HC Deb 10 February 1960 vol 617 cc432-3
2. Mr. Boyden

asked the Minister of Defence if he will reassess the military importance of British Railways to the Service Departments, with a view to estimating, in conjunction with the British Transport Commission, what capital and current costs the Service Departments should contribute to the British Transport Commission in respect of Service needs.

Mr. Watkinson

No, Sir.

A very large number of public utility and commercial undertakings are of military importance, but this does not mean that the Service Departments should contribute to their costs, except as customers.

Mr. Boyden

Surely the railways are in a rather different position from that of other enterprises. Surely in times of war their value to the country is greatly increased. Will the Minister of Defence make some allowance for this and assess what this contribution is to the Defence Services? Will he not estimate, in consultation with the B.T.C., what this will be, and make a contribution?

Mr. Watkinson

I am advised that during the current financial year British Railways will recover about £13 million from the Defence Vote.