HC Deb 19 March 1958 vol 584 cc1264-6
43. Mr. Partridge

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, in view of the cuts in the omnibus services of the London Transport Executive which were announced in January last, what further action he will take to secure the staggering of the hours of work in central London; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Watkinson

The reduction of services during the peak hours will be only about 2 per cent. The London Transport Executive is, however, fully aware of the Government's view that the cost of any increase in busmen's wages following the award of the Industrial Court should be found from internal economies. In that event further cuts in service may be unavoidable. I intend in the near future to meet the Committee for the Staggering of Working Hours in Central London and the Chairmen of the Zone Sub-Committees to discuss with them the further steps they can take in 1958 to reduce peak hour travel.

Mr. Partridge

That is all very well, but the cuts are coming, and we know it. What is to be done in order to procure a further staggering of hours, which must be done unless we are to have complete chaos at peak hours?

Mr. Watkinson

I quite agree with my hon. Friend that we must have more staggering of hours at rush periods for the sake of the London travelling public. That is exactly what I am going to discuss with the Rush Hours Committee, which has already done good work. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising this matter, because the more publicity given to it the better.

Mr. Ernest Davies

Would not the Minister agree that the only further economies which can be brought about in London Transport are by reducing peak hours travel, and that, therefore, it is essential that there should be an increase in the staggering of working hours? Will he not give serious consideration to introducing compulsory staggering of hours where it can be done without too much inconvenience?

Mr. Watkinson

I will certainly look at the suggestion, which is, perhaps, one of the things I might discuss with the Rush Hours Committee, but it must be quite voluntary.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the cuts already in operation in some areas throughout London and the environments of London have resulted in buses being available for passengers somewhat infrequently? Does he not realise that not only are the busmen prevented from receiving what they regard as a reasonable wage, but that passengers throughout the London area are also being inconvenienced? Cannot something be done about it?

Mr. Watkinson

What I do realise is that if we are ever to stop inflation and if there is to be a settlement of the kind advocated by the Industrial Court, the cost of it has to be absorbed and not passed on to the traffic.

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