HC Deb 20 December 1967 vol 756 cc1259-60
30. Mrs. Knight

asked the Minister of Transport what is the latest estimate for the deficit of British Railways for the year 1967.

Mr. John Morris

About £153 million.

Mrs. Knight

Will the Minister accept that this crushing figure—[Laughter.]—this crushing deficit which is to be incurred this year by British Railways, taken in conjunction with the right hon. Lady's earlier statement this afternoon that docks and ports are to be nationalised within the length of this Parliament, must award her the crown as the biggest spreader of alarm and despondency in this festive season?

Mr. Morris

While not being an expert on crushing figures, I may say that the present deficit of £153 million is the direct result of a shortfall in freight traffic of £25 million in the course of the present year. Had the hon. Lady been a Member in 1962, I am sure that she would not have voted for the transport Measure of that year. We are now trying to correct the financial mess imposed on the railway industry by that Act.

Mr. E. G. Perry

Can my hon. Friend tell the House what was the deficit, in toto, of the privately-owned railways in 1947, the year before nationalisation?

Mr. Morris

Not without notice, but the figure in 1962 was higher than the present figure.