High Speed Rail (London–West Midlands) Bill - Third Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:15 pm on 31st January 2017.

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Photo of Lord Young of Norwood Green Lord Young of Norwood Green Labour 3:15 pm, 31st January 2017

My Lords, as someone who spent six months of my life serving on the Select Committee, I feel I have to answer some of the points that the noble Lord made, in particular that the Bill has not been scrutinised. It had two years’ scrutiny in the Commons and a further six months on every aspect imaginable. Whether concerns were about the environment, noise, or construction, every aspect of the route and its impact was carefully examined. There will always be those who argue against infrastructure expenditure, especially on the levels that we are talking about. When it started, Crossrail was by no means universally accepted, yet now it is praised to the skies as a scheme that was necessary and was delivered on budget and on time.

This is the first railway out of London in something like 120 years. Whether or not the proposal started from the point of view of increasing speed, there is a capacity argument and this project will relieve capacity. It was certainly news to me when my noble friend suggested that the trains would stop at Old Oak Common. If they do, that will be a new development. We debated that not long ago and rejected amendments to that effect from the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, and I believe that my noble friend Lord Berkeley was associated with that as well. Therefore, we examined the impact of the line very carefully. Can it be accommodated at Euston? Yes, it can. Allowances have been made for the integration of Crossrail 2 and a new classic railway station.

Thousands of jobs are dependent on this scheme. Somehow we seem to have lost the vision that we started off with in terms of what we need in infrastructure capacity. I suppose that that is not surprising when one looks at the length of time that the scheme has been under consideration. I sincerely believe that the House will recognise that this Bill has been scrutinised in great depth and that it would be a decision of great folly to follow the advice of the noble Lord, Lord Framlingham.