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Transport: Zero-emission Vehicles, Drivers and HS2

Volume 833: debated on Tuesday 17 October 2023

Statement

The following Statement was made in the House of Commons on Monday 16 October.

“With permission, Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a Statement on how this Government are improving the journeys that matter most to the British public.

Our path to net zero remains ambitious, but we are making that path more proportionate. We are backing Britain’s drivers and slamming the brakes on anti-car policies. Thanks to record government investment, everyday journeys for more people in more places will improve more quickly.

I wish to update the House on three long-term decisions we have made to secure a brighter future, starting with zero-emission vehicles. No one should doubt or play down Britain’s progress on decarbonisation. ‘World leading’ is not an exaggeration. We have cut emissions faster than any G7 country, pledged a decarbonised transport sector by 2050—the first major economy to do so—and today we have laid another world-leading piece of legislation: the zero-emission vehicle mandate. Manufacturers will now meet minimum targets of clean car production, starting with 22% next year and reaching 80% by 2030. It stands to be one of the largest carbon-saving policies across government, and manufacturers are on board. They will deliver a mandate that they helped shape, a product of partnership between this Government and industry that has been not months but years in the making. These targets are now embedded in their forecasts, and that certainty has inspired investment, protected existing jobs and paved the way for new jobs, too. Look at the past few months: BMW, Stellantis and Tata are expanding their electric vehicle operations right across the UK, from Oxford to Merseyside.

However, targets can be missed if Governments fail to take people with them, and we will not make that mistake. So, people will be able to buy new petrol and diesel cars until 2035, aligning the UK with the likes of Canada, Australia and Germany. It is fairer on British consumers, it allows us to grow the used EV market—lowering costs and increasing choice—and it ensures we raise confidence in our charging infrastructure. In fact, public charge points are already up by 43% since last year and set to grow even further thanks to investment from both the Government and private sector.

For many, that is the future, but today, in some parts of the country, drivers are being punished and cars vilified. The Mayor of London’s expansion of the ultra-low emission zone is forcing drivers to sell up or pay hefty daily fines. Overzealous enforcement practices—from yellow box junctions to blanket 20 mph zones—are turning drivers into cash cows for councils. Measures to overly restrict where and when people travel are already being planned in places such as Oxfordshire. My message to councils is simple: this anti-motorist campaign has run out of road. This Government recognise that cars are not a luxury; they are a lifeline. They are how most people in rural constituencies such as mine access work, education and essential services. That is why, after listening to the concerns of motorists, I have announced a new long-term plan for drivers, with 30 measures that will protect their rights to travel how they want, where they want and when they want.

We will use AI technology to keep traffic flowing. We will build a national parking platform to make it easier to find and pay for a space. We will inject some common sense into enforcement: where 20 mph zones are necessary exceptions with local support, not a blanket norm; where rules are enforced to keep our roads safe, not to line council coffers; and where low-traffic neighbourhoods rely on public support, not on outdated Covid guidance. How many times drivers get from A to B will be their choice, not decided by councils. None of that undermines our investments in public transport, nor in active travel. We are pro public transport, but we will not be anti car. A sustainable transport network needs both, so people can choose to travel in the way that best suits them.

Let me now turn to our decision on HS2. With decades to wait before it arrived and benefits dwindling, it risked crowding out investment in other transport areas and no longer reflected post-pandemic changes in travel. Despite that, some argue that we should have carried on regardless—that a single rail line between a handful of cities and London is more important than millions of everyday journeys around the country. I disagree. The facts have changed, so we are changing our approach. With work well under way, we will finish HS2 between London Euston and the West Midlands. Just last week, I spoke to the Euston Partnership Board on the huge regeneration opportunity that can be unlocked with private investment. However, by stopping HS2 in Birmingham, we can reinvest every penny of the £36 billion saved in transport across the country, in the roads, the local bus services and the regional train links—all those essential daily connections that people rely on.

