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Hybrid Bill Procedure

Volume 565: debated on Wednesday 26 June 2013

Amendment of private business standing orders

I beg to move,

That the following Standing Order (Private Business) be made:

224A. “Comments on environmental statement

(1) This order applies to any government bill in relation to which the Examiner decides Standing Orders 4 to 68 are applicable and in relation to which an environmental statement is required to be deposited under Standing Order 27A.

(2) In this order:

(a) “the relevant Minister” means the Minister of the Crown with responsibility for the bill;

(b) “the environmental statement” means the environmental information originally

deposited by the relevant Minister in relation to the bill for the purpose of Standing Order 27A;

(c) “supplementary environmental information” means any additional environmental information deposited by the relevant Minister, after the deposit of the environmental statement, to supplement that statement for the purpose of meeting the requirements of any EU Directive relating to environmental impact assessment.

(3) The notice published under Standing Order 10 in relation to the bill shall state that any person who wishes to make comments on the environmental statement should send them to the relevant Minister in such manner and on or before such date as shall be specified by the relevant Minister in the notice, that date being no earlier than the 56th day after the first publication of the notice.

(4) For the purpose of Standing Order 224 paragraph (3) shall be treated as one of the Standing Orders compliance with which must be examined by the Examiner.

(5) The relevant Minister shall, in such form as may be specified by the Examiner, publish and deposit in the Private Bill Office any comments received by him in accordance with this order and shall also submit those comments to the independent assessor appointed under paragraph (6) below. The relevant Minister shall deposit a certificate in the Private Bill Office setting out the date on which all comments have been received by the independent assessor.

(6) (a) If the bill originated in this House and if comments are received on the

environmental statement in accordance with this order:

i. a report shall be prepared by an independent assessor summarising the issues

raised by those comments;

ii. the Examiner shall appoint the independent assessor within the period for commenting on the environmental statement prescribed by paragraph (3) above;

iii. the assessor shall be instructed to prepare the report within such period as the Examiner shall specify, the end of that period being no earlier than the 28th day after the date certified by the relevant Minister, in accordance with paragraph (5) above, as the date on which the assessor received all of the comments from the relevant Minister;

iv. before specifying a period in accordance with sub-sub-paragraph (iii) above, the Examiner shall consult the relevant Minister on the length of this period;

v. the Examiner shall submit the report of the assessor to the House.

(b) If a report is submitted to the House in accordance with sub-paragraph (a)(v) above, the Examiner has leave to submit the report of the assessor to the House of Lords.

(7) If paragraph (6) above is applied, the bill shall not receive a second reading until at least 14 days after the report of the independent assessor on the comments on the environmental statement has been submitted to the House.

(8) If any supplementary environmental information is deposited in relation to the bill:

(a) it shall be prefaced with a statement that the information is being deposited as supplementary information under this order;

(b) the requirements of Standing Order 27A in relation to the deposit of copies of the environmental statement shall apply to the supplementary environmental information;

(c) copies of the supplementary environmental information shall be made available for inspection and sale at the offices prescribed by Standing Order 27A(6);

(d) notice shall be published in accordance with Standing Order 10 (save in respect of dates) above stating that any person who wishes to make comments on the supplementary environmental information should send them to the relevant Minister in such manner and within such period as may be specified in the notice, the end of that period being no earlier than the 42nd day after the date of the first publication of the notice;

(e) paragraphs (5) and (6) above shall have effect in relation to any comments received on any supplementary environmental information deposited in this House as they apply to comments received on the environmental statement and irrespective of the bill’s House of origin;

(f) the examiner shall examine and report to the House whether or not paragraphs (8)(a) to (d) have been complied with and Standing Order 224 shall apply to that examination.

(g) the bill shall not receive a third reading in this House or, if supplementary environmental information has been submitted before second reading, second reading in this House until at least 14 days after the assessor’s report on the comments on the supplementary environmental information has been submitted to the House.

