HS2 in Hansard 19/12/2013

High Speed 2

3. Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham)

(Con): What assessment he has made of the most

recent estimate of the costs to the public purse of High

Speed 2. [901721]

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick

McLoughlin): The most recent cost estimate for both

phases of the project is £42.6 billion and £7.5 billion for

rolling stock. This includes a contingency of £14.4 billion

for construction costs and £1.7 billion for rolling stock.

The project currently assumes that the cost of HS2 is to

be funded by the public purse.However,my Department

is exploring the scope to draw in third-party funding to

lessen the cost exposure to the taxpayer.

Mrs Gillan: Mr Speaker, I wish you and the Secretary

of State a very happy Christmas. The Secretary of State

could of course give both our constituencies an early

Christmas present by cancelling HS2, but I do not

suppose that that is on the drawing board. If everything

in the garden is so rosy in regard to the finances, why

does he feel it necessary to continue to suppress the

Major Projects Authority reports on the risks associated

with the project? Suppressing those reports does not

send out a very good message to people about the

project, whether they are for it or against it. In the

absence of any response to my questions about this

from the Cabinet Office Minister, will the Secretary of

State tell the House what his intentions are in regard to

the reports? Will he confirmor deny that he is continuing

to try to prevent their publication?

Mr McLoughlin: The one thing that HS2 is not short

of is reports from various committees, either of this

House or across the wider spectrum. The simple fact is

that the report my right hon. Friend refers to is one

direct to Ministers, and it is not usual to publish such

reports. That report is two years old and it gave an

amber/red—I think that is in the public domain—but

the latest report has given an amber, which shows that

even the Major Projects Authority recognises that we

have made major strides forward.

Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op):

Mr Speaker, happy Christmas. Unfortunately, the Secretary

of State seems to be in a “Bah, humbug!” sort of mood

today. May I encourage him not only to lighten up a bit,

but to lighten up all of us who want investment in

housing, hospitals, health and schools by scrapping this

expensive extravagance and joining the Secretary of

State for Business, Innovation and Skills, who this

morning has said that London is “draining the life” out

of the regions of this country and that HS2 will speed

up that process?

Mr McLoughlin: I do not know about needing to

lighten up—I think the hon. Gentleman should look in

a mirror. The simple point is that we are not short at all

of investment in the railways. In the next five years—its

next control period—Network Rail will invest £38 billion

in the current railway system. It is vital that we get

connectivity between our major cities. I have to say that

some of the biggest supporters of HS2 are the northern

leaders. If they thought it was going to do damage to

their areas, they would not be overwhelmingly supporting

it in the way that they are.

Mr Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) (Con): Can the

Minister compare the expenditure of public money on

HS2 with that on the ferries crossing the Solent to the

Isle of Wight?

Mr McLoughlin: One gets ready for a lot of things in

preparing for questions, but I am going to have to

disappoint my hon. Friend, because I do not have

readily available details on that particular line of questioning

on HS2. I will most certainly look at the points he

raises, but I point out to him that it is the wider

investment in the whole of the United Kingdom’s transport

infrastructure that we can rightly be proud of. I was

very pleased to be in his constituency when a new mode

of financing road repairs was used for his constituents.

Barry Gardiner (Brent North) (Lab): The Secretary

of State did not say in the list of estimated costs what

has been allocated for biodiversity offsetting, for the

replacement of ancient woodland and for addressing all

the other environmental damage that HS2 will cause.

What element of the budget has been set aside for that?

Mr McLoughlin: That has all been taken into account.

Indeed, one reason for the increase in cost that I announced

to the House some time ago was some of the measures

that we have taken, after representations, on tunnelling.

I take the environmental costs seriously, as I know does

the new chairman of HS2 Ltd, Sir David Higgins. I

point out to the hon. Gentleman the amount of money

that was made available for environmental improvements

along the route of HS1, but I will write to him in more

detail.

Several hon. Members rose—

Mr Speaker: I call Stephen Mosley.

Stephen Mosley (City of Chester) (Con): Question 4,

sir.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport

(Stephen Hammond): The Government have committed

funding to electrify more than 880—

Mr Speaker: I believe that the hon. Gentleman was

grouping this question.

High Speed 2

5. Karen Lumley (Redditch) (Con): What recent

assessment he has made of the potential wider

economic effects of High Speed 2. [901724]

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick

McLoughlin): Investment in HS2 will deliver widespread

connectivity improvements, grow markets and increase

opportunities to trade. Our assessment of the benefits

to businesses is £53.8 billion over a 60-year period.

