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Solicitor-General's Salary Order 1997

7.50 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 12th June be approved [3rd Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. This draft order provides for an increase in the Solicitor-General's salary to the same rate as that of the Lord Advocate.

Following the general election, the Solicitor-General, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, was appointed a Minister in this House. Previous reports from the Top Salaries Review Body and the Senior Salaries Review Body have supported the traditional arrangement of paying the Solicitor-General the same salary as the Lord Advocate when both have been in the same House. Until 1979 they were both in the House of Commons. As both are now in the House of Lords, the salary of the Solicitor-General should be increased to match that of the Lord Advocate once again.

The order will come into effect on 27th June 1997 and will increase the salary of the Solicitor-General to £78,072 (from the current rate of £52,278). This level of salary was recommended for the Lord Advocate in the 1996 Senior Salaries Review Body report. I commend the order to the House.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 12th June be approved [3rd Report from the Joint Committee].--(Lord McIntosh of Haringey.)

Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord the Deputy Chief Whip for the way in which he introduced the order. I shall keep the House for only a few moments. It is an interesting order. It is the first time that we have had an order of this type in this Parliament, which is not surprising. It is also interesting because of the introduction of the Solicitor-General to this House. I might add that I find it a very wonderful thing that after the result of the general election, with the enormous number of new Labour MPs who entered the House of Commons, among that great bulk they could not find their own Solicitor-General and had to come to the unelected House of Lords to fill that particular post. That must say something about the role of this House.

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The order is to come into force on 27th June 1997. Does that mean that the poor Solicitor-General will be rather more poverty-stricken up until that date than he otherwise might have been, and that he will not receive any pay between his appointment and 27th June? If so, I admire his selflessness. Perhaps the noble Lord will be able to advise me on that point.

I had intended to ask how the figure had been reached. However, the noble Lord explained that by saying that the Solicitor-General was to be paid at the same level as the Lord Advocate. My question then is: how is it that the Solicitor-General for England and Wales is not being paid at the same level as the Solicitor-General for Scotland, who is being paid only £66,811? That strikes me as rather bad luck for the Solicitor-General for Scotland. Considering that the Government says they are a Unionist party, I am sure that this debate should be drawn to the attention of the Solicitor-General, who may have something to say about it.

Both the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor-General are paid more than the Lord Privy Seal in this House. Some may think that that is fair enough. No doubt the noble Lord the Deputy Chief Whip has a justification for it.

More worrying is the fact that before 1st July 1996 the Lord Advocate, and therefore the Solicitor-General had he been in this House, was paid £57,241. Ministers of State in the House of Lords were paid £50,328, a difference of some £7,000. Ministers of State in he House of Lords are now paid £51,838, and now the Solicitor-General and the Lord Advocate are to be paid £78,000. The House will realise that there is a substantial gap between the two. The party opposite will know more about differentials than I do. However, it strikes me that these figures are more out of kilter than they should be.

I am also aware that Sir Michael Perry has been reviewing the position of the pay of Ministers in the House of Lords. I wonder whether the noble Lord might indicate how that review is going; whether or not Sir Michael Perry has reported; if he has not, when he hopes to report; and what the likely view of the Government would be if he recommended an increase. The Labour Government having bitten the bullet on paying the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor-General substantially more, I should be sorry if noble Lords who sit on the Front Bench opposite did not also receive a fair crack of the whip.

I am conscious that in saying this I may have an interest to declare. I believe that my own humble salary is somehow tied to that of a Member on the Bench opposite. I am not quite sure which one; and in any case it is very lowly. Having declared that interest, I hope that the noble Lord the Deputy Chief Whip will be able to answer some of the questions that I pose. I have no objection to this order going through in order for the Solicitor-General to be paid.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his comments and for the constructive way in which he approached the order. I can readily dismiss the argument that there is nobody

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in the House of Commons suitable to be Solicitor-General. Nothing in this order, or indeed in the appointment of a Solicitor-General in this House, should give the noble Lord that impression. It may well be merely a matter of my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer of Thoroton being eminently well qualified for the post and it is entirely appropriate that he should be in this House.

I am afraid the noble Lord is quite right in saying that my noble and learned friend will have to wait until 27th June--it is only this Friday--to receive his higher salary. I understand that he is bearing this burden with equanimity.

The noble Lord said that the salary for the Solicitor-General for England and Wales should perhaps be consonant with that of the Solicitor-General for Scotland. He may or may not be right. However, that is not what the Top Salaries Review Body and the Senior Salaries Review Body recommended. Their recommendation on more than one occasion has been that the two posts of Solicitor-General for England and Wales and Lord Advocate should be the ones that are made equal.

The noble Lord then turned to the wider issue of ministerial salaries in this House. If he is to declare an interest, then I must declare the same interest, as must all of us on this Front Bench. I do not believe that under our rules it is one that disqualifies us from considering the matter. Indeed, it would be an absurdity if that were the case.

The noble Lord is quite right in saying that the Senior Salaries Review Body in its report of July last year did not consider the position of Lords Ministers. It deferred for further consideration the matter of the salaries of Lords Ministers, describing it as a development recommendation which should be considered by the Prime Minister. It was not considered by the previous Prime Minister, and I believe the noble Lord will agree that the present Prime Minister has had rather a lot of urgent business on his plate during the past seven weeks that would make it quite difficult for the matter to be referred to him.

Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt at this stage. My understanding is that the Senior Salaries Review Body has considered this subject and has taken evidence. Presumably as a result of that evidence it will make recommendations. My question is: does the noble Lord know whether it has completed that review, when it is likely to report and what the attitude of the Government is likely to be? The noble Lord may have answered the question as to what attitude the Government will take. He indicated that they have accepted its recommendation about the Solicitor-General, and therefore I assume that they would accept any recommendation that came from the Senior Salaries Review Body on ministerial pay in the House of Lords.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I do not think that the noble Lord is entitled to make that assumption or to tempt me into making it. As I was

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about to continue to say, as he and I know--at least I gave evidence to the board when I was in Opposition--the Senior Salaries Review Body has been considering the issue of salaries in the House of Lords. I do not know when it will report or what its recommendations will be and therefore it is impossible for me to say what the Government's response would be to any recommendations it makes.

The noble Lord said that this would make the Solicitor-General's pay greater than that of the Lord Privy Seal. It is true that the Lord Privy Seal has, in common with other Cabinet Ministers, restricted the salary that he draws to £58,876, but he is entitled to £77,963, which is very much in line with the salary now recommended.

Unless any other noble Lord wishes to intervene, I commend the order to the House.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Channel Tunnel Rail Link (Stratford Station and Subsidiary Works) Order 1997

8.1 p.m.

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. Perhaps I may, first, welcome the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, to what I believe is his first speech from the Opposition Front Bench on transport, although I am glad to have seen him already active at Question Time this week. I hope that he will enjoy the transport brief as much as I do. It gives me some comfort to see him there because it makes me feel quite well established in the job.

As this is the first time that a Motion tabled under the provisions of Section 9 of the Transport and Works Act has been debated in this House, I should perhaps briefly explain the purpose of this special statutory procedure. Orders under the Transport and Works Act 1992 replaced private Bills as the means by which new railways, tramways and certain other works projects are normally authorised. Section 9 of the Transport and Works Act gave Parliament a continuing and important role in relation to schemes which, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, are of national significance by making it a requirement that the approval of each House be obtained before the Transport and Works Act order can be made.

If a resolution approving such proposals is passed in both this House and another place, the application goes forward for more detailed consideration at public inquiry. It would then be for the Secretary of State to decide, in the light of the inspector's report, whether to authorise the proposals in question by making a TWA order. The Secretary of State is not bound to make an order endorsed in principle by Parliament and until he makes his decision he must keep an open mind on the merits of the proposals. Nevertheless he would take careful note of Parliament's view in reaching his decision.

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The Section 9 procedure has been used only once before, for the Central Railway project, but, as the resolution approving the project was defeated in another place, this House did not have the opportunity to debate it. This time the resolution to approve the proposed Stratford station and twin-track connection to the North London and West Coast main lines was passed in another place on 12th June.