(9) At third reading of the bill the relevant Minister shall set out:

(a) the main reasons and considerations upon which Parliament is invited to give consent to the project to be authorised by the bill;

(b) the main measures to avoid, reduce and, if possible, offset the major adverse effects of the project.

A written statement setting out this information shall be laid before this House not less than 7 days before third reading.

(10) The costs of the assessor and also the costs of the process of appointing an assessor, incurred by the House by virtue of paragraphs (6) and (8)(e) above, shall be reimbursed by the government.

(11) For the avoidance of doubt, any supplementary environmental information accompanying an amendment to a bill which, if the bill were a private bill, would require a petition for an additional provision shall be subject to paragraph (8) above and not paragraph (3) or (7) above”.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

That, in respect of any bill relating to High Speed 2 that is read the first time in Session 2013-14 and to which the standing orders relating to private business are found by the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills to apply, it shall be sufficient compliance with:

(a) any requirement under those standing orders for a document to be deposited or delivered at, or sent to, an office of a government department, body or person if it is deposited or delivered at, sent to or otherwise made accessible at that office in electronic form;

(b) any requirement under those standing orders for a document to be deposited with an officer if it is deposited with or delivered, sent or otherwise made accessible to that officer in electronic form;

(c) any requirement under those standing orders for a document to be made available for inspection at a prescribed office, or to permit a document to be inspected, if it is made available for inspection at that office, or is permitted to be inspected, in electronic form;

(d) the requirement under Standing Order 27(4) or 36(3) relating to private business to permit a person to make copies of a document or extracts from it, if there is provided to that person, on request and within a reasonable time, copies of so much of it as the person may reasonably require and such copies may, if the person so agrees, be provided in electronic form;

(e) the requirement under Standing Order 27(4) relating to private business for a memorial to be made on every document deposited under that Standing Order, if the memorial is made on a separate document;

(f) any requirement under Standing Order 4A(1), 27A(6) or 224A(8) relating to private business to make a document available for sale at prescribed offices, if it is made available for sale at an office in London.

That this Order shall not affect any requirement under those standing orders to deposit any document at, or deliver any document to, the Private Bill Office or the Vote Office.

That any reference in those standing orders to a document which is deposited, lodged, delivered or sent under those standing orders includes a reference to a document which is so deposited, delivered or sent in electronic form.

That any reference to a document in this order includes a reference to any bill, plan, section, book of reference, ordnance map, environmental or other statement or estimate.

As the House heard during the previous debate, the Government are introducing a hybrid Bill to Parliament later this year to allow consideration of whether the powers to construct, operate and maintain the HS2 scheme should be granted. Given the significance of this decision it will be clear to the House that it is essential that Parliament have the means in place to support effective decision making in relation to the Bill. However, it has been a while since the last hybrid Bill and some of the rules governing this process are now out of date. Therefore, the motions I am moving today will update this parliamentary procedure. If I may, I will explain them to the House. I believe that the House will not find them objectionable.

On the motion for electronic deposit, the House may be aware that, along with the HS2 hybrid Bill later this year, we will provide Parliament with the environmental statement. This will set out the likely significant environmental effects of the scheme and put forward proposals for alleviating them. For a project of this magnitude, there is a considerable level of detail involved. We expect the statement to be up to 50,000 pages long. It is of course important that communities can easily find out what the impact will be on their local area. However, current Standing Orders require us to deposit a hard copy of that document to every local authority area along the line of route. It is estimated that each document would weigh up to 1 tonne in that form. In this day and age, that is inconvenient for the communities involved and wasteful of Government resources. That is why our first motion allows for the electronic deposit of bill documentation for the HS2 hybrid Bill. That will make it easier for communities across the line of route to find the information most relevant to their area without having to work through an enormous document. It will also make it easier for local authorities, including parish councils, to meet their obligations to make the information available for public inspection.

It should also be noted that this is a permissive power. It does not require documents to be deposited in electronic format only. HS2 Ltd is clear that if a deposit location wants all the documents in hard copy, they can have them in hard copy. In all cases, HS2 Ltd will make available the key documents in hard copy, such as the Bill and the non-technical summary of the environmental statement.

