Infrastructure: Private Sector Investment

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th July 2017.

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Photo of Ian Lucas Ian Lucas Labour, Wrexham 12:00 am, 18th July 2017

What steps he is taking to incentivise private sector investment infrastructure projects in the nations and regions.

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones The Exchequer Secretary

This Government are committed to supporting private investment, which finances about half our infrastructure. We have a trusted and stable regulatory system, and through the UK guarantees scheme we have supported projects worth more than £4 billion. We are also introducing innovative support such as the digital infrastructure investment fund, which will accelerate the roll-out of the ultrafast network.

Photo of Ian Lucas Ian Lucas Labour, Wrexham

The north Wales Mersey Dee region hosts world-beating businesses such as Kellogg’s, Airbus and JCB, but we need competitive infrastructure in order to ensure that we remain competitive. For that reason, and in the absence of the public sector investment we are crying out for, may we please have the ability to deliver private sector investment? What are the Government going to do to deliver roads and rail?

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones The Exchequer Secretary

I simply do not recognise what the hon. Gentleman says; investment in our infrastructure is at a record high. We are seeing investment in roads, rail and south-east air capacity—in all modes of transport. The point is how we deliver that investment, and it is a combination of public and private. He is clearly right to champion the requirement for infrastructure in his area and to highlight its impact on the economy, but to say we are not doing anything is just factually wrong.

Photo of Bob Neill Bob Neill Chair, Justice Committee

One disincentive for the private sector to invest in infrastructure is the delay that sometimes occurs in bringing major projects through to completion and commencement. The private sector is already committed to making a significant contribution to the funding package for Crossrail, but we have been waiting since March for a decision to take it forward. Will the Minister do all he can, across government, to speed up that regional and national infrastructure project?

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones The Exchequer Secretary

I see significant merits in Crossrail 2, just as I see them in northern powerhouse rail and projects right across our country. I will of course take on board my hon. Friend’s point and relay it to the Transport Secretary.

Photo of Jonathan Reynolds Jonathan Reynolds Shadow Economic Secretary (Treasury)

Private investment thrives on stability, but we have a Cabinet in a state of anarchy when it comes to the terms of our exit from the European Union. Do the Government agree with Labour Members that an early announcement on transitional arrangements is therefore essential? If the Minister does agree with that, will he tell us the Government’s position on the latest date such arrangements could be announced—or are we more likely to see a transitional Chancellor than a transitional deal?

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones The Exchequer Secretary

I am not going to speculate on the negotiations, as that would be way above my pay grade. I just refer the hon. Gentleman to the Chancellor’s answer a moment ago on the merits of a Brexit deal that secures our economic future.