About £140 million in each year, inclusive of grants for un- remunerative passenger services and surplus track and signalling expenses, relief of interest and depreciation on capital to be written off, and the transfer of the Board's "sundries" activities to the National Freight Corporation.
No, Sir. With the greatest respect, the hon. Gentleman misunderstands the position. The figure of £140 million is not a direct subsidy from the taxpayer. It is a capital write-off which recognises that past investment has been unremunerative. The losses were made at the time of the investment.
This has always been the problem. It seems to me right that when a nationalised industry is asked to undertake financial obligations for social purposes it should be financed separately from the normal revenue of the industry.
I am sorry to repeat it, but the hon. Gentleman totally misunderstands the position. The figure of £140 million is not a direct burden on the taxpayer. It is recognition of a loss-making capacity which was totally unrealistic, and if this debt were not written off the railways could never have got out of the position in which they have been for so long.