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Conservatives hit out at Labour shadow minister over absence from rail debate

19:18 11 November 2014

Ben Gummer, Mark Pendlington at Ipswich rail station at with the rail manifesto on its way to London.

Ben Gummer, Mark Pendlington at Ipswich rail station at with the rail manifesto on its way to London.

The Conservative MPs behind the Great Eastern Rail Line upgrade campaign have rounded on Labour for failing to turn up to a debate on the rail link in parliament.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer claimed that if Labour won power and reorganised the railway industry, the window for improvements would be missed.

At a debate in Westminster Hall, he hailed the “cross party” work between Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs across the three counties, but said he and other campaigners had found it difficult to get “some sort of coherence from Labour Party representatives in the region”, and Labour were the “fly in the ointment” of the plans.

He said: “It is sad to see they [a Labour shadow transport minister] are not represented here today for this very important matter for our region.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband has not sanctioned the re-nationalisation of the railway – a move favoured by rail unions – but has promised to change the law to allow public and not-for-profit companies to run train services, as well as private companies, like the East Coast main line.

But Mr Gummer claimed that if Labour did bring in legislative changes, its plans for the railway would be “put at risk”.

Adding: “In fact, it would not just be put at risk, it would not happen. It has to start in 2016, if we are to succeed. We have one window here.”

He claimed that the new spending period for Network Rail, up to 2024, and starting in 2019 and the new franchise, which is due to be renewed in 2016, meant the timing of the report was crucial.

He said the “noises from the Labour Party” were that there would be a massive reorganisation of the rail industry.

“They would not be able to commit to a new franchise in 2016, or the investment here, if they are going through that reorganisation,” he said.

The debate came as a report was sent to the Transport Secretary and Chancellor last week making the case for a near half billion pound investment, which campaigners claim could see a payback of £4.5bn.

It is hoped that the money will be allocated in the Autumn Statement next month.

Answering the debate rail minister Claire Perry praised the report for showing the economic case for improvements.

But she said that it was “not just this region” that needed investment.

Labour candidates Jessica Asato and Clive Lewis said in a joint statement that Mr Gummer and Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, lead voices in the campaign, were “playing politics”.

They said: “Labour wants to see improvements on the Great Eastern Main Line, which have been held back by three short term contracts under this Tory-led Government while fares have gone up by 20% since 2010.

“Lilian Greenwood, Labour’s Shadow Rail Minister, will be visiting Norwich on Thursday to hear the case for greater investment herself and draw attention to the Government’s damaging proposals to break up the Norwich to Liverpool service.”

15 comments

  • Labour candidates Jessica Asato and Clive Lewis said in a joint statement that Mr Gummer and Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, lead voices in the campaign, were “playing politics”. You just couldn`t make that one up. If we had left it to Labour the A11 would never had been dualled. They were sending all the money upt north to their heartlands during the 13 years they were in power.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

  • Ingo - my point was that once you start throwing numbers about to discredit the current government, there's plenty that can be thrown about to discredit the previous one, so it's pointless (as you inferred). You only have to look back over the last few days to see the number of times the rail line is out of action or on a go slow, causing disruption to commuters and businesses. Companies won't invest in the East if there aren't decent transport and communication links. Slowly the roads are being sorted with the A11 upgrade, but the rail line, which serves a large number of people that commute from the East to London, is under incredible strain from ageing tracks that can't cope. We need a large investment from ANY government in the infrastructure to fix existing lines, rather than pie-in-the-sky HS2 or HS3 lines (as proposed by both the previous and current governments).

    Report this comment

    So_Many_Haters!

    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

  • forgetting to turn up .Forgetting to mention the deficit . All women shortlists . All black shortlists . But not all white shortlists . That would be illegal . The true face of labour

    Report this comment

    milecross

    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

  • @inko wagonknecht..I say steady on old boy !, you'll be expecting our Prime Minister to be 'Accountable and Responsible' next !, he cannot answer a question in parliament now !, all he is capable of doing is slagging off the opposition !

    Report this comment

    freedomf

    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

  • So sad to see the overall level of debate chiming in with our party political power addicts. Re-nationalise, you can't run a railway with 1000 companies. Look on the continent, there are more than one good example how to do it. If there is a train late for 5 min. in Switzerland, the minister has to answer questions in Parliament.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

  • Didn't council tax more than double under Labour, affecting the poor more than the rich? Income tax: 2010 you paid 20% on on earnings between £2440 and £39840, 40% up to £152440 and 50% above that. 2014 you pay 20% on on earnings £2880 to £34745, 40% up to £152880 and 45% above that. This means that more middle-income earners are paying 40% than under Labour. Plus, Labour took away the 10% rate that they brought in. As for the quote from the Labour candidates, "while fares have gone up by 20% since 2010", that's because of the Rail Fare Escalator of RPI+1% that was brought in by Labour in 2004.

    Report this comment

    So_Many_Haters!

    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

  • Didn't the Tories put up VAT, affecting the poor more than the rich?

    Report this comment

    amsterdam81

    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

  • Whatever the Tories say about other political parties, it is the Tories who gave a 5% tax cut to the most wealthy whilst attacking the poor and who tried to fool us about the £1.7 billion EU tax demand which they said they would not pay but DID. For those issues alone they will be devastated in the next General Election.

    Report this comment

    Johnthebap

    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

  • perhaps if more politicians drove motor cars like the majority of the rat race then theyd fix the roads and lower fuel duty. Theres nothing wrong with the railways that less commuters wont fix.!!!!

    Report this comment

    hayley and lee

    Tuesday, November 11, 2014

  • @trevorwoolnough: Brilliant!! xoD

    Report this comment

    skrich

    Tuesday, November 11, 2014

  • Pathetic bit of school child party politics by boy Ben. His time would be better spent getting the government and SCC on side for the northern bypass rather than organise a pointless debate.

    Report this comment

    amsterdam81

    Tuesday, November 11, 2014

  • As only 4% of the general public + Chloe use trains on a regular basis, I don't suppose many are that bothered, hardly a vote winner is it?

    Report this comment

    Unemployed and Luvin it.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2014

  • Surely, Take your son to work day?

    Report this comment

    trevorwoolnough

    Tuesday, November 11, 2014

  • No mention of Chloe-darling? How odd. This is another huge pre-election publicity stunt by the Conservatives. Exactly the sort of nonsense she normally adheres to with leech-like tenacity, what what.

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Spork-Pies

    Tuesday, November 11, 2014

  • Here we go, another bit of party politics getting brought into a very serious issue for us all. School boy politics will get you nowhere.

    Report this comment

    parkeg1

    Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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