HL Deb 21 November 1996 vol 575 cc1381-407

5.28 p.m.

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Bill, has consented to place her prerogative and interest, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.

Bill read a third time.

Clause 23 [Restrictive trade practices]:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen) moved Amendment No. 1: Page 13, line 1, at beginning insert ("Without prejudice to the powers of revocation conferred by subsection (5) of section 29 of the 1976 Act,").

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, in moving this amendment it may be for the convenience of the House if I speak also to Amendments Nos 2 and 3. These are essentially technical amendments designed to clarify the way in which Clause 23(7) of the Bill operates and do not represent any changes of substance. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Viscount Goschen moved Amendments Nos. 2 and 3: Page 13, line 2, after ("under") insert ("that"). Page 13, line 2, leave out ("29 of the 1976 Act").

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 have already been spoken to. I beg to move them en bloc.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 54 [Service of Documents]:

Viscount Goschen moved Amendment No. 4: Page 27, line 39, leave out ("this Part of").

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, this is a simple drafting amendment correcting an inconsistency in the wording of Clause 54 of the Bill, which deals with the service of notices. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 7 [Heritage]:

Lord Cavendish of Furness moved Amendment No. 5: Page 166, columns 2 and 3, leave out lines 12 to 22.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, as before, when taking part in the debates on this Bill, I must declare an interest as being a commissioner of English Heritage. The House will be aware that I addressed the Chamber at Committee stage to express my concern about the draft heritage agreement for Camden. I believed it to be flawed and to raise a fundamental question of principle.

I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Goschen for taking a great deal of trouble over this matter and for giving it serious consideration in his efforts to find a solution to meet my concerns. I can assure the House that it has never been my intention to press for any additional controls or powers of veto over the works by English Heritage. That has never been the case. All I have been seeking is for the Secretaries of State for Transport and the Environment not to surrender their normal powers to determine any dispute which might arise under paragraph 4(5) of the draft heritage agreement.

For noble Lords who were not present at the Committee stage I remind the House that my anxieties are centred on the magnificent Grade I listed train shed at St. Pancras, a Victorian masterpiece of world significance. Under paragraph 4(1) of the heritage agreement the nominated undertaker—in this case LCR—shall seek to reach agreement with the local authority and English Heritage on the nature of the proposed works, the construction methods and materials to be used, any mitigation measures to be taken and, except in the case of the demolition of the building, the preservation of particular features of the building and any restoration or reconstruction works where reasonably practicable. That does not present a problem.

However, that paragraph is qualified by paragraph 4(5) which states that the nominated undertaker shall not be required to seek to reach agreement with the local authority, nor with English Heritage under paragraph 4(1), but shall only consult them on the alignment, position and overall dimensions of any works other than essentially shops, and on the nature of the proposed works and construction methods and materials used where the works comprise a trackbed, tunnel, earthworks or anything in the nature of plant, machinery or equipment.

My concern was that, in so far as that related to St. Pancras station, a great many alterations could be carried out to that splendid train shed without the need to do anything other than consult English Heritage. Unlike other recent railway Bills, there is no mechanism for disagreement over substantive heritage issues to be determined by the Secretaries of State. My anxieties were eloquently articulated by Giles Worsley in today's The Times and by Stephen Goodwin of the Independent.

I am pleased to report that my concerns have been considered further. My noble friend Lord Goschen, as I understand it, offered to move some way on this point. A mechanism is suggested for the Secretaries of State to determine any dispute between LCR and English Heritage and the London Borough of Camden in the event of a disagreement over what works fall to be considered under paragraphs 4(1) and 4(5). If that is the case it is extremely welcome. It would be helpful if he could clarify how the agreement should be interpreted in practice. However, I am still disappointed that my noble friend cannot go further and provide a full arbitration procedure for works submitted under paragraph 4(5) with the exception of railway engineering matters which I accept could be exempted as a special case.

It seems ironic that at the very moment when the Heritage Green Paper proposes to extend established listed building consent procedures by the removal of Crown immunity, those same procedures should be disapplied for a private developer. Nevertheless, I have always supported the case for the CTRL coming into St. Pancras and I am confident that in the LCR we have a developer which will do all it can to work in a positive and constructive manner with Camden and English Heritage to safeguard the outstanding qualities of the train shed and create a world-class railway terminus.

I accept that a great deal of work has gone into devising an alternative regime for St. Pancras in lieu of listed building consent. It may be that CTRL should be regarded as an exceptional case warranting exceptional measures. However, I must stress that that cannot and must not set a precedent for the future. The existing regime of statutory safeguards for listed buildings is a highly effective, tried and tested system which has served the country well for many years. It must never be allowed to be dismantled or set aside for short-term commercial advantage.

It will be helpful to me and to your Lordships for my noble friend to tell us himself exactly what his proposals are and how they work so that I can judge whether or not to persist with my amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Crathorne

My Lords, I support my noble friend Lord Cavendish in his amendment. I should perhaps declare an interest as chairman of the Joint Committee of the National Amenities Societies and the Georgian Group. The House will remember that I spoke in support of his amendment at Committee stage. My points in relation to the principles at stake, the precedent the Bill would set for other projects and the need for a new policy were not addressed by the Minister. I do not wish to repeat them; I wish only to make one point concerning the adequacy of the arrangements which are to replace statutory conservation controls.

Put in a nutshell: will the arrangements work? We must be confident that if we pass the Bill, they will work. My noble friend's backstop proposal would be extremely helpful. We must remember that the powers to be disapplied—the tried and tested procedures of listed building consent—depend at the end of the day on final and binding determination by the Secretary of State for the Environment. That element of the procedures is a clear, firm, fast and effective way of dealing with serious issues. The Bill before us disapplies those controls and puts in their place a complicated set of schedules, contracts, procedures, undertakings and agreements which the promoters say are an adequate substitute.

The main argument for allowing exemptions from the heritage deed, which are the problem, is that there are other powers in the package to cover the risks which the exemptions open up. The Minister pointed in particular to the design guidelines in the planning and heritage minimum requirements. Those are legally enforceable as part of the contract. It is therefore suggested that we do not need to worry about the exemption of a certain aspect of the plan because that is covered by legally enforceable design guidelines.

We have it from the Department of Transport that that aspect of the arrangement is unprecedented. A letter sent to the Victorian Society on 2nd October stated: Your second query concerned whether there was a precedent in heritage issues for the Secretaries of State to fetter their ability to issue a binding determination, and instead rely on a court ruling regarding the interpretation of a contractual document". The reply stated, Concerning precedent … the St. Pancras Minimum Requirements are unprecedented". One of the design guidelines for the great vaulted space of the train shed, which is this great masterpiece, reads, The open nature and spatial integrity of St. Pancras Train Shed will be substantially retained. Any new works within the train shed must be consistent with these objectives and must be designed to the highest quality with the aim of minimising their impact as a whole". It is difficult to see what those words mean. That was a point made by Giles Worsley in his article in The Times today. They surely could be interpreted in different ways by different people and, if push comes to shove, what would a court make of them? What experience is there in law for dealing with contracts with terms like those? In what circumstances should the court judge that LCR had failed substantially to retain the spatial integrity of the train shed to such an extent that it had broken the contract? Can we be sure that High Court litigation on such terms will be a practical alternative to straightforward determination by a Secretary of State? I fear not.

