§ 11.33 a.m.
§ Lord Merlyn-Rees
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.
This is a Bill promoted by the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and the Leeds City Council. Perhaps I may say at the outset that I am moved by the large attendance in the Chamber this morning. When I introduced the Bill in another place only two people were present. I can only assume that there is a vast interest in the Leeds supertram and the City of Leeds, which shows the great wisdom of this House.
If anyone would like a conducted tour of Hunslet and Middleton, I shall gladly arrange it. The noble Lord, Lord Teviot, did the same yesterday and had a good look at the site. That showed great perspicacity because it is a remarkable area, which sustained me in Parliament for 30 years. The fact that one ward voted 93 per cent. and the other ward voted 90 per cent. for me has nothing to do with my interest. The fact that a school has been named after me in that inner city area also has nothing—well, perhaps it does have something—to do with my interest. The fact that that school is not new and deficient in many respects is perhaps irrelevant. I think it was Pope who believed it better to have an acre in Middlesex than a principality in Utopia. I believe it is better to have half an acre in Hunslet and Belle Isle than a large edifice alongside the Thames or in Berkshire. Leeds matters a great deal to me and I know a great many of the people there.
When the tramway is built—I hope it will be done very quickly—it will be of great advantage to the inner city area where over the past 20 years the greater part of the population has disappeared, I am glad to say. People have moved because of clearance. What is left—the process has been hastened in the past 10 years by the de-industrialisation of Great Britain—needs great attention and the new tramway will play a great part in that. It will be of advantage to the people of Morley, which was at one time in the West Riding, when it goes out to a place called Tingley just off the M.62. It will be advantageous to the people of Leeds as a whole 1013 because it is the intention to have a spur in Hunslet which goes out to the M.1. It is intended to build a large car park so that people coming into Leeds will be able to park their cars, leave them and get on the super tramway which will take them into the middle of Leeds. The intention behind the idea of the supertram is to benefit the people of Leeds as a whole. Leeds is a modern and modernising city. Anything that can be done to help in that respect is important.
I should add that just south of the River Aire, which was once a polluted river and still is to some degree but which is greatly improving, is an important area. The Royal Armouries are moving out a substantial part of their stock from the Tower of London. There is to be an Armoury in Clarence Dock. In the course of time, developments alongside the river, aided by the tramway, will be to the advantage of the city of Leeds as it ceases to be an industrial city and becomes more of a commercial city, attracting people into the middle of the city to enjoy themselves, particularly at the weekend. I hope that the view of your Lordships' House will be favourable and that the Bill will be sent to Committee.
I express the hope that some of the statutory undertakings which have objected—they have done so for very good reasons—will withdraw their objections. They have already been withdrawn in another place but for other reasons. I understand the legal side of the argument. I hope that some of the great undertakings which have their buildings in that part of Leeds in Hunslet will remember that those who occupy and run those buildings do not live in Hunslet and South Leeds. They live in salubrious areas elsewhere. I hope that those undertakings will do nothing to hold up the Bill. The people who live in that precise area—or who lived there and who now live nearby—do not have the push or pull of the large institutions. I hope that they will co-operate in the future.
I have with me a list of the objections. Only in one respect do I feel that with a bit of a push from this House the objectors could be moved more quickly and aid the passage of the Bill. As I said, the tramway will come from Tingley by the M.62 into Hunslet through Middleton, which encompasses a vast council estate built in the 1920s and 1930s. It is one of the original council estates, which means that it has problems. It has the lowest car ownership rate in the City of Leeds and the people there have the lowest incomes. The only time anyone is interested in those areas, even in Leeds itself, is at general election time when prominent politicians go there and have photographs of themselves taken astride a dump heap which was once a factory. Then they say, "Inner cities matter to us". At general election times they matter to them, but they do not matter very much to them afterwards.
The tramway will play a part in dealing with those problems, but they will not be the only reason for the tramway by a long chalk. There is one part of the area which concerns me particularly. It is called the Westbury's. I hope that in Committee that area will be looked at. The Passenger Transport Executive and the Leeds City Council have been very helpful. The people there suffered in the past when the M.1 came into 1014 Leeds and the area was cut off like an island. No longer could people go to the shops or their children attend their schools without going over a narrow bridge crossing the M.1. Nobody bothered about those people. If that had been North Leeds, Hampshire or Hampstead, that would not have happened. It happened there. The people in the Westbury's, most of whom are friends of mine, have been concerned about their position in relation to the tramway.
