This debate follows one that we held a matter of only a few weeks ago, so I shall try to avoid repeating anything that I said then. I do, however, think that it is incumbent on those who oppose the scheme to tell us what the alternatives are, which few of them ever do. The noble Lord, Lord Cormack, whom I have listened to with appreciation—I hope that he will understand that—for nearly four decades in both Houses, accused me of grinning like the Cheshire Cat during his contribution. It would have been appropriate if I did, because I was born in Stockport, which was in Cheshire before Ted Heath and his colleagues destroyed local government in the 1970s. Why I was smiling, rather than grinning, during the noble Lord’s contribution was because he did not see any contradiction between his impassioned plea for the environment to be defended and his demand for the A1 motorway to be widened so that he could drive from Lincoln to London in a bit more comfort than he does at present. That is a slight contradiction in terms. The noble Lord shakes his head—not like the Cheshire Cat—but the fact is that it is a contradiction.

We heard my noble friend Lord Rooker, whose constituency was adjacent to mine when we were in the other place, mention road building—and motorway building in particular. In his case, the motorway was 60 feet from the bedroom windows of his constituents.

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If the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, thinks that that is not an environmental disaster, I would be surprised. The fact is that most people who are interested in transport policy in this country acknowledge that the days of motorway building—to a certain extent, widening is permitted—lie in the past. It is much more damaging to the environment to build new roads, which is something that my noble friend Lord Stevenson, too, might reflect on. Today is the second or third time that I have heard him make his impassioned plea on behalf of the citizens of the area in which he lives, which he is perfectly entitled to do—but he should answer the particular question of whether the M40 has destroyed more sites of special scientific interest and done more damage to the environment than the proposed high-speed railway through the Chilterns will do.

We come back to the question: if not HS2, what? The fact is that we do not have enough capacity on the west coast main line. I listened with interest to the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Howard. He would be flattered, I am sure, if I said that it was the biggest load of reactionary nonsense that I had heard for years—I am sure that he would take that in the spirit in which it was intended. If he believes that expanding the world of aviation will mop up the extra journeys that are being made on our railway system, that should perhaps be the subject for another debate. Some 128 million people a year now use intercity trains. That that would require a hell of a lot of aeroplanes, I must say.

He said that no businessman would touch the financial case for HS2. As the financial case was devised by the Treasury, indeed no businessman would. If and when the Treasury makes any contribution to these matters, it will be to say that we cannot afford it and that it does not meet the cost-benefit analysis. If it were left to the Treasury, we would not have built the M25, the Jubilee line, the Docklands Light Railway and various other schemes that most people would agree are essential. I will go further: if everything had been left to the Treasury, when I made my way back to Birmingham this week, I would do so on the 10 o’clock stagecoach from Tyburn. There would be no other way of going from London to Birmingham as no schemes, including the London & Birmingham Railway, would ever have passed the preposterous cost-benefit analysis so beloved of Her Majesty’s Treasury.

I propose to the noble Lord, Lord Howard, that he and I should go to Watford one day. If he thinks that the existing railway can cope with the 5.2% increase in passenger carryings that we are seeing on the west coast main line, we should stand together on the fast-line platform in Watford. He will probably not come because I understand that one cannot get a decent lunch in Watford, but if we were to go there and gaze towards London, we would see in the average hour, outside the rush hour, the following trains: three Pendolino trains from Birmingham and three from Manchester, a Super Voyager from North Wales, a London Midland train at 110 miles per hour from Crewe serving the Trent Valley, an hourly Scottish train and various other trains. That is the basic timetable for the up fast line between Watford Junction and London Euston at the present time. Indeed, this up

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fast line is so busy that Virgin Trains was refused permission to run an extra service to and from Shrewsbury because there was no room for it. An open-access operator wanted to use the west coast main line as far as Stockport—the home of the Cheshire Cat, as the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, might say—and on into Yorkshire, but was refused permission for the same reason.

I put it to the noble Lord, and the other critics of this scheme: if not HS2, what? The existing railway can barely cope with what it has at the present time. I do not want to bore your Lordships with stories of my time on the railway or the connections that I still make—it is a temptation, but I refuse. However, I can assure your Lordships that the intention is to close the up fast line that is being hammered in the average hour by all the trains that I mentioned, for between five and 10 years, from Saturday night to Monday morning, in order to do long-awaited and essential work. If we are getting into that state with the traffic that we have at the present time, I cannot believe that we could take any additional traffic, given the increase in intercity carryings that I referred to.

The noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, who was, as he reminded your Lordships, Secretary of State for Transport during my time in the Whips’ Office—he tried to get me the sack once, but we will not go into that—seems to believe that the increase in passenger numbers that I referred to will perhaps tail off over the years. It is the 50th anniversary of “Doctor Who”; perhaps I should say to my 11 year-old grandson that instead of building HS2, perhaps in 2033 we will all climb into a police box and be transported from A to B. He is only 11, but I do not think that he would believe that. I suspect that, in his heart, the noble Lord knows full well that we must build new rail capacity in this country. If we do not, the country will grind to a halt.

The alternative is that we all go by road. Perhaps we could pursue the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, on the newly widened A1 to and from Lincoln. However, as everyone knows, widening roads generates more traffic. That is probably why we have stopped doing it in recent years. As fast as we widen roads, we generate even more traffic and the widened roads fill up once more.

There is no alternative to HS2, for the reasons that I have outlined. I have only one great criticism of it, and it is one that has been mentioned before: at the turn of the 20th century, Brunel managed to convert the Great Western Railway, as it then was, from broad-gauge to standard in a long weekend. Will it really take until 2033, when my grandson will be middle-aged? Although noble Lords on both sides look in extremely good health, few of us are likely to be around to travel on the new high-speed rail service, the principle of which I hope we will embrace under the terms of the Bill. We ought to do it—and a damned sight quicker than we are proposing to at the moment.

8.45 pm

Lord Dubs (Lab): My Lords, I am delighted to follow my noble friend Lord Snape. We were in the Commons together, and every time I take a train to Manchester and we go through Stockport and Edgeley sidings, I think of his younger days when he was doing

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very important work there. I am grateful to the Minister for the meeting that she arranged for us with officials last week. It was very helpful and certainly clarified a number of issues. I missed the previous debate on this so I do not have to apologise for repeating myself.

I do not believe that the argument in favour of HS2, which I fully support, is one of sentiment but I must confess that I have some affection for railways. I wonder if I might just mention a little story. I ask your Lordships to imagine New Year’s Eve December 1947: I was quite young, my mother was taking me back from London, where we had been over Christmas, and we were changing trains at Preston to go on to Blackburn. It was a cold, snowy and damp evening, the waiting room had no heating and there was nowhere to get any refreshments. The railways were to be nationalised on 1 January, the following morning. We were sitting there waiting for this non-existent train to Blackburn, and someone in the cold waiting room said, “Well, from tomorrow morning we can blame the Government for all this”.

That was a story from way back. I have one other bit of sentiment—actually, it is not really sentiment, it is harder than that. When Beeching’s report led to the closure of a lot of our railways, he did this country an enormous disservice. We closed lines that we wish we had now, not because they would replace HS2 or anything like that but simply because we lost something important. They were wonderful triumphs of Victorian engineering. I remember the line behind Tintern Abbey, the Chepstow-Monmouth line, which was a wonderful bit of engineering but is now derelict. I wish that they would reinstate the line from Penrith to Keswick, which could be reinstated—there is enough of the infrastructure there—although then going on from Keswick to Cockermouth and the coast would be impossible because it has been built over by the A66. Even then, though, reinstating some of these railways would have helped.

I suppose that those are bits of sentiment. What I am concerned with are the harder arguments in favour of HS2. I have reflected that if the financial estimates for the cost of the Channel Tunnel had been accurate, they would of course have been much higher than they were and we would not have built it because it would have been too costly. We have had enormous benefit from the fact that they were wrong. My point is that if we had deployed the arguments that some people are deploying against HS2 against the Channel Tunnel, it would never have been built and the country would have been much worse off because of it. I am not arguing that we should throw all financial estimates to the winds—not at all. I am arguing that we need to be careful before we reject some imaginative infrastructure schemes.

I am bound to say that as a country we are not very good at thinking about infrastructure and developing it—we tend to find too many arguments for not doing it. Sometimes those arguments win the day and sometimes they delay things enormously, but at other times we overcome them and then we get the benefit, and the Channel Tunnel is an example of that.

I fully accept that there are sensitivities in building new railway lines, although there are more sensitivities in building or widening motorways. I understand those

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sensitivities, though, and I hope that some of the concerns raised by my noble friend Lord Stevenson will be reflected in the details of the Government’s scheme as it goes through the Chilterns. Having said that, I still believe that we have something important afoot with HS2.

