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Support for the Economy (South-west)

Volume 608: debated on Tuesday 19 April 2016

9. What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of measures to support the economy in the south-west announced in the Budget 2016. (904545)

We announced at the Budget an extensive package for the south-west covering both rail and road: a new marine hub enterprise zone in Cornwall, a £4.5 million boost for ultra-fast broadband across the region and, to top it off, a £900 million devolution deal with the west of England. The south-west will also benefit from the income tax cuts and business rate reductions announced in the Budget.

One item that went largely unnoticed in the Budget was the £19 million for community land trusts in the south-west to mitigate the impact of second home ownership. How will that money be allocated? Will my right hon. Friend work with me and fellow Conservative MPs in the south-west to ensure that that money is put aside to help people to purchase plots and to help working people to get on?

My hon. Friend is right that we will be releasing £19 million for community-led housing in the south-west. I look forward to discussing with him how we might best approach that issue. We are also introducing a new right to build and reforms to planning, which will boost the custom-build sector in Cornwall and beyond.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Labour Government underfunded infrastructure projects in the south-west, resulting in lower productivity in the region and hence less of a contribution to the national economy than we should have had, but that it is this Government who are turning that around with their huge £7.6 billion commitment to infrastructure and connectivity?

Just as long as the Chief Secretary focuses on what this Government are doing. He does not need to burble on about the past.

I welcome the opportunity to say something about what this Government are doing on infrastructure in the south-west. We have 35 projects in the infrastructure pipeline in the south-west with a value of £23.2 billion. At the Budget alone, we announced improvements to Exeter St David’s station, at Weston-super-Mare and at Cheltenham Spa station. I have already mentioned community housing. There is also a fund to provide more and better roads in the south-west.