13 July, 2106
MPs representing communities affected by HS2 are asking the House of Lords to listen to their concerns about the rail line
Parliament has begun a detailed inquiry into the affect of the HS2 rail line on communities – but MPs representing the areas affected are barred from taking part.
Meriden MP Caroline Spelman has urged the House of Lords to reconsider its ban.
She wants to present a petition from local residents to a House of Lords committee which was set up to examine the impact of the rail line.
The High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill Select Committee has been set up in the House of Lords to scrutinise the legislation which allows construction of the HS2 line to begin next year.
It will consider whether changes should be made to the detailed plans for the new rail network.
A separate House of Commons Committee has already completed a similar inquiry, and it allowed local MPs to present evidence about how their local constituencies will be affected.
The House of Lords inquiry, however, has barred MPs such as Mrs Spelman from taking part, on the grounds that while she represents constituents who are affected – for example, because the proposed line will run close to their home or business – she is not personally directly affected.
The bizarre ruling is a result of a request from the Department for Transport.
And eight MPs, including Mrs Spelman, Kenilworth and Southam MP Jeremy Wright (Con) and North Warwickshire MP Craig Tracey (Con), have asked the committee to reconsider.
Mrs Spelman said: “At the moment all the MPs who are directly affected by HS2 have been prevented from presenting petitions in the House of Lords.
My section of the line is having its hearings in front of the select committee and it is particularly tricky for me because HS2 has blocked the MPs presenting petitions in the House of Lords.
“I have a petition ready to go on my section of the line but I am blocked from doing it.”
But she said it was important that the impact on local people was reduced as much as possible.
“It is really important to impress on the Lords select committee the way that my constituents will be directly affected,” she said.
A House of Lords spokesman said the Committee was expected to make a decision on whether to allow MPs to present petitions later this week or early next week.
Mrs Spelman has set out a series of proposed changes to the scheme, including introducing stricter rules of noise limitation; preventative measures restricting larger construction vehicles from accessing the tracks via certain roads and through designated villages; greater planning controls for local councils regarding HS2 local infrastructure planning, and a “green route” that would only be available to pedestrians, cyclists, equestrians, agricultural vehicles, HS2 Ltd maintenance vehicles and emergency vehicles for Diddington Lane in Hampton in Arden.