some default text...

In Scotland, we will try our hardest to make sure that education remains free and that grants are available, but this Government are putting our budget under increasing

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1331

pressure by their actions. We do not know—they have not told us—what the impact of these decisions taken today will be on the Scottish budget. This has been designated as EVEL, but it clearly has an impact on students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland who are studying at Scottish universities. What will the impact on those institutions be? What consultation has the Minister had with universities in my constituency, such as the University of Strathclyde, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, the Glasgow School of Art and Glasgow Caledonian University? He is not even paying attention; he is chewing his pen.

What conversations has the Minister had with my colleagues in Scotland about this measure? What impact will it have on members of larger families, and what impact will it have on Muslim students? The hon. Member for Ealing Central and Acton (Dr Huq) has raised that issue before. Some Muslim students cannot take out loans, and other students may not wish to do so either, for different reasons. My hon. Friend the Member for Banff and Buchan (Dr Whiteford) mentioned cuts in the disabled students allowance. What impact will the added loan burden have on them?

Conservative Members have asked, “What about people who do not go to university? How do they benefit?” They benefit from the common good. Glasgow Caledonian University is a university for the common good. People in Scotland know that university graduates will become the doctors who treat them in hospitals, and the lawyers who represent them. They will become the well-qualified people who pay us back through taxation to help the common good of our country.

3.56 pm

Liz McInnes (Heywood and Middleton) (Lab): I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in the debate, because I have been urged to do so by many students in my constituency. This is a matter of great interest to the general public, and the Government’s behaviour has been noticed by them, even if the Government themselves are still in denial.

The fact remains that the Chancellor’s replacement of maintenance grants with loans may dissuade many students from modest backgrounds from going to university, while none the less resulting in large sums never being paid back to the Treasury because graduates will go into what the Prime Minister described last week as “menial labour jobs”. That point has not been addressed, although a number of Members have raised it.

Even with maintenance grants, which support students from the poorest backgrounds through university, the system remains stacked against working-class students. According to the education charity The Sutton Trust, students from wealthy backgrounds are 10 times more likely to secure a place at university than those from poorer backgrounds.

The Government have consulted about freezing the current student loan repayment threshold at £21,000 for five years. Martin Lewis, of moneysavingexpert.com, has pointed out that only 5% of the responses to the consultation were in favour of the proposal, while 84% were against it. He has written to the Prime Minister to ask why the Government have pressed ahead regardless with increasing the amount that our students must pay for their current student loans. In 2011, Martin Lewis was

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1332

appointed head of the Independent Taskforce on Student Finance Information. Ministers told him unambiguously that, from April 2017, the £21,000 repayment threshold would start to rise annually with average earnings. The decision to backtrack on that is hugely damaging. It means that many lower and middle-earning graduates will repay thousands more over the life of their loans.

Martin Lewis says that this issue is just as much moral as legal. The retrospective change destroys trust in the student finance system, and perhaps even more widely in the political system as a whole. The Government seem remarkably relaxed about the fact that our poorest students will graduate with £53,000 worth of debt before they have even started work. What guarantee will the Government give that they will not move the goalposts for repayment of this loan as well?

There is a huge body of evidence to support student maintenance grants. I do not have time to go into all of them, but they are opposed by the University and College Union, which says:

“Maintenance grants are crucial for engaging students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are already daunted by cripplingly high tuition fee debt. Increasing the debt burden…will act as a disincentive to participation”.

3.59 pm

Greg Mulholland (Leeds North West) (LD): I, too, represent one of the constituencies containing the largest number of students in the country. In 2011 there were just over 19,000 in the three fantastic universities, Leeds University, Leeds Beckett University and Leeds Trinity University. However, I have just three minutes in which to speak, which I believe equates to 0.0095 of a second per student in what is a hugely important debate. Given the importance of these measures, the fact that the Government have proceeded with them through secondary legislation without a full and proper debate is an absolute disgrace.

Why has there been no public consultation on these major changes? They were announced last summer, but there has been no consultation with the higher education sector in the six months since. There has been no consultation with the universities or with the student unions. It is also a matter of huge concern that the Government conducted an equality impact assessment only after the National Union of Students instigated legal proceedings. If that does not suggest that the Government know they are doing something unacceptable and have something to hide, I do not know what does.

The equality impact assessment explicitly states that the changes present a risk to the participation of students from poorer backgrounds, mature students, BME students, disabled students and Muslim students. So, having being forced to accept that all those groups will be affected, has the Minister done anything to deal with it or to suggest ways of mitigating the impacts? I am afraid that the answer is no.

I do not have time to go through all the facts, some of which have been put forward today, but these changes will clearly have a detrimental and unfair impact on students from poorer backgrounds—the students we clearly want to encourage to go to university. At the same time, the Government are also freezing the repayment threshold at £21,000. The House of Commons Library states that this will have

“a proportionately larger impact on repayments by graduates with lower lifetime earnings”.

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1333

Martin Lewis has already been mentioned. He was tasked with selling the new system to the public, but he is now looking into a judicial review of the freezing of the repayment threshold. You could scarcely make this up. Whether the Government wish to accept it or not, the evidence shows that these measures will hit students on lower incomes and discourage people from going to university. The Government must today announce a proper debate with a proper vote on this matter in the House. We will settle for nothing less.

4.1 pm

Tommy Sheppard (Edinburgh East) (SNP): I went to Aberdeen University in 1977. I was the first member of my extended family to go to university, and I was able to do so because the tuition was free and I got a full maintenance grant. If it had not been for the Wilson Governments of the 1960s, I would not have had the opportunities I have had in my life. I can understand people from privileged backgrounds protecting privilege, but what really sticks in my throat is that those who have climbed that ladder of opportunity themselves are now determined to kick it away from other students. That is a disgrace.

We should be in no doubt that these decisions will have layers of consequences. On an individual level, they will result in lives less fulfilled and opportunities forgone. On a community level, people will see this pathway out of poverty being barricaded before their eyes. Most of all, the effects will be felt on a national level. How many surgeons, architects, doctors and writers will not emerge because of the denial of this opportunity?

Let us make no mistake: this is an attack on the poor. The hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman), who is no longer in his place, asked whether poor people could not simply take out loans. Well of course they can, and, by the way, they are more used to doing so than many Conservative Members are. But the real question is this: is it fair that people from the poorest backgrounds should have to take on more debt to get the same opportunities as their counterparts in well-off families? That is iniquitous, and we should not tolerate it.

The Government seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that students are all rich, and that they benefit from their education so much that it is okay to charge them whatever they want to. That is not the case. A small minority do extremely well and become rich—

James Cartlidge: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Tommy Sheppard: I have been told not to take an intervention.

A small minority do become rich, and if the Government want them to pay, they should introduce a progressive taxation system whereby people pay more when they start to earn those high wages. Instead, of course, they are cutting taxes for the highest earners in our communities. Nowhere is this thrown into sharper relief than in the situation of nurses and midwives. The abolition of grants for nurses and midwives will not only penalise the people who want to contribute to our national health service but undermine our NHS itself. Not for the first time, I am so pleased that in Scotland we have a Scottish Government who stand between the young people in that country and the mal intent of this

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1334

Government here. We will not abolish grants for nurses or midwives. We will maintain maintenance grants. Most of all, we will keep tuition free and we will make sure that people are not saddled with the debts they are saddled with in this country. If ever there was a case for a measure not applying and not being certified, it is this, because I have more than 2,000 constituents directly affected and it is unfair that my vote will be disregarded.

4.5 pm

Dr Rupa Huq (Ealing Central and Acton) (Lab): Until my election in May, I had spent all my adult life in universities, from being the recipient of a full grant, with my fees entirely paid, in 1990 at Cambridge University to teaching at Kingston University until my election. I have also taught at a red-brick university. I contend that at all these categories of university—all seats of learning in this country—the student bodies will be poorer as a result of the abolition of grants, both socio-culturally and financially. The kind of students we are talking about in respect of this measure are not the “Brideshead Revisited” ones, they are not Neil from “The Young Ones” and they are not even Student Grant from Viz; they are people such as my constituents at the University of West London. They are people such as Josh Goddard, its student union president, who has been here since 1 o’clock today and who has told me that he is the first person in his family to go to university and he would not have done it without a maintenance grant. He said that he represents the students of the present but he also wants the students of the future all to have the chance to go to university. As well as the NUS, the Sutton Trust has condemned these changes, as they narrow the talent pool of who will be able to participate in higher education in the future.

I think of the students I taught at Kingston University—this was before the changes—who seemed often to be coming in between the burger-flipping shifts. The Conservative party puts great store in being the party of fiscal responsibility, but how does it reconcile that with saddling young people with £53,000 of debt? We have heard about the words of Martin Lewis, who was tasked with leading the taskforce in 2011. He is normally a financial man, and he is not a politician. He says:

“The regulator would not allow any commercial lender to make a change to its terms this way.”

It is surely bad governance. We are dealing with a case of double standards here. These people signed up to one experience and even after they have signed their loan agreements they are seeing the goalposts moved.

The Minister has a lot of explaining to do. Where was this on page 35 of the Conservative manifesto? None of us has seen it in the small print. What will the transitional arrangements be? What happened to the review promised in 2014 for Muslim students who want sharia-compliant student finance, given that this measure is coming in now? As we know, this has been done with no proper debate. It is only because Labour Members have forced this debate today that we are discussing it at all. The Government want to shunt it through using their new favourite toy, the statutory instrument. If their sums are wrong, the books should not be balanced on the backs of students. We have seen that the NHS bursary for nurses has gone and the education maintenance allowance has been removed. If the Government are making a shortfall, it should not be students who are taking on that burden.

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1335

4.8 pm

Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab): We have had a lively and extremely interesting debate, with contributions from 17 Back-Bench speakers, by my calculation. I will not mention them, because time is short as a result of the interest in the debate.

I have some sympathy for the Minister for Universities and Science, the hon. Member for Orpington (Joseph Johnson), because we all know that the decision to scrap maintenance grants for the less well-off students in favour of loans was really made by the Chancellor and not by him. I know that he and the Chancellor are old friends—this goes back to the days when they were penniless students together, having to scrape by on their student grants and meagre Bullingdon club dinners—but I find it hard to believe that he went to his old friend the Chancellor and said, “Having been appointed as Universities Minister, I have suddenly decided that we were wrong to have maintenance grants for the less well-off students and it would be a great idea for the worse-off students to have the most debt after they have been to university.”

I might be wrong about the Minister, but he does not strike me—he has not until today—as the kind of person who would think it right to change the system so that, as the British Medical Association points out in its briefing for this debate, medical students from the poorest backgrounds could graduate with £100,000 of debt. Nor does he strike me as the kind of person who thinks that it is all right to go back on promises made by Tory Ministers when the new system was introduced. It was David Willetts after all who said that the tuition fees increase was progressive precisely because of the higher education maintenance grant. That was the argument made. The Minister does not strike me as the kind of politician who would cynically pursue policies that penalise younger people who are less likely to vote Tory, or even to vote at all, than others.

Despite what was said today about page 35 of the Tory party manifesto, I do not think that the Minister for Universities and Science would think it was really okay to carry out this kind of major change of policy direction without explicitly putting it into the party’s manifesto, so that the public, including young people, could see what they were voting for or against. Is he really the kind of politician who, having done all this, would then slink away from debating such a major change openly and properly on the Floor of the House in Government time? I may be wrong, but I never thought that he was that kind of politician, or that he was that cynical.

