“Real-time data sharing would overcome this and should be something the FCA encourages…There are examples of other jurisdictions, such as Florida…where this has been achieved.”

Indeed, the Minister cited Florida as an example earlier.

The panel comes to the conclusion that it strongly calls for the establishment of real-time data sharing and I hope that the Government will listen to that.

Sajid Javid: With the leave of the House, Madam Deputy Speaker. I thank all hon. Members for their contributions. It has been a good debate and a number of important issues have been raised, so I want to take a few minutes to respond.

The shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Cathy Jamieson), started by making a number of points on the payments system regulator. One issue she raised was whether there could possibly be a gap before the payments system regulator came into full force. That is a reasonable question and of course we will do all we can to minimise that.

It is worth pointing out that although the Payments Council, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Mr Tyrie) referred, has not always done a spectacular job as an industry body, particularly on cheques, it has recently put in place some useful innovations under the influence of the Government, such as the current account switching service. It is also developing a mobile phone database. We have been assured that such initiatives will continue and will not slow down because of the plans to set up a payments system regulator.

11 Dec 2013 : Column 304

4.30 pm

The hon. Lady mentioned VocaLink and concerns about payment service providers and who will be designated as part of the payments system and therefore be regulated. As she knows, and as set out in the clauses, the Treasury will designate the systems. To provide clarity we set out in the other place and elsewhere during the consultation the kinds of systems that we expect to be designated, which will be the main interbank systems, international card schemes such as BACS, CHAPS, Faster Payments, LINK, Cheque and Credit, Visa, MasterCard, and Amex. I hope that is helpful.

A number of hon. Members spoke to the Opposition amendment on data sharing, amendment (a), including the hon. Member for Makerfield (Yvonne Fovargue), who I know has considerable expertise from her experience at Citizens Advice, so I take her comments very seriously indeed. The hon. Member for Sheffield Central (Paul Blomfield) referred to his private Member’s Bill, which, as he said, had cross-party support in the House. What hon. Members, including the shadow Minister, said on the subject of data sharing is very important and I agree with all the concerns they articulated, especially the importance of real-time data collection and the difference that it can make. I share all their concerns and I agree with the benefits of consumer protection that data sharing can provide. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun mentioned StepChange, a charity whose representatives I have met a number of times. I discussed the matter with them and they, too, raised a number of important points. I agree with their analysis.

We all agree about the benefits of sharing information. The question is what we can do about it. The good news is that, because we agree, the Government have discussed the matter with the regulator, the FCA, which made a clear commitment that it plans to take action. It has already started down that course and is working with the industry on this. In the letter that I referred to at the start, the FCA said clearly that if the industry does not help to bring about the sharing of information sooner rather than later, it will not hesitate to make rules. It already has the powers to make such rules.

Yvonne Fovargue: Will the Minister therefore set a time scale for the FCA to give the industry to work towards voluntarily, which will be imposed on the industry if it does not meet it?

Sajid Javid: There is already the tightest possible time scale. In his letter today Martin Wheatley of the FCA says that the industry is already working on this. He states:

“If the industry cannot overcome the obstacles, and we are best placed to bring about data-sharing we will not hesitate to act.”

The chief executive of the FCA and the Government understand the importance of this. We can all agree on its importance and the need to take action quickly. I do not consider it necessary to pass any legislation as action is already being taken.

Cathy Jamieson: To follow up the point from my hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield (Yvonne Fovargue), it would the help the House to know whether the Minister has had discussions on a time scale.

11 Dec 2013 : Column 305

Sajid Javid: I have had discussions with the FCA about this. We expect that by the end of next year the process will be set up, but there are a number of issues to be dealt with before that can be confirmed with more certainty. That is the time scale that the industry is working towards.

Let me move on to some of the other issues that were raised in relation to high cost credit. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun mentioned excessive bank charges, and I agree with her concerns. The Government are concerned about default charges across the unsecured lending market, not just the payday loan market. The Government are strengthening regulation for consumer credit across the board by giving responsibility to the FCA. The FCA recently committed to consider carrying out a thematic review of market practice in relation to fees and charges, once it has full regulatory authority over consumer credit.

I will turn briefly to the timetable for introducing a cap on the total cost of payday lending, which we discussed earlier. As the shadow Minister said, 2 January 2015 is just a back-stop. Of course I would like to see it introduced sooner, as I think we all would. However, as we have discussed, it is better to have a cap that works and protects consumers, rather than one that has been forced on the regulator by an artificial time scale. It is important to listen to the FCA, the regulator that will establish the cap, so it is worth reiterating what Martin Wheatley has said:

“It is very important that we are clear with you on the practical implications of any further shortening in the timetable, the principal one being that we believe it is impossible to have as strong a cap based on a shorter deadline. To such a tight timetable we would be forced to perform less analysis on the methodology and level for any cap, and so would be forced to set the cap at a more conservative level (that is, higher) to reflect the inherent legal risks. This cannot be the intended outcome from a consumer protection standpoint.”

It would be foolish for this House to ignore the FCA’s view, as I am sure we all share the objective of having a cap that works and protects consumers.

Stella Creasy: We know that 1 million families in this country have already said that they will pay for Christmas this year with a payday loan because of the cost of living crisis they are facing. The Minister is talking about delaying the introduction of any form of cap until 2015, so there is a real question about the impact that might have next Christmas, which will be the default position of not supporting the proposed amendment. Introducing even a conservative cap before next Christmas might do something to lessen the damage that those toxic types of lending are doing to people, given that the cost of living crisis will continue for the year ahead.

Sajid Javid: I thank the hon. Lady for her comments. As she will have noted from the letter I just quoted from Martin Wheatley, one of the concerns about a conservative cap is that it would be open to much greater legal risk. It would serve nobody in this House if there was some kind of legal challenge to a cap and how it works if the process has not been followed properly and if some people believe that the FCA has not followed its own rules, particularly on the time for consultation. Had the hon. Lady been here at the start of the debate, she might have heard that the Competition

11 Dec 2013 : Column 306

Commission’s investigation into payday lending, which is already under a tighter timetable than it usually has—it is normally around two years, but it has agreed to make that 18 months—will report in November next year. I think that everyone would agree that it is very important that the FCA takes into account the results of that investigation.

