11 July 2011 : Column 129

Mr Clarke: Compensation for victims has been established here for very many years. We would like to see good standards established throughout the European Union because British subjects are victims of crime when they travel and should be entitled to compensation. We have to get the balance right between the proportionality that the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent South talked about and the excessive burdens that my hon. Friend the Member for Stone warned against. That is the kind of thing that we can do in the detailed negotiations that will undoubtedly have to take place before the directive can be applied.

I welcome this debate. The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent South raised, as he was quite entitled to, all kinds of aspects of victim support of a wholly domestic nature to which we will pay attention, as we are hoping to modernise our own code. I assure right hon. and hon. Members that we work very closely with the victims commissioner in this whole field and greatly value the contribution that she makes as an advocate of the victim’s cause. I also assure Members that decisions on opt-ins are guided, in the end, by what we regard as in the interests of British citizens and the national interest within the European Union. However, I take on board the feeling in the House that increased co-operation in this respect is plainly desirable as a benefit to all those Europeans who travel frequently throughout the Union. We will certainly take on board the views expressed by Members who have taken part in the debate when we take our decisions on all these subjects.

Question put and agreed to .


That this House takes note of European Union Documents No. 10610/11 and Addenda 1 and 2 relating to the Draft Directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, No. 10613/11 and Addenda 1 and 2 relating to the Draft Regulation on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters, No. 10612/11 and Addenda 1 and 2 relating to a Commission Communication–strengthening victims’ rights in the EU and the unnumbered Explanatory Memorandum dated 16 May 2011 relating to a Council Resolution on a Roadmap for strengthening the rights and protection of victims, in particular in criminal proceedings; and welcomes the opportunity to consider views on whether the UK should opt in to the draft Directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims and the Draft Regulation on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters.

Business without Debate

deferred Divisions

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 41A( 3 )),

That, at this day’s sitting, Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) shall not apply to the Motion in the name of Mark Hoban relating to International Monetary Fund.—(Mr Vara.)

Question agreed to.

Draft Financial Services Bill (Joint Committee)

Motion made,

That this House concurs with the Lords Message of 21 June, that it is expedient that a Joint Committee of Lords and Commons be appointed to consider the draft Financial Services Bill presented to both Houses on 16 June (Cm 8083).

11 July 2011 : Column 130

That a Select Committee of six Members be appointed to join with the Committee appointed by the Lords to consider the draft Financial Services Bill presented to both Houses on 16 June (Cm 8083).

That the Committee should report on the draft Bill by 1 December 2011.

That the Committee shall have power—

(i) to send for persons, papers and records;

(ii) to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House;

(iii) to report from time to time;

(iv) to appoint specialist advisers; and

(v) to adjourn from place to place within the United Kingdom.

That Mr Nicholas Brown, Mr David Laws, Mr Peter Lilley, David Mowat, Mr George Mudie and Mr David Ruffley be members of the Committee.—(Mr Vara.)

Hon. Members: Object.

Business of the House (13 July)

Ordered ,

That, at the sitting on Wednesday 13 July, notwithstanding paragraph (2)(c)(i) of Standing Order No. 14 (Arrangement of public business), opposition business may be proceeded with until 7.00 pm; and proceedings shall then lapse if not previously disposed of.—(Mr Vara.)

Business of the House (18 July)

Ordered ,

That, at the sitting on Monday 18 July, the Speaker shall put the Questions necessary to dispose of proceedings on the Motions in the name of Secretary Chris Huhne relating to National Policy Statements not later than 9.00 pm; such Questions shall include the Questions on any Amendments selected by the Speaker which may then be moved; proceedings may continue after the moment of interruption; and Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) shall not apply.—(Mr Vara.)

Delegated legislation

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

International Monetary Fund

That the draft International Monetary Fund (Increase in Subscription) Order 2011, which was laid before this House on 13 June, be approved.—(Mr Vara.)

