It has been a pleasure to hear so many passionate speeches about the power of transport to transform the outcomes of our constituencies and our country. Even though there have been some strong speeches from Members who have HS2 running through their patches—obviously they defend their patches and constituents—we have heard too about the transformative nature of HS2.
There is no denying that HS2 is a large infrastructure project—it is the largest of its kind in Europe—but it is also absolutely key as it links up eight of our 10 great cities. It will be transformative not only because it will increase capacity and reduce the time it takes to reach eight of our top 10 cities, but because, along the way, it will smash the north-south divide, creating jobs and opportunities for people in the midlands and the north.
I need to respond to quite a few Members and go through each of the new clauses, so I will be as swift as I can. I thank the shadow Minister for her comments supporting the project as a whole and her recognition of the number of jobs that will be created along the route and in the supply chain. At the peak, there will be 30,000 jobs, most of them outside London. I also welcome the comments about the urgent need to get on and deliver this vital infrastructure project and about how it is about not just speed but capacity.
I could talk about my passion for the project, but I thought it might be relevant, considering that we are sitting here in the middle of London talking about those who are supportive of HS2 and those who are critical of it, if I mentioned voices that do not often get mentioned in the Chamber. The Birmingham chamber of commerce has said:
“HS2 is a game changer for our region as Birmingham will proudly sit at the centre of a brand new network”.
“HS2 will be transformational for Leeds and the region”.
Leader of Derby City Council, Chris Poulter, said:
“Whist I’m aware that there have been some concerns about the impact of HS2;
we mustn’t lose sight of the benefits to Derby, and the wider Midlands area.”
There was also a fantastic article put together by the leaders of Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle and the Mayors of Greater Manchester and the Liverpool city region. These people represent 15.4 million people, and they say there is no realistic alternative to the delivery of HS2, which we know is key to delivering Northern Powerhouse Rail as well. I am concerned that sometimes the criticism comes from so far south. We should focus on the needs and aspirations of people in the midlands and the north.