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

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
News
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea was left red faced but, thankfully, unhurt after taking a few too many steps backwards, sending her tumbling off the stage.
peopleIggy Azalea was left red faced but apparently unhurt after taking a few too many steps backwards
News
newsComedian Lee Hurst started trend with first tweet using the hashtag
News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A nearly completed RoboThespian robot inside the Engineered Arts workshop is tested in Penryn, England. The Cornish company, operating from an industrial unit near Falmouth, is the world's only maker of commercially available life sized humanoid robots
techSuper-intelligent robots could decide destroying the human race is the kindest thing to do
News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Extras
indybest

Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyongío Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyongío and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a
film
Sport
sport
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
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
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

    What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

    Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

    Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

    Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

    Florence Knight's perfect picnic

    Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
    Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

    Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

    The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
    Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

    Mark Hix's summery soups

    Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
    Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

    Tim Sherwood column

    I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition