Skip to main content

High Speed Rail (West Midlands-Crewe) Bill

Volume 808: debated on Monday 14 December 2020

Third Reading

My Lords, the Motion for Third Reading will not be debated as no amendments have been tabled. On the Motion that the Bill do now pass, I will call Members to speak in the order listed in today’s list. Interventions during speeches or “Before the noble Lord sits down” are not permitted, and uncalled speakers will not be heard. Other than the mover of the amendment or the Minister, Members may speak only once. Short questions of elucidation after the Minister’s response are permitted but discouraged. A Member wishing to ask such a question, including Members in the Chamber, must email the clerk. Leave should be given to withdraw. When putting the question, I will collect voices in the Chamber only. If a Member taking part remotely wants their voice accounted for when the Question is put, they must make this clear when speaking. We will now begin.

Motion

Moved by

Motion agreed.

Motion

Moved by

My Lords, in moving that the Bill do now pass I will make a couple of observations and reflect on its passage—but I will do so fairly briefly. The Bill was introduced in the other place in 2017. It made relatively swift progress, carrying, as it does in your Lordships’ House, cross-party support. However, since being brought to your Lordships’ House in July 2019, its passage has been rather less than high speed. The Bill has had to contend with a general election, a revival Motion and legislative capacity issues due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It has been an absolutely unprecedented period, but it is with great pleasure that I return it to your Lordships’ House today, hopefully for the last time.

I note these events to highlight the extraordinary work of the Select Committee in this context. With the introduction of social distancing and Covid-secure practices, the Committee had to alter its working practices almost at the moment of its inception. Under the leadership of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, the committee showed adaptability, compassion and unwavering fairness when hearing the concerns of petitioners. I pay tribute to the work of the chair and of my noble friends Lord Haselhurst, Lord Brabazon of Tara and Lord Horam, and the noble Lords, Lord Goddard of Stockport, Lord Liddle and Lord Snape, who all served on that Committee. Many gave their further assistance in participating in subsequent debates on the Bill and took time to share their in-depth knowledge of the issues under consideration. On completing the hearings, the Select Committee published its report outlining its considerations and observations and making recommendations. I wish to note that all these recommendations were accepted by the Government in full.

It would be remiss of me not to extend my thanks to all those outside your Lordships’ House who contributed to this Bill. Promoting a hybrid Bill is no mean feat. It would not be possible without the continued hard work of dedicated staff at HS2 Ltd, many of whom have worked on this Bill from its development to its completion and will continue to work on the project for many years to come. Of course, there is also the fantastic Bill team at the Department for Transport. This was my first time in close contact with a hybrid Bill, and the team members supported me with patience and good humour as I tried to get to grips with this less-than-commonplace legislative beast. They have done an outstanding job. Finally, I am sure that noble Lords would wish to join me in thanking the staff in the legislative offices of both Houses, the House authorities and the team of parliamentary agents and counsel for their continued expertise and assistance.

However, this Bill is fundamentally about people, and specifically the people affected by the Bill, so I pay tribute to the individuals, businesses, communities, organisations and local representatives who all joined in and engaged with the process of this Bill, through consultation and the petitioning process. The Secretary of State has made more than 1,500 binding commitments to those living alongside this short section of HS2.

It is Royal Assent to this Bill that many of these commitments are predicated on. If it so pleases Her Majesty, it is time for this Bill to pass and for the commitments to be given force. I beg to move.

Amendment to the Motion

Moved by

At end insert “and this House takes note of the further steps required to complete HS2 in line with the commitments given by successive Governments since 2010, including the necessity for early legislation to complete the promised HS2 lines from Crewe to Manchester and from Birmingham to Sheffield and Leeds.”

