Danny Alexander MP writes… Investing in Britain’s future

Video by hmtreasuryuk on YouTube.

Yesterday, we set out a Spending Round that delivers Liberal Democrat priorities on investment and improving our public services while making responsible choices to deal with the financial problems Labour left us. It demonstrated that the Liberal Democrats will remain firm in our commitment to tackling the deficit, but fair in the way we go about it. Our number one priority in Government has been to fix the economic mess we inherited from Labour.

Today I have set out how we will invest in our country’s economic future by creating balanced growth and delivering lasting prosperity. I have announced the most comprehensive, ambitious and long-lasting capital investment plans this country has ever known.
In doing so we are putting long term priorities before short term political pressures and we are ending the culture of short-termism that plagued so many of our predecessors.

Today I set out our plans for over £100 billion of this for the infrastructure of our country.

  • The biggest public housing programme for over twenty years – 165,000 affordable homes over 3 years, a higher number of houses than Labour ever managed in 13 years in power.
  • The largest programme of rail investment since Victorian times, including committing funding to High Speed 2 that will bring two-thirds of people in northern England within 2 hours of the capital.
  • The greatest investment in our roads since the 1970s, adding two lanes to the busiest motorways, resurfacing up to 3,700 lane miles of the national road network every year, providing nearly £6 billion over the next Parliament to Local Authorities to help them maintain the local road network.
  • Unlocking massive investment in cleaner energy, to power our economy forwards by providing stability and certainty for investment in clean energy.

Let me be clear though, these are not easy choices. We have made some painful choices to get our country back on the right path because we understand that there is no easy way to create jobs and prosperity. As a result, we are making good progress, the deficit is down, and jobs are up. We’ve helped create more than a million jobs, now we want to help create a million more. This announcement means jobs building Britain for years to come.

As Liberal Democrats we understand that Britain needs an education system that stays ahead of our competitors’ but we also understand that what parents want is a good school, nearby, that their kids can get in to and that is in good shape. So today I have announced that we are re-building 261 of the worst schools, providing £10bn to clear the urgent backlog of schools in need of repair and investment, and investing to create a million new school places in a decade. A stronger economy in a fairer society enabling everyone to get on in life.

Liberal Democrats also understand that we need to repair the decaying road network, the overcrowded railway system and to deal with an energy sector which is losing capacity quicker than it can adopt new technologies. And to tackle all of these long term challenges, today I have set out long-term investments that will help rebalance the economy, create jobs and support growth.

Importantly all of this at a price we can afford to pay without adding a single pound to our borrowing forecast. Investing in stronger communities, investing in better infrastructure, investing in new sources of energy.

This is an ambitious long-term plan to build an infrastructure of which Britain can be proud, and in doing so help to build a stronger economy in a fairer society, where everyone can get on in life.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Geoffrey Payne 27th Jun '13 - 1:20pm

    Capital investment is absolutely what we need right now, but why this enthusiasm for building roads? There may be some roads that need to be built, but generally speaking more roads is bad for the environment, as I am sure Danny must know. We know the Tories have lost interest in tackling global warming, but why are our own ministers going native as well?
    If someone decided to present a motion at Lib Dem conference proposing a massive road building program I am sure it would be defeated.
    Last night Channel 4 News explained why this capital investment program is not such a big deal after all given the timescales it operates in. I look forward to seeing Danny on Channel 4 News tonight to see how he answers back.

  • I suggest you start reading the IFS and Faisal Islam’s review of this whole spending round.


    I now proclaim Thursday, 27th June 2013 as the day we have seen the merger of the the LD and Tory leaderships – the Quartet has become one!

    I am truly disgusted by what I have see the last two days – it is a wholly political exercise by Osborne focused on 2015 and nothing to do with improving the health of the country. He is being supported in this by the LD Party and swathes of the media.

    If you dig you find the reality of the situation but this will be tucked away on Channel 4 News.

  • ‘So today I have announced that we are re-building 261 of the worst schools, providing £10bn to clear the urgent backlog of schools in need of repair and investment’

    Didn’t you scrap Labour’s Building Schools programme?

