Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson, warned that delays to the project will further increase costs and complicate construction.
UK MP Wera Hobhouse has questioned the government on the ongoing cost of delays to HS2.
Hobhouse, the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for transport, cited the ICE’s warning that delaying major infrastructure projects costs more, not less, in the long term.
What did she say?
“Tens of thousands of jobs and billions of pounds in economic growth depend on building HS2,” Hobhouse said.
“The National Audit Office has noted that the decision to delay HS2 by another two years will increase the costs of the project yet again.
“The Institution of Civil Engineers says that delaying HS2 could make the building process more difficult as construction firms shift their focus to other countries.
“Is it not time that the government came clean with the public that HS2 is happening, and stopped the dither and delay that will only cost the taxpayer more money?”
Transport secretary Mark Harper responded that the government remains “fully committed to HS2”.
“…we are going full steam ahead on phase 1 from Curzon Street to just north of Birmingham, precisely to make sure we protect jobs and the supply chain, and to demonstrate clearly that the project is going to happen,” Harper said.
“We see the transformation it is having in the West Midlands… in generating economic growth in Birmingham. We want to see more of that across the country and across the route.”
The debate took place in the House of Commons on Thursday 20 April 2023.
Why this matters
HS2 is a key part of the government’s strategy to meet future demand on the rail network, rebalance the economy, and deliver net zero.
But ongoing project delays have increased overall costs and deferred the potential benefits to communities.
When the government announced further HS2 delays in March, ICE trustee Jonathan Spruce said:
“Public infrastructure projects like HS2 are critical for economic growth and meeting levelling up and net zero goals. They are an investment in our future, not a cost.
"The UK needs to think strategically about what we want our transport system to deliver. In the longer term, a national transport strategy, with a clear investment plan, would help ensure that the country gets the transport infrastructure it needs; reliable ways to get where we need to go, in a way that's better for the planet."
The ICE has recommended that the government develops the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) for the North and Midlands into an approved project pipeline around which industry and the supply chain can plan with certainty.
Our latest consultation asks what a national transport strategy for England might look like and how to make it truly effective.
Through our non-partisan work with parliamentarians from all parties, the ICE advocates for better infrastructure delivery to give members of the public the services they need to lead more sustainable lives.
Our work ensures these important conversations continue to happen at all levels of government.