Green light for HS2 is good news for Britain, but legislation on the whole route should begin in this Parliament – Maria Eagle10 January 2012
Maria Eagle MP, Labour's Shadow Transport Secretary, responding in Parliament to the statement on HS2, said:
"It was the previous Labour Government that started us on the journey to a high speed future for Britain’s rail network that has reached this important milestone today. HS2 is a vital project for the country and I welcome the decision to give a green light to this investment in the face of considerable opposition including within the Cabinet.
"We believe it is vital that the new high speed line is built, not just between London and Birmingham, but also on to Manchester and Leeds. So while I welcome the commitment given today to the whole HS2 scheme, there will be disappointment that the Government’s announcement has stopped short of a commitment to legislate for the entire route to Manchester and Leeds in this Parliament. That was always Labour’s intention, as confirmed by the former Transport Secretary Lord Adonis to the Transport Select Committee - a position the Select Committee said had merit.
"Of course it’s right that a single bill would need to await completion of preparatory work on the second phase of the route. However, by introducing it later in this parliament and carrying it over to the next, as we did the legislation for Crossrail, we would secure Parliament’s approval for the whole route at an earlier date than under the Government’s plans. That would of course open up the possibility, if it proved feasible, of beginning construction in the north as well as the south – something that the Transport Select Committee urged the Government to consider. The Government should consider that proposal and think again on the issue of using a single piece of legislation to make it possible."