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Mr Donaldson: My hon. Friend makes a valid point. The other day I was in the lift with Lord Tebbit and I asked after his wife. I think of the Brighton bomb—the Conservative party knows this all too well—which was a blow to the heart of British democracy if ever there was one. I think of Lord Tebbit’s wife. I think of others who died in that attempt by the Provisional IRA to blast British democracy.

As Lord Tebbit himself asked, why is the man who planted the bomb being equated with the victims of the Brighton bombing? With the greatest of respect to the Secretary of State and the Minister, I say that this is not a matter just for the Northern Ireland Assembly; it is a matter for every Member of this House of Commons. We all have constituents who served in Northern Ireland, and many of us have constituents who died or were injured there. They are all victims and survivors. The Minister himself would come under the category of “survivor”, yet he is equated with the very people whom he lawfully was seeking to bring to book and who were holding Northern Ireland to ransom.

My final point concerns an amendment of ours that unfortunately was not debated this afternoon. I disagree with the Minister. The military covenant is not being fully implemented in Northern Ireland. I will send him copies of responses I have had from Departments in Northern Ireland specifically stating that constituents of mine who have undertaken military service cannot benefit from the military covenant because of section 75. I will share that correspondence with him so that he can see our frustration at hearing Ministers deny there is a problem. We, as Members representing constituencies in Northern Ireland, have constituents who served in our armed forces who are not getting the full benefit of the military covenant because of section 75. I hope he will understand our frustration.

Mr Wallace: I share the right hon. Gentleman’s frustration. That is why, when I was appointed, instead of waiting on areas like mental health, I went around the problem, approached Combat Stress and said, “What’s important to veterans and victims is outcomes and getting a service. I’m not too fussed who delivers it. I just want to get the service delivered to them.” I hope that is partly why we have got where we have with Combat Stress, but I am happy to listen to other areas of frustration and see what we can do to deliver the service.

Mr Donaldson: I entirely accept what the Minister has said. I have nothing but admiration for his efforts to ensure that veterans of our armed forces living in Northern Ireland receive the support they deserve. However, I have had constituents say to me, “I have returned to live in Northern Ireland, and the military covenant tells me that I should have access to medical care on the same basis as other residents of Northern Ireland, as if I had lived in Northern Ireland, but I don’t”. The covenant says not that there should be special advantages, but that veterans should not be disadvantaged by virtue of their service. In reality, veterans in Northern Ireland who return to Northern Ireland are being disadvantaged by their service. They go to the bottom of the waiting list, instead of being placed in the list where they would have been had they been ordinarily resident. That is what the military covenant should be doing for veterans, but it is not currently

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delivering. We will be happy to meet the Minister to discuss how we can overcome this difficulty and ensure that the military covenant delivers.

We welcome and support the Bill and the Secretary of State’s ongoing efforts to conclude the other elements of the Stormont House agreement. We stand with her on issues such as national security, and we hope that we will see this matter through to a successful conclusion. We all owe it to the people of Northern Ireland to do so.

Mr James Gray (North Wiltshire) (Con): On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. It might help the House to know that, because of the time available for the following debate and because of the great importance of the business being discussed by right hon. and hon. Friends from Northern Ireland, I do not intend to move the following motion, in the hope that the Backbench Business Committee will allow me to bring it back before the House when we have more time to discuss it.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): The Back-Bench motion will not be moved. That is noted.

4.3 pm

Mark Durkan: Following the right hon. Member for Lagan Valley (Mr Donaldson), I want to make it clear that my party has not set out to oppose the Bill, but in the talks we worked for a better and fuller agreement than we have ended up with in the “Fresh Start” agreement. We also wanted one that was more competent and more cogent, and we feel similarly in terms of the legislation.

In opening Third Reading, the Secretary of State talked about the purposes of the pledge and the undertaking and said they were unequivocal commitments, but contrary to what he said, the debate on the amendments showed that the pledge and the undertaking are actually going to prove equivocal, ineffective and inert. So they will not even be fit for the purpose for which they have been offered, and that is bad legislation on our part. We regret the fact that Ministers remain tied to the idea that the terms of the “Fresh Start” agreement are themselves somehow adequate when it comes to legislation. The fact is that Ministers are pretending that the tyre is only flat at the bottom when they try to say that this is sufficient. The fact is that there are clear difficulties; there are clear gaps. This will not be fit to meet any of the bumps and challenges that we are going to meet in the road ahead, and we can point to experience to prove that.

On the new clauses that could not be fully debated, just as the right hon. Member for Lagan Valley has addressed new clause 5, which his party tabled, to answer some of what the Minister said, I want to make it clear that our aim was never to pre-empt the legislation that is necessary in relation to the past. That is why we would not have supported any amendment on the definition of victims or anything else.

On trying to make provision to establish an implementation and reconciliation group, our new clause did not venture into any of the possible roles that that group might have in respect of the past. It did not trespass on any of the understandings or discussions so far, but it tried to offer what we offered in the talks, consistent with our advocacy of a whole-community approach to achieving a wholesome society and of

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having a tied-in approach by all the parties to taking responsibility for ending paramilitarism and overcoming sectarianism and for moving forward on flags, emblems and all those other issues that the agreement is meant to cover but that are not properly carried forward, unless people think that they are all just stuck in a sin bin to be parked at the office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

One of the inadequacies of the latest version of the Stormont agreement is that too many of the issues that should have been the subject of cross-party approaches and commitments now end up named as Executive approaches and commitments at precisely a time when we are possibly looking at fewer parties being in the Executive. So the effort was made to get a cross-party agreement, but we end up with something that is expressed in the language of the Executive. We do not want a situation where parties not in the Executive in future can disown their leadership responsibilities on these key issues and somehow make a prosecution case against the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister or the parties that occupy that office for the failure to deliver on principles and precepts to which we were all meant to be setting our hand in the Stormont House talks and, indeed, the Haass talks before then.

Some of us have tried to offer broader bandwidth to the implementation and reconciliation group because we want a bigger, better, fuller and more meaningful agreement. We really do fear that some of the parties that support the limited terms of the agreement will be the very people who complain about its inadequacy, as we have heard today. More has been said on some of the issues today than I heard said in our negotiations during the weeks and weeks at Stormont House. It is really is a bit much when parties use this place to table amendments to try to show their difference but condemn the rest of us whenever we are consistent with our arguments in the talks. We are being absolutely consistent with those arguments in our amendments today, and in telling the Government to listen to everything that they have heard in the debate and everything that they will hear beyond it and to try to ensure that we have something that is broader, more sufficient and fit for purpose.

