HC Deb 19 June 1968 vol 766 cc1084-5
12. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the Minister of Transport, having regard to the requirements of the Government's prices and incomes policy, and the continuing trading losses of about £3 million per week on British Railways, what steps he is now taking to prevent rises in rail and travel fares.

Mr. Carmichael

I would refer the hon. Member to the recent debates on the relevant parts of the Transport Bill, and the Report of the National Board for Prices and Incomes, which the Government have accepted.

Sir G. Nabarro

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that those were quite inconclusive? Will he tell the House whether it is the policy of the Government to endorse the substantial increase in fares which the British Transport Commission and others are now seeking in order to make the railways more commercially viable, or whether the Government propose to adhere to a 3½ per cent. increase only for fares in conformity with the prices and incomes policy?

Mr. Carmichael

The Prices and Incomes Board Report No. 72, of 30th May, which I have said the Government have accepted, makes it quite clear. The conclusion of the Report is that the Railways Board, in order to set up an overall increase across the board, should consider the market pricing question in regard to fares. I refer the hon. Gentleman to Report No. 72, which very fully explains the matter.

Mr. Peter Walker

But surely the hon. Gentleman will agree that the increase will mean an average increase in fares very much higher than 3½ per cent?

Mr. Carmichael

Not necessarily. With certain classes of fare this may very well be so. My right hon. Friend said on the Third Reading of the Transport Bill. that, in conformity with the principles laid down by the Prices and Incomes Board, first class fares would not be kept at the same ceiling as second class fares.