HC Deb 03 July 1995 vol 263 cc9-10
9. Mr. John Evans

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he next expects to meet the European Commissioner for Transport to discuss European subsidies to British Rail. [30126]

Mr. Watts

There is no scheduled meeting to discuss subsidies.

Mr. Evans

Will the Minister confirm that the Government have been forced to repay the millions of pounds that they received from the European Union to implement major improvements in the British Rail network? Does he feel that obtaining money by that method is almost obtaining money by false pretences? Is that not another nail in the coffin of the privatisation of British Rail?

Mr. Watts

No, no and no.

Mr. Tredinnick

If my hon. Friend meets the Commissioner to discuss the subject of subsidies, will he consider the importance of the midland main line to Leicester? Now that the channel tunnel rail link is to go to St. Pancras—extensive and expensive works are to take place there—has not the time come for a greater emphasis on the development of the midland main line, which is vital to all those who live in Leicestershire and beyond?

Mr. Watts

It is, of course, good news for Britain and the areas that have benefited in particular that the railways have obtained grants totalling £150 million during the past 10 years. My hon. Friend is right to say that the railways will still be eligible for such grant aid after privatisation. He will know that the channel tunnel rail link and the west coast main line upgrade are key projects identified by the Christophersen group for priority in funding the under-the-Thames programme. Perhaps consideration will be given in the future to the midland main line, as my hon. Friend suggests.