HC Deb 01 February 1961 vol 633 cc983-4
37. Mr. Popplewell

asked the Minister of Transport if the proposed new railway boards will have power to produce their own motive power units or rolling stock.

38. Mr. Fernyhough

asked the Minister of Transport if the proposed railway boards will have authority to produce their own rolling stock and motive power units and equipment.

Mr. Marples

Paragraph 14 of the White Paper states that the Railway Workshops will be vested in the British Railways Board. I contemplate that the forthcoming legislation will give this Board the statutory power which the hon. Members have in mind.

Mr. Popplewell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware how much pleasure it will give to the railway industry to have this assurance that it will be left entirely to the proposed Railways Board to produce at long last its own motive power units? Is he aware that this will be a very good move indeed, particularly in view of the difficulties the British Transport Commission is having with inferior motive power units which have been supplied by outside industry?

Mr. Marples

Without endorsing the last part of that supplementary question, I am glad that the hon. Gentleman finds this paragraph of the White Paper satisfactory—as, indeed, most of the other paragraphs are. [HON MEMBERS: "Oh."] I hope that the hon. Gentleman will take the copy of the White Paper that he has torn up and stick it together again now.

Mr. Fernyhough

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is pleasant for us to see that he is becoming a little less doctrinaire? Would he not agree that it is very necessary, in view of the inability of private contractors to supply reliable equipment, that the railways should have power to produce their own so that they will not have to carry the can of the abuse which they are getting at the present time and which should be placed on other shoulders?

Mr. Marples

I myself would prefer not to discuss these failures while they are the subject of inquiry by the Chief Inspecting Officer of Railways. Any Member in any part of the House who makes allegations of that nature is not being very helpful at this moment.

Mr. Nabarro

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the builders of these power units have an extensive export trade to all parts of the world, and that if the railway workshops are to have a monopoly of building power units for the British railway system it will negative any possibility of extending our world-wide export trade in this very important equipment?

Mr. Marples

I am quite certain that the export field should always be borne in mind in this respect.

Mr. Nabarro

Hear, hear.

Mr. Manuel

Is the House to take it that the Minister has just given a pledge that the existing railway workshops are to be kept in being under the new Board?

Mr. Marples

The answer is quite clear. The White Paper says that the railway workshops will be vested in the British Railways Board and the responsibility lies with the central Railways Board, so that the Board must decide how the workshops will be used.