I was glad to hear from my noble friend that the Minister has something to say to us on this matter. My noble friend's proposal is a moderate one and has my support. I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say.

Viscount Goschen

My Lords, it may be for the convenience of the House if, with the leave of the House, I put the Government's view at this stage. That would not prevent other noble Lords speaking afterwards if they wish.

Lord Henderson of Brompton

My Lords, I hope that will not preclude the noble Viscount speaking again at the end of the debate.

Viscount Goschen

My Lords, I shall be delighted to mop up any residual points that may be made.

We have come again to the issue of heritage. I was very pleased to hear that my noble friend Lord Cavendish felt that considerable progress between us had now been made. I was certainly delighted to hear that.

Since the debate on the issue some three weeks ago I have met my noble friend Lord Cavendish, accompanied by his advisers, and also by the Minister of State for Planning, Construction and Energy Efficiency and Department of National Heritage officials. I believe we had a useful and constructive exchange at that time and since then there have been further constructive contacts between English Heritage and London and Continental Railways.

I made it clear on the earlier occasion that we had no intention to ride roughshod over heritage interests. The CTRL scheme, as we all agree, is of national significance and will bring major benefits, not least to the nation's heritage through creating a 21st century railway use for such a fine 19th century station. Because of the importance of the project it is being promoted as a hybrid Bill and, as normal for a project approved by such a Bill, the need to apply separately for listed building consent has been disapplied. But in its place we have produced a tailor-made package of requirements, controls and consultation which have been refined during two years' of negotiations. That is the key point which was somewhat absent from some of the press coverage in recent times.

At Committee three weeks ago there was no objection in principle to this approach from my noble friend. The area of difference was quite limited. English Heritage was not satisfied with the provision in the heritage deed that it will be consulted on railway works. Instead it favoured control or agreement. That was in substance the issue that was considered in detail by the Select Committee at the recommittal stage. The committee's view contained in the special report is perfectly clear: The Committee has no doubt that the draft Heritage Deed meets the interests of the petitioners". Perhaps I may spend a few moments on the broader view. The fact that St. Pancras will be the London gateway to the Channel Tunnel Rail Link inevitably means that there will be some heritage impacts but those stand to be more than amply offset by the heritage benefits of the restoration works to St. Pancras Station and Chambers and the bringing back into fruitful use of the Chambers. That point is often not adequately made. That provides the best guarantee of future conservation. Furthermore, with the prospect of the new terminus comes the best regeneration opportunity the King's Cross area has had in decades. There can be no doubt that in heritage terms alone, even before one takes account of the economic and environmental advantages for the area, the new rail link will be a very significant net benefit to the area as a whole.

In the debate a few weeks ago my noble friend Lord Cavendish welcomed the competition announced by LCR to find a viable economic use of St. Pancras Chambers, and applauded the agreement reached by LCR with English Heritage on the arrangements for the listed gasholders and the waterpoint. Since then, as we have heard, there have been continuing constructive discussions between LCR, English Heritage and the local authority about the emerging design principles for the St. Pancras train station and also for the area between St. Pancras and King's Cross. Indeed, I understand that English Heritage has given a warm reception to the outline of the St. Pancras design proposals.

With regard to the further discussions, I understand that at a very recent meeting LCR and English Heritage agreed that they should join together in defining a letter of intent from LCR. This would set out how the stages of consultation provided for in the heritage deed would operate and serve and therefore to identify any potential problems in time for them to be satisfactorily dealt with. I am sure that will come as welcome news to the House.

In recognition of a key concern put to me by my noble friend when we met earlier this week, I offered an additional provision in the heritage deed that introduces a process to determine an important area of potential disputes in this important area. This will allow English Heritage or the local planning authority to seek determination by the Secretaries of State for the Environment and for Transport where English Heritage or the authority believes its agreement should be sought on a work but LCR proposes consultation. The Secretaries of State would thus be responsible for interpreting what the deed requires. This is an added protection in addition to all of those which I have already described and which offers heritage interests an avenue of direct appeal for determination to the Secretary of State.

I thought it worth speaking at an early stage after my two noble friends had spoken to put the Government's view, to illustrate the changes that had occurred and to welcome the great progress that I believe has been made towards bringing the heritage interests and those of the promoters nearer together. I feel that we now have an agreement and we have a situation with which we are all happy. While welcoming the opportunity for discussion raised by my noble friend Lord Cavendish I feel confident—I hope my confidence is justified—that he will not feel any need to press his amendment further.

5.45 p.m.

Lord Berkeley

My Lords, we are pleased that the Minister sought to meet the concerns of the noble Lord, Lord Cavendish. I have heard some good words of comfort and I believe that the new procedure needs to be tried on this important project. It is excellent news that it appears that agreement has been reached.

Extensive safeguards are already contained in the development agreement and I understand that those are already in the public domain. Extensive safeguards for-planning and heritage are minimum requirements. We have talked a good deal about consultation. It pleases me that the noble Lord, Lord Cavendish, is as impressed as I am with the ideas and proposals London and Continental Railways has put forward and with its commitment to heritage.

I wish to strike one note of caution. We must be careful in these discussions that perfection does not become the enemy of the good. There must be a tight timescale to this project if it is to be completed as planned and open to revenue earning traffic. The same happened on the Channel Tunnel. Speed is of the essence. I have a slight concern about the track record of speed and sensible resolution of problems in some of English Heritage's projects. I am no expert on heritage but I question whether it is good value for money to pursue a lady who puts up a special door in her house to keep out the traffic noise from the juggernauts thundering by, a door which looks like wood but is plastic. I also question whether Stonehenge should be staying in the state it is because the only acceptable solution to the road problem is £130 million of tunnel.

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, £300 million.

Lord Berkeley

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for that correction. It is £300 million. There must be an easier and cheaper solution in what is a fairly wide open space of countryside. As a result, nothing has happened in the interim because costs are high and finance is short.

The train sheds and the railway works that go with them need to be used. At the moment they are sitting there doing nothing. I believe that the House should accept the safeguards which have been discussed and that there should be consultation with English Heritage. I hope that in the light of that consultation and the Minister's comments, the noble Lord, Lord Cavendish, will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Kennet

My Lords, I wish to make a couple of brief points. I shall not seek to divide the House if the noble Lord, Lord Cavendish, does not do so. Perhaps I may remind my noble friend Lord Berkeley that the price tag of the Stonehenge road has risen steadily since the closing of the latest public inquiry. The first figure was £80 million, then it was £120 million and then £140 million. I cannot imagine where the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, came by the figure of £300 million. I look on all those figures with the greatest scepticism.

However, returning to St. Pancras—it was not a long excursion—various speakers today have verged on alleging that the filling out of the detail will delay the construction of the railway. That is quite absurd. In fact, there is no real heritage objection to anything which the railway company wishes to do at St. Pancras. I cannot speak about the rest of the country. The objection is to suspending the law in its favour. As the company does not wish to do anything wrong, why is it necessary to suspend the law in its favour? Why should we believe that it will take longer to go through the normal hoops to obtain approval for whatever bits and pieces it has to do? I am sure that if it does take longer, an emotional appeal from the Secretary of State to Camden Borough Council will induce it to hurry up and that the Secretary of State will take an earlier decision. I wish to register a protest about the bad precedent of the suspension of regular preservation law in this case. That suspension is probably all the worse because there is no need for it.

