High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill

Part of Speaker’s Statement – in the House of Commons at 4:38 pm on 28th April 2014.

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Photo of Patrick McLoughlin Patrick McLoughlin The Secretary of State for Transport 4:38 pm, 28th April 2014

Yes. I give the hon. Gentleman that assurance on a matter that was raised with me privately by another member who served on the commission. We certainly will consult.

Of course, we must also get the property compensation right. I have announced an enhanced property compensation package and I wish to consult quickly on the further proposals. I want to do more, so we will introduce a need-to-sell scheme, which I want to be easy to understand and to work fairly. It is more than just a re-labelling of the previous exceptional hardship scheme. It will be more generous, too, but it does not stop there.

Let me outline the powers that the Government are seeking through this Bill. It provides the authority to undertake works required for the construction and maintenance of phase 1 of HS2: deemed planning permission for the railway; the power to purchase compulsorily the land required for the phase 1 route, as well as for business relocation and regeneration; modification of existing legislative controls that are not designed for a hybrid Bill—a process based on that used for HS1 and Crossrail; and the ability to nominate a person or organisation to deliver phase 1 on behalf of the Secretary of State.

I believe that the Bill before us today has the power to change our nation profoundly and for the better. Yes, HS2 is ambitious; yes, it will take a great deal of investment; yes, it will take time to complete—but so did the canals, the railways and motorways that previous generations left as their legacy. Our age can achieve something just as great. I am from the midlands—I was born in Staffordshire and I represent Derbyshire—and I know the potential of Britain. I know that, built right, on time and to budget, High Speed 2 can help our great cities thrive.

The choice comes down to this: do we invest in modern transport links to make sure that every part of Britain can compete for the best jobs, or are we really happy for London and the south-east to power ahead while the rest get second best? Put like that, the answer is clear to me. Yes, this project deserves careful scrutiny—the processes are in place to ensure that—but it also deserves to go ahead. Britain needs it to go ahead. Tonight, I hope that we will make good progress towards that end. I commend the Bill to the House.