What do the Hybrid Bill Committee think of HS2?

Now the HS2 Hybrid Bill has passed second reading, the petitioning period has started, and you have until 23rd May to get in your petition (16th for businesses and some councils). We have produced guidance on how to do this, and please don’t leave it to the last minute!!

When you have submitted your petition, you will have the right to be heard by a committee of six MPs, and with that in mind, we thought it’d be an idea to let you know what they think of HS2. Being off-route MPs, you might not be surprised to hear that in the main, they haven’t said a lot about HS2, but with most of what they have said, you may be pleasantly surprised!

Yasmin Qureshi MP. Labour, Bolton South East.

Although the press, at the time of the Public Accounts Committee report in September 2013, ran stories saying that all the Bolton MPs thought HS2 is a great idea, reading the full statement Yasmin Qureshi put on her website, she was clearly more ambivalent, saying:

“The case for HS2 has been set out showing the economic benefits for the North West and consequently Bolton also.  However, I appreciate there are those who have concerns that the plans are not value for money. These concerns should be addressed objectively and investigated to clarify whether they have any merit. When the Government is planning on committing over£42 billion on a project, we should be assured that it is going to provide the economic benefits they state it will bring to Bolton.”

Yasmin Qureshi tweets about not voting on HS2

Yasmin Qureshi tweets about not voting on HS2

“The Public Accounts Committee and others have raised some serious issues.  It’s important that the Department for Transport and the Secretary of State address these concerns fully in order that people can have confidence in the HS2 project.  There needs to be clarity and transparency over value for money and the benefits to the rest of the country, not just London.”

“I particularly share the concerns about the amount of money that some have estimated will be spent on consultancy fees for the project, possibly up to £500m by 2016.  It is vital that the Department keeps a tight rein on this if it is to avoid criticism over its management of HS2.”

She is also a prolific tweeter, and has said that she does not see going against the whip as rebelling – just voting differently from her party!

Henry Bellingham MP. Conservative, North West Norfolk.

Comments from Henry Bellingham come from October 2013, and were made in respect to the KPMG report which suggested that economic output in West Norfolk would be the fifth worst affected in the country, down by £56million per year.

He said: “I have always been fairly sceptical about HS2. I am not against progress or modern railways as we have to move to the future. My concern is the massive cost of HS2. The cost has gone up to £50 billion and we will suffer because of it.”

“There are improvements we need locally – £40million would give us new platforms, rolling stock and signalling. That is one per cent of the total cost of HS2. The report indicates that as well as benefits to the areas that the link is going to, there will be other areas that will lose out.”

Mike Thornton MP. Liberal-Democrat, Eastleigh.

At the time of the Paving Bill in October 31st Oct 2013, just eight months after he joined the commons, Mike Thornton argued that HS2 would benefit the country as a whole, not just the cities directly served by it, saying:

“Surely it’s clear that a line that improves north-south links, and I would include Scotland in that, would at the same time improve and grow the economy of the whole United Kingdom.”

Peter Bottomley MP. Conservative, Worthing West.

Peter Bottomley is about the only MP on the committee who seems to have said nothing in relation to HS2. The nearest he has come to expressing any form of opinion on HS2 was to support an amendment to from Tim Yeo in June 2013, asking for targets for carbon cuts.

At the time The Guardian reported;

On the eve of what is expected to be an energy policy debate in parliament, the former Tory minister Tim Yeo told the Guardian that the billions to be sunk into the north-south high-speed rail project would not lead to lower emissions if the UK went on using fossil fuels to generate electricity.

Yeo, who is now chair of the energy and climate select committee, said: “This strategy will only work if the extra electricity [for HS2] is generated by low-carbon technologies. If parliament fails to set the electricity system on a low carbon pathway by 2030, we could end up with a grid excessively dependent on gas – and the anticipated carbon benefits of electric cars and HS2 would evaporate.”

Ian Mearns MP. Labour, Gateshead.

Judging by his past statements, Ian Mearns would almost certainly have voted against the HS2 Hybrid Bill, if he wasn’t forced to abstain by being on the petitioning committee. Here’s an interview he did with local journalists Reality Swipe. Don’t blink, or you will miss the fact they nicked the clip of him in The Commons from our youtube channel!