Cathy Jamieson: The Minister might have already answered this, but what specific legal risk has he identified in relation to the cap being introduced sooner rather than later?

Sajid Javid: I refer the hon. Lady again to the letter from Martin Wheatley, which states that the FCA

“would be forced to set the cap at a more conservative level (that is, higher) to reflect the inherent legal risks.”

I believe that she has a copy of the letter.

I will finish by answering an important point the shadow Minister made about the possibility that lenders from elsewhere in the European economic area will be able to passport their services and avoid UK legislation. She is entirely right to make that analysis, because that is indeed possible under the EU commerce directive and the single market in financial services. There are mitigations, although the situation is not ideal. Under the EU consumer credit directive, there is not a cap but there are certain rules that all lenders within the EU need to follow. Of course, there is nothing to prevent the UK regulator from contacting the comparable authority in another EU-based country to see whether there is any way in which pressure can be put on indirectly through the two bodies working together.

Lords amendment 63 agreed to.

Lords amendments 1 to 40; 42 to 62 and 64 to 154 agreed to, with Commons financial privileges waived in respect of Lords amendments 35, 37, 40, 149 and 150.

Before Clause 13

Duty of FCA to make rules restricting charges for high-cost short-term credit

Amendment (a) proposed to Lords amendment 155.—(Cathy Jamieson.)

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The House divided:

Ayes 225, Noes 289.

Division No. 158]

[

4.42 pm

AYES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Ashworth, Jonathan

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Balls, rh Ed

Barron, rh Mr Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Begg, Dame Anne

Benn, rh Hilary

Benton, Mr Joe

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burnham, rh Andy

Campbell, Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Gregory

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Caton, Martin

Champion, Sarah

Clark, Katy

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Coffey, Ann

Connarty, Michael

Corbyn, Jeremy

Crausby, Mr David

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Sir Tony

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

Darling, rh Mr Alistair

David, Wayne

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, Geraint

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobbin, Jim

Docherty, Thomas

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Doughty, Stephen

Doyle, Gemma

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Engel, Natascha

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Field, rh Mr Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flint, rh Caroline

Fovargue, Yvonne

Francis, Dr Hywel

Gapes, Mike

Gardiner, Barry

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Goggins, rh Paul

Goodman, Helen

Greatrex, Tom

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Hamilton, Mr David

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harris, Mr Tom

Havard, Mr Dai

Healey, rh John

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hillier, Meg

Hodge, rh Margaret

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Hunt, Tristram

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jowell, rh Dame Tessa

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Khan, rh Sadiq

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Lazarowicz, Mark

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Ian

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mactaggart, Fiona

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCabe, Steve

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McClymont, Gregg

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGovern, Jim

McGuire, rh Mrs Anne

McKechin, Ann

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McKinnell, Catherine

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miller, Andrew

Morden, Jessica

Morrice, Graeme

(Livingston)

Morris, Grahame M.

(Easington)

Mudie, Mr George

Munn, Meg

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

Nash, Pamela

O'Donnell, Fiona

Onwurah, Chi

Osborne, Sandra

Owen, Albert

Paisley, Ian

Perkins, Toby

Phillipson, Bridget

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Qureshi, Yasmin

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reed, Mr Steve

Reeves, Rachel

Reynolds, Jonathan

Riordan, Mrs Linda

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Robertson, John

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Mr Frank

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Ruddock, rh Dame Joan

Sarwar, Anas

Sawford, Andy

Seabeck, Alison

Shannon, Jim

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheridan, Jim

Shuker, Gavin

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Spellar, rh Mr John

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Tami, Mark

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Walley, Joan

Watson, Mr Tom

Watts, Mr Dave

Weir, Mr Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Williamson, Chris

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wood, Mike

Woodcock, John

Woodward, rh Mr Shaun

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Ayes:

Julie Hilling

and

Susan Elan Jones

NOES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Amess, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Norman

Baker, Steve

Baldry, Sir Tony

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Binley, Mr Brian

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Mr Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, rh Tom

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, Annette

Browne, Mr Jeremy

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Sir Malcolm

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, rh Paul

Burt, rh Alistair

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Cairns, Alun

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cash, Mr William

Chishti, Rehman

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Crabb, Stephen

Crouch, Tracey

Davies, David T. C.

(Monmouth)

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Philip

Davis, rh Mr David

de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Mr Alan

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Featherstone, Lynne

Field, Mark

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Gale, Sir Roger

Garnier, Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Gummer, Ben

Halfon, Robert

Hames, Duncan

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Matthew

Hands, Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Harvey, Sir Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Heald, Oliver

Heath, Mr David

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Horwood, Martin

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Huppert, Dr Julian

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, Sajid

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kelly, Chris

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Laws, rh Mr David

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Dr Julian

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Luff, Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Main, Mrs Anne

Maude, rh Mr Francis

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Mills, Nigel

Milton, Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Moore, rh Michael

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

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Brien, rh Mr Stephen

Offord, Dr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Opperman, Guy

Ottaway, rh Richard

Paice, rh Sir James

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, Mike

Percy, Andrew

Phillips, Stephen

Pincher, Christopher

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Sir John

Reckless, Mark

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reevell, Simon

Reid, Mr Alan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Sir Bob

Rutley, David

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Shelbrooke, Alec

Shepherd, Sir Richard

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, rh Nicholas

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Stanley, rh Sir John

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Mr Graham

Stunell, rh Sir Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Swales, Ian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Syms, Mr Robert

Tapsell, rh Sir Peter

Teather, Sarah

Thurso, John

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Truss, Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Weatherley, Mike

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Stephen

Willott, Jenny

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wright, Simon

Yeo, Mr Tim

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Claire Perry

and

Mr Sam Gyimah

Question accordingly negatived.

11 Dec 2013 : Column 307

11 Dec 2013 : Column 308

11 Dec 2013 : Column 309

11 Dec 2013 : Column 310


Amendment (b) proposed to Lords amendment 155.—(Cathy Jamieson.)

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The House divided:

Ayes 228, Noes 297.

Division No. 159]

[

4.55 pm

AYES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Ashworth, Jonathan

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Balls, rh Ed

Barron, rh Mr Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Begg, Dame Anne

Benn, rh Hilary

Benton, Mr Joe

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burnham, rh Andy

Campbell, Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Gregory

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Caton, Martin

Champion, Sarah

Clark, Katy

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Coffey, Ann

Connarty, Michael

Corbyn, Jeremy

Crausby, Mr David

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Sir Tony

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

Darling, rh Mr Alistair

David, Wayne

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, Geraint

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobbin, Jim

Docherty, Thomas

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Doughty, Stephen

Doyle, Gemma

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Engel, Natascha

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Field, rh Mr Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Francis, Dr Hywel

Gapes, Mike

Gardiner, Barry

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Goggins, rh Paul

Goodman, Helen

Greatrex, Tom

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Hamilton, Mr David

Hamilton, Fabian

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harris, Mr Tom

Havard, Mr Dai

Healey, rh John

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hillier, Meg

Hodge, rh Margaret

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Hunt, Tristram

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jowell, rh Dame Tessa

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kendall, Liz

Khan, rh Sadiq

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Lazarowicz, Mark

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Ian

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mactaggart, Fiona

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

McCabe, Steve

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McClymont, Gregg

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGovern, Jim

McGuire, rh Mrs Anne

McKechin, Ann

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McKinnell, Catherine

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miller, Andrew

Morden, Jessica

Morrice, Graeme

(Livingston)

Morris, Grahame M.

(Easington)

Mudie, Mr George

Munn, Meg

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

Nash, Pamela

O'Donnell, Fiona

Onwurah, Chi

Osborne, Sandra

Owen, Albert

Perkins, Toby

Phillipson, Bridget

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Qureshi, Yasmin

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reed, Mr Steve

Reeves, Rachel

Reynolds, Jonathan

Riordan, Mrs Linda

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Robertson, John

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Mr Frank

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Ruddock, rh Dame Joan

Sarwar, Anas

Sawford, Andy

Seabeck, Alison

Shannon, Jim

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Sheridan, Jim

Shuker, Gavin

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Spellar, rh Mr John

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Tami, Mark

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Walley, Joan

Watson, Mr Tom

Watts, Mr Dave

Weir, Mr Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Williamson, Chris

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wood, Mike

Woodcock, John

Woodward, rh Mr Shaun

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Tellers for the Ayes:

Julie Hilling

and

Susan Elan Jones

NOES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Amess, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Norman

Baker, Steve

Baldry, Sir Tony

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Binley, Mr Brian

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Mr Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, rh Tom

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, Annette

Browne, Mr Jeremy

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Sir Malcolm

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, rh Paul

Burt, rh Alistair

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Cairns, Alun

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cash, Mr William

Chishti, Rehman

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Crabb, Stephen

Crouch, Tracey

Davies, David T. C.

(Monmouth)

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Philip

Davis, rh Mr David

de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Mr Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Featherstone, Lynne

Field, Mark

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Gale, Sir Roger

Garnier, Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Halfon, Robert

Hames, Duncan

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Matthew

Hands, Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Harvey, Sir Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Heald, Oliver

Heath, Mr David

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Horwood, Martin

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Huppert, Dr Julian

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, Sajid

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kelly, Chris

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Laws, rh Mr David

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Dr Julian

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Luff, Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Main, Mrs Anne

Maude, rh Mr Francis

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, Esther

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Mills, Nigel

Milton, Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Moore, rh Michael

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

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Brien, rh Mr Stephen

Offord, Dr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Opperman, Guy

Osborne, rh Mr George

Ottaway, rh Richard

Paice, rh Sir James

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Pincher, Christopher

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Sir John

Reckless, Mark

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reevell, Simon

Reid, Mr Alan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rogerson, Dan

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Sir Bob

Rutley, David

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Shelbrooke, Alec

Shepherd, Sir Richard

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, rh Nicholas

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Stanley, rh Sir John

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Mr Graham

Stunell, rh Sir Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Swales, Ian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Syms, Mr Robert

Tapsell, rh Sir Peter

Teather, Sarah

Thurso, John

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Truss, Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Ward, Mr David

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Weatherley, Mike

Webb, Steve

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Stephen

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wright, Simon

Yeo, Mr Tim

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Jenny Willott

and

Mr Sam Gyimah

Question accordingly negatived.

11 Dec 2013 : Column 311

11 Dec 2013 : Column 312

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11 Dec 2013 : Column 314

Lords amendments 155 to 184 agreed to, with Commons financial privileges waived in respect of Lords amendments 162, 163, 169, 171, 172, 173 and 175.

Motion made, and Question put, That a Committee be appointed to draw up Reasons to be assigned to the Lords for disagreeing to their amendment 41;

That Sajid Javid, Nic Dakin, Cathy Jamieson, Amber Rudd and Ian Swales be members of the Committee;

That Sajid Javid be the Chair of the Committee;

That three be the quorum of the Committee.

That the Committee do withdraw immediately.—(Sajid Javid.)

Question agreed to.

Committee to withdraw immediately; reasons to be reported and communicated to the Lords.

Mr John Denham (Southampton, Itchen) (Lab): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Earlier this afternoon I was alerted to a tweet from the Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the hon. Member for Great Yarmouth (Brandon Lewis), which referred to his parliamentary written answer to me on parking charges. It states:

“when the right hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr Denham) was Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government…he noted that it was…Government policy to encourage councils to “creatively” and “extensively” make use of parking charges”.—[Official Report, 10 December 2013; Vol. 572, c. 161W.]

That is a gross distortion of the evidence given at the time. As the submission makes clear, the word “extensively” was not used as a description of Government policy, but as a description of fact about the activities of local councils. The word “creatively” was not used in relation to parking charges, but as an approach to improving accountability and responsiveness in service delivery. I have a fairly thick skin, but such a deliberate and cynical misrepresentation is surely out of order. Will you, Madam Deputy Speaker, advise me what steps I can take to have it put right?

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Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): Obviously, the contents of comments on Twitter are not a matter for the Chair, but if this has occurred, it is an extreme discourtesy to the right hon. Gentleman, and I hope that the Treasury Bench has taken note. Ultimately, Ministers are responsible for what they say, but perhaps in future the Minister could say it in a written answer and be accountable to the House. That way, I could make a ruling; otherwise, I cannot. Nevertheless, the right hon. Gentleman’s point is on the record.

Business without Debate

Delegated Legislatoin

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

Infrastructure planning

That the draft Infrastructure Planning (Business or Commercial Projects) Regulations 2013, which were laid before this House on 31 October, be approved.—(John Penrose.)

