HS2 Bill passes in the Commons - without compensation amendments

 

The Bill for Phase One of HS2 passed its third Commons reading last night by a large majority, after ministers rejected amendments that would have seen local authorities compensated for losses.  

It now passes to the House of Lords, where it is expected to pass, allowing construction of the section between London and Birmingham to begin next year.

Amendments put forward by Cheryl Gillan MP that would have required councils to be reimbursed for costs incurred as a result of the line’s construction and operation were not accepted by ministers and not put to the vote.

”Local
Cheryl Gillan MP had tried to amend the Bill

Conservative Ms Gillan said she voted against the government ‘in protest at the failure to provide legally enforceable statutory safeguards, to compensate hard-pressed local authorities for the ever-mounting costs resulting from HS2, for the inequitable and atrocious handling of this project, for poor value for money for the taxpayer and for the damage it inflicts on my constituents and the Chesham & Amersham constituency'.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin pledged to work closely with communities affected by the HS2 route, to keep a firm grip on costs and ‘drive maximum value for money from this new railway’.

He said: ‘Once again Parliament has backed HS2 and brought this vital new railway one step closer to reality. British contractors are now bidding to build the line, British apprentices are waiting to work on it and British cities are waiting to benefit from it.’

Alasdair Reisner. chief executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association. said the vote would boost industry’s confidence in the scheme.

‘HS2 will form the backbone of Britain’s transport infrastructure in the 21st century, supporting nationwide growth and prosperity,' he said. 

He added: ‘The fact that HS2 has secured cross-party support means industry has the confidence to plan for and deliver this transformative scheme on time and on budget.’

Before yesterday's vote the Government announced an in-principle agreement to transfer government-owned land to the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) ‘paving the way for massive regeneration of the area’.

Old Oak, in west London is to be a transport ‘super-hub’, with Crossrail and HS2 combining with the Great Western Main Line to provide fast and frequent access to London and also the west and north of the country.

The Government said bringing future ownership of the land under the OPDC’s control ‘ensures that development of what is currently London’s largest regeneration site is as smooth and swift as possible’.

 

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