Power to acquire land compulsorily

High Speed Rail (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:27 am on 25th June 2019.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Karen Buck Karen Buck Labour, Westminster North

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

That schedule 6 be the Sixth schedule to the Bill.

That schedule 7 be the Seventh schedule to the Bill.

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury)

Clause 4 provides the Secretary of State with the power to compulsorily acquire land within the limits shown in the Bill, where such land is required for phase 2a. Subsection (2) introduces schedule 6, which describes some of the land to be acquired and the particular purposes for which it may be acquired. It is not land required for the scheduled works; it is land required for ancillary works, including environmental mitigation, utility diversions and borrow pits. The clause further provides that the normal legislative regime relating to compulsory acquisition is to apply, subject to the modification set out in schedule 7. The purpose of the modifications is to streamline the land acquisition process, as Parliament will already have given approval to the Bill.

Photo of Matt Rodda Matt Rodda Shadow Minister (Transport) (Buses)

Compulsory purchases and compensation have been an issue of contention during this process. For phase 1 it was initially decided that residents of urban areas would receive less compensation that those in rural areas—a decision that was eventually overturned. It is important that such issues are dealt with fairly, but it appears that tenants who are adversely affected by the scheduled works are not being treated fairly as there is no scheme to compensate them. Those who rent are already disadvantaged compared with those who own their own properties, and I believe that much more can and should be done. I will return to that issue when we discuss the new clauses.

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury)

The hon. Gentleman raises an important point. The purchase of land is essential to the completion of the proposed scheme. People directly and especially affected by the Bill have had the opportunity to petition the House and will have another opportunity to do so in the other place.

The project endeavours to use land as effectively and efficiently as possible. There are a number of places where compensation claims can be heard and settled by agreement, whereas disputes can be dealt with by the upper tribunal or by other factors that HS2 has put in place to deal with local communities and local people. Even though the project provides some disruption along the line, we want to ensure that we are doing the right thing by the communities we are working with.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 4 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedules 6 and 7 agreed to.