Lord Annan

My Lords, I rise in some embarrassment because when I intervened in Committee I did not realise that I should have disclosed an interest. I now realise that Foster Associates is the firm of architects producing the designs for the whole project. I must report that my son-in-law is one of its senior partners and may well be involved in this affair, as he was in the design and construction of the fourth London airport at Stansted. I find that embarrassing because it raises a problem about the relations of the architects to the scheme and the way in which that works out.

I appreciate the fine constitutional care which the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, my old friend, has expressed tonight. The only trouble is that it is slightly like one of those two favourite arguments which are sometimes used. I refer not to the doctrine of unripe time—that although this is a marvellous scheme, the time is not yet ripe for it—but to the thin-end-of-the-wedge argument—we must not do this because it might create a precedent and drive a wedge through procedures of which we all very much approve. I understand that that is a valid argument, but I hope that on this occasion we shall not give into it in view of the importance of the whole rail link, which has been so long delayed.

I hope that the architects will produce designs which will satisfy all the preservation groups. Indeed, I believe that that will be the case. However, what will happen if there is a dispute between the architects and the railway company? Do we know anything about the sources of finance and whether they are totally satisfactory to the railway company? Let us suppose that the cash runs out during the project and the railway company goes to Foster Associates and says, "Look, I know that we agreed our scheme. It is a good scheme but you must now make some economies". In making those economies, Foster Associates may well say, "We cannot do that. We gave our word and our reputation as a firm of architects that we will produce a scheme satisfactory to all the environmental groups and concerns and we cannot now cut what we intended to do". In that case, the railway company may well say, "We shall have to find other architects". There will then exist a totally different state of affairs. Where are the safeguards in such a case?

The noble Viscount may well revert to an answer which, if I were in his place, I might well use: that we cannot go into every hypothetical consideration because we should be here all night. But I believe that the problem is genuine and I wish to know whether, if in a situation in which suddenly the terms change, the Secretary of State will be enabled to intervene.

Lord Henderson of Brompton

My Lords, your Lordships might well ask why I am intervening, not having spoken previously. I believed that the arguments for making a small amendment to the Bill were so ably put by the noble Lord, Lord Cavendish, and to a lesser extent by the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, that there was no need for a small voice such as mine to be heard. I too have an interest to declare. It is not such a grandiloquent interest as the noble Lord, Lord Annan; it is merely that I am a humble and long-standing member of the Victorian Society. Therefore, I am bound to feel sympathy when a proposal in a Bill which is seemingly as horrific as this is going to go through. In Schedule 7, to be disapplied from all constraints is a notable Grade I listed building, subject to a few concessions in column 3. Column 2 lists the entire set of listed buildings, subject to minute qualifications in column 3.

I believe that the proceedings have been conducted in such a constructive way that I have nothing but praise to accord. My only worry is that the accord is non-parliamentary. Why could it not have been achieved previously? Why were the Government so obstinate? I believe that we are in danger of losing parliamentary control if this kind of nod and a wink is allowed to proceed instead of provisions appearing on the face of the Bill. I believe that that is the answer to the noble Lord, Lord Annan. Parliamentary language is such that it cannot be contravened except by a further amending enactment.

These are very important matters. What the heritage is losing as a result of the rejection of these amendments is that an important precedent is being created. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Annan, that that is not a fussy or minute point at all. If it is the case, as I believe it is, that Parliament has never before agreed to a provision such as this without first having seen the plans and having approved them, it is not a minute consideration. Parliament is throwing away safeguards for the heritage and for humble organisations such as the one I belong to, the Victorian Society.

Having said that, and not having been at the important negotiations which have taken place, of course I cannot oppose the agreements which have been reached by the noble Lord, Lord Cavendish, and the noble Viscount. I am extremely thankful that they have come to such agreements. I do not myself wish to amend the Bill at such a late stage as this. I ask the noble Viscount to make public the agreements which so far have been negotiated in secret.

6 p.m.

Lord Ampthill

My Lords, it is in public. The Heritage Deed has been printed and it is available. It has been available to the noble Lord for quite a while now.

Lord Henderson of Brompton

My Lords, I have just been hearing about the negotiations that have been taking place until this afternoon, not some time ago. What I am saying is that the detail of the fine tuning which has been taking place has not been available to me or to the noble Lord unless he has been party to those proceedings, which I suspect he has. I hope that the agreements which have been reached by noble Lords outside this House will, by some means or other, be made available to noble Lords within the House. That is only a second opinion. The first is undoubtedly that they should be in the Bill itself.

Lord Annan

My Lords, perhaps I may ask the noble Lord a question? Has the noble Lord heard, as I have, that the Victorian Society is very satisfied with all that has been agreed?

Lord Henderson of Brompton

My Lords, I believe that is true.

Lord Ampthill

My Lords, I am very happy about almost everything that has been said. Perhaps I may deal first with what my noble friend Lord Henderson has just said. The Heritage Deed takes the place of putting things on the face of the Bill. There are approximately 600 undertakings which have been given. This is a hybrid Bill, which the noble Lord may well remember from his previous career is a different animal from an ordinary government Bill because it is ephemeral. It covers a short period of time and affects only a very small proportion of the population. An immense number of negotiations have to take place. They have the same force of law as if they were on the face of the Bill. If every one of those 600 undertakings were made part and parcel of the Bill there would have to be 600 schedules to the Bill. That would make it an even lengthier document than it is already.

The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, suggested that this procedure was unprecedented. It is normal with an infrastructure Bill of this nature for the normal rules to be disapplied. One then puts in their place what has been put back in this instance, the Heritage Deed. It is absolutely true that this is a document which has been under negotiation for, I believe, the best part of two years. It was brought before the Select Committee and we made what we and, I believe, both English Heritage and the Victorian Society regard as some improvements. They obviously did not feel that we went far enough: hence the negotiations which have gone on since we reported the Bill to the House and which, I am very happy to hear, have now resulted in agreement being reached. That agreement will be an amendment not to the Bill but to the Heritage Deed itself, which will have just as binding an effect as it would if it appeared on the face of the Bill.

This is one of the two most contentious matters that remained at the conclusion of the hearings of the Select Committee. The other seems to have been resolved. I shall be extremely happy if this one is also resolved.

Lord Cavendish of Furness

My Lords, I would like to thank noble Lords who have taken part in this debate. I say particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, that neither I nor English Heritage in this context is pursuing a single interest line. Both of us are extremely excited by this Bill. It is a wonderful Bill offering opportunities not least to the heritage. We are not trying to take a narrow view of detail. Noble Lords will be pleased to hear that I shall not be drawn on subjects such as Stonehenge or plastic doors.

However, I would like noble Lords to understand that I took my amendment very seriously albeit that it was a wrecking amendment. One has to get to the heart of the Bill to make an amendment. If I had not had some comfort from various sources, I would have taken it to a Division. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill, for his remarks. There is an element of the removal of protection from Grade 1 listed buildings which I still maintain is without precedent, but be that as it may. We have accepted that this is a difficult and complex Bill.

