1. ITV Report

Patrick McLoughlin in the spotlight

The Transport Secretary will be speaking later today. Photo: PA

The first full day of the Conservative Party Conference gets underway later this morning and delegates at the ICC in Birmingham will hear first hand from the man in the know on Transport, Patrick McLoughlin.

The Derbyshire Dales MP and Secretary of State for Transport makes his keynote speech to the party well aware that he has questions to answer over the West Coast mainline affair.

The West Midlands rail franchise process will be debated at the conference. Credit: PA

Two independent inquiries have been set up to look into what went wrong in the rail franchising process which had to be scrapped last week because of grave errors uncovered in the calculations for future passenger numbers and inflation.

The rail route which passes through the West Midlands has been in the hands of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group but was due to have been passed to rivals, First Group, until the dramatic discovery of the calculation errors.

Three senior Department for Transport officials have been suspended pending the outcome of the inquiries.

Mr McLoughlin is also likely to face questions over the Thameslink rail contract. Credit: PA

Meanwhile pressure is growing on Mr McLoughlin to reconsider other contracts awarded by his department such as the Thameslink train carriage deal which went to the German firm Siemens rather than Derby based Bombardier.

Also on the conference platform this morning with be the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. The coalition government says it is proud to have cut the country's deficit by a quarter after two years in office but will Mr Osborne reveal details of how the government aims to raise more money from the wealthy?

The tories are making a number of key announcements this week, such as the freezing of council tax bills and a peg on the hike in rail fares in January. However, midlanders will want to know how it will translate to the key issue of jobs creation.

Manufacturing has had some wins in the Midlands, notably at Jaguar Landrover, but many hundreds of other people hit by the hard times will want proof that the pain will eventually transform into economic growth and success.

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