The use of the Section 9 procedure in this case is rather unusual. It arises because Section 42 of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Act 1996 provides specifically for these proposals, in any application for a TWA order, to be referred to Parliament under the Section 9 procedure. The Secretary of State has not had to form an opinion on whether they are of national significance: the decision to refer this application to Parliament has been taken out of his hands by Section 42 of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Act. This special provision was inserted in the Act, with all-party support, to give Parliament an opportunity of formally demonstrating its support in principle for the proposed works.

The Government support these proposals in principle and therefore urge the House to pass this Motion. If the House were to reject it, that would in effect be the end of the matter as the order could not be made. If the House passes the Motion, the project will go forward for more detailed examination at public inquiry. My right honourable friend will then decide whether the order should be made, having taken carefully into account Parliament's approval and the inquiry inspector's recommendations.

With the leave of the House, I shall set out the Government's views on the proposals more fully at the end of the debate. I beg to move.

Moved, That this House, pursuant to Section 9(4) of the Transport and Works Act 1992 ("the Act") as applied by Section 42 of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Act 1996, approves the following proposals, contained in an application for an Order submitted under Section 6 of the Act by Eurostar (UK) Limited on 23rd January 1997 and entitled The Channel Tunnel Rail Link (Stratford Station and Subsidiary Works) Order, for

(1) The construction, maintenance and operation of--

(i) in the London Boroughs of Hackney and Newham, a station at Stratford for international and domestic services on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link with vehicular parking and other facilities in connection therewith; railways comprising down and up lines to serve international and domestic platforms at that station; and a station access road off Waterden Road, including a bridge over the River Lea;

(ii) in the London Borough of Hackney, a realignment and improvement of Waterden Road;

(iii) in the London Borough of Newham, a subway at the existing suburban Stratford station with a pedestrian link to the new station; and

(iv) in the London Boroughs of Camden and Islington, railways near St. Pancras to provide access between the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and the West Coast Main Line by means of a connection to the North London Line.

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(2) The authorisation of works ancillary to the above-mentioned works, including the stopping-up of York Way in the London Boroughs of Camden and Islington, the making of a means of access to and from that road and interference with waterways.

(3) The compulsory acquisition or use of land or rights in land for the intended works; compensation for this and for the injurious affection of land; and the compulsory use of subsoil.--(Baroness Hayman.)

8.6 p.m.

Lord Methuen: My Lords, from these Benches we welcome the proposals put forward in the order. I particularly do so as, having been a member of the CTRL Select Committee of this House, I am especially aware of the importance of the proposals to the scheme as a whole. Having sat through 32 days of the Select Committee, I can appreciate the benefits of having a TWA system.

It is essential that the benefits of the Channel Tunnel are made easily available to the whole country and not just to London and the south east. The provision of the double-track direct connection to the West Coast main line is a vital element and will save some 20 minutes of journey time by avoiding reversal at St. Pancras. It is disappointing that it is not practical to have a similar connection to the East Coast main line.

An inherent worry about the proposal is that the North London line will not have adequate capacity to handle both its existing and future Channel Tunnel rail link traffic. I trust that Railtrack can justify, and will carry out, any necessary improvements to avoid such a bottleneck. Reading the report of the debate on the order in another place, one is aware of the serious concerns about the proposals for the new Stratford station. The urban regeneration of the surrounding area is vital and it is essential that the new station and its pedestrian and road links and other facilities are integrated into the redevelopment of that area of east London with consequential benefit for jobs and the local economy. Those are aspects which will be properly left to the public inquiry and the inspector to resolve.

I have further concerns with regard to rail freight. We had a debate in this Chamber recently on the European railway strategy, which emphasised the need for encouraging traffic off the road. One hopes that connections to the West Coast main line will enable the rail freight freeway concept to be extended dramatically and effectively to the north and to the Midlands by the provision of new train paths to the tunnel, using this link.

There is already overloading of the West London line and the railways of the south east have only limited freight capacity. For effective freight use we need to minimise delays in the London area and at Dollands Moor with locomotives and crews working through from the north to the continental destinations and with open access to the French railways. Inspection at Dollands Moor should be automated, using electronic checking of loading gauge, axle weight and hot box detection, all of which should be practicable.

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I am glad that the facilities covered by the order can be achieved without the use of public finance. I look forward to being able to make use of the regional Eurostar services and strongly support the order.

