[Mr David Amess in the Chair] — Backbench business — Network Rail
Brian Binley (Northampton South, Conservative)
I do not know about that, but I have been interested in running efficient businesses all my life and I know that this is not efficient. That is what I am bothered about, and that is why I say to the Government that it is their job to make sure that it is efficient. If there are bad practices of this kind, it is the Government’s job to change things. The Minister represents all the consumers. They look to him as a kindly father who looks after their interests, and I am sure that he will do so.
I restate my full and enthusiastic support for high-speed rail. It is not about speed, and the nonsense about getting to Birmingham 20 minutes sooner is not the reason why it is important either. Of course, if we are to build a new railway, it must be the best that it can possibly be. Therefore, it must be the quickest and most efficient that it can possibly be. The real reason why high-speed rail is important, however, is capacity. My good friend the hon. Member for Luton North will tell us that we can only get so many trains on a line in a given hour. High-speed rail is about slots on the line and capacity. Rail will be oversubscribed by 2024—some people believe sooner—which is why high-speed rail is so vital.
Let us not have facile arguments about whether it is worth paying more to get to Birmingham sooner. That is not the point. The point is whether we get to Birmingham at all. Let that be a lesson to those who oppose High Speed 2. I know people who live in Manchester, Leeds and other such areas who know that there is a blockage in Birmingham. They know that it is increasingly difficult to go by rail through Birmingham and down to London and the south-east and then to the continent. They are looking to this Government to ensure that their part of HS2 is completed. I repeat that it is a massively important investment for the country in economic and social terms, and in ensuring that our children and grandchildren are employed on a good salary. I recommend that the Minister bring it forward to 2024. That is a target to set and, if he accomplishes that task, he will deserve a knighthood.