High Speed 2

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons on 22nd October 2019.

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Photo of Lucy Powell Lucy Powell Labour/Co-operative, Manchester Central

What recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on the potential benefits of High Speed 2 to businesses in the north.

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

The independent Oakervee review will advise the Government on High Speed 2, including potential business benefits and how it should proceed. The hon. Lady will understand that I would not want to prejudice those findings.

Photo of Lucy Powell Lucy Powell Labour/Co-operative, Manchester Central

I thank the Minister for that reply, but six regional heads of the CBI say that High Speed 2 should be built in full and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership recently published its excellent independent review saying the same, arguing that only HS2 can really rebalance our economy. Will the Secretary of State, as the business representative at the Cabinet table, advocate for business in the north?

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

The hon. Lady mentions the CBI. Both the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, and the Mayor of Birmingham, Andy Street, who sits on the panel conducting the review, have said it is important that we kick the tyres on value for money, but it is also important to make such representations to ensure that the committee gets a full view of the business benefits of HS2.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

May I urge the Minister to ignore the siren voice opposite? Most people in the north accept that HS2 is a catastrophic waste of money— a huge white elephant that is destroying the environment and the countryside and will chiefly benefit London, hence why it started out in London in the first place. May I therefore urge him to tell the Secretary of State for Transport to scrap HS2 and crack on with the thing that will really benefit the northern economy—Northern Powerhouse Rail or HS3—connecting the north, which is what we need to benefit the north’s economy.

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

I do not think there is any danger of that, Mr Speaker.

My hon. Friend raises an important point, which is why the Prime Minister has pledged to fund the Leeds to Manchester route and has accelerated those plans with a deal in the autumn of 2019, with billions of pounds going into Northern Powerhouse Rail, and has of course set up Transport for the North.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

The Minister may know that I am a fierce opponent of the £100 billion that is going to be wasted on HS2. Has he looked at research in France, where we see that high-speed trains actually suck more power and wealth into the metropolitan area of Paris, rather than the renewal of provincial towns? Will he have a look at the £100 billion, because that is how much it is going to cost, and will he spend it instead on investing in the workforce of this country?

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

The hon. Gentleman makes a powerful point, although his colleague, Lucy Powell, was shaking her head, so there is clearly division on the benefits of HS2. That is why we have an independent review to tell us which way we should proceed.

Photo of Martin Vickers Martin Vickers Conservative, Cleethorpes

One of the businesses in northern Lincolnshire that will be a crucial part of the supply chain for HS2 is British Steel in Scunthorpe. I urge the Minister, when he is in discussion with the Department for Transport, to consider the effect on the supply chain and the impact on local economies.