Theresa May wanted to scrap the HS2 project when she became Prime Minister, but was told it was ‘too late’ according to a former MP.
During the third reading debate of the HS2 Bill in the House of Lords, Lord Framlington, who had brought an amendment asking for the Bill ‘not’ to be passed, instead of ‘now’ to be passed, stated:
“I have it on good authority that the Prime Minister, when she assumed office, wanted to abandon the scheme but was told that she could not because it was too late.”
During his speech, he noted that throughout the progression of the Bill through Parliament:
“I heard nothing but criticism of the project from every corner of the House, but noble Lords were still, for some reason, reluctant to speak against it in principle. So we arrive at the situation we face today—all the scheme’s credibility has long since gone, yet it is still bowling along with a momentum all of its own.”
Baroness Mallalieu spoke in favour of the amendment, noting that the costs of HS2 have increased whilst the specifications have been cut, but that HS2 passing the vote would be inevitable: “Because the Whips on all sides of the House are apparently intent on nodding the Bill through.”
In the end, the amendment failed 26-386, as Mallalieu had predicted with hundreds of Lords who had not attended the debates, turning up as lobby fodder when instructed to by their whips.
Despite what has been reported in some parts of the national media, HS2 will not now immediately go for Royal Assent, as because it was amended by the Lords at both Grand Committee and Report Stage, it must return to the Commons for final approval.
No date has been set for this vote, but it is expected to be next week. An adjournment debate will take place on Monday 6th February concerning the revised route of Phase 2b through Yorkshire.
Campaigners have launched a tool ahead of the vote for people to contact their MP, which can be found at http://www.foe.co.uk/go/hs2.
Joe Rukin, Stop HS2 Campaign Manager said:
“It is astounding to think that the Prime Minister didn’t want HS2 to go ahead, but because of so much money has been squandered and so much political momentum has built up behind the project, that it was considered to be ‘too late’. It is quite simple, if something is a bad project and a waste of money, then it is never too late to cancel it, especially when spades have not yet hit the ground. The stark reality is that HS2 is a terrible project and a ridiculous waste of money and it is not too late for Theresa May to see sense and pull the Bill.”