The date of the second reading of the HS2 Phase 1 Hybrid Bill has now been confirmed as 28th April 2014.
This is the first day back for MPs after the two and a half week Easter recess. In addition, Parliament does not start debating until after 2.30pm on Mondays, severely limiting the time available for business on the day. Business for the 29th April onwards has not yet been announced.
It’s clear that one afternoon is not long enough to debate and vote on a project which will last through at least the next three Parliaments and cost many billions of pounds of taxpayer money. And a number of MPs spoke in Parliament yesterday to make that point .
As Michal Fabricant put it:
You, Mr Speaker, will know that the Government Whips Office normally operates like a well-oiled machine, yet on this occasion it appears that the Whips believe that there is no interest in HS2 and Second Reading can be held on just one day, even though 40 Members of Parliament will be affected by HS2, it will cost £50 billion and many Members of the House are both for and against it. Can you pass on to the Government Chief Whip that that is not the case, that many Members of Parliament want to speak both for and against HS2 and that it will require at least two days for Second Reading?
With the petitioning period starting shortly after the second reading, it is vital that anyone considering whether to petition should ensure they make preparations starting now. See our guide to petitioning for information on how to do this.