HC Deb 15 May 1957 vol 570 cc394-5
44. Mr. Allaun

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he will give a general direction to the British Transport Commission that on long-distance trains second-class passengers who are forced to stand should be permitted to occupy empty first-class seats.

The Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation (Mr. Harold Watkinson)

No. Sir.

Mr. Allaun

Does the Minister think it right that every day, on non-stop, long-distance trains such as "The Mancunian ", men, women and young children are having to stand for nearly four hours in corridors and guard vans, when there are empty first-class seats; and could not this situation be dealt with quite simply by the ticket collectors?

Mr. Watkinson

I think that the answer is two-fold. First, this is a proper matter for the Commission to deal with; it is part of the commercial management of the railways. What is, I think, more important is that on those long-distance trains—this is not well enough known and, perhaps, it should be made better known by the Commission—seats are bookable and people can obtain a seat by taking the trouble to book beforehand.

Mr. Allaun

But the Minister must know that regularly on these trains there are not enough seats for the second-class passengers, whether they book or not. Surely, it is a matter of principle and something for which the Minister is responsible?

Mr. Watkinson

No. If the guard or official on the train finds that the train is grossly overcrowded, for reasons which cannot be avoided, he has certain latitude of action.

Mr. Popplewell

Would the Minister approach the British Transport Commission in order to make more publicly known that particular regulation, that when a train is crowded a second-class passenger may approach the local station master or inspector and ask him to provide a seat in a first-class compartment, and that that person has authority to do that? Will the right hon. Gentleman see that that is made more widely known?

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