Oct 20 2011 By Anthea Hartley
Thursday 13th October - D-Day (Debate Day) in the House of Commons for the Backbencher’s HS2 debate.
After months of campaigning and the collecting of 100,000+ signatures a debate was held in the House of Commons to discuss the HS2 project. I was fortunate to be able to squeeze into the Stranger’s Gallery overlooking The Chamber and watch/listen to the arguments for and against HS2 - along with many other anti-HS2 campaigners.
The anti-HS2 Members of Parliament made some very persuasive speeches and further highlighted the strength of feeling against the High Speed Rail project.
The pro-HS2 Members demonstrated their woeful lack of knowledge and research once again: an anti-HS2 Member asked his Honourable Friend, a pro-HS2 supporter, what proportion of the money required to finance the building of HS2 would come from the Tax Payer and what proportion would be from private funding. The pro-HS2 Member became flustered and admitted that he did not know the answer to that question. Anti-campaigners in The Gallery threw up their hands in disbelief!
The debate went very well for the anti-HS2 lobby - in fact so many Members of Parliament wanted to debate the subject that The Speaker had to limit the time allowed for Members to speak to a mere 4 minutes each - even so the debate lasted for some two hours.
To prompt so much interest in Parliament there must be some serious doubts amongst the Members as to whether HS2 should go ahead. The down-side to Thursday’s debate is that the pro-HS2 campaigners have now witnessed for themselves the strength of opposition to this ridiculous waste of public money and will recognise the need to raise their game - which will inevitably involve throwing even more tax payers money at their "YES to HS2" campaign.
Thanks to Dr Fox’s "mistakes" in the Ministry of Defence and subsequent resignation, Mr Philip Hammond (the main force behind the HS2 project) will be stepping into Dr Fox’s shoes and leaving
Ms Justine Greening (MP for Putney, Roehampton and Southfields) to deal with the HS2 issue.
Ms Greening gained a MBA from the London Business School, was a Shadow Treasury Minister in 2007, Economic Secretary to The Treasury 2010-2011 and is currently Secretary of State for Transport. With a track record like that let us hope that she will bring some financial sanity to the HS2 debate - and pull the plug before it is too late.