HC Deb 05 December 1983 vol 50 c4
5. Dr. Marek

asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether his recent statement of objectives for British Rail was principally based upon the recommendations set out in part I of the Serpell report.

The Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. David Mitchell)

No, Sir.

Dr. Marek

Will the Minister take this opportunity to say categorically that Government policy will not be based on the Serpell report? Three weeks ago the Secretary of State gave as an example of efficiency on these Benches my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody). Will the Minister now give an example of efficiency on the railways, for which he has responsibility?

Mr. Mitchell

The content of the Government's statement of objectives for the railways was based not on Serpell but on BR's five-year plan, though speeded up. The House will be aware that the Serpell committee took much evidence from BR and that BR was involved in much of the preparation and ideas; so to that extent there is in the first part of Serpell an element of BR's own plans. As for examples of efficiency for which the hon. Gentleman asks, I might mention automatic ticket machines, level crossing automation, driver-only operations and radio signalling.

Mr. Adley

Does the criterion of profitability in the matters to which my hon. Friend referred apply to London commuter rail services? Is there any other city in the world where this criterion is, or is expected to be, put into operation?

Mr. Mitchell

The public service grant provides a substantial sum towards the commuter railway system, and my hon. Friend can be assured that we do not expect the southern region of BR to make a profit.