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High-speed Rail Network

Volume 603: debated on Thursday 10 December 2015

3. What recent discussions he has had with Ministers of the Scottish Government on development of the high-speed rail network. (902630)

I have had a number of discussions with the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities. The UK Government and the Scottish Government are working closely together to consider options to further reduce journey times, and we hope to make a statement on the next steps in the new year.

The Secretary of State will recognise that Scotland has a reputation for excellence in delivering major infrastructure projects. What consultation has he undertaken to ensure that businesses and their workforces in Scotland realise the full benefits that HS2 will bring, for example through design and construction?

HS2 has been very effective in doing a number of presentations to businesses, right across the country, on the opportunities that will arise from one of the biggest construction projects the country has seen. I hope all companies, be they in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, have the opportunity to apply for some of those jobs and contracts. There is no doubt that the first stretch of HS2 phase 1 will bring reduced journey times to Scotland. The announcements I made last week will add to that.

As the wonderful people of Scotland eagerly anticipate the announcement on the high-speed rail network, they will become ever more reliant on air travel. Clearly, there are slot restriction problems between Scottish airports and London. Does the Secretary of State anticipate making an announcement soon about airport capacity in the south-east?

An ingenious but unsuccessful attempt, I am afraid, if Members look at the terms of the question on the Order Paper.

Labour supports the extension of high-speed rail services to Scotland. To get there, however, we will have to get to the north of England first. Why are we still waiting for Ministers to confirm the route and the stations for HS2 north of Birmingham, and does the Secretary of State understand that this lack of progress is placing their commitment to HS2 in the midlands and the north in doubt?

With the greatest charity, I do not think the hon. Gentleman can get away with that. We have been making progress on HS2. In 13 years, Labour only woke up to the HS2 project in year 13. The progress we have made far outstrips the progress the Labour party ever made.