I suspect that when we come to debate the future of the railway industry I will be speaking for my party, which is against franchising. And, as I currently understand it, the party wishes to see the railways back in some degree of public ownership. However, let us not get bogged down in the differences within our party between the two industries otherwise we could be on this amendment for a lot longer than we should be.
On the previous amendment, we talked about not-for-profit companies making a bid for franchises. The problem with that reflects directly on Amendment 35. If a successful franchise bid depends on a lower bid, and there is every chance it will be given the shortage of cash in local government and the cutbacks that have been made so far as support for bus services is concerned, obviously some of the smaller and perhaps less reputable companies will start out with an advantage. If you are running a major operation that recognises trade unions, pays trade union rates, provides proper canteen facilities, uniforms and so on, you are not in a particularly advantageous position when bidding for a franchise against a smaller company that does none of those things.
Again I remind the Minister that over the years a lot of these companies have come and gone. The bus industry has rather settled down, and although we deplore the lack of competition, when we had lots of it, it was often denounced as wasteful and unnecessary. Speaking specifically to this amendment, if a company large or small loses its assets as a result of measures inherent in the Bill, surely it is only fair that it deserves to be properly compensated.