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Capital Infrastructure Projects

Volume 555: debated on Tuesday 11 December 2012

16. What assessment he has made of the importance of capital infrastructure projects in helping rebalance the economy. (132508)

Investment in infrastructure networks is a major determinant of growth and productivity, but historically such investment in this country has not kept up with the needs of a growing population. That is why this Government have increased capital expenditure compared with the previous Government’s plans, including with the extra capital we announced last week. In fact, public investment as a share of GDP is now higher on average in this Parliament than it was under the previous Government.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that, and I was delighted to see in the autumn statement extra capital investment, especially in housing, rail, cycling, science and broadband, particularly in Cambridge. What plans does he have to improve the energy infrastructure, including storage, to provide more certainty for investors?

That is an extremely good point, because on 29 November we introduced the Energy Bill, setting out the contracts for difference, which will deliver a stable financial environment of incentives, particularly for investment in renewables. Alongside that agreement, we set out the level of support consumers will pay for low-carbon generation—the so-called levy control framework—which will triple support for renewables between now and 2020, ensuring a great deal of investor confidence in that area. Along with gas investment, as set out in the autumn statement, that will help to bring forward massive investment that this country needs.

18. There is a tendency for coalition infrastructure schemes to be news-ready many years before they are shovel-ready. Another tendency is unfairness; three out of the four road schemes in the autumn statement last week were in the south, including one helping port access in Thurrock. When is the port city of Hull going to get the A63 upgrade that is central to our regeneration? (132510)

The hon. Lady ought also to have noted that the autumn statement announced the complete dualling of the A1 between London and Newcastle, which is a very important scheme, and the upgrades for the A160 to Immingham, a very important port on the Humber estuary. That work has been accelerated under the new scheme introduced by the Department for Transport. I would have thought that she would welcome that, rather than criticise it.