Examination of Witnesses(Question 1-19)|
Mrs Charles George and Miss Joanna Clayton
Thursday 30 January 2003
1. CHAIRMAN: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
Welcome to this hearing. My name is Bob Spink and I will be chairing
these proceedings. My colleagues here are Mr Mark Field, Jim Cunningham
and Brian Jenkins.
2. It may be of assistance if I confirm that the
Committee will be sitting today until 11.25 am and from 2.15 pm
until 4.30 this afternoon. Next week we plan to sit on Tuesday,
Wednesday and if necessary on Thursday from 10.00 in the morning
until 11.25 and from 1.30 until 4.30 in the afternoon, except
that on Tuesday we will sit from 2.30 in the afternoon.
3. There might be some flexibility, of course, in
these timings, depending on the business of the House and depending
on how proceedings are going on here. We may wish to finish a
little earlier or a little later to be convenient for all. Of
course we will need to suspend proceedings if there are any votes
and that is likely to happen later on Tuesday afternoon I suspect.
4. We will hear firstly from the Promoters and then
we will hear from the Petitioner. The Promoters may then have
an opportunity to respond before we make our decision.
5. We have given permission for the Promoters to
show a video about the Mersey Tunnels as part of their opening
presentation. The video will not be formally entered on to the
record and the Committee will adjourn while the video is shown.
6. Mr George, would you like to introduce the case
for the Bill.
7. MR GEORGE: Thank you, Sir. I appear with Miss
Clayton, who is on my left, for the Promoters. As the Committee
are well aware, Private Bills and more particularly Opposed Bill
Committee proceedings are increasingly rare, they used to be very
common but now they are a great rarity. The great advantage of
such a hearing is that the proposed legislation is subjected to
rigorous scrutiny. That has two particular benefits, it acts as
a deterrent to Promoters who know that they will be put to proof,
not merely in debate on the floor of the House but to the investigative
and interrogatory proceedings of the Select Committee and it also
ought to distil the good from the bad ensuring that what survives
- and we hope it will be the entire Bill - does so because it
has got logic and cogency.
8. Now, Hon. Members should each have a bundle consisting
of a large lever arch file entitled "Exhibits". It contains
not merely plans and photographs and numerous tables but also
various pieces of legislation and reports to which the Committee
will in due course be referred either by myself in opening or
by my witnesses. I apologise to the Committee for the bulk. That
is largely because of the decision to include the Hansard
records of the two debates which have been on the floor of the
House on the second reading on 9 July and on the carry over motion
on 23 October. We have included, also, copies of the petitions.
9. Can I ask at this stage that there be handed to
the Committee three replacement pages which correct errors. If
I could ask the Committee simply to substitute those in the relevant
place in the bundle and to destroy the previous document.
10. The Committee will find that the bundle falls
into a Section A, B, C and D. There is a replacement B7, a replacement
B17 and a replacement C21. When that has been done could I ask
the Committee please to turn to an exhibit which is numbered C26
and it has on it on the same page a table which is numbered also
11. CHAIRMAN: (After a short pause) Could
you repeat your instruction please, Mr George?
12. MR GEORGE: When the three pages have been inserted
could the Committee go to the table which is marked Exhibit C26
with on the same page a reference to table C26. That is a table
which has got a series of columns in. If I could simply ask the
Committee in manuscript to alter that to C25 and the table to
C25. It stays in the same place in the bundle but in case there
be confusion later on that is a mistake which we only discovered
13. CHAIRMAN: That is very kind. Thank you.
14. MR GEORGE: It is the table which is headed Exhibit
C26 and which has on it, the same page, a table C26 and in both
cases it becomes C25.
15. CHAIRMAN: Thank you. That is very clear. These
things happen even in the House of Commons.
16. MR GEORGE: If I turn firstly to the Promoters.
The Promoters are the Merseyside Passenger Transport Authority,
I shall call it PTA. PTAs consist of elected members operating
through officers who make up the PTE, that is the Passenger Transport
Executive. Together they are responsible for securing the provision
of public transport in the United Kingdom's principal cities outside
London, namely Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire, Strathclyde,
Tyne and Wear, West Midlands, West Yorkshire and of course Merseyside.
To those of us who are southerners they seem sometimes to be a
slightly foreign creature but move to the Midlands and the north
and they play a very important strategic statutory role.
17. The PTA consists of 18 elected councillors who
are nominated annually by the five district councils in accordance
with the proportion of Merseyside's population they represent.
Merseytravel is the common name for both the PTA and the PTE and
there is a staff of over 800 tasked to secure the provision -
and I quote from the Act - of such "...public passenger transport
services as the Passenger Transport Authority considers it appropriate
for the Executive to secure for meeting any public transport requirements
within the area which in the Authority's view would not be met
apart from any action taken by the Executive for that purpose".
18. Now that is all set out in section 9A(3) of the
Transport Act 1968 as amended and in due course, if the Committee
wish to look it up, it is at A34 page 197 of your bundle, but
I do not think it is necessary to take you to it at this point.
19. Thus the Executive ensures the provision, for
example, of bus services where those are socially necessary but
are not provided commercially by the private sector. It supervises
and funds a network of local rail services provided by franchisees
and those rail services include the rail service which runs underneath
the River Mersey through the first tunnel which was constructed.
Merseytravel also provide a comprehensive passenger information
service and the infrastructure for bus services, for example stops,
shelters and bus stations.