Meriden MP, Caroline Spelman, has expressed her frustration after the House of Lords Select Committee upheld a challenge to prevent Members of Parliament from presenting petitions to the committee on HS2.
In recent weeks, a number of cross party MPs, whose constituencies lie along the anticipated route of HS2, attempted to submitted a petition to the House of Lords calling for further mitigating measures. Their move came as part of ongoing efforts by some MP to better protect constituents affected by HS2's construction, operation and maintenance. However, representatives from HS2 responded to the MPs petition by submitting a challenge in order to overrule their submission.
The attempt to prevent MPs from making these representations to the House of Lords was made by HS2 on the grounds that ‘MPs appearing before the committee would be acting as Parliamentary agents, rather than as Parliamentarians’.
In response to this move by HS2, Caroline Spelman appeared alongside seven of her Parliamentary colleagues in an attempt to appeal the challenge on the grounds of a ‘Locus Standi’ 1. Previous Locus Standi challenges were made successfully to the House of Commons Select Committee by MPs after HS2 challenged their previous attempt at petitioning.
Despite their joint efforts, the House of Lords HS2 Select Committee, chaired by Lord Walker, ruled in favour of upholding the promoters challenge; thus preventing the MPs from submitting their petition for further mitigating measures to the committee for their consideration.
Speaking after this decision was published in the House of Lords, Caroline Spelman said:
'I am deeply disappointed that the challenge to an MPs right to be heard and for us to be able to submit a petition on this matter has been upheld by the committee - particularly as a similar challenge made by HS2 during the House of Commons Select Committee stage was denied.
'I share in local resident’s frustration and believe that the committee’s decision to uphold this challenge against the wishes of those who are negatively affected by the HS2 project reflects poorly upon our system of democracy'.
In their response to MPs, the Committee said: We [the Committee] did not feel that they could stretch the language of the Standing Orders far enough to include MPs. Following the proceedings the Committee did add that it would like to hear from Cheryl Gillan MP, whose has been working closely with Caroline Spelman to guarantee further mitigating measures for local residents, who will present to the committee MPs reflection on the bill.
Local residents continue to appear before the Select Committee and being supported by Mrs Spelman and her parliamentary team.
1 Locus Standi: A legal term literally meaning; ‘the right to be heard’