Phillip Lee (MP): Why I do not support HS2
Posted: May 27, 2014
On Monday 28th April, the HS2 (Phase 1) Hybrid Bill had its Second Reading in the House of Commons. I did not support the passage of this legislation, and would like to take this opportunity to explain why.
Decisions about public spending of this magnitude should be based on what will most benefit our country’s future and I do not believe that fast rail tops this list. Our national priorities should be informed by a vision that will rocket us into a more competitive world; not one that leaves us chugging along as we are, albeit 10 minutes faster. We need to focus on giving our country an edge and delivering world-leading technology and innovation. My main concern is that HS2 is a project of the past, not the future.
In short, I believe that the future is about the fast transmission of data, not people. Phase two of the plan is not due to be completed until 2033, by which time the planned high speed rail will be outdated technology. I would put all of the following ahead of fast rail: securing reliable, domestic sources of energy generation in the interests of national security; a fleet of new acute regional hospitals supported by community hospitals as the only viable way to save our unsustainable health system; a new national hub airport which can guarantee that Britain is capable of doing an increasing amount of business in a global marketplace; ensuring every home and business in the country has access to superfast broadband. These are the national strategic projects in which we should be investing our finite and precious public resources. Not in an anachronistic train line.
I accept the need to increase overall rail capacity, but the assessments of the relative costs and benefits of works envisaged by the Bill have been unconvincing and fail to demonstrate a sound economic case for the project. The Taxpayers’ Alliance have estimated that the project will cost each family in Britain £1,000, a figure which may well be revised up, as last week the Institute of Economic Affairs issued a report warning that the costs for the project may eventually exceed £80 billion. HS2 could in fact contribute to the country’s problems rather than solve them: more debt, a blighted local environment along the path of the track, and no likely return in an increasingly global economy.
HS2 will not get this country to the destination I want for it. Our resources would be better spent elsewhere. For these reasons, I do not support the project.
(Published in the Wokingham Times, May 2014)
NEXT/PREVIOUS:The Queen’s Speech 2014 «
On Europe – We are listening »