My Lords, I will begin by adding to the list of congratulations which the Minister gave. I congratulate her on her extremely professional handling of the passage of the Bill through this House, my noble friend Lord Rosser, who will be participating remotely later and who has applied his constructive and forensic skills to the Bill, the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, who has done an excellent job on behalf of the Lib Dems, and other noble Lords. I associate myself entirely with the Minister’s remarks about the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd. I see in his place the noble Lord, Lord McLoughlin, who will be speaking later. Both he and I had the benefit of phenomenally professional and excellent support from officials in the Department for Transport. Some bits of Government have not been working brilliantly over the last 10 years, but the upgrading of the infrastructure of this country, led by the Department for Transport, is one of the bright and optimistic things going on in the country at the moment.

I know a lot of negative things are said about HS2 Ltd but, if you take stock of the net balance of achievements over the last 10 years, it has played a phenomenal role in taking forward the biggest infrastructure project in Europe over that period. It has not got everything right, but who does in this game? Has it been a successful partner in the delivery of a phenomenally important infrastructure project, which, as the Minister said, is about people and communities being able to get the infrastructure that they need in the 21st century? It definitely has, and we all pay tribute to it.

The issue now, which is why I make no apology for detaining the House for a few minutes, is how we go forward now. When the Bill becomes law, Parliament will have made provision for 172 route miles of HS2—that is, 134 miles from London to the West Midlands and 38 miles from the West Midlands to Crewe. If we are going to deliver the vision that the noble Lord, Lord McLoughlin, and I and four successive Governments since 2010 have committed to, we will need all 330 route miles of HS2, which means extending the current HS2 provision—the 172 miles that Parliament will have provided for—from Crewe to Manchester and from Birmingham to Sheffield and Leeds, so that we have balanced infrastructure provision to promote the prosperity of the entire country.

The contention that I want to lodge with the House as the Bill is passed—the Minister will not be surprised by what I shall now say, but it needs to be constantly said because we have to win this argument or else huge damage will be done to balanced growth in the UK over the next two generations—is that it is essential that the next 160 route miles, which will take HS2 through to Manchester and Leeds, are handled as a single stage. That was the basis on which both the noble Lord, Lord McLoughlin, and I sought to take HS2 forward: there would be a first stage, which would be from London to the West Midlands, and then a second. An initial stage 2a was introduced essentially as an addendum to the first stage, but the conception was always that the extensions to Manchester and Leeds would be taken forward together.

The big danger facing HS2 at the moment is that the second phase will be split between the extension to Manchester and the extension to Leeds, which would downgrade—and possibly postpone indefinitely—the extension to Leeds. That is taking two forms at the moment. The first danger is that the Government will not even commit to all of stage 2b. That is a very real danger at the moment. Tomorrow the National Infrastructure Commission report comes out and it may not even make the commitment to take the line through to Leeds. I assure your Lordships that if I were still chairing the National Infrastructure Commission, of which I had the privilege of being the founding chair, there is no way that such a recommendation would come forward because the job of the NIC is to promote the infrastructure required for the future prosperity of the UK, not to make arguments as to why it should not be completed at the behest of the Treasury seeking short-term economies.

On that point, I simply say to the Government and the House that if this big mistake is made, and the commitment is not made now to extend the full HS2 line through to Sheffield and Leeds, it is not that it will not happen; I believe that it will, but there will be a classic English mess-up in the development of infrastructure. What will happen is that in eight or nine years’ time the line to Birmingham will be opened, my noble friend Lord Hunt, who is here today, will have the benefit of being able to go back to Birmingham in half an hour, and everyone will say, “Wow, isn’t this absolutely phenomenal? Let’s get a move on to Manchester faster because we want to get there in one hour.”

Then suddenly people in Sheffield and Leeds will wake up to the fact that it is taking two hours to get to Sheffield and three to get to Leeds and, because we are a democracy, they will demand that the project be taken forward. Instead of doing this whole thing in 15 years, completing the line through to Manchester and Leeds, as we should have done, it will take 40 years and the poor people of the east Midlands, Sheffield and Leeds will get HS2 a generation later than they would otherwise have done, with big damage to their economies and societies in the interim.

