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New Infrastructure Investment

Volume 700: debated on Tuesday 7 September 2021

11. What fiscal steps he is taking to incentivise businesses to invest in new infrastructure and equipment. (903245)

The Prime Minister is rightly ushering in an infrastructure revolution because infrastructure drives growth and productivity and creates jobs. We are doing that with over £100 billion of investment this year and, thanks to the efforts of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, a world-leading UK Infrastructure Bank created and set up in Leeds.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that all parts of the country can benefit from investment in infrastructure, and that an excellent way of achieving that in my constituency, in support of the substantial housing development there, would be to approve funding for the Aylesbury link of East West Rail, which would also help to achieve our target of net zero?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to focus on making sure that our investment reaches every part of the country, including his constituency. I am pleased to tell him that £760 million has been allocated by the Chief Secretary and the Transport Secretary to deliver East West Rail, and I understand that the Department for Transport is currently working with the East West Rail Company to figure out the best possible way to serve Aylesbury. I hope that my hon. Friend will engage with that process.

The Infrastructure Forum recently published a report that showed clearly that the super deduction is already having an impact, accelerating investment by businesses. Will my right hon. Friend join me in encouraging businesses across Grantham and Stamford to take up the relief, and does he agree that this is exactly the kind of investment that will boost jobs and level up our country?

From the Office for Budget Responsibility to the Bank of England, many people have described the super deduction as doing exactly what my hon. Friend has said, and that is why we know it is working. I recently visited BT, for example, which, because of the super deduction, is now increasing the speed of its roll-out to millions more houses and creating thousands of new jobs in the process. My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and I encourage his businesses to take up the super deduction, and, indeed, we see that; a Deloitte survey recently showed that business intentions to invest in this country are the highest they have been in years.

I am afraid that I must tell the Chancellor that his infrastructure revolution is not very noticeable in cities in the north of England, which grind to a halt at rush hour. They desperately need infrastructure investment, particularly in public transport. Can he tell the House when he last met our city region Mayors in the north of England, and what his plans are for fiscal reform that will help them invest in public transport infrastructure?

My entire team meet the regional Mayors all the time, and of course we will do so in the run-up to the spending review and the Budget. I agree with the hon. Lady that intra-city transportation is important. Unlocking the economic potential of our cities is important to driving our economic recovery. That is why last year, in my first Budget, we announced £4.2 billion for intra-city transport settlements for our largest several cities outside London so that they enjoy the same long-term funding as London and can invest in exactly the types of schemes that she describes.

That investment in infrastructure does not get to the south Wales railway service. DFT Ministers keep announcing increased services along the main line in south Wales, which includes Pencoed in my Ogmore constituency, but no increased investment in stations, level crossings or, indeed, the track. When will the Chancellor get a grip and start investing in much-needed railway infrastructure in south Wales?

I am not sure that I entirely recognise the aggregate picture that the hon. Gentleman presents. Rail investment over the course of this Parliament is at record levels, under CP5—control period 5—and then CP6, to give the technical terms. I am very happy to take away the specific schemes. He will understand that those are a matter for the Welsh Government, but I am happy to facilitate with the Department for Transport as required.

I commend my right hon. Friend for his commitment to infrastructure, and I particularly welcome the UK Infrastructure Bank. Will he consider introducing an infrastructure bond so that long-term pension funds can invest in the future of this country too?

My hon. Friend is right. He has previously highlighted the importance of unlocking pension fund capital to invest in long-term assets such as infrastructure in the UK. He will know that the Prime Minister and I wrote to pension funds just recently discussing that, and my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary is actively working on creating a long-term asset fund, a new vehicle to unlock exactly the investment that my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond) wants in exactly the type of infrastructure that this country needs.