Strengthening the Union

Scotland – in the House of Commons on 16th March 2022.

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Photo of Neil Hudson Neil Hudson Conservative, Penrith and The Border

What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on strengthening Union connectivity.

Photo of Iain Stewart Iain Stewart The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

I have regular discussions with ministerial colleagues on improving Union connectivity and recently met Baroness Vere to discuss the final report of the Union connectivity review. I look forward to meeting the new Scottish Government Transport Minister, Jenny Gilruth, in the near future to discuss shared transport priorities.

Photo of Neil Hudson Neil Hudson Conservative, Penrith and The Border

As a Borderlands MP, I am strongly supportive of the extension of the Borders railway from Tweedbank through Longtown in my constituency and on to Carlisle. It would improve connectivity, benefit local communities and be a massive economic boost to our region, but the proposals have been under consideration for a long time now, and it is vital that we move forward with this project. Does my hon. Friend agree that it is essential that the UK and Scottish Governments work together and with local authorities to prioritise the delivery of this project, which would benefit local residents and businesses and strengthen our precious Union?

Photo of Iain Stewart Iain Stewart The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

I completely agree with my hon. Friend that we need to work together on this project, which will be of benefit to his constituents and the whole country. I regret that the project has not had the priority we would like to see in the Scottish Government’s strategic transport projects review 2, but we will continue to work with the Scottish Government and see how we can best support it. We have committed to the next stage of the project, and I hope the Scottish Government do, too.

Photo of Martin Docherty Martin Docherty Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Industries of the Future and Blockchain Technologies), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs Team Member), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence Team Member), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (PPS to the Westminster Leader)

On strengthening Union connectivity, can the Minister advise the House on what happened to the impossible bridge across Beaufort’s Dyke? What kind of money was spent on something that never happened and did not connect the Union?

Photo of Iain Stewart Iain Stewart The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

I can tell the hon. Gentleman that it is right that we look at all possible transport links. [Interruption.] He mocks, but if he looks at what the Scottish Government are proposing, they are looking at fixed tunnels linking parts of Scotland together. In the Union connectivity review, we are looking at strengthening—[Interruption.]

Photo of Iain Stewart Iain Stewart The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

I can tell the hon. Gentleman that we are prioritising upgrades to roads such as the A75 through Dumfries and Galloway, which will be one of the key transport routes connecting Northern Ireland, Scotland and England.