Mrs Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside) (Lab/Co-op): I am pleased to support this legislation today, which is a significant step in securing High Speed 2. It is important to recognise that HS2 is about having a vision for the

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future. It is about making a much-needed step change in capacity on our railways. It is about meeting growing demand for rail, addressing congestion on our roads and motorways, and connecting major cities not just across this country and the UK, but potentially across Europe as well. It has the potential to rebalance our economy.

However, it is very important that progress on High Speed 2 does not go ahead in isolation from considering the importance of continuing to invest in the existing classic line. Existing improvements such as the northern hub and the electrification programmes must continue and be stepped up. Assurance must be given that there will be proper access to high-speed rail, and that means that more attention needs to be given to the siting of the stations and connections to them. It is important that no local services be reduced as a consequence of building the high-speed rail line, and it is extremely important that the potential of developing the freed existing lines for both freight and passengers be addressed. That means that more work needs to take place, perhaps through local authorities and local enterprise partnerships working together, to make sure that proper plans are worked out so that the existing lines freed when high-speed rail comes to fruition will be able to be used to the maximum for freight and for passengers.

It is also crucial that the potential for economic development and rebalancing the economy is achieved. That means that we must not make any assumptions that simply building a high-speed line will automatically bring those economic benefits. Work has to be done, again by the LEPs, with the local authorities and with Government support, to develop economic strategies, regionally as well as nationally, to support business in taking advantage of those opportunities. I was very interested to read the results of studies instigated by local authorities. The Core Cities study put forward by major cities in our country identified about 400,000 new jobs that would come as a result of high-speed rail, and Centro’s report, looking specifically at the west midlands area, identified about 22,000 jobs that would come. I emphasise that none of those jobs will come automatically; we need to give attention to economic strategies and support for business to make sure that those opportunities come to fruition.

A number of important issues must be addressed. Concern remains that under the Bill as proposed, high-speed rail may not go beyond Birmingham. We have heard assurances from Ministers but we need rather more than that; we need a commitment in the Bill to make sure that HS2 is not simply between London and Birmingham, and that the rail scheme progresses to Leeds, Manchester and beyond. The time scale is a very long one, even on the current proposals of 2026 to Birmingham and 2033 to Leeds, to Manchester and to other areas.

Mr McLoughlin: I completely agree with the hon. Lady’s point. I wonder, Mr Speaker whether I might use this intervention to clarify something I said earlier, as I am afraid I gave the wrong figure. I said that the contingency was £12.7 billion but it is actually £14.4 billion, so it is larger than I said. I just wanted to take this opportunity, with your permission and that of the hon. Lady, to put the figure right.

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Mr Speaker: The House is grateful.

Mrs Ellman: I thank the Secretary of State for clarifying that situation.

The consultation, which has not yet taken place across the whole of the proposed line, must be a very real one. A number of hon. Members have already told us of their local concerns. There are problems in relation to London and, in particular, the development around Euston station, which is an important and difficult issue. Hon. Members have also raised issues in the House relating to access to Stoke-on-Trent. The proposals for Liverpool are not good enough and need improvement. Important environmental issues need addressing, and the question of compensation has been raised in the House this afternoon. All those issues are vital and must be addressed in a reasonable way. It is important for them to be resolved successfully because that will help to deliver a successful HS2—high-speed rail that is about much needed capacity, connectivity and economic progress for the future, throughout this country and beyond.

4.3 pm

Iain Stewart (Milton Keynes South) (Con): It is always a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs Ellman), the Chairman of the Transport Committee. I have had the privilege of serving on the Committee for more than three years now. I have studied this subject not only through my Committee work, but through other personal research and I do not think I have studied any subject in more depth. I will try to put concisely my observations on the project in the next few minutes.

I support the principle of high-speed rail. I confess that I do not believe this route is the optimal one, and I have specific concerns and suggestions to make about it, but I support the Bill. I fear the opportunity cost of not proceeding with this project far outweighs the risk and costs of going ahead. I shall say a little about why I have reached that conclusion.

The point has been well made that many parts of our rail network are close to capacity. Rail passenger use and rail freight use have increased sharply in recent years and any reasonable projection shows that they will continue to rise in future decades. Simply taking into account the increased population of the country, particularly in areas such as mine, it is clear that there will be continued increased demand on transport services and rail in particular. Rail usage increased even in the recession from 2008 onwards.

It is often said that we should invest in the classic network rather than HS2. I would not support HS2 if it was at the expense of investment in the classic network, but there is substantial investment in that network. There is the electrification of the Great Western and midland main lines, as well as new rolling stock and junction improvements on the west coast main line. The Government have sensibly committed to reopening the east-west rail line from Milton Keynes to Oxford and Aylesbury. Those are just a few of the projects.

Essential and welcome as the upgrades are, they will not be enough for the long term. I have come to the conclusion from all my research, and from looking at all the projects and models that have been proposed, that we need to build a new north-south strategic rail line.

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Andrea Leadsom: Does my hon. Friend think, like my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton South (Mr Binley), that this is a matter of needing more capacity? If so, why are we going for a very expensive system like high-speed rail, with its exponentially enormous engineering costs?

Iain Stewart: My research has shown that if we are committing to build a new railway line, the cost of building a fast one is not significantly more than building a conventional one. The majority of the costs come in building the cuttings, the bridges and all the other necessary infrastructure. Making a faster one costs a little more, but not a huge amount more.

If we merely expanded capacity on the west coast or east coast lines, we would have to do that at the same time as running existing services. Anyone who used the west coast main line during the previous upgrade will say what an absolute nightmare that is. Such an approach would not solve the problem of competing demands for use on the existing line between commuter services, freight services, non-stop inter-city services and stopping services. We cannot continually squeeze more and more capacity out of one line, as we will reach capacity and will be overly reliant on that line. That is why I accept the case for a new high-speed line.

I accept that the project is controversial and completely understand the fears of residents along the proposed line of route. There are justifiable concerns about disturbing the peace and quiet of the countryside, but I urge right hon. and hon. Members to look at what happened during the construction and planning of High Speed 1. The same concerns were raised, but since the line has opened there have been very few, if any, complaints.

Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley) (Con): I can certainly back up my hon. Friend’s point. I was on the Committee that considered the Bill and the line was going through the garden of England, and there was talk of devastation and horrendous things. Some of the complaints were justified, but many proved to be empty. It has worked.

Iain Stewart: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention. I took the opportunity to visit the route of High Speed 1 and saw the noise mitigation measures that had been put in place. The noise of the trains is not much more audible than that of an A road or other minor piece of infrastructure.

Alec Shelbrooke: I was on that trip with my hon. Friend and a notable fact given to us by Kent county council was that Maidstone is now lobbying to have the line go through the station, whereas it was vehemently opposed to that originally.

Iain Stewart: My hon. Friend is absolutely right.

To those who voice concern about visual intrusion on areas of outstanding natural beauty, I simply make the point that railway infrastructure need not be ugly—it need not be concrete blocks. Look at some of the fantastic pieces of railway engineering and architecture we have: the Forth bridge, the Glenfinnan viaduct, Brunel’s bridges and tunnels—they have enhanced the landscape. I urge my right hon. Friend the Minister of State to make HS2 into an opportunity to showcase the

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best of British design and engineering, with bridges, viaducts and other infrastructure that show off and augment our landscape.

In the couple of minutes remaining, I will highlight five specific concerns and make some suggestions. The first is about the rolling stock for the line and making sure it is compatible with the classic network, particularly on the Anglo-Scottish services. At present, we have tilting trains that allow conventional lines to be used at high speed, but if high-speed trains cannot tilt, journey times on the classic network will be lengthened to an extent that might offset the time gains on the high-speed line. I urge the Minister to consider that.

The second concern, justifiably felt by people in Buckinghamshire, is that the line goes straight through the county with no stop. The high-speed line will intersect with the new east-west line in Buckinghamshire. I ask that, when the scheme is considered in full—the Y-network and connection to the channel tunnel—the case will be reassessed for an intermediate stop at Claydon junction. I would suggest calling it “Milton Keynes Parkway”, but others may have different ideas. That would enable people in the area to access the lines, which I believe would augment the business case.

Only seconds remain, so I will very quickly highlight the point, which has already been well made, about properly connecting airports, High Speed 1 and the channel tunnel. I do not think the plans are optimal. Finally, I urge my right hon. Friend to look at capacity at Euston, where the tube network is already pretty crowded. I believe we need to consider Crossrail 2, so I was delighted when the Chancellor floated that possibility in his statement earlier today. Notwithstanding those concerns, I support the Bill.

4.12 pm

Frank Dobson (Holborn and St Pancras) (Lab): HS2 will unleash havoc on Euston, Primrose Hill and Camden Town in my constituency. It will demolish the homes of about 500 people and blight the homes of at least another 1,000. One local park will disappear for ever; another will be a building site for 10 years or more. The project will prevent the much-needed reconstruction of Euston station, which was intended to provide around 1,000 new flats for local people. It has already delayed plans to rebuild a local convent school. The link to HS1 will subject Primrose Hill and Camden Town to large-scale engineering works, mainly above ground level. Local shops and restaurants will be put out of business; quiet back streets are to become official routes for construction traffic. Yet the compensation and mitigation regime intended for our area is inferior to what has been promised outside London. That cannot be right.

When HS2 was given the go-ahead, we were told, first, that phase 1 would cost £17 billion; secondly, that it would be completed by 2026; and thirdly, that no one would suffer a significant loss. HS2 is backtracking on all three. For a start, as has been pointed out, £17 billion will not provide a working railway, because it does not include the cost of the trains, estimated to be £2 billion—it will be a train-free zone. Nor does it include the cost of the works at Euston needed to allow the already overcrowded tube and local roads to cope with additional passengers and traffic—that is probably another £2 billion. VAT at 20% will come to about £3 billion. The original

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estimate for HS2 also included £1.4 billion for a spur to Heathrow. The spur has been dropped, but it is not at all clear where the £1.4 billion has gone.

Mrs Gillan: Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that because we do not have the full environmental statement—we have only a draft—we do not know the full cost of any environmental mitigation that may be needed along the route?

Frank Dobson: The right hon. Lady is absolutely right. Recently, HS2 Ltd has been forced to confess that it underestimated the cost of the works at Euston by no less than 40%. We have been asked to write a blank cheque for people who underestimate costs by 40%. On top of that, HS2 Ltd admits that it has to rebuild or strengthen cuttings, embankments and bridges on the north London line and the main line. Originally, it denied that that would be necessary, so it did not provide for it in the initial costings. I remind Members that those costs have soared while HS2 is still at a desk-study stage. God knows what will happen when people get round to practical work on the site.

Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op): Is my right hon. Friend aware that last week, the New Economics Foundation produced the third independent evaluation of the project, saying that there was real doubt about its viability and what it would do for northern cities?

Frank Dobson: I cannot possibly disagree with my hon. Friend. In theory, a million years ago, I got a degree in economics, and I have reached the stage where I can usually work out when someone is talking drivel. When I heard the Government’s cost estimates, I think I understood they were talking drivel.

Does anyone in the House really believe that the line will be completed by 2026? I was going to offer a bet against completion by then, but I suspect that the final completion date is so far in the future that I am unlikely to be around to collect my winnings, which brings me to compensation and mitigation.

At present, HS2 Ltd intends that people and businesses in our area should receive lower compensation, lower standards of protection and inferior mitigation measures. There is no excuse for that treatment of a settled residential and business community. Local council tenants, right-to-buy leaseholders, private tenants, leaseholders and owner-occupiers should be no worse off as a result of the project, which is being carried out, apparently, in the national interest. They must be found new homes that meet their needs, and without any detriment to the terms and conditions of their tenure.

