Stephen Byers

Transport written question – answered on 25th March 2010.

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Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Conservative, North Essex

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport on what date in June 2009 the Secretary of State was approached by the right hon. Member for North Tyneside on the issue of penalties to be levied against National Express; who first raised the issue; what record was made of the approach; and on what date the Permanent Secretary of his Department was informed that the meeting had taken place.

Photo of Chris Mole Chris Mole Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

At the instigation of Mr. Byers, my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis) had a brief conversation with him about the East Coast Main Line in the House of Commons in June 2009. The Secretary of State does not recall the precise date (although this cannot have been before 8 June, his first full week in office), and as this was a conversation in the House of Commons there is no official note.

However, the Secretary of State has stated for the record that they discussed the right hon. Member's experience in dealing with rail franchise difficulties when Transport Secretary. As regards the situation then facing National Express, the Secretary of State told him that despite the company's difficulties he had no intention whatsoever of renegotiating the East Coast franchise on terms favourable to the company, as the company was seeking in its approaches to the Department for Transport. The Secretary of State also told the right hon. Member that in his view such a move would undermine the rail franchise system and would not be in the best interests of tax payers.

The Permanent Secretary of the Department for Transport was informed of the conversation shortly after it took place.

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