HL Deb 22 May 1962 vol 240 cc910-78

3.11 p.m.

Order of the Day for the House to be again in Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Mills.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD MERTHYR in the Chair.]

Clause 1:

The four Boards

1.(3) The British Railways Board shall consist of a chairman, a vice chairman, or two vice chairmen, and not more than sixteen nor less than ten other members; the chairmen and other members of the Board shall be appointed from among persons who appear to the Minister to have had wide experience of, and to have shown capacity in, transport, industrial, commercial or financial matters, administration, applied science, or the organisation of workers, and the Minister in appointing them shall have regard to the desirability of having members who are familiar with the special requirements and circumstances of particular regions and areas served by the Board. (4) The London Transport Board shall consist of a chairman, a vice chairman and not more than nine nor less than four other members; the chairmen and other members of the Board shall be appointed from among persons who appear to the Minister to have had wide experience of, and to have shown capacity in, urban transport, industrial, commercial or financial matters, administration, applied science, or the organisation of workers. (5) The British Transport Docks Board shall consist of a chairman, a vice chairman and not more than nine nor less than four other members; the chairmen and other members of the Board shall be appointed from among persons who appear to the Minister to have had wide experience of, and to have shown capacity in, transport, industrial, commercial or financial matters, administration, applied science, or the organisation of workers, and the Minister in appointing them shall have regard to the desirability of having members who are familiar with the special requirements and circumstances of particular regions and areas served by the Board. (6) The Inland Waterways Authority shall consist of a chairman, a vice chairman and not more than nine nor less than four other members; the chairmen and other members of the Authority shall be appointed from among persons who appear to the Minister to have had wide experience of, and to have shown capacity in, the operation, management or administration of inland navigations or related matters or who appear to him to have special knowledge relating to some important aspect of the Authority's work or to have had wide experience of, and to have shown capacity in, transport, industrial, commercial or financial matters, administration, applied science or the organisation of workers, and the Minister in appointing them shall have regard to the desirability of having members who are familiar with the special requirements and circumstances of particular regions and areas served by the Authority.

LORD SHEPHERD moved at the end of subsection (3) to insert: Provided also that not less than three of the members of the Authority shall be persons who appear to the Minister to have had a wide experience of and shown capacity in the operation management or administration of Road Transport.

The noble Lord said: I beg to move this Amendment on behalf of my noble friend, Lord Lindgren, who I regret is unable to be here this afternoon. This Amendment is of the same character as that which we were discussing at the end of the Committee stage yesterday afternoon. I thought we had an interesting debate on Amendment No. 8 and I believe there was a general view that it would be of advantage to the Board that a fair number of 'the persons on the Board should have practical railway experience. It may seem rather strange that on a clause setting up a Railways Board we should be moving an Amendment to the effect that some of that Board should have road transport experience, but if any of your Lordships were to look at the accounts and reports of the British Transport Commission, he would see that road transport plays a very considerable part in railway operation—there is the collection and delivery of merchandise from the railhead. In fact, the cost of these operations is in the region of £22 million a year. It is also interesting to note the size of the fleet. The Commission has a fleet of nearly 35,000 vehicles, and with the railways it has in operation 49,000 different containers. We therefore have a road fleet comparable in size to that of British Road Services and its sister companies, and also the passenger side. Therefore, in view of the size I would say that the inclusion on the Railways Board of persons with a knowledge of road transport is essential.

When one looks at Clause 4, and the powers that the Railways Board have for the carriage of goods and passengers by road, it becomes very important that we should have on the Board directors with an intimate knowledge of road transport. I should not be pressing this Amendment quite so strongly if we were to have a co-ordinating Board above the Boards that are being created in Clause 1. If we had had a co-ordinating Board to co-ordinate the duties of British Road Services and transport with the rail authorities, perhaps that would 'have met the case. But it is quite clear that the Government do not propose to give us that. Therefore I think that, when we are creating this new Railways Board, with its responsibilities for a certain amount of road haulage, road delivery, and the movement of passengers, we should have on the Board persons with an intimate knowledge of road transport. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 25, at end insert the said proviso.—(Lord Shepherd.)


When I spoke yesterday on Amendment No. 8 I indicated that I was also referring to this Amendment, as did the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren. Indeed, the objections that I found to Amendment No. 8 apply equally to this Amendment. Clause 1 (3) does refer, inter alia, to "transport" and not to "railway transport", leaving it to the Minister's discretion what members with experience of rail or road transport he appoints to the Board. As I said yesterday, it would be a departure from the general provisions governing appointments to the nationalised Boards to require a fixed number to be appointed with definite qualifications. In my view, the Minister must be left free to make such appointment as appear to him to be right, after consultation with those who are qualified to advise him.

Of course, every phase of the management of the railways and the associated enterprises cannot be covered by the Board membership. The Board must rely in many cases on qualified officials to advise them on how to carry out their duties. I quite see the point made by the noble Lord. I think the question of road transport is important: my objection is merely that we should not be too rigid about this and must leave discretion to the Minister.


In the circumstances of the noble Lord's reply, I beg to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

3.20 p.m.

LORD STONHAM moved to add to subsection (3): Provided also that the members of the Board shall include a member from each of the regional Railway Boards mentioned in section two of this Act.

The noble Lord said: On behalf of my noble friend Lord Lindgren, whose absence has been already explained, I beg to move Amendment No. 10 on the Marshalled List. Clause 1 (3) envisages a Railways Board comprising a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 19 members. If the Minister follows the directions which are given in this subsection, they must include persons of sufficient calibre with wide experience in transport, industry, commerce or finance, applied science or the organisation of works. We were told yesterday that this almost certainly included people with experience in agriculture and with experience of rural problems. That is eight categories of people. In addition to those eight categories, the Minister, in appointing his Railways Board, must consider appointing members who have intimate knowledge of the special requirements and circumstances of the regions and areas served by the Board. That is already laid down in the clause as we now have it.

I would concede at once that this last category of members, those with particular regional knowledge, need not necessarily be additional to the eight categories I have already mentioned, because naturally some members with regional knowledge may also possess one or other of the attributes specified in the subsection. I submit, however, that there is no better method, no more economical or sure method, of making certain of getting regional experience on the Railways Board than by the acceptance of this Amendment, which would write into the Act the requirement that at least one member of each of the six Regional Boards should be a member of the Railways Board.

The noble Lord, Lord Chesham, yesterday expressed some sympathy with an Amendment which I moved, which required the Minister of Transport, before appointing the Board, to consult the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Minister for Welsh Affairs. The noble Lord appears to be in some doubt. I have only suggested that he expressed some sympathy with the Amendment. He will recall that he agreed to look at it a little further.


It was my noble friend Lord Dundee.


I beg your Lordships' pardon. I thought it was the noble Lord, Lord Chesham. If this Amendment were accepted, quite obviously it would go some way to meeting the point that I put in that Amendment yesterday, because it would put a Scottish representative on the Board. Equally, the member for the Western Regional Railway Board would have special knowledge not only of the problems of Wales but of the not altogether dissimilar problems of Cornwall, Devon and areas of that kind; the Eastern Board representative would have specialist knowledge of the agricultural problems of East Anglia, and, indeed, might well be helpful on agricultural problems generally. In every case, in fact, the regional representative would have a specialist and vital contribution to make to the formulation of national railways policy, and to its efficient implementation.

