HC Deb 30 July 1941 vol 373 cc1386-7
20. Mr. John Wilmot

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether the railways are still required, as common carriers, to accept any goods tendered to them for transport, without regard to their war-time importance; and whether he will give instructions to ensure that essential materials have priority over other classes of traffic?

Colonel Llewellin

The obligations of the railway companies as common carriers are subject to the power of the Minister of War Transport under the Defence Regulations to control the transport of goods of any description. Instructions have already been given to the railway companies to accord priority to certain classes of traffic.

Mr. Wilmot

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that he recently informed me that he had stopped some traffic which had been going on all through the war because the railways were under obligation as common carriers? Has not the time arrived when the railways should be made a unified service, under public control?

Colonel Llewellin

That is a much wider question. What happened about the case to which the hon. Member refers was that the railways were carrying that traffic, and we could, as soon as it was brought to our notice, have stopped it. Had not the company done so instead, we should certainly have taken that step.

Forward to