6.59 pm

Mr Stephen O’Brien (Eddisbury) (Con): When the House last considered this matter, I abstained because there were too many unanswered questions about the proposals. There still are. The proposed route of HS2 in phase 2 beyond Crewe will come into the Eddisbury constituency, passing through the residential settlements of Stanthorne, Bostock and Whatcroft, and through many successful farms before turning sharply eastwards towards Manchester airport and Manchester itself, where the so-called high-speed trains will have to slow down, possibly to less than 100 mph. I have received extensive representations from many of the 140 constituents directly and adversely affected by these proposals, including those whose homes will be demolished and those who live close to the proposed route. The consultation on this section closed at the end of January and we have yet to hear the outcome of that process, which might involve a change of route. I hope it will, on engineering, build cost, train speed, performance and cost-efficiency grounds.

The evidence to support the claims for HS2 is in very thin supply, so we are forced to assess and represent constituents’ interests, set against something of a national punt. In Eddisbury, a significant number of people want HS2 stopped; some are broadly in favour, although not on the higher-speed grounds, as the saving in journey

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time from Crewe to London will be deeply underwhelming, and most people are able to work on the train; and others want assurances and indemnities from the Government, which the Government have not yet chosen to give, on engineering integrity, cost, environmental protections of habitat, ancient forestry, wildlife, watercourses, noise, safety and, not least, full as well as fair compensation. We already know that part of the compensation problem is that the definition of “severe hardship” is too narrow to reflect the reality of the plight of some of my constituents, who are already suffering. That applies not least in the case of an elderly couple who wish to move out to join their children but have found that they are unable to sell at anything near a fair price. Their dreams have been thrown into jeopardy and they are now stuck.

A key argument that remains unexamined about the proposals for Eddisbury is fundamentally one of engineering. The geography and geology of the land north of Crewe comprise the extraordinarily fertile and verdant Cheshire plain, much of which is salt marsh and its geological legacy. Our salt marshes are notoriously unstable and difficult to build over or through. On behalf of the constituents who have taken the lead in coming to see me about their HS2 concerns, I have been trying in recent weeks to secure a meeting with the chief engineers from the Department and HS2 Ltd, in order to make a presentation with my constituents, who have examined, in expert engineering terms, the evidence to back up their concerns. Until now, requests for such a meeting have been rebuffed, but over the weekend I received a guarantee from the Secretary of State that my constituents and I will now get a full and proper opportunity to meet the most senior engineers and thus to present our evidence. Do not get me wrong, it is not that salt marshes cannot be built over; they just cannot be built over at anything like the cost and risk currently envisaged. They are inherently unstable, so the price will be enormous and will threaten the maximum £45 billion figure. That is why it will be appropriate for me to abstain tonight in order to allow that process of engagement to be genuine, rather than to pre-judge the outcome. I very much hope the Government will listen with an open mind, rather than simply seek to persuade us of their preconceived notions.

Let me make it absolutely clear that I support the aspiration that Crewe—it is just outside my constituency but affects my constituents—should be an inter-modal transport hub, as part of our local aspirational strategic growth plan. Even the proponents of that do not make it conditional or dependent on HS2 coming through Crewe. We should support it in any event, although if HS2 were to come to Crewe it would help it.

My final point is simply that no serious assessment has been made by the Government, despite the many representations I have sought to make, in respect of increasing capacity on the west coast main line and making the comparison with other countries’ solutions to these problems. Of course, the double-decking of carriages is one such solution, but it is completely pooh-poohed by the Government because they do not want to hear that a technological solution is available. This is not about raising the bridges, as we had to do for the catenaries for electrification in the 1970s. The concrete technology—I know a little about it—is so sophisticated

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that lowering the line to create the space to have double-decker carriages which would be able to go along the current west coast main line, suitably maintained, will increase the capacity and deliver the results at a fraction of the cost of HS2. I very much hope that by engaging in a technical and engineering sense, the Government will have an open mind on the alternatives, so that we can assess whether HS2 truly provides value for money for the taxpayer. I say that because spending £50 billion on a new railway line is a very big risk to take when there may be genuine alternatives and when we are trying to increase our national competitiveness by providing a secure system of transport for the whole country.

7.4 pm

Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Kilburn) (Lab): I am a strong supporter of HS2. It is a great relief to me that this country has seemingly, at long last, moved on from the apparent belief that the only material we could use in this country was aspic. We have to begin to restructure our national economy, to narrow the economic divide between north and south, and to break the golden magnet that is London and the south-east. If I look at my constituency now, before one shovel has gone into the earth, I see that those people upon whom my constituents depend—for example, to police our streets, to teach our children and to nurse us in our hospitals—can no longer afford to live there or near to their place of employment because of ever-widening earning inequalities. That is why it is vital that this project has cross-party support.

Along with every MP in this Chamber who has spoken today, I will detail the concerns of my constituents. They, in common with the constituents of everyone else who has spoken, have concerns about compensation and congestion. My constituents are particularly concerned about the idea of vast lorries going around highly populated streets, both residential and those with businesses, carrying spoil up ever-narrower roads—Adelaide road and England’s lane are the two favourites, but they are the roads along which these lorries should never travel. My constituents there and elsewhere in the constituency put forward the reasonable question: why can the spoil not be removed by rail?

We have seen an encouraging regrouping in respect of community concerns, as a group known by the acronym “SHOUT” has been formed. It comprises the tenants and residents of the Alexandra and Ainsworth estate—Rowley way—the Langtry estate and the Belsize residents association. They share common concerns, not only about compensation and congestion, which I have touched on, but about noise, destruction and the effects on several schools and the sheltered housing in the area, quite apart from the hundreds and hundreds of flats in those areas and the road closures that will take place during the construction of this essential beam in restructuring our national economies. We will also lose a nature reserve—two thirds of a hectare of woodland in which bats breed, and there are wintering birds and invertebrates. We know—it has already been proven—that the more densely populated the city, the more vital its green spaces are.

Both those who have formed SHOUT and the Queen’s Park residents association are most exercised about air vents—about shafts. Constituents of mine who are highly trained and skilled engineers have been saying to

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me that these vents could be moved elsewhere. The vent proposed for Queen’s Park would absolutely stop a multi-million regeneration project for that part of my constituency that could transform lives, and not just of the people who live in my constituency. I have never regarded any constituency as being an island entire unto itself. People live in my constituency and people from other constituencies work there—I have already touched on the point that we are all dependent on the services of others who may not live next door to us.

So I sincerely hope that the Government will take very seriously all the issues that have been raised here tonight. I also hope that they will give even more detailed information to my constituents, who are only too eager to put forward petitions, on how they can raise their concerns when, as we hope it will, the hybrid Bill Committee is sitting. That would allow for a genuine, open and transparent exchange about what my constituents can do to ensure that their concerns are listened to; that the improvements to our environments can be taken seriously; that the great regeneration projects are not kicked to one side; and, more importantly, that this railway goes ahead. It can transform not only London, but the entire United Kingdom.

7.9 pm

Karen Lumley (Redditch) (Con): I rise to speak in support of this Bill. It is no secret that I support the Government on the issue of high-speed rail, because I believe it will be good for Redditch, good for the west midlands and good for Britain as a whole. HS2 will transform journey times and connectivity between Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and London. However, the fact that HS2 is also about capacity as well as speed is sometimes lost in the argument. In the past 20 years, the number of journeys made on Britain’s rail network has doubled and that has put pressure on all our existing major networks, and on the west coast main line in particular.

Capacity on the west coast main line will be nearly full by the early 2020s and, as a regular traveller on that line, I know how essential the service is for many commuters. High-speed rail will increase capacity across existing lines so that local commuter trains can run more frequently and with enough seats for passengers, allowing the wider west midlands area to fulfil its economic potential. Put simply, more track means more trains and therefore more space for commuters, long-distance travellers and freight.

The ever-increasing gap between infrastructure spending in the south and the rest of the country is widening the economic divide. In 2011-12, 45% of total public expenditure on transport in England was in London, with only 13% going to the midlands. Public sector spending on transport per head in the west midlands is among the lowest in England. Sixty-six of the top 100 FTSE companies are located in London and the south-east, with just four in the west midlands, one of which is GKN in my own constituency.

HS2 is also about rebalancing our economy. We talk about that a lot in this House, but we must prove that we are serious about it and enable other regions to grow alongside London and the south. When HS1 was under construction, it was predicted that it would create £500 million of investment, but an independent report later put the value of HS1 at almost 40 times that estimate. What happened was the regeneration effect, as

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HS1 directly helped to deliver more than 10,000 homes and almost 100,000 new jobs. There is no reason why HS2 cannot deliver the same results for the north and the midlands.

Investment in HS2 will deliver widespread connectivity improvements, grow markets and increase opportunities to trade. The west midlands has identified regional and local connectivity as an important feature of its growth strategies, with a need to better link up labour to jobs and skills; and businesses to other businesses and markets. Attracting greater investment in transport will be a critical factor for the continued success of our region. The introduction of HS2 can be the catalyst for connectivity and growth.

It is estimated that HS2 will generate between £214 million and £375 million every year in my own Worcestershire economy. The London to Birmingham route alone is expected to boost Birmingham’s economy by £1.2 billion, and towns and cities in surrounding counties by £2.5 billion. At this point, I would like to put in a plug for the apprentice academy to come to Birmingham when the decision is finally made.

In addition, the initial phase of HS2 could support the creation of 8,000 jobs surrounding the proposed HS2 stations in the west midlands area, as well as leading to wider growth in the region, including in towns in Worcestershire such as those in my constituency.

HS2 could also affect our wider transport capabilities, particularly our airports. I am a big champion of Birmingham international airport which is near my constituency. To be able to access it from Euston in just over 30 minutes will make a huge difference to the people of north London as well as to the midlands economy. It will mean a choice between Birmingham, Gatwick and Heathrow. Those Members who have travelled from Birmingham international airport know how excellent it is, and those who have not should try it, and they will not regret it. I still support the idea that HS2 could be a solution to runway capacity problems in the south, although admittedly the initial recommendations of Sir Howard Davies have made that look somewhat unlikely, but that is a point for another day.

The Bill will bring great benefit to my constituents and our region as well as to our wider economy, and that is why I will be supporting it tonight.

7.13 pm

Robert Flello (Stoke-on-Trent South) (Lab): I draw the House’s attention to my interests in freight transport issues.

A number of questions remain unanswered by these proposals, and it is pitiful that we have only five minutes to elaborate on them. Constituents and others have asked me whether there is a better way to spend £50 billion to £100 billion to ease capacity, which is a problem that is recognised across the House—by those in favour of HS2 as well as by those against it. Better connectivity between existing airports has been suggested as a better way to address the matter. Constituents have talked about improving signalling so that we can increase capacity on the west coast main line. Interestingly, someone mentioned the idea of reducing the number of first class coaches on some of the west coast main line trains. Indeed, we have also heard about the double-decking of trains, which is used extensively on the continent and would certainly boost capacity.

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Dr Beeching’s name has not been heard in this Chamber today. Constituents have talked about rolling back some of the Beeching cuts and opening up some of the lines to increase connectivity. There has also been talk of having dedicated freight lines, and improving HS1, and removing this nonsense of having to travel all the way around London to get through the tunnel and into mainland Europe rather than the better idea of having a freight terminal north of London.

There is also this matter of a slight identity crisis. This proposal was always about developing a high-speed line—or, more accurately, a very high-speed line—but now it has morphed itself into a capacity issue, or possibly both. What has been missed time and again is that if we are to have a new high-speed line and are to free up capacity, we will have to cut services on the existing west coast main line. That brings me to the issue that has been raised by my hon. Friends. At the moment, a passenger can get on the train at Stoke-on-Trent and in one hour and 23 minutes, they can be in Euston. If we move to HS2, a passenger will have to travel for an hour to Birmingham and then get on a 40 or 50 minute train to Euston. How can one hour 50 minutes be better than one hour and 23 minutes? That will be the case. It is not an issue of timetabling. As the Government have said time and again, this is all about freeing up capacity on the west coast main line, and that means cutting existing services on that line.

In the moments I have left, I want to go back to this issue of the very high-speed line. The line we are talking about has gentler curves and lower gradients because it is being built to a much higher specification than the trains that will run on it, so that is an area in which savings can be found.

To jump ahead now, there are also issues relating to east-west connectivity and the KPMG report, which I raised in an intervention. The report said that the only city actively to lose out on these proposals would be Stoke-on-Trent. That brings me to the Stoke-on-Trent proposals, which are a very good response by the city council to the HS2 phase 2 consultation. I hope that Ministers have read them, because they were making lots of uncosted announcements about Crewe while the consultation was still going on. I am delighted to see that the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mr Timpson) is sitting so close to his Front-Bench colleagues from the Transport Department.

