§ 12. Mr. Maclennan
asked the Secretary of State for Transport if, in the light of the Mackay Consultants report "The Social and Economic Case for the Dornoch Firth Rail Bridge", he will meet a deputation of local interests further to consider the financing of a rail crossing of the Dornoch Firth.
§ Mr. David Mitchell
No, Sir. British Rail has not to date submitted an investment proposal, either based on the Mackay report or not.
§ Mr. Maclennan
Will the Minister clarify the position, because the Mackay report says that British Rail could put forward a proposal based only on financial considerations and that a cost-benefit analysis is needed? Will that cost-benefit analysis have to be done by British Rail, or will the Government do it themselves? Will they do it as a matter of urgency, as the cost of constructing a rail bridge in association with a road bridge is much less than if one has to be built subsequently?
§ Mr. Mitchell
The Mackay Consultants' report is being considered by the Government, but nothing has yet persuaded us that we should interfere with British Rail's judgment. The expenditure for British Rail would amount to some £12.7 million and the amount of revenue that would be at risk if the Dornoch bridge were not proceeded with for rail connection would be only £120,000 per year. The hon. Gentleman will see that there is a dramatic difference between the outlay and the potential financial saving. The point made by the consultants on the cost benefit is being considered by the Government.