Author of blog: Sebastian Sandys
I have said it before, and I will no doubt say it again but here goes. As opposed as I am to the wretched railway (unnecessary and unnecessarily expensive) my biggest concern is the wholesale corruption of our national life and the ruination of the public discourse that those who seek to do the prime minister’s bidding on the question of High Speed Two have found it necessary to employ.
Two matters, in particular, should give every one of Her Majesty’s subjects (and especially those elected to public office) very grave cause for concern. Part of the difficulty those of us who have made it our business to look behind the headlines and the more simplistic arguments face, is that the scale of the venality we uncover is so great that it is beyond most people’s comprehension.
Today I will talk about the first. The almost total undermining of Parliamentary Sovereignty. (Later in the week I will talk about the current threat that Londoners may soon not be able to drink from the tap and will be forced to rely on buying bottled water to drink.
So, Parliamentary Sovereignty.
All that money, all that borrowed money the repayment of which is unlikely to be the responsibility of anybody in the Cabinet (or even in Parliament) today, is being spent without the authority of Parliament.
That fact undermines the very bedrock on which a parliamentary democracy is built. Government, with the authority of Parliament and therefore the Crown collects taxes and borrows (or prints) money. It then, again with the authority of Parliament and the Crown, spends that money in ways it believes serve the public interest.
In the case of the wretched railway that simply has not happened.
Those who for ideological, career, or financial reasons, or even perhaps genuinely held beliefs about transport and the environment, wanted the railway built, realised a simple truth very early on. Namely, that if Parliament were ever to discover how much the thing would cost, they would never, could never, agree to it.
And so a wholesale deception of Parliament by ministers, senior officials and private commercial interests got underway. And like the costs themselves, soon became The Runaway Train.
This is the text of a letter sent last Friday to the Cabinet Secretary by Lord Berkeley. We await his response.
The railway will never be built. That much is clear. But while Government and others shy away from that reality and maintain the pretence in order to protect their own skin (and in some cases stay out of prison) the destruction will continue, public money will continue to be passed into private hands and lives blighted.
Please ensure your Member of Parliament has seen this letter. Even if you think somebody else will send it (they probably won’t btw), send it to them anyway.