With your permission, Mr Speaker, I will make a statement on the transport revolution that we intend to bring about.
There are all sorts of reasons why the city in which we now sit is the most productive region in the whole of Europe. We have the time zone, the language and the agglomeration of talents. Above all, we have a mass transit system that every day conveys millions of people efficiently and affordably, with tubes and trains and 8,600 buses, into the central activities zone in the morning and out in the evening, like the respiration of some vast undersea coelenterate. As the public transport network has expanded in the last 150 years, it has brought hope and opportunity and job prospects to people growing up in every part of the city and beyond. It is the ambition of this Government to employ that same utensil—fantastic transport infrastructure—to unite and level up across the whole country.
Of course there is far more to do in London—frankly, the present Mayor needs to be shaken out of his complacency—but there is even more to do across the nation as a whole. Whether they are stuck in a jam on the A303 or on the outskirts of Lincoln, whether they are trying to get from Warrington to Manchester or toiling across the Pennines by rail, people know that this country is being held back by our inadequate infrastructure. So in the next few weeks this Government will be setting out more details of the transport revolution, because we all know the potential of transport to change people’s life and the life of their town or city. We know that efficient transport can clean the air and cut pollution and get cars off the road. We can simultaneously reach our ambition of net zero by 2050 and shorten people’s commute, giving them more time with their family, increase productivity and bring business and investment to left behind communities.
That is why we are embarking now on a massive programme of investment in local transport, starting with a record-breaking £5 billion of new investment in buses and bicycles. That investment will mean bus passengers across the country seeing a dramatic improvement in their daily journeys, with more than 4,000 brand-new buses—zero-carbon, British-built buses—on the roads of places such as Ashfield, Barnstaple, Southampton, Manchester and many more towns and cities besides. There will be more services, including in the evenings and weekends, as well as simpler, cheaper and more convenient ticketing and properly designed priority schemes to speed passengers past the traffic jams. It is an investment that will also mean cyclists enjoying hundreds of miles of brand-new separated lanes, with “mini-Hollands” blooming like so many tulips in towns and cities right across the country.
That £5 billion is just the start. My very good friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be making a full announcement in next month’s Budget, and I have no desire to steal his thunder, but I can signal today that we are taking forward transformative improvements from Cornwall to the A1 north of Newcastle, from south Salisbury to south Ribble, from Cheadle to Chiverton, with dual carriageways, roundabouts, bypasses and underpasses—and those are just the roads. We have already set out plans to explore new investments in the rail network across the north, developing proposals to reopen the Fleetwood line in Lancashire and the Ashington to Blyth rail line in the north-east, improving track and platform capacity at Middlesbrough station—
Thank you. We will be installing new signalling at Harrogate, one of North Yorkshire’s busiest stations. Further south, I can today announce that we will be upgrading the Bristol east junction, a major pinch point in the rail network of the south-west that limits access to the Brunel-designed Victorian splendour of Bristol Temple Meads station.
This transport revolution is local, because it must be local. We can unite and level up across the country with fantastic local improvements: better rail; less congested roads; and beautiful, British-built buses that are cleaner, greener, quieter, safer and more frequent. Above all, we can improve the quality of life for people and improve their productivity. We can make places more attractive to live in and to invest in. But we cannot make these improvements in isolation from one another, because we will be doing only half the job; we will not fix the great musculoskeletal problem of UK transport. Yes, we must fix the joint between the knee bone and the thigh bone and the shin bone and the ankle bone. Yes, we must fix the arthritis in the fingers and the toes, but we also have to fix the spine, and our generation faces a historic choice. We can try to get by with the existing routes from north to south. We can consign the next generation to overcrowding and standing up in the carriageways, or we can have the guts to take a decision—unlike the party opposite—no matter how difficult and controversial, that will deliver prosperity to every part of the country. This will take 50 minutes off the journey time to Glasgow.
When it comes to advocating HS2, it must be said that the task is not made easier by HS2 Ltd, the company concerned. Speaking as a Member of Parliament whose constituency is on the route, I cannot say that HS2 Ltd has distinguished itself in the handling of local communities. As everybody knows, the cost forecasts have exploded, but poor management to date has not detracted from the fundamental value of the project. The review recently conducted by Douglas Oakervee, copies of which will be placed in the Library of the House, leaves no doubt of the clinching case for high-speed rail: a vast increase in capacity, with hundreds of thousands of extra seats, making it much easier for travellers to move up and down our long, narrow country. That means faster journey times. It means not just more capacity, but faster journey times—extraordinarily fast journey times. Passengers arriving at Birmingham Airport will be able to get to central London by train in 38 minutes, which compares favourably with the time it takes to get from Heathrow by taxi, a point I just draw to the attention of the House.
But this is not just about getting from London to Birmingham and back. [Interruption.] It is also considerably faster than the Piccadilly line. This is about finally making a rapid connection from the west midlands to the northern powerhouse—to Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds—and simultaneously permitting us to go forward with northern powerhouse rail across the Pennines, finally giving the home of the railways the fast connections they need. None of that makes any sense without HS2. The Infrastructure and Projects Authority considers that the first phase can be delivered for its current projected cost of £35 billion to £45 billion in today’s prices. The designs have been improved immeasurably thanks to the tireless contributions of campaigners, including my right hon. Friend Dame Cheryl Gillan, who I do not think is in her place.
