It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship for the first time, Mr Howarth.
Bombardier is the last train-making company left in the United Kingdom. We have got to this state, frankly, if we go back into relatively recent history, because of the privatisation of the rail industry, which has led to an unco-ordinated approach to the procurement of trains and much short-termism. The train manufacturing industry in this country is left hanging in the balance.
As a result of the Government’s decision last year to appoint Siemens as the preferred bidder for the Thameslink contract, 1,440 jobs at the Derby Bombardier factory were lost. Some 1,600 remain, and 12,000 people work in the supply chain in the rail industry, which accounts for some 900 companies. Bombardier is therefore still a significant player, even though it is the last remaining train maker in the UK.
I want to set out what I believe have been fundamental errors in the Thameslink procurement process. I also want to make the point—I hope the Minister agrees—that it is not too late to correct those errors. I hope, too, that he will give an assurance that the mistakes made in the Thameslink process will not be repeated in future contracts, particularly in the Crossrail contract that is due to come up in the next few years.