The House divided:

Ayes 274, Noes 246.

Division No. 320]

[10.10 pm


Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Alexander, rh Danny

Amess, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Norman

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Birtwistle, Gordon

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Mr Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bradley, Karen

Brake, Tom

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Brine, Mr Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, Annette

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Malcolm

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, Paul

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Cairns, Alun

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Chishti, Rehman

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, Stephen

Crockart, Mike

Crouch, Tracey

Davey, Mr Edward

Davies, David T. C.


Davies, Glyn

de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Mr Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, Michael

Featherstone, Lynne

Field, Mr Mark

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Gale, Mr Roger

Garnier, Mr Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Glen, John

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Damian

Greening, Justine

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Hames, Duncan

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Matthew

Hancock, Mr Mike

Hands, Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Heald, Oliver

Heath, Mr David

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Hemming, John

Hendry, Charles

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hollingbery, George

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Mr Gerald

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Huhne, rh Chris

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Huppert, Dr Julian

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, Sajid

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kennedy, rh Mr Charles

Kirby, Simon

Laing, Mrs Eleanor

Lamb, Norman

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Laws, rh Mr David

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lloyd, Stephen

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Luff, Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Maude, rh Mr Francis

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

Mensch, Louise

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Patrick

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, Maria

Milton, Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Moore, rh Michael

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Mundell, rh David

Munt, Tessa

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

O'Brien, Mr Stephen

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Paice, rh Mr James

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Penning, Mike

Penrose, John

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reid, Mr Alan

Robathan, rh Mr Andrew

Robertson, Hugh

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rogerson, Dan

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Bob

Rutley, David

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simmonds, Mark

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Miss Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stunell, Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Swales, Ian

Swayne, Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thurso, John

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, Elizabeth

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Walter, Mr Robert

Ward, Mr David

Watkinson, Angela

Weatherley, Mike

Webb, Steve

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Willetts, rh Mr David

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Roger

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Willott, Jenny

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wright, Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Yeo, Mr Tim

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mark Hunter and

Bill Wiggin


Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Alexander, rh Mr Douglas

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Ashworth, Jon

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Baker, Steve

Balls, rh Ed

Banks, Gordon

Barron, rh Mr Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Begg, Dame Anne

Benn, rh Hilary

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Binley, Mr Brian

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blears, rh Hazel

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Bone, Mr Peter

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Campbell, Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cash, Mr William

Chapman, Mrs Jenny

Chope, Mr Christopher

Clappison, Mr James

Clark, Katy

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Coaker, Vernon

Connarty, Michael

Cooper, Rosie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Crausby, Mr David

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Tony

Curran, Margaret

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

David, Mr Wayne

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, Philip

Davis, rh Mr David

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobbin, Jim

Dobson, rh Frank

Docherty, Thomas

Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Dowd, Jim

Doyle, Gemma

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Engel, Natascha

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Field, rh Mr Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Francis, Dr Hywel

Gapes, Mike

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Goggins, rh Paul

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodman, Helen

Gray, Mr James

Greatrex, Tom

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Gwynne, Andrew

Hain, rh Mr Peter

Hamilton, Mr David

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Havard, Mr Dai

Healey, rh John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendrick, Mark

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Heyes, David

Hillier, Meg

Hilling, Julie

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hood, Mr Jim

Hopkins, Kelvin

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Irranca-Davies, Huw

James, Mrs Siân C.

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Jowell, rh Tessa

Joyce, Eric

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Kelly, Chris

Kendall, Liz

Lavery, Ian

Lazarowicz, Mark

Leigh, Mr Edward

Leslie, Chris

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Lewis, Dr Julian

Lloyd, Tony

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Long, Naomi

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Ian

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mahmood, Shabana

Main, Mrs Anne

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McCartney, Karl

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGovern, Jim

McGuire, rh Mrs Anne

McKechin, Ann

McKinnell, Catherine

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Michael, rh Alun

Miller, Andrew

Mills, Nigel

Morden, Jessica

Morrice, Graeme


Morris, Grahame M.