If we start now, services could be running by the end of the decade, so today the Cabinet has given high-speed rail the green signal. We are going to get this done, and to ensure that we do so without further blow-outs on either cost or schedule, we are today taking decisive action to restore discipline to the programme. I will be appointing a Minister whose full-time job will be to oversee the project, a new ministerial oversight group will be tasked with taking strategic decisions about it, and there will be changes to the way HS2 Ltd is managed. In line with Mr Oakervee’s recommendations, we will interrogate the current costs to identify where savings could be made in phase 1 without the costs and delays that would be associated with a detailed redesign, and so that the company can focus solely on getting phases 1 and 2a built on something approaching time and budget, I will create new delivery arrangements for both the grossly behind-schedule Euston terminus and phase 2b of the wider project.
Before those designs are finalised and legislation is introduced, we will also present an integrated plan for rail in the north. Informed by an assessment from the National Infrastructure Commission it will, in line with the findings of the Oakervee review, look at how we can best design and integrate rail investments throughout the north, including Northern Powerhouse Rail between Leeds and Manchester. I have just spoken to the Mayor of Greater Manchester, who has warmly welcomed the project, which I committed to supporting, I seem to remember, during my first days in office.
I want the plan to identify the most effective design and sequencing of all relevant investments in the north. For example, with many in the north crying out for better east-west links instead of improved north-south ones, which we have heard about many times in the House, some have suggested delaying or even cancelling HS2 in order to get Northern Powerhouse Rail done more quickly. I say to the House that it is not an either/or proposition: both are needed and both will be built as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible. To make sure that that happens we will, working closely with northern leaders, explore options for creating a new delivery vehicle for Northern Powerhouse Rail, and we will start treating HS2 north of Birmingham, Northern Powerhouse Rail and other local rail improvements as part of one integrated masterplan: high-speed north.
Something has to change. Those who deny that—those who say that we should simply build phase 2b and Northern Powerhouse Rail according to the plans currently on the table—are effectively condemning the north to get nothing for 20 years. That would be intolerable, so as we draw up this plan, we are not asking whether it is phase 2b or not 2b. That is not the question; the question is how we can bring a transport revolution to the north sooner.
Altogether, this revolution in local and national transport has the potential to be truly transformative for the entire country. Yes, it is ambitious, but ambition is what we have lacked for far too long. Two centuries ago our ancestors could have been content with breeding faster horses; instead, they invented the railways—they created the transport network on which the United Kingdom rose to economic pre-eminence. They looked to the future of transport and they made it happen. Today, it is our duty to do the same. Let us bring about a future where high-speed trains glide between our great cities, where electric buses convey us cleanly around our towns, where self-driving cars roam along roads that are free of the congestion that causes so much pollution, and where a new generation of cyclists pedal safely and happily to school and work in tree-dappled sunlight on their own network of fully segregated cycle paths—[Interruption.] As we did in London.
This Government will deliver a new anatomy of British transport—a revolution in the nation’s public transport provision. It will be a sign to the world that, in the 21st century, this United Kingdom still has the vision to dream big dreams and the courage to bring those dreams about. I commend this statement to the House.
I thank the Prime Minister for an advance copy of his statement.
Once again, we see the Government taking ideas from the Labour party, adopting our language, but falling a very long way short on the substance of it. This is a Government who are unwilling to make the scale of investment needed to revive parts of this country that have been decimated by successive Conservative Governments. This is a Government who have proved themselves unable to manage infrastructure projects properly and incapable of keeping a lid on the costs.
Today’s piecemeal announcements do not add up to a serious plan to rebalance the economy or to tackle the serious climate emergency that we all face. They do not even come close to repairing the damage done by a decade of Tory Government—[Interruption.] Well, it is true—they know it. The Prime Minister laments our inadequate infrastructure, yet it is his party that has been starving the country of investment over the past 10 years, resulting in the worst regional inequality in Europe. Today, the Prime Minister is selling his announcement as a prize for parts of the midlands and the north. I simply tell him this: people in those regions to whom he promised so much in the general election are going to be sorely disappointed when they see what actually happens.
Let us take HS2, for example. The Labour party supports HS2 as a means to boost regional economies and to reduce climate emissions. It is essential for boosting rail capacity and freeing up other lines for increased freight use and so on, but we do not see why the Government should get a slap on the back for announcing that it is going ahead. After all, it is only because of the abject failure of successive Conservative Governments to keep on top of the costs that the project’s future was put in doubt in the first place.
Today’s proposed boardroom shake-up comes far too late to avoid the public having to fork out tens of billions more than was forecast in the first place. It is money that has already been wasted because of the incompetence of this Tory Government and their predecessors. The leaked Oakervee review, which apparently will come out later, was correct to say that HS2 must be fully integrated as part of the modern railway system. It must extend to the great northern cities, linking up with Northern Powerhouse Rail, and eventually to Scotland to end the need for domestic flying in this country at the earliest possible opportunity.
We are concerned that the links to Manchester and Leeds are now under review and could, reportedly, be even downgraded. HS2 must be developed with more sensitivity to local communities and much more sensitivity to the environmental impact, particularly on modern and ancient woodlands across the country. If it is to have public support, the fares on HS2 must be affordable and comparable with the rest of the fare system on the railway network. Will the Prime Minister tell us where the trains will be built? Will those jobs and training be done in this country? What about other parts of the country such as, for example, the far south-west? When will the Prime Minister match the £2.5 billion commitment to upgrade the Great Western main line as our only train line into the south-west? We need better connectivity beyond Bristol to Devon and Cornwall.