As Lloyd George famously said, “When traversing a chasm, it is advisable to do so in one leap.” We know where this will end up. I can predict that, when somebody is reading Hansard in 2060, the line to Leeds and Manchester will have been completed. It will be a lot better for the country, and indispensable to the economic and social future of these communities, if we take these decisions now and do not, as I said at an earlier stage, have the equivalent of the Victorians building the railways up to Manchester but leaving Sheffield and Leeds with a canal.

The second proposition, which the Minister herself advanced earlier, is that splitting the provision for the next 160 miles into a Manchester leg and a Leeds leg will somehow facilitate the building of the railway—a classic case of trying to make a virtue of something when it has been decided not to proceed with it. I do not believe that that is the case. It is important for how it goes forward in future to understand this argument, so I will subdivide it. The argument is that splitting the provisions, with a Bill for phase 2b going up to Manchester and, in due course, a Bill for phase 2c going up to Leeds, makes enactment quicker and simpler. Also implicit in what the Minister said is that it makes construction more manageable and less expensive. Neither argument is valid.

The Minister herself made the argument against the first—that it facilitates the enactment. As she rightly said, this Bill has taken three years to enact, for just 38 miles. It would not have taken longer if the legislative provision had covered the whole way through to Manchester and Leeds. I say this with a serious note of warning to the Government. By my quick calculation, it has taken longer, not just in actual time but in parliamentary time—the sittings of the Select Committees and your Lordships’ post-committee processes—to enact the Bill for 38 miles than it took for the one covering 134 miles from London to Birmingham.

The reason for that is that so many of the objections to big infrastructure projects that this House has to listen to are generic. I say with real feeling to the noble Baroness and her successors: all the generic arguments that have been made will be made again and again, each time a subsequent Bill comes. It is much better to package them all into one Bill, rather than delay the process with two.

On the point about construction being more manageable, it is entirely up to the Government and whatever the delivery agency is to decide how they phase construction, but nothing can be constructed unless Parliament has granted the powers. The right thing to do is to get one piece of legislation on the statute book, dealing with all 160 miles, taking HS2 through to Manchester and Leeds. How the construction is phased can be decided afterwards.

There are big lessons. Over four Governments there has been consensus on taking forward HS2 up to Birmingham and now to Crewe, but I strongly urge the Government not to seek to divide the next phase, delay the introduction of legislation and, even worse, postpone indefinitely the leg to Sheffield and Leeds. Rather, they should seize the moment, seize the future, be true to the vision of HS2, which all Governments in the last 10 years have signed up to, and produce one Bill next year taking HS2 right through to Manchester and Leeds. It can be done. We are a great nation. The Prime Minister tells us all the time that we must be optimistic and forward-looking. I completely share that agenda. Let us get on with it. I beg to move.

It is always a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, who speaks with such fervour about a project that I think it is fair to say he created and made the initial plans for. Of course, he left office in 2010, and a lot has happened since then: HS2’s formation and growth, and the case being made for it. It is perhaps worth occasionally reminding the noble Lord, who looks at these things through rose-tinted glasses, of the last Labour Government’s appalling record on transport infrastructure spend. Between 2000 and 2007, we had the lowest infrastructure spend of all the OECD countries, and in the World Economic Forum ranking we fell from seventh to 33rd in infrastructure investment terms. The rose-tinted glasses therefore occasionally need polishing, so that we can look at our true record.

It is true that any big infrastructure project is always hugely controversial, and that is certainly true of HS2. One has to accept and understand it when people oppose this project because it is on their doorsteps and they will perhaps not benefit directly from it; that too is certainly true of HS2. I have never dismissed those who oppose this project because it goes through their area, but we also have to look to the greater good for our country.

