HS2 in Hansard 09/09/2014

High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill
[Relevant documents: Ninth Report from the Transport Committee, Session 2013-14, High speed rail: on track?, HC 851, and the Government response, HC 1085 Tenth Report from the Transport Committee, Session 2010-12, High Speed Rail, HC 1185, and the Government response, HC 1754.]
Mr Speaker: Motions 3 and 4 on high-speed rail will
be debated together.
2.30 pm
TheParliamentary Under-Secretary of State forTransport
(Mr Robert Goodwill): I beg to move,
That the Order of 29 April 2014 (High Speed Rail (London –
West Midlands) Bill (Carryover)) be varied as follows:
After paragraph 10 of the Order insert–
“10A. The Order of the House of 26 June 2013 relating to
electronic deposit of documents shall apply in respect of a Bill
presented as mentioned in paragraph 2 or 4 as in respect of the
High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill read for the first
time in the current Session.”
Mr Speaker: With this, we will take the following:
That it be a further Instruction to the Select Committee to
which the High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill is
committed–
(1) that the Select Committee have power to consider–
(a) amendments to accommodate the requirements of landowners
and occupiers in:
(i) the parishes of the Little Missenden, Great Missenden,Wendover,
StokeMandeville, Stone with Bishopstone and Hartwell, Quainton,
Preston Bissett and Turweston in the County of Buckinghamshire,
(ii) the parish of Finmere in the County of Oxfordshire,
(iii) the parish of ChippingWarden and Edgcote in the County
of Northamptonshire,
(iv) the parish of Little Packington in the County of Warwickshire,
(v) the parish of Berkswell in the Metropolitan Borough of
Solihull, and
(vi) the City of Birmingham;
(b) amendments to accommodate changes to the design of the
works authorised by
the Bill in:
(i) the parishes of Stone with Bishopstone and Hartwell, Fleet
Marston, Steeple Claydon and Twyford in the County of
Buckinghamshire,
(ii) the parish of Mixbury in the County of Oxfordshire,
(iii) the parishes of Culworth and Whitfield in the County of
Northamptonshire,
(iv) the parishes of Radbourne, Southam, Stoneleigh and Curdworth
in the County of Warwickshire, and
(v) the City of Birmingham;
(c) amendments to accommodate the requirements of utility
undertakers in:
(i) the parishes of Denham, Wendover, Ellesborough, Stone
with Bishopstone and Hartwell, Quainton and Grendon Underwood
and the town of Aylesbury in the County of Buckinghamshire,
(ii) the parishes of Offchurch, Burton Green, Little Packington,
Coleshill, Curdworth,Wishaw and Moxhull and Middleton in the
County of Warwickshire,
(iii) the parishes of Drayton Bassett, Hints with Canwell,
Weeford, Swinfen and Packington, Fradley and Streethay, Longdon,
Kings Bromley and Lichfield in the County of Staffordshire, and
797 Business of the House 9 SEPTEMBER 2014 798
[Mr Speaker]
(iv) the parish of Bickenhill in the Metropolitan Borough of
Solihull, and amendments for connected purposes;
(2) that any petition against amendments to the Bill which the
Select Committee is empowered to make shall be referred to the
Select Committee if–
(a) the petition is presented by being deposited in the Private
Bill Office not later than the end of the period of four weeks
beginning with the day on which the first newspaper notice of the
amendments was published, and
(b) the petition is one in which the petitioners pray to be heard
by themselves or through counsel or agents.
That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.
We are here to debate the merits of two motions: one
instructing the HS2 Select Committee to consider 55 minor
amendments to the Bill and to hear petitions against
them, should there be any; the other to allow the
documents relating to this additional provision and any
other in the future to be deposited in electronic format.
Before I deal with the merits of the motions, let me
put them in context. The House will recall that in April
it agreed, by a large majority, to give the hybrid Bill for
phase 1 of High Speed 2 a Second Reading. The Bill
provides the necessary powers to allow the construction
and operation of phase 1 between London and the west
midlands.
On Second Reading, the House agreed the principle
of the Bill, which is that there should be a high-speed
railway that will run between Euston and the west coast
main line in Handsacre in Staffordshire, with a spur to
Curzon Street in Birmingham. There will be intermediate
stations at Old Oak Common and Birmingham
Interchange, located near the NEC and Birmingham
international airport.
Following Second Reading, the Bill, as it is a hybrid,
was remitted to a specially appointed Select Committee.
This Committee, under the chairmanship of my hon.
Friend the Member for Poole (Mr Syms), is tasked with
considering the petitions lodged against the Bill by
those directly and specially affected by it, a task which it
has already started with commendable diligence and
good judgment, for which I thank it. Indeed, it is
continuing its work in Committee Room 5 today.
In parallel with this, and as a key part of the process,
HS2 Ltd has been engaging further with those petitioners
in order better to understand their concerns and determine
whether these can be addressed without the need for
them to appear before the Committee. This has proved
successful with a number of petitioners, including
Birmingham city council and Centro. As a result of
some of those discussions and further developments in
the design for the railway, we have identified the need to
make 55 minor amendments to the Bill as originally
deposited.
The motion before the House sets out their broad
location but, despite their minor nature, I think it would
be useful to explain them in a little more detail. They
are mainly changes to access tracks required to construct
or maintain the railway and refinements to National
Grid’s requirements for electricity wire diversions. For
example, where a farmer has suggested that it would be
better to route an access track over this field rather than
that field, that change is included in this additional
provision. Additional land is also included around some
electricity pylons where National Grid’s requirements
have been refined.
These changes, in total, will not increase the overall
project budget or target price for phase 1. Indeed, they
are expected to cost slightly less than our original
proposals. The estimate of expense for this additional
provision, which will be published if this motion passes,
sets out the total cost of these works at around £965,000.
