Page last updated at 15:16 GMT, Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Gillan accused of High Speed 2 'failure'

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan has been accused of putting her constituency ahead of the considerations of Welsh voters on the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail link.

During questions on 18 January 2012, shadow Welsh Secretary Peter Hain asked Mrs Gillan why the original plans for HS2, which would have given Welsh travellers direct access to Heathrow airport, had not been followed.

Mrs Gillan replied that high speed rail was not her responsibility, and she would arrange for the relevant minister to write to the shadow Welsh Secretary.

Mr Hain told MPs he found Mrs Gillan's reply "absolutely incredible".

"You are secretary of state for Wales and you have a duty, the whole of the Wales Office has a duty, to advance the interests of Wales," he said.

"Isn't it the truth that on HS2 you have failed to make the funding case for Wales and we lost a great opportunity? Isn't the truth you have spent the past 18 months demanding expensive funding concessions for your Buckinghamshire constituency rather than advancing Wales' funding interests?" Mr Hain continued.

Mrs Gillan has been a vocal critic of the high speed rail project and has faced criticism for her decision to sell her Buckinghamshire home, which ran close to the proposed HS2 route.

The sale went through two months before the UK government approved the new high speed rail link, which now includes plans for extra tunnelling to mitigate environmental concerns.

Mrs Gillan told Mr Hain she was "surprised" at his accusations.

"In all the years you were secretary of state for Wales you did not achieve electrification of one single inch, whereas we in the Wales Office have announced the electrification of the line to Cardiff," she said.

"As you well know we are now working on the electrification of the valleys line. I hope I will have your support for that as well," Mrs Gillan concluded.

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