Simon Hoare rose—

Kevin Brennan: However, I think we know someone who is that cynical. I give way to the hon. Gentleman.

Simon Hoare: I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was referring to me. Will he flick back through his archives and find where, in the 1997 manifesto, the Labour party had the introduction of student loans in the first place, because I cannot remember seeing it?

Kevin Brennan: The hon. Gentleman told us in his speech how hard he has worked. Given that he is from Cardiff and that he has such an accent, I can absolutely

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1336

acknowledge that he is a very hard-working individual. He will know that a general election was fought following that decision being taken and before they were introduced.

We all know that the Chancellor prefers governing from the shadows, and this shameless betrayal of previous promises and the shabby manner in which this has been handled in Parliament bear all the hallmarks of the current Chancellor of the Exchequer. Being young in Britain should be a time of opportunity—a time when opportunity knocks. Instead, we have the Chancellor introducing an opportunity tax. His proposals are an assault on aspiration, on opportunity and on those who want to get on in life. That is why we oppose them and also why the Welsh Government, under Labour First Minister, Carwyn Jones, is keeping maintenance grants. By the way, those who say that these proposals affect only England should think again—I say this to Welsh Conservative MPs as well: of the 30,000 students studying at Cardiff University, nearly 9,000 are from England.

Graham Stuart: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am sure that the shadow Minister would not wish to mislead the House, but he has just said that tuition fees were introduced not after the 1997 election, but after the following general election. That is not true. They were introduced in 1998. Having said that they would not introduce them, the Government started the process 12 weeks later.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): The hon. Gentleman is making a point of debate, not a point of order for the Chair. We have very little time.

Kevin Brennan: I would have been happy for the hon. Gentleman to intervene. Actually, I was asked about student loans, not tuition fees.

Students in constituencies such as Cardiff North are registered to vote in Wales, but, subject to the decisions that will be taken after this debate, local Welsh MPs can have their votes nullified under the constitutional monstrosity that is the English votes for English laws procedure, which the Government have foisted on this House.

Who will be affected by these measures today? This is what the IFS says:

“The poorest 40% of students going to university in England will now graduate with debts of up to £53,000 from a three-year course, rather than up to £40,500. This will result from the replacement of maintenance grants”.

Of course, as I just pointed out, it is about not just students going to university in England but students who are attending university and who are registered to vote in Wales, a thought that will not be lost on students in Cardiff North during next May’s Assembly elections.

Lady Hermon (North Down) (Ind): I would be very encouraged if the hon. Gentleman would also note that as universities in Northern Ireland have had the number of students they can take capped, hundreds and hundreds of very able students from Northern Ireland take up places in English universities, and are happy to do so. It is an absolute disgrace that this measure should be deemed exclusively English because it affects my constituents and many parents and students from Northern Ireland.

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1337

Kevin Brennan: I am happy to acknowledge that.

It is not as if this policy will save that much for the public finances in the long run, despite the claims made by the Government. The IFS says that the replacement of maintenance grants by loans from 2016-17 will raise debt for the poorer students but do little to improve the Government’s finances in the long run. The truth is that the Chancellor is fixing the figures, not the roof.

I am pretty sure that I would never have gone to university had no maintenance grant been available, let alone have been the first from my family and from my comprehensive school to go to university and to go to Oxford. There are many others in this place for whom something similar is also true. The Government must accept that that is still the case for many thousands of young people. Indeed, that is why, as David Willetts said, maintenance grants were part of the structure when fees were tripled to £9,000 per annum under the previous Tory-led Government.

The decision is mean in spirit and underhand in execution. It will be tragic in its consequences for many young people, and I urge the House to reject it by supporting our motion.

4.16 pm

The Minister for Skills (Nick Boles): A middle-aged man like me needs to approach the subject of student finance with a degree of humility, for I was one of the lucky few who did not have to pay tuition fees and although I did not qualify for anything more than the minimum grant, many of my contemporaries did. The key fact about university when I was growing up was that it was just that: the exclusive preserve of the lucky few. Universities were bastions of privilege and the nation was poorer for it, as were millions of people whose lives would have been enriched in every sense by a university course.

It was Tony Blair, of course—remember him?—who first recognised that many more people could benefit from university education and started us down the road of reforming student finance so that we could widen participation. It was Gordon Brown—remember him?—who asked the noble Lord Browne to suggest further reforms of student finance. And it was Vince Cable and the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr Clegg) who bravely impaled themselves and their party on an irresponsible campaign pledge and introduced the system of tuition fees we have today.

At every stage in this journey towards a student finance system that allows anyone with the necessary grades to be offered a university place, we have heard the same howls of outrage and the same predictions of disaster from the same sources. “Participation will plummet,” they intone, “The poorest will be put off,” and just as predictably at each and every stage these shroud wavers and doom mongers have been proven wrong, as my hon. Friend the Member for South Ribble (Seema Kennedy) reminded us. Why have they been proven wrong? Because, as my hon. Friend the Member for South Suffolk (James Cartlidge) pointed out, individual students observe the benefits that flow to university graduates, look at the repayment terms for student loans and calculate, quite correctly, that they will have to repay their student loans only if they themselves are benefiting from higher wages.

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1338

My hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman) said that the loans he took out were the best investment he has ever made, and my hon. Friend the Member for Halesowen and Rowley Regis (James Morris) talked about the returns on higher education, which in terms of lifetime earnings, interestingly, are even higher for women than for men. The truth is that student loans are not like ordinary commercial loans and it is frankly a disgrace that Opposition Members are willing to mislead would-be students by pretending that they are.

A commercial loan is often secured against specific assets, which can be seized if the individual cannot make the repayments. With a student loan, no bailiff is going to knock on a door and take a television if a low income means people cannot afford to repay it. A commercial loan will charge a rate of interest from the very first day and the poorer the person is, the higher the interest rate is likely to be. With a student loan, the interest rate is held at a lower rate until the student starts earning over £25,000 a year, and the amount they have to repay in any year is limited to 9% of their income over £21,000. A commercial loan and all the accumulated interest will still be hanging around someone’s neck in 40 years’ time if they have not managed to pay it off. The balance of a student loan is written off after 30 years.

There are two ways to fund university students. We can limit access, undermine the quality of university teaching and get the general population, most of whom have not benefited from a university education, to foot the bill; we could call that the SNP approach. The alternative is to offer anyone who has the capacity to benefit from a university course the opportunity to do so, and to put in place a system of subsidised student finance which asks those who do go on to benefit to contribute while protecting those who do not from the need to repay the loans. That is the Conservative approach; it was also the approach of the Liberal Democrats when they were a party of government and of the Labour Government under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

One thing is clear at the end of this debate: a party’s attitude towards student finance is a leading indicator of its fitness to govern. In opposition, a party will take the irresponsible route in an attempt to curry favour with the National Union of Shroud-wavers—sorry, I mean Students. In government, it will suddenly discover the merits of a sustainable system of student finance that is fair to students and taxpayers alike.

If we are ever to see another Labour Government—and on the basis of the party’s current performance, that may be a very long time in coming—I confidently predict that they will quietly drop their opposition to the system of student finance put in place by Governments of all parties over 20 years, and that is why—

Martin John Docherty (West Dunbartonshire) (SNP): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The Minister has called into disrepute a national organisation voted by, and elected for, the students of this country. Should he not withdraw his comments immediately? It is a disgrace to his position.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): The Minister’s language was perhaps not exactly what I would have chosen myself as a matter of taste, but it is

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1339

not for me to tell the Minister exactly which words to use. He was not strictly outwith the rules of the House, but I am sure he will now very positively return to more tasteful and moderate language.

Nick Boles: Madam Deputy Speaker, I feel that that reproof was perhaps a little more stinging than I deserved, but I will, of course, do exactly as you require.

If I may briefly reprise, a party’s attitude towards student finance is a leading indicator of its fitness to govern. If we are ever to see another Labour Government, I confidently predict that they will drop their opposition to the system of student finance put in place by Labour Governments, coalition Governments and this Conservative Government, and that is why I urge the House to reject the motion.

Question put.

The House divided:

Ayes 292, Noes 306.

Division No. 165]

[

4.24 pm

AYES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ahmed-Sheikh, Ms Tasmina

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Barron, rh Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Benn, rh Hilary

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Black, Mhairi

Blackford, Ian

Blackman, Kirsty

Blackman-Woods, Dr Roberta

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Boswell, Philip

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brake, rh Tom

Brennan, Kevin

Brock, Deidre

Brown, Alan

Brown, Lyn

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burgon, Richard

Burnham, rh Andy

Byrne, rh Liam

Cadbury, Ruth

Cameron, Dr Lisa

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Douglas

Chapman, Jenny

Clegg, rh Mr Nick

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Cooper, rh Yvette

Corbyn, rh Jeremy

Cowan, Ronnie

Cox, Jo

Coyle, Neil

Crausby, Mr David

Crawley, Angela

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cummins, Judith

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

De Piero, Gloria

Docherty, Martin John

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.

Donaldson, Stuart Blair

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Dowd, Peter

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Elliott, Tom

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Farron, Tim

Fellows, Marion

Ferrier, Margaret

Field, rh Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Fletcher, Colleen

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Gardiner, Barry

Gethins, Stephen

Gibson, Patricia

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goodman, Helen

Grady, Patrick

Grant, Peter

Gray, Neil

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Greenwood, Margaret

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Haigh, Louise

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harpham, Harry

Harris, Carolyn

Hayes, Helen

Hayman, Sue

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mr Mark

Hendry, Drew

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hermon, Lady

Hillier, Meg

Hodge, rh Dame Margaret

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hollern, Kate

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Huq, Dr Rupa

Hussain, Imran

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Gerald

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Kane, Mike

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Kerevan, George

Kerr, Calum

Khan, rh Sadiq

Kinahan, Danny

Kinnock, Stephen

Kyle, Peter

Lamb, rh Norman

Lammy, rh Mr David

Law, Chris

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Clive

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Lewis, rh Dr Julian

Long Bailey, Rebecca

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian C.

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mactaggart, rh Fiona

Madders, Justin

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marris, Rob

Marsden, Mr Gordon

Maskell, Rachael

Matheson, Christian

Mc Nally, John

McCabe, Steve

McCaig, Callum

McCarthy, Kerry

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonald, Stewart Malcolm

McDonald, Stuart C.

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGarry, Natalie

McGinn, Conor

McGovern, Alison

McInnes, Liz

McKinnell, Catherine

McLaughlin, Anne

McMahon, Jim

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miliband, rh Edward

Monaghan, Carol

Monaghan, Dr Paul

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morris, Grahame M.

