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Lord Williams of Elvel: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that the capitalisation of LCR was seriously insufficient and that, in taking on this contract, it had no idea that the Eurostar revenues would be less than it had assumed? Have the shareholders of LCR written off all their liabilities or are they prepared to face up to the liabilities that may be consequential on the collapse of LCR?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, as the House will be aware from the Statement of the Deputy Prime Minister in another place, we are in the middle of a 30-day period following LCR coming to the Government and explaining that it had indeed, as my noble friend pointed out, grossly overestimated the profit it would make from operating Eurostar services and that this had undermined the company's financing plans and asking the Government for an extra £1.2 billion to help bridge that gap. The Deputy Prime Minister made it clear that, although the Government were committed to contributing the £1.8 billion, a further £1.2 million was unacceptable. We are now in the 30-day period of seeing whether LCR can come up with another way of fulfilling its obligations under the development agreement.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: My Lords, I am sure the Government share our concern that the failure of LCR could lead either to the non-construction of the Channel Tunnel rail link or to only its partial construction. There is the further disbenefit that if it were not continued as far as St. Pancras, the whole development of that area of London would be under threat, including the contributions from the single regeneration fund and the private sector. Will the Government do everything they possibly can to ensure that the Channel Tunnel rail link is completed, even if that means doing it in sections? We must have at some

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point a clear indication that the Government are committed to the project and will find a way of carrying it out.

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I note the comments of the noble Baroness. As I said earlier, we are looking very carefully--I know that London and Continental Railways is also looking very carefully--to see whether there is a solution to what is a grave problem. She is right to point out that there are a number of inter-related issues--this is not simply about links between Kent and St. Pancras--surrounding the CTRL, particularly the redevelopment and regeneration projects at Stratford and around Ebbsfleet. These are serious issues. I should make it clear to her, in reply to her question about building only part of the CTRL, that the Act and the development agreement both provide for a railway between St. Pancras and the Channel Tunnel. That is what we are talking about, and the Government are looking to LCR to come up with a proposal.

Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, following my first supplementary question, has my noble friend noticed the definite and deafening silence of the Opposition on this matter?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, would like to intervene.

Lord Brabazon of Tara: My Lords, I was about to rise to my feet. However, in deference to the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, I waited until he had finished his question. I was rising as he rose, but I naturally deferred to a senior Member of the House like the noble Lord. Being, as we are, in the middle of this 30-day period, can she give an assurance that at the end of the period she will make a Statement to the House on the outcome of the negotiations? I can understand that perhaps noble Lords behind her would not welcome such a Statement. Can the noble Baroness also confirm that, of the £1.8 billion of government money that was promised to this project, at least a half of that was to improve the Kent commuter lines? Therefore, if any alternative plan were put forward which did not improve Kent commuter lines, presumably that figure of £1.8 billion would be up for negotiation if not cancelled altogether?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, when the Deputy Prime Minister made his Statement in another place he undertook to make a further report to Parliament when he had had a chance to consider any proposals that were put to him by LCR during the 30-day period. As the noble Lord will be aware, your Lordships' House had risen at the time that Statement was made and therefore it was not repeated. But we would be anxious that the House have the opportunity to discuss any further proposals.

The noble Lord asked about the Kent commuter lines. It is correct that the project has implications not only for links between Europe and London and indeed other parts of Great Britain; but there are also important

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advantages in terms of commuting services and the regeneration issues.

Lord Chancellor (Tenure of Office) (Amendment) Bill [H.L.]

3.36 p.m.

Lord Alderdice: My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to make further provision about the law relating to the tenure of the office of Lord Chancellor by persons who are not members of the Church of England. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a first time.--(Lord Alderdice.)

On Question, Bill read a first time, and to be printed.

Electricity Generation Bill [H.L.]

Lord Ezra: My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to extend the obligation to generate electricity from certain fuel sources. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a first time.--(Lord Ezra.)

On Question, Bill read a first time, and to be printed.