Yesterday, in replying to an Amendment moved by my noble friend, the noble Lord, Lord Mills, said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 240 (No. 81); col. 864]: I agree with the sentiments … expressed, but I think that the Amendment introduces a rigidity which we cannot accept … Such is the charm of the noble Lord that when I heard that statement and noted it down, it did not make, as it were, a harsh impact on me—it sounded a reasonable statement to make. But reflecting on it overnight, I cannot now see much difference between those words and saying "My mind is made up; do not confuse me with the facts." I hope that the noble Lord, if he comes to reply, will not attempt to deal with this Amendment in the same way, because it would prove that the rigidity lies with the Government and the flexibility in the Amendment. In fact, in my submission, acceptance of this Amendment will give the Minister much greater flexibility, and much greater room for manœuvre, in trying within a total of 12 or, if you like, 19 members to satisfy all the various constituents which, in effect, are already written into subsection (3) of this clause. I think it would also assist effective co-ordination of rail services, which noble Lords opposite have frequently assured us is one of the Government's main objectives.

It will be the duty of the Railways Board to delegate certain of its powers to the Regional Boards. This may be an advantage. There may be an advantage in having Regional Boards concentrating on local problems under conditions of local autonomy. But no one envisages that the Regional Boards will return to the position which the old private-enterprise railway companies were in. The Western Regional Board will not be a return to the old Great Western Railway or anything of that kind. The Bill is still designed to ensure that the railways will be run by the British Railways Board, carrying out a national railways policy. It is vital, therefore, that the regions should have a part in formulating policy, and that one member of each region should be in a position to interpret it to his Regional Board.

There are many national organisations which have immensely benefited from this kind of pyramid structure. The noble Lord, Lord Mills, smiles. But I have keenly in mind the position in the hospital service. I run a group of five hospitals. Five of the members of my group are chairmen of those hospitals. In fact, they carry down, and explain, policy in that way. In my submission, this is immensely valuable. The Amendment, of course, does not insist that the chairmen of each Regional Board should be the regional representative on the Railways Board. That might be the best solution, but we are content in the Amendment to say that each region must have a member with a seat on the Board. I cannot see that there is any reasonable objection to this Amendment. It seems to me to have great advantages, and it would help to remove many serious and, in my view, well-founded misgivings. I therefore hope that the Government will accept it. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 25, at end insert the said proviso.—(Lord Stonham.)

3.30 p.m.


At any rate, I will try to vary my language this time. I understand the motive actuating the noble Lord in moving this Amendment. If I might refer your Lordships to the White Paper, Cmnd. 1248, it was proposed in paragraph 15 that there should be on the Railways Board A representative from each of the Regional Railway Boards. On consideration, however, we have come to the conclusion that the balance of central and regional representation on the British Railways Board should not be fixed by Statute but should be determined in the light of future experience and needs. We ought, I suggest, to leave it to the new management to work out the best arrangement. The Boards should be able to consider at any time what regional representation is needed, in the light of the requirements at the centre and other experience and knowledge. The Minister has power to make these appointments and the upper and lower limits of the numbers of the Board have been fixed in order to allow for regional representation. I would also remind your Lordships that Clause 1 (3) says: … the Minister … shall have regard to the desirability of having members who are familiar with the special requirements and circumstances of particular regions and areas served by the Board. So, while I think there is much merit in the proposal, I would prefer that your Lordships should leave discretion with the Minister to make his appointments after consultation with the new management of the railways.


Am I to understand from the noble Lord that it is the Minister's intention to appoint a small nucleus of the Board, and then for the Board to meet and decide what is to be their future size as a central Board and how they propose to appoint and operate the Regional Boards?


I do not think that is quite the situation. Your Lordships will remember that the Transport Commission have already appointed a Railway Committee which has regional representation. It would be with the chairman and members, of that Committee that the Minister would discuss this problem.


So it is this Committee and the Minister who will decide, and not the Board that is being created?


No; it is the Minister who will decide.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

LORD STONHAM moved to add to subsection (3): (" ( ) The Chairman and not less than nine members of the Railways Board shall be required to render whole time service to the Board or Regional Boards.")

The noble Lord said: The British Transport Commission has been described as the biggest undertaking in the country, if mot in the world. The Railways Board will be very much smaller than that, but it will still be a very big business which cannot, in our view, be administered by a number of part-timers. The First Schedule to the Bill makes it clear that members will be expected to render substantial service and be paid salaries or fees and allowances; they may qualify for pensions or compensation for loss of office. They will obviously, therefore, be expected to be much more than, say, the part-time members of Electricity Boards. We are anxious, however, that the Bill should be more explicit than that. Again and again when we raise Amendments of this kind the Minister when replying refers us to certain words in the clause, words which of course we have read again and again, to see whether we can screw some crumb of comfort out of them. Then we put down Amendments because the words do not seem likely to produce the kind of set-up that we want.

On this particular point we feel quite strongly that this should be, if not wholly, substantially a full-time Board. In fact we say in our Amendment that at least 10 members of the Board—just over 50 per cent. of the optimum number of 19—should work full time. This full-time service, we point out, could be given either to the Railways Board or to one of the Regional Boards. It would not only ensure that a Board would be run mainly by men with continuous day-to-day experience, but would give active, working railwaymen a clear view of the top rungs of the ladder; and I am bound to say that both the White Paper and this Bill have done a very great deal to obscure those top rungs, particularly among some of the men who thought that they had them in sight.

During the course of our debates there has been some difference of opinion about the immediate practicability of insisting that the top posts should be filled by railwaymen. We on this side have thought that the men were there already; noble Lords opposite have not been nearly so confident. I do not think there is any difference of opinion about the necessity to fire railwaymen with the ambition to reach the top, and there can surely be no better way of doing this than by letting them see that they are serving a professional organisation; that the majority of the Board is composed of men who are working full-time on the job, and therefore that the way to the top is, and must be, open to men of ability. Again, I hope that this Amendment will commend itself to your Lordships as likely to add enthusiasm, incentive, knowledge and efficiency to the Railways Board and to the men who work on the railways.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 25, at end insert the said words.—(Lord Stonham.)


The only reason why I hope your Lordships will not press this Amendment is that I think it would introduce into the working of this part of the Bill a degree of statutory rigidity, which would certainly be unnecessary and possibly undesirably restrictive. Your Lordships have just negatived an Amendment which would have made it a statutory requirement that one member of each of the six Regional Boards should be a member of the Railways Board. There are only 16 members of the Board, apart from the chairman and two vice-chairmen. That would mean that if you had 6 compulsory members from the Regional Boards you would be left with only 10 others, apart from the chairman and vice-chairmen. If this Amendment were now to be accepted, requiring that 9 of those members should be full-time, that would leave the Minister latitude to appoint only one member who was not a full-time member. I think that would really be an absurd degree of inflexibility. In point of fact, I would submit to your Lordships that it is better not to have any statutory requirements as to the proportion of whole-time members. Whatever number is chosen as the right one may change with circumstances, and we do not want to have new legislation too often.