I was reading Middlemarch not long ago. I could not find a particular reference—it is quite a long book—but there was a lot of discussion of local opposition to building the railways. I thought that some of the arguments could have been applied to today’s debate. George Eliot used slightly more elegant language than many of us use, but nevertheless the arguments were there at the time.

When I am not living in the Lake District, we have a house in London. For a long time, we had a house in Paddington that overlooked the main line out of Paddington station, the underground and the motorway that becomes the M40. It was pretty noisy. The reason we could just about afford it was because people did not like the noise. We put all the bedrooms at the back overlooking the little gardens, and that was fine. The trains got quieter, the shunting in the middle of the night stopped and it became much more bearable. Then the foxes got in and the noise of the foxes kept me awake more than the noise of the railways. Although I was opposed to fox hunting, I wanted to make an exception for some of the back gardens in Paddington. Some of my friends did not like that argument.

My point is that the noise of building is very hard to live with. Crossrail is causing a lot of anxiety where I used to live in Paddington because of the excavation and so on. However, once these infrastructure works are completed, the noise of the railways is perhaps not as bad as all that. It is not wonderful; I would not want to live a few yards from a railway, as I did, but at least it is more acceptable.

I use the west coast main line a great deal these days. I am conscious of the enormous disruption that there was for years—referred to by some of my noble friends—when the work was going on. Frankly, it was so awful that we could not travel on a Sunday. We said to friends of ours, “Don’t ever come up at the weekend because it is absolutely hopeless”. By the time you have changed buses and changed at Preston, the journey time is unpredictable. I shudder at the thought that we might do the same thing with our existing west coast and east coast lines; it would be absolutely intolerable. That is one of the many reasons why I would much prefer HS2.

One only had to travel for years, as I did, on the west coast main line—it is much better now but it is getting very full—to know that we do not want years of infrastructure work and disruption. Nevertheless, the trains are pretty full. On at least one occasion when I failed to book a reserved seat, because I could not predict my time, I had to stand all the way to Preston. Quite often, there was no space and that is north of Birmingham, not just from the Midlands southwards. These trains may not be full on a Saturday night, but they are full most of the time when most people want to travel. So I very much welcome the commitment to extra capacity which would be the result of building HS2. I hope that some of the freight on the motorways will move on to the railways, although

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I suspect that they will have to absorb additional freight rather than transfer freight from the roads as they do now. Unlike some noble Lords, I would like to see people travelling not by car, but using the railways. I was lobbied by somebody who said, “Don’t worry about HS2, flying will always be cheaper”—not a very environmental argument. I believe that HS2 and the building of it will also have strong environmental benefits when it is completed.

I have two regrets. First, I wish we could get on with it, instead of taking so long. Secondly, I wish the plans would include going further north than Birmingham. Let us get on and link the north of England and get on to Glasgow and Edinburgh. If we do not do this, the next generation will never forgive us.

8.54 pm

Lord Davies of Oldham (Lab): My Lords, I found this debate a fascinating one and in many ways a more enjoyable one than the debate that we had only a few short weeks ago on exactly this topic. On that occasion, there was an indication in the press, at least, and in some circles of some uncertainty about my party’s position with regard to HS2. That had been generated because the shadow Chancellor, my very good friend Ed Balls, had indicated that he was very concerned at the rapidly escalating costs that were being reflected in parts of the media. Of course he was anxious about them. It is his job to look at the way in which a future Labour Government intend to spend their money.

I am very grateful to the noble Lord who spent a great deal of his time commenting on the weakness of the business case for HS2. There should be a business case. I very much appreciated the fact that the majority of my noble friends indicated their support for HS2—all of them, I think, with the possible exception of my noble friend Lord Stevenson, who had other fish to fry as far as the line is concerned. They were a little in danger of glorifying past triumphs with regard to the railway and indicating that we could take similar, easy risks today. I hate to say it but in the absence of cost-benefit analysis, a high percentage of Victorian railway lines went bankrupt. Railway mania was one of the shocking problems of the 19th century so although we glory in the architecture that was left us to us, in terms of both our great railway stations and the significant lines that we still use extensively today, particularly the north-south lines, we ought not to deride the fact that we need to be clear about costs.

