polish such trains. Of course we like railways. However, the problem is that British Rail likes railways too much. When British Rail has decided to do something it does not look at anything else but another railway. Even if the railway is underground British Rail still likes it. Do noble Lords remember the adverts that used to be seen pre-war? They were about London Underground and advertised the lovely places to live outside the city in the wonderful countryside of Kent, Sussex and Surrey. Those advertisements were not there because the railways wanted people to enjoy the countryside, but to persuade people to commute. In some mysterious way or other people fell for it. Now each commuter spends an average of two hours a day travelling to work in a place which is heavily congested and polluted. It is a thoroughly miserable existence.
Why? The reason is that we never planned the proper use of land in the capital city; but we should have done. We see an early warning because of the lack of proper planning in the initial stages. There will be another example shortly in London's Docklands. It is called Exchange Tower. The payments have already been defaulted on. This matter is related to Salford Quays. Now we are getting home, aren't we? It has already affected London Docklands. What we are looking at is the complete and abysmal failure over the past 20 years—I am not going to pick on this particular Government—to properly examine proposals which come before Parliament. Parliament should really be given time to ascertain the consequences.
Perhaps I may conclude with an example. If a scientist is developing a new procedure, and if he has to do it by a process of evolution, he takes one step at a time. He never takes a step that cannot be retraced. I wish that some of our politicians would learn that lesson. We would not be hoisted on the petard of the poll tax and all the other bad decisions which have been taken, including the planning decisions which have gone wrong. We would not have been hoisted on that particular petard if that lesson had been learnt. We should watch where we are going because if we do 768 not and continue to cram into this quarter all the things that should not be there it will be a had omen for Liverpool.
I repeat that I support the King's Cross Railway Bill and I wish it a steady passage. I want the Committee to accept my request, if one may put it that way, to look at the problem of the railway lands. Nowhere is that mentioned in the Bill, and it should have been.
§ 6.53 p.m.
§ Baroness Hamwee
My Lords, like other noble Lords who have spoken, I am aware of the changed situation since the conception of this project and in particular of two changes or developments. The first is the choice of route for the Channel Tunnel rail link and the second is the collapse of the property market, as the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, has just described. I would welcome new facilities at King's Cross for passengers and indeed the splendid new architecture which Sir Norman Foster would no doubt provide. But I have my doubts as to whether the rest of the development is something which London needs and should have imposed on it. There will be almost 6 million square feet of additional offices when already we have between 10 years and 20 years' supply.
I was interested in the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, and I shall be glad to have clarification from the Minister as to whether it is within the scope of the Select Committee to examine the land use planning aspect of the proposal. I see that the Minister shakes his head. The route of the Channel Tunnel rail link has been chosen. It is a line on a map rather than on the ground. I particularly wish to concentrate on the role of Stratford. The Government have been looking at the regeneration of the east Thames corridor. I hope that we shall not be too distracted by the problems in Docklands and persuaded by those difficulties to think that there should be no development. There should be development: it depends on how it is done.
It seems to me that British Rail has been attempting to disregard the significance of Stratford. The Government clearly indicated that the choice of route was made with the advantages to urban regeneration that were implied by that route with at least a significant station and interchange at Stratford. I believe that in seeking to sideline—I am sorry for the pun—Stratford's position British Rail is minimising the changes in circumstances which have occurred.
The position of the London boroughs is that the opportunities of Stratford should be maximised and that the Government's reasoning in choosing an eastern approach route is one to be welcomed. Regeneration and development is needed to the east of London to relieve central London and the overheating in the west of London. There are opportunities in building an international terminal there linked to other developments of railways and of course the M.25 part of the east Thames corridor. These projects are under investigation by consultants to the Department of the Environment and the British Rail rail link project team. I understand that the 769 consultants are due to report in July. I hope that the Select Committee will take full account of their findings.
Last year we also had the decision to give the go ahead to Cross-rail. That will give advantages to Stratford and to the facilities that it can provide. It will give a fast, direct connection between the station there and the City, the West End, and points west. That must have implications for the capacity of European train services which need to be provided at King's Cross. I wish also to speak about commuter services which the noble Viscount mentioned in introducing the Bill. The Bill as deposited includes provision for a further two platforms of capacity for the Kent Express, but by combining Stratford with Cross-rail is there a need for that? I am not clear why British Rail sees Kent commuters as wanting to go to King's Cross. It may be the chicken or it may be the egg, but most people who travel in from Kent work in the City or the West End. They would be able to use a link to Stratford and then come on to the area where they work using Cross-rail for the premium service.
There are employment growth areas for commuters which, as I have said, may be increasingly concentrated to the east rather than in central London. My concern for Stratford is because I believe that it may not be catered for in the layout as currently proposed where the lines are planned to come into King's Cross from the south rather than from the east.
I have talked about the impact on London and of the need to shift growth to the east. More locally, at King's Cross, we must be aware of the impact on the road network if King's Cross is itself the major interchange. While I too welcome the development of Thameslink which the noble Viscount mentioned, I ask the Select Committee not to hang that development on the major development of King's Cross. It should not be impossible to look at improving the Thameslink crossing of London as a separate matter.
I am sure that the Select Committee will look at all aspects of the environmental impact. I include freight in that. Although it is not proposed to bring freight into King's Cross the expenditure on the King's Cross proposals means that the money spent is not available for spending elsewhere. I wonder whether it might be better to spend that money on assisting freight, on electrification and on providing four tracks through Kent instead of the two tracks with passing places that are currently proposed. That seems to have something of a Victorian air about it. We are talking about a major link to the Channel Tunnel. To be dependent on trains passing one another at passing places is not of the 1990s.
Neither the Channel Tunnel and its rail link nor the east Thames corridor should rely on the private sector. Some projects are simply too big to rely on the inevitably more short-term considerations that the private sector must apply. Therefore, I hope that in the interests of the success of the Channel Tunnel and its rail link and of the east Thames corridor the Select 770 Committee will bear in mind not only the interests of Stratford but the opportunities that it might create and that it will not close those opportunities.
§ 7.1 p.m.
§ Lord Adrian
My Lords, I rise to speak in support of the noble Lord, Lord Rea and the noble Lord, Lord Sefton. However, before I do so, I should declare a private interest—or at least a partial affection. I have a kinsman who lives, literally, in the shadow of the proposed King's Cross development.
The detailed issues in the Bill are highly technical and I am sure that they are best left to the Select Committee. Indeed, I do not wish to oppose the development of a station at King's Cross, but we shall be in a better position to judge whether what is proposed in the Bill is the right station when the Select Committee has reported on the merits of the proposals in the Bill.
I should like to draw two general points of principle to the attention of your Lordships' House because precedents set by the Bill will have far-reaching implications. They may seem small points in the overall context of the development of the railway, but they are not small to those whose livelihoods and houses are in the area and are affected.
The first point is the basic issue of how much land is to be taken for the works, and the interests of those who are affected by any compulsory purchases for that purpose. The Instruction of the noble Lord, Lord Rea, states that the Select Committee:shall not allow the bill to proceed unless they are satisfied that proper provision has been made as to … the promoters' proposals as to station location and the extent to which land acquisition can be further limited".The committee in another place was concerned that the land acquisition allowed by the Bill for the station might be excessive. If it was, some freeholders would have to surrender their property without adequate justification. It would also be possible for the station to end up in quite a different place on the site from the position that had been considered in the committee's proceedings, and that might have more harmful effects than had been understood in the proceedings and than had been accepted by the Committee. In fact, in the past three years the station has been moved in the ground like the ghost of Hamlet's father. I believe that the northern wall of the station box has moved north, and that the station box as a whole is about a third wider than in the original proposal.
It is, of course, standard practice in works Bills of this kind to set "limits of deviation" within which plans can be developed through and after the parliamentary proceedings. The extent of the deviation which is allowed is a matter of judgment depending on many factors, including the progress of design work and the likelihood that changes will have to be made. In this case, three and a half years have passed since the plans were deposited and during that time British Rail's engineers have been working continually on the designs.
It will surely now be reasonable for the Select Committee considering the Bill to expect precise, detailed and firm proposals from British Rail. Once they are provided, it will surely be proper for the 771 committee to do as the committee in the other place suggested and to cut out of the limits of deviation any property that is no longer required for the works. After all, the compulsory purchase of a person's home or work place is a serious infringement of a citizen's normal expectations and can be the cause of substantial loss. Parliament must always be careful to ensure that powers are granted only where they are strictly necessary and clearly justified.
My second point concerns the time for which the land may be needed and the interests of those acquiring it. Different parts of the King's Cross site that are designated for compulsory purchase are actually needed for different purposes. Some parts are needed permanently for the tunnels and the station box. Some parts are needed mainly for extensive sewer diversions around the station, and some parts are needed simply as construction sites while the works are under way. In the case of the tunnels and the station box, British Rail clearly must have permanent possession of the installations and enough ground outside them to be able to maintain them properly. However, the need to retain the freehold over sewers is at least questionable. I gather that water authorities seldom have it. As for construction sites, the need for the extra space ceases when the works are completed.
However, the general point of concern is that under the Bill as it now stands, British Rail appears to be claiming the right to retain all of the property indefinitely if it chooses. Clause 20(1) (a) states that subject to the provisions of this Actthe Board may purchase compulsorily and use such of the land … as they require for the purposes of the Board's works or for any purpose connected with or ancillary to their undertaking".Surely that could mean almost anything.
When the Bill was in another place an amendment was proposed to allow one particular construction site to be recovered by its former owner after the completion of the works. In opposing the amendment it was said simply that the board required permanently to acquire and retain the freehold of the block to enable the construction and maintenance of the works so that the block would become operational land, over which the board would retain permanent access and control. The site in question is some 50 metres from the station box. It is, I have been told, British Rail's intention to build a five or six storey office block upon it. It is difficult to resist the suspicion that British Rail is insisting on retaining that property permanently not because it has the intention of ever using it as "opertional land" in the future, but because it wants to benefit from its redevelopment.
With the evolving plans for the rail link, this King's Cross Railways Bill is likely to be the first of many measures for railway construction through urban areas in which there will be important opportunities for redevelopment and regeneration as the works proceed. At King's Cross, British Rail is seeking to use the works to acquire permanently something like five acres of property outside the limits of the new station. Bearing in mind the fact that the Government want the private sector to build the rest of the rail link, 772 whoever builds each separate stage of the rail link may also wish to appropriate whatever adjacent property he can in passing.
It seems only probable that the freeholders of parts of the construction site will represent to the committee that is to consider the Bill that they will wish to recover their property after the works are completed. So, when British Rail gives its evidence on the matter, I hope that the Committee will ask what railways operations justify retaining those parts when the works are complete. If British Rail cannot provide a satisfactory answer, the committee should look carefully at its plans for the redevelopment of the property and ask whether it is a proper purpose for the granting of the powers of compulsory purchase.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Baroness Eccles of Moulton
My Lords, it is a matter of good fortune that King's Cross presents a golden opportunity in the heart of the capital to link four existing services and introduce a fifth. It is not always fully appreciated by the world at large that already InterCity, Network SouthEast, Thameslink and the Underground system with access to five lines go in and out of King's Cross, although, admittedly, not very conveniently at the moment. With comparatively little work to the railway itself, King's Cross can be connected directly to the Channel Tunnel in one direction and to the lines at present running out of St. Pancras in the other. This provides for combinations of journeys in and out of the capital, with one change or no change at all, of almost infinite variety. For those who will be changing trains there will be a brand new station with easy links between one part and another—ideal for people with problems of mobility, heavy luggage, children in unwieldy pushchairs or even people who are simply short of time. Any of these could be sufficiently daunted by a multiple interchange across London to travel either by another means or to stay at home.
Channel Tunnel traffic is of particular significance. The Bill was first debated in May 1989. Now several years have passed and the sense of urgency is increasing. Over the years there have been many forecasts about the speed with which the existing facilities will reach capacity. Originally there were about 10 years difference between the most optimistic and the most pessimistic forecasts. It is a subject which has to be approached pragmatically, building in new evidence as it becomes available. It is surely significant that up until 1990 commuter traffic in and out of London rose steadily and was then only affected a little by the recession. So unless either the new line to King's Cross with its new station is built sooner rather than later, or heaven forbid we have another and deeper recession, we will encounter massive congestion which will affect commuters and long distance travellers alike.