Munn, Meg

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

Nash, Pamela

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Donnell, Fiona

Offord, Mr Matthew

Onwurah, Chi

Osborne, Sandra

Owen, Albert

Pearce, Teresa

Percy, Andrew

Perkins, Toby

Phillipson, Bridget

Pound, Stephen

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reckless, Mark

Redwood, rh Mr John

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reevell, Simon

Reeves, Rachel

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Riordan, Mrs Linda

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Mr Frank

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Ruddock, rh Joan

Sarwar, Anas

Seabeck, Alison

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Shepherd, Mr Richard

Sheridan, Jim

Shuker, Gavin

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Henry

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Spellar, rh Mr John

Straw, rh Mr Jack

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Stuart, Mr Graham

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Tami, Mark

Tapsell, Sir Peter

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Turner, Mr Andrew

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, Valerie

Vickers, Martin

Walker, Mr Charles

Watts, Mr Dave

Weir, Mr Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wicks, rh Malcolm

Williams, Hywel

Williamson, Chris

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Wood, Mike

Woodcock, John

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Noes:

Phil Wilson and

Gregg McClymont

Question accordingly agreed to.

11 July 2011 : Column 131

11 July 2011 : Column 132

11 July 2011 : Column 133

11 July 2011 : Column 134

11 July 2011 : Column 135

Carnforth Station

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

Mr Speaker: In calling Mr David Morris, I appeal to Members leaving the Chamber to do so quickly and quietly, so that the hon. Gentleman can be courteously heard.

10.24 pm

David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale) (Con): Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is a privilege to speak this evening on a subject that is close not only to my heart, but to the hearts of my constituents. Many in the House would not know the relevance of Carnforth station other than knowing that it was the site for the filming of “Brief Encounter”. Since then, however, the station has unfortunately fallen into disrepair, and during the Beeching era all the trains were brought to Carnforth to be scrapped. Today, I am imploring the Minister to take on board my remarks because Carnforth station is the centre of the railway universe in this country. Everything passes through it from Edinburgh to London but nothing stops there.

I thank the Minister for being here to listen and respond to this important debate. I must stress that I speak for the whole community of Carnforth. That community has been built up from a railway town. Years ago the nearest major town was Warton, where the Washingtons were from, but then Carnforth developed because it was a railway town. Eleven years ago, a friend of mine, Peter Yates MBE, whom I am pleased to say is here today, brought the community together and raised £1.4 million to rebuild this historic station not just for the sake of the station, the community, the “Brief Encounter” café and the iconic clock—if anybody goes to Carnforth, they will see just what an amazing place the station is—but so that the station can be used as a railway station once again.

Although we would not have used the phrase at the time, this was a big society project—before the phrase was even coined. The community is united in asking for help for the next step in reopening the west coast main line and the trans-Pennine platforms. However, we are in a Catch-22 situation. The trans-Pennine and west coast main line trains cannot stop at Carnforth because there are no platforms there—it is a chicken and egg situation. Carnforth was not even included in the route utilisation strategies report to any great extent because the trains could not stop there, yet everything goes through it. We cannot put the platforms in, however, until the rail operators agree to stop there.

As a community, therefore, the people of Carnforth have suggested that we take the bull by the horns and request that we start negotiations with the Department for Transport and Network Rail to start rebuilding the platforms. We need to cut through this Catch-22 situation, which is nobody’s fault but is highly damaging to the whole community. We envisage a future in which trains from north, south, east and west will use Carnforth as a hub for north Lancashire and the south lakes. With all the will in the world, Oxenholme is, with respect, too small to be the hub. We have tried it for many years but it has not worked. The Lake district is full of cars because existing rail services cannot cope with the capacity.