8.8 p.m.

Lord Cadman: My Lords, in rising to support this Motion, I declare an interest in that last year, along with the previous speaker, I had the honour to serve on the Select Committee that examined the CTRL Bill, now an Act. I hope that that will enable me more fully to explain this order to your Lordships.

I am grateful to the Minister for the way in which she presented the order. London & Continental, as part of its bid to construct and operate the CTRL, included in its specification an international and domestic station at Stratford and an improved twin-track connection with the existing North London Line across the King's Cross railway lands. Those latter works are one of the subjects of this order and are to enable traffic to and from other parts of the UK to access the CTRL via the North London Line without having to go into St. Pancras. The station at Stratford will enable these trains to serve London, and its establishment there will enable much regeneration and improvement to take place at what will in fact become a transport centre with connections to central London via the Jubilee Line, to the Docklands Railway and to many parts of south-east England, not only by existing lines but also by the CTRL itself.

The CTRL Act provides for an open box section--a sort of trench--across the Stratford railway lines of about 1 kilometre in length, into which the line will rise from its tunnel from King's Cross and from which it will descend into its tunnel to Barking. That box will accommodate four running lines and platforms and a railway access point for maintenance and emergency purposes.

The order in front of us today provides for the construction of a station at that point with all the necessary facilities for processing international and domestic passengers. It will be connected with the existing station at Stratford by a pedestrian walkway, which I understand will have some kind of travelator installed in it. Thus, travellers from the Continent will be able to complete their journey into London and the south east easily. Similarly, joining passengers will find well planned access and connections to the new service.

The station at Stratford should do much to enhance the regeneration of that part of east London without compromising the local environment to any great extent. Access to the site has been the subject of careful and detailed study and, while car parking will be provided, its use will be managed in such a way as to discourage its use for any purpose other than in connection with international travel.

London & Continental attaches considerable importance to the regional services that will use the station. It has been established that some 20 million people will live within a four-hour journey time to Paris.

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Birmingham and the Midlands generally are included in that area and Manchester also will be just over five hours distant, using the links provided for in this order.

One of the advantages of the north of London Eurostar trains, as they are called, is the potential for a seamless and uncomplicated journey from the UK provinces to, in due course, many continental destinations. The security and immigration regimes suggested for the operation of these services appear at present to be somewhat lacking in practicality. They involve the total segregation of intending passengers at various provincial stations in circumstances with which those stations are ill equipped to deal. Such procedures are better done on the trains themselves. I hope that in due course, with the approaching completion of a proper facility at Stratford, careful consideration will be given--dare I say it--to instructing the immigration authorities to be a little more positive about how they propose to service these trains.

The King's Cross connection, while achieving a 20-minute saving in journey time, will do much to alleviate fears that the existing North London Line service will be compromised by its increased use by Eurostar services. The provision of a twin track connection in place of the original single line will provide much additional flexibility of pathing over the critical section of the North London Line through Camden Road by permitting parallel working through this section and reducing the likelihood of the North London Line being blocked by a Eurostar awaiting a path through to the CTRL.

We are all aware that major infrastructure projects usually bear an environmental and human price. I am pleased to be able to tell the House that this scheme is something of an exception. More than 90 per cent. of the land involved is railway land already earmarked for the rail link project and some distance from residential areas. Construction will be undertaken as part of the overall rail link works and will not add significantly to the environmental impact. The comprehensive regime for environmental protection put in place for the rail link Act will also apply to this scheme.

I hope, therefore, that your Lordships on all sides will support a scheme which has so many benefits. The support of this House for the Motion today will be consistent with the expressed will of the last Parliament, which strongly supported the principle of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Bill in both Houses without a division. Approval of the Motion today will enable the scheme to go forward for detailed consideration at a public inquiry in due course.

8.15 p.m.

Lord Berkeley: My Lords, in rising to support this order, perhaps I may first declare an interest as chairman of the Rail Freight Group. I was interested in the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Methuen, about 32 days sitting in Select Committee. I remind him that, if this order is approved in this House, there will be a public inquiry and we shall see whether the total length of time for the passage of the order through both Houses and for the public inquiry is longer or shorter than its

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equivalent for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Bill. That is something that we shall be looking at in a few years' time.

