Iain Stewart: May I urge my hon. Friend to look at the evidence received by the Select Committee on Transport? We heard that the new bi-mode class 800 trains will run to the same timetable, whether they operate on diesel power or on electric, so there will be no loss of service by not having the lines electrified.
Iain Stewart: My right hon. Friend has rightly mentioned that many of the UK’s exports are very high value and specialised and that many of the supplies go to the United States military. Does he have an opinion at this stage whether the product exemption or the country exemption route offers the best hope for gaining an advantage for the United Kingdom?
Iain Stewart: It is wonderful that so many new technologically superior trains are being introduced on Britain’s railways, but many passengers are complaining that some of them have cramped and uncomfortable seats. We do not want to have Ryanair on the tracks. Will the Minister do all he can to ensure that the specifications for those new trains have passenger comfort at their heart?
Iain Stewart: May I start by thanking you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for your kindness in allowing me not to wear my jacket while I nurse my broken arm? I must confess that it is a transport-related injury. I tripped and fell while running to catch a tram, which is rather embarrassing given that I chair the all-party parliamentary light rail group. In the short time available, I will make some general points...
Iain Stewart: Revenues go up and down; it is very difficult to forward-plan the income from a railway. The Virgin Trains East Coast situation is not a problem of a line losing money or failing on passenger satisfaction. It is making money—just not as much as was forecast. That is one of the reforms of the franchising system that I wish to see. Look at Network Rail—a public body. It has problems...
Iain Stewart: The west coast main line is a vital railway service for my constituency. Virgin has indeed transformed that service over the duration of its franchise. Will my right hon. Friend say a little bit more about the duration of this direct award? What additional features can my constituents expect during that time?
Iain Stewart: I warmly welcome my hon. Friend to the Dispatch Box. May I urge him, in looking at the administrative changes to universal credit, not to lose sight of the overarching goal, which is to have a simpler welfare system that actually encourages people into work—a far cry from the old system that it is replacing?
Iain Stewart: To secure our future prosperity and to meet the employment challenge posed by artificial intelligence, this country has an urgent need to improve its digital skills base. Will my right hon. Friend therefore congratulate the Open University in my constituency on securing a leading role in the Government’s Institute of Coding?
Iain Stewart: It has been a pleasure to serve on the Bill Committee and the predecessor Bill Committee and I agree with the comments made: this is an exemplar of how Committees should work. I thank the shadow Front-Bench team and all my colleagues on the Committee for what was a very constructive session. As we prepare to send the Bill to the other place, I would like to say that the Government approach on...
Iain Stewart: I absolutely agree that we need to look at the technology for charging buses and other vehicles en route. May I invite the hon. Gentleman to look at the pilot scheme that has been running in Milton Keynes with an induction charging system for a bus route that is wholly electric? That could represent the technology for recharging, rather than expensive overhead line equipment.
Iain Stewart: I am happy to support Government new clause 1 and the consequential amendments. I rise to make one point only on a matter that was discussed in Committee, particularly when we took evidence from witnesses before line-by-line consideration commenced. It follows on from the point the shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull East (Karl Turner), made about the need for the...
Iain Stewart: Figures out today show a worrying rise in the number of hate crimes being committed in schools. Does that not underline the vital role that organisations such as the Holocaust Educational Trust have to play in stamping out these abhorrent attitudes?
Iain Stewart: Primary school pupils at Oxley Park Academy in my constituency have launched a campaign to replace plastic straws with environmentally friendly alternatives. Will the Secretary of State commend their initiative and, if I send him the details, will he take on board their suggestions?
Iain Stewart: What recent assessment he has made of standards at Oakhill secure training centre in Milton Keynes.
Iain Stewart: The young people held in the centre often have complex, challenging needs and require considerable intervention to help their rehabilitation. By when can we hope to see some tangible improvement in that intervention?
Iain Stewart: What steps his Department is taking to tackle anti-Semitism and holocaust denial.
Iain Stewart: Does my right hon. Friend agree that the work of the Holocaust Educational Trust is as important as ever, given the worrying levels of organised hatred and intimidation both at home and abroad?
Iain Stewart: Will the Secretary of State assure me that he will set up cross-departmental arrangements with the Department for Transport and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to ensure delivery of the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge corridor, as envisaged by the National Infrastructure Commission?
Iain Stewart: What steps his Department is taking to support exports by small and medium-sized businesses.
Iain Stewart: I am grateful for that answer. An additional hurdle faced by many SMEs in growing their exports is obtaining affordable political risk insurance. What steps can the Minister’s Department take to help in that matter?