May 23, 2018 / 3:27 PM / 6 months ago

Labour loses vote to dock transport minister's pay over rail failure

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling leaves 10 Downing Street, London, November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s opposition Labour Party lost a vote on Wednesday to force the government to dock the transport minister’s salary over his handling of the failed contract to run the London to Edinburgh rail line.

They wanted to cut Chris Grayling’s pay by 2,400 pounds ($3,200) - the cost of an annual train ticket from his constituency in Ashtead, Surrey to London.

The government said last week it would renationalise the Edinburgh route in June after the contract to run it failed because the private operators, Stagecoach (SGC.L) and Virgin, had over-estimated profits.

Labour, which supports the renationalisation of all Britain’s railways, is angry at how Grayling handled the issue, and at his plans to allow private operators to be involved in running the line in future.

Labour employed a rarely used parliamentary tactic called a censure motion to hold a debate to see whether the House of Commons supports a government minister in the carrying out of his or her responsibilities. It lost by 304 to 271 votes.

“Historically, the House of Commons has called for a government minister’s salary to be reduced by a nominal sum as an expression of its dissatisfaction with the conduct of a minister or their handling of a particular policy,” the tabled motion stated.

The 2,400 pounds compares with lawmakers’ basic salary of 76,011 pounds, although ministers are paid additional sums.

Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Stephen Addison

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