I want to raise one issue in which I believe the Government have to be involved, let alone the Passenger Transport Executive and the Leeds City Council. Those bodies were anxious about their position. They were worried that the tramway would make their position worse. They argued that the tramway should be located on the other side of the Wakefield Road and that their amenity value was threatened.
A Department of Trade witness explained that the issue of whether to cross the sliproad at grade or to go beneath the road under the motorway bridge on virtually the same alignment was a matter for Ministers and not for the committee. I hope that the matter will be considered. It is a matter for Ministers and not for the committee. The committee will not be able to do anything about it, and I hope that by the time we return to your Lordships' Chamber the Government will have formed a view.
The committee in another place decided to allow the tramway to pass between the Westbury's and the Wakefield Road but applied conditions—and that is excellent. The conditions were that the alignment should be moved further away from the houses and that the track and vehicles should be screened by mounds and vegetation. That was to apply whether the track crossed the sliproad at grade or went beneath it. I hope that that matter will be considered by the Government, though not this morning. It is esoteric to some degree, but not to the people who live in the area and expect people like myself—particularly in the past—to do something to help them.
The Explanatory Memorandum at the front of the Bill contains a short explanation of each clause. I wish to refer to two. Clause 18 provides that the Secretary of State may, by order made by statutory instrument, authorise the executive to build the railway so that the supertram vehicles run on ordinary road wheels and are guided by a single slot or cable in the road. This is to enable alternative guidance systems to be used as technology develops.
Clause 7(2) would enable the Secretary of State to give consent to the executive constructing certain lengths of the railway works in accordance with dimensions and descriptions different from those shown on the deposited plans and set out in the Bill. This is to enable adjustments to be made to the intended route where it may be affected by redevelopment proposals for land on or near which the supertram is to pass, such as those for the Royal Armouries —it is exciting that the Royal Armouries are moving to inner city Leeds; that really is 1015 something—so that, within the constraints of the limits of deviation provided in the deposited plans, supertram can fit in with such proposals.
There remain outstanding the petitions of certain public utility companies and it is to one aspect of that that I wish to refer. I understand that it will be of interest to the noble Lord, Lord Morris, who I am glad is speaking today although his name is not on the list. That is not his fault and I understand that he has an interest in the matter.
It has long been established that, where the diversion of public utilities' apparatus in streets is required to facilitate roadworks or other works in streets, the person who is responsible—in this instance, the Passenger Transport Executive—for the works should bear the cost of the diversion of apparatus, subject to rebate for betterment where old apparatus is replaced by new apparatus or other improvements result for the benefit of the public utilities.
That was considered by the Horne Committee, which I believe is the point in which the noble Lord is interested. It recommended the substitution of provision whereby the person responsible for the works in question should bear all the cost of the civil engineering works required for the diversion of the apparatus, such as the excavation of trenches, but the public utilities should bear the cost of installing their diverted apparatus.
The recommendation of the Horne Committee has, however, been varied in regulations made under Part III of the New Roads and Street Works Act which makes provision whereby the person carrying out the works bears 82 per cent.—a strange figure—of the cost of the diversion of apparatus, including any necessary civil engineering works, and the remaining 18 per cent. is borne by the utilities concerned, subject again to something about which I know precious little called betterment.
This sharing of costs is now prescribed in the Street Works (Sharing of Costs of Works) Regulations 1992 which came into force on 1st January 1993. The Minister announced his intention of reviewing those regulations. That is an attractive trait in the Government. It only became law on 1st January 1993 and they are re-doing it. Fair do's if that is the case. But the promoters of the Bill will be bound by whatever is the outcome of the further deliberations. I hope that there will be no proposal for an amendment of our Bill because, on behalf of the promoters, I repeat again that they will carry out whatever is the result of the re-evaluation of the legislation, which is only a matter of a few months old.
I hope that the Bill will go to Committee. I am glad to see the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ripon present. His churches are in Hunslet and Middleton but not in Morley, which comes under the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Wakefield. I hope that the Church does not have a boundary commission system. I say that because that may make the usual mess of things that it makes in the parliamentary system. However, there is a curious divide. The greater part of the tramway will be in the area of the right reverend Prelate.