Question agreed to.

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

Defence

That the draft Armed Forces (Remission of Fines) Order 2013, which was laid before this House on 24 October, be approved.—(John Penrose.)

Question agreed to.

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

Energy

That the draft Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2013, which were laid before this House on 28 October, be approved.—(John Penrose.)

Question agreed to.

11 Dec 2013 : Column 316

Sittings of the House

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That on Thursday 12 December there shall be no sitting in Westminster Hall.—(Tom Brake.)

5.11 pm

Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): I apologise to my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Sir Alan Haselhurst) for delaying his extended Adjournment debate, but given that he was expecting a half hour’s debate but can now have the best part of two hours and 15 minutes, I hope he will forgive me on this occasion. As somebody who no doubt has travelled a lot on the West Anglia rail line, he will be used to delays in any event.

I wished to catch your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker, because we have just had absolutely no explanation from the Deputy Leader of the House for why tomorrow’s sitting in Westminster Hall is to be changed. [Interruption.] The Chief Whip, who is just leaving, will be familiar with this argument, because we had this debate when he was Leader of the House. The Leader and Deputy Leader of the House are being too cavalier in simply excising three hours of parliamentary airtime. I take the view, and I hope other right hon. and hon. Members do as well, that the sittings in Westminster Hall are extremely important. If they were not, the House would not have decided to set them up in the first place. I am pretty sure that the Liaison Committee also regards them as important, because it regularly schedules important debates from the various Select Committees to be debated for up to three hours in Westminster Hall.

Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed) (LD): I appreciate the hon. Gentleman’s concern for the Liaison Committee, but I can assure him that it wants to take cognizance of other events happening tomorrow adjoining Westminster Hall and that I have made provision for the debate that my right hon. Friend the Member for Gordon (Sir Malcolm Bruce), the Chairman of the International Development Committee, was going to introduce tomorrow to take place on another suitable occasion soon.

Mr Hollobone: I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is acting with the best of intentions, but he was sitting in his place, as I was sitting in mine, when the Deputy Leader of the House rose simply to move this motion formally, without giving any explanation of the circumstances tomorrow whatsoever. I think the House deserves a better explanation. I understand that tomorrow there is an important celebration in the main Westminster Hall relating to the death of Nelson Mandela. No doubt, that will be a wonderful occasion, and it is right for the House to celebrate the great man’s life in that way, but we have been given no explanation for why the sitting in the small Westminster Hall tomorrow afternoon is to be cancelled. Is it to do with security, logistics, staffing? I do not know. I would welcome an intervention from the Deputy Leader of the House, if he wants to apprise the House of the reasons, but as far as I can tell no one in the Chamber knows why the sitting is to be cancelled.

I have no doubt that the Chairman of the Liaison Committee is acting in good faith, but scheduled on the Order Paper, as we speak, are two very important debates from the International Development Committee.

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I see in his place the esteemed Chairman of that Select Committee, who has been good enough to attend this afternoon, no doubt also anticipating an explanation from the Deputy Leader of the House for cancelling the sitting. These debates would have been on the subjects of global food security and violence against women and girls.

Sir Malcolm Bruce (Gordon) (LD): Perhaps to help the hon. Gentleman let me explain that I was asked whether the Committee would agree to postpone tomorrow’s debates. It was not me who took the decision; my Committee took it. Our decision was that, in the circumstances, provided we were reassured that we would be able to conduct the debates in short order subsequently, we would agree to do so. We have already been offered dates for both debates in January.

Mr Hollobone: I have no doubt at all that the right hon. Gentleman, along with his Committee, has acted entirely in good faith. I put it to him, however, that his rescheduled debates will replace other debates, which will never see the light of day, because we are losing three hours of important parliamentary airtime—with no explanation to this House of why that is happening.

If on today’s Order Paper, along with this motion, a suggestion had been made—I guess it would have been another item rescheduling the sitting in Westminster Hall to another day—I could just about have lived with it. Why have we had no suggestion from the Deputy Leader of the House that the International Development Committee have its debate in Westminster Hall tomorrow morning, before the Nelson Mandela celebration takes place there? Why does today’s Order Paper not suggest that the International Development Committee has its important debates on Monday afternoon from 1.30 to 4.30 or from 4.30 to 7.30? Sittings in Westminster Hall take place on Monday afternoons so why, given the importance of these subjects and the reassurance of the Chairman of the International Development Committee that his debates would take place in short order, did the Deputy Leader of the House not make provision for these debates to take place on Monday?

I never had the privilege of meeting Nelson Mandela, but I am pretty sure that he was concerned about violence against women and girls. I am pretty sure, too, that he was also concerned about global food security. I am thus pretty sure that he would have wanted the British House of Commons to discuss those important items. I have a feeling that he would have been rather upset if his celebration—if I make the correct assumption—displaced three hours of important debates on those crucial subjects.

I do not think I am being unreasonable in saying that, in putting forward this motion tonight, in failing to provide us with an explanation for why the Westminster

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Hall sitting is not going to take place and in not putting forward an alternative time slot, the Leader of the House and the Deputy Leader of the House are not playing fair by this House. This is a matter I have raised previously. I regard debates in Westminster Hall as very important, and I am pretty sure that the House of Commons does, too. It is simply not good enough to come here at the end of today’s sitting to wipe out three hours of parliamentary airtime on important debates without first giving the House an explanation or secondly providing an alternative time and date for those debates to take place.


5.18 pm

The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons (Tom Brake): In the circumstances, I think it appropriate to make a few points. First, this motion will allow us to resolve not to sit in Westminster Hall tomorrow. This follows the decision of the International Development Committee, many of whose members one assumes will want to attend tomorrow’s events in Westminster Hall to commemorate Nelson Mandela, not to proceed with its business, as agreed by the Chairman of the Liaison Committee, who intervened a few minutes ago to confirm that.

The hon. Member for Kettering (Mr Hollobone) made a number of alternative proposals about the timing, for example, although I do not know whether the International Development Committee considered that because I was not party to the discussions. If we do not proceed with this motion, the impact would be that the business would still appear on the Order Paper and a Chair, Clerks and Doorkeepers would need to be on a rota to attend tomorrow’s business even though it was not taking place. On that basis, it seems sensible to ask the House to resolve the matter in order to clarify the position to the public, and for the convenience of everyone else.

Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con): My right hon. Friend has just mentioned the public. Given the importance of the Westminster Hall debates, some members of the public may have made arrangements to come to London specifically to attend them, so we are probably inconveniencing members of the public as well.

Tom Brake: My hon. Friend has made a telling point. I cannot disagree with him: some people may indeed have been inconvenienced as a result of this decision. I therefore hope that the alternative dates will be widely publicised to enable them—we hope—to attend the debate in future. I also hope that they will take account of the fact that there was a strong demand for this event, and the fact that, because of the way in which things happened, it was not possible to predict that it would clash with a debate initiated by the International Development Committee that they had wished to attend.

Question put and agreed to.

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West Anglia Rail Line

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

5.21 pm

Sir Alan Haselhurst (Saffron Walden) (Con): It was almost three years ago, on 19 January 2011, that I last had the opportunity to address the House on the subject of the West Anglia rail line. The line runs from Liverpool Street to Cambridge and beyond, serving many stations in my constituency and in other important towns and villages. In the speech that I made in 2011, I castigated every Government from 1985 onwards for first willing the expansion of Stansted airport—which is served by the line—and then branding the M11 corridor, as it is described, ripe for major development, while doing absolutely nothing about the capacity or quality of service on a line that served all those different needs. I regret to say that not much has changed in the intervening years, apart from the fares that long-suffering passengers have to pay.

I acknowledge that there was a timetable change in December 2011—in the teeth of opposition from Transport for London, I should add—which made possible the reinstatement of some peak services. That returned the journey time between Audley End and London to something like it was in 1977: although it was not quite as good, there was certainly a major improvement. I also acknowledge that, as the then Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mrs Villiers), told me in her reply to my speech in January 2011, some of the new type 379 train units did come our way. I am not sure that that was entirely due to my persuasion; it was probably rather more to do with the fact that business at Stansted airport had slumped rather badly, and 10 of the 30 new train units were spared to supplement services for other passengers on the line.

Despite those two welcome steps, however, not much has changed. I am tempted to use the term, “Same old railway.” There is no new track and no sign of fleet replacement. It is true that there is a new train operator, Abellio, under the colours of Greater Anglia, and a new airport owner, with Manchester Airports Group having bought Stansted from BAA.

Robert Halfon (Harlow) (Con): My right hon. Friend is an incredible champion for commuters in our area and I am very proud to have him as my neighbouring MP. I recently did a survey at my local railway station, Harlow Town. Some 73% of commuters said they had to stand too often, and 60% of them want longer trains. Does he agree that there needs to be investment in rolling stock and that the trains that go through Harlow need to be extended?

Sir Alan Haselhurst: I certainly do not disagree with that in any way, and I would think that quite a number of other colleagues whose constituencies are served by this railway line would echo my hon. Friend’s sentiments. I acknowledge his support in the campaign to bring the Government’s focus more sharply on to this line.

Mr Mark Prisk (Hertford and Stortford) (Con): I strongly endorse what has been said: my right hon. Friend is an informed and persistent challenger of what has been a poor service for all our constituents. Does he share my concern that, while we understand the problems

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created by the storm this autumn, we noticed that it was our line that was least able to cope? We had three days—not one—of disruption. Does he share my view that alongside the overcrowding, poor service and rising fares, we simply seem to be getting what I would describe as a Cinderella service?

Sir Alan Haselhurst: I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who has been another staunch ally in the fight for a better deal for regular passengers on the line. I agree that that is another example of how our service has fallen below the standards, which have been raised in certain other parts of the country. In terms of statistics, it is possible to argue overall that a higher performance rating has been achieved, but when the lapses occur, they are very serious indeed.

I could add to what my hon. Friend has said by describing my experience this morning. At the Audley End ticket office there are two counters. Both were closed, with a notice up to say that the one person who was in on this particular morning would be back at 9.45, which was one minute after the departure of the train to London. The rumour was that the ticket agent was having a break, but that meant that there were no tickets available to purchase except from one of the machines on the platform, and those machines are not flexible in what they can offer—they can only provide fairly simple fares. It would certainly appear to be a shambles that we do not have a proper standard of service in that way.

As I have said, there is a new train operator and a new airport owner, and there is seemingly a new franchise policy because when my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet spoke in response to my Adjournment debate in 2011 she suggested that good times would come when we had new longer franchises, but I am not sure that that policy still holds; that may have now changed to having rather shorter franchises. I would be interested to know what my hon. Friend the Minister has to say on that subject.

Indeed, in addition to those other new circumstances, we have a new Minister. In fact he is the second since the previous debate. [Interruption.] Yes, I have no doubt at all that he is an excellent Minister, but he will be judged in part by the nature of his reply to me and my hon. Friends.

What is absolutely incontrovertible is that there has been no investment in the line. That is the problem.

Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con): I am very interested in this line because I have been to Cambridge four times in the last year, and on two occasions I had to take a very long journey on buses. My right hon. Friend says the line is poor, and that seems to be borne out by my own empirical experience as a Member of Parliament from south of the river.

Sir Alan Haselhurst: I am sorry that my hon. Friend was inconvenienced on those occasions, but that illustrates a further problem that we experience on the line. I hope that the problem did not prevent him from collecting the honorary degrees that he was no doubt going to Cambridge for.

I might have suggested that not much has been happening, but in fact I suspect that things are now stirring, although not necessarily in a helpful way. The

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Mayor of London has shown great interest in acquiring control over part of this railway. More disturbingly, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State seems to have given assent in principle to that taking place. The Mayor would then have control over the services to Enfield Town, Chingford and so on, although not further up the main line between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne. That is interesting, because one of the justifications for bringing together the services out of Liverpool Street in a single franchise was that it would make the operability of Liverpool Street more effective. If a second franchise holder were to be introduced, that could start to complicate matters in what is already a very constricted station.

My next point is that, to run those services, the Mayor will need some rolling stock, and I suspect that a portion of the rolling stock currently being operated flexibly by Greater Anglia would be painted a different colour and handed over to the Mayor. It is not clear, however, what would replace that rolling stock. I regard this as an aggressive, acquisitive policy on the part of the Mayor. I am not denying that it could be good for the people he serves, but it would have an adverse effect on the people served by me and by my hon. Friends the Members for Hertford and Stortford (Mr Prisk) and for Harlow (Robert Halfon) and others. Also, it cannot be right if there is to be no investment in the track. The situation would become altogether different if we had four-tracking. It might then be possible to accept that the two operators could work without the one interfering with the other.

