While some ministers have mysteriously disappeared today so that they don’t have to vote in favour of the high-speed rail line that will cut through their constituencies, Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd is busy explaining to his disgruntled local party why he isn’t turning up to vote on legislation which affects his constituency of Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner but which he supports.
I understand that Hurd has told local party members that though he thinks HS2 may be in the national interest, he understands their concerns about the link, and wants to try to get the very best deal for his constituents on compensation and the environmental impact of the line.
Hurd has not yet made a public statement of his position, but has told local colleagues privately that he will not attend the debate or the vote and that he doesn’t think leaving the Government would make any difference at all to the detail of the HS2 Bill and its impact on Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner. He has said he will make this clear to the press today, but hasn’t yet.
Hurd is in a particularly difficult position because he has not yet been readopted by his association for the 2015 general election. His neighbour John Randall, now a backbencher after leaving the whips’ office in the last reshuffle, will be voting against the legislation, which hardly makes things easier for Hurd. He has acknowledged that he will suffer from ‘grumbling’ as a result of his stance (or non-stance, which is what he’s trying to achieve by not voting at all). But I am told by local party members that he has endured bruising meetings with local ward associations, and the Harefield Ward Association is threatening to move a vote of no confidence against him as a result of his stance.