I completely agree. I am worried that NDAs are used to cover up wrongdoing in HS2, particularly in relation to redundancy payments, which have been discovered by the National Audit Office, and it has been agreed that the scheme was inappropriate. The difficulty is that without such provision being included in the legislation, that statutory protection is not available to those who wish to blow the whistle or otherwise highlight failures.
NDAs are also used for local authorities. I know that, because it applies to my own local authority. In answer to a written question, my hon. Friend Ms Ghani, the HS2 Minister, reported that 31 local councils have an NDA in place with HS2, including Cheshire West and Chester, and Cheshire East Councils, which cover my constituency. Apparently, they are required to discuss advanced planning issues and matters of a commercially sensitive nature. However, the councils also sit on the implementation advisory group which feeds back to my community what HS2 plans to do in my area. Matters that go beyond planning and commercially sensitive information are being withheld on the basis of those NDAs signed with HS2, denying me as the Member of Parliament the ability to quiz HS2 on what it plans to do in the area. How, for example, will road movements be affected, and how will that affect my industrial estate? How is the public interest served by those NDAs, which limit the information that councils can give to my constituents?