§ 6. Mr. Walter Johnson
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will now 1513 slow down the phasing out of subsidies to the nationalised industries.
§ Mr. Johnson
Is my right hon. Friend aware that this policy is having a disastrous effect upon the Post Office and the railways, forcing them to raise their charges to a level that is now causing massive customer resistance? Surely it is now time to review this policy, for otherwise the services will be run down and there will be further unemployment in these industries.
§ Mr. Newton
Is the Minister aware that the increases in commuter rail fares are having a very serious effect on people who are already hard hit by taxation increases? Will he at least undertake that the interests of this group will be properly taken into account in the Budget?
§ Mr. Raphael Tuck
If we phase out these subsidies, is it not right that the increases in prices will trigger off a spate of wage demands, which is exactly what we are trying to avoid?
§ Mr. Dell
That is one aspect of the matter that the Government must keep in mind. None the less, it cannot be sensible in present circumstances to continue to subsidise energy prices. That is the position that the Government have been explaining. I think that it is understood that it is an inevitable fact about our present situation.
§ Mr. Nott
I welcome that reply, but will the Paymaster-General publish, perhaps at the time of the Budget, details of 1514 the extent to which nationalised industries are now financing capital expenditure out of revenue and the way in which the self-financing ratio—if I may call it that—has been moving over the past few years? The subsidies can be dwarfed by the degree to which nationalised industries are financing capital expenditure out of revenue. How has this been moving over the years?