§ 19. Mr. HIGHAM
asked the President of the Board of Trade if, in view of the fact that the 50 per cent. tax on fares was adopted as a war measure, to restrict the number of passengers travelling on the railways, he will now consider the advisability of its being taken off, as the need for restriction of travel is not now imperative and the continuation of the impost has caused a feeling of irritation amongst all classes of the travelling public?
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
It is the case that 50 per cent. increase in passenger fares was imposed primarily with the object of restricting travelling. My right hon. Friend would be only too glad if it were possible to remove the increase, but the railway companies have great difficulty in dealing with the present passenger traffic, and both from that point of view and from the point of view of the financial position of the railways he does not feel able to reduce the charge at present.
§ Mr. HIGHAM
Will the hon. Gentleman inform the House whether it is the considered decision of the Government that the increase of 50 per cent. is a fair charge on the public? If so, under what Act is this extra charge imposed?
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
I think the last part of the question has already been answered. I may point out, in regard to the 50 per cent., seeing that prices for everything else have gone up something like 100 per cent., it does not seem unfair to increase the fares 50 per cent.
Would it not be better at once to announce boldly that this 50 per cent is a permanent increase? And should not a similar increase be made on all other freight rates?