HC Deb 25 March 1920 vol 127 cc605-7
77. Mr. W. THORNE

asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware that the underground railway companies, in common with other railway companies, receive a remission of 5 per cent. passenger duty on all third-class fares, and a reduction from 5 to 2 per cent. on first and second-class fares; if he is aware that the remission was granted by the State to meet any loss in running workmen's trains; and if he will state what amount of money has been granted to the underground railway companies during the time that the underground railways have been running?


The Cheap Trains Act of 1883, which applies to all railways in Great Britain, provided for a remission of passenger duty in respect of all fares not exceeding one penny a mile and a reduction from 5 to 2 per cent. on fares exceeding a penny a mile between stations within a continuous urban area. In consideration of this concession the railway companies were put under obligation to run a reasonable number of trains at fares not exceeding a penny a mile, to provide workmen's trains at reasonable fares between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. and to carry officers and men of the King's Forces on duty, and public baggage, stores and ammunition at reduced rates. The remission of duty was not solely made on account of the running of workmen's trains. Since 1916 the collection of railway passenger duty has been suspended on the lines of the controlled railway companies. In regard to the last part of the question, I am informed that the figures are not available.

78. Mr. THORNE

asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware that if the London Traffic Combine Bill is passed in its present form it will raise the present fares by 100 per cent. and do away with the cheap workmen's trains, which will mean to some families an increase in railway fares of about £2 per week; if he can state whether the secretary of the London Trades Council has appealed to the Prime Minister to receive a deputation on the matter; and if he will state what action the Government intend to take with regard to the Second Reading of the Bill?


The general effect of the London Electric Railway Companies (Fares) Bill in its present form is to give those companies power to charge fares not exceeding the maxima laid down in the Bill, which are roughly 100 per cent. over the existing maxima on most of the lines. The attitude of the Government can best be explained when the Second Reading of the Bill is under consideration.


Does the hon. Gentleman dispute the facts stated in the question, that if the powers that the companies are seeking are carried out to the full extent it will affect workmen's families to the extent of more than £2 a week?


I am not in a position to verify those figures.


I am! Because it affects my own family to the extent of over £2 a week.


asked the Minister of Transport what was the amount of the subsidy paid by the Government to the Metropolitan District Railway Company for the last two years; what are the conditions on which the payment is made; and if it is a general grant made to this company to be used to assist other traffic undertakings which are controlled by the same interests as the Metropolitan District Railway Company?


The amounts actually paid by the Government to the Metropolitan District Railway for the last two years were:—

1918 1919
£ £
Compensation 412,227 681,407
Interest on additional capital 5,950 4,958
Arrears of Maintenance 5,211

These figures are based on the Company's claims and the amounts have been paid on account, subject to aduit.

Compensation is payable to this Company, as being a controlled company, under the general Agreement with the controlled railway companies, which were guaranteed their net receipts in the year 1913. Under the authority of the London Electric Railways Facilities Act, 1915, the Company entered into agreement with the uncontrolled tube railways and the London General Omnibus Company and set up a Common Fund under which the actual earnings of each company ceased to be ascertainable. The Board of Trade, therefore, agreed that, for the purpose of assessing compensation under the guarantee, the gross receipts of the Company in each year of control should be assumed to be the same as the gross receipts in 1913, subject to certain adjustments.

The compensation to the District Railway, like their other revenue, is subject to the Common Fund Agreement.


Are we to understand from that the District Railway Company is entitled to hand over part of the Government money given to them to the Omnibus Company which made a loss on their trading last year?


I think that matter will be better dealt with in the discussion to-night.