Further analysis by KPMG suggests that the wider

economic effects could be far greater.

Karen Lumley: In my county, Worcestershire, it is

estimated that HS2 will generate up to £375 million

every year for our local economy. Does the Secretary of

State agree that if HS2 did not go ahead, places such as

Redditch would lose out?

Mr McLoughlin: I most certainly do agree with my

hon. Friend. One of the most important points about

HS2 is that there is not just one single reason for it.

There are reasons of capacity, connectivity and, yes,

investing in brand-new trains which will get us to our

cities in the north faster than at present.

Mr Clive Betts (Sheffield South East) (Lab): A

characteristic of HS2 is that there will be widespread

economic benefits to areas such as the city region in

Sheffield, with very specific high costs to certain individuals,

such as my constituents on Greasbro road, who will

lose their homes. Will the Secretary of State look again

at whether it is reasonable compensation in these

circumstances simply to offer market value plus 10%?

Should we not do a little more to help those people who

bear the cost for the wider economic benefit of everyone

else?

Mr McLoughlin: I would point out that, as I am sure

the hon. Gentleman knows, we are in a consultation

process on the Birmingham to Leeds and Birmingham

to Manchester schemes, so it might be inappropriate for

me to say now that those particular routes are confirmed,

but I will bear in mind what he says. We are out to

consultation on the whole question of compensation in

relation to phase 1, and I will bear his remarks in mind

for phase 2 as well.

13. [901734] Mr Simon Burns (Chelmsford) (Con):

Does my right hon. Friend accept that he was a bit

reticent in his original answer, in that when referring to

the KPMG report, he failed to tell the House that the

benefits from 2036 to the community will be £15 billion

a year, and that 70% of the benefits of HS2 will be

outside London? Does one not have to be a fairly

Neanderthal individual not to bear in mind the benefits

that that will bring to the nation, particularly the

Midlands and the north of England?

Mr McLoughlin: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend

for all his work in helping me with these projects. He is

right about the benefits. The Jubilee line extension did

not have a very good benefit-cost ratio, but if it had not

been built, neither would have all the developments at

Canary Wharf, so there is a lot to be said for the wider

economic benefits we will get from this new railway line.

Mr Russell Brown (Dumfries and Galloway) (Lab): If

the proposals for HS2 are to survive, there needs to be

that wider economic impact right across the UK. Is

there anything in the Secretary of State’s diary indicating

that he might have an opportunity to discuss that in the

near future with either the Scottish Government or the

two main local authorities, Edinburgh city council and

Glasgow city council?

Mr McLoughlin: The leader of Glasgow city council

joined others in presenting a letter to the Prime Minister

stating how important HS2 was, and I was delighted to

meet him on that occasion. The Scottish Justice Minister

has written to me on another matter and requested that

I meet him, so I might be able to arrange to meet the

leaders of both city councils at the same time.

High-speed Rail

Mr Speaker: Before I call the Chair of the Transport

Committee to make the Select Committee statement, it

might be helpful to the House if I explain, again, briefly

the new procedure, to which it agreed recently and first

used last week. In essence, the pattern is the same as for

a ministerial statement. Mrs Louise Ellman will speak

to her subject for up to 10 minutes—there is no obligation

to take all that time —during which no interventions

may be taken. At the conclusion of her statement, I will

call Members who rise to put questions to Mrs Ellman

on the subject of her statement and call Mrs Ellman to

respond to those in turn. Members can expect to be

called only once. These interventions should be questions

and should be brief. Front Benchers may take part in

the questioning, although it would be seemly for them

to hold their horses, as I am keen first to hear the

contributions of Back-Bench Members.

12.37 pm

Mrs Louise Ellman (Liverpool,Riverside) (Lab/Co-op)

(Select Committee Statement): I am pleased to have

this opportunity to make a statement about the Transport

Committee’s recent report on high-speed rail. The crowded

west coast main line currently combines long-distance

inter-city, inter-regional and commuter passenger services,

together with freight. Network Rail predicts that by the

middle of the next decade the line will be unable to meet

demand for new train paths and there will be increasing

levels of overcrowding. In 2011, we looked in detail at

the Government’s proposals for a new high-speed rail

line from London to Birmingham and onwards to

Manchester and Leeds. Phase 1 is due to be completed

by 2025, and phase 2 by 2032-33. This proposed new

line is a major piece of national rail infrastructure and

must be seen as part of the wider rail network. We

commissioned our own research into HS2, and considered

the capacity the alternatives could provide.We concluded

that only HS2 could deliver the step change in capacity

needed to accommodate forecast long-term demand on

the line.

