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Some recent Parliamentary Questions and Debates

House of Commons Written Answers 26 February 2014

High Speed 2 Railway Line

Mr Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to ensure that the report to the Government setting out the results of the Phase Two consultation on High Speed 2 is published. [187751]

Mr Goodwill: In line with previous consultations on HS2, HS2 Ltd will publish a report summarising the responses received to the consultation as part of the advice to the Secretary of State in taking his decision. The decision on Phase Two of HS2 is due to be taken by the end of the year.

House of Commons Written Answers 3 March 2014

High Speed 2 Railway Line

Mrs Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many responses were received to the High Speed 2 Environmental Statement; and if he will publish the names of those who responded. [189737]

Mr Goodwill: The deadline for sending responses to the Environmental Statement Consultation was midnight on 27 February. As of 1 March we had received 21,700 responses; however, responses posted on the 27 February may not arrive until 3 March so this figure is likely to increase.

We will publish the names of all those who responded, except for those who asked for confidentiality, in due course. This cannot be done at the same time as confirmation of the total number of responses received as additional time is required to redact personal details from these correspondents. These names will be published prior to the Second Reading of the High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill.

House of Commons Written Answers 6 March 2014

High Speed 2 Railway Line

Mrs Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish the most recent report on High Speed 2 by the Major Projects Authority. [190209]

Mr Goodwill: This Government has a strong record on transparency and last year published the first ever Major Projects Authority (MPA) report which included information on all major projects, including High Speed 2. The next annual report will be published in May 2014 and will include the RAG rating for the most recent MPA review of HS2.

The Government does not intend to publish any further information relating to the MPA report.

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will ensure that the full independent summary of the consultation into the proposed High Speed 2 route from Birmingham to the North of England is published by IPSOS Mori. [190270]

Mr Goodwill: I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 26 February 2014, Official Report, column 387W.

Westminster Hall Debate, Wednesday 26 February 2014

Weather Events (South West England)

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): I am delighted to see you in the Chair, Mr Hood. I am sure that my delight is shared by the hon. Member for South West Devon (Mr Streeter), who will be speaking in this debate rather than chairing it.

I would like to start by outlining the current situation, because although the national media and visiting politicians have moved on, we in the south-west are still feeling the impact of the recent storms and floods. The main and only railway route beyond Exeter to the rest of Devon, Plymouth and Cornwall is still severed at Dawlish; the main line providing cross-country services from our region to Bristol, south Wales, the midlands and the north is still under 18 inches of water for more than a mile of its stretch near Bridgwater in Somerset; and, of course, much of the Somerset levels still look as if they have been reclaimed by the sea…..

Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton) (Con): …Those things have to be done, and I echo the words of my hon. Friend the Member for South West Devon (Mr Streeter), who pointed out that billions of pounds are to be spent on HS2. Every time I have been through the Lobby to vote for HS2, I have held my nose for the simple reason that I did not want to support it. If we do not see real and meaningful investment in the west country, it is our duty to speak up and stand up for our constituents, and I believe we will. I look forward to my hon. Friend the Member for South Dorset (Richard Drax) reinforcing that point in a minute.

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3 comments to “Some recent Parliamentary Questions and Debates”
  1. 22000 responses: more pages than the ES 55000 pages and one EAC inquiry: HS2 is not shovel ready. Confusion over scope of work. No resources and time for clarifications before 2nd Reading of Hybrid Bill which will benefit from changes.
    Due process but not as you know it. You’ve Got it. Lack of care in spending £50B no way to Govern a nation in the 21st Century. Anything goes now but it should not are we a savvy nation or what?

  2. 6 Transport and energy infrastructure

    76. At the time of the Autumn Statement 2013, the Treasury announced an update to its long term infrastructure plan for the UK. The National Infrastructure Plan, first published in 2010 and updated annually, outlines detailed spending plans in a number of areas including roads, railways, telecommunications and energy. It provides a list of priority investments as well as setting out a series of planned public and private infrastructure projects. The National Infrastructure Plan 2013 (NIP) has updated the total value of such investments from £309 billion in 2012 to over £375 billion, [139] of which over £340 billion will be directed to the energy and transport sectors.[140]

    Transport spending plans

    77. When we last reviewed the Government’s infrastructure plans in our Spending Round 2013 Report, we concluded that:

    The Committee welcomes the creation of long term plans for infrastructure investment. It is now crucial that the projects are delivered in a timely and effective manner.[141]
    Commenting on the National Infrastructure Plan 2013, Nick Prior, head of infrastructure at Deloitte, said:

    The additional infrastructure funding announced by the Chief Secretary today is welcome but we need much clearer sight of where this money will actually be spent.
    The government guarantees scheme is making a difference. This has been the most impactful announcement on infrastructure to date. But, the reality is, little of this money will be spent this side of 2015, so we won’t see shovels in the ground on new projects for some time.
    The £25bn commitment from insurers is good news in demonstrating the attractiveness of UK infrastructure to investors. But they still need to see a clear pipeline of opportunities to put their money into and this will require some upfront commitment and ongoing funding from government. The intention is there but the funding is still aspirational.[142]
    And Jeremy Blackburn, head of UK policy at RICS, said that:

