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Mary Creagh insists Labour would find new ways to start infrastructure projects

Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh has said a Labour government would find new ways to finance “vital” infrastructure projects.

Speaking at the Construction News Summit, Ms Creagh reiterated that Labour would have “no proposals for any new spending paid for by additional borrowing” if it wins the general election next May.

However, she said Labour would “think innovatively about how we finance these vital projects in the coming decades”.

A Labour government would draw on support from the financial sector and look to long-term pension savings to deliver new infrastructure, she said.

Ms Creagh refused to “pre-judge” the outcome of the Davies Commission into aviation capacity, but said her party would take a “swift decision” to expand aviation capacity in the South-east.

She added that any solution taken forward by a Labour government would take noise levels and carbon emissions into account.

The shadow transport secretary also reconfirmed Labour’s support for High Speed 2, which she said would “futureproof” the UK’s transport network, as it could be added to and expanded.

During the general election debate session, Ms Creagh and Conservative transport minister John Hayes each said their parties were committed to developing long-term, consistent policies on infrastructure delivery.

However, chair Andrew Neil challenged them on what he described as “consistent flip-flopping” by the Labour party on its support for the expansion of Heathrow, and the Conservatives over its stop-start commitment to the A14 upgrade.

Asked by Mr Neil why a route for the second phase of HS2 would not be published before the general election, Mr Hayes and Ms Creagh agreed that it was more important to ensure the route north of Birmingham was right than to rush it.  

Mr Hayes said: “Clearly there’s more work to be done on the detail. My view is that we will listen to the arguments and consider them.”

Ms Creagh added: “I do think it’s really important we get the Y route right. I think the difference is that, instead of this being designed in London, we’ve got a much more engaged process with the northern local authorities.”

On skills and apprenticeships, Ms Creagh promised Labour would “safeguard the trusted and historic apprenticeships brand we feel has been tarnished under this government”.

She said: “We will use public procurement to boost apprenticeships, making the money government spends going further, requiring your firms winning major contracts to offer apprenticeships as part of the deal.”

Labour would also introduce a requirement that companies employing labour from outside the EU would have to train people local to their business, she said.

Meanwhile Mr Hayes said he had overseen a “raising of the standards of apprenticeships” by introducing a requirement for core skills to be included in apprenticeship training and increasing the number of level four apprenticeships to 10,000 a year.

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