The noble Lord, Lord Methuen, also mentioned rail freight. I hope that I can put his mind at rest somewhat over the capacity for rail freight in the London area. Earlier this week, Railtrack announced that it would develop a kind of freight bypass for London, going round through Redhill and Guildford to Reading, for freight that does not need to go into or out of London. It is to be hoped that to some extent that will mitigate the problem of capacity constraints within the London area.

I have supported the Channel Tunnel rail link for a very long time, beginning long before I arrived in your Lordships' House. But I have always felt that the rail link was wanting without a station at Stratford and without a proper connection linking to the lines going beyond London. It is a credit to the people of Newham and East London generally that they have fought so hard for the station in the face of much opposition from the previous government, for reasons that I fail to understand. As the noble Lord, Lord Cadman, said, Stratford is a most wonderful transport interchange and it is desperately in need of a little economic regeneration. There are many arguments for building an interchange station there and I strongly support the inclusion of that part of the order.

Similarly, doubling the connection to the North London Line has to go in. I remind your Lordships that what is included in the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Act was originally intended as an emergency line only, so that if a train were stuck in a tunnel and could not get into St. Pancras, it had a way out without going backwards, which is alleged to be difficult. There was never any intention of running through trains north of London. It is a tribute to the present promoters, who have seen the need to avoid reversing in St. Pancras, that they have now come forward with a very sensible scheme. So I support both parts of the order in that respect.

I should like briefly to revisit one or two matters which I raised in various debates in this House on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Bill. My first point relates to the construction of the Channel Tunnel rail link and specifically to the matters contained in this order. I should then like to move on to the operations.

As regards the construction, there has been a need for as much material as possible to come by rail. There have been ongoing discussions between the promoters and the English, Welsh and Scottish railways over facilities for the transfer of the aggregates and cement to King's Cross. Some rather unpleasant negotiations took place on the night that the English, Welsh and Scottish railways companies were transferred from British Rail, which seemed to have the effect of removing any security of tenure of the aggregate plants from King's Cross, even though they were required to service the construction. I believe that that issue has now been resolved. But there is still the problem of how many tracks are needed to unload the aggregates. It is very sad that that discussion is still going on about a year later.

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If there are not sufficient tracks to unload the aggregates, they cannot come by rail. It is as simple as that. I hope that my noble friend the Minister will use her best endeavours to encourage the promoters and the others involved to sort out that problem quickly.

Turning to Stratford, a year ago I raised the question of some of the land being available for a rail freight terminal, because there is nothing in the area left between Tilbury and Cricklewood. I quite accept that on the Stratford box area, that land has to be dedicated to development to help pay for the station. But up in Temple Mills, to the right hand side, there is a very large area of land which I believe could be used for a small rail freight terminal. It is ideally placed to service a fruit and vegetable wholesale market just across the river from there. It does not even have to have a security of tenure so long as it can move from one place to the other. Again, the negotiations have been going on intermittently for a year with no firm commitment or agreement and I hope that that is something else that my noble friend can further by putting pressure on the promoters.

Turning to the construction generally, I looked up some figures for the Channel tunnel construction the other day. On the UK side, 6,500 trains were used over three or four years to bring materials to the construction site. I hope that the promoters will comply with the spirit as well as the letter of the various undertakings given and bring everything that they can in by rail. It will save an enormous amount of environmental damage to local roads in the Stratford and King's Cross area as well as down the line.

I turn now to the operations. The noble Lord, Lord Cadman, raised the question of the through trains north of London and frontier control activities. He is absolutely right to raise that matter; I raised it a year ago. As I understand it, no progress has been made since that time. It is remarkable that in 1997 the promoters are prevented from carrying national passengers on international trains--they are not really international trains; they are inter-Community trains.

I know that frontiers still exist in this country, but it must be possible to come up with a regime which allows the frontier control people to accept as normal custom and practice a system of processing people on the train. If they need advice on that, they should look back to a morning in March when I returned to London from Paris on the first train of the day. There were six British frontier control people on that train. If the train had been full they would only have had to process 40 people each per hour, and the train was not full so they were probably down to around 10 people per hour. I am sure that they spent the night in Paris on business, but one wonders quite what they were doing there.