1016 I should like to make one point that I should perhaps have made earlier in my 30 years in that area. The works of the Churches—Nonconformist, Catholic and established Church —has been tremendous. I am not suggesting that the tramway will have any great effect on that work, except that it may take people to church quicker on a Sunday. I know that we shall have the support of the right reverend Prelate.
§ Lord Harmar-Nicholls
My Lords, perhaps I may intervene before the noble Lord sits down. Am I to understand from his speech that he launched this Bill in the other place and is now launching the same Bill on its journey to the statute book in this House? If that is so, is not that unique? It sets a precedent and justifies some of us wishing him well with the Bill.
§ Lord Merlyn-Rees
My Lords, I am extremely grateful to the noble Lord, who is an old friend of mine. We have buttered each other up over the years on many an occasion. I am quite happy to be unique. I thought it was unique that the Bill was coming here when it had been looked at in the other place and was going to be looked at again. Apparently that is not unique. That I have moved it is unique and I gladly accept the adjective. I commend the Bill to the House.
Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time. —(Lord Merlyn-Rees.)
§ 11.47 a.m.
§ Lord Teviot
My Lords, I, too, heartily support the Bill. Traffic congestion is an everyday feature of people's lives—too much so. It adds to their journey time and to the cost of goods we buy. It is predicted to get worse as car ownership and use increases faster than roads are built and modernised. People need to travel but in doing so they add to congestion and cars produce more pollution than public transport, particularly in cities. Much more emphasis needs to be given to public transport.
In North America—the home of the freeway—several cities recently opened new light rapid transit systems to combat congestion and atmospheric pollution. They also recognise that if people cannot reach central areas easily, the health of those centres will decline. In Europe most major cities, unlike those in Great Britain, kept their trams and have regularly upgraded them. Several, such as Grenoble, Toulouse and Lausanne, have opened new systems. Those examples now range from segregated automated systems to street tramways.
Use of public transport has declined more severely in Britain than in most other European countries, for reasons I shall not go into. While commuter rail networks have held on and in some cases expanded their market, road-based systems such as buses have suffered major losses of patronage. People need to be provided with an attractive alternative to the private car, and if they are they will use it.
Experience with Britain's first modern system bears that out. The Manchester Metro link, of which I have personal experience, now carries more passengers than were ever predicted, even though bus companies are competing hard for passengers. It is predicted to make 1017 a significant profit on its operation. So far the only other scheme to obtain funding is in Sheffield, where operation is scheduled to start later this year.
As the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, said, I had the pleasure of visiting Leeds only yesterday to view the proposed route of the system. Leeds City Council and the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive examined many alternatives for transport in Leeds and in 1991 published a transport strategy. It included light rapid transit lines on some corridors not served by railways, which are a key part of the strategy. Another key part is Britain's first guided bus scheme on Scott Hall Road, Leeds, which was recently approved by the Secretary of State for Transport. The line will serve south Leeds, which is being regenerated with assistance from Leeds Development Corporation and Leeds City Council.
A key feature will be the relocation of the Royal Armouries Museum to Clarence Dock where it will be served by the new system. In addition, a major park and ride site alongside the M.1 at Stourton is another feature of the scheme. The line is the first part of a small network of lines which, together with other measures in the transport strategy, will help to rejuvenate the inner city and Leeds city centre. Work has already started on other related projects such as the city centre loop, which will remove traffic from the heart of the central area, and the upgrading of the pedestrian areas in the shopping centre.
I once again express my support for the Leeds Supertram Bill and hope that it will obtain the necessary powers in your Lordships' House to enable it to be built. It will modernise public transport in what I found yesterday to be a thriving and bustling city of Leeds and will be a vital part of the city's development process.
§ 11.52 a.m.
§ The Lord Bishop of Ripon
My Lords, I should like to support the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, in commending the Bill to your Lordships. I speak as one who regularly works in the centre of Leeds and who has to drive frequently through it. I know well the neighbourhoods of Hunslet, Belle Isle and Middleton, although, of course, not nearly as well as the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, who served the neighbourhood with such distinction as its Member of Parliament for so many years.
Let me reassure the noble Lord that I am entirely aware of the existence of the boundary and of the fact that the line will press beyond my own boundary into the diocese of Wakefield. However, the vicar of Morley, who has recently been appointed, is a former member of my clergy, and I am sure that any boundary problems can be easily taken care of.
