§ 50. Mr. Webster
asked the Minister of Transport whether he will give a general direction to the British Transport Commission not to put embargoes on goods traffic without first consulting his Department.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Mr. John Hay)
No, Sir. This is a matter of management which is the responsibility of the British Transport Commission, and I do not consider that a general direction would be justified.
§ Mr. Webster
Whilst I accept that the Commission is under a legal obligation to provide passenger services, would not my hon. Friend agree that it would be disadvantageous if it refused to carry freight traffic which would be to the greatest advantage to the railway services?
§ Mr. Hay
Yes, Sir. It would, of course, be extremely disadvantageous, but it is the fact that the Commission naturally wishes to carry as much freight and as many passengers as it possibly can. I think that in the case to which my hon. Friend refers there were special circumstances connected with a shortage of labour in a certain area, and that required the imposition of this temporary embargo.
§ Mr. Mellish
The Minister will be aware that that reply gives us on this side a great deal of pleasure. Is he aware that we think that the Commission is already badly enough restricted by law without further laws being imposed on it to stop natural trading?