I thank my noble friend Lord Goschen for his detailed reply. As I have said, I believe that this is a compromise over a matter where arguably there should not be one. I hope that the House will take to heart the comment of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, whom I thank for his kind remarks, that this will not be a precedent. Lessons will be learnt from a Bill which is truly unusual. There are many facets which have probably not been before your Lordships' House before.

There is one further matter. I have learnt this afternoon of the outcome of the meeting which took place this afternoon between LCR and English Heritage. LCR has agreed to define in a letter of intent the stages of consultation which will enable English Heritage to identify at any stage any outstanding problems. That is very helpful and provides more evidence, if it were needed, of LCR's goodwill in the matter.

The combination of these two changes gives me comfort. I offer renewed thanks to LCR for its constructive response to the concerns of English Heritage. I also thank my noble friend Lord Inglewood, who played a part in restoring harmony. I renew my thanks to my noble friend Lord Goschen for his helpful concessions on the draft heritage agreement. I have been given sufficient comfort to beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 10 [Disapplication and modification of miscellaneous controls]:

Viscount Goschen moved Amendment No. 6: Page 180, line 33, after ("is") insert ("made under paragraph 9A below or is otherwise").

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, it may be for the convenience of the House if I speak also to Amendments Nos. 7 to 16. These amendments honour the commitments I gave during the Committee stage of the Whole House and at Report stage, to look again at the provisions of the Bill that deal with the application of the London lorry ban to the Channel Tunnel rail link in the light of concerns raised by my noble friend Lord Jenkin and indeed by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, who also has an amendment tabled with this group.

The amendments follow a very useful meeting with my noble friend and the noble Baroness, and officials of the London Boroughs Transport Scheme, on 12th November, and a further constructive meeting between officials on Monday, when agreement on the exact nature of the amendments to be made was reached.

The amendments before us this evening remove the word "cost-effective" from the existing provisions of paragraphs 9(2)(a) and 9(3)(a), words to which, as my noble friend explained in Committee, LBTS objected. I should perhaps point out that the issue of timing in relation to the grant of permits raised by my noble friend in Committee has fallen away with the amendment to line 4 of page 181 removing altogether the provision relating to the deemed grant of permits after one working day contained in paragraph 9(6).

The amendments also provide a mechanism for "emergency" permits to be issued where a journey is proposed to be made in less than eight working days' time, allowing, among other things, the Secretary of State to impose conditions on the grant of such permits. I should stress for the record that such a procedure is intended for emergencies only, and that we would not expect its use to become the norm. Indeed, we have offered LBTS an assurance that we would require LCR to require its haulage contractors to submit applications at least eight days in advance where reasonably practicable. For its part, LBTS has accepted the need for appeals against the imposition of conditions which might obstruct the proper carrying out of the CTRL works to come to the Secretary of State.

Finally, I should say that we have also offered LBTS a number of assurances, one of which I have already mentioned, to deal with the concerns it expressed during the discussions which could not readily be dealt with in statute. Those include offering an assurance that we would require LCR to set up a contact point for LBTS for enforcement queries about its haulage contractors should, for example, LBTS sight a CTRL lorry on a road not covered by a permit.

Those assurances, once they are accepted, will of course be entered onto the register of such assurances that we have been keeping. I know that that is a particular concern of my noble friend Lord Jenkin and I hope that he is happy to hear that that assurance is now on the record. Noble Lords will know—from what was said during Committee, on Report, and from the letter I subsequently wrote to the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, to which reference was made on Report, that that would mean that LCR would be required to comply with the assurances.

I hope, therefore, that it will not surprise noble Lords if I say that I believe that with these amendments and the assurances we have offered we have gone a very long way indeed to meet the concerns of LBTS, so eloquently detailed by my noble friend during the earlier stages of the Bill, and struck the right balance between the needs of a project of national significance that has the support of both Houses, and the environmental protection afforded to London residents by the lorry ban.

I am also happy to make clear to my noble friend that the procedures which we have now agreed, and provided for in our amendment, should not be seen—indeed, they are not seen by us—as setting a precedent, rather they reflect the national significance of the CTRL project, as can be seen from the scale and extensive planning provisions found in Schedule 6. I know that the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, has tabled an amendment which relates to this group. If it meets with the convenience of the House, perhaps I may reply to her points once she has spoken. I beg to move.

Baroness Hamwee

My Lords, I seek to move Amendment No. 16 as an amendment to Amendment No. 15, but perhaps I may speak generally in response to some of the amendments that have already been moved, as well as explaining my amendment.

I am grateful for the time that the Minister and his officials have devoted to this issue. I am grateful also to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, who has put a lot of work into ensuring that the London lorry ban is not—

Viscount Goschen

My Lords, I apologise to the House for intervening, but, to set the record straight, technically speaking we are discussing the grouping with Amendment No. 6, so the noble Baroness does not need to move her amendment. That is what I understand from advice from the Table. Technically, the amendment in the name of the noble Baroness has yet to be moved, but that does not alter the problem. If the noble Baroness merely speaks to her amendment, we can sort out the technicalities in a moment.

6.15 p.m.

Baroness Hamwee

My Lords, I am hearing different advice from different directions. I do not think that I have ever heard an amendment to an amendment being moved without us getting into some difficulties.

However, to return to the substantive point, it is perhaps something of a misnomer to refer to the "London lorry ban" in those words; it is a permit scheme to protect London's environment and to balance the interests of the environment with those of ensuring that important projects can develop.

I should prefer there to be no exceptions to the scheme— irrespective of whether they are or are not the thin end of the wedge or whether the timing is too early or too late. As a small measure of support for that, perhaps I may mention a letter which the unit received from the Corporation of the City of London, which I am sure that noble Lords will recognise takes a considered view of such matters and speaks authoritatively. The corporation said that, in its view, disapplying the ban would have set a particularly unwise precedent, particularly as the present arrangements appear to be working satisfactorily for large-scale projects. It is essential that local authorities have the ability to ensure that suitable routes are used—this is relevant to my amendment—that vehicles can be safely accommodated and that their impact on the environment in terms of noise, vibration and pollution is minimal.

My amendment relates to paragraph (g) of Amendment No. 15 which will be new Section 9A(3) which deals with proposed stops in London for the purpose of making a delivery or collection. The fact that I seek to alter those words in what may seem to be a minimal way might appear to be carping, but I do not believe that that is the case. It is important to ensure that lorries which do not have any proper business going through central London should be restricted in doing so. I understand that there is concern that there might be an occasion when the M.25 is blocked in both directions. That may or may not be a realistic concern and I leave it to your Lordships to assess the state of the M.25—but perhaps not tonight. If that were to happen, it must be more than likely that the police would impose diversions, but I cannot think that they would wish to divert traffic up, say, Acacia Avenue somewhere in the East End—in other words, along a residential street—as an alternative to using trunk roads.

It is important that individual drivers are not given an excuse to make short cuts or to stop off for personal reasons. In seeking to tweak the wording of the paragraph, I suggest that a provision to limit journeys through central London to those which are entirely necessary is an appropriate final amendment to make to this Bill. In this connection I refer to paragraph 3.4 in the policy statement dealing with exemptions published by the London Boroughs Transport Committee: The most important criterion which will apply when a decision is made whether or not to grant a Permit is the circumstances of the applicant's need for a Permit. First and foremost it is the Committee's policy to ensure that only vehicles undertaking necessary business in London should be permitted to use restricted roads in the area for which the Committee is responsible". The committee is not only responsible for certain roads but is itself a responsible committee. One of the difficulties that underlay the whole debate on this issue over the past few weeks was the concern that the committee might change and not be so responsible. As proposed, the powers now rest with the Secretary of State rather than the committee. I am unable to resist the comment that the Secretary of State may change as well. Some noble Lords may feel that a future Secretary of State—I do not comment on colour since I do not want to make a party political point—may be less responsible. I do not believe that a complete balance has been struck.

