This week was dominated by the HS2 Bill, which I voted against on Wednesday. It also included campaigning for the London elections, the start of the next stage of the Investigatory Powers Bill and a campaign to support local cafés in Hampstead Heath.
On Wednesday the Commons debated the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill, which will legislate for the first stage of HS2.
I told Parliament about the devastating impact HS2 will have on our constituency. Hundreds of homes will be demolished, huge numbers will require noise mitigation measures and 800 trucks a day will thunder through our area to take the vast spoil away from the building site – year after year.
Even when the second phase has been completed by 2033, we have no guarantee that Euston station will be re-developed. Children born now will leave home before this project is completed. People retiring at the age of 70 will know nothing but HS2 construction for the remainder of their lives.
You can read what I said in full in Hansard here
Given the devastating impact on Camden I decided that I cannot support the HS2 Bill, and voted against it.
It was not a step I took lightly, but I know how strongly people in our constituency feel about this and how worried they are about the impact HS2 will have.
This is the statement I sent to the Camden New Journal and Ham & High.
“HS2 will have a devastating impact on thousands of my constituents.
Over 17,000 people in Holborn & St Pancras live within 300m of the construction works and up to 1,600 are at risk of losing their homes. Construction will last for nearly 20 years and will cause extensive damage and pollution of almost every conceivable type to our communities, schools and businesses. I believe that is wholly unacceptable.
I was elected as the MP for Holborn and St Pancras to represent the people of Holborn and St Pancras.
It is my privilege to represent them. It is also my duty.
I speak to each and every one of my constituents in saying I will stand with them and fight with them over the wholly unacceptable damage that HS2 will bring to our communities.
That is reflected in my vote today.”
Tulip Saddiq took the same position in Wednesday’s debate and spoke powerfully about the impact HS2 will have on the local area.
Fighting for the café on the Heath
Plans to allow the café at Parliament Hill to be taken over by a chain (Benugo) have rightly caused a lot of opposition.
It is a much-loved institution, providing affordable, good quality food and drinks to the public. There is a petition calling Alberto D'Auria and his family to continue running it. Please sign it if you share these views.
Together with the local Councillors, Sally Gimson and Oliver Lewis, I have now written to Virginia Rounding, as Chair of the Hampstead and Heath Consultative Committee, calling for this decision to be re-considered.
Investigatory Powers Bill starts taking evidence
On Thursday the Investigatory Powers Bill started taking evidence from expert witnesses including from the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation (David Anderson Q.C), Liberty, the NSPCC, BT, the National Crime Agency and HMRC.
I am leading on this Bill for Labour and questioned witnesses on a number of areas of concern I have about the Government’s current proposals.
Campaigning – Barnet and Camden
Over the weekend I went up to Barnet to campaign for Sadiq Khan and Andrew Dismore. There was a good size team out and there was a lot of support.
The mayoral campaign is going well – with Zac Goldsmith really having little to offer Londoners – but we need to mobilise as much support for Sadiq as possible in the coming weeks.
My thanks, then, to those all who have pounded the streets of Camden and are helping make sure Sadiq’s message is really getting across.
And finally – a holiday!
After a very busy period this Parliamentary term, I am off to Cornwall with Vic and the children for a week!
Enjoy the Easter break.