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Volume 570: debated on Tuesday 5 November 2013

Investment in infrastructure is a key priority for this Government. In June, I set out a pipeline of investment in specific projects, worth over £100 billion out to 2020, including the largest investment in our railways since the Victorian era and the biggest investment in roads since the 1970s.

I welcome the support of my local Labour leader of Kirklees council for the new north-south railway, but does my right hon. Friend agree with the leader of Manchester council, who said that politicians need to stop taking cheap shots at HS2

“unless we want an increasingly disconnected North…slowly grinding to a halt”?

I wholeheartedly agree with those sentiments. My hon. Friend could have added to that list the leader of Nottingham city council, who said that the Labour Front Bench should get off the fence on HS2. The project is needed to promote growth, and connectivity outside London. I agree with that, and so should they.

22. When the Chancellor talks about increased investment, is that what he meant to cover the £10 billion increase in the HS2 costs, which have gone up on his watch? (900916)

We set out in June the budget for HS2. We will absolutely stick to that budget. Using the excellent leadership we have brought in, with Sir David Higgins and others, we will make sure that the project is delivered under budget. The hon. Gentleman should be committed to the project because it will support growth all over the United Kingdom. It is the most significant investment in our railways for 100 years, and his party should support it.

17. I refer the House to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.I congratulate the Chancellor and his Government on their investment in infrastructure in the west midlands, which helped to deliver the Jaguar Land Rover plant, and thousands of manufacturing jobs in the process. I also draw the Minister’s attention to the A50, a key corridor in my constituency, connecting Stoke to Derby, which involves a number of manufacturing businesses that could hugely benefit from road improvements and infrastructure spending. (900911)

The hon. Gentleman is right that targeted infrastructure investment can unlock job creation in enterprise zones, including at JLR and in various places around the country. I am well aware of the particular scheme that he is promoting and I look forward to discussing it further with him to see how we can take it forward.

The Chief Secretary will be aware that several conflicting and not very encouraging cost-benefit analyses for HS2 are currently in circulation. Could he not clear the air by commissioning and publishing a genuinely independent internal Treasury cost-benefit analysis of the project?

The Government have set out various cost-benefit analyses of the project. With respect to the hon. Gentleman, what is needed in this project is not more procrastination, delay and extra reports, but a commitment in all parts of the House to get on with this north-south railway and allow economic growth in every part of the United Kingdom.