High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill

Part of Speaker’s Statement – in the House of Commons at 4:38 pm on 28th April 2014.

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Photo of Patrick McLoughlin Patrick McLoughlin The Secretary of State for Transport 4:38 pm, 28th April 2014

I was happy to give way to my hon. Friend, but I am mindful of what he said about me yesterday on Radio 4, bits of which I agree with and bits of which I am slightly worried about. He said:

Patrick McLoughlin is an excellent Cabinet Minister”—

I agree with him on that—

“and a former Chief Whip of the Conservative party. Indeed, if you had a difficult policy you wanted to push through Parliament, Patrick is your man. I would maintain that if the PM wanted the Herod Bill, Patrick would be the man to see that through Parliament.”

I am not quite sure whether to take that last bit as a compliment. When I talk about the need for capacity, I am talking about the need to free up capacity on other lines as well.

One of the great successes in the rail industry in this country is the massive growth in the railways, and I shall say more about that later. If we look at the tables, we see that 20 years ago, rail passenger numbers in this country were constant. Over the past 20 years, however, the numbers have risen from 750 million to 1.5 billion passenger journeys a year. The numbers continue to grow, and we need to address that fact. That is why we are right to do what we are doing with HS2.