HC Deb 10 June 1959 vol 606 cc986-7
34. Mr. A. Roberts

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, what general directions he has given to the British Transport Commission regarding the closure of wagon building and repair shops in various parts of the country.

Mr. Nugent

None, Sir. This is a matter of management and therefore the responsibility of the British Transport Commission.

Mr. Roberts

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the uneasy feeling which is apparent in places like York, Doncaster and Shildon? Can he inform the House whether there is a likelihood of this work being farmed out to private contractors?

Mr. Nugent

I am well aware of the uneasy feeling, and hon. Members have made representations to my right hon. Friend and myself; but I can also tell the House that representations have been made from the other side, on behalf of private employers, who, unfortunately, must also find their activities cut down. I can reassure the hon. Member that in the reductions which are inevitably part of its modernisation programme—including such things as the manufacture of wooden wagons and their repair which, naturally, must disappear altogether—the Commission is being as fair as possible regarding its own workshops and those of private suppliers.

Mr. F. Noel-Baker

Will the Joint Parliamentary Secretary bear in mind that what he has just said will tend to unsettle even more railway workers who are affected by the situation? Will he please bear in mind the desirability of allowing many thousands of railway workers to know exactly what is to happen in the future? At the moment they are in complete ignorance and are apprehensive about the future. Is it not time that something was done to tell them what are the future plans?

Mr. Nugent

The Commission is in close consultation with the unions on this matter. They have settled what I believe to be satisfactory arrangements regarding redundancy, and I think there is full consultation.

Mr. Lawson

Will the Minister bear in mind that Scotland has a long history of wagon building and repair? Will he ensure that in the developments now taking place Scotland is not stripped of one of her industries connected with wagon building and repairing?

Mr. Nugent

I am sure that the Commission will also pay attention to that point.