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The issue of testing has emerged a number of times in this debate. Testing and assessment help heads and teachers to secure the progress of every child. It gives parents the educational information to choose the right school for their child and information on their child's progress, and allows the public to hold national and local government and governing bodies to account for the performance of the school system, which is key. The report advocates testing by stage, not age. My noble friend Lord Layard is right; the Children's Plan has signalled our intention to roll out single-level tests on a national basis. This, of course, is subject to positive evidence from the pilots and the endorsement of the regulator. All schools have progression targets that recognise the achievement of those things that move pupils great distances and focus attention on underachieving groups.

I hope perhaps that we are closer together than noble Lords might think. The OECD's PISA research, published in 2006, shows a correlation between improved school results and the availability of achievement data, even after accounting for sociodemographic factors. Testing is important, but we hear noble Lords' concerns.

The noble Baroness, Lady Garden of Frognal, my noble friend Lord Layard, the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, and many others talked about PSHE, an issue close to our hearts in this House. We have indeed made it clear that we will make PSHE statutory, and of course a great deal of thinking needs to go into how to do that properly.

The question of how we address schools which are not serving their communities as well as they should is being picked up by the National Challenge. We have discussed this previously, but we are investing £400 million in support over the next three years to make this possible.

I am told that I have one minute left; I thought that I had 20 minutes. We have heard an awful lot about the importance of family intervention from my noble friend Lady Massey. Today, as I have said, we launched the child health strategy. Importantly, we are looking at making available programmes to support mothers- and fathers-to-be in preparation for parenthood. That was an important issue in the report. Work is going forward on that.

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The noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, and the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, talked about the importance of fathers. I agree that we need to do more to support them, and that is why we are working hard through the relationship summit. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State is very committed to promoting the importance of fathers.

The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, asked some detailed questions. I know that he is very concerned about the quality of childcare. I hear his points and will write to him with a very detailed response.

Perhaps I may make a few closing remarks about the importance of mental health. We commissioned a review of child and adolescent mental health services. It reported very recently and showed that 62 per cent more funding has been going into this area, and we have seen a 14 per cent fall in recent times in the number of people waiting to be seen by CAMHS. We have established a national advisory council to keep an eye on the recommendations of that review, so that we cannot take our eye off the ball and can make the important developments required. We are delivering the social and emotional aspects of learning in schools around the country, and are putting £10 million into making that happen, along with the £60 million of targeted mental health resources in schools, which will be rolled out to every local authority soon.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester talked about the alcohol challenge in this country. We have seen the Chief Medical Officer's advice to parents on alcohol. We are very concerned that parents understand their role in helping children grow up with a sensible attitude to alcohol.

We should celebrate children and young people, as the most reverend Primate suggested, and all that they achieve. The Government will welcome this report and continue to have the very highest aspirations for all children in this country. We will back parents as they bring up their children, and I believe that we will unlock the talents of all our young people. With schools, children's services, the third sector and government all playing our part, we can ensure that every child has the very best start in life.

2.17 pm

The Lord Bishop of Leicester: My Lords, I know that we are very short of time. I thank everyone who has taken part in the debate, which has ranged widely across some of the most complex questions facing our society, without avoiding the need to look at difficult, but specific, issues. We have avoided complacency on the one hand and excessive problematising of childhood on the other. Whether or not the analysis of excessive individualism stands the test of time, we shall wait to see, but I hope we shall continue to ask ourselves what that is telling us about the nature of the country we inhabit. I am grateful to everyone who has made a contribution. I hope that this debate will give us the courage, determination and resources to take forward the issues and the political will to do so. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion for Papers.

Motion withdrawn.

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Railways: Investment


2.18 pm

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): My Lords, with permission, I shall now repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport on investment in new trains.

“With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement about new investment in our rail network.

The House will understand that, because of the significant and sensitive commercial nature of this announcement, it was necessary to make the information available to the markets in advance of informing the House.

