Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /homepages/22/d35475105/htdocs/wordpress/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 310

Paving the way in desperation

Politicians began talking publicly about a ‘Paving Bill’ for HS2 at the weekend.

Not surprisingly, pro-HS2 publication Railnews is describing this in highly favourable terms with the headline “surprise boost for HS2 to be unveiled”.

However this is more likely to be a sign of Department for Transport desperation to ensure HS2 goes ahead by spending as much taxpayers’ money as they can get away with: Paving Bills are used to spend money that would not normally be allowed before Royal Assent.

With no suggestion until now that a Paving Bill might be used for HS2, in reality this is just as likely to be an attempt to paper over cracks in the process than as part of a plan to ‘crack on’.

Patrick McLoughlin described a possible Paving Bill for HS2 as

“an opportunity for all three main political parties to reaffirm their support for high speed rail and maintain the ambitious programme we have set for HS2.”

However, if support for HS2 is as strong as is often claimed, affirmations like this would just be a diversion of Parliamentary time away from the lengthy process needed by the passage of two HS2 Hybrid Bills.


From Treasury Guidance on Paving Bills

A2.5.7 If, exceptionally, the preparatory work on a particular policy development is so urgent that it cannot wait until royal assent, the department responsible should consider taking a short paving bill.

A2.5.8 Depending on the context, a paving bill can provide powers to allow expenditure which would be nugatory if the subsequent detailed legislation for the new service did not proceed, eg employing consultants to design a significant IT or regulatory system. Such bills are usually short, though they may be contentious (and time consuming) as they can give rise to discussion of the underlying principles. Departments’ parliamentary clerks can help with guidance on the preparation of bills and the legislative process.

No related content found.

9 comments to “Paving the way in desperation”
  1. The customer base dont want the product – this is a face palm moment for the nation. What happened to the judicial review?

  2. This makes the Minister’s opinion even clearer. Note the “will also” ie the secondary reason. The primary remains the signalling,investment and development. (context: The legislation will only cover route from london birmingham)
    ………………………

    “a paving Bill would specify “when, not if” HS2 will reach Leeds and Manchester, to answer that criticism.

    And that would send a “clear message to investors” that the project was going ahead, unlocking further opportunities for regeneration around stations.

    The Transport Secretary said: “Introducing a paving Bill will allow parliament to underline our commitment to high-speed rail.

    “Crucially, it will also give us the spending powers much sooner that will enable us to get moving on the detailed design work for the scheme.”
    whole article:
    http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/10250705.Bill_will_set_out_when_HS2_will_reach_North/

  3. I have taken this* from treasuries own website:http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/mpm_annex2.5.pdf
    This site is quite informative. I have another post on this site about the same issue citing more academic principles alluded to here.
    Time is of the essence given the temporal nature of a Paving Bill.

    I have already written to my MP Cheryl Gillan in respect of my concerns. Surely this is matter for parliamentary questions/challenge as to democratic appropriateness.
    I would advise that others do the same to their MPs.

    It would be very telling if a Paving Bill were to pass through the House especially on the Minister’s cited grounds.
    (It will be interesting to see if these are subsequently shaded, modified or retracted…………….like so many statements in contemporary politics,)
    Now they have been publicly cited and reported one would hope that there would be due diligence in Parliament debate over the matter.

    My concern is that HS2 will be the “damascus moment” by which the British Public are made aware of the erosion of democracy that has occurred since the 1980s and with it the use of spin and the cynical manipulation of parliamentary process and the electorate.
    This is particularly possible in a case like HS2 which has had considerable pro-lobbying and cross party support for a project that has severe, documented limitations and failings, Many politicians and agencies have thought that if HS2 is definitely to occur, then, the Hybrid Bill would be the place where the issue was worked through in detail.

    My reading of the treasury and constitutional advice around these ‘Paving Acts” is that they are quite specific as to their use.

    A Paving Bill should only be used if there is urgency.
    I can see no urgency re HS2 and not for the reasons the Minister indicated.
    I can see no reference for their use as a means of “signalling of intent and development around stations” and it is particularly of concern given the Judicial Review and the fact the second ‘consultation’ (with all flaws of same) has not occurred.
    http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/latest-news/top-stories/fast-track-bill-marks-signal-of-intent-over-hs2-1-5444562

    This to me represents a pre-emption of due parliamentary process and represents an erosion of democracy.
    Such uses of Paving Bills and similar strategies has received academic criticism for the same.
    It may be a response to the threat of Judicial Review and Legal Challenge in Europe.