I am glad to hear the Minister's assurance about the undertakings being formally recorded on the register. That is extremely helpful. I am also glad to hear his comment that because of the exceptional importance of the scheme no precedent is being set. Both I and the unit are grateful that matters have moved forward and perhaps some of the objections have been met, and, even more, it has been clarified how matters will proceed in future.

Lord Jenkin of Roding

My Lords, I am grateful for the comments of the noble Baroness. What has been working extremely hard during the passage of this Bill is the fax machine in my office. The documents that have poured forth from my noble friend's department and the London Boroughs Traffic Scheme have to be seen to be believed. That the amendments before the House tonight are themselves starred is testament to the fact that the work was proceeding until a late hour yesterday before my noble friend's new paragraphs could be tabled. At one point I received comments on an earlier draft when the new draft was already coming through by fax, which made life a little difficult. All this is testimony to the fact that officials both in the London Boroughs Transport Scheme and my noble friend's department have bent over backwards to try to reach a workable agreement to reconcile the very desirable objectives of protecting the citizens of London from unnecessary disruption and loss of sleep in the night and allowing this hugely important project to get under way.

My noble friend's department has been at the centre of a good deal of pressure. I have seen some of the pressure that has come from London and Continental Railways and the very proper and single-minded enthusiasm of the London Boroughs Transport Scheme. Like the noble Baroness, I was glad to hear of the undertakings for the formal recording of assurances that had been given to the London Boroughs Transport Scheme about the timing of applications and the contact point for enforcement queries. That will be most valuable. It demonstrates the importance of the register to which the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill, referred in another context a few moments ago. They will be recorded in the register and will be enforceable, and, if necessary, justiciable.

I also welcome the fact that the conditions to be attached to deemed permits under the emergency procedure will be departed from only where it is necessary to give effect to approved arrangements in respect of one or more of the qualifying authorities in London. That, too, is a valuable assurance. As we have heard in several debates, it is the nature of this huge national project that makes it necessary to suspend the operation of the normal rules and regulations. I believe that we are nearly there.

I refer next to the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness. I shall become a little more earthy. I am sure that the railway company will do its best; I am sure that the head contractors will do their best. But one is here dealing with lorry drivers, who come in all shapes and sizes. There are kings of the road, who are men of the utmost integrity. As there are good schools and other schools, so there are good lorry drivers and others who do not quite match up. The amendment of the noble Baroness is aimed at the following.

Imagine that an urgent load, perhaps a special piece of excavating equipment, comes from a site somewhere to the west of London down the M.4, or from the north down the M.40. That load has to reach a site in Kent, perhaps—who knows? —at Ebbsfleet. As subsection (3)(g) of my noble friend's amendment is drawn, it is only if it has to stop in London that it will be subject to these constraints. It does not have to stop in London; indeed, it is not going to any place in London. It is travelling from a depot in the West Country to a site in Kent, which is outside London. Obviously, it is highly desirable that that load should travel via the M.25 unless the M.25 is closed, in which case the situation is covered by a police direction.

However, lorry drivers being what they are will not necessarily want to go through the tunnel and incur the toll. It would be nicer for them to cross a bridge and incur no fees and pocket the money. Alternatively, they may have other reasons for wanting to stop in London. It is well known that from time to time lorry drivers like to visit their girlfriends. If there is no obligation on a lorry driver to go round London on the M.25 and avoid the restricted roads—there is no power under the scheme to require him to do so because subsection (3)(g) refers only to lorries making deliveries to or collections from London—there is a loophole. That loophole does not concern any of the obstacles that may be in the way of the railway company getting on with building the railway. It is a loophole for lorry drivers.

The London Boroughs Traffic Scheme has had a good deal of experience in dealing with lorry drivers. It seems to me that the Bill should not leave a loophole. I believe that the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, which does not refer to delivering or collecting from London but is at large, will close that loophole. When the moment comes perhaps she would be wise to consider pressing her amendment in the light of what my noble friend may say in reply.

Amendment No. 14 has the effect of deleting from the Bill the definition of "working day" at line 21 on page 181. I should like to ask a question, not so much on that definition, but on the definition of "working day" which is relevant in the context of protecting people in the context of the environment. I refer to the definition of working day in the first part of the code of construction practice produced by the railway company to satisfy the environmental minimum requirements.

A normal working day is 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is a possibility in special circumstances of extending that by an hour so that work could start at 7 a.m. and continue until 7 p.m. It is suggested that that might become a norm when it should be only an exception. If my noble friend could give an assurance and state that the normal working day is what it is supposed to be and that the exception is supposed to be an exception only, some of us would go home happy tonight.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Clinton-Davis

My Lords, if the Minister now speaks I am not sure whether I would have the right to speak again, so it may be better if I intervene at this stage. The House is greatly indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, for pressing the points they have in the way that they have, and to the Minister and his civil servants for responding as they have.

The ideas were put forward by the LBTS, as we heard in Committee. I thought then that they were potent points upon which the Minister should have reflected, and I am glad to say that he has. I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, rather than his fax machine, was able to represent the case on that occasion. It is a wonderful fax machine, over-used, but necessarily so.

I said at the time that I believed that reconciliation was possible. That has happened, with this relatively minor point, having regard to the totality of what was in issue, outstanding. In these matters it is difficult to achieve a proper balance. Someone once described a proper balance as having a chip on both shoulders. Everyone has striven to achieve that balance, and I believe that overall it has been accomplished.

The points made by the noble Baroness, as has been acknowledged by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, are significant. I cannot believe that they would create too much difficulty. I hope that the House will not divide over that issue. I do not know what the Minister will say about it, but the best thing may be to see how the situation works, not in theory, but in practice. I have some doubts as to the wisdom of encouraging a Division, as the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, seemed to do, because we have achieved a great deal, and I do not believe that it should be spoilt. I would urge the Minister to seek to achieve a balance, even at this late stage, because we are not at the end of the proceedings. As the Bill has to go to another place, there is the possibility for that matter to be considered still further. Having said all that, I have some doubt about the practicality of the proposal, but I shall listen, as I said, to what the Minister has to say.

The House is greatly indebted to the Minister for the way in which he has responded on this matter. They were real ministerial qualities, if I may say so. He and his civil servants are to be congratulated on that. I support the Minister's amendments.

Lord Ampthill

My Lords, perhaps I may intervene briefly just to say how sorry I am about the heat of the fax machine of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding. He could have avoided shifting his temperature by having brought this matter before the Select Committee, which, in some respects, is an omission which has given the department the task of finding rather hurried solutions to the problem. I welcome what the department has come forward with, which is along the lines, I hope, of what we might have come forward with.