Mulholland, Greg

Mullin, Roger

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

Newlands, Gavin

Nicolson, John

O'Hara, Brendan

Onn, Melanie

Onwurah, Chi

Osamor, Kate

Oswald, Kirsten

Owen, Albert

Paterson, Steven

Pearce, Teresa

Pennycook, Matthew

Perkins, Toby

Phillips, Jess

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Pugh, John

Qureshi, Yasmin

Rayner, Angela

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Rees, Christina

Reeves, Rachel

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Rimmer, Marie

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, rh Angus

Robinson, Gavin

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Ryan, rh Joan

Salmond, rh Alex

Saville Roberts, Liz

Shannon, Jim

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Sheppard, Tommy

Sherriff, Paula

Shuker, Mr Gavin

Siddiq, Tulip

Simpson, David

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Andy

Smeeth, Ruth

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Cat

Smith, Jeff

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Smyth, Karin

Spellar, rh Mr John

Starmer, Keir

Stephens, Chris

Stevens, Jo

Streeting, Wes

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, rh Ms Gisela

Tami, Mark

Thewliss, Alison

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thomas-Symonds, Nick

Thompson, Owen

Thomson, Michelle

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turley, Anna

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Watson, Mr Tom

Weir, Mike

West, Catherine

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Whitford, Dr Philippa

Williams, Hywel

Williams, Mr Mark

Wilson, Corri

Wilson, Phil

Wilson, Sammy

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Dame Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Woodcock, John

Wright, Mr Iain

Zeichner, Daniel

Tellers for the Ayes:

Holly Lynch

and

Vicky Foxcroft

NOES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Allan, Lucy

Allen, Heidi

Amess, Sir David

Andrew, Stuart

Ansell, Caroline

Argar, Edward

Atkins, Victoria

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Mr Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Sir Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Berry, James

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Borwick, Victoria

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, rh James

Bruce, Fiona

Buckland, Robert

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Sir Simon

Burt, rh Alistair

Cairns, Alun

Carmichael, Neil

Cartlidge, James

Cash, Sir William

Caulfield, Maria

Chalk, Alex

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Churchill, Jo

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Cleverly, James

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Costa, Alberto

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, rh Stephen

Crouch, Tracey

Davies, Byron

Davies, Chris

Davies, David T. C.

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Dr James

Davies, Mims

Davies, Philip

Davis, rh Mr David

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Donelan, Michelle

Double, Steve

Dowden, Oliver

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Drummond, Mrs Flick

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evennett, rh Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Fernandes, Suella

Field, rh Mark

Foster, Kevin

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Frazer, Lucy

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fuller, Richard

Fysh, Marcus

Gale, Sir Roger

Garnier, rh Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, rh Robert

Hall, Luke

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, rh Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, rh Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Sir Oliver

Heappey, James

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Heaton-Jones, Peter

Henderson, Gordon

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoare, Simon

Hollingbery, George

Hollinrake, Kevin

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Howlett, Ben

Huddleston, Nigel

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, rh Sajid

Jayawardena, Mr Ranil

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jenkyns, Andrea

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, Boris

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kennedy, Seema

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Knight, Julian

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lumley, Karen

Mackinlay, Craig

Mackintosh, David

Main, Mrs Anne

Mak, Mr Alan

Malthouse, Kit

Mann, Scott

Mathias, Dr Tania

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Karl

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Johnny

Merriman, Huw

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Mrs Maria

Milling, Amanda

Mills, Nigel

Milton, rh Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, rh Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Morton, Wendy

Mowat, David

Mundell, rh David

Murray, Mrs Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Opperman, Guy

Parish, Neil

Patel, rh Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Philp, Chris

Pickles, rh Sir Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prentis, Victoria

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pursglove, Tom

Quin, Jeremy

Quince, Will

Raab, Mr Dominic

Redwood, rh John

Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Robinson, Mary

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, rh Amber

Rutley, David

Sandbach, Antoinette

Scully, Paul

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simpson, rh Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Royston

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Solloway, Amanda

Soubry, rh Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Sunak, Rishi

Syms, Mr Robert

Thomas, Derek

Throup, Maggie

Tolhurst, Kelly

Tomlinson, Justin

Tomlinson, Michael

Tracey, Craig

Trevelyan, Mrs Anne-Marie

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Tugendhat, Tom

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, rh Mr Andrew

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Warburton, David

Warman, Matt

Wharton, James

Whately, Helen

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, rh Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Craig

Williamson, rh Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wood, Mike

Wragg, William

Wright, rh Jeremy

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Sarah Newton

and

Simon Kirby

Question accordingly negatived.

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1340

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1341

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1342

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1343

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): We come now to the motion praying against the Education (Student Support) (Amendment) Regulations (S.I. 2015, No. 1951), which will be taken without debate. I remind the House that because, as Mr Speaker has certified, this instrument relates exclusively to England and is within devolved legislative competence, it is subject to double majority. If a Division is called, all Members of the House are able to vote in the Division. Under Standing Order No. 83Q, the prayer to annul the SI will be agreed only if, of those voting, both a majority of all Members and a majority of Members representing constituencies in England vote in support of the motion. At the end the Tellers will report the results, first, for all Members and, secondly, for those representing constituencies in England. I think that is clear. [Interruption.] The instruction is clear. Members do not really have to do any thinking except to decide whether to vote Aye or No, and then everyone can pass through the Lobbies.

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1344

Education (Student Support) (Amendment) Regulations 2015

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Education (Student Support) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (S.I., 2015, No. 1951), dated 29 November 2015, a copy of which was laid before this House on 2 December 2015, be annulled.—(Mr Marsden.)

The House divided:

Ayes 292, Noes 303.

Votes cast by Members for constituencies in England:

Ayes 203, Noes 291.

Division No. 166]

[

4.40 pm

AYES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ahmed-Sheikh, Ms Tasmina

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Barron, rh Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Benn, rh Hilary

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Black, Mhairi

Blackford, Ian

Blackman, Kirsty

Blackman-Woods, Dr Roberta

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Boswell, Philip

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brake, rh Tom

Brennan, Kevin

Brock, Deidre

Brown, Alan

Brown, Lyn

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burgon, Richard

Burnham, rh Andy

Byrne, rh Liam

Cadbury, Ruth

Cameron, Dr Lisa

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Chapman, Douglas

Chapman, Jenny

Clegg, rh Mr Nick

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Cooper, rh Yvette

Corbyn, rh Jeremy

Cowan, Ronnie

Cox, Jo

Coyle, Neil

Crausby, Mr David

Crawley, Angela

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cummins, Judith

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

De Piero, Gloria

Docherty, Martin John

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.

Donaldson, Stuart Blair

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Dowd, Peter

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Elliott, Tom

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Farron, Tim

Fellows, Marion

Ferrier, Margaret

Field, rh Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Fletcher, Colleen

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Foxcroft, Vicky

Gardiner, Barry

Gethins, Stephen

Gibson, Patricia

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Goodman, Helen

Grady, Patrick

Grant, Peter

Gray, Neil

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Greenwood, Margaret

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Haigh, Louise

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harpham, Harry

Harris, Carolyn

Hayes, Helen

Hayman, Sue

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mr Mark

Hendry, Drew

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hermon, Lady

Hillier, Meg

Hodge, rh Dame Margaret

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hollern, Kate

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Huq, Dr Rupa

Hussain, Imran

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Gerald

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Kane, Mike

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Kerevan, George

Kerr, Calum

Khan, rh Sadiq

Kinahan, Danny

Kinnock, Stephen

Kyle, Peter

Lamb, rh Norman

Lammy, rh Mr David

Law, Chris

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Clive

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Lewis, rh Dr Julian

Long Bailey, Rebecca

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian C.

Lynch, Holly

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mactaggart, rh Fiona

Madders, Justin

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marris, Rob

Marsden, Mr Gordon

Maskell, Rachael

Matheson, Christian

Mc Nally, John

McCabe, Steve

McCaig, Callum

McCarthy, Kerry

McCartney, Jason

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonald, Stewart Malcolm

McDonald, Stuart C.

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGarry, Natalie

McGinn, Conor

McGovern, Alison

McInnes, Liz

McKinnell, Catherine

McLaughlin, Anne

McMahon, Jim

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miliband, rh Edward

Monaghan, Carol

Monaghan, Dr Paul

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morris, Grahame M.

Mulholland, Greg

Mullin, Roger

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

Newlands, Gavin

Nicolson, John

O'Hara, Brendan

Onn, Melanie

Onwurah, Chi

Osamor, Kate

Oswald, Kirsten

Owen, Albert

Paterson, Steven

Pearce, Teresa

Pennycook, Matthew

Perkins, Toby

Phillips, Jess

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Pugh, John

Qureshi, Yasmin

Rayner, Angela

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Rees, Christina

Reeves, Rachel

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Rimmer, Marie

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, rh Angus

Robinson, Gavin

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Ryan, rh Joan

Salmond, rh Alex

Saville Roberts, Liz

Shannon, Jim

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Sheppard, Tommy

Sherriff, Paula

Shuker, Mr Gavin

Siddiq, Tulip

Simpson, David

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Andy

Smeeth, Ruth

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Cat

Smith, Jeff

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Smyth, Karin

Spellar, rh Mr John

Starmer, Keir

Stephens, Chris

Stevens, Jo

Streeting, Wes

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, rh Ms Gisela

Thewliss, Alison

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thomas-Symonds, Nick

Thompson, Owen

Thomson, Michelle

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turley, Anna

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Watson, Mr Tom

Weir, Mike

West, Catherine

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Whitford, Dr Philippa

Williams, Hywel

Williams, Mr Mark

Wilson, Corri

Wilson, Phil

Wilson, Sammy

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Dame Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Woodcock, John

Wright, Mr Iain

Zeichner, Daniel

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mark Tami

and

Jessica Morden

NOES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Allan, Lucy

Allen, Heidi

Amess, Sir David

Andrew, Stuart

Ansell, Caroline

Argar, Edward

Atkins, Victoria

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Mr Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Sir Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Berry, James

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Borwick, Victoria

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, rh James

Bruce, Fiona

Buckland, Robert

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Sir Simon

Burt, rh Alistair

Cairns, Alun

Carmichael, Neil

Cartlidge, James

Cash, Sir William

Caulfield, Maria

Chalk, Alex

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Churchill, Jo

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Cleverly, James

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Costa, Alberto

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, rh Stephen

Crouch, Tracey

Davies, Byron

Davies, Chris

Davies, David T. C.

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Dr James

Davies, Mims

Davies, Philip

Davis, rh Mr David

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Donelan, Michelle

Double, Steve

Dowden, Oliver

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Drummond, Mrs Flick

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evennett, rh Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Fernandes, Suella

Field, rh Mark

Foster, Kevin

Frazer, Lucy

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fuller, Richard

Fysh, Marcus

Gale, Sir Roger

Garnier, rh Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, rh Robert

Hall, Luke

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, rh Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, rh Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Sir Oliver

Heappey, James

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Heaton-Jones, Peter

Henderson, Gordon

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoare, Simon

Hollingbery, George

Hollinrake, Kevin

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Howlett, Ben

Huddleston, Nigel

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, rh Sajid

Jayawardena, Mr Ranil

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jenkyns, Andrea

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, Boris

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kennedy, Seema

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Knight, Julian

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lumley, Karen

Mackinlay, Craig

Mackintosh, David

Main, Mrs Anne

Mak, Mr Alan

Malthouse, Kit

Mann, Scott

Mathias, Dr Tania

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Karl

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

Mercer, Johnny

Merriman, Huw

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Mrs Maria

Milling, Amanda

Mills, Nigel

Milton, rh Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, rh Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Morton, Wendy

Mowat, David

Mundell, rh David

Murray, Mrs Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Opperman, Guy

Parish, Neil

Patel, rh Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Philp, Chris

Pickles, rh Sir Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prentis, Victoria

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pursglove, Tom

Quin, Jeremy

Quince, Will

Raab, Mr Dominic

Redwood, rh John

Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Robinson, Mary

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, rh Amber

Rutley, David

Sandbach, Antoinette

Scully, Paul

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simpson, rh Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Royston

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Solloway, Amanda

Soubry, rh Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Sunak, Rishi

Syms, Mr Robert

Thomas, Derek

Throup, Maggie

Tolhurst, Kelly

Tomlinson, Justin

Tomlinson, Michael

Tracey, Craig

Trevelyan, Mrs Anne-Marie

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Tugendhat, Tom

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, rh Mr Andrew

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Warburton, David

Warman, Matt

Wharton, James

Whately, Helen

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, rh Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Craig

Williamson, rh Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wood, Mike

Wragg, William

Wright, rh Jeremy

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Sarah Newton

and

Simon Kirby

Question accordingly negatived.

