Railway Works Compensation

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd April 1995.

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Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons) 12:00 am, 3rd April 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consideration his Department has given to proposing changes to the laws on compensation for people and businesses affected by (a) underground and (b) overground railway works; and if he will make a statement. [15693]

Photo of Mr John Watts Mr John Watts , Slough

The relevant legislative framework—which was most recently extended by the Planning and Compensation Act 1991—is kept under review.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons)

When the review is next considered—and the matter is urgent—will the Minister take account of two specific problems? They arise from the Jubilee line works, welcome though those are.

First, a change of plan has meant that people who invested on the basis of an undertaking that they would not suffer disruption have suffered such disruption. Secondly, and more important, some small businesses—such as those in Borough high street, by London bridge—are on the verge of bankruptcy, not because of a reduction in the value of their premises but because the works surrounding them have caused trade almost to disappear. Will the Minister examine the problem as a matter of urgency? It is affecting many businesses and individuals.

Photo of Mr John Watts Mr John Watts , Slough

As the hon. Gentleman will realise, compensation arrangements for particular schemes such as the Jubilee line extension are a matter for discussion between London Transport and those who consider that they have been adversely affected. I understand that some traders are negotiating with London Transport about compensation in connection with the construction works, and I am sure that that is the right way for them to proceed. My hon. Friend the Minister for Transport in London is present, and has heard what the hon. Gentleman has said.

Photo of Mr Peter Brooke Mr Peter Brooke , City of London and Westminster South

Given that all the new underground routes planned pass through the constituency of City of London and Westminster, South and as those who are sited above them, either commercially or residentially, suffer blight in general and personal disruption in particular, will my hon. Friend bear constantly in mind the fact that the routes of those lines are more likely to be smooth if there is a sensible system of compensation that everyone recognises?

Photo of Neil Gerrard Neil Gerrard , Walthamstow

Will the Minister consider the position of people who are faced with compulsory purchase and who have negative equity on their properties, particularly commercial properties? Such people are forced to sell their properties at a time when, given the opportunity, they would not have sold but would have waited so as to recover their investment. Will the hon. Gentleman look at that serious problem?

Photo of Mr John Watts Mr John Watts , Slough

Yes. The hon. Gentleman raises a difficult point which we will look at sympathetically when there is a further review.

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

Will my hon. Friend please consider extending compensation to farmers and market gardeners in Kent whose crops will be damaged and visually destroyed by chalk dust emanating from the construction of the channel tunnel rail link?

Photo of Mr John Watts Mr John Watts , Slough

I am sure that my hon. Friend's constituents who feel that they may be so affected will make full use of the statutory provisions available to them.