HS2 in hansard 08/05/2014

HS2 Skills Academy

Karen Lumley (Redditch) (Con): What plans he
has to set up an HS2 skills academy. [903900]
The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick
McLoughlin): In January, the Government announced
its intention to set up a new high speed rail college to
boost the development of railway and engineering skills
across the UK. In March, the Department for Business,
Innovation and Skills launched a consultation to identify
the location for the newmain site.Responses are currently
being assessed and we intend to make an announcement
of the preferred site later this year. The college is
expected to open in 2017.
Karen Lumley: Does the Secretary of State agree with
me, though, that to show the country that HS2 is also
about rebalancing the economy, it is vital that the
academy is built either in the midlands—please—or
even further north?
Mr McLoughlin: We sawat yesterday’s PrimeMinister’s
Question Time a number of bids, not least from my
hon. Friend the Member forMilton Keynes South (Iain
267 Oral Answers 8 MAY 2014 Oral Answers 268
Stewart), who is not allowed to ask me a question today
on this issue. So the bids are coming from far and wide,
and I am very pleased about that.
12. [903903] Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South)
(Lab): May we make a bid for the new skills academy to
be located in the west midlands, preferably in the
Coventry area? The Government promised to publish a
jobs and skills strategy for high-speed rail last July. It is
almost a year and nothing has been produced. Can the
Secretary of State give us a date when it will be
Mr McLoughlin: Let me deal with whether the academy
should be in Coventry in the west midlands. Of course,
the west midlands is a very large area. From Coventry
to Wolverhampton to Birmingham, all those areas are
making bids for the college and I am very pleased about
that. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent
South (Robert Flello) is saying that Stoke-on-Trent is in
the west midlands. It is in the west midlands government
area, but I am talking about the old west midlands
metropolitan areas, which he may sort of remember.
Mr Marcus Jones (Nuneaton) (Con): The skills
academy is vital so that we ensure that HS2 is built by
skilled British workers. Notwithstanding the comments
by my hon. Friend the Member for Redditch (Karen
Lumley) and the hon. Member for Coventry South
(Mr Cunningham), where better to build the skills
academy in the geographical heart of the country, at the
centre of this project, than in Nuneaton?
Mr McLoughlin: I had a very interesting visit withmy
hon. Friend when I went to Nuneaton station, when he
made the case for a number of extra services that he
would like to see calling there. I understand his bid for
the academy. I amslightly worried as I amnot sure what
we will talk about on HS2 when we have made a
decision on the location of the academy
Stephen Timms (East Ham) (Lab): One thing I think
we will talk about is the review of connections between
HS2 and the continent, which the Secretary of State
announced almost two months ago. When does he
envisage that review being complete?
Mr McLoughlin: I hope to be able to update the
House further on those proposals later this year and on
the work that the Department is doing, which is at the
moment being led by Sir David Higgins.
Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) (Con):
Is the Secretary of State aware, though, that if the
station goes ahead in the east midlands atToton, businesses
will relocate from the centre of Derby and Nottingham
around the Toton area, and also a new conurbation will
be built, which will effectively join up Derby and
Nottingham and denude both their city centres?
Mr McLoughlin: I am not sure that I agree entirely
withmy hon. Friend.We need to ensure that development
takes place in the whole area around where the new
stations are going to be, and that there are infrastructure
interconnections with those areas. But it is fair to say
that, on the second part of the route—from Birmingham
to Manchester and from Birmingham to Leeds—we are
out to consultation, and those consultations are being
considered at the moment.
Ms Gisela Stuart (Birmingham, Edgbaston) (Lab): I
agree that the HS2 skills academy should be located at
the centre of the project, which is right on Curzon
street, on the east side of Birmingham. Is there any
more information that the Secretary of State would
require to convince him that that is the right location?
Mr McLoughlin: A number of people are making
bids and the hon. Lady is but one of them. She is
absolutely right about the importance of Curzon street
in this project, which I think will be of great benefit to
Birmingham. I look forward to discussing these proposals
further with Sir Albert Bore,who is leader of Birmingham
city council.
Mike Kane (Wythenshawe and Sale East) (Lab): HS2
is obviously critical to my constituency’s development
and also to the national interest. As the newest Member
in this place—just—may I ask the Secretary of State to
explain to me, in order to assist my development, where
the Prime Minister and his AWOL colleagues were for
those vital votes in the House last week?
Mr McLoughlin: Once the hon. Gentleman is in the
House—it does not matter howlong he has been here—he
has the equal authority of any other Member. He is
trying to play on the fact that he is the newest Member
of the House, but he is treated the same way as any
other Member as regards questions. He did remind me
that the proposed route for HS2 would go directly
under his house, so he does have a direct interest. There
has never been any doubt about the Prime Minister’s
commitment to this project. Indeed, his name is on the
Bill. The only person who had doubts about the project
was the shadow Chancellor, and I was very glad to see
that he voted for the Bill last week.