Public Bus Collisions

Lord Watts Excerpts
Monday 13th May 2024

(1 month, 1 week ago)

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Lord Davies of Gower Portrait Lord Davies of Gower (Con)
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My Lords, like all road users, cyclists are required to comply with road traffic laws in the interests of the safety of other road users. This is also reflected in the Highway Code. Dangerous cycling is completely unacceptable, and that is why there are already strict laws in place for cyclists who break the law. The police have the power to prosecute if these are broken.

Lord Watts Portrait Lord Watts (Lab)
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My Lords, can the Minister say how many cyclists were prosecuted last year? My own background tells me that very few are.

Lower Thames Crossing: Development Consent

Lord Watts Excerpts
Monday 29th April 2024

(1 month, 3 weeks ago)

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Lord Davies of Gower Portrait Lord Davies of Gower (Con)
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No, I am afraid that I cannot.

Lord Watts Portrait Lord Watts (Lab)
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My Lords, does the Minister remember that, when the Conservative Government took power, they ended the concept of a national policy group that would look at major infrastructure schemes and make sure that Britain was able to deliver those schemes in a quick and meaningful way? Does he agree with me that that was a massive mistake and that they should look at this issue again?

Lord Davies of Gower Portrait Lord Davies of Gower (Con)
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I hear what the noble Lord says and will take his views away to the department.

East Coast Main Line

Lord Watts Excerpts
Wednesday 24th January 2024

(4 months, 4 weeks ago)

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Lord Davies of Gower Portrait Lord Davies of Gower (Con)
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My noble friend is right; we did spend many hours debating this. We now have the minimum services levels Act and, frankly, the department expects train operators to make use of the legislation wherever appropriate.

Lord Watts Portrait Lord Watts (Lab)
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My Lords, is the decision by the Government to award Avanti another contract not rewarding failure? Do we not need a regulator that will put passengers first and the companies second?

Driving Licence: Young and Newly Qualified Drivers

Lord Watts Excerpts
Monday 15th January 2024

(5 months, 1 week ago)

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Lord Davies of Gower Portrait Lord Davies of Gower (Con)
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Can I say that I agree with my noble friend? At the age of 70, drivers must renew their entitlement and, at most, every three years after that. To renew the entitlement, they must make a legal declaration that they can meet the standards required to drive and confirm that they have listed any medical condition. That is the important point: whether there are any new medical conditions.

Lord Watts Portrait Lord Watts (Lab)
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My Lords, while I support reviewing the issue of young drivers, perhaps if the Minister is to do that, he will look at older drivers. As far as I know, there have not been any young drivers driving up motorways in the wrong direction.

Lord Davies of Gower Portrait Lord Davies of Gower (Con)
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Again, I would say that it is about, every three years after becoming 70, making a medical declaration to ensure that a person is of sound mind and able to continue driving on our roads.

Refurbishing Trains: Contracts

Lord Watts Excerpts
Tuesday 12th December 2023

(6 months, 1 week ago)

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Lord Davies of Gower Portrait Lord Davies of Gower (Con)
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The contract with HS2 and Alstom will go forward in terms of phase 1.

Lord Watts Portrait Lord Watts (Lab)
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My Lords, the Minister says that there will be investment in the railways. We know that there is money being kept safe from the cancellation of High Speed 2; how much of that is going to be transferred to northern schemes, because it looks quite clear that the Government are transferring money intended for the north down to the south?

Lord Davies of Gower Portrait Lord Davies of Gower (Con)
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If I am correct, I believe it was somewhere in the region of £30 billion to £34 billion.

Battery and Hydrogen-powered Aircraft

Lord Watts Excerpts
Thursday 30th November 2023

(6 months, 3 weeks ago)

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Lord Davies of Gower Portrait Lord Davies of Gower (Con)
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There are security issues for the Prime Minister, which I am sure the noble Baroness will appreciate. It is still a free world and people can choose how they want to travel, and we must remember that although we are anti-emissions, we are not anti-flying. We must reduce emissions from aviation while retaining our ability to fly.

Lord Watts Portrait Lord Watts (Lab)
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My Lords, may I suggest to the Minister that we build a high-speed rail connection to Manchester and then on to Sheffield, which might reduce the number of flights that are needed?

Lord Davies of Gower Portrait Lord Davies of Gower (Con)
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A very popular suggestion from the noble Lord, and his point is made.

