Advanced Search
Conservative Rebellion - HS2

from the BBC

Conservative rebellion expected over HS2

David Cameron is facing a Tory rebellion over HS2, with as many as 40 backbenchers preparing to vote against the £50 billion rail link

David Cameron says HS2 is vital for Britains long-term economic prosperity
Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, will today compare HS2 opponents to Victorian's who thought canals and rivers were all that was needed for long-distance travel 

As many as 40 Conservatives are preparing to rebel over the Government’s plans to build a £50 billion high-speed rail link between London and the North of England.

Dozens of backbenchers will use a vote in the Commons to make a stand against the controversial project.

A number of senior ministers with seats in constituencies along the route are also expected to abstain from the vote.

Although the Government is to comfortably win the vote because of support from Labour, the rebellion will prove embarrassing for David Cameron, who has repeatedly backed the project despite growing opposition.

Michael Fabricant, a former Conservative vice-chairman, and Cheryl Gillan, a former Cabinet minister, have both have tabled separate amendments designed to derail the High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill, warning the line would cause major environmental damage and not produce the economic benefits claimed.

Mr Fabricant, the MP for Lichfield, has claimed that he knows between 80 and 100 Conservatives have "really serious doubts" about HS2.

Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, will suggest that opponents of high speed rail are comparable to Victorian landowners who thought canals and rivers were "all you'd ever need for long-distance travel".

He will tell MPs that it is "worth recalling" the initial opposition of MPs and landowners to the West Coast mainline.

Mr McLoughlin will say that in 1832 Parliament voted against the initial bill to build the line and that it only became a "national artery" by "accident".

He is expected to say: "The line wasn't meant to be a national artery, it became one almost by accident. A railway built with twists and turns to placate landowners, for slow steam trains pulling open top carriages.

"It is worth recalling that in 1832 Parliament rejected the initial bill because some people objected. They argued that canals and rivers were all you'd ever need for long-distance travel anyway."

Mr Fabricant, supported by former Cabinet minister Caroline Spelman and ex-minister Sir Edward Leigh among others, wants the coalition to bring forward a cheaper and more environmentally "sympathetic" route.

Mrs Gillan, the MP for Chesham and Amersham, has tabled a cross-party amendment to block the Bill and vowed to vote against the second reading.

Mrs Gillan said: "There is no doubt that with all three parties whipped to support HS2, there is no chance to stop it.

"But I have to register opposition on behalf of the many people who do not want this project.

"I will have some colleagues with me - I'm sure a lot of people will be pressured to abstain. I don't expect any ministerial colleagues to vote against the Bill - and neither should they, I want to have people inside the tent as well as outside."

Construction of the first stage of the HS2 project, linking London to Birmingham, is proposed to begin in 2017, with the second phase of the scheme then going north to Manchester and Leeds.

The full HS2 link between London, the Midlands and the North of England is expected to cost £42.6 billion, which includes contingencies, with £7.5 billion for the trains.

Mary Creagh, the shadow transport secretary, has confirmed that Labour will push ahead with the line despite concerns over its costs.

Delicious Digg Facebook Fark MySpace
Views: 897 views    Report Inappropriate Content
All Articles