VIEW FROM THE HOUSE

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - OPINION -

THE long jour­ney of the High Speed Rail (Lon­don to West Mid­lands) Bill com­pleted its re­port stage and 3rd read­ing in the Com­mons on 23 March. This was the chance for MPs to make amend­ments to the leg­is­la­tion be­fore it goes on to the House of Lords.

For any­one who may have watched the de­bate it­self, rather than the pre­am­ble, I should ex­plain that I had added my name to sup­port some of those amend­ments. How­ever – al­though I have now re­ceived an apol­ogy for this from the House au­thor­i­ties – my name was not in fact printed on the Or­der Pa­per, so I put a point of or­der to Mr Speaker to put that omis­sion right.

Points of Or­der set the scene for much of the sub­se­quent de­bate, be­cause the gov­ern­ment busi­ness man­agers had cut down on the amount of time for the de­bate it­self to take place. There­fore there were points of or­der about that de­ci­sion, the han­dling of amend­ments and how the con­cerns about these mat­ters could be con­veyed to the Speaker of the House of Lords, when the Bill is de­bated there.

Dur­ing the de­bate it­self, the is­sue of time was ob­vi­ous. My Par­lia­men­tary col­league and neigh­bour, Rt Hon Ch­eryl Gil­lan MP, summed it up as three min­utes to tell the story of the pre­ced­ing six years.

As a con­stituency MP I wanted to em­pha­sise that my con­stituents will be af­fected by the con­struc­tion work and that I have many con­cerns about the way in which HS2 Ltd has en­gaged with my con­stituents, which has been want­ing in many re­spects. That does not set peo­ple’s minds at rest about what the fu­ture holds.

Our lo­cal coun­cils face eco­nomic prob­lems and we need re­as­sur­ance that the coun­cil tax pay­ers will not have to bear all the resti­tu­tion costs for dam­age to our lo­cal in­fra­struc­ture such as our roads. I sup­ported the idea of an of­fice of the HS2 ad­ju­di­ca­tor be­cause with­out such in­de­pen­dent help I can see MPs tak­ing up par­lia­men­tary time to seek reme­dies for their con­stituents’ con­cerns.

I will con­tinue to work with the lo­cal coun­cils and col­leagues to try and mit­i­gate the im­pact of con­struc­tion as far as pos­si­ble.

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