Our new report looked again at HS2, in the light of

the revised strategic case published by the Department

for Transport in October and the research by KPMG

on the line’s regional economic impact. The Department’s

case rests on a prediction of 2.2% per annum growth to

2036. Demand is assumed to stop growing after that,

only three years after completion of the line. Capacity

remains the key issue and no new information has

emerged to challenge the conclusion we reached on this

question two years ago. Alternatives to HS2, based on

upgrading the existing line and changes to train

configurations, would not provide a long-term answer

to the capacity challenge. These alternatives would

themselves be costly and cause considerable disruption

over a long period.

In addition to addressing capacity issues, the line will

increase connectivity between our major cities. It can

help to promote growth in the UK’s city regions and

contribute to a rebalancing of the economy. This, however,

is not automatic. Local authorities and local enterprise

partnerships must develop economic development strategies

to ensure that this takes place, and the Government

must back these. The Department must become more

proactive in ensuring that HS2, as part of the nation’s

infrastructure, brings maximum benefit.

UK firms and workers must have the opportunity to

secure employment from this major investment, starting

with its construction. This requires specific initiatives to

make businesses across the country aware of the possibilities.

Action must be taken to enable all regions to benefit

from improved services and a more successful economy.

KPMG’s assessment of the regional economic impacts

has generated considerable controversy. This is useful

work, but there are limitations to its findings and the

research should be developed further.

The report highlights the varying effects HS2 can

have on different areas. This research reinforces the

importance of taking steps to ensure that the benefits

are spread as widely as possible. Work should now be

prioritised to widen access to the high-speed network,

improving journey times on the classic railway and

promoting additional local and regional services on

capacity freed up by the new line. This means that the

Department, HS2 Ltd and Network Rail must work

together.

Control of costs is essential. The estimated cost of

HS2 over a 20-year period is £28 billion, plus £14 billion

contingency and £7.5 billion for rolling stock. These are

major amounts of money—

Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op): Will

my hon. Friend give way? [Interruption.] I am sorry for

trying to intervene.

Mrs Ellman: It is vital that the costs are actively

managed.

Consideration should be given to speeding up delivery,

including looking at options from building north to

south, as well as northwards from London. Sir David

Higgins, the incoming chairman of HS2 Ltd, should

address this. Indeed, Sir David has already told the

Committee that he will be looking at these issues, and

we will be pursuing this further with him.

Concerns have been expressed that funding for the

new line will squeeze other transport budgets. This is a

serious issue. There is, however, no evidence that this is

happening, looking at projected funding allocations,

and we would not accept this situation if it arose.

Vigilance is required.

Any major investment of this nature taking place

over many years inevitably involves risks, but the risks

of not going ahead with HS2 outweigh the risks of

doing so. Without this investment, the west coast main

line will become increasingly overloaded. Commuters

will suffer from overcrowding and delayed journeys. It

would not be possible to provide new services, and the

growth of rail freight will be stifled. Governments will

be tempted to raise fares to control demand. The

opportunity to reshape the economy and boost growth

in the north and the Midlands will have been lost. As

our continuing debates about airport capacity show,

once the opportunity to make a bold investment decision

for the future has been missed, it may have gone for

decades.

Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con):

I congratulate the hon. Lady on taking part in this

procedure, which is new and must be a little daunting.

Perhaps she will forgive me for thinking that I was

listening to another Government Minister presenting a

report. I find it surprising, after two years, that the

Transport Committee, whose role it is to scrutinise the

Department for Transport, has produced a 27-page

report—eight pages of which list contents, so it is

probably a 19-page report—on what is, in effect, the

largest infrastructure project in the western world. I

hope her Committee will be returning to the subject

again and again and asking the right questions.

Why did the Committee take oral evidence only from

the supporters of HS2 or paid Government consultants,

when there were 29 others who responded, including

many of those who expressed criticisms of HS2? If the

hon. Lady is so concerned about the control of costs,

why is she advising the Government on how to spin

their lines on cost by suggesting that they refer to a

£28 billion sum, rather than the £50 billion that has

been budgeted? If she is aware of the risks, as she said in

her statement, can she tell me whether she has read all

the Major Projects Authority reports on this project,

and if so, can she tell us more about what she plans to

do to identify those risks that are still being concealed

by the Government?

