§ Mr. Portillo
The chairman of the railways board, Sir Robert Reid, sent me his initial response to Sir Anthony Hidden's recommendations earlier today. I have arranged for copies to be placed in the Library.
I am pleased to see that the railways board has been able to accept all the recommendations which apply to it. It has already implemented many of these, including all those that required urgent action.
Several of the recommendations depend on developmental work for their full implementation. I know that Sir Robert Reid and the board are anxious to press on with full implementation as quickly as practicable, and to ensure that the systems are right before installing them. The railway inspectorate is discussing the detailed programme of implementation, including the prototype trials now going ahead, with BR. The implementation of some other recommendations depends on a satisfactory outcome to negotiations between BR and the railway unions: I am sure that both sides will do all they can to ensure the safe and efficient operation of the railway.
Part of the cost of implementation of the Hidden report is covered by the £125 million for safety measures already included in BR's expenditure plans for the next three years and endorsed by the Government. I have asked BR to produce detailed estimates of the cost of implementing the longer-term recommendations; it is now assessing these and will include them in its 1990 corporate plan, which I shall be discussing with it later in the year. We will continue to ensure that BR has adequate funds for safety.