Channel Tunnel Rail Link Bill

Part of Orders of the Day — Schedule 3 – in the House of Commons at 5:51 pm on 1st November 1995.

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Photo of Clare Short Clare Short , Birmingham, Ladywood 5:51 pm, 1st November 1995

The letter seems peculiar. I think that the Minister, when he is winding up, might want to come back to that point.

Another specific point that I would like the Minister to address when winding up is where things stand on the ombudsman's report, which found the Government guilty of maladministration leading to injustice over their refusal to pay compensation to some residents. As hon. Members may well remember, the report included some extremely distressing cases: a couple who wished to move because their son had hanged himself in the property; and another where a woman with a degenerative illness wanted to move closer to her family but was unable to do so. I understand that there is a meeting this evening. I also understand that there might be some suggestion that the Government will be rather more helpful than they have been about the ombudsman's report. I very much hope that that is true and that we can have some news on that.

I should also be grateful to know what progress has been made to ensure that when passengers arrive at St. Pancras station the infrastructure can cope with the traffic, because one of the great worries about rail privatisation is that there will be separate writs breaking up the national network and that there will not be the necessary co-ordination of the system. I want to know whether those developments are in hand and, in particular, whether we can now have a firm date for the commencement of direct services via east coast and west coast main lines to the rest of the country.

Our view is that the project is essential to the updating and strengthening of Britain's rail network, and we as a party are absolutely committed to the maintenance of a united national rail network that will co-ordinate transport services throughout our country and remain in public ownership. We also believe that it will improve comfort and efficiency for travellers and that our trade and business relationships with our European neighbours will be strengthened. We deeply deplore the terrible delays that the project has suffered because of the Government's ideological obsessions, but we strongly support it and look forward greatly to taking responsibility for it in government and carrying it through to success.