HC Deb 17 October 1972 vol 843 c47W
49. Mr. Elystan Morgan

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement concerning the plan for a reduced railway network recently prepared by his Department.

Mr. Peyton

The document to which theSunday Times drew attention on 8th October is merely one of a series of studies undertaken by officials in my Department and by British Rail itself. This process, which is not yet complete, is made necessary by the financial position of the Board. Future policy will not be decided before there has been the most careful consideration of the alternatives and the costs attaching to each.

Meanwhile, I am sure that the House will wish to avoid premature conclusions about the results of these studies and will have in mind the grants and loans already made by the Government to the railways: £110 million in 1971 and an estimated £160 million in 1972. These figures include for the first time grants for 75 per cent. of the cost of new rolling stock and signalling in urban areas.

I regret very much that this confidential working document should have been disclosed and that its publication out of context should have given rise to widespread and unnecessary anxiety.