At Transport questions, Sir George asked Ministers what had happened to proposed improvements to stations and services in his constituency, following the Government's decision not to award a long franchise to South west Trains. See below.
Sir George Young (North-West Hampshire): As Chairman of the Standards and Privileges Committee, I am taking an increasing interest in the inducements that are being offered in these exchanges.
The Minister will be aware that the Waterloo to Exeter service runs through important stations, such as Overton, Whitchurch, Andover and Grateley. Is he also aware that when a seven to 15-year franchise was on offer to South West Trains the company was prepared to make substantial capital investments, but that as only a short extension is now on offer it is understandably more reluctant? Will he give an assurance that the SRA will step in and make the improvements to which we were all looking forward?
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. David Jamieson): I note the right hon. Gentleman's comments, although I notice that he did not offer me any "seducement" to visit his constituency.
The right hon. Gentleman makes a good point, but the capital to which he referred was not always available in particular franchises—it was not actually connected to them. I can assure him that we recognise the importance of the line and of those stations, but he must recognise that the SRA, with the available funding, has to deal with the priorities as they stand, including the competing demands from his hon. Friends and other Members on both sides of the House.