West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has submitted a request to the Commons Backbench Business Committee for a debate on the Government’s West Coast Main Line franchise decision.
Rosie made the request for the debate following the unwillingness of the Government to allow Parliamentary time for scrutiny of the decision and the process for awarding the contract.
MP Rosie, explaining her reasons in asking for this debate, said:
“In recent years we’ve had train companies ending their contracts early to avoid paying overly-ambitious payments to the Government. I believe it’s essential that MPs have a chance to scrutinise this contract, for the West Coast Main Line Franchise, to be assured that passengers and taxpayers are getting the best possible deal from whoever is finally awarded the contract.
“After all, on this route there are 31 million passenger journeys per year, from across London, West Midlands, North West, North Wales and central Scotland that rely on the West Coast Main Line. It is a contract worth up to £5.5 billion and lasting 15 years. Potentially, there are massive financial implications for commuters and the British taxpayer and over 170,000 people have already put their name to an e-petition asking the Government to actually reconsider their decision. Yet the Department for Transport appear determined to stop MPs from scrutinising their decision and how it was made. The announcement was made when Parliament wasn’t sitting, they attempted to sign the contract before Parliament met again. If you were suspicious you’d think the Transport Department had something to hide!
“There has been a real expression of concern about this whole process from passengers, rail industry experts, from taxpayers and from politicians. If the Department for Transport is confident in their decision and the process they have used then why do they appear so intent on keeping the decision from being scrutinised? This is a Government that keeps claiming to be open and transparent except it seems when it is awarding multi-billion contracts that will last the lifetime of this Parliament and the two after that.
“I hope the new Transport Secretary is more willing to live by the open and transparent principles this Government advocates than his predecessor was. In the meantime I have submitted a request to the Backbench Business Committee to allow time for a debate so that MPs can a have chance to discuss the West Coast Main Line Franchise.”