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High Speed Rail (Preparation) Act 2013

Commentary on Sections

Section 1: Preparatory Expenditure

11.Section 1 provides that the Secretary of State may, with the approval of the Treasury, incur expenditure in preparation for a high speed railway transport network. The network involves the construction of railway lines connecting at least London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester and which connects with the existing railway transport network as well as with such other parts of the transport network (including roads, footpaths, cycleways, airports and light railways) as the Secretary of State considers appropriate. The section therefore authorises expenditure in preparation for the whole of the network which is proposed in the 2012 Command Paper. It also allows expenditure in preparation for potential future extensions to this network.

12.Section 1 provides examples of the types of expenditure which may be incurred under the new power. The first example is expenditure on preparation for the construction of a railway line and any other infrastructure proposed to be included in the network. The second example is preparation for the provision of services as part of that network. In both cases expenditure may include expenditure incurred on pre-construction activity (such as surveying and design), in acquiring property and in providing compensation in respect of property likely to be affected.

Section 2: Financial Reports

13.Section 2 imposes a duty on the Secretary of State to prepare an annual report on expenditure under the new power conferred by section 1. Each report must contain details of the expenditure incurred during the relevant financial year (with capital and resource shown separately for each head of expenditure) and the total expenditure incurred. Details must also be provided of any overspend or underspend as against the annual budget and the likely effect on the total budget of £50.1 billion set for HS2 in 2011. Each report must also contain an account of the vocational qualifications gained by individuals employed in connection with preparation for, and construction of, the high speed rail network.

14.The Secretary of State must lay each report before Parliament. The purpose of this section is to ensure that Parliament is informed of all anticipatory expenditure and related matters in advance of the Government’s securing powers, under the proposed hybrid bill, to construct and operate the high speed line.

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