HC Deb 01 February 1956 vol 548 cc904-5
17. Mr. E. Johnson

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will give a general direction to the British Transport Commission to consider the possibility of following the example of the cement industry and agree not to increase their fares on freight charges during the next six months.

Mr. Watkinson

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Scotstoun (Sir J. Hutchison) on 25th January.

Mr. Johnson

Does not my right hon. Friend think that the example set by the cement industry and followed by other industries is a very commendable one? Why is it that a nationalised industry cannot follow that example?

Mr. Watkinson

I certainly think that the example of private enterprise industry in this respect is a very commendable one. Perhaps one of the differences is that some, or perhaps all, those industries are making profits, while the railways— which are mentioned in my hon. Friend's Question—are certainly not.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that it is much easier to reduce prices or keep them steady when one is overcharging than when one is charging at cost price?

Mr. Nabarro

Go to the bottom of the class.