No region will lose out, receiving either the same, or more, government investment than under HS2. Almost £20 billion will go to the north, with Bradford, ignored under previous proposals, now getting a new station and faster rail connections to Manchester. Northern Powerhouse Rail is now extended to include Hull and Sheffield. A separate £12 billion fund will better connect Liverpool and Manchester, and I have already spoken to the Mayors of Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region to kickstart work on that.

West Yorkshire, thanks to £2.5 billion of funding, will finally get its mass transit system built in full. Over 20 road schemes will be delivered, and crucially, we will more than double the transport budgets of northern mayors, benefiting our largest cities and smallest towns.

We are also investing in the Midlands, with almost £10 billion ensuring the Midlands Rail Hub is completed in full, increased mayoral budgets, including £1.5 billion for the new East Midlands city region, and councils—from Stoke on Trent to Lincolnshire—seeing long-term transport funding settlements for the first time.

Finally, the remainder of this transformational investment will be spread across the UK, including: extending the hugely popular £2 bus fare cap, which people will see the benefit of just next month; delivering the Ely junction project and north Wales mainline electrification, benefiting both passengers and freight; and dealing with the menace of potholes, with £8.3 billion in new funding to resurface roads up and down the country. All told, Network North is a new vision for transport—one that creates more winners in more places, one that prioritises people’s everyday journeys, and one that drives the growth and jobs that this country needs.

I will finish with this: we will never shirk the long-term decisions to secure this country’s future and we will always be guided by the needs of the British people. When the majority want a pragmatic route to net zero, we will back them. When drivers feel unfairly targeted, we will back them. When the public want us to focus on the journeys that matter most to them, we will back them. This Government are delivering on the people’s priorities. I commend this Statement to the House.”

My Lords, this government announcement on the scrapping of HS2 was the cancellation of Europe’s largest infrastructure project. The announcement was made outside of Parliament just a few days after we had gone into recess. There is no other way to describe this than that it shows utter contempt for Parliament and for those affected by the decision.

This announcement was made in Manchester about the infrastructure project that was designed to support levelling up for—guess where?—Manchester. That shows contempt for the people of that city. The announcement was made without consultation with the elected mayors and council leaders of any of the areas affected; they too were treated with contempt. The announcement was made in spite of the lives already disrupted by the progress of HS2: the owners of farms, homes and businesses where the hurt and harm had already been done—all of them treated with contempt. The announcement was made in spite of disruption to families and businesses at Euston, who now face the prospect of a black hole where the interchange should have been. They too were treated with contempt.

But the greatest contempt from this Government, in all of this sorry tale, has been their contempt for the British people: a high-speed railway line from London to Manchester that goes to neither central London nor Manchester; a decision taken but denied for days, in spite of the fact that the video recording of the announcement had already been made in Downing Street days before the Prime Minister’s visit to Manchester; a list of alternative schemes on which the funding would be spent, which appear to have been cobbled together on the back of a fag packet, and 85% of which were schemes already delivered, some many years ago, non-existent schemes or jack-in-the-box schemes such as Bradford railway station, which pop up every time a Minister needs to make an announcement only to disappoint communities again when they get pushed back inside the box and re-cancelled.

Then, there is the funding wasted. Seriously, the Government must think the people of this country are stupid. I have some questions for the Minister. Exactly when was this decision taken? When was the recording of the announcement made? Why was this not reported to Parliament before our Conference Recess? Why was there no consultation or discussion about the cancellation of this part of HS2 with the mayors and leaders of the areas affected before the announcement was made? How is it now planned to improve the failing, inefficient and overcrowded services on the west coast main line —of which many of us have had very recent experience—and the east-to-west services in the north of the country? How will we restore the confidence of investors and businesses to deliver major infrastructure projects in this country after this debacle?

The cancellation of HS2 at the same time as the Prime Minister is rowing back on climate change commitments and painting himself as the champion of the fossil-fuel car risks undermining not only this country’s reputation on green issues but the economic growth, innovation and investment that a move to zero- carbon transport would generate.