Great British Railways

Lord Watts Excerpts
Wednesday 28th June 2023

(11 months, 4 weeks ago)

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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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There are so many factors involved in looking at comparative performance between the different train operating companies, and the Government publish as much data as they can. I pay tribute to staff at LNER, and agree that it offers a great service. However, I took a train up to Norwich last week, and I had great service on that too.

Lord Watts Portrait Lord Watts (Lab)
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My Lords, amid the claims about the number of journeys, what about the cost? It is now cheaper to fly to New York than to travel from Manchester to London on the train.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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The Government are always looking at what we can do to improve the services and passenger experience on our railways. We are looking at simplifying fares. The noble Lord will know that we have introduced single-leg pricing on LNER and are looking to potentially do a trial around demand-based pricing. All of these things will serve to put downward pressure on prices.

Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation

Lord Watts Excerpts
Tuesday 13th June 2023

(1 year ago)

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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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The Government have already recognised the strong case for sustainable aviation fuel for all types of flying, whether short- or long-haul. We will implement a sustainable aviation fuel mandate requiring operators to use 10% SAF by 2030, which acts as a pull on the market. Therefore, we are considering what else needs to be done to make SAF plant projects in the UK investible. This will not be a government-sponsored contract for difference as the SAF mandate does an awful lot of the heavy lifting, but we are working very closely with industry to look at an industry-led solution to improve the revenue certainty when it comes to SAF.

Lord Watts Portrait Lord Watts (Lab)
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My Lords, is it not the case that this small island is crying out for a land strategy policy, and that the House of Lords Land Use in England Committee recommended that we have the strategy and resources for it, and that all departments take part? Does the Minister share my disappointment that this is not happening?

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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I understand that it is happening, but I am slightly more excited by the biomass strategy, which will look at all the elements of biomass—what their potential uses are for our domestic environmental goals but also how they interact with our land-based goals. Therefore, we will also have the opportunity to look at our sustainability criteria, and how they can be strengthened in the context of looking at land strategy.

Railways: Trans-Pennine Express

Lord Watts Excerpts
Tuesday 23rd May 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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I absolutely agree with my noble friend. The railways are in a very poor financial place at the moment, with revenues between £50 million and £130 million less than they were before. That is why we must see reform of the railways if they are to have a viable future. That reform can happen only if we get the co-operation of the unions, which I am sure want to ensure a long-term future for their workers. I am grateful for all the work that my noble friend does in the north. The Secretary of State has asked officials to review services across the north to look for performance improvements and delivery certainty, and is looking to work with northern mayors and other stakeholders to make those improvements.

Lord Watts Portrait Lord Watts (Lab)
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My Lords, before the strikes took place, the railway was still a shambles. Can the Minister tell us why every European nation seems to be able to run a train service, while Britain cannot? Is it because the dogma that runs this Government means that they will not look at privatisation and bringing the railway system back into public ownership, like many other countries?

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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I am not wholly sure where the noble Lord gets that evidence from. Certainly, if he goes back to look at the period before industrial action really took hold, he will see that many of the train operating companies were working exactly to contract and better, and therefore getting performance fees. I want to point out as well—I think it is important—that while I absolutely note that some noble Lords will have had trouble travelling recently, those noble Lords who have not, such as me, will not say that they actually had a very good service. But I have had a fantastic service on LNER, on South Western Railway and on Avanti.

Bus Services

Lord Watts Excerpts
Thursday 30th March 2023

(1 year, 2 months ago)

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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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I absolutely accept what my noble friend is saying. From the Government’s perspective, we have had to see what happens to patronage and where service levels have ended up, given the current levels of support. We are also looking at the impact of the £2 bus fare cap. All these things are going into our analysis of what we may be able to do to support the bus sector after 30 June.

Lord Watts Portrait Lord Watts (Lab)
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My Lords, does the Minister agree that what is called for is regulation, and that if we reintroduce it right across the board and give those powers back to local authorities, they will be far more efficient in their use of bus resources?

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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I keep hearing this from the Labour Party, and I am not entirely sure which regulations and powers Labour is proposing to give back to local transport authorities. As the noble Lord well knows, at the moment, local transport authorities are required to produce an enhanced partnership, which is between them and the bus operators. If they do not want to do that, they can take all the powers they want and franchise the whole system.