§ Mr. Whitney
asked the Minister of Transport what ceiling has been set for Government grant in 1981 to the passenger operations of the British Railways Board'; and how this compares with the provision made in the most recent public expenditure White Paper.
§ Mr. Fowler
The grant ceiling for 1981 will be £678 million at outturn prices. This is £23 million above the level provided for the last public expenditure White Paper, Cmnd. 7841. The increase, which applies only for 1981, is in recognition of the difficult trading conditions facing the board's passenger operations. It will not relieve the board of the need to make all practicable economies in the operation of the passenger railway and to adapt services to changing demand. It would help the board to secure what I know to be its aim: that the present level of fares can be held for a full 12 months. The new grant ceiling is being set within the board's external financing limits for 1980–81 and 1981–82, which have already been announced.