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Business of the House (No. 1)

Volume 579: debated on Tuesday 29 April 2014

I beg to move,

That the Speaker shall put the Questions necessary to dispose of proceedings on the Motions in the name of Secretary Patrick McLoughlin relating to the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill and (notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 16) the Motion in the name of Mr Andrew Lansley relating to Positions for which additional salaries are payable for the purposes of section 4A(2) of the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 not later than four hours after the commencement of proceedings on the Motion for this Order; such Questions shall include the Questions on any Amendments selected by the Speaker which may then be moved; the Questions may be put after the moment of interruption; and Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) shall not apply.

This is the second day of debate relating to the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill and has been arranged in response to calls for more time to consider this important Bill. It has meant that we were able to spend all yesterday considering the Bill itself and we now turn to these important motions.

The business of the House motion allows the House to take the four motions together for debate. All of them relate to the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill that was given a Second Reading yesterday, in particular the establishment and working of the Select Committee for the Bill, so it seems entirely sensible to take them all together. Overall, the House will have had more than 10 hours to debate the Second Reading and the motions, compared with fewer than seven hours for the same debates on Crossrail and HS1. I commend the motion to the House.

I congratulate the Secretary of State on securing the Bill’s Second Reading last night, but it is extraordinary that the Prime Minister, who found the time to reassure his Back Benchers on his EU referendum plans, was too busy to back this hugely significant infrastructure, which is of national importance. High Speed 2 is really important for our country. In the spirit of cross-party working, I agree with much of what the Secretary of State has said.

Yesterday we debated the principle of HS2, and today we will debate the detailed process that Parliament will establish to ensure that the Bill receives the scrutiny it deserves. Any Bill of this size and importance will be controversial, and we must debate it properly. Today’s motions will set up a Select Committee to consider petitions on the Bill, instruct the Committee on the removal of the spur from Old Oak Common to the channel tunnel rail link and allow the hybrid Bill to be carried over into the next Session and the next Parliament.

I am pleased that it was Labour’s pressure that led to this second day of discussions on the Bill. I am very glad, as I am sure are many right hon. and hon. Members, that yesterday we did not have to sit through the night to vote these motions through—the public would certainly not have thanked us for that. Also, Parliament has hardly been overburdened with business for the past six months. Labour supports the Bill and will vote in favour of today’s motions to allow it to proceed. The Bill requires proper scrutiny, in broad daylight and in full public view, so I am glad that today it will get that.

I welcome the Secretary of State’s motion. As he appreciates, I was disappointed not to secure two full parliamentary days to debate the main principles of the Bill, as I think the hon. Member for Wakefield (Mary Creagh) knows only too well. It is regrettable that many colleagues were able to speak for only four minutes yesterday. Indeed, I was unable to allow colleagues to intervene, because I had extra time and did not want to eat into the time for others to speak. I welcome the fact that these discussions have been split over two days, which was a good decision. I think that four hours is a good time. We need to be able to ask questions about the detailed arrangements for the Bill, not least because it is a very complex process, even for some people in the House. I welcome the motion and hope that we can proceed in an orderly fashion.

While I echo the thoughts of my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs Gillan), I know that you, Mr Speaker, had expressed an interest in going late last night. I did not want us to have to go late, but I think that it was regrettable that Members were unable to speak for longer than five minutes—four minutes in the case of those who spoke towards the end of the debate—particularly given that today’s proceedings might not go the full distance. Having said that, let us get on with the business.

Question put and agreed to.