We believe that the case is now unanswerable that our railways should be publicly owned and publicly run, to improve the service and to cut fares by 33%. Does the Prime Minister recognise that too many people are simply priced off the railways? The average commuter is now paying £3,067 for their season ticket, £873 more than when the Conservatives came into office in 2010. Why will the Prime Minister not cut the cost of travelling? Why should people in Britain have to pay so much for expensive fares—much more expensive than those in any other comparable country?
When I first raised the question of buses at Prime Minister’s Question Time, I was ridiculed by many Tory MPs and by many in our media. From the look of the front pages of our papers today, those same quarters now regard the focus on buses as a political masterstroke. Well, I will take the credit for it. It is fine. In reality, however, what the Government have said today about buses is frankly woeful. They have cherry-picked policies from the Labour manifesto but have underfunded them. That does not make up for the deep cuts since 2010. Funding for buses has fallen by £645 million a year in real terms since 2010, 3,300 routes have been cut or withdrawn, and fares have soared at two and a half times the rate of average wages.
It is councils that keep bus routes open. We need long- term funding for local authorities, which have suffered such severe cuts and now face a further £8 billion black hole over this Parliament because of underfunding. The Government are still refusing to give all councils the powers to improve local bus services and the option of public ownership of their services.
On cycling, all the Prime Minister is actually offering is 250 miles of cycle routes. Our manifesto promised 3,300 miles of cycle routes all across the country. Again, that is just plain inadequate from this Government.
Underinvestment by the Conservatives has created problems that they are forced to acknowledge, but they simply are not serious about fixing them. Is regional inequality going to be solved by 10 freeports? Is this not just a gimmick creating the storage spaces for the super-rich to dodge taxes and launder money?
The Prime Minister is clearly fond of announcing big shiny projects, such as the scheme to build a bridge over the Irish sea. Why not go the whole hog and make it a garden bridge, connected to an airport in the sea? It stands as much chance of actually being built as any of those failed projects put forward by the former Mayor of London. Or why not make it a cable car between Scotland and Northern Ireland, or better still a giant zip wire? The Prime Minister could be the first to try it out.
The saddest thing about today’s announcement is the high likelihood that so much of it will not be delivered, with the Prime Minister demanding 5% cuts in the very Departments that are supposed to carry out these policies. I fear that the communities that desperately need investment in new infrastructure will be let down when today’s headlines become yesterday’s news and they find that nothing has changed.
Order. To help the House, I am expecting to run this statement until about 1.40 pm. Some Members may not get in, but if we all help each other we will be much nearer to getting everyone in.
I thought Jeremy Corbyn made a manful attempt to conceal his fundamental agreement with what we are doing. He raised some interesting points. We are actually doing a transport revolution across the whole of the south-west, not only by investing in the sea wall at Dawlish, on the railways, but by upgrading the roads, including the A303 through the south-west. We will be doing improvements in Wales, and I think that it is high time that the Brynglas tunnels were unblocked. We encourage the Labour Government in Wales to do that. Do not forget that HS2 brings 50 minutes off the journey time to Glasgow. It is for every part of this country.
As for fares, I remind the right hon. Gentleman that fares rose twice as fast under the Labour Government—[Interruption.] Andy McDonald is trying to interrupt me from a sedentary position, and I remind him that the whole point of putting in another 200,000 seats in capacity is that it thereby drives down prices for the consumer. It is about competition.
I thought that the right hon. Gentleman made a heroic attempt to cavil and disagree with what is fundamentally a wonderful project for this country. He even tried to dislike our bus plans, I do not know quite how—[Interruption.] No, no, he claimed them for himself. I will take that; the Leader of the Opposition, as far as I understand the position, actively supports the Government’s announcement today. I congratulate him on that.
The additional £5 billion for buses and cycle links is greatly welcome. Last year, the Select Committee on Transport called for additional funding for buses and a buses strategy, both of which are coming to fruition. How will the Prime Minister ensure that the money allocated to local authorities for these projects is spent by local authorities on these projects? Will it be ring-fenced? If not, how will we really ensure that we are levelling up our public transport system?
I congratulate my hon. Friend on the work he does for his community. I can assure him that we will ensure that when money is allocated for buses or cycling projects, it is spent on buses and cycling projects.
I thank the Prime Minister for an advance copy of the statement. Let me be mindful of one reality. No number of prime ministerial vanity projects will ever heal the economic damage and the damage to connectivity that this Tory Brexit will inflict.
In terms of the HS2 announcement, enhanced rail infrastructure is obviously welcome, despite the indecision and waste that have been synonymous with the project. We will wait and see whether the Prime Minister is capable of getting this decision through his own party and past his own chief adviser. However, if the Prime Minister is truly committed to rail connectivity across these islands, will he engage with the Scottish Government to improve rail links from Scotland to the major cities of the north of England, such as Manchester, Newcastle and beyond? Will he also explore collaboration on the extension of the borders rail line, and what resources will be provided?
The Prime Minister may talk about his priorities of one nation; we know what nation he is talking about, and it definitely does not include the Scottish nation. Can I further ask, given his previous opposition to the Barnett formula and his party’s repeated failure to implement it fully, whether he can confirm that all the spending he is determined to engage in will be subject to Barnett consequentials? Yes or no?
