HC Deb 30 April 1958 vol 587 cc378-9
51. Mr. D. Howell

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will give the reasons for the cut back in the railway brake conversion scheme; and what proportion of the total sum allocated to the British Transport Commission for purposes of modernisation he expects to be used for paying compensation for orders cancelled as a result of the slowing down of this plan.

The Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation (Mr. Harold Watkinson)

The programme for converting existing wagon stock was reduced as a result of the capital investment cuts for 1958 and 1959. In addition, the programme for fitting 16-ton mineral wagons has been interrupted because it has been found that the braked wagons cannot be handled by some of the older type tippler gear at industrial plants until some modification of the gear has been carried out. A substantial cut back in the programme as a result of this difficulty is unlikely. Any financial arrangements to be made in respect of uncompleted contracts are a matter for the Commission and their contractors, but I am advised by the Commission that the cost to them of the revision of the contracts will be very small in relation to the total sum.

Mr. Howell

Is the Minister aware that there has been considerable anxiety in some quarters and on both sides of industry about the likelihood of men being put out of work because of these two factors and the possibility of large sums of money being involved by the payment of compensation? Can the Minister, in giving us that statement, which we should welcome, assure us that the British Transport Commission and his Ministry will do their best to minimise both of these factors and get this work moving again quickly?

Mr. Watkinson

Certainly, Sir.

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