Only 6 of the first 34 groups and individuals challenged on locus standi in the House of Lords have been given locus standi. Despite Stop HS2 being challenged in the House of Commons, and given locus standi because MPs accepted the organisation represents people under a modern understanding of the rules, Stop HS2 has been turned down by the Lords. HS2 Action Alliance have been given locus standi, but only allowed to talk about compensation and noise, meaning many of the national issues the two bodies wished to cover cannot now be raised in this context.
In a long and somewhat contradictory statement last week, the Committee Chair went on to say that only four sets of individual petitions would be allowed along with, despite a blanket rejection of other action groups, the Euston AG. Watching the proceedings, it was not hard to come to the conclusion that the Lords had already made up their minds before hearing the cases, which has been backed up with what Stop HS2 have been told by Parliamentarians, that it is not HS2 Ltd who are behind the move to challenge over half of the petitions before the Lords, but the HS2 Committee themselves.
Whilst we cannot cite the source at this point (and to be honest, we doubt they’d admit it), we have been informed that the reason 414 petitions have been challenged is because the Committee asked HS2 Ltd to make as many challenges as possible, because they were worried about the workload involved in hearing all 827 petitions. This theory is somewhat backed up by the decision to give locus standi to the Euston Action Group, as it will provide an excuse not to allow locus for individuals in the area, as they are now represented by the action group. However, this decision is also in line with the fact it seems the Lords, both the Committee and the House itself, are most concerned about the current plans for Euston.
If true, reports of this attitude would be exceptionally worrying. This could be believed, as some of the decisions seem to go against any concept of natural justice. For example people who live within 300 metres of HS2 and therefore qualify automatically for the Homeowner Payment Scheme were turned down, whilst in turning down the Kenilworth Action Group, two people who have land taken by HS2 but had not put in petitions themselves, instead relying on the group to represent them, have now had their opportunity to have their supposedly constitutionally guaranteed concerns heard turned down.
It is noticeable that since these decisions were made, people who had been scheduled to appear have withdrawn, quite possibly realising they would be turned down and it is not worth wasting their time. Whilst this might not be the case, it is certain that the vast majority of those challenged will now be turned down.
The whole situation is exceptionally concerning, because whilst the Commons Committee did not act on the concerns of many petitioners, they at least gave the impression that they were willing to listen.