Lastly, if Sir David Higgins has been asked to find

ways of reducing the cost of HS2, and if the hon.

Lady’s Committee has asked him to consider building

phase 1 and phase 2 concurrently, and incorporating

the Heathrow link in phase 1, what examination has she

made of the effect of that on the bottom line of this

project which—forgive me if I say so—may be pushing

the price tag up even further?

Mr Speaker: I gently remind the House that the

latitude that I thought it appropriate to extend to

the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr Straw) in the

previous set of exchanges was exceptional and should

not now be mimicked by other right hon. or hon.

Members.

Mrs Ellman: The right hon. Lady raises a large number

of questions. I will attempt to answer some of them, but

I am mindful that other hon. Members wish to make a

contribution and ask their questions in the limited time

available to us.

I am aware that the right hon. Lady has a long-standing

opposition to the project and that she is assiduously

putting forward the concerns of her constituents.However,

this is a national issue and I remind her that this report

is a follow-up of a major inquiry conducted two years

ago, where independent consultants were appointed to

conduct new research into the specific alternatives put

forward as possible replacements for the HS2 proposals.

The recent inquiry considered 33 pieces of written

evidence, in addition to the evidence we heard, and the

issues raised in those written pieces of evidence were

used as a basis for questions to the witnesses we had in

front of us. We also questioned Sir David Higgins

before his appointment to HS2 Ltd and we will continue

to so.

Costs are important, and it is important that those

costs are broken down, so that people can see the

individual components. Yes, I have read the reports, and

ultimately those reports must be analysed against the

need to provide continued capacity for the increasing

demand on the line from passengers and for freight.

This is a continuing process and the Committee will

consider what further work it intends to do on this,

together with the very detailed work that will take place

on the hybrid Bill, should approval be given for that to

go forward.

Frank Dobson (Holborn and St Pancras) (Lab): It

would be idle of me to pretend that I am in favour of

this project. In view of the fact that the report pays very

little attention to compensation and mitigation measures,

will my hon. Friend agree to the Committee looking

into the proposition that the measures for compensation

and mitigation that apply in my constituency are not

even half as good as those measures outside London?

For example, it would cost an extra £170 million to put

the HS2/HS1 link in a tunnel that goes under Camden

Town—that, apparently, has been ruled out on grounds

of cost—when £2.759 billion is being spent on tunnelling

elsewhere, with £812 million being spent in the Chilterns

alone?

Mrs Ellman: My right hon. Friend is right to draw

attention to the serious issues relating to compensation,

which might well affect his constituents, and I take

seriously the points he raises.The Committee concentrated

its inquiry on the project’s strategic impact. However, I

accept that the points he raises are extremely serious.

Our remit is to consider the strategic impact of the

proposed investment. There are other avenues by which

the issue he raises can be addressed, but I will report his

comments to the Committee for its consideration.

Sir John Randall (Uxbridge and SouthRuislip) (Con):

I congratulate the hon. Lady on introducing the report.

In another life I served very happily alongside her on

the Transport Committee. She stated that the Committee’s

support for HS2 is not unqualified, particularly with

regard to the Heathrow connection. Has the Committee

considered what impact the expansion of aviation in the

south-east,whether through further capacity at Heathrow

or elsewhere, would have on the project? Does she think

that it would have been better to wait until we have the

Davies report?

Mrs Ellman: I appreciate the right hon. Gentleman’s

comments. He draws attention to the importance of

having an integrated transport policy so that rail, road,

aviation and maritime issues can be considered together,

and the Committee made remarks of that nature in our

initial report two years ago. However, decisions have to

be made. The Committee repeats its concern that no

decision has yet been taken on the serious question of a

direct link to Heathrow. However, we do not have the

remit to look at aviation policy at the moment. Indeed,

our recommendation is that we think there should be a

third runway at Heathrow, but we do not have the

authority to take a decision on that. Currently the

timetable set out by the Government means that the

Davies commission will not report until the summer of

2015. No guarantee has been given on when a decision

on airport capacity will be made after that, although I

hope that it is soon. Given the timetable for High

Speed 2, it seems impractical to say that no decision

could be taken on that until well after 2015. However,

the point he makes is important and well taken.

