PM and Miliband clash on rail fares

 

Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband traded
accusations today over who was responsible for rail fare hikes of up to
11 per cent.

Both men faced calls to apologise for misleading the Commons during the furious exchange at Prime Minister's Questions.

Mr Miliband blamed the Government for the scale of fare rises on the most popular services this month, saying the coalition had brought back flexibility on prices after the last Labour administration scrapped it.

But Mr Cameron shot back that Labour had only got rid of flexibility - allowing companies to increase fares by more on the busiest routes - for one year in 2010.

"They changed it for one year only, an election year, with no intention of making it permanent and if he doesn't know that he should," Mr Cameron said.

But the Labour leader insisted the Prime Minister was "wrong".

"The last Labour government saw that train companies were taking advantage of consumers, ripping them off, by increasing fares more on the busiest routes and stopped it. We took away that power from them," he said.

"You came to office and you brought the power back, you made the wrong decision."

The Government later produced a Department for Transport contract stating that the ending of flexible fares would be "reversed" on January 1 2011.

But Labour peer Lord Adonis, who was transport secretary at the time, said it had been his "firm intention" to continue with the restrictions after 2010.

"The ending of the flexibility was strongly opposed by the train companies, but they complied and it was highly popular with passengers.

"It was my firm intention to continue the policy for subsequent years, and I was mystified when Philip Hammond, my successor, reinstated the fares flexibility."

His comments appeared to be supported by a transcript of a 2009 appearance before the Commons Transport Committee, when he said: "The Government's intention is that in future the cap should apply to individual regulated fares, not just to the average of each fares basket."

But Downing Street said it was "very clear in the agreement with the train operating companies that it was for a single year".

The Prime Minister's spokesman acknowledged that it was open for the coalition to renew the agreement after it lapsed on January 1 2011.

But he added: "There is a cost associated with that and, as the Prime Minister said, the money for trains has to come from one of two places. It comes from fares or from the taxpayer.

"If you had extended that for another year, there would have been a cost. You could have got that from taxes or you could have let the deficit go up. These were your choices."

The spokesman denied that the decision not to repeat a one-year arrangement amounted to a change in the policy inherited from Labour.

"The accusation in the House of Commons was that we changed policy," he said. "We accepted the policy and the policy was that it was in place for one year."

Conservative Party co-chair Baroness Warsi called on Mr Miliband to apologise to Parliament.

"Ed Miliband must have known that ministers he sat in government with had signed an agreement with the rail companies that explicitly reversed the changes it made on 1 January 2011," she said.

"Now that the evidence is there in black and white for all to see, Ed Miliband should correct the record and apologise to Parliament.

"Either he was misleading the House or he simply didn't do his homework."

But Labour MP Simon Danczuk accused the Prime Minister of lying and said it was for him to apologise.

"David Cameron is telling a lie about Labour because he is embarrassed by his failure to stand up to the train companies. He is blushing red about the way Ed Miliband is standing up for passengers and the squeezed middle.

"David Cameron knows the truth and he should come back to the House, apologise and immediately correct the record."

PA

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
James Hewitt has firmly denied being Harry’s father
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Day In a Page

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?