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Part of High Speed Rail (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:30 pm on 15th July 2019.

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Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Transport) 4:30 pm, 15th July 2019

Labour is very clear that we will be supporting phase 2a that is before the House today, but we have called into question the way in which the Government are approaching the whole governance of the project. That is why we want to drive the project forward in a different way. I call on all hon. Members across the House to join us in the Lobby today to ensure that we get the right scrutiny over this project to drive it forward in the interests of their constituents, the public and the whole economy.

Members who attended the Westminster Hall debate last week will have heard the excellent speech of my right hon. Friend Liam Byrne, who so eloquently set out the idea that we measure what we treasure. I heard the powerful case for the east midlands, where over 60,000 jobs—high-quality ones, at that—have already been created, and we know that this project will bring opportunities across the country.

I hear the same expectations from Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester; from Steve Rotheram, the Mayor of the Liverpool city region; from my hon. Friend Dan Jarvis, the Mayor of the Sheffield city region; and from Judith Blake, the leader of Leeds City Council. Not only will 30,000 jobs be developed across the project; hundreds of thousands will also result from investment across the north and the midlands, including in my home city of York. That in itself is a game-changer in tackling social mobility issues and rebalancing national inequality, and will draw investment into places that are in urgent need of regeneration. The issue is not whether HS2 is the right project, but the governance that surrounds its planning and construction.

As I have already said, Labour would integrate HS2 with the rest of our rail enhancement programme and integrate the northern sections of the route fully with the trans-Pennine connections, ensuring the connectivity, journey times and reliability that are so desperately needed. This is what we can achieve with one transformative, public-run rail service, and it is also what we believe the Government can achieve if they are serious about delivering the rail system needed for the future of the country. We also believe that the environmental value of this project needs greater scrutiny.