Schedule 6

Part of Crossrail Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 22 November 2007.

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Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Conservative, Cities of London and Westminster 9:45, 22 November 2007

I very much endorse what the hon. Gentleman has just said. I did not have the privilege or otherwise of being incarcerated in the Select Committee, not least because my constituency will be fundamentally affected by the Bill, particularly in the City of London, Mayfair and Bayswater. I have recently had correspondence with Paddington Residents Active Concern on Transport. There is a sense among local residents that they had their day in the sun. They are grateful for the opportunity to petition, and they recognise that that is only part of the process and that they will have further opportunities to make their views clear to the House of Lords. They feel that they were dealt with courteously by the Select Committee and were able to put their points strongly.

There are a number of residual problems. Without getting down to the narrow specifics, they are broadly to do with noise and vibration from trains underneath certain residential areas. We have already debated the 15-m limit, rather than one of 20 or 25 m or a floating slab track underneath, which could be extremely expensive, and the Minister will have had the matter well rehearsed with him. There are also ongoing issues of a highly localised nature, and common sense needs to prevail in relation to changes in traffic.

Obviously, those changes will be a particularly big issue in the centre of London while works are ongoing. Moves to make particular roads one way or to make existing one-way roads two way could have an immense knock-on effect for a locality, particularly around Paddington. Again, I am reassured that the Committee was in listening mode during consideration of the hybrid Bill, and I hope that that continues going forward.

I think that there is an understanding from people in central London; they recognise that it is important to have Crossrail. Equally, a lot of residents understandably feel great worry about the noise and disruption, and obviously there are concerns about the likely costs to the London council tax payer. However, the biggest issue, as I see it, is blight.

At this stage, we need to get on with the project. The worst possible scenario would be either failure of the financing or a very long-winded parliamentary process, such that people who live in the vicinity of the project find that their whole life is blighted.

I know that we will come on to the issue of blight under clause 7 and further schedules that try to ensure that, where there is blight, it is kept to an absolute  minimum. This process of scrutiny has been useful, but we need to get on with the work to ensure that the effect on the residential amenity—which is clearly going to be suffered by many tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people—is kept to an absolute minimum.