My Lords, what a shambles. In their frantic search for a few more votes in order to cling on to power, this Government have abandoned their pretence at leadership on decarbonisation. They have abandoned their pretence to modernise our public transport system along with any claim to care about pedestrian safety or clean air, which is so important for our health and particularly the health of our children. It is important to remember that 20 mph zones are not anti-motorist; they are pro-pedestrian. You are five times more likely to die if hit by a car at 30 mph than at 20 mph. I remind noble Lords that fewer than half of us as a percentage of the total population drive cars, yet almost all of us are pedestrians.

By abandoning targets for electric vehicles, the Government have undermined the automotive industry and deterred new investment. The Statement refers to an increase in the number of charge points, but the huge restriction on that expansion in their number, especially at motorway services, is the capacity of the grid. So what plans do the Government have to expand that capacity?

Of course, HS2 has not been well managed—the current Government have been in charge—and it is costing a great deal. It is not good value for money because the Government have turned it from an ambitious high-speed project into a short-distance shuttle. It is a fact that it costs more per mile to build any form of infrastructure in the UK than in almost any other country in Europe. Rail infrastructure costs are generally twice the amount per mile of those in France. Will the Government hold an inquiry, not just to into HS2 and how it came to cost so much and go so badly wrong, but into why we are so bad at building major infrastructure projects that provide value for money?

The Prime Minister announced a list of replacement projects, many of which were just recycled announcements. One of them, the Manchester Metrolink to the airport, has actually been in force for nine years. The Government then said that this was just an illustrative list—“This is a road”; “This is a railway”—but we did not need that sort of illustration. Can the Minister clarify the status of the wishlist? How and when will final decisions be made?

There was an announcement of £8.3 billion for potholes. We have plenty of potholes, I will give the Government that, but I am suspicious of the amount because it sounds to me like a difficult figure to account for. We might find it difficult to track whether that money has gone fairly across the whole country to the areas that need it most. Can the Minister explain the mechanisms the Government intend to use for the disbursal and spending of that significant amount of money?

I am grateful to both noble Baronesses for their contributions on this incredibly important Statement. It is the case that the Government had to make a difficult decision. The facts have clearly changed, and we needed to change our approach. All noble Lords will know that the situation with business travel is very different nowadays. Leisure travel has increased but business travel did not come back. On the basis of those facts, we had to make some decisions.

In doing so, though, we have repurposed the investments that would have been made in HS2 into a vast array of investments—mostly in the north, I will grant, but then I am often asked about investments in the north. I am delighted that about two-thirds of this investment will go there while much of the rest will go to the Midlands. I am really excited by the various investments that the Government have set out. Many of those were not mentioned by the two noble Baronesses but I will try to work them into my answers because there are many. Neither noble Baroness mentioned buses. We love buses, and we are investing an additional £1 billion in them. That is the sort of thing the noble Baronesses have been pressing me to do for a very long time and we are doing it—but no, there were no thanks for those sorts of things. I will answer their questions, but I will try to get the good news in as I can.

The noble Baroness, Lady Taylor, asked me a number of questions. She will have to forgive me; I am afraid they came out very quickly and I was doing my best to try to follow them, but I will try to answer them. The decision was taken by the Secretary of State the day before the announcement. Obviously, there was a Cabinet meeting on the day of the announcement to discuss the decision and to reach collective agreement, and it was then announced by the Prime Minister. Had that agreement not been reached, the Prime Minister would have been unable to announce the cancellation and the massive investment which is the corollary to the cancellation, and the video would not have been played. I cannot get too excited about a video.

However, I will be clear that this is a decision for the Government. It is a government programme. The Government set the policy direction of HS2, and HS2 Ltd is responsible for the delivery of the railways, so it is a government decision, a national decision. However, as the noble Baroness will know, and I am sure she is delighted to hear, the Government are committed to investing £12 billion to improve the speed and east-west connectivity between Manchester and Liverpool. For those sorts of things—that vast sum of money that will be invested in east-west connectivity—it is up to local leaders to help us shape that investment. The noble Baroness will also be pleased to know that we have started discussions with the metro mayors and their teams on how we are going to get the best out of that £12 billion.

