My Lords, I am interested in the noble Earl’s comments about the poor small investor who has put their life savings into a bus company which is then put out of business because exactly the same thing happens on the railways where most passenger services are franchised. I suppose the difference is that it is usually large bus companies making the bid. Some of them are owned by foreign state-owned enterprises, which means that the Government allow foreign state-owned enterprises to bid and operate train franchises but they do not allow British state-owned franchises to do the same. However, that is a slightly different matter.
Surely this is a question of which end of the telescope you are looking at. If it is question of small shareholders running a bus company in an area, they may well be worthy of sympathy in a different way from what might be called the big multinationals, but either way, experience on the railways shows that while the top management does not usually remain when a franchise changes, everyone else generally retains their job if they want it. In some cases there may be TUPE arrangements in place, but they may not be appropriate here. However, I am not convinced that the arguments for and against franchises are particularly affected by this because in practical terms many members of the workforce of a franchise of, say, a small bus company might think that they are losing their jobs, but they might well be taken on by the people running the franchise because they have local knowledge, they live locally and so on.