HC Deb 27 March 1968 vol 761 cc1532-3
3. Mr. David Webster

asked the Minister of Transport what is her estimate of British Railways profits or losses for 1967 to 1968, 1968 to 1969 and 1969 to 1970.

Mrs. Castle

The deficit of the British Railways Board in 1967 was £153 million, and I estimate the 1968 deficit at about £152 million. In 1969, I hope that the Board will be able at least to break even within the new financial framework provided by the Transport Bill.

Mr. Webster

Is the Minister aware that presenting a £60 million debt to the ratepayers and writing off £1,250 million commencing capital debt makes these figures completely "phoney"?

Mrs. Castle

I could not accept that for a moment. I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman does not realise what a tough challenge we are giving to the Railways Board in the Transport Bill. As from next January, it will be expected to break even and there will be no more deficit financing. It is a tough challenge in which the whole House should support British Railways.

Mr. Ronald Atkins

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if she paid attention to the suggestions of hon. Members opposite and did not transfer traffic to the railways, the deficit would be much higher still and the ratepayer would suffer?

Mrs. Castle

I entirely agree that the inconsistencies in the Opposition's transport policy beggar description.

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