11 July 2011 : Column 136

I recently spoke to Chris Gibb from Virgin Trains about this subject, and happily he agreed that Carnforth is in a strong position to be a rail-ride hub. Not only do we have the space and direct and fast access to the Lake district via the M6; we have a comprehensive road network in the area. Virgin was clear that anything that pushed more lakeland tourism into the west coast main line would get its support, and now we have agreed an action plan under which Virgin will agree to stop trains there if it is satisfied with Carnforth. We also have the solid support of Councillor Tim Ashton, the head of transport at Lancashire county council, who was good enough to accompany me to the last meeting we had with the Department.

It is not only tourists who would benefit from these platforms being rebuilt. At the moment, it is hard to travel between the Furness peninsula and Kendal. It would be an easy and short journey if passengers could change at Carnforth and it would enable ease of access to the lakes for those on the east coast. Enabling commuters to move around our area by public transport would bring huge economic and environmental benefits to north Lancashire and the south lakes. When the now Minister of State, Department for Transport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mrs Villiers) visited Carnforth during the election, the train stopped in the station for 10 minutes. That was my cue to get her to Lancaster. If anybody has ever driven around Lancaster, they will know that it is the biggest car park in Europe. I had to park the car up, transport myself through the streets and put her on the train that had stopped at Carnforth half an hour before.

With an expanding population and given the space that it needs to grow, it seems logical to give Carnforth the chance to live up to its potential. This Government have already taken important steps to boost connectivity in our area. They have started the first serious negotiations on open access to the west coast with Alliance Rail. For those right hon. and hon. Members who are not familiar with the proposal, Alliance plans to run services in competition with Virgin using free space in the timetable. Those services would use brand-new hybrid trains, which are good for the environment and would enhance the whole network. Because the services would go to Barrow rather than Glasgow, they could stop at the existing platforms at Carnforth and provide a direct London service, but that welcome new service would be even better with our new platforms. The proposal is very welcome, and I think I speak for everyone in my constituency, and certainly for the community in Carnforth, when I say that I hope the negotiations will lead to Alliance Rail becoming a reality.

The Government, despite opposition, are pushing ahead with High Speed 2. Once HS2 is built, we will be able to stop west coast trains at many more stations. We want Carnforth to be one of the stations that benefits, and with the platforms already in place we would be a prime location. But we could also offer lots in return, enabling west coast passengers to enjoy all the benefits of rail ride that I talked about earlier. This would be a real integrated transport system whose benefits would far outstrip the cost of the platforms.

On the subject of cost, the £1.4 million previously raised by my friend Peter was not from Department for Transport rail budgets; it was raised through one-off grants and local fundraising. If we get permission to build the new platforms, I would like to stress that we

11 July 2011 : Column 137

will not come with a begging bowl to either the Department or Network Rail. We will raise our own funds for our project. That is unheard of, but we can do it. We have already rebuilt the station from a shell, and we can re-lay the platforms. In a time of difficulty, it is only fair that we pay our way, and we are doing that, as people in Carnforth have always done.

Today, I have tried to sketch out in the simplest detail why this complex proposal would have huge benefits for our region. Clearly, I have left out certain details because of time and complexity, and as this is the last speech of the day, I am sure that we would all like to go home. However, this is very important for the whole community in Carnforth, including the Railway Trust. Peter Yates has prepared an excellent report that I am happy to supply to anyone who requests it. We have everything in place to be a real transport hub—except the platforms. We are committed as a community to put them in; we just need Government support.

I know that this is a strange request, but let us look at the benefits. We are not going to ask for any Government money. We have a proven track in our community projects of rebuilding and the whole community is behind the proposal. This is the big society in its highest form. We want to integrate with an infrastructure network that has been serving our country for more than 100 years, and I would like to ask for formal negotiations to begin, so that we can talk to everyone concerned about re-establishing the platforms for the benefit of the whole community of Carnforth.

