HC Deb 01 March 1978 vol 945 c459
29. Mr. Spriggs

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish in theOfficial Reportdetails of how many staff were employed by the British Transport Commission at the time of the Transport Act 1947, excluding docks, marine and canal staff; and how this compares with the current figure for the total staff of British Railways.

Mr. William Rodgers

Yes, Sir. The figures are 642,000 in 1947 and 219,000 in 1977, but they are not strictly comparable.

Mr. Spriggs

Is my right hon. Friend aware that since the Transport Act 1947 the publicly owned railways have become a target for cuts of all sorts in both freight and passenger services? That has affected the environment throughout the length and breadth of the country and added many thousands of men and women to the unemployed register. What steps is my right hon. Friend taking to rebuild the publicly owned railway transport system and to protect it from those on the Opposition Benches who have done all that they can to destroy this public enterprise?

Mr. Rodgers

I agree that there has been a considerable contraction in our railways system over the period that my hon. Friend mentions. Many fewer work on the railways today than 30 years ago. However, I would like to believe that we are now achieving a new stability that will improve morale in the railways. I think that the whole House will accept that they have a central and continuing role in our public transport system.