Ministers should concentrate on building better rail links between Britain's largest cities to promote economic growth in the regions, a Liberal Democrat MP said today (Thursday, January 9).

Ian Swales said better railways between London and large regional cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, only served to boost the capital's economy.

Instead, the Government should concentrate on building faster lines between the regional cities.

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The MP for Redcar said European countries such as France and Germany were much better at ensuring the majority economic activity was not concentrated in their capital cities.

Opening a Backbench Business debate in the House of Commons, he said: ''Looking at past priorities for inter-city rail investment, there is often seen to be an assumption that the only thing people want to do when they get on a train is travel to London or from London.

''Research shows that prioritising transport heavily on connections to a capital tends to suck economic activity in to that capital.

''In contrast with other developed countries like France and Germany, the UK remains one of the most economically centralised countries in the world.

''The vast majority of significant companies and institutions are head-quartered in or around London.

''Of course, London itself has major capacity issues, whether it is housing, schools, airports, local transport, water, sewage treatment, and even land and labour. Immigration pressures from abroad or from elsewhere in the UK are felt heavily in London as it deals with its over-heated economy.

''The Government has a stated aim to rebalance the economy and I believe inter-city rail investment can play a pivotal role in that endeavour.''