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Labour and Tories lock horns over infrastructure pledges

Words: Huw Morris

The two main parties competed with promises of infrastructure spending as the first salvos were fired in the general election.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell pledged that a Labour government would deliver "investment on a scale never seen before" to overhaul infrastructure in all areas of the UK.

He also promised to transfer power and resources out of the South East, a pledge matched by the Conservatives.

Speaking in Liverpool, McDonnell said a Labour government would to set up a Treasury unit in the north of England to take spending decisions out of Whitehall.

The Conservatives promised an “infrastructure revolution”, pledging to give the north of England more control over its railways, greater powers for some elected mayors and a new economic development body.

McDonnell said a social transformation fund of £150 billion would be spent on infrastructure projects such as schools, hospitals and social housing over five years. A further £250 billion would be allocated under a green transformation fund which would tackle the “climate emergency”.

Chancellor Sajid Javid accused Labour of planning to spray money round like confetti", and indulging in "fantasy economics".

The Conservatives plan to increase debt as a share of national income would raise spending by "an extra £20 billion a year over a five year period”, he said, adding that "you could easily add another £100 billion to that" but the details would be set out in the Conservative manifesto.

Both parties say they want to take advantage of historically low interest rates to spend more on transport, hospitals and other infrastructure projects.

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