HC Deb 01 March 2001 vol 363 cc1032-3
7. Dr. Nick Palmer (Broxtowe)

If he will make an assessment of the implications of the comprehensive spending review for future investment in public services. [150141]

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Andrew Smith)

The plans set out in last year's spending review will double public net capital investment over the next three years to £19 billion. The Government will reverse years of underinvestment in order to deliver modern schools and hospitals and an integrated transport network.

Dr. Palmer

In Broxtowe, there are two new schools, numerous refurbishments and two major hospital developments. Does my right hon. Friend agree with my constituents, who feel that such action makes more sense than the last Government's policy of squeezing public investment in order to pay for their other policy of high unemployment?

Mr. Smith

Yes, indeed. My hon. Friend gives excellent examples of the benefits of public investment in his constituency. I well recall discussing these and other matters with him at the consultation meeting with his constituents that he arranged for me last year. The good news he reports is proof that the Government are listening and delivering.

Mr. Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton)

What contingency plans does the comprehensive spending review contain for increasing investment in London's public transport services if the public-private partnership is not concluded by the end of the financial year? Is the Minister aware that alternative public investment plans for the tube, first presented by the Liberal Democrats, are now supported by more than 80 per cent. of Londoners, by Bob Kiley, and—following their latest U-turn—even by half of those on the Conservative Front Bench? Will the right hon. Gentleman therefore also support a plan that is safer and more cost-effective than the PPP, draw back the curtain, and come down the yellow brick road?

Mr. Smith

The refurbishment and modernisation of the tube in London is of the utmost importance. That is why we have presented the public-private partnership as the best means of delivering cost-effectively the modernisation that is needed. The operation of trains will remain in the public sector, health and safety will remain independently in that sector, and discussions must take place—and are continuing—with Mr. Kiley and with Transport for London. It is in the interests of Londoners and the future of the modernisation of our tube that those talks succeed, and that through the public-private partnership we avoid the overruns on costs and time that characterised the Jubilee line extension.

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