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 Bill Cash Bill Cash Chair, European Scrutiny Committee 4:45 pm, 15th July 2019

I entirely concur with my right hon. Friend. The very fact that he is in the House, as are other Members who are not directly affected by the line, is a reminder of the fact that, on the last occasion the Bill was voted on—on Second Reading—the number of people who actually voted was very small compared with the number of people who could have voted, from which one might infer that the enthusiasm for this proposal is minimal. I think as many as 200 MPs did not vote, which was quite extraordinary.

On the question of environmental impact, I would simply say that my constituents will be deeply and profoundly affected not only by the havoc that will be created by forcing this juggernaut through my constituency from top to bottom, but by the dislocation, the highways and the impact on businesses. A quarterly report is, quite frankly, a very good idea, but I am more interested in getting an answer from the shadow Minister—it is not forthcoming at the moment—because there is no point in putting forward the proposals if they will not see the light of day in a vote.

Cost is another issue of monumental importance. I do not need to go into it all now—I made my case in a nutshell in the Westminster Hall debate I secured on this issue—but I would be grateful if the Minister could give us a clearer indication on cost, to unravel the mysteries of the continuous failure to be able to give an accurate idea as to what the project will actually involve.