There is plenty of time to process people on the train. There is plenty of time to do the necessary checks before the train goes into the tunnel. The consequences of not doing that are that the trains going north of London--even those travelling to London, but I shall stick to those going north--cannot carry national passengers. Problems will occur when the north of London Eurostar starts operating later this year. It will start from

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Manchester or Glasgow on its way to Paris. One will not be able to get on to the train at Glasgow and get off at Crewe or Stafford; one will not be able to get on to the train at Stafford on the return journey and get off at Glasgow. Consequently, there will be a large number of empty seats on that train as it gets further from the tunnel, yet there is plenty of time for the frontier control people to process people as the train enters the tunnel. Bearing in mind that we recently read that London & Continental has had to delay its financing process because its traffic and revenue numbers are not up to scratch, surely that is something the Government could consider to assist the company in encouraging more people to use the trains when it launches its extremely important service north of London later this year.

The noble Lord, Lord Cadman, mentioned the immigration service on the trains. I should like to put it the other way round and say that the immigration service is a service to the people using the trains and not the other way round. I hope that the Minister will be able to pass on our comments to the Customs and Immigration services and all the other frontier control people so that when London & Continental starts its service north of London later this year, it can start as it ought to continue; that is, with open stations. When the train reaches Ashford or London on the way to the tunnel, the checks should be done on the train.

I conclude by commending the order to the House. I fully support it and wish it a fair wind in the public inquiry.

8.25 p.m.

Lord Mountevans: My Lords, I begin, unscripted, by echoing the last few paragraphs of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley. It is critical--I may have misheard him; he mentioned Stafford but let me concentrate on Stratford--that the trains create a journey opportunity from the west coast main line into East Anglia. The train existed in the old days in a different form--in fact, some of us went on the last trip--but in terms of passenger convenience, journey opportunity and especially in terms of viability, his argument is well made.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, reminded us, this is the first TWA order to reach this House. The only other one that I can remember--that in relation to the Great Central Railway--died in another place last summer. I cannot think of a better way or a better subject with which to start the process in this House tonight, though I would prefer the expression "national benefit"--on which the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, also touched--to "national interest". One's interests and one's benefits are not always the same thing. But if I am to say what I find good about the order--and there is a great deal--let me say it briefly.

The order is good for London. It gives us a third Eurostar station by adding Stratford to Waterloo and St. Pancras. That must be good as a matter of consumer choice and will surely be even better in terms of contributing to solving the chronic congestion problems that exist in the city itself. The order is good for

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Kent to London commuters because of the benefits of integrating with existing infrastructure at Stratford, as has been mentioned already. I refer to Anglian Railways, Great Eastern Railways, the Docklands Light Railway, the Central Line and the Jubilee Line extension.

I originally thought that this issue was largely a passenger matter. But the other part of the order, the West Coast link, benefits not only passengers, but also potentially the through-freight from the Continent. We have already discussed trans-frontier freight and anything that makes trans-frontier freight easier must be welcomed.

Perhaps I may mention three caveats. So far I have spoken of all the things that I find good in the underlying order. There are three points which I do not say are bad, but which I should not like to see overlooked. The first is the matter of employment. Most noble Lords will have seen the brief. Putting it shortly, potentially 15,000 jobs may be created in an area of the Stratford hinterland where there are 90,000 unemployed. However, we must not overlook the Docklands experience. Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of jobs were either created or safeguarded. Sadly, not many of them seemed relevant to the local unemployment problem. I hope that the Stratford Promotion Group, whose brief is extremely helpful, will not overlook that fact.

I hope also that all parties concerned will remember the needs of a group unmentioned either when the order went through another place, or so far this evening or in the brief. I put it bluntly: I refer to the needs of the disabled. We must make sure that they have the opportunity to enjoy the wonderful benefits that we have been discussing this evening.

I have one final concern: the timetable. It seems to be as long or as short as the public inquiry, and transport infrastructure inquiries have a habit of expanding not only into the time available but well beyond it. I believe the longest on record at the moment is Stansted; but that will soon be overtaken by Terminal 5. Much closer to home and more personally I can remember an infrastructure inquiry in the New Forest which was scheduled for two working days but actually took 30.