The day after the Hybrid Bill 2nd Reading, Mearns told his local paper that the vote could mean North East residents are treated as second class citizens.

Robert Syms MP. Conservative, Poole.

While he hasn’t said a great deal about HS2, Robert Syms is the one MP on the committee who has experience of dealing with HS2 Ltd. Not long after being sacked over the phone by David Cameron as a whip, he sat on the House of Commons Standing Orders Committee which voted to extend the deadline for the Environmental Statement consultation. He only spoke twice, but it’s hard to think that given the quality of the exchange he was involved in at the hearing that he was particularly impressed with HS2 Ltd.

The discussion below was about the delivery of compulsory purchase notices.

MR WALKER: So what was the deadline for serving these notices?

ALISON GORLOV: For compliance with the private business Standing Order, 5 December.

MR WALKER: 5 December. And you sent them out on what day?

ALISON GORLOV: Between the 25th and the 27th.

MR WALKER: Would it have been possible to have sent them any earlier?

ALISON GORLOV: Well, it wasn’t, as it happens, but it would not have made any difference, because we would have sent them in exactly the same way we actually did. It is to be expected that the ones where there were incorrect addresses, which are the ones I think one would say, possibly, were not properly served, would have come back anyway.

MR WALKER: Why were the addresses incorrect? You said it was the Post Office, not formatting them properly or reading them.

ALISON GORLOV: For some of them, the formatting was not what we would conventionally use in this country, and when they got the formatting as we would do it, the postal service simply didn’t recognise it.

MR WALKER: Who sent out the notices, though? Who sent them out?

ALISON GORLOV: HS2.

MR WALKER: Right, so HS2 didn’t format the addresses properly.

ALISON GORLOV: They formatted the addresses in a way that didn’t suit Singapore, I think it was—.

CHAIR: I was just going to say, you are suggesting they were done in another country, hence why they were not compatible with what the Royal Mail use.

ALISON GORLOV: That seems to have been the position. That is correct, isn’t it, Tim? Yes, I am being told that is indeed correct.

CHAIR: So we used Singapore, who didn’t know the format of Royal Mail, hence that caused the problem.

ALISON GORLOV: If that is what caused the problem, my suspicion is that it was something like a mechanical sorting service, and they couldn’t cope with it.

MR WALKER: So it was the Post Office’s fault?

ALISON GORLOV: Well, arguably we ought to have known the layout—

MR WALKER: It was the lorry driver’s fault previously, and now it’s the Post Office’s fault.

ALISON GORLOV: No, no, no. It is not that at all.

MR WALKER: Who is responsible for getting addresses right when you send a letter to someone saying, “We are going to compulsorily purchase your house”?

ALISON GORLOV: I am not trying to avoid this. We should have got it right. We were sending a letter to somewhere. We should have made sure that the layout was right. It wasn’t. We got it wrong. We admit that and we re-served.

CHAIR: So you will learn from that?

ALISON GORLOV: We will learn. That is absolutely right, sir.

MR SYMS: You said that 14,760 were served.

ALISON GORLOV: Those are my instructions, yes.

MR SYMS: How many were right? What percent?

ALISON GORLOV: My mental arithmetic is not quite up to that.

CHAIR: As near as dammit 98%.

ALISON GORLOV: 98%. It is a pretty high percentage, isn’t it? We very nearly got it right in percentage terms.

JOHN HEMMING: I think the substantive issue is whether any of these delays mean that anyone who wished to object found themselves unable to object because there was insufficient time. That is really the substantive point.

The full minutes of the Standing Orders Committee hearing are on this link.

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15 comments to “What do the Hybrid Bill Committee think of HS2?”
  1. I now read today that there is a 550million fund to compensation for the people around Heathrow if they build a third runway .its a big pity the govenment are not doing this for all the affected people along the hs2 project can any one please tell me the difference between these two projects and why the govenment is trying to rip off the public on there project

    • Did weu ever find out why Heathrow disruption in the national interest attracts funding compensation within an urban area while those affected by HS2 get nought. Surely this discrepancy is fundamentally flawed and discriminates unfairly. Needs sorting out

  2. Pingback: HS2 Hybrid Bill Committee Appointed | Save Camden from HS2

  3. There were one quarter the hoc petitions in the hol for crossrail. Some were necessary to reinforce propositions not carried through from hoc petition.

