Minister defends infrastructure investment plans

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Treasury Minister Greg Clark has rejected Labour's criticisms of the government's infrastructure programme, arguing that the party failed to make long-term investments during its time in office.

He was taking part in an opposition day debate on 12 February 2013 in which Labour's Rachel Reeves called on the government to "change course" on its infrastructure investment strategy.

Shadow Treasury minister Ms Reeves said the coalition's record on infrastructure was a "complete and utter shambles" and called for urgent action to create jobs and boost confidence in the "flagging" UK economy.

But Mr Clark countered that 13 years of Labour rule had left roads "more congested, railways creaking and house-building at its lowest level since the 1920s".

"You would think that 13 years in which they spent, taxed and borrowed like no peacetime government before it, would at least have left us with an infrastructure we could have been proud of and which would have been world beating," he said.

Instead, Labour left behind a deficit as big as Greece and bigger than that in Spain, Portugal or Italy, he said.

Ms Reeves had criticised the government's record on infrastructure investment.

She told MPs "only 14%" of the 576 projects listed in its infrastructure pipeline had started and "just 1%" of those projects were said to be operational.

Business confidence had collapsed in the government, starving infrastructure projects of investment funding, she claimed.

Labour's motion - which called on the government to bring forward infrastructure projects to kickstart the economy - was defeated by 297 to 225, majority 72.

A government amendment to the motion stated that public investment as a share of GDP has increased under the current government, was passed without a vote.

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