Importantly, this is the first time in over 100 years that we will have built a new north-south railway in this country. The noble Lord, Lord Adonis, mentioned my role. I commissioned David Higgins to produce a report on how we could get the benefits faster. When I was Secretary of State, I told the House of Commons that his report, which was published in 2014,

“suggests opening the new line to a new hub station in Crewe six years earlier than planned. Direct trains will of course be able to run off HS2 lines to serve places such as Stoke, Liverpool, Manchester, north Wales and Scotland, and faster too, and the line to Crewe sooner would mean journeys that are shorter than they would be under phase 1”.—[Official Report, Commons, 24/3/14; col. 29.]

A point I often make is that HS2 is not just about speed; that is just one element. HS2 is about freeing up capacity. We have seen a huge growth in the use of our railways over the past 20 years. Today’s Covid experience has obviously had a devastating impact on the use of our railways, but I do not think it is going to be long-term; I still think we will see a growth in rail travel once we get over this horrendous Covid problem.

I very much welcome Third Reading of this Bill today; it is another stage in the objective proposal of HS2. Where I do agree with the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, is that this is a project that serves both the east of England and the west coast main line. It is absolutely essential that we see such development in the East Midlands.

There have been big changes since the whole concept was first announced, with HS2 now going right into Sheffield instead of just going to Meadowhall and then on to Leeds. Another change is the redesigning of the route as a result of measures that have been investigated, looking at the practicalities of how we best serve the cities outside London. Indeed, serving what will be Toton station, and the service to Chesterfield, Sheffield and Leeds, will radically enhance our cities outside London. This is part of the concept of HS2; it is the right thing for us to do, and it will level the playing field between the north and the south. I congratulate the Minister on achieving this and getting Third Reading of the Bill and the extension up to Crewe.

I turn to the final part of the job. I have no idea what the National Infrastructure Commission will say tomorrow, but this is a project for the whole country. It does not finish in Leeds or Manchester; it needs to go on—to Cumbria, Newcastle and Scotland. Yes, we and those cities will see the advantages in the train service running up to Sheffield, because the journeys will be shortened and they will be able to carry on. In the longer term—this is a long-term investment project—we will see changes of government but it is essential that, once we set out on these tasks, we fulfil them so that Scotland, Newcastle and our great cities outside London feel the benefit. This is a levelling-up exercise; it was always designed, and must continue, as that.

My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord McLoughlin. I agree with many of the things he said. Like him, I welcome the eventual passage of this Bill—hopefully—but regret that the total HS2 scheme as envisaged is not on the statute book. As the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, said, that is all we ask. Once it is on the statute book, it can be built. Until then, it cannot be built and it still wavers in front of the eyes of those of us who live on that eastern leg, and there is no certainty.

As I said earlier, I am a proud resident of Sheffield. It is my adopted home. I have lived there for more than 20 years and I am a former leader of its council. I see the great entrepreneurship of many people and businesses but I also see the great opportunities that are dampened because of the lack of connectivity, not just between Sheffield and London via HS2, but between Sheffield and other cities and towns in the north.

As the noble Lord, Lord McLoughlin, said, HS2 is about not just speed but capacity. It is about allowing part of the jigsaw of economic opportunities to be unleashed and improving capacity. In particular, it is about allowing freight to move more freely on the existing rail lines and moving passengers faster. It is absolutely integrated. Until the Government build that, we will not have levelling up in this country.

The north is not a homogenous blob. It is made up of towns, cities and villages. It is made up of the people who live there and the businesses that trade there. This infrastructure, going up through the East Midlands to Sheffield and Leeds, is absolutely vital to the levelling-up project and to unleashing opportunities. I must say to the Minister that we in the north say it as we see it. We smell something not quite right here. We smell the whiff of a fudge and dither and delay when it comes to the eastern leg through the East Midlands to Sheffield and Leeds.

If the reports in the northern press over the weekend about the National Infrastructure Commission are anything to go by, we really are worried. I am sure that the Minister will say from the Dispatch Box that she cannot comment on what was in the press over the weekend, but the reports were very clear. They said that a source close to the commission has made it clear that the recommendation possibly will not go ahead and that, if it does, the other option will be to make sure that it does not happen until much later. That is unacceptable. That is not levelling up; it is dumbing down the opportunities of many people in the north.