For many years I have travelled on the east coast main line making at least one double journey a week from Darlington, with sometimes an additional day trip to Durham or Newcastle in the middle. Membership for six years of the recently dissolved Eastern Board of British Rail has given me added 773 insight into BR's aspirations and achievements. There is a tendency for travellers to remember the delays they have encountered and to forget about the majority of journeys which go according to plan. At times the staff think of the railway as the means of transport the travelling public love to hate. We must not belittle the successes; and I am thinking particularly of the east coast main line.
The first major improvement to the track I witnessed was in the early 1960s when living in a house where we could watch the Sunday working of the huge track-laying equipment laying the continuous welded rail between Northallerton and Teesside. That was important as regards what came next. The combination of a well-engineered line with the helpful geometry of few bends or inclines meant that it was not necessary to build a new line to meet the demands of electrification. It must be one of the fastest lines in the world that has not required a new track. This has made possible the gaining of TGV type benefits without greater capital expenditure.
Running at 125 m.p.h. with the assistance of faster acceleration, the electric trains can make the journey from King's Cross to Edinburgh in four hours. The trains and track can cope with 140 m.p.h. All that is needed for these speeds to be introduced and the consequent effect on the timetable is adjustment to the signalling. It is believed in informed circles that 160 m.p.h. could be achieved. So with Edinburgh to London taking only three hours, Paris for lunch would be no problem! However, King's Cross is a vital link in this chain. It is not only Scotland that benefits from these improvements; they also bring the North-East of England closer making it easier to tap into the resources of what is no longer a distant corner of the economy. It comes as no surprise that the transformation of King's Cross into possibly the foremost transport centre of Europe is warmly welcomed by those bodies which care for the industrial and commercial health of the region. They represent a broad church, embracing local authorities of all political hues, the CBI, the development corporations, chambers of commerce and the regional TUC. They would be deeply disappointed if the opportunity was lost to connect the North-East directly by rail to the single market.
I have touched on only a few of the reasons why it is imperative that this Bill proceeds with all speed. There are many more that others have emphasised. I support most warmly the proposals covered by the Bill.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Baroness David
My Lords, I wish to speak in support of the Instruction of the noble Lord, Lord Rea, particularly with regard to paragraph (c) on the environmental impacts and paragraph (d) on the measures to mitigate the effects of the works.
I should perhaps explain my interest. King's Cross station and Underground are the rail areas I use constantly and know well. I am very much aware of what I see from the carriage window as the train approaches the station; and it is not at all attractive.
774 It is usually the suburban station that the Cambridge trains use, which is not at all convenient. The Underground area is congested. The trains are constantly overcrowded and I am standing. So I am very much aware of the need of improvement overall and quite apart from the Channel Tunnel link.
I did not feel that I should take part in the debate unless I had familiarised myself with the plans and with the whole area involved. I have to thank Mr. Smalley of British Rail for giving me a conducted tour of the mainline station, St. Pancras and Thameslink stations, the large and mainly derelict areas to the north, the canal, the lock keeper's house, Camley Street natural park, all mentioned by the noble Viscount in introducing the Bill. Mr. Smalley also pointed out to me some of the listed buildings, both those to be preserved and those to be demolished. I am worried, as I know are many others, about the effects that many more passengers using these stations would have on the public transport system, traffic congestion and the Underground. I understand from the figures that British Rail and the Department of Transport have given and from their own public estimates that the low level station will double the number of rail passengers and vehicles coming to the station during the morning peak hours.
In order to get a view from the other side, I met two people who live on the Islington side of King's Cross. One was Mrs. Norma Steele of the Crossfire Community Group. We not only walked round the area, including Northdown Street, Balfe Street, Keystone Crescent and the south end of Caledonian Road, but I also saw the terraced housing that the community had got the council to rehabilitate. Mrs. Steele took me into two of the houses. They were very well restored. She showed me the delightful, safe community garden that had been created between Northdown Street and Balfe Street.
I met a number of shopkeepers in the Caledonian Road—Leo and Renata Giordini in the Italian delicatessen; Lev in the greengrocers; Oz Alp the newsagent; and I was given lunch by Patrick and Rosaleen McMahon in the Queen's Arms. All those shops and the pub, which have been very much improved in all ways in the past few years, are to be destroyed. The community spirit, of which I was very much aware, will be destroyed too. I heard these people's fears about the effect this great project would have on their lives and on their livelihood. For these reasons I want to support the noble Lord, Lord Rea. The two points that I mentioned—paragraphs (c) and (d)—were prompted, like all the others in the Instruction, by the Commons committee's recommendations to the Lords in its special report on the Bill.
The House must realise that the impacts on the people who live and work outside the station and on their neighbourhood will be severe. On British Rail's own admission in the environment statement that it has drawn up, 83 residential units will be destroyed and more than 300 people will lose their homes; 1,620 local jobs will go; 30 shops and other services for local people will have to close. Those who remain in the streets around will be living immediately on the brink of the biggest inner city construction site in Europe.
775 The works will continue for eight years. British Rail proposes to carry on site operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week, whenever it considers it necessary for the efficient and economic construction of major engineering works. The site to be cleared covers over 30 acres of three designated conservation areas. Among the buildings to be destroyed are four listed buildings, a parade of small shops built in the 1850s and a number of mid-Victorian industrial buildings of historic interest.
The committee will face two problems: first, the need to complete the formal "environmental impact assessment" of the proposed works according to the requirements of the EC directive on environmental assessment; and, secondly, if it is decided to proceed with the works, how to ensure that British Rail does all that can reasonably be done to minimise the harmful effects on people living and working next to the construction site.
On the first point about environmental impact assessment, the House should be aware that the environmental assessment of the proposed works is currently a matter of legal dispute between the British Government and the European Commission. The committee will need to take careful advice on the respective views of the Government and the Commission before it decides how to tackle the issue. In brief, the point of the directive is to ensure that, before any major development project is approved, its likely environmental effects are assessed, any less harmful alternatives are examined and the developer will be prepared to do all that can be done to mitigate its impacts. The directive has been given legal effect in the UK by a set of regulations made in 1988 which were associated with the Town and Country Planning Act. The procedures work well and have been widely welcomed by planning authorities and the general public.
The problem that has arisen over King's Cross is that projects approved by Acts of national legislation are exempted from assessment by the EC directive because it is assumed that they will have been assessed as part of the legislative process. For the UK, the Joint Committee on Private Bill Procedure recommended in 1988 that environmental assessment should be incorporated in Private Bill procedures, but nothing was done until the revision of Standing Orders in 1991. As a result, when the Commons committee on the King's Cross Bill had to consider the environmental issues in 1989 and 1990, it had no instructions on what to do. Petitioners against the Bill urged it to carry out the assessment and called an expert witness to suggest how it should proceed. The committee was clearly prepared to consider tackling the task, and called on the Department of the Environment for advice. Unfortunately, it received none of any value and decided that if the Government were not going to give any help there was nothing further that it could do. So the task was simply left undone.
After the committee announced its decision, petitioners against the Bill wrote to the European Commission and reported what had happened. The eventual outcome was that when Commissioner Ripa Di Meana wrote to the British Government in 776 October 1991 about a number of projects which, in his view, had not been adequately assessed, he included King's Cross in the list, adding that the plan for the low level station could not be considered as a project on its own, but must be assessed together with the line that would serve it in the total scheme for the rail link. I understand that the Government have rejected the Commission's charges about the King's Cross assessment, but the Commission has not accepted the Government's arguments and may well take the matter to the European Court.
The committee will clearly need to consider the issues carefully and form its own view on its role in the assessment. I would urge it to be positive about the task. King's Cross is the first of many proposals for major works associated with the rail link. The joint committee firmly recommended that all such projects should be properly assessed before the enabling Bills are enacted. The task of assessment should be easily manageable by the committee if only the Government are prepared to provide the necessary expert assistance and advice. If necessary, the petitioner who wrote to the Commission will explain everything! It will be most unfortunate if King's Cross becomes the battleground for a Euro-dispute about environmental assessment. Far better that the Lords committee should set a clear precedent for how to do it right.
Point (d) in the Instruction of my noble friend Lord Rea refers to the code of practice for the works that BR is negotiating with the councils and the people affected. BR is to be commended for having offered a code, but the latest text does not yet offer effective protection against the very severe nuisances that building operations will cause to people living in the houses immediately around the site for long periods during the construction phase. The Commons committee said that it hoped the Lords committee would probe further into the code. If the works go ahead, old people and young families will have to suffer the noise of the biggest inner-city building site in Europe immediately outside their windows for up to eight years. For the children it will be the greater part of their childhood. For some of the old people, it will, perhaps, be the rest of their lives. I commend the Instructions to the House.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Baroness Gardner of Parkes
My Lords, I must begin by declaring an interest, not in British Rail but in the redevelopment project which will, I hope, follow eventually when the Bill is passed. I have other interests, and they are not financial. I am especially interested in transport in London. I have recently taken over from my noble friend Lord Nugent as a trustee of the Parliamentary Advisory Committee on Transport Safety. Although I do not speak in that capacity, members of the committee are very keen to see people move on to the railways to a larger extent and to see the great traffic problems in London being solved.
I sensed a slight feeling of déjà vu when I listened to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Sefton. He and I did battle only a short while ago in respect of the Jubilee Line. Now that his fears that the £400 million 777 would not be forthcoming have been proved right I can only say that the pity is that the Bill was held up for so long (as it was in the due parliamentary process) and that, instead of it being actually built, we have now reached the point where the project has not been able to proceed—although I hope that it will—because the money is under threat. We have a very good system of examining such Bills very carefully. However, I also think that it is important that we do not delay matters to such an extent that we lose opportunities of which we should be making the most.
Certainly, the Canary Wharf and Jubilee Line projects have shown clearly that the important thing is first to establish the infrastructure. Surely that is exactly what we are talking about in relation to King's Cross. We must have a redevelopment of that station, or a firm decision that it will never be redeveloped, if we are ever to improve the surrounding area. The Bill before us does not cover the redevelopment of the surrounding area, but as it has been brought into the debate by so many speakers I feel that I am entitled to refer to it. The Bill is:An Act to empower the British Railways Board and London Underground Limited to construct works and to purchase or use land at King's Cross",and so on. We can all read the Long Title to the Bill. It has nothing to do with the redevelopment which may or may not follow in the area.
It is most important for people to realise that there is a need for this station. My noble friend Lady Eccles explained the matter clearly when she drew to our attention how all of these lines join at that point. Therefore, it is a practical proposition. When mention is made of Thameslink in Pentonville Road, I wonder how many people in this House have walked along that road from King's Cross in wet weather in order to reach the Thameslink station. It is not very pleasant. There is no covered linkage: one has to come out of one station and walk along the road in the rain to the next one. Under the new proposals all those stations will be linked: that will be convenient for passengers. There will also be lifts for the disabled. I feel strongly that there is an essential need for the incorporation of lifts in all new station designs. I am pleased that here we shall have them.
The process through which Bills are introduced in this country is extremely slow. The building process is also slow. A time has been quoted for the completion of the works. I have no doubt that it is true. But perhaps we should compare that time with that taken to complete the Hong Kong mass transit railway. Permission was given within months, the estimates were produced within months and the whole thing was actually finished in much less time than it has taken our Parliament to look at the Jubilee Line Bill. Here again, people are quoting from the report—two years old already. Time seems to mean nothing in this Chamber or in this country. Although we have to be careful and do things thoroughly, we must be very careful not to slow down processes to such an extent that nothing happens in the end.
The noble Lord, Lord Sefton, made quite an attack on planning in London. It was certainly an indictment of the LCC and the GLC. I served as a member of one 778 of the planning committees. I was vice-chairman of the planning committee of the GLC. I am sorry that the noble Lord feels as he does because quite a lot of planning was done. It is very easy to look back and say what could have been improved upon. It is much more difficult to look forward and to work out how things should be done.
The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, again raised the point regarding the rest of the development. However, as I have said, we are not discussing that. I was asked by the London Channel Tunnel Group to convene a meeting of Members of your Lordships' House. I did so. Rosie Winterton asked me to have the meeting and many of your Lordships attended. We were asked to consider a different routing from the Channel Tunnel into London. It came out loud and clear from the meeting that those present did not mind what route was taken. What they did want was that the route should go to King's Cross. That was the unanimous decision. No one wanted to see the route go to Stratford and stop there. It was considered appalling that visitors to this country should find themselves in the middle of nowhere. Certainly those who have interests in the north of England want to see a direct and prompt connection through King's Cross. It is very important that this link should be built.