However, due to the prescriptive nature of this process,
it does not set out the net position, which is, as I have
already said, a slight saving.
The first motion being debated today instructs the
Committee to consider these amendments, and to hear
petitions against them. It is important to note that the
motion does not agree that these changes should be
made; it just agrees that the Committee be allowed to
consider them.
Subject to the approval of this motion, the additional
provision and a supplementary environmental statement
describing the likely significant environmental effects of
the amendments will be deposited in Parliament, and in
local authority offices and libraries in those locations
affected by the changes. Following deposit of these
documents, a public consultation on the supplementary
environmental statement will commence, which will
close on 14 November. This consultation is 56 days
long, in line with the approach taken for the main
environmental statement and in excess of the minimum
requirements in Standing Orders. As with the main
environmental statement consultation, the responses to
the consultation will be analysed by Parliament’s
independent assessor and the assessor’s report will be
tabled in the House ahead of Third Reading.
There will also be a petitioning period for those
directly and specially affected by these changes to submit
petitions against them. This petitioning period will begin
on Friday 19 September and end on 17 October for all
petitioners.
Frank Dobson (Holborn and St Pancras) (Lab): The
people now petitioning have already petitioned and
paid their £20. Will they be able to petition without
paying a further £20?
Mr Goodwill: Yes, they certainly will. Indeed, this is a
“buy one, get one free” offer from this Government and
I can reassure those who are affected and wish to
petition that there will be that provision for a free
opportunity.
Newspaper notices will be published in national and
local newspapers over the next two weeks, alerting the
public to these changes and the opportunity to feed into
the process by petitioning or responding to the consultation,
as appropriate.
The second motion before us confirms that the
permission given by the House in July last year to
deposit environmental and other information in relation
to this Bill in electronic format applies to additional
provisions as well. Electronic deposit of the Bill and
related environmental information was an innovation
welcomed by the public, as well as avoiding the need
and cost of printing documents, a single set of which
weighed 1.5 tonnes. I believe that it is only sensible that
the same approach be taken for this additional provision
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and any subsequent ones that might come forward,
although I hasten to add this will not be such a weighty
document.
As with the Bill deposit, the motion is permissive. It
allows those locationswhere documents are to be deposited
to choosewhether theywould like documents in electronic
form only or also in hard copy. Many local authorities
affected by these amendments have already indicated
their preference for electronic format. A similar motion
to this has already been endorsed in the other place.
I hope that the House will agree that these are two
very sensible motions to demonstrate the progress that
thisGovernment aremaking in transforming the country’s
infrastructure and economic geography. It also demonstrates
that we are doing this in the right way, listening to the
concerns of those affected and, where possible, making
changes to reduce impacts. I commend these motions to
the House.
2.38 pm
Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab): Before
I move on to the detail of the motions before us, may I
welcome the Minister back to his place? I know it has
been a particularly busy couple of weeks in the Department
for Transport, especially asMinisters from both parties
race to catch up with Labour’s rail policies. First, we
learned in The Times that the Liberal Democrats now
apparently support a public sector operator, even though
they have rushed through the privatisation of East Coast
trains in this Parliament. Then we heard the Chancellor
say that rail fares would be capped at the retail prices
index in January, just three weeks after the Transport
Secretary said that the policy would result in
“more debt than our children and grandchildren could ever hope
to repay.”
Last year, the Chancellor waited until Christmas to say
there would be a freeze. This year, the very next day he
took it away. Evening rail fares rose yesterday in the
north by up to 162%—
Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Dawn Primarolo):
Order. I have to say to the hon. Lady that one quip or
joke is fine, but we are discussing motion No. 3 on the
Order Paper and this is not a general debate. I therefore
fear she might have to save her humour for another
debate, and return to the motion please.
LilianGreenwood: Thank you,MadamDeputy Speaker.
I am sorry not to be able to continue to amuse the
House.
I am sure that while the Chancellor was busy with all
hiswhatnots, Ministerswere busy preparing these changes
to the High-Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill
this weekend so that it could be considered by the Bill
Committee following the vote today. In April, the House
endorsed the principle of building a new high-speed rail
line fromLondon to Birmingham. The case for introducing
more capacity is clear. Passenger numbers have doubled
over the past 20 years; the railways are carrying the
same number of passengers as they did in the 1920s on
a network that is now half the size. Anyone who believes
in encouraging the use of rail freight, in supporting
modal shift and in tackling road congestion should
want to see that growth continue. However, most of our
alignments were built to serve Victorian service patterns,
and many of our civil structures date back to the 19th
century.
Thewest coast main line, the vital rail artery connecting
the north-west, the west midlands and London, is
approaching the limits of its capacity. As many hon.
Members will know, there are also growing capacity
constraints on the east coast and midland main lines.
This is no theoretical challenge. Our lack of capacity
means that it is increasingly difficult to run more inter-city,
freight and commuter services.
Network Rail is being asked to deliver substantial
investment over the next five years, but Railtrack’s
legacy on the west coast main line is a powerful warning
against relying on incremental upgrades. De-scoped,
over-budget and over-time, the west coast modernisation
project cost the taxpayer £9 billion pounds and delivered
only a fraction of the capacity we need, and, just a few
years after completion, that extra capacity has been
exhausted. I know fromspeaking to the local authorities
and hon. Members whose constituencies are on the
route that they never wish to relive that experience. Of
course we support electrification programmes and other
route improvements, but after the Norton Bridge area
works are completed, the options for upgrading the
west coast main line further will be limited.
A new approach is needed. The last Government
developed the initial proposals for HS2, but after the
election, some of the project’s momentum was sadly
lost. Labour rightly drew attention to the project’s
rising costs, and we went so far as to change the law to
ensure better value for taxpayers’ money, through an
amendment that stood in my name and that of my hon.
