MPA boss at the Public Accounts Committee

This morning, the Public Accounts Committee took oral evidence from John Manzoni, Chief Executive of the Major Projects Authority.

At the start, Manzoni was asked what were he problematic projects which the MPA were keeping in an eye on. Second on the list was HS2: the first was Universal Credit which was in such a bad way the rating had needed to be ‘reset’.

Manzoni made it clear that he was “not allowed” to give projects current ratings. This is in no doubt as a result of the admission two years ago that HS2 was rated amber/red and the subsequent fall out from that.

When discussing which projects were on red and amber/red ratings, Manzoni said that they were mainly IT projects of a ‘transformational’ nature, which affect the way people worked. No matter how the government try to spin it, HS2 – also on amber/red in the latest report – is not transformational in that way. It would allow people in Birmingham to get to London marginally faster, but the effects of IT infrastructure and widespread broadband provision have been ignored by the DfT.

There was some discussion of the very earliest stages of projects in the preplanning stages. Manzoni said questions need to be asked about where a proposed project fitted into the bigger strategic questions: as Peter Mandelson said last year, this didn’t happen with HS2. There needs to be more work done on the options of projects, Manzoni said.

Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said one of the reasons Crossrail was ‘working well today was because it had been delayed and therefore all this early work was… put into place’. This is unlike HS2, which has been rushed through at the planning stages.

Questions were asked about Freedom of Information requests. Manzoni said there were three reasons, and that two of them were national security and commercial sensitivity. Although he didn’t mention it, the FOI requests for information about HS2 was for the third reason: the claimed requirement for confidentiality for civil servants, which led to the government using the ‘war veto’ to stop publication of earlier MPA reports into HS2.

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6 comments to “MPA boss at the Public Accounts Committee”
  1. Pingback: STOP HS2 | And now in Court….

  2. Serious concerns about the current HMG inability to manage large programmes and projects. How not to manage and deliver public and public private design, development and delivery. MPs have not the grasp of a nations needs and backlogs.

    This is so important for the nation and there is not the capabilities and capacities and experience only the access to waste. The descoping and rescoping is the indicator of failings.

    AOS was never sufficient and the lack of in-depth rail services and routes options investigation front end studies.

    What can the UK do to take the lead and declare HS2 got the Route 3 wrong and it is wrong not to start again and determine why, what and how is/are required. The concerns are very genuine and a restart needs discussion to stop the use of the Hybrid Bill Select Committee acting further on the petitions which clearly show who have real issues and impacts. This is very important as the MPA PAC review shows the Westminster processes are not fit for purpose through the Minister Permanent Secretary Accountant and arms length arrangements. Government consumers cash and your cash and does this inefficiently. The IMF shows housing is a significant issue and the UK can build houses but not as a byproduct of HS2 trashed strips developments. Time to stop this Route 3 and time not to rely on a Select Committee without the sufficient preparation of a route and rail service people leaving people disbelieving in HS2. Consumption leads for more road travel and more commuting travel more than intercity passenger need.

  3. With all the incredible story’s of the brave soldiers of the last war it beggars believe that we they fought for freedom of our country only to now have our government take our homes and trash the graves for hs2 to save a few minutes of time on a train no one wants would we have been better off under Germany where at least that look after there people far better than our government

  4. Is petitioning through a Select Committee to improve infrastructure a fit for purpose process: Unlikely

    Nearly 2000 petitioners and their families and employees relying on 6 MPs to arbitrate and select or dismiss petitions. No intelligent group judging competence and credibility will agree that this is a sensible approach for a nation and HS2.

  5. Prime Minister simply wanted to talk about infrastructure to developing nations who might provide inward finance. The House of Parliament and Select Committees do not have the answers to large scale projects of some complexity. The British became too rooted in politics with Blair and not trade driven. British are not delivering medium scale project effectively and PAC is wise to point out the failings but is not able to deliver the solutions and priorities currently. British not alone but not in the premier league currently. Must get better at working through scheme for inclusive objectives and deliver. IT beat the British with ICL.

  6. Dft makes laws to suit itself and breaks laws to suit itself – the Snatch and Grab Mob – blindly driving the uncontrolled HS2 juggernaut. I see Alison Munro is crying poverty and wants to be able to spend, spend, spend our money, of course, not hers.

    Did you see the article on the Royal Mail opposition to HS2. They cannot locate an alternative site for the Euston Depot and are threatening to stay put even if issued with a CP order.

    Is there an afternoon session with the PAC

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