HC Deb 04 August 1943 vol 391 cc2280-1
29. Mr. Turton

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he has now reconsidered the effect of the action of the West Yorkshire Road Car Company and other omnibus operators in withdrawing unlimited travel facilities; and whether he will now issue instructions to enable workers to make necessary journeys in connection with their work at no greater expense than before the unlimited travel facilities were withdrawn?

37. Mr. Ivor Thomas

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he has considered the protest of the Keighley Borough Council and other expressions of local opinion against the withdrawal of contract tickets by the West Yorkshire Road Car Company Limited; and whether he is now prepared to restore such tickets?

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport (Mr. Noel-Baker)

I have carefully reconsidered the withdrawal of unlimited travel tickets on omnibus services in Yorkshire, and I have done so in the light of the representations made by my hon. Friends and of the expressions of local opinion which I have received. As I have informed my hon. Friends, certain changes in the new fare system have been made, in order to meet the convenience of regular passengers. I hope that, with these changes, the new system will help to discourage unnecessary travel, without imposing any hardship on regular travellers making essential journeys in connection with their work. The need to discourage unnecessary travel is so imperative that I am afraid I do not think it is wise or desirable to restore unlimited travel tickets.

Mr. Turton

Is not the effect of the present situation that many workers are paying more than double the fares they previously paid and not a single bus service has been curtailed, and the bus companies are receiving extra profits without giving any compensating advantages?

Mr. Noel-Baker

No, Sir, I think my hon. Friend is under a misapprehension. I should like to assure him that the question of profit has nothing whatever to do with it. This measure was introduced on our instructions and not on the initiative of the bus company. There have been economies in transport both by the taking off of duplicate buses at non-peak hours and by the reduction of overcrowding, which is singularly undesirable from a transport point of view. I think most workers arc only paying slightly more unless they go home to their lunch. If they do not go home to lunch, if there is any increase at all it is very slight.

Mr. Thomas

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in my own constituency it is not possible to accommodate the contract holders at lunch-time and therefore that there can be no curtailment of travelling?

Mr. Noel-Baker

According to the information I have received, there is spare capacity in the existing British Restaurant, and if necessary the authorities would be willing to open another.

Mr. R. J. Taylor

Is my hon. Friend aware that he has not reduced facilities by a single journey, and the only thing he has done, in spite of his assurances, is to put unlimited sums of money into the pockets of the bus company?

Mr. Noel-Baker

At the instance of my hon. Friend I have examined this question many times, and I assure him he is wrong.

Mr. Cluse

Is it not a fact that in London normal travellers have been paying increased fares as the result of this reorganisation?

Mr. Turton

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