HC Deb 05 December 1973 vol 865 cc1246-7
14. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he intends to produce his statement on the future of British Railways.

Mr. Peyton

I did so on 28th November.

Mr. Hamilton

Does the Minister recollect that in that statement he made no specific reference to the situation in Scotland? Can he now take the opportunity of spelling out exactly the investment programme improvements for Scotland? In particular, will he give assurances that there will be increased electrification in the central belt and on the main line to Inverness and Aberdeen, in view of the very great increase in freight traffic which is likely to result from the acceleration of the North Sea oil programme?

Mr. Peyton

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman has any ground for suggesting that Scotland is being badly treated. Indeed, he did not do so. The investment figures which I announced the other day were global figures and it will be for British Rail to split them up. Substantial work is going on in Scotland, and I have a note that the Hamilton loopline is now being electrified. No doubt the hon. Gentleman will take full credit for that.

Mr. J. H. Osborn

Will my right hon. Friend indicate when he will publish a White Paper on transport policy, including the future of British Rail? Will he indicate in that White Paper the work of the British Rail Research Station at Derby and of the Transport and Road Research Station at Bracknell on new transportation systems to take the traffic off the roads and put it on the tracks of existing railways?

Mr. Peyton

I hope that the White Paper will be ready before the end of the year. I should like to have a look at the other matters which my hon. Friend has raised.

Mr. Mulley

Can the Minister now tell us when he expects that British Rail will publish a breakdown of the details contained in his global statement of last week? Secondly, can he indicate when the Bill will be published to give statutory effect to the proposed financial changes in the structure of British Rail?

Mr. Peyton

The first part of the right hon. Gentleman's question is a matter for British Rail. As regards the second part, I hope that the Bill will be published before the House rises for Christmas.