England

HS2 cost 'not worth creating some jobs in Birmingham'

Victoria Prentis Image copyright UK Parliament
Image caption Victoria Prentis called HS2 a "white elephant"

Spending billions of pounds on HS2 is not worth it to create "some jobs in Birmingham", an MP has said.

Victoria Prentis, Conservative MP for Banbury, said there are more cost-effective ways to boost employment.

In a Westminster Hall debate, former Commons leader Andrea Leadsom claimed the bill for the high-speed rail line could top £100bn.

But transport minister Nusrat Ghani said she is "confident" the official budget of £55.7bn is still accurate.

Leading the debate, Ms Leadsom said the current business case for the rail link connecting London with northern cities "bears little resemblance" to what parliament initially voted on and called for it to be subject to a full review.

She said: "There are concerns... that have been raised by industry experts and former whistleblowers from the company that the total cost for HS2 may very well be in excess of £100bn."

Liam Byrne, Labour MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill, said the Midlands risked being pushed into recession unless the project goes ahead.

However Ms Prentis said: "I do not feel that £100bn is worth some jobs in Birmingham. I think there may be other ways in assisting with employment.

"HS2 is a white elephant that is trampling over the dreams and aspirations of my constituents and I cannot support it."

Shadow transport minister Rachael Maskell said the main issue is with the management of the scheme, and claimed Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is "not doing his job in calling HS2 to account".

But Ms Ghani said HS2 is "crucial" to keep the UK moving.

"If we just reflect on the infrastructure we have in place at the moment, it is 150 years old, it is an over-stretched Victorian network."

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