The same approach should apply to businesses. Restaurants and small shops in Drummond street depend on passing trade to Euston station for up to 70% of their business, but HS2 Ltd proposes that for 10 years, they should be cut off from the station by a barrier that will be higher than the Berlin wall. What is worse, it is proposed that they would not receive any compensation at all. May I tell Government Members, who always say that they are speaking up on behalf of small businesses, that if they do not do something to prevent that wickedness, they will let down some small businesses? The same non-compensation rules will apply in Camden Town.

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The Government must reconsider the project. Is it really the best use of a scarce £17 billion if we want to improve our creaking transport system? Even if it is, would not the London terminus be better sited at Old Oak Common which, unlike Euston, is on the Heathrow Express route and will be on Crossrail? It would be welcome there, and studies show that if people got off Crossrail at Old Oak Common, only 4% of London underground stations would take longer to reach than if they went to Euston. The stations that would take longer to reach are Euston Square, Regent’s Park, Mornington Crescent and King’s Cross St Pancras, so there is no disadvantage. If this goes ahead, most sensible travellers will get off at Old Oak Common anyway, whatever anybody says.

Finally, if it is decided to go ahead, I hope there will be agreement across the Chamber that there should be a special made-to-measure compensation and mitigation scheme for the whole length of HS2 and all the residents and businesses affected by it. It should be as generous as the Secretary of State promised, and I do not doubt the integrity of the Secretary of State.

I also have to say this: in all the years that I have dealt with public and private bodies, I have never come across an outfit as stupid, incompetent and incapable of even delivering letters as the people at present running HS2, and if I were in favour of the project, I would get someone else to do it.

4.20 pm

Mr Alan Reid (Argyll and Bute) (LD): I very much welcome the Bill. It is an important stage in implementing a promise from the Liberal Democrat manifesto. The Bill gives the Secretary of State the power, subject to the approval of the Treasury, to incur expenditure in preparation for the high-speed rail network. The language used in the Bill is open-ended because it states that this expenditure must include at least rail lines connecting London, Birmingham, the east midlands, Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester, and which connect with the existing rail network. The “at least” phrase means that the HS2 expenditure being approved under the Bill is not limited to the cities and regions mentioned, but prepares the way for further extension of HS2 in the future.

This is in line with the Government’s wish to work with the Scottish Government on this issue, with the aim of having a third phase to connect the high-speed link on from Manchester to Glasgow and Edinburgh. By enhancing connectivity between Britain’s large cities, HS2 will make investment in the regions outside London and the south-east far more attractive. This is vital if we are to help rebalance the UK economy and increase jobs and growth. HS2 will underpin the delivery of at least 100,000 jobs, and hopefully far more.

It is estimated that HS2 will transfer approximately 9 million journeys from road to rail and 4.5 million from air to rail. This will ease road congestion and reduce some of the pressure on our airports, allowing our economy to grow in an environmentally friendly manner. Passenger demand is expected to grow and if we do nothing, it is anticipated that the west coast main line will reach full capacity during the next 15 years. High-speed rail provides the best possible option to cope with ever-rising passenger demand and to ensure that we have sufficient future capacity to satisfy the needs of the UK economy.

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HS2 will also help to free up capacity on the existing rail network, in particular the west coast main line. As well as improving services for passengers, it will free up capacity for more freight on the railways. HS2 will radically shorten journey times between London, the midlands and the north of England and Scotland. For example, it will shorten the journey time between London and Edinburgh by 45 minutes. That is after phase 2 is completed and without waiting for phase 3.

Mr Sheerman: Has the hon. Gentleman seen some of the research that shows that rather than strengthening the provincial cities, HS2 will reinforce the power and influence of London and do the absolute opposite of what most people thought it would do?

Mr Reid: I have seen some of that analysis, but I disagree with it. All the past experience is that by connecting cities, we bring jobs and growth to both ends of the network. Our Victorian predecessors had great vision. No doubt there were people in those days who said, “This will all be a waste of money. Rail will never take off”, but experience shows that when we connect up people and cities, we create more jobs at both ends of the network.

It is important to point out to the Scottish National party, whose Members have departed and have not bothered to stay for the full debate, that it does not matter where the railway line starts—whether at the London end or the Scotland end. The journey time cut by each mile of track is the same, no matter which end one starts from. Were the SNP’s plans for the referendum to come to fruition and Scotland and England became separate countries, I cannot see a UK Government building the line any further than Manchester, whereas if Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom, I am confident that we will, in time, see high-speed rail all the way from London to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

It is important to point out that other countries, such as Germany, Japan and China, have already invested heavily in high-speed rail and have several rail connections that are much faster than ours. The United States also has plans to develop a high-speed rail network. If we do not go ahead with HS2, there is a great danger that the UK will fall behind our international competitors. We must make plans to meet future passenger demand, provide more capacity and cut train journey times for millions of passengers. The railway lines between our major cities are overcrowded and far slower than they should be.

I believe that the case for HS2 is clear and overwhelming. It will bring much economic development, delivered in an environmentally sustainable manner. The Bill is an important step towards delivering a vital high-speed rail network and I urge the House to support it tonight.

4.25 pm

Mr Roger Godsiff (Birmingham, Hall Green) (Lab): Two acts of monumental folly have been imposed on the railway industry over the past 50 years. The first, back in 1963, was the Beeching report, which led to the butchering of lines linking communities across the UK. Indeed, one consequence of Beeching is highly relevant to today’s debate, because one of the lines he closed was the Great Central line, which ran from London to Sheffield and Manchester. Were it still in operation, I

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suggest that we would be debating whether to spend money upgrading it, rather than committing £17 billion, rising to £32 billion, on High Speed 2, for which the infrastructure work will not even begin until 2017.

The second act of monumental folly, of course, was the decision in the 1990s to privatise the railways, something that even Mrs Thatcher steered clear of. She had the good sense to realise that it is not possible to privatise a railway system and divorce the operating companies from the infrastructure. As we all know, privatisation has brought no benefit whatsoever for the consumer. The subsidies now paid to train operating companies are double what they were pro rata when British Rail ceased to exist. The Secretary of State was a little reluctant to answer when asked what the subsidy is. Well, I will help him out: £2.6 billion a year is spent subsidising a railway system that is not fit for purpose.

I would have hoped that the Secretary of State and his colleagues would not bring to the Chamber today something that I believe will be yet another act of folly imposed on the railway industry, particularly in view of all the information that has come out over the past two years as the economic case for HS2 has unravelled. Regrettably, that appears not to be the case.

Reference has already been made to the National Audit Office report, but the comments made in it should be repeated again and again, not least the fact that it estimates that there is already a £3.3 billion funding shortfall, a figure that has just been glossed over as far as London is concerned, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson) said. Indeed, the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee has said that the Government’s business case is “farcical” and

“clearly not up to scratch”.

Furthermore, she said that some of the Department’s assumptions were “ludicrous”. I am talking about the National Audit Office and the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, yet we have been told again and again today that the figures do stack up.

Mr Sheerman: Has my hon. Friend looked at the really interesting French research showing the deleterious effects on the provincial cities of France as the French rapid trains were introduced? It drove those cities into penury.

Mr Godsiff: I have. As my hon. Friend said earlier, there is a report that makes just that point—that such projects do not spread wealth, but quite the contrary.

David Mowat: The hon. Gentleman makes the point, as I understand it, that infrastructure spending does not spread wealth out. In that case, would he like to make the north really prosperous by closing the M1 and the M6?

Mr Godsiff: We are where we are. I do not wish to have an argument about whether the building of the M1 and M6 was folly. What is folly is the privatised section of the M6, which is uneconomic and will soon go bust. It was supported by the Conservatives—“Let’s bring private capital into our motorways”. It is part of the motorway that is never used and will soon either go bust or have to come to the Secretary of State and ask for a handout.

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David Mowat: The hon. Gentleman is generous in giving way a third time. I make the point again: the logic of his argument is that the north would be richer if the M1, the M6 and perhaps the existing west coast main line were all closed. That is ridiculous.

Mr Godsiff: I hear what the hon. Gentleman says, but I do not understand the point that he is trying to make.

As I said, we need to look at the economic case. The National Audit Office report and other reports have said that the project is already spiralling out of control. Already, figures that we were told about a year or so ago just do not stack up and people who have a vested interest in pushing the project ahead seem to be plucking figures out of the sky to suit whatever argument they are making. At the end of the day, the British taxpayer will have to pick up the tab if it goes wrong.

At this time of austerity and cutbacks across a range of services, the idea of reducing the time that business men take to travel from Birmingham or Manchester to London by 30 minutes and one hour respectively is absolutely farcical. It seems completely to disregard the fact that business men tend to work on trains nowadays. They use computers and mobile phones. Not one single, solitary business man in Birmingham has said to me, “Unless the project goes ahead and I can travel from Birmingham to London 30 minutes quicker, my business is going to suffer and be in danger.”

Mark Garnier (Wyre Forest) (Con): I will come straight back to the hon. Gentleman on that point. I have met a lot of business people in Birmingham who are arguing strongly for HS2. A lot of the hon. Gentleman’s constituents are definitely asking for it.

Mr Godsiff: I say again that not one business man has come to me to make the argument.

The project is absolutely desperate. Secretaries of State always like to leave a legacy, and I understand that. However, I believe that High Speed 2 will not be a legacy. It is a vanity project, and if it goes ahead it could turn into a white elephant.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. Interventions have taken up a lot of time, so I am having to reduce the time limit to five minutes, and might have to reduce it again to get everyone in—[Interruption.] If you want to moan, please do so, Mr Gummer. The point is that everyone wants to speak. If you are suggesting that I knock somebody off the list, please tell me.

4.34 pm

Jessica Lee (Erewash) (Con): The eastern side of my constituency, in the heart of the east midlands, borders the proposed site for the east midlands hub. I share that border with my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry), and I assure the House that as time goes on we will be working together on issues arising from the proposed site.

At this preliminary stage in the proposals for HS2, I speak in support of the project. That broadly reflects the representations made to me by businesses and constituents, although, it has to be said, not universally. On the current plans, the route clips the eastern edge of

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Long Eaton, and a few roads in the town will not survive. I will deal with the concerns of its residents later. I also have very many constituents who welcome and support these plans. They are right to do so. Put simply, the proposals offer a chance for investment and regeneration on a vast scale in our midlands and northern towns and cities. In Erewash we have a proud history of jobs, businesses and apprenticeships in the railways sector. My late maternal grandfather worked his entire life on the railways. This project brings new opportunities to continue that historical link. The possibility of being a neighbouring town to the east midlands hub has to bring much more with it.

I was recently privileged to bring the Minister of State on a visit to Long Eaton to show him the proposed route. I was very grateful for his generous use of his time to visit Erewash. I am sure he agrees that the opportunities for my constituency in terms of jobs and investment would be second to none. In addition, my right hon. Friend will have noted the road infrastructure in Long Eaton. I hope he agrees that this scheme could bring with it an opportunity to improve the road infrastructure for the town, because as it stands the roads would struggle to manage the new traffic levels.

As I said, some businesses and homes in Erewash would be affected by the proposed route. Of course, it is impossible for any of us to imagine someone’s shock and worry on hearing the news that their home may not survive the construction of the project. However, like many other constituency MPs, I take my responsibilities to assist such residents extremely seriously. I have called a meeting and have been helping on a personal, individual basis every constituent affected by dealing with their correspondence and any application they wish to make under the hardship fund.

I bring to my right hon. Friend’s attention the historical Trent cottages that I was able to show him, which are located on the route. The cottages were built in the early 1860s to serve the railwaymen working close to Trent railway station, which was built at a similar time. They are a historical record of Long Eaton’s railway past, and I ask him to have due consideration of this when reviewing the route.

I return to my starting point in welcoming the possibilities of this project. I take into account the proposed costs of the scheme and the environmental impact, based on the information that we have so far, but I also note the simple fact that we need to address capacity on our railway network. This project, with broad cross-party support, will be the biggest investment on our railways since the Victorian era. In the past 15 years demand for long-distance rail travel has doubled to 125 million journeys a year.

