Government and ’fat cats’ came face to face yet again last
The National Audit Office (NAO) attacked the speed of the sell-off of
the rolling stock companies, while John Prescott admitted he was
powerless to stop the sale of Great Western Trains to First Group. There
were indications that Prescott’s White Paper on transport, due in April,
would contain measures to claw back profits on future rail sales.
Commentators were unanimous in blaming the previous Government for
rushing through the sale of the railways on the cheap. They also pointed
out that Labour’s avowed intention to re-privatise the network meant
that potential large-scale investors stayed away. Former BR managers,
ticket clerks and train drivers who gambled on remortgaging their houses
now stand to make huge profits.
It did not help matters when Transport minister Gavin Strang was
carpeted for suggesting the rail companies should be smacked with a
windfall tax without consulting the Treasury.
Evaluation and analysis by CARMA International. Cuttings supplied by The
Broadcast Monitoring Company. ’What The Papers Say’ can be found at: