§ 2. Mr. Tony Banks
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he last met representatives of Union Railways to discuss the case for an international station at Stratford.
§ The Minister for Public Transport (Mr. Roger Freeman)
I look forward to meeting the hon. Gentleman and representatives of the Stratford promoter group on 24 March to discuss their revised proposals for a Stratford station.
§ Mr. Banks
The Minister knows that the promoter group intends to make a bid for an intermediate international station at Stratford. Will he give a guarantee that no decision will be taken on the disposal of railway lines at Stratford that would prejudice the group's ability to make that bid to the Minister? Will the right hon. Gentleman also explain the likely disposition of the lands around Stratford in terms of ownership after the channel tunnel fast rail link has been constructed?
§ Mr. Freeman
It is important that the railway lands at Stratford—from the southern extremities, close to the existing Stratford station, all the way to Temple Mills—are retained in public sector ownership and available to help progress that great project.
§ Mr. Jacques Arnold
When my right hon. Friend meets Union Railways, will he bear in mind the possibility of an international railway station at Ebbsfleet in Kent, which would be very much more convenient?
§ Mr. Dobson
Does the Minister agree that it would contribute immeasurably to the economic regeneration of east London and the east London corridor if there were an international station on the channel tunnel link at Stratford? Does he further accept that it would add immeasurably to the value of crossrail if that project also had a connection with the channel tunnel link at Stratford?
§ Mr. Freeman
We have not ruled out a connection between crossrail and the channel tunnel rail link—there are powerful arguments in favour. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State merely ruled out one particular intersection. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman laughs, but my right hon. Friend's announcement was welcomed by Opposition Members representing the area ruled out, so that statement was helpful. As to the importance of a station at Stratford, there is a difference between an international station and a domestic station. I hope that the promoter group will argue the case for both.