This topic was well raised last Thursday when my noble friend Lord Kinnoull asked an Unstarred Question. Of course, I agree that all interests concerned should have the chance to argue their case; to have their day in court, to use our expression; to have their time at bat, to use the Americanism. I hope the inspector's remit will be such, however, that relevance to the works we are discussing overrides irrelevance. A public inquiry can seriously prejudice the viability of a concept such as Stratford and the west coast main line link. I do hope that this will not turn out to be the case.

Yesterday afternoon I travelled from Brussels to Waterloo. The journey was immaculate and it was punctual; it took me almost five hours from Brussels to my own home. If Stratford had been available, I could probably have saved 30 minutes. That is just one more reason among many, albeit a personal one, for welcoming this order.

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8.30 p.m.

Lord Crook: My Lords, I too welcome this order. I am sure that we shall all benefit from it. I do not wish to waste time by repeating what has already been said, so I shall be brief.

The Channel Tunnel rail link is a continental railway. It is not clear, however, whether it will be built to take continental-sized trains like the French TGV. Their trains are bigger than ours and they will not fit. If that is to be the case, then we are in trouble. This should be emphasised with reference to the North London link, because immediately there is no prospect of continental trains running along it. The west coast main line will not take them. That link ought nevertheless to be built to a size that can cope with French trains and where, inevitably, our lines are made bigger.

We should also warn that it would be a pity if the Stratford station construction followed the short-sighted approach at Ashford International, where it has been beautifully arranged so that French trains cannot stop at the Ashford terminal station but will bypass it. Goodness knows why!

Finally, I have a question for the noble Baroness. There is a remarkable little phrase in paragraph 12 of the order: "subsoil or under-surface". In the Oxford Dictionary "under-surface" apparently applies to the "under sides of the shafts of a cart". It is also fairly obviously the underside of the wings of an aircraft. Would the noble Baroness please let me know what it is supposed to mean in the context of this order?

Leaving that aside, I strongly support the order.

8.33 p.m.

Lord Sefton of Garston: My Lords, my apologies to the next listed speaker. I enter the debate because I find myself in a difficult situation. I thought we were to hear the details of the works before we heard the Government's view, so that we would know what we were talking about.

When the Channel Tunnel Bill came to this House it was opposed. It was opposed because some people wanted a public inquiry into the whole question of the Channel Tunnel in order to assess its consequences for the rest of the country. One of the points, put quite forcefully, was that the present problem in Great Britain was too much development in the south east, thereby creating a barrier between the rest of the country, including Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and the Continent, where the large growth that we need will evidently take place.

The argument against a public inquiry was, "We can settle it without that; rest assured that we will be looking very carefully at the prospect of linking the Channel Tunnel, particularly with the West Coast Line". That was accepted, and we all went along with the idea that that was what would happen. It would not be a question of transferring in London passengers from the north to the Channel Tunnel. There would be a direct line from the north west, Northern Ireland and Scotland right through the south east to the

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Continent. At the time I thought that was a perfectly reasonable thing to say. On the Order Paper today, however, I see,

    "in the London Boroughs of Camden and Islington, railways near St. Pancras to provide access between the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and the West Coast Main Line by means of a connection to the North London Line".
At first I took that to mean that we were to get a physical link by rail between the rest of the country through the Channel Tunnel without any stopping at all or any interference of that progress in London. It now appears, when I look at the schedule of works, that there is no mention of the West Coast main line. It merely talks of a connection to the North London Line. If my reading of the situation is right, once again the movement from the rest of the country will come up against a barrier. I look forward to being told that I am wrong. I had no hesitation in subscribing to my party's view at the time of what was the real solution to the traffic problems and development problems of Great Britain. I have no hesitation in reaffirming that.

I had a word with the Minister beforehand. I thought that by now I would have heard the details of what exactly was to happen. I have not. I hope still to hear them, and I hope that they will be along the lines of the assurances given to us when the public inquiry did not take place. If one thing has been very firmly established--it was, I believe, the noble Lord, Lord Mountevans, who said so--it is that what is proposed is good for east London and the Jubilee Line. Yes, it is very good for east London, and to hell with the rest of the country's development. There are too many developments going on in London.

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