In this week’s Spectator magazine, James Forsyth interviews the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin. McLoughlin admits that the government is unlikely legislation to get the HS2 Bill through Parliament before the next election — which could leave a major threat over the project in 2015.
‘There are a bevy of Tory MPs opposed to having HS2 run through their patch or a new runway built in their backyard. But McLoughlin has agreed to tolerate dissent. ‘You have to accept that certain people, certain constituencies are heavily impacted by a piece of national infrastructure,’ he says. ‘Those MPs have got a duty to stand up for their constituents and make the case for their constituents. You’ll never hear me criticise that.’
‘McLoughlin admits that the HS2 legislation won’t be through parliament before the next election: ‘I think one has to accept that perhaps through all its stages within the next 12 months is slightly ambitious.’ It will, he says, have ‘started its parliamentary progress’. When I ask if it will be done, he answers ‘no’.
‘This means that it could still become an election issue — Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, makes occasional forays against it.’