HC Deb 08 July 1942 vol 381 cc750-2
14. Lieutenant Butcher

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport what steps he is taking to prevent unnecessary travel by train?

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport (Sir Arthur Salter)

My noble Friend is for the present mainly relying upon appeals to the public to refrain from all unnecessary travel, especially long-distance travel. But a large number of cheap fares have been cancelled and others restricted to comparatively short distances. Only such limited train services as will not impede essential freight movement can be run and in no circumstances will this limit be exceeded.

Lieutenant Butcher

Is the Minister aware of the widespread concern caused by reports in newspapers of additional facilities being given for holiday travel and of railway stations being crowded with persons travelling to holiday resorts, and in view of the number of times this matter has been before the House, can we have something rather more satisfactory than appeals?

Sir A. Salter

I would call my hon. Friend's attention to the last part of the answer, which is to the effect that while some additional trains have been added, they will not be added in conditions in which they could impede essential freight movement.

Major Lyons

Cannot some power be taken in this matter instead of making appeals?

16. Sir John Mellor

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport what instructions he has given to the railway companies with regard to additional or duplicated trains to and from holiday resorts?

Sir A. Salter

The companies have been instructed that they may run additional trains where required during the summer months, provided that no train is run that is likely to interfere with essential freight traffic; and that the number of additional trains, if any, run in connection with local holidays and similar occasions shall in no circumstances exceed the number run on the same occasion last year.

Sir J. Mellor

Is this expenditure of additional coal fair to those who respond to the Government's appeal and stay at home and are themselves short of domestic coal?

Sir A. Salter

It is a matter of balance between the relatively small amount of coal involved and the very considerable advantage not only to the enjoyment but also to the health of those concerned.

Mr. Shinwell

Were we not definitely informed by the Ministry of Transport on a previous occasion that it was the intention of the Government not to allow the railway companies to provide additional trains, and why has that decision been reversed?

Sir A. Salter

There has been some letup to the very limited extent I have explained.

Mr. Burke

Is the Minister aware of the difficulties created in Lancashire——

Lieutenant Butcher

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment.

Mr. Shinwell

On a point of Order. Is it not most unusual, when an hon. Member is on his feet asking a question, for another hon. Member to give notice to raise the matter on the Adjournment?

Mr. Denville

Further to the point of Order. I think the notice which my hon. Friend gave had reference to Question 14, and not to Question 16.

Lieutenant Butcher

Further to the point of Order. I was about to make the same observation as my hon. Friend the Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Denville), and while on my feet, I would like to say that if I have inadvertently shown any discourtesy, I am sorry.

Mr. Burke

Is the Minister aware that in Lancashire very great dismay has been caused to the local authorities who went to some trouble to advertise stay-at-home holidays and then found that the railways were advertising additional trains?

Mr. Watkins

Is the Minister aware that there is another factor in this problem, and that is the enormous strain under which railway workers are working, and will he do nothing to move that strain even a slight distance nearer the breaking point?

Mr. Evelyn Walkden

Is the Minister aware that there is a Regional Traffic Committee in the area mentioned by the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Burke) which has had to reply to an hon. Member that it cannot persuade the railway companies to provide adequate transport on trains for munition workers and yet in the same area transport is being provided to take holiday makers to seaside resorts? Will the Minister look into that?

Sir A. Salter

I shall be delighted to do so if the hon. Member will give me particulars.