The UK Government are working closely with the Scottish Government, the two police forces and police authorities through a joint programme board to ensure that effective arrangements are in place for cross-border railway policing once responsibilities have been transferred. The safety and security of rail passengers and staff remains our No. 1 priority.
I hear the Minister’s reply, but does he agree that this proposal would let down hard-working and dedicated British Transport police officers and staff in Scotland, who are largely against these changes, and that this ideologically driven merger should not go ahead?
I thank my hon. Friend for his comments. As he knows, we are committed to the devolution of powers for railway policing to Scotland and the Scottish Government. We are keeping the promises made in the Scotland Act 2016. Our priority is that the powers are transferred safely and orderly. How the powers are used, however, is a decision for the Scottish Government and they should be rightly held to account by the Scottish Parliament. My hon. Friend will know that our colleagues in Holyrood share his serious concerns and they strongly oppose the SNP’s plans. I am sure that they will have heard the point he has made today.
The UK Government are committed to working with the Scottish Government, the British Transport Police Authority and the police authorities to ensure that the terms and conditions of officers and staff transferring to Police Scotland are maintained. However, this is one of the reasons why there has been a delay. It is important that the staff are properly consulted and we would encourage that to happen.