British Railways (Loss)

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th October 1949.

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Mr. H. D. Hughes:

asked the Minister of Transport what was the overall loss incurred on British Railways in 1948, including operating costs, central administration and capital charges; and what was the comparative figure for 1947.

Photo of Mr Alfred Barnes Mr Alfred Barnes , East Ham South

The net traffic receipts of British Railways in 1948, together with the net yield of other parts of the Commission's undertaking, were insufficient to meet central charges, including interest and amortisation of capital, by about £4.7 million. The Act requires that the Commission's finances shall be treated as a whole, and not that the overhead charges should be precisely allocated between the different businesses. The contribution of the railways to the integrated finances in 1948 must, however, be regarded as seriously deficient, and an estimate has already been published putting the deficiency at between £8 million and £9 million. For reasons explained in paragraph 84 of the Commission's Report, no valid comparison of net results with those for 1947 is possible.

Mr. Hughes:

Is it not the case that the cost to the Exchequer of the operation of British Railways in 1947, allowing for the £43,500,000 that was paid into the pool, was in the neighbourhood of £60 million? As the right hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) was still stating in "Picture Post" a fortnight ago that the railways declared a loss of £25 million, will my right hon. Friend draw this fact to the attention of the Opposition so that they can get their sums right in future?