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British Railways (Financing)

Volume 984: debated on Wednesday 14 May 1980

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asked the Minister of Transport if he has received any proposals from the British Railways Board to raise money privately rather than from Her Majesty's Government; and what is his policy in this regard.

I am currently discussing with the chairman of the Railways Board ways of involving private capital in some of the board's non-rail subsidiaries and I will make a statement in due course.

asked the Minister of Transport (1) if he will facilitate moves by the British Railways Board separately to identify and fund individual parts of the railway system, as opposed to its subsidiaries, for the purpose of attracting private capital towards investment in specific railway activities and sectors;(2) if he intends to enable the British Railways Board to arrange its future funding from non-governmental sources without his consent; and if he will make a statement;(3) if he will seek to amend the Transport Act 1962 so that the British Railways Board is no longer prevented from raising money by the issue of shares or stock to any person other than the board.

Whilst I have sympathy with the desire to see nationalised industries subjected to private sector disciplines, I have no plans to relax the controls on the Railways Board's access to external finance for its railway business.