§ 11. Sir Richard Glyn
asked the Minister of Transport if, before deciding whether to approve rail closures submitted to him by the Railways Board, he will give a general direction to the Board to consult the trade unions, with a view to securing economies by the abandonment of restrictive practices and thus enable certain passenger services to be retained.
§ The Minister of Transport (Mr. Ernest Marples)
No, Sir. The Board informs me that it is already doing all it can, in consultation with the trade unions, to limit the effect of any restrictive practices on the cost of its services, but it does not regard such practices as a factor materially affecting the economics of any passenger services which it plans to discontinue.
§ Sir Richard Glyn
Would not my right hon. Friend agree that it would be against the best interests of the railway workers, and of the nation as a whole, if passenger services were to be withdrawn when they could have been made economically viable by the abandonment of restrictive practices, and will he look at this matter again?
§ Mr. Marples
The question of restrictive practices is one of management between the Railways Board and the unions. In this industry I am bound to say that there has been a good deal of useful consultation.
§ Sir J. Maitland
Why is the need for economy so little stressed when economies might even make the difference between closing or not closing a marginal line?
§ Mr. Popplewell
As the Minister seems to accept that there are some restrictive practices, will he lay a White Paper and inform the House what are those practices? Is he aware that the railway men do not know of any restrictive practices involved in the operation of the railways which would affect the profitability or otherwise of these branch lines?
§ Mr. Marples
It is a question of degree, of how much productivity may be obtained from a given number of men working harmoniously with the management. Measures for achieving greater productivity are among the subjects discussed between the management and the unions.