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Light Rail: Leeds

Volume 617: debated on Thursday 17 November 2016

11. What recent discussions he has had with Leeds City Council on the provision of a light rail scheme for that city. (907304)

That is a worrying answer. The Government made an excellent decision when agreeing with the inspector that the new generation trolleybus scheme was not right, while allowing Leeds to keep £173.5 million to be match funded with £81 million from local authorities. The Department said that that money was clearly for the right system and that NGT was the wrong one, so does the Minister share my dismay that authorities have failed to consider any other system, and specifically failed to consider light rail?

We should congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey (Stuart Andrew) on his work to ensure that that money was retained in Leeds, but it is now a matter for Leeds City Council to decide the appropriate scheme for Leeds. It is not my role as rail Minister to dictate to Leeds what scheme should be selected.

A survey by Rawdon Parish Council showed that Leeds’s solution of getting passengers to the airport through the road system would not cope with the number of passengers and where they would be coming from. Surely using money for the road and the £173 million for a rail link to the airport would give us an opportunity to address that problem, and would also be the first stage of the properly integrated transport system that the city deserves.

My hon. Friend’s question demonstrates the range of ideas in the wider Leeds region about how the money can be spent. I understand that the combined authority is also looking at matters. I am more than happy to meet him to discuss such ideas further, but it has to be Leeds City Council that decides what the best option is for Leeds.

Thousands of people in Leeds, and my constituents in Wakefield, use buses to travel to work, school and college every day. In the absence of a new light rail system for Leeds, will the Minister look at the Bus Services Bill, which is about to be introduced in this place, and giving powers to integrate and regulate bus services not just to the metro mayors of Manchester and Liverpool, but to the cities of Leeds and Wakefield? That would have the advantage of not costing the Government one penny piece.

I recognise the importance of bus services, particularly in many of the great northern communities—they are vital to Blackpool, too. We will have ample chance to discuss the Bus Services Bill in this place, and I am sure the hon. Lady will make her voice heard.

This is about light rail schemes for the city of Leeds, which is a very considerable distance from the constituency so ably and eloquently represented by the hon. Gentleman.