I know that in the 1947 Act it was provided that there should be 4 whole-time members of the Transport Commission out of a total of 8, and that number of 4 has been continued until now. The proportion was altered in 1953, when the total number of members was raised to 14, but the minimum of 4 whole-timers was left. So the proportion of statutory whole-timers was greatly reduced, although in fact the number of whole-time Members has always been greatly in excess of 4.

I would submit to your Lordships that, in the interests of the smooth and efficient working of the Bill so far as concerns the personnel of the Commission and the freedom of the Minister to choose the best people, it is much better not to have a statutory limitation of this kind. I think it is a false apprehension to think that the Minister would ever want to appoint too few whole-time members. It is really to his interests, and to the interests of everybody, to have a large number of them. When this Amendment was moved in another place, it was withdrawn on the assurance given by the Parliamentary Secretary that the great bulk of members of this Board would be full-time. I am glad to repeat that assurance to your Lordships, and I think it is right that they should be. But I would ask your Lordships not to try to limit the exact numbers by Statute.


I am grateful to the noble Earl for repeating the assurance given to us an another place, which assurance I personally have heard for the first time. I do not know what is the practice of other noble Lords, but if I move an Amendment I prefer not to read what has already been said, and to make my own case. It does seem to me, however, that the noble Earl, in replying to the arguments, brought in a completely false reasoning. He used the word "rigidity" again. It reminds me of that kind of reasoning used when a young man asks for a rise, and the employer, by taking the total number of days and then deducting the time the man is sleeping, away at weekends and so forth, proves that the young man does not work at all. The noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, introduced some similar argument recently, in proving that Regular soldiers had scarcely put in any actual time in service. The noble Earl has used exactly similar arguments. He first took the 19 members of the Board, and then reminded your Lordships that you had just rejected an Amendment which would have ensured that 6 members from the Regional Boards would be appointed. Your Lordships had rejected that, but he nevertheless deducted those 6 as if you had accepted the Amendment.


Surely, I said—if I did not, I ought to have said—that in spite of that Amendment being rejected, it was quite possible that the Minister would appoint one member from each of the Regional Boards. It may be very desirable that he should. I think it will be within the recollection of your Lordships that I did say that, and that was the basis of my argument. The fact that we do not think it is desirable to have a statutory, compulsory provision that there must be one member from each Regional Board does not mean that it is not possible or even likely that one member from each Regional Board would be appointed. If they were appointed, it would—and I think it is a perfectly reasonable argument—leave only 10 others and, if 9 of the others were statutory whole-timers, that would leave the Minister latitude to appoint only one. What I have suggested may very likely happen. It is not a hypothetical argument at all.


I am grateful to the noble Earl, but if he says that it is extremely probable that there will be 6 members appointed from the Regional Boards it makes it all the more difficult to——


On a point of detail, I do not think I used the words "extremely probable". I think I said "quite probable".


Certainly I shall study the actual words with interest to-morrow, but the noble Earl did create in my mind the impression that he thought it was very likely that these 6 members would be appointed. I find it all the more difficult to understand why the Government refused to accept the Amendment.




The whole point of the noble Earl's argument was this: if we deducted these full-time members—and these were his actual words—there would only be one member of the Board left. But I should have thought it extremely likely that the 6 members from the Regional Boards would be full-time employees. It' I am right in thinking that—and I think it is very likely—you would immediately have a margin of 6 more. I tried to point out that these people from the Regional Boards—one from Wales, one from Scotland, one from East Anglia—would help the Minister to ensure that he got that regional representation which he is obliged to get. So you cannot keep on counting them, because you get back to the original reductio ad absurdum which I mentioned, of the young man who does not work at all. That was precisely the argument that the noble Earl used, and the only remarkable thing about it was that he coupled that argument with the insinuation that we were being too rigid.

We are very far from convinced that the case has been answered. All we are told is, "We do not really want your Amendment, but it is likely, or it is probable, that what you seek to achieve in the Amendment will be carried out in practice, anyway." In our view, it would be much more reassuring to the railwaymen, and also better evidence of the Government's intentions, if the Amendment were accepted.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

3.48 p.m.

LORD BURDEN moved, in subsection (4), after "Board" (where that word occurs a second time) to insert:

  1. "(a) shall include persons who appear to the Minister to have had wide experience of, and to have shown capacity in, urban transport matters and the organisation of workers, and
  2. (b) subject to paragraph (a) of this subsection,"

The noble Lord said: After the (uncompromising refusal of the noble Lord, Lord Mills, to accept a similar Amendment yesterday, I have very little hope that this Amendment will commend itself to Her Majesty's Government this afternoon. But I still feel that it is worth while to get on record, in regard to this specific proposal, what the Government have said about the trade union representation, and how they are carrying out their promise. I should like to read again—as the noble Lord, Lord Mills, did yesterday—paragraph 32 of the White Paper, which says: In making appointments to the various Boards the Minister will have regard to the special contribution which can be made by those with Trade Union experience. It is particularly important to use this experience in the management of these undertakings, where manpower plays so large a part.

We ask the Government 'to write their promise into the Bill, and we are met with various excuses—"We do not 'want rigidity", or, "We want flexibility". As my noble friend Lord Stonham has pointed out, we seem to be getting a new connotation of words in connection with this Bill: rigidity—a refusal to carry out that which was indicated as the policy to be carried out; flexibility—the means of evading the carrying out of a promise. The Government seem to be like Humpty Dumpty and say, "We will make words mean what we want them to mean".

Then we are told that young and vigorous trade unionists might not be forthcoming, and so on. These are all excuses. I would urge, as I urged yesterday, that the 500,000 men and women in the railway service, the ranks of which are filled with those who understand the aims and objects of their fellow workers, who understand their psychology, and who understand how they can best be made to give of their utmost to make this new machine work, should be given the opportunity of doing so in the centres of authority; and they should have that as a right rather than it should depend upon the good will (I will not use another term) of the Minister or of the civil servants who may determine it. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 28, at end insert the said paragraph and words.—(Lord Burden.)


I am not surprised—I am never surprised at anything—but am a little sad that the noble Lord, Lord Burden, should spend time in again approaching a matter which we debated so fully yesterday. I am also a little disappointed that, having read Hansard, as he must have done, he did not see that the remarks I made about representation by the workers were fair. They were not against representation by the workers, and they were intended to be helpful in this matter. But the Amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Burden, is precisely similar to Amendment No. 6, which he submitted yesterday. In submitting it he said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 240 (No. 81), col. 845]: … the points referred to in Amendment No. 6 are also dealt with in Amendments Nos. 12, 13, 14, 17 and 22". When I came to reply, I added Amendments No. 89 and Nos. 219 to 222 which are to the first Schedule. I do not know whether the noble Lord intends to take us through all these Amendments. If he does, very well; but I can only repeat what I said yesterday: that it is not usual in these Bills to provide for distinct numbers in distinct categories. I must ask your Lordships to reject this Amendment.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

3.55 p.m.

LORD SHEPHERD moved to add to subsection (4): Provided that at least a majority of the members of the Board shall be persons who appear to the Minister to have had wide experience of, and to have shown capacity in, London Transport.