I am aware of the need for an overall strategy for Leeds which will enable it to continue its economic development, which is so marked a feature of its life at the moment, and which will include provision for meeting its transport needs. Leeds is a developing city, providing a range of services unrivalled in the North of England. Indeed, in some regards Leeds is bidding to be the second city in England after London. The 1018 huge National Health Service building on the old Quarry Bank site is one example only of the development which is drawing large numbers of people to work in the centre of Leeds.
Consultations with the people of Leeds have identified as their priorities the improvement of public transport, the improvement of road safety and the reduction of the impact of transport on the environment. Those priorities will be met by the provision of a light railway or supertram system which the Bill authorises. The Leeds supertram will provide a quality of service which is not available with conventional buses. By attracting some people out of cars it will reduce the number of other vehicles. It will help to ease and calm the flow of traffic, which in its turn will reduce the number of accidents.
Light railway systems are energy efficient and low polluting and they provide a high quality transport system. Their flexibility makes the service convenient to the public. There is one other feature which I find of particular interest. The modern supertram vehicles will have level boarding access which will enable those in wheelchairs to make easy use of them. For those of us who are concerned about those with disabilities, that is an important feature of the provision.
The Bill provides for an initial line from Leeds city centre to Hunslet, Belle Isle and Middleton. The line will, I hope, be the first of a number of lines which will in due course make good provision for access throughout Leeds, particularly to its city centre. I have no hesitation in commending it to your Lordships.
§ 11.56 a.m.
My Lords, I am sure that I am not alone in being grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, for so eloquently moving the Second Reading of the Bill. I am particularly grateful to him, not least in the saving of considerable expense, for his delightful tour around Leeds. I should like also to make it absolutely clear at the start that I most heartily support the Bill not only because I like Leeds but because I also like trams.
The great town and city planner that I am, I am certain from my experience—one has only to look at The Hague—to see that a good many of the conurbations in the United Kingdom made a great mistake in removing their tram systems when they could have modernised them. What is proposed is a splendid idea. I feel very strongly, however, that the noble Lord was a little unfair in his suggestion regarding the 13 separate interests which have petitioned against the Bill. It is worth remembering that the Bill is going to an Opposed Bill Committee. Those interests do not petition against it lightly. They are not trying to hold it up just to irritate the promoters. No one likes dancing with lawyers, not because lawyers are unattractive or tread on people's toes—indeed they are nothing other than elegant —but because it is an extremely expensive pastime. It is not the role of promoters in Private Bill procedures through Parliament to take unto themselves powers that, either wittingly or unwittingly, ride roughshod 1019 over existing interests. It is for that reason that I put down my name to speak on the Second Reading of the Bill.
It is absolutely essential that the Select Committee considers with very great care those aspects of the Bill which, putting it rather strongly, ride roughshod over certain interests and put them to considerable and unnecessary expense. I say "unnecessary" for this reason. It is a duty at least in equity for promoters of private legislation to consult with great care all those who are affected or might be affected by the legislation and, in so far as they can, to draft it in such a way that any wrong that is done to those interests can be dealt with before the Bill is heard in Parliament. The extent to which that has not happened, and is not reflected in the Bill, is shown by the fact that there are 13 considerable petitioners against the Bill. I might add that they are against the Bill in its detail and not in its substance. That is what the procedure is for.
I am sad that the promoters in their drafting of the Bill did not take more care over alleviating the fears of the petitioners. Four major concerns have yet to be addressed by the promoters. These relate to stray currents, insufficient space within the street to accommodate their apparatus and the supertram, the sterilisation of streets precluding the expansion of telecommunications operators' networks, and the concern that such telecommunications operators will not be properly indemnified against the cost and expense of their being forced to remove and replace their apparatus as a result of the proposed works.
The promoters accept that stray currents arising from the electrical functioning of the supertram may have an adverse effect on the existing apparatus. They have put forward suggestions. Those suggestions have not yet been accepted and there are other various outstanding issues. Indeed, the telecommunications operators are yet to be satisfied that they will be able to re-lay their apparatus and cables in the streets in which the supertram is destined to run. As a result, they are worried that they may not be able to obtain immediate access to their apparatus where the cables run close to the supertram track. They also fear that it may be impossible to service their customers.
Those matters have to be considered. Whether the promoters can give undertakings in Committee which have the same effect in law as undertakings given in the House as a whole, I am not sure. But any relief that the petitioners can get should be given.