I welcome the right hon. Gentleman’s clarification, because several people have raised with me the possible difficulties with the large maps, which, without sophisticated IT gear, can be difficult to reproduce. If HS2 will still be obliged to provide large maps in solid form, I will be pleased with the reassurance he has given.

The right hon. Gentleman raises a sensible point. For most people with access to electronic equipment, navigating large documents is perfectly straightforward. In fact, it is probably easier to navigate documents of this length and complexity electronically than in hard copy. Not least, of course, it affords people the opportunity to focus on a local area or to do things such as word searches. I can confirm, however, that reasonable requests for hard copies of maps and section drawings will be met. These could be requested either from local authorities, which will be provided with hard copies for inspection, or directly from HS2 Ltd, which will provide A3 copies. It should further be noted that copies of all maps and sections will be available for inspection in both Houses. I hope that gives the right hon. Gentleman the assurance he was looking for.

If a deposit location would like documents in electronic format, but does not have the equipment to make them available to the community, HS2 Ltd has committed to providing that equipment at its own expense. This is a wholly sensible modernisation of Standing Order requirements, which were originally conceived in the 19th century, and is about making it easier for people to engage with the hybrid Bill process and therefore ensuring the most effective decision making by Parliament.

The second motion also relates to the environmental statement. It is vital that members of the public be made aware of these environmental effects and have an opportunity to comment. It is also important that the public’s views be shared with Parliament before it makes a decision on the principle of the Bill. That is why our proposed changes to Standing Orders will incorporate a formal consultation period for the environmental statement between introduction and Second Reading of the hybrid Bill. Although this follows the precedent of the Crossrail Act 2008, by enshrining this consultation in Standing Orders, we will improve the transparency and certainty of the hybrid Bill procedure.

It should also be noted that the lack of a guaranteed consultation process has been raised in the courts. It is important that we are clear that the proceedings of the House should not be subject, as a consequence of that lack of clarity, to interference from the European Courts.

I certainly approve of the electronic tabling, because it strikes horror into my heart to think that there are at least 50,000 pages to the environmental statement, and we will need some way of navigating it, but what assurances can my right hon. Friend give me that HS2 Ltd will comply exactly with the Standing Orders? Surely, he needs to examine the time scale he has put into these amended Standing Orders, because 56 days is not enough time to examine 50,000 pages, minimum, of an environmental statement. It is only eight weeks.

On my right hon. Friend’s first point, these are the requirements of the Standing Orders in relation to hybrid Bills, and the promoters of a hybrid Bill, and participants in that process, will be required to comply with them; otherwise, the quality of consideration will be put at risk. They will have to behave in a way that is consistent with what the House and the examiners of the Bill require.

I will come directly to the second point that my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs Gillan) made. The new Standing Order requires the appointment of an assessor to prepare a summary of the public’s comments. The independence of the assessor will be assured, because they will be appointed by Parliament and will report directly to it. That summary will make it easier for Members to appreciate and represent the views of the public when debating the principle of the hybrid Bill.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham has just pointed out, the length of the consultation period is set in the Standing Order at 56 days. To give that some context, the equivalent consultation period for projects pursued under the Planning Act 2008 can be as short as 28 days. That legislation covers projects of national significance such as new nuclear power stations, which are not intrinsically unlike HS2, given the level of debate that they can create and the significance of their environmental impact.

I recognise that I am getting into obscurantist territory with this point. I understand that the examiner of the hybrid Bill will be an Officer of the House, and that the assessor will be appointed by that Officer of the House and not by the House itself, which has, after all, demonstrated this evening that it is party to this matter.

