Clause 27 — Special introductory provision

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 3:45 pm on 17th June 2009.

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Photo of Sarah McCarthy-Fry Sarah McCarthy-Fry Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government 3:45 pm, 17th June 2009

I beg to move, That this House
agrees with Lords amendment 8.

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Photo of Sarah McCarthy-Fry Sarah McCarthy-Fry Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government

These amendments were brought forward and accepted by the other place to exempt, in all circumstances, the Greater London authority's proposed BRS for the Crossrail project from the requirement for a ballot. The amendment originally accepted by the other place in its Grand Committee was tabled by Baroness Valentine. In response to the amendment, Baroness Andrews said, on behalf of the Government:

"I have listened to the repeated calls in your Lordships' House and during the passage of the Bill in another place for an exemption for Crossrail. I certainly agree with the argument that it brings major benefits across the capital, commands wide support, and is already underpinned by an Act of Parliament. Therefore, with the agreement of the Committee, I would like to accept the noble Baroness's Amendment"—[ Official Report, House of Lords, 18 May 2009; Vol. 710, c. GC532.]

On Report, the Government tabled further amendments to adjust the original one; essentially, they were technical amendments to bring the new provisions into line with the rest of the Bill and remove the scope for legal uncertainty. The amendments achieved the objective accepted at the Grand Committee. At the same time, the Government also took the opportunity to extend the exemption from the ballot requirement for the proposed Crossrail BRS to cover the additionality requirement in clause 3 of the Bill, rather than leaving that provision to be made later on in regulations, as the Government had indicated was their intention. Amendment 8 therefore exempts the GLA's proposed BRS for Crossrail from the requirement for a ballot and the need to meet the additionality test in the Bill.

The Government's amendments were unanimously supported by all sides in the other place. The amendments provide important protection to the progress of the Crossrail project and crystallise the position on ballots for the BRS that will make up an important element of the Crossrail funding package and enable the Government to clarify the position on additionality earlier than would have been the case had the exemption been set out in regulations. For all those reasons, I invite the House to agree to the amendments.

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Photo of Bob Neill Bob Neill Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government), Deputy Chair, Conservative Party

This is one issue on which there was unanimity during our previous considerations; everybody wanted to make it clear that they supported Crossrail and the BRS as part of a settled package for the Crossrail funding mechanism. The amendments remove an ambiguity that none of us wants, so one need not say much more about the matter, save that we support the amendments.

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Photo of Dan Rogerson Dan Rogerson Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government)

I echo the comments just made by Robert Neill. During the passage of the Bill, different parties sought in different ways to propose amendments, to highlight the fact that we felt that Crossrail was a scheme of a particular nature and that it had had a great deal of attention in the past. The debate on ballots and so on should not apply to Crossrail in the same way, and the distinction is helpful. I remain sad, of course, that the House did not vote to retain the amendments in another place about ballots more generally, but I am happy to accept these amendments.

Lords amendment 8 agreed to , with Commons privileges waived.

Lord s amendments 9 and 10 agreed to, one with Commons privileges waived.

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