Following the recent advancement of the High Speed Rail (HS2) Bill from the House of Commons to the House of Lords, the Bishop of Coventry spoke in the second reading of the HS2 debate to ensure that the views of local resident's in Meriden are represented in the House of Lords chamber.
The draft Bill, which entered the House of Lords on the 23rd March 2016, passed the House of Commons phase without further amendment – despite efforts from a number of MPs, including Mrs Spelman, to secure further mitigating measures at 3rd reading.
As the Bill moves from the Commons to the Lords, MPs are prohibited from directly taking part in the formal debates, but can submit petitions on behalf of local residents for consideration by peers. For that reason, Mrs Spelman approached the Bishop of Coventry, who sits in the House of Lords, to speak on behalf of local residents in the forthcoming debates and has drafted a number of petitions for consideration.
Speaking in the second debate on High Speed Rail Bill the Lord Bishop of Coventry, James Langstaff, said: ‘A great cost is being paid in the villages, farms and homes of the people I meet. Many of the arguments surrounding this massive project have to do, quite rightly, with the legacy we leave to future generations. Alongside a strong and sustainable economy, a vital part of that legacy must be lasting relationships of good will and trust between those responsible for such a project—or those benefiting from it—and those whose lives are made more difficult by it’.
‘They [the Government] has a great responsibility to see the benefits of this project extend as widely as possible. Alleviating the pain compassionately and fairly, and sharing the gain imaginatively should drive government policy and the final shape of this Bill’.
Mrs Spelman said: ‘Just because the Bill has been approved by MPs doesn’t mean my fight for better HS2 compensation is yet over. As we enter the House of Lords debate stages, I am very grateful to my colleague, the Bishop of Coventry, for his commitment to support local residents in Meriden who deserve better safeguards than those currently being offered in the bill’.
‘In the coming weeks the House of Lords HS2 Select Committee will hear the concerns of local residents, and I am pleased to be able to offer them individual support as they seek to make representations to the committee’.
Read the Lord Bishop’s contribution to the House of Lords High Speed Rail Bill (London – West Midlands) debate here.