The Transport Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Department for Transport and its associated public bodies.
The Committee is one of the departmental select committees, the powers of which are set out in House of Commons Standing Orders, principally in SO No 152. These are available on the Internet via www.parliament.uk.
The Committee’s report on the Rail White Paper, criticised the Government for a lack of vision and long-term strategy for the railways and particularly regretted the Government’s failure to plan for high speed rail and for not allocating money to electrification projects to enhance capacity and efficiency on the network, as well as reducing costs and emissions in the long term. However, six months later, on 15 January 2009, the Secretary of State announced that the Government had changed its position, and would be pursuing high speed rail through the creation of High Speed Two Ltd, a company set up specifically to develop route proposals for the first stages of a high speed network.5
With the appointment of Lord Adonis as Secretary of State for Transport in June 2009, MPs lost the regular opportunity to question the Secretary of State on the floor of the House at Transport Questions. That a Secretary of State for a major spending department cannot be held to account in the elected Chamber raises an important constitutional issue. Whilst options for resolving this problem are being considered by others, the Committee decided to ask the newly appointed Lord Adonis to appear before them at regular intervals to answer ‘Transport Questions’ by Select Committee. To his credit, the Secretary of State was enthusiastic, and appeared on 4 November 2009 when he answered questions on road safety, the third runway at Heathrow Airport and the Department’s medium to long term investment priorities.
Lord Adonis has also given evidence to the Committee on three other occasions since becoming Secretary of State, and with four appearances before the Committee in seven months.
To read the full report, click on the link.
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