At a public meeting on 12 June, Mr Robert Syms, Chair of the High Speed Rail Bill Select Committee, announced the Committee will begin hearings in July.
The programme of July meetings is published today on the Committee website – www.parliament.uk/hs2-committee-commons.
The first meeting will take place on 1 July and include an opening address from the promoter.
The Committee will begin with briefings (held in public) about the route and on the factual background to matters such as noise. The Committee will then hear locus challenges, where the promoter of the Bill will have the opportunity to challenge the locus standi of petitioners and their right to be heard by the Select Committee.
The Committee has decided to begin hearing petitions geographically, starting with Birmingham Curzon Street and moving broadly from north to south. The Committee remain open to submissions on when to schedule petitions from Staffordshire and Handsacre.
A programme for September hearings onwards will be published in July. The Committee does not, as a general rule, intend to sit outside of London but it will be making visits to as many parts of the route as possible.
The Committee decided it was sensible for HS2’s agents, Winckworth Sherwood, to handle programme details, since unlike the Private Bill Office they will already be aware of the state of negotiations between the parties. The Committee will expect to receive formal confirmation from Winckworth Sherwood of their impartiality when dealing with the timing of petitions. Any unresolvable points of contention will be referred to the Private Bill Office—and if necessary the Chair of this Committee—for resolution.
The Committee has strongly encouraged the agents for HS2 to arrange the petition programme to allow for at least four weeks’ notice of hearings to petitioners unless there are exceptional reasons for not giving such notice.
The Committee expects to sit on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9.30am each morning and from 2pm to 5pm each afternoon. Thursday afternoon sittings will be scheduled only as necessary and the Committee will also sit on occasional Tuesday evenings to accommodate petitioners as necessary. Morning sessions will finish at 12.30pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays and at 11.30am on Wednesdays.
The Committee will not be meeting in August but the Committee has the power to sit during House of Commons recesses.
Programme for July hearings:http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/hs2/HS2-Programming.pdf ( PDF 15 KB)
Information on procedures for petition appearances and related matters: http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/hs2/HS2-procedure-in-committee-note.pdf ( PDF 75 KB)