Sample text to send to your MP today appears at the bottom.
On Friday (23rd January), MPs will debate a motion to have a national referendum on the funding of HS2. The Bill has been proposed by Christchurch MP Christopher Chope, and asks that the general public would be asked to vote on this question in a national referendum;
“Do you support the use of UK taxpayers’ money to pay for the construction of the HS2 railway?”
The private members bill is currently due to be debated as the first order of business at 9.30 on Friday, but could be pushed down the order paper if other bills emerge from the committee stage, because their report and third reading stages will take precedence. As the debate is scheduled for a Friday, when many MPs will be in their constituencies, it is currently not certain that enough MPs (40) will be present to make sure the Bill is put to a vote, but as things stand it will be the last time HS2 is debated by MPs before the General Election takes place.
The debate will take place just a week after the Public Accounts Committee stated they were sceptical that HS2 would be value for money for the taxpayer. As such, the Stop HS2 Campaign is asking supporters to contact their MPs via www.writetothem.com (see below) and ask them to take part in the debate and vote for the bill. In October 2014, public support for HS2 hit an all-time low, with a Sunday Times YouGov poll showing only 24% of people in favour the project.
Christopher Chope, MP for Christchurch in Dorset, said:
“The point is there has never been an opportunity for Parliament to discuss the funding of HS2 and the costs and benefits of the project. The opportunity costs of investing so much taxpayer’s money in one specific infrastructure project can only be at the expense of other alternative less expensive projects.”
Penny Gaines, who has remained as Chair of Stop HS2 despite moving to Dorset from Buckinghamshire last year, when she became a constituent of Mr Chope said:
“I’ve met Christopher Chope and discussed HS2 with him on several occasions. He has been vocally opposed to HS2 for some time and I’m delighted that he has taken my concerns seriously. It is only right that the people expected to pay for HS2 have the chance to say that they don’t want to.”
“If this bill passes, it will give people a chance to say whether they think the taxpayer should pay for such an expensive project that will benefit only a few people. It’s not about opposing HS2, it’s about whether the taxpayer should be forced to pick up the costs. MPs voted last week in favour of financial prudence for the Government, now let’s see whether they think this £50bn project should bypass any financial scrutiny from the public.”
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin added:
“The Government keep claiming there is a great business case for HS2, and unlike all the other railways in the country will make a profit. If that is the case, why is the taxpayer due to foot the bill? Why are there not investors lining up to pay for what the people behind HS2 claim will be a goldmine? The answer to those questions are clear, no-one believes the figures and no private investor will touch HS2 with a barge pole, unless the Government were to guarantee the revenues like they did with Hinckley C.”
“Every time the public have been polled on HS2, we have seen the opposition to this white elephant get stronger. We have had cuts and austerity and are promised more of the same, so why would anyone think spending £50bn-plus on one railway, when there are cheaper alternatives which benefit more people, is a priority for Government spending? If the voting public were asked if they want to pay for HS2, it is clear they would resoundingly say ‘No’.”
Text to send to your MP via the www.writetothem.com website follows:
If you are in Westminster today (Friday), I’d really appreciate it if you took part in the HS2 Referendum Bill debate and vote.
This has been proposed by the Dorset MP, Christopher Chope, and the debate is after the Local Government (Review of Decisions) Bill.
The vote is not on whether you think HS2 is a good idea. It’s a vote asking for a referendum so voters can say whether they think taxpayers’ money should be used for this £50bn project.
There is a lot of information on why HS2 is bad value for money including last week’s Public Accounts Committee report. But if the benefits are as great as the Department for Transport say they are, they should have no worries about what voters will say.
So please, if you are in London when you get this, could you go along to the debate and vote for the HS2 Referendum Bill.