Mad rush for HS2 gets even madder as bill presented today – Monday 13th May

Campaigners are calling for MPs along the proposed route of HS2 to put their money where their mouth is, now it has been revealed that the HS2 Paving Bill is to be the first bill introduced into parliament following the Queens Speech. The first reading of the High Speed Rail (Preparation Bill), will actually take place before the first debate on the Queens speech on Monday 13th May.

The speed at which the bill is being put forward is a sign that the Government are desperate to find a way to spend more money more quickly on HS2. The project has been beset by delays and cost-overruns, and the Paving Bill would be to allow money to be spent on the project which would not normally be available until Royal Assent were gained for the Hybrid Bills.

The annual report of the Major Projects Authority, which rated HS2 as an “Amber-Red’ risk is expected to be published this month. The Amber-Red rating means “Successful delivery of the project is in doubt, with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas. Urgent action is needed to ensure these are addressed, and whether resolution is feasible.” While the MPA annual report will cover HS2, the full report into HS2 is due to be kept secret for another year.

Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said:

We have always known that the Government have never been interested in doing HS2 properly, they have only ever wanted it doing quickly, but we are quite frankly shocked they are putting something on the table so soon. HS2 Ltd have lost all budgetary control of the project and all the Government want to do is give them a blank cheque to carry on with complete disregard to both due process as soon as possible.”

“This month we are finally expecting the annual report of the Major Projects Authority. A year ago they said there were that many problems with HS2 that they weren’t sure it could ever be got right, but all the Government can do to solve these problems is throw more money at this white elephant vanity project at a time of supposed austerity.

 “There have been a lot of MPs along the route who have made some of the right noises, some of the time over the last three years. Now there is a bill on the table, it is time for them to say whether they will put their constituents or their careers first.”

“A while ago we launched a petition against a Paving Bill, and now it is set to become reality, we expect it will gain traction.”

Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said:

“The haste with which the High Speed Rail Preparation Bill is being put in front of Parliament is a clear sign of desperation on the part of the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd.  Stop HS2 has been increasingly aware that the HS2 project is running behind schedule and over budget, with the cancellation of the planned Euston rebuild and changes elsewhere and the high speed with which this bill is being put to Parliament shows the HS2 project is in crisis.

“The Government said that the Preparation Bill was there to ‘crack on’ with the project and to ‘smooth the way’ to deposit the HS2 hybrid bill this year.  In reality it’s there to smooth over the cracks of an exorbitently expensive white elephant.  We call on the Government to acknowledge the real situation, to stop wasting taxpayers’ money and to cancel the HS2 project immediately.”

Independent Chiltern District Councillor Seb Berry said:

“It’s crunch time. Local MPs including Ministers must now decide what matters to them most, constituency or career. Are they going to stand up for their blighted communities or are they going to make lots of helpful noises but then side with their government in the key votes later this year. If it’s the latter, people will never forgive them. This week they also have an opportunity to demonstrate that they really “get it” by not voting for the government’s Queen’s Speech motion which will of course indicate their support for both HS2 bills along with the rest of the government’s programme. We will see.”

Deanne DuKhan, AGHAST Campaign Director said:

“There’s a lot of talk in Westminster about fairness, ‘being in this together’, ‘One Nation’ and standing up for the right people. It will be interesting to see how MPs who vote for HS2 will justify themselves when it becomes clear that this massive expenditure won’t actually mean new jobs or growth outside London. And adding insult to injury, the taxpayers will find themselves footing the bill and then subsidising a mode of travel that only the wealthy few can afford to use. Look out for some furious back-pedalling on the benches in the face of public outcry once the reality of this project becomes clear.”

The petition against the Paving Bill is here-

8 comments to “Mad rush for HS2 gets even madder as bill presented today – Monday 13th May”
  1. The cabinet office admit,(though not publicly)thatHS2 is in Red category of risk and the final cost would be more like £100 billion to tax payers not £33 billion.When they are cutting back on ordinary peoples way of life and the misery that is causing they should be ashamed of pushing ahead with something that will put the country further into debt.

  2. Just when are our MP’s going to join together in a coordinated campaign to stop this terrible waste of money and blight of thousands of people’s lives

  3. When New Labour came to power, they said they wanted to cancel the M6 Toll but had to let it go otherwise “the taxpayer” would have had to pay £30m in compensation to the consortium involved.
    The HS2 coalition of the three “main” parties is now going to nod through this paving bill (now renamed ‘preparation’ as paving sounds too much like ‘concreting’) so that they will have spent or committed so much that there will similarly be ‘no turning back’ even when the full charade is finally exposed.

  4. I’ve just noticed that the ISS cost $85 bn. HS2 will at least equal that figure – for a railway line???

  5. It will be a sign of the honesty of all MPs as to whether they will support the Paving Bill and what it represents, without having/demanding access to the information that is being suppressed from them deliberately, that is contained in the censored full report on HS2. (Most of it is already known but not formally disclosed).
    MPs of all parties should refuse to take promotive actions or to legislate for more money to be spent untill they have been presented with the fullest information on which to base their opinion and vote; otherwise they are voting on behalf of their constituents and with their constituents money on the basis of being kept deliberately ignorant of pertinent facts.
    Sounds a bit like the Iraq war and various other scandals which were all ‘undone’ by the statement “if I had been in full possession of the facts I would not have voted the way I did……..”
    The truth is that vested interests have somehow acquired power over the cabinet and are forcing through this project with indecent haste and hoping for a lack of proper scrutiny and debate. The cabinet themselves are supporting a route they opposed when in oppostion, so they have misrepresented themselves to their voters and betrayed themselves over this issue.
    It was good to see a cross party group (see video above post Queens speech) discussing the need for proper scrutiny of the fine print and a hope that they may persuade their colleagues in the house to follow their example and governance.

  6. all mps not those on the route should consider if this particular project is not being prioritised unduly.

  7. Penny Gaines: “The haste with which the High Speed Rail Preparation Bill is being put in front of Parliament is a clear sign of desperation on the part of the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd.”

    Don’t suppose you’ve considered a more prosaic explanation Penny, ie. they just want to get on with the job (of completing HS2) – after all that goal is their remit?

    • Their ‘goal’ has yet to have parliamentary scrutiny and discussion. The current project has not been approved or even considered by parliament.
      HS2 is just a concept as yet or a proposal as the Judicial Review clearly identified.
      The Parliamentary processes and legal challenges commence…….

      It would be madness to “complete” something as you advocate as the motive when the concept is yet to have its detail worked out and agreed.

      Given the numerous matters that require parliamentary time it does appear that the ill thought our concept that is the current proposed HS2 is being pressured through, something that may influence the findings of subsequent Judicial Reviews.

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