Rail Manufacturing: Job Losses - Commons Urgent Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:50 pm on 17 April 2024.

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Photo of Baroness Randerson Baroness Randerson Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Transport) 3:50, 17 April 2024

My Lords, I would also like to pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, who I regarded as a friend and whose contribution to this House I greatly respected.

The Government have a feast-and-famine approach to ordering rolling stock. Between 2012 and 2019, 8,000 vehicles were ordered, but between 2019 and 2023, 100 vehicles were ordered. It also seems to take the Department for Transport an absurdly excessive time to move through the procurement process: from invitation to tender to the delivery of the first vehicle takes over six years. Are the Government, as some suspect, on a deliberate go-slow in order to reduce expenditure? In view of the news about the desperate last-minute attempts to conjure up some orders for Elizabeth line trains, does the Minister accept that, with thousands of jobs at risk in Alstom and Hitachi, this reveals a desperate gap—a black hole—at the heart of the Government’s industrial policy?