By Daniel Hunter
Business leaders in Greater Birmingham have welcomed announcements about HS2 in the Queen's Speech as 'a major step forward'.
And Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group (BCCG) urged Midlands businesses to ensure that they were at the forefront of bidding for the huge amount of work the £32.7 billion project will attract.
Two new pieces of legislation are expected to include a Bill that will secure planning approval for the London to Birmingham route and another that will give the go-ahead to HS2 Limited to allocate funding.
The two Bills will outline the design detail for London to Birmingham, showing changes based on feedback from consultations which will include tunnelling at Bromford in the east of Birmingham.
Tunnels will also be established at Northholt in North London as well was small scaling back at Euston to keep costs down.
Jerry Blackett, chief executive of BCCG, said: "The announcement in today's Queen's Speech is a major step forward for this important development.
"It's particularly significant that two Bills were announced and underlines how important HS2 is to the government.
"The HS2 work will attract competition on a global scale so Midlands industry should make the most of this massive order book sitting on its doorstep.
"We have great innovation and design locally but we must not take winning business for granted. Witness Bombardier. The Chamber will work hard to ensure local industry is the first to learn about procurement opportunities and that we expect to work with HS2 Ltd on this agenda.
"In Birmingham, we need to build a vision for HS2 that explains how someone could spend a lifetime in the high-speed industry. Birmingham needs to be building itself as the UK's High Speed centre of excellence, able to export its know-how to the north of the country off the back of being the first line to be built.
"Work on HS2 is needed urgently as part of kick-starting the UK economy and it represents a huge opportunity for Birmingham to lead the way in high speed technology for the UK."
The BCCG also welcomed the announcement that regulation for business would be reduced. This is expected to signal the removal of health and safety regulation for the self-employed, provided their activities do not pose risk or harm, and the removal of requirements for issuing motor insurance certificates (estimated by ministers to save businesses £33million a year.)
Mr Blackett added: "This will help free up the self-employed from burdensome regulations and remove a barrier to growth."
The Queen also announced that on immigration the government would "ensure this country attracts people who will contribute and deters those who do not".
This is expected to mean bigger fines for companies using illegal labour and Mr Blackett commented: "It is important that the government tackles firms who employ staff illegally and undercut the market. However, we must recognise the contribution of legal immigrants to the Midlands economy, especially in the areas of advanced manufacturing."
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