London Tube next in line for sell-off

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The Independent Online
London Underground is a prime target for privatisation if the Conservatives are returned to power. John Major told the party conference he would like to see the Tube follow British Rail into the private sector.

The Prime Minister reasserted his determination to continue the privatisation crusade during a question-and-answer session with Tory representatives.

Within a few days, 50 per cent of British Rail would be in private hands, he told the first questioner. Noting that not long ago opinion formers, even within the Tory party, were describing it as "a privatisation too far" he said the service was already getting better. It was getting more personal and there were going to be more trains.

"I would like to see if we can apply these principles to London Underground," Mr Major said. Concern over this summer's strikes on the Tube had already been voiced during a debate on industrial relations.

"It's a remarkable sea-change in the last 16 or 17 years," he said. "We should never lose faith in our instinctive belief that private ownership is the best option and should be the first option."

Sir George Young, the Secretary of State for Transport, said a pilot scheme in London in which car tax dodgers had their vehicles clamped had recovered pounds 2m from evaders.

Fifty-eight per cent of the cars clamped had been scrapped because they were not claimed, he said. He added that the Government would soon announce plans to expand the scheme.