At the end of September last year I wrote about a question asked in Parliament by a Sussex MP and what I considered to be a rather ineffectual response from a Government Minister, Paul Maynard who is the MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys and also the Parliamentary Under Secretary in the Department for Transport and Rail Minister. My point then as now is that asking questions to which the answer is ineffectual is a waste of our money. The bean counters estimate that the cost of each question and answer is £164 of taxpayers money.
In September Maria Caulfield (Lewes – Conservative) asked:
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what long-term investment plans the Government has to improve the Brighton Main Line.
Paul Maynard answered:
Network Rail is currently developing proposals for potential upgrades of theBrighton Main Line, following the conclusions of the Sussex Route Study, and the London South Coast Rail Corridor Study, both of which highlighted significant capacity and performance constraints. Government will fund Network Rail to develop proposals as necessary.
Seven months later on 20th April Henry Smith (Crawley – Conservative) asked a similar question:
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, with reference to the letter of 2 March 2017 by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport to the Chair of the Transport Committee on the London and South Coast Rail Corridor Study, whether his Department plans to make funding available to Network Rail to develop plans for works around Croydon to support the Brighton mainline.
This time Paul Maynard answered:
The Government recognises the importance of the Brighton Mainline upgrade proposals, which are at an early stage of development. As I said when publishing the Study, will we continue to support Network Rail in further developing and refining the proposals. In addition, the Government has committed an additional £300m to increase targeted maintenance and improve performance on Thameslink routes, including the Brighton Mainline, in coming years.
Whilst the seven months might have shown some signs of development in these proposals and it is very concerning that there is no indication that any change has happened, it is also worrying when intelligent men and women ask the same question repeatedly and expect a different answer. Are we being taken for a ride or is £328 of public money considered to be a disposable sum?