A further disturbing matter, from the point of view of railway passengers, is that Stansted airport is starting to expand again in terms of passenger numbers, and I imagine that, under the dynamic new ownership of the Manchester Airports Group, those numbers will continue to rise over the next few years. That will build demand to a point at which we will look back on the history and say to Ministers, “Excuse us, but we would now like to have back those trains that you allowed to run on the Cambridge line to serve the commuters, so that the original intention of having 12-car trains going to the airport can be fulfilled.”

I have no particular complaint about there being a decent rail service to the airport; indeed, I am in favour of it. However, it could pose a second threat to the fleet that is available to Greater Anglia. The question would then arise: where are the substitute carriages to come from? I am advised by Abellio that there are no trains that can obviously be cascaded down to us. We would, I suppose, be grateful for second-hand trains, but we have been living with second-hand trains for far too long anyway and we deserve a full fleet of new trains.

A report has appeared recently from an organisation called London First. It puts forward what, on the face of it, seems a reasonable proposition. I replied initially to Baroness Valentine, the chairperson of the organisation, to say that I welcomed the contribution to the debate, and that anything that brought attention to the needs of the line was to be welcomed. But the more one examined the proposal, the more one became aware that the clue was in the title—London First; the approach was just that, and it would not be to the advantage of those of us who are further away from London and rely on services on that line. London First is proposing a third track

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over a short distance north of Tottenham Hale, as much as anything to facilitate services to Stratford. In principle, I see nothing wrong with that, but the proposal is not going to be to the benefit of the passengers we represent in ever-increasing numbers. It is a diversion from the real need of the line, which is to get four-tracking so that flexibility can be achieved.

Mr Prisk: My right hon. Friend mentions the London First report, and perhaps I might add my thoughts on that in a moment, if I can catch your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker. The report is a distraction, but is he aware that, worse for my constituents, it includes ideas of looping around Bishop’s Stortford and Sawbridgeworth, which would leave my commuters watching visitors from abroad getting a better service than those who actually pay for it?

Sir Alan Haselhurst: I agree. I do not represent people in Sawbridgeworth and Bishop’s Stortford, but I am sufficiently familiar with the two places, and passing through on the train, to wonder exactly how these passing loops are going to be effected without the most appalling disruption. In any case, I do not believe they serve any real purpose. Four-tracking between Coppermill junction, south of Tottenham Hale, and Broxbourne is the way in which most people’s interests can be served. If we take our eye off that goal, we will end up with miserable scraps. I worry that, if London First gains favour for its proposal, which is not only inadequate but very damaging the further north one goes, it will be all too easy for Network Rail or the Department for Transport to say, “Job done, we have helped there, at last” and for that to be it. It would not do anything to transform the railway.

We must also consider the interest in Crossrail 2 and suggestions that perhaps it would serve to bring people back and forth from Stansted airport. I am in favour of the regional version of Crossrail 2, because it makes sense to link at Cheshunt, bringing in to the west end people who do not necessarily want to go to the City, where Liverpool Street station is situated. But it is not helpful to have eyes diverted from the West Anglia line and suddenly say that we might start spending money on Crossrail 2. I found it extraordinary that that possibility was apparently being touted by another representative of London First in a different forum, with the suggestion to get Crossrail 2 and then four-track between Cheshunt and Broxbourne. That seemed entirely at odds with what is in the main London First report. Therefore, I am not too happy about being diverted in that direction; we need to concentrate on the main line and seek investment there.

I have been saying that the Mayor, London First and the airport activity are stirring, but, sadly, not a great deal appears to be stirring in the Department for Transport. I wish to say straight away that I am absolutely behind what is being invested in our railway network throughout the country, and I am also a strong supporter of HS2 and a great believer in the railway. As such, it is understandable, surely, that I am a great believer in the railway that serves my constituents, and that is the one that is constantly forgotten. It has been forgotten since 1985 and something has to be done to reverse that position. Our line has simply not been favoured. I accepted that it was reasonable to wait for the report by Sir Roy McNulty, but surely the lessons to be learnt

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from his report have been digested by now. Unfortunately, what has happened is that we have seen an extension to a franchise. There will not be a new franchise—we are not sure of what length—until 2016. The scope for continued indecision is considerable and deeply worrying, because fares will no doubt continue to rise in that time.

I say to the Minister, who I am delighted has this portfolio—he might feel slightly less delighted after my remarks—that we need more than warm words. We are looking for cast-iron assurances that the problem of the West Anglia line is understood and that something meaningful will be promised within a reasonable time. We are looking for investment in track and trains, as that is, after all, investment in people.

5.40 pm

Mr Mark Prisk (Hertford and Stortford) (Con): I repeat my view that the good people of Saffron Walden are very fortunate to have, in my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Sir Alan Haselhurst), an informed and persistent champion. It has been a pleasure working with him on these issues. He has taught me more about the railways than I thought that I would ever know. Indeed, there is possibly more to learn.

We are talking about a railway line that is, sadly, the Cinderella of railway services. Those of us in the northern and eastern home counties have watched other investments being made and listened to the way in which priorities have been set elsewhere. Our commuters, as my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Robert Halfon) rightly points out, feel that what they have seen are rising fares, falling standards, overcrowding getting worse and a sense that they are being left behind. Indeed this autumn the overcrowding has got worse. When we saw the storm, we understood the need to close the railway lines on the day. On the second and third days, our constituents found themselves not only inconvenienced but without the information they needed to make alternative arrangements. They rightly complained to us, which is why we want to challenge and speak with the Minister.

Very often, when commuters get information, it is the wrong information. The options available to those who work hard and want to get to work are immensely limited.

Robert Halfon: I am hugely grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way. He is also a neighbour, and I am delighted to serve alongside him. Does he not agree that it is important to invest not just in the rolling stock but in some of the smaller stations? He will know that Harlow Mill station is in bad need of refurbishment. We need to consider that, because commuters have a right to a proper station when they need to go to work.

Mr Prisk: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The quality of the rolling stock, which my right hon. Friend has mentioned, is important, as are refurbishment and expansion of the railway stations and investment in track. It is that final point on which I want to focus in my brief remarks.