We want the line as soon as possible. As I said previously, this is simply because the opportunities offered by the eastern leg are greater than those offered by the western leg. Spending on the eastern leg is less per head than on the western leg and deprivation along the eastern leg is higher. Therefore, in creating economic opportunities for people, we must know that this project is on the statute book and will be built so that investment can begin and people can start speculating about what jobs and businesses can be created along that line.

While I entirely welcome this Bill, I worry about the eastern phase. As I have said, the north is not just one. It is interconnected and therefore we need parity on the west and the east if we are to have equal access to levelling up, high speed rail and the capacity it brings for people and businesses. That is why, while welcoming this Bill, I support the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Adonis.

My Lords, it is a privilege to bid this Bill farewell as noble Lords clearly want the scheme to go ahead, although with understandable concerns about the detail. I am unsure how I view the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, but I do get his point. I noticed with wry amusement his reference to the inverse relationship between the parliamentary time taken up and the distance of the phase in question we have before us. Whether or not one regards HS2 as a serious addition to communications and rail capacity, it remains an ambitious scheme using state of the art engineering. I hope it will be something the nation can be proud of.

If there is anything I would say by way of postscript, it is that government departments should be more ready to engage with external experts before re-writing existing specialist legislation such as that on party walls. I thank the Minister for writing to me last week clarifying the issue of residual liabilities. I fear, however, that it may highlight some different views on the long-term liability holder under party wall procedure as opposed to under HS2. Like the Minister, I believe we are indebted to the work of the Select Committee. I found the contributions by members of the committee in our discussions invaluable. I am particularly grateful to the noble Baroness for agreeing to issue guidance on party wall matters under the HS2 arrangements. I am glad to report this process is now well in hand. She has been helpful throughout and has kept us all exceptionally well informed on responses to points made. That has enormously improved the way this has proceeded.

I thank the Bill team for their patience, tolerance and understanding over some very narrow and technical—but important—issues. This is despite the fact that the party wall bird has flown, and probably flew as long ago as the Crossrail legislation. I also thank the many outside professionals, who have gone more than the extra mile to advise and guide me on specific areas of this Bill.

Finally, in his absence, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, for his support and assistance and other noble Lords for their support. Given that the festive season is nearly upon us, I wish all noble Lords, the Minister, clerks and the Bill team a well-earned and above all congenial and peaceful break.

The High Speed Rail (West Midlands–Crewe) Bill will provide approval for phase 2a of the HS2 rail line. Phase 2a will run between the West Midlands, where it will link with phase 1 in Crewe. The Bill began its Committee stage in the House of Lords on 9 November 2020. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, the noble Baroness, Lady Vere of Norbiton, outlined the main features of the phase 2a scheme. She argued that it struck an appropriate balance between protecting the environment and giving value for money to the taxpayer.

The shadow Minister for transport, the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, said that Labour had initiated the HS2 project and still supported both HS2 and the Bill. However, he said that the railway should be built as a network rather than a statement of infrastructure. He also called for an improved scheme of compensation for those affected by the line. The Lib Dems also supported the Bill.

The NAO reported in January 2020 that the Government had not fully and openly recognised the programme’s risks from the outset, and hence had not adequately managed the risks to value for money. Such large projects have always carried risks of being over budget and timeframes. The most important thing to remember is that such a large infrastructure project gives work for many people, bearing in mind the present pandemic, which has created a big number of redundancies in many industries.

Is there any estimate of compensation that will have to be paid to those home owners whose homes have had to be destroyed?