Friend the Member forWakefield (Mary Creagh). Indeed,
Baroness Kramer has described the changes, in another
place, as putting in place
“a very vigorous reporting process under which the Government
must report back annually and record any deviation from budget,
and the consequences of that…which has put in place a very
intense scrutiny process around the budget.”—[Official Report,
House of Lords, 19 November 2013; Vol. 749, c. 949.]
Since his appointment, David Higgins has taken great
strides to restore confidence in the project, and we
welcome the renewed focus on connectivity and integration
with the existing transport network, especially for phase 2
of the project. Of course there can be no room for
complacency on costs. The phase 1 route of HS2 is
currently being subjected to very close scrutiny, and it is
inevitable that some changes will be made, both through
the petitioning process and through agreements made
directly with HS2 Ltd. The Minister estimated that
those additional provisions would lead to a net saving,
although he did not specify its exact level. Will he give
us an estimate of the cost implications of the alterations
announced today, and the net saving involved? I would
be happy to take an intervention from him on this
point.
Mr Goodwill: I can tell the hon. Lady that it is a small
net saving; I am sure that the shadow Chancellor will
not be able to spend it on all his uncosted pet projects.
Lilian Greenwood: It’s a laugh a minute today. The
net saving is of course welcome. Will he also tell us,
when he responds to the debate, when we can expect the
first report on HS2’s initial expenditure, under the
terms of the preparation Act?
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[Lilian Greenwood]
There are two motions before us today: the carry-over
motion and the instruction motion to the Select Committee.
The hybrid Bill is reckoned to be the longest piece of
legislation ever produced, once the environmental statement
is included. When the new documents published today
are included, it will have broken its own record. It is
therefore right that the provisions for the electronic
depositing of Bill documents should continue, although
there should also continue to be a number of specified
sites where residents can consult physical copies.
The instruction motion requires the Committee to
consider a number of alterations to the route, which
take the form of additional provisions. The additional
provisions published by the Department cover a range
of recommendations, from the location of balancing
ponds and the preservation of public rights of way to
the maintenance of golf course car parks. They mainly
affect the constituencies of Government Members and
I shall do my best to finish my speech in a timely
fashion, because I know that a number of hon. Members
wish to speak.
It must be noted, however, that these provisions cover
the end of phase 1 in Lichfield and Birmingham Curzon
Street to Hillingdon, but no further. I am mindful of
the many contributions made in the House by London
colleagues, especially those of my right hon. Friend the
Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson),
who I note is in his place today. It is vital that, when
future additional provisions are brought forward, those
areas should be given at least equal consideration to the
local authorities affected by the proposals.
MrAndy Slaughter (Hammersmith) (Lab): As a London
MP who is majorly affected by HS2, I echo what my
hon. Friend has just said. I wish that the Minister had
mentioned London in his speech. I know that it is not
the subject of the motions, but will he look again at the
subject of the compensation for London being adequate
and commensurate with that being given to the rest of
the country? I have just had details of a brand-new part
of the rail link dumped on me today, as an afterthought,
in the form of a letter. If there are to be significant
changes, proper notice must be given to Members of
Parliament and residents, and a full consultation must
be carried out. That is not happening at the moment.
Lilian Greenwood: My hon. Friend speaks on behalf
of his constituents, who will be particularly affected by
the proposals for Old Oak Common.
In the area around Euston station in particular,
considerable uncertainty has been caused by revisions
to the designs for HS2’s London terminus. Three times
now, alternative plans for Euston have been presented.
Local residents deserve better.
Mr Goodwill: I should like to reassure the hon. Lady.
I had lunch with the right hon. Member for Holborn
and St Pancras (Frank Dobson) the other day and saw
some of the issues at first hand. Indeed, I think we got a
freebie from the restaurateur; we should find out whether
we need to declare it. Similar changes are being progressed
in the London area, and they will be brought forward
when other changes in London, such as the HS1 link
removal, are ready to be brought forward, so that
impacts such as those on transport can be considered in
the round. I remind the House that the changes being
debated today were communicated to landowners and
to others who might be affected, including Members of
Parliament, back in May.
Lilian Greenwood: I thank the Minister for that response,
particularly in relation to Euston.
It is to be hoped that we will see confirmation before
the election that the additional provisions mechanism
can be used to resolve some of the long-standing mitigation
issues in Euston. We do not object to the principle of
making changes to the Bill in this manner. After all,
Parliament has already voted to remove the unsatisfactory
link to HS1 that was included in the original wording of
the Bill. It is likely that further refinements will be made
as the Bill progresses through Parliament. However, it is
important that these changes are seen not as a final
draft but rather as proposals that must be subjected to
full scrutiny and a proper consultation period. When
there are objections—as there might be, given the changes
to land requirements set out in the additional provisions—
those petitioners must be heard on the same basis as
those who have already started to appear before the Bill
Committee. I look forward to further improvements to
the scheme.
HS2 is the right project, and it can be improved
further. On 1 October, we will mark the 50th anniversary
of the first Shinkansen service. The date is perhaps
unlikely to be celebrated in this country, except in
specialist publications, but it will be a rather sobering
reminder that high-speed trains were running abroad
when many parts of the UK were still reliant on steam
locomotives. High-speed rail is a proven technology,
and it has been proven in this country. I recently saw for
myself the benefits that HS1 has helped to bring to
Kent, including the greatly improved journey times and
the connections that allow fast services to radiate out
from the core high-speed line. HS2 must similarly be
fully integrated with the existing network, and that issue
that will no doubt be revisited inDavid Higgins’s upcoming
report.
HS2 should also be seen as an opportunity for utilising
the skills gained through the Crossrail project, for training
a new generation of highly skilled construction engineers
and railway operators and for supporting the 120,000
jobs in the UK’s supply chain. To that end, we want to
see a copy of the Government’s long-promised jobs and
skills strategy for HS2.