    *Paving Bills and funding

    Expenditure that cannot be incurred before royal assent
    A2.5.6 Expenditure which is likely to be nugatory or not cost-effective if the legislation for the
    new service fails should not be incurred prior to royal assent. Examples are in box A.2.5B. The
    touchstone is value for money. The process for authorising expenditure on exceptional spending
    outside these rules is set out below.
    How to fund preparatory work before royal assent
    Paving bill
    A2.5.7 If, exceptionally, the preparatory work on a particular policy development is so urgent
    that it cannot wait until royal assent, the department responsible should consider taking a short
    paving bill.
    A2.5.8 Depending on the context, a paving bill can provide powers to allow expenditure which
    would be nugatory if the subsequent detailed legislation for the new service did not proceed, eg
    employing consultants to design a significant IT or regulatory system. Such bills are usually
    short, though they may be contentious (and time consuming) as they can give rise to discussion
    of the underlying principles. Departments’ parliamentary clerks can help with guidance on the
    preparation of bills and the legislative process.
    Access to the Contingencies Fund
    A2.5.9 In exceptional cases, where expenditure is deemed to be urgent, it may be possible to
    borrow from the Contingencies Fund to finance expenditure on a new service before legislation
    box A.2.5A expenditure that can be incurred before royal assent
    • pilot studies informing the choice of the policy option (because this process is part of designing, modifying
    or even deciding to abandon the policy);
    • scoping studies designed to identify in detail the implications of a proposal in terms of staff numbers,
    accommodation costs and other expenditure to inform the legislative process;
    • in-house project teams and/or project management boards;
    • use of private sector consultants to help identify the chosen policy option, assist with scoping studies or
    other work informing the legislative process;
    • work on the legislative process associated with the new service.
    box A.2.5B expenditure not normally incurred before royal assent
    • recruitment of chief executives and board members of a new body;
    • recruitment of staff for a new body;
    • significant work associated with preparing for or implementing the new task eg renting offices or designing
    or purchasing significant IT equipment
    How to fund preparatory work before royal assent
    Paving bill
    A2.5.7 If, exceptionally, the preparatory work on a particular policy development is so urgent
    that it cannot wait until royal assent, the department responsible should consider taking a short
    paving bill.
    A2.5.8 Depending on the context, a paving bill can provide powers to allow expenditure which
    would be nugatory if the subsequent detailed legislation for the new service did not proceed, eg
    employing consultants to design a significant IT or regulatory system. Such bills are usually
    short, though they may be contentious (and time consuming) as they can give rise to discussion
    of the underlying principles. Departments’ parliamentary clerks can help with guidance on the
    preparation of bills and the legislative process.

    There is also the possibility of using contingency funds.
    The treasuries advice is:
    Using public resources ahead of royal assent
    A2.5.16 In exceptional circumstances, and with Treasury consent, the Appropriation Act may be
    relied upon as the sole authority for expenditure or other use of resources before the specific
    legislation has completed its passage in Parliament. The conditions are:
    • the proposed expenditure must be genuinely urgent and in the public interest;
    • Parliament must have been made aware of the intended steps in appropriate
    detail when relevant previous legislative steps were taken;
    • the planned legislation must be certain, or virtually certain, to pass into law in
    the near future, and usually within the financial year.
    A2.5.17 Subject to Treasury agreement, this procedure may be used, for instance, if:
    • a bill has achieved second reading in the House of Commons and it would be
    efficient to prepare steps to implement the main provisions;
    • a bill has been enacted but activating secondary legislation is not yet complete.

  4. An interesting development given that the DfT’s barrister argued in court that the ‘decision’ to go ahead with HS2 was not a decision at all, and that actually no decision has yet been made.

    I like the word ‘nugatory’ in the treasury guidance on paving bills. It’s not a word that’s used very much and I had to look it up. Something nugatory has no real value; it’s worthless. Money that you can easily afford to lose if you change your mind later.

    A few hundred million here, a few hundred million there, who cares?

  5. Once again the government try to ride roughshod over the masses.They know how strong those who are against HS2 are, and they hope to
    make them disheartened and make them think they have won. That we will slowly bow down to the inevitable.They are wrong, as we now have more people aware in the north and so we can shout louder NO TO HS2.

  6. I don’t agree that this is desperation. More like well planned,cynical disregard and consolidation. The question is why?
    In fact the Minister appears to have indicated a little more than reported in your article*.

    The Hybrid Bill was the anticipated Parliamentary process where the public/ private issues pertinent to matters such as route, stations, AONBs, SSI’s environmental issues, compensation are supposed to come under democratic scrutiny.
    It was considered that there could be just legal challenges prior to and in relation to the Hybrid Bill.The Government even proposed changing legslation on JR because of this risk.
    ‘Consultation’ for the second phase has not yet occurred. That undertaken for the first showed a disapproval of about 80% and this is awaiting the outcome of a Judicial Review.
    The announcement of a Paving Bill with the intent of facilitating development around specific stations appears to clearly meet the criteria for a process pre-empting proper democratic parliamentary process. I have referenced aspects of this within another post.
    The question remains, with the benefits of HS2 likely to take a generation to be functional why is there such undue (indeed indecent) haste to identify and secure the areas of real estate.
    Such processes erode democracy and the confidence of the populace in Parliamentary Process.Who benefits?

    *
    Mr McLoughlin said: “High speed rail is an engine for growth that will help drive regional regeneration, secure economic prosperity across Britain and support tens of thousands of jobs.

    “It is vital we press ahead with delivering this crucial project as quickly as possible.

    “Introducing a Paving Bill will allow parliament to make a clear commitment to high speed rail.

    “Crucially, it will also give us the spending powers much sooner that will enable us to get moving on the detailed design work for the scheme.”

    Mr McLoughlin said the Paving Bill would be a signal of intent and could act as a catalyst for regeneration around stations.

    “This is an opportunity for all three main political parties to reaffirm their support for high speed rail,” he said.

    source:
    http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/latest-news/top-stories/fast-track-bill-marks-signal-of-intent-over-hs2-1-5444562

    • Paul you seem to no what this paving bill is about with the courts decioson still due can they still carry on with this bill what can we do to stop it or is it to late to stop this express train no one wants. ?

Comments are closed.

2010-2019 © STOP HS2 – The national campaign against High Speed Rail 2