Schedule 13

Crossrail Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:45 pm on 27 November 2007.

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Disapplication and modification of miscellaneous controls

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport)

I beg to move amendment No. 57, in schedule 13, page 206, line 25, leave out sub-paragraph (3).

Photo of Ann Winterton Ann Winterton Conservative, Congleton

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment No. 58, in schedule 13, page 206, line 29, leave out ‘or (3)’.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport)

Schedule 13 is an important part of the Bill, in that it adjusts any legislation that might otherwise hinder the construction and operation of Crossrail. It includes a number of different paragraphs, a couple of which relate to London lorries and the effects of the London lorry ban order—the Greater London (Restriction of Goods Vehicles) Traffic Order 1985—on the Crossrail project.

Paragraph 10 of the schedule makes provision for the approval of a lorry licence if certain conditions are met. In principle, I can see that that is absolutely necessary, but the paragraph goes on to state that

“no condition may be imposed which is likely to obstruct the carrying out of authorised works”.

My concern about that wording is that there may be a number of circumstances in which localised conditions mean that the use of lorries will have to be slightly curtailed or at least regulated. I imagine that if a permit were granted, extra conditions would be imposed only if absolutely necessary, and if that were absolutely necessary, it would be unwise for the Bill to state that such a condition would automatically not be enforceable.

The underlying motivation for the amendment is a desire to see that the construction of Crossrail is carried out responsibly. I hope that the Minister will elucidate exactly how schedule 13 and, in particular, paragraph 10 in relation to approval of a lorry licence will operate, and reassure me that my amendment is not required.

Photo of Tom Harris Tom Harris Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

Again, the amendment is not necessary, but I can understand why the hon. Gentleman tabled it and the concerns that he has expressed. Paragraph 10 of schedule 13 deals with applications for the issue of a permit under the London lorry ban order in connection with the carrying out of Crossrail works authorised by the Bill, whether in an emergency, when special procedures set out in paragraph 11 apply, or in other circumstances. The London lorry ban order enables restrictions to be put in place on the use of heavy goods vehicles in the scheme area to help to minimise noise pollution in residential areas during unsocial hours.

Sub-paragraph (3) of paragraph 10 requires that if an application is granted

“no condition may be imposed which is likely to obstruct the carrying out of authorised works...in a timely and efficient manner, or...in accordance with approved arrangements.”

Sub-paragraph (4) allows an applicant aggrieved by a decision on the issue under sub-paragraph (2) or conditioning under sub-paragraph (3) of a permit to appeal to the Secretary of State.

The amendments proposed by the hon. Member for Wimbledon would allow the authority responsible for issuing permits to condition the permit in a way that could obstruct the timely and efficient carrying out of Crossrail works or be inconsistent with approvals previously given by the relevant local planning authorities to lorry routes.

The amendment is not desirable. It would allow the issuing authority to overrule the careful consideration that local planning authorities will already have given to the matter of lorry routing under the schedule 7 consents process. Schedule 7 expressly provides that the local planning authority may modify the nominated undertaker’s proposed arrangements for lorry routing on grounds including the preservation of the local environment, where that is reasonably possible. In other words, the amendment would undermine the good work that local authorities had already done on lorry routing.

In addition, the amendment would expose the project to additional cost and risk of delay. It is unreasonable for the project to face that risk, given the protections available to local residents through the schedule 7 process. There is the opportunity to petition in the Bill itself, and there have been a number of undertakings to petitioners on the matter of lorry routing. With those assurances about the other protections available to local residents as regards lorry routing, I invite the hon. Gentleman to withdraw the amendment.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport)

I listened carefully to the Minister and I am happy to accept his invitation. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport)

I beg to move amendment No. 59, in schedule 13, page 206, line 33, leave out from beginning to end of line 35 and insert—

‘( ) Where an appeal under sub-paragraph (4) is dismissed by the Secretary of State, it should be referred to arbitration’.

The amendment is self-explanatory. It would transfer the task of dispute resolution from the Secretary of State to a third-party arbiter. Clause 62 sets out a robust arbitration process, which would be suitable for resolving the kind of dispute that may arise as a result of the necessary disruption caused by the construction and operation of Crossrail. The resolution procedure provides, for example, that if two parties cannot agree on an arbiter, the president of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers or someone appointed by the ORR will perform the role of arbiter. If such an arbitration process is good enough to deal with disputes arising from provisions elsewhere in the Bill, why is it not good enough to deal with those arising from the provisions in this schedule?

The key benefit of arbitration is that the final decision is made by a person who is accepted by both parties to the dispute, which gives the arbiter the necessary authority and independence. I have no doubt that the Secretary of State would come to a reasoned and fair decision, but I fear, as I have said previously, that he or she may not have the same perceived independence as a third-party arbiter. Clause 62 provides for an independent arbiter, and such a person would be much better suited than the Secretary of  State to making the relevant decisions. I therefore look forward to the Minister accepting my invitation to agree to the amendment.

Photo of Tom Harris Tom Harris Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

Paragraph 10 of schedule 13 to the Bill deals with applications for the issue of permits under the London lorry ban order in connection with the carrying out of Crossrail works. Sub-paragraph (4) provides that an applicant who is aggrieved by the decision of the local authority responsible for issuing the permit may appeal to the Secretary of State within 28 days of notification of the decision. Sub-paragraph (5) provides that the Secretary of State may allow or dismiss the appeal or vary the decision of the authority concerned.

The hon. Gentleman’s amendment would replace the certainty provided by the Secretary of State’s decision to dismiss an appeal by the applicant, who is likely to be a contractor or sub-contractor to the nominated undertaker, with an uncertain and unclear right or obligation—the drafting does not make clear which—to seek arbitration following the Secretary of State’s decision. Given that applications for permits cannot always be planned far in advance, as the inclusion of an emergency procedure in paragraph 11 anticipates, the option of further protracting the decision-making process through the further step of mandatory referral to arbitration would be of no benefit to the applicant or the progression of the Crossrail project more generally. I hope that the reference to the emergency situation will explain why the provisions for arbitration or the lack of arbitration in the schedule differ from those in the schedules to which the hon. Gentleman referred.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport)

I have listened to the Minister and clearly the emergency issue is one of relevance and importance. However, I am surprised that he thinks that the drafting is unclear. I thought that the words “should be referred to” would have provided for a clear obligation. It might be that he thinks that the obligation would not help the process, but it might help those involved in the arbitration. I might revisit the amendment on Report, therefore, but at this stage I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 13 agreed to.

Clause 49 ordered to stand part of the Bill.