Labour & Co-operative MP Alun Michael was at Welsh Questions in Parliament last week to raise the potential of mutual ownership of the rail network in Wales. The Minister David Jones was at least prepared to welcome the ‘helpful contribution’ of our People’s Rail proposals, unlike Plaid Cymru – no friends of co-ops, clearly.
The People’s Rail
3. Alun Michael (Cardiff South and Penarth) (Lab/Co-op): If she will discuss with ministerial colleagues the potential benefits of Wales being the test bed of the People’s Rail revised governance proposals; and if she will make a statement.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr David Jones): My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has regular discussions with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport about a range of transport issues that affect Wales. I am aware that the right hon. Gentleman spoke to my colleague the Minister of State for Transport only recently.
Alun Michael: I am sure the Minister recognises that the Welsh Government—led by Carwyn Jones, and including Carl Sargeant as the Minister with responsibility for local government and transport—are showing a capacity for innovation and for bringing co-operative principles to bear. Would it not be a good idea to support the Co-operative party’s idea of the People’s Rail, so that railway services in and around Wales are accountable to the travelling public? Will the Minister support that idea?
Mr Jones: The People’s Rail proposals are a helpful contribution to the continuing debate on how we improve our transport infrastructure—I believe they were first floated some four years ago when the Labour party was in power. The Government are currently considering our response to the McNulty review, which has identified ways in which to make the railways more efficient and affordable in the longer term.
Hywel Williams (Arfon) (PC): Rather than setting up a consumer mutual, which raises concerns about accountability to all the people of Wales, will the Government consider the utility of transferring responsibility for all railways in Wales to the directly democratic body, namely the Welsh Government and Assembly?
Mr Jones: That is not currently on the agenda, but no doubt the hon. Gentleman will make his representations to the Silk commission.