Britain's rail network has been a remarkable success story over the past 10 years. There are more passengers using our trains than at any time since the Second World War-over a billion last year. We have taken decisive action to remedy the failings of privatisation and put in place a stable structure for the long term. We have delivered, to time and on budget, the United Kingdom's first high-speed railway line and, as I announced to the House last month, we have set up a new company, High Speed 2, which has already started work on planning for new high-speed rail services to the West Midlands, the north of England and Scotland.

In order to ensure that our railways remain resilient during the economic downturn and are well placed to support future economic growth, I am determined that we take the necessary steps now to invest in this critical part of Britain's infrastructure.

Our priority is to deal with overcrowding and to increase capacity to meet future demand. That is why we are investing over £20 billion in enhanced rail capacity and new and improved trains to accommodate these record passenger numbers.

Britain's £5.8 billion first high-speed line is now open, and from December this year commuters will be able to use high-speed rail services between London and Kent. Work has already started on the £16 billion Crossrail project, which will link Docklands, the City, the West End and Heathrow. We are upgrading the Thameslink service, bringing more frequent and longer trains to commuters on this critical route. Passengers on the west coast main line are now starting to see the benefits of an £8.8 billion upgrade, which has reduced journey times and delivered more frequent services.

I would like to inform the House today of what we are doing to invest in the next generation of long-distance trains and to make the United Kingdom a centre of excellence for European rail manufacturing.

This morning, I announced to the London Stock Exchange that a British-led consortium of John Laing, Hitachi and Barclays has been chosen as the preferred bidder for the contract to re-equip the east coast and Great Western main lines with new express trains. The high-speed trains that operate on these routes are up to 30 years old. While they have served passengers well, they now need to be replaced by more reliable,

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more efficient and greener trains which can carry more passengers. They will have longer coaches, allowing up to 20 per cent more seats on each train. Faster acceleration will allow journey times between London and major centres to be cut significantly, so a train leaving London will arrive in Leeds or Bristol 10 minutes sooner, Edinburgh 12 minutes sooner and Cardiff 15 minutes sooner.

Faster journey times mean that more frequent trains can be fitted on to the network, and improved reliability will mean that passengers face less disruption to their journeys. Moreover, the new trains will be up to 17 per cent lighter than their existing counterparts, increasing fuel efficiency. Modern braking systems will further drive down energy consumption.

This contract, worth some £7.5 billion, is the biggest single investment in intercity trains in a generation. It involves the construction and maintenance of up to 1,400 new vehicles. The first of these new trains will enter service in 2013 and, over the following years, they will provide high-quality journeys to passengers between London and destinations across the United Kingdom, including Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Bristol, the Thames Valley and south Wales.

The trains will also be able to run on both electrified and non-electrified lines. This means that through trains will be able to run from the electrified to the nonelectrified parts of the network. That is why I have announced, in parallel to the introduction of these trains, that we are developing plans for the electrification of the Great Western and Midland main lines. This will allow us to deliver the widest possible range of high-quality services for passengers.

This announcement is good news for UK jobs, as well as good news for rail passengers. As part of the contract, the winning consortium has agreed to make a significant inward investment into the United Kingdom in order to construct a new state-of-the-art train assembly and manufacturing facility. I expect that nearly three-quarters of the value of this order will be spent in the UK, benefiting the UK economy and providing UK jobs.

The exact location of the new factory remains subject to further negotiation by the company, but it has confirmed to me that it will be in the east Midlands, Yorkshire or the north-east. In addition, new maintenance depots will be built at Bristol, Reading, Doncaster, Leeds and in west London, with upgrades to existing depots throughout Great Britain. This means that new manufacturing jobs will be created and maintained in these regions, and many more jobs will be safeguarded across the country in the supply chain.

In all, I estimate that in the order of 12,500 long-term jobs will be created or safeguarded as a result of this announcement today.

As honourable and right honourable Members will be aware, Japan is one of the most advanced nations in the world in high-speed rail and new rail technology. Its trains have extraordinarily high levels of reliability and speed. Meanwhile, the rail industry is expanding right across Europe, with countries such as France, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy investing in high-speed

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rail and new train fleets, as well as significant new opportunities in the countries of central and eastern Europe.

