Snippets from HS2 debate in the House of Commons

Stop HS2 supporters went to London yesterday to watch the debate on HS2 arranged by Andrea Leadsom, Chris White, Dan Byles and others.

The debate was particularly lively, with MPs from all parties holding differing views, and more MP’s speeches against the proposed £33 billion HS2 project then in favour of it.

One notable speaker was Roger Godsiff, the Birmingham Hall Green Labour MP who spoke strongly against HS2.  He said that two acts of monumnetal folly had been the Beeching cuts and railway privitisation, and that HS2 risked being a third.  As well as the costs of HS2, in a time when other projects are being cut, he pointed out that people in Birmingham travel out of the city to “enjoy the countryside”.

Another was Fiona Bruce, MP for Congleton in Cheshire,, who argued that any regeneration effects of HS2 on Manchester would not radiate across the North-west region, and that the “the flow of economic regeneration could be towards London and away from the north-west, so a project designed to bridge the north-south divide could have the opposite effect.”

The full debate is avavilable on Hansard: we will be bringing you some of the other issues raised over the next few weeks.

However, my favourite moment was when Theresa Viliers mentioned Stop HS2 by name and specifically our argument about business travellors using train travel time to work.

8 comments to “Snippets from HS2 debate in the House of Commons”
  1. Pingback: Snippets from HS2 debate in the House of Commons | Pen Spot

  2. there were not all that many mps there in total and as it was more or less arranged by those against hs2 it is hardly surprising that there were more anti hs2 comments then pro.

    but yet again there was scant evidence or actual proof just theories why hs2 would not provide the benefits stated. it is continually stated that the case does not add up but where is the proof of this ? it is said the projected ridership is flawed yet they are based on a much lower growth of passengers then there actually has and continues to be !

    and mr godsif continually mentioned speed and time savings over and over and over again but made no acknowledgment of the massive capacity increases that hs2 will bring via the new line and on the existing lines also.
    it is strange that birmingham council is in favour but mr byles is not. mp’s are there to represent their constituents so they must represent what the people who voted for them want. but with a national project the affect on the entire country needs to be considered. but i do find it disheartening that the mp’s against hs2 just repeated many things which do not hold up to close scrutiny. interesting mr godsif thinks that a massive reduction in the railway network under beching was folly but then so apparently is a massive increase in rail capacity – hs2 ! and lovely though the countryside around birmingham is lovely, i dont think that is why most people are travelling through it.

    and the member from luton wants to upgrade the west coast line and double welwyn viaduct so that would help your cause and disrupt hertfordshire instead of buckinghamshire residents ! but he wants to build a freight line direct between london and the midlands so guess where that would run – the chilterns perhaps ! he says his constituents benefit. maybe he has just realised that luton isnt on the west coast main line or the proposed route.

    as i have said before it is all about interests and where you live. if you feel that hs2 will benefit your area as do the politicians in the major cities of birmingham manchester and leeds, you will be for it. if it runs near you and causes disruption but you dont think it will benefit then you will join stop hs2 ! some hs2 critics in fact actually want either the line to serve their area or feel that it is a waste of money because they wont benefit. not because the overall return on investment to the country as a whole isnt good but because the benefits cannot be shared out in every part of the country.

    • but yet again there was scant evidence or actual proof just theories why hs2 would not provide the benefits stated.

      I believe the burden of proof to be on the pro hs2 side personally and also as this it is not retrospective we can only rely on studies. Most of the unbiased ones were done by academics who presented to this committee.

      Extremely dull to read but they do also have video.

      • i really think that if people are going to criticise hs2 that they should be able to back those criticisms up !

        what you seem to be suggesting is that anybody could come up with any reason, no matter how bizarre as to why hs2 should not be built, that the supporters of of hs2 should have to show werent the case ! No if you are against it provide evidence !

