The chairman of the British Railways Board has made proposals for introducing capital into several of the board's subsidiaries, including Sea-link. I am discussing these proposals with him.
Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the denationalisation of British Rail subsidiaries, especially Sea-link, would be of great benefit to the employees and to the long-suffering public? Would it not make the subsidiaries attempt to be commercially viable and efficient?
I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. Under this plan the sub sidiaries will be freed from public sector restraints. We would hope to see further development of these subsidiaries. One of the products of such a process will be not only wealth creation but job creation.
Will the Minister give an assurance that there will be full and adequate consultation with the trade unions before this process comes about and before any legislation is introduced in the House? Is he aware that any suggestion of lessening British Rail control over the subsidiaries will be resisted to the full by the trade unions and by hon. Members?
I give an assurance to the hon. Gentleman that consultation will take place. I am seeing Sidney Weighell and the National Union of Railwaymen this evening on this subject. There is a great deal of common ground. We all want the subsidiaries to expand. We all want a continuing link with the railways, but we also surely want the benefit of private capital. The important matter is not the ideological views of the hon. Gentleman but the development of these businesses.