§ Baroness Hamwee
My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for giving way. Perhaps I may explain to your Lordships and to the noble Baroness that I was not suggesting that the link should stop at Stratford. I am sorry if I did not make that clear.
§ Baroness Gardner of Parkes
My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her intervention. The point I was making does not relate so much to her comments. It concerns the London Channel Tunnel Group which has written to me today asking me to support the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Rea, and raising all kinds of new problems. Having found that this House supported the group on the rerouting matter—which it won and which we were told were its only concern —the group has now sent me about another dozen concerns, none of which I support. It is human nature, is it not, that if one wins one point one tries to get 50 more. However, I am certainly not supporting the group, nor am I supporting the Instructions to the committee that are proposed.
I have some sympathy with the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Adrian, concerning people whose homes are purchased compulsorily. It is important that homes should be purchased only if they are to be used. I have seen most unfortunate cases where people's properties were purchased and they were moved compulsorily into council flats. They then had all the disadvantages of being tenants of the council whereas before they had owned their own little homes. However, I must add that it is important that if a property is really needed in terms of construction or operation then certainly it would be for British Rail to justify that to the committee. There were many points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Adrian, which would be technical decisions. Again, it is for British Rail to make those points carefully to the committee.
779 It is the worst thing to have uncertainty. At the moment all these properties—the shops about which the noble Baroness, Lady David, spoke—are blighted because everyone knows that they are threatened with redevelopment. I went through exactly that situation with my dental surgery in Islington. We were told that we were to be redeveloped. It was a major redevelopment. All kinds of battles over the compulsory purchase orders took place. In all we were in blighted property for 15 years. During that time the 40 small shopkeepers who had been there gradually dwindled away. When the properties were eventually rebuilt there were three of us remaining. That meant that for 15 years people in that area had been suffering terrible blight and terrible delays. It would have been far more efficient to have acted more promptly and to have moved us all out. But we were all caught in the legal processes that were taking place between St. Bartholomew's hospital and the GLC. Whoever was enacting those processes, it was the greatest unkindness that people should not know what was happening. Either the go-ahead is given for this station or let it be said, "We will never build it". People will then know that they are there forever. To have people sitting there permanently wondering about their future is no kindness.
My plea to the committee would be not necessarily to follow the Instruction of the noble Lord, Lord Rea —certainly not in the way set out. I believe the Instruction to be unnecessary. I have great faith in the Private Bill Committee procedure. I believe that the committee is quite capable of asking the questions that we as a House might be putting before it tonight. I believe that the committee will give due and detailed consideration to every facet of the Bill. I support giving the Bill a Second Reading. I do not support adding Instructions to the committee.
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ Lord Henderson of Brompton
My Lords, the advantage of speaking so late in the debate is that I can scrap a great deal of what I would have said because the points have already been made, so I shall be brief.
First, I should like to say to the noble Viscount, Lord Whitelaw, who introduced this debate, that I hope very much that there will be no Divisions. We should all make as much effort as we can not to divide, certainly not on party lines, on Private Bills. We want to leave the committee as unfettered as we can. I think that a vote at a fairly late stage of this evening's proceedings would in any case be small and perhaps not representative. I merely put that plea to him. Certainly I hope that in accordance with our normal practice there will be no vote on Second Reading. I say that particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, because he mentioned that possibility. I hope that that can be avoided at all costs.
With regard to the Instructions I think that they are not mandatory but permissive Instructions and therefore are not, so to speak, binding on the committee, otherwise I think they should not have 780 been put forward. We can therefore presume that these Instructions have been approved by the Private Bill office.
Having said that, I commend the Instruction of the noble Lord, Lord Rea. It contains nothing that is not already in the Commons special report; thus, it is not doing anything more than acting as belt as well as braces. The committee must consider the report. It would be exceedingly discourteous if the report, which is full of valid advice, were not considered. Therefore, there can be no harm at all in a permissive Instruction being moved by this House which merely draws attention to those points in that report.
I would say that both Instructions are in order but the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, told the House that his Instruction would widen the consideration of the committee, whereas the instruction of the noble Lord, Lord Rea, would not widen the consideration of the committee. I draw that distinction between them, which I hope the House will find helpful.
I should also like to say a brief word about the distinguished committee to which the Bill will be referred. The House has always prided itself on having expertise among its Members for almost any occasion. It may not be widely known that the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill of Harrow, had considerable experience of railways and movement control during the war. He is an excellent chairman. We will all have heard with deep sadness that the noble Lord, Lord Charteris of Amisfield, has had an accident and will not be able to participate. I am sure that we would all like to convey our great sympathy to him and to his wife. He will be a sad loss to the committee.
One has to declare one's interest. My interest is that of a passenger travelling from King's Cross. King's Cross is my London terminus, as it is for so many of us who live in the North. I choose to travel from King's Cross to Darlington and then to travel by car, because I consider that route and service to be better. I see that I have agreement from the noble Viscount. I have a high regard and affection for King's Cross station. Until recently, I had a high regard for the King's Cross Railways Bill, because I believed that Channel Tunnel traffic should have a proper second terminus in London so that passenger and freight traffic would have a good route to the North East and the North West.
I confess that I misunderstood what British Rail was proposing. I now understand that the King's Cross terminus will take passenger traffic only from the Channel Tunnel. That diminishes enormously the station's importance. Freight will now be taken from Stratford to the North. Freight is what really matters, because I do not envisage passenger traffic by rail to the North being heavy. It is now cheaper and quicker to go by air within the United Kingdom. It is quicker, if not cheaper, to go to the North by air where the airport facilities are much better than they were. Manchester is quite something now, instead of being a provincial airport. I do not believe that there will be a great volume of passenger traffic, and so I do not believe that the Bill is as urgent or matters as much as I used to believe.
781 That is as nothing compared to the shock I received when reading the Commons special report, which is powerfully argued. The report was published almost two years ago. Everything said in the report is that much more urgent because yet another year has passed. Two years have elapsed and British Rail has still not produced final answers on the rail link and other matters for the committee to consider. I shall not go further into that issue, because it has already been mentioned. Paragraph 3 caught my attention and made me sit up. I do not believe that the committee would have produced the report but for the matters set out in that paragraph. It drew attention to,certain matters which … seem to us to have procedural significance".The report continued conveniently to summarise the committee's conclusions and reasons therefor.
Those procedural matters are all important and I hope that the Lord Chairman of Committees, who is not present, will read them, because they are of equal importance in this House as in the Commons. I also hope that the committee, under the chairmanship of Lord Greenhill, will consider the extraordinarily severe report by the committee on the behaviour of British Rail and its agents in the other place. I shall not go into those matters, which are important. The proceedings are quasi-judicial and what British Rail and its agents did in the other place was inadmissible lobbying. There were many other factors which I find shocking. Our committee, being forewarned will be forearmed.
I wish to turn to one other procedural point which I consider to be of great significance in relation not just to this Bill but to all Bills. Perhaps I may illustrate the point by referring to Public Bills in the first instance. We are all aware that where Public Bills incur expenditure they can make no progress until a Commons Money Resolution has been passed so that we are satisfied that the Commons will make available to the Government—to use the old-fashioned parlance—the money necessary to implement the Bill which the Government have brought before Parliament. We then know that the project, whatever it may be, will be completed. That distinguishes us from some other countries where projects may never be completed. Fortunately we do not have half completed buildings in this country unless they happen to be Canary Wharf. It is a principle of immense importance with Public Bills that Parliament has to satisfy itself that the money is available.
I maintain that the same principle should apply to Private Bills, although few Private Bills require money. For example, there were divorce Bills before divorce became easy. Now we have projects which are multi-million if not multi-billion affairs. In those cases it is essential that the Select Committee satisfies itself that the money required for the powers being asked for will be forthcoming. The House of Commons Select Committee made a big point on this issue. It referred to precedents. The special report cites a passage in Erskine May relating to proceedings of Commons committees on unopposed Bills. It explains how committees on unopposed Bills have a special 782 responsibility that the interests of the public are effectually regarded. It says that to prove the preamble the promoters must,satisfy the Committee as to the propriety of and the need for the several provisions of the bill".The text continues:On 4 May 1906, the committee on the Mid-Oxfordshire Gas Bill, after hearing the evidence, announced that it considered the finance of the bill so unsatisfactory that, on grounds of public policy, it declared the preamble of the bill not proved, and reported accordingly to the House".That is not an isolated incident. It is the first of several which continued after the war. Thus this is not a dead doctrine but a living doctrine which applies to private Bills as well as to Public Bills.
I urge the committee, when it considers the Bill, and the House, when the Bill returns to it, to ensure that they have cast iron guarantees from the promoters and from the Government. Nothing less will do than the approval of the Department of Transport and the Treasury to the money being forthcoming. That guarantee will be sufficient; nothing else will do. That is my main point.
I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady David, and the noble Lord, Lord Adrian, for having drawn the attention of the House to the plight of the people and businesses affected by this. It is most important in our Private Bill procedure that petitions are listened to with great care and understanding. I believe that there are between 100 and 200 such petitions and it is important that they should be carefully considered.
The petitions and the plight of individuals in the area are bound up with the House and the committee being absolutely sure that the money is forthcoming. I believe that I heard the noble Viscount say that the Government would ensure that there would be enough money from government or other funds for the first part of the programme. However, I do not believe that he gave an absolutely cast iron assurance on the completion of the Bill's proposals. We must bear in mind that local interests and local people will be affected, their property and lives will be blighted indefinitely if the buildings and the other works are not completed. If the work on the station is completed and the work on the railway land is not completed, the blight will continue indefinitely. We need an assurance that the railway works and the land works provided for under the Bill will be completed or that there will be sufficient money for their completion. Otherwise there will be an indefinite, statutory blight on those affected. None of us could contemplate anything as offensive as that to individual citizens.
§ Lord Sefton of Garston
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, could he clarify one point that he raised? I understood him to say that my Instruction was not acceptable because the committee would have to give it consideration. However, the Instruction from the noble Lord, Lord Rea, was already included in the petitions. Am I right?
§ Lord Henderson of Brompton
My Lords, my impression is that that is so. The Instruction of the noble Lord, Lord Rea, is already a matter for consideration. That of the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, is 783 not; it would be an additional burden for the committee. I may be mistaken, and if so I apologise, but that is my impression.
§ Lord Henderson of Brompton
My Lords, it is a consideration for not moving it. On the whole, our Instructions are not compulsory. It is felt that no compulsion should be put on the committee; it should be entirely unfettered. The Instruction of the noble Lord, Lord Rea, is of that kind. The committee will have to consider the subject anyhow; it is a matter of belt and braces and the House is content that it should be so. However, I do not believe that that applies to the Instruction of the noble Lord, Lord Sefton.
§ 7.55 p.m.
§ Lord Cochrane of Cults
My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Whitelaw for his introduction and careful explanation of the Bill. It provides for a complex and valuable project which, day by day, as a result of the length of the procedures in another place and perhaps, on tonight's form, even in this place, is being more and more delayed. It is therefore more and more urgent.
The roots of the problem lie in matters long past when a Royal Commission sat in 1846. It dealt with railway works within the metropolis and decided—I think wisely at the time—that, among other things, railways should not proceed south of the Euston Road except in tunnel. To me, that at long last explains why so many stations are grouped along that road.
Since those days, much has changed. Probably people felt about Euston Road much as we feel today about the M.25: it was quite a long way away and a useful barrier against developments about which one was not quite sure. Since then, capacity has become the crux of the matter at King's Cross. It is a small station with only eight platforms in the main concourse, compared with 24 at Waterloo. There are three platforms round the corner, as my noble friend Lady Eccles of Moulton remarked, but they are inconvenient and poorly sited.
British Rail and others connected with the project must feel like the legendary engineer who set out to drain a swamp, and complained that he had subsequently found himself up to the neck in crocodiles. Having heard quite a number of speeches today, I feel that many noble Lords were adopting the traditional attitude that there is a difficulty for every solution. We must start from the position that King's Cross must be dealt with. If and when enacted—as the Bill should be—it will benefit four operational parts of the railways. Locally, there is the useful suggestion of a valuable improvement in railway capacity by moving the local platforms from King's Cross to St. Pancras—a large and rather under-used station. That will do much to facilitate InterCity workings in the main part of King's Cross station, which run from the existing platforms 1 to 8.