4.8 pm

Danny Kinahan: I will be very brief, but I want to get one message across that I think we all forget: the people of Northern Ireland want to move on and all the parties here want everyone to move on. We want to get the legacy issues sorted out; we want to get somewhere, so I am really disappointed today that we have listened to good arguments on a lot of good amendments but just had a blanket no. The Government could find ways in the Lords to amend the Bill to make it better and still make it work in Stormont. We have something that will not do what is written on the paper. It will fail. I want it to work and we will try our hardest to make it work, but we have really missed an opportunity today.

I served in Belfast in 1983, and losing one soldier from the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment, when we thought we had managed to get through on a blood-free trip, if I may put it that way, is difficult to this day. I am proud to have served there, as are many more, but I feel that we have not moved ourselves on today; we have not

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taken the opportunities that we could have. I want to see us continue to make progress; I want to see things work.

I am concerned about the section 75 idea, because in my view it makes the military look as if we are a minority. The military should always be part of all society: it is not a minority; it reflects all angles. I do not think we have followed the right course there. We need to find a new definition of victims and we need to reflect on how to choose the First Minister and Deputy First Minister into the future. We cannot just keep ducking everything. I am glad that we have spoken today, but I feel that we could have done things much better.

4.10 pm

Ms Ritchie: I rise to speak on Third Reading of a Bill that basically addressed the independent reporting commission, the pledge, the budget and, through our various amendments relating to joint Ministers, the election. We have sought through Second Reading, through Committee and on Report to ensure that the Bill was strengthened, made more meaningful and made more robust. I hope only that the Government have listened and will bring forward appropriate amendments in the other place to deal with these particular issues.

So far, I have not yet heard from the Secretary of State. Perhaps she will drop me a line to say how much money will be made available to the National Crime Agency and to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, when that money will be released and what will be the split between the NCA and the PSNI, particularly in relation to the Independent Reporting Commission.

We tried to raise national security issues on Second Reading, and paramilitarism and criminality are to be addressed, but the Government have invoked and can invoke through this legislation national security, which means the protection of agents. That can impede the very work that we are trying to do. It also means both the Government and the paramilitaries will never be willing to ensure that the full truth about many of those issues is brought to light.

Mr Wallace: Is the hon. Lady saying that we should not invoke national security to protect informers, agents and people who provide information to the security services?

Ms Ritchie: What we are saying, or what I am saying, is that there should be full disclosure of information to ensure that all those who were, shall we say, involved in paramilitary activities are made responsible to the due process of the law. I do not think anybody could disagree with that.

Let me deal with an issue that is not contained in the Bill, but to which reference has been made—the lack of a comprehensive legacy Bill. We have already heard the Lord Chief Justice speaking in Belfast this week about the issue of inquests, referring to the role of the Northern Ireland Assembly. We also heard references made today by the Director of Public Prosecutions to that particular issue. What we need to see—I hope the Government are listening—is a credible legacy Bill that is seen to be credible by victims and survivors alike.

Since the Eames-Bradley report, we have witnessed a dilution of the proposals on the past. I say again that national security cannot be used as a catch-all for lack

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of transparency or to suppress the truth that victims demand and deserve. I just hope that the Government have listened today, and that they will be able—I say this with a level of humility to the Secretary of State and to the Minister—to bring forward amendments in the other place that reflect what was said here today about the pledge of office, the independent reporting commission and the new clause and related comments put forward by my hon. Friends the Members for Foyle (Mark Durkan), for Belfast South (Dr McDonnell) and myself about the implementation and reconciliation group. I note what the Minister said about those issues, but I believe that in the months and years ahead, the Government—in whatever guise—will have to return to those questions and address them. They will not wither on the vine; they will still exist.

4.15 pm

Jim Shannon: It is good to be able to make a contribution on Third Reading. I should like to start by paying tribute to all those who have made this “Fresh Start” agreement possible. Difficult political situations in Northern Ireland require not only strong leadership but selfless leadership, and I believe that many people on this side of the Chamber as well as many outside have contributed to this process. I want to give special thanks to the former First Minister, Peter Robinson, for his hard work in his roles as First Minister and as leader of our party.

I congratulate the Secretary of State and the Minister of State on the long hours that they have put in and the significant contribution that they have made. I do not know how they kept awake in all those meetings, but they did, and they made sure that the business kept moving forward as well. They struck the right balance between those of us who are more sensitive to the past and those of us who have found it easier to move on. I also commend my right hon. Friend the Member for Lagan Valley (Mr Donaldson) for his comments on section 75. The hon. Member for South Antrim (Danny Kinahan) also mentioned that important issue, and I am disappointed that we did not get it sorted out. The veterans who have approached my right hon. Friend the Member for Lagan Valley are the same people who have come to see me in my constituency to discuss the same issues. If we were to convey all those requests from our constituents to the Minister of State, he would have a very full postbag.

I see that the hon. Member for Beckenham (Bob Stewart) is in his place. I should like to put on record the thanks of the citizens of Northern Ireland for the hard work that he has done and the contribution that he has made. I am ever mindful of the Ballykelly bombing; that story resonates with me and it always will. I want publicly to put on record my thanks to him for the leadership he showed on that day.

Bob Stewart: I thank the hon. Gentleman for being so generous about my record in Northern Ireland. I want to back up something that the right hon. Member for Lagan Valley (Mr Donaldson) has said. In 1988, an IRA gun team came to my house in Brussels to kill me. They were stopped because my son Alexander, aged 11, thought that something was fishy about three men asking to speak to his daddy. They went away and they killed two RAF servicemen up the road. The victims were not just in the UK; they were also on the continent of Europe, and probably elsewhere too.

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Jim Shannon: I thank the hon. Gentleman for that contribution. The Lord’s hand was protecting him, as I am sure he knows.

David Simpson (Upper Bann) (DUP): I am sure my hon. Friend will agree that when people at home in Northern Ireland have received the call to put on the uniform of the Crown forces, they have never been found wanting. For them to be denied the full implementation of the Army covenant is nothing short of scandalous, and we need to keep working to achieve that full implementation for those men and women who have done their duty and tried to bring law and order to Northern Ireland. We need to keep working on this.

