Rail Disruption: Social and Economic Impacts

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Thursday 13th May 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will not correct the record on that because I was trying to reassure people that the vast majority of train services are actually running throughout the country at this moment. Therefore, it is very important that people do not read the papers and think, “I can’t get on a train”. The most important thing is that you probably can, but check beforehand. However, it is also the case that we experience disruption on our railways periodically, sometimes due to strikes and sometimes to defects in the track—these are incredibly unfortunate. We do not want them to happen; we want our services to run as punctually and effectively as possible.

The operators are offering refunds and delay repay compensation for cancelled and delayed trains. There has been an enormous amount of collaboration with all the train operating companies: I pay particular tribute to CrossCountry rail, which has put on new services to Bristol and Swindon, a route on which it does not normally travel. Tickets are accepted by other train operating companies, and indeed some have offered support by offering rolling stock.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I hope the Minister can reassure me that the 7.30 am train from King’s Cross to Edinburgh will be running tomorrow. More generally and significantly, have there been discussions with the devolved Governments about the economic and transport consequences? Given the responsibilities of the Scottish Government in relation to rail services, what specific discussions does the Minister plan to have with them?

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I wish I could reassure the noble Lord that the 7.30 will operate, but I am sure that the train operating companies are watching and will make sure that it does. I can reassure him that we always engage with our counterparts in the devolved Administrations in these circumstances. Priority has been given to resolving this at an operational level; it has been at an operational level that we have been collaborating. It is interesting to note that this issue has emerged also on the ScotRail class 385 fleet, with 10 out of the 70 units there experiencing a similar problem, but, thankfully, there has been no impact on services in Scotland.

Civil Aviation (Insurance) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Thursday 18th June 2020

(4 years ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I am very happy to support these regulations and to see their passage through Parliament but will take this opportunity to raise a couple of issues. I strongly support the points made by my noble friend Lord Blunkett and others in relation to the difficulties faced by particular travellers. I hope that the Minister will respond positively on that issue, with an indication not just of understanding but of what action might be taken. The point made by my noble friend Lord Foulkes about adding other situations such as the current pandemic to the list of issues that might be covered is a valid and topical one, and I hope there is a response to that too.

My remarks will mainly follow on from the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Goddard, about the conduct of airlines. Having read the debate on these regulations in the House of Commons and listened to the Minister today and Ministers generally over recent weeks, I sense that there is sympathy for the aviation industry. There is a desire to see it functioning again properly and to see that those who work in the aviation industry have some job security in very difficult times.

However, we cannot ignore the fact that the conduct particularly of airlines—but also airports in this country and beyond—is absolutely appalling at times. There have been comments this week in the other place about the way in which British Airways has been treating its staff over recent weeks. It has been treating its customers in that way for a very long time, and it has been at it again during this pandemic. It is not alone: it is not the worst, but it is certainly far from being the best. It carries our national flag, but it discredits it every time it treats customers badly when they are making complaints, looking for refunds or trying to ensure that their plane actually turns up on time. This is particularly acute in the domestic sector, where British Airways dominates the routes between Scotland and London. It treats customers as almost irrelevant in the way it conducts its business, because it has such domination that it is able to do that when people have no other choice.

Therefore, I hope that the Government will take this on board in all their current negotiations with the aviation industry. Yes, they should be positive and do what they can to help protect the industry and the jobs of those who work in it, and get international routes functioning again, but they should also demand change in the culture of the industry, which takes customers for granted and treats them like dirt far too often.

Climate Change: Cancun

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Monday 13th December 2010

(13 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Marland Portrait Lord Marland
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As I think the noble Baroness said, there are a few cynics in the House, although they might claim to be realists. I believe that the fundamental Conservative principle is that we put the taxpayer first, as the noble Lord so excellently did when I worshipped him as the great reforming Chancellor. However, he also knows that Britain is a great country because it has shown leadership, and this is what we are doing; we are putting Britain at the forefront of this by showing leadership.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I welcome the Statement and the outcome at Cancun, but I particularly welcome the Government’s approach to engaging properly with the Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly Government in advance of, and during, the summit. That is the right way for the Government of the United Kingdom to handle these matters. However, I have two questions for the Minister. First, given the way in which the major developed countries of the world have withdrawn from the commitments made at Gleneagles—another summit, on global poverty—how will it be possible to ensure that those who need to make a contribution to the global fund will carry through that commitment and ensure that those resources are available?

Secondly, will the Government of the United Kingdom ensure that their international development funding and policies work coherently with the approach that was agreed last week and the way in which that will be implemented following Durban next year?

Lord Marland Portrait Lord Marland
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I, too, pay tribute to the input from the National Assemblies for the great work that they have done in getting to this point and in helping with these negotiations.

On the green fund, it is clear that countries must honour their commitments. It is fundamental that, in the build-up to establishing this fund, feet are held to the fire as to the exact contribution that countries will make. However, 193 out of 194 countries signing up to something and the transparent way in which it will be done will be a very good starting point.

Our own Government have committed £1.5 billion as fast-track funding between 2010 and 2012. Our ongoing commitment is part of a £2.9 billion commitment over a five-year period—we will certainly not go back on that commitment—of which £300 million will be allocated to the deforestation issue.