HC Deb 03 May 1920 vol 128 cc1679-81

asked the Minister of Transport whether he can lay upon the Table of the House of Commons a rail way return for the years 1918 or 1919, giving information as to the number of tons of goods conveyed by goods train, including military traffic; the number of tons of parcels conveyed by passenger train; the number of passengers conveyed, including military traffic, season-ticket holders, and workmen; the total receipts from all sources; the mileage covered by all railways controlled by the Ministry of Transport; and the total number of employees, distinguishing salaried staff and wages staff, employed on all railways?


As I informed the hon. Member on March 22nd, I am arranging to lay before the House in due course a copy of the railway returns for the year 1919 in a somewhat similar form to those presented annually prior to the War, but suspended since 1913. It will not be possible, however, to include all the details asked for by the hon. Member.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the Report will be laid before the House?


No. I am afraid not. It will take some time to prepare.

13. Mr. A. T. DAVIES

asked the Minister of Transport whether there has been an appreciable increase of rolling stock on the railways during the last three months; whether it is expected that a further increase will take place before 30th June; whether the increased rates for goods traffic has effected a more favourable financial position of the rail ways; and whether he is arranging for the running of holiday excursions through the Railway Executive Committee during the summer period?


The increased rates for goods traffic were only intended to restore the financial stability of the railways on the basis of the 1913 net revenue, and are not anticipated to do more than meet the estimated deficit, provided no further increased costs are placed upon the railways.

At the end of March there were available for traffic 91 more locomotives and 4,249 more wagons than on 31st December. It is anticipated that there will be a further increase in the current quarter, but the general demand for haulage power continues to grow, and in the circumstances I can hold out little hope of the restoration of holiday excursions at reduced fares during this summer.

14. Lieut.-Colonel Sir F. HALL

asked the Minister of Transport if at the time the arrangement was made for the grant of a subsidy by the Government to the Metropolitan District Railway Company the Government understood that this subsidy would be pooled with the London General Omnibus Company and the other traffic undertakings associated with the District Railway Company; if, as a result of this subsidy, combined with the increased revenue which it is anticipated will be derived by the tube railways and other subsidiary undertakings from the proposed increases of fares now before Parliament, it will be possible for the omnibus company to continue working at a loss and yet to pay substantial dividends on their capital; if the Government will reconsider an arrangement under which the taxes, in effect, are used to subsidise a private undertaking at the expense of the London ratepayer; and will he state whether it is open to Members of the House to inspect the terms of the agreement with the District Railway Company?


This question covers so much ground that I have found it difficult to reply to it adequately in a verbal answer. No arrangement for a subsidy was made specifically with the District Railway in 1914, but because of subsequent legislation and agreements in 1915 it has worked out that way. In 1915 Parliament sanctioned the pooling arrangement, and I must assume that the Governmment of the day foresaw its possible effect. It would be possible under this arrangement for the omnibus service per se to work at a loss, and yet for the omnibus company to pay a dividend. The Government was not in a position to re-open the agreement until an opportunity—such as the present application for increased charging powers— was afforded. Advantage is being taken of that opportunity by me to reconsider the whole position. The agreement is not a formal one, but is contained in correspondence, and therefore not available readily for inspection, but I shall be happy to afford my hon. and gallant Friend, and any other hon. Members associated with him, the fullest information if he will give me the opportunity.


asked the Minister of Transport whether he has recently received a fresh application from the men's union for a further increase of pay to all grades of railway men; if so, if he will state what amount the appeal is for; if it is being considered by his Department or if it has been referred to arbitration; and when he proposes to make a complete statement on the matter?


An application has recently been received from the National Union of Railwaymen for an all-round increase of £1 a week in railwaymen's wages. It has been referred to the Central Wages Board in accordance with the agreed procedure.