Valedictory Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:54 pm on 5 November 2019.

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Photo of Patrick McLoughlin Patrick McLoughlin Chair, European Statutory Instruments Committee, Chair, European Statutory Instruments Committee 2:54, 5 November 2019

Well, everybody is allowed to have their views. All I can say to my right hon. Friend is that she ought to have to deal with some of the people the Whips Office has to deal with.

I would like to say something to all people who come into this House of Commons. Whatever they think about the Whips Office and about the party system, very few people would get into this House on their own ability; they get here only because they belong to a major political party or a political party, and I think that is sometimes forgotten by them when they get here.

In 2012, David Cameron gave me the option of becoming Secretary of State for Transport. As Chief Whip, I was aware of the offer just a little time in advance of the reshuffle, so I had time to reflect on it. It was a big step to move from the back office of politics to the front office, or to the frontline, as it so often seemed, particularly in those first few weeks at the Department for Transport, where I had of course started as a junior Minister some time before.

I remember very well, Madam Deputy Speaker, you coming to me on that Monday afternoon, when I knew what was going to happen to me, and you told me that the Opposition day debate on Wednesday was going to be on rail fares. I did try to say to you that I did not think this was a very good idea and could you not find a different subject to take on. The next morning you realised why I might have suggested that, but as usual you stuck to your guns, and I found myself responding to such a debate that week.

I found my four years at the Department for Transport one of the most fascinating periods that I spent in government, and it was a huge privilege to be the Secretary of State and head of a major Department such as that.