This matter really needs its own debate—I am sure it will get one—where we can go through these things in some depth. What I will say is that if we look at the aspirational growth plans of some of the cities we intend to connect, we see that Leeds, for example, intends to double the size of the city centre. We are going to see different people wanting to use transport. We are certainly going to see changes. How long those last for, who knows? We have all in this House spent many months now on Zoom. I cannot wait for us to return to normality and to get back to face-to-face meetings. This is a debate for another day, however, and with your permission, Madam Deputy Speaker, I will try to get back to the topic and the amendments in hand. I am more than happy to debate this topic with the right hon. Gentleman at another stage.
Turning to the comments from my right hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire (Mr Paterson) about the village of Woore in his patch, and the impact on that particularly affected parish, I am more than happy to commit to meeting him to discuss the challenges in that area, as well as the undertakings and assurances that have been given, to ensure that we continue to mitigate where we can the impact on his local residents. While the Bill contains numerous undertakings and assurances, it is an ongoing process, and we need to ensure that we are continually looking at the best available evidence of the impacts and mitigating wherever we can.
My hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) spoke with passion about his constituency. He has met me many times about this topic. He is one of the directly affected line-of-route MPs on the 2a route. I am very keen to visit his constituency. He has invited me a number of times to meet specific residents and some of the directly impacted local groups. I am very keen to do so when it is safe for me to do that.
The hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Matt Western) talked about environmental reporting and his concerns that, if HS2 does that via a sustainability report, there could be an element of HS2 marking its own homework. I want to be clear that that is something about which I am very passionate. I want to see HS2 setting a good standard—a new standard—for environmental sustainability reporting. I touched on that point in my last six-monthly report to Parliament. I hope to provide more details in my next six-monthly report.
I am committed to ensuring that the project starts the reporting in a way that looks at all the material impacts and in a way that is seen as credible by stakeholders, and not just greenwashing or something else. The board of HS2 Ltd has now formed an environmental sub-committee chaired by Allan Cook that is looking at this, among other issues. I really want to get environmental sustainability reporting right: it needs to be at the heart of this increased transparency from HS2 Ltd. I am therefore more than happy to meet hon. and right hon. Members to discuss the details of how we get it right, not just on reporting about ancient woodland but on reporting about a whole range of environmental impacts.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (John Redwood) again questions the demand for HS2. I think we have covered that quite well. I am more than happy, obviously, to write to him. As I said, I hope to shed some light on that in my next six-monthly report, but I am sure it will also be the focus of future debates.
My hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Theo Clarke) talked with passion about her constituency and the need for the consultation provided for under amendment 3. She lobbied me very hard about amendment 3, as she has about a number of land and property cases since being elected to this House. I pay tribute to her as a doughty champion for her constituents.
My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent South (Jack Brereton) talked about the benefits to his area—comments that were echoed by my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Dr Mullan), who sees the benefits to Crewe. I was pleased to be able to visit Crewe prior to the start of the pandemic to meet my hon. Friend and the local council leader to talk about the benefits for regeneration in Crewe. Amendment 3 is important for further consultation with residents in Staffordshire and in Cheshire to ensure that we are taking all people’s views into account. My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Aaron Bell) also talked about amendment 3 and the importance of consulting with Staffordshire because, again, he recognises the benefits.
The Bill itself concerns 36 miles of track between Fradley in the west midlands and Crewe in Cheshire. At its conclusion, the Bill is accompanied by over 17,000 pages of environmental assessment and a register of undertakings and assurances that make over 1,500 individual commitments to petitioners and other interested parties about matters they have raised during its passage. The Bill has been scrutinised carefully by both Houses and improvements have been made to it.
I am sure that the wider debate about HS2, on which we have been slightly exercised tonight, will continue for many months and years. I look forward to further engagements as we prepare for the next stage of HS2—the hybrid Bill taking HS2 from Crewe into Manchester. It is right that we debate this project because it is of such significance nationally, and also so costly at a time of so many pressures on the public finances.
At its heart, though, HS2 is a project that will connect people and places. It is a project that will help the country to level up and help us to build back better from the coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, it is my view that we must get on with it. We must equip our people with the training and education needed to undertake the highly skilled roles in planning, in engineering and in constructing this railway. We must offer the jobs promised and get shovels in the ground. This Bill is a small part of a bigger project that will create much-needed capacity on our rail network. I believe that opponents—they may disagree—are short-sighted.
It is right that people stay at home now and we reduce travelling to an absolute minimum, but this will not last forever, as we will defeat the virus. The pandemic will end. People will travel again, both for business and for leisure. When that time comes, I want people to be connected. I want this House to have thought about the long-term future of our country and to have planned for it. I want to join up the west midlands and Crewe. I want us to drive investment in infrastructure, in skills and in growth across a whole levelled-up country. In short, I want this Bill to pass.
Lords amendment 1 agreed to.
Lords amendments 2 to 12 agreed to.