Infrastructure: Government 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 Vicky Ford Vicky Ford Conservative, Chelmsford 12:00 am, 18th July 2017

What assessment he has made of the effect of Government investment in infrastructure since 2010.

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies Conservative, Eastleigh

What assessment he has made of the effect of Government investment in infrastructure since 2010.

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones The Exchequer Secretary

Infrastructure is at the heart of this Government’s economic strategy, and our investments will boost productivity and growth. Since 2010, more than a quarter of a trillion pounds has been invested by the public and private sectors, about 3,000 individual projects have been completed, we have almost completed Crossrail, and more than 4 million homes accessed superfast broadband for the first time.

Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford Conservative, Chelmsford

Nearly 100 years ago, the world’s first radio broadcast was sent out from Britain—from Chelmsford. Does my hon. Friend agree that the digital infrastructure investment fund will give a massive boost to fibre and superfast broadband so that the UK can continue to lead the world in the digital and communications sectors?

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones The Exchequer Secretary

I thank my hon. Friend for that question. I have just learned something about Chelmsford and its history in the development of our digital and radio infrastructure. The investment will boost Britain’s internet, making it more reliable and consistent and easier for people to live and work more flexibly, which will of course boost productivity right across the UK. Fibre is the technology of the future, just as radio was 100 years ago, and this fund will significantly assist small and medium-sized enterprises with capital to roll it out, with both Chelmsford and the UK benefiting.

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies Conservative, Eastleigh

Investment and infrastructure projects are absolutely key to keeping our nation moving. As the Minister knows, Chickenhall link road and Botley bypass in my constituency were helped to do just that and to improve the quality of life of my constituents. I welcome road funding through the national productivity investment fund. Will Ministers meet me to discuss the delivery of those projects, which will affect my constituency in Eastleigh?

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones The Exchequer Secretary

My hon. Friend is a great champion for her constituency and for these projects. I have absolutely no doubt about the importance of them locally. If nothing else, we have met on the subject a number of times, and she is very tenacious. These projects not only open up opportunities for development, but help to relieve the congestion in the heart of her constituency. I will of course ensure that she meets the Transport team as soon as possible to progress those projects.

Photo of Chris Evans Chris Evans Labour/Co-operative, Islwyn

The electrification of the Great Western Railway between Paddington and Swansea was to provide huge economic benefits for businesses along that line. Unfortunately, the project has now overspent by £1.2 billion, and not a yard of the line has been electrified. What are the Government doing to ensure that projects such as this do not run over and waste taxpayers’ money in future?

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones The Exchequer Secretary

The efficiency in the way that we deliver our infrastructure is a critical consideration when the Government are putting in so much money to transform our infrastructure. The points that the hon. Gentleman makes about Network Rail will have been heard by my hon. Friends in the Transport team, and I will highlight his comments to them.

Photo of Kirsty Blackman Kirsty Blackman Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Economy), SNP Deputy Leader

Last month, the Institute for Government produced a report on infrastructure spending that said that decision makers do not know whether projects deliver value for money. It also believes that Parliament and the public are misinformed. What action are the Chancellor and his Department taking to ensure that future infrastructure spend delivers value for money and that costs do not spiral out of control like they have for Hinkley Point C?

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones The Exchequer Secretary

I simply highlight the extremely rigorous business case process, which every single project has to go through before it receives approval. The idea that these schemes are not considered is just wrong.

Photo of Kirsty Blackman Kirsty Blackman Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Economy), SNP Deputy Leader

The Scottish Government have committed to delivering 50,000 affordable homes by 2021. We recognise the calls that are being made by organisations such as Shelter Scotland and Big Issue, which believe in prioritising affordable housing. Why are the UK Government committing to build only 40,000 affordable homes in the same period?

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones The Exchequer Secretary

Again, that is a question that will have to go to colleagues in another Department. I will make sure that they hear the hon. Lady’s comments.