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Railway Companies (Executive Pay)

Volume 540: debated on Thursday 23 February 2012

9. What steps she plans to take to limit the bonuses and overall remuneration of executive directors of privately owned but publicly subsidised railway companies. (95957)

Bonuses at shareholder-owned private sector companies are a matter for their remuneration committees and shareholders. I very much welcome the decision by the Network Rail’s executive directors to forgo this year’s annual bonuses.

I ask the Secretary of State to think further on that. Of the six private companies that receive enormous subsidies from the taxpayer for running rail franchises, only one publishes information on the remuneration of its directors—the highest paid director receives £344,000 a year. Will she consider publishing, in an anonymised form if necessary, the salaries of all directors and staff of companies that receive money from the taxpayer when those salaries are higher, say, than her own?

The hon. Gentleman makes an interesting suggestion. The Government are looking across the board at how we can introduce corporate governance rules that lead to a more responsible approach by companies, and that give shareholders the ability to hold their executive to account more effectively. Transparency is a key part of the Government’s agenda too, so I shall reflect on what he says.

I encourage the Secretary of State to come to visit the new Network Rail headquarters in Milton Keynes, not because I want her to interfere in remuneration—that is best left to the company—but so that she can celebrate the 1,000 new jobs that have been created there.

I would be delighted to visit Milton Keynes. Network Rail is doing a huge amount of work on skills and apprenticeships. We should reflect on that and celebrate it.