Channel Tunnel Rail Link Bill

Part of Orders of the Day — Schedule 3 – in the House of Commons at 7:08 pm on 1st November 1995.

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Photo of Mr John Watts Mr John Watts , Slough 7:08 pm, 1st November 1995

I assure the hon. Gentleman that we are well seized of the significance of the A13 scheme to the CTRL project, and I shall write to him in due course on that matter.

We recognise the advantages of a co-ordinated approach to the M2 schemes, to the construction of the CTRL and to construction of the projects within the same time scale. That is why the M2-A2 scheme was originally included in the CTRL legislation. I can assure the House that the Government will use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that the M2-A2 widening works are completed within the same period as the CTRL, and that the construction arrangements for the two projects are co-ordinated.

My hon. Friend the Member for Medway also raised the generic issues that are to be addressed by the Committee, including those related to blight compensation. There is no instruction to the Committee on this matter because it needs no new instruction. The Committee already has the power to look at such matters and make recommendations. I understand that the Committee has heard a great deal of evidence on the matter already, and it is not ready to make recommendations. When it does, we shall consider them, but it would be premature for me to prejudge what the Committee might recommend.

The hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Mailing (Sir J. Stanley) mentioned freight and the CTRL. The Committee asked for the freight loops at Charing and Singlewell and for the connection to the Dollands Moor freight yard to be constructed according to the same time scale as the main project to allow the rail link to carry as much freight as possible. We have accepted that recommendation, and given the Committee an undertaking that will be binding on the nominated undertaker.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Malling also raised—he has done so assiduously on many occasions—the problems of blight, and he referred to the new voluntary, purchase arrangements introduced in July. For the first time, we are to bring the arrangements for new rail projects into line with those for roads. In fact, before these proposals were made, there was no provision for dealing with new rail projects in terms of voluntary purchase arrangements. Other matters concerning blight compensation are for the Committee to consider and to make recommendations. We will respond to the Committee,, but I should not prejudge its recommendations.

My right hon. Friend also raised the proposals of Central Rail Group to construct the new freight line, but that would have to be brought forward under the provisions of the Transport and Works Act 1992. If that happens, the House will have the opportunity to reach a decision on the principal project before it proceeds to any inquiry.