The noble Lord said: I hope the noble Lord will not complain about what he may think is rigidity in regard to Amendments of the character of that which I am now moving. It is, of course, a peg on which to hang a few remarks—remarks which I hope the noble Lord will take as an attempt to be helpful to the Government. This Amendment seeks to make it a requirement of the Minister that, when he appoints the Board, he should ensure that the majority of the members shall have had experience in London Transport. The middle of the subsection refers merely to urban transport. I am quite sure the noble Lord, Lord Mills, will agree that there is a considerable difference between urban transport and London Transport.

The problem of moving commuters and general passengers in London has proved a formidable task, and I am quite sure the noble Lord will agree that the conditions under which our people move to-day are quite intolerable. Therefore, when this Bill is passed, Londoners will expect a Board to have been set up which will be able to make an impact upon the conditions which now prevail. I personally do not believe that a person with experience of merely urban transport is sufficient to meet the task. I and my noble friends would like to see a very strong London Board—a Board made up of men and of women, if they are available, who know intimately the difficulties, who know the resources that are available, and who will, within a reasonable time, make an impact upon present conditions. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 33, at end insert the said proviso.—(Lord Shepherd.)


This Amendment is, I think, linked to Amendments Nos. 19 and 26.


If the noble Lord will allow me, certainly we do not regard it as linked with No. 19. It is a quite separate point that I shall put to the noble Lord in connection with Amendment No. 19.


Then I shall deal with Amendment No. 16 now, and we can deal with the others when we come to them. The purpose of the Amendment is clear. It is to ensure that a majority of the members of the London Transport Board are experienced in London Transport. This Amendment, too, would narrow the scope of the membership of the Board. The effect could be that, out of a membership of six, including the chairman and the vice-chairman, the majority—that is, four—would have to be persons experienced in London Transport. But I would ask noble Lords what the position would be if the Board come to the conclusion, and if the Minister comes to the conclusion, that other interests should be represented. The proposal is one of those things that look all right on paper. But I do suggest it is far better to leave the position (if I may use the word again) flexible, so that the Minister may appoint the people whom he thinks right to run these boards, and not be tied down in this respect.


I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.0 p.m.

LORD SHEPHERD moved, in subsection (5) after "commercial" to insert "(in particular export requirements)". The noble Lord said: I move this Amendment merely to stress the importance to the docks that the Docks Board should have on it persons with some knowledge of export requirements—that is, the facilities within our docks for the loading and quick despatch of our cargoes. There are some times when I cannot help feeling that in our docks our imports seem to have a greater degree of priority than do exports. Certainly that can be said when one sees the long lines of heavy lorries waiting to off-load their cargoes in many of our ports. Therefore I would ask the noble Lord—he may not wish to accept my Amendment—whether he would bear in mind that, in the man who is described as having "commercial" knowledge, we should have a person who has a good knowledge of the requirements of our export trade, so that our docks can be developed to provide a better service for the exporter than is at present provided. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 39, after ("commercial") insert ("(in particular export requirements)").—(Lord Shepherd.)


Of course, I have no difficulty at all in agreeing with the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, on the importance of exports and of getting them expeditiously through the docks. I certainly agree with him that the Docks Board should be constituted in such a way that the management wall be aware of the vital importance of the subject he mentioned. I tell him here and now, and I hope he will feel happy about it, that the Minister will certainly make his appointments having very much in mind the consideration of exports; and the term "commercial", which I suppose would probably cover the point, will be interpreted as widely as possible in order to cover the very point the noble Lord has in mind, so that the people appointed are suitably qualified and experienced. I hope that assurance will be sufficient. I do not think it would be quite appropriate if I 'were to accept his Amendment, because the drafting of the Bill is in connection with the organisation of the docks. From the point of view of efficiency of running the docks, it is probably equally important that there should be people with knowledge of imports, and perhaps various other matters besides. Therefore, if the noble Lord does not mind, I do not wish to accept his wording. I think the position is well covered by the existing categories of people, and I can give him an assurance that that point will be very carefully looked at when the appointments are made.


Would the noble Lord consider on Report stage, instead of using the word "commercial", the possibility of using the word "shippers"?


I do not want to seem obtuse about this point, but I would rather leave the wording as it is. I think it caters quite well for the circumstances. I do not want to repeat the argument I made yesterday: that there is always a case, once you start narrowing down categories, for other categories having a claim to be mentioned as well, and you end up in rather a muddle. I should prefer to leave the wording as it is.


Then in the circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD STONHAM moved, in subsection (5), at end to insert— Provided that at least a majority of the members of the Board shall be persons who appear to the Minister to have had wide experience of, or to have shown capacity in, the operation management and administration of the Docks.

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 19. When the noble Lord, Lord Mills, was dealing with Amendment No. 16, he was of the opinion that that Amendment and the Amendment I now move were on the same point. He will remember that I rose to disagree with him, and he kindly agreed that we should discuss them separately. In my view, this Amendment seeks to repair a quite remarkable omission. Subsections (3), (4), (5) and (6) of Clause 1 all lay down, as it were, the criteria which shall guide the Minister in making his appointments to each of the four Boards. But I would point out this remarkable difference. In forming the British Railways Board, the Minister is required to appoint someone who knows something about transport. That is fair enough. The London Transport Board will include members with knowledge of urban transport. The British Waterways Board will have the advantage of the advice of members with wide experience of inland navigation. But in selecting the members of the Docks Board, the Minister is required to make sure that, whatever else the members know, they must be completely ignorant on the subject of docks. That is why I ventured to suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Mills, that this particular Amendment was on a slightly different point.

I should like to assure the noble Lord that I have read those four subsections over and over again, and I have searched in this particular one very hard to see whether I could find any reference to the word "docks", and there is none. But the Minister is required to appoint the members of the British Transport Docks Board, and I should have thought, therefore, that the first essential was that he should appoint, as our Amendment suggests, persons who appear to him to have had wide experience of, or to have shown capacity in, the operation, management and administration of the Docks.

With the recent dispute in mind—and this may be said particularly by those noble Lords who witnessed the extraordinary discussions on television—it may be argued that management of the docks is an applied science, and therefore the question is covered by the clause as it now stands. But that does not satisfy me, and I do not think it will satisfy the dockers, who, whether they be of the Crichton or the Frank Cousins brand, are likely to be very down-to-earth and outspoken people and will look with keen interest at the constitution of this particular Board. They will be somewhat dismayed if they find that the Board is composed largely of persons whom they would regard as intellectuals. Most dockers regard an intellectual as an educated blockhead, a square moving in the best circles, and they are likely to be very blunt and outspoken in their criticisms. I submit that if ever an industry required down-to-earth, hard-won experience, it is the docks industry. That is why we seek, by this Amendment, to ensure that, not just one or two, but a majority of the members of the Docks Board shall be persons who have had wide experience and, indeed, have achieved some eminence in the operation, administration and management of the docks.

I hope that when the noble Lord comes to reply it will not be argued that the British Transport Docks Board will be concerned solely with getting loads to and from the docks, because it is the docks end which, to a large extent, is the governing factor. British Railways are pushing what I regard as a most hopeful special export service.

Subject to adequate notice and consignments of sufficient size, they are prepared to guarantee delivery to any docks from any part of the Kingdom within 24 hours. But that is the railway part of it. It will take quite a lot of organisation (in order to achieve this quite remarkable guarantee, and however good the railway end of that organisation may be, it is not going to be much good unless it is co-ordinated with the service at the docks. I am sure that the noble Lord has had personal experience, perhaps in his younger and less eminent days, of the frantic things that can happen to an export or import at the docks. Over the last few days I have experienced this and, believe me, it is a matter which requires considerable experience and a strong constitution to withstand.

