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Subsection (4) deals with the disposal proceeds of excess land and property. It is clear that the Secretary of State will, through the build process of Crossrail, compulsorily purchase a large amount of land that is not then needed for the operation of Crossrail, and it is necessary for the Secretary of State to be under an obligation in that respect. I am confident that, as a result of some clauses in the Bill, the Secretary of State will be forced to dispose of that land as soon as it becomes surplus to the needs of Crossrail. I am not, however, comforted about where those proceeds will go, and the subsection addresses that. If a cost is incurred in buying land that is necessary for the construction but not for the operation of Crossrail, when that land is sold those proceeds should be used to offset the total costs of the Crossrail project, or to pay
compensation to people who are prejudiced by the Crossrail project during the enactment of compulsory purchase orders.
Mr. Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater) (Con): My hon. Friend makes an important point. In Committeemost of the members of the Committee are presentthere were occasions when allotment holders, many in the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May) and others, were going to be prejudiced because of Crossrail, and we could not write in enough provision. Does my hon. Friend feel he has gone far enough in ensuring the redistribution of that money, as there will be a lot left over? We came across locations at North Pole and other places where a lot of money was going to be made available. Does my hon. Friend think he has gone far enough in making sure that the money is redistributed?
Stephen Hammond: I am keen to ensure that monies raised on the disposal of the surplus should be put back against the cost of the Crossrail project and provided to those who require compensation as a result of compulsory purchase orders, and I was content for that to be put in the Bill. The new clause does that, but if my hon. Friend thinks that we should have gone further, I am happy to accept that we should have done so. I hope he is reassured, however, that what I am trying to do with new clause 1 will at least satisfy what he would like to see done.
Mrs. May: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his generosity in giving way. I take it from what he has just said that he would also expect this new clause to cover, for example, any repayment to the local council in Windsor and Maidenhead for any infrastructure works that might be necessary as a result of Crossrail stopping at Maidenhead, if it does stop thereas he might know, I actually believe that it should go on to Reading. However, if it does stop at Maidenhead, as it would under the Bill, works would be required at Maidenhead station, and it might be necessary for the council to take some action on access roads, for example, which would, of course, be a cost for the council tax payer.
Stephen Hammond: My right hon. Friend yet again makes the pointwhich I am sure many Members are now assured ofthat she would prefer the Crossrail project to go to Reading. If the local council were to incur such costs, and they were clearly seen to be costs of providing the Crossrail project, the intention of the new clause is that her local council or authority would be able to seek redress.
This new clause is a sensible housekeeping measure, but it is more than that: it is a measure that provides the transparency and accountability that this House needs for a project of this immense national importance. I commend it to the House.
Susan Kramer (Richmond Park) (LD):
First, I reiterate my support for the Crossrail project, and I echo our appreciation of the Ministers generosity in sharing significant information on its funding. He will be aware that the Department for Transports history on the
procurement of major infrastructure is somewhat chequered, to put it generously. Consequently, there is a particular responsibility on this House to scrutinise the funding and the uses of those funds.
My colleagues in Committee and I took the opportunity to table an amendment that would have had a stronger effect than the new clause. At the end of the negotiation process for the undertaker of this project, it would have required a detailed sources of funds statement and details of the uses of those funds to be provided. It would have then given this House the opportunity to examine the numbers, to make the decision as to whether they were consistent with the history of the project and with the will of the House and, if necessary, to have acted as a brake on the project at that point in time.
The new clause does not go that far, but at least it adds to the general transparency and provides the opportunity at least to complain, even if it does not give the opportunity to act. For that reason, although I would have drafted some parts of the provision differently, I think that this would be a useful set of opportunities to include in the Bill.
Mr. Brian Binley (Northampton, South) (Con): I stand to make an appeal to the Minister. I am hopeful that my appeal will receive some responseI am sure that it will because he is a kindly old chap. There is an obvious need for transparency in the costings of any Government project. A Government project that will take so much focus and resource, and a sizeable amount of taxpayers money, needs to be as transparent at every level as we can possibly make it.
Crossrail is often seen as a London matter, but of course it is not only soas has been suggested, it impacts on every taxpayer in the land. As London will get a lot of attention with regard to sizeable infrastructure projects over the coming years, some of those taxpayers feel that perhaps they will suffer as a result of the amount of infrastructure work that will be carried out in London.
Mr. Binley: I am grateful for that intervention because it gives me the opportunity to make the point that if one examines the costings in any depth, one has no faith in any economic return projected so far. I want to return to that matter on Third Reading, because it is still open to individual judgment and the facts are not at all clear.
Kelvin Hopkins (Luton, North) (Lab): Like the hon. Gentleman, who served with me on the Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill, I am concerned about costs. Does he agree that if the project were financed entirely in the public sector, from public borrowing, it would be much cheaper?
Mr. Robert Goodwill (Scarborough and Whitby) (Con): Is it not the case that road construction projects on contract had typical cost overruns in the region of 60 per cent. whereas when private finance initiative schemes were involved the underruns were in the region of 15 per cent.? That is surely a good argument for involving the private sector, rather than having the whole thing done on the public purse.
This is seen to be a London matter, but there is concern outside London about the amount of money that London will receive for infrastructure over the next 15 or 20 years. Therefore it is even more important that taxpayers throughout the country who will contribute to the scheme can be assured that it will be run properly, costs will be kept under control and the whole scheme will be well controlled by the Government, who will have an overseeing eye. The Governments record on large infrastructure projects is not good, so we need to be sure that this case is different. I appeal to the Minister. He represents a constituency outside London, so I am sure that he will understand that point fully and, I hope, respond to it positively.
