It is a pleasure to follow Sir William Cash. We disagree on almost everything, but I do sympathise massively with people’s concerns about their property and will always support them as their constituency MP.
This is a significant Bill of vital importance to our future prosperity and a key feature of any strategy to build a more balanced economy. My contribution to this debate will outline the reasons why I believe we must support the Bill and also the vision that underpins HS2. Without that strategic outlook, we risk losing the bigger picture to narrow debates about direct benefits such as commute times or becoming distracted by false choices, such as whether to spend on HS2 or northern powerhouse rail.
Of course, it is important that any publicly funded project be wholly transparent and subject to proper scrutiny. Let me begin with my own constituency of Crewe and Nantwich. It goes without saying that Crewe is famous for being a railway town. In fact, it has been suggested that Crewe was actually named after the railway station, rather than the other way round. Before the Grand Junction Railway company chose Crewe as the site for its railway station and works, Crewe was reportedly a tiny village with as few as 70 residents. That was until our current station was completed in 1837. About a decade later Crewe works was producing one locomotive a week. Our communities flourished around the works and ours is now widely recognised as one of the most historically significant railway stations in the world.