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My constituency has suffered from the issue of probity, and I will explain why for those Members who may not be familiar with the situation. Shortly after being elected as the Member of the Scottish Parliament for the constituency of Dunfermline in 2011, Bill Walker was revealed to have repeatedly assaulted a number of women in his family over 30 years. In August 2013 he was convicted of 23 counts of domestic violence against three of his ex-wives, and one count of violence against his stepdaughter. In the case of his stepdaughter, such was the level of violence that he broke a frying pan over her head. However, my constituents were powerless to remove Bill Walker from his £60,000 a year job because the law as it currently stands requires a sentence of a year and a day in custody before disqualification. The maximum sentence that the Sheriff Court could hand out—and which indeed was given—was exactly one year. Only after a tenacious campaign by the Dunfermline Press newspaper did Mr Walker bow to public pressure and resign.

I place on record my thanks to the Dunfermline Press for the public service it performed. That was an excellent example of a local newspaper providing leadership in its community, but it should not be the responsibility of a newspaper to take on that role. Parliament should be acting now to ensure that no constituency is in that ridiculous situation again, and that is why Labour supports the Bill. We believe that where there is clear evidence of serious wrongdoing, the public have a right to remove and replace their MP.

We agree with those who argue that the Bill does not go far enough. It would not have captured any MPs embroiled in the 1990s cash for questions scandal, it does not reform the standards procedure, and the scope is so narrowly drawn that provisions for recall cannot be extended to other elected representatives. For example, if a councillor is found to have committed a serious breach of the local authority code of conduct, why do the Government not propose that their constituents also have the right to recall them?

Will the Deputy Leader of the House explain why the Bill makes no provision for councillors, or indeed for police and crime commissioners, and will he update us on what progress—if any—has been made in talks with the Scottish Government on devolving this power to Holyrood? Why does the Bill not cover the three devolved Assemblies in Cardiff, Belfast and London?

The Opposition support the Bill’s rather belated appearance. We look forward to working across the House to strengthen the Bill further, so that we can ensure that the final legislation is both robust and commands public confidence.

6.44 pm

The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons (Tom Brake): We have had an impassioned debate and I am very grateful to all hon. Members for their contributions. I will do my best in the time remaining to address as many of the points raised, but I think that will prove challenging.

As we have seen, there are many different views on ways in which we ought to hold MPs to account. For some, this does not require a recall system at all. For others, a recall system should be available on any grounds and at any time. All three parties committed to a recall

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system in their manifestos and it was included in the coalition’s programme for government. MPs are elected to serve a term of five years and we believe they should continue to have the freedoms to carry out their job and make difficult decisions where necessary. However, the Government think it important to fill a gap in the current accountability of MPs by providing assurance that where an MP has been found guilty of serious wrongdoing—whether serving a prison sentence for committing a crime or a long period of suspension from the House for breaching the MPs code of conduct—the public will have a chance to have their say on whether the MP should continue to represent them.

It would be a much better situation if there were no instances of wrongdoing that engage the triggers in the Bill, but where MPs commit serious wrongdoing, whether in the eyes of the law or the House of Commons, under the Government’s Bill they will be subject to a recall petition, We hope we have struck a middle ground by providing sensible and balanced proposals for a recall mechanism aimed at addressing wrongdoing. Our proposals aim to provide a robust, fair and open process that is suitable for our system of parliamentary democracy.

In the time that remains, I will try to address some of the comments, concerns and criticisms that were raised. The hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Stephen Twigg) and the hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife (Thomas Docherty), in the Opposition’s opening and summing-up speeches, referred to cash for questions. I think the suggestion was that cash for questions would not be covered under the Government’s proposals. That is not correct. Cash for questions would clearly constitute a breach of the code of conduct. It would therefore be perfectly in order for the Standards Committee to consider the matter and recommend a duration of suspension that could lead to a recall.

The hon. Member for Richmond Park (Zac Goldsmith) made a number of points. He suggested that the Bill sets back democracy because its scope is too narrow. That is not the Government’s view. The concerns we have about his proposals—this point was not picked up by him, or by any of the supporters of his proposals—relate to the 5% petitions: the initial stage where, as far as I understand it, people or campaigns could spend as much as they wanted on drumming up support that could then be transferred or translated into the starting point of the petition process. That issue needs to be addressed and he did not respond to it. As I understand it, when he and colleagues had an initial discussion on this, the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) raised the need to address it because he had identified that it was a problem in the Californian system. As I understand it, this is not a matter that has been addressed in the amendments proposed by the hon. Member for Richmond Park.

The hon. Gentleman referred repeatedly to the threshold of 14,000 or 15,000 people to achieve the 20%. That is true, but I think that in most constituencies the process of initiating the 5% petition—the indication of the need for a petition—will be used again and again, rather than people necessarily raising the 20% required for a referendum.