I am deeply perturbed that the telecommunications operators will be forced to pay 18 per cent. of the cost of relocating their apparatus in the streets which are used by the supertram. That point was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees. But he failed to make one important point. If I remember rightly, the legislation which was passed by your Lordships and another place was to protect the interests of the highways and not necessarily a transport system. That is a major point. I believe that the telecommunications operators should not have to pay any part of the cost to which they are put by the Leeds supertram, not least because Leeds City Council authorised the telecommunications operators to place their apparatus in those streets in the recent past. As the council is one of 1020 the promoters of the Bill, that proposal seems bizarre, to put it mildly. It is wrong that the Bill should empower the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, in conjunction with Leeds City Council, to put telecommunications operators to any expense in that way. The figures could be considerable.
Until the coming into force of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991, the statutory undertakers, as they are rather charmingly called nowadays, rather than "public utilities", received full reimbursement of their costs in diverting their apparatus. The new street works Act provides that the cost of street works should be shared between the highway authority and the public utilities on the basis that the highway authority has produced at no cost to the public utilities a common route—that is to say, a street—through which it is convenient for the statutory undertakers or the public utilities to run their water, electricity and gas apparatus.
In July last year regulations were laid providing that the proportion of the cost should be divided as to 82 per cent. payable by the highway authority and 18 per cent. by the public utilities, as pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees. However, because of the way the regulations are worded, that benefits the promoters of transport schemes such as Leeds supertram as well as the highway authorities. In my view that was not the intention of the original legislation and should not accrue as a result of this piece of private legislation. I accept the proposed contribution arrangements benefiting highway authorities, but I do not accept that the arrangements envisaged in relation to highway authority work are appropriate to transport works. Bodies such as the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive have not borne any of the cost of establishing the route and the rationale of cross-sharing does not apply to them. It is indefensible that they should benefit gratuitously, so to speak, from the legislation. Although the Government are at present consulting highway authorities, transport authorities and the public utilities in relation to the regulations, it is my belief that the promoters of the Bill should not benefit from what is in effect a windfall. We are talking about considerable cost.
Another matter I wish to raise causes me considerable concern. It is a clause in the Bill which gives the promoters considerable power. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, will be able to say in his winding-up speech that the promoters have absolutely no intention whatever of using the power that they have by virtue of Clause 66 of the Bill.
I have tried very hard to read the provision in any other way. Within the Bill the promoters have the power to charge anybody—certainly the statutory undertakers—for the use of their conduits and routes along the course of the tramway. Clause 66 clearly states:The Executive may demand, take and recover such charges for the use of the tramway system and any services and facilities provided in connection therewith, and may make such use subject to such terms and conditions, as they think fit".It would be of great comfort to the petitioners against the Bill if an undertaking were given that the 1021 promoters of the Bill have no intention of raising ancillary charges by virtue of the power given in that clause. I shall be very grateful if the Committee will look to that point.
I have spoken quite long enough. I reiterate my gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, for his presentation of the Bill.
§ 12.6 p.m.
§ Lord Skelmersdale
My Lords, I had not intended to intervene in this debate because it is self-evident that this is exactly the kind of project which should be allowed to go ahead in the straitened economic circumstances in which we find ourselves, not only in the North of England but in the South and other parts of the United Kingdom. I should not like it to go unrecorded that I support the views of my noble friend Lord Morris. He and I both heard the remarks about the olive branch on the streetworks legislation which the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, proffered in his opening remarks.
The Street Works (Sharing of Costs of Works) Regulations 1992 are, as we have heard, under review already by the Department of Transport. Should those change, we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, that he will ensure that the promoters take account of such changes as might occur. There is a matter of timing in all this. I do not know how long this Bill will take to go through your Lordships' House, but clearly it may well be that the department will take rather longer to make up its mind. Therefore, I suggest that the Committee considers most seriously whether an amendment to take account of the olive branch proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, would be appropriate in these particular and peculiar circumstances.
§ 12.8 p.m.
§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove
My Lords, the House will notice that it was my noble friend Lord Clinton-Davis, who should have been speaking at this stage. He has asked me to speak in his place. This has been a most interesting debate so far. Almost all the people who have spoken have intimate local knowledge of the area. It is a long time since I was in Leeds. I used to know it reasonably well. The one memory I have is of lines of shelters where the trams used to line up. One wonders what happened to them.
