Some Parliamentary answers on HS2

Yesterday, in Oral Answers to Transport questions, HS2 was raised by a number of different MPs.  Here are some of the questions and answers:

High Speed 2

Maggie Throup (Erewash) (Con):  As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be aware, many Erewash residents continue to live with the uncertainty of the location of the east midlands HS2 hub. Will he press HS2 Ltd for a final decision on the hub’s location?

Mr McLoughlin: May I welcome my hon. Friend and congratulate her on the fantastic result she secured in the general election?

No decision on the phase 2 route and station locations has yet been made. The Government intend to announce a way forward on phase 2 later this year. I certainly appreciate the uncertainty for those people around the route that is being talked about, but it is absolutely essential that we get the best possible connectivity to serve the whole of the east midlands. I think that we are all concerned to do that, but I certainly understand the concerns raised by my hon. Friend.

Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton) (Lab): To construct HS2 to Crewe, Manchester and Leeds, another Bill, or Bills, will need to be prepared. When will they be published?

Mr McLoughlin: Let us take one step at a time. As I have said, we have not yet confirmed the route. Once it has been confirmed, that preparation work will be undertaken. A separate Bill is being considered to deal with another stage to phase 2—phase 2A—which would go from Handsacre to Crewe.

Mr Simon Burns (Chelmsford) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend accept that progress on the preparations for the construction of HS2 have been delayed because of the antiquated Victorian processes to get permissions to build a major project of this nature? What are the Government’s proposals to modernise and improve the procedures?

Mr McLoughlin: I think that I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his helpful question. It is right that we address people’s concerns, and I think that we are making the progress that was set out when HS2 was first promoted by the previous Government. The Bill before the House is making good progress.

Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (SNP): …On HS2, what meetings has the Secretary of State had with the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, Mr Keith Brown MSP, the Scottish Government Minister for Transport?

Mr McLoughlin: I note that Mr Brown said in another Parliament that he had not met me, but I have spoken to him on the phone on a number of occasions and am more than happy to arrange a meeting with him. It is very important that Scotland gets the benefit of HS2 from day one, and it will. Trains will continue to run on conventional lines once they come off the high-speed lines.

Drew Hendry: With respect to the Secretary of State’s keenness to make progress, may I urge him to meet the Scottish Government Minister as a matter of urgency? Will he confirm that he will undertake to do so?

Mr McLoughlin: I will be more than happy to meet Mr Brown when a time can be found that is convenient to both of us.

Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con): The Select Committee on HS2 will shortly visit the Chilterns area of outstanding natural beauty, to see the stunning national jewel we are all trying to protect by getting extra tunnelling for the railway. May I invite the Secretary of State to visit the Chilterns with me—I know that he has visited on many previous occasions—to look at the AONB and to see why the tunnelling is essential to keep our manifesto pledges to

“build new infrastructure in an environmentally-sensitive way”

and to “maintain national protections” for AONBs?

Mr McLoughlin: As my right hon. Friend says, I have visited the Chilterns on many occasions, but visiting with her might be unresistable. [Hon. Members: “Irresistible!”] I might stick by the first word. I will go and investigate, Mr Speaker and report back to the House. If it can be arranged and fitted in with my diary, I will be more than happy to visit.

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): My right hon. Friend will know that the upgrade works to Birmingham New Street station are running more than a year overdue. What assurance can he give me that construction work on HS2 will not suffer a similar fate, causing disruption not only to my constituents in Lichfield, but to those of Mr Speaker in Buckingham.

Mr McLoughlin: How to curry favour, Mr Speaker!

My hon. Friend is right that there has been some overrun at Birmingham New Street station. There are occasions when big infrastructure projects overrun and do not come in on budget, but I point out to him the many projects that get done on time and well within budget. Crossrail is a fantastic tribute to engineering in this country, and it is on time and on budget. We are getting better at delivering such very big projects.

Topical Questions:

T3. [900237] Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr) (PC): Now that HS2 Ltd has declared that it sees no business case for extending the high-speed line to Scotland, will the Secretary of State confirm that it is now an England-only railway and that full Barnett consequentials for the devolved countries will be announced in the next comprehensive spending review?

Mr McLoughlin: I do not accept that at all. Indeed, I have said that I want to see services going to Scotland, and one of the points in the report by Sir David Higgins about faster services was that those will go on to north Wales as well.

Antoinette Sandbach (Eddisbury) (Con): I am grateful to the Secretary of State for confirming a further announcement on phase 2 of High Speed 2, but a number of my constituents are affected by blight in relation to HS2 Ltd. Will he encourage representatives of the company to meet with my constituents to discuss the severe impact on their businesses and homes?

Mr McLoughlin: I understand the point made by my hon. Friend. With big infrastructure schemes such as HS2, announcing the route always brings problems for people living along it. I am more than happy to meet her and see if more can be done by HS2 Ltd.

Barry Gardiner (Brent North) (Lab): The Woodland Trust has identified 43 ancient woodlands that are threatened by HS2. Will the Secretary of State advise the House of the measures he will take in the ambitious infrastructure roll-out programme he talked about earlier to protect further bodies of ancient woodland?

Mr McLoughlin: It is important that we do our best to protect woodlands wherever we can. I would also point out to the hon. Gentleman that 2 million more trees are to be planted on the proposed route.

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2 comments on “Some Parliamentary answers on HS2
  1. UK Politicians the laughing stock of wider Europe: What are the exit strategies for failing and costly Social and Transport Policies

    Stand back Cameron, Osborne, Blair, Brown and Milibands are assess yourselves as part of the topping out in Britian.

    Scots dont want the English/British Parties, People wanted different influx prevention, the public dont want the HS2 but relief for daily journeys. Reverse those impacts now that are hurting people and putting the UK at risks please. Exist strategies are needed now not in one to three years. The nations are not prospering and this is critical. HS2 and HS3 are much too expensive for the small gains. Transport policy is failing and hiding behind these mega-distractions.

    Actions not negotiation required in 2015 not political side shows please.

  2. The select committee listened but without executive change power. Visits not considered of benefit to areas impacted
    bonne Ami in HOC illustrates detachment of MPs. Rail network excuses seem SOS in trouble balancing current services. Creagh out of leadership and fails to attract support. HS2 and Crossrail 2 need too much funds with hs3. What squandering and lack of realism by new MPs.

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