The hon. Gentleman said that we are all susceptible to the pressures of newspapers. That is exactly the point about how the process of starting the initial petition, the indication of the 5%, will be used. He referred to the fact that in America recall has apparently been used

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only 40 times in the past 100 years. However, the figures I have are that in 2014 alone, and in California alone, there have been 30 recall petitions initiated at different levels of government. It is not a process that happens only once in a while; it happens regularly. He also challenged the Government’s estimate that a constituency referendum would cost about £90,000. If he has a different figure, I would like to see it, but I stand by ours.

The hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) raised an interesting point about whether courts would give an MP a lesser sanction than others found guilty of a similar offence. On the contrary, I wonder whether they might not impose a higher sanction.

The hon. Member for Broxbourne (Mr Walker) made a balanced and sensible contribution. He thinks that perhaps MPs have lost respect because we have given too many powers away, but often one of people’s greatest concerns about Westminster is that we are holding on to far too many powers, as opposed to giving too many away—or at least that we are not giving powers away in the right places by pushing down the decision-making process.

The hon. Member for Clacton (Douglas Carswell) referred rather disparagingly to Westminster grandees and the lay people on the Standards Committee. I should perhaps declare an interest in that I know one of the lay people, Sharon Darcy, who is also a leading light in my local citizens advice bureau, and in no way is she a Westminster grandee, and nor would she have her views pressurised by anyone in this place, be they Whips or anyone else. He also drew some parallels between trusting a jury and trusting the electorate, but my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Mike Thornton), who is no longer in his place, intervened to point out that there must be something to answer for before reaching the jury stage, which is not the case in relation to the proposals from the hon. Member for Richmond Park.

Mr Stewart Jackson: Last weekend, in response to the hon. Member for Clacton (Douglas Carswell), the Prime Minister agreed that the Government would look at the amendments, yet the Deputy Leader of the House seems to be setting his face against them. Do the Government intend to table amendments accepting the central premise of the amendments proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond Park (Zac Goldsmith)?

Tom Brake: Both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have indicated that the Bill could be improved and that we are willing to listen to proposals, but that does not necessarily mean adopting the proposals from the hon. Member for Richmond Park.

The right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden said we were better off trusting our own constituents. Like all Members, of course I trust mine, but it is not the constituents who are the issue; it is the campaign groups and vexatious individuals who might decide to launch repeated recall petitions with no basis, as opposed to challenging MPs because they have committed serious wrongdoing.

The hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Mr MacNeil)was worried that people who had been detained in a police station might be caught by the Bill. Clearly, that would not be the case in any circumstances.

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The word “detention” is designed to capture circumstances where an MP, having been convicted and sentenced, is ordered to serve their sentence somewhere other than in a prison—for example, a young offenders institution or a hospital.

I welcome the very rational comments from my hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mark Field) on the EU and immigration—I am just sorry they will not do him any good. I wonder, however, whether in three years he might not feel that it is his party that has deserted him and that instead of him leaving his party, he should stay put and other people should move to another party.

Mark Field: I can confirm that I will not be joining the Liberal Democrats.

Tom Brake: I was not suggesting that was what the hon. Gentleman had in mind; I was thinking he might set up a party called the “One Nation Conservative party”.

Mr Redwood: Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Tom Brake: I need to make some progress.

The right hon. Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson) gave a very blunt critique of the Bill, which as a Member who is leaving the House he is perhaps in a better place to do than others.

The hon. Member for South Dorset (Richard Drax) asked how we restore faith in this place and was of the view that recall will not help. My view is that it will and, in fact, when the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee considered the issue and commissioned a poll, it found that the public do not understand why MPs can continue to sit if they have committed a serious crime and it also found that a massive nine out of 10 people thought that MPs who committed a serious crime should face a recall.

Mr Redwood: Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Hon. Members: Give way!

Tom Brake: I am sorry, but I am not going to give way. I want to pick up on a couple of points that were made by Members who were present during the debate.

The hon. Member for Foyle (Mark Durkan) made the point that hon. Members should be protected in doing their duties in this House. I am not sure that the amendments he is supporting will enable that to happen. I was pleased that we had two contributions from expert former Leaders of the House. My right hon. Friend the Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr Lansley) put his finger on it immediately when he said that the issue is with Members being subject to a notice of intent to recall and the damage that is associated with that. He also asked a specific question about the Standards Committee. I certainly agree with him that the disciplinary procedures of the House must be robust and I welcome the review that a sub-committee of the Standards Committee is undertaking to consider its disciplinary procedures. These matters are for the House as a whole, but the Government would certainly support any amendments to the procedure that Members felt improved

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it. That might well include introducing measures that increase the role of the lay members and ensure that their views are properly represented.

My hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh pointed out, quite rightly, that in some states in the US, after a recall petition, rather than a member of another party being elected someone from the same party is appointed to replace them. To draw too many parallels with the US is not very helpful.

Mr Redwood: Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Tom Brake: I will not give way, as I still want to respond to a couple of speeches.

I understand why the hon. Member for Newton Abbot (Anne Marie Morris) is proposing her amendment, but, in an intervention, the hon. Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson), who is not in his place, pointed out that simply having the name of the sponsor is not a solution as any vexatious individual or campaign can replace it with another when they need to. The hon. Member for Cleethorpes (Martin Vickers) spoke about the need to balance the rights of individuals with the risk of vexatious campaigns.

We were very fortunate to have a contribution from another past Leader of the House, my right hon. Friend the Member for North West Hampshire (Sir George Young), who pointed out succinctly that much of the debate is about cause and conduct. He comes down, as I do, on the side of this being about conduct, or misconduct, not cause. The hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr Jackson) made the same point about cause or conduct.

The hon. Member for Bournemouth West (Conor Burns) said, to summarise his speech, that it was time for us to grasp the controls in the cockpit of democracy. I would fully support that.

Finally, the hon. Member for Beverley and Holderness (Mr Stuart) said that the public feel cheated about the extra hurdles that he suggested we are putting in people’s way. However, I would say that the issue is more with the proposals made by the hon. Member for Richmond Park. They contain more hurdles, and the time it would take to complete them is longer than that proposed by the Government.

I welcome the support of the hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife (Thomas Docherty) for the Bill on Second Reading and we make no apologies for the time it has taken to introduce the Bill. I would prefer that we had decent, well-researched legislation than rushed legislation. He referred to police and crime commissioners and councillors. Clearly, the Government will want to consider them in the future, but they do not fall within the scope of the Bill. He also referred to the situation in Scotland, but this is clearly a matter on which the Scottish parties need to get agreement.

To sum up, I reiterate that the Bill is about providing public accountability when there have been proven cases of wrongdoing. I have tried to address the points that have been raised. The Bill proposes a recall system that is open and fair and that fits with our unique constitutional system and I commend the Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

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Mr Speaker: Order. Before I come to the programme motion and ask a Minister or Whip to move it, I should tell the House that there is an error on the Order Paper in that the words “remaining new clauses” should have appeared after the words “Clauses 21 to 25” under the business for the third day.

Recall of MPs Bill (Programme)

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 83A(7)),

That the following provisions shall apply to the Recall of MPs Bill:

Committal

(1) The Bill shall be committed to a Committee of the whole House.

Proceedings in Committee

(2) Proceeding in Committee of the whole House shall be completed in three days.

(3) the proceedings shall be taken on the days shown in the first column of the following Table and in the order so shown.

(4) The proceedings shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the times specified in the second column of the Table.

Table

Proceedings

Time for conclusion of proceedings

First day

 

Clauses 1 to 5, new clauses and new Schedules relating to how an MP becomes subject to a recall

The moment of interruption on the first day

Second day

 

Clause 6, Schedule 1, Clauses 7 to 10, Schedule 2, Clauses 11 to 13, new Clauses and new Schedules relating to the recall petition process (except any relating to the determination of the success of a recall petition, the effect of a successful recall petition, or financial controls)

The moment of interruption on the second day

Third day

 

Clauses 14 and 15, new Clauses and new Schedules relating to the determination of the success of a recall petition or the effect of a successful recall petition, Clause 16, Schedules 3 to 5, Clause 17, new Clauses and new Schedules relating to financial controls, Clauses 18 to 20, Schedule 6, clauses 21 to 25, remaining new Clauses, remaining new Schedules, remaining proceedings on the Bill

The moment of interruption on the third day

Consideration and Third Reading

 

(5) Any proceedings on Consideration shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour before the moment of interruption on the day on which those proceedings are commenced.

(6) Proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the moment of interruption on the day.

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Programming committee

 

(7) Standing Order No.83B (Programming committees) shall not apply to proceedings in Committee of the whole House, to any proceedings on Consideration or to proceedings on Third Reading

Other proceedings

 

(8) Any other proceedings on the Bill 9including any procee3dings on consideration of Lords Amendments or on any further messages from the Lords) may be programmed.—(Mel Stride.)

Question agreed to.

Recall of MPs Bill (Money)

Queen’s recommendation signified.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No.52(1)(a),

That, for the purposes of an Act resulting from the Recall of MPs Bill, it is expedient to authorise:

(1) the payment out of the Consolidated Fund of sums required by a Minister of the Crown for making payments to petition officers relating to their functions under or by virtue of the Act; and

(2) the payment of sums into the Consolidated Fund.—(Mel Stride.)

Question agreed to.

Business without Debate

Sittings of the house

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 25),

That this House at its rising on Thursday 12 February 2015, do adjourn until Monday 23 February 2015.—(Mel Stride.)

