Page last updated at 17:41 GMT, Thursday, 13 October 2011 18:41 UK

MPs clash over HS2 plans

MPs have clashed over plans to build a new high-speed rail line linking London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

Those opposed to the move argued it would be a "monumentally expensive white elephant" that became out-of-date before it was finished.

But supporters pointed to the anticipated economic benefits the new route would bring to the surrounding areas.

Opening the Commons debate on 13 October 2011 Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom, whose South Northamptonshire constituency would be affected by the line, declared that HS2 was the wrong use of taxpayer's money.

She admitted originally believing it to be a "superb project with so much promise", but said detailed investigations highlighted it was not worthwhile economically.

Mrs Leadsom denied her opposition was sparked by "Nimbysm" (Not In My Back Yard) and urged the government to look again at the plans.

Labour's Roger Godsiff called the scheme a "vanity project" and Conservative Tony Baldry quoted the Institute of Economic Affairs which said there was a "significant risk that HS2 will become the latest in a long series of government big project disasters."

But Conservative Esther McVey backed the scheme arguing it was "infrastructure we need". Liberal Democrat Julian Huppert agreed, stating there was a need to increase capacity on the railways.

Shadow transport minister John Woodcock said HS2 was a "vital lifeline of economic growth" and pledged it would "be built by a future Labour government and backed by Labour in opposition".

Winding up the debate Transport Minister Theresa Villiers said that improving the transport structure was an essential part of achieving the government's two main goals: addressing the deficit and securing economic growth.

She warned of a "capacity time-bomb" on the West Coast Main line if the government did not act.


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