All 1 Lord Bradshaw contributions to the High Speed Rail (West Midlands-Crewe) Act 2021

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Mon 9th Nov 2020
High Speed Rail (West Midlands-Crewe) Bill
Grand Committee

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High Speed Rail (West Midlands-Crewe) Bill Debate

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Department: Department for Transport

High Speed Rail (West Midlands-Crewe) Bill

Lord Bradshaw Excerpts
Committee stage & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Monday 9th November 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Grand Committee
Read Full debate High Speed Rail (West Midlands-Crewe) Act 2021 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 142-II Second marshalled list for Grand Committee - (9 Nov 2020)
All of these factors combined would be catastrophic for the economies of Yorkshire and the east Midlands if the western leg of HS2 proceeds without the eastern leg. These are hugely important issues—and I apologise for detaining the Committee for longer than normal—that go to the whole future economic and social geography of this country. It is vital that we proceed with the eastern as well as the western leg of HS2. Although I do not think that my remarks this afternoon will have persuaded the Minister to make any dramatic statements in her reply, I hope that they will strongly encourage the political and business leaders of the east Midlands and Yorkshire to campaign ferociously for the eastern leg of HS2 to proceed alongside the western leg; otherwise, we will proceed with, in effect, just half of the project for levelling up the Midlands and the north. I beg to move.
Lord Bradshaw Portrait Lord Bradshaw (LD) [V]
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My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Adonis. I was in the House when he introduced the original high-speed rail proposals. I think I appended a plaudit to his name then: I said that he was a sort of second Brunel, because at least he had the vision as to what could happen rather than thinking how difficult it was to do everything. It is extraordinarily difficult. I do not applaud the way in which HS2 has gone about it. It has been slow, it has been extravagant and it could have done the job better, but there remain important things to be done.

I wish to start by talking about the east Midlands, which has the lowest attainment and the lowest social mobility of the whole country. It is low down in the Government’s plans for investing any money anywhere, and it is extremely important that it be brought back into the fold, because much of the area is shamefully neglected. Train journeys from places such as Lincoln, Leicester and Derby into Birmingham average only about 30 miles per hour. That sort of speed would be quite unacceptable to people in other parts of the country.

This morning we saw published an RAC motoring report which somewhat joyfully hailed the death of public transport and the fact that at some point in the future we would have cars that emitted no pollution. It said that people would flock to their cars. In fact, congestion is caused by the vehicles being there, and previous attempts to build our way out of congestion on the roads have generally been an abject failure and have cost the country huge sums of money.

In Birmingham is an organisation called Midlands Engine, which reports up the various channels to a mayor in Birmingham who I believe is an avid Conservative. But go and talk to him about what he thinks about cutting a large part of the east Midlands out of the benefits which come from having a high-speed railway.

The noble Lord, Lord Adonis, mentioned the Welwyn viaduct. It is an impossible obstacle. I have tried many times in my railway career to see how it might be overcome, including by going to New Zealand at my own expense to see how the Japanese had attached wings to Auckland Harbour Bridge to make the road wider. That sort of thing cannot be done on a railway. Nothing but destruction would be wrought over the whole valley for a long time if anybody were to attempt to rebuild that viaduct.

As the noble Lord said, there is an extremely complicated compensation system, designed at privatisation, that perversely means that when you set out to improve a railway, the people you are improving it for get compensation for your efforts. It is a most ridiculous system which I hope might be one of the things addressed in the review of the railway which Keith Williams started—but I do not quite know where that is now.

One good thing to come out of recent developments in HS2 is the concept of a through station at Manchester. When we talk about the north-east, we see the need for a through station at Leeds, because the concept of terminus stations in the middle of high-speed lines is a very stupid one. I strongly support what the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, has said. It is incumbent on the Government to come clean, particularly with the large number of people in the east Midlands, many of whom voted for them at the last election, and to say, “Yes, we are going to build better, a lot better, because, by rebuilding, we can not only restore fast services but free up local services, which are so awful, and bring them up to modern standards”. I hope that the Minister might have some encouragement for us at the end of this debate.

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Portrait Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (GP) [V]
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My Lords, it would probably be quite difficult to find two people who think more differently about the first leg of HS2 than me and the noble Lord, Lord Adonis. I disagree with a large part of what he said: the first leg is a dinosaur of a project. It is economically and environmentally disastrous. That it has gone ahead in spite of the Treasury and Dominic Cummings being against it staggers me—something has clearly gone wrong there.

However, I support the amendment, because it is important that there is a shape to the future. At the moment, I know that people in the north are extremely worried that HS2 will be seen by the Government as something that serves London, with the north forgotten. The Government have said that a Bill for the northern part of HS2 will not be brought forward until they have developed their overall strategy for rail transport in the north. That means that they could abandon that part of HS2 as well as the east-west railway, which Boris Johnson specifically promised as part of the Conservative manifesto and probably helped him win the election and the seats in the north. Without extending to the north, HS2 has zero hope of delivering on the already questionable value-for-money assessment conducted by the Government. Quite honestly, the north will judge the Government on whether its railways go ahead.

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Lord Bradshaw Portrait Lord Bradshaw (LD) [V]
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I say simply that I accept entirely the arguments advanced by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope. I agree that the procedure is cumbersome and expensive and I would be very pleased to see some reforms brought forward in due course, but I am sorry, I cannot agree with the arguments put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley.

Lord Tunnicliffe Portrait Lord Tunnicliffe (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I have to admit that I barely understand this debate. I did my best to research it and it seemed to be about giving the promoter considerable flexibility to exercise powers under the TWA procedure to create opportunities for activity on land that might be outside the Bill, as well as other rights to do things. I am sure the Minister, briefed by her excellent team, fully understands what this is all about and I will be very grateful if she explains it to me, ideally in words of one syllable.