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1345

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1346

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1347

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1348

Alex Salmond (Gordon) (SNP): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. You will recall the debates that were held in the House on this double majority measure, when the Leader of the House made several totally unavailing attempts to explain it to Members. The Government said that nothing could pass against the will of the House and that the procedure was about ensuring that nothing was imposed on English Members against their will.

We have just had an illustration of a vote that could have enacted an order against the will of the House. The majority was only 11; if the majority had been won in the other direction and the House had voted as a whole to annul the order, and English Members had voted against it, the matter would still have stood. Students would still have been deprived of their vital maintenance grant, against the will of the House and contrary to what the Leader of the House and others on the Tory Benches told us. That will be of no satisfaction to English students who are suffering under this Government in the knowledge that they have been knowingly deprived of their maintenance grant. Will the Chair reflect on that procedure? It is totally contrary and illustrates the complete swamp into which these people have led the House.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): I understand the point the right hon. Gentleman is making. Indeed, he has made the same point in different ways at various times. However, this is the first time we have had a double majority vote and this is different procedure. The right hon. Gentleman will of course appreciate that the procedure we have undertaken this afternoon was

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1349

approved by the whole House and put into Standing Orders just a few months ago. Therefore, the procedure under which we have operated this afternoon has been approved by the whole House; possibly not by the right hon. Gentleman, but by a majority of the whole House.

The right hon. Gentleman very reasonably asks me—this is what I can deal with from the Chair—whether this matter will be reviewed. I am happy to tell him that of course it will be. Mr Speaker has made it clear that he will be keeping the new arrangements under review. I also understand that the Procedure Committee will be keeping the arrangements under review. I am sure the point the right hon. Gentleman has just so eloquently made will be taken into consideration by both Mr Speaker and the Procedure Committee as they consider the matter.

Andrew Rosindell (Romford) (Con): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. This is the first time in 15 years that I have attempted to vote in the Lobby and been denied the right to do so. My name was not on the tablet used. This is a denial of the rights of my constituents to be represented in a vote in the House of Commons. I seek assurance from you, Madam Deputy Speaker, that my vote will be recorded in the Government Lobby and that this kind of error will never be allowed to happen again.

Madam Deputy Speaker: I can well understand the hon. Gentleman’s understandable consternation. I am absolutely certain that his constituency is in England, because it is right next to mine. He has a perfectly good reason to complain. It is quite wrong that his name did not appear and I am certain that that will be rectified. I am assured that although his name did not appear on the list and his vote was not recorded in the way all the others votes were, his vote has been recorded both by the Tellers and the Clerks this afternoon. He need have no fear that his opinion has been overlooked, nor should it ever be.

Jim McMahon (Oldham West and Royton) (Lab): Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. If it is any consolation to the hon. Member for Romford (Andrew Rosindell), my name was not on the list either. However, I have been assured by the Teller that the vote was recorded.

Madam Deputy Speaker: I am particularly concerned for the hon. Gentleman, because he is very new to this House. Indeed, I hope he will be making his maiden speech later this afternoon. We are all looking forward to that. Of course his name ought to have been there. We will do everything to make sure it is there in future.

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I wonder whether you could help me with this. This is very serious.

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1350

The fact that one of our Members—one of the most English of all English Members—has been denied the opportunity to vote in the first double majority vote in this House is something that has to be properly investigated. Can you suggest, Madam Deputy Speaker, whether it is now worth having a recount, given that hon. Members have obviously been left out of this very important first vote?

Madam Deputy Speaker: I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the vote of the hon. Member for Romford (Andrew Rosindell) has most definitely been counted. There is no need for a recount.

Lady Hermon (North Down) (Ind): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. As part of the review into the House’s adoption of this appalling procedure, which excludes the votes of MPs, such as myself, who represent Northern Ireland constituencies—because certification has indicated a matter is exclusively English, despite its undoubtedly affecting my constituents—may I invite Ministers to Northern Ireland, with the promise of a warm welcome, to meet students affected by this vote or those affected by last week’s vote on the Housing and Planning Bill and explain to them why the rights of their representatives have not been honoured equally with those of other MPs?

Madam Deputy Speaker: As I said to the right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond), the whole House decided on these new Standing Orders, but of course the hon. Lady’s vote has been registered and counted and her constituents will know how she has voted. It has not been counted twice, but it has, very definitely, been counted once. She has, however, made her point properly.

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. First, may I assure the House that “Fabricant” was indeed on the tablet and that my vote was recorded? May I also take this opportunity to praise the Clerks, the Parliamentary Digital Service and you, ma’am, for taking us through, relatively smoothly, this innovative and creative bit of legislating, despite the travails of my hon. Friend the Member for Romford (Andrew Rosindell)?

Madam Deputy Speaker: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. The Clerks, the Officers of the House and those working behind the scenes have worked hard to put this new procedure into operation. This is the first time we have had a double majority vote. It has not gone perfectly smoothly, but we all learn from our mistakes, and I am quite certain it will go more smoothly in the future. I assure the House, especially hon. Members with concerns, that both Mr Speaker and the Procedure Committee are keeping a careful eye on these matters, as, I think, is the Leader of the House, and everything that hon. Members have said will be taken into consideration.

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1351

Cost of Public Transport

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): I inform the House that Mr Speaker has not selected the amendment.

5.8 pm

Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab): I beg to move,

That this House believes that the rising cost of public transport is adding to the financial pressures facing many households; notes that over 2,400 local authority-supported bus routes have been cut or downgraded since 2010; regrets that bus fares have risen by 26 per cent on average and regulated rail fares have risen by up to 38 per cent since 2010; further regrets delays to rail infrastructure projects including the electrification of the Great Western Main Line, the North TransPennine route and the Midland Main Line; notes with regret the decision by the Scottish Government to award the ScotRail franchise to a private operator, rather than exploring alternative options; calls on the Government to bring forward a buses bill as announced in the Queen’s Speech to enable the regulation of local bus networks; and further calls on the Government to rule out the privatisation of Network Rail and instead extend to franchised services the model of rail public ownership that delivered record passenger satisfaction scores on the East Coast Main Line.

I start by wishing the Secretary of State a happy new year, although that will not have been the sentiment that came to most commuters’ minds when they returned to work a fortnight ago. I am afraid it will have been cold comfort to be told by the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, the hon. Member for Devizes (Claire Perry), on the day that fares rose again, that the Government’s plan for passengers was to improve journeys for everyone. The chief executive of Transport Focus gave a more accurate assessment:

“In some parts of the country, given rail performance has been so dire, passengers will be amazed there are any fare rises at all.”

Hon. Members who attended the Southern Railway summit in this place yesterday, and most travellers, would not be able to reconcile the Minister’s statement with their own experience of increasingly overcrowded and unreliable carriages.

Mr Chuka Umunna (Streatham) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree that Members on both sides of the House are fed up with excuse after excuse and broken promise after broken promise from Southern rail, and that what we now want to see is action taken against this operator?

Lilian Greenwood: My hon. Friend is exactly right. I know that he and my other hon. Friends are holding Southern rail to account for its poor punctuality and poor passenger satisfaction. That underlines the need for reform of the railways.

Let us look at the facts. In 2010, the Conservative party said that it would

“relieve the pressure off both the fare-payer and the taxpayer”.

But what happened? Regulated fares rose by 25%. As a consequence, commuters from Birmingham to London are paying more than £10,000 for a season ticket for the first time. Worse still, Ministers bowed to lobbying from the train operating companies and restored “flex”—their right to vary prices by up to 5%, meaning that some season tickets have gone up by 38% since 2010, and a new Northern evening peak restriction hiked prices by up to an eye-watering 162%.

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1352

Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab): I am sure my hon. Friend will be aware that senior citizens, who might have business in London working for charities, are finding it very difficult to afford to come here unless it is outside peak times, and they are often unable to arrange meetings at times that would suit the off-peak periods. Does she understand that and have a view on it?

Lilian Greenwood: My hon. Friend is quite right that it is indeed a concern that people who need to travel at peak times find it almost impossible to find an affordable ticket.

Bus fares have continued to rise, too—up by 26% on average, which is more than three times faster than wages. Some areas have seen much higher rises still. In the north-east, bus fares have consistently risen by 3% above inflation, and it is the non-metropolitan areas that have seen some of the steepest bus fare increases, including in the constituencies of many Conservative Members, with fares increasing by 27% on average.

Christian Matheson (City of Chester) (Lab): The problem with buses is not just bus fares; it is the fact that in rural areas, such as in Saughall or Guilden Sutton in my constituency, the privatised bus companies are simply withdrawing services because their profit margins are not big enough.

Lilian Greenwood: My hon. Friend makes an important point. In many cases, it is hard-pressed local authorities that are trying to fill the gap, but of course with cuts it is increasingly difficult to do so.

The Secretary of State may remember when Ministers said at the start of the last Parliament that their cuts to bus funding would not impact on fares or service levels. Perhaps it was before the Secretary of State’s time. Almost six years on, however, the impact of the reductions to bus subsidy and local authority budgets is clear: more than 2,400 supported bus services have been altered, downgraded or withdrawn altogether. Supported, socially necessary bus services accounted for 24% of overall mileage in 2010. Last year, that had shrunk to 17%. The overall mileage of socially necessary services is down by 10% in the last year alone, and the number of transport authorities funding a young person’s concessionary travel scheme has fallen by 24%.

Bus services are used by every section of society, and we need a growing bus industry that can provide new routes to areas that are not currently served and provide people with as many options as possible for travel. We know that buses are particularly important to disabled people, older passengers, those on low incomes, young people and jobseekers. I am proud of the support that Labour introduced, including the concessionary bus pass, which provides a lifeline for pensioners and has kept many networks viable. Six years ago, the Prime Minister said that he would keep Labour’s free bus pass. Indeed, a year ago the Transport Secretary told this House that

“we have kept, and will keep, concessionary bus fares for older people.”—[Official Report, 22 January 2015; Vol. 591, c. 357.]

But what is the point of a free bus pass when there are no bus services left?

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1353

Craig Williams (Cardiff North) (Con): Before I entered the House, I sat on the board as a non-executive director of Cardiff Bus. Is the hon. Lady aware that we had to get together as Welsh bus companies and threaten legal action against the Labour Welsh Government on the concessionary fare funding because it was a breach of contract?

Lilian Greenwood: You do not want to talk about your own Government’s record on concessionary fares. [Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): Order. The hon. Lady does not mean “you”, does she? She means “he”.

Lilian Greenwood: The hon. Gentleman does not want to talk about the point at issue. He does not want to talk about what has happened to bus services here in England.

Anyone who searches the speeches and the statements of Conservative Ministers for references to fare rises on buses or cuts in routes will spend their time in vain.

Several hon. Members rose

Lilian Greenwood: I will make some progress, and then I will give way.

