§ 27. Mr. Wilkinson
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will announce the initiation of the public-private partnership for the London underground within two months. 
§ Mr. Burstow
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he expects to conclude the public-private partnership arrangements for the London underground. 
§ Mr. Hill
My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister announced last month that he had agreed to work together with the Commissioner of Transport for London, Bob Kiley, and with London Underground, on developing mutually acceptable modifications to the public-private partnership. Mr. Kiley has said in discussions with the Government that he seeks the unified management control of key Underground operations, mainly through keeping the maintenance of track and signalling within London Underground. The 55-point plan that he is now discussing with us provides for that control within the overall structure of the PPP.
There are inevitably some technical issues still to be worked out but I believe that there is now a real basis for an agreement to allow the PPP competitions to proceed to a satisfactory conclusion. Discussions are being taken forward as quickly as possible so that we can get on with the PPP competitions and the massive investment which the Underground so urgently needs.