In the light of the incompetence shown by the chairman and his senior staff in the current rail dispute, can we in Wales have any confidence that they will show the necessary dynamism or vision in respect of matters of great importance to Wales such as the electrification of lines and preparing for the Channel tunnel? If the Prime Minister does the dirty on the Secretary of State for Wales, can we expect him to apply for the job of chairman?
I understand the hon. Gentleman's position as he is sponsored by the National Union of Railwaymen. However, he will be aware that the Transport Salaried Staffs Association and the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen have accepted the 8·8 per cent. offer. I am sure that the House will come to its own conclusion about British Rail's conduct of its affairs. With regard to the Channel tunnel, the hon. Gentleman will know that British Rail has been conducting meetings throughout the land with a view to preparing a document, outlining its plans, for publication before the end of the year.
Is my hon. Friend aware of the great concern in north-east Wales, particularly among business men and industrialists, that the Welsh Dragon does not stop at Flint or Prestatyn, although it stops at Stafford, Lichfield and Nuneaton? Will he suggest to the chairman of British Rail that the Welsh Dragon either stops at more stations in north-east Wales or is renamed the English Unicorn?
The Minister will be aware that there are two major railway stations in my constituency—Aberystwyth in Cardiganshire and Fishguard in north Pembrokeshire with its vital Irish connection. The next time the Minister meets the chairman of the board will he press him to spend more on those two stations to make sure that they can play a major part in the economy of Wales? Will the Minister write to me afterwards?
Will my hon. Friend have a word with the chairman of British Rail about the quality of service between Swansea, Milford Haven, Haverfordwest and the other stations in Pembrokeshire where we are forced to suffer 25-year-old diesel multiple units? They are filthy, hot in summer and cold in winter and do not have enough accommodation for passengers' luggage on this holiday line. Will he also tell the Opposition that their continued support for the National Union of Railwaymen against the passenger has meant that my constituents have been unable to keep hospital appointments in Swansea, Carmarthen and London on the days on which the railways are not operating?
As the Minister previously acknowledged the success of initiatives by Mid Glamorgan and South Glamorgan county councils with British Rail in opening new stations and new services, does he recognise that the spending plans of the Government and the high inflation rate for which the Government are responsible imply a real cut this year of £104 million, or 20 per cent., in British Rail's external financing limits? Is that not the cause of most of the complaints that have been made by hon. Members? Does the Minister accept that this constraint and his refusal to put in more Welsh Office money is undermining the public interest? Will he offer more money to expand local services and reopen lines such as the Vale of Glamorgan line, with a spur to Cardiff Wales airport to benefit the whole region, as was argued by my hon. Friend the Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Mr. Smith)?