Understandably, colleagues in Manchester want faster journey times, but the Stoke-on-Trent proposal would allow a faster service seven years earlier than the consultation proposals by using a combination of high-speed lines, as far as Stoke-on-Trent, and then classic compatibility on the existing lines into Manchester. Manchester would benefit seven years earlier than it would with the consultation proposals. Again, the proposals from Stoke-on-Trent would not require the expensive remodelling of the west coast main line junction point, which would be the case with the Crewe proposals. Indeed the Stoke-on-Trent proposals are costed, whereas the Crewe ones, which would require a new station two miles or so further south than Crewe, are not costed at all.

With just seconds left, let me say that there is great detail here about why the Stoke-on-Trent proposals would make so much more sense. We are talking about

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connecting in millions more people than the Crewe proposals. I am not convinced that they are the best way to spend the money—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): Order.

7.18 pm

Dan Byles (North Warwickshire) (Con): Although I do not agree with those who believe that HS2 will provide the benefits claimed, I accept that they are sincere in their belief that it will. I ask them to accept that those of us who do not support HS2 are not mindless nimbys. We sincerely believe that this project is wrong, because it will not provide the benefits that are claimed. The financial cost and the impact on ordinary people’s lives up and down the country outweigh the limited and unbalanced benefits that HS2 might bring.

My constituency of North Warwickshire is particularly badly affected. We have the delta junction into Birmingham and the Y junction and we are affected by both phase 1 and phase 2. The property market is completely frozen along the route, trapping many people in houses that they wish to sell for all sorts of legitimate reasons that do not qualify as “exceptional hardship”. The village of Gilson will be obliterated and communities in Coleshill, Water Orton, Curdworth and Middleton will be badly affected. We will have a colossal 31 track railhead close to Lea Marston and Kingsbury but, because it is deemed a temporary structure, nearby residents will not qualify for compensation. That temporary structure will be there for more than 15 years and, because of a sleight of hand that moved it at the last minute from phase 2 to phase 1, it has never properly been consulted on. The line will demolish houses, destroy sports clubs and cut through two country parks and a local primary school.

For four years now, I have been working closely with the five action groups I helped to establish across my constituency and I have chaired all the phase 1 community forum meetings in North Warwickshire. I have also worked closely with some of my fellow Warwickshire MPs, and I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Kenilworth and Southam (Jeremy Wright) has been making strong representations about HS2 within the Government.

In my constituency, we have sought to play a constructive role in the debate from the start. We have not simply stood in the corner shouting no. Yes, we have campaigned against HS2 in principle, but alongside that our action groups have engaged constructively with HS2 Ltd at every stage from the very beginning, attending community forums and bilateral meetings with HS2 staff and engineers and working hard to produce local mitigation proposals to minimise the impact on our communities.

More than three years ago, I brought representatives from two of our action groups to London to meet the HS2 chief engineer, Professor McNaughton, and to lay out some early ideas for mitigation and route changes in North Warwickshire. Despite that, we strongly feel that HS2 Ltd has let us down. We believed back then that we were embarking on the start of a dialogue with HS2 Ltd that would involve a two-way discussion over a number of years. For more than three years, we have been trying to get HS2 Ltd to engage in a constructive dialogue, but we have consistently been pushed back because, by its own admission, of inadequate resources in our area. Eventually, after all the time had gone, the excuse

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became that we were now too close to the hybrid Bill procedure for detailed discussion to take place and we were told simply to petition with our suggestions.

Many in our area see the three years of dither and delay as a conspiracy deliberately to waste time. I am inclined to believe that HS2 Ltd simply did not have the resources to consider our area properly. It is the most complex area outside London, and mine is the worst affected constituency outside London, so resources should have been put in place from the start. Regardless of why it happened, however, the results are the same. We lost three years that could have been used for meaningful dialogue but were not.

My constituents now feel that they have had no true voice in this process and we must now pin our hopes on the good sense of the hybrid Bill Committee instead of the hoped-for meaningful discussions with HS2 Ltd. That is why I shall support the reasoned amendment tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs Gillan), to which I have put my name, and why I shall vote against Second Reading this evening.

I fully expect the Bill to receive its Second Reading, however, so I urge the Secretary of State to do all he can throughout the planning of the project to put the ordinary people and communities whose lives have already been turned upside down first and foremost, because if we cannot afford to put in place proper mitigation and proper compensation for the people affected, we cannot afford the project.

7.23 pm

Kate Hoey (Vauxhall) (Lab): First, I, too, welcome the way in which the Secretary of State has handled the issue by not accusing anybody who is not in favour of the Bill or who has signed the reasoned amendment of being a nimby. When an issue is contentious, it is crucial that there is respect on all sides. I wish we had a second day for this debate, because five-minute limits mean no real debate and this issue should be debated.

My constituency is not directly affected in the way that that of my right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson) is affected, but when the Eurostar terminal was built at Waterloo we put up with years of terrible disruption, only to find that once it was built and was being used there was a switch and it went off to St Pancras. We had all the terrible problems, but ended up with no direct link to Paris.

When I talk to my constituents about HS2, they overwhelmingly ask whether it is the right way to spend £50 billion. Many of my constituents, who will never have a decent home to live in, who will never get out of overcrowding and who live in very difficult circumstances, are asking whether the money would not be better spent on providing decent homes for everyone in this country. These people live just a mile away from the House of Commons, yet they cannot have money spent on improving the railways within Lambeth. There is no longer a direct train at peak time from Clapham High Street to Victoria, because the platforms at Wandsworth Road need to be extended. Just small amounts of money would make such a difference to commuters around London.

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): The hon. Lady should come to my constituency. If she missed a

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train at Gainsborough Central, her next train would be one week away. That is the level of investment in rural lines in Lincolnshire.

Kate Hoey: That is exactly what people are asking all over the country: why is £50 billion going on this particular method of improving capacity and speed? I am very lucky, as I can walk to my constituency in five minutes and drive in four, so I do not travel on trains much, but when I do so, I do not find them crowded. Many carriages are empty and I discover that they are first class—there is nobody in them. All sorts of things could be done to increase capacity.

We should also be clear that once we start this project there is no guarantee that the costs will not spiral. I am worried that once we start the project and the costs start to go up, more and more money will be taken away, and not just from other parts of the transport network. The hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Oliver Colvile) is unlikely to have extra money spent on railways in his area if we go ahead with this project, as everything will be geared towards the super-project. Everyone will say that that is what we must spend the money on. We are being very short-sighted. This sounds like a sexy project, it sounds like we are being modern and trying to compete with the rest of Europe, but there is not a lot wrong with our railways that could not be dealt with if we had spent money over many years, if we had invested properly and if we now invested across the country rather than in one particular vanity project.

The compensation must be much stronger and greater. It is all very well saying that people can be compensated, but if someone has built up and worked hard on a business or home in the country only to see it blighted or destroyed, compensation might help but it does not take away the pain. It will not do so for the many people who will suffer if the project goes ahead.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh South West (Mr Darling) said some time ago, the scheme risks draining much-needed investment away from other railway infrastructure projects for the next 30 years. I want to know why, if the former Chancellor of the Exchequer said that, my party has suddenly changed its mind on the project.

The case for HS2 is flimsy. No amount of spin or the Front Benches being nice to each other will change the basic truth that this is potentially a huge white elephant that will not heal the north-south divide. If we wanted to heal that divide, we would be starting in the north, not the south. Money will be sucked away from all the other desperately needed upgrading schemes all over the country once the project starts. The money that goes in will have no long-term benefit for vast numbers of people in the United Kingdom. I hope that if there is a Labour Government after the next election, our Chancellor of the Exchequer will reconsider the issue and not be tied into saying that whatever happens we will go ahead with the project. The project could be doomed and we want to ensure that this Parliament has a say in whether the money is spent or not.

7.29 pm

Mrs Caroline Spelman (Meriden) (Con): My constituency gets both the pain and the gain, because in having the first station outside London, we will undoubtedly benefit

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from some of the 30,000 permanent jobs that it has been estimated will come. But I cannot stress enough the greater importance of the need for extra freight capacity. I invite hon. Members when travelling on our motorways to look at the number of car transporters that are being forced to take these valuable export goods to our ports by road because of the lack of freight capacity.

Given that my constituency is under such pressure for development, as most of it is in the green belt, I have a No. 1 ask of the Secretary of State: for a tunnel under Balsall Common, so that the parish of Berkswell should not be severed in two by a 40-foot flyover where High Speed 2 has to cross over the west coast main line. The impact on that community will be severe. Primary school pupils will not be able to get directly to the secondary school and a village with only one shop will effectively be cut off from other local services.

High Speed 2 runs through the Blythe river valley, through Arden pasture land in my constituency, and is therefore prone to flooding, so viaducts are needed. In common with other hon. Members who have low-lying land where viaducts are needed, I urge the Secretary of State to heed the requests of the communities in the design of those viaducts, so that the view in those river valleys is not completely obliterated by bunds or unnecessarily dense structures.

Many of the roads in Arden pasture land are twisty and small, and quite unsuitable for construction traffic. I urge the Secretary of State in particular to prevent Water Orton road from being used to haul spoil to protect the village of Castle Bromwich, and to close small lanes such as Diddington lane, which would otherwise become potential rat runs. In response to a point made by the hon. Member for Hampstead and Kilburn (Glenda Jackson), perhaps the Department would consider the use of the canal network, which after all goes very close to Euston and goes right through my constituency, as an environmentally friendly means of removing spoil from those areas.

I welcome the revised compensation package, particularly the announcement of a taper on the distance at which properties are eligible for compensation, in response to amendments that I tabled to the paving Bill. However, there is one glaring omission that will affect all on the line of route: there is no compensation for properties affected by construction works. Given that my constituency will have the first station, we are likely to see five and half years of construction work, and the homes affected by that will be every bit as blighted as properties right next to the tracks. I urge a rethink in that area.

Originally, a High Speed 2-High Speed 1 link was proposed. I understand why that proposal has been scrapped, but the regions were led to believe that there would be through trains. I ask the Department to look again at how that might be achieved with a twin-bore tunnel to Stratford, so that an international passenger can land at Birmingham airport, clear immigration and get a through train to the continent.

I support the view of my local authority, Solihull council, that a community fund, like that for Birmingham airport, would allow local administration of mitigation measures, which would give a sense of local empowerment. I have put my name to an instruction of the Environmental Audit Committee, of which I am a member, to look

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again at the environmental impacts. I particularly want to point out that, when I was Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, our aspiration, as set out in the “Natural Environment” White Paper, was a net positive outcome from biodiversity offsetting. I am disappointed to see a less ambitious objective for High Speed 2 of no net loss, and I ask the Government to look again at that.

I have had to balance conflicting views in my constituency, but I heeded the warning by Lord Adonis when he visited the west midlands and said that if it was not clear that Birmingham and Solihull and the west midlands wanted a stop along the line, the west midlands could be bypassed and the line could go straight to Manchester. That is why I have sought to get the best mitigation and compensation possible for my constituents.

7.34 pm

Mr Liam Byrne (Birmingham, Hodge Hill) (Lab): I want to add my voice to those here tonight who support High Speed 2. I was a strong supporter of the proposal when it came to the last Labour Cabinet, and I am a strong supporter of the position taken by Labour Front Benchers. My right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr Straw) got it right when he said that it is welcome that those on both Front Benches have united in their agreement to support the proposal, whatever the outcome of the next election, when no doubt Labour will be returned to government.

I am a supporter because I see the chance for High Speed 2 to add real booster rockets to a city that is now back on the move. Since the new Labour council took office in May 2012, we have had a city that is growing once more. The year of infrastructure, which imaginatively brings together major projects in the middle of our city, is creating real momentum behind the delivery of Grand Central, the metrolink that is now going through the middle of our city, and the new New Street station, which I was so proud to help secure when I was the regional Minister. We are now the start-up capital of the country outside London. More new businesses opened their doors in Birmingham than anywhere else outside London last year, and we are now at the heart of the region that boasts the biggest export surplus anywhere in the country to the fast-growing market of China.

If we are to restore ourselves to our rightful place as the workshop of the world, we need new infrastructure, and that is why High Speed 2 is so welcome. It is welcome because it cuts our journey time to London, but it also cuts our journey time to Canary Wharf to 65 minutes. That is very important to a financial and legal services community as big as Birmingham’s. It is important because it puts our airport within reach of the airports of the south, and it is important because it could create 50,000 to 60,000 jobs in our city and the region beyond.