We had problems of this nature; for example, in the Borough of Newham where there is a ventilation shaft, and, as it is surrounded entirely by residential streets, there is no way in which one can get rid of the spoil without causing some disruption. We have laid down what we hope will be suitable measures to protect people as best we can, but someone has to suffer. I hope that anything more rigid than what is proposed in the amendments will be avoided.

Lord Jenkin of Roding

My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. Of course there was a petition. There was thought to be an agreement. On that basis, the petition was withdrawn, which is why it did not go before the Select Committee.

Viscount Goschen

My Lords, I thank those noble Lords who have spoken during the debate. Despite the procedural difficulties in which we found ourselves, perhaps I may address the points made by the noble Baroness. I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, for his positive approach and support for the government amendments, and for his feeling that perhaps for the noble Baroness to seek to amend the Bill with her amendment would not necessarily be the best course of action. I hope that I shall be able to persuade her of that fact through force of argument. I also hope that I shall be able to persuade my noble friend Lord Jenkin.

I should like to welcome the role that officials have played, both those from the department and those from the LBTS. They have been involved in some of the most detailed, exhausting and exhaustive negotiations that I can remember. The running total is about eight-and-a-half hours of negotiations with several players on each side. We worked out the total at about one man-week.

Given the effort that has gone into producing what I understood to be an agreed solution, I urge the noble Baroness not to press her amendment. It is not the minor detail that some might think. It is a significant amendment. Paragraph 9A(3)(g), as inserted by government Amendment No. 15, provides: if it is proposed to stop anywhere in Greater London for the purpose of making a delivery or collection, the place or places at which, and the time or times when, it is proposed to stop for that purpose". The "if' at the start of the paragraph is significant, in that it contemplates the possibility that emergency permits may also be sought for journeys through London but where no stop in London is intended; in other words, it would allow emergency permits to be sought for through journeys, with no stop in London.

The amendment tabled by the noble Baroness replaces the original formulation with the place or places, and time or times, at which it is proposed to stop in Greater London for the purpose of making a delivery or collection", which, by removing the "if', means that emergency permits could only be sought for journeys which included a stop in London.

Given that paragraph 9A deals only with emergency permits, the noble Baroness's amendment would not stop LCR or its haulage contractors applying for a permit for a through journey under the non-emergency provisions.

Leaving that detail aside though, I should explain why we have felt it necessary to make provision for through journeys. We must take into account the fact that the CTRL project, which the House has so warmly welcomed, is linear in nature, extending through London and beyond, with construction and working sites all along the route, rather than a number of discrete sites as for the Jubilee Line extension works or those for Waterloo International. There may be times when, in order to carry out the CTRL works in a timely and efficient manner, an operator would need to travel through London rather than take an orbital route. We must have this flexibility for a project of this nature. For example, an urgent journey may need to be made at a time the orbital routes are closed. This amendment would not allow the journey to traverse London even where the alternative was an unacceptably wide detour.

Having said that, I appreciate the concern that an operator might seek to make a through journey rather than an orbital one just to save money—and that is essentially the noble Baroness's concern—by, for example, saving money on fuel. We have recognised and dealt with that concern.

One of the government amendments in the group removes the cost-effective provision in paragraph 9 which my noble friend was so concerned about. In recognition of that great anxiety, we removed that provision. Therefore, if my noble friend is considering whether to support the noble Baroness's amendment, I hope that he will bear in mind that we have removed the provision about which he was so anxious.

As a result, the LBTS could refuse a permit if it considered that a route through London had been chosen just to save money and that the lorry could be routed via the M.25 without interfering with the timely and efficient carrying out of the work or with the construction arrangements approved under Schedule 6.

Moreover, the need to cater for through journeys was part of the agreement reached with LBTS on Monday. That is a significant point. The agreement was reached as a result of exhaustive negotiations, and that was part of it. In the light of that, I very much hope that the noble Baroness will see the force of the argument that I have sought to put forward and will not press the amendment.

My noble friend asked about start-up and close-down times for construction sites. I cannot answer that in two or three words and I hope that my noble friend will bear with me because I must give a rather detailed explanation.

The code of construction practice which specifies, among other things, working times and appropriate noise levels, has been the subject of negotiations over several years between Union Railways and the local authorities. The latest version, incorporating the results of the discussions, which include the matter now raised, was sent on 19th September to the London Borough of Newham which has been leading for the local authorities. No comments were received despite a specific request that Union Railways should be informed as soon as possible if there were any objections.

I remind the House about the provision for working hours. Normal working hours are from 8 o'clock in the morning until 6 o'clock in the evening on weekdays, which does not include Bank holidays, and 8 o'clock in the morning until 1 o'clock in the afternoon on Saturdays. If longer periods are needed because of, for example, weather or seasonably dependent works, those can be negotiated with the local authority in the usual way.

The extra time, which was mentioned by my noble friend, is a period of up to one hour before and after normal working hours. They are said to be used for start-up or close-down activities. Every effort has been made to ensure that the arrangements do not cause problems for those living nearby. The code is explicit that the extra periods should not be considered an extension of the normal working day and, again, particular care will be taken to limit and control disturbance to local residents during such periods. The code even goes so far as to give examples of the type of work which would and would not be permitted. The movement and maintenance of equipment and taking deliveries would be allowed but the operation of equipment would not be allowed. The code specifies also that the noise generated by any activities must not exceed the levels agreed with the local authorities for the quiet times before and after normal working hours.

My noble friend has asked for an undertaking that those times should be used only in exceptional circumstances. I cannot give such an undertaking. The code is very clear. The start-up and close-down times are provided in order to maintain working hours. In the light of this very important project, that is reasonable and the constraints on working already provided offer substantial protection to those living nearby. I hope that that detailed explanation puts the matter into context and will satisfy my noble friend.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Viscount Goschen moved Amendments Nos. 7 to 14: Page 180, line 38, after ("timely") insert ("and"). Page 180, line 38, leave out ("and cost-effective"). Page 180, line 43, after ("timely") insert ("and"). Page 180, line 43, leave out ("and cost-effective"). Page 181, line 3, at end insert— ("( ) If on an appeal under sub-paragraph (4) above against a decision under sub-paragraph (3) above the Secretary of State varies the decision, the variation shall have effect from and including the date on which the appeal was constituted or such later date as the Secretary of State may specify. ( ) The applicant may not challenge a decision under sub-paragraph (3) above otherwise than by an appeal under sub-paragraph (4) above."). Page 181, line 4, leave out sub-paragraph (6). Page 181, line 18, at end insert ("and"). Page 181, line 20, leave out from ("1985") to end of line 23.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

6.45 p.m.