My Lords, I have said once or twice in the passage of this Bill, and many times before, that I really wish this was not going ahead. The noble Lord, Lord McLoughlin, said earlier, “Oh, it is not just about speed.” Actually, from a Green point of view, it has been a lot about speed. Of course, the faster you go, the less able you are to corner, and so the less options there are on route, and every single piece of infrastructure has to be built stronger if you have a much faster train going through. On the capacity issue, there are better ways to spend all these billions and create capacity—changing some of the signalling might have helped for a start.

I am not entirely sure that the Government are actually going to build this bit of the railway anyway, because I think events might overtake all their planning. In any case, for me, HS2 is just another part of the Government’s really damaging transport policy. The Government are not tying up the whole concept of travelling less, reducing carbon emissions and generally accepting that things have changed—that people, quite possibly, are not going to commute as much as they used to. Quite possibly, they will work more from home.

I hope that a more ecological, holistic approach might be adopted by the Government at some point. I really feel that it is 20th-century thinking to build a railway like this that is so polluting and so destructive. The Government should really try to keep up with the times and understand that this was not the right way forward. However, if the Government do carry on with this, I hope they will learn the lessons from the first part of HS2, because there were a lot of incidents that need not have happened and that were extremely destructive to nature, land and generally to communities. Learning the lessons of the past might be a really good idea.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank and celebrate all the campaigners who have been trying to stop HS2. Quite honestly, many of them have put their personal safety, their personal finances and a lot of other things on hold because they were so dedicated to trying to stop HS2. They had physical, personal and financial problems because of all the things they were doing. There are people like Sarah Green in Colne Valley, who has just been a beacon of hope actually trying to mitigate the worst of HS2’s damage to that beautiful area. Then, of course, there are other organisations and individuals, from the Woodland Trust, the Wildlife Trust and parish councils to communities all along the route and concerned residents, who all gave their time and efforts to do what they know is right for their area.

There are only two Green Party Peers in the House at the moment. I am delighted that I now have a noble friend, Lady Bennett of Manor Castle, but we are obviously not the only greens. It has been a real pleasure during the passage of this Bill to talk to more and more people who are concerned about not only the natural environment but our impact on the wider world. I am very happy to find green allies among noble Lords in your Lordships’ House, and I am quite often very pleasantly surprised at the green streaks coming out of the most unexpected quarters.

I also thank the Minister, who has been superb at talking to Peers, explaining what is going on and giving us lots of opportunities to ask questions. Although the Bill has had a difficult passage, it has been better than had she not been as open and welcoming to us. Thank you, and what a pity this is happening.

My Lords, there are some Bills going through the House with which we on the Liberal Democrat Benches disagree fundamentally. There are other Bills that we agree on the need for but disagree with the remedies prescribed by the Government, so it a pleasant change to provide support for this Bill, in both principle and detail. I thank the Minister and her officials for their thoroughness in providing a succession of briefings and for accepting the amendment providing for monitoring of the impact of construction of HS2 on ancient woodland. I take this opportunity to urge the Government to broaden the wording of that amendment to include sites of nature conservation value generally.

We are also indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, who never shies away from the opportunity to press the case for HS2, as he has done today. The rumour mill is working at full tilt: well-placed sources, as they say, have indicated that the National Infrastructure Commission is about to recommend that the eastern leg up to Leeds, part of the next phase, should be scrapped. Credibility is given to this by the Government’s decision to split future Bills into smaller parts. I hope the rumours are wrong, but I fear that they are not. Since the job of the National Infrastructure Commission is to promote infrastructure, I ask the Minister what precise remit was given to it for this current review, if it is to recommend truncating HS2.

Abandoning the eastern leg now would be much worse than never having thought of it in the first place. It would be a high-profile public symbol that the Government do not care about the north-east, the poorest part of England. It would be a public snub to the area and would demonstrate that the levelling-up agenda is no more than a useful election slogan.