When the Minister replies to the debate, I want her to address herself to this question of potential costs because we are asking the nation to commit itself to a very substantial investment in future years against the background of a very significant decline in ordinary living standards at present, with no immediate indication that there is early relief in sight. Our people—our fellow citizens—are therefore going to be concerned about costs. That is why it is important that in substantiating the issue with regard to HS2, we have a clear perspective on those costs and how they are to be controlled.

I think we all take considerable pleasure in the fact that David Higgins has become chair of HS2. We know of his achievements. After all, one achievement

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in the past couple of years which we all recognise and glory in is that the Olympic Games were delivered on time and on budget, without excessive use of the contingency element built into that budget, and they were a huge success for the nation. Everybody derived value from them so we can make these projects work and we should derive satisfaction from recent successes, while keeping a very close and beady eye on costs because they are so significant in terms of the commitment of the nation’s resources against a background where we all know that those resources are fairly limited.

I do not have to make the case on HS2 today, partly because so many voices around the House indicated their support for it, including a former Transport Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Freeman, on the government Benches. My Benches were very strong in their arguments. Of course, the case was made as soon as the debate opened. The magnificent opening speech of my noble friend Lord Adonis set the terms of this debate and in a very real sense put to bed any suggestion of any possible backsliding by a future Labour Government on seeing this project through. However, we want to be absolutely certain about the degree of scrutiny over costs and effectiveness.

We are also concerned about the delays built in to the present progress. Already we have seen the timetable slipping, and nothing will prevent it from slipping further in the very near future. Again, I want the noble Baroness to give us some reassurance about the urgency with which the Government are acting. I will make the obvious point. This is a paving Bill and it will get through in the very near future. However, we have not started on the hybrid Bill and the hybrid Bill procedure on Crossrail took several years. I know that my noble friend Lord Snape once served on a hybrid Bill and we lost contact with him for about 18 months when he disappeared into those wonderful committees in which one is sworn to total commitment to the Bill.

Lord Snape: My Lords, I apologise to the House for interrupting, but in the interests of accuracy I must point out that I served on three hybrid Bills and disappeared for much longer than that.

Lord Davies of Oldham: I am sorry if I elided them all into one, but the loss was so great in the other place at that time that it was remarked on in many quarters. We know without any doubt that my noble friend will volunteer for a hybrid Bill should any arise. I am concerned, however, about this issue. As we know, hybrid Bills are ones over which Parliament and the Government have negligible control, yet we are starting on this Bill. It was intended and hoped that we would have all the processes of Parliament covered, all legislative processes in place and all procedures completed by the time of the general election. There is no hope of that now. There is no question of the Government being able to deliver against that timetable. Of course, slippage is costly in terms of the ambitions that we all have for the successful implementation of the project on time, but delay is also costly in financial terms. No doubt the noble Lord, Lord Howard, is already calculating just how much the additional length of time will impact on cost.

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All the real issues have emerged in this debate. I listened very carefully to another former Secretary of State for Transport, the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, when he indicated that he still preserved a degree of scepticism about the ability of rail to impact on the economic geography of the country. There is evidence from other countries that its impact is indeed beneficial. It is certainly the case that, as so many noble Lords have emphasised in this debate, if we do not do anything, we will actually reach paralysis. Such is the increase in numbers of those seeking to use rail travel that if we do nothing, we will face a seizure.

During the time when there was a slight degree of misunderstanding about my own party’s position, when proper anxieties were expressed about rising costs, it was very noticeable that the northern cities acted. Representations came in with very considerable force from Manchester and Leeds that indicated how much importance they placed on the improvement of services to those cities, which HS2 alone can provide.

Another question hangs in the air and cannot be answered—certainly not from this debate, because no one has attempted to answer it. What is the alternative? We have a situation in which the rise in demand for rail travel shows itself in very marked ways so that we can all foresee that if nothing is done the constant problems which we see in all commuting areas will get worse. I know that when one talks about commuting people’s first thought is that one is talking about the south-east and London. However, the pressure on Birmingham and the West Midlands, on Manchester, Leeds, Yorkshire and Bradford, is just as acute for people there who want to get to work, to the shops and to other facilities in their cities. Of course, what hangs in the air is that if we do not solve this by improving rail travel we will guarantee misery for our fellow citizens, and it will represent a failure to improve society and the economy.

