By Daniel Hunter

Lord Heseltine has said that the UK public should have faith in the HS2 rail project.

The former deputy prime minister will today (Tuesday) warn that future generations would judge those in power today harshly if they failed to deliver the new £50 billion north-south line.

The project has totally split ministers, many who don't see how it will boost the UK's economic prospects and slash journey times to and from London.

"HS2 is about our country's competitiveness for a half century or more," Heseltine will say in his speech.

"It is about so many more people sharing growth that has, for too long, been concentrated on London and the south east."

Lord Heseltine, author of a report on economic growth for the government, will cast doubt on some of the cost-benefit analyses carried out so far for the project.

In a speech to the Royal Town Planning Institute, he is due to say: "Let me leave the ladies and gentlemen of the slide rules. They know no more and no less than you and me."

He will say that no-one is "asking what might happen" but, referring to his period in charge of regeneration in under Margaret Thatcher, is expected to add: "I tell you frankly, I don't know either. I didn't know in east London in 1979 but I believed.

"All over the world governments are making decisions about a future which they cannot predict but in which they believe."

Lord Heseltine will tell his audience costs must be kept down but that not going ahead presented risks for the UK.

"The cost of dither, doubt and delay. The cost of standing still while our competitors move ahead.

"If we hadn't built Canary Wharf, how many of the jobs there would be in Frankfurt instead?" he will ask.

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