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Rail Services (Milton Keynes)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 12:00 am on 12th May 2004.

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Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport 12:00 am, 12th May 2004

I should have made it clear that there is now a broader brief across the Government—certainly within the DFT and the ODPM—and that we are addressing all these issues in unison. I shall bring those infrastructure matters to the attention not only of the SRA but of my noble Friend Lord Rooker, who can discuss them at his leisure with colleagues who are responsible for the whole of the Milton Keynes and south midlands corridor.

My hon. Friend will know that although the bulk of any infrastructure changes—she made a point about the M1—are quite rightly the responsibility of the DFT, the ODPM, through the growth area funding for the three growth areas and the Thames gateway, is considering particular infrastructure projects in which it could intervene. Perhaps it could intervene more rapidly and in a more focused way than the DFT, which has nationwide programmes. The ODPM is considering where it can make swift and positive interventions that will assist and complement what the DFT is doing in the normal routine of things. Of course, I shall pass on the points that have been made to Lord Rooker, who will pass them on through the forum that my hon. Friend mentioned.

The points about infrastructure and growth were well made. For this community, along with many communities up and down the west coast main line, after so much grief, a little bit of the glory and the glow that is the new all-singing, all-dancing west coast main line is important. My hon. Friend will appreciate that we are talking about the two peak periods. There is not an issue in relation to the off-peak period. We are not about to expunge any trains stopping at Milton Keynes Central, apart from Silverlink commuter trains.

I will take all those elements back with me. I appreciate that my hon. Friend understands that we are in a state of transition, given the contract and the new timetable, but I hope that she and my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes, North-East will understand the assurances that I have given and will note that as a DFT Minister, not simply as an ex-ODPM Minister, I am keenly aware that transport infrastructure, along with all other forms of infrastructure, social and otherwise, are vital if communities are to grow.

The infrastructure must be put in at the right time for our growth areas to operate and function in a sustainable fashion. The Government are acutely aware of the mistakes of the past, when, a long way down the line, if people were lucky, the infrastructure would follow after the communities had been built. We are trying to reverse that process and at least match infrastructure investment with growth. With those assurances, I hope that my hon. Friend can go away, happy and skipping, back to Milton Keynes. Please can she give a wave when she gets to Harrow and Wealdstone station? It is mine.

Question put and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at sixteen minutes to Five o'clock.