Jim Shannon: I thank my hon. Friend and colleague for those comments.

In the past few years, the Northern Ireland Assembly has had the longest sustained period of power sharing ever. Indeed, it is set to complete its first full term without suspension or collapse since before the start of the troubles. Let us look at the good things that are happening in Northern Ireland. Let us recognise that devolution is working and has the potential to work, and that under this “Fresh Start” agreement, it will do even more, only this time even better than it has in the past.

The peace has been hard earned and it is still fragile, but despite always being at the forefront of our minds, it is far from being our only achievement. The Assembly has achieved many things, including introducing free travel on public transport for the over-60s and securing Northern Ireland’s single largest investment by supporting Bombardier’s development of the new C series. Heating prices escalated, and we made payments totalling some £22.5 million to 150,000 households, with each household receiving a £150 fuel payment. The list goes on. It is clear that devolution with the Democratic Unionist party at the helm has really delivered for Northern Ireland.

This is a hard-won deal that is good for stability; good for Unionism; good for all parties; and good for Northern Ireland. We now have a real chance to go forth and build on what has been achieved to date. We can continue to build a new Northern Ireland for all of our citizens and for everyone who lives in Northern Ireland. We have learned from our mistakes when it comes to deals. If the deal does not resemble anything close to what we want, we must walk away. We have not walked away this time, because we have a deal. The “Fresh Start” agreement gives us a deal and a basis from which we can move forward. It gives us an opportunity to find a way forward for everyone in Northern Ireland.

It is important that we make the transition from agreement to implementation as smooth as possible. In his last speech as leader to the party conference, our former First Minister, Peter Robinson, said:

“Ulster is no longer at the crossroads—we’re on the motorway and on a clear path to a better future.”

We are very much in that position.

Building on the achievements of the Northern Ireland Executive, led by the DUP, we have secured the exemptions, subsidies and incentives we need to move forward. They include more than £500 million to help Northern Ireland move forward; and up to £2 billion from the UK Government to deal with welfare reform, corporation tax, legacy issues, and public sector reform. There are

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formal structures to deal with the scourge of paramilitarism so that we can confine that episode to the history books where it belongs. The devolution of corporation tax is a game changer. For too long, Northern Ireland has been at a competitive disadvantage with the Republic of Ireland, which has had a much lower rate of corporation tax. With Northern Ireland enjoying relative peace and a highly educated and motivated young workforce, it now has the power to overhaul and revolutionise the Northern Ireland economy, bringing in the real quality, world-class jobs that our young people too often seek on other shores.

The “Fresh Start” agreement does just what it says on the tin: it gives us a fresh start. Let us keep Northern Ireland on that motorway to a better future. Moving forward, we do not under any circumstances want Northern Ireland to be a special case. Indeed, building the new and leaving behind the old still remains the aim. It is hard-earned provisions such as corporation tax and other such measures in this deal that will facilitate the completion of the transformation of Northern Ireland society. We have a much better understanding among our communities, and a much better agreement on where we are going. We have a long-term vision for Northern Ireland that will benefit our children and grandchildren. That is what it is about. Let us get to work, finish the job, have a fresh start from here on in, and keep Northern Ireland moving forward.

4.22 pm

Stephen Pound: As we move from afternoon to dusk, there is a tendency to allow an elegiac mood to suffuse the House, which is why the optimistic and forward-looking comments of the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon)—I would like to call him my hon. Friend—are so, so important. What a fitting grace note to end this afternoon’s discussions. We have today discussed matters of great seriousness—sombre matters, dark matters and worrying matters—but to hear that note from my hon. Friend gives me hope, and I think I speak for the whole House when I say so.

There are two things that are important to say at the end of this Third Reading debate. First, we are actually discussing an agreement. Let us not forget that there was a time not so long ago when it was somehow doubted that there would a Stormont House agreement. It was somehow doubted that there would be a “Fresh Start” agreement. When I see the weary faces on the Government Benches and I think of those long nights, I know that it is a tribute to the individual commitment of Members on both sides of the House, from all parties and from all parts of civic and political society in Northern Ireland that we are actually here today, on the Floor of the House, discussing an agreement and a fresh start.

Secondly, it is important that we have spent an afternoon discussing Northern Ireland. For too long we have tended to speak of Northern Ireland only on occasion of crisis. We tend to speak of Northern Ireland when there is an urgent question or a statement to be made. This is legislation moving forward. This is serious, sensible and sober legislation cementing the bricks in the architecture of a terrorist-free—a paramilitary-free—Northern Ireland. It will allow the innate genius of the people of Northern Ireland to flourish in a way that it

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has never had the opportunity to do. The fact that the people have succeeded in so many cases is a great tribute to their individual genius.

The right hon. Member for Lagan Valley (Mr Donaldson) quite rightly and seriously said that there was no consensus on the definition of a victim. We have considered the matter in great depth this afternoon and that discussion will continue. However, I was cheered and encouraged to hear him press the section 75 point, and I thought I saw the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State indicate that he would look further at the matter. I would like to think that that is one of the positive things that we will take away from this afternoon’s discussion, but we have not heard the end of it. We have not heard the end of the implementation of the military covenant. When I look at the people sitting on the Treasury Bench opposite, I know that there are some powerful advocates for the covenant.

Tom Elliott: I hear what the hon. Gentleman says about the assertion of the right hon. Member for Lagan Valley (Mr Donaldson) about the definition of a victim, and he indicates that he has some sympathy with that. To be fair, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and the Secretary of State also indicated their broad sympathy. However, as my late father used to say, “My pockets are full of that sympathy,” but it does nothing without action. I wonder when there will be action from the Government to do something about it.

Stephen Pound: We have heard advice on the Floor of the House from the Prime Minister’s mother, and we have now heard advice from the hon. Gentleman’s father. They are wise words. It is often said that warm words do not heat a cold house, and we need to see more action. The point that I was making is that I see people on the Treasury Bench who have a commitment to the implementation of the military covenant and experience of forces life, which gives me some cause for optimism.