Those are the prizes on offer, and they need to stay within reach, not just to some but to everybody in our great city. That is why it is so important that in the debates that follow in the House and elsewhere we remove the crazy, idiotic, nonsensical idea of destroying one third of the available industrial land in Birmingham to lock up as a scrap yard for High Speed 2 between now and 2026, and then to minimise as a marshalling yard for the period of the railway’s operation over the subsequent years.

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The Secretary of State said that getting the path of the track right is difficult and important. Of course it is. I am glad that he started his story in 1832 when the railways were first proposed, because when it was first proposed that the railways would come to Birmingham, they had to take an interesting bend to avoid Aston hall, which was then in the hands of the descendants of the inventor of the steam engine, James Watt. I propose a slight modification of this track, not to save a view but to save the prospects of east Birmingham. The proposal for a marshalling yard in the middle of the inner city takes out a space that is the size of 106 football pitches. It is a site, currently in the hands of three owners, that has come together like a great jigsaw puzzle for the first time in a century. It is a site on which we could put 7,000 jobs, not at some remote point in the future, but now, during the next four or five years.

We have already turned away proposals for a million square feet of industrial use which could have brought hundreds of jobs to the inner city. There is nowhere more in need of these jobs than inner-city Birmingham. This site is at the junction of three of the most unemployed constituencies in the country; 17,773 people are unemployed in the constituencies of Hodge Hill, Ladywood and Erdington. That is nearly one half of all the people who are out of work in the city of Birmingham. Yet we are turning away businesses that want to create jobs on this site in the middle of this community today because of the High Speed 2 proposal. The Secretary of State says quite rightly that the marshalling yard has to go somewhere, and it should: it should go much closer to the airport or up in Crewe—or even, if my hon. Friends who represent Stoke get their way, closer to Stoke. Let us not put it in a place where we need the jobs.

Birmingham city council is perfectly prepared to petition against this proposal during the months to come. It would be better all round if it did not need to do that, but so far the guarantees that are needed from High Speed 2 for early release of land, minimisation of the land-take and maximising the number of jobs have not been seen. I want those proposals on the table, otherwise we are in for an almighty fight over the months to come.

7.39 pm

Sir John Randall (Uxbridge and South Ruislip) (Con): I am not against high-speed rail. In fact, I have been a strong advocate, in particular with regard to taking domestic air travel away from Heathrow airport, so I was in favour of it. There is no doubt that our railways have been going through a renaissance, but they suffer from a chronic capacity problem. If we had been told at the outset that we needed to add lines, rather like how we must sometimes widen motorways to accommodate more traffic, the argument would have been easier to understand. Instead, rather mistakenly from a marketing point of view, we were told that it was all about speed. Although speed is important, it is not the be all and end all.

I was disappointed when the Government decided to adopt the route proposed by the previous Labour Government, because it could have been designed specifically to cause maximum opposition and the greatest environmental damage. My constituents in Uxbridge and South Ruislip and I are grateful, however, that the route will now be tunnelled throughout my constituency. Of course, that is not the end of the matter because, as

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the hon. Member for Hampstead and Kilburn (Glenda Jackson) said, we will suffer, like she will in her area, huge disruption during the construction period due to air vents and many other such things that will be a great concern.

I want to mention one of the little anomalies that I am sure there will be masses of in my constituency and throughout the route. My constituents Mr and Mrs Jones of Almond Close, Ruislip, live in a semi-detached house. The one semi-detached is safeguarded, but theirs is not. One side of the house will be safeguarded from the vibrations of construction and tunnelling and will be sorted out, but their side will not. That is something that the Committee will have to consider.

Elsewhere in the London borough of Hillingdon, we have even bigger problems. My hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner (Mr Hurd) has been working with me to try to get the tunnel extended by a few hundred yards, which is perfectly feasible. The only problem is that the Government do not want to do that because of the Heathrow spur. I think we can pretty well agree that the Heathrow spur is dead and should be scrapped now. We could then get the tunnel extended, and those few precious yards would sort out a few more constituents.

The other major problem for us in Hillingdon is the fate of the Hillingdon outdoor activities centre, which I have mentioned before in the House. It is a much-valued and much-used facility that is enjoyed by many people, but it would be lost under current plans as HS2 will go straight through it. Something must be done very soon, because the lease will soon be up. I am grateful that the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr Goodwill), has accepted the invitation of my hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner to visit the site. I am sure that we will be able to persuade him that it must be saved and we have some ideas about what can be done.

If I had more time, I would like to talk about the environmental damage that will be done all along the line. It may seem small, but I want briefly to mention something that I was reminded of at the weekend. A small relict population of corn buntings will be destroyed, which I mention because the population has decreased by 90% from 1970 levels and by 34% since 1995 and will now almost certainly be wiped out. We must look after that population. We know that ancient woodlands will be badly affected and we cannot just create ancient woodlands, so we must be careful.

When I first entered the House, I was told that we should put our country first, our constituency second and our party third, and I agree with that. I am not putting my constituency first; I am putting my country first. The plan is currently unsuitable for our country, because it will ruin too much of it. I think we are getting along the right lines with it, but we must do something. I have voted against my party only once before and that was over Iraq. It is as important to me that we get this right. I will vote against tonight with a heavy, but resolute, heart.

7.44 pm

Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP): High-speed rail is of course supported by the Scottish Government and the SNP supports it in this

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House. Our criticism, as with many things here, is about the Government’s management. Having already linked up with a partner European state, the highly productive French—and, by extension, the Belgians—in a good example of cross-border progress, the UK Government seem incapable of progressing similarly in what is currently their own territory. Perhaps it is the absence of the efficient French or merely dealing with an independent country that is the difference here but, whatever it is, there is a lack of ambition on a key infrastructure issue on the largest of these isles.

Having already lost its shipping advantage to Rotterdam, the UK is currently losing its aviation advantage. The third error seems to be to putting rail progress into the sidings. The pace of the project, placing the first point of construction in the south and poor planning by not linking to airports or providing bypasses around London are holding us back and taking away from what should be a good project. It seems that the only major spend that can go unchecked in the UK is the £120 billion towards weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde, which are controlled by the Americans anyway and not particularly needed.

Where are we? High-speed rail may not reach Birmingham until 2032, by which time most here may be long retired. Meanwhile, understanding its value, China will have built many thousands of kilometres by then. We heard from the Secretary of State earlier that it has built 11,500 km from a standing start of 0 km in 2007. Back in the UK, the north-to-south advantages would be more pronounced by building in the north first and having the slowest rail replaced the fastest. The idea that everything has to radiate from London is folly and will delay our European partners who want to come to Scotland for business, affecting aggregate European GDP and therefore, by extension, all of us. Building in the north could also be cheaper per mile as it is less densely populated and has fewer buildings, making negotiations to acquire land more straightforward, quicker and better value for the public purse.

In Scotland, we are not following that template and are linking on a pattern of need. We are not radiating from Edinburgh. We have schemes to improve journey times on the northern corridor between Inverness and Aberdeen, as well as post-independence hopes to create greater economic links between the great city of Carlisle and Dumfries and Galloway, as well as building high-speed rail between Glasgow and Edinburgh within the decade. When in Carlisle recently, the First Minister of Scotland pointed out that the benefits of high-speed rail to Manchester or Leeds will also bring some £3 billion of benefit to Scotland, again showing the aggregate gain to the wider European economy from infrastructure improvements not necessarily in the territory. However, such benefits would increase eight times—some £24 billion —with a full high-speed rail link between Scotland’s big cities. The majority of that benefit would of course be in the central belt, but it would help the country as a whole. In addition, there would be a major shift from air to rail, saving fuel, making journeys cheaper and helping the environment. As we heard earlier from the hon. Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Damian Collins), we know now that most journeys between Paris and London are made by rail rather than air.

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Following independence, when we will have two sovereign governments working on the project, as we have seen from the links to the continent, we may find ourselves reminded of the fact that the first rail link between Scotland and England did not start with a link to London, but rather between Carstairs and Carlisle. Independence should give hope not just to Scotland, but to the north of England, as the First Minister laid out in his St George’s day speech in Carlisle.

The arguments for high-speed rail are well researched and I hope they have been well rehearsed in this debate, but it is instructive to look at what the university of Southern Denmark found by analysing the link from Frankfurt to Cologne. It was found that it was difficult to untangle the benefits of high-speed rail as it tends to be built between two successful places. However, political horse-trading meant that the line stopped in two places, Montabaur and Limburg, where university researchers found an extra 2.7% GDP in those places for four years that then continued at a higher plateau.

We hope that high-speed rail will materialise and in the north as well. I mentioned the spending on weapons of mass destruction, but this would be spending on ploughshares that would plant the seeds of future economic growth. The railways that the Victorians planted many years ago are still bearing fruit not only in the UK, but also in Ireland. We should ensure that we help the economy of the future and if the project goes ahead, until we see something tangible in Scotland, there should be Barnett consequentials, as there should be for Wales.

7.49 pm

Jake Berry (Rossendale and Darwen) (Con): I have absolute respect for colleagues across the House who have come here today to stand up and defend the interests of their constituents. I know that many of those who will vote against the Government tonight will do so with a heavy heart, but they believe, correctly, that they have been sent here to represent the interests of their constituents in relation to the Bill.

I intend to support the Bill on Second Reading tonight. I do not really have a constituency interest in it, because neither phase 1 nor phase 2 will affect it directly. My real interest is as someone who was born and brought up in the north-west of England and who has spent his entire business life working there, because I know that it will have a huge impact on our local economy. In my constituency, which is a local manufacturing hub, the relief on our roads, by taking 1.6 million lorry journeys off them, will enable us to get our world-class products to market.

I know that the House is divided on the issue and that the Bill has its opponents, but I hope that it will tackle the north-south divide, which so many Governments have sought but failed to narrow. Building a high-speed rail link between the north and the south offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the north to mirror the growth that London is seeing. London is undeniably the economic powerhouse of our recovering economy, and I think that the Bill will give the north the opportunity to take part in that growth.

If we look back at the debates in the House about the introduction of the motorway network in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, we see that many of the arguments about local disruption that Members have made this evening on behalf of their constituents were also made then. We

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would probably look back with incredulity today at the thought that we could have had no major north-south motorways, such as the M1, M6 and M40. I hope that in 20 or 30 years’ time we will look back at this debate and know of the huge benefit it has brought to our economy, to the north and, in my case, to the north-west and say what a success it has been.

If we get that new north-south connectivity, as an east Lancashire Member, I would like to see a more integrated rail system overall. I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr Straw) is no longer in his place, because over the past four years he and I have worked together to get improvements on the Manchester to Clitheroe line. For my constituents in Darwen who want to hook into the HS2 link to London, getting those vital improvements, which will start on 23 May next year, will make a massive difference to our local economy.

I have also long campaigned for the reintroduction of the Rossendale to Manchester commuter link. That is supported by all our major businesses and the influential Rossendale Rail Action Group. When the HS2 line arrives in Manchester, it is vital for everyone in east Lancashire, including all our local businesses, that the onward routes, such as the Manchester to Clitheroe line and the Rossendale to Manchester line, are available.

I have one slight concern about the Bill that I hope the Minister can offer some reassurance on when he responds. It took 186 years to agree to start building the channel tunnel. I hope that once phase 1 is completed we will move quickly to phase 2. I think that many of my constituents, along with many people in the north of England, would be satisfied if we started building in the north and in the south at the same time, meeting in the middle around Birmingham, rather than just building from London to Birmingham, even though that is the most congested part of the route.

The Bill represents a real opportunity for all of us who live and work in and feel passionately about the north of England. I will be supporting the Government this evening.

7.54 pm

Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent North) (Lab): I share the concern that some Members have expressed about the lack of time. For those who would like more time for detailed discussion of the environmental aspects, hopefully there will be an opportunity tomorrow when we consider the instructions and the report produced by the Environmental Audit Committee. However, if tonight we are to commit to spending £50 billion, Parliament should ensure that it will be spent in the right way, both for the next phase of transport policy and for the future generations who will live with, pay for and count the opportunity costs of what we vote for today and tomorrow.

I do not doubt the Secretary of State’s commitment to transport policy, or the determination of the shadow Transport and Treasury teams to go for all-out investment and growth, but my head tells me spending £50 billion without a strategic environmental assessment will not necessarily ensure integrated transport policies for all parts of the UK, its cities and localities. Indeed, it might actually undermine many of the gains from increased rail travel that we have built up.

