On main line services, we require acceptable plans for the commercial operation of the intercity and freight businesses, and a good prospect, on the basis of those plans, that the investment will earn a 7 per cent. return on the capital employed. On other lines, the case for electrification depends on whether this is the most cost-effective way of maintaining a rail passenger service.
I note my hon. Friend's point, and within the context of financial viability, we shall do our best to keep that in mind. As he knows, British Rail has proposed electrification on the Cambridge line from both Royston and Bishops Stortford. It has been asked to consider whether it would be more cost-effective to electrify only one of those lines. We await further information from British Rail before making a decision.
Is the Minister aware that the Secretary of State, in reply to a question from the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) earlier this afternoon, created the impression that the proposals that he received recently from British Rail for a cost-benefit analysis of electrification of main lines up to 1988 did not include electrification from Bedford to Sheffield? Will he clarify that matter?
Will my hon. Friend give priority to, and move higher up the priority list, the electrification of the western routes, bearing in mind that many of the diesel trains on those routes are becoming very old and are causing difficulty in the western region?
The prospectus relates to the entire intercity network. The document to which the right hon. Gentleman refers does not include such an electrification proposal.