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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-06960: Liam Kerr (North East Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 7 February 2017

To ask the Scottish Government, further to its statement on Scottish ferry services on 2 February 2017, and in light of its stated preference for an "in-house provider" of these services, whether this also applies to its rail policy.

Answered by: Humza Yousaf 23 February 2017

In my Statement to Parliament I announced a policy review to identify and consider the legal, policy and financial implications relevant to the procurement of ferry services. I made clear that we could not pre-judge the outcome of that review. If the Teckal exemption applies, if the approach complies with state-aid rules and, crucially, if communities agree, then the Government is minded to make a direct award to an in-house provider in respect of ferry services.

Railway services operate in a different legal context – a specific, largely reserved legal framework, primarily governed by the Railways Act 1993. In 2016, the 1993 Act was amended to lift the prohibition on public sector bodies bidding for rail franchises in Scotland. The Scottish Government has initiated work with relevant stakeholders to consider the potential suitability of various parts of the public sector to bid for a rail franchise. Any such bid would be subject to relevant public procurement requirements and would be in competition with any private sector bids that came forward. The Scottish Ministers, as franchising authority, would evaluate all such bids fairly and properly, in accordance with those requirements. On railway infrastructure, I continue to press the UK Government to provide greater operational devolution of Network Rail functions to Scotland to ensure that our rail industry is better placed to deliver the best possible outcomes for passengers.