Sadly for Eddisbury, the number of losers there is very large. It will cost an extra £100 million just to do the extra 20 km of track from Crewe past Winsford. The geotechnical engineer’s report that was served on HS2 many years ago has not yet been answered. I would much rather see that money going into improving public services and housing stock in my area.
New clause 5 seeks to restrict use of non-disclosure agreements by HS2. The reason that I tabled it is that a business in my constituency has been asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement, and it potentially affects the jobs of 166 of my constituents. I do not think it right that Members of Parliament are being denied information that is being stitched up by HS2. This relates not only to private businesses but to councils, in relation to denying elected members information. That is why the new clause is necessary.
Scarcely a day passes without a discussion on non-disclosure agreements. Last week, there was a discussion on NDAs in relation to the Labour party, but we have also seen questions about their use by businessmen and others to keep former employees and others quiet about information or personal conduct within a company. I am grateful to my hon. Friend Stephen Kerr, who sits with me on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, for his work on the all-party parliamentary group on whistleblowing. The group has today launched a report calling for reforms to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. What concerns me most is that HS2 appears to be stepping up its use of NDAs. Last Wednesday, Mr Lewis described HS2 as having signed more than 270 NDAs, and the New Civil Engineer reports that the figure could be as high as 280, with 40% of them having been signed in the last year.