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CPF Chairman John Penrose's Boxnote on the Infrastructure, Investment & Devolution Paper

‘Box Notes’ are short briefings included in a Minister’s red box, to bring them up to speed on a developing issue.

Dear Member,

I’m writing to brief you on the conclusions of our latest policy enquiry into Infrastructure, Investment and Devolution. The key proposals are laid out in the summary which you’ll find attached to this box note on the CPF website, so I won’t repeat them all here, but there are four political strands that stand out. They are:

Key Proposals

  1. The enquiry wasn’t technically about levelling up, or rebalancing Britain’s economy, but that’s where we all went. For a Party that’s got free markets in the marrow of its bones, we clearly believe that wealth creation and opportunity need to be equally spread to people outside London and the southeast, particularly in the north.

  2. It wasn’t all about roads, rail or power generation. Ahead of anything that involves hard hats or hi-vis jackets, we thought investment in better education and skills is most important of all, followed by affordable housing (including modern prefabs).

  3. We like investment, but it’s got to be value for money. There’s a strong vein of scepticism about whether infrastructure projects move fast enough, given all the layers of government bureaucracy, or offer good enough value. The doubts are particularly strong around HS2, although whether the value-for-money concerns are because we are unsure how much intercity or commuter travel we’ll all be doing after COVID, or because of doubts about the business case more generally, isn’t clear, But a large minority of us think it should either be scrapped, or at least built from north to south (that rebalancing point again) rather than the other way around.

  4. We’re green, or at least low-carbon. We like investment in hydrogen-fuelled cars, and in an upgraded and cleaner sewage system too. Plus small modular nuclear power stations for electricity generation as well.

Cabinet Impact  

As always, a more detailed private version of the report’s conclusions has gone to #10 Downing Street. We will be holding a virtual round table discussion of these conclusions with either #10 policy staff or Cabinet Ministers (or both) in due course, to develop some of these ideas further.

Best wishes & stay safe


John Penrose MP

Conservative Policy Forum Chair


I think hs2 is not a bad idea but really it should stretch the length of England Newcastle to London. I have concerns about the safety of nuclear energy, if there was a disaster it could wipe out large parts of the UK, I don't think it is worth the risk. The climate is changing, there was once an ice age, but man made, I think not, you have to get real with this climate agenda, the changes that you propose are not practicle. Levelling up would be nice, more investment in cities other than London would be reasonable, London being such a great city shouldn't really need subsidising.


Very interesting and raises crucial points. As a candidate in the NE last December it became clear that there are numerous projects that would increase opportunity outside London and the South East, bring about much needed infrastructure improvement and secure future political security. However, be wary of throwing the true blue heartland under the bus to achieve this or the yellow peril will walk through the back door and erode areas where we have a strong base. Northern opportunity makes the progression of HS2 and another runway at Heathrow totally at odds before we even begin to crystal ball gaze how mass movements and working patterns will change after Covid. Value for money is always problematic to monitor and …


Victoria  Borwick
Victoria Borwick
Oct 23, 2020

I agree with the building of HS "3" ie the Northern end first, but I also think we should be thinking in a far more innovative way - the problem with HS2 is the destruction of woodland and greenfield sites for the railway infrastructure. With the Northern routes we should use more tunnelling - so much more precise and does not devastate the environment - it would be far cheaper than buying up all that land as has been required for HS2. Then we can run fast Maglev trains and get from Hull to Liverpool in about 30 minutes and points in between, (eg Leeds and Manchester) taking traffic off the roads and bringing employment and regeneration for years …


Unknown member
Oct 23, 2020

The Green policy is much welcome, as Carbon emission is depleting natural resources.

Investment in infrastructures has positive economy of scale, both at the private and public sector of the economy. Thus, creating jobs, as well as revenue to finance future deficits.

Remote working, if well supported will reduce pressure on state resources and would reflect a multiplier effect on greener environment.

Great Britain has got to take charge of her borders, market, trade deals.

Wealth creation, even-distribution of income would only be attained when people have effective skills, expertise, and technical-know-how to go about their daily lives.


Disagree, capital investment is important and whilst a 'high speed link' between the north and south which saves journeys 15mins is not useful, one across country is. Manchester and Liverpool to Birmingham / Stoke probably also useful especially for freight. We will hopefully need goods to be delivered and rail freight, links to ports and better road infrastructure is also important. Whilst some politicians may like to believe that people like being shut at home working, if jobs can be done from home they can be done abroad and the Tec companies realised several years ago that it isn't practical or positive with regards to generating innovation which will be so badly needed as people don't collaborate the same way…

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