London

Transport for London land sell-off Bill debated in Lords

Legislation which could give Transport for London (TfL) greater powers to sell land has been debated in the House of Lords for the first time.

The Transport for London Bill would remove the requirement for the Secretary of State to consent to sell-offs.

The organisation said it would allow it "more flexibility".

But the government said TfL already had the power to lease off land for 50 years without consent.

Introducing the Bill, TfL board member Baroness Grey-Thompson said it would allow the organisation to provide "better value for money".

The independent crossbench peer, an 11-time Paralympic gold medallist, said the consent imposed an unnecessary restriction on TfL as the mayor of London already had to provide an opinion that the land was surplus to the requirements of the organisation.

"It will reduce uncertainty for TfL when selling land," she said.

'Parallel' network

Government transport spokesman Earl Attlee said he had some "reservations" about the Bill, which is a private piece of legislation promoted by TfL.

He said TfL could already lease off land and has the powers to dispose of land that had not been operational for five years or more.

"The government is clear that the protection of strategically important assets must remain a priority," he explained.

"Furthermore, it would appear reasonable for the arrangements in London to parallel those on the national rail network where there are analogous restrictions to those currently placed on Transport for London."

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