HC Deb 24 March 1970 vol 798 cc1186-8
9. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Minister of Transport if he will publish the calculations on which his decision to permit the electrification of the Crewe-Glasgow line was based.

Mr. Mulley

No, Sir. This would not be in the commercial interest of the Railways Board.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

In view of the obvious scepticism of the right hon. Gentleman's immediate predecessor about his own assurance that the d.c.f. return on the investment would be 10 per cent. or more, should not the right hon. Gentleman think again and publish all the figures so that we can judge for ourselves?

Mr. Mulley

The hon. Gentleman does an injustice to my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Marsh). He asked what I thought was a very relevant and proper Question on what the rate of d.c.f. return would be. As far as I am aware, he has shown no scepticism about the answer I gave in the House on 23rd February, which was that it would be at least 10 per cent., and, indeed, might well be considerably better. I do not think that it would be proper or right to set a precedent in nationalised industry investment by making public all the figures, which would be of great interest to its competitors.

Mr. Hooley

Will my right hon. Friend consider working out a very long-term electrification policy for the railway comparable to the motorway plan, because decisions taken in pieces like this have adverse effects on the electric traction industry?

Mr. Mulley

I agree that it would be helpful for the electric traction industry to have a very long-term programme, but this decision is by no means a small piece. It is a very expensive project, and will be going on over several years. The decision to electrify is primarily for the Railways Board, but its total investment programme is also a matter of concern for it and ultimately for me and it is a matter of resources.

Mr. Edward M. Taylor

Does the Minister agree that every single example of a major electrification scheme we have had has resulted in a dramatic increase in passenger rail traffic?

Mr. Mulley

To speak of a dramatic increase is an exaggeration, but working out the figures for Weaver Junction to Glasgow I did not take account of any enormous increase in passengers carried. I am certain that there will be some increase.

Mr. J. T. Price

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the electrification of the London to Liverpool and Manchester service has been a tremendous success, one of the most dramatic successes we have had since the war? These ill-natured attacks emanating from a Scottish hon. Member on the latest decision to extend electrification to Scotland make us even more sceptical about those who are knocking this system for purely party political reasons. Is my right hon. Friend aware that we are prepared to encourage British industry to have the most efficient tools to give an efficient service to the British public, and that we welcome the steps taken by the Government?

Mr. Mulley

I am much obliged to my hon. Friend. I have noted his remarks. I hope that the people of Scotland will note the question asked by the hon. Member for South Angus (Mr. Bruce-Gardyne).