Bus Services Bill [Lords]

Part of Supply and Appropriation (Anticipation and Adjustments) Bill – in the House of Commons at 2:03 pm on 1st March 2017.

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Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers Conservative, Chipping Barnet 2:03 pm, 1st March 2017

No, I will not give way.

In my previous role as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, I was contacted by Wrightbus of Ballymena. The company was concerned about the chilling effect that even the proposals leading to the Bill were having on orders for new buses from operators in England. Wrightbus is a hugely successful company that exports buses to many places around the world, as far afield as China. It delivers the highest quality engineering and provides training and opportunities for hundreds of young people. It is a great asset to Northern Ireland and to the UK as a whole. Its concerns demonstrate that the re-regulation of bus services outside London is not a step to be undertaken lightly. It is not a cost-free option. If we get this wrong, it will be the passenger who suffers. I therefore appeal to the Minister to table amendments that would remove clause 4. At the very least, it is important to amend the Bill to reverse the changes made in the other place, which extend franchising powers beyond mayoral combined authorities and which would allow all local authorities to set up their own bus companies.