Today, via the Queens Speech, the minority Conservative Government has laid down its’ programme for the next two years of Parliament. Normally, a parliamentary sitting only lasts one year, but given the Article 50 timeline, it makes sense to have a two year programme. However, with only 27 bills, 8 of them dedicated to Brexit, it is one of the lightest Parliamentary programmes ever, equivalent to the 13 bills introduced in 2009-10, the last year of the Brown Government.
The reason for this, besides the fact that many of the Brexit issues will take up a great deal of time, is that many of the things which were in the Government manifesto have no chance of going through. Sadly, HS2 is not one of them, as the bill for Phase 2a of the project from Handsacre to Crewe is in there. This is of course because whilst there are many within the Conservative party who do not like the project , there are enough in supporters in other parties to cancel them out.
Of course when the Government will finally get around to saying how much the inclusion of the as yet uncosted Crewe will jack up the cost of HS2, remains unclear.
Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin said:
“Despite repeated claims that there is no ‘magic money tree’, as far as HS2 is concerned, there clearly is one, but we only have to hope it does not currently stand in one of the dozens of ancient woodlands due to be decimated by HS2. It seems completely at odds with everything else we keep seeing about cuts everywhere else, that money continues to be ploughed into an unjustified white elephant, which will only benefit the richest in society who can afford to use it, and the corporations who will rake in billions above the proposed budget for building it.”
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said:
“With so many items from the Conservative manifesto dropped, they are having a very light set of legislation to look at over the next two years. You’d hope this meant that MPs would carefully scrutinise any effects from building HS2. Unfortunately, there is little hope of this – the Phase 1 bill passed its final Commons stage with just 37 minutes of debate on the bill.
“We have said for a long time that driverless cars will revolutionise the way people travel and really affect the case for HS2. Automated cars and space ports really are the future for a 21st century transport programme, whereas HS2 is a slightly faster version of 19th century travel.”