As far as I understand it, that is true. The examiner will appoint the assessor, and the assessor will report directly to Parliament. That appointment is not in the gift of the Government. The independence of the assessor is intrinsic to the process, and the role of the assessor is to summarise the views presented during the consultation. The assessor will use their technical expertise to present the environmental assessment issues in a form that Parliament can readily engage with. This is a parliamentary process; the assessor will be appointed by Parliament, not by the Government.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way again. This is an opportunity for us to probe and to find out exactly what this measure means. What remuneration will be paid to the assessor? Will they be remunerated by the House? Will there be any opportunity for Members to query, adjust, amend or request a revision of the report that the assessor puts forward to enable MPs better to understand the complexity of the environmental statement?

On my right hon. Friend’s first point, I simply do not know what the remuneration arrangements are, but I will gladly write to her with that information. It is possible that the assessor will be paid by the Government, but as their appointment is not in the gift of the Government, I do not think that will impinge on their independence at all. As far as I am aware—I will certainly correct this if I am wrong—it will not be possible for anyone to have an impact on the assessor’s report. It will be the job of the appointed assessor to use their technical expertise to deliver the best possible representation of the public’s views, as reported to the consultation, in order to enable the House and the hybrid Bill Committee to engage fully with the process. The report will be made available before Second Reading.

I was talking about the length of time being made available for the consultation period. It is worth noting that the consultation to which the new Standing Order relates will follow the consultation on the draft environmental statement that is currently taking place—it is running from 16 May to 11 July. So there will be two opportunities for the public to make their views on the environmental statement known. Taken together, that supports the view that 56 days is an appropriate period of consultation.

I think there is a misunderstanding about the consultation on the draft environmental statement. That consultation did not have to be carried out, but it is being carried out by HS2 Ltd. The consultation on the environmental statement that will appear at the same time as the hybrid Bill has to be carried out by the Government, and not by HS2 Ltd. I do not know what weight will be given to the previous consultation; indeed, it does not actually have to be considered at all.

I think it is true to say that the draft consultation taking place now is not part of the formal processes, but that does not mean that the public will not have a significant opportunity to make their views known. Having the draft environmental statement as the subject of consultation now directly relates to my right hon. Friend’s point—that 56 days, the eight-week consultation period, does not come in, as it were, in relation to an environmental statement that has not been prefigured by the consultation on the draft. In any case, if those responding to the draft consultation feel strongly about those issues, they should make their views known in the consultation required under the Standing Order.

For the sake of clarity, I was right that the Government are responsible for the remuneration of the assessor, but the amount of remuneration will be the product of a procurement process for the necessary expertise. I hope that is accurate and completes that thought. I hope that, notwithstanding the relative obscurity of these matters, the House will—[Interruption.] Does the right hon. Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson) want to intervene again?

Yes, I do, before the right hon. Gentleman sits down. It is not my intention to ask obscurantist questions, but it is my understanding that in the Appeal Court hearings—the Government won most cases and lost one—an undertaking was given, in the case that was lost, that the environmental assessment would look at all the alternatives to HS2, including different routes and also air, road and other alternatives. Will he confirm that that is the case?

I had better enter the same caveat as I have on one or two other occasions: if I find I am in any sense wrong, I will correct what I say. My understanding is that the environmental statement that is the subject of this Standing Order is an environmental statement relating to the route proposed in the hybrid Bill. It is not an environmental statement that relates to a range of other options. But I will take advice, and if I am wrong I will correct that for the right hon. Gentleman.

Will the Leader of the House confirm that the particular matter with which we are dealing tonight refers only to the environmental statement, and if so, how will other matters be dealt with? Secondly, in view of what he has just said, if we are dealing with environmental matters that relate only to the particular Bill that contains the particular route, how will alternative representations about the route be dealt with?

My hon. Friend will have heard me just say that the Standing Order relates to the processes of the consultation on the environmental statement—it does not change the other processes affecting the hybrid Bill—so the rest of the Standing Orders relating to consideration of the hybrid Bill are, to that extent, unchanged. I will double check, but I think it is transparent that the environmental statement must of necessity relate to the hybrid Bill that is the subject of consideration by the hybrid Bill Committee. To what extent it needs, of necessity, to go beyond the precise considerations of the route, I do not know. [Interruption.] I am advised that the environmental statement will include reasonable alternatives considered to HS2, as required by the Standing Orders.