The important, pertinent points made by the hon. Member for Foyle (Mark Durkan) resonated across the House and must be studied. When he talked about the nature of implementation within the Executive—obviously based on his own experience—he made some points that we cannot resile from and must discuss further. I love his expression about seeking a broader bandwidth. If he was an advertising copywriter, he would have made a fortune by now because he comes up with such wonderful expressions. I think we know what he is talking about and it is another thing to which we will have to return.

Forgive me for saying so, Mr Deputy Speaker, but the hon. Member for South Antrim (Danny Kinahan) made an emotional contribution, and quite rightly so. It came from the strength of emotion. He was absolutely right when he talked about people wanting to move on. He referred to the military being part of society. Let us not forget that, after all, the military are civilians in uniform. They are not a separate breed of people or race. They did not emerge from some test tube somewhere; they are civilians in uniform. Many of us have worn uniform and many of us might wear a uniform in the future. I hasten to add that Her Majesty would have to be very desperate to recall me to the colours. I believe that the Navy has moved on from sails since I left.

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The hon. Member for South Down (Ms Ritchie) raised another point that we will have to consider again: national security. The sensitivity, particularly around the identification of agents, is intensely important, and I understand the strictures to which the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State referred.

This has been a positive experience overall. Some considerable differences have been ventilated, particularly on the issue of the oath, which may well be reconsidered in another place. I cannot speak for the Government— I never could even when we were in government—but I would like to think that, with good will and a fair following wind, there may be the possibility of the matter being considered. The Bill, in its totality and its generality, has the support of the House. We believe that the establishment of the independent reporting commission and the changes to the working of the Assembly, most of which were not contentious, are steps of progress that show a better way forward and should be supported.

It has to be said that further measures must be adopted to tackle paramilitarism, and we have done that this afternoon. Everybody in every speech that has been made has expressed a detestation of those who look back to the days of blood, to the bloody wars and to the paramilitaries’ ruling the streets of Northern Ireland. We all know what a wonderful, incredible place Northern Ireland can be, what a place of stunning beauty and great initiative, entrepreneurship, imagination and wonderful people. When the dead hand of the paramilitaries is taken off, who knows what the people of Northern Ireland will achieve? Who knows how they might flourish even more?

I know that we all wish the Secretary of State and the Minister well in the work that they are doing, but I would like to think that everybody in the House also recognises the incredible contribution, sacrifices and devotion, as well as the sometimes unhappy and unwilling compromises, of politicians in Northern Ireland. We can be proud of the people who represent the people of Northern Ireland. This afternoon we heard much about them at their best.

Northern Ireland is continuing progress towards what we all want to see. A peaceful, prosperous future has taken another small step forward this afternoon. Let the

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words of the hon. Member for Strangford ring in our ears as we go forward towards those sunlit uplands and that peaceful, prosperous future.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.


Newark Free School

4.31 pm

Robert Jenrick (Newark) (Con): The petition is from certain residents of Newark, in Nottinghamshire, in connection with the Newark free school. It refers to “many parents”, but in fact the number of signatures approaches that of most parents.

If ever one were to look for a more compelling case or site for a free school than this one, I doubt one could find it. I urge the Secretary of State and Lord Nash to approve the Newark free school as soon as possible. The petition states:

The petition of residents of Newark,

Declares that the Torch Academy Group’s application for a free school in Newark should be accepted; notes that almost 50% of all secondary school pupils, resident in Newark, are currently being educated at schools outside of the town; further that many parents choose to educate their children at schools outside of the town because they are not satisfied by the academic standards routinely achieved by existing secondary schools in the town; further that over 400 children from Newark are currently being educated at Toot Hill school, Bingham, an outstanding Academy run by the Torch Academy Group; believes that the application provides a once in a generation opportunity to establish a benchmark outstanding secondary school in Newark which all parents of the town can have the confidence to send their children to; further notes that in excess of 200 children have already been registered as prospective pupils for Newark Free School; and acknowledges the outstanding leadership of Mr John Tomasevic, Chief Executive Officer of the Torch Academy Group which is leading the application.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to approve the application for the Newark Free School as soon as possible.

And the petitioners remain, etc.


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Flexible Ticketing: Rail Transport

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Sarah Newton.)

4.34 pm

James Cartlidge (South Suffolk) (Con): It is a great privilege to be called to speak in my first Adjournment debate, Mr Deputy Speaker, and for it to arrive early, which is not something we can always say about trains on the great eastern main line.

The great eastern main line is a massive issue for people in my constituency. Our railways are a key strategic asset and the performance of the line has, frankly, not always been up to scratch. I want to focus on an important part of the line: the ticketing structure, and the annual, monthly or weekly season tickets that my constituents buy. I feel strongly about the availability of part-time season tickets.

I am the first to recognise that hon. Members on both sides of the House have raised this issue and my right hon. Friend the Member for Witham (Priti Patel) has done a lot of work on it. Pressure groups such as Transport Focus have campaigned for it. I am proud to say that it featured in the victorious Conservative manifesto at the last general election, which stated:

“We will also introduce smart ticketing and part-time season tickets.”

Why did I want to secure this Adjournment debate? It is basically due to lobbying from the focus group—the lobby group—that matters more than any other to me: the hard-working commuters and constituents of South Suffolk. To make my case, there is nothing better I can do than to follow the example of the Leader of the Opposition and read two emails from my constituents. I have had many emails about this, but two in particular cover the case for flexible ticketing.

The first is from—

Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con): Rosie.

James Cartlidge: Calm down. It is from Deborah Adams of Sudbury. Sudbury is the main town in my constituency—a beautiful market town; the home of the great Thomas Gainsborough. She writes:

“A few years ago David Cameron announced the phased introduction of flexible season tickets for rail travel. As someone that commutes to London from Sudbury 2-3 days a week, this struck me as a very good idea. However, I have not been able to find out any more about it.

Flexible season tickets are an excellent idea, especially for constituencies like ours where there are large numbers of commuters. Many work from home some days, which makes the price of a regular season ticket of questionable value.

Flexible season tickets would encourage more people to work from home some days, which would reduce overcrowding on the trains, and would benefit South Suffolk, as more people would have time to spend their London wages locally.

It is very old-fashioned to think that workers go to their office every day and we should not be penalised for flexible working.

A system whereby a commuter could say buy 10 day returns for the price of 6-7 would really encourage the flexibility that the modern work force needs when juggling work and family life.

