Rail Franchising

Part of NHS Winter Crisis – in the House of Commons at 4:44 pm on 10th January 2018.

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Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Secretary of State for Transport 4:44 pm, 10th January 2018

I make no apologies for the huge investment programme in the Thameslink network, the massive expansion of London Bridge station, which has just been completed and the introduction of brand-new 12-coach trains across the network. What I do apologise for is that we were not able to avoid the extraordinarily ill-judged actions of the trade unions, which caused massive trouble for passengers. The hon. Member for Middlesbrough talked about the Gibb report. Chris Gibb had a simple conclusion, which was that although there were problems on the network—that is why we are spending £300 million on improving it—by far the biggest disruptive factor was the trade unions.

Of course, we want rail staff to be paid fairly, but trade union leaders such as Mick Cash drive up ticket prices for hard-working people. The same unions that want CPI increases on fares want RPI—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Middlesbrough should listen. The RMT guidance to their negotiators is that

“any attempt by an employer to link a pay award to CPI…must be refused.”

Mick Cash wants bigger rises for his members and lower rises for passengers. Where is the money coming from? It does not add up. Labour’s policies do not add up, and the unions’ policies do not add up.

Of course, you will remember, Madam Deputy Speaker, who pays the Labour party’s bills. Even the shadow Secretary of State has received financial contributions from the RMT. The Opposition are in the pockets of the trade unions, and that is simply not acceptable.