National Freight Corporation
Oral Answers to Questions — Transport

Photo of Mr Harry Cowans

Mr Harry Cowans (Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

asked the Minister of Transport what is his policy on the sale of shares in the National Freight Corporation.

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Mr Norman Fowler (Sutton Coldfield)

I intend to bring forward legislation very shortly enabling me to change the corporation into a limited company with a view to selling the controlling interest to private investors.

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Mr Toby Jessel (Twickenham)

Have these proposals been approved by the National Freight Corporation board? Will some shares be available for employees?

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Mr Norman Fowler (Sutton Coldfield)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I am glad to be able to tell him that the board has welcomed my proposal to introduce equity capital to the National Freight Corporation. We will want to make shares available to staff of the NFC.

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Mr Harry Cowans (Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

Will the Minister explain why, in May, he was talking about a minority private share in NFC, why, in August, he was talking about a majority private share and why, three weeks later in September, he was talking of the whole NFC being sold off to private industry? What guarantee can he give that he will not hive off other subsidiary companies of British Rail, such as Sealink, British Transport Hotels and British Rail Engineering Limited?

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler

Mr Norman Fowler (Sutton Coldfield)

I have always tried to make clear that my concern is to get the National Freight Corporation into the private sector. I do not believe that the hon. Gentleman's comments on my previous position are accurate. I have been absolutely frank about what I intended. That remains the aim and intention of the Government.