VIEW FROM THE HOUSE
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.