It is worth talking about delivery. Many of the projects that were in the package are delivered by different people. This is an important aspect to understand: the Government can shape the programme of National Highways and indeed Network Rail but, when it comes to investment, for pretty much everything else we are reliant on local partners, and that is absolutely right. People throw the criticism towards the Government, “Oh, but your list is somehow illustrative”, but of course it is. We are not going to drive a coach and horses through local democracy. In the LLM and MRN projects, not only has funding being topped up for about 70 road schemes, so that they will be funded 100%, but we are doing another round of funding. However, neither of those things can be done without the agreement of the local authority. It is up to the local authority to bring forward projects for consideration for funding, and indeed to develop the business cases. So, for some projects, in five years’ time the noble Baronesses may turn round to me and say, “Baroness Vere, you did not deliver on that project”, but that probably would not be down to the Government. It would be down to the local authority deciding that, for whatever reason, it was not right for their area, and that is fine.

The noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, had a lot of questions that I think I was able to write down. I will try to address as many of them as I can. She somehow accused the Government of scrabbling around for a few more votes. Gosh, that sounded like a Lib Dem by-election candidate campaigning against HS2. The Lib Dem Front Bench must find it very amusing that they campaigned against what was party policy.

The noble Baroness mentioned the issue of low-traffic neighbourhoods and investment in active travel. I am proud of the fact that this Government stand with those who drive cars. Cars are not a luxury; they are a lifeline. However, we are very clear that our investment in active travel will continue. We are clear that 20 mph zones need to have local support. We think that enforcement should be pragmatic—of course it should; that is just rational and reasonable. In our long-term plan for drivers we set out 30 measures that we think will help people travelling around in their cars day to day. As all noble Lords will know, many more people use their cars than use the trains, for example.

The noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, mentioned zero-emission vehicles and that somehow this was very destructive for the industry. I would like to reassure her that we are working closely with the industry and that the manufacturers are on board. We have seen investment in the UK from BMW, Stellantis and Tata, expanding their electric vehicle manufacturing operations. Of course, we have also brought ourselves into line with great nations such as Canada, Australia and Germany. We are not unusual or an outlier in doing this at all; we are just being pragmatic.

I will admit that we need to continue focusing on charging points, and we absolutely are. They have gone up by 43% since last year and continue to go up very quickly indeed. We work closely with the DNOs on making sure that there is grid capacity at motorway service stations and elsewhere, and that continues all across the country.

The noble Baroness mentioned the business case for phase 1 of HS2. I think she referred to it as some sort of shuttle or whatever. I am sorry, but that shuttle she referred to has a BCR of between 1.2 and 1.8, which is very reasonable for such a large infrastructure project. She also asked why it cost more. HS2 is costing more because it goes through some very densely populated areas. There are significant amounts of tunnelling, with six big tunnels in phase 1 alone, and significant environmental mitigations. Of course, if the noble Baroness wants us to remove the environmental mitigations, I am sure it would be much cheaper, but this Government would not do that.

I do not accept that we need an inquiry as to why we are in the situation that we are, because a lot of people scrutinise our major infrastructure projects all the time. The Infrastructure and Projects Authority and all sorts of other people do so, including the Transport Select Committee.

The noble Baroness mentioned the potholes funding, which involves a really important amount of money. It is not only about potholes; it will literally enable local councils to resurface roads, which I know many noble Lords will be able to support. Again, it is being skewed towards the north because this funding goes to where that money would otherwise have been spent. However, there will be £3.3 billion to the north, £2.2 billion to the Midlands and £2.8 billion for the rest of the country over 10 years. That will make a significant difference. It is in addition to the money allocated in the spending review of 2021, and in addition to what the usual expectations from a local council would be. This is new money, and that additional money will make a huge difference to our roads.

My Lords, many noble Lords and other people have said to me, “You must feel very pleased that you won and it got cancelled”. I do not look upon it that way at all. I have been campaigning for many years now because the cost of HS2 was ballooning, but my main reason was that I thought it was the wrong project for what was being built. The costs had gone right out of control and the Prime Minister made the right decision. I am sorry that lots of colleagues will disagree with me.

