A few points from yesterday’s debate on HS2 in westminster Hall: the full transcript should be available on Hansard.
…Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham) (Con): I am grateful to the hon. Lady for securing the debate. On that point about residents’ concerns, does she accept that lessons have to be learned? My constituency recently had High Speed 1, but then standard services were reduced and High Speed 1 fares went up by 30%. If we want more people to use high-speed rail, it has to be affordable, and we cannot have it at the expense of standard services.
…Mr Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con): A number of people are worried that the route will lead to an overheated south-east England, which many would regard as undesirable. If travel times from London to Manchester or to Liverpool are 45 or 60 minutes shorter, does not that simply make London even more attractive for people from the north-west, or indeed from north Wales, rather than necessarily bringing great benefits to Wales?
… Susan Elan Jones (Clwyd South) (Lab):…I totally agree that areas of outstanding natural beauty must be protected. Indeed, a new such area is on its way in my constituency. I believe that they must be protected and preserved wherever possible; I do not accept, however, that HS2 will cause unacceptable blight in the Chilterns….
…I have one point to add, regarding the residents in Holborn and St Pancras whose homes may be demolished. That may be classed as irreparable damage and I would not want to see that outcome; I hope very much that a solution can be found to avoid that demolition. I would back any amendment to the plan that could avoid the destruction of homes.
Mr Mark Field: So, doing that in Labour-held seats is acceptable, but not in Conservative-held seats?
… John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab): I want to make a brief point with a constituency interest…to consult on High Speed 2 without consulting on the Heathrow link at the same time undermines the consultation process.
My constituents have successfully fought off the blight of the third runway, despite BAA buying up half of Sipson village and not selling off the houses, but they are now affected by the blight from high-speed rail, because we do not know the exact route into the airport. If we could at least have had the full consultation at the same time, my constituents would have more certainty about their future and would be able to reach a view. Staggering the consultation is breeding suspicion—unnecessarily, I hope—that their homes will again be affected.
The Government have gone about the matter in completely the wrong way, and I urge the Minister to ensure that information on the Heathrow link is published no later than the autumn, and that the consultation starts no later than the autumn. We would then have an accurate view of what Hillingdon residents think about the concept of high-speed rail.
…Albert Owen (Ynys Môn) (Lab)…My second point is more negative, because we should also look at the disadvantages of the scheme. Will the Minister look at the issue in the context of Euston station, where the redevelopment for the high-speed rail link would take place? I know that the Transport Committee heard evidence about that yesterday, but the case for high-speed rail would be slightly undermined if there were to be a long period of redevelopment at Euston. As was said yesterday, it would take up to eight years to redevelop that station, and services to the north-west and north Wales would be cut during that period.
…Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): …. High-speed rail is not in itself a low-carbon form of transport, as should be obvious, because machines that run at very high speeds need more power than machines that run at low speeds….I want the Government to make doubly sure that this new venture is not what some have said that it will be—a costly train for the well-off.
….Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab):… Thanks to the decision to take only the powers needed for the route from London to Birmingham, there is considerable scepticism about the Government’s commitment to take a new line further north.
….That suggests that, for the Government, the policy is not necessarily about narrowing the north-south divide, but a fig leaf for their lack of an aviation policy and, I might even add, a growth policy…
There is widespread incredulity at the fact that the cost of actually using the new lines does not feature at all in the current consultation, when, surely, that is a critical factor. If the whole point is that passengers will make the switch from the existing lines to reduce overcrowding on them, how can any assessment have been made of the likelihood of that happening without any knowledge of the likely difference in ticket price between the two lines?
…The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Mrs Theresa Villiers):….Questions were asked about a hybrid Bill and yes, the first hybrid Bill will cover the first phase, but we hope to go on in due course to an informal consultation next year on phase 2 to the north of England, with a hybrid Bill in due course in the next Parliament….