Data Protection Bill [H.L.]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That it be an instruction to the Grand Committee to whom the Data Protection Bill [H.L.] has been committed that they consider the Bill in the following order:

Clauses 1 to 4, Schedules 1 to 4, Clauses 5 and 6, Schedule 5, Clauses 7 to 36, Schedule 7, Clauses 37 to 46, Schedule 6, Clauses 47 and 48, Schedule 8, Clauses 49 and 50, Schedule 9, Clauses 51 to 63, Schedules 10 and 11, Clause 64.--(Lord Williams of Mostyn.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Bank of England Bill

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

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Moved, That it be an instruction to the Grand Committee to whom the Bank of England Bill has been committed that they consider the Bill in the following order:

Clause 1, Schedule 1, Clauses 2 to 6, Schedule 2, Clauses 7 to 13, Schedule 3, Clauses 14 to 22, Schedule 4, Clause 23, Schedule 5, Clauses 24 to 26, Schedule 6, Clauses 27 to 37, Schedule 7, Clauses 38 to 42, Schedule 8, Clause 43, Schedule 9, Clauses 44 to 46.--(Lord McIntosh of Haringey.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Teaching and Higher Education Bill [H.L.]

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the amendments for the Report stage be marshalled and considered in the following order:

Clause 1, Schedule 1, Clauses 2 to 29, Schedules 2 and 3.--(Baroness Blackstone.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Local Government (Experimental Arrangements) Bill [H.L.]

Read a third time: an amendment (privilege) made; Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.

Greater London Authority (Referendum) Bill

3.40 p.m.

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I beg to move that the Commons reasons be now considered.

Moved, That the Commons reasons be now considered.--(Baroness Hayman.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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COMMONS REASONS
[The page and line number refer to Bill (49) as first printed by the Lords.]
LORDS AMENDMENT

1

Clause 1, page 1, line 8, after ("prescribe,") insert ("but not less that eight weeks after publication of a Bill providing for the establishment of a Greater London Authority and the election of a mayor for Greater London,")


The Commons disagreed to this amendment for the following reason--
1A

Because it is not desirable to make the publication of a Bill providing for the establishment of a Greater London Authority a precondition of the holding of the referendum.

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on their Amendment No. 1 to which the Commons have disagreed for the reason numbered 1A. This referendum is about giving the people of London a say in their future and giving them the ability to signal--or to withhold--their consent to proposals for new city-wide government for their capital.

Debate on this Bill has shown that, despite sometimes differing views about the proposals on offer, all sides of the House are united in wanting to ensure that as many Londoners as possible have the opportunity to cast their vote on referendum day. It is for that very reason that the Government have chosen to hold the referendum on 7th May, the same day as local elections. Combining the two will help increase voter turnout for both polls and avoid the possibility of voter fatigue setting in and reducing participation at a later poll.

Combining the polls will also save a not insignificant sum of public money although I accept that effective democratic participation must always weigh more heavily than cost in making a decision of this sort. As I explained in Committee, a requirement to publish a Bill before the referendum would in effect delay the poll by very many months. It could not be held by 7th May. We are working very hard to bring forward the White Paper publication date towards the end of March so that there is time for people to see the proposals in detail and to make up their minds on them. It would not be possible to turn the White Paper's proposals into a Bill in time for the joint poll. That means that we would lose the benefits of a combined poll.

Such a requirement could only be justified if the value of the additional information that would be available to the public as a result of publication of a Bill outweighed the negative impact of delaying the referendum. I do not believe this to be the case. As I have said to the House before we will publish a White Paper well in advance of the referendum. It will set out our proposals in clear and comprehensible terms. In addition, a summary version of the White Paper will be sent free to every London household. The Government's proposals will be fully explained to Londoners. Publication of what will be a complex and lengthy piece of proposed legislation would not add to that process.

This is not an argument about differing principles. We all agree that Londoners should be fully informed of the issues on which they will vote. The amendment is about how we go about ensuring that. There can be no doubt about the Government's commitment to ensuring that

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people are well informed of the issues to be put to them in the referendum. But to expect and to continue with the amendment that insists on the publication of a Bill before a referendum would wreck the whole timetable for that referendum. I suggest that the disadvantages far outweigh any minimal advantages of having a draft Bill rather than the clearly enunciated proposals set out in the White Paper. Therefore, I urge your Lordships' House not to insist on the amendment.

Moved, That the House do not insist on their Amendment No. 1 to which the Commons have disagreed for the reason numbered 1A.--(Baroness Hayman.)


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