Then the Bill will help what I may term the regional part of British Rail. It will transfer Thameslink from the extraordinarily inconvenient station near King's 784 Cross to a position underneath King's Cross mainline, which will allow for longer trains and better access to many parts of the system.
Further, InterCity will benefit both by the construction of the low level station and the improved access to the West London line which is the subject of another Bill. The enlarged low level station will give direct access to the Channel Tunnel and allow through trains to come from many parts of the country to link with the Channel Tunnel. Unlike other noble Lords, I see the tunnel as generating significant traffic from the north both by day and by night. In this context, that is anywhere north, not of Watford but of Birmingham.
An interim solution is being proposed, I do not believe it is very good but it is the best available to British Rail. It is to run through trains to connect with the Channel Tunnel service by cross-platform interchange via Waterloo, using a fairly circuitous route by the West London line with speed mostly limited to about 35 miles per hour, taking 40 minutes. This afternoon, on the way from King's Cross, my taxi driver said that it took 12 minutes to get to Waterloo if he had a good run, double if he did not. However, that still does not make a total of 45 minutes. That fact again emphasises the need to construct a low level terminal at King's Cross.
The terminal will also be helped by the interconnections and improvements to the tube system. King's Cross is the focal point of the system north of the river. Together with the surface connections, King's Cross and St. Pancras will far outrival Clapham Junction in importance. At present there is a large sign at Clapham Junction which states it is the busiest railway station in Britain. I rather think that when this Bill has been in force for a while a raiding party will be sent from King's Cross to take down the sign at Clapham Junction.
The size of this project gives particular cause for concern. It comprises many different levels on the surface and beneath the ground. The platforms at St. Pancras are appreciably higher than those at King's Cross. This morning I tried to measure the height difference as best I could and I calculated that it was roughly that from the ground floor to the principal floor in this building. It is important that there should be good luggage and personal mobility throughout the two linked stations on the surface and the whole series of stations below. At the low level there are the Metropolitan, the District, the Piccadilly, the Victoria and the Northern lines. Those stations should be easily accessible to people with luggage. If that is not the case, the value of the project will be somewhat diminished.
We cannot continue saying that the project has too many difficulties. We have now reached the point where it must go ahead. If that is not the case, other parts of the system, both in London and further afield, will be deprived of the communications they so urgently need for their prosperity. I commend the Bill as valuable, necessary and indeed much overdue. I hope it will receive a Second Reading, as it properly deserves.
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ Lord Howie of Troon
My Lords, I support the Bill for the reasons which were outlined so clearly earlier this afternoon by the noble Viscount, Lord Whitelaw. Those reasons were later amplified by the noble Baroness, Lady Eccles. However, I must say that, if the noble Baroness finds herself rattling north to Edinburgh at 160 miles an hour, I hope she does not order soup in the dining room. If she does order soup it will end up on the floor if she is lucky or in her lap if she is unlucky.
I have nothing to add to the commendation of the Bill given by those two speakers. However, I oppose both of the instructions made by the noble Lords, Lord Rea and Lord Sefton of Garston. I oppose the instruction of the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, because I agree with his comment that the instruction is outside the scope of the Bill. There is enough in the Bill already and I do not believe we need advance beyond it. Nevertheless I found myself agreeing with almost everything in the noble Lord's speech. His speech was not about the Bill but it contained important remarks. I am sure those remarks will be borne in mind even if the instruction is not.
I am opposed to the instruction of the noble Lord, Lord Rea, because his words were largely taken from a report of another place. That report was drawn up when the Bill was considered in another place. I do not think that report is a good source. I do not say that for procedural reasons. I think the report is not a good source because on the several occasions when I attended the committee in another place I thought it was a hostile one. I thought its attitude was unreasonable as regards many of the questions it put to British Rail. The Members of the committee were certainly unreasonable in their attitude towards the replies given by the British Rail witnesses. I am cautious as regards placing too much weight on the report produced in another place.
The instruction of the noble Lord, Lord Rea, also goes beyond the scope of the Bill. I believe he was concerned in his speech, although not in the actual wording of his instruction, with that part of London which lies to the north of King's Cross and which is the subject of entirely different works. The noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, referred to those works but they have nothing whatsoever to do with this Bill. I do not believe that development to the north of the station will ever be carried out, but that is by the way.
The noble Lord and other speakers have laid too much weight on the famed environmental impact assessments. As a civil engineer I have been familiar with those assessments for a long time. The important word is "assessment". I am not saying that an assessment is the same thing as a guess exactly. An assessment is an attempt to quantify something which is really unquantifiable. In that respect an environmental impact assessment leading to a statement suffers from the same defect as a cost benefit analysis. In both cases people try to quantify something about which they have subjective feelings. Cost benefit analyses have been severely wounded by Colin Buchanan, who asked who could put a price on 786 Stukeley church when the third London airport was being considered a number of years ago. An assessment is a useful thing if only in providing work for civil engineers. However, it is not an ultimate scientific good and it should be treated with decent and reasonable caution.
I have some further observations on the Bill. I shall try to speak briefly. When we debated transport several weeks ago, before the recent election, I made so bold as to comment that the Government had made a mistake in choosing the easterly route into King's Cross rather than British Railway's preferred route rather further to the south, which linked conveniently into the proposed works.
Having witnessed the recent adventures at Canary Wharf, I am sure the Government will be having second thoughts about the advisability of the somewhat grandiose plans for regenerating the southern part of Essex along the north bank of the Thames. Those plans were of course the only reason for choosing the easterly route. Apart from that consideration it was never a sensible route. I suppose it is too late to revert to the proper route but, if there is still time, for goodness' sake let the Government do that.
I regret a particular weakness in the Bill as it is proposed. That is not the fault of the proposers of the Bill nor of British Rail but it is the fault of the committee of another place to which I have referred. The weakness lies in the fact that the demolition of the Great Northern Hotel is not included in the Bill. It was included once upon a time but it was removed by the committee in another place. That is quite absurd. I know the building is listed but many things in this country are listed for reasons which are hard to fathom. The building is most undistinguished. The noble Viscount, Lord Whitelaw, was more than kind to the building in his remarks. When I thought about the building and considered whether I was being unfair to it I tried to find someone who would say a good word for it. I thought it best to turn to authorities who are steeped in the enjoyment and knowledge of Victorian architecture.
I found a reference to the Great Northern Hotel in a book by Gavin Stamp and Colin Amery. Their credentials in relation to Victoriana are excellent. The best that they could say was that the building was in a "mean Italian style". That is entirely true. It was designed by Lewis Cubitt, who also designed the marvellous facade of King's Cross, which will be revealed when the temporary building is taken away from in front of it. The difference is that when Lewis Cubitt designed the facade he did so under the guidance of his older brother, who was the engineer for the railway. When he designed the hotel he was left to his own devices and he introduced a variety of Italianate fripperies which are of no use to anyone.
The best word that I could find in favour of the Great Northern Hotel was by John Betjeman, which will surprise nobody. However, even he could only say that the curved elevation was "pleasant". It is an unremarkable building and it should not stand in the way of the proposed concourse which British Rail has in mind.
787 My reason for thinking that it is a pity that that proposal was left out of the Bill relates to the point raised in general by the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes—namely, the passage of time. I know that the underground works can continue whether or not the hotel remains, but the concourse cannot go ahead in its present form if the hotel is there. If the hotel remains, heaven knows what kind of mess we shall have as a concourse.
The problem is that, following the report from another place, British Rail has been obliged to leave out of the Bill the demolition of the hotel and turn instead to the normal processes of planning, which are in the hands of Camden Borough Council. A deadly hush should fall over all of us when we think of the length of time that will pass while Camden Borough Council treats that feeble Italianate building as though it were a pearl beyond price.
We can imagine, too, the great weakness of the planning process. Whereas under the Private Bill procedure objectors to a proposal have to show locus standi, which is an excellent defence for the process, under the planning procedures as they stand there is no need for locus standi. People may appear like mushrooms—or dandelions—from all over the country, producing eager arguments about how important the Great Northern Hotel is to, say, the citizens of Darlington or others in other parts of the country. Professional lobbyists and objectors will appear in a tumultuous horde. The time spent will greatly set back the progress of this much needed work.
I do not know whether there is very much that we can do about that. There are present tonight noble Lords who are much better qualified in the procedures of this House than I, and I see the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. I did not put down an instruction that the committee should reinstate Clause 19, because I thought that that would be presumptuous, but I rather hope that it will.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ Lord Teviot
My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, although I am not entirely happy to follow his analogy between mushrooms and dandelions. However, it is a great pleasure to intervene in this very important Second Reading of a Private Bill.
One of the key features of the King's Cross Railways Bill is the benefits to Network SouthEast's Thameslink operation. Thameslink reopened to passenger service in 1988 after more than 70 years of closure. Some of your Lordships who have longer memories than I will recall that before the First World War passenger train services used to run via the Snow Hill tunnel between such interesting inner-London locations as Herne Hill and South Tottenham and Victoria and Moorgate. The route was killed by the electrification of the tram network, the last train running along the line from Edgware to Herne Hill in 1916.
Thameslink has experienced a renaissance. Passengers come from much further afield. Currently Thameslink runs from Brighton, Guildford and 788 Sevenoaks in the south to Bedford and Luton in the north. Your Lordships may like briefly to consider the wide geographical spread of routes south of London compared to those in the north, but I shall return to that point later.
I should like to talk about the quality of service provided by Thameslink. I travel on Thameslink almost every day from my small rural station at Balcombe in Sussex. I can catch a train to the centre of London every hour. From nearby Haywards Heath, four-and-a-half miles further south, there is a train every half hour. Furthermore, there is a choice of several London locations; namely, London Bridge, Blackfriars, the City, Farringdon and King's Cross—all from one train service. It is not necessary to go further afield to such places as Victoria. No longer do I, though fairly fleet of foot, and others who are less so, have to struggle on to the underground system, perhaps with bags and baggage. We can all get to central London. If one is travelling further north one can do so via King's Cross or St. Pancras, and the train takes one straight across London to those stations. Alternatively, one can change at Farringdon for Liverpool Street or Paddington.
Certainly I am not the only one to have seen the benefits of Thameslink. There is every indication that the trains are fairly full, both at peak times and off peak. I am told that in the first year of operation there was a 300 per cent. increase in cross-London journeys. On the longest route, between Bedford and Brighton, there has been an increase of 600 per cent. in journeys between the two stations. With people choosing to take advantage of the cross-London train service there is an ideal mechanism for reducing the appalling congestion that plagues the M.25—a road which was overcrowded from the day it was opened. That is an important point which has not been mentioned so far and if the service can do that it has achieved a great deal.
The Bill proposes to improve dramatically upon the current operation by taking the Thameslink line into the new low-level station, giving passengers direct interchange with the underground, international and InterCity services.
Noble Lords who have used the King's Cross Thameslink station will welcome the news that the Bill will bring the Thameslink line directly to the mainline station, because the five minute walk from the current site on Pentonville Road is rather tedious. It is unfortunately a difficult walk, including one or two sets of traffic lights. However, British Rail staff have helped people very ably.
By combining the benefits of the new station with some additional improvements in South London, particularly around the heavily congested area of London Bridge, Thameslink will provide longer and more frequent trains to a greater variety of destinations. That will allow more people to enjoy the benefits of the service.
A few months ago I had the pleasure of meeting the director of Thameslink who told me about planned Thameslink services. I shall not mention the destinations because my noble friend Lord Whitelaw —who is not in his seat—referred to them. My noble 789 friend need not have been modest about his reason for speaking on the Bill. His almost immediate predecessor happened to be the chairman of the London and North Eastern Railway. However, as president of the Channel Tunnel Association I have carried on the work of people much more distinguished than I. That group has been around since just after the war and will have made a contribution.
There will be people travelling to King's Cross from places as far away as Vladivostok and Peking. Your Lordships may feel that I am talking absolute nonsense. However, I once travelled on a ferry from Ostend to Dover which carried a group of Japanese who presumably had got on a train at Beijing rather than Vladivostok. With the situation at present in Russia there may be people travelling from Kamchatka or the Bay of Okhotsk or Sakhalin Island via Vladivostok who arrive at King's Cross. They may perhaps not want to end their journey there. They may want to go first to Edinburgh before returning to London. I hope that they will find the journey very agreeable.