I welcome the fact that the UK Government are following the lead of the Scottish Government, who announced a £500 million bus infrastructure programme last September. Given the Prime Minister’s previous association with buses, however, can he reassure the House that false advertisements will be banned from the new bus fleet?
Finally, on the bridge, this is a Prime Minister who could not even build a bridge across the Thames, so he will therefore have to forgive those of us who are sceptical that he can build one over the 20-mile expanse of the North sea. Will the Prime Minister therefore provide the estimated £20 billion for this project to the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive so they can spend those moneys on their own priorities?
I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that we will of course collaborate with the Scottish Government on projects that will be of massive benefit for the whole of our United Kingdom. On his substantive question about Barnett consequentials, yes, of course there will be Barnett consequentials as far as the buses are concerned. As for his plan to build a bridge across the North sea, I think he needs to look at the geography of the United Kingdom again. The only obstacle standing in the way of HS2 is the crackpot SNP plans to put an economic border between England and Scotland, break up the United Kingdom and have a border at Berwick.
My right hon. Friend’s comprehensive announcement will be widely welcomed across the west midlands and in Birmingham, and nowhere more so than in the royal town of Sutton Coldfield. Will he pay tribute to the superb leadership of our West Midlands Mayor Andy Street in marshalling the arguments and in putting the case for something that will underwrite our economic prosperity for the future?
I very much welcome the announcement as far as HS2 and the integration into HS3 are concerned. Does the Prime Minister agree that his statement could be improved and bring more immediate jobs to the north of England if, as well as building HS2 from London to the north, we also started building HS2 from the north to the south? Finally, for real ambition, would he agree that HS2 should go to Scotland, which would help to unite the two countries?
We will certainly get on with building phase 2a immediately, but I can tell the hon. Gentleman that HS2 already does go to Scotland; that is one of the great advantages of the project.
The Prime Minister will understand that Andy Street and I tend to talk about soft furnishings, as the subject tends to avoid argument, because I am less than enthusiastic about the route of HS2, which connects with neither Eurostar, Birmingham New Street nor St Pancras. However, I am delighted to hear the Prime Minister say that the organisation of HS2 Ltd will be revised. As HS2 is now going ahead, does he agree that it is important that we compensate well those people in my constituency—and in his—who will be affected by it?
The confirmation that the full HS2 route has been given the go-ahead is welcome news, and there is a strong case for building the Birmingham to east midlands part early, but if the project is to deliver on its potential for our region, we need assurances that the phase 2b Bill will receive Royal Assent in this Parliament, and that it will not be delayed further or downgraded to cut costs. Will the Prime Minister give us those assurances today?
Of course we are committed to phase 2b, but I think the hon. Member will appreciate—given what has happened in the past 10 years with phase 1—that it is vital that we use this inflection point to ensure that the taxpayer gets maximum value as we proceed.
My right hon. Friend Dame Cheryl Gillan, who is recovering from a major operation, has asked me to thank the volunteers and donors from all over the nation who have fought against HS2 over the past 11 years. The last three years have given us a few lessons in what gracious defeat looks like, and although I remain worried by the environmental, financial and governance issues of the project, I really do wish it all the best. I was particularly pleased to hear what the Prime Minister said about the northern section and the speed with which he intends to deliver it, and about buses and bikes. I have one ask, on taking a holistic approach to blight; if it is impossible to regrow ancient trees or to get rid of congestion where it exists, can we please compensate communities by, for example, building their local hospital?
We can certainly ensure that we restore areas where there is environmental damage—and there will of course be effects on woodlands. We will be planting 7 million trees, which is many more than will be destroyed.
On balance, I welcome the news that HS2 has been given the go-ahead, for the capacity gains that will benefit the north-west region and for the construction and rail supply firms in my constituency, which I hope will receive a fair shot at winning contracts associated with the project. However, my constituents in Culcheth, Croft, Risley and Hollins Green in particular will be looking for assurances that the unnecessary Golborne spur will be removed from the proposed route. This is an issue that transcends party affiliations and on which local MPs are in agreement. Will the Prime Minister give us those assurances?
I have heard representations on the Golborne spur from many people in this House, and we will certainly be looking at the matter.
I welcome the increased priority for Northern Powerhouse Rail and the link from Manchester to Leeds in particular, but will my right hon. Friend ensure an urgent review of parts of the route for phase 2b, including the Golborne spur, which is entirely unnecessary and likely to cost more than £1 billion—completely wasted money? Will he also look at the fact that the station for Manchester airport is absurdly not at Manchester airport, and will instead be built on ancient woodland at Davenport Green in my constituency?
My hon. Friend makes excellent points about the Golborne spur and Manchester airport. We will certainly be looking at both issues.
Key to cutting carbon emissions and tackling climate change is cutting domestic flights and moving people on to our railways. That is why the HS2 announcement is to be welcomed and building a third runway at Heathrow is an act of environmental vandalism. Will the Prime Minister now prove his credentials on climate change, make good on his promise of lying down in front of the bulldozers, or—far more simply—just cancel the third runway?
Local authorities have limited resources to deliver their new local cycling and walking infrastructure plans. Would my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister support the delivery of parts of those plans through appropriate local charities, such as the Derwent Valley Trust in Derbyshire, that are capable of implementing key sections of the network?
Yes. It will be very important to collaborate with appropriate delivery vehicles, such as the charity that my hon. Friend mentions.
