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Results 141–160 of 3000 for (in the 'Commons debates' OR in the 'Westminster Hall debates' OR in the 'Lords debates' OR in the 'Northern Ireland Assembly debates') speaker:Stephen Hammond

Concessionary Bus Fares (25 Apr 2007)

Stephen Hammond: So am I—it is the only one I have got.

Concessionary Bus Fares (25 Apr 2007)

Stephen Hammond: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his contribution, but the Minister has been extremely generous in preparing for the Bill by inviting Opposition spokesmen to help to iron out several issues before it comes to the House. She has been able to answer several of the questions on which the Liberal Democrat spokesman and I sought reassurance—although that does not, as I am sure she can imagine,...

Concessionary Bus Fares (25 Apr 2007)

Stephen Hammond: I merely remind the hon. Gentleman that the proposed change to quality contracts will re-enact the status quo ante. It was a former Secretary of State for Transport who said that there should be no going back to that era.

Concessionary Bus Fares (25 Apr 2007)

Stephen Hammond: No, I have given way twice and I am mindful of your strictures, Mr. Cook. We could rehearse our Second Reading speeches and raise questions of cost, definition and reimbursement, but I intend to save much of that for Second Reading and Committee stage of the Concessionary Bus Travel Bill. It is clear that concessionary schemes are not simply a subsidy to bus operators. As the Government have...

[Mr. Martyn Jones in the Chair] — Rail Fares (26 Apr 2007)

Stephen Hammond: I have listened carefully to the hon. Gentleman's argument. Surely he has chosen the wrong mode of travel for comparison. The one mode of travel for which we clearly cannot say what we are going to get or what price we will pay is air travel. The airline industry is the one industry that is absolutely not the right comparator. I am lost by that comparison and illustration.

[Mr. Martyn Jones in the Chair] — Rail Fares (26 Apr 2007)

Stephen Hammond: On behalf of the official Opposition, I welcome the Transport Committee's report on fares and ticketing on the railways, just as we welcome all its reports. Although it is a shame that we have had to wait 50 weeks to discuss it, the report is none the less welcome. I suspect that the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) will not expect me to agree with all its conclusions, but...

[Mr. Martyn Jones in the Chair] — Rail Fares (26 Apr 2007)

Stephen Hammond: I was not attacking the Government for the length of the delay, but citing it in the context of the actions that they said they would take in their response. I was about to quote the most recent research from Passenger Focus, which found that seven out of 10 leisure passengers decided not to travel because of the cost of the ticket, with 44 per cent. using the car instead. It also found that...

[Mr. Martyn Jones in the Chair] — Rail Fares (26 Apr 2007)

Stephen Hammond: Let us press the Minister on that point. There has recently been an announcement about new trains for the inter-city express programme, and the figures given are between 500 and 2,000. Is the Minister telling us that we can expect 2,000 in 2009, or are we expecting 500? I do not know, because the announcement did not make it clear. It says that there will be between 500 and 2,000 new...

[Mr. Martyn Jones in the Chair] — Rail Fares (26 Apr 2007)

Stephen Hammond: I am interested to hear what the hon. Lady has to say. Indeed, a great amount of rolling stock has been mothballed or has not been brought back in. If the Government were to allow the TOCs to do so, and if they had not specified that in some of their franchise processes, the stock could have been brought back in. That is the reality of life and why I cannot agree with all that is in the...

[Mr. Martyn Jones in the Chair] — Rail Fares (26 Apr 2007)

Stephen Hammond: A train company is not subject to daily competition, clearly, but it is subject to competition at the renewal of the franchise. That is the time of competition. The hon. Gentleman and I are not subject to weekly competition for our jobs, thank goodness, but we are subject to review once every four or five years, at which stage we are accountable for our performance. That is the way in which...

[Mr. Martyn Jones in the Chair] — Rail Fares (26 Apr 2007)

Stephen Hammond: I quoted Mr. Garnett earlier, and he said that it is better for a corporate company to overbid seriously and to get the franchise than to underbid and not get it. That is a direct result of the franchising process and the Government and the Treasury's attempt to recoup through premiums in that process—

[Mr. Martyn Jones in the Chair] — Rail Fares (26 Apr 2007)

Stephen Hammond: I do not know. We will wait and see. The Minister might remember that he said in the House at Question Time earlier this year that he expects to get the same premiums out of that franchise—

[Mr. Martyn Jones in the Chair] — Rail Fares (26 Apr 2007)

Stephen Hammond: Of course I accept the Minister's word on that. I am sure that he will not mind if I go back to Hansard and quote to him exactly what he said.

[Mr. Martyn Jones in the Chair] — Rail Fares (26 Apr 2007)

Stephen Hammond: No. Hold on, please. I am sure that if we find that the quote from Hansard is slightly different from either of our recollections, the Minister, being the fair man that he is, will wish to put on record exactly what he said. We will leave Mr. Garnett at that. It is incontestable and right that the Government spend a huge amount on the railways, which are recognised as a public service, but...

[Mr. Martyn Jones in the Chair] — Rail Fares (26 Apr 2007)

Stephen Hammond: An hour and 20, for the record.

[Mr. Martyn Jones in the Chair] — Rail Fares (26 Apr 2007)

Stephen Hammond: I was citing the latest Passenger Focus report on passenger satisfaction that, I think, was produced in February this year. My office would be happy to provide the report for the Minister, or I am sure that Colin Foxall of Passenger Focus would also send it to him—it is a standard piece of work that is in the public domain.

[Mr. Martyn Jones in the Chair] — Rail Fares (26 Apr 2007)

Stephen Hammond: I accept the point that the Minister is making, but none the less we have always had to deal with that situation; people's perception is the reality. Either we change people's perception or we must treat it as the reality. Appearance and reality are the great Shakespearean themes and that is exactly what we must contend with. The Committee clearly made that point in the report when it said:...

[Mr. Martyn Jones in the Chair] — Rail Fares (26 Apr 2007)

Stephen Hammond: I thought that there was a commitment to increase passengers by 20 per cent. in that franchise. Surely the Minister does not mean that the franchise will increase seats by 20 per cent., as they are actually taking seats out of a number of those passenger trains.

[Mr. Martyn Jones in the Chair] — Rail Fares (26 Apr 2007)

Stephen Hammond: I have merely restated what was said to the Opposition by the management of First Great Western, who surely ought to know the position. If that is a myth, perhaps the Government ought to tell them so.

[Mr. Martyn Jones in the Chair] — Rail Fares (26 Apr 2007)

Stephen Hammond: We should be clear about what that statement said. It indeed said that First Great Western had underestimated the number of required carriages, but it went on to point out that that was partly attributable to the problem of getting back carriages that had been available to the previous franchise and that had been sent off for maintenance. It did not say that the Government had not issued a...


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