HC Deb 17 July 1922 vol 156 cc1734-5W

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport whether he can give, for 1913 and for the latest accounting period, the respective percentages of English railway receipts paid out in dividends, placed to reserve and expended in maintenance, renewal, and development of tracks and equipment; and whether he has any information to the effect that charges on passenger and goods traffic have been kept high in recent months to enable the companies to show large receipts, dividends, and reserves which would assist them in negotiating for grouping or fusion?


I am unable to give figures for the railways in England and Wales, as distinct from Scotland, since during the period of control division of receipts between companies was suspended. The receipts of the companies in Great Britain from all sources, including compensation from the Government brought to account during the year 1921, amounted to about £306,000,000, and the dividends paid represented about 16 per cent. of this total as compared with 34 per cent. of the total receipts of £135,000,000 in 1913. The sums charged in respect of maintenance of way and works and rolling stock were £25,000,000 in 1913 and £86,000,000 in 1921. In the latter year certain companies were overtaking arrears of maintenance. The aggregate reserves for all purposes on the 31st December, 1913, 1920 and 1921 were £20,300,000, £75,700,000 and £95,400,000 respectively. The actual amounts set aside in 1913 are not known but in 1921 are seen to be £10,700,000, including a proportion of the first moiety of the lump sum payable under Section 11 of the Railways Act, 1921. I do not see how the level of rates, which applies equally to all companies, has any effect upon their negotiations with one another.