Alan Duncan (Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Transport; Rutland and Melton, Conservative)
I contend that the Government had a duty to tell the Court in October 2001 all the facts and that they deliberately withheld that crucial component. The failure to make an honest disclosure to the judge about the power of the rail regulator is yet another—perhaps the most—shameful scar on the Government's honesty. It was and is an absolute scandal.
The High Court case has shed light on a sly and deceitful plan to implement a clandestine policy without telling Parliament. Yet again, the Government have corrupted the proper process of government, which would have been genuinely to seek all channels of finance to assist Railtrack in avoiding financial difficulties. The proper process of government would have been to respect the independence of the rail regulator, not to corrupt the position with the stench of the Government's political games. The proper process of government would have been for Ministers to make decisions at Cabinet level, not to use unelected puppets to control operations from the Treasury. The proper and decent process of government would have been to come to Parliament in June 2001 and announce that a review of the railways was under way. The proper process of government would have been to disclose all the material facts to a judge in chambers, not to conspire by deceit and complicity to deny him the facts as they knew them.
Success has many fathers; failure is an orphan. The Chancellor called all the shots on this issue, and his absence shows that he is trying to hide. He was the organ grinder and the right hon. Member for North Tyneside was but the monkey. The Chancellor wrote the score; his representative on Earth did his dirty work.
The proper processes of government have, yet again, been shamefully sidestepped by Labour. It is to the detriment of our democracy, and it is an enduring testament to the corruption, deceit and arrogance of this pitiful and mucky Government.