Mr Simon Burns (Chelmsford) (Con): The hon. Lady
is making an extremely interesting speech. She called
for HS2 to be part of an integrated system with the
existing conventional railway line. Will she elaborate a
little on how she sees that being possible?
Lilian Greenwood: I thank the—
Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Dawn Primarolo):
Order. Not on this motion. Perhaps the right hon.
Gentleman would like to have a conversation with the
hon. Lady outside the Chamber, but she will talk only
about motion No. 3 from the Dispatch Box, please.
Lilian Greenwood: I will take your direction, Madam
Deputy Speaker.
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Overall, we want the railways to support regional
development, connect isolated communities and help
deliver the balanced economic growth that this country
needs. We want to build 21st-century infrastructure in
the midlands and the north, not just in London and the
south-east, and we will continue to support HS2 as the
necessary legislation, including these motions, progresses
through Parliament.
2.50 pm
Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con):
I welcome the Minister’s opening statement on these
motions, but may I issue a word of warning? When I
hear a politician say, “Buy one, get one free”, the other
phrase that comes to mind is, “Always beware of politicians
bearing gifts”. Innocuous though this matter seems, I
am not sure that the Minister can get away without
answering a few questions. I have no intention of dividing
the House as this is a technical matter referring changes
to the Select Committee, so for those who are in any
doubt may I say that I do not intend to cause too much
of a fuss but I do intend to comment?
We find ourselves back in this Chamber once again
with the Government asking colleagues to vote on
matters relating to HS2. I recall that the previous time
the Government asked MPs to vote on this project, we
did so in the absence of the Major Projects Authority
report, which identifies the risks of the project. That is
still unavailable to MPs and to the very Select Committee
to which the new changes are being referred. I reiterate
that it is not fair to ask the Select Committee to evaluate
the changes, or any of the other proposals being made
by HS2 Ltd, in the absence of the full MPA set of
reports identifying the risks we are taking with this
project.
I was surprised that more detail was not available on
the changes before we arrived in this place. The Minister
was good enough to send me details of the one change
that affects my constituency. However, 20 out of the
55 changes affect Buckinghamshire, and issuing the list
I had sent to me at 1.30 pm today does not give
colleagues, particularly those who are not able to make
representations in the same way as I am, an opportunity
to study the detailed changes.
Mr Goodwill: My right hon. Friend will recall that the
Secretary of State wrote to her on 2May with details of
the change in her constituency, and other right hon. and
hon. Members, both Government and Opposition, were
contacted in the same way.
Mrs Gillan: I amglad to have the Minister’s reassurance;
that is not exactly howI understood it frommy colleagues,
but I will take his word for it. Having looked at the list, I
find that I have one minor change in my constituency,
which accommodates a footpath change at the request
of my local landowner Mr Lund. I hope it accommodates
his request in full, and I repeat that I was grateful to the
Minister for providing details to me. However, I am not
sure that details of the changes in other parts of
Buckinghamshire have been communicated to my
colleagues, because when I spoke to people in their
offices I was told that the details that were made available
in the list that arrived in my office at 1.30 pm had not
been made available to Members or their staff, so no
comments on the changes could be fed into the debate.
As the Minister knows, several of the changes require a
permanent acquisition of land to provide services or
access for HS2.
Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton) (Lab): I
am grateful to the right hon. Lady for giving way, and
she is always generous with her time. This is a poor
show, because this debate was in the business statement
announced to the House on Thursday afternoon. Will
she name her Conservative colleagues who cannot be
bothered to turn up to represent their constituents?
Mrs Gillan: The hon. Gentleman mistakes what I
mean. Several Members of this House who serve as
Ministers or in other positions of responsibility are
unable to express, directly on the Floor of the House,
the views of their constituents. I amsometimes permitted
to make points on their behalf and at their request,
which is usually the way we accommodate such matters,
as he knows.
Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): At the moment,
my hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth (Christopher
Pincher), for example, is in Committee discussing the
Modern Slavery Bill, where there might be votes. I know
that he would otherwise very much wish to be here for
the debate.
Mrs Gillan: My hon. Friend makes a very valid point.
The hon. Member for Blackley and Broughton (Graham
Stringer) knows that he was a little naughty with his
intervention. He was trying to make people look bad,
and this is not a time to do that. I can honestly say that
all my colleagues, on both sides of the House, are
fighting the corner for our constituents and trying to
put their point across. The sort of point the hon.
Gentleman makes is not particularly welcome.
Mr Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con):Will my
right hon. Friend emphasise that not just constituents
who live on the proposed line of route but almost all
constituents, including mine, are concerned about the
enormous bill to the British taxpayer, to which they will
have to contribute if this Bill goes through?
Mrs Gillan: My hon. Friend makes a good point. The
costs of the project are a matter of concern right across
the board and to all Members. Hon. Members ought to
bear in mind that today the Minister has brought savings
to the Dispatch Box—[Interruption.] He indicates to
me that they are minute savings, but we know that size is
not everything—savings are important. I hope that will
go some way to showing thatMinisters’ eyes are open at
least to looking at cost savings ideas. I hope that they
will be open to looking at other savings, not just monetary
ones.
Mr Goodwill: May I point out that there is not only a
small saving but considerable improvement for my right
hon. Friend’s constituent Mr Lund? Although I would
not go so far as to say he is pleased to see the change, it
is certainly an improvement on what was there before.
May I remind the House that although we wrote in May
to Members with details of the changes in their
constituencies, we sent them an additional copy of the
letter this morning, in case they had missed the earlier
one? We have also tabled documents before the House
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[Mr Goodwill]
so that any other right hon. or hon. Member who
wishes to look at the detailed changes, on moving
electricity pylons, rights of way and so on, can see what
is before the House today. Nobody can be in any doubt
about what we are discussing today.
Mrs Gillan: I am grateful to the Minister for that. It
was good of him to send the letter that he said was sent
to me on 2 May. In his original letter to me he said it
was sent on 1 May and we were looking in the wrong
place, although I still have no record in my office of
having received the letter on 2 May. That is just a small
point of no real importance; this was just poor staff
work.
