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Union Connectivity Review

Volume 690: debated on Wednesday 10 March 2021

I have regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues on transport connectivity in Scotland and throughout the United Kingdom. I welcome Sir Peter’s interim report and I look forward to his final report in the summer.

As connectivity and transport infrastructure are of vital importance not only for business but for the UK’s tourism industry, does my right hon. Friend agree that taking steps such as electrifying the north Wales coast line and improving links with north-west England will not only enable my constituents in Delyn to enjoy the delights of Scotland more easily but allow our Scottish cousins to have greater access to the beauties and wonders of our fantastic north Wales area?

Mr Speaker, why should I not just completely agree? Improving connectivity across the entire United Kingdom, including through the north-west of England, will boost tourism opportunities for both Scotland and Wales.

The Minister will know that cross-border transport routes are vital for my constituents, for educational and career opportunities as well as many other day-to-day tasks. That is why I want to see the Borders Railway extended and to see improvements to the A1; these are both vital routes for the Scottish borders. Does he share my frustration and shock that the SNP Scottish Government are failing to engage with and support the connectivity review, which could be an opportunity to accelerate these two projects?

I share my hon. Friend’s frustration, I really do. This review is part of our levelling-up agenda to improve the national infrastructure and create jobs and prosperity, and I think it is pathetic of the Scottish nationalist Government not to have engaged just because it is a “Union” connectivity review.

As an MP for a borderlands region, I know that strengthening and enhancing our Union is of huge importance to my constituency of Penrith and The Border. Does my right hon. Friend agree that projects such as extending the Borders Railway down to Carlisle are a clear example of how the UK and Scottish Governments can work together to improve transport links in the region? Does he also agree that this would be a great boost to the economies of both the north of England and the south of Scotland, and provide a gateway to unlocking the potential of both regions?

I agree with my hon. Friend, and I hope he will be aware that next week we are signing the full borderlands growth deal, which will include funding for the feasibility study into reopening the Borders Railway link between Carlisle and Tweedbank.