Department for Transport — Transport and the Economy
Vote on Account 2012-13
5:41 pm

Photo of Jonathan Ashworth

Jonathan Ashworth (Opposition Whip (Commons); Leicester South, Labour)

I start by paying tribute to my hon. Friend Mrs Ellman, who spoke with great eloquence and distinction. She spoke a lot of good sense on behalf of the Transport Committee and I agreed with every word that she said. She is quite right to draw the link between the wider impact on economic growth and investing in and building a modern transport infrastructure.

The Transport Committee’s recent paper highlighted the need for the Government to

“ensure that where it approves transport schemes designed to stimulate economic growth and rebalance the economy, they are supported by convincing economic development strategies.”

In my brief speech I will argue that electrification of the midland main line meets exactly those criteria, but although that is what I want to concentrate on, I will start by saying a word or two about high-speed rail.

On balance I support high-speed rail, although I understand the arguments against it, not least the argument put by hon. Member for South Northamptonshire (Andrea Leadsom). However, I want to put a point to the Minister on which I hope he can reassure me in his summing up. There is concern among campaigners for the electrification of the midland main line that they may not see any direct advantage from HS2—that resources for the scheme will be taken away and we will never get electrification. [ Interruption. ] The Minister is shaking his head, but that is a genuine concern, so perhaps he can touch on it in his response to the debate.

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