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High Speed 2

Volume 551: debated on Thursday 18 October 2012

10. What recent assessment he has made of the potential benefits of High Speed 2 to businesses in Birmingham and its surrounding areas. (123218)

HS2 will transform journey times, capacity and connectivity between the Birmingham stations and Leeds, Manchester and London, and will release substantial capacity on the existing rail network. This will help the wider west midlands area to fulfil its economic potential.

Will my right hon. Friend tell the House how many jobs will be involved in the construction and operation of the first phase of the railway to the midlands?

A number of opportunities will become available as a result of HS2. We expect there to be 9,000 jobs during construction and 1,500 permanent operational jobs, as well as a huge amount of regeneration in the areas served by HS2.

HS2 is important to Scotland as well as those places south of the border mentioned by the Secretary of State. Will he update us on what discussions he has had with the Scottish Government on the plans for HS2 to provide benefits to Scotland as well?

I am due to meet Scottish Ministers in the not-too-distant future, and I have had one phone conversation with the First Minister. Last week I announced that we will undertake a study to take HS2 further north into Scotland.

On 7 July 2011, in a letter on transparency to all the Secretaries of State, the Prime Minister wrote:

“As you know, transparency is at the heart of our agenda for Government.”

The Department and the Cabinet Office are currently concealing information and refusing to publish the Major Projects Authority report on HS2. Will the Secretary of State now show that the Prime Minister’s words are not meaningless when it comes to HS2 and publish that report immediately?

HS2 will be the subject of a huge amount of parliamentary time as we prepare the hybrid Bill and bring it before Parliament in the next Session.

Arguably one of the benefits of HS2 is that it will create extra capacity on the conventional network. However, these services are highly unlikely to be profitable and will require extra subsidy. What calculations has the Department made about the extra cost of that subsidy and the subsequent Barnett consequentials that the Welsh Government will be entitled to?

We are some way off getting to that stage. I am dealing with a number of other figures at the moment, so I will take away the hon. Gentleman’s question and think about it a little more deeply, rather than give a rushed answer at the Dispatch Box.

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the concerns of constituents up and down the route of the line who have been unable to access the exceptional hardship scheme? When will he start his consultation on fair compensation? We said that we would not allow anybody to have to pay with their own assets or in terms of their own life, and yet that has proven to not be the case.

I well understand that point and the opposition that HS2 has generated. Any major infrastructure brings about a lot of opposition. I hope to be able to publish the Government’s consultation on compensation in the not-too-distant future.