The shadow Leader of the House is going to help us in any case, but I gladly give way to her now.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. A non-technical summary states:

“Strategic alternatives were those that did not involve high speed rail…Route-wide alternatives involved different layouts or operational characteristics for a high speed railway between London and the West Midlands”,

and it states, too, that “local alternatives” also need to be considered.

I am grateful to the hon. Lady. In any case, the new Standing Orders do not change the character of the environmental statement that is required. They simply make it plain that we are creating a transparent process whereby consultation must take place between the introduction of the Bill and Second Reading, and everyone must have an opportunity to see the assessment before Second Reading. In that respect, this is a clear improvement on the hybrid Bill process in respect of the prospective HS2 Bill.

I commend both motions to the House.

I thank the Leader of the House for his explanation of the changes in the Standing Orders for the purposes of this hybrid Bill. He was right to observe that hybrid Bills are rare. We have not had one since we embarked on the Bill that became the Crossrail Act 2008, eight years ago. He was also right to observe that some of the rules governing this procedure are out of date, and could do with a bit of modernisation. I accept that the motions seek to do just that for the purposes of this particular hybrid Bill and no others.

The changes in the Standing Orders are being made first in respect of the electronic deposit of information, and secondly in respect of the process for consulting on the environmental statement, which will form a vital part of consideration of the Bill when it finally appears. I have no objections in principle to either of the changes that the Leader of the House is suggesting, but I should like to probe him a bit about them.

We are told that, in the coming year, a hybrid Bill will be presented to Parliament which will grant the powers that will allow the HS2 scheme to begin. Will the Leader of the House be a little more forthcoming about when we are likely to see it appear, along with the final environmental statement? Will we see it during the current calendar year, or during the current parliamentary Session? Is the Leader of the House confident that, even if the Government are able to publish the Bill in the next year, it will be completed before the next general election? After all, this is a huge and complex undertaking which has generated a great deal of opposition. If it takes as long to produce this Bill as it took to produce the much smaller and less controversial Crossrail Bill, it would not be completed until December 2016 even if we embarked on it today. Given that the Leader of the House schedules House business, it would be interesting to hear from him when we are likely to see the Bill and the environmental statement.

The publication by the Secretary of State for Transport of a draft environmental statement and a design refinement consultation document in May was a welcome development which will assist the consultation process, and we have just made a decision on the initial stages of the High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill itself, but we still have a long and complex way to go in the hybrid Bill procedure. It makes no sense to undertake a complex consultation procedure on a complex and controversial project such as HS2, only to discover that there are plenty of opportunities for legal action and for further uncertainty or delay because the consultation mechanisms used did not comply with best practice, or indeed—as the Leader of the House hinted—with the EU directive on environmental impact assessments. If the changes outlined by the Leader of the House mean that that risk has been mitigated, I agree that we should support them. Of course it is desirable in principle for those affected to be made aware of the position in a timely fashion, and to have a chance to comment before Parliament makes a decision.

The Leader of the House explained that the HS2 hybrid Bill would be accompanied by an environmental statement. He also revealed that he expected this to run to 50,000 pages. That is the equivalent of 33 copies of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” rolled into one, although I am sure that it will be a more interesting read. The environmental statement accompanying the Crossrail Bill was only 2,700 pages long. As the Leader of the House noted, once a copy of the statement has been deposited with each of the authorities along the route, as dictated by the current Standing Order, the weight of the documents will be over a tonne, which is apparently the weight of 17 large trees. Opposition Members agree that it is sensible, in this particular case, to make provision for the electronic deposit of the environmental statement. Reassurances were needed, but the Leader of the House very properly supplied them during his speech. I was grateful to the Leader of the House for making it clear that if a deposit location wishes to have the documents in hard copy, they will be provided by HS2 Ltd, and that the key documents will also be made available in hard copy. I hope that that will provide suitable reassurance that there will be fair access to the documents.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson) has rightly highlighted the fact that some key components of the environmental statement are not well-suited purely to online publication. Detailed diagrams and maps are often less accessible in online form, and I appreciate—as I hope my right hon. Friend does—the fact that the Leader of the House has been able to put it on the record that those maps and large documents will be made available in all formats, including in hard copy if that is required. That will ensure that the maps are deposited in libraries and other public buildings along the route and are accessible, so people can check whether they will be affected.