By bringing together UK and Japanese technology, design and manufacturing capability, we will give the UK a still stronger bridgehead into the fast-developing European and international rail markets in the same way as the entrance of Toyota, Honda and Nissan into the UK have done with the automotive industry. This will mean that the UK continues to develop as a centre of excellence in train manufacturing, enabling the country to become a key player as what was once a domestic rail industry now becomes increasingly an international one.

The Government's investment in the UK rail industry means that, in addition to this announcement, orders for a further 2,200 train carriages worth over £2.5 billion are already confirmed or in the pipeline. Today, I can confirm as well that the department is in advanced discussions with National Express East Anglia to provide 120 new carriages to renew and expand the train fleet operating on the West Anglia route between Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport. The preferred bidder for these trains is Bombardier Transportation UK Ltd, which plans to assemble these new carriages in Derby, safeguarding jobs there.

A further order worth £400 million-as part of the fiscal stimulus package announced by my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer-will be awarded shortly. Once again, Bombardier is well placed to win this order. There is another £2 billion order for 1,200 carriages for Thameslink, for which a preferred bidder will be announced later in the year.

These orders demonstrate that this Government are prepared to invest, even in difficult economic times, in improving our national infrastructure.

This announcement is real good news: good news to workers that up to 12,500 jobs will be created and safeguarded; good news for the economy that we are putting the UK back at the forefront of international manufacturing industry; good news for the regions that the Government are supporting significant inward investment; and good news for passengers that we are taking the steps necessary to improve their rail journeys”.

I commend this Statement to the House.

2.27 pm

Earl Attlee: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for repeating the Secretary of State's Statement in response to yesterday's announcement of our rail review by my honourable friend Theresa Villiers. We welcome the announcement of new investment but I have a few points to make and some pertinent questions.

The third paragraph of the Statement excited me somewhat. The remarkable success of the UK rail industry did not start in 1997; it started after privatisation in 1994. The Statement says:

“We have taken decisive action to remedy the failings of privatisation and put in place a stable structure”.

I accept that privatisation was difficult, and the initial solution was never going to be perfect, but it worked. Why else was there the success that the noble Lord's Statement refers to? However, the only strategic

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action by the Government that I can recall was to create the Strategic Rail Authority and then abolish it within three years.

The Statement rightly referred to the CTRL, now known as HS 1. The CTRL was announced in this House by, I think, my noble friend Lord Caithness, so it was started and planned by a Conservative Government.

The Statement refers to £20 billion of investment. That is very welcome, but can the Minister provide a spreadsheet to all noble Lords taking part, together with a copy for the Library, so that we all know how that £20 billion is made up?

The Statement indicates that faster journey times mean that more frequent trains can be fitted on to the network, resulting in more capacity. That must be correct but is it not true that the biggest problem is signalling constraints and the unreliability of the signalling system? What can be done to improve that?

We really need to know what we are talking about with the IEP. Apparently, these are lightweight, high-capacity, dual-powered trains of high efficiency. Indeed, I understand from the industry that the IEP has been “specced” to within an inch of its life by the DfT, no doubt with the benefit of large numbers of external consultants. I also understand that this new stock will be very similar to the Javelin trains now being tested for the HS 1. Presumably the diesel engines, generators, motors, the highly sophisticated control gear and the bogies will all come from Japan. Then the new UK factory will build the carriage body and fit the important major components to it. This build process is key to our correct understanding of the Statement. If my assumptions are wrong I am sure that the Minister will correct me because he would not want the House to be misled.

There is some concern about the future of the Bombardier works. What are its prospects? He mentioned a small order, but what is the long-term viability of the Bombardier works? There is confusion about how much rolling stock is on order, particularly the 1,300 carriages that we keep hearing about. Will the Minister be able to provide all noble Lords and, again, the Library with a comprehensive spreadsheet showing what is planned to be on order with Treasury approval, what is on order and what has recently been delivered? All noble Lords would find that very helpful. I hope that I have left plenty of meat on this bone for other noble Lords to pick on, and I look forward to the Minister's reply.

