HC Deb 16 March 1955 vol 538 cc1293-5
36. Miss Pitt

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he will use his powers under Section 6 of the Transport Act, 1947, to refer to the Central Transport Consultative Committee the question of the adequate heating of trains during the winter months.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

No, Sir. It is open to users of the British Transport Commission's services to make representations to the Transport Users' Consultative Committees in regard to any matter affecting the services and facilities provided by the British Transport Commission. I suggest that any particular cases which have been brought to the notice of my hon. Friend should be referred to the consultative committees concerned.

Mr. Follick

On a point of order. Is it usual, when an hon. Member who is a lady asks a Question, to answer "Sir"?

Mr. Speaker

Yes. The Minister's answer, like all speeches in this House, is directed to me, and I belong to that sex.

Miss Pitt

Is my right hon. Friend aware that while that course may be open to individual members of the public —and certainly I have followed it—it is not open to train crews, who are very concerned at the lack of comfort afforded to the public? It is at their request that I have, not without difficulty, placed this Question on the Paper.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Of course, so far as working conditions affecting train crews are concerned—[HON. MEMBERS: "That is not the point."] The temperatures under which they work—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—I should regard as some of their working conditions. [HON. MEMBERS: "That is not the question."] If my hon. Friend has passengers in mind—[HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."]—passengers who are affected can make representations to the Transport Users' Consultative Committee. So far as the views of train crews are concerned, I think the unions are quite capable of looking after them.

Mr. Callaghan

Is not the case that the hon. Lady is making that train crews are concerned about the comfort or the lack of comfort of passengers? Is it not possible for them—as, I am sure, they have done on previous occasions—to go to their local departmental councils and other bodies and raise the matter through that institutional machinery?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I should not have thought there was any difficulty in their so doing. They do, of course, raise many questions in that way most helpfully.

Mr. Woodburn

On behalf of the passengers, may I ask whether some research could not be made into the possibilities of thermostatic control? Sleeper trains often start off cold and then become boiling hot; sometimes the passengers freeze at night in spite of the heating arrangements. I think it is time, in these scientific days, for research to be undertaken to find some method of controlling the heat, and a system which would allow for controlled fluctuations of the degree of heat.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I understand that the British Transport Commission, under the modernisation scheme, is looking into the details of the design of rolling stock, which, of course, includes heating arrangements.

Air Commodore Harvey

Will my right hon. Friend look at this matter again? Can he really imagine aged ladies who are obliged to travel in unheated trains undertaking all that correspondence through the usual channels, as they are called? Will my right hon. Friend look into the matter and get something done about it?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I am anxious that travelling conditions should be as comfortable as possible, but this is, in the first place, a matter for the ordinary management of the British Transport Commission, under which full arrangements are made for ventilating complaints.

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