The Second reading for the Phase 2a HS2 bill is due for Tuesday 30th January. This is likely to be in early afternoon, after questions to the Secretary of State for Business and a ten minute bill.
We’ll be live tweeting it (at stophs2, Penny_Gaines and JoeRukin). It will be in the Main Chamber, so you’ll be able to watch it live (or recorded) at the Parliament TV website, on BBC Parliament, or a number of other live feeds.
It should be noted that HS2 itself has still never really been debated in Parliament. There have been debates about aspects of HS2 – with the Secretary of State of the day saying that the overall idea will be debated at some other time: but the third reading of Phase 1 had 37 minutes of debate on the bill itself, less than a minute for each billion pounds worth of spending.
We expect similar tactics to be used in the second reading debate. But it certainly isn’t a case that the bill will sail through completely unopposed: Michael Fabricant, Jeremy Lefroy and Bill Cash have included an amendment on the environmentally damaging nature of the route, issues over the onward travel of passengers form Euston and a number of other problems.
What’s more, inspite of ongoing claims that HS2 is to time and budget, these are getting more and more farcical. Just the existence of a Phase 2a bill is enough to show this: originally there was only going to be one bill for the entirety of Phase 2 bill. Phase 1 was two years late in getting through Parliament and is still being designed: there is no proper plan for Euston and communities are being kept in the dark as to what is happening in their areas.
And its been noticeable in the last few days there have been a flurry of activity from pro-HS2 organisations. These range from the announcement of a design document for the Colne Valley Viaduct to claims that Cumbria will benefit from HS2 by a director of Transport for the North (criticised by businesses in Cumbria, who realise that ‘the North’ is a lot more than than the limited stations on the HS2 route).
The second reading will be followed by the petitioning stage, when those directly affected by HS2 can petition the hybrid bill committee. This is supposed to give ordinary people a chance to make changes where they are directly affected, but the experience of many people on Phase 1 was that their concerns were ignored.