Given how much playing of politics there was in that statement, one could forget that the Labour party actually supports HS2. In his “game changer” speech, the shadow Secretary of State for Transport spoke about its importance.
Before I go on to answer questions, we must remind ourselves that it is absolutely right that we do not focus only on what is required here in London and the south-east. In case they need reminding, I will tell shadow Front Benchers what Andy Burnham said recently:
“We don’t need London commentators telling northern leaders what we need…We need HS2”.
He—[Interruption.] If Opposition Front Benchers support northern Labour leaders, some support at the Dispatch Box, and when other opportunities arise, for the most important infrastructure project of our lifetimes is absolutely key.
“the opportunity to transform the prospects for the north—perhaps a once in 200-year opportunity.”
I know you take a close personal interest in HS2, given your constituency, Mr Speaker. You may be aware that the all-party parliamentary group on the northern powerhouse, which includes more than 80 MPs, recently put out a statement about how important HS2 is to ensure that we smash the north-south divide.
When there are criticisms of HS2 and constituents’ queries are not dealt with, it is absolutely right that we hold HS2 to account. Some individuals have to deal with the difficult impact of the line going near their homes. I am challenging HS2 repeatedly and will continue to do so. If any hon. Members have cases that have fallen short, I apologise, and I will be more than happy to hold further meetings.
As I mentioned earlier, this is one of our largest infrastructure projects and it will connect half of our country’s population. To adapt the motto of the Labour party, this line is for the many and not for the vested interests of the few who want to play politics with this important infrastructure project.