HC Deb 02 July 1940 vol 362 cc650-2
24. Mr. Edmund Harvey

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he will give the assurance that rest-rooms, together with suitable washing facilities, are to be provided for the use of the men of His Majesty's Forces at the principal railway terminal stations; and also, that opportunities for obtaining refreshments at moderate prices will be assured to them during the course of long railway journeys?

23. Mr. Magnay

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has been able to do anything in the way of improving the accommodation for the troops at the railway termini in London and also for their greater comfort when travelling?

Mr. Eden

The main line railway termini in London have been inspected by representatives of the War Office and of all the philanthropic bodies who deal with troops at those termini, and details of the additional accommodation and facilities required are being worked out. The object is to provide at each station a rest room, dining room, cooking facilities, information bureau, free washing room and lavatories, and free cloakroom on the same scale as now exists at Victoria Station. As soon as possession of the rooms required is obtained, the work of structural alteration and equipment will be begun. The Ministry of Transport have been informed of the proposals respecting Euston Station, and have arranged with the London Midland and Scottish Railway Company for all the additional accommodation required to be made immediately available. The work of preparing this accommodation has already begun. Reports have been called for from Command Welfare Officers regarding all important main line stations outside London, with the same object in view. As regards refreshments, in addition to the normal facilities available to all travellers, there is a number of stations at which local philanthropic bodies cater for men in uniform free of charge.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Will the railway companies be made to provide the accommodation free of charge, or will they charge rent to these voluntary bodies?

Mr. Eden

The object is to provide certain facilities, which I have mentioned, free of charge.

Mr. Hall

But I mean, will the voluntary bodies be charged rents?

Sir W. Davison

Will these facilities be made immediately available for the men, say to-night or to-morrow night, or will it take some weeks?

Mr. Eden

I have been into this matter personally, and I know that there is a very considerable improvement at Euston.

Mr. Lindsay

Are there funds from the War Office to assist these welfare societies which are helping, or is it entirely a voluntary effort?

Mr. Eden

I should be glad if my hon. Friend would put that question down. The important matter is to get things done quickly, and I am satisfied that that is being done.

Mr. Levy

Who was responsible for the neglect which allowed the creation of the old state of affairs?

Mr. Harvey

With regard to refreshments, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that there are not voluntary societies making these provisions in all the places to which troops go who have to undertake these long journeys, and that continual supervision by the War Office is necessary in order to ensure that adequate arrangements are provided?

Mr. Hubert Beaumont

In view of the widespread indignation with regard to the lack of consideration for the comfort of the troops in this respect, will the right hon. Gentleman immediately exercise compulsory powers to deal with the railway companies?