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Rail Services

Volume 506: debated on Wednesday 24 February 2010

8. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on the adequacy of rail services between England and Scotland; and if he will make a statement. (317409)

Does the Minister acknowledge that there would be no better way to develop the economies of the north of England and Scotland than to make a commitment to invest in a high-speed rail link, as that would stimulate investment there and ensure that Scotland and the north of England can fully participate in the development of the country? Are the Government committed to that step, and do they understand why the Conservative party is not?

The right hon. Gentleman correctly refers to the great possibilities high-speed rail offers to the whole country, including Scotland. This Government are committed to making sure that high-speed rail reaches the northern part of the United Kingdom—as well as the west midlands, where the first phase of the project will take place, and which we will report on later this spring. The right hon. Gentleman is also right that we require cross-party political consensus, because this project will take several decades to complete. It is very disappointing that the official Opposition reject the opportunity to take part in dialogue now, on an issue that is important both for the future of this country and for reaching our climate change targets.