Quarterly reports on environmental impact, costs and progress

Part of High Speed Rail (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:15 pm on 15th July 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury) 7:15 pm, 15th July 2019

My right hon. Friend has raised the important issue of transparency and the need for data to be up to date. Members of Parliament who are working hard for their constituents need to know exactly what data they are speaking about. I shall be happy to ensure that any case that my right hon. Friend raises is dealt with by HS2 Ltd, and also to ensure that there is even greater clarity about the compensation packages that are available.

Let me now deal with new clause 4. Phase 2a has been under independent scrutiny since its conception. All elements of high-speed rail have been subject to scrutiny since the outset, not least in the House, through the petitioning process, through Public Bill Committee scrutiny and debate, and also through independent scrutiny conducted by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority and the National Audit Office.

Let me assure the House that, while HS2 is making huge progress in supporting 9,000 jobs across the country and being backed by businesses and business leaders in the midlands and the north, we will continue to scrutinise the project. HS2 will boost economic growth across the UK, and we are already seeing the benefits in the midlands and the north. However, I do not see the benefits of a further environmental assessment, given that we have already consulted extensively. That includes a seven-month consultation on the route back in 2013, a scope and methodology consultation in preparation for the environmental impact assessment in 2016, a consultation on the working draft of the environmental impact assessment—also in 2016—a consultation on the environmental statement deposited alongside the Bill in 2017, and two more consultations on the environmental statement and supplementary environmental statement alongside the additional Bill provisions in 2018 and 2019.

I hope Members agree that a huge amount of scrutiny has already taken place. There is also a board, which was strengthened last year by a new chairman, Allan Cook, who works closely with the executive to review the capability and capacity of HS2. It is the job of the chair and the board to ensure that the entire programme continues under scrutiny. I do not see what more another review will achieve, apart from adding another layer of bureaucracy and another cost, given that there have already been so many.

Let me now deal briefly with new clause 5. I thank my hon. Friend Antoinette Sandbach for being so patient. She has cited some very complicated cases, some of which have taken a long time to resolve. I can only apologise on behalf of HS2 Ltd if it has not worked as efficiently as possible with her constituents, or in providing information about local schools.