Martin Vickers: My hon. Friend was an excellent rail Minister before taking up his new role earlier this week. I do not know whether he is in the habit of buying The Daily Mail when he travels on Virgin Trains, but he will know that the company has in effect taken action to ban its customers from buying that newspaper. May we have a debate on this rather unacceptable act by Virgin?
Martin Vickers: Last month, I welcomed a delegation from Taiwan to my constituency, where we met representatives of the offshore renewables sector and the seafood sector. Will Ministers work with me and with local businesses to ensure that we maximise our exports to that growing market?
Martin Vickers: We have rightly heard from the Secretary of State that there is record investment in the railways and a record number of passengers, yet Opposition Members are here to criticise the running of the railways. I am sure we will hear many tales of woe from Opposition Back Benchers, but the reality is very different. There are problems, and we have heard from my right hon. Friend about the Virgin...
Martin Vickers: Perhaps they are a little more free-market and capitalist-minded over in Germany. At present, competition is for the franchise; what we want is more competition in the running of services, and one way we can achieve that is through open access operators. Hull Trains and Grand Central both run on the east coast main line and provide services to areas that in the main do not get a service from...
Martin Vickers: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Hull Trains and Grand Central both get very high satisfaction ratings. The House should take note of last year’s Transport Committee report on rail franchising. It states: “Open access has been a success, albeit on a limited scale to date. The balance of evidence points to potential benefits in open access having an expanded role on long...
Martin Vickers: I will not take any more interventions; it would be unfair to others. Reference has been made to fare increases. It is a fair point that there has to be a balance involving what the taxpayer is prepared to put into the network. I gather that the net contribution from the taxpayer for the last financial year was £4.2 billion. That is not an insignificant amount. While mentioning fares,...
Martin Vickers: What steps her Department is taking to encourage greater collaboration between police and fire services.
Martin Vickers: I recently held meetings with the chief constable and the chief fire officer for the Humberside area, and welcomed the fact that they are collaborating more closely. Can the Minister reassure my constituents that in an area that contains chemical plants, oil refineries and other dangerous plant, the fire service will not take its eye off the ball in its main role?
Martin Vickers: There is growing concern among residents and business owners in Cleethorpes, particularly in St Peter’s Avenue and the High Street, about the growing number of vagrants in the area. That concern spilled over at a public meeting last week. Can the Leader of the House find time for a debate in Government time so that we can discuss the response of the various agencies, how they can deal...
Martin Vickers: rose—
Martin Vickers: The Secretary of State mentioned Lincolnshire among the places where there will be new business rate pilots; will he clarify whether that includes the two unitary authorities of North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire as well as the county council? With respect to the devolution deal for Lincolnshire that failed earlier this year, will he confirm that he would be prepared to look again...
Martin Vickers: The patient transport service in northern Lincolnshire is contracted to Thames Ambulance Service Ltd, which is failing miserably to perform to an adequate standard. Will the Minister meet me, along with my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Goole (Andrew Percy) and other neighbouring Members, to discuss what influence the Department can bring to bear?
Martin Vickers: One reason 70% of my constituents voted to leave was their concern about the free movement of people. The Prime Minister referred to registering new arrivals from the EU. During the implementation period, will we be able to control those numbers? If that is not the case, will she be arguing that point during the negotiations?
Martin Vickers: What progress has been made on implementing the recommendations of his Department’s report, “Improving Lives: Helping Workless Families”, published in April 2017.
Martin Vickers: I thank the Minister for her reply. As she will know, working households in coastal communities such as Cleethorpes face particular difficulties. There is much low-paid work, but not much to encourage young people to stay there. What additional support can she offer to those sorts of communities?
Martin Vickers: Is the Minister aware of whether the EU Commission is assessing the economic effects on the remaining member states of not reaching a trade deal with the UK?
Martin Vickers: Last week I was pleased to welcome a delegation from Taiwan to my constituency to meet businesses in the offshore renewables sector, and the delegation regarded the way the sector has developed in the UK as a model. Will the Minister outline what support is available to small and medium-sized businesses involved in the supply chain in this country that want to extend to countries abroad?
Martin Vickers: May I intervene on that point?
Martin Vickers: I pointed out that the 1975 referendum was to deal with the running sore within the Labour party. The Labour party was split at that time, as the hon. Gentleman will know. The fact is that both parties have been divided on this issue, which is actually a reflection of the way that the country is divided on it.
Martin Vickers: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?