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Putting on my constituency hat for a moment to speak for Stoke-on-Trent North, I know that there are many grandees in some of the big Labour authorities that want the Bill in its current form, but the route bypasses Stoke altogether, despite it being the seventh largest urban conurbation in the UK. We already have perfectly excellent train services—two an hour—that go straight to London Euston in one hour and 24 minutes. What will happen to those services when phase 2 of HS2 is running? The likelihood is that business passengers from Manchester will not be spending their money on the west coast Pendolino services; they will opt for an HS2 that is not easily accessible to us, leaving us without the business case for our existing services, which will have a huge knock-on effect.

Like Newcastle borough council, I feel that if HS2 is to go ahead there is a great deal of merit in Stoke-on-Trent city council’s case for a hub station for the city, subject to all kinds of detailed assurances, for example on the capacity of HS2 through the Harecastle tunnel and its compatibility with the classic system of local services, especially the slower services between London and the midlands. I look forward to detailed discussions with the Secretary of State later this week.

As for the Bill’s other shortcomings, I think that it is important to note that, despite the Government’s business case and the aim of making HS2 support their objective of reducing carbon emissions by shifting passengers from air and road travel to rail, that was not integral to the Bill’s planning stages. The greatest concern to me, as covered in the course of the unsuccessful legal challenge to HS2, and as touched on in the Environmental Audit Committee’s debate, is the way the Government went about the environmental appraisal for sustainability for phase 1. As we know, in February 2011, the Government consulted on the whole strategy for HS2, phases 1 and 2. The Supreme Court said that, had the strategic environmental appraisal directive applied, then what was done would not have met the requirements. Why is that important? It is important because anyone commenting in 2011 had complete information only on phase 1, not phase 2. Then move the clock forward to Sir David Higgins’s report, “HS2 Plus”. Because he recommended earlier completion of phase 2 to Crewe, without any due process for strategic appraisal, there are all kinds of questions unanswered about what that means for the timing and the route from north of Lichfield to Manchester.

Effectively, the Supreme Court has ruled that the strategic environmental assessment directive does not apply because Parliament is now, through the hybrid Bill process, the decision-making body. The Government might claim that their version of strategic environmental assessment addresses those issues at the strategic level, but in reality Parliament, the decision-making authority, has had no role. Parliament is in a very confused situation, which is made worse by having to vote tonight on Second Reading without knowledge of what instructions will be voted on tomorrow to guide its Select Committee in its work.

I expect that the Bill will be given a Second Reading tonight, but that does not justify the iniquity of taking forward infrastructure investment of this magnitude without a strategic environmental assessment. I very much hope that the amendment in my name to be debated tomorrow will be taken on board, but that deals only with detailed—

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Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): Order.

7.59 pm

David Mowat (Warrington South) (Con): I have been an MP for four years, and this is the fourth debate on HS2 in which I have participated. I have spoken in support of the project in all of them and I will do so again tonight, although it would be fair to say that if we were debating the current phase 2 route, which is out to consultation—I have high hopes of changes, particularly to the part north of Manchester, for which there is no business case—I would have difficulty supporting it, but I do support the Bill before us today.

Before I set out the reasons for my support, however, I will state four reasons why we should not go ahead with the project. We should not go ahead with it simply because it has been 120 years since we built a railway line north of Manchester. That, in itself, is a silly reason. We should not proceed with it simply because our infrastructure investment over the past two or three decades has been massively skewed towards London. I listened carefully to the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey), who talked about the diversion of resources away from other projects that HS2 could cause—an anxiety that did not appear to apply for Crossrail 1 or Crossrail 2, which together would cost about the same as HS2. In any event, we should not go ahead with the wrong project just because we previously spent too much in London. Nor should we do it because other countries done it more than we have: Turkey might have 1,500 miles, but perhaps the Turks and everyone else is wrong and perhaps our way is the right way.

We should proceed if and only if three things apply. The first is that the business case must be robust and solid.

Andrew Bridgen: It is not.

David Mowat: I have a sense of déjà vu. My hon. Friend the Member for North West Leicestershire (Andrew Bridgen) and I have had this dialogue before. The cost-benefit ratio is 2.4, higher than it was for the Jubilee line when that project started and higher than it currently is for Crossrail. We should go ahead only if the cash flow can be afforded without diverting resources away from other activities. Roughly speaking, the cash flow for HS2 is £2 billion a year, and it kicks in as Crossrail comes to an end and HS2 picks it up. That is reasonable. There is no evidence that HS2 is starving other projects and activities of investment. I believe that HS2 involves something in the order of 20% of total rail investment over the next two decades.

The third condition is that there must be transformational benefits from the project. We do not have time to go into them in detail, but there is a great deal of evidence, from the councils and the chambers of commerce of the north, that the regions will be transformed. Whether we are talking about the Greengauge 21 report or the Peat Marwick report, 40,000 jobs at a minimum will be generated in the north-west, and my constituents will get many of them.

All in all, whether HS2 goes ahead boils down to whether we believe that there is a capacity crunch. If we do not think that there will be one because we will all miraculously be using video conferencing over the next 10, 20, 30 or 40 years, it would probably be wrong to go ahead with the project. The fact is, however, that over

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the last 15 years, the requirement for long-distance train journeys in the UK has increased by roughly 5% a year. The HS2 business case assumes that that will decrease to 1.6% a year—a conservative estimate in many ways. I believe that the capacity crunch is the main reason for proceeding. My right hon. Friend the Member for Eddisbury (Mr O'Brien), who is not in his place, made a perfectly reasonable point about double-decker trains. My understanding is that the changes to the west coast main line to make that happen would be so restrictive as well as expensive that the line would not work in the meantime. We know how difficult it was during the last upgrade from Rugby to the north.

I want the Minister to give some thought to the reservation about phase 2 that I expressed earlier, which would have made it difficult—in fact, impossible—for me to support the Bill. I refer to the absurdity of building 40 miles of track north of Manchester apparently for no other reason than to get to a depot in Wigan. The cost is £1 billion without contingency, and I could find not one benefit in the business case that would contribute to that cost. I hope that people from HS2 are listening to me. There is a phrase, “value engineering”, which means that one engineers and designs where the value will come from. It has manifestly not occurred in respect of the Wigan link. I hope, believe and trust that that will be looked at.

8.4 pm

Jonathan Reynolds (Stalybridge and Hyde) (Lab/Co-op): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Warrington South (David Mowat), and my speech will echo much of his. Like him, I support High Speed 2 and not just because I am a Greater Manchester MP, although we will benefit from it substantially. I support it not just because our railways need the capacity, although they do. I support it not just out of a parochial desire to see more transport investment in the north, although I do not think being a parochial northerner is necessarily a bad thing. Much more than all of that, I support it because it is genuinely wonderful that, for once, we are choosing to solve a transport problem that we know is going to happen but has not happened yet. By that, I mean the looming capacity crunch on our railways. It is the polar opposite of how we usually approach transport issues. Secondly, I very much welcome the cross-party agreement on delivering a fundamental piece of infrastructure when, frankly, there are a great many reasons why a Conservative Government might not want to do that.

We simply have to acknowledge that the changes in how and where people live and work has driven a huge demand for regular and reliable train travel. Thirty years ago, there would have been enough jobs for almost everyone who lives in my constituency to work in my constituency, but as our economy has moved more towards services and the creative industries, those jobs are clustered more in the cities, so many more people need to commute—and these are jobs that are much more geographically mobile. Before the last election, I worked as a solicitor in Manchester city centre. I would travel into Manchester every day from what is now my constituency, but it was relatively common at some point in the day to receive a message saying that I needed to go to Birmingham, London, Leeds or elsewhere to attend a meeting or a completion or something else.

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Those economic changes are what lies behind the doubling of passenger numbers on the railways in the last decade. Looking at the numbers is genuinely startling: over the past 16 years, passenger journeys on inter-city trains have doubled to 128 million a year, and the number of all rail journeys has doubled, from 750 million a year to 1.5 billion. Of course, the UK’s population is predicted to grow by a further 11 million by 2035. I do not believe that it is the less-than-impressive performance of rail privatisation that has driven that growth. For once it seems we might be trying to provide the capacity we require in our transport network before the problem hits us. If only the Parliaments of the 1970s and ’80s had done the same with our airport capacity.

Some people are concerned that HS2 will actually suck prosperity out of the regions towards London, but that is illogical. If that were true, the best way to achieve regional prosperity would be to tear up our existing railways and motorways and promote some sort of regional autarky. That would be just as foolish and ill-conceived at regional level as it would be at national level.

I recognise that it is in the nature of a high-speed train line that some parts of the country take the burden of hosting it, while others, such as in my area, receive the benefits. I absolutely agree that there should be adequate compensation, particularly in London around Euston station, and there should be proper mitigation of the route where possible. I understand colleagues who need to represent the needs of their areas where local opinion is opposed to HS2. I do not think it credible, however, to argue for increased mitigation such as expensive tunnelling and then complain that the cost of the project has gone up; clearly, there is a balance between the two. I would say that the development of the British economy in a way that spreads prosperity, growth and opportunity more evenly around the United Kingdom, rather than focusing on the south-east is genuinely in everybody’s interests.

The price tag appears large, but Government investment in capital projects is about £50 billion each year, and the costs of HS2 will be spread over 20 years. Crucially, this is wealth-creating infrastructure. We should recognise, too, that there is a cost to not proceeding with it. There will be a cost to not creating the capacity we require on our railways. Imagine, Madam Deputy Speaker, if we had not regenerated London’s docklands. Think of all the private investment that followed it, which would not have occurred without it. There are many other examples—the original M1 motorway has already been mentioned in the debate.

Some hon. Members have claimed that investment will be diverted from other schemes towards HS2. Let me say that the only time we know that that has ever happened was when we tried to patch and mend the west coast main line. It cost billions and drained investment from every other project certainly in the north-west, but across the whole country, too. The destruction was, frankly, untenable.

For once, we have a far-sighted proposal with cross-party agreement and the political will to deliver it. We would all like to see our favoured amendments implemented. I would like construction to begin in the north. This Bill certainly deserves its Second Reading today, which I warmly—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): Order.

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8.9 pm

Mark Pawsey (Rugby) (Con): First, I wish to apologise for not being present for the early part of the debate: I was on a Select Committee visit.

I regret that I am unable to support the Government tonight. Like many hon. Members, I have constituency interests and many people opposed to the project have made representations to me.

My principal objection is that HS2 is not the right project for the UK as a whole. I accept the need to develop our infrastructure. My constituency is the fastest growing in the west midlands and we recognise that it is necessary to build homes and factories. I support good development, and we can ensure that we get good development by mitigating the effects of development when it takes place. As an example, the west coast main line runs through several villages in my constituency and new homes are being built in the village of Long Lawford either side of the railway line, showing that the building of a new railway line need not cause a massive environmental impact. Some of the mitigation measures the Government have proposed have simply added to the cost of the project—and that cost is another of my principal concerns. The country cannot afford this project.

The case has not been made. The case for speed has been dropped and we are told this is an issue of capacity. If speed is no longer important, why can we not use the existing corridors—for example, the M40? The original argument was that that corridor deviated too much to allow a high-speed line. The issue of capacity assumes that the west coast main line will be full. Its capacity grew enormously following the upgrade, but we have seen a relatively modest increase in traffic on the line since. I travel on it regularly on a train that leaves Rugby in the middle of the day, and the carriage is little more than a quarter full. Like many railways, it is busy early in the morning and at the end of the day. The west coast main line has become a commuter line, and if we simply decrease the transport time between London and Birmingham, all we will do is move commuters further north—they will travel a greater distance.

Much could be done with the existing line, such as reconfiguring the Pendolino trains so that an empty 44-seat first-class carriage can be substituted by a 76-seat standard-class carriage. The number of carriages on each train has been increased from nine to 11, and I see no reason why, with modest additional expenditure, we could not increase it to 12 or more carriages.

Above all, I do not believe that HS2 would have any benefits for my constituency of Rugby. I have already asked the Secretary of State what will happen to the legacy line—the west coast main line—once the high-speed line has been constructed. The Government will have massive incentives to ensure that the high-speed line is used to its maximum. Members of Parliament will ask why we spent £50 billion on the project if it is not fully utilised. Other hon. Members have voiced the concern that the west coast main line will be downgraded. My constituency currently benefits from good access to London, with a 50-minute journey time from Rugby to Euston, which is massively important in attracting new businesses to our area. My concern is that, post high-speed rail, the operator of the legacy line will need to have trains stopping at every station on the route to maximise its revenue, because it will no longer benefit from the

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city-to-city business. My example for that is the town of Épernay in west France, which used to have a regular service to Paris, but no longer does because the TGV travels to the north to accommodate the city of Reims.

