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

Not at this time—I am going to move on.

As raised in Committee, there is a major issue with compensation for those who rent. For example, a tenant farmer who works on the land may be moved and have to work away from their farm. People who rent privately consistently miss out when infrastructure projects force them out of their homes or away from their businesses. We believe that they must receive compensation. The issue was raised at the petition stage of the Bill and it would be right to respond today. The new clause would enable that to happen when the statutory instrument is laid.

Let me briefly move on to new clause 5. I am looking forward to the contribution from Antoinette Sandbach, and I confirm that Labour supports her new clause. There has been a lot of learning around non-disclosure agreements, as my hon. Friend Mr Lewis alluded to. I know from my time as a trade union official, and from my time on the working party on bullying and sexual misconduct procedures here, that these agreements are used to see that commercially sensitive information is not shared with external parties, but they are also used around failures of management, and bullying would be one such example.

If the culture is wrong, it is not right to put money into it, and the management should be held to account. My hon. Friend said that 270-plus non-disclosure agreements have been signed, so we need to ensure that there is proper scrutiny and transparency. New clause 5 addresses that issue very comprehensively, ensuring that commercial sensitivities are not undermined, and also that all of us can have a real grasp of what is happening in the culture of HS2. It is a sensible way of addressing the serious amount of money that is being spent on these agreements. We certainly believe that the culture in HS2 must move forward.

We will listen to the debate to decide how we handle the new clauses I have laid before the House. I hope the Minister will give us assurances on them, and I will be listening carefully to determine whether to proceed to a vote. With these enhancements to the Bill, the whole HS2 project could proceed with far greater confidence and far greater support.