Kate Green (Stretford and Urmston) (Lab): I welcome

the report and place on the record my support for the

High Speed 2 programme. I particularly endorse what

my hon.Friend has said about the importance of connecting

the strategy for HS2 with local and regional economic

strategies. She will be aware of the fear that HS2 might

serve to draw investment and business activity from

north to south, rather than in the opposite direction, so

it is important that proper economic planning takes

place to address that. Does the Committee have plans

to consider local transport strategies,which are important

in ensuring a match between strategic plans for HS2

and the development of local economies, and for investment

not only in local rail networks but in local bus networks,

light rail and other forms of local transport?

Mrs Ellman: My hon. Friend draws attention to the

great importance of local, and indeed regional, work

being conducted to ensure that the potential benefits of

High Speed 2 are enjoyed in all parts of the country.

Initially, the responsibility for doing that is being taken

up in some local areas—I know that a lot of work is

being done in the west midlands and in the Manchester

area—but it is not good enough to leave that entirely to

those local and regional authorities. In the Committee’s

future questioning of Ministers and High Speed 2 itself,

and specifically Sir David Higgins, I intend to pursue

that issue so that, as well as individual authorities

taking their own initiatives, there is some kind of national

oversight of what is being done. After all, this is one of

the biggest national investment decisions to be taken for

a very long time. There has to be some responsibility

from the Government as well as from localities to

ensure that its benefits are felt and that the work to

ensure that that happens is carried out.

Dr Julian Lewis (New Forest East) (Con): On a day

when the newspapers are full of reports of the Chief of

the Defence Staff’s concern that the armed forces are

being hollowed out, does the hon. Lady understand

why some of us feel that such a costly project betrays a

warped sense of priorities? In particular, has her Committee

devoted any attention to the fact that even in the short

time that the project has been in the public domain the

estimated cost has increased from about £30 billion to

about £50 billion? What concept does she have of us

being able to stick even to that higher figure?

Mrs Ellman: The report emphasises that costs must

be controlled and that the whole programme must be

actively managed to ensure that there is good value for

money. In looking at value for money, we must consider

the impact that the investment can have and the

consequences of not making it. The consequences for

the nation would be that our national network would

not be able to deliver the results that are required for a

prosperous economy that can benefit all parts of the

country.

Hugh Bayley (York Central) (Lab): I warmly welcome

the Committee’s unanimous conclusion that there is a

political, economic and transport case for building

southwards, from Leeds and Manchester, at the same

time as building northwards from London. I want to

ask a specific question about the Committee’s support

for building additional links between the conventional

and the high-speed networks. It is already proposed that

there should be a spur from the Yorkshire arm of HS2

to link with the conventional track atYork, with high-speed

trains running as far as Church Fenton, which is five

miles from York. Would it be possible to upgrade that

last five miles so that people in York, which is a major

rail hub, could use high-speed services directly—an

example of the sort of improvement in connectivity

that the Committee is considering?

Mrs Ellman: My hon. Friend draws attention to the

importance of connectivity and ensuring that all parts

of the country benefit. He indicates a specific proposal

that would improve connectivity to his constituency

and the areas around it. I hope that he will put that

proposal forward, perhaps developed by the local authority

and the local transport authority, during the consultation

so that it can be considered as part of the wider benefits

of HS2. It is exactly the kind of thing that the Transport

Committee advocates should be taken forward.

Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con): It would be great if

all the jobs were British, but does the hon. Lady agree

that, under EU rules, it is highly unlikely that we will be

able to keep all the work within the United Kingdom,

and that we will have to have companies coming in from

outside to build the track?

Mrs Ellman: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his

question. The issue of jobs is extremely important. It is

absolutely essential that opportunities are given to UK

companies and workers to take advantage of the

employment opportunities that will be provided by this

major scheme. The Committee has already raised this

issue and been told that there will be a road show

conducted by HS2 Ltd that will go across the country

promoting job opportunities—similar to the way in

which action was taken in relation to Crossrail. Following

the road show, it is absolutely essential that Ministers

become involved and ensure that the promotion of job

opportunities is a major part of the scheme.

Mr Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) (Lab): I welcome

the Committee’s continued support for HS2, as I welcome

the investment in my constituency in the interchange at

Old Oak Common.Would that support not be consolidated

if we had certainty on matters, particular the Heathrow

link, which the right hon. Member for Uxbridge and

South Ruislip (Sir John Randall) mentioned? The

Government seem as intent on delaying that decision as

they are on pushing the project forward. At the very

least, will my hon. Friend endeavour to ensure that the

moribund proposal for an estuary airport is withdrawn?

We might not agree on the number of runways we want

at Heathrow, but if we had certainty that Heathrow

would continue to thrive, we could resolve that issue,

which would mean certainty on the route of HS2.