I hope that the noble Baroness will also comment on one other dimension. I refer to the recent speech of the noble Lord, Lord Heseltine, to which my noble friend Lord Rooker referred. One of the things we all know about significant public investment is that it can lead to very significant private gains. Just look at any situation where a Tube station in the London area has been opened in recent years and what it does to house prices. There is a straight correlation between transport and private gain. Of course we want to see private gain, because we are providing these services for private people—for our fellow citizens. However, we ought also to look at the public good. These resources are invested on behalf of the nation. I hope that the noble Baroness will take away the noble Lord’s thought about the use of urban development corporations to canalise some of the gains from the investment that will derive from the construction of HS2 so that it comes to the public purse as well. That will perhaps help to reassure those like the noble Lord, Lord Howard, that costs can be kept under control.

9.08 pm

Baroness Kramer: My Lords, what a tremendous debate. Every time this issue comes before the House I learn more, which adds very much to the pleasure. I, too, was appreciative that the Secretary of State came to listen to the early speeches; he then had to leave to

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vote, but I know that he will read the rest of this debate. I know that that information flow to him is very much appreciated on his part.

Obviously, the overwhelming majority of noble Lords who spoke today spoke so strongly and positively in favour of HS2 and the high-speed rail network that once again I feel almost that the comments that I can make are somewhat redundant; they have been almost better covered by other noble Lords who have spoken. I will begin by trying to pick up on the questions from noble Lords who were perhaps more sceptical, and in particular that issue of cost that the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, mentioned, which was also mentioned by other noble Lords—by the noble Lord, Lord Howard of Rising, in particular, and in a slightly different way by the noble Lord, Lord Adonis.

The cost of the project—the budget—has been set at £42.6 billion. The noble Lord, Lord Howard of Rising, mentioned the figure of £73 billion, which was floated in the Financial Times and some other parts of the press. That is a mischievous number, because of the way in which it is constructed; I was quite sad to see it in a respectable newspaper. It included things like VAT, which obviously comes back to the Treasury and is therefore not a cost to the taxpayer. It also included inflation, although we look at infrastructure projects using current numbers rather than inflated numbers because we do not look at the benefits in inflated numbers. A mischief-making number has, unfortunately, been introduced into this conversation.

I shall say more about cost, because it is important—and what I have to say about it will also address some of the other issues that have been raised. The work that has been done in preparation for High Speed 2, to the point where it is now ready for phase 1 to appear in a hybrid Bill, is far more intense than that for any previous hybrid Bill. I think that that degree of preparation is a good thing, and I am cleared to say that the hybrid Bill will be introduced in the Commons on Monday. That degree of detailed examination and preparation gives us far greater confidence in the actual numbers, particularly for phase 1.

As the noble Lord, Lord Davies, will know—he has read the strategic case—High Speed 2 now estimates that, without any contingency, it could bring in phase 1 at £15.6 billion. The Secretary of State has said that we need to have a little contingency, but he wants to see this come in at £17.16 billion or less. That is the pressure being put on Sir David Higgins, and he feels that it is pressure that he can accept. That is a much crisper number than the more overarching number, including contingency, that we have generally been using. I ask that, as people look at the strategic case, they understand that we are talking about the overarching budget, but that underneath that there is huge pressure to ensure that the cost is pushed down, and we can do that with more and more confidence because of the level of detail that we now have. I hope that that also explains to the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, why there is a generous contingency in all this. The contingency does not reflect the fact that there is very detailed work going on to push the cost down.

That consideration also speaks somewhat to the governance point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank. Sir David Higgins, when he

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comes in, will make governance and driving down cost two of his highest priorities. The governance programme, which sounds incredibly complex as it is read out in a paragraph, actually reflects a number of bodies that have come together to increase the downward pressure on costs. That is part of the reason why there have been so many parties so absolutely focused on ensuring that the costs of the project have been reduced to the greatest extent possible.

In the same context, Sir David Higgins has said that he will look at delivering HS2 faster. There is an underlying question here, which I picked up from a number of people today—for example, from the noble Lord, Lord Smith of Leigh—along the lines of, “Why don’t we start both phases pretty much at the same time?” The answer is that we have the detailed work to be able to go ahead with the hybrid Bill for phase 1, and to hold that up in order to bring phase 2 to the same degree of preparation would hold back the whole project. We are in a position to move much faster on phase 1. I have heard many people in the House today talking about the importance of going as fast as possible; they compared us unfavourably with France, and I can understand why. We are doing this in phases so that we can get into the ground at the earliest possible date.

