Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the HS2 line was "not an expensive luxury". Outlining the Bill at third reading, he said:
This is the point when the debate starts moving from 'if' to 'when'. Just this week with the storms that hit the south and the east, we have seen how crucial our railways are to national life. When trains are crowded and disrupted, life for hard-working people gets more difficult. That's why the new north south line isn't some expensive luxury.
The High Speed 2 rail project looks set to clear a major obstacle in the House of Commons today despite an expected rebellion from Tory MPs.
Crucial legislation, which will allow the Government to spend money on planning the route and buying up property along the proposed track, is expected to be approved.
However, Labour have recently cooled on the £50 billion scheme with shadow chancellor Ed Balls saying he is not prepared to write a blank cheque for the project.
This led to fears that the scheme- which will create a high speed railway linking London to the north of England - could collapse without the support of Labour because a number of Tory MPs are angry the line is being built through their constituencies in the Home Counties.
Labour have said they will support the project but the party's leadership has imposed a one-line whip on tonight's vote, which will give their MPs opposed to the plans room to vote against the Government.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said business leaders in his Sheffield constituency were "absolutely appalled" by Labour's apparent "betrayal" of the north of England after cooling their support of the High Speed 2 rail project.
It just beggars belief for a party that constantly parades itself as the authentic voice of the north of England is now prepared to turn its back on the businesses, the communities, the families which I think all the evidence shows will benefit disproportionately from an investment in a high speed north-south railway link.
– Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister
I just think it is miserable, it's pathetic that an idea which we inherited from Labour and in all good faith took forward because we thought, given they were the architects of the idea they might support it, that when it becomes politically convenient to play games with it, they start playing games with it.
A Tory rebellion against a crucial High Speed 2 rail project bill is not expected to be enough to stop it from going through in the House of Commons later today.
When the legislation was last in the Commons, 21 Conservative backbenchers voted in favour of an amendment to quash the project.
If the rebels wish to defeat the bill tonight they will need to win significantly more support from all parties.
MPs from the Midlands will vote later on a bill paving the way for the planned £50 billion high speed rail project.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister called for cross-party support for the scheme.