Covid-19: Transport

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:46 pm on 12th May 2020.

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Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Transport 2:46 pm, 12th May 2020

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was able to catch the previous statement from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; he answered some of the questions about what employers should be doing.

One of the main characteristics of the UK’s response to this crisis, unlike in other countries, has been that we have asked people to do things—for example, to stay at home—and that has been very widely followed and accepted. In the same spirit, we expect—indeed, we anticipate—that businesses will behave in the same way, as my right hon. Friend Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said not half an hour ago. He has increased the amount of money provided for inspections, for example, to make sure that that happens, but we do look to employers to make sure that they behave in a sensible way. Of course, employees will have all the usual routes—including ACAS, local authorities and the Health and Safety Executive—available if they do not feel that that is happening.

The hon. Gentleman is right to point out that a massive amount of support has now been provided to public transport in particular to keep it going. In England, that has involved support to all the train operating companies and to the bus operators. I realise that the finance is separate in Scotland and goes through the Scottish Government; some of the hon. Gentleman’s questions seemed to me to be more applicable to them. I do, however, think that the support provided across the United Kingdom is an indication of where we are all much better off working on these things together, and I welcome that partnership as we seek to save, where possible, aviation companies, bus operators and the others he mentioned.

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answers that I provided to the shadow Secretary of State, Jim McMahon, on the support that is not necessarily publicly exposed, but is none the less available, to the aviation sector and that few other sectors of the economy enjoy—it can run out of all the different schemes that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has provided, and now extended, and still have additional discussions beyond that. I can confirm that we are in those discussions, including with Scottish companies.