The railway service has to be properly co-ordinated with the service at the docks and that calls for people with experience of the docks and anxious to increase consignment by the railways. I cannot believe that this word is omitted accidentally from (this clause and I shall be interested to hear the explanation, but if there is not an explanation, then I submit that there is an overwhelming case for putting these words, or something like them, into the Bill. I know that it will be said that the Minister is not a fool and that he will put people with experience on the Board. If that is the reply, then I would say: why is it that in this particular subsection, the only one of four, the Minister is not required to include someone with specialist experience in the docks? I trust that the Minister will agree that this exclusion, even if it is deliberate, is totally unacceptable. I hope that the Government will accept the force of my argument. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 44, at end insert the said proviso.—(Lord Stonham.)


I cannot advise noble Lords to accept this Amendment, for the same reasons as I advanced in dealing with Amendment No. 16; but I readily admit the point put forward by the noble Lord, that there is no mention in subsection (5) of people experienced in dock management. I think the Bill needs amending in that respect. If the noble Lord will allow me to consider it, I will bring this forward again at a suitable opportunity. I am greatly obliged to the noble Lord.


The indebtedness is entirely on my side. I am most grateful to the noble Lord for his consideration and kindness. I assume that he himself will table his own Amendment to cover the point and, with that assurance, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


This Amendment is another dealing with the change of name of Inland Waterways. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 45, leave out ("Inland Waterways Authority") and insert ("British Waterways Board").—(Lord Chesham.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


The same applies again. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 2, leave out ("Authority") and insert ("Board").—(Lord Chesham.)


Can I help the noble Lord? Has he explored every avenue to see whether there is any other way than that of repeating this 80 times in the course of the Committee stage?


I have examined this and I am sorry to say that there is none. We have to go on doing it. I will simply say from now on, "I beg to move", and leave it at that.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 7, leave out ("Authority's") and insert ("Board's").—(Lord Chesham.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

4.18 p.m.


On behalf of my noble friend Lord Walston, I beg to move this Amendment, although again it may be regarded as rigid. I am sure that your Lordships will agree that some of the canals which the British Waterways Board will be taking over play an important part in irrigation in some parts of the country. Therefore, I think it is imperative that we have on the Board a person with some knowledge of irrigation. I wonder whether the noble Lord can accept this point. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 9, after ("science") insert ("agriculture, irrigation').—(Lord Shepherd.)


I do not want to go over the arguments I went over yesterday on a similar Amendment. I should have thought the noble Lord's point, which as a point is a perfectly good one, is covered by the wording in the Bill where it says: … and the Minister in appointing them shall have regard to the desirability of having members who are familiar with the special requirements and circumstances of particular regions and areas served by the Authority. I would resist the noble Lord's point because I can think of a number of other specialists and users of water—for example, drainage boards—all of whom could well claim to be included. Although I think the noble Lord's point is a fair one, I do not think that we should accept it as an Amendment to the Bill.


In view of the assurance given to us yesterday by the noble Lord, I am satisfied with what the noble Lord has said, though I think that this is something which should be permanently in the minds of those responsible for the future of the waterways, in view of the increasing importance of irrigation in agriculture and the increasing strain which it places on our general water resources, together with the fact that there are a good many waterways which are hardly used at all for transport. It is for that reason that we felt it was necessary to make special mention of irrigation, not because it is the only or the most important aspect of the whole problem of waterways, but because it is one which in the past has been entirely neglected and is liable to be forgotten unless special mention is made of it. So long as we have the noble Lord's assurance that the needs of irrigation and the potentialities of waterways as a means of supplying water in certain areas will be remembered, we shall be satisfied, and I shall be happy to withdraw the Amendment.


As I said, I do not argue over what the noble Lord has said; my resistance is based on the rather narrower point of drafting of the Bill. I shall certainly be glad to give him an assurance that when my right honourable friend comes to make his appointments, I will see that he is fully appraised of what the noble Lord thinks. That is not to say that my right honourable friend does not already appreciate the importance of these matters; because I agree—and I know that my right honourable friend also agrees—that the future of the waterways is bound up with such matters as water supply, conservation, drainage, and so on. He will, I am sure, have these things very much in his mind when he is thinking about the Boards, and I will certainly add a little fuel to that particular fire.


Not water.


Water to that particular pond.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move the next Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 13, leave out ("Authority") and insert ("Board").—(Lord Chesham.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

4.22 p.m.

THE EARL OF LUCAN moved to add to subsection (6): Provided that at least a majority of the members of the Authority shall be persons who appear to the Minister to have had wide experience of, and to have shown capacity in, the operation management and administration of Inland Navigation or related matters.'

The noble Earl said: At first sight it may be thought that this proviso we are proposing is unnecessary. So it would have been if the clause had not contained those two phrases in lines 5 and 7 with the word "or". The first sentence at the top of the page says that the chairmen and other members shall be appointed from people having shown capacity in the administration of inland navigation and related matters. That is all right, but there is an alternative to that. In fact, there are two alternative courses open to the Minister in choosing the people to serve on this Board. It seems to me that some may have no knowledge of inland navigation, but perhaps special knowledge of some other aspect of the Board's work. I have no complaints about that, because obviously inland navigation is only one of the functions which the waterway system is required to serve in the present day. In the same way, the words "administration, commercial knowledge and experience" are wide, but they will hardly serve the members of this Board to the exclusion of "knowledge of inland navigation or related matters."

Even more we doubt the value of this clause because of the last four lines, starting with line ten. According to the words here the Minister must have regard to the desirability of appointing members familiar with the special requirements of all the different regions served by the waterways. That seems to me the most extraordinary provision. If the Minister elects, as he may, to appoint a Board with only a chairman, vice-chairman and four members, he is required to have regard to the desirability of putting in somebody from the North-East, North-West, South-East and South-West, with special knowledge of the needs of those individual areas. Your Lordships know that those areas all have very different problems. They serve different ports and estuaries, and the nature of the canal problem in each of those areas is widely different. So it could be that the Minister would appoint all four members of the Board to represent geographical areas, and have no regard to the general needs of navigation and other related functions.

I think there is a case—and my noble friends may mention it later—for a much less particular instruction to the Minister in the case of many of these Boards. There is something to be said for his merely being required to appoint the most suitable man for the job, and to leave all the rest to him. Because, as noble Lords opposite have told us many times, both yesterday and to-day, if you start a catalogue of these people whose special knowledge should be represented on the board, you will have to exercise judgment and put your requirements in order of priority, and not everybody will agree with the priority. However, we have adopted the course of putting in a proviso that at least a majority of the members shall be people who appear to the Minister to have had wide experience of … the operation management and administration of Inland Navigation or related matters.

In case of doubt, I would explain that, in our understanding, the words "related matters" mean all the other functions that we want the waterways to perform—water supply, drainage, recreation, angling amenities, and all the rest. We should prefer to see a simple instruction of that sort, but we are suggesting in the proviso only that there should be a majority with these qualifications. It would mean that, out of a Board of 6 consisting of chairman, vice-chairman and 4 others, 4 at least should have a general knowledge of the subject—navigation and related matters—leaving two or three others who can be appointed on account of their special knowledge of the geographical areas. We think that, as it stands, the clause is open to the objections I have made. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 13, at end insert the said proviso.—(The Earl of Lucan.)


