High Speed 2 — [Mr George Howarth in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 12th September 2018.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Chair, European Scrutiny Committee 9:30 am, 12th September 2018

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered High Speed 2.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Howarth. Today I am calling for the scrapping of HS2. Coincidentally, today there is a ComRes poll in the Express, of which I have just been made aware, which shows that 67% of British adults do not think HS2 would benefit them personally at all, 61% think it is poor value for money, and more people oppose the construction than support it. I recommend that people read very carefully the basis of that polling. Interestingly, in the west midlands only 24% think that HS2 will benefit them. There is gathering momentum to derail the plans. Peter Oborne wrote recently in the Daily Mail that the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and other senior Ministers might be about to call publicly for it to be cancelled. Apparently, the Defence and Foreign Secretaries are of this view, as is my right hon. Friend Boris Johnson.

Members might notice that I am wearing my HS2 white elephant badge. A white elephant is defined as:

“a possession that is useless or troublesome, especially one that is expensive to maintain or difficult to dispose of.”

This particular white elephant might look docile and harmless at present, but it is not. I voted against the principle on Second Reading, as did many other Members here today, including my right hon. Friend Dame Cheryl Gillan and my hon. Friends the Members for Stafford (Jeremy Lefroy) and for Stoke-on-Trent South (Jack Brereton). I did so because I thought it was a fundamentally flawed project.

The Second Reading of the Bill authorised the London to Birmingham route. Only 41 voted against that Bill, with 452 voting for it. Interestingly, the penny dropped for the second Bill on the stretch from Birmingham to Crewe, which directly affects my constituents. Although only 12 of us voted against it, the number who voted for it dropped considerably, to only 295 out of 650 MPs. Where were the other 255?

I want to pay tribute to my constituents at both ends of the constituency, who are profoundly affected by the project, particularly Trevor Parkin of the Stone Railhead Crisis Group and Ian Webb, Fred Smith and Gary White from the Whitmore2Madeley HS2 action group. I also want to mention Keith Ralls. Those people put specific questions in their petitions in relation to the manner in which they were injuriously affected by the HS2 proposals between Birmingham and Crewe. However, they are also profoundly opposed to the concept of HS2 in itself, which is clearly consistent with the opinion poll I have just mentioned.