The money is coming through the hard work and effort of the British people. This Government will manage our finances prudently and ensure that the economy is not wrecked, as it was by the last Labour Government.
HS2 will connect with the Elizabeth line and Heathrow airport at Old Oak Common station—a station that will become every bit as famous as Victoria or Waterloo. But Old Oak Common will be neither old nor common, so does the Prime Minister agree that it should have a name that is iconic and in keeping with its importance—maybe after the first woman Prime Minister of our country?
May I ask the Prime Minister about the prospects for change in relation to the eastern leg of phase 2b? The original HS2 vision was to serve and regenerate our towns, but towns in South Yorkshire are facing all of the pain and none, or very little, of the gain. May I commend to him the HS2 North concept, which local campaigners came up with—they got there first—and which has an integrated plan to help towns such as Doncaster and Mexborough?
The right hon. Member makes a very good point on behalf of Doncaster. We are certainly looking at the plan that he mentions.
The Prime Minister knows how bitterly disappointed my constituents in Staffordshire will be about the decision. May I simply ask him, when he is considering the question of review, to include phase 2a from Birmingham to Crewe—and the rest of that part of the constituency, which is going to be so badly affected? We need a proper link with Handsacre to ensure that Stoke and Stafford are properly serviced. Does he understand that, and will he do everything to ensure that we are kept in the review?
May I congratulate the Prime Minister on this statement? He is so right when he says that the economy of the north needs both east-west and north-south connectivity. Does he agree that the challenge we face in transport is not, as sometimes articulated, between local and national investment—what we need is both?
Absolutely. We cannot have the gains of one without the other. Local productivity will not be boosted unless we improve national connectivity up the spine of this country, and that is what HS2 is all about.
I strongly welcome the announcement today on HS2, but let us be clear: the question mark was written by the Prime Minister and his Government, and it should not have been written at all. Under the terms of the review we are now seeing, can he ensure that the full benefits of NPR and HS2 are fully integrated at Manchester Piccadilly station and that no stone is left unturned in making sure that that can happen?
Infrastructure costs are frequently driven up by unforeseen ground conditions. Can the Prime Minister remind the House of the commitment by this Government to increase spending on research and development, such as at Birmingham University, which is working on quantum technology to map those ground conditions?
I thank my hon. Friend. He is entirely right. HS2’s investment will not just drive the construction sector—it will drive the economy across this country, including in higher education.
Of course, as the hon. Gentleman knows very well from looking at the map, north Wales will benefit from the Crewe link. I might say to the representative from Wales that it is high time that the Welsh Labour Government got on and delivered the M4 bypass at the Brynglas tunnels. If they will not do it, we in this Government will.
HS2 is unloved and unwanted, and has been grossly mismanaged. It very adversely affects my constituents. Does the Prime Minister appreciate my and my constituents’ concerns that this could well be an albatross around this Government’s and the country’s neck, and does it not set the bar very low for the delivery of infrastructure projects on time and on budget by all future Governments?
Every great infrastructure project is opposed by people at this stage. The M25 had 39 separate planning inquiries. The Treasury was against the M25, and, I seem to remember, delivering the Olympics, and it tried to get rid of Crossrail. Every single infrastructure project is opposed at these critical moments. We have got to have the guts and the foresight to drive this through.
In London, thanks to Sadiq Khan’s Hopper fare, I can travel across the entire Greater London area on two buses—up to 30 miles—for £1.50. In Newcastle, £1.50 will barely get me four stops up West Road. Will this funding bring north-eastern bus fares into line with those in London, or is this all bluff and bluster signifying nothing?
I remind the hon. Lady that bus ridership has fallen catastrophically under the current Labour Mayor because of his mismanagement of the system. Crime has risen precipitately. We will ensure not only that we drive down crime, in spite of what the current Labour Mayor is doing, but that we have fantastic, cheaper, greener, cleaner buses across the country.
I welcome this statement, particularly the decision to start treating the local rail improvements under HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail as one integrated masterplan—High Speed North. As the design stage is brought forward, how are we going to ensure that local business leaders and communities are included in deciding what is best for their area locally in terms of this high-speed rail project?
The devil, as the Prime Minister well knows, is in the detail. May I cautiously, though, welcome the announcement on HS2, and the announcement about linking up the northern powerhouse great cities? In the course of that, he said, “and Liverpool”. Could he give us some indication as to what he meant by that?
I welcome the commitment both to HS2 and to Northern Powerhouse Rail, but in neither case did the Prime Minister mention Sheffield. Could he therefore confirm that the Sheffield loop will go ahead as planned in HS2, and that the Northern Powerhouse Rail improvements are about not just Manchester to Leeds but Manchester to Sheffield as well?
We are proceeding with the whole of the HS2 plan, but, as the House will appreciate, given what has gone before, it is right that we interrogate the methods and costs as we go forward with phase 2b.
My right hon. Friend knows that I do not agree with the decision he has reached on HS2, but I respect the fact that it was a difficult decision and I am grateful to him for listening to both sides of the argument before he made it. Now that it is made, is it not right that HS2 Ltd needs not just to compensate more swiftly and more fairly than it has, but to communicate better than it has with those affected by the line? Will he make that specifically part of the remit of the new HS2 Minister?
My right hon. and learned Friend is absolutely right. The record of HS2 in engaging and communicating with local people has been woeful, and we will ensure that that changes from now on.
