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TobyPerkinsMP - Chesterfield Date posted: 6 Sep 2011 12:58
Thank you for contacting me about the Tory-led government's decision not to award the contract for the Thameslink rolling stock to Bombardier, who would have built these trains in Britain.
I apologise for the delay in replying but can assure you that I have been working to bring pressure to bear on the Government to support employees of Bombardier since the Secretary of State for Transport awarded the contract to a German company.
Tomorrow the Transport Select Committee will be hearing further representations on the decision to award the contract to Siemens, and I hope that they will also add their voice to the growing calls on the Secretary of State for Transport to re-assess his decision.
Bombardier is the only company that designs, builds, maintains and exports trains from the UK and the loss of this contract has led directly to the announcement of job losses and the company’s decision to review its entire UK operations. Losing the last train manufacturing site in Derby will have knock-on effects on the wider economy.
UNITE the Union have estimated that around 125 companies within the supply line to Bombardier will be affected by this crass decision and many hundreds and even thousands of jobs will be lost in the Derbyshire area. Today I spoke on Radio Sheffield on the wider implications of this report in an attempt to keep up the pressure on the government.
The government’s claim to want to support the British manufacturing that is vital for jobs and growth has been exposed as nothing more than a sham. Having already scaled back Labour’s planned orders for new trains thanks to their decision to cut too far and too fast, they have now passed up the opportunity to boost British manufacturing and help secure the jobs and growth the economy needs.
It was perfectly possible for Ministers to review this procurement and ensure that the wider impact on the region and UK economy was taken into account before awarding the contract. For example, the previous government ordered a review into the Intercity Express programme after having announced the preferred bidder. In fact a crucial procurement document makes it very clear that the Secretary of State could have made changes at any time:
"The issue of this Invitation to Tender in no way commits the Secretary of State to award the Thameslink Rolling Stock Programme to any person or party. The Secretary of State reserves the right to terminate the competition, to award the Thameslink Rolling Stock Programme without prior notice, to change the basis, the procedures and the timescales set out or referred to in this document, or to reject any or all Proposals and to terminate discussions with any or all Bidders at any time. Nothing in this Invitation to Tender should be interpreted as a commitment by the Secretary of State to award the Thameslink Rolling Stock Programme to a Bidder."
The government could have worked harder with Bombardier to ensure that they were in pole position to win this contract. They could have questioned Siemens track record in being able to supply and they could have used the fact that the company have been found guilty of corruption elsewhere in the world and were banned from supplying the World Bank for two years as a result.
If the government are serious about creating a private sector led recovery with a strong manufacturing sector that is competitive and profitable then I believe we must do more to ensure that British manufacturers are better placed to secure the orders that enable them to create and sustain jobs in Britain.
That’s why Labour has called on the government to review its decision and do everything possible to ensure that the Thameslink rolling stock contract benefits Britain’s manufacturing sector and the wider economy. We will continue to keep up the pressure on Ministers on this issue.
TOBY PERKINS MP
Labour Member of Parliament for Chesterfield
Shadow Minister for Children and Families