I intended to speak about King's Lynn and Peterborough but perhaps that is totally unnecessary. However, it is a very far cry from Herne Hill to Edgware.
§ Lord Teviot
My Lords, perhaps Leicester Square station or Piccadilly Circus; yes indeed. I am very grateful to the noble Lord for his intervention. It just shows that people who come from the other place always complain that nobody ever listens to them and they talk to the cushions. I am grateful for the noble Lord's intervention.
I am assured that there will be a new build of faster and more comfortable air-conditioned trains on this service. I welcome that. However, I make a special plea to British Rail. I am one of many passengers who find the leg room wholly inadequate on some of the current trains. I am moderately tall. There are other taller and larger men but even girls who may be called petite complain of the totally inadequate leg room. It is not altogether British Rail's fault. At the moment it is the fault of the tunnelling and the channelling of the trains.
I have not made a bland speech saying hurrah for British Rail but it must look after the trains. With all those destinations lying upon this cross-London network, consider how many more people now have the chance to see friends and business associates on the other side of the capital without having to change trains. Without the passage of the Bill before us none of those benefits can be exploited. We also face the prospect of more lanes being added to the M.25. Let us make the public transport resources that we have work for us and support the rapid progress of this Bill.
§ 8.24 p.m.
The Earl of Lindsay
My Lords, I join other noble Lords in congratulating my noble friend Lord Whitelaw on the way in which he introduced the Bill and covered its detail. I have two interests in the Bill: one, as with other noble Lords, is geographic and the other is environmental. I live on the east coast of Scotland and because of a heavy travel commitment I rely on King's Cross and its routes for my own needs and for moving three young children, a wife, dog, grandmothers and all our various baggage. For those living in the North and for many enterprises based there this Bill is important. It will enable vital improvements to be made to existing services, connections and facilities. It will also enable the introduction of a critical international link.
The opportunity for InterCity to increase its present nine-coach formations to 12-coach formations is immediately attractive. Anyone using the rail system at its busier times will appreciate that. However fast the train, many of the east coast journeys remain comparatively long. Extra coaches will mean extra seating, which will be welcomed by all passengers. From an environmental standpoint I also hope that the improvement will be noted by many would-be passengers who are at present driving on the roads. If that is the case we shall all be the beneficiaries.
Perhaps of greater impact within the Bill is the proposed transformation of the concourse. Few King's Cross InterCity travellers can fail to have experienced the nightmare into which the existing concourse descends at peak travel time. That nightmare has gone on for some years. It is set to worsen as passenger levels rise yet further. Having to start or finish a journey in a grubby, poorly planned and overcrowded terminus is demoralising to both passengers and operators. I understand that the present concourse was constructed in the 1970s with limited planning consent and was only ever meant to be temporary. Whatever the circumstances, the King's Cross concourse must be radically transformed.
British Rail talks about King's Cross needing the qualities of a gateway station. I agree. The King's Cross concourse, its architecture and its facilities ought to be a source of pride to everyone using the station. I also agree with those who feel that this is a national opportunity, in a historic and busy public place, for a major statement of architectural prowess. We have risen to such challenges with increasing panache within recent years, but rarely have they been sited to be seen and used by so many different people from all walks of life and from all over the country, as will be the case at King's Cross. I understand that King's Cross, King's Cross Thameslink and St. Pancras are already used by 95,000 people in each of the two peak travel periods of any one day.
Given that British Rail intends to bestow the ambience of an international gateway on the King's Cross concourse, perhaps I may encourage it to seize what is a splendid opportunity to iron out two frustrating but widespread inconveniences. At many Continental railway stations the traveller is likely to find a supply of passenger luggage trolleys exactly where they are needed most; namely, on the 791 platforms, spaced at regular intervals and at the station's entry points. At too many major stations in this country the staff conscientiously herd the unused trolleys away from the platforms and entrances. They stack them neatly in the least busy part of the concourse, where they will not get in anyone's way. That makes no sense for those who need to use them. A new King's Cross concourse is an opportunity both to rectify this practice and to consider those Continental trolleys that are designed to travel also on escalators.
The second inconvenience that can be tackled concerns taxis. The project team at King's Cross plans one central taxi point to service King's Cross, King's Cross Thameslink and St. Pancras travellers. They predict that no longer will two taxis arrive at King's Cross to serve a queue of 20 people while a few hundred yards away at St. Pancras there are 20 taxis idling and only two people in the queue. So far so good. However, what also needs to be looked at, especially where one central point is to serve a large number of people, is the opportunity for the simultaneous loading of perhaps five or six taxis at one time. Too often, a long line of taxis waits to clear a long line of people, the whole process being subject to protracted delays because only one or two taxis can be loaded at any one time.
I welcome the proposals contained in the Bill for King's Cross Thameslink. At present the two systems are connected by one of London's finest obstacle courses, suited only to those who are experienced, fit and travelling light. For too many people the distance, the steps, the busy roads and so forth, all contrive to make it an unlikely if not impossible option. It becomes preferable to cross London by Underground or by road in a taxi, increasing the congestion from which those systems already suffer. The radically improved integration between King's Cross and St. Pancras mainline stations and Thameslink will therefore benefit those crossing London and those travelling within London.
Also of significance is that a better, more convenient and more attractive King's Cross Thameslink connection will improve the perception of Scotland's accessibility to those living in the South. I want to expand on that point, as an important part of Scotland's livelihood depends upon its appeal to others as a holiday venue. Here I declare an interest. In rural areas in the North, few agricultural enterprises can reliably survive on farming income alone. One of the most common areas for diversification is tourism and leisure. Many, including myself, have turned to providing summer holiday cottages.
In July and the first half of August, links to the South are perhaps less important. In those six or seven weeks there is a good market among northern holidaymakers, with perhaps 80 per cent. or 90 per cent. occupancy, of which four out of five bookings are from north of the Midlands. But six weeks do not make a summer from the operators' point of view. The other 10 to 12 weeks covering June, late August and September are critical for profitability and for the confidence to invest further. In those vital early and 792 late summer weeks, either side of the short northern holiday period, bookings from the Home Counties rise noticeably in proportion to three out of every four; but overall occupancy falls to perhaps 30 per cent. or 40 per cent.
It is important for many small leisure enterprises in the North that we attract a greater share of the longer-running southern holiday market. However, we are competing with the Continent and the west country. Our ability to meet the demand therefore depends in a large part on the ease with which the journey north is perceived. To too many in the Home Counties, Scotland loses its appeal with the thought of starting and finishing a holiday with eight to 10 hours on crowded motorways, especially if those include the M.25.
The rail system should provide the solution. But at present crossing the London hub involves fighting either through the Thameslink obstacle course at King's Cross or the congestion on London's roads and Underground system. The integration that the King's Cross development will offer between Thameslink and northbound InterCity trains is important. Its provision of a one-change facility involving a modern, convenient system for people of any age and ability, plus their luggage, will help many tourist-related enterprises further north.
In addition to the benefits that will accrue to Scotland from improvements to existing services, the Bill also promises much for the North with the prospect of easy, one-change services to the Continent. Many of us in the North cannot understand the wider significance of an international station at Stratford. It may be convenient for those living around Stratford or out on the Norwich line, in the same way as international facilities at Waterloo will suit south London and those living on BR's Southern Region network.
What makes sense is for Stratford to become a valuable intermediate station to King's Cross in the same way as Haymarket station successfully serves and complements Edinburgh Waverley. For the large number of people who live on the King's Cross, St. Pancras and Euston networks, the new King's Cross complex is the only sensible site for regular one-change access to international trains. Without it, we shall be faced with the same problem as Thameslink faces at the moment; namely, a link that is off-putting in its inconvenience and which diverts travellers on to those parts of London's transport infrastructure that are needed by Londoners themselves.
The second international station must surely be where it will be most used. It must therefore be sited where it is most needed. If the King's Cross project is to be credited with any wisdom or foresight, its focus must not be distracted from such long-term realities.
As a sub-plot to the national dimension, I acknowledge that the impact of the project's construction and landtake is a cause for local concern. I thus respect the worries expressed by the noble Lords, Lord Rea and Lord Sefton. The modus operandi of the King's Cross project will have to be sensitive to the issues that they have raised. The noble 793 Lord, Lord Sefton, was persuasive in wishing the terms of reference of the Select Committee to be widened. Indeed, his attention was focused on the vital subject: the critical indivisibility of land use, traffic management and infrastructure.
As a practising landscape architect, I agree with the priority that the noble Lord accords that dimension. However, in my experience, I believe that the noble Lord's Instruction merely duplicates the powers already vested in and exercised by planning authorities. I also agree with those noble Lords who feel that the Select Committee is already comprehensively obliged, and rightly so, to study the other concerns generated by the Bill without any further Instructions from this House. That obligation is indeed substantial, given the detail of the 159 petitions to be considered.
The opportunity that the Select Committee has is important and I welcome it. I also welcome BR's own separate intentions for a substantial liaison with local interest groups and the environmental code of practice which will be laid down for their contractors.
As a landscape architect who has had some experience of the environmental impact of transport systems, I cannot help but conclude my remarks on the Bill with a broad look ahead. I believe it to be of vital importance to us all that our rail system meets a significantly increased proportion of our national transport needs. I also believe that as environmental repercussions become more urgent, more intrusive and more costly, a shift in travel patterns will cause the demand for rail transport to rise faster than is at present anticipated. We therefore need an efficient, convenient and integrated rail system. It must have the quality to encourage demand and the capacity to meet that demand. The Bill is important in the strategic contribution that it will make to both those vital ingredients.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Lord Mountevans
My Lords, I declare a more detailed interest than usual in that I am probably the only Member of this House who has on several occasions judged King's Cross in the British Rail best kept station contest. However, in declaring that interest I also strongly support the Second Reading of the Bill so ably moved by my noble friend Lord Whitelaw. As the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, said, he was being more than modest about his railway pedigree and his qualifications for taking on this task. I believe that his railway pedigree extends to the north-east of Scotland and back to the 19th century.
In supporting the Bill, I first echo my noble friend Lady Eccles. King's Cross, St. Pancras and Euston —we have not referred to Euston much today—will be linked into the project. They serve almost everywhere north of a line drawn from Aberystwyth through London to Cambridge and King's Lynn, sometimes directly, sometimes by connection with existing InterCity or Network SouthEast services. If one adds the Channel Tunnel link and the enhanced 794 Thameslink services, I believe that the interchange opportunities will become absolutely outstanding both in terms of routes and frequency.
Secondly, there are already excellent Underground services serving the complex and Euston. The eventual arrival of the Chelsea-Hackney line and the relatively nearby cross-rail can only improve the situation.
Thirdly, I look forward to seeing Sir Norman Foster's building linking King's Cross and St. Pancras. Noble Lords will have seen that in a recent RIBA annual awards competition three of the six buildings shortlisted for the top award were commissioned by transport undertakings. One of them won the competition. If the new King's Cross can keep to that high standard, it will be more than just a gateway; it will become a landmark.
A number of noble Lords raised the issue of Stratford. I go along with my noble friend Lord Lindsay in believing that Stratford has a role to play similar to that which he mentioned: the role of the relationship between Haymarket and Edinburgh. The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, was anxious about whether Stratford and King's Cross could be linked. But we have to assume that they will be, partly because the Government have said that they will, and partly because British Rail have told me that the existing lines of deviation can cope with an eventual link from King's Cross to Stratford.
I support Stratford, although I do not believe that it will be the destination of first instance for many arriving international travellers. On the other hand, it opens up East Anglia to the Channel Tunnel which must be good. With regard to Stratford I have only two reservations. First, I do not believe that it will be the first choice destination for many people. Secondly, there is the matter of transport infrastructure. My belief is that the existing infrastructure underneath King's Cross, plus the developments that I have mentioned, will always be better able to disperse passengers into London than Stratford, plus the Central Line, the Jubilee Line, the Docklands Light Railway and Cross-rail.
Inevitably when one talks of Stratford, one speaks of the Channel Tunnel link. Several noble Lords have referred to it. It is important that we remember that although the Channel Tunnel link has an input into King's Cross, King's Cross-St. Pancras, even in its redeveloped form, will be first and foremost an InterCity station with 25 per cent. of all trains serving the new complex operated by that British Rail sector. Network SouthEast might operate 65 per cent. and initially the Channel Tunnel will account for only 10 per cent. to 15 per cent. Whatever noble Lords' anxieties may be about the Channel Tunnel, or the link to it, we must push on with this project for its purely domestic benefits.
I feel some concern about the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson—I am sorry that he is not now present—relating to the committee and guarantees over funding. It seems to me that the statutory requirement for the promoters to seek investment approval from the Secretary of State after Royal Assent and then to satisfy him of the availability of the funding has been overlooked. Should we really be 795 transferring powers that have traditionally been exercised by the Secretary of State to one of our own committees? So far as I know, the British Railways Board has never been required in this House to demonstrate availability of funds in order to prove the preamble of a Bill.
My noble friend Lord Cochrane of Cults mentioned Waterloo and in particular his anxiety that connecting trains would leave King's Cross, meander around London to Waterloo and then depart for the Channel Tunnel. I can assure him that the only Channel Tunnel connecting train that will serve Waterloo, apart from the three capital services, are trains from South Wales and the South West of England. That will almost complete the arc with which I began; the Aberystwyth, London and King's Lynn diagram. There is no plan to take international trains from King's Cross to Waterloo. King's Cross trains will leave via Thameslink and/or via Stratford.
The noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, was concerned with the demolition of the Great Northern Hotel and our approach to planning consents. The demotion of that building has exercised both this House and another place on a number of occasions. I remember in particular the Bill relating to safety measures within London Transport. While the committee agonised we were "got off the hook" by my noble friend Lord Brabazon of Tara who on Third Reading produced a compromise. It arose from the fact that the Government were not generally happy about blanket demolition clauses nor desperately happy about single building demolition clauses. The Government therefore arranged and developed a compromise which enabled English Heritage to play a role as the statutory adviser to the Government. It preserved most of the traditional planning procedures. In addition the compromise satisfied English Heritage, British Rail, London Transport and the two departments of state. I wonder whether we should be well advised to tinker with that arrangement.
§ Lord Mountevans
My Lords, I understand that Camden council gave a number of undertakings to the committee in another place. One can hope only that it abides by those undertakings.
A number of your Lordships have mentioned Canary Wharf. In the context of our debate we must remember several matters. First, the events which have surrounded Canary Wharf do not apply to all developments in London. Developments are coming on stream, being taken up and occupied. Secondly, British Rail is not dependent on the redevelopment of the King's Cross railway land to fund the proposals in the Bill. The stream of funds from an eventual development will allow other important projects to go ahead; for instance, the InterCity 250 project, which is of great interest to the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, not least because of its importance to the North West. Such projects will be funded by the property income. If there is one lesson that one must draw from Canary Wharf and from La Defense in Paris it is that adequate 796 transport links are critical to any development scheme. Perhaps your Lordships will agree that in that regard King's Cross meets all requirements.
Finally, I turn to the two Instructions before us tonight. I can echo only what was said by my noble friend Lord Whitelaw in introducing the Bill. Your Lordships' committee will be required to consider some 160 petitions and to hear the evidence both for and against. I believe that most of the points that are raised in the two Instructions are covered by those petitions. To give the Instructions to the committee would only add to its burden.
§ 8.44 p.m.
§ Baroness Jeger
My Lords, we have heard a great deal about transport and therefore perhaps I may be forgiven if I speak briefly about people. I was the Member in another place for King's Cross, St. Pancras and Euston. I had a great tendresse for the railway workers and all those who contributed to the transport system in that essential area of London. I wish to put to your Lordships some of the considerations which will affect many of the people living in the area.
Will the Government tell me how many people will lose their homes as a result of the proposals in the Bill? Who will rehouse and compensate them when the community is broken up? There are now too few living communities because so many are falling apart as a result of change. The area had a railway community of some meaning. I tried to canvass engine drivers who were taking trains to Scotland and the North. They had to leave at midnight and at 4 o'clock in the morning their wives had to clean the carriages before the morning trains could leave. Today there appears to be no feeling of a community infrastructure.
I may be told that such an attitude is old-fashioned. However, I wish to know how the Government will connect the Bill's proposals with the lives and the housing of people in the King's Cross area. I should explain to my former constituents that they had to move out of the area and that their houses had to be pulled down if I could be convinced that it was essential. However, I have had discussions with many experts who agree with me that that is not essential. There are in the area many enlightened people who are working not to oppose progress but to try to discover how we can better make the changes. However, we find that the works described in the King's Cross Railways Bill and the plans of the London Regeneration Consortium were designed before the Government's decision to build the Channel Tunnel railway through Stratford. I must now ask whether the plans for Stratford are affected by what is happening at Canary Wharf. Must we not now work out whether King's Cross and Stratford are in a different position and whether the Bill should be redrafted?
The present situation is difficult because we must take into account what is happening at Canary Wharf and how that affects Stratford. Surely that means that we must also look again at what is happening in King's Cross. We might take a decision which will ruin the community and create a terrible housing situation 797 in the area. Events at Canary Wharf may mean that we do not need to do as the Bill suggests in relation to King's Cross.
I have put those questions to the Government because I know the area and realise there must be changes. I wish to ensure that every change is for the better for the people who live there and for the travellers who come and go.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ Lord Tordoff
My Lords, we move to the wind-up speeches on this debate and it is a particularly difficult task to pull together all the threads. There seems to me to be a fairly general consensus that King's Cross is necessary and worthy and that the Bill should receive a Second Reading. It may be that there is a certain amount of dissent from the noble Lord, Lord Rea. He seems to be an unreformed Stratford man, as I understood his closing remarks.
Of course we are grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Whitelaw, for taking on this burden which has passed from Sir George Young to Mr. Gary Waller and is now in the capable hands of the noble Viscount. It is not an easy task to take on a Bill as complex as this with its many facets in relation to which people will demand answers over a long period. There have been many questions asked this evening.
In addition to all the other benefits of the Bill I am glad that the noble Viscount mentioned the Fennell Report, because that is an important part of the Bill. In a sense, perhaps, it is the most urgent part. The demands of the Fennell Report have not and cannot be properly met until the Bill is enacted and under way.
I will turn later to the instructions, but I echo the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, as to when the West Hampstead Chord will be built. Nobody seems to know, as is the case with so many of the questions asked about the Bill both by the press and in the other place throughout the whole of its progress.
I quarrel with the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, that we should give more time to this Bill. It seems to me that it has had more than enough time already. It has been on the books for four years and the sooner we progress the Bill through all its stages in your Lordships' House the better everybody will be pleased. That is not to say that the Select Committee should take any short cuts and I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill of Harrow, will see that short cuts are not taken, and certainly not to the disadvantage of the people of whom the noble Baroness, Lady Jeger, spoke.
I was extremely impressed by the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Adrian. He certainly makes a very good point in relation to the limits of deviation of the plans and the planning blight that comes from that. I wonder whether noble Lords remember Warwick Gardens. The area was a victim of considerable planning blight a few years ago when the line from the Channel Tunnel was to be brought in through southern London. British Rail did not distinguish itself in the way in which it treated the 798 people of Warwick Gardens and the area nearby. A considerable amount of what is now seen to be quite unnecessary planning blight was caused by the inability to make decisions.
The noble Baroness, Lady Eccles, spoke, as many people did, of the virtues of interchange under the new system. However, I believe that only the noble Lord, Lord Mountevans, mentioned the interchange with Euston. This bothers me slightly. There was a suggestion of a travelator being used but that would have to pass through the new British Library and I wonder what plans British Rail now has for moving people from King's Cross and St. Pancras to Euston during the interim period. If that is to be done by use of buses, I find that a worrying thought. Those people who have travelled by bus from one set of Dover docks to the other will know how inconvenient a change between two different types of transport can be.
The noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, in an interesting speech, made some comments which were slightly critical of the London Channel Tunnel Group's position and the briefing which she received today, as I did also. I believe that she is being slightly harsh. I appreciate the point that salami slicing is a well known technique but there are some comments in the document which are worth bearing in mind; for example, the reference to customs and immigration facilities. I am not at all clear how much of the development at King's Cross if any, will contain customs and immigration facilities. We argued about that in relation to Waterloo when we discussed the Channel Tunnel Bill. We then said that those facilities should be on the trains rather than in a great airport-like concourse. Developments within the EC which have happened since that time prompt us to ask how much space and equipment we shall need to process people through customs and immigration at our major railway terminals.
The London Channel Tunnel Group says that the proposed terminal at King's Cross is far larger than necessary, given the international passenger station at Stratford. A number of people have referred to the inter-relationship between those two new terminals. It is important that the position should be made clear and it is not clear at the moment—certainly not to me.
How far is British Rail really taking into account in the development at King's Cross what will happen at Stratford? I accept what the noble Earl, Lord Lindsay, said that it will not be a major terminal but it must have some impact on the demand at King's Cross. How far is that being taken into account? Indeed, do British Rail take the Stratford terminal at all seriously? I have a slight feeling that that has been put on to the back burner and British Rail is not including it properly in its calculations.
As the noble Lord, Lord Mountevans, said, the Hackney-Chelsea line is another factor in the whole complex. The sooner the Government tell us when that will go ahead, the happier we shall all be. That should be an extremely important part of the matrix of transport in that part of London.
There are a number of questions which are still unanswered and in that sense the instruction in the 799 name of the noble Lord, Lord Rea, is valid because he draws attention to the questions asked by the Select Committee in another place, many of which remain unanswered.
I agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, about the hotel, which always struck me as being a very dull pile with little architectural merit to it and, I should think, very little merit as a hotel, though that may be libellous. It is not the most attractive and welcoming looking building in London. I should have thought that the time has come when it could be sacrificed for the greater good of the community as a whole.
However, I felt that the noble Lord was rather harsh on the Select Committee in another place. The committee's patience was sorely tried by British Rail throughout the whole process. As the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, said, British Rail behaved in a monstrous fashion, as is recorded in a quotation which he was good enough not to read but which I shall read. At paragraph 20, the Select Committee expressed dissatisfaction with British Rail. The first complaint was as regards an attempt to influence the committee when it was known to be considering its decision:This campaign of lobbying contravened the fundamental principle governing procedure in opposed bill committees … We consider that British Rail's tactics in this regard were improper, and verged on being a contempt of the House … We very much hope that future promoters of private bills will not be tempted to act in a similar manner".I particularly hope that British Rail or its agents will not be tempted to act in a similar manner while this Bill is passing through your Lordships' Select Committee or, if there is any tendency in that direction, that knuckles will be even more firmly rapped than they were by the Select Committee in another place.
Many people have referred to the collapse of the property market and the impact that that must surely have. The noble Lord, Lord Mountevans, tried to play it down to a degree, but I cannot believe that it does not affect the financial equation as regards this Bill. Perhaps the Government have up their sleeve an idea that they will move the Department of the Environment from Canary Wharf to King's Cross in due time and persuade one of their noble friends to pick up the bill.
I am a great supporter of the idea of having this terminus at King's Cross, despite anything that I may have said so far. Like the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, I have considerable worries and there are many, many questions still to be answered. But the basic idea that we need a connection between the North, the North West and the North East of England and the Channel Tunnel is the overriding consideration. The connections with Thameslink and the commuter traffic in London are an added attraction. But from a strategic national point of view the great importance of this Bill is that it provides that connection between what I regard as the heartland of the country, which is not the South East, but the provincial capitals whether they be in the North East, the North West or indeed where I now live in the South West, which has no connection at all with this Bill. Although there may be some slight 800 connections into Waterloo, sadly they are totally inadequate. However, that is a subject which I shall pursue on other occasions.
Like the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, I doubt whether the instruction of the noble Lord, Lord Rea, is necessary. The fact that he has brought it before us tonight is a very useful way of airing the question which the committee will have to consider on the basis of the view of the Select Committee of another place. I find the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, more difficult. I agree with many of the things that he had to say and even with those which were totally irrelevant to the Bill, which were many. I very strongly agree with him that this land should not be used for office development. If at all possible it should be used for the development of the community. That ties in again with what the noble Baroness, Lady Jeger, said about getting people with small businesses and housing back into these areas. However, I am not sure that his instruction actually takes us down that route or whether it is indeed proper for that instruction to be put to the Committee with the Bill as it stands at present.
§ Lord Sefton of Garston
My Lords, with all due respect, it has to be relevant. The whole purpose of my instruction was to bring something within the scope of the Bill which up to now has not been in it but which I consider to be extremely important from the viewpoint of planning railways. There is no other way. Unless my instruction is carried, it will not be possible for the Committee—unless we receive an assurance from the Minister that the Government will discuss the potential and the problems of land use as regards this Bill, when I shall withdraw my instruction—to consider that element.
§ Lord Tordoff
My Lords, I understand what the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, is saying and I agree with him but I am not sure that, even with this instruction, the committee can consider these matters. Basically, what I wish to say about the whole situation is that we have all been put into this unfortunate position by the insistence of the Government on not having a proper transport policy for this country. I would that it were possible for the instruction of the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, to force the Government into having such a transport strategy so that all these matters such as the Channel Tunnel, the high speed link and the freight links to the heartlands of this country might be pooled together in order to get goods into the markets of Europe. These provisions should be considered as a whole and not piecemeal as we are being forced to do by the Bill.
I am not critical of the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, because I am very much with him on this matter. However, I fear that the mechanism which he is trying to use will not work. Despite the fact that I support this Bill wholeheartedly, I see it as very much a part of a jigsaw puzzle where several of the pieces are missing. That is not the fault of British Rail but of the Government.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ Lord Underhill
My Lords, this Bill has been before Parliament since November 1988. It had its Second Reading with a majority vote of 211 to 41. Since then it has been debated many times in Parliament, not only at Second Reading but on the carry over Motion from one Session to another. The Bill spent 41 days in committee in the Commons. There were then two days of debate at Report stage. Having passed through all that debating on 28th January of this year we had Third Reading of the Bill which had a majority of no less than 165 votes to 5. Therefore, we quite definitely have the view of the Commons on this Bill.
Everything I say now will be said in a personal capacity because this is a private Bill and we never take a party view on such a Bill. Having said that, it is only fair to say that the Labour Party in the Commons decided to accept the principle of King's Cross as a terminus for the rail link to supplement Waterloo. The views that I express are my own personal views.
The noble Viscount explained to an excellent degree the purposes of the Bill. I believe that having listened to the noble Viscount no one can have any doubts on what the Bill is for and why King's Cross is being proposed. Perhaps I may add a few points on that. It was not until October of last year that the Government decided that the route to King's Cross should not be the southern route but the eastern route via Stratford. As I understand it, the project team is busy working on what will be the route link going through the eastern route to Stratford. I hope that it will not be very long before the project team decides on the route from Stratford to King's Cross because we cannot wait too long. I know it is a very big job because British Rail had been working on the southern route until the Government insisted that it should go via the eastern route.
We have had one or two ministerial statements. On 25th November 1991, Mr. Roger Freeman, the Minister for Public Transport, said:We have made it plain that we do not favour a high-speed rail link that terminates at Stratford. We want the link to run through Stratford … on to King's Cross."—[Official Report, Commons, 25/11/91; col. 704.]As recently as 28th January this year, the same Minister said:The Government support British Rail's plan to have the terminus of a high speed rail link at King's Cross … The Government also support the plans of London Underground to have extensive work carried out … to improve facilities there and to improve commuter services".—[Official Report, Commons, 28/1/92; col. 904.]It has been stressed by several of your Lordships that under the Bill King's Cross is to be integrated with St. Pancras. As has been said, the main reason for the King's Cross development is that King's Cross has mainline connections on existing lines to all parts of the country and can provide improvements for Network SouthEast. The noble Viscount, Lord Whitelaw, emphasised strongly that it is important that the international passengers who will use King's Cross will have to make only one change. Indeed, several people outside the House have also said that it is important to note that the King's Cross facility will mean a one-station only change. There is also the fact 802 that a vast number of London Underground routes and services either go through or terminate at King's Cross.
A point that has not been stressed sufficiently by noble Lords today is that the King's Cross project includes a low-level station. There has been some criticism of that, but without a low-level station it would not be possible to provide the longer platforms that are intended under the King's Cross project or to have additional platforms and longer coaches.
I am pleased that several noble Lords have stressed that this King's Cross Railways Bill will lead to important developments for the Thameslink service, which has had a remarkable—almost sensational—success since being reopened in 1988. As more than one noble Lord has emphasised, the project will provide a new station and additional platforms for Thameslink and will enable the present poorly sited and inadequate platforms to be replaced.
I believe that it was the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, who referred to the communications that have been received from the London Channel Tunnel Group urging that Stratford be the alternative terminus. It is only fair to say that I have received communications from the North West Channel Tunnel Group and from the North of England Consortium—no doubt other noble Lords have also received such communications—all of which have taken the opposite view that under no circumstances should there be any departure from the King's Cross project which has 99 connections to various parts of the country. The North of England Consortium has stressed that any change from King's Cross would reduce opportunities for passengers from the North and would adversely affect the economy of that region. That point should be borne in mind.
It has been suggested that the King's Cross project might go ahead without the low-level station, but I believe that without it, many of the benefits that would be derived from using King's Cross as the terminus would be removed.
Paragraph (a) of the Instruction that the noble Lord, Lord Rea, wishes to pass on to the Select Committee states that the Bill should not proceed unless the Committee is satisfied as to,the ability of the promoters to … complete the proposed works".That is an important point because, as a number of your Lordships have said, the report of the Commons committee identified a number of matters that had not been clarified but which it hoped this House would be able to consider. They included the cost and continued viability of the scheme, the timing, the road traffic in the area, and the environmental impact. We are entitled to know the actual cost. Reference has already been made to the fact that the cost has increased threefold since the Bill was first published, and is now estimated at ¡1.4 billion. We should have some confirmation that that is the present figure although it will undoubtedly increase as time goes by.
When the Department of Transport gave its consent for the Bill to be tabled in 1988, I understand that British Rail had to satisfy the department that the project would be viable. That was done, but what is 803 the position today? I know that we have had a statement, which I accept, from the noble Viscount, Lord Whitelaw, that he has had discussions with British Rail and that BR has assured him that the financial position was okay, but I think that the Minister should inform the House of the position.
British Rail has had to cut hack other schemes because of its financial position. There was the recent announcement of the cutting down of the lines on the rail link from the coast to Stratford. As recently as 15th May this year The Times carried a report questioning the viability of the King's Cross scheme and suggesting that the whole project was shrouded in uncertainty. What is the financial position?
We have had a couple of statements. On 25th November last year Mr. Gary Waller, who was promoting the Bill in another place, said that when the Bill received its Third Reading the King's Cross scheme would go ahead regardless of the timing of the rail link from the Channel Tunnel. He said that the King's Cross project stood independently as a valuable scheme. During the Third Reading debate on 28th January Mr. Roger Freeman said that,this is indeed a mammoth project, that the appraisals of such a project inevitably change over time as the project changes in costs and revenue. It is not possible to come to a firm conclusion about this project in financial terms at the moment".—[Official Report, Commons, 28/1/92; col. 905.]What does that mean? Does it mean that after spending hours debating the Bill here and in the Select Committee we shall be told by the Government that they cannot afford it and that they will not give permission for the money to be spent? We ought to know exactly what is proposed.
Paragraphs (c) and (d) of the desired Instruction of the noble Lord, Lord Rea, relate to the environmental impacts of the proposed works. I am certain that my noble friend Lord Howie had his tongue in his cheek a little when he asked what is the value of environmental assessments. If we say that they have no value at all, everything we have been saying about the need for an environmental assessment in connection with all transport schemes will have been a waste of time.
§ Lord Howie of Troon
My Lords, I do not recall saying that there was no value in them. If I did say that, I was raving, because there is value in them. I was saying that we should be cautious in over-emphasising their importance.
§ Lord Underhill
My Lords, that is of help up to a point. I was referring to the desired Instruction of the noble Lord, Lord Rea. It is an important Instruction, particularly with regard to paragraphs (c) and (d). They tie up with paragraph (e) relating to the problem of road congestion in the area arising from the project and also the severe disruption during the period of construction, which we are told will go on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for some seven years. The Select Committee will need to know what is proposed to ameliorate the situation for local residents. That is an important point. For that reason alone the desired Instruction should stand.
I support the general principle of the King's Cross project and hope that the Bill will be given its Second 804 Reading. If my noble friends insist on their Instructions I hope that the House will give them both passage. I can see no harm at all in the Select Committee being able to discuss the various points, which many noble Lords have said will come up in any case. I hope that we shall give the Bill a Second Reading and I hope that we shall also allow the two Instructions to go to the Select Committee.
Perhaps I may say a few words on the proposed development on the 120 acre site. It has been emphasised—I think it is correct—that this is completely independent of the King's Cross Station project. Perhaps we can have that confirmed. It must also be clear that, whether or not this development proceeds, there will be some effect on the viability of the station project. It was originally expected that the revenues from the development of the land would meet half the cost of the King's Cross Station project. If that is not to be done we want some assurance on the viability of the scheme. That is one point which should go to the Select Committee. There is not much good in our continuing if the Government rule at a later stage that the project is not viable and thereby refuse to give permission. As many noble Lords stressed, it is a most important scheme and one of national importance. I hope that we shall do everything that we possibly can to ensure that the Bill receives a Second Reading tonight and that it goes to the Select Committee. I trust that when it returns to us it will be in a good state, bearing in mind the points which the two Instructions ask the committee to consider.
§ 9.20 p.m.
The Earl of Caithness
My Lords, I should like to take this opportunity to thank my noble friend Lord Whitelaw for his opening remarks which set the scene for the debate very well. It is worth reminding ourselves of the purpose of the Bill. We have listened to the debate about the merits of committing the Bill to the Select Committee. My noble friend described the purposes and scope of the project. The Bill is required to empower British Rail both compulsorily to purchase land for the station and to construct on that land, without fear of claims for nuisance when operations start.
Your Lordships would not expect me to go into the detail of British Rail's proposals. That is rightly something for my noble friend Lord Whitelaw. He set out the proposals very clearly. However, a number of noble Lords have raised issues during the debate which relate to government responsibilities and it may be helpful if I say a few words on the Government's position. However, before I do so, I should like briefly to answer some of the questions raised.
The noble Lords, Lord Sefton and Lord Tordoff, mentioned the issue of the timing of the Hampstead Chord; that is, the link between King's Cross and the west coast main line. The powers are contained in the British Rail (No. 3) Act 1992. The funding is subject to the usual procedures relating to British Rail investment. The noble Baroness, Lady Jeger, asked 805 about the number of homes which may be taken. I see that the noble Lord, Lord Sefton of Garston, wishes to speak. I gladly give way.
The Earl of Caithness
My Lords, that is a question for British Rail. I was just explaining the current position.
As I said, the noble Baroness, Lady Jeger, raised the question of the number of homes that might be taken. Again, that is a question for British Rail. It will vary as British Rail's plans are defined. However, I can tell the noble Baroness that all those affected will be compensated under the Bill under statutory compensation measures. British Rail currently operates a voluntary purchase scheme to assist home owners who have to move because of the works proposed by the Bill. I should also like to stress to the noble Baroness the fact that one must differentiate between the works for the station and those on the land to the north of King's Cross, which are a separate matter.
The noble Baroness, Lady David, referred to Article 169 and the letter from the European Commission asking for work on a variety of projects, including the line at King's Cross, to be stopped. The letter was, of course, referring to concern about construction work damaging the environment before the difference of view between the United Kingdom and the Commission could be resolved. However, we are not at the construction phase; nor shall we be for some time yet. There is nothing in the Commission's letter to suggest that we should stop work on the Bill. The Government have recently provided additional information to the Commission. We are confident that this will satisfactorily answer the Commission's concern on this and, indeed, on other projects. Neither the Government nor British Rail has any wish to circumvent the Community's directive on environmental assessment which we fully accept.
The noble Baroness, Lady David, said that the station project, being the subject of national legislation, is exempted from the environmental assessment directive under Article 1(5). Of course, the noble Baroness is right but, nevertheless, the United Kingdom believes that the project is being correctly considered within the spirit of the directive. I cite the example that British Rail has voluntarily carried out an environmental assessment, recently revised, in accordance with the terms of the directive.
I now turn to the issues before the Government with regard to the Bill. There are two: the first is the question of the interest that the Government have as regards the financing of the station; and the second is the Department of Transport's role as highway authority in assessing the impact of the new station on traffic conditions on the roads at King's Cross. I shall deal first with the impact of traffic from the station on the roads at King's Cross.
