The forecast cost of undertakings and assurances made during the passage of HS2 legislation through parliament has “exploded” from £245m to £1.2bn, MPs noted.

“There is no excuse for hiding the nature and extent of the problems the project was facing from parliament and the taxpayer” said Meg Hillier, chair of the PAC.

The committee’s deputy chair Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said the report was “one of the most critical, in both the transparency of government and the handling of a project, that I have seen in my nine years in total on the committee”.

Ms Kelly’s failure to inform the committee of HS2’s troubles was “a serious breach of the department’s duty to parliament and hence to the public”, he said.

The committee also raised the issue of an inappropriate £46,000 bonus paid last year to HS2 chief executive Mark Thurston on top of his £605,350 salary – the highest of any government official. His predecessor, Simon Kirby, was on an astonishing £750,000 salary before he bailed out after two years in the job to go and work for Rolls Royce. He is facing possible legal action for his role in wasting taxpayer’s money.

Source: The Independent