    You are out of your depth. I’m a lib dem and will be hoping come election night that you lose your seat.

  • Apparently something happening to student grant management. Anyone know what it is’


  • Too little too late I am afriad.

    The Coalition Government should not have cancelled Building Schools for the Future when it came into office and this capital expenditure should have been started back in 2010 and we could have built our way out of the economic downturn.

  • HS2 is important and necessary to connect key cities north of London to the rest of Europe – when complete, it will not just take an hour off the Manchester-London journey, but two hours off Manchester-Paris, or Manchester-Brussels (from five hours to three).

    But can we hear more about the other £15bn of rail investment? The Northern Hub will transform connections right across the north of England, halving journey times on key routes like Manchester-Leeds. The Strategic Freight network will shift thousands of containers a day off the roads onto rail – the proposal to electrify the Midland Main Line and widen it for European-sized containers will allow containers to be unloaded from ships at Southampton or Portsmouth directly onto trains and move traffic away from lorries on the M3, M25, M1, M6, M40 and M42, alleviating some of the congestion on these busy roads.

    Great Western electrification will get us to 140mph on passenger trains to Bristol and South Wales.

    Oh, and I guess there’s Crossrail, too.

  • Mack(Not a Lib Dem) 27th Jun '13 - 2:07pm

    @ Danny Alexander
    ” but fair in the way we go about it”
    You and your incompetent coalition have cut the dole. You are now going to withhold unemployment benefit for seven days to those who have had the misfortune to be put out of work by your party’s disastrous economic policies. Yet in April your party gave a £97,000 tax handout to each of 30,000 millionaires. Yes, that’s really fair! Now that you have cut the dole, thousands of people you and your party have caused to be thrown on the scrap heap will be forced into the arms of loan sharks . These people have paid taxes all their working lives yet instead of receiving the dole as soon as they need it they will have to wait a further four days and depend on food banks. And yet your party is sending millions of pounds to corrupt regimes in the form of international aid. Still think the way you go about it is fair?

  • Foregone Conclusion 27th Jun '13 - 2:09pm

    No mention of flogging off the student loan book on the cheap, presumably subsidised by students and the taxpayer, as a cynical means of massaging the figures? You make me embarrassed to be a Liberal Democrat.

  • Can someone tell me how many local parties would be needed to start a leadership election? Real Liberals need to start getting ready post the Euro elections, especially given the parliamentary party won’t bother (many have been bought off with jobs in government – in future, if we are ever in government again, more emphasis needs to be placed on getting a few top jobs of govt – we don’t have a single senior office of state – and less on lots of little jobs throughout govt).

  • 75

  • Defenestrate Clegg 27th Jun '13 - 4:21pm

    Poor Danny. Not fooling many people is he ?

    CBI director of policy says ”It’s clear the coalition now sees it was wrong to cut capital spending so deeply in 2010”.

    BBC report IFS saying Osborne & Beaker’s documentation and explanation of Wednesday’s Spending Review was “woeful”.

    144,000 more public sector jobs to go. Oh dear, and my Lib Dem MP posed as a defender of the public sector to get our vote.


    Just what will it take to stop the party jumping off the cliff and taking us all with them ?

  • David Pollard 27th Jun '13 - 6:26pm

    Two things – 1. Its wrong to cut spending on road repairs in order to build new roads and 2. Concentrate on actually DOING those projects which have already been agreed.

  • Is this really new capital spending? Duncan Weldon says not, that it’s just a continuation of the previously planned spend.


    As for HS2 its viability was marginal at best when the capital cost was put at $32bn but the estimate has now grown to nearer £40bn. This looks like a thoroughly out-of-control project driven by bad politics rather than good economics.

    Explanations please.

    Leadership change please.

  • @Richard Gadsden 27th Jun ’13 – 1:55pm

    “But can we hear more about the other £15bn of rail investment?”
    Agree, I’m a little surprised that politicians aren’t talking about some of these:

    “the proposal to electrify the Midland Main Line (London-Sheffield)”
    I hope the proposal also addresses the three pinch-points that restrict the service, that should be address prior to electrification. But this proposal deserves to be talked about as it probably a ‘gold standard’ infrastructure investment – it will reduce the current costs of running the line to such an extent that the investment should pay for itself within TEN years – that is also without taking into account the wider economic effects on the communities the line serves.

