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Parliament sets petitioning dates for HS2 Hybrid Bill

Parliament has proposed that local authorities, excluding parish councils, and businesses will have from the 29 April to 16 May to deposit their petitions against the HS2 Hybrid Bill. 

Individuals and all other petitioners will have a further week, until 23 May. 

Additionally, the leader of the House of Commons, Andrew Lansley, has confirmed the date for the Bill’s Second Reading debate in the House as 28 April 2014. 

All those directly or specially affected by the first phase of HS2, from London to the West Midlands, will - if the Bill secures its Second Reading - be able to submit petitions against the Bill during the petitioning period. 

According to the Department for Transport, the process provides individuals, groups and organisations an opportunity to oppose the Bill or to seek its amendment before a specially-convened Select Committee in either or both Houses. 

During today’s business statement, Lansley said he would table a motion to allow the principles of HS2 to be debated on 28 April until 11pm - an hour later than is normally scheduled for sittings. 

However, speaker of the Commons John Bercow interjected Lansley and said: “I say very gently to you that in extending by an hour on Monday I feel sure that you were taking pity on the chair and didn't want the chair to be occupied beyond 11pm. 

“For my own part, however, I would be quite happy to sit in the chair until at least three or four in the morning if that facilitated backbench colleagues who just wanted to contribute to the debate.” 

The leader of the House also informed MPs that up to four hours will be scheduled on 29 April to debate processes connected to the Hybrid Bill, which allows opponents to submit petitions and certain individuals and groups can state their case before a select committee. 

But former Tory Cabinet minister and HS2 opponent Cheryl Gillan did not agree that an extra hour of debate was sufficient, and called for two full days of debate. 

The primary purpose of the Bill is to secure the powers required to construct and operate Phase One of HS2. The First Reading of the High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill took place on 25 November 2013 in the House of Commons. 

Comprehensive guidance on petitioning is available from the House of Commons Private Bill Office and the Parliament website.

(Image by: Rui Vieira/PA Wire) 

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