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Nature volume 128, pages 179184 (01 August 1931) | Download Citation



MR. HERBERT MORRISON, Minister of Transport, stated in the House of Commons, on July 24, that the Weir report on the electrification of the railways of Great Britain raises important issues of industrial policy and that the Government will consider its recommendations most carefully. In the opinion of some, an objection to the scheme is that, as the report indicates, the coal consumption will be reduced by 3.8 per cent, or nearly ten million tons a year. It is also true that part of the economy which will be gained will be secured by the reorganisation of the railway men. But it would be foolish to let these two facts prevent us from carrying out a great scheme of industrial improvement. In the making of our country industrially efficient it cannot be wrong to face the new problems and solve them in the same spirit that we solved similar problems in the past. It would be foolish to be frightened because the report deals with big figures. It is significant that the manager of the L.N.E.R. signed the report. The Government is at present discussing the report with the railway companies. The Weir Committee estimated that a return of about 7 per cent could be secured upon the new capital (£261,000,000) involved in electrification. In the present condition of affairs this remuneration would doubtless be welcomed by the companies, but it is doubtful whether they could at present attract the necessary capital without State assistance. At the recent N.U.R. Conference, Mr. C. T. Cramp, the General Secretary of the Union, welcomed electrification on behalf of the employees. He takes it for granted that if the State assists to raise the capital it will assume some kind of control of the scheme. It is probable that a semi-public body of a central board type will have to be made. There is no reason why it should not prove to be as successful as the Central Electricity Board set up by the Electricity Act of 1926.

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