Inside the Coalition – David Cameron and Nick Clegg recently decided the fate of their ministers and Ed Miliband took the opportunity to promote fresh talent. With a host of new faces, Freshwater UK’s Jay Turner takes a look at the frontbench and backbench MPs now focusing on rail policy in Westminster.
On the Conservative front bench we begin with Secretary of State, Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP. Brought in following the WCML franchise fiasco last year, the unflappable Derbyshire Dales MP deserves credit for steadying a large and unpredictable ship. Inevitably, he says he spends around 80 per cent of his time dealing with the railways.
A pair of Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State – Stephen Hammond MP and Robert Goodwill MP – completes the Tory contingent in the Department for Transport (DfT). With responsibility for rail (including operational issues, major projects, fares and ticketing, franchising, Crossrail and the Rail Delivery Group), Hammond has secured his desired (and deserved) position. A former investment analyst and Merton councillor, Hammond was quickly promoted to the shadow transport frontbench after winning his seat in 2005. In opposition he was heavily involved with reviewing the Conservative’s rail policy and he was chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Rail Group for over two years. During his time in the shadow transport frontbench team, he played an instrumental role in formulating flagship policies such as the Conservative Party’s “Rail Review” and its strategy for a new high speed rail network for the UK. He spearheaded the Opposition’s response to, amongst others, the then Concessionary Bus Fares, Crossrail and Local Transport bills. Following the reshuffle, Scarborough and Whitby MP Robert Goodwill takes on responsibility for rail freight and HS2 Phase One. Goodwill follows Simon Burns across from the Whips’ Office to join his former boss, McLoughlin. He is a steam train enthusiast, and his own steam train can often be seen at traction engine conventions and events in Yorkshire.
Operating in roles junior to those of Hammond and Goodwill (who have salaried ministerial posts) are the Secretary of State’s Parliamentary Private Secretaries (PPS) – the MP for York Outer, Julian Sturdy and the MP Milton Keynes South, Iain Stewart. Their key function is to help the Conservative’s transport ministers to track backbench opinion in the Commons. Both Julian and Iain are former members of the Transport Select Committee. And in addition to his ministers, PPSs and DfT officials, McLoughlin is closely supported by two political appointees – known as special advisers – with Julian Glover largely covering policy and Ben Mascall looking after the bulk of the media activity and some of the policy dossiers.
On the Conservative backbenches, Martin Vickers, Andrew Jones and Jason McCartney are active in two influential and cross-bench all-party parliamentary groups (APPGs) – the APPG Rail and the APPG Rail in the North. Martin Vickers took over from Stephen Hammond as Chair of the APPG Rail last year and has since taken a place on the Transport Select Committee. He has always taken an interest in the railways and is actively campaigning for a direct service from his Cleethorpes constituency to Kings Cross to be included in forthcoming ITT for East Coast. Andrew Jones (MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough) and Jason McCartney (MP for Colne Valley) sit as Vice-Chairs of the APPG Rail in the North and McCartney has recently joined colleagues on the Transport Select Committee. Both were instrumental in APPG Rail in the North’s successful contribution to the Northern Hub proposals earlier in this Parliament.
Conservative spokesmen in the Lords for the Department for Transport is Lord Popat taking over from Earl Attlee who has held the position since the 2010 general election.
Infrastructure Minister, Lord Deighton, is increasingly active across Government departments and this means that his work on HS2 and elements of rail franchising cannot be ignored.
Across the Chamber, Labour’s reshuffle saw Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh and Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle swap jobs. Whilst questions remain about the swap and what it means for Labour’s policy on HS2 and re-franchising, Creagh has already stated that a review of Labour’s railway policy will be launched within a year.
Appointed as Shadow Transport Minister back in 2011, Nottingham South’s MP Lillian Greenwood is second in command and has shadow responsibility for HS2, rail policy (major projects, fares and ticketing, and franchising), and Crossrail. In the shadow team, she is responsible for leading a policy review into how best to further devolve transport decision making and funding.
Completing the shadow team in the Commons are Gordon Marsden (MP for Blackpool South) and Richard Burden (MP for Birmingham Northfield). Marsden takes on responsibility for localism and devolution, local connectivity (including smart ticketing, buses, light rail and trams), accessibility and equalities, and HS2 (as understudy to Lillian Greenwood) while Burden takes freight and a deputising role on HS2 Phase One.
Over in the Lords, Labour’s two shadow transport spokespeople are former TSSA General Secretary and APPG Rail regular attendee, Lord Rosser, and former MP and Unite member, Lord Davies. On the backbenches are APPG Rail officers and industry experts Lord Berkeley (Secretary), Lord Faulkner (Treasurer) and Lord Snape (Vice-Chair) as well as former Transport Select Committee member and TSSA-sponsored MP for Bolton, Julie Hilling, who chairs the APPG Rail in the North.
The shadow transport special adviser has yet to be appointed and the team is currently supported by Juan Leahy, Laurence Turner, Lucy Hadley and Daniel Hendrie, parliamentary assistants to Mary Creagh, Lillian Greenwood, Richard Burden and Gordon Marsden respectively.
The Liberal Democrats saw a promotion in transport with the former Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Norman Baker, moving to the Home Office and Nick Clegg’s replacement for him, Baroness Kramer, entering the DfT as number two, Minister of State. Kramer’s responsibilities include HS2 (Phase Two), rail funding, cities and urban renewal, localism and devolution, and local transport connectivity (including buses, light rail and trams, smart ticketing, and taxis). She has previously voiced her discontent with the management of the Thameslink Programme, has been a consistent supporter of Crossrail, has opposed the expansion of Heathrow Airport and is a former Transport for London board member. In the past, she has been a regular attendee of the APPG Rail and contributor to transport debates in the Lords.
Joint Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Transport and former railway-man, Lord Bradshaw, is also a frequent attendee at the APPG Rail, as his is Liberal Democrat colleague, Lord Teverson. Argyll and Bute MP, Alan Reid, completes the Lib Dem cohort as the Joint Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Transport.
To View article CLICK HERE