Benefits will flow from phase 1 alone. It is true that the maximum benefits will come when phase 2 is completed, but from phase 1 alone there is already an advantage, both in capacity going from London through to Birmingham—on the most congested set of routes that we could possibly have—and also in terms of starting the time reduction, which, as others have said, adds to the connectivity and the potential for development in the north and the Midlands.

The noble Lord, Lord Cormack, referred to the Bill as a blank cheque and asked why it does not have a monetary figure in it. The Bill gives permission for preparatory expenditure and contains a very vigorous reporting process under which the Government must report back annually and record any deviation from budget, and the consequences of that. The wording of the Bill has been strengthened somewhat in the other place, which has put in place a very intense scrutiny process around the budget.

One of the reasons why there is no monetary figure is because this is not just the paving Bill for HS2 but allows us to look at extensions. The noble Lord, Lord Dubs, talked about the importance of going beyond HS2 and looking at Scotland. I was up in Glasgow and Edinburgh just over a week ago, announcing formally the initiation of a study which will look at bringing the benefits of high speed to Scotland. Automatic benefits come from bringing High Speed 2 as far as Leeds and Manchester. In fact, Scotland benefits even from the run to Birmingham. However, taking it beyond that, the study will look at how to maximise high speed on existing rail lines and at potentially building what some people have dubbed “High Speed 3”. This paving Bill creates the context for what in the end will be a high-speed rail network. The word “network” matters in the context of some of the questions about economic growth. Dedicated high-speed trains can run only on high-speed lines. However, in addition,

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these lines can be used by the classic trains which currently operate on our long-distance services. They can travel part of their journey on a high-speed line and then deviate off on to the west coast main line and various other lines, creating a much more interconnected network.

The noble Lords, Lord Stevenson of Balmacara and Lord Cormack, and, to some extent, the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, raised concerns about the Chilterns and its highly valued landscape. We all value that landscape; I do not think there is any question about that. However, I think that we have also always understood that there are circumstances in which we have to weigh the significance of infrastructure projects against that value. We must mitigate any effects to the extent that we can. I listed earlier many of the mitigations. Looking much more narrowly at the Chilterns, I say to the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, that, between Chalfont St Peter and Hyde Heath, which is a distance of 8.3 miles, of which 5.8 miles lies in the area of outstanding natural beauty, the route will be in a tunnel. To minimise the visual impact in the AONB, the following mitigation measures will also be taken: 3.5 miles in cuttings; 1.5 miles in “green tunnel”; 0.6 miles on viaducts; and 1.4 miles with embankments. This means that fewer than two miles of the 13 miles of the route through the Chilterns area of outstanding natural beauty will be at surface level or above. The noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, has asked why we cannot extend the tunnel. Unfortunately, that would require the construction of ventilation shafts and an emergency access station at Little Missenden. Weighing that damaging environmental impact against the current mitigations has led us to the conclusion that we have used tunnelling to the best effect.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara: I am very sorry to interrupt the noble Baroness, and it is a very trivial point, but it would have helped if we had been able to have the meeting that I requested over a month ago. It has not yet happened and if it had, we could have explained this. This canard about having to open up an opening near Little Missenden is not what is proposed. The alternative, which I sketched out for her and which I am happy to present to her in more detail, provides for an opening, required under European law, to be within the 22 miles covered by the AONB. It is near Wendover—in fact, at Wendover Dean—it is agreed by residents, agreed by all the authorities around and does not affect the central part of the Chilterns. This point was raised by her predecessor in a debate more than a year ago, and I tried to correct it then. I am clearly not effective at doing that, so can we please meet?

Baroness Kramer: As we agreed earlier, I am looking forward to that meeting and I apologise. Because I am new to the department, it has basically been triage. I regret that we did not have the chance to have that meeting before this debate, but we will have it. As the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, recognises, the course of the hybrid Bill will address many of these issues.

The noble Lord, Lord Cormack, was very concerned that HS2 is a London-centric project rather than one which will spread economic opportunity out across the country. I could make the case in the other direction—

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I thought that I had in my opening speech, as had the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, and others, in the course of their speeches. I pray in aid the noble Lord, Lord Smith of Leigh, who from his position in Greater Manchester has been able to represent to this House today the great potential that Manchester and the other great cities of the north and the Midlands have seen in this project.

