Right long-term infrastructure choices, says minister

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The government has announced a £100bn modernisation of the UK's infrastructure, including new homes and improved flood protection.

The package is also aimed at boosting new sources of energy like shale gas, and improving road repairs.

"We are shifting the government's policy horizons to match the modern economy's horizon because this coalition government wants to make the right long-term choices for Britain," Chief Secretary Danny Alexander told MPs on 27 June 2013.

He added: "There is no easy way to create jobs and prosperity. It is a difficult path but the right one."

The announcement of the government's infrastructure plans came a day after the Spending Review, in which £11.5bn of cuts to Whitehall departments were spelt out.

But shadow treasury minister Christopher Leslie dismissed the announcements as "plenty of empty promises" and asked: "When is the government going to pull its finger out and actually start to build some of these things?"

He went on to say that the government has been "chillaxing" at the expense of economic recovery and called on Mr Alexander to "come clean and admit that what he's really doing is cutting the capital investment budget overall, in real terms, by 1.7% in 2015/16".

In reply, Mr Alexander said: "Only the Labour Party could claim that new figures which showed that we borrowed less in previous years is bad news for the country. They are addicted to borrowing."

On flooding, Mr Alexander said that an agreement had been reached with the flood insurance industry and that the government would invest £370m in 2015 with an increase "in real terms every year until 2020".

Defra committee chair Conservative's Anne McIntosh welcomed the "announcement on flood defences help" and on insurance said "we want this to be available yet affordable".

Liberal Democrat Stephen Gilbert said the current deal with the insurers "runs out in just three days' time" but legislation was not being brought forward until the autumn, he asked: "What can be done in the meantime to maintain affordable, available flood insurance so that people can protect, mortgage and sell their homes?"

Mr Alexander assured him that the existing statement of principles would continue until the new arrangements which would "make sure we keep people safe from the risk of flooding".

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