Question agreed to.

Delegated Legislation

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

National Health Service

That the draft Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014, which were laid before this House on 7 July, be approved.—(Mel Stride.)

Question agreed to.

Motion made and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Independent parliamentary standards authority

That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty will appoint Professor Sir Ian Kennedy to the office of Chair of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority from the end of his current term until 1 June 2016.—(Mel Stride.)

The Speaker’s opinion as to the decision of the Question being challenged, the Division was deferred until tomorrow. (Standing Order No. 41A).

European Union documents

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 119(11)),

EU General Budget 2015: Draft Budget

That this House takes note of European Union Documents No. 10340/14, a draft Amending Budget No. 3/2014 to the General Budget 2014, No. 10341/14, a draft Decision on the

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mobilisation of the Contingency Margin in 2014, No. SEC (2014) 357, Statement of Estimates of the Commission for 2015: Preparation of the 2015 Draft Budget, Documents I-IV, No. 10946/14, a draft Decision on the mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund, and No. 10947/14, a draft Decision on the mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument; agrees with the Government that at a time of ongoing economic fragility in Europe and tight constraints on domestic public spending, it is essential that the European Union budget reflects the consolidation efforts of Member States to bring the levels of deficits and debt onto a more sustainable path; notes that the Council position on the 2015 Draft Budget respects the seven year Multi-Annual Financial Framework agreement for 2014-20, secured by the Prime Minister in 2013, which delivers an unprecedented real-terms reduction compared with the 2007-13 period in addition to protecting the UK rebate; calls on the Government to continue its efforts to limit the size of the EU budget by pressing for necessary restraint and discipline in the budget negotiations in autumn 2014 and beyond, in order to get the best deal for UK taxpayers; and agrees that further reform of the budget is necessary over the longer term

.—(Mel Stride

.

)

Question agreed to.

petition

Traffic Calming Measures on Glentworth Road East in Westgate

7.2 pm

David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale) (Con): I am pleased to present this petition on behalf of almost all the residents who live on Glentworth Road East in Westgate in my constituency. This campaign has been spearheaded by Mr Kevin Hyde, whom I met to discuss the issues. I then joined him in taking his petition to all his neighbours. What astounded me was the support I received from every household I visited for more traffic-calming measures on this residential road. Glentworth Road East is directly opposite an industrial area called Whiteland and workers often use the residential road for parking. This narrows the road considerably while also narrowing the pavements. There have been lots of near misses on this stretch and sometimes even mothers with babies in prams are unable to use the pavement. The residents want a residents-only parking scheme. The road has also become a short-cut for speeding cars that are trying to avoid the speed camera on the main road. That, coupled with the narrowing of the road, is extremely dangerous, so the residents want a one-way system, too. I urge the House to support my call on Lancashire county council to act and introduce some traffic-calming measures in that area.

Following is the full text of the petition:

[The Petition of members of the community in Morecambe,

Declares that the Petitioners believe that there should be traffic calming measures introduced on Glentworth Road East and also parking restrictions imposed.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to encourage Lancashire County Council to take steps to support the residents in Morecambe and to ensure that measures are introduced to stop speeding and dangerous parking in Westgate.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.]

[P001390]

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High Speed 2 (Compensation)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Mel Stride.)

7.3 pm

Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con): I am grateful for the opportunity to raise the issue of compensation for those adversely affected by High Speed 2. I thank colleagues for being here alongside me, as well as those who were unable to attend but have contacted my office. Since its announcement, and in common with others such as my right hon. Friends the Members for Aylesbury (Mr Lidington) and for Buckingham (John Bercow), I have received numerous representations from people affected by HS2. The theme, I am afraid, is a common one: despair at the current compensation arrangements and a feeling of powerlessness from people who think they cannot influence the process.

Since HS2’s announcement, I have consistently pushed for a fair and generous compensation package. Sadly, despite six public consultations and four years of anxiety for my constituents in Chesham and Amersham and for other colleagues’ constituents, the current proposals for compensation remain as inadequate as ever. However, before the Government’s announcement of their response to the latest consultation, I wanted to give the Minister one more chance finally to listen to people and to put things right.

There have been promises from Ministers. The overriding principle of this project ought to be that no one should have to suffer a financial penalty or be trapped in their home because of HS2. That view is shared by many of us, including my hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner (Mr Hurd), who is currently on paternity leave but who would otherwise have been present. Unfortunately, the reality shows that that is not the case. Some properties have been on the market for years, and people are trapped and unable to move on with their lives.

Notwithstanding those ministerial promises, the compensation schemes to date have been woefully derisory, and people are facing substantial financial loss. The Transport Secretary promised that compensation would be “full and fair” for “those most directly affected”, and the Prime Minister told me personally that compensation schemes would be “generous and fair”. Given that other major infrastructure projects are in the pipeline, it is time for a rethink on compensation. I hope that the Minister will respond positively, with the aim of introducing fairer arrangements.

Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab): I appreciated the fact that when members of the HS2 Committee visited Coventry and Kenilworth, they allowed me to accompany them and explain the situation to some of my constituents. As for the question of negative equity—I know that the right hon. Lady will agree with me about this—some people in the Coventry area who have invested their life savings will not qualify for any form of compensation.

Mrs Gillan: The hon. Gentleman has made a very valid point, and I shall say more about it shortly.

There are problems with the current compensation proposals. They will compensate only about 2% of those who live within 1 km of HS2, or within 250 metres

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from a tunnel. As the hon. Gentleman has just pointed out, despite widespread evidence of blight, the vast majority of people affected by HS2 will not be compensated fairly, because the Government have consistently linked the scheme to distance from the line and have ignored the wider effects. HS2 Action Alliance has calculated that only about 172,000 people will receive any kind of compensation, although more than a million live within 1 km of HS2 and many are being adversely affected.

Frank Dobson (Holborn and St Pancras) (Lab): In my area, around Euston, people will be living next to the biggest construction site in Europe for 10 or 15 years. They will be living within a yard of the works. However, they will be entitled to no compensation at all. As the right hon. Lady will know, uncertainty is a major source of blight. The revised proposals for Euston were supposed to be presented next month, but that has now been postponed until after the general election.

Mrs Gillan: The right hon. Gentleman and I have stood shoulder to shoulder across the House on this issue. There is no party divide on it. I know that my right hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Sir John Randall) is similarly concerned, as are many other colleagues. The point is well made.

According to estimates in data commissioned by the Government from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the average loss to a homeowner is 20% up to 500 metres from the line, 30% up to 300 metres away, and 40% up to 120 metres away. Moreover, that blight is not temporary. PwC says that it will be at its worst until at least 2023. The Government have failed to recognise that, or the fact that the scale of suffering extends well beyond the line itself.

As things stand, there is not even sufficient compensation for those living above tunnels. HS2 Ltd believes that home owners are not unduly affected by tunnels, but my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kenilworth and Southam (Jeremy Wright), for example, informs me that the property market in his constituency tells a very different story. There is no compensation for those affected by construction, although it will inevitably be very extensive in impact and duration. Constituents of my right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr Lidington) in Wendover and Stoke Mandeville live very close to the safeguarded area and the proposed construction sites, but they do not qualify for compensation under the boundary rules. It is grossly unfair that they should be expected to endure the disturbance of construction and operation as well as putting up with a loss of value to their properties unless they can prove an exceptional need to sell. Some of my right hon. Friend’s constituents say that estate agents simply refuse to place their properties on the market and that potential purchasers have been refused any mortgage on properties because of HS2. This is emblematic of the broad injustice of the current compensation measures.

The compensation schemes announced and operating to date are also problematic. The exceptional hardship scheme and the need to sell schemes have been arduous and complicated for many of our constituents, and in my view they are often wholly unjust. The lack of consistency in the decision-making process has been incredibly frustrating for those involved, and the accuracy of valuations has been the subject of contention in

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many areas. There has been little transparency in this process. The latest proposals—the alternative cash offer and the home owner payment—offer poor value to the taxpayer and involve arbitrary sums that bear little relation to the actual loss suffered by the individual.

Nigel Adams (Selby and Ainsty) (Con): I support the principle of the alternative cash offer for those living within 120 metres, but the scheme simply does not work for those living beyond that line. Does my right hon. Friend understand the concerns of my constituent, Mr Watson from Church Fenton, who e-mailed me earlier today to say that he was not at all happy to lose £95,000 from the value of his property? He described it as writing a cheque to the Government for £95,000 only to receive a Government refund of £7,500. That is neither full nor fair.

Mrs Gillan: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Phase 2 will affect his constituency, and the problems that we are having with phase 1 will come back to haunt us all on phase 2, so it is good that he is raising these matters early on behalf of his constituents. He is absolutely right to suggest that the alternative cash offer applies only to a limited number of home owners. As the payment is based on a 10% loss and is capped at a maximum of £100,000, it is completely unreflective of the true loss in property value. It is not a strong enough incentive for people to stay in their homes.

Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford) (Con): May I return for a moment to the exceptional hardship scheme? A constituent of mine, having arrived at a value that was supposed to be fair, was then asked by HS2 to reduce the figure by £20,000 so that it could get the property into a rentable state. That is neither fair nor reasonable.

Mrs Gillan: My hon. Friend’s example speaks for itself.

Mr Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield) (Con): I wholly endorse what my right hon. Friend is saying. The fact is that many people in my constituency have homes of very high value, but the compensation bears absolutely no relationship to the investment that they have made in purchasing the home, or to the fact that in many cases the properties are heavily mortgaged and that their losses will be colossal—running into millions of pounds in many cases.

