Productivity: Rural Areas

Part of RAF Valley: Funding and Employment – in Westminster Hall at 4:57 pm on 14th October 2020.

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Photo of Neil Parish Neil Parish Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee 4:57 pm, 14th October 2020

It is a pleasure to speak in this debate. I thank my hon. Friend Scott Mann for securing it, because we need to treat the whole country in a similar way. Sometimes, we believe that the west country goes as far as Bristol and no further, so we have to make sure that we get things done.

For instance, the A303 has been talked about for far too long. In fact, I found a reference from Edward du Cann, who said in 1958 that we needed to do more with the A303. We can get going. We can deal with a tunnel under Stonehenge, but we can also deal with a road through Somerset to make sure it gets into Devon and then on to the A30 into Cornwall.

My hon. Friend spoke about broadband. We need to get that done, because again, it is very much about digital connectivity. In my constituency, there are further education colleges in Axminster, Cullompton, Honiton and Tiverton. There is a great drive towards improving those colleges and giving people a good education, so that we can get practical people into jobs that they enjoy, can do and can make a good living at.

In Tiverton, there is a school in a flood zone that we cannot repair because it would flood again. Therefore, as I have said many times, to actually level up the community, we need a new school for Tiverton. If the Minister happens to have £40 million with her today, that would be extremely useful.

To be serious, levelling up across the country is essential, because all hon. Members have great communities, great people and great businesses, but we also have areas that need levelling up. Sometimes, a great rural constituency with lovely farms and lovely countryside does not really show those pockets that need levelling up.