I strongly endorse the analysis and the solution that we have just heard from my right hon. Friend. Having looked carefully at the proposal from London First—I am the last person to want to decry positive suggestions for investment—I must warn the Minister to be careful, as it makes no sense. The good folk of Bishop’s Stortford and Sawbridgeworth ask me why they should pay good

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money to watch folk being whisked in to this country—they are very welcome—on a better service than that which they receive, which they actually pay for. That causes them natural concern.

There is a real danger of our being diverted, as my right hon. Friend rightly said, from the real opportunity. The core of the issue is the funnel—the last five or six miles into Liverpool Street—running back towards Tottenham Hale. If we solve that capacity issue, people in London—whom I am sure the Mayor is concerned about—Essex, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire will see a service that is punctual and has the capacity to deal with many of the changes in our area—an increasingly important issue, because alongside that investment is the debate about the number of additional homes that need to be built in our areas.

Sadly, we have a railway line that is recognised as having had over recent years the worst record for overcrowding of almost any railway line coming into London. With the prospect of thousands more homes, which we understand and recognise are needed where there are difficult and long council waiting lists, our constituents will rightly ask how on earth the railway line will cope and what that will mean for their ability to get to work.

The West Anglia line is a line for people in London but it is also a line for Hertfordshire, Essex and Cambridgeshire. Investment is undoubtedly overdue, but the additional housing means that it is urgent that we have some signal that we will get the investment required. Four-tracking into Liverpool Street is the key and the Minister should not be diverted or distracted by the suggestions that we might loop one town or another. That will not solve the central problem and that is the key message that I and my constituents want to send to the Department for Transport and our excellent Minister today.

5.45 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Stephen Hammond): I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Sir Alan Haselhurst) on securing this evening’s debate on investment in the West Anglia line. I was, of course, slightly perturbed when he opened his speech with remarks about castigating every Government since, I think, 1970—I cannot quite remember the year.

This is an important matter to my right hon. Friend and his constituents, to other Members of Parliament and their constituents and, of course, to all passengers using the line. My right hon. Friend and my hon. Friends the Members for Hertford and Stortford (Mr Prisk) and for Harlow (Robert Halfon) have all made the point that the two-track commuter line between London and Stansted and Cambridge is very busy. The commuter flows it carries are some of the busiest around. It covers not only the areas they have talked about but carries commuter flows from Essex and north-east London and provides the link with Stansted airport.

I recognise that demand has been growing quickly and significantly. To explain to my right hon. and hon. Friends some of the investment that has been made, it might be helpful to consider the line in separate parts. Demand has been growing quickly, particularly in the lower Lea valley, and the Government’s rail investment strategy has provided approximately £80 million to

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deliver three and four-tracking at the south end of the route. That will allow the introduction of some new services, will increase operational reliability, and should support regeneration in the lower Lea valley. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will recognise that that shows that the Government are aware of the need for four-tracking.

The Department also rightly recognises that there is some suppressed demand as regards the need to connect the West Anglia line with Stratford in east London. My right hon. Friend made that point. We are taking steps to address it and Stratford is increasingly becoming a destination for leisure, retail and entertainment in its own right. It is therefore becoming a significant transport interchange. It is important that we ensure that the connections into that significant place in east London are operationally the best they can be.

From 2019, Stratford will become part of the Crossrail network through Crossrail 1, providing direct connections to a large number of destinations. I accept that that will have a knock-on effect through London and the West Anglia line. The important point is that as soon as the Crossrail operation starts in 2017 there will be the chance to introduce new connections to the West Anglia line. I recognise that this is not in my right hon. and hon. Friends’ constituencies, but to suggest that the Government have done nothing about the line is not exactly true as there has been investment in new stations at the southern end of the line and the new stations fund is also starting to work through, as can be seen with the new station at Lea Bridge and the new services between Angel Road and Stratford.

Robert Halfon: As I mentioned to my right hon. Friend, I have done a survey with commuters. We know about Harlow Town station, but one of the big concerns was the lack of facilities at Harlow Mill station. The ticket office is open only during weekday mornings, closing at 11.15 am. There are no toilets and very little shelter from bad weather, despite trains to London leaving once every hour. Will my hon. Friend look at this and see whether there are any plans for the Government to invest in this station?

Stephen Hammond: My hon. Friend is right to point out the concerns of his constituents. As Ministers, we try not to get into the micro-management of the toilets of various stations, as he will understand. None the less, I will look at the matter.

The point which I hope my hon. Friend will consider is that, yes, there are some concerns about ticket offices and this is a feature across the whole network, but many people are choosing to buy their tickets in different ways. Although important, ticket offices are not central to many people’s buying habits. He is right that there should be facilities, and there has been a new stations fund and a station improvement fund.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden spoke about the new franchises and what might happen. I hope he might have had a chance to look at the east coast prospectus. Although we are not saying that every new franchise will be of a particular length, we are encouraging longer franchises, particularly in that franchise and the prospectus that we have released. I hope my

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right hon. and hon. Friends will acknowledge that we have given the operators the chance to recognise some of the things they could do to the benefit of customers outside the standard package. There is a real determination from the Department in the new round of franchising to understand that the consumer must be at the heart of the franchise bids. I hope the prospectus that we have released for the east coast main line will show that.

There is demand not only at the southern end of the line. Cambridge is a fast- growing economy, making a significant contribution to the local and the national economy. That is why we continue to make significant investments in that part of the route as well. The station at Cambridge will undergo significant redevelopment, provided the planning authority comes through. In addition, we are working with Network Rail and Cambridgeshire county council to develop plans for a new station at Chesterton, approximately 2 miles north of the city centre, as well as providing direct access to the rapidly expanding science park, for which rail connections are key.

Throughout the line brand-new 379 class trains are already operating the service between London Liverpool Street and Cambridge, which is benefiting customers along the whole West Anglia main line, including, as my right hon. Friend rightly acknowledged, his constituency, particularly at Audley End. These trains are modern, spacious, high performing, high capacity and highly reliable, and they are widely recognised by passengers as a benefit and an increase in the service.