I said a little earlier that I was never surprised. But I have come very near to it in listening to the noble Earl. I thought that subsection (6) as drawn was drawn very wide and gave a choice to the Minister which was desirable. I see nothing wrong in the clause as drafted. It lists a number of occupations from which the Minister should choose. It says that in appointing them he shall have regard to the desirability of having members who are familiar with the special requirements and circumstances of particular regions. … Not all regions. While the noble Earl was talking I read and re-read this clause, and I could see nothing wrong in it; and I still cannot. As regards this particular Amendment, I cannot advise your Lordships to accept it, for the same reasons that I advanced in regard to Amendment No. 16, which I am sure you will not want me to repeat at length again. I think it is most undesirable that the Statutes should lay down the exact number and exact qualifications which the Minister should have regard to in appointing persons to these Boards. I am sorry that I cannot accept the Amendment.


I am sorry, too, if I caused the Minister any surprise.




It seemed to me that the clause required the Minister to take a large number of things into consideration in appointing his Board, and it would seem to us better that these people should be selected for their suitability, while concentrating on the main job of inland navigation and related matters. However, we do not propose to press this Amendment, but I hope that perhaps later the position which will emerge will not be as bad as we think it will. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 1, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?


I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Mills, would indeed be surprised if we let this clause go by without some comment. In fact, I rise rather like a minister to face the devil, looking for words to convince him of the Tightness of my case. As I said on the Second Reading, we have this Bill which is necessary because of the complete and utter failure of Government policy and of the Act of 1953. There is nothing in the Bill which deals with the basic causes of railway difficulties. It is, in many cases, an accountant's Bill, re-writing the books. Its object is in some way to reorganise the administrative set-up of the nationalised transport industry.

It is in many respects retrograde. When industry is moving forward to cooperation and co-ordination, the Government have decided yet again to fragment the nationalised transport industry. Under Clause 1 there will be four separate Boards, with road transport out on a limb under a Holding Company. The only apparent method of co-ordination will be through a Minister Who is already grossly overworked; a Minister who, because in at least 120 different parts of the Bill he will have power to interfere with the Boards, is indeed going to be a very busy man. I doubt whether he will find the time to have the jaunt which he had yesterday. I do not propose to speak further. We have no confidence in this Bill. As your Lordships know, we did not divide on the Second Reading. This is the main clause, and therefore I would ask my noble friends to register their disapproval of the Bill by dividing against this clause.


I should like to add to what my noble friend has said a point which has struck me in reading and listening to the speeches from the Front Bench opposite. We have had a great deal of talk over the question of filling the places on the Boards, a great deal of talk over the need and desire of the Government that the transport industry and the railways in particular should breed their own leaders. I forget the exact words, but the intention was a most admirable one with which no one would quarrel: that those at the top should, to a large extent, be the men who have made the industry their career, their profession, and have worked their way up in it; men who have entered the industry in the hope of a career, have passed through the various stages of promotion, qualified by experience in their own chosen sphere, and become qualified for the higher posts governing the industry, controlling the policy of the industry or that section of it that they have adopted.

But that comes strangely from a Government with the record of the Party of the noble Lords opposite. For ten years the transport industry in one form or another has been subject to perpetual interference, to radical change at the beginning of the ten-year period, continual interference since, and radical change again. How can anybody be expected to enter an industry of that sort or, if in it, to stay in it under those conditions? These proposals for filling the controlling bodies of the different sections of the industry show clearly that, whatever the Government may desire, their record and their actions tend to make that impossible and tend to deter the best young men and women from entering the industry and making it their career. That is just one of the reasons why we are profoundly dissatisfied with this first clause of the Bill.


I too will be brief. I have never been called the devil before to my face, but if it gave the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, the opportunity of telling us he was saved, I accept it in the spirit in which it was said. The noble Lord's complaint is that there is nothing in this Bill to deal with the ills of the industry.


I said the basic ills.


The basic ills of the industry. But the whole Bill is designed to deal with those basic ills. We are at last taking steps to get rid of some of the measures which were introduced by the Party opposite in the original Bill and which made efficient management a very difficult and costly thing. This Bill is designed to get rid of some of those burdens. It is designed to reorganise the industry and to give it a chance. I am sorry that the noble Lord is taking this attitude on the Question that Clause 1 stand part of the Bill.

On Question, Whether Clause 1, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 46; Not-Contents, 24.

Alexander of Hillsborough, V. Latham, L. Silkin, L.
Amulree, L. Longford, E. Sinha, L.
Burton of Coventry, B. Lucan, E. [Teller.] Stonham, L. [Teller.]
Champion, L. Methuen, L. Summerskill, B.
Crook, L. Rea, L. Walston, L.
Geddes of Epsom, L. St. Davids, V. Williams, L.
Greenhill, L. Sainsbury, L. Williams of Barnburgh, L.
Henderson, L. Shackleton, L. Wise, L.
Kenswood, L. Shepherd, L.
Ailwyn, L. Freyberg, L. Mills, L.
Allerton, L. Goschen, V. Milverton, L.
Bathurst, E. Grenfell, L. Newall, L.
Blackford, L. Hailsham, V. (L. President.) Newton. L. [Teller.]
Bossom, L. Hastings, L. Northesk, E.
Boston, L. Hawke, L. Rathcavan, L.
Bridgeman, V. Home, E. Robins, L.
Chesham, L. Howard of Glossop, L. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]
Coleraine, L. Iddesleigh, E. St. Oswald, L.
Conesford, L. Jellicoe, E. Saltoun, L.
Crathorne, L. Kilmuir, V. (L. Chancellor) Strathclyde, L.
Denham, L. Lansdowne, M. Stuart of Findhorn, V.
Dundee, E. Long, V. Swinton, E.
Ebbisham, L. Luke, L. Tenby, V.
Forster of Harraby, L. Mancroft, L. Teynham, L.
Fortescue, E. Merrivale, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Fraser of Lonsdale, L.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2:

The Regional Railway Boards

2.(4) Each Regional Railway Board shall, on behalf of the Railways Board, exercise such functions of the Railways Board as respects the part of the national railway system for the management of which that Regional Rail way Board is to be responsible as are for the time being delegated to them by the Railways Board; and the Railways Board shall, in determining what functions are to be so delegated by them, act on lines settled from time to time with the approval of the Minister.

4.49 p.m.

LORD SHEPHERD moved to leave out subsection (4). The noble Lord said: The purpose of moving this Amendment is to obtain some information from the Government about their intentions with regard to the powers to be given to the Regional Railway Boards. I rather anticipate that the noble Lord may say that this will be left until the Board has been constructed and is in operation. The noble Lord will, however, remember that on the Second Reading I expressed some concern that by the creation of these six new Regional Boards there might be an opportunity to break up the whole railway system into the sort of situation that prevailed before the war. The noble Lord replied that that was not 'the intention, and said it was the intention to keep the railways as one unit and that these six Regional Boards were being created for administrative purposes.