Bus passengers account for two thirds of public transport journeys, but the Transport Secretary mentioned them only once, in passing, in his speech at the Conservative party conference a few months ago. No doubt he will say that funds have been provided for local authorities to bid for support, and of course investment in cleaner, more efficient buses is welcome, but taxpayers will not realise value for money without reform. Fares have outstripped inflation and wage growth, and savings from the falling cost of fuel are not being passed on to passengers. Throughout the country, bus services are trapped in a vicious cycle in which fare rises dampen down demand and routes are then cut, triggering another round of cost increases.

There was a time when Ministers insisted that

“there have not been the cuts that the Opposition are so keen to talk up.”—[Official Report, 19 April 2012; Vol. 543, c. 485.]

However, when Transport Focus, the official watchdog, surveyed people who had been affected by the cuts, one person responded:

“I have one daughter who is disabled. They have cut her bus on a Sunday and in the evenings, so I can’t go and see her on a Sunday now.”

Another said that they

“Can’t see elderly parents in the evening and care for them as much when they probably need it the most. Can’t afford a taxi because not working at the moment and relied on the bus.”

One respondent simply said:

“I can’t see dad”

in a nursing home—

“on a Sunday because there is no bus.”

Conservative Members may say that the Government cannot be held accountable for the operation of a deregulated market, and it is true that London was the only part of Britain that was excluded from the provisions of the Transport Act 1985, but the fact is that, across the country, buses continue to receive very high levels of

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1354

public support. Of the industry’s costs, 41% are met by subsidy, and the Competition Commission found that genuine competition between bus companies, beyond occasional and disruptive bus wars, was rare. In too many areas the market does not provide comprehensive networks, forcing councils to fund additional services where they can still afford to do so, and placing an additional cost of more than £300 million a year on our hard-pressed local authorities. Nexus, the north-east transport authority, has only been able to maintain local services by drawing on its reserves, while also pursuing reforms that would allow it to deliver better services at a lower cost to taxpayers.

Andrew Percy (Brigg and Goole) (Con): Not everything that the hon. Lady is saying is incorrect, and obviously the position with bus services is very difficult, but it is a question of choices. The hon. Lady should consider what has been done by North Lincolnshire’s Conservative-controlled council. When we took control, it was able to reinstate the No. 37 bus, which had been cut by the previous Labour authority, and extend its services to Wroot and to Crowle. Labour-run Goole Town Council decided to cut the workers’ bus services so that it could pay for a bonfire once a year. So it is about choices. When local authorities are innovative, they can do what we have done in North Lincolnshire, and expand services.

Lilian Greenwood: The hon. Gentleman should think about the powers that local authorities have to enable them to make effective choices on behalf of passengers, and that is what I intend to talk about.

While fares continue to rise and routes are cut, some of the biggest bus operators report profit margins of 13% or more on their operations outside London. What was the response of Conservative Ministers? For four years they ignored the calls for reform from Labour Members. I am proud of the fact that Labour has consistently championed the case for bus tendering, but Ministers rigged funding awards to exclude local authorities that pursued regulation, and, shamefully, they remained silent when councillors were subjected to appalling abuse and called “unreconstructed Stalinists” just because they were trying to deliver better services.

While the Treasury’s decision to accept the case for bus tendering is welcome in principle, as is the Transport Secretary’s Damascene conversion, we must question the sincerity of that commitment, and the test will come in the forthcoming buses Bill. Will the Bill make those powers available to all areas that want them, not just to authorities that have reached a devolution agreement? Will it contain measures to protect rural bus services, which are particularly important to those communities, and which have been hit by some of the highest fare rises in the country? Will it protect transport authorities from crippling compensation claims?

The Nexus quality contract scheme boards said that the authorities should have set aside up to £226 million to compensate existing operators for the potential loss of business. If those payments were replicated in Greater Manchester, the Sheffield city region and the north-east, a key northern powerhouse commitment would never get on the road—not to mention the effects on Cornwall and other areas that have sought bus-tendering powers.

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1355

The bus market is costing too much and is not delivering for passengers, and we have seen the same trend on our railways. Commuters’ fares have gone up by a quarter since 2010, with season tickets costing up to £2,000 more. Ministers restored the loophole known as flex, which gave the train companies the right to vary prices by up to 5% a year, meaning that the cost of some season tickets has risen by up to 38%, and that evening fares in the north have been hiked by up to 162% at the direct insistence of the Department for Transport.

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick McLoughlin): Will the hon. Lady remind the House how many years flex was not available when the last Labour Government were in office? Am I correct in thinking that it was just one year—the year of the election?

Lilian Greenwood: The Labour party scrapped flex permanently, and it was the Secretary of State’s Department that chose to reinstate it, as well he knows. It was only as a result of concerted pressure by Labour Members that this Government dropped it over the past two years.

As I was saying, evening fares in the north have been hiked by up to 162% at the Secretary of State’s direct insistence. The Department’s own McNulty review has warned that our fragmented railways have a ticketing system that

“is complex, often appears illogical and is hard for the uninitiated (and even the initiated) to understand.”

There is also an efficiency gap of up to 40% compared with the best performing European operators, which is wasting money that should be used to address the rising cost of travel and to fund investment.

At the last election we were promised part-time season tickets, and a pilot by Southern Railway found that they could save some commuters 50% of the cost of their travel. However, the smart ticketing programme that underpins the system is 78% over budget and delayed by three years, and there are rumours that it could be cancelled. Will the Secretary of State tell us today whether the south-east flexible ticketing programme is being dropped?

Ministers might claim that services are getting better for everyone, but I urge them to mind the gap between their rhetoric and reality. We all remember the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, the hon. Member for Devizes (Claire Perry) saying that rail passengers had to realise that they were paying

“fair fares for a comfortable commute”.

Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon) (Con): In the Corbyn land of rhetoric, the hon. Lady seems to have forgotten that fares went up by 11% in the last year of the Labour Government alone. It is this Government who have frozen regulated fares for three years. Will she acknowledge that fact and make sure that she puts the truth on the record?

Lilian Greenwood: If the hon. Gentleman looks at our record, he will see that rail fares increased only by the level of inflation or were actually cut in six of the 13 years that Labour was in power. Fares rose in some years, and that helped to fund investment. Under Labour,

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1356

there was more investment in rail in real terms than under any previous Government. Under this Government, that link has been broken.

The Transport Secretary said that only commuters were paying regulated fares, and that unregulated fares could be “quite cheap”. Those comments are a world away from the frustrations endured by passengers every day on Southern and Thameslink, some of which were described in the House today by my hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr Umunna). They reflect an increasingly overcrowded and unreliable network.

In 2009, the Conservative party’s rail policy review stated:

“Fare rises come with tacit Government approval and are often the direct result of the franchise process”.

Will the Secretary of State therefore explain why he intends for above-inflation rises to resume after 2020, as his Department’s recent consultation on the East Anglian franchise makes clear? Passengers were always told that higher fares were necessary to pay for improvements, but under this Government, that link has been broken. The electrification of key lines was first paused and then shambolically “unpaused” one week before the Conservative party conference, and those projects are now delayed by years.

That goes to the heart of public trust in the railways. Ministers and Conservative Back Benchers went into the last election on a manifesto that said that key improvements would be delivered in this Parliament, but information about the true state of those programmes was kept concealed within the Department. The Transport Secretary has said that he was not informed about the state of the electrification programme until after May, but why did he not pose searching questions within the Department in October 2014, when my predecessor, my hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mary Creagh), challenged him to say

“which electrification projects will be delayed or cancelled”—[Official Report, 23 October 2014; Vol. 586, c. 1030.]

due to cost overruns on the great western main line?

Oliver Colvile (Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport) (Con): I have one curious question for the hon. Lady: how is this all going to be paid for? Is it going to be borrowed or are we going to put prices up?

Lilian Greenwood: I shall deal with that very question later on in my speech, so the hon. Gentleman should listen attentively.

Why did the Transport Secretary not raise the alarm in the last Parliament when the estimated cost of electrifying the midland main line rose from £250 million to £540 million, and then to £1.3 billion? Why did he not do so when the cost estimates for great western electrification rose from £548 million to £930 million, and then to £1.7 billion? Of course, the estimate has now risen further still, to £2.8 billion. Why did he not act when the Transport Committee warned in January 2015:

“Key rail enhancement projects...have been announced by Ministers without Network Rail having a clear estimate of what the projects will cost, leading to uncertainty about whether the projects will be delivered on time, or at all”?

Will the Transport Secretary confirm that he commissioned a report on the state of the electrification programme, which was given to him in September 2014?

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1357

This report has never been published, and a Freedom of Information Act request for a copy has been personally refused by a Minister in his Department. What did that report say, and what has he got to hide?

The truth is that the Department was clearly warned by Network Rail about the impending northern power cut. The company’s board discussed last March

“the decisions required jointly with the DFT”—

regarding—

“enhancement deferrals from June”.

Network Rail’s chief executive has confirmed to me:

“In mid-March 2015, Network Rail informed DfT that decisions may need to be made in the coming months about the deferral of certain schemes.”

If the Secretary of State really was not aware of what his own Department and Network Rail were doing, there is only one possible explanation: he made it clear that he did not want to know. He failed to take responsibility, and passengers are now paying the price.

We were told that 850 miles of track would be electrified before 2019, but now the Department is refusing to say how many miles of track will be electrified in this Parliament. Is it half the original target? Is it a quarter? Will the Transport Secretary confirm that by 2019 this Government would do well to realise the plans for electrification set out by a Labour Secretary of State, the noble Lord Adonis, a decade earlier?

Let me return to the cost of tickets.

Sir Simon Burns (Chelmsford) (Con) rose

Lilian Greenwood: I am not going to give way at the moment, because I want to make some progress. The Government claim they will not increase regulated fares above inflation, and we will hold them to that promise, but may I remind the Transport Secretary of his comments from two years ago, when he said that Labour’s fares freeze

“would cost £1.8 billion over the lifetime of the next parliament and be paid for by more borrowing and higher taxes.”

Given that the black hole in Network Rail's finances will be plugged by £1.8 billion-worth of asset sales and £700 million of additional borrowing, has not this Government’s ostrich-like approach to the railways resulted in what the Transport Secretary’s own party might call more spending, more borrowing, and more debt?

We need investment in our rail network, both in HS2 and in the existing railways. I am proud of the fact that we saw record investment between 1997 and 2010. Our Government invested more in the railways, in real terms, than any previous Government, addressing the chronic maintenance backlog, replacing thousands of unsafe, slam-door Mark 1 coaches and ending the appalling safety crisis created by the disaster that was Railtrack. I am concerned that the Government’s programme has come to resemble not the much-heralded “biggest investment since the Victorian era” that we have heard so much about, but the ill-prepared 1950s modernisation plan that did so much damage to support for the railways.

As we come to make the case for additional investment, we need Ministers to own up to the challenges that the programme continues to face, but again and again, the message is the same: they did not know; they were

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1358

not responsible; and they were not there. We could ask what exactly Ministers were doing instead of keeping improvements on track, because they were not keeping an eye on the franchising programme, which collapsed in 2012 costing taxpayers more than £50 million, or on the allocation of trains in the north, as the Secretary of State approved the transfer of new rolling stock from TransPennine to the south, triggering a capacity crisis that cost taxpayers another £20 million to resolve. It seems that their focus was solely on privatising East Coast, a successful public sector rail operator, which delivered record passenger satisfaction and punctuality scores—

Stephen Hammond rose

Lilian Greenwood: No, I have already given way to the hon. Gentleman.

