HC Deb 23 December 1981 vol 15 c985
21. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what is the current investment programme on roads and railways, respectively, in Scotland; and what are the estimated figures for 1982 to 1985.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

Within the ceiling set by the Government, decisions on the investment programme for the railways, and priorities within the programme, are a matter for the British Railways Board. Responsibility for the road programme in Scotland lies with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Mr. Hamilton

Does the Minister recognise that the Scottish economy, more than most other parts of the United Kingdom economy, depends to an enormous extent on the quality of the transport system? Will the Government treat Scotland as a special case for rail investment, and will the Minister press that point upon the British Railways Board?

Mr. Clarke

British Rail has a number of investment plans in Scotland. I do not believe that the board is neglecting Scotland in its future investment programme. We are anxious to maintain British Rail's investment at a reasonable, affordable level. We have not reduced its investment ceiling and we hope to provide adequately for its forthcoming projects in Scotland. The Government cannot step in and instruct the board to consider any part of the United Kingdom as a special case.

Mr. Robert Hughes

In the Government's discussions with Sir Peter Parker about rail investment, will the Minister make it clear that there is intense dissatisfaction in Scotland with the quality of the rolling stock for passenger travel there? Does he recognise that there have been many complaints that British Rail is not doing enough to generate freight traffic in Scotland and is, therefore, losing traffic because of its lack of initiative?

Mr. Clarke

There are proposals to replace much of the old rolling stock in Scotland, partly by the Ayr electrification scheme and partly by the programme of replacement diesel multiple unit vehicles. No doubt British Rail will submit its proposals to the Government in due course. I shall draw the attention of the board to the hon. Gentleman's remarks about the marketing of freight services in Scotland. Both the board and the Government are anxious that all marketing skills should be used to expand the railway freight business.