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 Owen Paterson Owen Paterson Conservative, North Shropshire 6:45 pm, 15th July 2019

It is a great pleasure to speak in this debate. I have listened carefully to the arguments. Rachael Maskell might be interested to know that I was actually minded to support her new clauses until she spoke. Her new clauses would have no consequences: they would just lay a report and nothing would happen.

I have gone on a journey on this issue. I voted for the project when I was in Cabinet, and I have become more and more sceptical about it. At one stage I thought it might just die, because the finances were becoming less and less sensible. Now, however, I have real concerns. There are problems with it in my own constituency and nationally. I would have supported new clause 1 on assessing environmental impact, costs, progress on the timetable and economic impact, but I realise that all that would happen is that a report would be laid and there would be no consequences.

In an earlier intervention—I am not sure whether you were here, Mr Deputy Speaker—I raised the issue of the route. My hon. Friend Michael Fabricant pointed out several times in interventions that originally the route was going to follow an existing corridor up the M40, but is now going to smash through virgin countryside and cause huge damage at vast cost. One thing I have in common with my hon. Friend Trudy Harrison—it is a great pleasure to follow her—is that we both went to platform 5 at Crewe this morning and changed trains. I moved on to platform 11. I do that every week, twice a week. I raised this point in an intervention: my constituents want to go direct to Heathrow. I am sure Old Oak Common has many attractions and is a lovely place with charming people and wonderful things to do, but my constituents do not want to go to Old Oak Common. They want to go direct to Heathrow or direct to HS1.