    What is still lacking is real momentum to get these projects moving, even with the £25bn included. It has taken three years of plans to reach a programme. Let’s now get on with this – and secure a balanced recovery across all the regions, not just some.[143]
    78. We questioned Stephen Glaister, Director of the RAC Foundation and specialist adviser to this Committee, on the delivery of the projects outlined in the 2013 National Infrastructure Plan. He was concerned about the realism of the Government’s plan to invest £120 billion in transport projects over the next decade:

    The realism of the Government’s plans on their transport budgets generally is a worry over the long term […] If I look at the announcements that were made in the summer for the three heads of expenditure in the spending review, for the six years starting 2015, the Government committed to spend £22.5 billion on Network Rail, £16 billion HS2 and £15 billion on the strategic road network. I think it is going to be very difficult to find all that money over the years to deliver that, especially since, on the road side, there is no charging mechanism.[144]
    Mr Glaister explained that there was a history of road projects not being delivered by government:

    […] on the road side, we have been here at least twice before. There was the Roads for Prosperity in 1989, which was a big roads investment programme that essentially was not delivered because the Conservative Government of the day could not find the money as they came to the end of their term. There was quite a lot of roads money put into the Labour Government’s plans towards the end of their term of office, which was pulled out in the spending review of 2010; including the cancellation of A14 famously, but a lot of roads were pulled out at that time.[145]
    Other concerns about highways spending have been noted by Paul Fleetham, managing director of Lafarge Tarmac Contracting:

    Against a backdrop of protracted delays for many large projects, it is disappointing that the updated National Infrastructure Plan fails to provide support for smaller schemes such as essential highways upgrades.[146]
    79. We questioned Mr Glaister on the economic merits of High Speed 2 (HS2) and the extent to which the attention given to this project might be resulting in other transport projects being over looked. Mr Glaister said that HS2 “might be taking more attention than perhaps the economic evaluations would suggest is justified.”[147] He was particularly concerned about that lack of work assessing the value for money of alternative transport projects:

    […] we have not had a decent discussion either inside the Department or more generally about the relative merits using the established scientific methods of appraisal of putting a very large amount of capital into HS2 as against conventional rail or national and local roads. It is HS2 being put on one side, assumed to be there and spoken for, and it has not entered the debate about whether you could spend that money more effectively and indeed spend it more effectively in some other area of public policy.[148]
    Mr Glaister explained that the Treasury have “very well-established ways of calculating value for money for different transport investments.”[149] Mr Glaister argued that road projects with very high rates of return were not being funded while rail projects which much lower rates of return were. He said:

    […] there are a number of road schemes, some of which have been funded and I think some of which have not, with benefit cost ratios of seven, eight, nine, 10 and 11; very much higher. On the rail side, I am not aware that the Government publishes cost benefit ratios for rail schemes apart from HS2.[150]
    80. In the interests of transparency of decision-making, the Treasury should set out the absolute benefits and absolute costs, and the benefit:cost ratios, for each road and rail scheme considered by Government, whether approved or not. The calculations should be consistent with well established Department for Transport best practice. This practice is based on Treasury Green Book principles.

    HS2 AND CONTINGENCY COSTS

    81. According to the Department for Transport’s report The Strategic Case for HS2, the total funding envelope for the HS2 project is £50 billion. This consists of £15.6 billion for Phase One, £12.5 billion for Phase Two, £7.5bn for rolling stock and a £14.4 billion contingency fund (all in 2011 prices, excluding VAT).[151]

    82. We questioned Mr Glaister on the rationale of the £14 billion contingency fund for HS2. Mr Glaister wouldn’t be drawn on whether the exact figure was correct but stressed the importance of taking a consistent approach for all infrastructure projects:

    The Treasury insists on putting them in because it feels it has had its fingers burnt in the past where an inadequate contingency has been included. Whether it is an appropriate amount or not is hard for me to say. What I would say is it is important that, if the Treasury is going to insist on there being a contingency and there is a case for a certain amount, it is done consistently across the piece because if you are going to put in £14 billion for HS2, you need to make sure you put in a proportionate amount in other schemes so they can compare across the piece.[152]
    Mr Glaister was concerned about the way contingency funds were calculated and the risk of creating perverse incentives:
    I think the professionals in this field are uncomfortable with the way the Treasury insists on these rather mechanistic levels of contingency in the schemes because they feel they produce perverse incentives. Obviously there is a tendency to think if you have a budget that includes a contingency then you are going to end up spending it. What you should be doing is good, effective costing and binding yourself to effective costs.[153]

  3. Are 10,000 valid petitions possible from using a menu list of text relevant to the near home, road, noise, traffic impact and mitigation and improvement requests by 1st May please. More the better democratic way of presenting the real costs of harm and poor planning with phase 1. With 22000 responses there are many people being hurt by hs2 phase 1 and increased awareness by sending a copy to your MP ALSO will MAKE THE IMPACT REAL.

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