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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:45 pm on 31st January 2017.

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Photo of Lord Rosser Lord Rosser Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Transport) 3:45 pm, 31st January 2017

Although the amendment is listed as changing one word, it would in fact change just one letter; it would substitute “t” for “w” in the word “now”. In so doing, it seeks to consign HS2 to the dustbin.

HS2 was initiated by a Labour Government and was taken forward first by the coalition Government and then, following the general election, by the present Government. There is clearly a mandate to proceed. The Bill has been debated and considered both in this House and in the Commons and has been the subject of detailed consideration by Select Committees of both Houses. I hope that the Government will look favourably on the outstanding compensation issues that have still to be determined.

The Companion to the Standing Orders indicates that, on an amendment of this nature at this stage:

“Any remarks should be brief and should not seek to reopen debates at previous stages of the bill”.

Consequently, my remarks will be brief. First, I thank the Minister, his ministerial colleagues and the Bill team for the way in which they have dealt with the debates as the Bill has progressed through this House and for the full responses that they have sought to give to issues that have been raised both in the House and at meetings. I also thank my noble friend Lord Tunnicliffe for his most welcome and much-appreciated advice and guidance and Hannah Lazell in our office for the considerable work that she has put into the Bill, which has been of such help to me. Finally, I thank the members of your Lordships’ Select Committee, who considered the Bill in detail over some months, for their invaluable and painstaking work.

The amendment is fatal and hardly appropriate for the unelected House to pass, even more so when the Bill has already been passed in the Commons by, as the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, said, an overwhelming majority of over 350. HS2 will bring a major and much- needed addition to this country’s transport infrastructure, including relieving the increasing pressure on the west coast main line—an issue that has to be addressed and cannot just be ignored and waved away. The pros and cons of HS2 have been considered and debated for a number of years. Inevitably, there will be some who will never feel able to agree to it, but the time has now come to make a decision. That decision must be to proceed. We can do that now by ensuring that the amendment, if put to a vote, is defeated and that the substantive Motion that this Bill do now pass is agreed.