Railways

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My hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough and Whitby also made his point about the line from Pickering to Rillington junction; he never misses an opportunity to make that point on behalf of his constituents. I do not know whether he has shares in McCain, but he must have constituents who work there.

Lawrie Quinn: A vested interest.

Mr. Jamieson: My hon. Friend points to his midriff and says that he has a vested interest. I am not sure what he means by that. The hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar seems to be saying that he has a vested interest too.

We have heard about fish being transported directly from Whitby to Madrid. To make a lighter point, some of the fishermen who work off my constituency, as well as those who work off that of my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough and Whitby, probably regret that some of the fish is transported directly from the sea to Madrid, in Spanish ships.

The hon. Member for Ludlow donned his anorak. I knew that I had seen him somewhere before; his face looked familiar. He is the guy whom I have seen standing at the end of railway platforms with his little camera and his little notebook. Matthew Green rose—

Mr. Jamieson: The hon. Gentleman is now going to confirm that that is the case.

Matthew Green: I can safely confirm to the Committee that I have never worn an anorak on the end of a railway platform. I have to admit to having no particular interest in trains, and I have never collected train numbers.

Mr. Jamieson: The hon. Gentleman has disappointed me. He looked like a railway buff, but he has completely rejected that idea and rebutted what I said. However, we are always pleased to have clarity. He asked about speeding up the process, and we are anxious to do that. However, he will appreciate that these are matters of considerable complexity and we would not want to progress them with undue haste. We have a capacity to get things

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wrong, and we must move at a pace that is compatible with making sure that we reap the benefits of interoperability and co-operation across the European Union.

I reject what the hon. Gentleman said about dither and delay in modernising the rail system. In recent years we have made a huge leap forward in investing in the rail system, after years of—[Interruption]. The hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar chuckles away to himself, but we witnessed a lack of investment year after year when his party was in Government. That brought us to the situation that we are in now. For the first time for a long time, we have one of the highest levels of investment in rail in the European Union. An enormous amount of money is being spent on the system and we are very mindful that we need to improve it, for the sake both of the movement of freight and passengers and for the success of our economy.

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This has been a good debate. We shall progress with the other countries in the European Union many of the matters that we have discussed, and we know that we want to make changes and improvements to some of the measures.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

    That the Committee takes note of EU documents NO. 5721/02, Commission Communication `Towards an integrated European railway area', No. 5744/02, draft Directive on the safety of the Community's railways, No. 5723/02, Draft Directive amending Council Directive 96/48/EC and Directive 2001/16/EC on the interoperability of the trans-European rail system, No. 5724/02, draft Regulation establishing a European Railway Agency, No. 5726/02, Recommendation for a Council Decision authorising the Commission to negotiate the conditions for Community accession to the Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF), and No. 5727/02, draft Directive amending Council Directive 91/440/EEC on the development of the Community's railways; and endorses the Government's approach to negotiations on these proposals in the Council.

Committee rose at eleven minutes to Twelve o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
O'Hara, Mr. Edward (Chairman)
Dobbin, Jim
Foster, Mr. Michael Jabez
Francois, Mr.
Gibson, Dr.
Green, Matthew
Hoban, Mr.
Lamb, Norman
Quinn, Lawrie
Vis, Dr.

The Following also attended, Pursuant to Standing Order No. 119(5):
Jamieson, Mr. David (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions)
Pickles, Mr. Eric (Brentwood and Ongar)
Caplin, Mr. Ivor (Hove)

 
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Prepared Wednesday 8 May 2002