What do you think about this?”

She hits the nail on the head.

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Mr Ranil Jayawardena (North East Hampshire) (Con): Does my hon. Friend agree that his constituent makes a good case for using new technology and the new options in e-ticketing? If it is possible to board a plane using one’s iPhone, would it not be possible to board a train?

James Cartlidge: My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. I will talk about technology later in my remarks.

Another email that hits on some other points is from Russell Badrick, a solicitor who works in London but lives in Nayland, a beautiful village on the Suffolk-Essex border by the river Stour. He says:

“I was born in the constituency, and have recently moved down the road from you, to Nayland. I am a commuter and work in London. I work from home one day a week, and I commute the other four days.

You no doubt must receive a great many messages complaining about the Abellio Greater Anglia Services, which are generally very poor. The notion that they might be nationalised is obviously crazy”—

he is clearly sound. He continues:

“I wanted to ask you if anything was being done to persuade Abellio to introduce flexible tickets? It is becoming increasingly common for people to work from home, yet we are still forced to pay the season tickets for the entire week, month or year. For me, that means paying for 365 days of travel, when in fact I only travel on 208 of these. In fact, when holidays are discounted, I only travel 192 days a year.

On the basis of me paying £5,520 a year (i.e. 15.12 a day), this means I am really overpaying for 173 days a year – i.e. a full £2615.76 – again, obviously crazy.

I appreciate this is a business decision on the part of Abellio, but in this situation I, like many of your constituents, are captive consumers. Can anything be done about this?”

I should add as a caveat that while he talks about £2,615.76, Members—especially my hon. Friend the Member for South Thanet (Craig Mackinlay), who I believe is an accountant—will know that that is taxed income, so the real figure is far more than that.

Robert Jenrick (Newark) (Con): My hon. Friend makes a compelling case. We all know that there is a commuter belt around London and other major towns and cities, but there is a huge economic opportunity for towns and communities just beyond that, from where commuting into a great city full of opportunities, such as London, is possible one or two days a week, but is onerous five days a week. In my constituency, there are 500 people with daily commuter season tickets from Newark to London, but it is very tiring to make that journey every day of the week and most of those individuals do it only one, two or three days a week. Does my hon. Friend agree that we want people to have these opportunities because that brings wealth and new opportunities for fulfilling careers into a whole belt an hour or more further north, south, east and west of London?

James Cartlidge: My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. When I had the pleasure of campaigning in his by-election, I remarked that I was in a beautiful part of his constituency.

Before turning to the points made by my commuting constituents, I want to set the context of South Suffolk. In many ways, it fits the pattern described by my hon. Friend. The key to its beauty is that although we are not that far from London in commuting terms, we really

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feel like we are in East Anglia. There are many beautiful counties in the south-east, but people feel the pull of the M25 and of London. Once they get to South Suffolk, they feel as though they are in a different part of the country. The area has beautiful ancient villages such as Lavenham and Long Melford, which are famous and attract many tourists. Nevertheless, from Colchester, which is an 18-minute drive from my village, we can take the express train and get to Liverpool Street in 47 minutes. Although we are a long way from London in one respect, we are certainly well within commuting distance.

Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab): I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on securing a timely debate. I do not wish to be political, but members of voluntary organisations, such as church people, who have to come to London from Coventry or Birmingham find their travel very expensive. Many of them have retired. Although the operating companies have assured us that they will provide cheap travel, they have not done so. Those people find that they are spending four times more than they would have spent in the past. What does the hon. Gentleman think about that?

James Cartlidge: The hon. Gentleman makes an excellent point. Towards the end of my remarks, I will come on to the question of how we pay for cheaper travel, because the rail operating companies obviously have to find the revenue from somewhere.

I represent a commuting constituency, although fine manufacturing industries are based there, as well as agriculture. I was brought up in Barnet in north London and moved first to Essex. When Emily and I moved our family out to South Suffolk, it was because we wanted to be able to afford a house that had some land and was in a beautiful part of the world so that we could have that quality of life, and because we wanted to move out of the London rush, so to speak.

This issue will become ever bigger. Partly because of London house prices, there will be a great exodus, particularly of professional families, to Suffolk, Kent and so on, right up to Newark. People will move out in search of a better quality of life. If that is their motive, will they still expect to travel five days a week when they face such a long journey? As my hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Robert Jenrick) said, many of them will travel four days a week, and that is my experience. I have noticed a marked number of people on my local trains doing four or three days because the journey is so long.

Mr Alan Mak (Havant) (Con): I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this debate on an important subject. As in his constituency, many of my constituents have moved away from London for precisely the reasons as he articulated. They now travel from stations around the Solent region—Havant, Emsworth and Bedhampton —to London for work. Will my hon. Friend join me in calling on South West Trains and Southern to reflect changing living and working habits in their flexible fare arrangements?

James Cartlidge: I am more than happy to do that. The franchise in our area is Abellio Greater Anglia. My region is fortunate in at least one sense—I am not sure what the score is in my hon. Friend’s region—because the franchise is up. There are three bids going in for it.

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Let me take a few of the key points from my constituents about why we should have part-time tickets and more flexible ticketing. Deborah from Sudbury said:

“It is very old-fashioned to think that workers go to their office every day and we should not be penalised for flexible working”—

I totally agree.

Some years ago, I went to a presentation about voting patterns by a leading American psephologist. He said there are three groups of voters in the country. I cannot remember two of them, but the other was symbolised by a grey cloud. That was not a political point; it was about character and how we appeal to different types of voter. The voters symbolised by the grey cloud had certain features, one of which was that they were moved by newspaper headlines about bad weather, which is quite interesting. However, the most common feature was that they ate their dinner at the same time every day—quite frankly, that describes my late grandad. However, the era of predictability, of nine to five and of everyone doing the same thing all the time is gone; it has been shattered and blown apart by liberalisation and globalisation. That might be a good thing or a bad thing, but it is a fact of life that we and our constituents all face, and our rail ticketing system should reflect that.

Kevin Foster (Torbay) (Con): I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing the debate. Would he say that this is also about reflecting families’ changing lifestyles, in that the 1960s model—the father commuting to work five days a week while the wife was at home with the children—is now gone? With men and women rightly sharing parental responsibilities, they may wish to divide up the days of the week that they work, and season tickets need to reflect that.