Indeed. I thank my hon. Friend for her support. You can go to the midlands and see the investment already flooding in as a result of HS2. Let us turbo-charge that now.
It is kind of funny, in a way, to see the Prime Minister come here to gleefully re-announce a project that he himself and his office tried to put a stop to. But while he is in train set-building mode, can I draw his attention to the Wrexham to Bidston line that would connect north Wales and Liverpool? Will he put some extra investment in there so that we can speed up improvements?
We will certainly examine very carefully the proposal that the hon. Lady makes, and whether it qualifies under our £1.5 billion Beeching plan.
As my right hon. Friend knows, Calder Valley has been hit again by flooding, with the third most devastating flood in seven and a half years. Getting across the Pennines is a struggle at the best of times, let alone after flooding, so the news about Northern Powerhouse Rail is fabulous for us in Calder Valley. But can he assure the House that we will not wait for HS2b to be determined before we start Northern Powerhouse Rail?
First, I extend my commiserations to all the people of Calder Valley who have experienced flooding. We all know how traumatic a flood can be. I can assure my hon. Friend that we will certainly allow no delay in pushing ahead with all the branches of the project.
The HS2 project, albeit somewhat shambolically handled, is great news for England, but it shows once again the contempt in which this Government hold the people of Wales. The entire budget for electrifying the main line to Swansea would be less than 1% of the vast sums that are being talked about today. So will the Prime Minister commit today to electrifying the main line to Swansea, or will he continue to hold the people of Wales in contempt?
As I just said to Jonathan Edwards, north Wales will benefit from the line to Crewe. We have already electrified the line to Cardiff. I urge Stephen Kinnock to get on to his friends in the Welsh Labour Government, who squandered £144 million on a study for the bypass of the M4, which they then decided not to do.
I warmly welcome what my right hon. Friend has said today, particularly the announcement on HS2 and the review of the governance arrangements. Can he confirm that he will use this as an opportunity to embed the skills we need to deliver that infrastructure and open academies such as the tunnelling academy he opened during the Crossrail construction period?
Yes, indeed. I well remember working with my hon. Friend on that project and many others. This will drive jobs and apprenticeships for young people for a generation to come.
I welcome the Prime Minister’s investment in the skeleton of the UK economy—the thigh bone, the knee bone and the ankle bone, to use his words—but he has forgotten about the red hand of Ulster, which appears to be detached from his plan. Could he outline what procurement and project opportunities there will be for Northern Ireland, including a commitment to a bridge between Northern Ireland and the UK, which would improve the sinews of the arm and the attachment of the hand to the rest of the body?
The right hon. Gentleman’s characteristic optimism is in marked contrast to the negativity that we heard from the Leader of the Opposition. Of course there will be opportunities for procurement in Northern Ireland and, indeed, elsewhere. Buses spring to mind.
This is welcome, if delayed, news, in particular for Manchester and Greater Manchester. Will the Prime Minister ensure that metro Mayors and council leaders are hard-wired into the review? Will he also consider starting at Manchester and meeting in the middle, to ensure that we get the benefits early on, particularly for education, skills and jobs in my town?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. We will indeed be working with the metro Mayors and are already consulting them on exactly that.
We have had the fluffy end of the lollipop for too long in the north on transport funding, so I am made up by this decision on HS2 and HS3, and I support the comments of Edward Miliband. Will the Prime Minister look at the operator service option fund for underutilised lines? There are just two services on the Goole-Snaith-Leeds line every day, which is not enough to allow the people of Leeds to come and enjoy Goole, so can he look at that and ensure that those lines are better used?
I would be only too happy to look in detail at the Goole-Leeds line and see what we can do to assist—we will suck it and see, as they say.
Newcastle and the north-east need this infrastructure investment in both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail without any further delay. Will the Prime Minister make an immediately deliverable improvement to our national infrastructure, to ensure that the north-east and Newcastle are NPR and HS2-ready, by investing in our east coast main line, which needs urgent infrastructure investment between York and Newcastle?
The hon. Lady makes an excellent point, and we are indeed upgrading the digital signalling on the east coast main line.
The Prime Minister spoke about the “spine” of our rail network, which is currently provided by the west coast main line. The upgrade of that line a few years ago led to many businesses being attracted to Rugby. What reassurance can he provide to them that, with HS2 bypassing Rugby, we will retain fast services on a well-maintained railway?
I have looked at that issue, and I am convinced that the existing capacity will continue to be extremely important and drive jobs and investment in Rugby, where my hon. Friend and I opened a fantastic electric taxi factory.
Despite going under my house, HS2 will reduce journey times from Manchester airport in my constituency to London from two hours 24 minutes to 59 minutes, opening up a plethora of opportunities for the poor people of the south-east and the great city of Manchester. The Prime Minister dodged the question from my hon. Friends the Members for Oldham West and Royton (Jim McMahon) and for Blackley and Broughton (Graham Stringer). If he wants to level up and have a northern powerhouse, why does he not start building the line from Manchester down?
We are building Northern Powerhouse Rail as fast as we can, but the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that that project is not in the state of readiness of the Birmingham to London route.
I can certainly confirm that the threat of sinkholes from the Cheshire salt mines will be considered as part of the review.
I welcome the announcement that the northern section of HS2 will go ahead because, crucially, it will be integrated with NPR. As the Prime Minister said, this country has been held back by inadequate infrastructure, so does he agree that Northern Powerhouse Rail must include a city centre stop in Bradford?
