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  1. With permission, Mr. Speaker, I’d like to make a statement about the proceedings of High Speed Two. Following the passage of the High Speed Rail (London to West Midlands) Act 2017 earlier this year, the government has begun implementing the basis of the new HS2 line. When Labour first envisioned HS2 through the High Speed Rail white paper in 2010, it did so in the understanding that there was great need for the people in the Midlands and the North. This new project, the largest in rail for a generation, rivals the ambition of the HS1, that connected London with the rest of Europe. Now, HS2 is planning to do the same for central England. But, Mr. Speaker, as we all know the timeline has shifted. After delaying the HS2 bill from 2013 to after the 2015 election, the last administration passed at last the legislation that would allow us to start Phase A of HS 2. Connecting London to Birmingham is crucial to relieving the West Coast Main Line, which is under increasing stress from overloading and low speeds, but also to make travel by train more attractive than by car, lowering congestion on the important M1, M6, and M46 roads at the same time. Mr. Speaker, let me be clear: Labour fully supports the continued development of HS2. There is a strong strategic case for it, that has been undertaken with the advise of experts in the field, stakeholders, and partners, of which I shall highlight a few, as not to take up all of the House’s time: first of, it reduces journey times between London and many major cities, and even between those cities themselves. Through phase 1, it can reduce travel time between London and Birmingham by almost 40 minutes. Between London and Manchester: 26 minutes. London and Liverpool: 28 minutes. And London and Crewe: 22 minutes. In due time, the shorter journey time for phase 2a and 2b will be laid before you as well. Secondly, it will improve connectivity: through our latest estimates, it can support 300 thousand journeys each day. Connecting HS2 to stations such as Euston, the new Birmingham Interchange, and Curzon Street, will also create opportunities for investment in station areas, with an emphasis on leisure, tourism, and retail. Birmingham Interchange, in particular, creates a direct link to Birmingham International Airport. With this comes inevitable economic growth as we provide economic power to the Midlands and the North. Lastly, and perhaps something that the party opposite will support: the mere project of HS2 will create new jobs, in constructing it, in operating it, and in maintaining it. We are hiring no less than 25,000 employees for constructing HS2, and more than 3,000 operators for when it is complete. The direct job creation is not the only one: the reduction in journey time and increase in connection will create at least 100,000 new jobs through the growth of the stations areas. Again, Birmingham Interchange has the potential of becoming a leisure and tourism destination, through its connection to both the airport and the NEC. If the consideration is taken for costs of the project, then it is true that there has been an increase of spending over the past few years. But I can assure the House that for every pound spent, we receive 2 pounds back. The current spending for HS2 will stand at 55 billion pounds. If we take the purely benefits of fares, the initial opposition is tangible and perhaps warranted. But we must look beyond the costs and income from fares: there will be much more benefits coming in than we will spend on HS2. The new connectivity will create jobs, which will increase GDP and lead to further economic growth. The bulk of expenses of HS2 is in the stations, as is predictable. But what opponents must understand is that these stations are surrounded by areas of huge potential: regeneration of areas by creating new leisure and tourism jobs for thousands of people. Curzon Street, for example, has been coupled with an investment fund of 724 million to create an area of 150 hectares for the building of 4,000 homes and more than 36,000 jobs. And similar development will take place around London Euston, the new Old Oak Common Station linking HS2 to CrossRail, and Birmingham Exchange. In phase 2a, this will also extend to Crewe Station. HS2 also relieves the West Coast Main Line: this opens it to using released capacity for freight transport, lowering lorries on M1, as well as increasing local services by expanding train fleets there. In the end, our 55 billion investment will be returned over time by 92 billion pounds in benefits. And almost 74 billion of that comes directly from our increase in GDP. And as an added benefit, this benefit will come from economic growth in the West Midlands and Greater Manchester: moving away from South East England where the bulk of economic power resides and unleashing the potential of the north. Labour remains committed to completing HS2 on time, with Phase 1 being completed in 2027, and starting phase 2a with our High Speed Rail (West Midlands to Crewe) Bill in this session, completing that in 2028. We also remain in touch with stakeholders and partners about Northern Powerhouse Rail. Another statement will be forthcoming regarding this project. I have heard from the people opposing HS2 completely: The honourable member from Stone, the honourable member for Lichfield, the right honourable member for Wycombe, even the right honourable member for Chesham and Amersham - despite the rail moving directly through or past their constituencies - have made arguments against them. I hope to say that their concerns will in time have been duly resolved, for they will see that HS2 will have revitalised their constituencies in particular by the increase in freight customers, jobs, and tourism. Mr. Speaker, the government’s commitment is clear. After dithering and delay by the party opposite to deliver the high speed network which Britain needs, Labour will deliver on this historical project that will create huge potential in our economy, our net-zero strategy, and our communities. Connecting London, the West Midlands, and Greater Manchester, is not only good for our future generations, it is also good for our jobs and our environment. And for that, I commend this statement to the House.
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