HC Deb 09 July 1984 vol 63 c685
4. Mr. Gregory

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what value, in £ sterling, were exports by British Rail Engineering Ltd. in each year since 1979 and to date in 1984; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. David Mitchell

The exports for each of the years were: £27 million, £34 million, £19 million, £3 million and £1.5 million.

I understand that BREL's export sales between January and May 1984 were £12.3 million and that further orders worth some £50 million have been secured.

Mr. Gregory

The House will agree that the most recent trend is encouraging after a fairly disappointing profile. In view of British Rail Engineering's large surplus capital, will my hon. Friend assure the House that British Rail management is putting its full resources into the export potential, and also that we have an opportunity to compete fairly within the European Community with French, German and other carriage works?

Mr. Mitchell

BREL management is putting considerable resources into its export drive. Last week it launched its international coach. I joined BREL management in welcoming representatives from 20 overseas countries. It has already secured the first order for the coach, worth £3.3 million, from Gabon. The railbus is on demonstration routes in Thailand, Malaysia, Denmark and the United States. Further orders for rolling stock have been secured from Coras Iompair Eireann.

Regarding European competition, there are difficulties where there are competing nationally-owned railway lines, but I shall consider my hon. Friend's point further.

Mr. Eggar

In view of the considerable success of BREL, when does my hon. Friend think that he will denationalise it?

Mr. Mitchell

My right hon. Friend asked the chairman of British Rail to examine the way forward for BREL. That will be one of the options which the chairman will consider, but he has not yet reported to my right hon. Friend.