I would like to know when the map books are going
to be available—I believe 17 are affected—showing the
changes, with the list of affected owners. I understand
that they are not yet available, so will the Minister
confirm when they will be published?When exactly will
the notices and the newspaper advertisements be placed?
I am willing to give way to allow him to answer that.
Mr Goodwill: They will be available onWednesday—
tomorrow.
Mrs Gillan: If they are available on Wednesday, that
raises the question of why they could not have been
available in time for this debate. The Minister is obviously
not going to allow us to have the detail until after this
debate, and we have to put up with that.
Mr Goodwill: The purpose of today’s motion is to
facilitate the depositing of the maps. That is why we are
doing so on the first possible opportunity, should we get
the consent of the House today, which is tomorrow.
Mrs Gillan: I amgrateful for theMinister’s clarification,
but it would have been helpful if the map books had
been available to Members before the debate.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury
(Mr Lidington) was also concerned that he had not yet
been given details of the proposals. Let me make a small
point. It is hard for Members of Parliament to allay
people’s fears or make the relevant representations if we
do not have the details at the earliest opportunity. I am
sure that some of the proposed changes will bewelcomed—I
certainly hope so. Sadly, the only change that my
constituents want is the adoption of a longer tunnel
under the area of outstanding natural beauty. That
would save the violation of our so-called protected
environment and the Committee Members to whom
these changes are being committed some 550 petition
hearings, which have been lined up because of the lack
of support for the long tunnel so far.
Like the right hon. Member for Holborn and St Pancras
(Frank Dobson), I am willing to offer the Minister a
freebie lunch in Chesham and Amersham if he visits to
look at the environment, the countryside and the grief
thatwould be saved if the longer tunnel,which I understand
is being considered by the Department, is accepted. I
know that it is currently being studied by the engineering
teams at HS2, and I hope that the Minister will confirm
that any future changes fromHS2Ltd,which he mentioned
in his letter of 28August, will include the tunnel extension.
Mr Chope: My right hon. Friend makes an important
point. Will she confirm that it is a matter of regret that
there is no agreement on the costs between HS2 and the
promoters of the extended tunnel? Surely it should be
possible for rational engineers, albeit from different
sides of the argument, to reach a conclusion over the
additional costs of a tunnel.
Mrs Gillan: I think that engineers are talking to
engineers. With the help of the Department, I have
certainly facilitated meetings at which the tunnel has
been discussed. The problem is that we do not have
access to the costings prepared by HS2 Ltd, so we
cannot make any comparisons. The truth of the matter
is that we can make savings in time and money by
reducing the need for those 550 petitions and we can
save an area of outstanding natural beauty. If we can
protect other areas of the country by kicking up a fuss,
we should protect the one that is nearest to our capital
city and the one that is so fragile that it would be
irreparably damaged if this scheme were to go ahead as
currently envisaged.
The office of the right hon. Member for Buckingham
(John Bercow) is also concerned that uncertainty still
exists for its constituents. During the last petitioning
period, it came to light that some people who were
affected by the proposal had heard nothing from HS2
Ltd. They heard about their properties being affected
only by word of mouth from neighbours. All of us in
this House wish to hear that such behaviour will not be
repeated in this or any future case.
Following this debate, there will be a consultation on
the environmental statement for the additional provisions
running from 19 September to 14 November. However,
the petitioning period for those who are affected runs
only until 17 October. If 56 days have been allocated to
look at the environmental impacts, people whose land is
affected should not be disadvantaged and expected to
respond with a petition in a shorter time frame.Will the
Minister consider extending that petitioning period to
the same closing date as the consultation on the
environmental provisions?
Let me put this matter in context. This project has
been going for nearly five years, and because of errors
and omissions by HS2 and the Department there have
been so many consultations and so many changes to
periods of consultations that the closing dates and
timetables continue to confuse people. It would be a
good idea if we had just one date for the additional
provisions. I hope that the Minister will give that thought
some consideration.
What assessment has the Minister made of today’s
motions and their compliance with key aspects of European
environmental legislation, specifically the habitats directive
and the environmental impact assessment directive, and
the UK’s obligations under the Aarhus convention? As
I understand it, the EIA directive requires the entire
environmental effects of a project to be measured and
consulted on rather than it being done in individual
stages through salami slicing. Perhaps the Minister will
address that in his response.
I said that I have no intention of dividing the House
on this issue as it deals merely with changes to the
process for scrutinising the project, but I must again
make the point that this project as proposed is deeply
unpopular not just with my constituents but with many
807 High Speed Rail (London – West 9 SEPTEMBER 2014 808
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others who, like me, do not think that the business case,
the route and the lack of connectivity to other transport
hubs justify the vast expenditure.
Michael Fabricant: May I say how much I agree with
the point that my right hon. Friend has made? Is she
aware that if HS2 were to follow the route that we
supported as the party in opposition, there would be
less environmental damage and we would save £4 billion
to £8 billion in costs?
Mrs Gillan: My hon. Friend has long supported the
other route. Before the election, it was the other route
that was on the drawing board. Something happened
when the coalition came into power that changed the
original understanding that we all had. The Government
still have time to look at this in a different way, and I
urge them to start this project in the north and connect
our great northern cities and then revisit these plans to
make better connections to Heathrow and the channel
tunnel and of course to provide the extra tunnelling,
should it still apply, that would protect the environment
in the Chilterns to the highest standards.
I am afraid that, after five years, feelings still run
really high in my constituency. This week, the
Buckinghamshire Examiner says that HS2 will cost the
Chilterns £170 million. Chiltern district council has
done a study of what the costs of this project will be to
my local economy inmy constituency. I hope the Minister
will understand the damage that will be done to the
Chilterns and that he will consider my words yet again.