I should like to clear up what appeared to me to be a misunderstanding. The noble Lord, Lord Sefton, and others of your Lordships who spoke appeared to believe that the redevelopment of the land to the north 806 of King's Cross was critical to the building of the station. That is not so. It is important that the viability of the station stands on its own without the redevelopment. Nevertheless, the department has been discussing traffic generation figures and possible road improvements with British Rail and the London Regeneration Consortium who are planning to develop the land to the north of King's Cross station. Agreement in principle has been reached on a road scheme to accommodate traffic generated by the developments. The department hopes shortly to draw up a sealed agreement with British Rail to the effect that the road scheme should be in place before the new station can come into operation. The noble Lord, Lord Sefton, will be pleased to know that we expect to cover this more fully in the department's report to the committee.
So far as the noble Lord's Instruction is concerned, I think that he appreciates that this covers matters beyond the scope of the Bill. I listened carefully, as did the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, to the noble Lord's arguments, but his arguments were really about the provision of the planning system as a whole. It is right, therefore, that under the present procedures the right to develop the land to the north of King's Cross should be considered by Camden Borough Council, which is the planning authority. The noble Lord's Instruction is therefore well wide of the scope of the Bill.
I turn now to the second of the two issues which I mentioned earlier; that is, the important question referred to by most of your Lordships—the financing of the station. It was in relation to financing that the noble Lord, Lord Rea, reminded us that the Select Committee in another place emphasised the importance of the House satisfying itself that the project is viable before giving its approval to the Bill. The noble Lord then admitted that this was his concern in that finance was behind paragraph (a) in his proposed Instruction.
It is only right for me to point out that the Government do not normally consider detailed financial appraisals of schemes before legislative authority has been given. The reason is that projects continue to develop—sometimes at the promoters hands and sometimes at the hands of Parliament, especially if any of the petitioners' arguments are accepted—and it is therefore not sensible to consider these aspects until the project's final shape is clear.
I know that there are many noble Lords present who would rightly question whether taxpayers' money was well spent in preparing and vetting a new financial appraisal each time an alteration to the project was made. Nevertheless, we do consider very seriously the concern that has been expressed about this project and therefore we have asked for, and have been looking at, updated financial information provided by British Rail. Although we are awaiting the outcome of further work, nothing we have seen so far causes us to query BR's judgment that the station works should meet our normal investment criteria. As I said to the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, a moment earlier, we hope to be able to comment in more detail during the later stages of the Bill.
807 Your Lordships will appreciate that, at this moment, we are not in a position to say categorically whether the Government will, or will not, give financial approval to the station, or whether BR will be in a position to go ahead with the project immediately upon Royal Assent. This is, first, because we have not, as I have just said, seen the financial case for the station and, secondly, because BR will need to consider its own financial position at the time, which will in turn depend on the amount of moneys it would need to find each year of the project's construction and an assessment of its funding priorities. None of this can be judged in advance.
Another point raised which I should touch upon is the noble Lord, Lord Rea's Instruction. It does seem to be well within the scope of the Bill, but it also appears that everything to which the noble Lord seeks to draw the committee's attention is subject to the petitions received for consideration by the committee. Therefore, the House would be in a position to decide whether it wants to use, in the words of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, "belt and braces" in this instance. It is not a matter on which the House normally insists. If there are 159 petitions it appears that the committee has quite a lot of work of its own already without further duplication.
As I have said, there is nothing in the Bill which causes the Government to believe that the work should not proceed. Given the lengthy passage the Bill has had to reach this stage, it is only fair to allow it to continue on its way and to let outstanding matters of detail he considered by the Select Committee in the usual way. What impressed me, as I listened to the debate, was the wide support expressed for King's Cross to go ahead and for King's Cross to be the main terminus. I hope that the House will now give the Bill a Second Reading.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Viscount Whitelaw
My Lords, I do not have much to say about the generality of the Bill, its Second Reading, or many of the excellent speeches. I shall concentrate on the Instructions where there is obviously a division of opinion in the House. I shall confine myself to saying that I am grateful for the support given to the principle of the Bill from all sides of the House, and for the many excellent speeches made about it. I greatly enjoyed what the noble Lord, Lord Sefton, said. It reminded me of my rages, arguments and miseries with planners of all kinds during a long political career. I could not agree with him more. If he had been Home Secretary, as I was, and had had to deal with local authority planners over prisons, he would have learnt a very harsh lesson—that one should get as far away from local authority planning as one possibly can. When I heard him I thought, well, there we are, we are back again. He then said that he was strongly in favour of the Bill, and I was delighted to hear him say that.
It is being said that the Instruction tabled by the noble Lord is outside the scope of the Bill. I am always cautious about arguing what is inside or outside the scope of a Bill because one can always argue, as I have found on many occasions in the House, both ways.
808 Everything to do with planning—local authority planning and the Secretary of State for the Environment calling in the planning permission —is at the heart of the Bill. I do not believe that the Instruction is at the heart of the Bill, and I believe that the noble Lord accepts that. He has had a very good innings. I thoroughly enjoyed his speech, as did everyone else. I hope that he will therefore feel that it would not be reasonable to press his Instruction.
The more difficult decision the House has to make relates to the Instruction of the noble Lord, Lord Rea. It is true, as my noble friend the Minister said, that many of the paragraphs, particularly (b) to (e), in his Instruction relate to detailed matters which are contained in many of the petitions which the committee will consider.
The question then arises as to whether the House wishes to underline the Instruction and give a clear indication to the committee of what it expects. I question whether that is necessarily the wisest course. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, was Clerk to the House when I was first Leader of it. I learnt then to pay great attention to what he said. He said something which I thought was wise, and I hope that he will not mind if I quote it. He said that it would be much better if we proceeded by agreement without a Division, because on the whole everyone wants the committee to perform the task that is clearly set out in the Instruction. Is it not much better to do it that way when we are all on the same side?
Clear views have been expressed from all sides of the House. There are some noble Lords who wish to include the Instruction and some who do not and who would vote against it. Having considered all that has been said, is it unreasonable of me to suggest that the best way forward would be for us all to be on the same side so that the Instructions would not then be moved? We can then proceed with the Bill and trust that the committee will consider these matters. After all, the committee will have read the debate and will understand the mood of the House. The noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, who is chairman of the committee, has been here and has heard the debate. I feel that the Bill will be stronger if we do it that way than if it goes to a Division at this moment.
Therefore, I commend the Bill to your Lordships. When the Motion has been put and decided, as I know it must be, I hope that there will not be Divisions on the Instructions. I hope that the mood of the House will be strongly conveyed to the committee when it deals with the Bill.
On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Select Committee.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ Lord Rea
My Lords, I believe it is right, before deciding whether or not to move my Instruction, to state that its purpose is to act as a guide to the Select Committee. It mentions points which the committee discussing the Bill in another place felt were in need of further elucidation. That was because the information was not available to it at the time.
As the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, pointed out, the Instruction is not mandatory but permissive. It is 809 a procedural point of some finesse that the Instruction does not go outside the territory which the Select Committee would cover in any case. It merely emphasises the requests made by the committee in another place. I suggest that the other place might reasonably expect your Lordships' Select Committee to respond to the points mentioned. My Instruction would ensure that such a response is produced. It is rare for another place to ask for your Lordships' assistance in this way. I feel that my Instruction is a proper response to that request.
I beg to move, That it be an Instruction to the Select Committee to whom the Bill is committed that they shall not allow the Bill to proceed unless they are satisfied that proper provision has been made as to—
- (a) the ability of the promoters to undertake and complete the proposed works having particular regard to the Channel Tunnel rail link, Thameslink and proposed developments of the King's Cross railway lands;
- (b) the promoters' proposals as to station location and the extent to which land acquisition can be further limited;
- (c) the environmental impacts of the proposed works;
- (d) means by which short term environmental effects of the proposed works can be regulated and mitigated; and
- (e) the impact of the proposals on road traffic and whether measures have been identified that will provide a satisfactory solution.
§ 9.37 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Motion shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 16; Not-Contents, 28.
|Division No. 1|
|Adrian, L.||Monkswell, L.|
|Carter, L.||Monson, L.|
|David, B. [Teller.]||Rea, L. [Teller.]|
|Gallacher, L.||Seear, B.|
|Hamwee, B.||Sefton of Garston, L.|
|Henderson of Brompton, L.||Tordoff, L.|
|Jeger, B.||Underhill, L.|
|McNair, L.||Winchilsea and Nottingham, E|
|Aldington, L.||Mackay of Clashfern, L.|
|Borthwick, L.||Mashara of Ilton, B.|
|Caithness, E.||Mountevans, L. [Teller.]|
|Cochrane of Cults, L.||Renton, L.|
|Eccles of Moulton, B.||St. Davids, V.|
|Gardner of Parkes, B.||Seccombe, B.|
|Glenarthur, L. [Teller.]||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Goschen, V.||Strathmore and Kinghorne, E.|
|Haslam, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Hesketh, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Howie of Troon, L.||Ullswater, V.|
|Lindsay, E.||Wakeham, L.|
|Long, V.||Wharton, B.|
|McColl of Dulwich, L.||Whitelaw, V.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and Motion disagreed to accordingly.810
§ 9.46 p.m.
§ Lord Sefton of Garston rose to move, That it be an Instruction to the Select Committee to whom the Bill is committed that they satisfy themselves that the promoters have taken properly into account the proposed redevelopment of the underused railway lands to the north of King's Cross station, given the importance of a local and national land use strategy.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I wish to move the Instruction standing in my name on the Order Paper. Perhaps I may say first that I am extremely sorry that I cannot respond to the appeal made by the noble Viscount. He is such a wonderful man that one hesitates to take issue with him.
§ I should like to correct something which the noble Viscount seemed to say—namely, that I was bothered about the effects of local government planning. None of my speech, as will be seen from Hansard, related to that point. In my speech—and it is not the first that I have made on the subject—I was concerned about the lack of government planning. I was concerned not about government planning but about the lack of it.
§ The issue is plain. The previous Instruction sought merely to ensure, in a belt and braces fashion, that certain matters should be considered. This one does not, because it concerns something which is not in the Bill. I am perfectly in order to move the Instruction. I have checked that. I want the Committee to consider the railway lands. That need not hold up the work on the railways at King's Cross. It would be permissible for the committee to produce an interim report to this Chamber on all the railway works and then make a subsequent report on the railway lands. That would not lead to any delay.
§ I have been told repeatedly that what I am saying is outside the scope of the Bill. (I shall not take longer than three minutes.) Of course it is outside the scope of the Bill. That is my point. The noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, hit the nail on the head when he said that the problem with this country today is that we do not see matters as a whole, we see little pieces of the jigsaw. This Motion should be portrayed as an attempt to get people to understand that principle and to place it on record for the future. The consequences of letting private enterprise rip places open are now becoming apparent in Canary Wharf, Salford Quays and other developments. We must register our belief that the whole scheme, including the railway land, should in some way or other be considered when the Bill is considered. If we can only place that on record, I shall be perfectly satisfied, and I am sure that it will be a stake for the future proper government of this land rather than what we are going through now. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That it be an Instruction to the Select Committee to whom the Bill is committed that they satisfy themselves that the promoters have taken properly into account the proposed redevelopment of the underused railway lands to the north of King's Cross station, given the importance of a local and national land use strategy.—(Lord Sefton of Garston.)811
§ 9.50 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the Motion shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 8; Not-Contents, 30.812
|Division No. 2|
|Adrian, L.||Monkswell, L. [Teller.]|
|Carter, L.||Rea, L.|
|David, B.||Sefton of Garston, L. [Teller.]|
|Jeger, B.||Underhill, L.|
|Aldington, L.||Gardner of Parkes, B.|
|Borthwick, L.||Glenarthur, L. [Teller.]|
|Caithness, E.||Goschen, V.|
|Cochrane of Cults, L.||Haslam, L.|
|Darcy (de Knayth), B.||Henderson of Brompton, L.|
|Eccles of Moulton, B.||Hesketh, L.|
|Howie of Troon, L.||Seccombe, B.|
|Lindsay, E.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Long, V.||Strathmore and Kinghorne, E|
|McColl of Dulwich, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Mackay of Clashfern, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Masham of Ilton, B.||Ullswater, V.|
|Mountevans, L. [Teller.]||Wakeham, L.|
|Renton, L.||Wharton, B.|
|St. Davids, V.||Whitelaw, V.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and Motion disagreed to accordingly.