Mr Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) (Con): Is my hon. Friend aware that 1.5 million train journeys are carried out each day and that 56 million people never, or very seldom, travel on trains?

Jessica Lee: I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention. I hear his statistics, but I also look to the future. The broad fact is that we are reaching full capacity on our railway network. We can either ignore that or address it; I think we need to address it.

We also need to compete on a global basis. I will give just one example.

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Richard Harrington (Watford) (Con): If my hon. Friend would like to see, as I have seen, the benefits of such a scheme, she should go to China and have a look at the effects of the high-speed network there, because those are the people we are competing with. I hope that she will do that before very long.

Jessica Lee: I am grateful for my hon. Friend’s imaginative ideas. If an opportunity arises to visit China and observe its high-speed rail, I will be delighted to take it.

Finally, I will always support projects that put Erewash on the map. The location of the east midlands hub will do that and more. Although my constituents can travel by train from Long Eaton to London in one and a half hours, there is a strong case for improving the travel times and infrastructure for the towns and cities of the midlands and further north. I will certainly advocate that case in Erewash.

The Minister knows of my obsession with supporting local rail services. Time and again in Parliament, I have raised the campaign to fund the reopening of the train station at Ilkeston. I am delighted to say that that has been successful. I thank him for his support on that project.

I represent a constituency at the heart of the east midlands, which has a strong and proud history of employment on the railways. If this project goes ahead, I have no doubt that that proud historical link will continue well into the future.

4.40 pm

Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton) (Lab): I will not detain the House long. I speak as the joint chair of the all-party parliamentary group for high-speed rail. I am therefore highly supportive of High Speed 2. I will make four simple points.

First, this country has a shocking and disgraceful record on infrastructure, under Governments of all political persuasions. The costs of not keeping our infrastructure up to date are much greater than the costs of High Speed 2. We have built one new runway since the second world war, we have the lowest motorway density in what used to be called western Europe, the Dibden port proposal was turned down, we have only a few kilometres of high-speed rail between the south coast and London, and we have a much smaller rail system than we had 40 or 50 years ago. Our competitors are investing in all those areas of infrastructure, to our economic disbenefit.

Secondly, the justification for High Speed 2 is not the speed, as has been said, but the capacity. Having high-speed rail will cost only 10% more than the alternative of building a brand new route and will bring the speed benefits as well as the extra capacity. The alternatives that are put forward by the opponents of High Speed 2 would provide only half the benefit, while costing a great amount of time, money and disruption, as we learned from the west coast main line build. If people are worried about the projections that are used to justify the investment in High Speed 2, they should consider the fact that train passenger numbers are already at the level projected for 2021.

On the economic benefits, I am enormously sceptical of almost all economic models. There may be disbenefit to some towns and cities. The Transport Committee

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found that some towns in Europe that were joined to the TGV or other high-speed routes had benefited enormously, whereas others had disbenefited.

Mark Garnier: The hon. Gentleman is making a convincing argument in favour of HS2. He raises the important point that one of the perceived benefits is that economic activity will be drawn up the track. However, there is a risk that economic activity will actually be drawn down the track, away from the regions to London. Does he agree that, to mitigate that risk, it is important that we look to build a hub airport up the track as part of the infrastructure development of this country? A hub airport in Birmingham would be a good alternative to what is being suggested at the moment.

Graham Stringer: I will not be drawn into a discussion about hub airports.

On the benefits and disbenefits, it is up to the people who run our towns and cities to ensure that people go in their direction and invest in their area. There is no doubt that such people want the high-speed line. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs Ellman) said earlier that she wants the high-speed route to go to Liverpool. I do not blame her, given the potential benefit.

I am sure that some of the arguments made against HS2 were made when railways began. The vested interests of stagecoach owners and bargees almost certainly led to their using similar arguments about how railways would not catch on. I know of no economic analysis that captures the likely benefits, but what we do know, from looking around the world, is that countries that invest in their transport infrastructure almost always do better economically. We should therefore invest.

Frank Dobson: As the proud MP who has King’s Cross, St Pancras and Euston stations in his constituency, I am rather in favour of the railways. For that matter, I am a member of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers. However, I think my hon. Friend is falling into the sort of syllogism that something must be done, this is something, and therefore this must be done. There are better ways of spending this money on improving the railway system.

Graham Stringer: I hope I am not falling into that trap. I think that a high-speed system that will eventually join Edinburgh and Glasgow, through Manchester and Leeds, to Birmingham and London will be of enormous benefit to the country. I do not believe it is a perfect system and I do not believe it is being constructed in the best way, but it has all-party support and it can be improved. I personally believe that we should be building north to south, as well as south to north. I believe, as my right hon. Friend the shadow Secretary of State said, that we should be building a link directly through to High Speed 1. However, I do not believe that any of those problems are sufficient to stop us investing in infrastructure that will help the whole of the country.

Andrew Bridgen: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Graham Stringer: I will not, if the hon. Gentleman will forgive me. I have already given way twice.

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My last point comes from the experience of being responsible for building the second runway at Manchester airport. Paying compensation on the basis of free market value at the time is an extremely costly way of building infrastructure. Giving free market value plus 10%, 20% or 30%—whatever is appropriate—will speed up the process and save money. I hope the Government will give consideration to that, and to serious mitigation. If people take legal action because they think they are being treated unfairly, and if there is blight for a long time, that will hinder the project. It is estimated that delays in tunnelling on some high-speed routes have cost as much as the actual tunnelling. I therefore hope that on compensation the Government will not be short-sighted. I hope they will deal with the problems outlined by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield South East (Mr Betts) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson), and be generous in looking at the problems and pain caused. That will benefit the high-speed system in the end.

4.48 pm

Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con): I rise to support the Bill. I am in favour of expanding our high-speed rail network. I respect hon. Members who represent constituencies that will be directly affected, and it is right that they fight for the best interests of their constituents. I have the advantage of representing a constituency that is in no way affected. Even the increased capacity, which is the prime motive for the development of a new network, will be of minimal benefit.

Andrew Bridgen: My hon. Friend says that his constituency will be in no way affected. Unfortunately, it will be, because his constituents—this is true of every constituency—will initially receive a bill for £75 million, rising to a possible £100 million.

Martin Vickers: My hon. Friend makes a fair point, but similar points could be made about every item of Government expenditure. Ultimately, the increased capacity will benefit the more provincial towns and peripheral areas of our country. The network is operating to capacity. We heard from the Secretary of State that the west coast main line would be at capacity in the early 2020s, and similarly the east coast main line, which has an impact on my constituency, will soon be full.

People have talked about blight, but speed is essential. Yes, there can be blight on individual properties and so on, but if that is to be the case, the sooner we get a decision on routes, compensation and so on, the better. Speed is also essential for the economy. We have heard, quite understandably, that connectivity is important to the development of our towns and cities, and that has been proved by countless reports over time. If Hudson and the other Victorian rail moguls had had to operate to timetables as stretched as that for HS2, I doubt whether the network would have developed to anything like the extent it did and from which this country benefited in the late-19th and 20th centuries.

The Minister has just scuttled out of the Chamber. Perhaps he suspected that I was about to mention that increased capacity would allow additional services to Cleethorpes and elsewhere—but that is for the future. If we are to rebalance the economy to the benefit of the

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north of England, it is important that we have this increased capacity and connectivity. I can understand the arguments against it. The cost is phenomenal, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for North West Leicestershire (Andrew Bridgen) pointed out, my constituents will have to bear some of that cost.


Does my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton South (Mr Binley) wish to intervene?

Mr Binley indicated dissent.

Martin Vickers: No. Sorry, he looked, er—[Hon. Members: “Keep going!”] I’ll keep going, right. I think what he, er—I’ve lost my track now, I should say.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): You’ve lost your train of thought.

Martin Vickers: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I will try to get back on line.

I am very supportive of where the Government are going with this. I was talking about rebalancing the economy. The economy of my own area in northern Lincolnshire is highly dependent on rail. We talked about the importance of freight earlier. Some 25% of freight tonnage moved throughout the country starts or ends in my constituency at Immingham, so I hope that the increased capacity will provide greater opportunities not only for passengers, but for freight. I therefore support the Government and, sadly, will oppose the amendment.

4.52 pm

Mr Clive Betts (Sheffield South East) (Lab): I, too, will support the Bill. I supported the Y route before it was the policy of the last Government, let alone of the parties in this Government, and argued strongly for it. I also agree with the comments made in the excellent speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Blackley and Broughton (Graham Stringer), in which he recognised the importance of this scheme for our economy and the fact that over the years we have fallen behind our competitors in our investment in infrastructure.

This is an important long-term investment for the country. Of course, different cost-benefit analyses will say different things. The problem is that the scheme will take 20 years to build and then will—we hope—deliver benefits for the country for many years after that, and if we put minor changes of assumptions into any cost-benefit analysis we will come up with very different results. To some extent, this is an act of faith. Do we believe that investment in the infrastructure of this country over the long term is likely to be good for the economy? I do, and I believe that high-speed rail is part of that long-term investment.

For the same reasons, it will be important to the rebalancing of our economy by concentrating on the major growth points, which will be our city regions in the midlands and the north. As my hon. Friend the Member for Blackley and Broughton said, the impacts will be different in different parts of the country, but the greatest benefits will tend to be in the city regions. We need to ensure that we get those benefits.

I am therefore very pleased that Sheffield is on the route, and that there will be a station there. That has been welcomed by all parties in the city and by the

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public and private sectors. There is a difference of opinion on where the Sheffield station should be located. I understand the argument for having a loop into the city centre, but I equally accept that a station at Meadowhall in my constituency could have incredible benefits for the wider city region, provided the need for connectivity to the region is properly recognised. We do not want to hear the argument in the future that, because we have high-speed rail, we will get no further investment in our transport infrastructure, and that everything will be for local councils to decide.

Looking ahead to the tram-train project, we need to determine how to develop that means of transport. I am sure it will be a success, even though it has taken nearly 10 years to get this far. When it has been proved to be a success, we must immediately start planning how to use it as a way of linking the Sheffield city region into the station hub at Meadowhall. That would benefit the whole city region.

I also want to mention compensation. There are industries in my constituency that will be affected by the project, including Outokumpu, a major steel works. It is important, when we compensate such industries, that we recognise the time that they will need to prepare for the changes that high-speed rail will force them to make. It is also important to ensure that we give the compensation in a way that does not allow a firm to take the money and run, taking the jobs elsewhere.

The Government’s exceptional hardship scheme is a welcome step forward, in regard to compensating people for their homes. We need to recognise that there might be people who have to move house, for whatever reason, before the full compensation scheme comes into effect, as well as those who might want to move for family or other reasons.

Mrs Gillan: Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate that compensation has already been paid to some people, and that it can continue to be paid without this Bill? The problem is that the exceptional hardship scheme is proving difficult for people who meet the criteria but find that the compensation does not meet their circumstances because the value of their house has gone down so dramatically.

Mr Betts: I can understand that. I think that the right hon. Lady is making a wider point about the need to look at the whole compensation scheme, and I shall come to that in a second.

Property owners in my constituency have not yet had any experience of the exceptional hardship scheme, but I wonder whether it could be widened to include those who want to move and make the same choices for their families as anyone else could make, but who are unable to do so while the potential blight from the high-speed line is hanging over them.

Frank Dobson: In my constituency, someone who used to be an owner-occupier got a job elsewhere and let their place. They have been told that they do not qualify for compensation because it is intended only for owner-occupiers.

Mr Betts: I understand that point. I have a constituent who bought a small property as an investment with a view to putting down a deposit on another family home into which they were planning to move in a year’s time. They, too, have been caught by that provision.

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I made the point earlier to the Secretary of State and to my hon. Friend the Member for Garston and Halewood (Maria Eagle) that if we are asking people to make sacrifices for the benefit of the country, they deserve compensation of more than 100% of the value of their homes. They would get 100% if they chose to sell, but they are not choosing to sell; they are having to move, and we need to be more generous. My hon. Friend the Member for Garston and Halewood made the very reasonable point that if we were more generous, it would almost certainly speed up the process, so let us have a look at that.

