High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill

Part of Speaker’s Statement – in the House of Commons at 5:28 pm on 28th April 2014.

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Photo of Mary Creagh Mary Creagh Shadow Secretary of State for Transport 5:28 pm, 28th April 2014

That was an excellent point, well made. My right hon. Friend has triggered my memory. There has been £6 billion for Reading, £6 billion for Thameslink and £18 billion for Crossrail—pretty soon there will be enough for a high-speed rail network. I have read about the debates over the disruption that Crossrail has caused. Tottenham Court Road station was closed for two years, yet the centre of our global capital was prepared to put up with that because it realised the benefits that it would bring through reduced journey times. Mr Redwood has the freight flyover at Reading station, as well as a couple of new platforms and re-signalling work. He will no doubt enjoy the faster journey times to London. I would like the same for my constituents and the constituents of Julian Smith.

I wonder when the Government will be able to report on the vocational training elements of phase 1, which were provided for by Labour’s amendment to the paving Bill. We want to see the annual report and to see what is happening. We welcome the new further education college that will train the next generation of young women and men to become rail engineers. Members on both sides of the House have been bidding to host the college. I look forward to hearing where and when it will open.

Sir David Higgins’s report called on the Government to be more ambitious in the development of Euston station. The iconic new developments at King’s Cross and St Pancras show how stations can transform and regenerate their local areas. I hope that that will also happen at Reading. Euston is potentially central London’s biggest regeneration site. Its redevelopment must provide new social housing to tackle the acute housing crisis in Camden, as well as retail and office space. It would be a disaster if it followed the housing developments in the city centre that are sold off-plan to foreign investors, creating ghost towns, rather than going to local people.

I know that my right hon. Friend Frank Dobson and Councillor Sarah Hayward, the leader of Camden council, will continue to battle to get the best deal for their community. It has been inspirational to talk to my right hon. Friend about the life sciences hub that he wants to see around the Francis Crick Institute, which is due to open near Euston in 2015. To have the tech hub at Old Street and a life sciences hub at Euston would be an enormous boost for young people and jobs in his constituency.