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Oxford-Cambridge Expressway

Volume 670: debated on Thursday 30 January 2020

10. What recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of proposals for an Oxford-Cambridge expressway. (900510)

The Government are completely committed to the east-west innovation corridor, the arc, and the Varsity line—one of the most exciting pieces of corridor infrastructure in the country. We are committed to the rail link, and, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has announced, we are looking closely at the business and sustainability case of the expressway.

I was pleased to hear the Minister reconfirm that a review will take place. Of course, that was finally agreed to in the heat of the election campaign, perhaps because of concerns that were heard about the expressway. It would be very helpful to understand the parameters of that review: when will it be taking place; who will be involved; and will local authorities and groups such as the No Expressway Group be invited? We really need to know about this if that promise of a review is to be a reality.

I am delighted to say that we are listening to all the representations that we have received. There will be an announcement coming very shortly. Let me reiterate that this is about our commitment to sustainable and integrated public transport with housing. That corridor is a vital housing and growth corridor and we want to make sure that it is sustainable transport that works for the benefit of the people who live there.

On infrastructure and paying in, we in Iver in Beaconsfield receive very little money for transport infrastructure. We would love to see our footpaths and our roads used, but we simply do not have the money coming in from bodies such as TfL. Will the Minister look into expanding investment in places like Iver, so that we can have an Iver relief road and actually get the south of Bucks moving again?

May I advise Members that their questions should be linked to the main question? If a certain area is specified, your questions are meant to be about that area. You cannot just have a free for all. Minister, if you can pick something out of that, please do so.

At a stretch, Mr Speaker, I think that Buckinghamshire touches the east-west corridor. I would be delighted to meet my hon. Friend to look at a place-based solution for sustainable housing and transport.

Martin Tugwell of England’s Economic Heartland sub-national transport body described the expressway as a 20th century solution to a 21st century challenge. Is it not absolutely clear that the real answer is a public railway, an electrified railway, with an interchange with HS2?

The hon. Gentleman is bowling outside my off stump, but he knows that we are deeply committed to rail, to connectivity, and to sustainable transport. I cannot pre-empt the Secretary of State’s announcement on the expressway, but let me be very clear: we are committed to sustainable integration of housing with public transport, and that rail link is an absolute priority.

My constituents were very relieved when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State visited Verney Junction during the general election and said that there would be a priority review of the expressway. He gave a commitment that were the expressway to be cancelled, funds would be made available for improvements to existing roads. Can my hon. Friend give an assurance that, should it be cancelled, those funds will be available?

I am delighted to give an assurance that, were the expressway to be cancelled, we would absolutely recognise that significant investment in other and even more important road links in that corridor would be needed.