Quarterly reports on environmental impact, costs and progress

Part of High Speed Rail (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:15 pm on 15th July 2019.

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Photo of Fiona Bruce Fiona Bruce Conservative, Congleton 6:15 pm, 15th July 2019

I thank you for allowing me to speak in the debate, Mr Deputy Speaker, because it gives me an opportunity to put on record my views and those of many of my constituents regarding HS2.

I have never voted for any motion relating to HS2 in the House, over many years, and that will be my consistent position today. That is why I will not even be voting for any of the amendments or for the Bill in due course. I cannot condone any expenditure in relation to this project, and I do not believe that the further reviews and reports proposed in new clauses 1 and 4 will do anything other than reinforce my view and that of so many of my constituents that the business case for HS2 has simply not been made.

It is a hugely expensive project. It will not proportionately benefit my constituents, who time and again say to me that the huge amount of money involved would be much better spent on improving local transport services, whether it is the cycleways; the bus services, which have been reduced and need reinstating, particularly for the elderly; a bypass for Holmes Chapel; or better facilities at Sandbach station.

I need hardly mention the catalogue of concerns about local rail services that have been brought to my attention. I held a surgery a little while ago at Congleton railway station, and almost 40 constituents turned up to express their concerns about local rail services. They want to see better local rail services. That is a particular concern. If money is going to be invested in some form of Crewe hub, that will simply not be of benefit to my constituents unless there are appropriate local rail services fanning out from Crewe to Alsager, Congleton, Sandbach and Middlewich. That assessment needs to be done. I find myself in agreement with Yvette Cooper, who said that we need an assessment of the benefit of these proposals to local towns, not just cities. That is what my constituents have been saying for many years—what is the benefit to them?

I am entirely in agreement with many of the comments made by my hon. Friend Jeremy Lefroy, in particular regarding the current west coast main line. We need a proper business case for what will happen post-HS2 for the west coast main line. I use it every week, and I know that I am not alone among my constituents in thinking that the service currently supplied by Virgin is perfectly satisfactory. My constituents cannot understand why there is a need for them to contribute to the huge expense of HS2, particularly as only a tiny proportion of them are likely to use it.