Demand for national referendum on HS2 could be debated in parliament

HS2 editorial image
HS2 editorial image

An MP has submitted a bill to parliament calling for a national referendum on the proposed HS2 rail link, which would cut through the Vale if it is built.

Christopher Chope, the MP for Christchurch, in Dorset, has tabled a Private Members Bill which demands ‘provision for a national referendum on whether the proposed construction of the HS2 railway should be supported financially by the UK taxpayer’.

It was supported by Amersham MP Cheryl Gillan plus fellow MPs Sir John Randall, Michael Fabricant, James Gray, Peter Bone and Andrew Turner.

The first reading of the bill took place on Monday July 7 while the Second Reading is set for Friday January 23 2015.

Although Private Members Bills are often overlooked during a busy parliament schedule, HS2 opponents believe that the relatively few government initiatives announced in the Queens Speech means it stands a good chance of being debated by MPs in the Commons.

Penny Gaines, who has remained as chair of Stop HS2 despite moving to Dorset from Quainton last year, when she became a constituent of Mr Chope said: “I’ve met Christopher Chope and discussed HS2 with him on several occasions.

“He has been vocally opposed to HS2 for some time and I’m delighted that he has taken my concerns seriously.

“It is only right that the people expected to pay for HS2 have the chance to say that they don’t want to.”

Meanwhile, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee are gathering evidence ahead of an inquiry into the economic case for HS2.

The deadline for evidence to be submitted is September 15, with Committee hearings due to take place in October.

The committee will explore a number of aspects including whether there is an economic case for HS2, how HS2 should be operated and whether travellers should pay higher fares on HS2 compared to other lines.

Committee chairman Lord Hollick said: “Our inquiry will attempt to get to the bottom of what the real economic impact of HS2 will be, who will benefit and who might lose out.

“We will find out whether the Government has taken full account of all the economic considerations in setting out the case for HS2 and what the impact will be in different parts of the UK.”