But when we hear so much talk about the commercial aspects, the need for the railways to be competitive, and when we have set up Boards and not executives—where Boards are obviously going to fight for their own particular responsibilities—and when one looks at Clause 43 (3), which gives the Board power to charge for their services and facilities, according to the conditions, I wonder whether there is not a possibility that the Regional Railway Boards may in fact be in competition with each other, quoting different everyday rates for the movement of merchandise, in circumstances where, as in the case of the old London and North Eastern and the London Midland and Scottish Railways, we may find those lines running side by side and supplying much the same type of area.

I wonder whether the noble Lord can give us an assurance, first of all, that it is not the intention completely to break up the railways; that there is no question that these railways will be competing against each other, other than on terms of providing efficient services—that is, that there is no question of the railways quoting different rates against each other.

The other point I wish to inquire about concerns the last lines in subsection (4)—namely, … the Railways Board shall, in determining what functions are to be so delegated by them, act on lines settled from time to time with the approval of the Minister.

Are we to understand that the Minister is going to take what I might call an everyday interest in, and responsibility for, the operation of these regional railways? From these words it would appear that the Minister is going to have a closer interest in the railways than in the other Boards. On Second Reading my noble friend Lord Citrine complained, from his experience, and that of his friends who have been on nationalised Boards, of the continual interference by Ministers in the working of the Boards. I hope that the Minister can give us an assurance that the Boards which are being created, and the persons who are placed in positions of responsibility, will be left to do their job. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 39, leave out subsection (4).—(Lord Shepherd.)


I think I shall be able to give the noble Lord, although not in all respects, the assurances he seeks. I am going to elaborate somewhat on his various points, but I think I shall be able to satisfy him quite considerably in the process. On the whole, he wants to know what are the intentions of the Government in relation to the Regional Boards. I think it will help your Lordships to understand just what those intentions are if, before I come to his more specific queries, I point out that these Boards are being set up and are being considered in fact as, to use a slightly hackneyed phrase which is often repeated in another place, tools of management. They are there to help and support the Railways Board. Just as the Railways Board has a clearly defined task to perform in the set field which is laid down quite clearly in this Bill, they are to be enabled to concentrate on that main task by having these Regional Boards to which they can delegate matters of day-to-day management and operation, which are best dealt with "down the line" rather than centrally at the top. That is the idea of the Boards.

Therefore, the first assurance that I can give to the noble Lord is that there is no intention of breaking up the British Railways system by means of these Boards. I can give him that assurance without any hesitation at all. The Boards are intended to be there as, I repeat, tools of management, to help the main Board concentrate on its main task. The central Board, the British Railways Board, will remain. If there is any doubt about this, I should like to make quite clear that this Board will remain directly responsible for all matters of importance to the railways as a whole, on a national basis, including overall finance, investment and modernisation; the shape and size and balance of the railways, as circumstances may change in the future in a way which we do not know now; and such things as manpower, wage negotiations particularly, price policy, and commercial negotiations. The central Board will quite firmly remain in charge of those. The responsibility for them is quite firmly on the Board.

Perhaps I might add a fact or two, to further strengthen my assurance. The Regional Boards are not in themselves corporate bodies. As I understand it, the noble Lord's fear of what is to be found in Clause 43 (3) applied to the main Board in its charging policy. It is not to be a method of supporting the Regional Boards the one against the other. The idea is that the Regional Boards will be better able to cater for the day-to-day operations in their own area than the central Board at the top. That is the whole nub of the matter. I think it gives to the noble Lord the assurance he sought.

There is one further matter about which the noble Lord was worried—namely, the possibility of interference by the Minister. Of course that is not intended at all. The devolution of authority to the regions is a practical problem—I spoke about this on Second Reading—depending upon operational, technical and other practical considerations of which the Railways Board must be the judge. That, in fact, is provided for in Clause 2 (4). It is a matter for the Board, who will make any adjustments that may be needed from time to time. But on a broader level the Minister must be able to exert some influence on the scale and shape of delegation, if he considers this is necessary, if only to make sure that the central Board is left free to concentrate on the main tasks. That is the whole point of having the Regional Boards to which tasks can be delegated. For that matter, he will need to have some control to make quite sure that the assurance which I have already given to the noble Lord, about keeping certain matters within the ambit of the central Board, is carried out. That is the reason for his control, and not the fact that he intends to interfere with every day-today decision. I think these Boards are thoroughly justifiable. The conception has worked quite well under the British Transport Commission. They are useful tools of management, and have been proved so to be. I think that they are something that we need, and I hope that I have justified their existence to the noble Lord's satisfaction.


While we are dealing with these Regional Boards, could we have further information than is given in the clause or Schedule as to what is likely to be their composition? We have the numbers. But will they require a full-time chairman? I daresay, if you are going to have a pretty wide range of duties, that some of the members will be part-time, but why should there not be a permanent chairman?


The composition of the Boards is dealt with in Part II of the First Schedule.


Yes, I have looked at that.


It clearly states that there will be a chairman, and it also sets out the composition of the Boards and the sources from which the other members will be drawn.


But rot whether any are full-time.


No, it does not state that, that is perfectly true. On the general subject of the composition of the Boards it is thought that the representation would be reasonably wide in order to cater for the interests of the area or region which the Board is to serve. I think that there again it would hardly be a practical proposition to write into the Bill, as we have heard before this afternoon, that there should be a set and stated percentage of members who would be either full-time or part-time. I think here again it is a question of preserving a certain flexibility, because the type of person who one visualises might be on the Board in Lancashire, for example, would be someone with a knowledge of cotton, and in Yorkshire someone with a knowledge of wool, whose services perhaps could be obtained only part-time. Therefore I should not like the idea of writing into the Bill a definite ratio of part-time or full-time members.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for having explained this as he has done, but I might have saved him a good deal of trouble. At any rate, he has been most kind. These are quite extensive regions, there will be a good deal of staff management involved, and you will need to have central policy interpreted by a central Board. But it really requires more than that, in that the staff ought to have somebody of Board status who could always be there for consultation. I think that if you had a permanent chairman of the Board, this would go a long way towards meeting this requirement. I agree with all the other things the noble Lord said about the composition of the Regional Boards, but would he look at that point between now and the Report stage, to see whether some further statement could be made?


Before my noble friend replies, may I say that I am beginning to wonder whether we are all keeping as clear a distinction as we should between the functions of Boards and the functions of management. As I listened to my noble friend explaining the work of the Regional Boards, it struck me that the great bulk of the work in the regions will be likely to turn out to be management work as opposed to Board work. I think noble Lords opposite might consider whether they have been clear throughout this debate as to the relative functions of management and Board.


Personally, I have never had much doubt on this subject. When one is dealing with very large modern organisations, I do not think in actual fact that board responsibility is very far from management. That has been my experience. I think that the day of the company director arriving on Wednesday in time for lunch and departing on the 3.30, has gone. Where it does exist, it is to the disadvantage of the business. My friends and I have been trying to get provision that a fairly large percentage of permanent executives shall serve on the main Boards. I hope the Government will consider the voice of experience of my noble Leader, and bear in mind the point he made in regard not only to the Regional Boards but also the main Boards having permanent chairmen. I certainly fell into a trap when I looked at the composition of the Railways Board. I thought of Dr. Beeching at his salary of £24,000, and therefore I presumed he was full-time, and I assumed also that all the chairmen of these Boards would be full-time. In the Bill now before us, however, that is not the case. I hope the Government will consider the points that have been made from both sides of the House, in particular from my noble Leader, and I would ask them to consider some Amendment for the Report stage.


