The Government are committed to ensuring that every part of the country has a modern and efficient infrastructure. In Kent, the extent of superfast broadband has risen from 33% to 95% since 2010, and the South East local enterprise partnership has secured £590 million for 30 transport schemes. Work has recently begun on a £105 million upgrade to junction 10a of the M20.
Given that Kent is on the frontline of EU border trade and that local plans involve the potential of more than 100,000 new homes over the next 15 years, will my hon. Friend consider investing in the dualling of the A2 and the A256 to improve traffic flows and resilience in east Kent?
My hon. Friend makes a very sensible point. The dualling of the A2 near Dover was raised as an issue in Highways England’s route strategy for Kent and is being considered alongside other investments. The A256 is part of the indicative major road network and the Department will be publishing the final network by the end of the year. If it is included, it will be a matter for the local authority, working with the subnational transport bodies, to determine whether to bid into the fund.
The Minister’s initial reply did refer to the Government’s ambitions for every part of the country, so there is no reason why we should not hear about the Dudley situation.
London, the south-east and the home counties already get the vast majority of public sector investment. Civil service employment actually went up in London and the south-east while public spending was being cut in the rest of the country. Government Members impose austerity on the rest of us, and now they are coming to the Chamber to demand more spending for their own areas. Instead of thinking about London, the south-east and Oxfordshire, why do the Government not start looking at the position of the Black country so that they invest in infrastructure there and bring some new jobs to places such as Dudley?
I am very sorry but I do not recognise the hon. Gentleman’s characterisation of the Government’s intentions. We have actually rolled out a comprehensive strategy across the country in terms of the northern powerhouse and the midlands engine with the systematic devolution of decision making and resources to enable growth throughout the country.