HC Deb 14 February 1940 vol 357 cc734-6
7. Mr. Tinker

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that on occasions certain railway carriages are labelled reserved and are not fully occupied; and whether he will consult with railway companies to secure that when other parts of the train are overcrowded and seats cannot be found, all unoccupied seats should be made available even though they are in so-called reserved compartments?

The Minister of Transport (Captain Wallace)

Save in very exceptional circumstances, the reservation of seats or compartments on railway trains has been discontinued since the outbreak of war. I am not aware of the occasions to which the hon. Member refers, but if he will let me have particulars, I shall be glad to make inquiries.

Mr. Tinker

I am glad to have had that answer; just at the time when we want equality we find the whole place is packed up. That was why I wanted to draw the attention of the Minister to the matter.

Captain Wallace

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will be good enough to see me after Questions.

Mr. A. Edwards

Are compartments reserved from time to time for Government officials?

Captain Wallace

I should like notice of that question.

Mr. Anstruther-Gray

Will my right hon. and gallant Friend make sure that sleepers can still be reserved, because it would be inconvenient if too many people were sleeping?

Captain Wallace

My answer was about seats in compartments.


8. Mr. R. J. Taylor

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is prepared to increase the transport facilities for the mines in Northumberland to enable long hauls to take place and thereby improve the working time at the mines?

Captain Wallace

As the hon. Member will be aware, the bulk of the Northumberland coal is normally carried by sea, and the rail facilities for its transport to other parts of the country are limited. The possibility of increasing the distribution of this coal by rail is, however, being closely examined in relation to other requirements.

Mr. Taylor

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that unless we get these facilities there will be a continuation of the present serious position; and is he also aware that men are kept working only by the number of empty wagons that are available?

Captain Wallace

Because it would be very desirable to provide more railway facilities in order to get coal from Northumberland we are examining the position very carefully at the moment.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the Minister aware that this examination has been proceeding for several weeks and that it was reported on by the Secretary for Mines several weeks ago? When will it be completed? Is the Minister also aware that a large number of miners are idle?

Captain Wallace

The hon. Member will realise that there is a limit to the number of wagons which can be passed over the Tyne at Newcastle.