Engagement with communities living and working along the route

Part of High-Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:15 am on 8th March 2016.

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Photo of Andy McDonald Andy McDonald Shadow Minister (Transport) 11:15 am, 8th March 2016

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

There is only so much disappointment that an individual can take. I thought that I had been pretty persuasive. Nevertheless, can I have a go with another one? I trust that this will be relatively straightforward—I live in hope.

The new clause calls on the nominated undertaker to conduct meaningful engagement with communities living and working along the London-west midlands route. It is self-explanatory. It simply requires the nominated undertaker to have regard to commitments and undertakings given to the London Borough of Camden and any other relevant party to engage and consult with the communities along the route.

There are two points to make. First, there has been comprehensive and in-depth engagement with communities thus far, through the good offices of the excellent Select Committee and that exhaustive process of listening to the petitions and requests for amendments, ameliorations and compensations. The new clause would require the nominated undertaker to engage consistently and continuously with such communities once the work was under way. The hope is that that would provide continuous reassurance to those communities that, even though HS2 has passed through all its necessary legislative processes, their concerns still rank with the promoter, the nominated undertaker and, indeed, the Secretary of State, and that there will be mechanisms for those communities to engage continuously with the promoter and others, so that any concerns that arise in the course of the construction or any opportunities that arise that require further attention are indeed given that attention and those concerns or opportunities will not be ignored or lost.

Secondly, with regard to the commitments and undertakings given to the London Borough of Camden and others, the new clause would go a long way towards embedding those undertakings and commitments in the programme for the entire duration of construction and operation, and would mean that there was a statutory confirmation that those commitments and undertakings have the force of law and must be properly regarded and observed.

I trust that this new clause is not considered contentious and can be agreed. I invite the Minister to confirm that he is agreeable to such a reasonable new clause, which is entirely consistent with his own comments to date and with the assurances given by the promoter.