In particular, let us have a look at the circumstances of my constituents who live on Greasbro road, which is a very low-value area. It is next to an ex-steelworks and to the motorway, and many people would not choose to live there, but it is a friendly road where people know their neighbours and family members who live nearby. They are worried about moving, and they know that they will probably not be able to buy another house in the local area with the compensation they will get. They ask why they should be penalised and forced to move away from the community that they know. Something more than the market value of their homes would help those people. It would not have to be a percentage increase on the market value; a lump sum in excess of the market value would particularly help people in low-value properties who do not want to reach retirement age in 10 years’ time and find that they have to take out an extra mortgage that they cannot afford.

I support the high-speed rail scheme wholeheartedly, and I support it coming to Sheffield, but let us see whether we can help those people who will be affected and make the benefits to the community more generally accessible.

4.59 pm

Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) (Con): I draw the House’s attention to my previous declaration—that the proposed route of HS2 not only bisects my beautiful constituency, but runs within 100 yards of my home.

I came to this place to try to do the right things for my constituents and, indeed, my country. I seem to find that a large amount of my time and effort is spent trying to stop bad things happening, which my constituents often reassure me amounts to much the same end, but I can assure you, Madam Deputy Speaker, that it is nowhere near as satisfying. There are few projects that I have ever believed are such a bad thing not only for my constituents, but for the whole country, as HS2. If this goes ahead, my constituency will take all the pain for none of the gain.

What we are being asked to vote for today is the signing of a blank cheque for HS2 Ltd for a railway that is, in my opinion, a solution looking for a problem. This is a scheme with vast financial costs for the taxpayer and a high human cost for those unfortunate enough to live or to have their business on or near the proposed route. The financial costs were initially estimated by the Government this morning as £33 billion, but stand at over £42 billion this afternoon, with a further £7.5 billion for rolling stock. That is an enormous commitment at a time of austerity for a project that will not be ready until 2033 and is of questionable economic benefit.

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How can we be certain that today’s £10 billion of additional budget will prove to be the last? When it comes to keeping to budget, Government rail projects certainly have a terrible record. The west coast main line upgrade, which was initially estimated to cost £1.5 billion, ended up costing £9.9 billion. The Thameslink upgrade was estimated to cost £650 million in 1996, but the end costs will be nearer £6 billion on completion. We could be looking at a project with a final bill of many tens of billions more than the Government’s initial estimate or even today’s estimate. All that for a railway where the cost-benefit ratio analysis, even before today’s £10 billion, did not stack up. For phase 1, the Department for Transport claims that HS2 will produce £1.40 of benefit for every £1 spent. The Government categorise schemes below £1.50 as being low value for money—and that is before today’s extra £10 billion.

Mrs Gillan: Does my hon. Friend agree that the cost benefit has been pushed to one side by Ministers today? Now claims are being made about extra capacity, but has it not been true of this project that one moment it is about capacity, the next moment it is about speed and the next it is about restoring a better north-south balance? The objectives are always used to fit whatever the argument demands, and they seem to move around.

Andrew Bridgen: I thank my right hon. Friend for that intervention. She is absolutely right, and I shall deal with the issue of capacity later in my speech.

The cost-benefit ratios are questionable. As has already been pointed out, the assumption is that all time spent on trains is wasted time, so the figures are based on the extraordinary idea that when someone goes on a train they do not do any work. Anyone who travels on our railways will know that that is certainly not the case. It should also be noted that, compared to our European neighbours, journey times between first and second cities are considerably shorter in the UK. The journey time between Birmingham and London is already half that of high-speed rail travel in France and Spain.

David Mowat: My hon. Friend makes the point that others have made—that the business case does not properly reflect productive time, iPads and all the rest of it. Page 51 of the business case addresses that point explicitly, stating that if trains are overcrowded, people who are standing will not be able to work on PCs. The business case would be better if it took that into account.

Andrew Bridgen: My hon. Friend makes a valid point, and I shall deal with the issue of capacity later in my speech and hope to address it then.

When it comes to saving time—this point has been made several times today—I have never met a business person in my career who has said that the reason why their business is not thriving is that they cannot get to London quickly enough.

Another argument cited is that HS2 will rebalance our economy. I agree with that argument, as I believe that it will rebalance our economy, but further in favour of the London and south-east. Indeed, no serious academics support the view that HS2 will reduce the north-south divide. For weekend and leisure travel, for instance,

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which is the more likely scenario—that more families will travel from London to spend an evening in Birmingham or Manchester, or that families from Birmingham and Manchester will use the route to spend time and money in London? I suggest to hon. and right hon. Members that the latter is the more likely scenario, and that HS2 will simply suck more money from the regions into London and the south-east.

I therefore appeal to all Members to think very carefully about whether they are acting in the best interests of their constituents in supporting the signing of a blank cheque for this white elephant of a project, which is already forecast to cost every constituency in the country £75 million, and which, given the expected further overruns, could easily end up costing each constituency more than £100 million. Are Members prepared to support a scheme that will inevitably suck money away from transport schemes that could benefit their own constituencies? As for the issue of capacity, figures show that the west coast main line has the capacity for the 100% increase in passenger numbers that was proposed by FirstGroup when it submitted its franchise bid.

Mr Brian Binley: Will my hon. Friend give way?

Andrew Bridgen: With pleasure, and some trepidation.

Mr Binley: Does my hon. Friend not recognise that it has been stated categorically that capacity will be reached by 2026, although other people think that it will be reached earlier? Has he travelled on a London Midland train to London on which he could not get a seat and could hardly get through the door?

Andrew Bridgen: I put it to my hon. Friend that anyone predicting what capacity, or the demand for any commodity or product, will be in 20 years is living in dreamland. The capacity on the railway was driven by punitive taxes on company cars in the 1990s, and that will level out.

HS2 is a huge project that will take a lot of stopping, but I suggest to Members that they would not eat an elephant in one sitting, even if it were a white one, and that today’s debate is merely the first serving of many. I do not believe that this project represents the best use of taxpayers’ money, and I therefore urge Members to support the amendment and vote against the Bill.

5.6 pm

Natascha Engel (North East Derbyshire) (Lab): I shall vote for the amendment and against the Bill’s Second Reading, because I believe that this is the wrong scheme at the wrong time.

In the few minutes available to me, I want to present a passionate defence of nimbyism. I think that this is a case less of “not in my back yard” than of “not through my front door and the rest of my house”. When we consider the people whose lives this project is affecting, we realise that the position is far too serious for them merely to be asked “How much compensation do you want?” People living in the villages and towns that the trains will pass through if the scheme goes ahead are being expected to wait for 20 years with it hanging over their heads, seeing no shovel in the ground anywhere in

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North East Derbyshire, unable to sell their homes, and money is being lost hand over fist in very small rural businesses.

Andrea Leadsom: I pay tribute to the hon. Lady. There is rarely an occasion on which I do not agree with her. Constituents of mine have been literally suicidal because of the complete lack of sympathy for them, and because they are unable to obtain compensation although their businesses are failing. Does she agree with me that we must get the compensation right?

Natascha Engel: Absolutely. It has already been suggested that the compensation schemes should mirror those in other countries such as France, where big infrastructure projects go ahead with no problems because the schemes are so generous. However, it is not compensation that people are after. They are saying “I have lived in this town, or this village, for four or five generations and I do not want to move. I am being asked to accept all the disbenefits of HS2 without gaining any of the benefits.” If I represented a major town, I might be able to see the benefits of this project, but it does not bring us in North East Derbyshire any economic benefits. In fact, it does exactly the reverse. I cannot see the sense of what is happening, and I shall explain why. I would welcome the Minister’s response to this.

Derbyshire county council has spent many years cleaning up, developing and redeveloping sites that were ruined by the results of the end of the mining industry and the steel industry in Sheffield. For decades those places have slowly been brought back into the economy. Up to £77 million has already been spent in Markham Vale, an area that I share with my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr Skinner). That £77 million will, in effect, be wiped out because HS2 will be going straight through it. Chesterfield canal is one of the best and biggest pieces of redevelopment and regeneration in North East Derbyshire, bringing investment to the Chesterfield waterside project. It will now not have a waterside project, and will now not get the £310 million of investment in the local economy.

What about the small businesses in towns and villages such as Renishaw, too? Such businesses become the focal points of villages. Already, only months after the route has been published, a local wedding business has lost £70,000, some 20 years before anything is due to happen.

Andrew Bridgen: Does the hon. Lady share my concern that about 30% of the businesses on the route that could be affected have suggested they would close down, rather than relocate, so all those jobs would be lost all the way along the route?

Natascha Engel: That is absolutely right. This affects rural areas differently from how it affects cities. We are talking here about HS2 and a national economic policy, but we are not distinguishing between the cities and the rural areas.

I was going to go into the detail of the issue of connecting cities. This absolutely will connect cities, but that is not the issue for people who live in North East Derbyshire. In Apperknowle, what people want is to get a bus to the hospital, not to go to London. In each of the recent public meetings I have held, attended by

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hundreds of people, we asked when was the last time anybody had been to London. In one group of 300 people, five people had been to London in the past five years. This is not being done for the benefit of the people of North East Derbyshire.

I have serious doubts about the business and economic case, too, but those concerns have been raised by other Members, so I will not rehearse them. I do want to say, however, that I have found the consultation to be the most disappointing part of this whole project. HS2 Ltd has been very good at consulting stakeholders, but the stakeholders do not include those people whose houses and businesses the route is going through. The project has failed at the level of going and talking to people—not just persuading them of why the train has to come through their front room, but explaining why a high-speed rail link is needed. People are just not convinced.

At the same time as there is the hardship scheme, we are being told the route has not yet been fixed and the consultation has not even been opened, and therefore no decisions can be made on where the route is going to go. At the same time, however, not very far from my constituency, a kink has been put in to get the train to go around Firth Rixson steelworks in Sheffield. Why are we allowing and announcing changes to the route when the consultation has not even been opened? If the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd are open to persuasion, will they please put in a kink and go all the way around North East Derbyshire?

5.12 pm

Andrea Leadsom (South Northamptonshire) (Con): My views on HS2 since being elected to Parliament in 2010 are well known. I started by supporting the principle of high-speed rail but opposing the route, but the more I have found out about the project, the more I have become convinced it will not be to the benefit of British taxpayers.

We have rightly heard a lot of talk about the value to the economy as a whole of any new railway line, and that is, of course, true: any new railway line will generate jobs and growth. There is no doubt about that, but the essential point that differentiates one project from another is value for money, and that is what we are not hearing about with the necessary level of clarity. What it costs to generate the growth is what matters. Today, we have heard that there is now a £14.4 billion contingency plan, which potentially makes this project 25% more expensive than before.

We have also heard comparisons with the motorway network, the Jubilee line and HS1. They were all very much resisted at the time, but every single one of them was unique in its own way. For motorways, there is a junction every few miles, so everybody benefits from them; they undoubtedly promote growth in our economy. Likewise, the Jubilee line has many stops, and therefore benefits a huge swathe of the population. HS1 is unique in the sense that it was the link to mainland Europe. HS2 is none of those things; it is a decision that we have taken in isolation.

Stuart Andrew (Pudsey) (Con): HS1 has brought some multinational companies to the end of the route at King’s Cross. Surely that is a benefit that HS2 can bring to other cities, such as mine, Leeds.

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Andrea Leadsom: I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend, and I am not denying that any railway line or other infrastructure will bring growth. I am saying that the critical differentiator is whether the line brings more growth and jobs than something else, and that is where the case for HS2 is not proven.

Mr Binley: I welcome the point about making more use of the high-speed track. Why, then, is my hon. Friend not campaigning vigorously for a station in Brackley, which would be of enormous benefit to her constituents?

