Quarterly reports on environmental impact, costs and progress

Part of High Speed Rail (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:45 pm on 15th July 2019.

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Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Transport) 4:45 pm, 15th July 2019

I am honoured to have a centre for digital signalling in my constituency and have seen the power of it, but sadly, to achieve the capacity that we will need for the future, we have to build more routes. That is what this project will do. It is not either/or—both are required for the future of our rail network, but the right hon. Gentleman makes an important point.

First, we are calling on the Secretary of State to bring quarterly reports on the environmental impact, costs and progress of the HS2 project to the House. This is far too important a project for the Bill to be passed and then for us to read in the press that the costs have gone up and there are delays. The project must be far more accountable to the House, as should the Secretary of State.

Secondly, Labour believes that the scheduling, the integration, the engineering in places and the scope of the project need review. We cannot simply have HS2 Ltd saying, “This is what it is.” There are major issues to be resolved, not least the vital Yorkshire hub and getting the right connectivity into Sheffield. Members and community groups have undertaken detailed work on how improvements can be made to parts of the route, and that is one such example. Labour is calling for the whole of HS2, including phase 2a, to undergo a complete peer review appraisal by independent engineering and economic specialists. We believe that that is the only way that Parliament and the public can have full confidence in the HS2 project. Such a process will ensure that the scope is right, that the integration with the wider network is right, that governance is put right and that the maximum environmental gain is harvested while the cost of the project is minimised. It will not delay the project but enable it to proceed in a way that delivers maximum benefit.

Ensuring that the best modelling of the wider economic benefit is properly appraised is also urgently needed on this project, while at the same time proper security can clearly deliver a focus and confirm that north-south connectivity—and, I trust, east-west too—is really integrated to deliver and to ensure that we get maximum benefit from it. I trust that hon. Members on both sides of the House will support the new clauses, which would answer many of the questions that they have been asking and enhance the Bill and the project.