        • i really think that if people are going to criticise hs2 that they should be able to back those criticisms up ! – you willfully miss the point that this fact applies both ways. Its not hard to see that. All i can do is point to well conducted studies and expert opinion. If you look at that link you can find both – and that they are all against this idea.

          what you seem to be suggesting is that anybody could come up with any reason, no matter how bizarre as to why hs2 should not be built, that the supporters of of hs2 should have to show werent the case ! No if you are against it provide evidence ! – I’m not suggesting that at all. The burden of proof is on the pro side thats just a fact. Not doing HS2 wont cost 32 billion pounds we dont have………….. i have clearly provided you with a link to a VAST source of evidence submitted to the HSR committee and you clearly have not looked at it.

  3. It was my first time in the Public Gallery of the House of Commons. I’m glad I was able to have witnessed the debate.

    Frank Dobson spoke eloquently in defence of his 350 constituents living close to Euston who as yet have no guarentees as to how and where they might be rehoused if the scheme goes ahead. “Euston..”as a terminus for HS2 and especially as not being on the new Crossrail, “was stupid.”

    John McDonald, a long term advocate of railway development was seriously concerned at the blighting effects of the uncertainty surrounding the as yet unspecified Heathrow link and questioned whether the planned HS route was the best.

    Shadow Transport minister,John Woodcock said he would “press the Government for route improvement wherever possible” and for generous compensation where it was not possible. “Labour delivered HS1”, he said and promised that “the Y scheme will be built by a future Labour government…and that ” Heathrow needs resolution…Connectivity..” the need for certaintyabout phase 2, with a single Bill to carry it forward and that it must be “a line for the many.”

    Andrea Leadsom had made a strong and uncompromising opening speech-( after we had sat through an almost interminable “domestic” debate which Tony Baldry attempted to push on before the Public Gallery expressed their frustration and found themselves cleared out for breaking the rules! It came close-) and stated clearly the objections to Hs2.
    She challenged the “green credentials”, the employment prospects that the line might bring, with disproportionate cost per job,and the “uniting ” of North and South and the” unjustifyable amount of money”that it was contemplated to be spent.

    She was seconded by Geoffrey Robinson from Coventry, claiming tha “75% of any jobs created would be in the south east” and that HS1 (surely an integral part of the Channel Tunnel Project?) had been “the biggest flop ever”.

    One suggestion -I think it was from Angela Bray – was that,instead of Hs2, as well as improving existing existing routes, lengthening trains and platforms etc. that there might be a good case for building a new line to relieve congestion just between London and Milton Keynes…though she didn’t specify how or where it might be built…

    Paul Maynard claimed that the alternative RP2 “doesn’t address the peak demand” while Kevin Hopkins from Luton said we “should invest heavily in railways…”but was sceptical about HS2” and felt the priority should be upgrading the East Coast line to build four tracks through Welwyn and improvements at Peterborough.

    Esther Mcvey from Wirral said that around Merseyside “We need this development..the infrastructure needs to grow…”and mentioned huge tax receipts feeding back to government… while Graham Stringer was positive about the “cross party support” for HS rail and mentioned the huge growth in both tourism and container port activity on Merseyside.

    One MP suggested that rather than diverting long distance passenger services on to new HS lines so as to make more room for medium and local commuter stopping trains and increasing freight traffic on existing routes, a better strategy would be to build , hopefully on old and presently abandoned track beds,new lines dedicated to freight.
    ( If this sounds like revisiting the Central Railways scheme proposed 20 years ago see how this idea goes down
    in Bucks. and S. Northants.)

    Just before Andrea Leadsom gave her final summing up at the end of the debate, we were treated to a bravura performance by the Transport Minister, Theresa Viliers. Regardless of whether or not one agreed with her, it was a spirited and powerful speech from one who had not spoken up to that moment.

    Whether or not the long sought debate changed anybody’s minds, at least Members were reminded of the interest and concern about the project and many were anxious to take part in the discussion and to be seen to do so .That must be a good thing.

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