East Midlands Rail Franchise

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:44 am on 11th April 2019.

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Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport), Vice-Chair, Conservative Party 10:44 am, 11th April 2019

Well, much of that was absolutely ridiculous—just complete nonsense. Let us turn back the page and remind ourselves about the idea that the Government have somehow been dragged to the Dispatch Box. I remind the hon. Gentleman that this was a contract that included a market sensitive element. There are strict procedures when a market-sensitive contract is awarded by any Government—and that includes the Scottish Government. The announcement is made first of all to the City. There was a written ministerial statement at 7 o’clock yesterday morning and by 9 o’clock there was a “Dear Colleague” letter sent out to all those Members who were affected, so what he says is simply wrong.

I have to say I cannot remember exactly the full range of questions the hon. Gentleman asked, but the key thing is that this contract has been awarded in a fair and consistent way. It is delivering significant passenger benefits, including a complete renewal of the fleet. I have already highlighted that the inter-city, regional and express services will all receive new rolling stock—new trains—and that there will be more services, more seats at peak and improved environmental performance. The benefits are clearly very significant. We should welcome them, not the opposite.

I think the hon. Gentleman got carried away with his own rhetoric when he asked whether the Secretary of State should resign. Of course not—what a load of complete nonsense. This franchise was awarded in a fair and consistent way, and it will deliver for passengers. We should celebrate that, not the opposite.