The following update has been issued by Bucks County Council HS2 Team:
This week began with the Second Reading debate in the House of Commons, which concluded with the Bill receiving its second reading with a majority vote. As a result the petitioning period is now open and the deadlines have been confirmed. This update will focus on the second reading, the outcomes of this, and the implications for petitioning.
On the 28 April the Second Reading debate was held in the House of Commons, where MPs debated the principle of the Bill. The debate lasted six hours and ended with the Bill receiving its Second Reading, with a majority vote of 452 to 41. This means the principles of the Bill (stated later in this update) are now no longer open for debate.
To summarise, the debate focussed on the economic case, the Heathrow spur, and the inadequacy of the compensation proposals. Those supporting the case focussed on the capacity issues on the West Coast Mainline; the need to connect the north and south; investment and regeneration opportunities; and job creation opportunities.
Cheryl Gillan (MP for Chesham and Amersham) moved a motion that the Bill should not be given a Second Reading for a number of reasons including the lack of a sound economic case, and the fact that the Secretary of State had declined to publish the Major Projects Authority Report on HS2. However this was rejected by a vote of 451 to 50.
On the 29 April MPs debated a number of motions relating to the hybrid bill procedures. The implications of these will be covered in the rest of the update.
It has now been confirmed that there will be two petitioning deadlines. The 16 May will be for businesses and local authorities (except parish councils). The 23 May will be for all other petitioners. There has been some confusion over the definition of a ‘business’, and therefore we recommend that if in doubt, you should deposit your petition by the earlier deadline.
Principle of the Bill (relates to motion four)
As the Bill passed its second reading, the principle can no longer be debated. Therefore the principle is now set as follows:
“(a) the provision of a high speed railway between Euston in London and a junction with the West Coast Main Line at Handsacre in Staffordshire, with a spur from Water Orton in Warwickshire to Curzon Street in Birmingham and intermediate stations at Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange, and
(b) in relation to the railway set out on the plans deposited in November 2013 in connection with the Bill in the office of the Clerk of the Parliaments and the Private Bill Office of the House of Commons, its broad route alignment.”
The committee will not consider petitions outside the principle of the Bill or beyond its scope. Although this is unlikely to directly impact residents in Buckinghamshire, it is worth noting that the committee will not hear petitions relating to the HS1 link, as this is now beyond the principle of the Bill.
The names of the six committee members who will here petitions were listed in our previous update (11 April 2014). It had been suggested that other members might be added, however based on the minister’s statement, it seems clear that this will not be the case. A minimum of three members of the Select Committee will sit at any one point, and it is possible that the committee will sit through recess and in different locations. The chairman has still not yet been formally named.
All six Select Committee members were unsurprisingly absent from the Second Reading Vote. However ‘Stop HS2’ has produced an interesting summary of each member’s previous views and comments regarding the proposals. These can be found at http://stophs2.org/news/10826-hybrid-bill-committee-hs2
Petitions by groups
It has been confirmed that an organisation, group or body will no longer need to appoint a Roll A or B Parliamentary Agent to represent it. Instead this can be done by an authorised member or officer of that organisation, group or body.
Francis Taylor Building will be holding a seminar on presenting petitions to the HS2 Bill on Friday 9 May in London. The seminar will be held by two barristers, and is aimed at anyone who is interested in submitting a petition including landowners, residents, businesses, local authorities and resident associations. There is no charge to attend the event; however you must book a place by emailing Erja Gunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As mentioned previously, HS2 Ltd have released a number of information papers on a range of topics including compliance with undertakings and assurances; time limits in the Bill; information for property owners; and information for occupiers and landowners. The government has been adding further information to these information papers, and therefore it is worth checking these frequently. These can be found at http://www.hs2.org.uk/hs2-phase-one-hybrid-bill/hybrid-bill?cfa_dropdown=684 (under information papers).
Environmental statement consultation responses
All responses to the Environmental Statement consultation have now been released and can be found at https://hs2phaseonebilles.dialoguebydesign.net/. It may be useful to look through some of these responses if you are unsure what to include in your petition.
The Buckinghamshire petitioning forum is now live, and you can register to access it at https://www.51m.co.uk/forums/. At Buckinghamshire County Council we have begun to put our petitioning points on the forum, and we will continue to add more points as we develop these further. We encourage all individuals and groups who intend to petition to add their points to ensure there are no conflicts. For those unsure on what they should petition on, it may be useful to look at the forum to see what others are including.