2.31 pm

Lord Bradshaw: My Lords, in contrast to the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, I welcome this timely Statement.

Earl Attlee: My Lords, I did welcome the announcement of the investment.

Lord Bradshaw: My Lords, the noble Lord did so in a very mealy-mouthed fashion, if I may say so. This is the sort of sensible, countercyclical investment that we want. I am not saying that any investment is good, but if you are investing in long-term assets for the future of the country, we all hope that these will be put to full

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use in the future. I am also grateful for the announcement about the other train orders, which I understand are still in the pipeline and will secure the future of the Bombardier works which, together with the work it has from London Underground, should see it well suited for the future.

It is slightly dangerous to say that this will make us the centre of European rail excellence because there are such huge differences between the type of trains we can use here and those that are used on the continent. But I am not saying that we cannot find other markets for the products that we buy.

I noted in paragraph 10 of the Statement that the east coast and the great western main lines will be re-equipped. I wonder what the Midland main line will be equipped with if, as expected, the electrification of that line is announced. Are the trains from the east coast going there? What will happen? With reference to the high speed trains being up to 30 years old, it was coincidental that I asked the Minister yesterday in a Written Question whether consideration had been given to further use of these trains that are among the most popular in the railways in Britain, certainly since the war.

I thought that the time savings in paragraph 12 were very modest. If the Minister were to look back to a British Rail timetable of the mid-1980s, he would find that those time savings were there then. Since privatisation the timetable has been padded out for various reasons, and trains have been slowed down. I would hope to go even faster, which requires some proper strategic thinking about railway timetables, stopping patterns and maintaining high speed once it has been achieved. If trains keep stopping they use a lot of energy and lose a lot speed. Will the maximum speed of the new trains be 125 or 140 miles per hour? I assume that the trains will run on the existing signalling system, plus such modification as is made in the mean time.

In paragraph 16 I challenge the mention of bimodal trains. That should be at the back of the programme, as it were. If we are to electrify the Midland main line and the great western main line, there will be less and less use for a bimodal train. As far as I can tell there is nothing to prevent these new trains being hauled by a locomotive to the peripheral destinations, say Aberdeen or Penzance, although I imagine the people there do not like being described as being on the periphery.

I do not endorse the comments of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, but now that the project is in the hands of Hitachi, Barclays and John Laing, will the department let the project go? I caution him against the fact that if you keep going back to alter a huge contract, the cost goes up and up. The contractors will take you to the cleaners.

I broadly welcome the Statement. I certainly welcome what was said about the other trains that are coming, and I am sure that almost everybody in the railway community will be very happy that such a large investment in addition to what has already been invested will be made available.

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2.37 pm

Lord Adonis: My Lords, I greatly welcome the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw. He speaks with all the authority of a former rail manager, and I know that his remarks will have a wide resonance outside the House. I note the remarks of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee. I am not sure that it is particularly fruitful to have a debate about the history of privatisation, but I simply note that he himself described it as “difficult”. I regard that as the understatement of the day in your Lordships’ House. It was not the issue of the regulation of the industry which was one of the biggest that we had to sort out. I accept that it took us some time to sort it out because, to use his phraseology, it was in a very “difficult” state when we inherited it. He did not mention the collapse of Railtrack and the privatisation of the track authority which was one of the major problems with privatisation that took us some years to overcome.

I shall move on rapidly to the area of consensus—sorry, before doing so I must immediately refer to Aberdeen and Penzance otherwise I will subject to great criticism by my noble friends who come from those areas. Let me say immediately that I do not regard them as peripheral. Her Majesty’s Government regard Aberdeen and Penzance as integral parts of the United Kingdom, and we believe that they deserve a first-rate intercity train service. We intend to see that they continue to receive one. Indeed, part of the virtue of the super express train is its bimodal capacity, which will allow it to run to destinations off the electrified network, providing a first-class service to those destinations.

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