Modernisation Plan

Oral Answers to Questions — Railways – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd April 1958.

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Mr. G. Wilson:

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what progress has been made by British Railways with the capital modernisation plan.

Photo of Mr Harold Watkinson Mr Harold Watkinson , Woking

The programme has got under way much more quickly than was originally forecast. Important matters of technical and commercial policy have been decided, and a large part of the programme is now committed.

Mr. Wilson:

Can my right hon. Friend say to what extent the programme is up to schedule or above schedule?

Photo of Mr Harold Watkinson Mr Harold Watkinson , Woking

The programme is well ahead of schedule, but equally it is only fair to say that, for the next two years, cuts have been made in the level of expenditure that the railways would have liked, due mostly to the great acceleration which they have managed to put in the programme. I think the fair answer to my hon. Friend's question is that the programme is well ahead, but it is not quite so far ahead as it would have been if I had allowed the railways to spend a great deal more money than would be in the national interest at the moment.

Photo of Mr George Strauss Mr George Strauss , Lambeth Vauxhall

Can the Minister say to what extent the balancing date of 1962, which was stated in the White Paper setting out the modernisation plan, will in fact be postponed as a result of the cuts in capital expenditure which he has imposed?

Photo of Mr Harold Watkinson Mr Harold Watkinson , Woking

I have been advised by the Commission that the present cuts do not invalidate that date.