I support the new clause for one specific reason. As other hon. Members have said, much has been made of the fact that funds for the project will be raised from Londoners through council tax and business ratesas my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Scott) said earlier. My constituency will be the western terminus of Crossrail and Maidenhead chamber of commerce has raised the concern that at some stage Maidenhead businesses might be asked to contribute to costs in the area. However, in London, businesses will contribute on the basis that they will receive a benefit from Crossrail. It is possible, depending on other services, that Crossrail could produce a worse train service for Maidenhead and would therefore be a disbenefit.
The Minister will be well aware of the concerns that I have raised about services, and I hope to say more about those later. However, it is important that we recognise concerns about the implications of funding for Crossrail and whether the House will be informed and have the opportunity to scrutinise and debate those issues. It is for that reason that I wholeheartedly support new clause 1.
One of the concerns during the passage of the Bill was the changes to do with stations, mainly in Woolwich. We never quite got to the bottom of the costings, although we tried to write into the Bill a provision that the costings had to be shown to Parliament, the London Assembly, the outer boroughs and the royal boroughs. One reason that we did not get to the bottom
of the costings was that we got the okay for Woolwich at a time when we were trying to get things sorted out as quickly as possible so as to get the Bill to this stage, and there are still some grey areas.
New clause 1 would mean that some of the bits that we could not fulfil will now have the money put in. I would like to think that the Minister will push Crossrail to fill bits in, especially at Woolwich, and with the external stations at both ends and the Heathrow link. We had problems with what that would cost. If I remember rightly, that is not the responsibility of the London Mayor, although I stand to be corrected. If that is the case, I hope the new clause will help us to incorporate, as strongly as possible, the external parts.
I would describe EWS as barrow boys, in the nicest possible way, and it became quite obvious when many Committee members visited its operationsI could not gothat attempts were being made to pull the wool over our eyes. That is a glaring example of a case where the funding was not understood. We could not get to the bottom of what it was trying to do, or of what it wanted. The new clause, if it is accepted, will push such organisations into a position where they have to say precisely what their contribution to the costs will be. We never got to the bottom of the compulsory purchase, either.
Mr. Tom Harris: Three quarters of the new clause were debated in the Public Bill Committee. Subsection (4) is new but addresses an issue that was also considered in Committee. The hon. Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond) may be disappointed to hear that I will largely repeat the arguments that I made then.
I should stress that there is a great deal of common ground between us. I agree with the general direction of the points made by the Opposition. The new clause addresses the importance of transparency and the need to provide information to the public about Crossrail. During the Public Bill Committee, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State published a very slightly redacted version of the heads of terms that have been agreed with Transport for London, our co-sponsors. Copies were placed in the House Library. That document covers all the key points of the deal that will see Crossrail delivered, and I believe that colleagues found it helpful.
We are now working with TFL to turn those heads of terms into binding arrangements. Our presumption is that the documents will be made public. As with the heads of terms, we may have to withhold some information to protect commercial interests. The Government understand the appetite for information about Crossrail and intend to make public whatever we can, subject only to the requirements of commercial
confidentiality in relation either to third parties or the public sectors negotiating position. The published heads of terms explicitly state that Cross London Rail Links Ltd, the company that will deliver the project, will be required to publish information in order to ensure a high level of transparency on the progress and cost of Crossrail.
Let me turn briefly to the specifics of the new clause. By publishing the heads of terms, the Government have, in practice, already published the information that proposed new subsection (1) would require. I have made it clear that we intend to make public the relevant detailed agreements that will implement the heads of terms, and I believe that that would deal with a large part of what proposed new subsection (2) would achieve. The financial consequences of Crossrail for London mentioned in proposed new subsection (2)(b) are a matter for the Mayor. I know that he will want to be clear with Londoners about the matter, and he is in any case subject to the scrutiny of the London assembly.
Proposed new subsection (3) refers to the desire for ongoing information about progress during construction. I have already referred to explicit statements in the heads of terms about the provision of exactly that sort of information. Proposed new subsection (4) would require an annual statement about property disposed of and the use to which the proceeds are put. Clearly, that will not happen until the project is well advanced and, for example, construction sites are no longer required. In case there is any suggestion that, when land acquired for Crossrail is disposed of, it will somehow provide windfall gains for the Government or the Mayor, the financial schedule in the heads of terms makes it clear that the proceeds of property disposal are already included as a core part of the funding package for Crossrail. That is the exact point made by the hon. Member for Wimbledon. In other words, the proceeds from such disposals will go towards the net costs of Crossrail. The policy of transparency that I have described to the House should mean that a statutory requirement for information on how that happens is unnecessary.
I hope that I have made it clear that the Government and the Mayor both recognise the importance of keeping the public well informed about the way Crossrail is taken forward. We have already taken steps to do that and will continue to do so.
The hon. Member for Wimbledon referred to my constant referrals in the Public Bill Committee to the precedent that was set by the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Bill. That Bill set no precedent for a clause that demands the publication of such details. Our political environment today, with its need for transparency and all sorts of financial and other arrangements, is many times better than that under what I believe historians now refer to as a Conservative Government.
The Minister mentioned the Governments intentions several times. If he is so keen on transparency, he should have no problem with accepting the new clause, as it would allow those intentions to be made real and enable this House to scrutinise them.
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