As we all know, Her Majesty's Government has set up a review; however, it has not yet proposed specific changes. We will participate in the review and any discussions about the decisions that follow it. Our priority will be to improve performance for passengers here in Scotland.
The First Minister will be aware that the Secretary of State for Transport said in his statement that he was considering how he could devolve more decisions on public transport to the Scottish Executive. What decisions will the First Minister seek to have devolved? What confidence can we have that the Scottish Executive will take those decisions, when it has clearly failed to give a quantifiable commitment to the Borders railway and has deferred important railway projects such as the upgrading of Waverley station, which all opinion agrees is essential for increasing capacity on Scotland's railways?
We take the view—quite rightly—that the upgrading of Waverley station is a project of UK importance. The hub of Edinburgh and the surrounding train network are of particular importance to the whole United Kingdom, rather than just to the immediate local area of Edinburgh and the Lothians. That is why we continue to discuss the UK contribution that will be made to that project. I remain committed to those discussions.
Our participation in the review should be focused on the output and outcome that we want. We want more and better rail services in Scotland. We want more track and lines, but we also want services to be reliable and safe. Whatever management arrangements are put in place, and whatever matters are devolved or reserved, should be focused on that outcome. We should not opt for a fully devolved rail service on a point of ideological principle if that would not work in practice. However, we should not retain the current system of a mixture of reserved and devolved functions if that is not working in practice. Our objective should be to secure better railways. We will approach this matter not from an ideological perspective, but from the perspective of rail passengers and transport users in Scotland.
This week, John Armitt of Network Rail advised the Parliament's Local Government and Transport Committee that, each year, Network Rail is investing about £360 million in Scotland's railways, compared with an income of about £220 million. Is the First Minister aware that that level of investment in renewals represents an approximately fourfold increase on the all-time low that was delivered by the Tories? Does he agree that that means that both the Executive and the UK Government need not take any advice from the Tories on how to run a railway?
I agree that there is an increasing amount of investment in the railways in Scotland, both in track and in services. New trains, stations and lines are not just planned but are starting to be put in place. That is very good news. It gives us a chance to recover from the disastrous early years after privatisation. I thought that under their previous leader, Mr Duncan Smith, the Conservatives had finally rejected privatisation, but I see that under their new leader, Mr Howard, it is back in favour. Peter Duncan, unfortunately for him, said:
"Privatisation of the rail service under the Tories was a necessary and successful step."
I have a sneaking suspicion that that will not be in his election manifesto in Galloway in 2005.