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Mr. Cash: I am interested in the provision because it pertains, among other things, to the question of station services and bus substitution services, which are a direct matter of concern in my constituency. I accept that the Minister has not yet taken over the responsibilities of the Strategic Rail Authority, but we had a constructive meeting last Saturday with the SRA about Stone and Norton Bridge stations, the famous station at
6 Apr 2005 : Column 1531
Wedgwood and the one at Barlaston that are on the line that is now subject to closure. However, the SRA cannot now make any assumptions about what is in mind for those stations.

The problem is that enormous inconvenience will be caused to my constituents if the stations on that line are closed. There is a petition and strong campaign—with which, as you might imagine, Madam Deputy Speaker, I am fully associated—to keep the stations open. I am glad to say that there was a constructive atmosphere at the meeting last Saturday, but the matter needs to be sorted out.

Bus substitution services would come within the framework of clause 13. If a franchise agreement were issued, the Secretary of State would have to consult the executive about a range of matters including station services. I note that station services are defined in clause 13(9) as

That is an issue of grave concern to my constituents. When the Secretary of State takes over the role, I will want to know for sure that there would be no question, when he consults the executive in that area, about his sticking with what the SRA has clearly indicated at that important meeting: the stations at Stone, Norton Bridge, Wedgwood and Barlaston would be kept open. It is an important matter for my constituents, not least because the service is part of the community in that area.

I looked up this afternoon the private Act that gave rise to the creation of this railway in 1846. It has been pivotal to the community for the whole period since then. In a positive and constructive sense, we would also like to look forward, as I said at the meeting, to cross-country trains—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): Order. I have been fairly generous with the hon. Gentleman, but I hope that he will now confine his remarks to the amendments.

Mr. Cash: Yes, indeed, Madam Deputy Speaker.

The amendment says that the statement to the Secretary of State should specify

In that context, a minimum level of quality would include that stations are kept open. I am anxious to ensure that that happens when there is the transfer from the SRA to the Minister. Of course he will then be directly accountable to the House for the exercise of those functions.

7.45 pm

There is a power to close stations in clause 29 and subsequent clauses. If stations were closed, it clearly would not be possible for meaningful consultation to take place under clause 13 between the Secretary of State and the executive of an area, which is why I support Lords amendment No. 1. Proposed new subsection (1A) would specify that there would have to be a statement on the minimum level of quality of the operation of a station in an area that could be required under a franchise agreement.
6 Apr 2005 : Column 1532

In a nutshell, I am simply concerned that Stone station and the other stations that I mentioned remain open, that the service of the railway operators to my constituents is maintained and that positive and constructive development of the railway line to Birmingham, Manchester and the locality is continued. I do not in any way resile from the fact that I believe that we will win the general election, but none the less I look to the Minister who has present responsibility for the matter—although not, I hope, for much longer—to maintain the stations for the benefit of my constituents.

Question put, That this House disagrees with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 198, Noes 63.

Division No. 155
[7.46 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Irene (Paisley N)
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, rh Donald (Swansea E)
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Barnes, Harry
Barron, rh Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Berry, Roger
Betts, Clive
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Browne, Desmond
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Byrne, Liam (B'ham Hodge H)
Cairns, David
Caton, Martin
Challen, Colin
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Yvette
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Cruddas, Jon
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Dalyell, Tam
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Dawson, Hilton
Denham, rh John
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Brian H.
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Drew, David (Stroud)
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Farrelly, Paul
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul (Newport W)
Foster, rh Derek
Foulkes, rh George
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hanson, David
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Healey, John
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Heyes, David
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hood, Jimmy (Clydesdale)
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hughes, rh Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hutton, rh John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Keen, Ann (Brentford)
Khabra, Piara S.
Kilfoyle, Peter
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, David
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
McAvoy, rh Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McFall, rh John
McKechin, Ann
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWilliam, John
Mahmood, Khalid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Glasgow Shettleston)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miller, Andrew
Mole, Chris
Moonie, Dr. Lewis
Moran, Margaret
Morley, Elliot
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Owen, Albert
Pearson, Ian
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter (Burnley)
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Purchase, Ken
Quin, rh Joyce
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruddock, Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sheridan, Jim
Short, rh Clare
Simon, Siôn (B'ham Erdington)
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, rh Chris (Islington S & Finsbury)
Soley, Clive
Spellar, rh John
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, rh Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don (Islwyn)
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Wareing, Robert N.
Watts, David
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Betty (Conwy)
Winnick, David
Woodward, Shaun
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Tom Watson and
James Purnell


Allan, Richard
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Beith, rh A. J.
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Blunt, Crispin
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Breed, Colin
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burnett, John
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies (NE Fife)
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham & Stamford)
Dorrell, rh Stephen
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Foster, Don (Bath)
Francois, Mark
Garnier, Edward
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
Goodman, Paul
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, rh John
Hayes, John (S Holland)
Heald, Oliver
Hendry, Charles
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Jack, rh Michael
Jenkin, Bernard
Kirkwood, Sir Archy
Knight, rh Greg (E Yorkshire)
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, Patrick
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Paterson, Owen
Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Rosindell, Andrew
Sanders, Adrian
Smyth, Rev. Martin (Belfast S)
Stanley, rh Sir John
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo (E Devon)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Thurso, John
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Tyrie, Andrew
Whittingdale, John
Wiggin, Bill
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim (S Suffolk)

Tellers for the Noes:

Gregory Barker and
Bob Russell

Question accordingly agreed to.

6 Apr 2005 : Column 1534

Lords amendment disagreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 2 to 7 disagreed to.

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