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Major Infrastructure Projects

Volume 632: debated on Tuesday 28 November 2017

We are expanding the national productivity investment fund to provide £31 billion of investment. That includes a £1.7 billion transport fund to transform our great cities and a more than doubling of the housing infrastructure fund to £5 billion. We have published the “National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline” and are delivering the largest rail modernisation since Victorian times, the biggest road investment programme since the 1970s and two of the largest engineering projects in Europe—Crossrail and HS2. Taken together, that means that the Government will invest, on average, £25 billion more per annum in real terms than was invested during the 1997 to 2010 Government.

I welcome the investment in infrastructure, in particular in the Oxford to Cambridge corridor, which will bring significant benefit to my area. It is important that when we plan more houses, we get the infrastructure in place before the housing. Does the Chancellor agree with that proposition?

I agree with my hon. and learned Friend. The Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor has the potential to be a globally significant growth corridor, and I agree with the National Infrastructure Commission that to realise this potential we need a joined-up plan that covers jobs, homes and infrastructure. Local and national Government must work together, with developers and investors, to align the delivery of these elements and ensure that infrastructure is in place to support housing growth in the corridor.

Over the last few months, we have seen many accidents on the main artery through my constituency, on the A38. I am currently working with partners to ensure the much-needed urgent improvements on the road. Will the Treasury make sure that the extra investment in our roads can enable this work to get under way?

Yes, we have committed to investing over £2 billion in the strategic road network in the south-west, including the first steps towards transforming the A303-A358 route and upgrading sections of the A30. Safety is one of the Government’s top priorities, and improvements to strategic roads with safety concerns, such as the A38, will be considered for inclusion within the portfolio of schemes in the second road investment strategy.

The Chancellor will know that even after the Budget the south-east and London will still receive a disproportionate share of infrastructure spending. Will he undertake to give an annual report to Parliament detailing both the spending and the likely economic impact of that spending across different regions?

I am certainly happy to look at the information we hold and whether it could be presented in a way that satisfies the hon. Gentleman’s requirements. It is a legitimate question. Much of this infrastructure investment will have an impact across the country. For example, investment in HS2 will benefit parts of the north of England far more than many of the areas through which the railway will run.

With all this money swilling about for major infrastructure investment, will the Chancellor explain why the rail funding formula has been ignored and Scotland’s rail budget has been cut by £600 million over the next investment period?

As I understand it—I will correct myself if I am wrong—the allocation to Scotland in Network Rail’s control period 6 investment programme is exactly proportionate to the overall England, Wales and Scotland budget.

19. In advance of the huge numbers of additional houses expected to be built in Medway by 2035, plus the additional traffic that will come with the new Thames crossing, and given the congestion issues already facing commuters and trade across north Kent, will the Chancellor outline plans to boost investment in the region’s strategic transport network? (902603)

Yes, we do have plans, of course, for investment in the region, including the lower Thames crossing project, but I recognise the challenge that my hon. Friend presents. If there is to be a significant expansion of housing in the region, it is essential that the strategic infrastructure be put in place, and it will be essential that we capture uplifted land value to finance it. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government will bring forward proposals in due course to ensure that we can capture land value uplift for that purpose.

In the last year, the British Government have disgracefully reneged on a promise to electrify the main line to Swansea, and there was no announcement on the Swansea bay tidal lagoon in last week’s Budget, so what specific infrastructure projects in Wales are the British Government investing in?

The hon. Gentleman says the Government have reneged on a promise to electrify the railway. What passengers care about is the quality of service, the frequency of service, the reliability of service and the speed of the service, and train technology has moved on, such that all those requirements can be met with the new hybrid trains being deployed on that network.