I thank the hon. Lady for the representation she makes on behalf of Bradford. I see the point that she makes, and we will consult on that issue shortly.
I welcome the announcement today—the Prime Minister has well and truly swept the leaves off the line of transport infrastructure investment in this country. I know that jobs and businesses will benefit not in London but locally, in Crewe and Nantwich. When it comes to bus investment, can we ensure that local residents have a strong voice in deciding where the new buses go and how often they go there?
Of course, it is vital that the expansion of local bus services meets local demand. In my experience, there is no shortage of local demand in most parts of the country.
HS2 is a dire reflection on this Government’s environmental credentials, with the destruction of 100 ancient woodlands and a miserably small modal shift of just 5% of passengers who would otherwise fly or drive. Indeed, the Government’s own figures show that HS2 does not cut carbon emissions. If it is to go ahead, surely it should be required to meet at the very least the European average for high-speed rail modal shift, which is 15% for cars and 30% for planes —why does it not?
We have just announced the biggest ever package in history for zero-carbon buses and possibly hydrogen buses as well. HS2 is the most low-carbon, efficient way of getting around this country. Will nothing please them?
I congratulate the Prime Minister on grasping the nettle and building this infrastructure in the north, which is really welcome and delivers on our manifesto promises. One reason for the rising costs in Leeds is the incompetence of Leeds City Council—with a Labour leader, who, quite frankly, could not organise an event at one of the local breweries—which is putting the station in a totally inappropriate place. As part of the review, will my right hon. Friend look properly at where the station is located and the ability to use existing rail routes and infrastructure?
There will be a review—I must be clear with the House. We will be going forward with the whole programme, but we will ensure that we get proper value and proper political leadership and grip of the whole programme.
For four decades, the east midlands economy has been losing skilled work, which has caused extraordinary damage to our communities. HS2 is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reverse that decline and add tens of thousands of skilled jobs to our community. The Prime Minister has taken a difficult but welcome decision. Can he reassure east midlands people that there will not be any unnecessary delay to HS2b and that Midlands Engine Rail will be woven into the scheme?
I particularly welcome the Northern Powerhouse Rail connection with HS2. Will the Prime Minister look at the procurement process and ensure that UK-based companies, such as Hitachi Rail in my constituency, have a real chance of getting the business out of it? Can it be done as quickly as possible, so that they have an opportunity to plan?
I thank my hon. Friend. He has lobbied me personally several times on that issue, and I can assure him that the plant and the jobs in question will be uppermost in our minds.
On the contrary, HS2 will shorten journey times across the whole United Kingdom, in particular Scotland. Indeed, as I said earlier, there will be Barnett consequentials following the fantastic announcements that we have made today about buses and other modes of transport.
I am grateful to the Prime Minister for his statement and vision to power up the north through transport. Historically, Scunthorpe steel has been used for many national infrastructure projects such as the two HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers. Does he agree that we should use our world-class steel such as that we produce in Scunthorpe for such projects?
I pay tribute to the workers of British Steel for what they do. Most of our train tracks come from British Steel, whether in Scunthorpe or elsewhere, and we will do our utmost, notwithstanding the difficulties that the plant faces, to ensure that that remains the case in future.
When we first talked about HS2 10 years ago, we were not talking about a climate emergency. Given that the landscape has changed in that respect, the Government should invest significantly more than proposed in sub-regional transport systems such as buses and cycle routes, as the French and continentals are doing.
I think I can say without fear of contradiction that I have built more cycle lanes than anyone else in the House—that was not always popular—but that is nothing compared with what we are about to do. The investment that we are about to make in buses is absolutely colossal, and I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman finds grounds for criticism.
I warmly welcome my right hon. Friend’s attention to the spine of the country, but will he apply his orthopaedic talents to what should be the muscular limb that connects London to Hastings, as it will take longer to get to Hastings than the hour that it will take to get to Manchester in future?
My right hon. Friend makes an extremely good point, and I shall certainly examine the London to Hastings route. I do not know which part of the anatomy it should be, but it is vital to our nation’s prosperity, whatever it is.
Is the Prime Minister seriously suggesting that there will not be a single extra penny for Wales as a result of today’s announcements? Before he gives me any bluster about anything else, the truth of the matter is that they promised that they were going to electrify the line all the way to Swansea. They said that by 2017 the valleys lines to my constituency would be electrified. None of that came to pass. All we want is a new railway line in the Rhondda Fach, and to open the tunnel from Blaencwm to Blaengwynfi. Will he promise that today?
As I have told the House, we have electrified the line up to Cardiff. When it comes to tunnels—it is not a widely known fact—the Welsh Labour Government, which the hon. Gentleman supports, spent £144 million on a study on whether or not to open the Brynglas tunnels. Open the tunnels and unblock the muscles of the Welsh dragon.
I very much welcome the statement, particularly my right hon. Friend’s commitment to a more convenient ticketing system. Many of my constituents commute into London three or four days a week for a better work-life balance, but find that they have no choice but to pay the cost of a full-time season ticket. I urge him to ensure that the trial of part-time season tickets is rolled out nationwide so that we have a ticketing system that suits the modern-day reality of our flexible labour force.
