Clause 59
Crossrail Bill
5:00 pm

Power to devolve functions of Secretary of State

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Stephen Hammond

Stephen Hammond (Shadow Minister, Transport; Wimbledon, Conservative)

This will be a short contribution, but it is obviously an important clause. It will allow the Secretary of State to devolve some of the powers that she has given herself to other bodies. Certain provisions in this Bill qualify for being liable to be devolved either to the Greater London authority and/or Transport for London. Could the Minister tell us in what circumstances the Secretary of State envisaged delegating the exceptional powers that she has taken and the rationale behind that?

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Tom Harris (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport; Glasgow South, Labour)

Clause 59 allows the Secretary of State, by means of an order, to devolve certain provisions of the Bill to the Greater London authority, Transport for London or to both. This power is necessary to allow the flexibility for the Crossrail project to be taken forward by these bodies, if that is in the best interest of delivering the project most efficiently.

To answer the hon. Gentleman’s question directly, he will know that it is intended that the Mayor and TfL will be responsible for the delivery of the project, and the powers in clause 59 might be needed to facilitate their taking the project forward. That said, I have to disappoint him because it is not yet clear which of the powers that are listed in subsection (7) will be devolved to the Mayor and/or TfL or whether the project governance arrangements that have been announced could be better delivered by other means. However, we believe it is right that the Secretary of State should be capable of devolving specific powers in the Bill if that is what is decided should happen.

Photo of Stephen Hammond

Stephen Hammond (Shadow Minister, Transport; Wimbledon, Conservative)

I note the Minister’s comment that it is not yet clear whether the Government’s provisions in the Bill might be delivered by better means. Does he intend to come to that conclusion before the Bill completes its passage through the House?

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Tom Harris (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport; Glasgow South, Labour)

I remain to be corrected, but when I referred to governance I did not mean anything in the Bill. Not every detail of governance is included in the Bill and I would not anticipate having to bring forward amendments to that effect.

To set my general remarks in context, it might help the Committee if I summarise the proposed project governance arrangements. Cross London Rail Links Ltd will continue as a project delivery vehicle for Crossrail. The Department for Transport will remain as a co-sponsor of the project and will form a joint sponsors board with Transport for London to supervise the project. The Department and TfL will execute a series of formal arrangements that will specify how the project will be taken forward. CLRL will become a wholly owned subsidiary of TfL, but with a level of independence needed to focus solely on delivery of the Crossrail project for its joint clients.

CLRL will have a board dominated by independent, non-executive directors chosen for their skills in delivering so-called mega-projects—not a phrase that I am particularly comfortable with— and free to appoint a world-class team at market rates. The written statement issued by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport that accompanied the publication of the heads of terms provides more detail about how the Department and the Mayor, as co-sponsors, will take the project forward. I hope that the explanation that I have given and the material with which I supplied each member of the Committee yesterday persuades hon. Members to accept the clause.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 59 ordered to stand part of the Bill.