HC Deb 09 November 1960 vol 629 cc1034-5
41. Mr. Boyden

asked the Minister of Transport if he will now add at least one representative of the railway trade unions to the Stedeford Committee and the recently-appointed committee on railway matters.

Mr. Marples

No, Sir. The Special Advisory Group under the chairmanship of Sir Ivan Stedeford completed its work at the beginning of last month and has now been disbanded. The Study Group under my chairmanship on railway modernisation, as was explained in the debate on 26th October, is not a formal committee with fixed membership.

As I stated during the debate, I shall be glad to consider any views which the railway trade unions may care to put forward on railway modernisation, or other matters affecting the size and shape of the industry.

Mr. Boyden

Does not the Minister think that the advice of the Stedeford Committee would have carried more weight and would have been better advice if there had been a railway trade unionist on it? Is he not anxious to avoid the same sort of mistake with the committee which he has recently set up?

Mr. Marples

The trade unions can give any advice they like, and it will certainly be taken into account.

Mr. Popplewell

What does the Minister mean when he says that the trade unions can give evidence? This committee has been set up under his chairmanship. Is it his idea that he would invite trade unions to attend a meeting and then, by question and answer, expect them to give useful evidence? Or will the Minister invite the trade unions to submit a reasoned case as to what they think the future of the railways should be?

Mr. Marples

We should all get it clear that it is not a committee. It is normal consultation between the British Transport Commission, various members of my Ministry and different Government Departments. I did not call it a committee; hon. Members opposite did.

Mr. Benn

As the Stedeford Group were reporting jointly to the Minister of Transport and the British Transport Commission, will the Minister give an assurance that when he publishes the White Paper it will include the comments of the British Transport Commission on the Stedeford Group's report, as well as the comments of the Government upon it?

Mr. Marples

We had better wait until the White Paper is published.