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Long-term Infrastructure

Volume 622: debated on Tuesday 28 February 2017

We recognise that the need to increase public spending on infrastructure is at the heart of our productivity agenda. That is why, at autumn statement 2016, we committed £23 billion of additional capital to fund new productivity-enhancing economic infrastructure through the national productivity investment fund. Coupled with the commitments made at spending review 2015, that means that between 2016-17 and 2020-21 central Government investment in economic infrastructure will rise by almost 60%, from £14 billion to £22 billion.

After a 40-year wait, I am delighted that the Chancellor has announced a £25.7 million investment in the Stubbington bypass—vital infrastructure that will ease the terrible congestion between Fareham and Gosport. I commend my neighbour, my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport (Caroline Dinenage), for her work. Does my right hon. Friend agree that that is a great example of partnership between Hampshire County Council and Solent local enterprise partnership and that it will be the catalyst for a boost in jobs and the creation of growth?

I think the Stubbington bypass was well worth waiting for. It will indeed support growth and development by improving access to both the M27 and the A27, allowing much needed business investment, creating new jobs, but also enabling the development of 900 new homes. Where we can get transport infrastructure investment to perform its transport function but also to help to open up land for development for new homes, that is a double hit.

My right hon. Friend will be aware of the appetite for non-Government sources to provide funding for UK infrastructure. Can he confirm whether the Government are considering regional, national or project-based infrastructure bonds? Will he agree to meet me and a group of funders to discuss the attractions of such bonds?

The most economical way for the Government to fund infrastructure investment is through conventional gilts—that is the lowest cost to the public purse. However, the Treasury backs infrastructure bonds and loans issued by the private sector through the UK guarantees scheme. At autumn statement, I announced that that scheme would be extended until at least 2026. It has played a vital role not just in underwriting and guaranteeing finance for projects, but in allowing a large number of projects to go ahead without the Government guarantee, simply by having underwritten the financing during the programme phase.

What steps is the Chancellor—I agreed with his answer on clean-energy long-term projects—taking to support and facilitate with the Welsh Government and with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project, following the Hendry review?

We have received the Hendry review report and we are considering the merits of the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project, including discussions with the Welsh Government.

Does the Chancellor believe that the balance of infrastructure spending between the north and the south-east is fair?

First, I should say that the Government are committed to addressing infrastructure needs across the UK. We will look at how best to use the available infrastructure funds based on the value for money of the projects that are brought forward, and different regions of the country will receive different allocations according to the projects that are available for development. The hon. Gentleman’s constituency has done well out of infrastructure funding.

Order. We have to be sensitive to the fact that lots of other Members are trying to get in. It is a matter not just of giving the answer but of knowing that other people want to take part. It is a fairly elementary point.