The question we have to ask the Minister, and ourselves, is: what next? The Prime Minister made the commitment to £36 billion being spent on public transport and other things. That is set out in some ways in the Network North document. I am very pleased to know that some of my friends in Devon and Cornwall will get a slice of something called Network North—well, that is all right. We have to make sure that this is actually delivered. The most important thing for me is to see the delivery in the hands of people such as the noble Lord, Lord McLoughlin, and his team opposite. They actually represent the transport people in the Midlands and the north who will be the users of whatever gets done there, to some extent. I hope that devolution will help to support that and that they will be given enough money and decision-making powers to make it work.

My questions to the Minister include one or two urgent ones. What about safeguarding of the land? How much of it will be reduced or removed—and when—in phase 2a, phase 2b west and any other bits that do not get used? What is going to happen to the bit between Birmingham and Old Oak Common or Euston? It could do with a repurpose as a railway, but there are ways of saving money without affecting the effect at all.

My final question is: what is going to happen at Euston? The Statement is clear that there is going to be a development company involved. But then I read something else in the press which said that there is no government money going into this and that if the development company cannot make it work, it will not get built. That is not good news for the people who live around there. I remind the Minister that if the project stopped at Old Oak Common, which I still think is perfectly reasonable, she would save £12 billion, on my figures. Maybe that does not matter and maybe it does. We also need to have a proper design of the tunnels going into Euston, because there is no safe design. We presented one to the Select Committee about 10 years ago. It got rejected by HS2, but it may be worth looking at that again. I am very happy to sit down with the Minister and anybody else to talk about this further.

On this very rare occasion, I support what the Prime Minister has said. Let us make it work in the future.

I am very grateful for the noble Lord’s support for the Prime Minister’s decision. I would like to reassure him that another piece of good news, which I have not been able to talk about so far, is the massive increase in CRSTS—the city region sustainable transport settlements. We are adding billions of pounds to the second tranche of this. These are very significant amounts of money. For example, Greater Manchester will get an additional £1 billion. Again, the same is going to the West Midlands. We are adding to the £8.8 billion that we had already said the mayors would get. There will be several billions of pounds; forgive me, I cannot add it all up in time. It is sufficient to really turbo-charge some mass transit schemes. For example, in West Yorkshire we have committed £2.5 billion to fund a mass transit scheme in full. Finally, Leeds and the surrounding areas will have one, which will be amazing. That is a very positive thing. We recognise that devolution to the metro mayors is a good thing.

On safeguarding matters, we recognise that there is an issue with safeguarding and blight. We will be going through the proper legal processes and following them for properties that are no longer needed. For phase 2a, the safeguarding will be formally lifted within weeks. For phase 2b, it will be lifted next summer—the rationale for that is that there will still be some significant rail infrastructure projects in the north, and we need to make sure that we do not sell land we subsequently need. As the programme is developed, that land will either be sold or kept if it is needed.

On Euston, I am going to have to disagree with the noble Lord. I think that sometimes the private sector can do wonderful things. I refer the noble Lord to Battersea Power Station. If noble Lords have been there, they will know it looks quite remarkable. That attracted £9 billion in private sector investment.

My Lords, I am sure the noble Baroness can imagine the delight of seasoned north Wales travellers, like myself, when they heard the Prime Minister mention the electrification of the north Wales main line in his conference speech. Can the Minister clarify whether the Prime Minister’s commitment to the electrification of the line is a cast- iron commitment or if it was included in his conference speech merely for illustrative purposes, as he now says other schemes were? I may be dubious and cynical, but history teaches us in Wales what happened to the commitment to electrify the Cardiff to Swansea line. If it is a commitment, can the noble Baroness inform us when work on the business case for the project will start?

I do not know for sure, but I imagine that work on the business case will have already started. All these projects are at some point in the whole business case process, which, as the noble Baroness will know, is very lengthy. We are very committed to the upgrade of the north Wales line. It is completely due, and it is our ambition to work with Network Rail and other delivery partners to make sure that we do it in the most effective way.