    “The Strategic Freight network will shift thousands of containers a day off the roads onto rail”
    This is another high value for money infrastructure project that hasn’t received much attention, whilst the Southampton part may have received some press, the Felixstowe to Nuneaton arm should have a dramatic effect on lorry movements along the A14 – it is intended to remove 750,000 lorry journeys per annum by 2030; which given that it is due to be delivered years ahead of the proposed widening of the A14, brings into question the basis for widening the A14.

    In comparison HS2 should be just quietly binned…

  • Similar financial problems were created by governing parties in almost every Western country, so how is it reasonable or honest for Danny to blame the UK financial problems on Labour? A “light touch”regulatory model was imposed on the entire Western world by the increasingly international economic elite, and a similar culture developed in the financial services sectors in all major economies. I yawn so much when Tories, and Lib Dems in cahoots with Tories, try to lay the blame for everything on Labour.

    Then there’s the matter of the Tory government’s economic policy which Danny thinks is so wonderful. Does he, by any chance, recall his leader denouncing this as “irrational” shortly before the 2010 general election? Does he recall which economic policy it was that the party promoted during that campaign? I don’t think it was the one being pursued by the Tory government, and increasingly endorsed by Mr Miliband.

    How much of this programme of public works is intended to boost the economy, and how much is it a Tory government rewarding its paymasters with lorry loads of public dosh (pun intended)? Does HS2 have a genuine economic case, or is it based on unproven assumptions? Clearly, it will be hugely environmentally destructive. Adding lanes to motorways is unlikely to help anyone other than the shareholders of the construction companies. History teaches us that traffic expands to fill the motorways created to put it in.

    An infrastructure project that would be comparatively quite cheap, would have immediate benefits in terms of jobs and growth, and is frankly long overdue, is a tunnel to the Isle of Wight. Why has this never been done?

  • A Social Liberal 27th Jun '13 - 10:16pm

    Why isn’t Mr Alexander coming back to us and explaining how he isn’t playing fast and loose with the actuality, Why isn’t he rebutting the IFS commentry?

    Because at the moment he looks guilty.

  • Matt Hemsley 28th Jun '13 - 8:30am

    I agree with Geoffrey Payne, new roads simply means more traffic, which means more congestion and more pollution. It is a real step backward.

    Increased investment in maintaining our existing road network would have been more welcome – especially local roads where potholes and poor surfacing doesn’t just cause damage to cars but is particularly dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians, too.

    The future of the reasonably successful Local Sustainable Transport Fund is also a concern – it’s now part of the Single Local Growth Fund. I worry we’ve set ourselves up for a car based future, which is bad for the environment and bad for social justice.

  • A Social Liberal 28th Jun '13 - 9:59am

    Dave Page

    Can you explain just how PFI relates to Ponzi? I am no love of the way PFI works but I fail to see the correlation

  • Matt Hemsley – good point. How does a massive road-building programme fit in with the “greenest government ever” message? And why this huge planned spend on roads when the rise in car use seems to have stalled? We seem to have reached a point where any half-baked scheme, however costly or damaging, can be approved as long as it comes with the magic word “infrastructure” attached!

  • Richard Harris 29th Jun '13 - 8:23am

    Of course this all assumes that any of this will actually happen. We are talking about the party that has helped the tories cut cut cut, revise the plan when predicted growth did not come about, then cut cut cut again. Presumably this all relies on DA’s predictions about economic growth, and we all know how good he is at predicting that. Most of this will NOT happen. He is writing an election campaign, not a real solid policy of infrastructure spending. If it was the latter, he’d would have implemented it two years ago.

  • Richard Harris 29th Jun '13 - 8:42am

    …and I see Danny has discovered Powerpoint. My 8 year old daughter always makes powerpoint presentations about puppies which are markedly more entertaining and considerably more based in fact than the one above, but each to their own I suppose.

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