It is also vital that the online publication of the environmental statement be accessible to those who wish to access it. Concerns have been raised in the past about information on both the HS2.org.uk and the data.gov.uk websites being hard to find, and difficult to navigate when located. When the statement is published, it should not be hidden on some obscure corner of the internet. I hope the Leader of the House agrees on that.

We welcome the announcement of a 56-day consultation on the environmental statement—although some speed-reading may be required, as the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs Gillan) has said. That is, however, a practical and sensible proposal, although I ask the Leader of the House to ensure that this consultation will not mean that the wider consultation on HS2 will be reduced. I would appreciate the Leader of the House’s reassurance on that point.

While we support the proposals in relation to the HS2 hybrid Bill, we need to be cautious about this setting a precedent. While documents should always be published accessibly online, it is crucial that we still aim to publish and deposit hard copies for future, perhaps less complex, Bills.

I would like answers to all the questions the shadow Leader of the House has so rightly asked about these standing orders and the alterations. This is a particularly tortuous and complex process, and because it so tortuous and complex, it is neither accessible nor transparent to the stakeholders and the people who are affected by it. They must be able to understand what is required of them. I therefore ask the Leader of the House to consider how he is going to produce explanatory notes on this hybrid Bill process and these changes to standing orders, and make them available, particularly to those people who have been part of the consultations and the community forums up and down the line, but also to the environmental organisations, many of whom contain volunteers and others who are not familiar with our practices and procedures here, and who certainly have no idea of how to navigate their way around the hybrid Bill process.

I would like to know the date when the hybrid Bill and the environmental statement will be deposited, because it now appears that we are going to have 50,000-plus pages in this environmental statement, which amounts not so much to 17 large trees, but more to 17 large white elephants, to refer to the symbol that has been adopted by many of the anti-HS2 groups up and down the line. Making that date known will enable organisations throughout the country—many of which have very scarce resources or rely on voluntary contributions—to plan how to deal with this better. I am worried that moving to electronic tabling for something as large as this may cause technical problems. What checks will be made on the IT systems of local authorities up and down the line where these documents will be deposited, to establish that those systems can take these documents and people can navigate them with ease? It is all very well talking about making documents available electronically; when I was looking at the Department for Transport’s business statement today on the No. 10 website, it was almost impossible to navigate or download it in a timely fashion. That business plan was not very long, but if that is the standard the Government set for the ease of navigating documents, it does not reflect well on their IT systems. We need to know that full checks have been made of those systems, and that they can take the documents in question.

I do not want to prolong the debate and I will not seek to divide the House on this issue—these are Standing Orders—but I would like two reassurances. First, if a significant number of the environmental organisations that will need to engage in this process ask for an extension to the 56-day deadline, I want the Leader of the House to undertake at least to listen to them and to consider an extension.

The shadow Leader of the House told us that the environmental statement for Crossrail extended to some 2,500 pages. This statement will extend to some 50,000 pages. Does my right hon. Friend really think that 56 days is a practical amount of time in which to examine that amount of material?

No, and that is why I am asking the Leader of the House whether, after taking advice from organisations that need to examine the document in detail, he will consider extending the deadline, or whether it would be possible to change the Standing Orders to that end. A standard consultation period, as under the last Government, was deemed to be 12 weeks. The Government have concertina’d it and seem to be adopting an eight-week standard, which is not satisfactory when we are dealing with something as precious as an area of outstanding natural beauty such as the Chiltern hills. Many details will need to be examined once the statement is forthcoming, and I would like to know what the various possibilities are.