Mrs Gillan: My right hon. and learned Friend makes an important point. Those people have worked hard, saved and invested in those properties.

Sir William Cash (Stone) (Con): My right hon. Friend is making an excellent speech. Those of us who are between Birmingham and Manchester are extremely glad that we are going to have the opportunity to petition and to have our case heard by the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill Select Committee, and we are grateful to her for everything she has done.

Mrs Gillan: I thank my hon. Friend. I glad to see that the Chairman of the Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Poole (Mr Syms), is in his place. I note that there are many hon. Members here tonight, and

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I welcome those who have just come into the Chamber. It is important to put these points to the Minister in as forceful a way as possible.

The home owner payment scheme proposes to give home owner payments to those living between 120 metres and 300 metres from the line. This once again limits compensation by distance from the line. It also does little to assist the functionality of the property market in affected areas. The payments on offer are too low and, as the effect of inflation is not considered, they might be inaccurate as well.

Like other colleagues, I have many farmers and landowners in my constituency, and none of the schemes properly addresses the impact of HS2 on them. I deal with a number of organisations, including the Country Land and Business Association and the National Farmers Union, that are campaigning hard to ensure that affected landowners receive fair and timely compensation, and I hope the Minister understands the special problems facing farmers and growers. He is a farmer himself, so I am hoping for that special understanding.

Mrs Caroline Spelman (Meriden) (Con): I am sure my right hon. Friend is aware that for many farmers the difficulty is that they are compensated at agricultural prices, but where land is taken beyond the actual requirements for the track, there is of course speculative value in that land, and does she agree that it is important that land-take is kept to a minimum?

Mrs Gillan: My right hon. Friend makes a valid point and I entirely agree.

Concern has also been expressed to me by colleagues, and, indeed, Mr Speaker, about the fact that compensation has only currently been offered to owner-occupiers. Owners of second homes or those living in social housing receive no recompense, in spite of having to endure years of disruption and intrusion in an identical fashion to homeowners. If HS2 goes ahead, I would like to see four main changes on compensation and a greater safeguard for those affected.

First, I and many others have always supported the introduction of a property bond scheme, as proposed by HS2 Action Alliance, where the Government act as a purchaser of last resort, and whereby buyers have the confidence to buy properties on the open market at unblighted prices. I believe this scheme would provide greater functionality of blighted property markets, and a better deal for all constituents.

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ March 2014 report on a potential property bond scheme concluded that it was a fair option, assuming it has a generous boundary. Regrettably, there has been a continual reluctance to adopt this option by Ministers, in spite of widespread backing. The Department for Transport has rejected this scheme in the past because of “money risks”. However, figures from PwC demonstrate that the figures are not prohibitive, and given the clear benefits of this scheme in terms of supporting normal market activity, I would ask the Minister to reconsider this scheme carefully once again and recognise its obvious advantages for both the market and those affected.

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Secondly, the “need to sell” scheme needs revising to remove the financial hardship criteria to allow those who are unable to sell their properties because of HS2 to be free to move. Thirdly, the boundaries of the voluntary purchase scheme should be widened to a distance greater than the 120 metres, reflecting the true levels of blight and to match the payments actually made under HS1.

Fourthly, the whole compensation package should take into proper account blight in urban areas, over tunnels, and those who will suffer extensive construction disruption. In particular, the Treasury should reconsider once again the possibility of introducing stamp duty exemptions for affected properties to re-stimulate the property market.

Finally, if this project ever reaches its construction phase it will cause blight and disruption still to be identified. I believe that to protect my constituents, and all our constituents who are affected by HS2, we need an additional safeguard. I propose that the construction code should be added to the Bill in order to implement a binding and comprehensive duty of care that sets standards and time scales for the conduct of HS2, its contractors and sub-contractors during construction. An independent ombudsman should be appointed to adjudicate swiftly on abuses and with powers to compensate those adversely affected.

The current £50 billion budget for HS2 is currently being paid by the taxpayer, but it is also being paid at the expense of those who will suffer as a result of this project. Government have a duty of care to ensure that those blighted by this highly disruptive infrastructure project are fully and appropriately compensated. A failure to do so is not only insulting, but also sets a worrying precedent for inadequate mitigation for future schemes.

The Minister will have noticed tonight that I speak not just for my own constituency, but for many others, and I urge him to listen to our electors and do the decent thing by people whose lives have been turned upside down by this risky, poorly managed and ill-conceived project.

To borrow, and slightly change, the words from “Macbeth”, “If it were done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well it were done properly.”

