HC Deb 01 June 1960 vol 624 cc1429-31
21. Mr. H. Hynd

asked the Minister of Transport on what date, in implementation of his recent promise, he communicated with the Chairman of the British Transport Commission regarding the position of railway superannuitants; and what reply he has received.

33. Dame Irene Ward

asked the Minister of Transport whether he has yet received a reply from the Chairman of the British Transport Commission to the communication he undertook to make to him on the pensions of railway superannuitants; and what was the nature of the reply.

Mr. Marples

On 17th March last I drew the attention of the Chairman of the British Transport Commission to the views expressed on this subject by my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) on the previous day, but my letter did not call for any reply.

Mr. Hynd

As the British Transport Commission is apparently willing to fulfil the normal obligations to these people who are trying to live on out-of-date pensions but are unable to do so, is the Minister prepared to give the Commission some assistance in helping these people?

Mr. Marples

The Commission has made certain proposals which are under consideration, but this is part of the wider question of the reorganisation of the Commission, especially its finances.

Dame Irene Ward

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I have a letter from the Chairman of the British Transport Commission telling me that he has made representations to my right hon. Friend and expressing great concern about the position of these railway superannuitants? In view of the fact that the British Transport Commission wants something done, is my right hon. Friend prepared to take on the battle with the Treasury, having regard to the fact that our election pledge covered all pensioners?

Mr. Marples

I am, as always, obliged to my hon. Friend. I did know that the British Transport Commission had written to her because I received a copy of the letter, and I told the Commission that I would look at this letter in the light of the whole of the finances of the British Transport Commission.

Mr. Gunter

What are the channels of communication concerning these proposals between the Department and the British Transport Commission? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I have led deputations on this matter to his predecessor, and that so far we have received a lot of sympathy but no support? Would he bear in mind in any future discussions with the British Transport Commission that a number of these people, by reason of the conditions of service, were compelled to join the old railway superannuation fund but they now think that they would have been better off if they had never contributed a penny to the fund but had relied upon National Assistance? I am sure that that is not the Tory idea of the rewarding of thrift.

Mr. Marples

The channel of communications is that the British Transport Commission wrote to me making certain proposals and I replied stating that they are under consideration but, as I said in my answer, the whole question has to be considered in relation to the wider considerations now being given to the finances of the Commission as a whole.

Mr. Hynd

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment.