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Transport Services (Yorkshire and London)

Volume 575: debated on Thursday 6 February 2014

1. What the average spend per head of population on transport services was in (a) Yorkshire and (b) London in the last 12 months. (902413)

The Treasury estimates that identifiable public expenditure on transport in 2012-13, the most recent year for which full figures are available, was £246 per head in Yorkshire and the Humber and £545 per head in London.

When it comes to statistics, I tend to trust the Institute for Public Policy Research and the House of Commons Library more than I do the Department. The last time IPPR North looked at the figures on infrastructure spending, it was approximately £2,500 per capita in London and £500 in the north-east. Infrastructure investment is desperately needed outside London. Why can the Secretary of State not make a commitment? He has his heart in the north. Why does he not do something about it?

The hon. Gentleman can use whichever statistics and figures he wishes to. I, too, have asked for other figures. In 2009-10, the spend for Yorkshire and the Humber was £283 per head and £754 per head in London. I am pleased that under this Government transport spending in the north has gone up from 38% to 45%. It is important to make the point that the Kings Cross station development and the Alexandra Palace to Finsbury Park six-tracking are allocated to London spending, but the benefits will be enjoyed by all east coast main line users. It is not always possible to put the value of spending down to certain parts of the country.

We have seen good progress on rail investment, particularly in the north. What impact does the Secretary of State think HS2 will have on the local economy in Yorkshire?

HS2 is vital for the long-term capacity of the rail network. We have seen a massive increase in patronage, both in passengers and freight, and I welcome that. If we are to see that continue to grow, we have to increase capacity.

The spend in London reflects the importance of transport to London. Even as we speak, millions of Londoners are struggling to work because of the dispute. We know that the majority of Londoners do not want every ticket office closed down. What is the Secretary of State doing to make the Mayor of London negotiate with the RMT?

The other day I heard the leader of the RMT say that his holiday last week was planned 11 months ago. Presumably, when he called the strike date, he knew when his holiday was. The least he could have done was to abandon his holiday before the strike action and be in the country, ready to negotiate. I am waiting for the hon. Lady and other Opposition Members to condemn this outrageous strike action, which is causing nothing but misery to millions of people who work in London. They should condemn it, as I do.

The spend on transport services in Yorkshire and London must also include the compensation paid to people adversely affected by services such as HS2. When are the Government going to pull their finger out and announce the compensation package for my constituents and others affected up and down the country, and let them know what they can expect to get for their properties, which are being rendered worthless by this scheme?

My right hon. Friend knows that I take the issue of compensation incredibly seriously. We promised to consult again on this and we have done that. I will attempt to come forward with the conclusions of that consultation as soon as possible. I am in no doubt about the problems faced by many people on the proposed route, and I take those responsibilities very seriously indeed.

Is it not a fact that it takes two sides to create industrial action? The problem with the Tory Front Bench is that they dare not attack Boris Johnson for not conducting talks, because half of the Tory MPs want Boris Johnson to be their next leader. That is the reason.

I will try to stay in order, Mr Speaker. The hon. Gentleman says it takes two to talk, but if one of the main leaders is out of the country the week before—Rio Bob, I think we should call him—then it is difficult to have those conversations.

The main cheerleader for HS2 in the midlands has consistently been the Birmingham chamber of commerce. We now discover it received £14,400 from HS2 for the period between September 2013 and August 2014 in so-called patronage fees. It has always been my understanding that patrons provide funding, not receive payment as an inducement. Will my right hon. Friend point out what other organisations have received similar patronage fees from HS2 for supporting this project?

What matters is that HS2 is of fundamental importance not just to Birmingham, but to Manchester and all our other northern cities. It is a very important project that deserves the support of the House, but I understand that people who have the route going through their constituencies have big problems, and I will always meet colleagues to discuss them.