My Lords, I declare my interest as chairman of Transport for the North. I say to my noble friend that I realise the position she faces defending this decision. For the last 13 years, any Minister standing at the Dispatch Box would have been saying why HS2 was, in fact, the right decision. Big transport infrastructure projects are always incredibly difficult. They are never without controversy and this scheme certainly was not.

I believe that the scheme, as originally designed, was the right one. I find it ironic that I could go from London to Paris, Brussels or Amsterdam on a high-speed train, but I cannot do the same for the great cities of the United Kingdom. It is an argument I made as Secretary of State, and I am not going to deflect from it now. I believe that overall it was the right decision for United Kingdom plc.

However, my noble friend keeps referring to the work that will carry on with the metro mayors. It is a great pity that they were not consulted before this decision was made. I find it rather ironic that, on the Tuesday the Prime Minister was telling us all that he was not going to be rushed into a decision, but then he made it a major part of his conference speech on the Wednesday. I have been involved in prime ministerial conference speeches in the past, and they are not usually put together in the last few hours before delivery.

Can my noble friend tell us now that we are going to get every transport plan we ever wanted because we have freed the schemes and we will see a utopia as far as transport is concerned? Some of this money seems to be going into revenue rather than capital investment, which is an interesting thing to see eventually on the department’s accounts.

This is not going to go away. A lot of people have been affected by this particular scheme and have had things compulsorily purchased for HS2 which are no longer going to be wanted. I do not think we will have heard the last of some of the problems that will be facing us as far as HS2 is concerned over the next 12 or 18 months, or even the next two years. This is something that is going to continue.

Ministers can point to Birmingham and say what HS2 is doing for Birmingham. I am sorry that that is not going to be done for our other great cities. That is a regretful notion that we will come to think and talk about. However, we have to make sure there is greater connectivity between our great northern cities, because there is a potential that is untapped. It needs tapping if the United Kingdom is truly going to be a country of equal opportunities across all of its regions.

That is what I hope will happen over the next few months. A decision has been made, and it does not look like the Official Opposition will say they will reverse it. If they did say that, it might change some of the argument, but they are not doing so yet. That also needs to be borne in mind. The implications of what has been announced will take some time to debate, and it will take time for the full ramifications to become known.

I am grateful to my noble friend. I note his reflections and, to be honest, I share his disappointment to some extent, but I accept the decision. He made some valid points about the challenges that still face the HS2 project as a whole, and I agree: there are no major infrastructure projects that do not have significant challenges. But it is heartening to know that the Government are beefing up the governance arrangements of HS2 Ltd. A new chief executive is being recruited, and Sir Jon Thompson, the new chair who took his place in February, is very much involved in the recruitment to make sure that we get the right person to take the project forward.

My noble friend mentioned that there is some switch from capital to revenue—that always makes a Transport Minister excited because we do get much revenue funding in transport—but it is still mostly capital, of course, because we are talking about capital spend. This is an opportunity to mention one other piece of good news that I have not been able to mention to date: the “Get Around for £2” bus fare cap has been extended to the end of December. Again, that is revenue spend, and it is being used by millions of users. It has been really well received, and I am very pleased that we have been able to extend it.

My Lords, I remind the House of my interest as chairman of the Great Western Railway stakeholder board. It is a privilege to follow the noble Lord, Lord McLoughlin, who in the view of many of us was the most outstanding and successful Secretary of State for Transport in the past 12 years. The very good sense with which he spoke in this debate is an indication of why he is regarded with such respect.

The noble Lord was absolutely right in all his points. I do not intend to repeat them, but I would like to address the Minister, for whom I feel enormous sympathy because she has defended High Speed 2 day after day from that Dispatch Box and has not been supported by everyone in the House—and certainly not by everyone on the Benches behind her. She has now come along to defend a decision that is, frankly, absolutely indefensible because of the damage it does to the future prospects of the great cities of this country, as the noble Lord, Lord McLoughlin, said.

