Sir Bill Cash will today vote against the HS2 Bill (“HIGH SPEED RAIL (LONDON - WEST MIDLANDS) BILL”), which confers the powers required to construct phase 1 of HS2 from London Euston to Birmingham.
Sir Bill has also proposed an amendment which declines to give a Third Reading to the Bill –
“That this House, while recognising the need for additional north-south rail capacity to meet the demands of rail users, declines to give a Third Reading to the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill because the Government has not yet adequately addressed the shortcomings of the discretionary compensation schemes being offered in relation to HS2 Phases One and Two, and in particular the shortcomings identified by the select committee on the Bill, which remain to be fully answered; and because it is essential for such shortcomings to be rectified during the passage of this Bill in order that proper compensation arrangements apply in relation to both Phases One and Two.”
He has further proposed an amendment requiring a review of compensation available to those affected by HS2, including:
- The position of those whose property is subject to mortgage and might be unable to remortgage or find themselves in negative equity;
- A property bond system would be as or more effective in compensating those affected while maintaining a functioning property market;
- The current rateable value limit for owner-occupiers should be amended or abolished;
- Loss payment ceilings are fair and appropriate;
- A higher proportion of advance compensation for relocation than the current 90% should be payable in certain circumstances;
- There should be an advance payment of fees for professional advice for those considering a claim for compensation;
- The time limits for claiming compensation where no land is taken should be re-evaluated.
Sir Bill is also supporting amendments proposed by other MPs, requiring:
- Local authorities to be reimbursed for damage to highways, expenses and lost business rates.
- The Business and Local Economy Fund to be increased from £30m to £150m.
- Procedures for valuation by valuers with knowledge of local markets.
- All compensation claims to be acknowledged within two weeks and responded to properly within ten weeks, or to be otherwise treated as automatically accepted.
- The commitment to plant two million trees along the HS2 route to be upheld.
- No work to be carried out until a full assessment of traffic management requirements has been completed and detailed proposals on how to deal with these has been set out.
- A consultation on overground power lines in areas of particular environmental value or sensitivity.
- An HS2 Adjudicator to be appointed, with powers to report on and enforce the environmental requirements and to mitigate the effects on communities.
Sir Bill has consistently campaigned with leading local action groups against HS2, namely the Swynnerton HS2 Action group, the Whitmore & Baldwins Gate HS2 Action group and the Madeley HS2 Action group, and in his own right as MP for the Stone constituency.
Although this specific Bill confers the powers required to construct phase 1 of the proposed HS2 scheme from London Euston to Birmingham, Sir Bill has argued that the Stone constituency is directly affected as the principles and decisions reached in respect of Phase 1 will set standards for the Hybrid Bill for Phase 2, where it will be substantially more difficult to challenge such arrangements.