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Give privatised utilities back to the public
5:55pm Wednesday 22nd January 2014 in Readers' Letters
IT appears that what Alec Samuels (Letters, January 9) doesn’t say is more pertinent than what he does.
During Labour’s term in office rail fares were still exorbitant, as is normal with privatisation, but at least in touch with inflation.
Under the Tories the last proposed increase raised such a storm of public outrage that Cameron was forced to take action. The cap still leaves some increases nearing four times the inflation rate, so there’s nothing commendable about that.
He previously stated it is only privatisation that keeps prices reasonable and makes a profit.
So what? I wonder, in common with many others, why, if the railways are supposed to be privately owned, do they receive so much support from the Exchequer, whilst shareholders make huge profits?
According to Mr Samuels, nationalised industries are not efficient, yet paradoxically the line classed as most profitable and best run is the East Coast Line, which is publicly owned. In its last yearly returns it made a £400m profit for the Exchequer and the public.
Ironically, it was only taken back into public ownership because the present Government made such a monumental mess of the refranchising.
The public are realising more and more that privatisation was a con and a rip-off, in regard to all the public utilities.
It was supposed to give the small investor a stake in them, but it was always intended that the ownership would end up in the hands of the few wealthy speculators.
The monumental profits made by these utilities and the disproportionate charges to the public are scandalous. The latest being the Royal Mail, which has announced a 4.5 per cent increase in business mail, after five minutes of privatisation.
The cost of posting a letter will no doubt soon be such that it is conceivable there will soon be a return to the pigeon post!
So I say, renationalise all the public utilities, and compensate the shareholders at the same price per share as the original issue price.
They would still have made a killing from all the inflated dividends they have had. If the railways stay privately owned let the shareholders pay for improvements to them and the provision of HS2, not the public.
All the public require really is the assurance they are being treated fairly. But ‘fairly’ is anathema to capitalists; I doubt it even appears in their dictionary.
D R Smith, Southampton
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