Quarterly reports on environmental impact, costs and progress

Part of High Speed Rail (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:45 pm on 15th July 2019.

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Photo of Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis Independent, Bury South 6:45 pm, 15th July 2019

I entirely accept what you say, Mr Deputy Speaker. I simply say to the right hon. Gentleman that he was talking about a genuinely false choice, and we should not go down the road of such false choices.

I am agnostic about HS2. The reason I have become agnostic is that I am absolutely convinced that Members of this House and people in this country are not being given full, appropriate and adequate information on cost and capacity, both of which are central to whether this project, compared with other projects, should go ahead and whether it can be delivered in budget and on time, in the way that Ministers have suggested.

I want to conclude by saying this to the Minister. It really is time for Ministers to insist that there is maximum transparency and maximum disclosure of information in terms of the amounts paid and the number of non-disclosure and similar agreements issued. Ministers also need to go further and instruct HS2 to ensure that people are released from these non-disclosure responsibilities where it is clearly in the public interest to do so. It is most definitely in the public interest to do so when senior members of staff were made redundant simply because they articulated concerns within the organisation that false financial information was being put in the public domain, which is not in the public interest. In those circumstances, Ministers have a duty and the right to instruct HS2 to release people from their obligations. For us to make considered and measured judgments about the future of the scheme, we need all the facts in the public domain, as do the people of this country.