A Government minister has spoken out in defence of transport investment as a way to boost the UK’s economic recovery.
As Whitehall departments prepare to make budget cuts of up to 40%, Earl Attlee, a Government whip and transport spokesman, said investing in transport systems now would boost the UK’s emergence from economic difficulty, renew growth, and enhance the prosperity of future generations.
The Tory peer compared the building of the canal system in the 18th century with the need to invest in transport now.
He said just as the canals had transformed the British economy, “so our transport networks can transform Britain for the better in the 21st century”.
As he opened a Lords debate, Earl Attlee said people should not “underestimate the role safe and sustainable transport has in building a better Britain”.
The minister told peers, “Our duty in 2010 is to build upon the successes of the past and continue with the task of delivering a transport system that is safe and accessible.”
Lord Attlee, who made no reference to cuts in his wide-ranging speech, confirmed the Government’s “support” for a national, high-speed rail network, connecting key cities across the country.
“We also support Crossrail and further electrification of the network,” the minister told peers.