HC Deb 23 November 1966 vol 736 cc1365-7
1. Mr. Peter Walker

asked the Minister of Transport when her negotiations with the National Union of Railwaymen and the Transport and General Workers' Union about making the liner train terminals open to private hauliers will be completed.

5. Mr. Edward M. Taylor

asked the Minister of Transport what progress she has made in her talks with the National Union of Railwaymen on the question of open access for private hauliers to liner train terminals.

55. Mr. Hunt

asked the Minister of Transport if the Transport and General Workers' Union is now no longer frustrating efforts to have open freight-liner terminals; and if she will make a statement.

56. Mr. J. H. Osborn

asked the Minister of Transport what priority she gives to the British Railways freightliner train terminals being open without discrimination to all private hauliers.

59. Mr. Blaker

asked the Minister of Transport if she will give the three most recent dates on which she made representations to the National Union of Railwaymen urging them to comply with the Government's policy that the freightliner train service should go ahead on the basis of open terminals.

84. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Minister of Transport if she is still having negotiations with the Transport and General Workers' Union on the question of its members' participation in the operation of open freightliner terminals.

The Minister of Transport (Mrs. Barbara Castle)

It is my policy to encourage the wider availability of freightliner terminals and I have on several occasions pressed my views upon both the National Union of Railwaymen, the Transport and General Workers' Union and the other road transport unions concerned; most recently in my address to the Labour Party Conference. I shall continue to do this.

Mr. Walker

Is the Minister aware that it is now 12 months since the Prime Minister stated that we had successfully tackled the opposition to the liner trains? Can she explain why for 12 months she has been unsuccessful in her efforts?

Mrs. Castle

I do not for one moment accept that we have been unsuccessful in our efforts. The growth in the use of liner trains is most heartening for their future development. There are now 1,000 containers being carried per week compared with 30 in the first week of operation. Six routes are in use compared with one at the start of the scheme. The remaining nine routes of stage one of the network are expected to be introduced next year.

Mr. Bagier

What has been the effect of the decision of the National Union of Railwaymen to allow access to the freightliner terminals by private hauliers' vehicles on hire to the Railways Board?

Mrs. Castle

I cannot give the figures, but undoubtedly this decision by the N.U.R. has meant that a large number of additional loads have been carried by the freightliners which would otherwise have gone on our overcrowded roads.

Mr. Hunt

Is the right hon. Lady aware that the continuing drift and complacency in this matter is one of the major scandals of her Ministry? When will she speak up strongly for the nation rather than the vested interest of one particular union?

Mrs. Castle

It is not a question of the vested interest of one particular union. We are proceeding to expand the use of these freightliner terminals. British Road Services are now using the Glasgow route and hope to use the Aberdeen route shortly. The service is expanding all the time. If hon. Members would stop trying to wreck it, we would make even better progress.

Mr. Ron Lewis

Does my right hon. Friend's reply indicate that the trade unions as a whole accept the establishment of freightliner terminals, not just for the benefit of railwaymen only, but also for the benefit of nationalised road haulage?

Mrs. Castle

It is true that the unions have accepted the principle of the freightliner train and that its benefits are increasingly being brought home to them, and the success of the use by British Road Services of the Glasgow route is paving the way for further expansion of the scheme.

Mr. Walker

Is the Minister aware that her complacent attitude that the liner trains are doing well in spite of this restrictive practice will do a great deal to encourage the continuance of the restrictive practice?

Mrs. Castle

I do not accept that. We would have been a great deal further on than we are if my political predecessor, the right hon. Member for Wallasey (Mr. Marples), had not delayed the introduction of the scheme for a year.

Mr. Manuel

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied with the present growth of freightliner traffic? What further steps does she intend to take to expand it? Has British Rail enough vehicles to service the terminals?

Mrs. Castle

I have already told the House that expansion is continuing all the time, and we shall continue to ensure that.

British Railways have had to hire some privately-owned vehicles, and the N.U.R. agreed to that last May. I have just authorised another £1 million of investment in British Railways road vehicles which will be needed for the scheme.

Mr. Walker

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I propose to raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.

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