Mrs Ellman: My hon. Friend raises an important

point. I agree about the importance of securing the

Heathrow link. I repeat what I have said previously in

relation to the possibilities of an estuary airport: the

problems in relation to cost, environmental impacts and

the need to close Heathrow airport and London City

airport are likely to be insuperable barriers to its being

pursued further.

Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): My constituents

are understandably worried, as I am, that the KPMG

report indicated that there could be a net economic

disbenefit to Kettering of £50 million.Will the Transport

Committee encourage the Government and HS2 Ltd to

commission further research from KPMG or another

independent body to try to assuage some of the genuine

concerns in constituencies such as mine? If High Speed

2 does come, surely all of us would want it not to have a

negative impact on large parts of our country.

Mrs Ellman: The hon. Gentleman raises very important

issues. The KPMG report is a very useful piece of

research that identifies areas that are due to benefit

from High Speed 2 but also areas that would not

benefit.When the Committee questioned KPMG about

its findings, it became clear that some considerations

had not been taken into account, including the latest

information on rail improvements being planned for the

areas concerned, the possibilities of rents being increased,

and the impact of freight developments. Those are just

some examples of aspects that had been missed out.

Our report says that further reports should be

commissioned, and I am sure that the Committee will

take a continued interest in that. More research in this

very important area should be pursued. It is vital not

just that areas that are seen to benefit are made aware of

that, but that areas that are worried that they would not

benefit are enabled to get maximum support so that

they could share in the positive aspects of HS2.

Mr Sheerman rose—

Mr Speaker: Order. The fact that the hon. Gentleman

sought to intervene on the Chair of the Transport

Committee when I had indicated at the outset that the

procedure was analogous to that of a ministerial statement,

in which hon. Members should not intervene but rather

wait their turn, suggests to me that he was not present at

the outset to hearmy wise words. Moreover, I have since

been advised that he did indeed beetle into the Chamber

a couple of minutes into the hon. Lady’s statement. The

concepts of the hon. Gentleman, on the one hand, and

brass neck, on the other, are by no means unrelated. In

a spirit of Christmas generosity, on this one occasion I

shall allow him to put his question, which I think he

wants to hear and which he imagines that perhaps the

House might also wish to hear.

Mr Sheerman: My office is a long way from here,

Mr Speaker, and I ran as fast as I could. I apologise to

you and to my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool,

Riverside (Mrs Ellman). She knows that I am a great

admirer of hers and of the work of her Select Committee,

and of Select Committees in general.

My hon. Friend also knows that I started off as a

passionate supporter of HS2 until I started reading the

international research that suggests that rather than

empowering regional cities and making them more

affluent and wealthy, such projects have the opposite

effect and would drain even more power and influence

away from the regions towards London and the south.

The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and

Skills came out with a very similar view this morning.

Did she take evidence about that research, and did she

take evidence from the former Chancellor of the Exchequer?

Why did she put so much emphasis on KPMG? Those

of us who live in Yorkshire and saw what it did—or

failed to do—in the banking sector do not trust KPMG

further than we can throw it.

Mrs Ellman: I thank my hon. Friend for his question

and thank the Speaker for permitting these important

issues to be raised. The Committee questioned KPMG

because it had conducted the most recent research on

this very specific area. However, the Committee’s reports

are based on contributors additional to KPMG.

When we conducted our original major inquiry two

years ago, we visited France and Germany to see for

ourselves the impact of high-speed rail. It became clear

that there are major potential benefits to high-speed rail

provided that the local and, in the case of France and

Germany, regional authorities take advantage of them

and provide the necessary economic development support

to make them a reality. That is what I would like to

happen here in the UK, and that is what the Select

Committee report advocates.

Mrs Gillan rose—

Mr Speaker: Order. In respect of this new procedure,

I said to the House that an hon. Member may expect to

be called only once. However, as the House will know,

just occasionally hope can trump expectation. I call

Mrs Cheryl Gillan.

Mrs Gillan: A very happy Christmas to you,

Mr Speaker, and to the hon. Member for Liverpool,

Riverside (Mrs Ellman), who has dealt with the questions

with charm and a great deal of skill. This is merely a

point of clarification. In response to my earlier series of

questions, the hon. Lady said that she had read the

MPA reports on HS2. Can she confirm that that is the

case?

Mrs Ellman: I have read the reports put forward on

HS2. I have not read reports that have not been disclosed

in public.

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