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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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
  • Get to the point
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

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

    £27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'