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John Stevenson: I am about to conclude my speech, so I will continue. It is for those reasons that I believe that, if the Government were to bring forward privatisation proposals for the Land Registry, it would be a privatisation too far.
John Stevenson: This is an important debate. I recently visited a school and met loads of sixth-formers. I asked them whether they could name their council leader or county council leader. In each case, not one person could. An elected mayor would certainly bring about visibility, transparency and accountability. Does the hon. Gentleman not agree that that is healthy?
John Stevenson: The hon. Gentleman mentions that his is a large geographical area. London is a large geographical area, but virtually everybody in the country knows who the Mayor is. Would that not be good for the hon. Gentleman’s area?
John Stevenson: Thank you, Ms Dorries, for the opportunity to say a few additional things. I appreciate the contributions of all hon. Members on what is an important issue for many people up and down the west coast. The issue affects businesses, individuals, tourists, our major conurbations and of course the smaller cities and towns right up the west coast of our country. The next franchise is a real...
John Stevenson: The hon. Gentleman makes a fair request to the UK Government; may I make a fair request to the Scottish Government? Carlisle station is a station for the Scots as much as for the English. If the opportunity arises for investment in the station from the Scottish Government, will he support that?
John Stevenson: I beg to move, That this House has considered the West Coast rail franchise. It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship today, Mr Brady, for what is my first Westminster Hall debate of this new Parliament. I should mention that I am the chair of the all-party group on the west coast main line. The group takes a keen interest in the line; we have met the operator and the franchisees,...
John Stevenson: My right hon. Friend hits the nail on the head with regard to the key issue about HS2, which is capacity. He is absolutely right that on many parts of the west coast line capacity is already becoming an issue, and that situation will continue as we approach the 2020s. Therefore it is vital that we invest in the rail network and HS2 is very much part of that. Funnily enough, the line is not...
John Stevenson: One of the reasons for having this debate was so that hon. Members could have the opportunity to highlight key issues for their own area. I am delighted that my hon. Friend has been able to do so and I am sure that the Minister will be listening keenly.
John Stevenson: My right hon. Friend makes a valid point. Indeed, we must not lose sight of the fact that there should be integration within our transport system, between the railways, the airports and the road and bus networks. The important thing about the new franchise is that we get it right. It needs to be right for passengers, fair for the taxpayer, right for the industry and right for those who work...
John Stevenson: My hon. Friend makes two valid points. There must be competition. We need to encourage many different businesses to come in and challenge Virgin for the franchise, to ensure that we get the best possible franchise for the taxpayer and the passenger. We need transparency and simplification. The ticket-pricing system needs to be easier for the consumer—the passenger—to understand. I accept...
John Stevenson: May I declare an interest? I am still a practising solicitor. I have been very interested to hear what my hon. Friend has had to say and I have a lot of sympathy with it. One thing he has not touched on is the Scottish system, which is distinct from the English system. Does he think there is some merit in looking at how the Scots do conveyancing, or does the way we do it in England just need...
John Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, for what reasons the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association has not been invited to meetings of the litter strategy advisory group.
John Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which campaign groups attended the initial meeting of key stakeholders at the litter strategy advisory group.
John Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what guidance has been issued to local authorities and other Government departments on engagement with the (a) British Soft Drinks Association, (b) Food and Drinks Federation, (c) Wines and Spirits Association and (d) Tobacco Manufacturers Association.
John Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the (a) Tobacco Manufacturers Association, (b) Wine and Spirits Association, (c) Scottish Whisky Association, (d) British Food and Drinks Federation and (e) British Soft Drinks Association have been asked to attend the national litter strategy advisory group.
John Stevenson: In Cumbria, nuclear matters. We have the nuclear legacy at Sellafield, defence work at Barrow and the prospect of serious investment in a new nuclear plant at Moorside. Given the apparent opposition to nuclear from the Opposition, will the Prime Minister confirm that the long-term decisions for nuclear power and defence will be made in a timely manner?
John Stevenson: To ask the Attorney General, whether his Department plans to move any government legal services to the north of England.
John Stevenson: Local government clearly has a role to play in economic development. Does the Secretary of State agree that it is important that the Scottish Parliament also devolves power to local government? Might it look to England for a lead—on elected mayors, for example?
John Stevenson: In April 2015 the Prime Minister said that there should be a new Carlisle principle to ensure that other parts of the UK do not lose out as a result of Scottish devolution. Can he confirm that that principle will apply, who will review the position, when it will report, and who it will report to?