HS2 Should Be Put On Hold, MPs' Committee Says
The HS2 rail project has "serious shortcomings" and should be put on hold, according to a powerful Commons committee.
MPs suggested the controversial scheme should not proceed until the Government produces fresh analysis on whether it offers value for money.
The Treasury Select Committee said a "more convincing" economic case was needed for the project, which is now estimated to cost £42.6bn - 17% higher than previous predictions.
The Government has insisted its costings are "robust" and that the link will be vital to addressing the "urgent capacity needs" on train services.
But a recent study suggested the eventual cost could climb to £80bn and it has been branded a "grand folly" and "foolish" by critics.
Treasury Select Committee chairman Andrew Tyrie said: "There appear to be serious shortcomings in the current cost-benefit analysis for HS2. The economic case must be looked at again.
"The Bill should not proceed until this work has been done and the project has been formally reassessed by the Government ...
"A more convincing economic case for the project is needed. We need reassurance that it can deliver the benefits intended and that these benefits are greater than those of other transport schemes - whether in the department's project pipeline or not - which may be foregone."
The concerns were raised as part of the committee's inquiry into the 2013 spending round that set departmental settlements for the 2015/16 financial year.
It also questioned plans for a cap on annually managed expenditure, predicting it could have a "significant impact" on benefits paid to the most needy.
And it raised fresh concerns about the Help to Buy mortgage scheme, the latest phase of which started this week, warning any mistakes could "distort" the housing market.
The risk of ring-fencing NHS, schools and international aid budgets was also flagged, amid fears it could hit resources for other areas and lead to less discipline on spending.
Newly-appointed shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh claimed the HS2 project had been "totally mismanaged".
She said: "David Cameron and George Osborne have made clear they will go full steam ahead with this project whatever the cost. Labour will not take this irresponsible approach.
"There will be no blank cheque for this project or for any project, because we need to ensure it is the best way to spend £50bn for the future of our country."
But a Government spokesman said: "HS2 is absolutely vital for this country if we are to meet the urgent capacity needs we face. The project is on course, under control and will be delivered within the agreed budget.
"We are confident that our analysis is robust and conforms with government spending guidance.
"The case for HS2 will be further improved when we publish shortly the updated strategic case - including cost benefit analysis - which will show high value for money for the project."