Queen's Speech: Legislation on HS2 but Leeds link not mentioned

Legislation proposed in the Queen’s Speech to allow parts of HS2 to go ahead fails to mention the link up to Leeds from Birmingham.

By Geraldine Scott
Thursday, 19th December 2019, 12:47 pm

The Rail Reform and High Speed Rail 2 (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill, included in the raft of Government plans revealed today as the Queen officially opened Parliament, gives the powers to build and operate the next stage of HS2, phase 2a which will run between Birmingham and Crewe.

It does not mean phase 2b, which carries the route up to Leeds, will be scrapped and the Oakervee Review into what happens next with the project is still awaited.

But a Government briefing said the Bill’s purpose was to bring “the improved connectivity of HS2 to more cities in the North, sooner.”

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Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by the Prince of Wales, proceed through the Royal Gallery before delivering the Queen's Speech during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London. Photo: Matt Dunham/PA Wire

The law would allow for the land needed to be bought by compulsory purchase, the construction of the railway, and the operation of it.

The Queen’s Speech also referenced devolution, with the Queen saying: “My Government will give communities more control over how investment is spent so that they can decide what is best for them.”

The Government plans to publish a White Paper setting our their devolution strategy, but it is expected to include information on plans for full devolution across England, including increasing the number of mayors and doing more devolution deals.

Henri Murison, Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership said: “The Queen’s Speech has rightly referenced infrastructure and research and development, both of which are vital tools to rebalance the economy. Giving local communities more control over investment in their areas is devolution with a legislative framework still needed to make this a right no longer just a privilege to be given from Whitehall. This must include levelling up of all powers that those like Greater Manchester have where fellow Mayors want them.

“The turnaround in economic growth in South Yorkshire this year is a positive, and it is important the relevant council leaders finalise their devolution deal with government to get Dan Jarvis his powers and the associated funding which they shouldn’t be missing out on. The longer term lower performance over the previous five years is why devolution here is so essential, and why the work of those like the AMRC is so critical alongside wider R&D investment by public and private sectors.”