High-speed Rail

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:59 am on 8th December 2009.

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Photo of Lorely Burt Lorely Burt Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills), Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party 11:59 am, 8th December 2009

I will be very brief indeed. I want to put in a plea about the first stage, which hon. Members all agree will go to Birmingham. HS2 still has to report on whether we will have two stops in Birmingham-one in the city centre and one at Birmingham international airport. I want to explain to hon. Members why it is so important that we get a Birmingham international airport stop.

First, the west midlands economy is highly dependent on access to fast communications. We have had the worst unemployment increase in the country and we have suffered worst from the downturn. We are looking for overseas investment and we are having an extension to our runway to facilitate wide-bodied aircraft, so that people can come into Birmingham international and move on south, or to Manchester or further north. That is extremely important and will provide economic benefits for the whole country, not just the region. A high-speed rail link will make Birmingham international airport truly international and, as other hon. Members have said, it will be the first step towards having a better, faster, environmentally friendlier link to the rest of the country.