East Coast cut its fares in real terms in 2014 and reinvested all its profits in the service. As reported last week, it was delivering the best-ever service on the line in the weeks before it was sold. Instead of extending that successful model of public ownership to the other franchise services, the route was prioritised to be sold off. Worse, we now learn that Directly Operated Railways, East Coast’s parent company, has effectively been mothballed and its functions outsourced to companies with no experience of operating passenger services.

We are left in the absurd position of divesting our in-house railway expertise at precisely the moment that several franchises and contracting competitions appear to be in doubt. Now, on top of the damage already done, the Government are seriously considering privatising Network Rail. They have already tested the theory to destruction with Railtrack. A sell-off of Network Rail will put profit before passengers and risk dragging us back to the worst excesses of privatisation. I say to the Transport Secretary: do not go down this road. We know how it ends and we on the Labour Benches will oppose it all the way.

May I say how disappointing it was that the Scottish National party in government not only issued a conventional franchise for ScotRail, but passed up the opportunity to invite a public sector bidder for the contract? The franchise was awarded a full month after Gordon Brown, the former right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, made it clear that, on the forthcoming Smith agreement, enforced rail privatisation will be no more and the right to include a public sector option is currently before Parliament in the Scotland Bill. Labour urged the Scottish Government at the time to postpone the competition, but that call was rejected.

Callum McCaig (Aberdeen South) (SNP): I thank the hon. Lady for so kindly giving way. I am pleased that she is addressing this part of the motion. I feel that the request is particularly ironic given that she talked about the powers that local government in England should have. The Scottish Parliament, and indeed the Scottish Government, do not have such powers. What she and her party are encouraging is the Scottish Government to break the law. Will she explain why that is the case?

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): Order. Before the hon. Lady answers the intervention, may I say that she has been very courteous in taking a lot of

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1359

interventions—and it is indeed good to have a lively debate—but this debate has less than an hour and a half to run? The hon. Lady has spoken for some 25 minutes, and I am sure that she will be aware that there are many other people who wish to speak.

Lilian Greenwood: I will move towards finishing my speech, Madam Deputy Speaker.

It is a pity that the hon. Gentleman did not refer to the fact that the Labour Government fully devolved the ScotRail franchise, or that it was Labour that secured the change to the Railways Act 1993 through the Smith commission. The invitation to tender for the ScotRail franchise, issued by the SNP Government, said:

“Transport Scotland reserves the right to alter the timetable or the process, or to terminate this process at its sole discretion.”

There we have it. It was entirely in the Scottish Government’s power to wait until the 1993 Act could be amended, but they chose not to do so. There is nothing in the 1993 Act or in the ScotRail invitation to tender that prevented them from delaying the competition until section 25 of that Act was amended. It is regrettable to see the inaccurate amendment tabled by SNP Members.

It falls to Labour to set out the case for reforming our transport services and addressing the rising cost of public transport. It is what Labour is doing in local government, winning concessions from Whitehall. It is what my right hon. Friend the Member for Tooting (Sadiq Khan) will do as Labour’s Mayor of London by putting bus and rail passengers first. We must play our part in Parliament too, and I urge Members to support the motion today.

5.34 pm

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick McLoughlin): I welcome the debate and I know that the hon. Member for Nottingham South (Lilian Greenwood) cares very much about the subject. She has worked with us on the Bill for HS2, which is making good progress, and I thank the Opposition for their support on that vital project.

I also thank everyone in all parts of the transport industry who has been out this winter responding to the floods. It has not been easy, but good progress is being made. I was in Cumbria for the second time last week to see it at first hand. Over the Christmas period, Network Rail also successfully carried out its biggest ever works as part of the railway upgrade plan that is so essential to the future of the British rail industry. I pay tribute to the thousands of staff who gave up their Christmas to improve our railways.

Today, the hon. Lady asks about transport costs, and I am pleased she does. After all, the Opposition should know all about them, because when they were in office rail fares soared. In their last full year, regulated fares increased by up to 11% and between 2004 and 2010 they went up by about 4% a year—a total increase of some 26.4%. We have kept increases down. They have dropped steadily over the past five years and we have frozen increases at inflation for the whole of this Parliament, a promise made in our manifesto and kept in government, saving more than a quarter of a million season ticket holders an average of £425 over the next five years.

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1360

The Opposition should also know about the cost of driving. Fuel prices are down by almost 16% in real terms since 2010 and we abolished a number of the increases that were going to take place under the Labour Government.

Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell) (Con): Despite all the howling we have just heard from Opposition Members about oil prices, was it not the Opposition who wanted to freeze energy prices?

Mr McLoughlin: I am going to say a bit more about their record in government; I am not sure that I want to say too much about their record in opposition.

Mr Umunna rose

Mr Jim Cunningham rose

Christian Matheson rose—

Mr McLoughlin: Three Members are trying to get me to give way, Mr Deputy Speaker, but I am mindful of the short time for this debate, and I am very sorry about that. I will take an intervention from the hon. Member for Streatham (Mr Umunna), but then I will make progress.

Mr Umunna: Does the Secretary of State think that the cost of £964 for a season ticket from Streatham Common to London Victoria is good value for money in the light of the recent service that my constituents have been subjected to by Southern Railway? Will he give serious consideration to the breakup of the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise, which is clearly too big and too complex?

Mr McLoughlin: I will want to say something about the works on the rail network. The amount of work that is taking place will lead to some disruption but eventually will lead to a much better service for the hon. Gentleman’s constituents. The huge investment in London Bridge, for example, will cause disruption while it is taking place. I wish that that was not necessary, but people will get a much better service than they had before those improvements.

Mr Jim Cunningham rose

Mr McLoughlin: I want to make some progress.

Fuel prices are down by nearly 16% since 2010. The cost of driving licences has been reduced, the cost of the theory test is being cut and we have taken action to bring down the cost of car insurance as well.

There is another thing that the Opposition do not like talking about—the cost to our country of lost investment when they were in office, and the cost to jobs, businesses and growth. Britain slipped from 7th to 33rd in the World Economic Forum’s infrastructure league table when they were in government. They cancelled more than 100 major road improvement projects and did not invest when they had the chance. They electrified just 10 miles of railways, less than one mile a year. I was going to say that it was a snail’s pace electrification, but I have checked, and that would be unfair to snails. They go faster than the previous Labour Government went on electrification. No Conservative Member will take

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1361

lectures from the Opposition about electrification. They did not invest, and they made the task of rectifying their mistakes much more of a challenge. The real benefit cannot be felt until all this vital but disruptive work is completed. No wonder Labour has been so reluctant to debate transport in this House. The shadow Secretary of State’s immediate predecessor did not even have a debate on transport. In fact there have been only three debates on transport since 2010. That is obviously because the Opposition are so embarrassed by their own record, and so impressed by our record.

The shadow Secretary of State has served on the Opposition Front Bench on transport since 2011. She is the fourth shadow Secretary of State I have faced across the Dispatch Box, and in that time there have been about as many changes in opposition transport policy as there have been in shadow Secretaries of State.

Christian Matheson rose—

Mr Jim Cunningham rose

Mr McLoughlin: I have got a choice; I will give way to Coventry.

Mr Cunningham: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving way; I notice he has been avoiding me for the last five minutes. Will he have a look at the use of senior citizens cards, particularly in respect of certain rail companies, because, as I said in an intervention on my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham South (Lilian Greenwood), some people badly need them; they do charity work and they need to come to London, but not at the times when senior citizens cards can be used? Will he have a look at that, and the different franchises and different uses?

Mr McLoughlin: I know the hon. Gentleman will want to support me wholeheartedly on creating more capacity. One way we are going to do that is by building HS2, which in the past he has not been quite so supportive of. It is very important that we look at these things, however, and of course I will look at the points he makes.

Christian Matheson: Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr McLoughlin: I really do need to make progress.

The shadow Secretary of State used to be in favour of rail franchising, but now she seems to be against it, although it is interesting to note that her party’s candidate for Mayor of London is apparently so keen on it that he wants Transport for London to bid for contracts in the private sector. In 2014, the shadow Secretary of State got one of our great private companies, Stagecoach, to sponsor her Christmas cards. I did not get one in 2015. Maybe this time it was sponsored by the RMT instead, because these days Labour has only one policy on transport: turn all the signals bright red—a policy that is going nowhere from a party that is getting nowhere.

Now of course the Labour party wants to impose yet another cost on hard-working people: the cost of strikes. We heard not a single word from the hon. Lady in her speech about the planned strikes next week on the underground—a party that will not even stand up for

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1362

Londoners when the unions carry out a selfish and irresponsible strike. Well, this Government clearly stand on the side of Londoners and those who work in London. Will the hon. Lady condemn the planned strike on the underground? I will give way to her if she will. Will she condemn it? Silence. She is probably under orders from the shadow Chancellor to join the picket line, or does she agree with the Labour peer Lord Mendelsohn? My hon. Friends may not have heard this: Labour peer Lord Mendelsohn said strikes would be “economically efficient” because some travellers would discover better ways into work. That is Labour’s new policy: a strike that aims to stop Londoners getting new and better services.

Transport is central to Britain’s economy and, because we are dealing with the decline and deficit the Labour party left behind, we can afford to invest for growth. That means more jobs, more homes, and more businesses using our transport system, and more people too. Last year it carried more people than ever in its history: there were 1.65 billion journeys on the railway network, 316 billion vehicle miles on our roads, and over 1.3 billion journeys on the tube. This year, it will break that record again. That is why we are widening roads, building railways, opening up opportunities: a massive programme is under way now that means building Crossrail, completing Thameslink, electrifying the northern hub, starting HS2, record investment in local roads, setting up an independent National Infrastructure Commission under Lord Adonis, and getting on with the £15 billion road investment strategy, including the A358 and A27 that Labour pledged in its manifesto to cancel. There is £38.5 billion of investment in our railways, and 30% more on enhancements than Labour spent previously.

Oliver Colvile: May I remind my right hon. Friend that, during the election, the Labour party said it would cancel the A359 work? I did not hear how this would all be paid for, which I was told clearly to listen out for.

Mr McLoughlin: Indeed, the Opposition said they would take those roads out of the roads investment strategy.

Through our careful custodianship of the economy, we can afford to invest in the future. That is why some 4,000 new rail carriages for the national network are now on order, with most being built in Britain.

The hon. Member for Nottingham South talked about the need to help people up and down the country with transport costs, and I agree with her. That is why we are investing. In Nottingham, we have spent £150 million widening the A453, speeded up trains and rebuilt the station at a cost of more than £100 million, and extended the tram with a contribution of more than £370 million. That is more in six years for the people of Nottingham than in the previous 13 years of Labour government.

I welcome the hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Andy McDonald) to the Opposition Front Bench. I hope he lasts longer in the job than his predecessor, which will let him see the benefits of our investment in his constituency, including new intercity express programme trains, direct services from London on Virgin Trains East Coast, the removal of Pacer trains from the network and an upgrade to the A19 close by. I could go on. Other members of the Front-Bench team will benefit, too, with a £1.5 billion investment for the A14 and new Thameslink trains

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1363

serving Cambridge, while Birmingham already has the upgrade to New Street station, services on Sunday from Longbridge and the M5 smart motorway programme.

That is the choice: under Labour, the cost of travel goes up and the cost of lost investment goes up too; under us, rail fares are capped, fuel prices go down and investment goes in.

