BBC Sunday Politics: the English question, rail investment and the automotive sector

Yesterday I appeared on the BBC’s Sunday Politics show to discuss Conservative plans for investment in our rail networks, English votes for English issues and the renaissance of our automotive industry in our region.
First we discussed Labour’s new policy to renationalise our rail network. Those of us who are old enough to remember the disaster of British Rail know that such a move would be catastrophic, leading to higher rail fares, a more unionised workforce and even worse services. Instead, this Government has embarked on a £38 billion rail investment, the most since Victorian times. As I asked Gavin Shuker MP yesterday, the fundamental question Labour can’t answer on their plans is where the money is going to come from if not the private sector. Sadly, I think there is only one real answer: yet more debt and even higher taxes.
Secondly, in light of the Scottish referendum last week, we talked about plans afoot to finally address the English question. I pointed out how dependent Labour is on its Scottish parliamentary contingent and why we need English legislation for English people by English MPs. In light of further powers to Scotland, we need a package of constitutional reforms which starts by tackling the English question. This doesn’t mean returning to the disastrous and wasteful form of regional assemblies that Labour were so keen to pioneer, but rather real localism we’ve seen under this Government devolving power to neighbourhoods and parishes. The truth is that Labour is running scared from the English question, exposing how much they rely on Scottish MPs to prop them up. Under this Government, we will reintroduce fairness into the constitutional settlement.
Finally, we talked about the sad news of Lotus job losses in Hethel. I am working closely with Richard Bacon on this and, as a Minister at Department of Business, with the Secretary of State. I believe the Government has got a good record on helping save as many jobs as possible in these situations and providing support through retraining. Moreover, I think our region has a good story to tell as part of the renaissance of the automotive industry, with two Formula 1 teams in Norfolk. Though the situation is difficult, this needn’t be a disaster. Out of ashes of the decline of the automotive sector, the UK is now once again a net exporter of cars. My hope is that we will see new businesses and opportunities emerge in this sector, continuing to attract investment to our region.




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