HS2 (1) (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
February 26, 2014
Question By: 
Kit Malthouse
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor



Mr Mayor, if you had £50 million, £60 million or £70 million - we are not quite sure what the bill on HS2 is going to be yet to the national purse - but if you had that money spare, would you rather spend it on connecting London to Birmingham, connecting London to the rest of the world or connecting southwest London to northeast London?

Supplementary To: 


Answer for HS2 (1) (Supplementary) [1]

Answer for HS2 (1) (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

A very well put question.  The business case for the three projects is, in reverse order, HS2, Crossrail 2 and a new airport.  The most valuable for long-term economic competitiveness would be the better global connections.  Crossrail 2 is a several times better scheme than HS2.  That does not mean that HS2 is actually a totally useless idea.  It is just not as good as the other two ideas.


Kit Malthouse AM:  Given that HS2 is - how can we put it politely - possibly faltering as a scheme in terms of both political support but also practicalities when the bill seems to be going up and up, what representations are you making or have you made to the Government to possibly divert that spending to these two other much more productive projects for the capital?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I am very glad that the Chancellor gave us £2 million to begin, which is a drop in the bucket, but it is the beginning of work on Crossrail 2.  That is now steaming on.  That will be a reality by the end of the next decade and I think everybody around this Chamber supports it.  That is going to be a fantastic thing for London.  It will hook up the whole of those southwest commuter belts through bypassing Waterloo into the City, a massive economic benefit for London through to the northeast to Hackney.  Jennette [Arnold OBE], Crossrail 2 is going to be superb for your constituents and, Andrew [Boff], it is the scheme we should really be getting behind now.  My view is probably that it will be a fight because at the moment there is loads of anti-London nonsense going around and lots of people, including, I may say, Liberal Democrat Members of Parliament and London MPs who claim to have some rank or role in the Government and who get up and say that London is a drain on the UK economy.  That is what he [Vince Cable, MP for Twickenham] said.  Unbelievable.  A huge suction pump.  How on earth are we going to get investment in London going when we have our coalition partners taking this kind of Luddite and cretinous approach to investment?  We need to fight that.  We need to get the Crossrail 2 build going.  We need to find a parliamentary sponsor.  We need to move it all through.  Believe me.  Work is well in hand. 


Kit Malthouse AM:  Would you also confirm that the proposed regeneration at Old Oak Common is not dependant necessarily on HS2? 


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  No.


Kit Malthouse AM:  Even if HS2 does fail, it would still go ahead?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  You are quite right, Kit.  Old Oak Common is one of the great opportunity areas in London.  It is going to be fantastic.  It is all there in the 2020 Vision.  It does not depend on HS2.  Actually, it would benefit greatly from HS2.  I am not against HS2.  You can make a case for the benefits for London from HS2.  As it happens, I think the benefits for London from HS2 will be greater than the benefits of some of these northern cities, unfortunately, because it will allow greater commuter flexibility in coming to the place that is really the motor of the UK economy.  It will bring benefits to the northern cities as well, but it will be those people who will be ‑‑


Kit Malthouse AM:  I can certainly see that more people will jump on a train from Birmingham to shop in the West End and vice versa. 


Darren Johnson AM (Chair):  A final response to that because the Conservative group is out of time.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes, there is that, though David Higgins [Chief Executive, Network Rail] well makes the point that the benefit from London’s point of view will be obviously that you get those people coming in, but you are also able to conveniently set up back-office functions in other parts of the country such as Birmingham which will therefore benefit from that.