We have had 10 years of rail downgrades in Hull, from cancelling electrification to older trains taking longer to arrive at their destination. While I would like to welcome Northern Powerhouse Rail, I am slightly disappointed that whenever the Prime Minister mentions it he does so between Leeds and Manchester, as we all know that it begins in Hull. From now on, I would like him to talk about it coming from Hull, and will he tell me when we will see the benefits in my constituency?
The road to Hull is paved with good intentions, and we intend to build it. We will make sure that we have Hull fully as part of our vision for High Speed North, and I am sure that the hon. Lady’s contribution will be warmly welcomed.
I thank my right hon. Friend for his announcement, and I agree that we need both buses and trains to connect our communities. However, can he reassure my constituents in Penistone and Stocksbridge, which has many rural areas, that investment in buses will benefit our rural towns and villages, not just our big cities?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right, which is indeed the point of the investment in buses. Everyone knows from talking to their constituents that a decent, reliable bus route can be absolutely transformative of their lives and of their kids’ prospects, so we will do that across the country.
With Birmingham airport 30 minutes from Old Oak we will not need a third runway at Heathrow, I am sure the Prime Minister agrees. However, will HS2 terminate at Old Oak for three years while Euston is under construction, as the press are reporting and, if so, what will he do about the disruption and overcrowding at Old Oak? It is already the biggest development and an interchange site, and is very happy with its historic name, by the way.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his support for the name of Old Oak Common. We will make sure that we take control properly of the management of that fantastic project. There is huge potential for success at Old Oak. Indeed, it presents a potential link between the great west line and HS2. We will also ensure that we take proper control of what is happening at Euston which, he would agree, has been a shambles. We have a special purpose vehicle established to get the maximum value for the taxpayer from that project.
I welcome entirely the statement by my right hon. Friend. Anyone who is interested in increasing productivity and global Britain could not fail to do so. In response to the question that he was asked a moment ago, would he take into account, with regard to rural bus provision, the fact that social mobility in our rural areas needs a boost? These buses can help to achieve that. When taking funding decisions, will rural sparsity be taken into account as a trigger?
Yes, of course. Rural need and rural sparsity will certainly be taken into account, as we will take into account the needs of all towns and communities. It is not only that these buses will help people to get to work or wherever they need to go; they give businesses the certainty and confidence that they can invest in that town, in the knowledge that they can employ people who can commute easily.
I welcome today’s announcements, both on rail and on buses. In relation to buses in Greater Manchester, can we have an urgent decision on funding for the clean freight and clean bus funds?
These will be the cleanest, greenest buses that the country has ever seen, but we will certainly make use of the clean bus fund.
May I urge my right hon. Friend and, indeed, anyone who seeks to celebrate the HS2 decision to keep central in their mind the blight that it will bring to communities up and down the route, not just on the landscape but on people’s lives? Throughout the enabling works so far, people have been left in severe financial hardship. Can we have an independent body with real power to scrutinise every decision that HS2 Ltd makes?
My hon. Friend is entirely right in what he says. I speak as an MP for a seat on the route. As in his constituency, thousands of people have faced confusion and uncertainty about HS2, and it is vital that they are treated properly, which is why the construction commission will look at making sure that everyone is treated fairly.
The Scottish environmental journalist Rob Edwards has warned since 1995 about the munitions dumps by the Ministry of Defence in Beaufort’s Dyke, the deepest point in the north channel of the Irish sea, and the exact route of the Prime Minister’s latest fantasy bridge. Will the Prime Minister abandon the project and give the money to the Northern Irish and Scottish Governments directly so that we can invest in priorities for Scotland and Northern Ireland, rather than his fantasy plans?
As a west midlands MP, I warmly welcome today’s announcement, and I thank the Prime Minister and the Transport Secretary for working with West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street. Will he confirm, as we move towards net zero, that the extra capacity on our railways will allow lorries carrying freight to come off our motorways?
As a nearby west London MP, may I ask the Prime Minister over to my patch, where HS2, Crossrail and Heathrow are already impacting on lives, to make the much promised visit—his officials will know that I have been promised this for years now—to see the reality on the ground of what a super-development opportunity area looks like for people who tend to be forgotten between historic Euston and countryside beauty?
I have fond memories of walking the streets of the hon. Lady’s constituency and listening to her lobby me in person; no doubt I shall be doing so again all too soon.
Does the Prime Minister agree with me that we now have a wonderful opportunity to win hearts and minds on High Speed North by getting thousands of SMEs involved in procurement and tens of thousands of young apprentices trained up, and the Huddersfield University Institute of Railway Research doing innovation and, most importantly of all, fully integrating it with Northern Powerhouse Rail, linking the northern cities and my local town of Huddersfield?
My hon. Friend speaks eloquently and passionately for Huddersfield, which is among the many towns and cities that will benefit from HS2.
To announce 250 miles of new cycle routes as a big green infrastructure investment is a complete joke; it will mean only a few extra miles per local authority, and we cyclists know what they look like. If the Prime Minister agrees that we need many more continuous segregated cycle routes, how can he begin to explain how 250 miles across the country will cut it?
I am delighted to hear that when it comes to buses and bikes we are all going Dutch. Will my right hon. Friend make sure that rapidly growing areas like Essex and the east of England get our fair share of the funding?
To double the rate of cycling from 2% to 4% of all trips will, according to Government figures, require £5 billion-worth of funding at least, so how much of today’s announcement of £5 billion for buses, cycling and walking will actually be spent on cycling?