HC Deb 29 January 1941 vol 368 cc543-5
22. Mr. Glenvil Hall

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that it is the practice of the railway companies to close the refreshment rooms on a large number of their stations on Sundays; and whether he can indicate the steps he proposes to take to remedy this unsatisfactory state of affairs?

The Minister of Transport (Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon)

In general, refreshment rooms are closed on Sundays only where there is not sufficient demand to justify their being kept open. In Scotland, however, it is the custom to keep refreshment rooms closed on Sundays in deference to public opinion. If my hon. Friend will let me know of any particular station or stations where, in his view, there is sufficient demand to justify the opening of refreshment rooms which are now closed on Sundays, I will see that the matter is considered.

Mr. Hall

Surely the right hon. and gallant Gentleman realises that if I supply such a list it will be a very long one; and, secondly, does he not agree that this idea of closing refreshment rooms on Sundays is now obsolete and that at almost every station people require refreshment in these days of slow trains?

Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon

My hon. Friend will see from the next answer that I propose to deal with the matter in another way.

Sir Percy Harris

Will the Minister bear in mind that an enormous army of soldiers has to travel from place to place and that in war-time there is a special consideration to be borne in mind?

Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon

The enormous army of soldiers would rather eat in the train than wander about the stations.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the Minister aware that that is the difficulty, that the railway companies do not provide facilities on trains in war-time to the same extent as they do in peace-time?

Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon

Perhaps my hon. Friend will listen to the next answer.

Sir William Davison

Will the Minister see whether there is a demand for these facilities?

Lieut. -Colonel Moore-Brabazon

If my hon. Friend listened to the answer he would notice that I said that the opening of the refreshment rooms is determined to a large extent by the demand.

23. Mr. Glenvil Hall

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that the London Midland and Scottish Railway Company charge those using their tea cars 1s. 3d., including service, for two small fingers of toast, a biscuit, and a pot of tea; and whether, as this is excessive, both for troops and public, he will bring the matter to the notice of those concerned with a view to an alteration downwards in price?

25. Mr. Butcher

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that the London Midland and Scottish Railway Company charge 1s. 3d., including compulsory service charge of 3d., for afternoon tea in their restaurant cars, although this consists only of three small pieces of bread and butter, a biscuit and a pot of tea; and whether he will arrange for refreshments to be provided for the travelling public at more reasonable prices?

Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon

I am advised that for the charge of 1s. a tea is served which consists of a pot of tea, bread and butter or toast or teacakes, and cake or biscuits. A second helping may be had on request. I do not think the charge is excessive. The additional charge of 3d. is in lieu of a tip and is charged on bills between 1s. and 2s. 6d. For members of the Forces, experiments are being made with mobile canteens installed in trains where tea and refreshments can be obtained at canteen prices; I have every reason to believe that these will be successful.

Mr. Hall

Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman not agree that while providing special facilities for troops is a good thing, the public themselves should have something far more reasonable?

Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon

I am in a difficulty. If I provide something for the ordinary public I am accused of not looking after the troops, and if I provide something for the troops I am accused of not looking after the public. There is provision in passenger trains for the ordinary passengers, and if the experiment is to be a success, as it obviously is, there will be two or three of these canteens in a train.

Mr. Thorne

Do the tips mentioned in the Minister's answer go to the attendants or to the railway company?

Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon

They go to the attendant first.

Mr. Lipson

Can the Minister say that the widest possible publicity will be given to the fact that additional helpings may be given without further charge?

Mr. Shinwell

Is not what the Minister refers to as a tip really a charge? Supposing it is refused, what can the railway company do?

Lieut.-Colonel Moore-Brabazon

I shall have to refer that question to the Attorney-General.