7.19 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Robert Goodwill): May I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs Gillan) on securing this debate on the compensation package for phase 1 of HS2. She has been a tireless campaigner on the impact of HS2, and I recognise her continuing determination to ensure that the Government do not lose sight of those concerns. Indeed, the presence of so many right hon. and hon. Members in the Chamber underlines that point. I am aware that because of ministerial responsibilities, some colleagues are not able to speak on this, but I can assure the House that my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kenilworth and Southam (Jeremy Wright) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr Lidington) never let me forget about the concerns of their constituents too.

I am aware that my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham has recently asked a number of parliamentary questions in relation to HS2 and has

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been in regular correspondence with my Department. I must also explain why she has not had a response to her recent letter on behalf of the HS2 Action Alliance. The issue at the heart of this correspondence is the way in which we have estimated the number of properties within particular distances of HS2, including the data used in replying to a parliamentary question in November 2013. Estimating property counts in a given area is an extremely complex and technical matter, and the Department for Transport is currently preparing a detailed response.

I am pleased to be responding to this debate on a subject that is of such great importance to my right hon. Friend and her constituents. Before I respond to the points she has raised, it is perhaps worth taking the opportunity to set out the current position on the compensation package for HS2. Measures to assist property owners and occupiers affected by new infrastructure have developed over the years through a mixture of statute, case law and established practice and are referred to as the compensation code. Although the Government remain confident that reliance on the existing compensation code is appropriate for the majority of infrastructure schemes, we believe that the exceptional nature of the HS2 project justifies a different approach and the Government have long been committed to introducing measures for those directly affected by HS2 that go beyond what is required by law.

At present, we have the exceptional hardship scheme in place for phase 1 of HS2. That has always been intended as an interim measure to assist those property owners who have an urgent need to sell their home but have not been able to do so, except at a substantially reduced price, as a direct result of the announcement of the route for the railway. We have also introduced express purchase for owner-occupied properties within the safeguarded area. There are detailed maps available on the HS2 website to allow people to determine where their properties are in relation to the safeguarded area. Express purchase was introduced from 9 April 2014.

I am pleased to be able to update Members on the properties that we have purchased under the schemes that are currently open. To the end of September 2014, we have spent £110.3 million purchasing 162 properties affected by phase 1.

Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell) (Con): The problem in my constituency is that, under this scheme, HS2 has not given the market value for these properties, and it is driving down the price of those properties. That matter was raised with HS2 back in August, and I still have not received a response.

Mr Goodwill: The instruction to our valuers was that they should value properties at the previous unblighted price.

The properties have been purchased under the exceptional hardship scheme, the statutory blight arrangements, and through express purchase. Compensation for disturbance costs and reasonable moving costs are not included in the expenditure figures.

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): My hon. Friend will know that my constituency is affected not only by phase 1, but by phase 2. Does he agree that, as a matter of principle, whatever compensation schemes are put in

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place for phase 1, and hopefully, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs Gillan) has said, they will be generous ones, they should apply equally to those in phase 2?

Mr Goodwill: My hon. Friend makes a valid point. If we can reach a fair compensation package for phase 1, we will certainly need to bear that in mind as we look at phase 2. I suspect that those affected by phase 2 would expect no less.

Mr Jim Cunningham: There are people in Coventry who are not covered by any compensation scheme, and yet they have invested their life savings in their properties. They cannot sell their properties now. What will the Government do about that?

Mr Goodwill: That is precisely why we are putting these compensation schemes in place. We also have an exceptional hardship scheme in place for phase 2. To the end of September 2014, we have purchased 32 properties at a cost of £15.1 million.

Following the property compensation consultation in 2013 for the London to west midlands HS2 route, the Government decided to use five criteria to select the most appropriate long-term discretionary property compensation packages for phase 1 of HS2. Those criteria are: fairness; value for money; community cohesion; feasibility, efficiency and comprehensibility; and the functioning of the housing market. Accordingly, the Government announced on 9 April the long-term compensation schemes that would be introduced for phase 1. They included express purchase, which I have already mentioned.

Mrs Gillan: The Minister will correct me if I am wrong, but did I hear him cite the word “fairness”?

Mr Goodwill: Precisely. Fairness is at the heart of our approach—fairness to those who have to move because their properties are being demolished or are so close to the line; and fairness to those who want to stay in their communities and maintain community cohesion.

We announced a voluntary purchase offer that would be available to people up to 120 metres from the railway in rural areas. Eligible owner-occupiers between the safeguarded area and 120 metres will be able to ask the Government to buy their homes at the unblighted market value. The scheme will be opened to applicants by the end of 2014 following further consultation on supplementary cash payment schemes.

Mr Jim Cunningham: As I said, we have people in Coventry outside the 120-metre area who have invested their life savings in a property, but cannot sell it. How will they be compensated?

Mr Goodwill: I will move on to the measures for those further away, but we understand that many people’s biggest asset is their home. In fact, many people see their home as part of their retirement package.