I have one question, which occurred to me when I heard the Prime Minister’s statement and read the documents today: what has happened to Great British Railways? Has it now been completely junked? If so, would it not be honest of the Government to say so? It is not a question of waiting for parliamentary time or using other means of establishing Great British Railways, about which I have written to the Minister. Is it still the Government’s intention that there will be a guiding mind and that the decisions about the future of British railways will at last be taken by people who understand how they work?

I reassure the noble Lord that it is still the Government’s intention that there will be Great British Railways. As I have said previously, it will depend on parliamentary time, but an enormous amount of work is of course going on in the meantime to establish an interim guiding mind to get as many things as we can. There are matters to work through as we develop the guiding mind principle—industrial action obviously being one of them—to give the senior leadership the head space they need to make some significant changes to establish a guiding mind.

My Lords, freeing roads for people and cyclists and reducing urban road speeds are a public health measure as well as a transport measure. They are a move to benefit small independent businesses in city centres as well as a step towards improved road safety, of course. A review was published in The Lancet Public Health journal, gathering research on low-emission schemes from around the world. Five of eight showed a clear reduction in heart and circulatory problems, and none showed a worsening. In Oxford, where Broad Street’s parking has been removed and new LTNs have been created, the city-centre footfall has grown by 15%, versus a UK average of 0%, while the shop vacancy rate is 6%, versus 13% in the south of England. Should not decisions about road use and conditions be made locally—as they have been in the Prime Minister’s own constituency, where North Yorkshire Council is significantly expanding 20 miles per hour speed limits—rather than be imposed from faraway Westminster?

Yes, they absolutely should and, of course, the Government issue guidance for local authorities to make those decisions.

What has happened to the money saved from the cancellation two years ago of the eastern leg of HS2 into Yorkshire, linking with the east coast main line? The Statement refers to a saving of £36 billion by stopping HS2 at Birmingham, of which £20 billion will go to the north. I am not clear from the Statement or from the Network North document what the plans are for the upgrade of the east coast main line, which has been consistently promised but does not appear in these documents. This is an issue of great concern to me, but it may be that the upgrade money is actually identified and the saving the Government have generated in the eastern leg link through Leeds and to the east coast main line is part of the £36 billion. I do not think it is—I think it has already been delivered as a saving—but I do not know where the money has gone. The Minister may like to write to explain that issue.

I would certainly like to give more information. My notes say “east coast main line”, but they do not exactly say what that means. It is our intention to continue the work we had planned there, as it is with many of the wider schemes in that area.

The focus of the announcement was very much on the savings from the cancellation of the route to Manchester, because that is much further developed. The Manchester line would have been open by 2041, so we were looking at savings over that period. Looking even further into the distance would really stretch noble Lords’ credulity—but over that period up to 2041 we can see the projects coming through. I shall write with further information on the east coast main line.

My Lords, having just last week travelled by high-speed rail from London to Switzerland, it is shameful to me that the country does not seem able to be part of the great European high-speed rail transit system, especially for those of us who live in the north of the country—although that now includes the south-west and the Midlands. That brings me to the great cities of the north of England: Liverpool, Manchester, Bradford, Leeds, York, Newcastle and Hull. Currently, they are served by the worst performing of all the rail network companies, and the routes are not electrified. Can the Minister give us an absolute guarantee that the trans-Pennine route from Liverpool to Hull and all those other cities will be fully electrified, using capital that has been reallocated to northern transit systems? By fully electrified, I mean including under the Pennine section.

What I can say to the noble Baroness is that our plans for the trans-Pennine route upgrade continue, and all the cities she mentioned are ones on which we have a laser-like focus. She mentioned Bradford, which got left out of the IRP. We had to make difficult decisions in the IRP, and we have been able to put that back. We will be looking at routes to Hull and Sheffield. I have already talked about the Manchester to Liverpool investment of £12 billion. As a Government, we recognise that east-west across the north is very poorly served at the moment, and I am very pleased that we are able to make such an investment.

House adjourned at 8.34 pm.