HC Deb 13 December 1939 vol 355 cc1183-4
32. Mr. Silkin

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware of the hardship caused to parents desiring to visit their children in the reception areas under the recent scheme for cheap fares by reason of the fact that these cheap tickets are available only to certain large stations; that on 3rd December certain parents visiting their children in Dulverton were given tickets to Taunton only and as, on arrival, they found there were no other means of transport to Dulverton available they had to make the rest of the journey by hiring a motor car at a cost of £1 10s.; that the times of the trains were such that they saw their children for one hour only; and will he give further consideration to the scheme, with a view to the removal of these hardships?

Captain Wallace

Every effort was made by the railway companies and my Department to ensure that parents using the special trains to reception areas were made aware of the places which could be reached from the stations served, and, as I have already explained in detail to the hon. Member, where, as in the case to which he refers, vouchers had been issued in error to places which could not conveniently be reached, steps were taken as soon as the errors were discovered to warn intending passengers of the difficulties before them. Profiting by the experience which has been gained from the special trips which have been run during the last two Sundays, I hope to be able after Christmas to extend the scheme of cheap rail facilities to include additional places in the reception areas. The hon. Member will, however, appreciate the difficulty of providing for small numbers of visitors who wish to reach remote villages.

Mr. Silkin

While thanking the right hon. and gallant Gentleman for that reply, does he not realise that in this particular case mentioned in the question the arrangements did break down, and the people were put to considerable expense, which they could not afford, and will he consider making a refund to those people of the amount that they have spent?

Captain Wallace

The hon. Member has chosen a particularly unfortunate case in which to blame my Department, since the reason the arrangements broke down in this instance was because a teacher issued a voucher in error and contrary to instructions.