10.33 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Norman Baker): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lunesdale (David Morris) on securing this timely debate on the important subject of platforms at Carnforth station, and on enabling us to have this brief encounter tonight. He has set out with great clarity the arguments in favour of reinstating the fast-line platforms at the station, and his passion and commitment cannot be doubted. I also pay tribute to the work carried out by local people in restoring the station to its former glory.

In 1945, David Lean filmed his romantic classic “Brief Encounter”, starring Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard, at Carnforth station. Many will remember the key role that the station played in the film. The image of the station clock remains resonant for many filmgoers, as my hon. Friend mentioned. However, a long period of decline set in, following the Beeching era. By the early 1990s, the once splendid station had fallen into disrepair. The Carnforth Station and Railway Trust Company Ltd was formed as a local initiative in November 1996 to restore the derelict buildings. A £1.5 million project was commenced in late 2000 in co-operation with Railtrack. After three years’ work, the Brief Encounter refreshment room and visitor centre was opened on 17 October 2003. That represented a remarkable achievement by local people in the Carnforth area, which I commend.

As my hon. Friend explained, local ambitions at Carnforth now focus on the reinstatement of the mainline platforms at Carnforth station, which closed in 1970. However, it would not be possible to discuss the reinstatement of the mainline platforms without referring to the planned developments for inter-city rail services on the west coast main line.

11 July 2011 : Column 138

In January, the Government issued a consultation on the specification for the new inter-city west coast franchise, which is due to commence in 2012 and will replace the current Virgin Trains rail franchise. The current franchise operates more than 300 train services a day, delivering more than 26 million passenger journeys and 3.2 billion passenger miles a year, providing train services along the west coast main line from Euston to Glasgow in Scotland. It serves the key cities of Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow, and north Wales. Passenger growth has shown a continuous increase since 2003. The effects of the volcanic ash clouds in 2010 and earlier this year and the associated aviation disruption have contributed to a considerable modal shift from air to rail—something that the Government very much welcome for climate change reasons. The objectives for the new franchise set out in January therefore include exploiting the full potential of the route and maximising capacity.

The Government believe that the former system of franchising had become too prescriptive at the point of bidding and lacked flexibility once operational. A new franchising system has been devised to facilitate and encourage significant private investment, and is designed to deliver important benefits for passengers. The Government also believe that longer franchises are necessary to encourage such investment, build successful long-term working relationships with Network Rail, focus franchises more strongly on the quality of outcomes for passengers and deliver the best possible value for money for the taxpayer in a highly constrained public spending environment.

Where does all that fit in with the Carnforth station platform request? Let me turn to the local aspirations for the station once again to become a stop on long-distance services. It is important to emphasise that both the current Virgin Trains franchise and the new inter-city west coast franchise have to accommodate many different markets. A key issue in any proper consideration of the matter is whether a proposal to stop London train services at reinstated platforms at Carnforth would work operationally and commercially. Initial analysis by the Department suggests that a call at Carnforth would require a stop at another station to be deleted. Therefore, a potential gain at Carnforth would result in a disbenefit to passengers from other stations on the route. Obviously that would require some hard and careful decision making.

David Morris: I should point out that Virgin trains stop in Carnforth for 20 minutes in the morning and evening, but they do not let passengers on. I spoke to Chris Gibb about this subject less than 12 months ago, and he said that if we had the platforms, those trains could take passengers on. The issue is something to do with the schedule for cleaning the trains.

Norman Baker: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that information, which I was not aware of. I will investigate that to see whether it represents a way forward. My point, however, is that there is a potential trade-off between extra stops on the service and the speed of the journey between two key points where the main market is. In an ideal world, we would obviously like to meet both requirements—the local aspirations that exist, as

11 July 2011 : Column 139

well as the need to get longer-distance traffic transferred from air to rail—and journey times are key to delivering that. However, I will certainly look at his point, which is valid.

