This saw HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson respond to a Labour MP criticising an apparent 40 per cent cut in Transport for the North’s funding by saying: “The Prime Minister is always right.”
However it prompted Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the very fair-minded Speaker and longstanding MP for a Lancashire seat, to gently point out to Mr Stephenson that “you might be proved wrong”.
It was a significant and telling rebuke just a day after Boris Johnson had, just 24 hours earlier, dismissed questions about TfN board papers purporting to show a reduction in core funding from £10m in 2020-21 to £6m in the forthcoming financial year.
Yet, while the £137m now promised for the Hope Valley Line between Sheffield and Manchester is welcome, it is years late and does not make up for the Government’s Town Funds failing to target the most disadvantaged areas as intended, hence the ongoing need for transparency and Ministerial accountability.
Mr Stephenson may think this is a game – and, interestingly, support for HS2 has dwindled significantly since he was given the important brief in February 2020 – but it is not to those families whose lives and livelihoods do depend on public transport improvements and a rebalancing of spending in this region’s favour.
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