Huppert, Swinson and Mulholland quiz Greening on High Speed rail
• [Jan 10] Julian Huppert (Cambridge, Liberal Democrat): THE Liberal Democrats were the first party to push for high-speed rail, back in 2004-[ Interruption. ] I realise that the Opposition may not appreciate the fact. I am delighted that the coalition is going ahead with this, and I congratulate the Transport Secretary on that decision. Phases 1 and 2 will bring great benefits, and the news about phase 2 going to Manchester and Leeds is very welcome. Can she say something about her future aspirations for the connection through to Scotland?
Justine Greening (Economic Secretary, HM Treasury; Putney, Conservative): As I said, we are very keen to ensure that we progress phases 1 and 2 as quickly as possible, and I will be in discussions with the Scottish Government about the future development of the line that they have aspirations for, as well.
• . . Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire, Liberal Democrat): I welcome the Transport Secretary's commitment to high-speed rail and the fact that she is keen to have discussions with the Scottish Government about extending the route to Glasgow and Edinburgh, which would bring additional economic benefits of some £25 billion and carbon reductions from more modal shift from air to rail. What does she see as the main barriers to making high-speed rail to and from Scotland a reality and how can we best overcome them?
Justine Greening (Economic Secretary, HM Treasury; Putney, Conservative): There are always barriers and challenges in dealing with such significant infrastructure problems, not least money and ensuring that finance is in place. As we have seen with phase 1, we must be incredibly careful that the route minimises the impact on local communities while maximising the economic impact that communities can get out of it. There is a long process to go through as regards talking with the Scottish Government, but I am keen to engage with them on it.
. . • Greg Mulholland (Leeds North West, Liberal Democrat): All of us involved in the cross-party, cross-sector and cross-riding campaign for a high-speed rail line to Yorkshire are absolutely delighted by the announcement. Because it is so important that it gets to the northern cities, can the Secretary of State assure us that in the legislation she will ensure not only that the line will be guaranteed to go to Sheffield, Manchester and Leeds, but that the two Ys will be built no more than six years after phase 1, as currently planned?