Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
When His Excellency the President of China Xi Jinping visited my constituency in 2015, he spoke eloquently about 30 years of the twinning arrangement between Manchester and Wuhan. I want to say on the record that the prayers of Manchester are with the people of Wuhan as they try to contain the coronavirus.
Pope Francis said, five years ago in his seminal encyclical “Laudato Si’”, that we should hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. Economic productivity goes hand in hand with social justice, and I think that that is the essence of the debate. I just want to touch, in the few minutes I have, on how it impacts on my constituency.
First, 28 million passengers go through Manchester Airport—some might say that I have the most visited constituency in the north of England—but we need a more sustainable aviation industry. HS2 will reduce journey times from two hours, 24 minutes from my constituency to London to 59 minutes. That is an incredible amount, but it is not about the speed; it is about releasing capacity on the west coast main line. Tens of millions of freight trucks could be taken off the road and on to our railways. Metrolink needs to be expanded through my constituency. We need the bid that has gone in to the Government—for Metrolink to be able to go from the current stop at Manchester Airport to the new terminal, and eventually to loop right around my constituency—to succeed,. because we know that is a green way to travel.
I have some sympathy for Northern Rail. The Government did invest in the Ordsall Chord and connect Piccadilly railway station to Victoria railway station, but we are still waiting for a decision on platforms 15 and 16. There is a bottleneck across the north, and whoever is operating rail in the north will still have to deal with that bottleneck.
I am pleased with Stagecoach in my constituency, at Sharston bus depot. It has committed to making every bus going through my constituency electric in the next few years. We need the national infrastructure fund to help Mayor Burnham and Chris Boardman, our excellent cycling and walking commissioner, with our network in Manchester—£43 billion needs to be spent on cities outside London.
Finally, air quality has been mentioned. Up to 1,200 people die annually in Greater Manchester because we have the poorest air quality in the country. That has to change by having a joined-up transport system with lower emissions. We need to level up outside the south-east.