We announced a “need to sell” scheme to help property owners who have a compelling need to sell their home, but are unable to do so because of our plans to build HS2. There will be no outer boundary to that scheme, which will also be opened to applicants by the end

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of 2014. It will succeed the current exceptional hardship scheme for phase 1, which will then be closed. When we implement the voluntary purchase and “need to sell” schemes later this year, we will publish detailed guidance about how they will work.

We have also announced rent back, a rule that means that if a property that the Government have purchased under any of our schemes is suitable for letting, the previous owner may, if they wish, be considered for a Crown tenancy. That scheme was introduced on 9 April.

We have consulted separately over the summer on two supplementary cash payment schemes. The first would provide that, for owner-occupiers in the voluntary purchase area, an alternative cash offer of 10% of the unblighted market value of their property, with a cap of £100,000 and a minimum payment of £30,000, would apply.

Sir William Cash: Does the Minister accept that this is a wholly inadequate package? We sincerely trust that the Committee considering the Bill will listen carefully to the analysis that we will put forward in our petitions, because it is petitions to this House that ought to make the difference.

Mr Goodwill: I pay tribute to the petitions Committee, which has set about carrying out its role in a workmanlike way. My hon. Friend the Member for Poole (Mr Syms), the Chair of that Committee, is in the Chamber to hear this debate.

That cash payment scheme might help some people to decide that they do not need to move to protect the value of their investment in their home. We have also consulted on a home owner payment scheme to provide cash payments to eligible owner-occupiers between 120 metres and 300 metres from the centre line, following Royal Assent of the phase 1 hybrid Bill, to enable affected residents to share early in the future economic benefits of the railway. We have sought views on consequential changes to the voluntary purchase offer and the “need to sell” scheme.

Mr Grieve: What about stamp duty? It is now a very substantial tax, and anyone who sells their house, even under the voluntary purchase scheme, will have to pay stamp duty on a fresh purchase. Those people moving to a property of substantial value, which is the sort that they are likely to move into, will face a serious penalty, and one that they would not have wished on themselves, because they had no intention of moving.

Mr Goodwill: I understand my right hon. and learned Friend’s point. Stamp duty and moving costs will be payable for those in the closest band to the railway. We will announce the outcome of the consultation to which I referred later this year.

On the long-standing campaign of my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham for a longer tunnel through the Chilterns, we have considered a range of options for tunnels.

Frank Dobson: I do not wish to delay the Minister in turning his attention to the tunnel, but can he explain why the terms for urban areas are different from those for rural areas?

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Mr Goodwill: We take the view that the level of disruption in rural areas, particularly the effect on property prices, is absolutely different from that in urban areas, where properties can be close to the railway but there might be many houses in between, and in many cases there is already a railway established, for example near Euston station, which no doubt people were aware of when they moved there.

Frank Dobson: My constituents might not fancy the idea of a new station, but what they really do not want is having to live next to a construction site for a decade or more. That is what they are bothered about.

Mr Goodwill: Yes, and I spent time with the right hon. Gentleman in his constituency, along with the leader of his council, looking at some of the mitigation that can be put in place.

I will talk a little about the property bond. My right hon. Friend referred to the Government’s decision against a property bond as a means of providing compensation for generalised blight caused by HS2. The main aim of the property bond concept is to ensure that eligible property owners do not suffer unreasonable losses because of any reduction in the market value of their properties caused by a proposed development. The defining feature of a property bond is the idea that eligible property owners, at an early stage in a project’s development, would be given a specific and binding promise of a well-defined, individual settlement, which the property owner would be entitled to redeem in specific circumstances. Should the property transfer ownership, so too would the bond. The outcome of a property bond scheme would reflect the way the scheme influenced property buyers, vendors and professionals throughout the lifetime of the relevant infrastructure project. Without evidence of those behaviours and decisions from actual schemes, it is very hard to assess the performance of a property bond for HS2.

The Government continue to believe that the property bond concept has merit, and that it was right to put it forward as an option in the property compensation consultation in 2013. However, taking all consultation responses and further practical and analytical findings into account, we continue to be concerned that the effects of a property bond on the behaviour and decisions of property owners, professionals and especially property buyers remain unknown and hard to assess.

In conclusion—

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Goodwill: I have only 50 seconds remaining, so I will not give way.

In conclusion, I again congratulate my right hon. Friend on her unflagging energy in seeking the best outcome for those affected by HS2, and I very much recognise the importance of the compensation package to her and her constituents. I note the concerns she has raised and hope that I have shown hon. Members that we have a package in place that meets the Government’s policy objectives for compensation: fairness, value for money, community cohesion, feasibility, efficiency, comprehensibility, and the functioning of the housing market. I am confident that the compensation package,

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once fully in place alongside the protections already available through the compensation code, will perform well against those criteria.

Question put and agreed to.

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7.33 pm

House adjourned.