Andrew Percy: My right hon. Friend knows that we in the Humber got the fluffy end of the lollipop under the last Government. The Humber bridge toll has been halved and we have got rail electrification and a number of road projects. On the subject of the cost of bus passes, will he acknowledge the incredible work done by Conservative North Lincolnshire Council, which reversed the 500% increase in the price of post-16 bus passes, cutting the cost from £180 under the Labour party to £30 under the Conservatives?

Mr McLoughlin: My hon. Friend clearly shows that Conservative councils choose priorities to help local people and make sure the investment goes straight to the frontline. I congratulate the council in his area on doing that.

Alec Shelbrooke: Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr McLoughlin: If my hon. Friend will forgive me, I am mindful of the time. I know other hon. Members wish to speak, and I understand that there is to be a very important maiden speech.

On the east coast line, Virgin is bringing 23 new services a day from London, with more than 70 extra stops at stations. The hon. Member for Nottingham South is against that. There are plans for new direct services to Huddersfield, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Dewsbury and Thornaby, and more trains to London from Bradford, Edinburgh, Harrogate, Leeds, Lincoln, Newcastle, Shipley, Stirling and York. That is our plan to build for the future and support our great cities, too. Under this Government, that means city deals, new mayors, growth, a northern powerhouse and a transformation of the railways in the north.

In 2004, when Labour was in charge, it let the franchise for Northern rail on a zero-growth basis. That meant no investment, while fares were allowed to rise. It was a disgrace. Perhaps the hon. Lady would like to apologise for the consequences. The cost was no new trains and massive overcrowding, with people expected to travel on worn-out Pacers. Just before Christmas, the Government let new franchises for Northern and TransPennine that will result in a £1.2 billion boost to rail services, 500 new carriages, 40,000 extra spaces for passengers and free wi-fi on trains and in stations. No wonder local Labour politicians in the north were lining up to praise the move. Liam Robinson, chairman of Merseytravel, said it was a “big step forward” and would “drive up standards”. Labour councillors including Peter Box, Richard Leese, Keith Wakefield and Nick Forbes praised the impact of devolution to Rail North. The RMT commented too, describing it as a “bitter blow”. Who does the hon. Lady agree with? Would she have signed that franchise contract—yes or no? Would the Opposition have walked away, leaving the north with nothing, just like

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1364

they did last time? We bring the private and public sectors together in partnership, backing better services and growth.

The hon. Lady mentions buses. I am not clear what she wants. Does she want to nationalise them too? We are going to legislate so that cities can help shape their bus networks, working with the private sector. While her party was in office, bus use outside of London fell by 8%. In 2010 only 25% of buses outside London could take smart cards; now 89% can. Compared with 2010, buses are safer, with more CCTV, and they are busier and more accessible. The Government are supporting the vital work done by community transport organisations with a scheme to help them buy new minibuses. We have taken tough decisions on the economy, but protected concessionary travel across the country.

On road travel, we have reformed Highways England and set out the first-ever long- term investment programme. We are investing in local roads, with a record £6 billion of funding to tackle the menace of potholes, and a further £475 million for the larger road schemes that some towns so desperately need. On cycling, which the Opposition did not even mention in today’s motion, we have increased spending from the £2 a head that we inherited in 2010 to £6 a head today, and we will go further still.

That is the investment we need to help cut the cost of transport. We are getting on with Crossrail, which is on course to open two years from now. We are getting on with HS2, with construction starting in less than two years from now. A new National Infrastructure Commission has been established. Record investment is taking place and rail fare increases have been frozen in line with inflation. Transport is transforming our country, whereas Labour wants to go back to an age when train use fell, fares went up and investment was cut. This Government are optimistic about rail, roads, buses, cycling, and more importantly the British people. We are going to be trusting. We are going to see investment at a record level, which will be good for our cities and for our country right across the transport network. I urge the House to reject the motion.

5.51 pm

Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (SNP): I echo the sentiments of the Secretary of State regarding the staff who worked in the floods and the inclement weather over the Christmas and new year period on all networks to keep us moving and to help passengers as they travelled.

A debate on public transport is welcome. People need effective, regular and affordable public transport. In a debate such as this, they would expect the issue to be moved forward, although I am not sure they would have had that impression from the opening exchanges. Public transport is close to my heart and that of many of my hon. Friends. My constituency, in common with many of theirs, is mostly a rural community. Scotland has diverse public transport needs. Some places in Scotland and in other nations of the UK have no public transport—people can only use their cars, so it is not just the cost of public transport that matters to them, but the cost to the public of transport.

The motion could have benefited from the inclusion of other forms of transport that people need—and, indeed, rely on—in Scotland. For example, we do not see aviation as anything other than public transport.

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1365

That is what it is. Marine transport is very important to us, and ferries are public transport too. As the Secretary of State said, the motion could have included public cycling schemes and public costs in relation to roads—tolls, for example. The need for major UK infrastructure projects to give proper consideration to Scotland could be debated. The debate could have been more inclusive and served a common purpose. It could have been more positive, seeking to benefit people.

Many local bus services in Scotland receive subsidies to ensure that uncommercial services can continue to operate as a public service. Figures from the House of Commons Library show that from 1995 to 2015, Scottish bus fares went from being 10% higher than those in England to being lower. Since 2007, bus fares in Scotland have risen by 5% less than in England. Since 2010, bus fares in Scotland have risen by 4.6%; in England over the same period, they have risen by 7.0%. The Scottish Government have invested a quarter of a million pounds every year through the bus service operators grant and concessionary travel scheme. That has helped 1.3 million older and disabled people to live more connected, healthier lives.

In aviation, there are direct flights to over 32 countries, and we have the successful ongoing work to improve long-haul connections to Scotland and connectivity through world hubs. We plan to use changes to air passenger duty to improve the situation for the travelling public by reducing their costs, and to help businesses, including in tourism and food and drink, by growing key sectors of our economy and giving better choice to our people. This is all for the people of Scotland. We are working to achieve guaranteed levels of access between Scotland and London. The Scottish Government acquired Glasgow Prestwick airport to safeguard 3,200 jobs and to secure vital infrastructure as an asset that contributes more than £61 million annually to the Scottish economy.

We have invested in roads to ensure that Scotland has a modern transport infrastructure for the 21st century. The SNP Scottish Government have a clear policy against the use of road pricing and tolls, now and at any time in future, and we have abolished all road tolls on bridges in Scotland. We are delivering the £1.4 billion new Forth crossing at Queensferry, which is on track to be completed by the end of 2016—again, with no tolls for the public.

In marine transport, Ministers in the Scottish Government have invested more than £145 million in piers and harbours, with £8.6 million going to Stornoway harbour to accommodate the new Ullapool-Stornoway vessel, MV Loch Seaforth. Since 2007, we have invested almost £1 billion in ferry services, including the road equivalent tariff and six new ferries. That is investment of over £100 million. We have introduced into the network of services operated by CalMac a third hybrid—MV Catriona, which was launched at Ferguson marine shipyard in Port Glasgow in December 2015. On 16 October 2015, Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd was awarded contracts worth £97 million to build two £100 million ferries with a delivery date in 2017-18. The First Minister of Scotland confirmed just yesterday that Dundee’s central waterfront infrastructure would be the latest Scottish Government project to be delivered on budget and ahead of schedule. This includes a re-rationalised road layout and is part of the £1 billion, 8 km Dundee waterfront project, which will create 7,000 new jobs.

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1366

Let me come to the interesting one: rail franchising. On this important issue—the public outside this Chamber will not understand this—Labour Members have chosen to attack the Scottish Government, not the UK Government whom they are supposed to be opposing. Every time they take a wee excursion up the branch line, they end up embarrassing themselves and the branch office in Scotland. Frankly, they are embarrassing everyone. The purpose of opposition, surely, is to build alliances to hold the Government to account. What a missed opportunity! The SNP is the effective Opposition in this Chamber. The Government realise that, which is why they are going at us day after day, every day—they spend more time on us now. Labour Members have deliberately inserted a line in this motion—a complete falsehood, by the way—that makes it impossible for us to support them in the Lobby tonight. Imagine that! People are looking on, and they see this shambles for what it is. They are switched on like never before, and they are continuing to lose respect for Labour, given stunts like these.

Let me tell the House about the Scottish Government and rail policy. The UK Government oversee a perverse system that forbids publicly owned UK bodies from bidding on rail franchises while having overseas nationalised services such as Deutsche Bahn or France’s SNCF running franchises in the UK. We believe that public sector organisations should be able to bid to operate rail services, as allowed in EU law but currently prevented by UK legislation. That is a lesson for Labour Members. That approach would enable us to ensure the delivery of all rail services in Scotland and to deliver maximum economic and social benefit for our people.

Labour has used this motion to attack the SNP Government for awarding the ScotRail franchise from 2015 to 2025 to Abellio. Labour knows very well that the Railways Act 1993, enacted by John Major’s Government, specifically forbids UK publicly owned companies from bidding. It is a matter of rhetoric versus record.

Mr McLoughlin: The 1993 Act was indeed taken through by John Major, but will the hon. Gentleman also confirm that in 13 years the Labour party never changed the regulations?

Drew Hendry: The Labour party has put me in the position of having to agree with a member of the Cabinet. Imagine that—what an absolute shambles!

The Labour party spent 13 years in government without ever changing the situation, even though it heavily amended the 1993 Act with the Transport Act 2000 and the Railways Act 2005. Even though it had the power, it did absolutely nothing to repeal the 1993 Act.

This is not the first time we have heard such nonsense from the Labour party. Its leader is not so new to his position now, but not long after taking the leadership he told Marr:

“Listen I’ve been in Scotland a lot of times during the leadership campaign…I’m going to be in Scotland a great deal as leader of the party.”

We shall see whether that happens. He went on to say:

“Yes the SNP have a headline of being opposed to austerity—fine. The SNP are also privatising CalMac, also were behind the privatisation of ScotRail”.

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1367

What a pile of nonsense! Like successive Scottish Executives before them, the Scottish Government were simply following the tendering process that they are required to follow in EU law.

Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) (SNP): Does my hon. Friend recall that, once upon a time, the Labour party was in power in Scotland as well as down here? At no point did it make any effort to allow the Scottish Parliament to take the railways into some kind of public ownership.

Drew Hendry: My hon. Friend is exactly right. Labour made no effort in government either here or in Scotland to do anything about that and, as I have said, it knows very well that the 1993 Act forbids the Scottish Government from doing it.

As I have said, there was a fabrication by the Labour leader. He said that the SNP was behind the privatisation of ScotRail. Did he mean the 1993 Act introduced by John Major? There was not even a Scottish Parliament at that time, but let us not let the truth or the law get in the way of anything.

The Labour leader says that his party supports rail renationalisation, but where was that support when every single amendment that the SNP tabled to the Scotland Bill was voted down in this House? Clause 54 of the Bill will allow for the Scottish Government to consider bids from public operators. That was included in the SNP-Scottish Government submission to the Smith commission, but we tried to go further. We tabled a new clause to devolve rail services in Scotland, giving Scottish Ministers full powers and the flexibility to decide who would run such services. Like every other SNP amendment to the Scotland Bill, it was voted down by English MPs.

That new clause would also have disapplied the provisions of the 1993 Act and allowed for direct awards to be made for the operation of rail passenger services to the fullest extent permissible under the law. It would have allowed us to adjust the current ticketing system, which over-subsidises profits while having—to put it mildly—an arcane and unintuitive fare system.