Andrea Leadsom: I am delighted that my hon. Friend intervened, and that would be a possibility. The bottom line is that we are all here to represent our constituents. There is a case for making that argument, and if I made it, it would undermine the view of many of my constituents that this project is just wrong. Winning that argument would almost certainly cast the line in stone. My hon. Friend will understand that I could not do that, against the very clear wishes of my constituents.

If this is about the value for money of this project versus that of any other project—not the absolute but the relative level of growth and jobs generated by this project, compared with a different one—we need to ask ourselves, first, is this the best value for money for taxpayers? HS2 does mean little curvature of the line. My hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes South (Iain Stewart) said that a high-speed track is not much more expensive than a regular train track. That is not what HS2 engineers have told me. They said that it is very engineering-intensive. Because it has to go in a straight line, because there are lots of flood plains, hills and other inconveniences, and because of the speed of the trains, the line has to go through, under and over those obstacles. Therefore, it is much more expensive.

Secondly, high-speed rail has an exponentially higher carbon footprint, so in that sense it is not environmentally friendly compared with a classic line. HS2 has a massive impact on valuable open countryside and sites of special scientific interest, battlefield sites, grade I listed homes and so on.

Thirdly, if, as my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton South (Mr Binley) said, this is about capacity, why not go slightly slower but along an existing travel corridor, so that costs and the impact can be reduced? Fourthly, is the project going to deliver soon enough? We will have no use of it until 2026, yet people say all the time that rail capacity is needed now. Fifthly, does it create the maximum number of jobs? Would another, less engineering-intensive project along an easier route, which we could easily find if speed were not the only goal, generate more jobs? Finally, what about both ends? Does it really make sense to decide where the traveller ends up before we have decided on our strategy for airports?

Having said all that, I note the commitment of the Government and the Opposition, who are determined to see this project built. Although I remain optimistic that during the Bill’s progress substantial changes may be achieved, it is important for me to be realistic. If HS2 is to go ahead, I want to achieve fair compensation and mitigation for the hundreds of my constituents who will be so devastatingly affected.

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On mitigation, I urge the Government to ensure that HS2 is much more transparent and that they engage with communities much better than they currently are. Communities’ ideas on mitigation must be given full and proper consideration. The Department for Transport must prioritise the consultation on a full compensation scheme as a matter of urgency. It is shocking that a judicial review had to determine that the original consultation was unfair and in fact unlawful. The exceptional hardship scheme, to my constituents’ bitter experience, has been nothing short of a disaster. Residents up and down the proposed line of route and in the surrounding communities find themselves trapped in their own homes, unable to move either home or business. I strongly urge the Minister urgently to help with this situation.

I hope that, as well as a full compensation scheme that is more generous than the statutory requirement, the Government will agree to a property bond, and that the Secretary of State will meet with the Council of Mortgage Lenders and the National Association of Estate Agents, among others, in order properly to explore the options for a property bond. If banks will not give mortgages on properties because they are blighted by HS2, people cannot get on with their lives, at least until 2026. That is absolutely unacceptable.

Finally, I really regret the position that many Members have been placed in by the Bill. We have been told that this is a vote on the principle of HS2, yet we are also told it is an opportunity for a meaningful compensation scheme to be put in place for those affected. That makes me very schizophrenic, and it places all Members who have strong feelings about this project in a difficult position. I do not want to vote in favour of HS2 but I also do not want to do anything that delays my constituents’ receiving the compensation they deserve. As this is the first opportunity in the Chamber to vote on the principle of HS2, I shall, with a heavy heart, have to vote for the reasoned amendment and against the Second Reading of the Bill, and I urge colleagues to do likewise.

5.20 pm

Lyn Brown (West Ham) (Lab): I am delighted to be at this debate and supporting this Bill, providing, as it will, the ability for the Government to spend money preparing the way for a second high-speed rail service serving London and the regions. My constituency has running through it the route of High Speed 1 and, in talking about spending and finance, I would like to draw the House’s attention to the need to ensure that spending on the new route is planned in a way that capitalises on investment already made, so that we get more bang for the taxpayers’ bucks.

How we will do that is by providing for a substantial link between HS1 and HS2. This new spending should provide this link, with the most obvious and effective way being to utilise the connection to Stratford in my constituency of West Ham. I am arguing that the link between HS1 and HS2 should be substantial and robust enough to enable Stratford to play a major role in the wider high-speed network. That would include it being the London stop for those international services that originate in the regions, thus adding to the viability and the financial business case of those services and, indeed, of HS2 itself. I am not aware of any costings yet

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undertaken on the funding needed for a robust link, so I ask the Minister to enlighten me in his summing up as to whether any are so far available.

If Stratford becomes a major support station in east London catering for HS2, inter-city and inter-regional services, that would significantly reduce the numbers needing to use the Euston terminus, and Euston could be smaller as a result. The planned Old Oak interchange on its own will not enable enough HS2 travellers to avoid the Euston terminus; we need an enhanced role for Stratford in the east to cater for a similar proportion and then we can have a much slimmed-down Euston terminus.

Mr Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) (Lab): I hate to disagree with my hon. Friend, particularly as she is my Whip, but I think she will see that the overwhelming consensus of opinion is in favour of the Old Oak interchange. Although I understand that she is standing up for her constituents, I think she is whistling in the wind rather here.

Lyn Brown: Old Oak—where? All I would say to my hon. Friend is that Stratford has an international station, called the Stratford International station—the message is in the title. I suggest that he needs to look further and wider than his local concerns in order to understand the case. And if he ever wants to be slipped again, I suggest he stays seated.

As I was saying, we need an enhanced role for Stratford in the east to cater for a similar proportion and then we can have a much more slimmed-down Euston terminus. With a twin-track link to Stratford from Camden town, and with the proposals for Old Oak, the number of platforms at Euston would reduce from 12 to six or fewer. Recent research shows that there would be almost as much demand for trips to east London, docklands, Essex, East Anglia and Kent from HS2 travellers as for trips to central London. Using Stratford helps to cater for those needs. Perhaps the Minister would like to talk to the leader of his local county council, who, along with others, funded this research. His constituents will also, I am sure, be interested in the better travel options that will be available to them if this money is spent wisely. The interconnectivity of Stratford is already good, unlike—where was it? The two stations at Stratford serve 100 million passengers a year and it is the UK’s rail hub with the sixth highest use. It has two tube lines, regional rail services to Kent, Essex and East Anglia, and the docklands light railway, and it is strategically positioned for Canary Wharf, London City airport, and the Excel exhibition centre. Of course, it will have Crossrail.

The expenditure we are talking about today must include a robust and substantial link to Stratford between HS1 and HS2. About £1 billion of taxpayers’ money has already been invested in Newham’s international station, so it should get the international services for which it was built. To do otherwise would be crazy.

The business case for spend on HS2 will be greatly strengthened by a link that enables Stratford International to play a full role in the new network and the spending we are talking about today will be more effective as a result. I urge the Minister to try to ensure that that link is delivered.

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5.25 pm

Kwasi Kwarteng (Spelthorne) (Con): I am pleased to speak in favour of Second Reading and against the amendment. I have been struck today by the large degree of cross-party support that High Speed 2 commands. Obviously, we have heard objections from Members on both sides of the House, largely from people representing constituencies that will be affected by the route. That is perfectly understandable; that is what happens in the House of Commons. Different interests come together—often there is conflict, and often there is compromise. It is perfectly legitimate for people whose constituents, and their livelihoods, are affected by the direct building of the route to state their objections, but it is also perfectly reasonable for people to speak in this House on behalf of the national interest and it is clear to me that High Speed 2 is very much in the national interest.

Frank Dobson: I am reminded that within a week of first becoming a Member of this House, there was a vote on an issue that had those on both Front Benches on the same side. An old Tory knight of the shires said to me, “Whenever the two Front Benches are in agreement, some poor devil is being done down.”

Kwasi Kwarteng: I appreciate the right hon. Gentleman’s witty intervention, but I do not think it has anything to do with the debate. It was an enjoyable interlude.

We have not had any real perception, understanding or analysis in the debate of what high-speed rail has meant for our partner countries in Europe. I am a member of the Select Committee on Transport and we went to France and to Germany. Nobody in those countries is suggesting that they should close down their high-speed routes. Indeed, everyone we met, from local residents to other stakeholders, Government people and business people, was determined to expand the network.

I am not suggesting for a minute that because such things are supported in France and Germany we should follow that path, but I am saying that we should investigate, as we have, the reasons behind their approach. We need some very good reasons why Britain is so peculiar and different that high-speed rail will not benefit us. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State observed, Italy has 960 miles of high-speed rail. We have only a small amount—only 60 miles, I believe—

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Mr Simon Burns): Sixty-seven.

Kwasi Kwarteng: I am sorry—67. Everyone else—including China and others around the world—is looking to expand their high-speed rail network. It is only in this country where we are looking not to build any further expansion of the network. That should strike right hon. and hon. Members as very bizarre.

Mr Cash: In his pilgrimages around the European Union, did my hon. Friend have the opportunity to speak to the citizens of Lyon and see whether they were as enthusiastic as he is about high-speed rail? I hear something quite different.

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Kwasi Kwarteng: I am not sure which citizens of that famous French city my hon. Friend has been speaking to, but the ones we met were very enthusiastic, as were people in other cities. Lille, for example, has been transformed by the high-speed rail—of course it has, and that is a good thing. No one in France is suggesting that the high-speed rail network should be closed down and the country should go back to what it had before.

There are clear economic benefits. My hon. Friend the Member for Northampton South (Mr Binley) suggested that freight transport is growing at 10% a year. How on earth can that growth in freight be accommodated without substantial investment in our railway infrastructure and without building a high-speed rail network? As my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes South (Iain Stewart) said, simply building another line that is not a high-speed line will cost just as much and not give the benefits, and no one is suggesting that as an alternative.

Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North) (Lab): I am suggesting precisely that alternative. I have a scheme for a dedicated freight route, capable of carrying lorries on trains, that would cost a fraction of HS2 and take all the freight off the north-south lines, freeing them up for more passengers.

Kwasi Kwarteng: I am pleased that we have Members with such fertile imaginations in this House that the hon. Gentleman has his own scheme. I have not looked at it, though, so I could not possibly comment.

What is clear to me, as a Member for a south-east constituency that is very built-up and highly residential, is that disputes about infrastructure spending are inevitable. I suggested that when the Tower of London was built, people objected to it on quite worthy grounds. There have been objections to every piece of infrastructure spending in this country for hundreds of years, but that does not mean that we have not gone ahead and built the railways or the ports. We are a commercial nation with incredible skills in engineering. We have, or we used to have, great architecture and engineering—I am not casting aspersions on current architecture, just suggesting that it was very good in the past—so there is no reason to suggest, as some have, that HS2 will be a blight on the countryside. It will change of course, but as has been pointed out, Isambard Kingdom Brunel and other Victorians completely transformed the landscape of this country, but they did not make it worse in any way.

Mr Andrew Turner: It was the private sector that did it, not the public sector.

Kwasi Kwarteng: I hear my hon. Friend chuntering from a sedentary position. We have an extremely interesting side of the Conservative party that refuses to countenance any Government spending on infrastructure. Happily, I am not of that wing of the party and recommend that both sides of the House come together in support of the Bill.

My final few words will be about the financing. Yes, £50 billion is a lot of money, but it will be spent over 20 years and, if one uses straight line depreciation, it is not much more than the infrastructure spend on Crossrail. I would suggest that HS2’s benefits are much more

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transformative than the Crossrail project’s, so on that basis alone, I urge colleagues to vote in favour of Second Reading.

Several hon. Members rose

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): Order. Sixteen Members still wish to participate in the debate, and I fully appreciate how important this is for their constituencies. I am therefore reducing the time limit to four minutes from now on. May I please ask Members who have already spoken to intervene sparingly, if at all, and those who are still waiting to speak to realise that an intervention will take time from their speaking time later in the debate?

