HC Deb 06 July 1944 vol 401 cc1315-6
61. Mr. Bartle Bull

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he will consider issuing passes or season tickets on the underground or railway to Members of Parliament whose constituencies are only a short distance from London.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Assheton)

No, Sir. I regret to say that I cannot fall in with my hon. Friend's suggestion. Any general issue of season tickets instead of vouchers would entail a considerable increase in the cost of Members' free travel facilities, and I should not feel able to justify preferential treatment for any particular group of Members.

Mr. Bull

Cannot my right hon. Friend introduce a ticket which could be punched at the time? For a short fare on the underground you have to write out a ticket at the booking office and you would be lynched before you had written it out.

Mr. Assheton

Perhaps my hon. Friend will recollect that the original object of this provision was to remedy the inequality of expenses between Members for London constituencies and Members whose constituencies are some distance away.

Mr. Shinwell

Is it not time to reconsider this matter entirely? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in most democratic countries where there are similar institutions Members receive free railway warrants to any part of the country, and that the trifling additional amount involved here would not be regarded by the general public as serious?

Mr. Woodburn

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that Members of the House perform a double function? They are Members for their constituency and they are also Members for the whole country, and serve the whole country. Would not the sensible thing be to get rid of these silly little vouchers and have a complete pass?

Mr. Assheton

That raises quite a different question from that which is on the Order Paper.

Mr. Thorne

Is it not a fact that any Member of Parliament can go to the Fees Office and get a packet of vouchers and change them? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes we can. I put in a voucher every morning at my station, and get a ticket for Westminster.

Mr. Shinwell

In view of the representations which have been made by hon. Members, arising out of this Question, will the Financial Secretary take the matter up with the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

Mr. Assheton

My right hon. Friend has heard the discussion.