§ Rev. Ian Paisley
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made towards implementation of the recommendation contained in the Monopolies and Mergers Commission report of December 1990 on rail services in Northern Ireland provided by Northern Ireland Railways Limited; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Atkins
The initial response, announced to the House on 3 July 1991, indicated that there had been a positive reaction to the Commission's recommendations and that none of them had been rejected. The follow-up response, which I have today placed in the Library of the House, confirms that 22 of the 34 recommendations have already been implemented and that the remaining 12 are in the process of implementation. The response was produced in consultation with the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company and Northern Ireland Railways.
There have been several important developments since the initial response. Northern Ireland Railways appointed a new managing director in August 1992. A total of 22 salaried posts have now been abolished. To fulfil the commitment in the Northern Ireland citizens charter, the Government have commissioned a study into the scope for introducing a private element into the management and operation of Northern Ireland Railways. Substantial progress has been made by management and the trade unions as regards industrial relations. Northern Ireland Railways published a more challenging passengers charter in November 1992. Together, these, and the other matters dealt with in the response, should result in a significant improvement of services to the public and the management of the company.
The Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland will continue in dialogue with the Transport Holding Company and Northern Ireland Railways about the implementation of the recommendations and I shall report on progress to the House in due course.