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Part of High Speed Rail (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 15th July 2019.

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Photo of Ivan Lewis Ivan Lewis Independent, Bury South 6:30 pm, 15th July 2019

I know exactly what my hon. Friend is saying, although I do not watch “The Great British Bake Off” regularly. He is right and he was in the vanguard as one of the local government leaders in Greater Manchester who were the most dynamic and entrepreneurial in looking at the potential of devolution to transform the communities that he now represents in this place. He demonstrated that local leadership in that capacity could make a transformational difference and I pay tribute to him for that.

My hon. Friend also articulated, more than most, the risks of the northern powerhouse model that was presented, in terms of the lack of resources and investment, and the failure to transfer adequate powers. He is right that the Labour Government did some good things on devolution. I remember attending seminar after seminar at No.10 Downing Street about how to improve buses outside London. Every time we were asked the question and at every opportunity we said, “Reregulation and integration”, but that was refused by the then Government. While it is true that many good things were done, that Government were reluctant to devolve in the way that they should have done.

Hon. Members have expressed concerns about the specific nature of HS2, but it is sad that we do not hear enough from them about the centrality of rebalancing the economy if we are to achieve our potential on a long-term basis. Whether we are for or against Brexit, that is a fact. If we continue to ensure that swathes of this country are not supported to fulfil their potential through investment, we are not only damaging those communities and preventing individuals from having the opportunities and life chances that others have, we are damaging UK plc by failing to see that it has a massive dampening effect on our productivity, our competitiveness and our capacity for innovation.

Hon. Members on both sides of the House and representing all areas of the country should acknowledge that this issue is about the national interest. It is not just about the interests of the north of England, although we are here to represent and articulate those interests, but about the long-term interests of the country. Our constituents have been short-changed for far too long in terms of the share of the cake that is available to be distributed under any Government.

I say gently to one or two Conservative Members that Lord Adonis has not been a Transport Minister for about nine years, so Conservative Ministers have had opportunities to make one or two amendments to the scheme if they are uncomfortable with it. I wonder whether their concerns about Lord Adonis have something to do with other factors than his tweaking of the route—