It is fair to say that the west coast main line is heavily used in the Carnforth area, with up to three long-distance services an hour between London, Birmingham or Manchester and Glasgow or Edinburgh, plus regular freight services. Those trains are already popular and well loaded. Capacity problems already exist, and growth in demand continues. Indeed, it is interesting to note that, even in the recession, we have seen buoyant markets for rail that have continued to expand at a time when other forms of transport have not seen the same response. Despite the £8.8 billion upgrade, the west coast main line is already suffering some congestion when it comes to access for freight services and local services, so we have to ensure that the line is used to best capacity.

Network Rail’s route utilisation strategy for the west coast main line was published on 1 July. It corroborates the heavy usage of the line and the resulting capacity issues, but as my hon. Friend said, it did not consider the reinstatement of the platforms at Carnforth. The Department’s analysis is that journey times would be increased by around five minutes to accommodate calls at reinstated platforms at Carnforth. That has to be borne in mind and weighed against the significant journey savings and more frequent services that have resulted from the upgrade to the west coast main line. London to Glasgow is now 30 minutes quicker than it was before the changes, with a very competitive four hour and 50 minute journey time, while trains from Manchester airport and Birmingham to Glasgow and Edinburgh are now around 20 to 30 minutes faster.

These enhancements have delivered significant revenue growth since December 2008 and increased rail’s share of the total travel market on the routes served by the west coast main line. These are markets rail serves well and there are strong calls for further journey time reductions, as my hon. Friend will recognise. All these and a number of other issues mean that stopping long-distance London services at Carnforth would probably involve a number of trade-offs that are less straightforward than might first seem to be the case. As I said, however, I will investigate the specific point that my hon. Friend raised with me and write to him about it subsequently.

Similar considerations apply to the other train services that operate on the west coast main line and might also be candidates for additional stops at reinstated platforms, such as the services currently originating in Birmingham and Manchester. It is already possible to travel direct between Carnforth and other stations to the south. This

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seems to imply that the main benefit of stopping non-London services at reinstated main line platforms at Carnforth would be to create new direct journey opportunities between Carnforth and stations to the north—including Oxenholme, Penrith, Carlisle and other northern destinations into Scotland.

As can be seen from what I have said today, nobody should underestimate the fact that reinstating the fast-line platforms at Carnforth station would involve more than some hard decision making. It is not simply a question of finding the money for the platforms, although I pay tribute to the tremendous spirit that my hon. Friend and his constituents are demonstrating in their willingness and determination to try to secure their reinstatement. Local funding is, of course, important for platform reinstatement, but it does not necessarily determine whether a future franchise would require trains to stop there. It is certainly a way forward and clear willingness has been shown to secure money for that particular end. Indeed, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, local people have already demonstrated what they can achieve with the improvements already made to Carnforth station.

Such local funding, if enough could be found to cover the potentially substantial costs, would reduce the initial financial burden. However, we would also have to ensure that the ongoing additional maintenance and renewal costs were covered. The next step for those in favour of reinstating the fast-line platforms at Carnforth would therefore be to identify how this reinstatement could be delivered and, indeed, funded in the longer term in respect of those additional maintenance and renewal costs. The Government believe that the local authority would also have an important role to play and we would wish to see whether it supported such a move as part of its transport strategy. Equally, it would be vital that there was clear support from a train operating company for such a move.

In conclusion, the Government welcome local initiatives to improve rail services as fitting their wider localism agenda. The Department is always very happy to provide advice and guidance, but we think that decisions such as this are best made locally. At the end of this debate, let me say to my hon. Friend that I recognise and sympathise with the case he has put. There are significant problems, which I have identified—stopping services and the penalty in journey times—but I will go back to my officials and raise with them one more time the points that he has raised tonight to see whether there is any way we can make any progress, without me making any commitments from the Dispatch Box tonight. I will write to him about both the general and specific points he has raised.

Question put and agreed to.

10.43 pm

House adjourned.