The Government has announced its decision on HS2:
The Government has decided to proceed with the development and delivery of a new national high speed rail network to provide the capacity that Britain needs to compete and grow.
I just left the Chamber after listening to the oral statement and a good number of colleagues’ questions. The mood is overwhelmingly in favour, on both sides of the House. I remain convinced of the point of view I put to the FT:
Steve Baker, MP for Wycombe, said he was unconvinced that the huge cost of the scheme was justified. “The maths doesn’t add up; this is just sinking capital into a lossmaking project. If you’re going to use the power of the state to do that, then you shouldn’t be surprised that this country is getting poorer.”
Since people often ask me and since I have asked so many questions already, I asked the Secretary of State if she had considered tunnelling the width of the Chilterns. She had: it would cost £1.2bn, which was considered unaffordable.
So the project goes ahead. In the meantime, I’m reading a brief which sets out the tale of woe which is the failure of high speed rail projects in Portugal, Spain, France, Poland, The Netherlands, Norway, Taiwan, China, the USA and Brazil…
In 1953, the economist Ludwig von Mises wrote:
In a capitalist country the railroads and the telegraph and telephone companies pay considerable taxes. In the countries of the mixed economy, the yearly losses of these public enterprises are a heavy drain upon the nation’s purse. They are not taxpayers, but tax-eaters.
Perhaps little changes, but I should prefer value-creating infrastructure, not infrastructure which makes us poorer.