LETTER: Bottom line

LABOUR appears to have acknowledged that renationalisation of Railtrack is not "a realistic option" ("Labour warning on Railtrack", Business, 7 April). Yet given that you estimate the sell-off price as just pounds 1.8bn, it would cost less than pounds 1bn to purchase a majority shareholding.

By contrast, Michael Howard is prepared to commit his party to building 12 new prisons at a cost of pounds 1.2bn. This is on top of the extra pounds 435m that his proposals for stiffer sentencing will eventually require in spending every year ("Prison of the Tories' making", 7 April).

Mr Blair should take a lesson from the Conservatives, and be prepared to spend money where necessary. After all, a MORI poll elsewhere in your pages reports that by a margin of six to one, people think that public services should be under public control.

Tim Mickleburgh

Grimsby, Lincolnshire