I recognise that the Bill is likely to receive a Second Reading, but I ask the Government to ensure that the project is completed in its entirety. The worst outcome would be if we built between London and Birmingham and failed to build the second part.

8.14 pm

Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr) (PC): As we discuss the Bill, my primary concern is the negative economic impact that HS2 will have on the Welsh economy, as outlined in the independent KPMG report. As things stand, the UK Government will use the general taxation pool, which includes taxes from Wales, to fund an England-only railway without a fair share for my country. HS2 therefore raises a basic issue of fairness in how large infrastructure projects are funded and how public money is distributed in the UK.

Plaid Cymru has fought a three-year campaign for a fair share of HS2 spend for Wales through equivalent Barnett consequentials. One of my first contributions in the House was on the need for Wales to receive its fair share of the many billions of pounds projected to be spent on this project. This issue will be a key dividing line during the Westminster election next year, because it proves that only Plaid Cymru can be trusted to protect the Welsh national interest on one of the biggest spending decisions of this Parliament.

Many parliamentary questions, and freedom of information requests to the Welsh Government, have revealed a complete lack of correspondence or representations from the Welsh Government to the UK Government on the issue of consequentials. Welsh Government spokespersons are for ever quoted in the Western Mail and on the BBC as saying that HS2 is a matter for the UK Government and is a UK-wide project. I remember discussing this issue with Jim Pickard of the Financial Times, and I got the impression that he was similarly confused by the Welsh Government’s approach. It is funny what can happen to a Welsh Government position following a call from a journalist on the Financial Times of London. Within days, the Labour Government had done a U-turn, although it seems that they had already received confirmation that they would receive a consequential of £35 million for 2015-16 for spending on HS2. That is despite the Welsh Government not making any representations. According to recent parliamentary questions, they still have not made any representations.

After the Welsh Government announced the consequential money, there was huge confusion between the two Governments. I am happy to say that, on this occasion, the Finance Minister Jane Hutt was not wrong. The Treasury admitted that it had made a mistake. However, it also said that no further consequentials would be paid in further spending rounds and that it was minded to claw back the money paid in error.

Anyone who takes even a cursory glance at a map can see that the HS2 network will be an England-only project. It will connect Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and, of course, the dark star, London. Over last summer,

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it became apparent that the cost of HS2 was beginning to spiral. Treasury estimates doubled to nearly £50 billion, which should by rights mean a consequential of £2.5 billion for Wales. Many independent analysts put the project’s costs as high as £80 billion, which would nearly double the consequential for Wales to £4 billion. That is important for two reasons. HS2 will dominate all transport infrastructure spend for a generation. It will be the only game in town. Anyone not on the route will lose out. A fair share for Wales would enable us to revolutionise the transport infrastructure in our country.

The UK Government have a terrible record of investment in Welsh transport. It is nowhere near the 5% that our population share demands. Recent evidence to the Welsh Affairs Committee suggested that the long-term historical trend for transport investment in Wales was between only 2% and 2.5%. Network Rail infrastructure investment in Wales stands at only 0.7%. The KPMG report suggests that Wales will be hit hard: Bridgend will lose out on £11 million, Cardiff on £71 million, Carmarthenshire on £12 million, Port Talbot on £1 million, Newport on £37 million, Swansea on £16 million, Monmouthshire on £8 million, Pembrokeshire on £9 million and Powys on £6 million. Outside the major cities and towns, south Wales central will lose out on £29 million and south-east Wales on £19 million. The annual economic loss to the south Wales economy will be more than £220 million.

Michael Fabricant: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that Wales needs a powerful voice to make a real impact on the Department for Transport? Does he also agree that Carwyn Jones, so powerful in Wales, has no voice here in Westminster?

Jonathan Edwards: That is an extremely valid intervention. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for making that point.

Evidence to the Welsh Affairs Committee indicates that as a result of HS2 there will be 24,000 fewer jobs in Wales by 2040, yet the Labour Government have apparently done a U-turn. What has been most interesting about the debate from my perspective and the Welsh perspective was the shadow Secretary of State’s response to my question when she said that even in the event of a Labour Government following the next election, she could not commit to Barnett consequentials on HS2. I am sure that message will be heard loud and clear in Wales.

The moral and political argument for a fair share for Wales is clear. That is why we will be voting against the Bill and in favour of the reasoned amendment unless there are guarantees that my country will get fairness in future comprehensive spending reviews.

8.20 pm

Craig Whittaker (Calder Valley) (Con): The managing directors of Boxford, Crosslee, BCA Leisure, Heights, Decorative Panels and Calrec represent a small example of the many excellent world-class businesses in Calder Valley. They have all built up their businesses through true Yorkshire grit and fly the flag not just for Calder Valley and Yorkshire but for Great Britain on the international stage. They do not expect anything from Government apart from a plain old level playing field. As a result, they feel it is lunacy that business leaders in London have far better access to their routes to market

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than we do in the north. Not only that, but access across the Pennines is woeful at best. There are 5.8 million people, or over 12% of the nation’s population, and hundreds of thousands of businesses to access their markets.

Apart from the M62 motorway, when it is open, and the canal boats on the ship canals, the only mode of transport to get from Hull to Liverpool to access those markets is by train. This journey takes, on average, three hours—that is, three hours to travel 111 miles. One can therefore imagine the delight when it was mooted that as part of phase 2 of HS2 there was a desire for a more ambitious integration between Leeds and Manchester. That not only makes sense but is vital for one of the UK’s most productive areas; in fact, many would say that it is the most productive area. It is welcome that the Government have announced further, more ambitious electrification projects. We look forward to seeing as part of that programme the Caldervale line, which not only passes through Calder Valley but serves 3 million people.

In a world where connectivity and accessibility underpin business and the modern way of life, the current situation cannot continue for the people living in northern England. HS2 will complement plans for the northern hub. The current lack of fast and efficient railways between the north and south is being overcome by large corporations that increasingly resort to travelling by air. The lack of effective connectivity is hitting small and medium-sized businesses severely and affecting their potential to grow. Investment in transport is vital in our plans to build the foundations for a bigger and more successful economy within Yorkshire and the UK. We can achieve solidarity for businesses across the country only if they are all connected. In Calder Valley we know this only too well.

The benefits of high-speed rail stretch beyond merely linking the country via rail. The project offers employment and rejuvenation to large parts of the UK. When assessing the huge investment that a project of this magnitude needs, it is wrong to view it as one lump sum. The cost will be spread out over the duration of the construction, and so will the benefits. As we have heard many times today, the recent consultation paper estimates that 40,000 jobs will be created in the first phase, not to mention the ratio on cost returns, and as the project progresses the employment benefits will continue for many years to come.

I understand and fully appreciate the concerns of those who view this project as too expensive given the fragile state of the eurozone and the world’s financial issues, but when we consider that the biggest issue by far is capacity on our railways, we all agree that we need something.

Jason McCartney: I thank my hon. Friend and near neighbour for giving way. I have many times got on board a Grand Central train at Brighouse to come down to London. He knows as well as I do how packed that service is. Does he agree that the extra line will allow for more competition on two new lines and also allow for cut-price deals that make rail travel to London and back affordable for all our constituents?

Craig Whittaker: My hon. Friend is correct in one respect but incorrect in another: we are not near neighbours but neighbours. He is absolutely right about capacity, because that is exactly what we are talking about.

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As extra capacity even when building a normal railway line runs at only 10% less than HS2, why should we not put our businesses on a par with the best in the world? The Government should not shy away from this large-scale investment; in fact, it is vital. High-speed rail is a sustainable investment that will pay for itself in the long term. Continuing the theme of sustainability, we are all committed to reducing carbon emissions across every aspect of our lives, and transport is the most vital aspect of this plan. As we have heard, evidence from abroad suggests that the speed and efficiency of high-speed rail have consistently attracted passengers off other forms of transport such as air and road.

I have a deep belief that this project is vital in creating a 21st-century transport system that reflects our progressive way of life. High Speed 1 is a massive achievement and a huge success, so I have no hesitation in believing that an internal high-speed rail network would be equally valuable. For my constituents in Calder Valley, a fast and effective link to the capital and the rest of the UK is vital now, let alone in future. We need to embrace the idea of high-speed rail being such a big project and focus on how it will revolutionise transport within the UK.

8.26 pm

Natascha Engel (North East Derbyshire) (Lab): I rise to speak in support of the reasoned amendment and to oppose the Second Reading of this Bill, as I have opposed the Bill in the past. I support the amendment not because I am against rail improvement or railways but because I am for improving the rail network, for better connections between cities, especially in the north, and for greater capacity where it is needed. However, this is not the right project. The report by the Institute of Economic Affairs that came out today undermines the economic argument that HS2 will regenerate the north and close the north-south divide. It will not.

I am delighted that the Secretary of State is in his place because I have been dying to ask him about the suppressing of the publication of the Major Projects Authority report. I understand that people’s names have to be kept confidential, but we are all able to redact names where needed. I am very surprised that on a project of this scale the Secretary of State is not using anything possible to ensure that his financial and economic case is put forward. I think part of the reason the report is not being published is that there is no very strong financial and economic case. I would be delighted to hear his reason for not redacting from the report the information that he does not want the public to see.

I want to focus on the pitifully poor consultation with the people who are affected by this project. The Secretary of State mentioned the opportunity to petition Parliament through the hybrid Bill Committee. I want briefly to tell the House what somebody who wants to petition the Committee has to do. The process is so complicated and narrowly drawn that most of my constituents who are affected will certainly not be able to petition Parliament and have their voices heard. First, a person has to be directly affected by HS2. Secondly, they have to pay a fee of £20, which for people who live in Staveley, Killamarsh or Renishaw is not a small price. Finally, they have to submit the petition between 29 April, which is tomorrow, and 23 May, and they have to do so in person.

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Mr McLoughlin: The hon. Lady is saying that people in her constituency would have to do this by tomorrow. The Bill does not refer to her constituents.

Natascha Engel: I am saying that the people who are affected will be given an incredibly narrow window between tomorrow’s date, 29 April, and 23 May, but for my constituents this may not happen until the process is further down the line. Those constituents who are affected will have a very narrow window in which to respond and they will have to pay, individually, a cost that may be too high for them. They will also have to submit the petition in person after filling in forms from a petition kit. The process is so complicated that, rather than encouraging people to get involved in the consultation process, it will stop them doing so.

I am really concerned that the whole project has been run along those lines. It has excluded the voices of those people most severely affected by it. It excludes those whose homes and communities will be destroyed, and it does not give a real opportunity for their concerns to be heard. It does not bring them any benefit and it takes away what they already have, and for that privilege we are asking them to pay £50 billion through their taxes. At the same time, local regeneration projects that have been blighted for years will continue to be blighted while all the economic regeneration gets sucked back into the cities again.

The true reason those people are not being consulted and nobody is trying to make the case to them is that the financial and economic case is so weak. The large majority with which this Bill will be passed tonight will tell the large number of people who have concerns that we think we know what is better for them. They disagree and we are denying them a right to say so.

In conclusion, the case for HS2 is no more sophisticated than saying, “We need to do something to improve our transport infrastructure, and this is something.” That is not a strong enough argument to destroy the lives, homes and local economies in the areas, towns and villages—like mine in North East Derbyshire—that are most deeply affected, and that is why I will oppose the Bill’s Second Reading.

8.31 pm

Mr William Cash (Stone) (Con): I am against the proposal locally, nationally, economically and politically. I support the reasoned amendment tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs Gillan) and have particular reason to pay tribute to those of my constituents in Swynnerton, Whitmore, Stone and Madeley who have spent an enormous amount of time working together as communities to oppose the proposals, which will affect them in the course of phase 2. It is true to say that we are dealing with phase 1 at this juncture, but the principles also apply to phase 2, because the matter will not be treated completely differently by two separate Bills. Both phases will be treated the same way.

The real question—this a matter not only of principle but of practicality—is that of blight, which is a problem that will affect people into the indefinite future. I have had many meetings with constituents—there have been enormous turnouts of local people—and I cannot recall a single person saying that they are in favour of the proposals. They stretch from one end of the constituency to the other and I am not aware of anybody who has

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been able to make any serious arguments in favour of them. They see no benefit. I also pay tribute to the HS2 Action Alliance, Joe Rukin and his team and the Country Landowners Association for the considerable assistance they have given over a long period of time.

