Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:13 pm on 20th June 2022.

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Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Labour, Blackley and Broughton 10:13 pm, 20th June 2022

Absolutely right. I was talking about the inconvenience and disamenity there is to a local community. In many cases, they will not be able to get on the high-speed link, because it will have very few stations—if it had a lot of stations, that would defeat the objective of high speed. Greg Smith made a strong case against the whole of high speed 2, which, again, he is completely entitled to do. However, a previous Member for Buckinghamshire, Cheryl Gillan, managed to get a great deal of money out of the Government for tunnels under Buckinghamshire, and one point that could be made is that not only are we unable to discuss the link, but we will not be able to discuss amelioration of that route.

I am left with those two cases, put by my hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield and the hon. Member for Leigh. The third case has not been put. We have not heard at all from the Minister about what the alternative is—just that he will have a look at it. That is a strange way for Government to do business. “We have a perfectly good line that will cause some disruption; we will not allow you to talk about it and we will not pursue it, but we don’t know what we’re going to do instead or how much it will cost.” That is not a good way for Government to do business.

I am left thinking that maybe there are other reasons, and I have two suspicions. One is that we suddenly get that change not because of the powers of persuasion of the hon. Member for Leigh, strong as they may be, but because of the desperation of a Prime Minister under pressure, wanting votes from his Back-Benchers before a vote of confidence within the parliamentary Conservative party. That may be over-cynical, although I suspect there is an element of truth to it. The other side of the argument is that this is not a cut of £3 billion that is waiting for another scheme yet to be specified by the Government, but simply a cut.