HC Deb 12 February 1917 vol 90 cc244-6
10. Mr. WING

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that many memorials have been presented to the Board by representative commercial travellers' associations respecting the revised rates and restrictions of railway service now in operation and the effect thereof on the position and work of commercial travellers; and if lie can make any announcement as to the revision of the rates and restrictions now imposed?

11. Mr. PERCY HARRIS (Leicestershire, Harborough)

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the abolition of the week-end ticket rates means an increase of 200 per cent, in the cost of week-end travel for commercial travellers whose business arrangements are, in the majority of cases, based upon their ability to return home at the weekends; and whether he will give special consideration to their claims?


I have considered very carefully the various representations that have been made to the Board of Trade as a result of the recent restrictions on railway travelling and increase of fares. I realise that the effect of these measures must be felt severely by many classes of the community, but, as hon. Members are aware, the measures which have been taken are dictated by urgent national requirements. Commercial travellers are by no means the only persons whose claims have been strongly urged upon me, and I fear that in present circumstances it is impracticable to embark on a policy of concessions to particular classes or individuals. I need scarcely say that the whole question of railway travelling will continue to be borne in mind.


Arising out of that, are we to take it that the hon. Gentleman's reply means a blunt refusal to consider this matter in any sense whatever; and does he not realise that it is a very great hardship indeed for these men, who are away from home so much, and that it means the difference between a livelihood and not having a livelihood? It is——


The hon. Gentleman is making a speech.


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the new railway passenger rates are handicapping business considerably and making it difficult for many firms to carry on; and, seeing that they are not materially reducing the number of persons travelling, showing that unnecessary travelling had practically stopped prior to the imposition of the new rates, whether he will consider the advisability of reducing the present rates?


I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer which I have jus; given. I cannot agree that the recent restrictions have not materially reduced the number of persons travelling.


How does my hon. Friend find out for what purpose people are travelling?


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it is understood that generally the advance is 50 per cent., whereas in the case of the commercial traveller's week-end ticket it is 150 to 200 per cent? For instance, the fare from Birming ham——


The hon. Member is making a speech.

13. Mr. HOLMES

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the Railway Executive Committee has sanctioned a scheme of interavailability of tickets in order to meet as far as possible the difficulties created by the reduced train services, and that this scheme is being worked by the companies sectionally and as if they were competing concerns instead of one Government-controlled and guaranteed organisation; and if he will take steps to ensure that the holders of traders' and contract tickets may be allowed to travel by any alternative route between any of the points covered by tickets held?


Traders' and season tickets between points directly served by two railway companies' lines are, in certain circumstances, available for the throughout journey by either route, and I understand that the existing arrangements in respect of the interavailability of such tickets are now under review.

53. Mr. BYRNE

asked the Prime Minister if he will cause instructions to be issued to allow commercial travellers and persons travelling on business to travel at the old rates; if the 50 per cent, increase on the fares of those who must travel on business has caused dissatisfaction and losses to many householders; and whether the Government intend to make concessions to persons giving proof of travelling on business only?


The Prime Minister has asked me to answer this question. I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the replies which I have already given to the questions asked by the hon. Members for the Houghton-le-Spring and Harborough Divisions.