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Brian Binley: Will the Secretary of State give a firm undertaking that none of the costs involved in this incident will be passed on to hard-pressed consumers on the west coast main line? Furthermore, will he reassure the siren voices calling for the scrapping of HS2 that that line is absolutely necessary because the west coast main line is under such pressure that it reaches capacity in a very short period?
Brian Binley: Does my hon. Friend recognise the need for contingency planning and negotiation before a referendum? Will she be urging the Minister that that contingency plans need to be created now and announced well before the European elections in 2014, and will she tell the Minister that, in this country, the F-word is impolite?
Brian Binley: Will my hon. Friend give way again?
Brian Binley: Mr Hollobone, I must point out that I am sitting on a Statutory Instrument Committee this morning and I know that you would not want me to miss that, so I will have to go very shortly. Will my hon. Friend destroy the myth and say that, because of the £57 billion deficit with Europe, Europe is not going anywhere in trade, simply because it is not in its interests?
Brian Binley: My hon. Friend will, I hope, remember that I posed a number of questions to him. Does he intend to write to me, or to forget those questions?
Brian Binley: It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Coventry North West (Mr Robinson), whose comments are always thought provoking. Today, they were also rather brave, which is not usually his style, but he is clearly moved by these matters. I welcome the opportunity to debate this Bill. It aligns with the priorities of the electorate and, thankfully, sends a clear signal that the Government...
Brian Binley: May I introduce Northampton into the discussion of brownfield sites? We could build between 35,000 and 40,000 houses on brownfield sites there, and I would rather do that than destroy our green belt.
Brian Binley: rose —
Brian Binley: Does my hon. Friend realise that the new director of OFFA reportedly said that he wants the Russell group universities to admit one student from a poor background for every student accepted from a wealthy background? Does that mean means-testing becoming part of the admissions process, thus excluding some students for reasons other than academic ones, and does it suggest that our worst fears...
Brian Binley: Will the hon. Lady give way?
Brian Binley: On the basis that the hon. Lady will get an extra minute, will she give way?
Brian Binley: I am most grateful. Is the hon. Lady really saying that she wants to return to a nationalised British Rail? Is she also saying that privatisation is bad and that all the other privatised sectors have not cut costs? Or is the rail sector the only one that has not? How does she explain that?
Brian Binley: Surely the hon. Lady is not rejecting what McNulty said. Surely she accepts the report, authorised by her Front Benchers, which makes a massive contribution to the debate. I hope she does.
Brian Binley: It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Rutherglen and Hamilton West (Tom Greatrex), who delivered a sensible speech and made some very sensible points. I had sympathy with many of them. While we are in a congratulatory mood, I also congratulate the Secretary of State. He is held in very high regard and with great affection in the House and people will be delighted to see him emerge...
Brian Binley: I thank the hon. Lady for that question. I am referring to the McNulty report, which her party’s Government put into effect. McNulty made it quite clear that the British rail sector was 28% more expensive than like-for-like rail sectors throughout Europe. If our costs are that high, I hope that the hon. Lady will be as concerned as I am. The alternative is to keep pulling money out of the...
Brian Binley: I thank the hon. Lady for that point. She served with great distinction on the Crossrail Bill—two and a quarter years of toil and effort—and she is clearly knowledgeable on rail matters, as I know from that time. My point is that the comparisons are not mine, but McNulty’s. The report was instigated by her Government. If one does not believe what McNulty said, that is a different...
Brian Binley: Just for you.
Brian Binley: Some of the comparisons are with companies that are much more privatised, which is perhaps not the impression that the hon. Lady is trying to give, but that is not the point. The point is that I see McNulty as authoritative and so did her own Government. Therefore, we need not to argue about the review, but to use it to the benefit of our consumers and constituents. We need to put pressure on...
Brian Binley: rose —
Brian Binley: Does the Opposition spokesman, for whom I have equal affection, recognise that those people would have placed it at the very top of the list if the previous Labour Government had not created so many economic problems that of course other matters came before it? None the less, most people named it as one of the problems.