3.7 pm
Frank Dobson (Holborn and St Pancras) (Lab): The
debate this afternoon strikes me as rather strange, as we
are being asked to give the existing Select Committee
power to consider amendments that we have not seen,
which is fairly unusual in the House of Commons. If we
are asked to agree to some amendment, we have usually
had the opportunity to read and digest them and possibly
to consult other people about them. The environmental
statements are apparently ready but will not be issued
until tomorrow, leaving us to proceed in ignorance.
They will contain all the details. When people are
considering the impact on their homes, businesses, schools
or leisure provision, it is the detail that counts.
Mr Goodwill: I must make it clear that the House is
being asked not to approve the changes, but to allow the
Committee to consider the changes and for petitions to
be submitted to help them in that work.
Frank Dobson: I understand that, but if we had the
detail, the House might decide that some amendments
are so blindingly stupid that they should not be referred
to the Select Committee in the first place. It remains the
case thatwe are being asked to endorse these propositions
without having seen them. Six groups of changes are, it
is claimed, in response to the requirements of local
people; four of them are in response to requirements of
the public utilities; and five are for “minor changes of
design” and—these are the magic words—“connected
purposes”. What we are being asked to push through is
not quite as specific as has been suggested.
Michael Fabricant: Following the point that the right
hon. Gentleman has just made, does a blank cheque
come to mind?
Frank Dobson: Prettymuch, yes, although I amopposed
to the daft £20 billion cheque in the first place, and have
been all along.
What bothers me, besides the famous “connected
purposes” let out, is that we are also told:
“That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.”
According to HS2, the changes we are considering—or
not really considering—this afternoon are minor, and
we are placing this procedure within the Standing Orders
of the House so that we have a sort of modern precedent
for the Clerks to rely on if challenged. What concerns
me is that the proposals that will eventually be made for
the Euston part of my constituency cannot be considered
as minor by anyone on earth.
Mrs Caroline Spelman (Meriden) (Con): On the right
hon. Gentleman’s point about minor design changes,
the same term is used in a letter written to me by the
Department on 2 May. It cites three “minor changes”,
which are in fact significant land acquisitions—at a
National Grid sub-station; in the diversion of the
Kenilworth greenway; and through provision of additional
car parking at the national motorcycle museum. There
is no indication in that letter of how compensation
schemes would affect those lands, which are significantly
outside the present qualifying area. Like him, I think
that some of these minor changes seem quite significant
to the landowners.
Frank Dobson: The right hon. Lady’s point simply
emphasises how the detail is important. With Euston,
however, it is not amatter of detail. The current proposal
that the House voted through has been abandoned. In
fact, it was abandoned before the House voted it through.
The situation is utterly crazy. The proposition included
in the Bill was basically to build a rather elegant lean-to
engine shed at the west side of the existing Euston
station, so most of the concern and the emphasis and
the source of petitions have been from people, homes
and businesses to the west of the station. The proposition
now is to abandon that and demolish the whole of the
existing Euston station, which will clearly take longer
and extend the impact. More time will be required
because of the increase in scale and the impact on
businesses and people living to the east of the station
will massively increase.
Mr Slaughter: I share my right hon. Friend’s pain
about the shifting sands. The letter to which I referred
earlier, which I received today, invites me to a meeting
this Sunday at which I will have
“an opportunity to learn more about a possible new rail link that
has been proposed and how it might affect you. The new line
would connect the planned HS2 and Crossrail interchange station
at Old Oak Common with the West Coast Main Line.”
That might be very desirable—in fact, I thought it was
happening already—but it suddenly introduces a new
railway line that skirts around a few streets on the edge
of my constituency. The picture changes every day, the
consultation becomes redundant and we move to another
phase.
809 High Speed Rail (London – West 9 SEPTEMBER 2014 810 Midlands) Bill High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill
Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Dawn Primarolo):
Order. The hon. Gentleman might consider making his
observations in an Adjournment debate. They are not
directly relevant to the two motions we are discussing
today, as far as I am aware, but he has put them on the
record.
Frank Dobson: Although I understand the concerns
of people who are directly affected by the propositions
that are not quite before us this afternoon, my principal
concern is the application of the Standing Orders to
what is proposed and likely to be proposed at Euston,
which will be the biggest building and engineering project
in Britain for many a long year. Its impact will be
phenomenal and I believe that it is wholly inappropriate
for the Government to try to use such a procedure to
push through changes on that scale and with such an
impact.
Mrs Gillan: I am increasingly worried about the
process.My right hon. Friend the Member forMeriden
(Mrs Spelman) just said that in her letter she had been
informed that four sites were subject to these additional
provisions and changes, but the document issued to me
at 1.30 today shows only two changes forMeriden. That
reinforces the fact that there is a lack of clarity about
the detail and there seems to be some confusion about
what changes are being referred to the Committee.With
a project of this size, we cannot afford such discrepancy.
Frank Dobson: Again, I sympathise with the right
hon. Lady, because nowhere has been subjected to the
absolutely stupendous incompetence of HS2 more than
my constituency.HS2 proposed a link with HS1. Everyone
said that that was crackers, HS2 said it was wonderful
and then it had to drop it. HS2 proposed the lean-to
engine shed proposal. Lots of people said that that was
crackers, HS2 said it was the only thing it would be
possible to do and that it would be extraordinarily
expensive to have a full development of the whole
station—and lo and behold, that is what is now being
proposed. No apology has been issued to anyone, as far
as I know, for this stupendous incompetence and
ridiculousness. I understand that when an environmental
statement is eventually issued, the consultation period
will run concurrently with the petitioning period. That
seems to me to be extremely unfair.