5.34 pm

Mr Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow, even at two thirds of the rate, the stirring speech made by the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Kwasi Kwarteng). I support the Bill, the principle and, indeed, the route—with the caveat about the London terminus—for many of the reasons given by the Secretary of State and shadow Secretary of State. It seems bizarre that when most of the developed world believes in having a high-speed rail network, we might want to rely on 19th-century railways. That is not to disparage the existing railways, which have stood us and continue to stand us in good stead, but the example of how they were built is one that I think we should follow, rather than shy away from. Having said that, I am concerned about pricing. Completion is a long way off, and there is a danger of this becoming a rich man’s railway. Cost control is an issue, and costs have spiralled before the project has even left the drawing board. There is also the issue of compensation, and whether it will be adequate.

It appears, however that there is consensus—given the time, I shall restrict myself to this—about the proposal that Old Oak, which is in my constituency, should be the major interchange. It would become the fifth busiest station in the country, with a Crossrail station, and links to HS1, tube lines, First Great Western services and Heathrow. A rail interchange in west London would be of massive benefit in an area much of which is categorised as being in the 1% most deprived in the country. Within a mile of the proposed station, 50% of the adult working population is unemployed.

On Friday, the boroughs and the Greater London authority will publish a vision for the future of Old Oak, described in rather hyperbolic terms as the new Canary Wharf. There is talk of 90,000 jobs and 19,000 new homes, and I am pleased that the boroughs have already taken an interest. However, there are local problems. As currently envisaged, there are poor links with HS1, tube lines and the west London line. There is an inadequate road network and poor-quality station design. We should look at the option of making Old Oak the terminus. I have an open mind on that, although I know that my right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson) would urge me to be stronger in my opinion because he does not want the line to go to Euston, and he is certainly right that the connectivity from Old Oak is better than the connectivity from Euston. It appears that HS2 Ltd wanted to go to Euston simply because it wanted to say that it had a central London terminus, but it should look at that

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again. With all due respect to my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown), who is no longer in the Chamber, Stratford International is an exception to the rule, “If you build it, they will come.” There is consensus about where the interchange should be.

My other caveat is that we have to take care with the construction. Most compulsory purchase schemes are hopelessly inadequate both in the compensation that they offer and the way in which people are dealt with. The effect on small businesses and even large businesses—Cargiant is in my constituency, as well as Wormwood scrubs, which is a large area of important open space—must be considered, and I hope that the project will be undertaken sympathetically, however important it is to the nation. Finally, I back my right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras in saying, “Please take HS2 Ltd off the job”. The company is not making a good job of promoting the scheme, and we should find someone who will take this national project forward in the way that it should be done.

5.37 pm

Mr Brian Binley (Northampton South) (Con): Life can deal some heavy blows, but not usually from so kind a Deputy Speaker. I will discard most of what I was going to say about capacity to meet your requirements, Madam Deputy Speaker. I will simply say that connectivity is vital. Capacity is highly limited, and one need only talk to my constituents in Northampton to know how much capacity impacts on performance. They are pretty sick of it.

I was going to discuss whether it was worth the money or not but, again, that argument goes out the window. I would only say that any business man would willingly accept a benefit ratio of 2.5:1, and would grasp at it. To say that that is not good enough for a national project of this kind is crazy. I was going to discuss the benefits of the project for my good constituents, but that is out of the window too. I shall merely say that we are driving ahead with a project called Northampton Alive. We are expected to build 56,000 houses to help ease the problems of the south-east and London, and we need a better rail link to service those people. The only way we are going to get it is by having additional capacity.

Now let me talk about the one thing that most speakers have not talked about, other than my good friend the hon. Member for Luton North (Kelvin Hopkins)—an honourable friend, too. Freight is a major player in the whole of our rail network. It has grown sizeably, to the point where it is now delivering 90 million tonnes of goods each year. That rate is growing by more than 10% a year. We cannot accommodate that growth on the west coast main line. We need another line to enhance the corridor. That is why high-speed rail is so important, why it impacts upon the national interest, and why it is massively important to Britain’s prosperity and to the future well-being of my children and grandchildren.

Do not forget the freight issue. It is vital to the debate. The second issue that is vital is connectivity, as I indicated earlier. If we do not have a high-speed rail link to Europe and beyond, we will miss out massively. I am sorry if my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr Cash) is thinking, “Rarely do you do this as a little Englander.”

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In the long-term future we will have high-speed rail links to south-east Asia and to the middle east, provided people there can settle down and settle their differences. That future is what we are thinking about when we talk about High Speed 2.

So what are my conclusions? High Speed 2 is vital to the nation’s future economic well-being. It will improve rail connections between economically important parts of our country and with our markets in Europe and beyond. It will stop heavy lorries from Prague, Warsaw and Bratislava messing up our road network. I want to see a more effective rail network and High Speed 2 is a vital part of that. I pray that this House has the courage to make that decision and make it now.

5.41 pm

Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Northampton South (Mr Binley). His emphasis on freight is absolutely right. I have a scheme which would solve all his problems and, I believe, the country’s problems, but that is another story.

I am a long-term passionate believer in railways as the mode of transport for the future. That was not true 30 years ago. It is gratifying to see Members on both sides of the House supporting the principle of railways, even if we disagree about what particular railways we ought to build. I remain sceptical about HS2. I believe it is unnecessary and extremely expensive, and the opportunity cost of spending elsewhere is very great indeed. But I do not want to be negative; I want to propose sensible, practical alternatives.

The core of all the problems of capacity is London to Birmingham and there is an alternative, which is to upgrade the route between Paddington and Birmingham Snow Hill via Banbury. That could double capacity between London and Birmingham, and also would go to a very sensible terminus at Paddington, which is of course on Crossrail. At the Birmingham end, Snow Hill is in the town centre. The station for HS2 will be away from the town centre, so much of the advantage of speed will be lost in extra transport from that station into the town centre, but Snow Hill is in the centre. That would be a great advantage.

In 1990 British Rail, as it was in those days, freed up the line and ran a train from London to Edinburgh with a two-minute stop at Newcastle. For most of the journey it was a 140 mph operation. The journey took three and a half hours—two and a half hours to Newcastle, three and a half hours to Edinburgh—which was eight minutes faster than the time advertised for HS2 now, so it can be done. We need to upgrade the route on the east coast main line, which means a double viaduct at Welwyn, so that there are four tracks at Welwyn instead of two; an east-west flyover at Peterborough; and a flyover for the Lincoln route at Newark.

All that will free up the line for a very fast, mostly 140 mph operation on the east coast main line, and we can get that journey to Edinburgh eight minutes faster than HS2. It also means that we could get a one and a half hour operation from King’s Cross to Leeds, using the east coast main line. There is even another route to get to Sheffield via Retford from King’s Cross, providing additional fast capacity—not high speed, but fast. Much of that route would be 140 mph.

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There are sensible alternatives. They would require a bit of upgrading, such as the redevelopment of some stations, but we would be talking about spending a couple of billion pounds, not £50 billion or more. They would make life much easier for everyone and free up all that extra spending for other routes. The whole railway system, being Victorian, needs an enormous amount of work, including electrification and track renewal, which is needed in many areas.

I also think that we need a dedicated rail freight line, built on old track beds and underused lines, running from the Thames right up to Glasgow, linking all Britain’s main conurbations, and capable of carrying lorries on trains. Some 80% of freight goes by lorry, rather than container. They cannot get through tunnels and bridges, so it would have to be on a new dedicated route capable of taking that kind of traffic. That is what we need to do, and it would cost a fraction of HS2. All those other operations, when added together, would cost much less than HS2 and provide much more benefit. If the cost-benefit analysis was done for that, and for the other routes I have mentioned, I think we would see that it is much more desirable in social, economic and financial terms.

5.46 pm

Mr Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) (Con): HS2 has been proposed as a solution to the problems we currently face. We are told that it is green, that it will deliver regional growth and that it will resolve slow journey speeds between British cities. However, all those claims are questionable. It is important that we highlight them before UK taxpayers are asked to foot the enormous bill of £32.7 billion.

HS2 will lead to an increase in CO2 emissions. Its supporters insist that the project is carbon-neutral. However, according to HS2 Action Alliance, 250 mph trains use three times as much power as 125 mph trains. HS2 Ltd’s plans rely on transferring passengers from existing classic rail, which uses much less fuel and carbon, to high-speed trains. That means that the new line will have few, if any, environmental benefits.

We have also failed to learn lessons from High Speed 1. In Kent, Thanet remains one of the most deprived areas in England, despite being served by high-speed rail that runs direct to London. Even the experts are questioning the proposals. Professor Mackie of the university of Leeds has said:

“For various reasons HS2 is rather unlikely to make much difference to the north-south divide. A spatial analysis would probably show London to be the main benefiting region”.

It is unlikely that HS2 will deliver the regional benefits that have been promised.

London operates as a brilliant hub, and cities across the country have brilliant connections with the capital, but that should not be the focus of investment. Lines outside London need investment too. People do not travel out of London to work and then back again to sleep; the overwhelming majority come into London for work. Our European neighbours have had a similar experience. I will give just one example. In France, on the line connecting Paris, Rhone and the Alps, passenger growth to Paris was three times greater than that from Paris.

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The only people who will benefit from the project will be those living within about a 10-mile radius of the station near Birmingham on the HS2 line. Those who live any further away, such as in the black country or Coventry, will be asked to travel more than 10 miles. Will people really be prepared to pay the cost of travelling to stations more than 10 miles away? Even if subsidised travel is provided, why should 99% of people have to pay for the 1% who use the line?

Mrs Anne Main (St Albans) (Con): Does it not seem rather perverse that we are reducing the amount of public subsidy for some commuters, such as those who take the line from my constituency to London, while putting massive public subsidy into another line? It is very much like cherry-picking.

Mr Turner: I must agree. Only a very small percentage of people use trains regularly. As the Transport Secretary has said, 10 million people travel annually on HS1, or about 30,000 people a day; another, say, 1.5 million people travel on all the other trains. What is the number of those not travelling? Practically everyone else in the country—59 million, say. That is the difference: 1.5 million on the one hand and 59 million on the other.

Another argument in favour of HS2 is that current trains are too full and the project will provide the opportunity to increase capacity. I disagree. If trains are currently too full, why not put the prices up? The way to make that fair would be to say to current regular commuters, “Yes, you can keep the current rate but a new user of the trains should be required to pay a bit more.” That would encourage further growth and investment in towns and cities outside London and raise more money towards the costs of running trains.

If it is to be delivered, the project must be delivered using private funds. The public sector should not be expected to foot the bill for HS2 while people are having to make their own financial sacrifices, and there will be no need at all to spend public money once we are out of austerity.

5.50 pm

Susan Elan Jones (Clwyd South) (Lab): Like many Members, I was rather saddened when I realised that the time for our speeches would be cut by half, until I realised that that is exactly what will happen to train journeys to my part of north Wales with the advent of high-speed rail.

Many local concerns have been legitimately aired in this debate and it is important that Front Benchers on both sides take those seriously, because they are fair and legitimate in respect of compensation. However, for me the crux of the matter is that I do not believe it can be right that from here it is quicker to get to Paris than to Wrexham, to Brussels than to Liverpool and to Rotterdam than to Glasgow. It is not right that while France, Germany, Italy and Spain all enjoy high-speed rail networks, we in Britain—the country that invented railways—do not have a comparable system.

I lived and worked in Japan for almost three years and saw how that country’s amazing bullet trains, the Shinkansen, can connect a nation and make travel so much faster. The Bill will bring jobs, growth and investment to the UK as a whole and, critically for me, to my home

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area of north Wales, although it is not directly on the line. I am delighted that such eminent Welsh experts as Professor Stuart Cole of the university of Glamorgan are pointing to the real benefits to Wales in terms of inward investment due to speedier connections and greater capacity.

