In a rather bizarre ruling, the House of Lords HS2 committee have denied MPs the right to appear in front of them in their own right.
The MPs who had had their Locus Standi challenged are Cheryl Gillan MP ( Chesham and Amersham), Craig Tracey MP (North Warwickshire), the Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP (Meriden), Jeremy Wright MP (Kenilworth and Southam), Andrea Leadsom MP (South Northamptonshire), the Rt Hon John Bercow MP (Buckingham), David Lidington MP (Aylesbury) and Nick Hurd MP (Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner).
The committee cited three MPs who had been able to speak in front of the Lords on previous Hybrid Bills – including Theresa May – but no examples of MPs who had been refused Locus Standi. The ruling says that these examples had been found by counsel for HS2, Tim Mould, after the Committee’s hearing last week.
The Lords committee had searched back to the Victorian period for examples – and had found cases where members of the House of Lords had been petitioners in both the House of Lords and House of Commons, but not MPs.
The ruling spoke of the review of petitioning currently being undertaken, making it clear that whatever decision had been reached by this committee could have been changed for future bills.
Stop HS2 have already written of our concern about the sheer number of Locus Standi challenges, especially as we had heard that the Lords committee had asked HS2 Ltd to make the Locus Standi challenges.
As the committee themselves noted, the petitioning procedures are currently under review: if the MPs had not been challenged before this committee, it would have been easy for the review process to make a contrary decision.
What’s more this decision seems to go against statements in the House of Lords during the HS2 debate in April, when Lord Stevenson of Balmacara said
“In a representative democracy, there are limited opportunities for individual citizens to be engaged in the parliamentary process. The hybrid Bill processes in Parliament provide an important and valuable opportunity for ordinary citizens to protect their private interests when these are being engaged by powerful private and public organisations. However inconvenient for the Government, Parliament must never abuse the trust placed in us by so many people.“
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin responded: