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High Speed Rail (Preparation) Act 2013-14

Royal Assent


  • Bill status:

    Bill is now an Act

  • Type of Bill:

    Government Bill


Last event


The Bill was introduced in the Queen's Speech on 8 May 2013 and aims to enable the building of the 'High Speed Two' railway line, providing further opportunities for economic growth in many of Britain's cities.

Transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin referred to plans to introduce a paving Bill for HS2 that would enable money allocated for the project to be used ahead of Royal Assent of the hybrid Bill, expected by 2015.

In a written answer published in March, rail minister Simon Burns stated that it would seek parliamentary approval to "incur essential expenditure on the preparatory works in advance of the proposed hybrid Bill achieving Royal Assent and allow the construction programme to proceed as quickly as possible thereafter".

The main measures of the Bill include giving the government powers to:

  • Compulsorily acquire or temporarily take possession of land required for the scheme
  • Construct and maintain the railway
  • Provide deemed planning permission for the scheme

The Bill was expected to be short, but objections were raised about the government's intentions in introducing it. Due to the controversial nature of the project and claims made regarding consultants fees, the Bill is likely to be contentious, so a quick passage through Parliament is not guaranteed.

The government's timetable outlined their expectations that the Bill would be introduced by the end of 2013, receiving Royal Assent by 2015.

The TaxPayer's Alliance called the high speed rail line "a great vanity project" and said it was "poor value compared to more affordable alternatives".

The Institute of Civil Engineers welcomed the HS2 Paving Bill as it presented "an opportunity to bring about a real step change in rail capacity and help regenerate and boost the economies of our city-regions."

The Association of Train Operating Companies said the HS2 legislation was "the next important step in securing a modern high speed rail network linking the north and south of Britain which will unlock significant economic and environmental benefits."

The Institution of Engineering and Technology criticised the government's piecemeal approach to HS2 as it risked "phase two never getting further than the drawing board."

Should the Bill become an Act, it will extend to England and Scotland only.

During the fifth and sixth sittings of the Bill committee, an amendment seeking to extend the high speed network to destinations including, but not limited to, Glasgow and Edinburgh, was not agreed following a division. Other amendments not agreed following divisions related to leaving out construction of railway lines connecting the East Midlands' and replacing it with 'the Nottingham/ Derby corridor and in addition to connecting lines "adding capacity between".

On 31 October 2013, MPs approved funding for the preparation of the HS2 project as the High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill passed its remaining stages in the Commons. Twenty Conservatives voted against the Bill.

A number of probing amendments with regards to Scotland's position on the HS2 line were considered, while a cross-party amendment on integrating HS2 with other transport links was approved.

During third reading, transport secretary Patrick McLaughlin confirmed that the hybrid Bill would be presented "before Christmas".