They are using this opportunity in a very positive way, which perhaps is relatively new as a British approach to infrastructure. So often, we have built an infrastructure project in a silo and left it to see if anything good generates around it. In this case, the noble Lord, Lord Smith, and others are working within the various local authorities and within the various key cities. My noble friend Lord Deighton, too, is working with his task force in order to try to reinforce and support the process. This is a very different approach that will ensure that we garner the economic benefits.

A number of noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, and the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, reiterated the idea of the noble Lord, Lord Heseltine, of development corporations. It is certainly true that the Mayor of London would be able to initiate them—that is already within his competencies. However, the Government are waiting to see how local communities in the areas that will be impacted by HS2 will wish to take these issues forward. It is within the concept of devolution that Whitehall should not always know best how each individual area should approach these questions, but I suspect that in many of the schemes and developments that develop, we will look to capture development gain in various ways. Indeed, the Government have already said that they expect all the stations to be built, essentially, with private money, which in and of itself is a development-gain process. So I fully appreciate those comments and I know that they will be studied closely as we go forward.

The noble Lord, Lord Howard of Rising, raised an issue that has been in some of the literature that has been coming through people’s doors and which I would like to take on. He argues that we are not at capacity, citing an example quoted by one of the campaigning organisations, that trains are only 52% full in the evening peak. I think he is referring to a Virgin long-distance train. Certainly, regional and commuter trains are incredibly heavily used. To remove that Virgin train from the train paths in order to allow expansion of regional and commuter traffic would be a drastic option, widely opposed by passengers. There is sometimes no easy trade-off between the issue of train paths and usage at particular times. I also point out that the evening peak is a very well spread peak. During the morning peak we are pretty close to anyone’s definition of being out of capacity as it is, never mind in the circumstances that we will face as we get to the 2020s.

Perhaps I may move on to thank those who spoke so effectively and with much knowledge in favour of this high-speed rail network project. The noble Lord, Lord Adonis, called on the spirit of the Victorian pioneers and the spirit of cross-party working. Both have to inform the way in which we move forward. The noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, talked from his experience

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of actually running the four lines that go out of London. That is always an invaluable and incredibly practical touchstone as we move forward in these debates.

My noble friend Lord Freeman brought to us the experience of being the Transport Minister for HS1. That project gave us the confidence to move ahead with HS2, and the lessons that he is able to bring to this debate are therefore crucial. The noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, again reminded us of the freight conundrum that we face. In passing, he also reminded us that it is not just the Chilterns that have an issue but the area around Camden, Euston station and the HS1-HS2 link. We must appreciate and do everything we can to achieve the necessary mitigations. In this case, there is close working now between Camden Council and Network Rail, although many issues have yet to be resolved and answered.

The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, provided a constant reminder of the lack of alternatives to HS2. The point was put more clearly by the noble Lord, Lord Snape, when he said: if not HS2, what? One alternative is likely to be an exceedingly intrusive motorway. I am afraid that there would be not just one six-lane motorway if we do not build HS2 but probably two. The impact of that on the environment, communities and areas of natural beauty would be something that this House would, frankly, not relish.

I cannot remember whether it was my noble friend Lord Cormack or my noble friend Lord Howard of Rising who talked about aviation as an alternative. Again, the noble Lord, Lord Smith of Leigh, hit the nail on the head; the discussion around aviation capacity is primarily around international capacity rather than around attempts to build up a domestic aviation network of much greater intensity, but I will obviously bow to the Davies commission as it considers capacity issues in the south-east.

I should say thank you to the noble Lord, Lord Lea of Crondall, because on this occasion and previously he made a point that was picked up by others about the cluster potential. That was echoed by the noble Lord, Lord Smith, from the perspective that he and Manchester are looking at development. My noble friend Lord Teverson shared with us reports from Kent of the change from a negative to a positive attitude because of the experience of the benefits of regeneration as a result of HS1.

I am sure that in this whole process there are questions that I have failed to answer. I am reminded that I am coming to my boundary of 20 minutes. I feel that I have had the opportunity to listen to an exciting debate, and if I have not responded to questions we will do so afterwards. Perhaps I may conclude by saying this: let us protect the Victorian spirit that built our railroads, but let us look for an infrastructure that is not Victorian but modern and 21st-century so that we can build the economy of the future. I thank this House and I formally ask that the Bill be now read a second time.

Bill read a second time. Committee negatived. Standing Order 46 having been dispensed with, the Bill was read a third time and passed.

House adjourned at 9.30 pm.