HC Deb 05 July 1944 vol 401 cc1148-50
36. Mr. Tinker

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport if he is aware that the corridors in long-distance travelling trains have passengers who are unable to get seats yet first-class compartments are seating three only on each side; and will he take steps to make it known that under such circumstances they should seat four passengers on each side.

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

About twelve months ago the railway staff were told that, where the construction of first-class compartments allow it to be done, arm rests must be raised, if extra seats are required. In all such compartments notices have been put up informing passengers that there are four seats a side. I hope that my hon. Friend's Question and my reply will help to make this more widely known.

Mr. Tinker

Is the Minister aware that I have not seen any of the notices yet, and that I had the experience two weeks ago of being the fourth in a first-class compartment, and that this was not very well received? And does he not think it would be better if he told passengers in first-class compartments to realise that they have a duty?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I will look into the question raised by my hon. Friend. I have very often seen the notices.

Mr. Mack

Does the Minister realise that in view of the fact that first-class passengers very frequently overflow into third-class compartments and that third-class passengers overflow into first-class, it would be better to abolish first-class compartments altogether and not take money from people without giving a guarantee of a seat?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I have very often answered Questions of that kind in this House.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

May I ask the Minister why German prisoners of war are given the luxurious travelling conditions described in the Question?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I do not know that first class compartments are reserved for German prisoners of war. Of course, compartments are reserved for prisoners of war.

Mr. A. Edwards

Is the Minister aware that compartments are still being reserved for important people on trains going North, and is he also aware that I waited an hour for the 5.30 train last week and could then only get standing room, not in a compartment, but in the corridor?

Mr. Shinwell

When the Minister said that German prisoners of war have seats reserved for them, do they ever have to stand in corridors?

Mr. Noel-Baker

It has always been the practice to reserve compartments for prisoners of war, who must be kept apart.

Mr. Turton

Could the Minister not take up the matter of abolishing the buttress in first-class compartments, which sticks in the middle of one's back, and so make room for four or five seats?

Mr. Noel-Baker

It would mean the reconstruction of first-class compartments, and there is not the labour to do that.

41. Mr. Higgs

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport if he is aware that the seats reserved on trains for persons travelling on urgent national business are inadequate; and will he make further provision on more evening trains forthwith.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Seats are reserved on some trains on certain routes for persons travelling on urgent national business. So far, the demand for these seats has been well below the number provided. If my hon. Friend desires that the arrangements should be extended to any other train, perhaps he will be good enough to let me have particulars. He will recognise, however, that the arrangements can only be applied to a relatively small number of trains.

Mr. Higgs

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that there is no train leaving London after 1.35 p.m. on which seats can be reserved; and would he further look into the position of the 6.10 to Birmingham from Paddington?

Mr. Noel-Baker

As regards the 6.10 to Birmingham, I will look into that.

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