HC Deb 10 November 1954 vol 532 cc1175-6
10. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation to state the results of his conversations with the Secretary of State for Scotland and the chairman of the Scottish Tourist Board, designed to bring into operation a scheme for the equalisation of railway freight charges in and to Scotland, and also designed to eliminate the hardships caused by the present anomalies in freight charges; and what steps he proposes to take in these matters.

The Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation (Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter)

The hon. and learned Member is misinformed. There have been no such conversations.

Mr. Hughes

As the Minister is new to this job, has he not had some conversations with his predecessor about this matter? Is he not aware that the expense of transport in the North of Scotland is holding up vast industrial planning there, and will he look into the matter and do something about it?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

This is, of course, an important matter, but there have been no conversations on this subject, nor could there usefully be any. The hon. and learned Member may be aware that, first of all, it is a matter for the Transport Commission to prepare a scheme and then to submit it to the tribunal, where Scottish interests can, and no doubt will, express their views.

30. Mr. John MacLeod

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation the present time limit fixed by him under Section 76 of the Transport Act, 1947, for the submission of a railway charges scheme by the British Transport Commission to the Transport Tribunal.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The period at present allowed expires on 6th August, 1955. I understand, however, that the Commission has practically completed the draft of a Rail Merchandise Charges Scheme and is about to consult with interests concerned, including of course Scottish interests. It will be submitted to the Tribunal as soon as these consultations have taken place.

Mr. MacLeod

Will my right hon. Friend treat this matter with the utmost urgency? He will appreciate that people living in remote areas such as the Highlands and elsewhere hope that some system of relief from the penal burden of freight charges will be worked out. Surely it would be better to attract as much business on to the railways as possible in order to relieve the congestion on the roads?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Under the existing legislation the matter is not in my hands, but I understand the concern of my hon. Friends and other hon. Members about this matter. I have no doubt that the Transport Commission will press forward with its proposals.

Mr. Ernest Davies

Will the right hon. Gentleman inform his hon. Friend that if his Government had not interfered with the Transport Commission a transport charges scheme would have been submitted several years ago?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I think that complicated and dubiously accurate statement had better be conveyed direct.

Mr. Davies

It is perfectly accurate.

Brigadier Peto

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this question of charges is particularly applicable to North Devon so far as coal is concerned?

Back to