Channel Tunnel Rail Link Bill

Part of Orders of the Day — Schedule 3 – in the House of Commons at 6:55 pm on 1st November 1995.

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Photo of Mr Tony Banks Mr Tony Banks , Newham North West 6:55 pm, 1st November 1995

Of course I agree with my hon. Friend, and many Conservative Members would also agree with him.

I should like to ask the Minister a series of specific questions. Although the Government will require the long box to be constructed by the nominated undertaker, the nominated undertaker has not yet been chosen. When does the Minister expect to choose the nominated undertaker? Will the decision on Stratford be coupled with that choice, or will it be taken separately? If it is taken separately, when does he intend to take a decision on Stratford? That is the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Timms) has just raised. Will it be a final decision with regard to Stratford?

Can the Minister confirm that the Stratford rail lands will not be sold off piecemeal prior to a decision? We have received some assurances from the Department of Transport, and a recent letter from the Department to the chief executive of Newham confirmed it, but a public statement from the Minister would be very useful at this point.

In my area, we are alarmed that Railfreight is talking actively about reopening Stratford as a major freight terminal—in fact, as a railhead for freight—contrary to all previous assurances that Ministers and officials have given us that there will no freight railhead in east London. What is going on? Can the Minister tell us? Who is calling the shots? We need to know.

The proposals that Railfreight is now talking about appear to be in conflict with the proposals for developments on the rail land, including the international station at Stratford. As my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-East said, there is enormous cross-party and cross-London support for Stratford as the location of the second international London station. I hope that the Minister will find time to answer the very specific questions that I have asked.