UPDATED: MPs approve HS2 funding as Lidington misses vote

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MPs overwhelmingly supported funding for HS2 in a Commons vote yesterday.

The Paving Bill, which will approve funding to prepare for the controversial £43 billion project, was passed by 350 votes to 34 and will now undergo further scrutiny in the House of Lords.

Aylesbury’s MP David Lidington did not take part in the vote as he was in Oslo.

He did not take part in the previous vote on the bill.

Wycombe MP Steve Baker and Chesham and Amersham MP Cheryl Gillan both voted against the bill.

Speaking after the vote, Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2, said: “In a week when the Government has pulled out all the stops in an attempt to bolster the case for HS2, it is not surprising that the blank cheque bill was voted through.

“We know that some of the MPs did so in the erroneous belief that without the Paving Bill there would be no compensation for affected residents.

“We thank all of those MPs from around the country who voted against the Paving Bill.

“What is more telling is that on a policy that officially the three main parties support, there were so many MPs staying away from the vote.

“This is no clear mandate for going ahead with HS2, however the Government will chose to spin it.

“What’s more, the Government is losing credibility. By trying to claim that speed is irrelevant, but that any new railway has to be high speed, ordinary people are realising that HS2 is a shiny new toy for politicians’ egos, not a realistic answer to current transport issues.”

A YouGov poll published this week showed increasing capacity by upgrading existing train lines, even if it means long-term disruption, is the preferred option for 40% of people, compared to 27% who want HS2 to be built as planned.

Another 19% would prefer train capacity not be upgraded at all.

Joe Rukin, Stop HS2 campaign manager, said: “The latest YouGov polling shows that HS2 is just another example of the disconnect between politicians and the public with only 27% of the public supporting Whitehall’s white elephant.

“They are not buying the spin that upgrading existing lines would be too disruptive.

“The public want value for money and rail services they can actually use.”