National Networks National Policy Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:48 pm on 26 March 2024.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch 4:48, 26 March 2024

I have just a short contribution to make. The “National Networks National Policy Statement” refers at paragraph 3.2 to the fact that

“Population growth and economic growth are the most critical influences on travel demand.”

We know that the Government are much preoccupied with the need for economic growth. I wish them well, and I hope that we make a lot more progress than we have, particularly in economic growth per capita in the last 10 years. However, on the other aspect, we do not have any national policy statement about population growth, yet it is fundamental to all policy making done in government and in this House. Why do we not have a national policy statement about population growth? How is it that we have, by happenstance, allowed our population to increase by the best part of another million over the past 18 months? How can that continue? There is a reference in the document to projected growth over the next 20 or 30 years, but there is no basis for that.

It seems to me that underlying all our policymaking should be a policy about population growth. How many people do we wish to have in our country? What do we think is the sustainable maximum population? How is that population going to be looked after in terms of the age profile? Are we encouraging more of our own people in this country to have children and sustain the population in that way, as they do very effectively in Hungary? Or do we have a different policy, which, effectively, is to import labour into this country, thereby increasing the population exponentially?

I am not expecting my hon. Friend the Minister to come up with a definitive answer on this, but I think the point is worth raising. Why is it that we have a national policy statement on national networks, but we do not have one on population growth? I hope, Mr Deputy Speaker, that we will be able to get one quite soon.