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London Underground

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th March 1997.

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Photo of Mr David Congdon Mr David Congdon , Croydon North East 12:00 am, 10th March 1997

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the long-term capital funding requirements of London Underground. [17760]

Photo of George Young George Young Secretary of State for Transport

The Government have considered very carefully the long-term capital funding requirements of London Underground. That was a key factor behind our decision that privatisation of the underground was the right way forward. I do not believe that any other approach to the funding of London Underground could deliver the same results.

Photo of Mr David Congdon Mr David Congdon , Croydon North East

Given the significant investment in London Underground in the past five years, which doubled in real terms compared with the previous five years, and given that much more investment is needed to improve the underground's infrastructure for the benefit of Londoners, does my right hon. Friend agree that it has been shown conclusively that the underground should be privatised? Privatisation will deliver much-improved services to the people of London, and I warmly support that initiative.

Photo of George Young George Young Secretary of State for Transport

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for pointing out that we have done better than our predecessors on the level of core investment in London Underground, which is now 50 per cent. more than in the 1980s and 100 per cent. more than in the 1970s. None the less, we want to do even better. Against that background, I introduced proposals for the privatisation of London Underground, with the key element of recycling the proceeds back into the underground to remove the investment backlog within five years of privatisation.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Health)

The Secretary of State knows that I am a big supporter of the Jubilee line. What is the funding position of the extension? Will it be open in March next year, as originally planned? If not, when will it open?

Photo of George Young George Young Secretary of State for Transport

Funding of the Jubilee line extension is not an issue: it has underspent against budget. There is no question of resources being inadequate to secure the completion of the extension. It looks likely that the extension will not open in full in March next year. London Transport hopes to make an announcement shortly about the precise dates.