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Transport Investment

Volume 580: debated on Wednesday 14 May 2014

6. What discussions he has had with his Cabinet colleagues and others on transport investment in Wales. (903933)

I have regular discussions with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport and key stakeholders across Wales and firmly believe that improving transport infrastructure is a key facilitator of economic growth.

Does the Secretary of State agree that the Welsh Assembly Government should do their bit in electrifying the South Wales line, as they promised?

Certainly, the electrification of the South Wales line is important for Cardiff and Swansea and the stations between. We are willing and anxious to perform our part of the bargain that we struck in July 2012. I have had recent discussions with both my right hon. Friend and the Welsh Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, and I hope that we can find a way forward.

The Minister will be aware that the Department for Transport took a decision a few months ago to relocate all driver and vehicle licensing services from Northern Ireland to Swansea. What steps is he taking to ensure, along with his colleague, that the services provided to all motorists throughout the United Kingdom will not be adversely affected by this retrograde decision?

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has been established in Swansea for many years. It has a high level of expertise and I am entirely confident that it will be able to cope with all the demands that are made upon it.

14. Mid-Wales businesses depend upon good access to the west midlands to maximise their economic opportunities. For those businesses based in Brecon, that means the A438. Will the Secretary of State work with the Welsh Assembly, the Department for Transport and local government to ensure that that route is upgraded, particularly around Hereford, where a bypass is needed to avoid the bottleneck? (903941)

My hon. Friend raises an important issue that has been the subject of discussion for some time. These routes fall partly under the purview of the Welsh Government and partly under that of the Department for Transport. I wrote to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport about this very issue only this morning.

The Mayor of London is now making the case for a £30 billion underground orbital road. Crossrail will cost £16 billion and HS2 will cost £50 billion at least. Considering the historically low levels of transport infrastructure investment in Wales, far below our population share, when will the Secretary of State start making the case for a fair share for Wales via the appropriate funding formula mechanism?

HS2, of course, is an extremely important project that will benefit Wales, particular north Wales and mid-Wales. I am speaking to David Higgins of HS2 about that issue this very afternoon.

The Prime Minister promised to electrify the railway line from Paddington to Swansea, and now he is saying that it will go to Cardiff and from Bridgend to Swansea, but not the bit in the middle. When will he listen to Swansea business, withdraw from the Punch and Judy performance between the Welsh and UK Governments, and get the project delivered on time and to budget for the Swansea city region’s jobs?

The hon. Gentleman will know—I have made it clear previously and I make it clear once again—that the Government are entirely willing and anxious to perform their part of the bargain in the electrification of the Great Western main line. We are having continuing discussions with the Welsh Government, and I hope that they will be fruitful.