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Thomas Cook

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:03 pm on 25th September 2019.

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Photo of Alan Brown Alan Brown Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Energy) 2:03 pm, 25th September 2019

I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of the statement. I pay tribute to the work of the CAA and to the Thomas Cook employees who have gone above and beyond to help stranded holidaymakers. I express my sympathies for all those who have lost their jobs.

Instead of the UK Government using the mantra that this is the biggest peacetime repatriation, they should be apologising for this collapse happening on their watch. The Secretary of State spoke of reforms and new legislation that are required to stop this happening again with another company, but why were lessons not learned from the collapse of Monarch just two years ago? What are the timescales for the new legislation? I point out that, procedurally, a new Session is not required for legislation. The Government could bring it forward if they wanted.

Will the Secretary of State explain the position with Spain and Turkey, and the fact that they were looking at ways to keep Thomas Cook trading, while the UK Government were not willing to? The German Government led the way in keeping Condor going.

The Secretary of State said that £250 million would have been good money after bad, but what discussions did the Government have with Thomas Cook and what financial appraisal did the Government make before saying that they could not fund that money? This is a Government who can find £100 million to advertise that Brexit is good for us. I think they should spend that money on supporting jobs instead.

Will the Secretary of State explain what impact Brexit had on the collapse of Thomas Cook, because it warned about the impact of Brexit? What impact did the collapse of sterling have on the company’s trading position? What assessment have the Government made of the pension liabilities of Thomas Cook? What plans do the Government have to curb outrageous executive pay, given that close to £50 million has been taken out of Thomas Cook in recent years?

I welcome the update on the holidaymakers in Cuba, but are any other holidaymakers effectively being held to ransom or captive? What discussions are the UK Government having with foreign Governments when such ruthless actions are taken?

Thomas Cook vouchers are now worthless. When will the Government finally implement the scheme to protect vouchers and gift cards when companies become insolvent?

What actions are the Government taking to support the 13,000 employees who are still abroad?

Finally, I have constituents who have lost their jobs. Can the Secretary of State look my constituents in the eye and honestly say that there is nothing more the Government could have done to save their jobs?