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19/07/2013
Lord Parry Mitchell, adviser to Ed Miliband, tells House of Lords: No logic to HS2 rail link


Lord Parry Mitchell, adviser to Ed Miliband, tells House of Lords: No logic to HS2 rail link

Published: 18 July 2013

By TOM FOOT

THE Baron of Hampstead and leading business adviser to Labour leader Ed Miliband has warned that futuristic "hologram” technology could make the HS2 railway redundant by the time it is built.

 

Lord Parry Mitchell told the House of Lords he "simply did not get the logic” of spending tens of billions of pounds on the high speed line to Birmingham.

 

Business people will be communicating over the internet rather than having to travel around to meet face-to-face, he said.

 

As Ed Miliband's shadow health minister, Lord Mitchell is the latest senior figure to criticise the project following former business secretary Lord Mandelson's warnings last week that the project could be an "expensive mistake”.

 

Mr Mitchell told the Lords today: "I simply don't get the logic of spending £40 billion plus just to enable people to get from Birmingham to London 23 minutes earlier and Manchester to London 50 minutes earlier - for them then to be stuck in monster traffic jams on the Euston Road.

 

"I adore using the TGV in France and I have been envious of that country's achievements, but could it be a 20th century phenomena?”

 

Lord Mitchell, who lives in Hampstead, said that while he supported the scheme back in 2008, recent cost estimates and the project's failure to "factor in” technological advances had changed his mind.

 

He told the House of Lords about a future with "technology which could transmit a perfect hologram of a person half way around the world”.

 

He added: "If this and thousands of other technologies that are bubbling away come to pass, who in their right mind would journey to a business meeting starting early in the day and getting home late at night? We should always project technology forward and factor this into all mega infrastructure decisions. No one would have predicted Skype or thought it would be possible to watch and speak to one's children in Australia holding a small device in one's hand."

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