An anytime single ticket from London to Edinburgh costs £140.50, while one from London to Newcastle— 100 miles south of Edinburgh—costs £138, £2.50 less. A similar ticket from London to Aberdeen, which is 100 miles north of Edinburgh, costs £157.50. That means that one journey of 100 miles costs £2.50, while another costs £9. It just does not make sense. Frequently, it is cheaper to split a ticket than to buy a direct one. A single from King’s Cross to Edinburgh costs £95, while often, but not always, a King’s Cross to York ticket and a York to Edinburgh ticket cost £66 in total. We could have done something to sort that out.

Let me just say that the Scottish Government and the SNP will take no lessons from the Labour leader when it comes to investing in Scotland. With such a lack of understanding, even of the basics, it is no wonder that, according to a recent Survation poll, his approval rating in Scotland is minus 17%, while that of the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is plus 27%.

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1368

As we have already established, the issue of public ownership is out of the hands of the Scottish Government, so I want to finish by talking for a moment about the rail franchise in Scotland. The Scottish Government welcomed Abellio to the ScotRail franchise because it has moved its UK headquarters to Glasgow—creating 50 new jobs, in addition to securing another 150 jobs from First. As a result of the new deal, passengers and staff will enjoy a range of benefits: advance fares from £5 for journeys between Scottish cities; a commitment to earnings of at least the living wage—the living wage in Scotland, by the way—for all staff and contractors; at least 100 apprenticeships; a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies; protection for rail staff pensions and travel rights; free wi-fi on trains; a new approach to cycling, with more than 3,500 parking spaces, and bike hire at a number of stations, which should be compared with Southern; 80 new trains due to arrive at start of December 2017; and 23% more carriages across the network.

The Scottish Government’s record on rail consists of a commitment to a £5 billion programme of investing in Scotland’s railways over the five years to 2019, including £170 million on the Aberdeen to Inverness rail upgrade and £300 million to open the Airdrie-Bathgate rail link in 2010, which will provide a passenger service between north Lanarkshire and west Lothian for the first time in 54 years. Since privatisation, rail fares have been regulated by the Government to limit the size of increases on key tickets, but they have increased in real terms since the early years of this century. In January 2013, fares across all operators were 23% higher than they were in January 1995, with an average annual increase of 1.2%.

I will finish on this point. [Hon. Members: “Hooray!”] It is nice to be appreciated. This is the story of a Government who invest in public transport for their people. The Scottish Government’s budget has been cut by £12.5% since 2010—£1 in every £8 has gone—for unnecessary ideological austerity. Despite that, the SNP Scottish Government are still investing in infrastructure. Having already invested £15 billion in transport since 2007, they are committed to the largest transport investment programme that Scotland has ever seen, despite these relentless Westminster budget cuts.

6.8 pm

Karen Lumley (Redditch) (Con): I want to make a short speech and I will be very brief, because I know that the hon. Member for Oldham West and Royton (Jim McMahon) is waiting to make his maiden speech. All of us remember that feeling, so it is important that he gets to say his bit.

I would obviously have liked to talk about the fantastic Birmingham International airport, but I will save that for another debate. Instead, I will talk about some of the great rail links from Redditch to the west midlands area. My constituents can live in the lovely town of Redditch, while being able to travel to Birmingham to work. In 2014, a passing loop became operational in Alvechurch, meaning that there are now three trains an hour between Redditch and Birmingham. That makes it as easy to get there as to get to the midlands. On top of that is the £750 million refurbishment of Birmingham New Street International, including a brand-new John Lewis store, which is absolutely fantastic. Some £13 million has been awarded to the west midlands to run schemes

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1369

until December 2017. The schemes cover upgrading ticket vending machines on the Redditch line, which includes making them contactless; fitting CCTV equipment to all trains on the line to ensure passenger safety; and equipping staff with technology to enable them to give customers up-to-date, live running information.

Transport needs joined-up thinking across the midlands. I welcome the devolution deal that was signed in November, which will power the midlands engine. The west midlands was the first region outside the north to sign a devolution deal with an elected mayor. The new authority, which includes Redditch, will take an overview of transport in the region, including the HS2 growth strategy.

Before I finish, I will say a bit about HS2. I am, and always have been, a huge fan of the project. The HS2 headquarters is moving to my region and huge investment is being put into the project. The project is often talked about as if it is all about speed, but it is about having the capacity on our railways to ensure that the transport network is fit for purpose. We talk a lot in this House about rebalancing the economy, and I believe that HS2 can help us do it.

There are two sides to every story. I want to put it on the record that Redditch and my region are benefiting from extra investment in the transport system after years of under-investment, and they will continue to do so for many years to come under this Government.

6.10 pm

Jim McMahon (Oldham West and Royton) (Lab): Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for allowing me to make my maiden speech in this debate.

First, I should pay tribute to Michael Meacher, not simply because it is customary to do so, but because Michael was a dear friend to the people of Chadderton, Oldham and Royton. He will be missed and remembered locally, and by Members of this House, for decades to come.

I thank the voters of Oldham West and Royton for putting their trust in me as their representative here. I will work hard to make sure that I live up to that trust, along with my colleagues. From a Labour party point of view, we have shown what we can achieve when we pull together as a family. The result was very impressive for the Labour family.

As I stand here today, I reflect on the remarkable story—I would say that, wouldn’t I?—of a young boy from Miles Platting in Manchester who is now standing here in the House of Commons. The street where I grew up as a child no longer exists, but the values of hard work and courage instilled in me by my parents remain.

The borough of Oldham and its seven towns, with their culture, community and comradeship, have played a defining part in the history of our country. Oldham’s values of hard work, grit and integrity speak to the heart of British values—values that are exemplified in all of Oldham’s great and diverse communities today.

Chadderton secured its historical place through aviation, among other things. It made the world-famous Lancaster bomber. In its heyday, the Greengate site employed 20,000 people. When its doors closed in 2012, the 1,500 staff who remained moved out. That was a very sad day for the people of the town.

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1370

Our engineering and manufacturing base included the world-famous Ferranti, which was famous for making the components for the world’s first computer, and Platt Brothers, which was once famous for being the largest engineering plant in Europe. Both are now gone.

Royton has a little in common with this place. You may remember the rhyme, Mr Deputy Speaker, “Remember, remember the 26th of November”—26 November 1884, that is, when the gunpowder plot unfolded in Royton town hall, blowing off the windows and doors. Interestingly, it was led by a gangmaster who was campaigning against measures in the Factory Acts that banned children under 10 years old from working in the mills.

Many people here will know Oldham as an industrial giant, and it was. It was the king of cotton. In its heyday, the town spun more than 17 million spindles, which was more than the whole of the United States and 80% of the total number in the UK. For too many people, the Oldham of yesterday was built on exploitation, with very little regard for quality of life or fairness. People came from countries right around the world to make a better life for themselves, but do you know what the truth is? People struggled. They struggled in desperate poverty, while a lot of the money left town.

The exploitation did not stop in Oldham. Feeding the 17 million spindles required a lot of cotton, which was picked in the fields of the American south. As the machines raged on in 1860, it took 200,000 black slaves to pick enough cotton to feed the mills. So there was exploitation at home, exploitation abroad, and with the money taking leave from the town.

Today, hard-fought battles for better living standards, a welfare state that is there when people need it, and decent homes, are being eroded. People are seeing vital services—in some cases their lifeline—being taken away. For too many people, work does not pay and they cannot make ends meet.

People might think that I am painting Oldham as having been beaten, but mark my words: we are far from beaten. We have courage and determination. If our past successes were built on the industrial revolution, our future will be secured through solid hard work—an industrious revolution. Our town is going from strength to strength. We are rebuilding, attracting investment and creating new jobs. We can be proud of what we have achieved in recent years, but too often it feels as if we are doing it alone, and it should not be that way. Devolution must be more than a love affair with the big cities; it must deliver and provide a decent settlement for towns and districts. I want Oldham to flourish and to be the place we know it can be—a place where my sons, Jack and Harry, and the other 57,000 young people will be proud to call home.

With new powers devolved to Greater Manchester, the challenge is not simply one of good administration, but also of strong political leadership. We have shown that we can get things done. The continued expansion of the Metrolink tram system will certainly accelerate economic growth. We must also push for the future and for cross-borough expansion, and I will use this opportunity to place down a marker for the Ashton loop line from Ashton town centre to Oldham Mumps, and for a Middleton spur from Oldham Westwood through Middleton and on to the Bury line, connecting the north-east conurbation of Greater Manchester. [Interruption.] The Secretary of State will realise that until Friday I was the

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1371

council member responsible for transport in Greater Manchester, although given his interest in the northern powerhouse, our paths never crossed.

[

Laughter.

]

Perhaps he will be charitable in return, given that this is my maiden speech.

As we rightly fight to end the north-south divide in the UK, we know that infrastructure investment can help address Greater Manchester’s own north-south divide. Such investment would benefit not just Oldham, but Rochdale, Tameside and—importantly—the north of the city of Manchester. As we rightly point out the imbalance in the UK, we cannot ignore domestic matters closer to home in Greater Manchester. For every 10 jobs that were created in south Manchester in the last decade, only one was created in the north of the conurbation. We cannot carry on like that if devolution is to be a success.

I believe in devolution and will continue to fight for power to be moved away from Whitehall to empower communities—to be honest, devolution as it stands today does not empower those communities. As the former leader of Oldham Council, I worked with others to rally support for devolution to Greater Manchester, and I worked hard to ensure a clear vision for Oldham. It was important to sign up to the deal with the Chancellor, because it is far better to have devolution on terms that we do not necessarily agree with, than to have no devolution at all. It would also be wrong not to challenge where we know that things do not work, and not to push harder when needed.

Without a clear national framework for devolution, it is for the Chancellor to pick and choose who he deals with and what is on offer. The hallmark of devolution so far has been a Treasury power grab from other ministries. The Chancellor had the opportunity to devolve real financial freedoms, but he chose not to. He is quick to give away the power of his fellow Ministers—I am sure Conservative Members will be concerned about that—but evidence suggests that he is not that keen on giving away his own power. Without genuinely reforming central Government and addressing fair funding, the northern powerhouse as a brand is meaningless.

People in Oldham see that the magistrates court and the county court are closing. We do not have a single police custody cell open for a town of nearly 250,000 people. People see youth centres closing, libraries closing, day care centres closing, thousands of staff displaced or sacked, and our positive endeavours for regeneration blocked by central Government. And we are meant to be at the heart of the northern powerhouse!

The political challenge of our time is not how we divide to rule, but how we unite and forge a future where every man, woman and child sees that they have a stake in that future; where there is more to life—there has to be more to life—than just getting by and making ends meet. Oldham MP Winston Churchill once said:

“no one can come into close contact with the working folk of Lancashire without wishing them well”.

I agree with that; it is true. But well-wishers alone are simply not enough. The dark satanic mills that marked the skyline in Churchill’s time have by and large now gone and we are a long way from realising our own Jerusalem. Friends, let us not cease from mental fight, nor shall our swords sleep in our hands, till we have built Jerusalem in Oldham’s green and pleasant land.

19 Jan 2016 : Column 1372

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. We have a lot of speakers: we have 10 to get in. I am not going to put a time limit in place, as I think we can help each other. If Members have up to two minutes each, we will get everybody in.