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High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:26 pm on 26th June 2013.

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Photo of Patrick McLoughlin Patrick McLoughlin The Secretary of State for Transport 2:26 pm, 26th June 2013

It is a normal level of contingency that would be put into a scheme of this sort, and it is built in on an internationally based calculation.

This is the right way to plan for the project. In addition, with or without HS2, new rolling stock will be needed on the key inter-city routes linking London and the north over the next 20 years. I hope that deals with the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for

North West Leicestershire (Andrew Bridgen). We are therefore budgeting £7.5 billion for HS2 rolling stock. To put that in perspective, the current inter-city express programme to replace trains on the east coast and Great Western lines, which is creating jobs in the north east, will cost £4.9 billion. The money that I have just announced for the rolling stock for HS2 also includes a contingency of some £1.5 billion.

Good infrastructure is an investment in economic growth. We are investing £14.5 billion to build Crossrail, while £11 billion has been invested in new infrastructure at Heathrow since 2003. Over the period of construction, the cost of HS2 will be less than 0.15% of GDP—I repeat, less than 0.15% of GDP. This is an investment that the country can sustain and needs. That is why tomorrow the Chief Secretary will set out the detailed HS2 funding allocations for the six-year period until 2020-21.

Before I finish, I want to explain what we are doing for those affected by the line. As I said earlier and have tried to make clear throughout this Second Reading speech, I do not dismiss those with objections as irrelevant. We do indeed need to design HS2 carefully, consult properly and compensate fairly. I hope that I can reassure people about why it is right to go ahead. Some have concerns about the impact of HS2 on the landscape. While I cannot deny that a project of this scale will have an effect, I believe that the positive experience of our first high-speed line in Kent shows that the consequences can be managed without wrecking the countryside. For instance, while not a single mile of the M1 is in-tunnel, about 40 miles of HS2 will be in-tunnel. Of the 12.4 miles that crosses the Chilterns area of outstanding natural beauty, 5.8 miles will be in-tunnel and 3.5 miles will be in deep cuttings. No part of phase 2 of the route crosses any national parks or areas of outstanding natural beauty.

It is also important to ensure that proper compensation is made to those affected by HS2. That is why we have introduced the exceptional hardship scheme although there was no statutory requirement to do so. We believe that home owners already affected with a pressing need to move should have recourse to compensation, but without the authority of Parliament to incur expenditure to continue with this compensation, I would need to consider carefully what other mechanisms, if any, we could use. Very soon, we will start a new consultation on compensation.