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 think we would all agree that we have to get high-speed rail right. Without the Golborne link, this is still a £13 billion to £19 billion scheme; including the Golborne link, it a £15 billion to £22 billion scheme. We have to get it right: we have to ensure that we are delivering the maximum reductions in journey times to Scotland, that we have the least environmental damage possible and that we are building this infrastructure —the infrastructure that the House has just supported on Second Reading—in the right way. That is why I believe we are right to bring forward the motion to remove consideration of the Golborne link from the Bill while we look at alternatives.

I would like to tidy up some misunderstanding, as this has been mentioned by a couple of hon. Members, about the decision to remove the Golborne link on Monday 6 June—a day when there was also a confidence vote in this House. I think anybody who is aware of parliamentary procedure—I know all the Opposition Members here are very well aware of parliamentary procedure—will know that for me to table a written ministerial statement on the Monday, I had to inform the House I was doing so the week before. I notified the House authorities and also tabled the title of my written ministerial statement, which was well before any confidence vote was anticipated.

Graham Stringer said that his only other explanation for what this could possibly be about was cuts. With the £96 billion of rail investment in the midlands and the north in the integrated rail plan, this is the biggest ever Government investment in our railways, and it cannot be described—seriously, it cannot—as a cut. I look forward to continuing to work with Gavin Newlands to reduce journey times to Scotland.

I think we all have an interest in getting this infrastructure right, and I therefore ask the hon. Member for Makerfield not to push her amendments to a vote.

Question put and agreed to.