  4. I have just read the article in the telegraph and had received a letter from Jeremy Wright already laying out his feelings about HS2.He has found it difficult as he has always stated that he Is for High Speed trains which most of us are but not the speed they wanted HS2 to go.Also If it has to go anywhere then it should follow existing transport corridors.It will still affect some sadly but not ruin virgin countryside.This hopefully will soon be an accepted and a route can be found .

    • This hopefully will soon be an accepted and a route can be found

      Would that be a route nowhere near you, by any chance @Elaine?

      • If there is to be a new line built is should be built in an existing transport corridor. That minimises the incremental damage to the environment ( since it is already damaged ) and maximises the opportunity for stations that connect with the existing road or rail network.

        Most people get that … even if the concept is a little beyond you.

        Alison Munro previously said that the reason that had not been considered was that it would add too much to the journey time even though she admitted those journey times would still be less than the current ones on the WCML.

        Now the government tells us that speed is “almost irrelevant”. So either the government are telling fibs or they are too scared to change things for the better because they don’t think the scheme would stand up to the additional scrutiny.

        • This mention of “an existing transport corridor” revives a disagreement which has been mentioned before, more than once.

          If you look at a recent edition of an O.S. Landranger map, there is now an additional class of main road shown, in green,as being “Primary Routes” apart from the remaining ‘A’ roads; “Main Roads” which are coloured red as before.

          Recent road atlas maps follow the same differentiation.

          If we look at the Chiltern and Vale areas where the HS2 line is planned, not only the A.41 , but also the A.413 from Uxbridge, the M,25/ M.40, Denham, past Amersham and up through the Missenden valley to Wendover and Aylesbury – all of this is shown GREEN, as a “primary route”, connecting as it does, other main routes.

          Add to this the Chiltern/Met. railway line , itself a remaining part of a former trunk mainline to the E.Midlands and the North.

          With the small towns and villages bypassed along the length of the 413, is it entirely surprising that it is regarded as an “existing transport route corridor”?

  5. It gets closer to being a last stand people,either sit back & wait for your compensation cheques (if you’re lucky ) so you can buy an overpriced property on one of the new “satellite” mini towns nearby.Then you can have the pleasure of paying for the whole damn thing over the years in increased
    stealth taxes in the form of the usual :council tax ,Value Added Theft, etc etc One way or another,you or your future siblings will be screwed for it as always.
    Those affected along the route do not lie back ,starve the beast, tell them no more, till you see sense & stop the thing there’s more of us than ” them” it really is so simple. We are all so dumbed down with TV/media & its offshoots over decades
    I’m off to a meeting at my local town hall on Friday to listen to my local member at the trough say he’s done all he can but alas so he’s now fighting for better compo claims for those affected ( Vote for mee!)
    I could go on, British Bulldog Spirit anyone or X Factor brain erasure, you’re not governed but ruled !!!

  6. Am I right in thinking that this bill will have to go through the Lords after going through all its stages in the Commons? So the Lords could still scupper the bill even if it makes it past third reading in the Commons.

    • Highly unlikely – HS2 enjoys consensus across the political spectrum so, despite the presence of Cross Benchers in the Lords, that means an overwhelming majority for HS2 in the upper chamber.

      The Committee Stage of the Hybrid Bill will present ample opportunity for petitioners to have their cases heard – you can expect that process to run for a considerable period of time?

      • Maybe, but the Commons and Lords don’t always agree straight away do they ? This could be the sort of issue that sparks unpredictable responses.

        Depends whether the Lords swallow the bull**** produced by the vested interests and their “professional facilitators”.

  7. Thanks a million for this assessment of the Petitioning Committee. For the very first time in a very long time I feel that opponents of HS2 may well get a sympathetic hearing and that their very considerable concerns will be genuinely heard. Even though their hands may be tied to a very great extent, the Petitioning Committee will certainly me able to recommend mitigation measures that are conspicuously absent from anything HS2 Ltd has produced.

    I do feel far more relieved about the forthcoming process having read the background history of the MPs concerned. It will be a phenomenal task for all of them.

    I am still unsure what powers the committee will have and what they might be able to achieve but nevertheless I am encouraged by Joe’s briefing on members.

    Fran

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