IT MIGHT seem odd that an MP whose constituency is benefitting from more than £400m of Government spending on transport should take the same Government to task for not spending enough.

But this week in the House I called on the Government to right an historical imbalance in infrastructure spending between the North and the South to unlock the region’s economic potential.

In doing so I of course acknowledged the millions being spent on the upgrading of the A1 in North Yorkshire and preliminary work on the A66. Notwithstanding the frustrating delays to the completion of A1 scheme, that is very good news.

But these very welcome road improvement schemes are only part of the jigsaw which is the North’s transport links. That fragmented, sluggish and at times choked network is currently selling the region short.

The cities and towns of the North are individually strong, but collectively not strong enough because of these inefficient transport links.

Today, it is quicker to travel 283 miles from London to Paris than it is to travel less than half that distance between Hull and Liverpool. Manchester to Leeds is just 40 miles but it seems much, much further.

And we have converted busses, the old Pacer trains – a technology phased out more than 12 years ago by Iran’s national railway – still in use across the North.

The only way to get the North to punch beyond the collective sum of its parts is to connect those parts up. That is why better transport is key to unlocking the North’s true potential.

In the Chamber on Monday I referred to The Northern Powerhouse. It is a wonderful phrase but the people of Northern England deserve more than a slogan, they need action.

There is no doubt that under successive Governments – both Conservative and Labour - there has been a substantial funding gap between London transport and Northern transport. That gap needs to start closing, and it needs to start closing now.

London has Crossrail. The Midlands has HS2. Now we in the North need the Government to back Northern Powerhouse Rail. This is our HS3 – connecting up the cities and towns of the north, east-west, at speed. The Government’s £300m down payment on this major project is certainly welcome, but we will need a lot more to really show the people of the North the government means business.

For example, the new Tees Valley Mayor has campaigned to upgrade Darlington station to vastly improve its capacity. It’s an excellent proposal and the Government should get behind it.

We also need better rail freight links between the North’s great ports. Investment in the rail route to and from Teesport, for example, would assist its growth and could, incidentally provide a solution to the daily headache that is the delays caused by Northallerton’s three level crossings.

And finally, we need to make sure that the rural North isn’t left behind. Advances like autonomous vehicles will have their biggest impact in sparsely populated rural areas – allowing the elderly to access services more easily when they are eventually unable to drive themselves. They might also stimulate our rural economy by allowing people to head to the pub without worrying about who will drive home. Now there’s a thought!