Let me explain the difference in scale between what is
being formulated now and what is in the Bill. The works
at Euston in the Bill were going to cost £2 billion, but
HS2 let slip at meetings that it is now thinking in terms
of £7 billion. Even a fellow Yorkshireman like the
Minister would admit that that is a few bob more. It is
people with that grasp of reality who are behind this
scheme. In addition, and in a further source of perturbation
for my constituents, HS2 now says that the new Euston,
when finally completed and in operation, would not be
able to cope with the increased number of passengers
without the building of Crossrail 2 to help take passengers
to and from Euston, at an additional cost of £20 billion.
Will that be included in the new environmental statement
and will it be subject to petitioning?
Mr Goodwill: May I point out to the right hon.
Gentleman that none of the provisionswe are considering
relates to Euston or the part of the line around there, as
they refer merely to the parishes?
Frank Dobson: The point that I am trying to make to
the Minister—and to anyone else who cares to listen—is
that we are being asked to endorse the approach set out
by the Government by incorporating it in Standing
Orders of theHouse. That could be taken as a precedent
that such a procedure may apply to the massive changes
at Euston, not just to the important but none the less
much smaller changes in the parishes and towns to
which the instruction motion refers. It is therefore perfectly
legitimate for me to express my concerns about the
threat to my constituents. That is what I was elected to
do, and it is what I propose to continue doing.
3.21 pm
Mr Goodwill: With the leave of the House, I shall
touch on several points raised during the debate.
I can tell my right hon. Friend the Member for
Chesham and Amersham (Mrs Gillan) that the people
along the line of route who are affected by the changes
are aware of them. The changes are minor. The process
has been described as a tidying-up exercise, although I
recall the previous Government describing the treaty of
Lisbon as a tidying-up exercise, so I should not go too
far down that road. Of the 55 changes overall, there are
21 changes to access tracks, most of which, including
the change in her constituency, are a result of discussions
with farmers about developing preferable approaches.
Some 20 areas of land will be required, mostly temporarily,
so that National Grid can undertake works to rewire
pylons. Three areas of land will be required temporarily
for works to pipelines, while a further three areas are
needed due to minor amendments for the laying of
roads. There will be eight other changes, including with
regard to car parking provision at the national motorcycle
museum in the parish of Hampton-in-Arden.
Mrs Gillan: Why did that change not appear to be
included in the list about the additional provision that
was given to me at 1.30pm?
Mr Goodwill: It might be that just the parishes were
listed, not the actual works, but I understand that the
documentation laid before the House did include that—
[Interruption.] Indeed, I have been passed a bit of
paper that might well reassure the hon. Members. I am
told that the changes relating to the motorcyclemuseum
site are no longer being brought forward as a result of
negotiations, so I must apologise to the House if the
information was incorrect.
Such issues will be the subject of petitions that may
be laid before the Select Committee. I believe that the
petitioning period is adequate, especially given the limited
scope of the changes. I underline that, at all times, we
will seek to comply with all our obligations under EU
and domestic legislation.
Many of the changes will be welcomed by landowners
and people in the relevant areas. They have arisen partly
as a result of our continuing negotiations with those
affected by the building of HS2, and it is important that
we ensure that people’s views are taken into account.
We need to look at the overall picture, and the right
hon. Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson)
referred to changes thatmay take place in his constituency.
We are aware not only of the permanent changes that
will arise due to the line’s construction, especially to the
811 High Speed Rail (London – West 9 SEPTEMBER 2014 812
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High Speed Rail (London – West
Midlands) Bill
station itself, but of how businesses in the area might be
affected due to the construction. I spent an enjoyable
lunchtime eating a meal with the right hon. Gentleman
in one of the area’s Bangladeshi restaurants, and I
understood precisely the worries of the owners about
the erection of building hoardings in the area, which
might make it difficult for the restaurant’s usual clientele
to access the site.
Frank Dobson: But the point—I have clearly failed to
make it—is that that area is to the west of the station,
but there will now be similar problems to the east of the
station.
Mr Goodwill: Sir David Higgins is considering how
we can best capitalise on the tremendous opportunity
that Euston station presents as part of the project.
Those of us who remember what the area around
King’s Cross station was like a number of years ago will
understand how it has been transformed. Indeed, the
station itself has become a destination in its own right,
and people often spend time in that area. We can
capitalise on the opportunity at Euston, but I understand
that people will be severely affected during the
transformation process, so we need to do what we can
to minimise the impact on them.
Frank Dobson: David Higgins is apparently incapable
of distinguishing between the land around the stations.
The redevelopment at King’s Cross took place on useless,
empty, brownfield railway land; the land on both sides
of Euston station is not brownfield land to be rescued
by some Australian missionary, but a place where people
live, go about their business and send their children to
school, and somewhere people go to old folks’ luncheon
clubs. They want to continue to do that; they do not
want the area levelled as part of some grandiose
redevelopment scheme that everyone can think iswonderful.
I speak as someone who has strongly supported
redevelopment at Euston and was the first person to
advocate using St Pancras station as the terminus for
the channel tunnel link, so I do not need to take any
lessons from anyone, but the same situation does not
apply at Euston—
Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Dawn Primarolo):
Order. I remind the right hon. Gentleman that he was
making an intervention, not a second speech—although
it did sound a bit like one.
Mr Goodwill: I would be the last person in the world
to try to argue that I know better than the right hon.
Gentleman about the concerns and aspirations of the
people in the area around Euston station. Indeed, when
he and I met, we were joined by Sarah Hayward, the
leader of Camden council—I have to admit that I am a
little frightened of her—who set out similar concerns in
no uncertain terms. Indeed, I am pleased that we have
managed to secure social housing provision to replace
some of the housing that will need to be demolished.
Mrs Spelman: On the subject of the motion, I thank
the Minister for the clarification about pieces of land in
my constituency that now will not be needed for the
project, but can he assure me, in the presence of the
Chair of the Select Committee hearing the petitions,
that the Select Committee members will be absolutely
clear about the changes, the pieces of land coming in
and out of the project, before they make the visits to the
sites, as the Select Committee is to do inmy constituency
next Tuesday?
