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British Rail (Investment)

Volume 35: debated on Wednesday 19 January 1983

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asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he next intends to discuss British Rail's investment programme with Sir Peter Parker.


asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he next expects to meet the chairman of the British Railways Board to discuss investment in the railways.

I meet the chairman frequently to discuss matters of mutual interest.

Is the Secretary of State aware that rail users can now see for themselves the deterioration in the railways that has been caused by his policies, and that most Members know that railway investment programmes in their regions and constituencies could bring men back to work and improve the service? When he sees the chairman, will he make it clear that for most rail users the only post-Serpell resignation that they will want is his own?

The hon. Gentleman should think also about the colossal contribution that taxpayers make to support the railway system and the concern that the traveller and taxpayer have not necessarily been getting value for money. These were the matters that led British Rail eagerly to seek the Serpell review and to welcome the members of the committee when it was set up. These were the factors that led it to take the view that the review was needed. In the light of the review, I believe that the debate will be carried forward.

When the right hon. Gentleman next meets the chairman, will he please receive sympathetically the application that British Rail Sealink has made to him to be given sufficient money to put in an order for the replacement of passenger boats on the Rye-Portsmouth route? He will be delighted to know that next month, for the second or third year in succession, we shall go back 50 years when we start to go over to the island on a car ferry on which we shall be exposed to all the elements. May we please have priority given to our replacement boats so that some business is given to us on the Isle of Wight?

When my right hon. Friend meets the chairman, will he urge him, whatever else he does, to sell Sealink?

It is the present intention of the board to try to sell the Sealink subsidiary.