§ 32. Mr. Ernest Davies
asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, in view of the reduction in capital investment, what revision has been made in the Estimates contained in Command Paper No. 9880, Proposals for the Railways; by what year it is now estimated that the British Transport Commission will balance its accounts; and how the deficits are to be met.
§ Mr. Watkinson
The British Transport Commission informs me that it can distribute the amount of capital investment now approved so that no revision of the estimates in the Command Paper of its financial position is called for. This will not affect the date by which it is estimated that the Commission will balance its accounts. Deficits will be met in accordance with the provisions of the Transport (Railway Finances) Act, 1957.
§ Mr. Davies
How does the Minister reconcile that with the fact that there is going to be a cut in the expenditure? Does he not recall that in the White Paper it was made quite clear that fulfilment of the estimates to bring the Commission 201 into balance by 1961 or 1962 was dependent upon there being no cut in the modernisation programme? A cut is now taking place, and the financial circumstances of the Commission are difficult. Does he really believe it will be able to achieve those estimates by 1961 and 1962?
§ Mr. D. Jones
If £170 million is to be made available to the Commission for all its capital purposes in the next financial year and, according to the White Paper, it requires£135 million to keep its modernisation programme up to schedule, does that mean that it will have only £35 million for all its other capital purposes?
§ Mr. Watkinson
If the hon. Gentleman wants to pursue these detailed matters, he must put down Questions. I have given a clear answer to the Question on the Paper.