Mr Goodwill: I know my right hon. Friend is aware
that negotiations are ongoing with landowners and
others to try to mitigate the impact of the project on
individuals. Indeed, we are determined to ameliorate—I
was tempted to use the term “head off”—petitions that
are being laid, to ensure that they will not necessarily
need to appear before the Committee. I think it is a
good part of this dynamic process that a petition can be
raised to alert us to particular concerns, so that we can
try to address those concerns. Many of the provisions
before us today are made in response to petitions. I am
interested to know what consideration has been made in
relation to the national motorcycle museum. Until very
recently indeed, we intended to provide alternative car
parking, so I shall make a point of finding out what the
solution to that problem is.
I know that the two remaining changes in my right
hon. Friend’s constituency are, first, in the parish of
Berkswell, where there will be a temporary diversion of
theKenilworth Greenway,which will be realigned following
discussions with stakeholders; and secondly, in the parish
of Bickenhill, where there will be a requirement to
oversail property to construct overhead lines, which is a
minimal impact on the area.
Returning to Euston, I am determined to ensure that
we do all we can to make sure that customers can still
reach businesses thatmay be affected by the construction
work.
Sir John Randall (Uxbridge and SouthRuislip) (Con):
Althoughmy constituency is not affected by the provisions
before the House, there is a great deal of solidarity
between those who have this wretched line going through
or under our constituencies. I hope my hon. Friend the
Minister realises that although just one right hon. Member
might be affected, we do actually share his concerns.
Mr Goodwill: As a regular user of the Tea Room, I
am in no doubt as to the strength of feeling up and
down the line of route.
Michael Fabricant: On a point of order, Madam
Deputy Speaker. I think my right hon. Friend the
Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Sir John
Randall) might inadvertently have misled the House by
saying that only one person might be concerned. In
fact, many people are concerned. He may wish to put
the record straight.
Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Dawn Primarolo):
No, I am sure he does not wish to put the record
straight. I do not think that was a point of order, or that
it could possibly be the interpretation of what the right
hon. Gentleman said—[Interruption.] Indeed, I think
it is a case of beard solidarity, as he is pointing out.
Mr Goodwill: I think we have digressed from the
subject of the debate. Yes, there are concerned people,
not least those who seek to replace my right hon. Friend
as the Member of Parliament for Uxbridge and South
Ruislip. No doubt a number will express their views
during the selection process. I am pleased that we have a
tunnel under that constituency.
813 High Speed Rail (London – West 9 SEPTEMBER 2014 814
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High Speed Rail (London – West
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[Mr Goodwill]
I commend the motions to the House. I believe that
the provisions will give the Committee the opportunity
to listen to any additional petitions, and I am sure the
House will be content to approve the motions.
Question put and agreed to.
Resolved,
That the Order of 29 April 2014 (High Speed Rail (London –
West Midlands) Bill (Carry-over)) be varied as follows:
After paragraph 10 of the Order insert–
“10A. The Order of the House of 26 June 2013 relating to
electronic deposit of documents shall apply in respect of a Bill
presented as mentioned in paragraph 2 or 4 as in respect of the
High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill read for the first
time in the current Session.”
HIGH SPEED RAIL (LONDON – WEST
MIDLANDS) BILL: INSTRUCTION (NO. 2)
Resolved,
That it be a further Instruction to the Select Committee to
which the High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill is
committed–
(1) that the Select Committee have power to consider–
(a) amendments to accommodate the requirements of
landowners and occupiers in:
(i) the parishes of the Little Missenden, Great Missenden,
Wendover, Stoke Mandeville, Stone with Bishopstone
and Hartwell, Quainton, Preston Bissett and
Turweston in the County of Buckinghamshire,
(ii) the parish of Finmere in the County of Oxfordshire,
(iii) the parish of Chipping Warden and Edgcote in the
County of Northamptonshire,
(iv) the parish of Little Packington in the County of
Warwickshire,
(v) the parish of Berkswell in the Metropolitan
Borough of Solihull, and
(vi) the City of Birmingham;
(b) amendments to accommodate changes to the design of
the works authorised by the Bill in:
(i) the parishes of Stone with Bishopstone and Hartwell,
Fleet Marston, Steeple Claydon and Twyford in
the County of Buckinghamshire,
(ii) the parish of Mixbury in the County of Oxfordshire,
(iii) the parishes of Culworth and Whitfield in the
County of Northamptonshire,
(iv) the parishes of Radbourne, Southam, Stoneleigh
and Curdworth in the County of Warwickshire,
and
(v) the City of Birmingham;
(c) amendments to accommodate the requirements of
utility undertakers in:
(i) the parishes of Denham, Wendover, Ellesborough,
Stone with Bishopstone and Hartwell, Quainton
and Grendon Underwood and the townof Aylesbury
in the County of Buckinghamshire,
(ii) the parishes of Offchurch, Burton Green, Little
Packington, Coleshill, Curdworth, Wishaw and
Moxhull and Middleton in the County of
Warwickshire,
(iii) the parishes of Drayton Bassett, Hints with Canwell,
Weeford, Swinfen and Packington, Fradley and
Streethay, Longdon, Kings Bromley and Lichfield
in the County of Staffordshire, and
(iv) the parish of Bickenhill in the Metropolitan Borough
of Solihull, and amendments for connected purposes;
(2) that any petition against amendments to the Bill which the
Select Committee is empowered to make shall be referred to the
Select Committee if–
(a) the petition is presented by being deposited in the
Private Bill Office not later than the end of the period
of four weeks beginning with the day on which the
first newspaper notice of the amendments was
published, and
(b) the petition is one in which the petitioners pray to be
heard by themselves or through counsel or agents.
That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.—
(Mr Goodwill.)
Also in other places see
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