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Cabinet Meeting (Kettering)

Volume 546: debated on Wednesday 13 June 2012

As my hon. Friend knows, Cabinet meetings are occasionally held outside London, not least so that we can get Cabinet Ministers to different parts of the country to meet all sorts of different organisations. The Cabinet has so far met in Bradford, Derby, Ipswich, Cardiff and the Olympic park. Locations for future meetings—including, I hope, the east midlands—will be announced in due course.

Were the Cabinet to come to Kettering, it would be able to congratulate Kettering borough council on its pledge to freeze its council tax for the next five years, and to celebrate the £210 million funding from the Department for Transport for the widening of the Kettering A14 bypass. But will my right hon. Friend also commit to upgrade and electrify the midland main line, a project that enjoys cross-party support and that would make a big difference to the Kettering economy?

I certainly join my hon. Friend in congratulating his borough council. That commitment on council tax is remarkable and shows what value-for-money services Conservative councils can provide. We are committed to electrifying more than 300 miles of railway routes, which compares with just nine miles that were electrified in the 13 years of the last Labour Government. There is a large amount of support for the midland main line electrification and the decision will depend on whether it is affordable and on assessing competing priorities, but I will listen very carefully—as I know the Treasury will too—to what he says.