I shall make a few specific remarks about my right hon. Friend’s constituency, or I would be castigated for failing to do so. I have just mentioned the 379 class trains and I know he recognised that his constituents were benefiting from them. I hope the introduction of those trains will see continually improving reliability on the route. My right hon. Friend, as well as my hon. Friends the Members for Harlow and for Hertford and Stortford, commented on the concern about overcrowding. This is undoubtedly the challenge for the next decade. It is the challenge of the success of the railways. Twenty years ago I used to travel from Hertford North and Hertford East. Services may or may not have got worse in the past 10 years, but they are a significant improvement on 20 years ago when the line was known for its unreliability. This is the challenge of success. Privatisation has brought a doubling of the number of passengers on broadly the same network as we had 40 years ago. That success means that we now have to meet the challenge of overcrowding.

With the introduction of the new Thameslink trains, which will come into service post 2016, and some of the financing of that rolling stock cascade, there will be an opportunity for the trains currently being used on Thameslink to be cascaded to other locations. There is no reason why they could not be used on the West Anglia rail line in future.

Sir Alan Haselhurst: My hon. Friend moved rather swiftly from lauding the type 379 as a high-performance train to identifying some Thameslink trains that might be passed down to us. There is quite a distinction there. I had rather hoped that he might indicate that we would not lose the 379s in the way I suggested, or indeed that he might try to give some encouragement to the idea that whoever gets the franchise after 2016 will be committed to having more of the 379s or their equivalent.

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Stephen Hammond: I can give my right hon. Friend some Christmas cheer by confirming that the 379s will be staying on the West Anglia rail line and will not be moved in the way he suggested. When we consider the new franchise for post October 2016, I am sure that the need for rolling stock enhancement will be part of the tendering process.

As I highlighted at the beginning, I recognise that there is a key limitation on the West Anglia rail line: it is a very busy two-track railway. The plans to three-track and four-track some of its southern sections will undoubtedly be welcomed right along the line. However, my right hon. and hon. Friends are right to recognise, and to pursue, the aspiration for faster and more frequent services. That could be met only by infrastructure interventions.

Four-tracking of the route could undoubtedly be part of that intervention. Unfortunately, if we look at it in the short term, that is unbelievably expensive. The plans developed by BAA in 2007, when it ran Stansted airport and there was higher demand, merely to three-track a section of the route were estimated to cost between £800 million and £1 billion. At the moment, such investment would represent a significant portion of the Government’s rail investment budget. It would therefore require a robust business case. In the medium term, that business case might be made, but my right hon. Friend was right to acknowledge that the Government are spending more on railway infrastructure—£19 billion between 2014 and 2019. None the less, my right hon. and hon. Friends are right to make that case, and I hear them making it.

In the medium term, the Government are supporting the development of the Crossrail 2 proposals, which would link the West Anglia rail line with the South West main line via a tunnel under central London and free up capacity for increased services. Plans are still in the early stages, but the Government are supportive.

In the shorter term, there are still some opportunities for us to improve capacity, reliability and journey times along the route. With the active participation and support of local stakeholders, I am keen to look at some of the short-term operational restrictions linked to level crossings and user-worked crossings. Where trains currently need to reduce speed on the approach to such crossings, I would like to see them able to maintain running speeds and therefore reduce journey times and improve operational reliability.

The Government are looking to develop the rail investment strategy beyond 2019. That work will be influenced significantly by an Anglia route study that Network Rail is shortly to begin. The study, which is due to report in 2015, is aimed at identifying the priorities for investment in the Anglia network. Right hon. and hon. Members will also be aware that the Chancellor announced in his autumn statement that the study will place special attention on the services between London and Stansted, and that extra focus should deliver benefits to passengers right along the West Anglia rail line.

I heard the comments by my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford about the London First proposals, which are currently just that. In addition, the interim findings of the independent Airports Commission are due shortly. Clearly, Ministers are not aware of what its recommendations might include, but they will provide some greater clarity on the long-term future of Stansted

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airport and the future capacity that it might need regarding the rail network, and that will inform decisions regarding my hon. Friend’s constituents.

On the Network Rail study, I encourage my right hon. and hon. Friends and, indeed, all Members representing constituencies along the route to make clear and reasoned submissions to Network Rail. It is important that those representations come from local authorities, local enterprise partnerships, businesses, passenger groups, and of course Members of Parliament. That will help to make a compelling case for future investment. I have no doubt that if that case is made, the Government’s rail investment strategy post-2019 will feature the West Anglia rail line very heavily.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden asked about devolution to the Mayor and TfL. The devolution proposal applies to only three routes, it will happen post-2015, although no formal dates have been agreed as yet, and it will result in a transfer of staff and trains to the Mayor’s jurisdiction. I understand that that will probably not make my right hon. Friend as happy as my earlier announcement.

Robert Halfon: While I completely agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Sir Alan Haselhurst), will my hon. Friend consider extending Oysterisation to Harlow, as has been considered in the past, or at least examine the possibilities of smartcard technology so that the many Harlow residents who commute to London can get the benefits that people commuting from other stations, including Ware, now have?

Stephen Hammond: My hon. Friend will know that we are undertaking a smart ticketing trial in various other parts of the south-east network. I am happy to consider his proposal. If he were to write to me and seek a meeting, I would be delighted to discuss it with him in greater depth, and with any other Members who wish for the further extension of smartcards to their area.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford mentioned several times the problems we had with the storm a few weeks back. I particularly remember travelling on that line all those years ago when it was one of the worst-hit lines. I think he will recognise that in certain places a large number of trees overhang the line, more so than on many other commuter routes, simply because of its structure. I am afraid that there was also a certain amount of overhead line damage that significantly delayed the reintroduction of services. None the less, he can be assured that the Secretary of State and I, and other Ministers in the Department, took a great interest in the situation and were in discussions with Network Rail about trying to ensure that lines were brought back into service as quickly as possible.

As I said, it is important that passengers and other interested parties influence the West Anglia route study. That is a chance to make an important contribution to the case for significant investment in the line post-2019.

I am delighted to have been able to respond to this important debate. My right hon. and hon. Friends have rightly made the case that we should not take our eyes away from the problems of overcrowding that their constituents suffer. I have been able to talk a little about some of the investment that is going in and is planned.

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I hope that that will have given my right hon. and hon. Friends at least some reassurance that the Government take the West Anglia main line very seriously.

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Question put and agreed to.

6.4 pm

House adjourned.