If the Bill proceeds, the issue of compensation, which is directly connected to that of blight, will be vital. Clause 18 modifies section 10 of the Compulsory Purchase Act 1965, but the problem is that the applicable law—this is relevant to schedule 6 as well—relates to case law on restricted categories with regard to the diminution in the value of land, which is not the real question in all cases. It goes wider than that. Given the significance of the proposal, it is absolutely essential that full compensation should be paid for the full extent of the losses incurred. It is not a question of going through all the arrangements the Government have come up with in relation to phase 1. They have a whole range of different proposals, including an express purchase scheme, a voluntary purchase offer, a “need to sell” scheme, rent back, alternative cash offers and homeowner payment schemes. The Government are struggling to come up with something, but they are not dealing with the real problem.

I am looking at the Secretary of State and I am glad to say that he is looking at me, because that means he is listening. I hope he will continue to listen, because I want the Select Committee to go back to my proposals for a property bond scheme, which I suggested during the course of the previous Bill. I know the Secretary of State thinks that would not work, but I do not agree with him. I urge the Select Committee to give serious consideration to a property bond scheme and not to be taken in by spurious arguments and the Government’s many complicated schemes.

In the final few seconds I have, I will simply say that this is a blight proposal. I do not think that the economic case has been made or that the compensation arrangements are adequate. I urge the Select Committee to give maximum consideration—assuming that it gets to this point—to all the arguments made by lawyers and the petitioners themselves, so that we can achieve something that actually helps people deal with the blight from which they are suffering and which they will continue to suffer unless there is a serious and radical change. I also urge the Secretary of State, yet again, to reconsider the idea of a property bond scheme.

8.36 pm

Lyn Brown (West Ham) (Lab): I support the Bill and believe that High Speed 2 will be vital in improving connections between the north and south, easing overcrowding and acting as a vehicle for economic growth and development across the country.

Like other hon. Members, I want to discuss a constituency matter. I have spoken previously in this place about the economic and transport opportunities provided by Stratford in east London, including the area’s potential for jobs, growth and regeneration. I want to reflect on the relationship between the existing High Speed 1 route from London St Pancras to the channel tunnel and the proposed High Speed 2 project.

Our principal concern must be to deliver HS2 on time and within the financial envelope of £50 billion. I support that and understand that it is the reasoning behind dropping the proposed link between HS1 and

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HS2. However, I refer the Secretary of State to the comments of KPMG’s head of infrastructure, who said that

“it’s a great tragedy to scrap the link and complete nonsense to not have the two lines connected”.

There can be little doubt that the centre of gravity of London’s economy is moving east. Over the next 25 years, London’s growth will be concentrated in that area, while the regions to the east and the south-east are among the fastest-growing areas in the country. Stratford is already the sixth busiest rail hub in the UK—it is busier than Euston and Paddington stations—with unprecedented connectivity to the wider transport network through 10 lines, including Crossrail, direct services to more than 150 stations and access to almost all stations in London with one interchange. Stratford needs to be integral to the nation’s high-speed network.

Within a 5 km radius of Stratford, an investment of about £19 billion is planned, the population is forecast to grow to more than 2 million and there will be about 90,000 further new homes. Linking to that growth and development can only serve to enhance the business case for HS2.

Newham is one of the most deprived areas of the country, so how could I not support the Government’s commitment to closing the social and economic gap between east London and the rest of the capital within 20 years? It is unclear, however, how HS2 will deliver an economic benefit to east London without a physical track link to HS1 through Stratford.

I pay tribute to colleagues across the political spectrum from Kent and Essex county councils who, with my London borough of Newham colleagues, have commissioned research that demonstrates substantial demand for domestic high-speed services from the region to the midlands and the north, avoiding central London. The economic benefit of such connections significantly supports the business case for HS2, and it is a shame that that has not been taken account of thus far.

It is appropriate to mention, as I have before in this place, that the investment has already been made—about £1 billion, so no small amount—in Stratford International station. It is Stratford International in name, but it is yet to be Stratford International in nature, as no international services stop there. The station infrastructure includes space for customs and immigration clearance, so the future cost of installing such facilities will be less significant than building them from scratch; they are already there.

I am pleased to say that Deutsche Bahn has signified its intention to run a service from St Pancras to Amsterdam and Frankfurt in the future. I hope that that will be the prompt that is needed for international services to stop at Stratford. I believe that that will be the case, given the high level of business and commercial interest in such a service.

I believe that we need active consideration of how we can, in the not-too-distant future, secure an improved, fully integrated, robust link between HS1 and HS2. The link should be available for international and domestic services, routed through Stratford at the heart of the growing east London economy, and benefiting economies in the midlands, in the north and indeed across the country.

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8.41 pm

Mr Brian Binley (Northampton South) (Con): I congratulate the hon. Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown) on her very forceful speech. I am sure that her constituents will be delighted.

It might help if we first look at the problems that HS2 resolves in order to place the project in its full perspective. We already have an overcrowded network that is literally full to capacity on our most significant transport corridor. We have record traffic levels, with passenger growth at 5% per annum. Rail freight will double over the next 20 years. Yet an aged existing permanent way is decaying to the point of redundancy.

The Higgins review concluded that a make and mend upgrade of the west coast main line on its own simply will not meet future demand, no matter what we do with it. The capacity does not exist. Make and mend on its own would be futile, and would mean 20 years of major disruption, at a cost of more than £20 billion—virtually the same cost as phase 1 of HS2—and a further 14 years of weak and disruptive bus substitutions and longer journeys on a far greater scale than during the route modernisation completed a few years ago. I can tell the House that my constituents know what that means: they would be immensely frustrated for a length of time that they will simply not put up with.

Increasing capacity remains the sole answer. It will deliver 13,000 additional peak-hour seats to west coast destinations, compared with just 3,000 by conventional alternatives. None of the proposed alternatives would provide a single increase in freight paths, despite a projected doubling of demand, but HS2 will deliver another 20 paths by freeing up capacity. None of the range of economic returns cited takes into account the released capacity for towns such as Northampton, which feed into the west coast main line, and I can tell the House that those returns will be considerable.

Indeed, many of those who complain about disruption in their green and pleasant constituencies rarely think about major housing growth areas such as Northampton, which is expected to increase its population by 50% over the next 25 years to provide for the housing needs of the south-east and, in so doing, help to alleviate demand that might be placed on other constituencies. With respect, it is no wonder that some of my constituents think that that view is perhaps a little uncaring, to say the least. Furthermore, critics of HS2 must be clear about whether they prefer to forgo growth—that growth would be hampered by the maintenance of the status quo—and they must define their alternatives while remembering that none of those so far proposed would meet the increased projected demands to which I have referred.

Let me return to the important conclusions of the Higgins report. We need to integrate HS2 into the conventional network more effectively, as the hon. Member for West Ham and other hon. Members have said. We also need to accelerate the project’s timetable, especially in the north. Every business man will tell us that the sooner we get on with something, the more cost-effective it is, and Front Benchers ought to accept that message.

Finally, the Bill’s provisions are about the construction of a railway line in the 21st century, but our deliberations should more significantly reflect the ambitions for our country. The issue is wider than just a set of railway

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lines; it is about what we feel about competing in the world to come and what we are willing to leave both our children and our grandchildren. Had the Victorian railway entrepreneurs not taken the decisions they did when they did, we would be in a sorry state now. We need to emulate them, and I therefore commend the Bill, which I will support wholeheartedly this evening.

8.46 pm

Mike Kane (Wythenshawe and Sale East) (Lab): It is a delight to follow the impassioned pleas of the hon. Member for Northampton South (Mr Binley).

Edward Watkin is buried in St Wilfrid’s churchyard, a few hundred yards from where I live in my constituency. He was a rail engineer, an entrepreneur, an industrialist and a Liberal MP. He designed the Great Central Railway, from Manchester to London, which opened in 1899. It could be described as the high-speed rail line of its day—it was modern, used the European gauge and brought down the journey time from the great city of Manchester to the great city of London immensely.

As part of his rail empire, Watkin began to dig the first attempt at a channel tunnel, which has been mentioned by Government Members. He wanted to connect his railway line from Manchester to London and all the way to France. The project was started, but, unfortunately, it was then opposed in this House, because it did not trust the French. Some 120 years later—

Mary Creagh: Plus ça change.

Mike Kane: Thank you, Mary. It is ironic that part of HS2 will go along the pathway that Edward Watkin built 120 years ago. It is a further irony that it will pass within metres of his graveyard in my constituency of Wythenshawe and Sale East. That will be a fitting tribute.

As a new Member, I will talk for a second about what I believe the purpose of good public policy to be. It must always be to promote the common good. It must be to create the conditions that allow people, groups and communities to thrive, fulfil their potential and live life more fully. I believe 100% that High Speed 2 will do that.

I served as a young councillor in Manchester under the leadership of my hon. Friend the Member for Blackley and Broughton (Graham Stringer). I remember the projects that he started and delivered, and that I supported. He bid for the Olympic games, which was unheard of. He won the Commonwealth games. We built the second runway. We introduced light rail. We brought about regeneration after the IRA bomb just after the change of leadership. I am immensely proud of that. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr Straw) said, we pulled that city up by its bootstraps in that decade. I was proud to serve on that council under the leadership of my hon. Friend the Member for Blackley and Broughton and, subsequently, that of Sir Richard Leese.

With the HS2 line, Manchester and the northern economy can fulfil their potential. We can unleash good public policy for the common good, which will help individuals, groups and societies in northern England

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to prosper. The line will vastly reduce the time that it takes to travel between Manchester and London from two hours and eight minutes to one hour and eight minutes. As I said in my intervention, the time from Manchester airport to London will go from two hours and 24 minutes to 59 minutes. Manchester airport is the most important air gateway in this country outside the capital. We must imagine the benefits of the economic regeneration that that will bring. In fact, we do not have to imagine the benefits because we know what they will be. An HS2 station at Manchester airport will bring about £500 million of investment per annum and more than 9,000 extra jobs.

We have talked about how to rebalance this nation economically. There was a fascinating programme called “Mind the Gap” by Evan Davis, which was all about clustering. When Daniel Adamson built the Manchester ship canal in 1822, he wanted there to be a northern region that stretched from Liverpool to Hull. If I serve in this Parliament for a long period, that is what I want to see achieved. HS2 is the first stage in creating that northern hub—that second city.

8.51 pm

Eric Ollerenshaw (Lancaster and Fleetwood) (Con): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Mike Kane). Perhaps, for once, we will vote in the same Lobby. I want to express my gratitude and that of other Government Members from the north to the Labour leaders of the great cities of the north for the impact that they have had on the shadow Front-Bench team over the past few months.

Last year, my neighbours and hon. Friends the Members for Blackpool North and Cleveleys (Paul Maynard) and for Wyre and Preston North (Mr Wallace) sat down with Virgin Trains to consider the possibility of providing a direct train from London to Blackpool, with a stop at Poulton station, to assist the regeneration of Blackpool and Fylde. That would have an impact on my constituents in Fleetwood and on the constituents of my hon. Friend the Member for Wyre and Preston North. Virgin said that it could put on two direct trains a day to Blackpool, which would have changed the whole situation. However, when we got to Network Rail, we were told that no room existed on the west coast main line for those direct trains. The capacity issue is having an impact now—not in a few years time. It has prevented those trains from running.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Robert Goodwill): Does my hon. Friend agree that the point that he is making applies equally to Shrewsbury, which has had similar problems in getting a path down the network?

Eric Ollerenshaw: I agree absolutely with the Minister.

To be fair, the amendment recognises the need for extra capacity from the north to the south. I am grateful to the supporters of the amendment for that. I accept their criticism of the fact that the project does not start in Manchester or Leeds. That makes it a funny hybrid amendment, but perhaps a hybrid amendment to a hybrid Bill is fitting. The amendment then seems to say that everything can be done with the existing line. As I have pointed out, that line is already at capacity. As hon. Members from across the House have mentioned,

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the last time we attempted to upgrade the west coast main line, there were more than 10 years of overruns and we had different figures for the costs, which were about £10 billion. As people who use that line know, it is still not finished. If anybody was travelling on Saturday night, as I was, they would know that there are still more problems around Watford. In the summer there had to be improvements north of Warrington, which again caused delays on the line. It is simply impossible.

Other hon. Members have mentioned a suggestion that I made a couple of years ago about having double-decker trains, but apparently that is not practical given the bridge situation and so on. Those things have been considered, and we are left with a need for a new line. If we are going to build a new line, presumably it must be the latest development; I am sure that we—except for the enthusiasts, perhaps—would not want to build a line with steam trains on it at the moment.