James Cartlidge: That is an excellent point. Recent Office for National Statistics data show that between April and June 2015, just over 7.3 million people had a flexible working pattern. By the way, that is people who are employed; it does not include the army of people such as self-employed contractors who go into London a few days a week. We have a flexible labour market and flexible working, but our rail ticketing system is, in effect, stuck in the same Julian calendar that we have had since 46 BC. If that sounds like a long time, hon. Members should wait until they get stuck on a delayed service out of Liverpool Street.

Russell from Nayland made an important point about bad value for money:

“On the basis of me paying £5520 a year…this means I am really overpaying for 173 days a year”

of travel, which is an extraordinary statistic. That means that he is, in reality, paying £2,615.76 or, depending on his tax bracket—if he is a solicitor, I suspect it is 40%—£4,000 or more for those 173 days. That is a big deal, particularly in our region, because an extensive survey recently undertaken by Transport Focus found that just 21% of the commuters on Abellio Greater Anglia were satisfied that their ticket was value for money, compared with 34% on other lines. I realise that I may end up in a competition with hon. Members in the Chamber about whose line has fewer happy customers, but there is no doubt that value for money is a big concern.

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It is fair to say that if there was more satisfaction with value for money in general, the issue of part-time tickets would not actually feature. I get these emails because people feel frustrated that they look hard at what they are getting and think, “Hold on a minute. I’m paying for Saturday, Sunday and Friday.”

Robert Jenrick: Perhaps I could add another point. When we think of those who commute into central London, we tend to think they are on higher incomes, but that is not always the case. I have many constituents who commute into London, but also some who commute into Nottingham and Derby, and some of them might be on very low incomes. The average wage in my constituency is £23,000 a year, and commuting costs, even from Nottingham to Derby, certainly eat into that. One group that came to me recently was made up of apprentices; they do not go to work every day of the week, because, in many cases, they will be doing courses at the local college. They might want to go to Newark College, which they can walk to, one day a week, and do three or four days a week at Rolls-Royce in Derby. A full-time season ticket will eat into their quite modest incomes.

James Cartlidge: Another excellent point.

What is to be done? To go back to my constituents, Deborah suggested this:

“A system whereby a commuter could, say, buy 10 day returns for the price of 6-7 would really encourage the flexibility that the modern work force needs when juggling work and family life.”

There is a word for what she proposes—it is “carnet”—and I must confess that, when I lived in Barnet, I used a carnet. [Laughter.]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Claire Perry): It’s “car-nay”.

James Cartlidge: In French it is a “car-nay”; in Barnet, we called it a “car-net”. It was a small book of tickets that were usually valid for up to three months on the tube, which was very handy and convenient when I was teaching English as a foreign language and did not know which days I would be working. Of course, that has been phased out now that we have moved to the Oyster system. The key problem with the previous system was the absence of technology. If we want flexible ticketing, we need the technology, as my hon. Friend the Member for North East Hampshire (Mr Jayawardena) has said.

Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con): I rise because I am an expert on technology. Train companies could easily do this through the use of technology, but they do not want to do it, because they make a profit out of people such as my hon. Friend’s constituents and mine in outer London. They could easily do it with—what is it?—a part-time Oyster card or something.

James Cartlidge: My hon. Friend makes a powerful point. I will come on to how we would pay for it and the positon of the rail companies.

I want to reflect on the progress that has been made, because there is a lot of ongoing work and it was in our manifesto. To be fair to the Government, in October 2013

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the Department for Transport published its fares and ticketing review, which proposed several schemes to make ticketing more flexible, including long-distance pricing, advance tickets on the day of sale and flexible part-time season tickets. The report stated that the plans could mean

“receiving a discount on season tickets for travelling three days rather than five, or for travelling earlier or later, avoiding the busiest trains, or there could even be an incentive for not travelling on certain days of the week”,

all of which I welcome.

Mr Jayawardena: I thank my hon. Friend for giving way again. He is making a very strong case for flexible ticketing in terms of not only the number of days, but the way in which we manage demand on the railways. Often there is capacity available, but it is underutilised, so flexible ticketing could incentivise us to make better use of our railways. That is particularly true of students; indeed, those in my constituency have said that they would welcome that.

James Cartlidge: That is another very good point.

The south-east flexible ticketing programme is the main system that is being developed. There are many ways to describe it, but I call it the Network SouthEast Oyster: it is the equivalent of Oyster for the south-east overground. The beauty of South Suffolk, however, is that technically we are not in the south-east, but fortunately we are part of the south-east flexible ticketing system. I hope the Minister will tell us more about that programme and the progress it is making.

I wrote to the three companies bidding for the Anglian franchise to ask them what their plans were for flexible ticketing. Chris Atkinson of National Express highlighted that it currently holds the c2c franchise and that flexible season tickets will be offered on that line as early as this summer, so progress is being made.

Jamie Burles of Abellio Greater Anglia explained that the company will be extending two innovative flexible ticketing schemes to customers during the current franchise, which I welcome. The first will be SEFT, which I have described, and he also told me of a live trial with a third-party smart ticketing supplier that is providing a post-travel account-based payment solution—the multi-pass scheme—which is currently being trialled on the Cambridge to London line. The company plans to extend it to other parts of the network in the first quarter of this year.

Craig Mackinlay (South Thanet) (Con): My hon. Friend has identified how technology can solve the problem. It is remarkable how the Oyster system can completely change our approach to tickets and the archaic way of doing things. The situation is similar in my constituency. More and more people are moving there—who can blame them, given that it is a beautiful part of east Kent?—but the cost per year for high-speed rail is more than £6,000. We find that modern working can mean working two or three days a week. I hope that this debate will encourage the train companies to consider their commerciality, because this could be good for them as well as for local residents, who are the key to improving the local economy of those over-50-mile-fringes outside London.

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James Cartlidge: My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. I was about to mention Oyster and technology. In January, Transport for London said that more than a quarter of the capital’s pay-as-you-go transport customers were now using contactless payment, including smartphones and debit cards. That is an extraordinary statistic. Usage has grown incredibly quickly, and that shows the potential of technology. There is no reason why my hon. Friends should not put pressure on bidding companies in their area to take up smart ticketing when the franchises come up.

Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills) (Con): I am envious of other hon. Members who are here today. Some of us do not even have a station in our constituency, so I have to make a plug for a station. Notwithstanding that, I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising that point, because it brings up the broader need for flexible travel and flexible pricing. Can they be used to tackle problems such as congestion?

James Cartlidge: I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention. She has reminded me that I should add, for the record, that I have only one station, Sudbury, in my constituency. The Sudbury line goes to Marks Tey, where it joins the main line. Apart from Sudbury, all the stations on that line are in Essex. Many of my constituents go to Manningtree, Colchester or Ipswich, which is on the main line into London. I am sure that even though my hon. Friend has no station in her constituency, many of her constituents are rail commuters who travel to stations nearby.

I have a few specific questions for the Minister. In a situation like that of Anglia, where we have a live franchise bidding process, to what extent can we still influence that? Given the interest in flexible ticketing, to what extent could the Department for Transport go back to the bidders and ask them to push for better flexible ticketing solutions? Another hon. Member, who could not make it today, asked me how he could get involved with the South West franchise, which is coming up for renewal soon. I suspect other hon. Members will want to do likewise.

On technology, I was struck by the point about the use of smartphones on Oyster. To what extent is smartphone-based ticketing possible with the SEFT system, and how soon could that come about—if, indeed, it is not already coming about through testing?

Finally—I believe that this is unique to my region; certainly, I do not think it applies to other Members who are here—there are live discussions about a combined authority between Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. That is a major step for our part of the world. What powers does the Minister think might be given to an elected mayor or combined authority in relation to ticketing, flexibility and so on? That is a classic example of the sorts of powers they should have.

On cost, I am a businessman by background and a Conservative, so I am well aware that money does not grow on trees, and that if we suggest policies we have to be responsible and explain where the money will come from. As my hon. Friend the Member for South Thanet said, I think that more flexible ticketing will pay for itself, to a certain extent. It will entice a certain type of skilled person—someone who has become a full-time mum, for example—back into the workplace because

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they can commute a few days a week. That will suit their living pattern and their work-life balance. In other words, it will bring new revenue to the companies, so I think they should embrace it and be bold about it.

The other point I would make is that if rail companies would lose a lot of money by introducing part-time tickets, that tells us that they are basing their business model on something that is not sustainable or, dare I say it, even fair. The idea that profits are based on people paying for millions of days that they never use and phantom journeys that they will never take seems quite incredible.

Robert Jenrick: My hon. Friend is being generous in allowing interventions. As other hon. Members have said, there is a huge economic opportunity for rail companies to create a whole new generation—a wave—of commuters beyond the classic 50-mile commuter belt and spread those opportunities another 50 miles or 100 miles outside London. That is a massive financial opportunity for train companies that they will have to harness over the next 10 or 20 years as London becomes an increasingly expensive place to live and commuters look not just to the classic commuter belt, but as far as my constituency in the north midlands.

James Cartlidge: That is the key point. The rail companies really need to embrace that as a positive opportunity to strengthen their revenues and build a new customer base.

The Government need to see the big picture in terms of the wider economy. There is no doubt that this country’s long-standing economic failing has been, and continues to be, relatively low productivity compared with other European nations. However, one of our big assets is our flexible labour force. Every part of our country, our key infrastructure and the way in which we interact with that infrastructure should reflect the fact that we have a flexible labour market and a mobile workforce. That will maximise productivity, and it will ensure prosperity and a better work-life balance for years to come. I say to my hon. Friend the Minister that in the era of flexi-time, we need flexi-fares.

4.59 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Claire Perry): I was wondering when the Adjournment would be moved formally again, but I will get started in the interim. May I start by—

5 pm

Motion lapsed (Standing Order No. 9(3)).

Motion made, and Question proposed,That this House do now adjourn.—(Sarah Newton.)

Claire Perry: I am a former Whip, so I know the tricks. I should say that I will not take all of the remaining time.

I want to commend my hon. Friend the Member for South Suffolk (James Cartlidge) for securing this debate. His constituents are incredibly lucky to have him. The same goes for all my hon. Friends in the Chamber tonight. The class of 2015 is particularly assiduous in campaigning. [Interruption.] Some Members from previous classes are also assiduous. I sometimes feel I am the

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most popular Minister, even though that is not true, because I am the one most frequently lobbied—on train-related issues. I appreciate the opportunity to answer some of my hon. Friend’s questions and to put on the record some of things that the Government are doing.

I first want to unpick what we mean by part-time season tickets. I think the definition is quite confusing. We mean a product that people who work part-time—about 27% of workers do so—can buy to give them, in effect, a multibuy discount. With that product they would not be forced to buy weekly season tickets, but something more suitable for their journeys. My hon. Friend made very good points about grey consumers—is that what he called them?—who sit at home having caught the 18.23 every day. That pattern is changing so dramatically. Technology is liberating many people from the workplace. We know that many more women, in particular, are working part time. The Government are absolutely committed—indeed, we have committed funding—to ensuring that such people can use the rail system effectively. In terms of “car-nay” or “car-net”, depending on how my hon. Friend used to pronounce that word in “Bar-nay” or “Bar-net”, I like to think of carnets as a multibuy discount.

I want to separate out another thing about which the debate has sometimes got bogged down. The decision on multibuy discounts is separate from the decision on ticketing technology. It is perfectly possible—indeed, this happens already—to buy carnets on the rail network, albeit in ticketing form. People can buy 10 tickets for the price of nine, and there are various other options. However, we must be careful not to try to have a big bang to solve all these problems at once. The industry has often hidden behind the excuse that this is all so terribly difficult. For me, it is simply a question of sorting out the right fares to suit this part-time working group, which is separate from the issue of ticketing technology.

As my hon. Friend well knows, because he is a very good businessman, there are a few questions to pick through when we talk about fares. The two main issues are those of cost and timing. On cost, train companies say that if people who currently buy full-time season tickets are suddenly given the opportunity to buy tickets for less, it will lead to less revenue, meaning that somebody will have to pay. My understanding is that only about 10% of current rail travellers work part time, so those numbers may be lower than they are represented to be, but ultimately, if there is an additional cost in the form of reduced revenue for the rail industry, somebody will have to pay. That will be other fare payers, through increased ticket prices—we absolutely do not want that, which is why we have capped rail fares for the duration of this Parliament—or the Government, who will be asked to pay up front or through the franchising process, or the companies, which will have to commit their own capital to make up for the shortfall in fares.