At a time when we are cutting budgets and expecting local authorities and other organisations to cut back in the interests of paying down the debt left to us by the last Labour Government, what funds will be available to our local authorities to maintain and make available these documents through electronic means? There may have to be extra IT maintenance and people on duty. I need to be able to reassure my own local authorities that they will not be out of pocket as a result of something imposed on them by central Government.

I shall leave it there and look forward to hearing the Leader of the House’s response.

I am grateful to the shadow Leader of the House, the hon. Member for Wallasey (Ms Eagle), and to my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs Gillan) for their contributions to this short debate.

In answer to the hon. Lady’s question, the Government intend to introduce the Bill by the end of this year. [Interruption.] My apologies—yes, the calendar year. On the question of further consideration and the progress of legislation, particularly where a hybrid Bill is concerned, these are matters for the House, but we intend to secure Royal Assent by the end of this Parliament.

I apologise for not clarifying earlier that the change to Standing Orders applies to all hybrid Bills, so it would apply to any future one in the same way. That is good because, of course, one issue we want to set out is that there is transparent clarity about the process, and we are entirely consistent with any European requirements in relation to consultation on the environmental statement. The motion on electronic deposit relates to this Bill and if such a thing were required in relation to a future Bill, a further motion would be required in order to make that permissive power available.

As for what my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham said, I will not reiterate the points I made about the length of consultation and the fact of the availability of the draft environmental statement for consultation now, in addition to the Standing Order requirements for a consultation later on. Taken together, when we make the comparison with the consultations required for other major projects under planning legislation, we see that this is an entirely appropriate period of consultation. She makes a good point about ensuring that those engaging with this process can do so effectively. As was the case with Crossrail, hybrid Bill information papers will outline the process. I know, as the House authorities will know very well, that the House will provide advice on petitionings.

My right hon. Friend also asked me about the costs for local authorities. We have made it clear that HS2 Ltd will cover IT costs for local authorities. The requirement on public availability is a long-standing one that this amendment does not change. The new Standing Orders before the House do not change that requirement in relation to local authorities, but, as I say, it has been clear throughout that the IT costs for local authorities will be covered by HS2 Ltd. I hope that that helps to clarify a few of the points raised in the debate, and I continue to commend the motions to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Electronic Deposit Of Documents (High Speed 2)

Motion made and Question put forthwith (Order of 24 June),

That, in respect of any bill relating to High Speed 2 that is read the first time in Session 2013-14 and to which the standing orders relating to private business are found by the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills to apply, it shall be sufficient compliance with:

(a) any requirement under those standing orders for a document to be deposited or delivered at, or sent to, an office of a government department, body or person if it is deposited or delivered at, sent to or otherwise made accessible at that office in electronic form;

(b) any requirement under those standing orders for a document to be deposited with an officer if it is deposited with or delivered, sent or otherwise made accessible to that officer in electronic form;

(c) any requirement under those standing orders for a document to be made available for inspection at a prescribed office, or to permit a document to be inspected, if it is made available for inspection at that office, or is permitted to be inspected, in electronic form;

(d) the requirement under Standing Order 27(4) or 36(3) relating to private business to permit a person to make copies of a document or extracts from it, if there is provided to that person, on request and within a reasonable time, copies of so much of it as the person may reasonably require and such copies may, if the person so agrees, be provided in electronic form;

(e) the requirement under Standing Order 27(4) relating to private business for a memorial to be made on every document deposited under that Standing Order, if the memorial is made on a separate document;

(f) any requirement under Standing Order 4A(1), 27A(6) or 224A(8) relating to private business to make a document available for sale at prescribed offices, if it is made available for sale at an office in London.

That this Order shall not affect any requirement under those standing orders to deposit any document at, or deliver any document to, the Private Bill Office or the Vote Office.

That any reference in those standing orders to a document which is deposited, lodged, delivered or sent under those standing orders includes a reference to a document which is so deposited, delivered or sent in electronic form.

That any reference to a document in this order includes a reference to any bill, plan, section, book of reference, ordnance map, environmental or other statement or estimate.—(Mr Syms.)

Question agreed to.