I will oppose the amendment and support the Bill, even though I represent Lancaster and Fleetwood, which is not directly affected by this issue. Interestingly, if we consider High Speed 1 and the new Javelin trains that go from King’s Cross to Folkestone and use the high-speed line and transfer at Ashford to the normal “classical” line as I think it is referred to, I can see that there could be massive improvements in terms of the impact on stations north of Manchester, and indeed north of Crewe if we get there in the short term. We will enjoy those benefits because we will have trains travelling on both lines and improved connectivity.

For me the biggest reason for HS2, which has been mentioned by other Members, is the coalition Government’s promise when we got elected to do something about the widening north-south divide. That divide got wider and wider in the 13 years before we were elected and we said that we were going to do something about it. We have started to do something, and I accept that railways are not everything. We have started to do something about roads, and for the first time we have an M6 link road around Lancaster to Heysham. A scheme promised in the 1930s is now being built by this Government. The extension of broadband will be massively important in the north-west, but we must also deal with railway capacity, and it seems to me that there is no available alternative but this project.

My hon. Friend the Member for Warrington South (David Mowat) said that we should not go ahead with this scheme and compared it with London, but I find amazing the argument used by some that in London we can spend £6 billion on Thameslink—still not finished, by the way—and £15 billion on Crossrail 1. We are now proposing to spend £16 billion on Crossrail 2, and apparently those projects will have massive impacts on the London economy. Great, they will, but then I am told by some hon. Members that a high-speed line to the north will have minimal impact in terms of regeneration. What is good for one city is good for other cities and beyond, and we must rebalance the situation in terms of spend and connectivity.

As many Members have said, we need this debate literally to get moving at high speed, and as my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr Burns) said—I totally agree—we should not delay the Bill, which is what this hybrid amendment seems to be about. We should support the Bill and then go on to

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debate High Speed 3 to Glasgow and Edinburgh, and possibly High Speed 4 to Cardiff, and get on with truly uniting this Kingdom.

8.57 pm

Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op): As the Secretary of State reminded the House when I intervened on him earlier, I started off passionately in favour of HS2. In this House it can come back to haunt us if we change our minds, but my 10 years as Chair of a Select Committee made me learn that policies based on evidence are a lot better than those dreamed up in a hurry.

I converted initially to HS2 because I was seeking to answer the question of what we do about the north-south divide. As we can all see, since the great industrial revolution that took place in Huddersfield, Leeds, Manchester and so many other great industrial Victorian towns, the whole economy has changed. Only 9.5% or 10% of people now work in manufacturing, while 30% work in public services and 60% work in the private sector. The world has changed dramatically, but that is not reflected in the health and wealth of our cities and the way they operate. I believe that this House—either side; any party—has not come to terms with the real challenge of how to reintroduce the prosperity, jobs and good life to those regional towns that we represent in this place.

It is not a wicked conspiracy that London and the south have grown in power, influence, wealth and jobs, but it is heartbreaking for people in the north of England, and other regions such as the west of England, who see nearly all their bright sons and daughters having to leave the cities in which they were educated and brought up. Very often, they have to leave home and go a long way away to London, or other places, to seek employment. That is a fact of life. We must tackle the north-south divide, but HS2 should never have been just about that. All the research that I have looked at over the months we have been discussing HS2 suggests that it will not deliver what we want. It is even worse than that: any rational consideration of the proposals shows that it will not deliver a rail network fit for the 21st century. That is the crime we are committing tonight if we vote for Second Reading of the Bill. It is the wrong kind of rail modernisation. Those of us, like my hon. Friend the Member for North East Derbyshire (Natascha Engel) and the right hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Sir John Randall), are not nimbys or luddites. We want a rail network that will be modern, efficient, effective and affordable deep into the 21st century. We are frightened that, because of incompetence in the Department for Transport under both this Government and the previous Government, we have been getting it very wrong.

The book “Fire and Steam” by Christian Wolmar gets to the heart of so many of the problems we have with rail. The fact of the matter is that this is a small island. We are not China or Turkey, and we do not have the vast expanse of France. We do not actually need a very superfast rail system. We need a fast rail system, but we do not necessarily need very high speed trains that have to go absolutely in straight lines.

This is a flawed Bill and I will not be supporting it. I will support the reasoned amendment in the Lobby tonight. I have just come back from working for four days

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in my constituency with candidates for the council and European elections. One depressing point I picked up from people was, “You know, all the established parties are all the same—you don’t look different.” I come back to Westminster and it does look a bit like that, does it not? A large majority of MPs agree on HS2. I regret the fact that there will not be a very clear Government-Opposition vote tonight, because I believe we should be holding the Government to account more vigorously at this moment in time.

9.2 pm

Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) (Con): It is a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman), especially when I agree with so many of his remarks. I draw the attention of the House to my previous declaration: not only does phase 2 of HS2 bisect my beautiful constituency; it runs within 100 yards of my home.

Since the House debated and voted on the paving Bill for HS2 in June last year, many questions surrounding the project have been asked, but precious few have been answered. The Government are continuing to block the Major Projects Authority report on HS2, an issue raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs Gillan) and the hon. Member for North East Derbyshire (Natascha Engel). I raised this issue most recently with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in this place on 17 December 2013 only to be told that there was no need to publish the MPA report because there is no shortage of reports on HS2. That is true, but most of them are sponsored by the Government or HS2, and most of them have had their evidence totally discredited. The continued suppression of the MPA report on HS2 must be a great source of concern to hon. Members who should surely have all available evidence to hand, especially on a project of this cost and magnitude that will have such a huge impact on the lives of so many of our citizens.

Cost continues to be a running issue for HS2. We know from last year that the initial cost of £33 billion increased to more than £42 billion, with a further £7.5 billion cost for rolling stock. That is all in 2011 money, with no account taken for interest payable on borrowed money. Indeed, it could be considered that, with inflation, the cost is now well in excess of the £50 billion limit set by the shadow Chancellor to trigger opposition from Labour. As evidence from international rail projects suggests an average overspend of 45% and a lead time of 13 years adding to the cost of rolling stock, nothing has persuaded me that we could not well be looking at a sum of more than £70 billion or possibly £100 billion to see HS2 through.

Another question that we are struggling to get the answer to concerns evidence of overcrowding on the west coast main line and the capacity issue in general. On 6 January this year I received a response to my written question to the Department for Transport asking how many passengers in the previous year had used the line during peak periods between Euston and Birmingham and Euston and Manchester. I was directed to statistics that show rail passenger numbers on trains throughout the day in several major cities, as well as levels of peak crowding, but these are not available by route. It surprises

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me that the Government could not have made available the actual numbers on the west coast main line to demonstrate the case that this line is full. Again, the evasiveness and the lack of ready statistics to back up the case for HS2 fuels suspicions about the reasoning behind the whole project.

Then there is the issue of blight, which has been raised by many Members. The project is causing immense blight. It has been estimated that 240,000 homes are within 1 km of the proposed line and are likely to suffer losses that are mostly ineligible for compensation under the Government’s current policy.

Gareth Johnson (Dartford) (Con): I am one of the few Members who has both a high-speed line and a high-speed station in my constituency. Although expensive for passengers to use, it has undoubtedly attracted inward investment without the kind of environmental impact that we once anticipated. Will my hon. Friend therefore concede that there can be positives from high-speed rail, and that that should not be overlooked?

Andrew Bridgen: I will concede that if we chuck £50 billion of taxpayers’ money at anything, some of it will stick to the wall and we will get some result from that, but we could argue about whether that is the best way of spending £50 billion.

I echo the thoughts of the HS2 Action Alliance on the Government’s most recent statement on property compensation. People may well go to their graves having been locked into homes made totally unsaleable by the HS2 route. Then there are the environmental questions. The initial 60-day consultation period for a 50,000-page environmental statement, the equivalent of 40 versions of “War and Peace”, raises questions, as does the Environmental Audit Committee report, which recently uncovered the fact that 40% of the route has yet even to be examined.

The evasiveness of the Government on this matter has not escaped the general public, and no amount of expensive Government-sponsored reports into supposed benefits will convince them. A ComRes poll last month found that 52% of Britons oppose the current plans to build HS2, whereas only about 30% support the project. This confirmed the trend from previous polls: there is a solid majority of the public opposed to HS2.

We have a Bill before us today which raises far more questions than it answers, and a case built around PR and spin rather than evidence and a foundation of fact—suppressed reports, hurried consultations and unanswered questions. This is not the way to spend more than £50 billion of taxpayers’ money. I therefore urge all right hon. and hon. Members to vote against the Bill and to support the amendment.

9.8 pm

Mr Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) (Lab): I welcome the Bill, as I welcomed Lord Adonis’s announcement some years ago that first proposed this project. It is a shame that the Government have taken four years to bring it forward, but in the spirit of consensus among the majority of Members from all the major parties, I say that it is good that we have agreement on the route. I am particularly pleased that we are settled on the major interchange being at Old Oak in my constituency, which

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means that not only HS2 but Crossrail and interchanges with the underground, the overground and the great western line will come to one of the poorest areas of London—an area much in need of regeneration.

There is one aspect which I raised with the Secretary of State earlier and which is not decided—the link to Heathrow. This is not a detail. It is a symptom of the political fix that is the Davies commission and affects not only the future of Heathrow, but the Piccadilly line upgrade, as well as one of the most congested parts of the M25 and M4, and HS2.

It threatens the integrity of the project that we cannot say that there is no threat to Heathrow as an airport. Yes, there is major disagreement—my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) and I are at the forefront of disagreeing with the expansion of Heathrow—but there will be a major airport at Heathrow. The only person who disagrees with that is the Mayor of London, who would like to see some bloated, gated community on the site. That is fantasy. If we believe in this project and we want major infrastructure to go ahead, we should be prepared to say what the link to Heathrow will be.

I am afraid that is symptomatic of the fact that the project has not been well handled. The design of areas such as Euston and Old Oak has been appalling so far. The proposals for compensation—the weaker compensation for urban areas and businesses in urban areas—is to be deprecated. The cost of the project is a major concern, although the arrival of Sir David Higgins has improved that, and the consultation has been abysmal throughout. It is not a good way to proceed.

In the limited time available, let me concentrate on Old Oak. According to the planning document, Old Oak is 155 hectares—almost 400 acres of prime land in inner London—and it is mainly Network Rail and other publicly owned land. The area could be a major part of the regeneration of London, yet businesses large and small—such as Car Giant, a fantastic business on a 40-acre site that has grown up over 30 years, and hundreds of small businesses—are being intimidated and threatened to make them move off the site by a combination of aggressive developers and the Greater London authority and the Mayor of London.

Wormwood Scrubs, a major piece of metropolitan open land that has hitherto been protected by Act of Parliament, is threatened. That piece of land is important to the natural environment. It is not a manicured park, but that is what the developers would like. They would like it to be an adjunct, with skyscrapers, not affordable housing, overlooking the scrubs, turning it into something it was never intended to be. Organisations such as the friends of Wormwood Scrubs and many of the residents’ groups in my constituency are fighting an action against that. They will petition against it and they will have my support in that. The type of development that the Mayor of London intends, and for which I am afraid the Secretary of State has abdicated responsibility, is a mayoral development corporation along the lines of the Olympic park, which is totally unnecessary. The area should be controlled by local people.

Six months ago, I was told that there would 90,000 jobs and 19,000 new homes on the site; now I am told that there will be 24,000 new homes and 50,000 jobs. I do not have any confidence in what I am being told, but I am confident that this is another land grab. It will be

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another way of avoiding providing affordable housing and homes and jobs for local people in London, so that speculators and developers can make profits from that land. I urge the Secretary of State to listen to organisations such as the West London Line Group, which have huge experience in railways, particularly in west London, and have designed a much better scheme for the operation of Old Oak—not to use compulsory powers, not to take local areas out of the hands of local people, but to allow this excellent project for the UK to go ahead with the maximum possible support from everybody across the country by bringing people with it, not imposing decisions on them from outside.

9.13 pm

Mr Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) (Con): I am grateful for the opportunity to highlight some of my concerns over HS2. There are a number of issues that I believe make the proposal untenable. I will try to cover them as briefly as I can.

First, we are told that HS2 will produce a good return on investment. If that is really the case, why are private companies not tumbling over themselves to fund the project, instead of using taxpayers’ money, which, as we know, is in short supply? In 1844, over 3,500 miles of rail track were sanctioned. For various reasons, the cost was in the region of £40,000 per mile. Those lines were built entirely by private sector enterprise. Why is that approach not appropriate this time?

My second concern is that we are proposing to build a brand new railway at such great expense. Why are we not looking to increase capacity on existing rail lines and routes? The Government say it is no longer about high speed, so I am not entirely clear what it is all about.