Viscount Goschen moved Amendment No. 15: Page 181, line 23, at end insert—

("London lorries: emergency permits

9A.—(1) This paragraph applies where a person proposes to undertake a journey before the end of the next complete eight working days, being a journey—

  1. (a) proposed to be undertaken in connection with the carrying out of authorised works, and
  2. (b) for which a permit under the London Lorry Ban Order will be required.
(2) The person may apply for a permit under the Order for the journey by giving the details mentioned in sub-paragraph (3) below to the authority concerned by telephone or by means of facsimile transmission. (3) The details referred to above are—
  1. (a) the identity of the applicant,
  2. (b) a number on which he can be contacted by telephone or by means of facsimile transmission,
  3. (c) the registration number of the vehicle to which the application relates,
  4. (d) the authorised works in connection with which the journey is to be undertaken,
  5. (e) whether any approved arrangements are relevant to the application, and, if so, what they are,
  6. (f) the date when the journey is proposed to be undertaken,
  7. (g) if it is proposed to stop anywhere in Greater London for the purpose of making a delivery or collection, the place or places at which, and the time or times when, it is proposed to stop for that purpose.
(4) In this paragraph— approved arrangements", "authorised works" and "the London Lorry Ban Order" have the same meanings as in paragraph 9 above; and working day" means any day which is not a Saturday or Sunday, Christmas Day, Good Friday or a bank holiday in England and Wales under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971. 9B.—(1) An authority responsible for dealing with applications for permits under the London Lorry Ban Order shall make arrangements enabling applications under paragraph 9A above to be made at any time. (2) Once an application for a permit has been made under paragraph 9A above, then, for the purpose of any relevant journey, the application shall be treated as granted subject to such conditions as the Secretary of State may by order specify for the purposes of this provision. (3) A journey is a relevant journey for the purposes of sub-paragraph (2) above if it is begun before the authority to which the application is made has communicated its decision on the application to the applicant by telephone or by means of facsimile transmission. (4) If an application under paragraph 9A above has been granted, or is treated as granted, then, while the vehicle concerned is undertaking a journey covered by the application, paragraph 4 of the London Lorry Ban Order and of the Westminster Lorry Ban Order shall have effect in relation to it with the substitution for paragraph (a) of (a) in relation to any goods vehicle being driven by any person in a restricted street during the prescribed hours in respect of which an application under paragraph 9A of Schedule 10 to the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Act 1996 has been granted, or is treated as granted, provided that any conditions subject to which the application is granted, or treated as granted, are complied with; or". (5) The power to make an order under sub-paragraph (2) above includes—
  1. (a) power to make different provision for different cases, and
  2. (b) power to make an order varying or revoking any order previously made under that provision.
(6) In this paragraph— the London Lorry Ban Order" has the same meaning as in paragraph 9 above; and the Westminster Lorry Ban Order means the City of Westminster (Restriction of Goods Vehicles) Traffic Order 1992.").

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, this is the amendment which caused such consternation. I beg to move.

Baroness Hamwee moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 15, Amendment No. 16: Leave out paragraph 9A(3)(g) and insert— ("(g) the place or places, and time or times, at which it is proposed to stop in Greater London for the purpose of making a delivery or collection.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I shall move this amendment because this is my opportunity to respond to the pre-emptive strike by the Minister and the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis.

The suggestion has been made that one should leave things as they are now and alter them later having seen how they work. But this is the Third Reading of a Bill before Parliament. In practical terms, it will be very difficult if we wait to see how it works. So often we hear of the difficulties of finding parliamentary time. The prospect of finding parliamentary time to deal with an amendment to a schedule to this type of Bill frankly seems to me to be extremely unlikely.

Nor indeed do I think that it is appropriate to accept that because a whole man-week has been spent—and as I think some of it was a woman-week perhaps I should say a person-week—on negotiations relating to these amendments. That is not a good reason not to seek to get the matter entirely right.

The Minister said that there would be a problem if it is not possible to allow movement through central London other than on occasions when there is a proposal to stop. That is precisely the point. From the notes that I have seen, the whole issue is about a situation when it is not practicable, because of an emergency, to move round London in the way the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, described.

I believe that it strikes at the heart of the aim to protect the environment which is inherent in the London lorry ban scheme to suggest that there should be that exception. It may sound a small point, but it may also give rise to opportunities for improper and inappropriate journeys to which the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, referred, although he described it rather more earthily.

I do not believe that the point has been met, but there has been some movement in the Chamber and I shall move the amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Jenkin of Roding

My Lords, I fear that I shall be guilty of the most heinous crime of leaving a lady in some distress. I found the explanation of my noble friend on the Front Bench entirely convincing. I had not given the importance to the word "if" at the beginning of the sub-paragraph which it deserves. Indeed, my noble friend went a very long way towards convincing me that the argument was the other way round: that the Government's amendments succeed in building in the protection which we are seeking whereas the noble Baroness's amendment might inadvertently cause us to lose it.

Those are matters of legal interpretation. However, I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, is right. If this Bill is amended, it will have to go back to another place and there will be an opportunity finally to look again at that matter. I believe that it would be wholly inappropriate, despite what I may have said at an earlier stage, to press this amendment to a Division. I thank my noble friend most warmly for the very cogent and convincing replies which he gave not only on that matter but also in relation to the working day.

Lord Clinton-Davis

My Lords, the suggestion that the noble Lord has just made regarding the noble Baroness is nothing compared with the fact that he sought to aid and abet her earlier on and then resiled from so doing. So he gave her that encouragement, and then walked away from her. However, my view remains that there is still an opportunity further to reflect on the matter. As I understand it, these discussions were still going on last night. I am inclined to feel that the Minister is right, as indeed the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, indicated. It would not be the best way forward to pursue the matter tonight.

I am sure that the Minister will not say that consultations are at an end. He has come to a conclusion at present but he has shown himself flexible regarding two amendments discussed tonight. I urge the noble Baroness to leave the matter at this stage. If any discussions can take place by way of further amendment in another place, I am sure that that would be the best way to proceed. I find it most difficult to react in the way suggested by the noble Baroness. There has been so much discussion about all these highly complicated matters. Therefore, if we find that there is one possible loophole, it is difficult to make up our minds about it tonight. That would be the wrong way to proceed. I urge the noble Baroness to withdraw the amendment.

Viscount Goschen

My Lords, I should like to thank my noble friend very much indeed for listening so carefully to my obviously very powerful argument. Indeed, it certainly convinced me, and I am very pleased that it also convinced my noble friend.

Noble Lords


Viscount Goschen

My Lords, the noble Baroness's point has been addressed by the explanation that I gave; in other words, to make an attempt to go through just for the sake of money would be defeated.

I hope that that explanation has convinced the noble Baroness. However, if it has not done so, I hope that it will have convinced many other noble Lords here present.

I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, again for his support for the Government's position. I would only differ with him in his interpretation of the finality of the proceedings. Clearly the Bill has been amended and will, therefore, go to another place, where your Lordships' amendments will be considered. I certainly hope that we are not about to embark on anything that could be described by the informal name for table tennis which has occasionally occurred when disagreements have arisen between this House and another place. That clearly is not the case here. The Bill is supported by all sides of the House.

The very point raised by the noble Baroness is most specific. From the way it is written, it looks as though it relates to a small detail, but it is important; it is of clear significance. The safeguards are there for the reasons that I have detailed. I trust that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Hamwee

My Lords, I do not know whether Hansard will record the laughter which filled the Chamber when the Minister thanked his noble friend for his remarks; indeed, he might well thank him. I am not distressed as has been suggested, but I am numerate. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment to the amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Amendment No. 15 agreed to.

Schedule 15 [Protective provisions]:

Viscount Goschen moved Amendments Nos 17 to 22: Page 215, line 1, leave out ("If any") and insert ("Sub-paragraph (4) below applies where"). Page 215, line 4, after ("rights") insert— ("(4)"). Page 215, line 4, leave out ("to that effect"). Page 215, line 5, after ("undertaker") insert ("that this sub-paragraph applies"). Page 215, line 8, leave out ("that") and insert ("the"). Page 215, line 8, at end insert— ("(5) The obligation imposed by sub-paragraph (4) above shall not extend to the exercise by the undertakers of any power to acquire by way of compulsory purchase order any land or rights in land, other than any power which may be exercisable by them under paragraph 10 of Schedule 4 to this Act.").

