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27 April 2014

HS2 Phase I Hybrid Bill: Countdown to the Second Reading

As reported in our blog of April 11, the Second Reading of the HS2 Phase I Hybrid Bill has been scheduled to take place on 28 April – i.e. Monday.

There has been much debate as to whether 1 day of debating (even with an extension of time to 11pm) is enough – particularly given the importance of this scheme to supporters and opponents of HS2 alike.

Although most commentators do seem to be of the view that the Hybrid Bill will pass its Second Reading, there are two motions of note that have been tabled to take place immediately prior to the Second Reading. These two motions are supported by a combination of Michael Fabricant, Sir Edward Leigh, Jeremy Lefroy, David Davis, David Nuttall, William Cash, Caroline Spelman, Andrew Turner, Chris Kelly, Bob Blackman, Cheryl Gillan, Frank Dobson, Kate Hoey, Caroline Lucas, Andrew Bridge, Tim Loughton, Natascha Engel, Christopher Chope, Kelvin Hopkins and Dr Phillip Lee.

If either motion is passed then it would have the effect of preventing the Second Reading of the Bill. This would be a major blow to the Government and all supporters of HS2.

In the event, however, that either of these motions is not passed and the Bill passes its Second Reading, the “principle” of the Bill will be approved. This means that no fundamental opposition to the scheme or major alterations to the route will be considered. The Bill will then move to a Committee who will consider petitions seeking specific protections for landowners or other interests affected by the scheme.

At this stage, there is no indication that the petitioning deadlines will change and so we continue to work towards dates of 16 May for local authorities (not including parish councils) and businesses, with the deadline for individuals and all other petitioners being 23 May. Assuming the Second Reading passes future posts will cover petitioning in more detail.

We must now watch this space to see if there is anything else of note revealed early next week and see whether there is a sufficient groundswell of opinion in the House of Commons to derail the project.