§ 26. Mr. GILBERT
asked the Minister of Transport whether it is possible for him to give any estimate of the amount of money that has been saved to the country by the various efforts made by his Department to eliminate competition between the various railways.
§ Mr. NEAL
It is not possible to furnish any such estimate. That great economies in working railways have been secured is evidenced by the fact that, whilst wages have increased on the average by roughly 250 per cent., and materials by 200 to 300 per cent., railway charges have only been 913 increased by 75 per cent. in the case of ordinary passenger fares, and by an average of about 110 per cent. on freight. Had it not been for such economies as those which have resulted in the carrying of 39 per cent. of additional passengers with a reduction of nearly 20 per cent. in passenger train mileage in the first six months of this year, as compared with 1913, the question of still further increasing railway charges would inevitably have had to be faced. The hon. Member will, of course, appreciate that the great economies which could be effected by grouping the railways as proposed by the Government cannot begin to be realised until Parliament has sanctioned that policy.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
Has the Ministry formed any estimate of the amount of loss to traders and of the inconvenience caused by the lack of competition amongst railways?