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High Speed Rail (West Midlands-Crewe) Bill

Volume 802: debated on Thursday 5 March 2020

Membership Motion

Moved by

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following members be appointed to the Select Committee:

Brabazon of Tara, L, Goddard of Stockport, L, Haselhurst, L, Hope of Craighead, L (Chair), Horam, L, Liddle, L, Snape, L.

That the quorum of the Committee be four;

That the Committee have power to meet outside the Parliamentary Estate;

That the evidence taken by the Committee be published, if the Committee so wishes; and

That the Report of the Committee be printed, regardless of any adjournment of the House.

My Lords, I offer a few words of congratulation to the noble Lords appointed to this committee. With previous Select Committees, the House of Lords has really done very well in listening to petitions and coming up with recommendations. It is particularly important for this phase, which is much shorter than the first one. I hope that noble Lords, when they consider the petitions, will listen not only to the promoters but to the petitioners, because many of the issues are particularly dear to me as a civil engineer. They are to do with ground settlement, how many lorries are needed to move spoil through villages and things such as that. As the committee will know, the Prime Minister, in his Statement two or three weeks ago that set the project in train, was critical of some of the work done by HS2. So my plea to noble Lords on the committee, apart from wishing them well, is to listen to petitioners, give them time and listen to the evidence—I know that they will—rather more than sometimes happens in the Select Committees of the other place, where everybody is in a hurry. Here, I hope that they will listen and read the speeches from two or three days ago from the Members of Parliament who set this project moving again after the election.

My Lords, recently I met a lady whose farm will be split in two by the high-speed rail link. I wonder what the remit of the committee is, and whether it is possible within that remit to consider mediation as a form of settling compensation where it is impossible for the parties to agree. I understood from this lady that any potential compensation claim could lead to a court litigation fee of £200,000, which is money she did not have—and obviously, if she lost the case, she would also have to cover the litigation costs of the developers. Could this be covered by expanding the remit of the committee at this stage?

My Lords, I thank noble Lords for their good wishes to the committee—I am sure that it will accept that with alacrity. Its purpose is to consider petitions against the Bill submitted by those directly and specifically affected by it. When it has finished its work, the Bill will return to the House for further consideration in the normal way. The committee can consider only those issues brought to it by the petitioners.

As noble Lords know, the principle of the Bill was agreed by the House when it gave it a Second Reading on 9 September last year; the House subsequently agreed to its revival on 25 February this year. On the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, any proposal to make major changes to the route would require an additional provision which committees in the second House do not normally consider. This committee would not be empowered to consider a proposal amounting to an additional provision unless the House instructed it to do so.

Finally, the chairman of the committee is the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, with whom I have worked for the past three and a half years. He is rigorous, logical and very courteous, and he ensures that every detail is analysed. We have every confidence in this committee doing its work under his chairmanship.

Motion agreed.