Consideration of HS2 by Parliament
The first phase of HS2, from London to Birmingham, is the subject of a hybrid bill which is progressing through Parliament. It is one of the few measures that is being held over from the last Parliament to the next.
COMMONS SECOND READING
The House of Commons agreed the Second Reading of the Bill on 29th April 2014. All three main parties supported it and it was carried by a huge majority, with 452 MPs voting in favour and just 41 against. 92% of the MPs voting supported the Bill.
COMMONS SELECT COMMITTEE ON HS2
The impact of the Bill is now being considered by the Commons Select Committee on HS2. This Committee is not considering the principle of the Bill but is hearing petitions from parties who think they are effected by the project and who are seeking to mitigate the damage they think the project will do.
Generally speaking, the Committee is working from north to south, and the Committee has dealt with most petitioners from Warwickshire, Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire as well as some from Staffordshire and further north and some from the Colne valley. Petitions from the London area will not be considered until after the election.
Nicholas watched the Committee at work over 9 days of hearings and then made his own submission to the Committee on Tuesday 17th March. He thus learned a great deal about what London petitioners can expect when the Committee starts hearing them.
This Committee issued its First Special Report on Thursday 26th March 2015 . HERE
LORDS ECONOMIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
Given the scale of the pro-HS2 majority in the Commons, it is especially important that the House of Lords should play its proper role in our system of government, which is to review and challenge proposals that come from the Commons.
On 25th March 2015, the Economic Affairs Committee of the House of Lords published a 131 page report on “The Economics of High Speed 2” HERE .
This is an important, well-reasoned document and is highly critical of the present case for HS2. There is a Summary on page 5 and the Main Conclusions and Recommendations are on pages 6 and 7.
MOST RECENT DEBATE BY MPs.
Later that day, on Wednesday 25th March, MPs held a debate on HS2 and Nicholas attended it as a member of the public. This debate took place soon after the publication of the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee Report.
Nicholas was appalled to hear the Conservative Minister dismiss the House of Lords report out of hand, simply saying “Although I have enormous respect for our colleagues in the other place, I most heartily disagree with their report”. A well-considered 131 page report trashed in one short sentence and within a few hours of its publication!
The Conservative Minister also showed again that there was no difference between the Conservative and Labour parties on HS2 by saying a minute or two earlier he was “ tempted to go as far as to endorse everything” that the Labour transport spokesperson had said in the debate. The Liberal Democrats did not even attend the debate.