Mr John Baron (Basildon and Billericay) (Con): On expense, does my hon. Friend agree that at a time when we are struggling with the deficit and yet still adding to our national debt, the last thing we need is a £50 billion white elephant?

Mr Turner: My hon. Friend makes that point very clearly, and I agree with him.

The Great Central Railway was opened in 1899. As we have heard from the hon. Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Mike Kane), its purpose was to link the big northern cities with London with the fewest possible stops—in other words, fast links between London and the north. It was the last complete mainline railway built in Britain until HS1. If that sounds familiar, the route is still there through Rugby, Leicester, Nottingham and, as he mentioned, Manchester.

My third concern is that this does not benefit the whole country despite the tax bill funding it being spread across the whole UK. There is no benefit for the west country, for south and mid-Wales, or even for the south of England. There is no benefit for East Anglia or for the east of the country up to Doncaster.

Martin Horwood (Cheltenham) (LD): Speaking as an MP from the west country, I would say that it will benefit us because it will give us faster journey times via Birmingham to London and points north. It will also benefit the whole environment and it will benefit the infrastructure and capacity of the entire rail network. That will benefit all of us.

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Mr Turner: The Liberals always believe in spending money rather than putting it in the right pockets, which are those of the people it was taken from.

Of course, I am very concerned because there is no benefit visible for my constituents on the Isle of Wight, who are being asked to pay for a service that the vast majority of them will never, ever use. Although 100% will pay, only 2% of the population use the railways. Of course I realise that the Government must act in the national interest, but I simply cannot see that this is the case on this occasion. When this was a Labour idea, I thought it was wrong, and I still think it is wrong now that it is being pushed forward by the coalition.

One of the arguments given for this project is the economic benefits a high-speed connection to London will bring. Doncaster already has a fast rail link to London, combined with an international airport and good road links, yet in the 2010 index of multiple deprivation it came out 42nd worst of 318 boroughs in England.

We seem to be under the misapprehension that in order for them to make a decent living, we must drag people from the north down to London, which has an overheated property market and the highest cost of living in the UK. Surely it would be more effective, as well as more sustainable, to link northern cities with each other to deliver economic growth.

In these times when we expect local councils to tighten their belts and we ask residents in all our constituencies to be realistic about what can be funded, I believe this plan is both misguided and unaffordable. I am very sorry that I will be unable to support the Government tonight.

9.13 pm

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab): Everything about my background, and recent history in Parliament in particular, suggests I should support HS2. I am the co-ordinator of the RMT parliamentary group and have supported every campaign for investment in rail over the last 17 years in Parliament. I have also used the argument about high-speed rail and taking capacity from aviation on to rail to obviate the need for a third runway at Heathrow. However, I cannot vote for the Bill tonight—I will be voting for the reasoned amendment—because I must be one of the few MPs who does not know what is going to happen in his constituency.

Initially, when high-speed rail was put forward, I was told that there would be consultation on the main route and then, last autumn, that there would be consultation on the link between the main route through my constituency to Heathrow. I was looking forward to that, because we were told that we would look at about nine options and have a detailed consultation, and that I would be able to organise community meetings and we would come to a view on whether or not we supported the link to Heathrow from the main route—or at least on what option we would support. My hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith (Mr Slaughter) alluded to the fact that a grubby compromise was subsequently made, including across the Front Benches, whereby an Airports Commission would be appointed, in order to get every political party off the hook before the general election about deciding honestly what they supported on aviation expansion. Howard Davies’s commission has already confirmed

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that it could report by next January but has been told to go away on holiday between January and the general election and not report until after it.

Therefore, my constituents, like others, will not know what the political parties’ views will be about their options in respect of expansion at Heathrow, Gatwick or elsewhere. That has meant that the whole process of consultation about high-speed rail’s link to Heathrow has also been delayed. So I am the only MP in this place who cannot go to their constituents before the general election to explain to them what the implications of HS2 are. What does that mean? It means blight. It causes upset and distress for those people whose homes, businesses and community resources will be at risk, and it causes long-term blight in the area. My area is already blighted by the threat of a third or a fourth runway, but we are now blighted by the threat of a high-speed rail link that could go under us, over us or through us. We do not know which way it will go. That is just unacceptable politics.

Mrs Gillan: Does it also not send out a poor signal internationally that it is taking us so long to decide where our airport capacity lies? Surely we should be ensuring that we have the best connectivity internationally because, after all, we are in a shrinking global marketplace in which we should be competing.

John McDonnell: I agree. I just wish we had some certainty and that certain politicians kept to their word. Who said:

“no ifs, no buts…no third runway”?

That came from the Prime Minister. He never said, “No third runway during just one Parliament.” What he said was interpreted by most of us as a permanent commitment. I agree with the right hon. Lady that we need certainty on this matter, and the one group of people who have no certainty are my constituents. I would like the Secretary of State or the Minister to explain to me what the process will be for consultation and decision making on the link with Heathrow. Will there be additional legislation? Clause 50 enables further expansion of the route to go on under a transport works order and not full legislation, so I fear that there will not be full consultation and that we will not be presented with a Bill that we can debate in this House and vote on with regard to the link to Heathrow. In that way, yet again, my constituents will be left with uncertainty. This is no way to run a railway, no way to plan a railway and certainly no way to spend £50 billion—on a project that could be going nowhere.

Mr Slaughter: My hon. Friend mentions clause 50, but clause 47 allows the Secretary of State, willy-nilly, to take land where he sees an opportunity for regeneration or development of that land. As far as I can see, that gives him carte blanche to do whatever he feels right, whether or not that is in the interests of the railway.

John McDonnell: My constituents do not know the route, do not know what land is threatened and do not know what compensation they will be offered. That is not acceptable, so I would welcome at least some certainty about the process in which the Government will engage when they eventually decide on moving this issue forward with regard to HS2.

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I missed the speech that the right hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Sir John Randall) made, but I am sure he raised some of the environmental concerns relating to the north of our borough. May I just raise one such concern, which was raised with me by Bert May, an elderly gentleman who has worked extremely hard with Hillingdon Outdoor Activities Centre, developing it through the Queensmead school sailing club into a sailing centre that has given thousands of young people in our area the opportunity to learn how to sail and enjoy the environment? HOAC is threatened and on behalf of Bert May, my 80-year-old constituent who has put his life into that project, I ask for some certainty about what will happen to our local area, because this affects community facilities such as that and will have a devastating effect on the livelihood, if not the well-being, of many of my constituents. That is unacceptable. Any MP facing this in their constituency would do what I am about to do, which is to vote against the Bill and to vote for the reasoned amendment. We need a reasonable approach to decision making in this House that restores some confidence that we have the capacity to take decisions on major infrastructure programmes that bring people with us rather than alienating them at each stage.

9.25 pm

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (The Cotswolds) (Con): I am delighted, Madam Deputy Speaker, to catch your eye in this debate. Many Members wish to speak and so our time is constrained. I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on spending so much time in the Chamber, but having done so, I hope that he will listen to some of the concerns that have been raised, because we will have spent almost £1 billion on HS2 Ltd planning this railway by the end of this Parliament, and, as far as I can see, there have been no changes whatever from when it started to now. It seems to me that this is a visionary concept, but it could be made so much better if some of the concerns that have been raised tonight were taken on board.

My hon. Friend the Member for Calder Valley (Craig Whittaker) was right to say that we live in an increasingly interconnected world. I have just come back from China where a large number of high-speed lines have been built. It was right to do so because its environmental pollution is horrendous. This is where I start to get involved in this whole concept, because 80% of my Cotswolds constituents who travel 75 miles to Heathrow go by car. If HS2, with proper connectivity to Heathrow, were better designed, 80% of them would go by rail.

Our forefathers, almost 200 years ago, bequeathed us a visionary rail system that enabled the industrial revolution to take place, and we have the opportunity to do the same thing today. We need to get the route and the details right, which is why I formed an integrated transport group, with my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton South (James Wharton). We have done a lot of work on this subject. We have produced a comprehensive report. If any Member has insomnia one night, they might like to read it, or at least the two-page executive summary. We make a number of points in the report that are worth repeating in the short time that I have available today.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kensington (Sir Malcolm Rifkind), called in all the evidence at the last moment. HS1 was going to come in

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via south of London, but the route was changed and it then came in via Stratford. Had he not done that, the Olympics would never have taken place. It is a huge shame that the instructions to the Committee have taken out the HS1-HS2 link. It is still something we should consider, because passengers coming from Europe and flying into this country will want to get on an interconnected railway from this country to Europe. If there are problems with Camden, let us tunnel underneath London; let us be visionary about it, but let us ensure that we do have the HS1-HS2 link.

The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman) made a very good point. I thought that I was going to disagree with everything he said in his speech, but he made one very good point towards the end, and I ask the Secretary of State to listen to this very carefully. If this railway had been a fast railway going at 300 kph rather than 360 kph, we could have varied the route very slightly, but with huge benefit, especially to the Chilterns. HS1 was built along the existing transport corridors—along the motorways and often along the existing rail links. If we had built a fast rail rather than a high-speed rail, we could have swept it out along the M40 and tunnelled under the shortest bit of the Chilterns. We would not have done any environmental degradation to the Chilterns at all.

Mrs Gillan: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way and for coming well behind me to defend the Chilterns. Is it not true that, in the run-up to the last election, that is the route that we believed would be adopted by any Government of whatever complexion? Imagining that they would go through the widest route of an area of outstanding natural beauty and damage it so greatly was almost beyond credibility. We were going to go through the narrowest route, and should that not have been where it went anyway?

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown: My right hon. Friend is entirely right, and she has been basing her case on that. The advantage of doing that is that roads, rail, freight and air would have all coalesced into one Heathrow hub. The one thing that has not been said in this debate is that we need to be visionary about this, because 15 years ago, the latest technology, the internet, was just coming into its infancy. Who knows what technology will be available in the next 15 years?

Let us future-proof this railway as much as we possibly can. There will be all sorts of new technology to track people and suitcases and to make travel on an international scale hugely better than it is today. If we do not do that, we will already be losing business by the day because of the experience of passengers who have to go through Heathrow. If we do not get this right, we will lose even more business to the likes of Schiphol, Charles de Gaulle and Munich. The complete passenger experience, door-to-door, is what will matter. People will simply not come into Old Oak Common and take the underground for one station to get to HS1; they will fly from wherever they were coming from in the first place straight to continental Europe and further afield.

We need to consider HS1-HS2, the route and a Heathrow hub. We must think about how we will link to the world’s busiest airport. I have little doubt that when push comes to shove, Davies will come up with Heathrow as our major hub airport, yet we are not going to link

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the most expensive civil engineering project ever carried out in this country with our major airport. That is crazy.

I want to make two final points. First, I do not believe the case for business being sucked from the north to the south is true, which is why earlier I advocated starting equally from the north and the south if we can afford the cash. Finally, I must tell my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that I am one of the very few chartered surveyors in this House. I know how the law on compensation for property works and the French and Germans are far more generous than we are. If he is generous with the compensation, he will have far fewer opponents to the railway line, which will be built far quicker without so many legal battles.

9.31 pm

Sheila Gilmore (Edinburgh East) (Lab): Infrastructure projects in the UK appear to follow a pattern, as I have experienced with our trams project in Edinburgh. The trams project, when we consider the size of the spend as a proportion of Edinburgh’s economy, is probably quite similar to HS2 in the UK.

We often start with questions, and this is what happened with the trams in Edinburgh. Why do not we have the things, such as trams, that they have in Europe? Why are we so far behind? Why do we build new housing developments on the edge of the city that do not have good transport links? Why are we suggesting regenerating our riverfront and docks area without putting in good transport? Why have we built a huge office park on the edge of the city when there are not good transport links? Surely they should have gone in first.

Once the project is proposed, it all gets a lot more complicated. At that point, it begins to suffer from almost going into stasis as people say, “No, not that bit,” or, “Yes we want it, but we do not want it to follow that route.” It was interesting that a lot of people in Edinburgh seemed to rediscover how wonderful our bus services were, whereas previously they had not been so complimentary. So that people could say that they did not need trams, the argument became that we had a splendid bus service so the project would be a total waste of money and we could do everything with what we had already.

Sometimes such projects do not go ahead and, sadly, our tram project has been truncated. Trams are running in the city, but they are not yet carrying passengers because they are being tested. Within the next month, they will be fully operational but on a much shorter route than was originally planned. At that point, we end up asking why Edinburgh and the UK are so bad at running such capital projects. It is not always the case that every detail is right, but if we do not go ahead with such investment we will rue it when people turn around and ask why things were not done and why the UK is so pathetic at getting people on board with such projects.