HS2 - Many people would appear to have been misled about the debate in Parliament about HS2 in October. It was not a major debate at all but one chosen by the backbench committee, lasting only 2 hours and 17 minutes. It was not a full day’s debate and there was limited time for discussion. It was certainly not a debate where material decisions were taken.
It was a debate by and for backbenchers and no other Minister than the Transport Minister could take part.
However, I had arranged for the following to be read out during the debate by Steve Baker, MP for Wycombe:
“All Ministers can ask others to represent their constituents’ views and when this debate was scheduled my neighbour – the Rt Hon Member for Chesham and Amersham – quite properly asked me to do so. I am more than pleased to reflect her constituents’ position, as I have done before.
“ Representing the views of her constituents, the Rt Hon Member for Chesham and Amersham responded robustly to the consultation delivering seven files of objections and evidence against HS2 which will cut a deep scar through the middle of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in which her constituency sits.
“ I would remind the Minister answering this debate of the overwhelming opposition to this scheme from Chesham and Amersham constituents and, on their behalf, I would particularly point out the environmental damage, the astronomical cost and the inadequacy of the business case, all of which have been attested to by experts campaigning against HS2 in Buckinghamshire. Our County Council and Chesham and Amersham’s own Chiltern District Council are entirely opposed to HS2.
“ And I believe that there are much better alternatives when it comes to delivering the infrastructure we need to sustain growth in our economy. Can the Minister assure the constituents of Chesham and Amersham that these well-argued objections will be taken into consideration well before any decision is taken on whether or not to proceed?”
Given that there was little time, in the event Steve Baker could not incorporate the whole of this text into his speech, because there was a time limit of four minutes.
I was not in the House of Commons or nearby as I was accompanying the Prime Minister himself at Airbus Industries opening the North Factory – and I could not tell anyone beforehand due to security reasons!
This debate has made little difference to the current position and this is that the responses to the consultation are still being analysed.
On the reshuffle, immediately the appointment of the new Secretary of State for Transport was announced, I got in touch and had informal preliminary discussions about meeting. The new Secretary of State is well aware of the concerns of Chesham and Amersham about this proposal and as I write I have secured a meeting in November with her to set out the situation. I will keep my website updated with any news.
CHILTERN OPEN AIR MUSEUM
The museum, in Newlands Park, Gorelands Lane, Chalfont St Giles, is a wonderful place to visit to get a real feel of life in the Chilterns, past and present.
The Friends of the Museum run special events like shopping days (Christmas gift shopping days are on 5 and 6 November). More details from their website on www.coam.org.uk.
REGISTERING TO VOTE
At present the responsibility for registering to vote remains principally with one person in the household. This is a reminder that the electoral registration forms have gone out to every household over the summer. If you were not able to complete it, it is still possible to register at any time during the year.
However, this is to let you know that there are proposals to change the rules for registration, so that each individual in a household will have to register individually.
The changes are planned for July 2014. Each individual would need to provide two kinds of ID (such as date of birth and National Insurance number) to support the registration. People would also be able to go to their electoral office in person if they did not have photo-ID.
Under the new system, anyone who wishes to vote by post or proxy from 2014 will need to register to avoid losing that option.
Rt Hon Cheryl Gillan MP www.cherylgillan.co.uk Constituency Office: 01494 721577