As I said, the planned route does not go directly into Wales, but it is still hugely important for connectivity and investment. Getting the journey time from London to such key hubs as Manchester or Liverpool down to an hour and 10 minutes—and to Birmingham, I believe, down to 49 minutes—would be a massive improvement. If the proposed Crewe stop in the second phase takes place, as I very much hope it will, that would also improve things immeasurably. The investment would mean that getting business representatives from London to north Wales and back in a day would be easy. That is the sort of investment that we need.

I do not believe that backing HS2 excludes support for other improvements—indeed, both together are complementary. Backing HS2 does not exclude making the case for direct-line trains now from Wrexham, Gobowen and Shrewsbury to London on the west coast main line service. A Conservative Member made that case earlier and colleagues from north Wales and neighbouring Members from Shropshire, across the political divide, will continue to press it. Supporting HS2 certainly does not exclude the importance of electrification for north Wales and improvements to rail services in west Wales. All those programmes are vital.

We must, of course, ensure that there are sensible, proper connections from HS2 stations. Last week, in a debate in this House, we were reminded that it was the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo. I am loth to tread on the subject of European politics in this place, but might I be so bold as to ask why, if the French can manage high-speed trains, we should settle for something slower and second best?

I believe that the programme is needed for jobs, investment and connectivity—I emphasise connectivity, given the nature of my constituency. It is good for Wales, including north Wales, and for Britain. I welcome it and wish it well.

5.54 pm

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (The Cotswolds) (Con): In the light of your entreaty and decision to cut us down to four minutes, Madam Deputy Speaker, I have binned my speech.

I say to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that I am going to support this Bill because I believe strongly in the principle of a superb infrastructure to enable this country to be competitive in the 21st century. I hope, however, that he will regard me as a critical friend, because I think that his proposed route contains two fundamental weaknesses.

Before I talk about that, I would like to concentrate on the costs. In discussing this Bill which we are, I hope, going to pass, we need to know precisely what costs we are dealing with. My right hon. Friend has now given us two lots of costs, and I hope that he or the Minister of State will clarify exactly what those costs are. I believe that we are now talking about £42 billion for phase 1 and phase 2, plus some £9 billion for rolling stock, making a total of about £51 billion. It would be enormously helpful if he could clarify those costs.

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It was not an idle intervention that I made on my right hon. Friend earlier. I do think that money should be available from Europe in the transnational networks, and I hope that he and his Department are urgently investigating that. As the hon. Member for Clwyd South (Susan Elan Jones) said, a lot of the superb high-speed rail network was funded by Europe.

In the very short time I have available, let me deal with the two fundamental flaws in the proposed route. First, it is completely wrong to have an holistic transport policy that does not link HS2 with our major hub airport. Sir Howard Davies and his airport commission will not report until after the next election, so how can it make sense to fix a route when we do not know where the hub airport will be? If, for example, he favours—I make no recommendation as to which option he should favour—an estuarial hub airport solution, the current route would be in completely the wrong place.

The other fundamental flaw in the route is that it does not properly link HS2 and HS1. Other Members have talked about this, particularly the hon. Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown). I would say to her, and to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, that they should look at the process that was involved with HS1. The then new Secretary of State, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kensington (Sir Malcolm Rifkind), very late in the day, called in all the evidence and changed the route. That route, which had been designed by British Rail, went right through south London and was going to blight large numbers of houses, and he changed it at the very last minute. If he had not done so, Stratford International would never have come into being and the Olympics would never have taken place. I say this to my right hon. Friend: do please look at the route, because if we are spending this vast amount of money, let us, as a nation, get the maximum out of it.

I commend to my right hon. Friend a solution proposed by Ove Arup—the Heathrow hub. A Heathrow hub would produce a truly holistic transport policy integrating road, rail, freight and air. Above all, it would benefit my constituents in the west, because the newly electrified west coast main line would go into the Heathrow hub rather than having to go into Paddington and out again, as is currently the case if people want to get to Heathrow by rail. A Heathrow hub would also benefit my right hon. Friend—my good friend—the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs Gillan), because the route could be altered to be taken along the M40. I ask my right hon. Friend to think about existing transport networks, as with HS1, because if HS2 is run along existing motorway links, each one cancels out the other.

I believe in this new HS2 project, which will put Britain into the forefront of competitiveness in the 21st century, but will my right hon. Friend please have a look at the route?

5.58 pm

Graeme Morrice (Livingston) (Lab): I firmly support the delivery of a new north-south rail line, because faster journeys will bring the constituent parts of our island closer together.

As a Scottish MP, my views on HS2 as it affects and, indeed, benefits Scotland, are coloured by the area I represent. The announcement of plans to extend the high-speed rail network north of Birmingham is welcome

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news, but it is right that all parts of the country, including of course Scotland, should benefit from such a significant expansion of the country’s transport infrastructure. As it stands, the plan takes high-speed rail only halfway from London to Scotland, so there is a real necessity to extend the network further north to Edinburgh and Glasgow. These better services would provide benefits to the Scottish economy of about £3 billion, as businesses in the cities would be able to operate more efficiently, increasing their productivity while accessing new markets and labour pools. Firms throughout the UK would be able to look to Scotland for business opportunities that distance and congestion had previously made less attractive. Tourism on both sides of the border would be boosted as the UK was opened up to faster, more convenient travel. Scotland’s strong engineering base might also benefit from the employment opportunities that the planning and construction of High Speed 2 will provide.

Importantly for Scotland, bringing Edinburgh and Glasgow closer to London, as well as to the cities of the midlands and the north of England, would undoubtedly boost growth across all of its major conurbations. It would also open up the opportunity for through trains to run from Scotland to Paris and Brussels.

The argument is reinforced by reports that estimate that the regional economic benefits of high-speed rail for central Scotland would be about £20 billion over a 60 year period, which compares with £5.4 billion for the west midlands. Studies reiterate that the most cost-effective option for a rail route between London and Scotland is a new high-speed route that connects London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Such a network would be expected to deliver up to £50 billion of business benefits alone. That would be felt greatly in Scotland and the north of England, as well as in the south.

We need extra capacity on north-south routes sooner rather than later and all northern cities must be able to link into those routes. It is apparent that that might not be fully realised. I understand that the HS2 technical director has described the construction of the UK’s high-speed rail network as the work of generations. It will be many years before England and Scotland are connected in this way. Public opinion demands that the high-speed network be extended north of the border. Concerns have also been expressed about the lack of information about funding, costs, routes and the location of terminal stations.

To sum up, the Scottish end of the UK’s high-speed network should be built as soon as possible so that we can have the immediate benefit of a high-speed line between Edinburgh and Glasgow. I call on the Minister to commit to a concrete timetable for extending high-speed rail to Scotland. Not only would high-speed rail boost the Scottish economy and support thousands of jobs in Scotland and throughout the UK, but it would give us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape the economic geography of the whole country.

6.2 pm

Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell) (Con): I offer a heartfelt thank you to my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State and the Minister of State, who have

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been exceptionally receptive to me and my constituents and have worked hard to resolve the issues with HS2 in my constituency.

I fully support HS2. It is a vital project for Leeds. Unfortunately, the plan that has been put forward is unacceptable, but my right hon. Friends have worked very closely with me and we have come up with some ideas. The route will still go through my constituency, but hopefully those ideas will form part of the consultation. As has been said, it is important that we utilise, as far as is possible, the high-traffic corridors that already exist, such as the M1, which is 12 lanes wide up to Leeds.

Andrew Bridgen: My hon. Friend says that he overwhelmingly supports HS2. He supported it this morning when it was going to cost £33 billion. He supports it now that it will cost £43 billion. Will he support it when it will cost £50 billion or £60 billion?

Alec Shelbrooke: I am glad for the extra minute, but my hon. Friend knows that he is making those figures up. He is including the contingency, which will not necessarily be spent. The Secretary of State has also made it clear that £5 billion will be spent on rolling stock, which could go on the existing west coast and east coast main lines. My hon. Friend knows that he is being rather naughty with the figures.

Returning to the advantages for Leeds, over the past decade Leeds has been a growth city. A great deal of business has come to Leeds. There are things that we need. I lead on transport issues within the team of Leeds MPs. Leeds is crying out for its transport network to be improved, because it is worse than it was in the 1950s. We want to move forward with the tram-train system.

None of those things will happen unless there is investment in our northern cities. That is one reason why HS2 is so important. There are huge commercial opportunities in Leeds. There is also a willing and able work force in and around Yorkshire that can be drawn to Leeds. We have got to get away from the idea of its being a Leeds to London link. The most important benefit to Leeds—yes, we will be able to get to London within an hour and 20 minutes—will be the Javelin trains, which will service a wide area of the Leeds city region and will link up, if I can get a tram-train system put in, with the Leeds-Bradford International airport, which is vital to the economy of Yorkshire. Thanks to lobbying by the airport and local MPs, there are now three British Airways flights a day to Heathrow, which dock at terminal 5. The Javelin trains will cover the wider area, so that people in south Yorkshire and west Yorkshire will be able to get to Leeds-Bradford airport in minimum time, get airside and get off in New York, San Francisco, Australia or wherever they are going. HS2 will open that up. It is nonsensical to say that we need to discuss where we are going with the airline industry first before we talk about HS2—they complement each other.

In April, we came to the House during the recess to reflect on the death of Margaret Thatcher. Many Members on the Government Benches gave speeches about how she was a visionary, and how she led and did what she thought was right. I ask my hon. Friends to reflect on the great lady’s comments in 1986, on the opening of the M25:

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“Now some people are saying that the road is too small, even that it’s a disaster. I must say I can’t stand those who carp and criticise when they ought to be congratulating Britain on a magnificent achievement and beating the drum for Britain all over the world.”

I am sure my right hon. Friend the Minister remembers the quote. She went on to say:

“And to those who say, ‘we always build our roads too small’ we can only point out that at some of the planning enquires those who object to the new road say that our traffic forecasts are excessive, and that improvements to existing roads would be enough. Fortunately the planning inspectors and successive Secretaries of State have not accepted that viewpoint.”

We can see the comparison with the high-speed rail network, which I believe is vital for my home city of Leeds and for the growth of Britain.

6.7 pm

Kris Hopkins (Keighley) (Con): I rise to support the Bill. HS2 will link eight of Britain’s 10 largest cities. As a Yorkshire MP, that is not just good news for Leeds and Sheffield, but for the wider economy. My nearest city, Bradford, is intrinsically linked by its economy to Leeds. The key benefits of jobs, increased capacity and shorter journey times will transform the north of England’s ability to contribute to the economy, which is why I am extremely disappointed that the Labour-led leadership on Bradford council has turned its back on this project. I ask them to reconsider. If the great wealth generators of the industrial revolution who transformed our northern cities had the same limited vision for our communities as the Labour party in Bradford, this country would not have achieved the greatness it attained.

As a direct consequence of this investment, two-thirds of the population of the north of England will be within two hours’ reach of London’s markets. Redrawing the economic geography of the nation will bring our cities closer together and contribute to rebalancing growth and opportunity. The growth in jobs could start earlier by starting the build at both ends of the proposed route, and by ensuring that materials and the work force are sourced as much from the north of England as they are from the south. We need that investment in the north of England. We have a huge contribution to make to Britain’s economy, and that will help us to win the global race that the Chancellor talked about earlier today.

Not since the Victorian era has there been this level of investment in our rail infrastructure. I am sure that the businessmen and women who have to stand on trains on the east coast main line at peak times all the way to Doncaster before they can get a seat will vouch for that lack of investment. The imbalance between the economies of the north and the south cannot carry on. The Bill is a key component in bringing about change and I ask my colleagues to support it.

6.9 pm

Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford) (Con): Earlier this year, hundreds of my constituents awoke to find that the value of their homes had been substantially reduced and those who had plans to move discovered that purchasers could no longer get mortgages. That remains the case. The reason was the announcement of the preferred route for HS2—a route that followed none of

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the previously published options nor an existing transport corridor. Furthermore, the project will not see a shovel in the ground for 13 years and will only be completed in 20 years, meaning uncertainty and disruption for a generation. It was also a route that, I have been told, can hardly be altered, because it is designed to take ultra-high-speed trains travelling at up to 250 mph and hence must be straight. As a result, it goes through five villages in my constituency and comes very close to others.

