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Infrastructure Investment

Volume 670: debated on Wednesday 22 January 2020

2. What steps his Department is taking to help ensure value for money in public sector infrastructure investment. (900324)

This Government are working to level up economic and social infrastructure, with an additional £100 billion investment commitment. We will ensure that all citizens across the UK benefit. The Cabinet Office works closely with Her Majesty’s Treasury through the Infrastructure and Projects Authority. This helps to ensure that taxpayers get good value for money. The IPA evaluates and assures major projects from their initial stages through to completion.

May I first congratulate the Minister on his appointment? He should be aware of the detrimental impact on Runnymede and Weybridge from our over- stretched road network, particularly the A320 and M25. What are the Government doing to target investment at the modern infrastructure that all our communities and businesses need?

I thank my hon. Friend for his kind words and congratulate him on his election to this place. I can reassure him that the Government are committed to investing across our regions and nations, including the south-east. A business case has been submitted for the A320 north corridor; it is at an early stage, and the Department for Transport is working closely with the local authority to develop the scheme. Between 2015 and 2020 the Government will have spent nearly £18 billion on England’s strategic roads. On the M25 this is delivering additional capacity, including through junction enhancements.

I too welcome the Minister to his place. He should be aware that Broadland needs the construction of the western link road, the missing link in Norwich’s answer to the M25. What steps is he taking to ensure that public money is spent efficiently so that all communities represented in this House get the infrastructure they deserve?

I thank my hon. Friend for what I believe is his first question in this place, and for his kind words. This is not just a concern of his Broadland constituents; by the sound of it, it is a concern shared by his constituency neighbour and my neighbour here on the Treasury Front Bench, my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich North (Chloe Smith). I understand that a business case for the link has been submitted and that officials from the Department for Transport are engaging with the local authority. My hon. Friend the Member for Broadland (Jerome Mayhew) is absolutely right that the IPA, through direct support, and independent assurance reviews and leading a network of project delivery professionals, helps drive cost-effectiveness across Government.

One of the biggest projects that the Government have to deliver is the restoration and renewal of this Palace, which is one of the most loved buildings in the world. If we are to do that, we need skills that currently are not available in the workforce. Does the Minister agree that this presents a major opportunity to ensure that in every constituency in the land young people are being trained in those skills so that everybody has an investment in this building?

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. This is a great opportunity to ensure that we upskill our workforce. We are very proud of the fabric of this building, and very proud of what it symbolises for our country, and it will be great if we can make certain that we are engaging people across the United Kingdom in the work that needs to be done.

Yesterday it was established that the majority of supply chain contracts for the offshore wind farm Neart Na Gaoithe are going abroad. When are the UK Government going to incentivise the auction process so that bidders who use local supply companies such as BiFab and CS Wind in Scotland are awarded the contracts, creating further green jobs?

Throughout Government we are determined to ensure that we have the simplest possible process for procurement, and the Government Contracts Finder has made certain that we have more transparent procurement, which helps SMEs, among others. The hon. Gentleman raises a good point, but I will have to look into the specifics.