HC Deb 08 March 1944 vol 397 cc2040-2
41. Mr. Dobbie

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he is aware of the complaints being made that members of His Majesty's Forces have to stand in corridors on long journeys owing to the absence of third-class accommodation, while seats are available in first-class compartments; and whether the position has been made clear by the railway companies to their staff that members of the Forces and other passengers should be permitted to occupy available first-class seats on trains when the third-class accommodation is fully taken up.

Mr. Noel-Baker

The railway staff have been given discretion to allow passengers with third-class tickets to occupy seats in first-class carriages without any extra charge when third-class carriages are seriously overcrowded. My hon. Friend will understand however that it is necessary to have regard to the requirements of passengers with first-class tickets who may join the train later on its journey.

Mr. Dobbie

In view of the difficulty that has arisen, would the Minister ask the railway companies to instruct their servants not to turn Service men out of compartments at the request of first-class passengers?

Mr. Noel-Baker

That is a very difficult matter as put in those terms. I think the present instructions have worked reasonably well, though they are hard both on Service men and civilians in some cases. I hope my hon. Friend will agree that the railway staffs do their best.

Mr. A. Bevan

Is my hon. Friend aware that quite often the communicating doors between coaches are locked so as to ensure that first-class passengers are not disturbed, and this means that people cannot distribute themselves over the train?

Mr. Noel-Baker

There are other reasons, which I think more important, for the locking of communicating doors. The matter is to be discussed on the Adjournment, and perhaps my hon. Friend will attend on that occasion.

Mr. Dobbie

Will my hon. Friend give instructions that Service men are not to be turned out of compartments at the request of passengers?

Mr. Noel-Baker

If there are passengers with first-class tickets they ought to have the seats.

Mr. A. Edwards

Is my hon. Friend aware that within the last year or two there have been accidents and lives lost as the result of locking communicating doors?

Mr. Noel-Baker

There was an accident two years ago, after which instructions were changed, so that that cause of danger was removed.

Hon. Members

They are still locked.

Mr. Noel-Baker

No, not the doors that cause the danger.

43 and 44. Winģ - Commander Grant-Ferris

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) if he is satisfied with the arrangements made at St. Pancras and Euston stations for advertising the existence of the United Services Club so that Service men and women do not find themselves stranded;

(2) If he is assured that Service men and women arriving at King's Cross station after 8 p.m. are able to obtain food and accommodation in the station or very near; and whether all such facilities are clearly advertised.

The Financial Secretary to the War Office (Mr. Arthur Henderson)

There are two canteens for Service personnel at King's Cross Station, one of which is open 24 hours a day. This canteen is immediately opposite the main line booking office and the way to it is indicated by signs. In addition to these canteens there are six hostels in the vicinity of King's Cross, St. Pancras and Euston Stations. Posters advertising their addresses are displayed in the Railway Traffic Officers' offices, in the canteens, in the military cloakrooms, in the information bureau and in the stations. There is no evidence that Service men and women have any real difficulty in finding their way to the canteens and hostels.