HC Deb 20 January 1954 vol 522 cc1002-3
40. Mr. Ernest Davies

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will make a statement on the application made by the British Transport Commission for a 10 per cent. increase in freight charges; and if the members of the Transport Tribunal acting as a consultative committee have yet made their recommendation to him

45. Lady Tweedsmuir

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what action he proposes to take regarding the British Transport Commission's request for a 10 per cent, increase in freight charges

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

On 31st December, as required by the Transport Act, 1947,I referred the application to the Permanent Members of the Transport Tribunal, acting as a Consultative Committee, and asked that their advice be tendered to me as soon as possible. I hope to receive their report by the end of this week or early next week. I will consider any representations made to me before I reach a decision.

Mr. Davies

While I am sure that everyone would accept the necessity to increase charges in order that fair wages shall be paid, is it not folly on the part of the Government to pursue their road transport policy and to deprive the Transport Commission of £8 million surplus at this time and, as a consequence, to drive up freight charges?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I could not accept that conclusion and all those considerations were argued in the last Session at great length.

Lady Tweedsmuir

Before my right hon. Friend makes a decision, would he bear in mind that a limit has really been reached for passing on rising costs to the public and to industry, and will he consider what action can be taken to improve both efficiency and economy?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am deeply anxious about improved efficiency and I welcomed the assurances given by the union leaders in their talks with the Commission that they would also pursue the same end. In regard to the problem in Scotland, I understand that the associations in the constituency of the hon. Lady are in touch with British Railways in regard to particular local problems.

Mr. Davies

Will not the Minister admit that if road transport had not been denationalised the Commission would be better off to the extent of £8 million?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

It is the view of Parliament, as expressed in the last Session—[HON MEMBERS: "Answer."]—that the efficiency of British transport as a whole, and therefore its net revenue, will gain by the action taken.

Hon. Members


Mr. John MacLeod

Could the Minister say whether any action will be taken on the Cameron Report which dealt with this problem as far as the Highlands of Scotland are concerned because, if this increase comes, it will be an intolerable burden?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The representations in the Cameron Report are a proper subject for discussion between the Highland authorities and British Railways, who are the operators in this field.