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High Speed 2 (Wigan)

Volume 584: debated on Thursday 10 July 2014

The Department has not estimated the case for the western leg of the Y-shaped route for High Speed 2 without the Wigan spur. However, preliminary analysis undertaken by HS2 Ltd suggested that this section of the line is likely to provide benefits in the order of £1.2 billion, revenue of about £600 million, and is likely to offer very high value for money.

I have been, and remain, a strong supporter of HS2 because I believe in the transformational benefits that will occur. However, none of these transformational benefits occurs because of the line north of Manchester—it is not in the published business or in the published economic case—and the cost of this line is the better part of £1 billion, including allocated contingencies. Will the Minister confirm that he will look hard at this issue during the current consultation?

I welcome my hon. Friend’s support for High Speed 2, and I welcome the opportunity to lay on the line yet again that the mischievous remarks of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman), suggesting a figure of £80 billion, are completely false. I will, of course, look through the consultation, but I am sure my hon. Friend will recognise that having the Wigan spur will ensure that we can deliver some of the benefits to the west coast main line, which is why the Government believe at this stage that it offers high value for money.

Order. I am sure that from her vantage point as the Member of Parliament for Chesham and Amersham, the right hon. Lady will nevertheless wish to reference the Wigan spur.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. This morning, I heard of the death of Mrs Shirley Judges, one of my firm campaigners against HS2—and she was probably against the HS2 Wigan spur. She had put up a robust defence of our local environment in the Chilterns and throughout the country. The cost-benefit analyses of this Government have always been questionable, but I would like the Ministers to look very seriously at the benefits for those people who are forced to move house because of HS2 or indeed those who may be forced to move house in future because of the Wigan spur. Would it be possible to give these people a stamp duty holiday on the sale of their properties because they are being so badly affected? Finally, let me say that without people such as Mrs Judges, we would not have the strong voices that will make this project either go away or become a better project in the future.

I never cease to be supportive of my right hon. Friend’s support for her constituents, and on this occasion she has managed to alter this country’s geography so that the Wigan spur is somewhere close to Chesham. I am sorry to hear of her constituent’s death and our condolences go to her family. She will, of course, recognise that the Government are already paying the stamp duty on properties within the 60-metre boundary. If she writes to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, I am sure he will consider her proposition for a further extension as part of the consultation.