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Infrastructure Funding: Devon and Cornwall

Volume 655: debated on Tuesday 5 March 2019

The Government are increasing our national investment in infrastructure to the highest sustained level since the 1970s. In Devon, this will include £83 million towards the widening of part of the north Devon link road, and in Cornwall £78 million towards the St Austell link road.

Mr Speaker, may I wish Cornish Members gool Peran lowen—a very happy St Piran’s day?

I thank my hon. Friend for his answer, although my Cornish is not quite up to his level, given that I am a Devon Member.

The recent announcement of £80 million of funding for major resilience work at Dawlish was very welcome. Can my hon. Friend confirm that this is the first part of the investment plan and that the Government will provide additional investment as further aspects of the plan to secure our key rail infrastructure come forward?

We are fully committed to rail resilience in the south-west, and the Chancellor restated this as a national priority in the Budget Red Book. As my hon. Friend has said, we are investing up to £80 million in the new seawall to provide greater protection to the railway at Dawlish. Network Rail is providing the further options he mentions to protect the line from extreme weather and improve the rail network for passengers in the south-west, and of course we will consider those proposals when we receive them.

Added rail resilience at Dawlish is really important for the far south-west to keep our train line open, but so is added road resilience. Can the Minister set out what additional funding he can put in place to make sure that the A38 is a safer road? At the moment, there are far too many delays and sadly far too many people die on it?

The hon. Gentleman raises an important point. By our decision to hypothecate vehicle excise duty, we have created the largest ever investment in our strategic road network, which could perhaps fund projects such as the one he raises. Additionally, our £2.7 billion transforming cities fund will support Plymouth and its surrounding areas in particular.

Meur ras, Mr Speaker. Gool Peran lowen—happy St Piran’s day—and Kernow bys vyken!

The announcement yesterday on the stronger towns fund did not include any areas from Cornwall, yet Cornwall has always scored very highly on social deprivation and funding. I know that the coastal communities fund has been a help, but what assurance can I have from the Treasury that it will support towns in my area?

The stronger towns fund announced this week will provide support for the south-west and all regions of the country, both in terms of direct funding to be paid to local enterprise partnerships and the competitive fund of £600 million that towns in the my hon. Friend’s constituency and those of other right hon. and hon. Members across the country should bid into.

The port of Brixham in my constituency lands the most valuable catch in England, but it has now reached capacity and needs urgent infrastructure investment to expand opportunities. Will the Minister assure me that our strategically important fishing industry and processing sectors will be fully considered in future infrastructure plans, and will he meet me to discuss Brixham port’s exciting plans for development, which need only modest investment to help them get rapidly off the ground?

I would be happy to meet the hon. Lady. We are investing in port infrastructure, as indeed in other infrastructure projects across the south-west. I believe it was she who asked the Chancellor in the lead-up to the Budget to make that national commitment to Dawlish, for example. We are keen to listen to her opinions in this respect, and I would be very happy to meet her.