§ Mr. Alfred Morris
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will now make a statement on the funding of Manchester's light rapid transit system.
§ Mr. David Mitchell
I have concluded that, on the basis of the assessments which have been made, private sector participation in the construction and operation of this proposed system could bring useful benefits and could best be achieved by inviting bids from private sector promoters to build and operate the system on the basis of a public sector contribution towards the capital cost. The system would however be owned by the Passenger Transport Executive. The next stage of a project on these lines would entail working up an invitation for tenders from the private sector and, subject to a satisfactory response to such an invitation, I can see no present reason why a grant under section 56 of the Transport Act 1968, at a level determined depending on the details of the proposal, should not be made available at the appropriate time. I am today so informing the Greater Manchester passenger transport authority and I shall keep the House informed of progress.