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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:28 pm on 20th June 2022.

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Photo of Andrew Stephenson Andrew Stephenson Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Department for Transport) 10:28 pm, 20th June 2022

I start by addressing the comments of the shadow Minister, Mr Dhesi. I do not recognise his comment that I said the amendment would be fatal to the Bill; it would not be, because the Bill has passed Second Reading. I hope that he will recognise that the last two HS2 hybrid Bills for phase 1 and phase 2a took around four years to pass through this place. If we were to keep the Golborne link in while the Government thought about and studied alternatives, and waited to make any progress until we had done that, we would probably be delaying the Bill by a further two years. I am not prepared to delay the delivery of benefits to people in Greater Manchester and across the north of England by a further two years. I think we need to get on with delivering the benefits of high-speed rail now.

The Union connectivity review set out that the Golborne link would not resolve all the rail capacity constraints between Crewe and Preston. We have therefore decided to look again at alternatives that would deliver similar benefits. Yvonne Fovargue made an eloquent case for some of the merits of the Golborne link, which has of course been a part of the Government’s proposals up until now, but I hope that she will take into account and recognise the many speeches made on Second Reading by Members who do not support the Golborne link and support motion 6 to have the Golborne link deferred while we consider alternatives, including her fellow Wigan MP, my hon. Friend James Grundy. Members from her own side of the House who have not spoken today, including Charlotte Nichols, and of course the leader of Warrington Council, have welcomed the Government’s decision to bring this motion forward.