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, these amendments honour a commitment given during an earlier stage of the Bill. Part II of Schedule 15 to the Bill sets out provisions for the protection of the various utilities affected by the construction of the CTRL. The provisions have been the subject of discussions with the utilities since the Bill was introduced, and a number of amendments to them have been agreed between the parties and made during the earlier stages of the Bill's passage.

What is before us this evening simply delivers the last of the amendments agreed in principle with the utilities last December. They make it clear that, if it proved necessary as a result of the CTRL works for compulsory purchase orders to be obtained for land required for the diversion of apparatus, the utilities would not be required to use the compulsory purchase order-making powers they have under their existing legislation. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Viscount Goschen

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

It is a full two years since the Bill was first introduced. Throughout that period, the Bill has been subject to the most intensive scrutiny in both Houses. As a hybrid Bill it has been through all the usual stages for a public Bill, together with scrutiny by Select Committees in each House which occupied some 15 months, considering some 1,300 petitions in total.

The way in which the Select Committee under the chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill, undertook its task has rightly won praise. I should like to reinforce the comments that were made at an earlier stage of the Bill and thank all the members of the Select Committee for their hard work and their exhaustive examination of the issues. In particular, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill, for his chairmanship. The way in which the Select Committee was conducted was a credit to the noble Lord and indeed to all its members. A remarkable amount was achieved in what was a comparatively short time.

There has been sustained enthusiasm from all sides of the House for this project, and a wish that it should be built as soon as possible. The project has been considerably improved during the consideration of the Bill and it can fairly be said that the legislation properly protects the interests of those affected. I should like to thank all noble Lords who spoke during the various stages of the Bill. I believe that there has been a level of co-operation and agreement across the House that is not altogether usual. It is widely accepted that all parties have wanted to see this link built and that the House has considered all the issues most thoroughly. I should also like to pay a tribute to all the officials from the Department of Transport who have worked long and hard on the Bill. They have certainly given me very good support. I believe that they have also provided a great deal of information which has led to successful conclusions within the House.

With the completion of the consideration of the Bill in your Lordships' House, the project moves forward to detailed design and the raising of finance. This project is a flagship for the Government's private finance initiative. London and Continental Railways have taken over the project with considerable enthusiasm. I am sure that the House would wish to join me in wishing LCR well in bringing this nationally important project to fruition at the earliest possible stage.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Viscount Goschen.)

Lord Clinton Davis

My Lords, the Minister is right to say that this is a Bill of monumental importance in moving towards the fulfilment of a vitally important project—one of the most important infrastructural projects ever undertaken. The noble Viscount is right to have offered the appreciation of the Government—and I am sure that that applies to the whole House—for the work carried out by the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill, and his colleagues in considering and invigilating all the points at issue with such great care. There is no doubt that that has reflected well, not only on the committee but also on this House and, indeed, on Parliament as a whole.

From this side of the House I should like to thank the large number of organisations and individuals who lent their support to the consideration of the Bill in its final stages; that is, through Committee, on Report and now on Third Reading. I have in mind those with environmental interests, who set out their case with great skill and care, the London Boroughs Transport Scheme, which has had a significant success, assisted by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, and in particular by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. I hope that we too have given them support and encouragement in what has been a very good outcome.

I wish to thank the promoters, too, for the care that they have given to concerns which arose during the course of the inquiries. I thank all noble Lords who spoke during the various debates. In particular, perhaps I may single out my noble friend Lord Berkeley. He has given me enormous help during the course of the Bill. I am very glad indeed that he has joined my transport team and has proved himself so well.

I am not prepared to give the Minister and his officials a general plaudit. My plaudits are strictly limited to this Bill, although we have a great affection for him. He has done himself proud, and his officials responded as officials should to the discussions in which they were heavily involved. The Minister has done his reputation no harm at all in the way in which he responded to the wishes of this House that discussions proceed in the way they did.

The Bill has been improved; I am sure of that. The House, the Select Committee and everyone concerned can take great pride in that. I join with the Minister in hoping that the matter can now proceed to as rapid a completion as possible. Let us hope that it will not be subjected to any other delays, such as those we experienced as a result of the incident recently. It is an important Bill; and the project is of great significance.

7 p.m.

Lord Shaw of Northstead

My Lords, at this late hour, I do not wish to make a long speech going over the history of the Bill. However, as a member of the Select Committee, there is something that I must say. When the seven members of that committee met for the first time we were not well known to each other. However, during the course of those two months we became one of the best parliamentary committee teams that I have ever come across. That was largely due to the leadership that we enjoyed from the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill. He sometimes hides his goodwill beneath a somewhat stern appearance, but it is not long before goodwill becomes absolutely apparent. I think that I can say safely on behalf of ourselves that in working with him we were completely in harmony throughout all our meetings during those two months.

Not only is our gratitude due to him but also the gratitude of the petitioners and the promoters. No one worked harder than the noble Lord to ensure that every case was properly and sympathetically examined. Through his gentle persuasion, the number of agreements reached is quite remarkable. I say no more than that.

On behalf of the promoters, the petitioners, the committee and, I believe, the whole House, our thanks are greatly due to the noble Lord, Lord Ampthill.

Lord Ampthill

My Lords, the House should take no notice of all the kind things that have been said about me. However, it is absolutely the case that it was the most marvellous Select Committee that it has ever been my privilege to head. I do not believe that there is any noble Lord present who served with me previously—and there have been some good committees, too—so I think that I can make that statement with impunity. The members were absolutely terrific. I think that we broke every record for the length of our sittings and the compression within the timescale thereof.

I wish also to thank the clerk of the committee, Mr. David Batt, who did a splendid job; and Mr. Brendan Keith who occasionally glanced over his shoulder. They did a stupendous job.

The officials of the department have been mentioned. They sat through 31 sitting days, and put up with listening to me, with many a jaunt through the countryside. They, too, were immensely helpful. So, too, was the team from Union Rail now part of London and Continental, who produced some machinery which made it possible to complete the committee in the time that we did. We all had a computer screen in front of us; thank goodness none of us had to work the knobs. But it meant that every document was brought before us in no time. I know that that is something the House will take on board for future occasions, should there ever be one quite as horrific as that. The counsel who appeared before us were admirable, and I think that it would not be inappropriate to mention them too.

An important debate is to follow. I say no more except to thank noble Lords very much for all the extremely kind things that have been said.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood

My Lords, it will not have escaped your Lordships' attention that I have been unable to take part in debates on the Bill. That is not through lack of interest or any wish to show any disparagement towards an immensely important project. I have read with great interest the proceedings of the House, and with even greater interest the report of the committee which was extremely interesting in all its detail. Nothing remains except for me to wish the project a very fair wind.

Viscount Goschen

My Lords, on that happy note, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, for his kind words and reciprocate them. In doing so, I recognise the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, from the Liberal Benches. With those thanks and recognition, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass.

On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons with amendments.