All those points are valid. The Government have committed £132 million to introducing such products during this Parliament, so we are clearly prepared to pay our fair share. However, the measure is slightly crude, because it ignores some of the points very well made by my hon. Friends. There is a series of costs to

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society that are avoided by getting people to use trains, such as the cost of congestion, which we always find very difficult to price.

There is also a massive productivity uplift from getting more people travelling. We know we have a massive skills shortage in this country, so if we can get more people back into work part time and working more effectively, that has to be good for productivity. As we have seen with Transport for London, if people are given slightly more attractive fares, more people will travel, so what a company might lose in value, it will gain in volume. It seems difficult to get people to model that in the round. That is always difficult with any infrastructure investment, but I believe we should be considering these benefits collectively, and that is why the Government have underpinned those programmes with £132 million.

On timing, we can either impose the roll-out on the industry all at once, or we can do it with the franchising competition. My preference is always to do it while franchising, because a competed price is always a better price. We are relying on the franchising process to drive innovation wherever possible, albeit with Government underpinning if we want to do things that cut across the franchising schedule. Many franchising competitions are ongoing, including that in the constituency of my hon. Friend. I cannot possibly say anything about what is happening, because those bids are live and under evaluation, but my hon. Friend knows—he has campaigned assiduously on this—that we have made it clear to bidders that we are looking for a step change in technology, in the customer experience, and in how innovative ticketing solutions are delivered. I am confident that we will start to see progress.

As my hon. Friend said, Abellio Greater Anglia has introduced two forms of ticketing progress. One is underpinned by the Government’s £80 million investment in the south-east flexible ticketing scheme, and we will meet our contractual commitments. SEFT is basically providing a back office for rail companies to offer smart season tickets on a key card basis, and I look forward to launching that product in a couple of weeks from Cambridge station. It will be going live on my hon. Friend’s line, and is already live under other train operating companies in the south-east. Therefore, not only do we have a digital ticket, but there is also the opportunity to build a customer relationship, and to offer things such as season ticket discounts to provide potentially automated compensation in the way that C2C does. That is a good step forward.

Abellio Greater Anglia is trialling the MultiPass scheme that uses low-energy Bluetooth readers across stations, tracks people via their phone and works out their journey patterns, and bills them after the fact. That is a great example of innovation in the industry. My hon. Friend asked whether it was possible to travel using a smartphone, and it is. The m-ticket scheme is already up and running. I went to see it a year or so ago in the north of England, and it is spreading rapidly. It is basically a series of barcodes that are sent straight to a mobile phone. Someone taps that, and it becomes their ticket to travel. It is brilliant and should be much more cost-effective for the operators.

There is a lot of ticketing innovation out there for us to unleash. Rather than sitting around waiting to be told what to do by the Government—who despite the

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best efforts of the brilliant officials in the Department are not necessarily on top of the latest technological revolutions—those companies that are closest to customers should innovate and be prepared to put in their capital and innovation to drive results. We want the franchising process to do that.

My hon. Friend asked me some specific questions. During the franchise, can we go back and influence what is happening with the bidders? The bids we have refer to our terms and conditions, which include fairly specific requirements on smart ticketing and part-time season tickets or multibuy discounts. He will also know—I am proud of this—that this franchise is a step change from where we were five or 10 years ago, as have been the last few franchises that I have let. We are putting in the franchise the highest level of quality scoring—the stuff that faces the passenger—that we have ever seen. We have had other debates on rolling stock, and the quality of that is not what it should be. This franchise will have the highest weighting for improved rolling stock that we have seen so far.

We will also have tough targets to contract for customer outcomes—one might imagine that we would have done that previously, but that has not always been the case. We are contracting to ensure that the punctuality and customer satisfaction targets that we want are an output —we are contracting not for inputs, but for outputs—and I think that we will see a positive result when we assess the various bids for this competition.

My hon. Friend asked about technology. I have mentioned the multi-pass trial, which uses low-energy Bluetooth readers. We already have Smartphones that are using a digital barcode, which can also be printed out, as a way of allowing people to move around the system. A chap on the Moscow metro has his smartcard implanted in his wrist, so he is a human swiper; he just walks through and away he goes. I am not advocating that, although my hon. Friend would perhaps like to pilot it, but we are moving very rapidly in this country to innovate.

I have been shameless in calling for the death of the tangerine ticket. It bothers me that season ticket holders have scrabby old bits of paper that fray and wear out. I am sick to death of feeding my seat reservation coupon through the gate and shuffling through a great raft of tickets. This is 1970s technology and we want a 21st-century transport network. That is why the Government are

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so committed, both contractually and financially, to underpinning this technology.

My hon. Friend asked me about the combined authority, and he knows that we are great fans of devolution. We think that the best way to spend the record levels of investment in the rail programme is by pushing it through to local people—to local authorities—who are best placed to spend it. I must take the opportunity to commend the work that has been done by local councils, local enterprise partnerships and the so-called “Norwich in 90, Ipswich in 60” taskforce. They really have taken an argument about economic value added and used it to shape what they want franchising to look like in the area.

This is an excellent opportunity not only to put on the record the progress that we are making and the Government’s commitment to rolling out the SEFT contractual obligations, but to say that we do not want to stand still and be backing only one technology. There is a world of ticketing innovation out there and we want to be clear that it is to be delivered as soon as possible to customers. The Government stand by ready to underpin some of this, but we expect operators to be looking carefully at the business case themselves and thinking about how they can get people travelling off peak. My hon. Friend the Member for North East Hampshire (Mr Jayawardena) made an important point about that, because the trains are full at the peak but are carrying fresh air for large parts of the day. Let us have a ticketing and fares structure that gets people using those trains, so that we do not have to keep building expensive new tracks and buying new trains to deal with the peak demand.

I remain extremely committed to rolling out what I prefer to call a multibuy discount ticket, although my hon. Friend the Member for South Suffolk has a snappy way with his branding and can perhaps help us to come up with a snappy title for this part-time season ticket thing that we all want, even though we cannot necessarily come up with a good title. The Government are committed to these innovative products as part of the biggest railway investment we have seen in this country since Victorian times.

Question put and agreed to.

5.12 pm

House adjourned.