To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the response on 13 July to the Freedom of Information request to HS2 Ltd (FOI-19-3289), whether they (1) informed the committees in both Houses of Parliament which considered the petitions in relation to the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Act 2017 to the High Speed Rail (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill, and (2) have informed, or intend to inform, the committee in the House of Lords which is considering the petitions in relation to the High Speed Rail (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill, that any petitioner who had signed a non-disclosure agreement with HS2 Ltd had signed such an agreement; if so, which petitioners; and if not, why not.
The Promoter’s evidence to the Select Committee only includes information relevant to the matters raised by each petitioner. The Promoter was not asked about NDAs, and so did not mention them to the Select Committees that considered petitions against the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill in either House whether any of the petitioners against the Bill had entered into a NDA (or confidentiality agreement) with HS2 Ltd. Nor has the Promoter done so for petitioners against the High Speed Rail (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill. The Select Committees are not inquiries into HS2 or HS2 Ltd – they are a quasi-judicial process that considers requests for changes to the scheme, made by petitioners.
Confidentiality agreements preserve confidentiality when two or more parties exchange sensitive information. These agreements offer protection when parties want to share confidential or commercially sensitive information with each other but need to make sure that the information is not shared more widely. Like any contract, these agreements are entered into by mutual consent, and are utilised to protect not just HS2 Ltd’s confidential information but the confidential information of the third party/ies involved. They provide value to the taxpayer by reducing uncertainty and by helping to reduce generalised blight.
A confidentiality agreement would not prevent a signatory from petitioning against the Bill or appearing before a Select Committee in either House to raise the issues in its petition. It simply seeks to ensure that any confidential information shared between the parties under the terms of the agreement is not disclosed.