Stephen Hammond: If the hon. Lady reads on, she will see that that recommendation states that franchisees “should not be expected to take external macroeconomic” risks. Surely this franchise has underestimated the risk to itself by overestimating revenues. Now, whether the Department for Transport took the appropriate advice is for the Transport Committee to dwell on, but the Brown principles are...
Stephen Hammond: On that point, I will give way to my right hon. Friend, a former Minister of State.
Stephen Hammond: The former Minister of State is a friend of mine from when we were both in the Department for Transport. I wholeheartedly concur, as ever. The second part of the motion is about the future, which is where the biggest divide is. I enjoy a good reminiscence as much as the next person. I remember my fifth birthday treat—my parents took me on the railways, because I always wanted to do it.
Stephen Hammond: Yes, steam was still around. For most of the first part of my professional life, I used British Rail to commute. The idea that it was a paragon of virtue and good service is just nonsense. My memory, which I do not think has deserted me, is of old and failing rolling stock, poor maintenance, timetables that were never operated, and a lack of investment. That is not the reality now. Since...
Stephen Hammond: I am mindful of the six-minute limit. I have taken two interventions, so I will not take one from the hon. Gentleman. That private investment, which Labour so heavily opposes, is the very investment that will greatly benefit the people who travel on the trains, about whom all hon. Members should be most concerned. Under Labour proposals, that investment would disappear. I applaud my right...
Stephen Hammond: Rough sleeping is a stain on our communities, and as a London MP I am continually frustrated by the inactivity of the Mayor. May I ask the Leader of the House for a statement on the measures the Government are taking so that the Mayor could learn some lessons?
Stephen Hammond: What assessment he has made of the potential benefits to the UK arising from third-country trade deals after the UK leaves the EU.
Stephen Hammond: I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. He will know, as I do, that international regulatory standards are what fuel international trade. For the continuation of those deals and opportunities, does he agree that regulatory alignment will be necessary to secure the best British deals post Brexit?
Stephen Hammond: I welcome my right hon. Friend’s statement. As I understand it, with the formation of LNER there is no bail-out and nor is there any renationalisation, which will be widely welcomed. On the basis that taxpayer value has been protected, will he say what extra investment might be available to LNER, whether there will be opportunities for private sector investment and whether he will open...
Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many Network Rail staff work for their Infrastructure Projects division; what the annual expenditure of that organisation is; and what assessment he has made of the competitiveness of that organisation.
Stephen Hammond: I welcome the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday on malaria that we will remain committed to the fight, and the hosting of today’s summit. However, with the United Nations saying that progress on malaria is now at risk, what influence will the Secretary of State use on Commonwealth countries and others to ensure that the fight continues?
Stephen Hammond: What plans he has to increase productivity.
Stephen Hammond: I listened to my right hon. Friend set out the Government’s plans for investment in transport and infrastructure a few moments ago. What direct impact on productivity does he expect those investments to have in the regions where they occur?
Stephen Hammond: The Prime Minister was absolutely right in the actions she took and the way she took them. She was also right, in her statement, to continue to press for the re-establishment of the international investigative mechanism. Does she believe that that mechanism and that ambition will be thwarted unless Russia gives up its veto on the Security Council and the OPCW is allowed to continue its...
Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress his Department has made on giving summer-born and premature children the right to start reception at the age of five.
Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate his Department has made of the cost to the public purse of giving summer-born and premature children the right to start reception at the age of five.
Stephen Hammond: I commend my right hon. Friend on the progress that she made last week. She will know that the financial services industry particularly welcomes the implementation period and the commitment in the guidelines for a trade in services based on market access and allowing rights of establishment. Is the British Government’s ambition to achieve that under mutual recognition or standards...
Stephen Hammond: Investing in our economy creates jobs and growth, and successful businesses drive that. Will my right hon. Friend tell the House how much the corporate tax take has gone up since the cut in corporation tax? Will he confirm that he will do nothing to hinder our internationally competitive corporate tax rates?
Stephen Hammond: What steps he is taking to support growth in the small business sector.
Stephen Hammond: Of course I join in the congratulations to the Minister, but he will know that one of the crucial requirements for the success of the small business sector is access to and understanding of finance, and there is considerable evidence that there is currently a knowledge gap in the market. What are the Government doing to address that?