I am pleased to see the Bill through the House today. I hope the Government decide not to try to undo the amendments passed in this place. Our country is crying out for big, imaginative investment at a time when, as a nation, we are otherwise turning our backs on the modern world. As the noble Lord, Lord McLoughlin, said, HS2 is about much more than speed but, without speed, it will not be as successful at supplanting aviation for short-distance journeys and will not persuade people out of their cars. Above all, it is part of the transport revolution that climate change dictates.

HS2 has been supported over more than a decade by Government Ministers of all colours—Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative. Let us get this built as soon as possible but, for it to have the transformative effect envisaged, we need all of it—all the way to Scotland—and not a cut-down compromise.

In Committee, the Government said that

“plans to provide the benefits of high-speed rail to the east Midlands, Yorkshire and beyond will be confirmed following the publication of the integrated rail plan”,

and that

“a properly connected line from the Midlands up to the north will be a key part of the HS2 project.”—[Official Report, 9/11/20; col. GC 351.]

As has been commented on more than one occasion, that reply was not, of course, a commitment to build HS2 phase 2b to Leeds in full. It would be helpful if the Government could say what the words

“plans to provide the benefits of high-speed rail”

actually mean, because the concern is that what the Government actually mean is not that the high-speed line will be built the whole way from Birmingham via the east Midlands to Leeds, but that HS2 services will, for all or part of the journey, run over existing routes calling at existing stations, as would apply, for example, to HS2 services calling at the existing stations at Stafford and Stoke.

The concern is that the Government could be either looking to abandon the eastern leg of HS2 through to Leeds, or significantly delay its construction and completion. The lack of a clear commitment to the HS2 project in full calls into question the Government’s declared commitment to levelling up, since the eastern leg is just as vital as the delivery of the western leg. Indeed, proceeding with only the western leg will leave the cities and areas that would have been served by the eastern leg at an even bigger disadvantage. The Government have a further chance in a few moments to provide absolute clarity on the concerns raised by my noble friend Lord Adonis. It remains to be seen whether they take that chance.

In concluding, I take the opportunity, and on behalf of my noble friend Lord Tunnicliffe, to thank the Minister and her Bill team for their patience and courtesy in listening and responding, in writing or through meetings, to the many and varied issues raised by noble Lords during the Bill’s passage. Like others, I express my thanks for the invaluable work done by the Select Committee. I hope the consideration the Bill has been given during its passage through this House by all concerned in whatever role will assist in ensuring that the HS2 project continues to move forward to completion on time and, I hope, in full.

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords for their thoughtful and good-natured contributions, today and throughout the passage of the Bill. First, I will—fairly briefly—address the Motion in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Adonis. I admire his persistence and dedication to the HS2 project. I note what he said, but I fear that I cannot go any further than I have in previous debates.

The Government are fully aware of the steps needed to deliver HS2 to Manchester and elsewhere. The Secretary of State for Transport and the Prime Minister have made it clear that they support the Oakervee review’s recommendation of a Y-shaped network. The Government have already committed to publishing the forthcoming integrated rail plan. This will be informed by the National Infrastructure Commission’s rail needs assessment. I will not comment on media speculation. The integrated rail plan will consider how phase 2b is designed and delivered, alongside other major rail investment in the north and the Midlands.

I join other noble Lords in wanting to ensure that as many areas as possible benefit from the investment in HS2, which is so crucial to the Government’s goal of levelling up the UK economy. I have no doubt that there will be many more opportunities to debate these matters to satisfy not least the many former Transport Secretaries and Ministers in your Lordships’ House, but all the other noble Lords who have a great experience of, or an interest in, transport infrastructure. Today is not the day to debate the wider scheme.

For now, we have the key for phase 2a in our hands. It runs from the West Midlands to Crewe; this Bill is the key to unlocking such benefits further north. By passing this Bill today, noble Lords are turning that key to ensure the next connection in joining up this country and ensuring that, as we build back from the Covid-19 pandemic, we build back better. It is now up to the other place to scrutinise the changes that this House has made to the Bill. I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

Amendment to the Motion withdrawn.

Bill passed and returned to the Commons with amendments.