§ 35. Mr. Doland
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether it is proposed to regard the profit of, approximately, £129,000,000 made by the Government on the British railways, as being equivalent to the Excess Profits Tax payments of other industrial concerns; and will there be a post-war refund of 20 per cent. to enable the companies to cope with post-war replacement problems.
§ Mr. A. Edwards
Is it not a fact that this surplus has only accrued as a result of excessive charges and that had there been any question of retaining the profit a costing system would have been imposed, as is the case in the producing Departments?
§ Sir Frank Sanderson
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that by fixing the railway rental agreement at a figure which does not provide funds sufficient to meet 181 the charge on all the fixed interest bearing securities he has created a classic example for other countries of how not to meet their external obligations, and does he not consider that it is a short-sighted policy which will react against the interests of this country?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Under the agreement the railways get remuneration considerably above anything they earned in peace time.
§ Mr. Shinwell
The Question asks whether the Government are prepared to make concessions to the railway companies and how they propose to dispose of the profit. Is it to be used for the purpose of railway development after the war? Have the Government made up their mind on that?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
The agreement contains clauses, as my hon. Friend knows, about deferred maintenance and other things. The profit is paid into the Exchequer.