It has been said by other noble Lords that we were perhaps hasty in getting rid of the tramcars. The real facts were that many of our cities expanded rather quickly. The bus proved to be much more flexible than the tramcar in getting to new areas. Therefore, the passenger bus took over and the tramways gradually died. I come from a city which was probably pre-eminently the tramcar city of the world. I remember very well when, as a schoolboy, one could travel 23.5 miles for an old penny during July and August. I believe that even much later adults were charged 2.5 old pence for a similar journey. So we had a very extensive tramway system. It has all gone now. I hope that with the extension of the railways, using the old railway network in my city, and perhaps the 1022 judicious use of a guided system or a modern tramway system, one will be able to get some of that facility back.
There is a certain nostalgia about trams. I am sure that noble Lords will remember that one of the difficulties associated with them was that when a tram broke down on a high street the hold-up went on for miles, whereas a bus could be pushed away. Such things are more difficult with trams. However, those are problems which the Committee can consider, and many of the speeches which have been made this morning have provided a great deal of substance on which the Committee can hang its questions. I was interested in one of the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Morris, who said that there were about 30 petitions—mainly of detail, not of substance. But one can also kill a Bill in that way if one really wants to.
I hope that the Bill will receive its Second Reading from the House with good will because if the Leeds tram becomes a reality—and, as has already been mentioned, there is also the question of the Manchester metro and a possibility of Sheffield having something similar—we could have the transport system in our big conurbations for which people are now desperately looking. If we are to have civilised cities, we must have better public transport. Obviously, London Underground needs a great deal of money spent on it. Although an underground system may be out of the question for other cities, the tramcar, or some sort of guided form of locomotion, is the right way to go about things.
When the House considers Private Bills, speeches are normally short and major speeches are left for Third Reading when the Committee will have considered the Bill. Although I am passionately interested in the future of the tramcar, I do not intend to speak at great length today. I want the Bill to progress. I do not know who will serve on the Committee, but I hope that they will be able to go into all the points raised this morning. As I said, I believe that the Committee has been given a great deal of guidance this morning by noble Lords who know what they are talking about and who have some experience of the subject. As the Committee will then return the Bill to the House, at this stage I simply wish the Bill "God speed" and hope that we shall get a new transport system for some of our cities.
§ 12.12 p.m.
§ Viscount Goschen
My Lords, it may be helpful if at this point I gave the House the Government's view on this Bill. We have considered the proposals in the Bill and are broadly content with its purpose. After very careful consideration, the Department of Transport is now content with the principle of a tramway crossing a motorway sliproad by means of an at-grade crossing. I should add that the tram could pass under the junction by a tunnel, albeit at considerable extra expense. The Department of the Environment is also negotiating with the promoters of the Bill on certain matters to protect its interests, but as I have said we are broadly content with the proposals in this Bill.
The Committee is the proper place to consider matters of detail and to hear expert evidence on them. 1023 I hope therefore that the Bill will be given a Second Reading and will be allowed to proceed in the usual way to Committee for this detailed consideration.
§ Lord Merlyn-Rees
My Lords, I am grateful for the general tone of the discussion and for the Minister saying that the department is content with the principle of the Bill. I hope that the views of my noble friend Lord Carmichael about letting the Bill proceed to Committee will prevail.
I must apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Morris, for leaving the Chamber at one point during his speech, but it was for very necessary reasons relating to a technical part of the Bill. Perhaps I may repeat what I said earlier, that we shall abide by the result of the review that is being led by the Government.
I have had another look at Clause 66. I understand that its wording is standard. When it states,The Executive may demand, take and recover … charges",it is referring to the tram fares. They will not excite many Members of your Lordships' House; they will excite people living in Hunslet and Middleton more than anywhere else. Of course, that matter will be looked at carefully in Committee, but I understand that Clause 66 is a standard clause.
I should have given one piece of information earlier. I am referring to some research which I knew about vaguely but which has now been pointed out to me clearly. The first railway legislation that went through Parliament related to this part of Leeds and was passed in 1757 when Mr. Charles Brandling wanted to carry coal from the Middleton Broom Colliery, which has shut down within the past 20 years. That Bill was passed in 1757, so the Leeds Supertram Bill is not the first tram Bill. Indeed, we cannot go on being the first (as Leeds usually is) but, second or third though we are, I hope that the House will give the Bill its Second Reading.
On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Select Committee.