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Infrastructure Investment: North Wales

Volume 622: debated on Wednesday 8 March 2017

2. What recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on infrastructure investment in north Wales. (909072)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I hold regular discussions with colleagues from across Government to champion the people and businesses of north Wales. Our commitment to north Wales is demonstrated by the Government’s £212 million investment in HMP Berwyn, and we have opened the door to a north Wales growth deal further to strengthen the region’s economy.

The Mersey Dee Alliance meets tomorrow in Wrexham at Glyndwr University. It has presented a coherent and effective transport plan for improving links between north Wales and the rest of the country. Will the Government give us not just warm words, but a financial commitment to north Wales to match the investment put in by the Welsh Government?

The hon. Gentleman knows that the plans that he supports for better connectivity between north Wales and the north-west of England are also strongly supported by the Wales Office. The proposals made by stakeholders in north Wales are being given serious consideration, but I would not want to prejudge any financial decision made by other Departments here in Westminster.

Is the Minister aware of significant concerns among local authorities covering north Wales, west Cheshire, east Cheshire, Warrington and other areas abut the inadequacy of the current proposals for the HS2 station at Crewe, in terms of both line routeing and platform and junction arrangements? Will he undertake to represent those concerns at the highest level to ensure that a fit-for-purpose Crewe hub station can bring regional connectivity and economic benefits?

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for his work in respect of the importance of connectivity between north Wales and the north-west of England, as well as more widely. He is clearly aware of the potential of HS2 to open the door to better connectivity. I recognise his concern about the Crewe hub. We are discussing the issue at a ministerial level, but I would be delighted to meet him to discuss it further at any point.

I look forward to welcoming the Secretary of State to my constituency tomorrow so that he can see the importance of connectivity between Wales, Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. On the broadband universal service obligation, has the Minister made the case to other Departments for finance to roll out superfast broadband to the extra 5%?

The hon. Gentleman is well known for championing Anglesey. I thoroughly agree with him about the importance of connectivity, both digital and by road and rail. The Wales Office is continually making the case for a scheme to ensure that the whole UK is well served by digital connectivity as we exit the European Union.

Given the interconnective nature of the Wales-England border to constituencies such as mine, does my hon. Friend agree that collaboration between local leaders and industry is essential for people living on the borders?

That is an important point. I was in mid-Wales over the weekend, and there is no doubt that that connectivity is part of day-to-day life there. I agree that both the Government and business need to co-operate across the Wales-England border.

11. In the context of infrastructure, we have just heard that Brexit rebel Lord Heseltine, who had been overseeing work on the already overdue Swansea city deal, has been ousted by the Government. What hope have we of securing similar deals for the rest of Wales if experts are axed at the whim of an insecure Executive who are fearful of parliamentary sovereignty? (909081)

The hon. Lady highlights an issue that is in the news today. It should be emphasised that the Swansea Bay region city deal has a bottom-up agenda. Lord Heseltine did contribute significant expertise during a challenge session, and I am confident that we will have a city deal for the region, followed by further growth deals for Wales as a result of the Government’s work to ensure that Wales benefits from investment in the same way as any other part of the United Kingdom.

May I bring the Minister back to north Wales and raise the issue of its connectivity through my constituency? In his response to my hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham (Ian C. Lucas), he seemed to pass the buck to another part of the Government, and that is not good enough. Will he ensure that the Government and their silos do not restrict connectivity between Wales and English cities, and will he arrange a cross-governmental meeting with Members of Parliament who want more investment in the connection between north Wales and Merseyside?

As a north Wales Member, I am very happy to be brought back to north Wales—that is nothing other than a pleasure.

The Government are moving ahead with a cross-border growth deal that will benefit north Wales and the north-west of England. The aim is to improve connectivity between north Wales and the cities of Liverpool and Manchester. I am proud of the fact that 57 trains a week now travel from my constituency to Manchester, but we need more of that to improve the economies of north Wales and the north-west of England.

I wish a happy International Women’s Day to all the women in the world, especially my daughter, Angharad, who has been my inspiration.

Last week, Economy and Infrastructure Minister Ken Skates launched “Moving North Wales Forward”, the Welsh Government’s “Vision for North Wales and the North East Wales Metro”. When will the Minister launch his vision for north Wales?

I welcome the hon. Lady to her post, and I am delighted to respond to her question on International Women’s Day. However, I am disappointed that the Welsh Government’s “Vision for North Wales” seems to be a vision for north-east Wales. The Department and the Government have a vision of connectivity throughout north Wales.