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Business News

Autumn Statement 2013: Chancellor defends 'vital' HS2 infrastructure investment


George Osborne squared up to the £42.6 billion High Speed Two railway’s legion of critics, insisting the country must “push the boundaries of endeavour, including in controversial areas”.

David Cameron and George Osborne have staked their political reputations on pushing through a rail project that will reduce journey times from London to Birmingham to just 49 minutes.

Campaigners who have attacked the spiralling costs and likely environmental impact of HS2 have harboured hopes that the pair would eventually drop their backing of the scheme, but Osborne made clear in his speech that he remained a staunch supporter.

He also argued that spending on capital projects as a proportion of national income this decade will be greater than during the last Labour Government’s 13 years in power. “Investment in physical infrastructure is vital to the future of this country,” added Osborne.

Yesterday the Government unveiled its latest National Infrastructure Plan, which included a £25bn promise from big insurers to invest in capital projects.