Patrick McLoughlin: The Cabinet Office plays an important role in ensuring that Government business is effectively co-ordinated, including on important issues around Brexit. Cabinet Office Ministers are working closely with colleagues in the Department for Exiting the European Union and others across Whitehall to ensure that we get the best deal for the whole United Kingdom.
Patrick McLoughlin: As Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, I oversee the administration of the estates and the rents of the Duchy of Lancaster. I contribute to the Government’s policy and decision-making process by attending Cabinet and attending and chairing Cabinet Committees. This role is not without precedence under both Labour and Conservative Governments.
Patrick McLoughlin: I am sure that my hon. Friend will join me in welcoming the introduction of an additional 9,000 peak-time seats on the Essex Thameside route by January next year. By 2024, capacity will increase by a further 16,000 seats.
Patrick McLoughlin: A number of improvements are coming to the c2c line. In the past, my hon. Friend has been incredibly critical, but he has welcomed many of the changes that have been brought in by the new franchise. Obviously, those take a bit of time to bed in, but I know he very much welcomes the extra availability and the new seats, and I hope to see those in operation as soon as possible.
Patrick McLoughlin: I am pleased to be travelling on one of the new intercity express programme trains later today to mark the 150 years of the part of the railways that serves his town and his constituency.
Patrick McLoughlin: I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman. The investment we have seen on his line, and the investment we are seeing in the new IEP trains and the new AT300s, which will serve places further into the south-west, are very welcome, and I am pleased that he welcomes that investment.
Patrick McLoughlin: I well know the desire of all my colleagues in East Anglia to hear about the new franchise. I hope not to have to keep them waiting too long.
Patrick McLoughlin: What the hon. Gentleman should be welcoming, as he always fails to do, is the vast investment that we are seeing on that railway line. He is now complaining about the upgrading of stock in the interim before the new IEP trains come in. I would have thought he would welcome that new service and also welcome the new service into London that will eventually serve Huddersfield.
Patrick McLoughlin: When we come to look at the franchise for the east midlands line, I am sure that is one of the many issues we will take into account. It is worth pointing out that since 2010 we have seen almost 5,000 new carriages for use in the UK’s railway network. That is one of the biggest ever upgrades of our railway stock. Like my hon. Friend, as a regular user of the east midlands line I also...
Patrick McLoughlin: We are doing a number of things with regard to the Transpennine route and the Northern route—not least, under this Government, the phasing out of the Pacer train. That was always promised and alluded to, but we are actually going to deliver on it, and I am very pleased about that. If the hon. Lady is saying that more needs to be done, I accept that, but the very fact that since 2010 ,...
Patrick McLoughlin: I am sure I can organise a meeting for my hon. Friend to discuss this problem. We had a bit of a look at it some time ago when I was last in her constituency, but I am more than happy to discuss any transport problems that she has.
Patrick McLoughlin: The Government will soon update their aviation policy framework. As part of this update, the Government will consider the role that public service obligations can play in serving regional airports, which are a vital economic and social lifeline for all parts of the United Kingdom.
Patrick McLoughlin: I will certainly consider the representations that the hon. Gentleman has made to see whether that is compatible with the overall rules that we want to introduce in public service obligations.
Patrick McLoughlin: I welcome the hon. Gentleman to his position. I have been in this post for four years, and he is the fifth shadow Secretary of State I have seen and, I think, the 10th person to hold the Labour transport brief in nine years. I congratulate him on that. I also thank the hon. Member for Nottingham South (Lilian Greenwood) for the way in which she conducted herself while she was doing the job....
Patrick McLoughlin: That is one of the issues for which the Mayor of London has responsibility first, and I think he has already taken a view on it. When a decision comes to me, obviously it will have to go through the proper process. I agree with the hon. Gentleman about the opportunities for people to get to London airports.
Patrick McLoughlin: I fear that the hon. Gentleman has come in a bit too early. I intend to address the points he has just made in response to question 8 on the Order Paper.
Patrick McLoughlin: I had hoped that we would be able to announce a decision on airport capacity this summer. Clearly, any announcement on airport capacity would have to be made when the House was in session. Being realistic, given recent events, I cannot now foresee that there will be an announcement until at least October. We aim to publish the further analysis on air quality soon. Separately, promoters have...
Patrick McLoughlin: I would have liked to be in the position of asking the House to make a decision, and endorsing a decision. We are not going to be in that position, and we have to be realistic. My hon. Friend may regard it as a boring day in the House of Commons, but it is certainly not a boring day in Westminster.
Patrick McLoughlin: Looking at the hon. Lady’s question, I did not realise that she was going to mention Birmingham, because her question specifically talks about south-east England. To the best of my knowledge, Birmingham has not moved since I knew it as a boy, 20 miles away from where I lived. Birmingham airport is a fantastic airport, which serves an important role as far as Birmingham and the midlands...
Patrick McLoughlin: That is one of those questions that one cannot really disagree with, and my right hon. Friend has a habit of asking such questions in Transport questions. Although I agree with the point he makes, the delivery of what he is asking for is somewhat more difficult than he suggests.