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High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:48 pm on 26th June 2013.

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Photo of Martin Vickers Martin Vickers Conservative, Cleethorpes 4:48 pm, 26th June 2013

My hon. Friend makes a fair point, but similar points could be made about every item of Government expenditure. Ultimately, the increased capacity will benefit the more provincial towns and peripheral areas of our country. The network is operating to capacity. We heard from the Secretary of State that the west coast main line would be at capacity in the early 2020s, and similarly the east coast main line, which has an impact on my constituency, will soon be full.

People have talked about blight, but speed is essential. Yes, there can be blight on individual properties and so on, but if that is to be the case, the sooner we get a decision on routes, compensation and so on, the better. Speed is also essential for the economy. We have heard, quite understandably, that connectivity is important to the development of our towns and cities, and that has been proved by countless reports over time. If Hudson and the other Victorian rail moguls had had to operate to timetables as stretched as that for HS2, I doubt whether the network would have developed to anything like the extent it did and from which this country benefited in the late-19th and 20th centuries.

The Minister has just scuttled out of the Chamber. Perhaps he suspected that I was about to mention that increased capacity would allow additional services to Cleethorpes and elsewhere—but that is for the future. If we are to rebalance the economy to the benefit of the north of England, it is important that we have this increased capacity and connectivity. I can understand the arguments against it. The cost is phenomenal, and, as my hon. Friend Andrew Bridgen pointed out, my constituents will have to bear some of that cost.

[Interruption.]

Does my hon. Friend Mr Binley wish to intervene?