I have long advocated sensible investment in rail in the UK. When the previous Government proposed to build new track for the west coast main line across my constituency in order to cut journey times and improve capacity, I supported it, but I believe that HS2 is the wrong solution. The Government have rightly said that a new rail network needs to be designed to increase capacity, rather than speed, so I cannot understand the fixation with speeds of 225 mph to 250 mph, if that means that routes are so inflexible that they cannot follow existing corridors, such as motorways, as many have argued. No railway in Europe travels at that speed. The maximum is 200 mph.

Then there is the question of capacity and demand. I imagined that HS2 had done a lot of detailed work on this point, so I wrote asking for current figures for the utilisation of west coast main line services as well as projected figures to 2035. The answer from HS2 was:

“I am sorry but we do not have information on the current figures of WCML services. The Department of Transport may do.”

Mrs Gillan: Does my hon. Friend agree that the fact that Virgin is starting a major advertising campaign to attract people to travel on the west coast main line means that it can hardly have a capacity problem?

Jeremy Lefroy: I do. The first-class coaches are almost never full. Indeed, I have often seen one person per first-class carriage. It needs to make at least two of them standard class.

I had also imagined that HS2 would be largely used by business travellers, so I was surprised to have the reply from HS2 stating that 70% of journeys on HS2 were expected to be for leisure purposes. I fully recognise the value of leisure travel to the economy, but where is the justification for an ultra-high-speed line, such as that which HS2 seems so determined to build, if 70% of those using it are doing so for leisure?

Andrew Bridgen: Does my hon. Friend recall that the initial estimates of capacity usage for HS1 were overestimated by 30%?

Jeremy Lefroy: Yes, and I fully understand the problems mentioned by some of my hon. Friends. We need to do something about that, but an ultra-high-speed line is not the answer.

I come now to the business case for HS2. There has been a lot of argument about whether it is valid. I am not an expert in these matters, but there are several things that make me sceptical. The first is the apparent lack of knowledge at HS2 about current demand. The second is the surprising fact that HS2 is to be largely a leisure railway rather than a business railway. Since leisure passengers are much more sensitive to price

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than business passengers, especially premium business, I wonder whether this price sensitivity has been fully incorporated in the business case. The third reason is the large question mark over whether this is the right way to help the midlands and the north to develop. Just this week, plans were unveiled for a vast new commercial development at Old Oak common in London at the proposed junction of Cross Rail and HS2. I welcome that, but it underlines the concerns of those who worry that HS2 will simply bring more development into London, possibly at the expense of the midlands, the north and Scotland.

Then there is the business case for the west coast main line after HS2 comes into service. The line will remain an essential part of our national transport infrastructure, so it is essential that its post-2035 business case be at least as strong as that for HS2, but I have not had that case from HS2, despite my asking for it. Given that HS2 is so dependent on leisure traffic, I am concerned about what will be left for the west coast main line. Clearly, there will be an increase in freight and some leisure, commuter and regional services, but will it be sufficient to maintain the line without very substantial subsidy? And if a subsidy will indeed be required, has that been factored into the business case for HS2?

I fully support the comments made by north Staffordshire MPs about the real concern over the connectivity of Stoke-on-Trent, which is one of the top 10 conurbations in the country. I ask the Secretary of State to take that matter very seriously. On compensation, I entirely agree with those who support the idea of a property bond. That must be done. In France, people receive well over the market rate for their property, and everything goes through much faster. Let us be generous, as many Members have suggested.

I have no pleasure in opposing the proposals before us. If this were a Bill to provide for additional capacity in the network by using existing corridors at a sustainable cost and without a fixation on ultra-high-speed trains, I would support it wholeheartedly, but I am afraid that it will achieve none of those things.

6.15 pm

Stuart Andrew (Pudsey) (Con): I certainly welcome the Bill. For too long, we have been trying to move our 21st century population round the country on a transport system that was built by the Victorians. For too long, we have tinkered with the system—at a very expensive rate—to try to improve it, but that only brought disruption and did not solve the problem. We still have a major and pressing capacity problem that is simply not going to go away. It is going to get worse, and we ignore that fact at our peril.

Routes that are crucial to counties, cities and towns such as Yorkshire, Leeds and Pudsey are going to be overwhelmed. We have already heard about the doubling of train journeys in the past 15 years. In 2011, during the morning peak, an average of 4,000 people had to stand as they travelled on the routes into Euston, and 5,000 had to do so on the routes into Birmingham. There are currently 115 passengers for every 100 seats, and the situation is going to get much worse. We need to act now to increase the capacity on our railways. As a

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country, we cannot afford to leave the economic future of cities such as Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham to an overcrowded railway that will be almost 200 years old by the time HS2 opens.

If we are going to deal with the problem, why not be ambitious about it? Let us do it properly. Let us not tinker with it; instead, let us get back that Victorian foresight and ambition and make our railways something we can be proud of. The only way we can do that is by building a new line, so let us use the best technology and make it a high-speed line. After all, it is rather embarrassing that Turkey will soon have 1,500 miles of high-speed rail when we have just 67. HS2 will bring us the capacity that we need. It will double the number of seats between Leeds and Birmingham, it will transport the equivalent of the population of Cardiff every day, and it will run up to 18 trains an hour.

Over the years of debate on HS2, those who are against it have said that it will have an impact on the regions that it is trying to serve, and that the money would be better spent on local services. But this is not an either/or; it has to be both and, frankly, it is both. The northern hub is being funded in full, the line between Manchester and Leeds is being electrified, and new stations are opening up all over the place. The core cities are predicting the creation of 400,000 jobs. During the construction phase alone, the project will provide more than 8 million pay packets. HS2 will also link our cities to help them to do business. At the moment, trying to get on a train going from Birmingham to Leeds is a nightmare. Let us see business working together in those two great cities. As we have heard, 70% of the jobs created will be outside London.

We have heard about the costs and the business case, and I shall not repeat those points, but we need to maximise the potential. I welcome the decision to create a taskforce, led by Lord Deighton, to keep this major project on track. He has a great record in this area. We must ensure that British industry and the British work force are ready to deal with these changes. I want the best for my constituents. I want them to benefit from the best opportunities that the country has to offer, just as those in many constituencies in the south have been able to do. We cannot wait; this is urgent. Let’s get ambitious.

6.19 pm

James Morris (Halesowen and Rowley Regis) (Con): If Members can agree on anything, it is surely that there is an urgent need to rebalance Britain’s economy away from over-reliance on London and the south-east, so that we can harness the full potential of the whole country. For too long, the black country and the wider west midland region were allowed to fall behind while other parts of the economy accelerated. Although the financial services bubble gave the illusion of economic growth, the black country saw relatively little of the benefit. Gross value added in Dudley and Sandwell fell from 88% of the national average in 1997 to just 74% in 2008. Now that our local economy seems to be getting back on track, we need to make sure that the recovery is sustainable, and we need to put in place the infrastructure to make sure that the west midlands is not left behind again. This Bill, and the project it allows for, is absolutely vital for the west midlands economy.

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Halesowen and Rowley Regis was at the heart of the industrial revolution. Our communities developed around the transport network of the day, and new links were built to transport our goods around the country. The position of the west midlands at the centre of the motorway network is still a huge advantage for transporting freight, but we need much better transport infrastructure to move people between Britain’s great cities. Great cities such as Birmingham and Manchester offer many advantages over the capital, but the reality for many companies is that much of their work will still need to be done in London, and they see the current rail network as an obstacle to effective business rather than as a way of getting from one location to another efficiently.

Most of the focus has been on reducing journey times. Although this will be an important consideration for many businesses, for most of my constituents the key benefit of HS2 will be the increased capacity that the new line will offer. The rail network around the west midlands is quickly approaching bursting point, which would be catastrophic for businesses and for people just needing to travel across the country. The number of people travelling by rail to and from cities in the west midlands is increasing even more quickly than the national trend.

My constituency is served by three mainline railway stations, with regular services to and from Birmingham. Our regional services have to share lines with the inter-city network, severely constraining the ability of either to expand to meet rapidly growing demand. Rail journeys to and from Birmingham have increased by 22% over the past five years, and for Coventry the figure is even higher at 30%.

If there is a clear need for greater capacity across the core of our rail network, surely the only question is what form the extra lines should take—whether we build a new high-speed line across the country or expand the lines we have. Although I can understand why, on a superficial level, it might sound attractive to try to add extra capacity to old lines, this cannot be the best way forward in the long term. We have an ageing rail network, and HS2 would be the first major rail line built outside London for 150 years. During that time, plenty of lines have been taken out of service.

Our economy is relying on a rail network that was largely designed around the needs of the mid-19th century. Given the cost of any expansion in capacity on the scale needed to meet future demand, why on earth would we opt to stick with a technology that would be nearly 200 years old by the time the new service was operational? If we are serious about building an effective rail network, and serious about rebalancing our economy, surely the only way forward is for us to invest in this infrastructure and allow our regional economies to compete and succeed.

6.23 pm

Angie Bray (Ealing Central and Acton) (Con): As is the norm with any major infrastructure project in this country, HS2 has provoked a massive debate and has become something of a national drama. I think it fair to say that Ealing and Acton has not exactly been immune to the debate, and that the project has had a bumpy ride in my patch. With a border to the north more or less marked out by the railway lines pinpointed to be the arteries taking the new trains in and out of London

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after they have passed through Old Oak Common, it is undeniable that the proposal will have an impact on my constituency.

Residents in north Acton, living right on the boundary between Ealing and Brent where the new Old Oak Common station would be, will be particularly affected by an estimated eight years of construction works. Some will also find themselves potentially living alongside the railway where it comes out from the tunnel. Obviously, it is not easy to allay genuine and legitimate concerns, but, first and foremost, compensation for those whose properties border or lie close to the track must be as generous as it is possible to be.

Secondly, the onus will be on Ealing council and Transport for London to manage the arrangements in a way that keeps disruption to a minimum. I understand that some constituents fear that they will be almost completely trapped, and will be unable even to gain access to local shops or their doctors while the works proceed. That would be simply unacceptable. Alternatives such as extra bus routes around the works will have to be laid on, and effective traffic management will be essential.

Concerns about mayhem around the Hanger Lane gyratory system while the line is being constructed, along with anxieties about the impact of an overground HS2 through parts of north Ealing, prompted a vigorous campaign by local residents who have demanded, at the very least, a tunnel between Old Oak Common and Northolt. Last year I wrote to the Secretary of State supporting their campaign, and I am delighted to say that that option appears to have met with his favour. We look forward to final confirmation.

Nevertheless, as my constituents know—notwithstanding those local impacts and the opposition from campaigners further up the proposed line—I have long been a firm supporter of what I see as an ambitious and timely project. Given that I have campaigned loudly against a third runway at Heathrow and have used the “train not plane” argument, how could I not be? Central to this pledge was the logic that a new high-speed rail link improving north-south connections would dramatically reduce the need for the airlines to lay on so many short-haul domestic flights from some of our northern cities, which take up so much landing space at Heathrow. The HS2 concept, however, has always been more than just a buffer against the immediate third runway threat. It is a project for the future, and a rare example of a Government’s demonstrating genuine long-term vision—something that we should be encouraging.

We know that existing services will be full to bursting point by the mid 2020s. We know that the demand is there and that we need to ease the pressure, so why not plan now? Sooner or later we will need the extra capacity, and if we wait for 10 years we will just be doing what we have to do now in a rush. In any case, I have always believed that a country that can be ambitious should be ambitious, and should seek to update its infrastructure in a timely fashion.

High-speed rail makes sense, it will be needed in this country, and the proposals are achievable. I believe that as long as there is generous compensation—and I do mean generous—for all whose lives would be blighted, we should all get behind this project.