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Stephen Byers

Volume 508: debated on Thursday 25 March 2010

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport on what dates he discussed matters relating to National Express with the right hon. Member for North Tyneside since 1 January 2009. (324188)

My noble Friend the Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis) had a brief conversation in the House of Commons with the right hon. Member for North Tyneside (Mr. Byers) in June 2009 about the East Coast Main Line. The Secretary of State does not recall the precise date (although it cannot have been before 8 June, his first full week in office).

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport if he will place in the Library a copy of each (a) email and (b) letter received by his Department from the right hon. Member for North Tyneside on National Express. (324189)

The Department for Transport has not received any emails or letters from the right hon. Member for North Tyneside (Mr. Byers) about National Express.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport if he will publish the (a) correspondence and (b) notes of discussions between his Department and the right hon. Member for North Tyneside on the operation by National Express of the East Coast Rail subsidiary franchise in 2009. (324603)

The Department for Transport has not received any correspondence from the right hon. Member for North Tyneside (Mr. Byers) on the operation by National Express of the East Coast Rail subsidiary franchise.

My noble Friend the Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis) had a brief conversation in the House of Commons with the right hon. Member for North Tyneside (Mr. Byers) in June 2009 about the East Coast Main Line.

As this was a conversation in the House of Commons there is no official note. However, the Secretary of State has stated for the record that they discussed the right hon. Member's experience in dealing with rail franchise difficulties when Transport Secretary. As regards the situation then facing National Express the Secretary of State told him that despite the company's difficulties he had no intention whatsoever of renegotiating the East Coast franchise on terms favourable to the company, as the company was seeking in its approaches to the Department for Transport. The Secretary of State also told the right hon. Member that in his view such a move would undermine the rail franchise system and would not be in the best interests of tax payers.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport on what date in June 2009 the Secretary of State was approached by the right hon. Member for North Tyneside on the issue of penalties to be levied against National Express; who first raised the issue; what record was made of the approach; and on what date the Permanent Secretary of his Department was informed that the meeting had taken place. (324606)

At the instigation of the right hon. Member for North Tyneside (Mr. Byers), my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis) had a brief conversation with him about the East Coast Main Line in the House of Commons in June 2009. The Secretary of State does not recall the precise date (although this cannot have been before 8 June, his first full week in office), and as this was a conversation in the House of Commons there is no official note.

However, the Secretary of State has stated for the record that they discussed the right hon. Member's experience in dealing with rail franchise difficulties when Transport Secretary. As regards the situation then facing National Express, the Secretary of State told him that despite the company's difficulties he had no intention whatsoever of renegotiating the East Coast franchise on terms favourable to the company, as the company was seeking in its approaches to the Department for Transport. The Secretary of State also told the right hon. Member that in his view such a move would undermine the rail franchise system and would not be in the best interests of tax payers.

The Permanent Secretary of the Department for Transport was informed of the conversation shortly after it took place.