Needless to say, I am not, at this stage in the discussion, in a position to give an undertaking in that respect, but I willingly say that I will look at this point again and consider the matter, as the noble Lord says, in the light of his noble Leader's voice of experience. I think it would be unreasonable not to do so. I cannot say what the result of that consideration will be, but I assure noble Lords opposite that it will get it. I would point out, however, on the subject of full-time and part-time members—rather in mitigation of what my noble friend Lord Bridge-man said—that it is provided in the Bill that the general managers of regions shall be members of the Boards. So there, at any rate, is a basic element of the full-time membership of the Board. For the rest, I think I need say no more than that we will consider the points that have been made, although it must be without commitment at the present stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3:

Duty and powers of Railways Board

3.—(1) It shall be the duty of the Railways Board in the exercise of their powers under this Act to provide railway services in Great Britain and, in connection with the provision of railway services, to provide such other services and facilities as appear to the Board to be expedient, and to have due regard, as respects all those railway and other services and facilities, to efficiency, economy and safety of operation.

(3) Subject to this Act, the Railways Board shall have power— (b) in the circumstances specified in the next following section, to carry goods and passengers by road, (c) to operate the harbours owned or man aged by the Railways Board, and to provide port facilities at those harbours, (d) to consign goods on behalf of other persons from any place in Great Britain, or from any place to which the Railways Board have themselves carried the goods in question to any other place, whether in Great Britain or elsewhere,

5.8 p.m.

VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH moved, in subsection (1), after the second "services" to insert: , adequate for the needs of the public, agriculture, commerce and industry,

The noble Viscount said: The particular subsection with which this Amendment deals is fairly specific and general, but we feel that a great opportunity has been missed here of stating specifically in what way the Boards should carry out their duties to the public. I think that what is disturbing to the public is that year after year the effects are being felt of the Government's policy in regard to the railways. The one consideration seems to be that they must make a profit and in the long run everything else must be sacrificed to that end. There is no longer an overall duty to render a public service according to the needs of the community.

This is the feeling that I find is canvassed in respect of almost every proposal to close a branch service, for example, or in relation to a proposal for retention of a part service, so that the needs of the local industry or of agriculture and the like can be adequately met. I was very impressed the other day to see a startling advertisement by the Commission, emphasising that the railway line is the shortest way to the factory and the field. Yet we frequently find it said, where a case is put up in defence of a service which is being rendered in a district, that it must be closed because it does not pay.

When we were dealing with the Pipelines Bill, we had to keep pointing out in our discussions that the Government ought to be laying down 'general principles and conditions to be followed by the Authority to be set up, which would have public service as one of the prime factors necessary for that organisation to be in existence. We are very unhappy about the matter on this side of the Committee, and that is why we have included the specific wording in the Amendment. I rather think that the noble Lord, Lord Mills—(who, apparently, is staying on while the other noble representative of the Government has, no doubt, gone to have some refreshment, which he has earned—will understand my case from his long trade experience.

I drive very regularly over a level-crossing that still exists in a place called Tiptree. I do not know whether, when you come to develop the general transport system by putting roads where branch railways have been, there will still be the same treatment as at present. At the -moment, there are seasonal services to the first station from the junction to Tiptree, for jam-making purposes, carrying away the jam when it is made, and at times there are fresh strawberries and things of that kind to be carried. That service is still being retained. How far are you going to keep all those things really in mind, with the rather limited powers which seem to me to be put into this paragraph that we are seeking to amend? I think that if we put these words in—and I hope that the noble Lord will be willing to do so—then the general public will have some confidence in the Statute, and feel that they may complain at any time if they think that these duties, which we want to make adequate for the needs of the public, agriculture, commerce and industry, are not being met. If they are not being met, then people can come to the Minister and say that they ought to be met. I hope very much that the noble Lord will give the Amendment favourable consideration.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 20, after ("services") insert (", adequate for the needs of the public, agriculture, commerce and industry,").—(Viscount Alexander of Hillsborough.)


I have listened very carefully to what the noble Viscount had to say, because this is an important matter. It is true that the Bill as drafted omits from the duty of the Board a reference to "the needs of the public, agriculture, commerce and industry". But it does lay upon the Board the duty to provide railway services in Great Britain and … such other services and facilities as appear to the Board to be expedient. … The omission of the words which the Amendment now seeks to introduce was, I suggest, entirely logical, in view of the growing seriousness of the financial position of the railways, who continued to provide services even when they were no longer justified and where alternative means existed.

I said yesterday on another Amendment that we must not assume that everything that did not pay would be wiped away and I will enlarge on that a little later when I come to the Report of the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries. I suggest that the omission of those words was consistent with the Government's intention to remove both the common carrier obligations and the control over charges other than in the London area, and with the need to take into consideration what the public were prepared to pay for the services that were provided. I think noble Lords accept the fact that there has to be some reorganisation of the services. The noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, with his large experience of the railways, referred to this fact yesterday when he spoke on Amendment No. 1. With your Lordships' permission, I should like to read to you what the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries had to say in their Report on British Railways. It will be found in paragraphs 415, 416 and 417. It seems to Your Committee that the best initial teat of what the public need is given by what they will pay for. If, thereafter, there are other considerations which make it desirable for members of the public to travel or freight to be carried on some routes at prices below the cost, it should be for the Government and not the Commission to decide. In this clause we are telling the Railways Board what its duties are.


"Make it pay ! ".


The Report goes on: In earlier days it was possible within a railway system to make large profits on some parts of the service, and to use those to subsidise the losses on other parts. But that was at a time of restricted competition; in the present circumstances, when competition is increasing (particularly from privately-owned cars and C-licence vehicles), large profits cannot be made on any part. For the Commission therefore to continue to provide some services that are bound to be run at a loss is to continue to drive the railway accounts into deficit. This makes it impossible for them to carry out their duty of balancing their revenue account, taking one year with another. It is easy to understand how public-spirited motives, and indeed earlier railway practice, have led the Commission to take this view of their duty. But Your Committee consider that this confusion in judging between what is economically right and what is socially desirable has played an important part in leading to the situation in which the Commission now find themselves. I have troubled your Lordships with a rather long quotation, because it seems to me to be the nub of the situation. In the present declining traffic situation of the railways, and with the growth of competing forms of transport, I suggest it is illogical and meaningless to put an Obligation on the British Railways Board towards any particular class of "user. As this Report said, that is a matter for the Government and is not a duty to be laid upon the Board.


I do not think that the noble Lord, Lord Mills, has really answered the case put forward by my noble Leader. He 'has told us that the omission of the words in our Amendment is consistent with the Government's intentions. I think that has been made quite clear throughout the whole of our debates during the Committee stage. It is obviously the Government's intention—indeed, their determination—that the main criterion shall be that the rail services, and indeed the other services with which we are dealing, shall be run at a profit, taking one year with another. The whole point of principle between the two sides of your Lordships' House is that the Government take that point of view, whereas we on this side say that we certainly want efficient, well-run transport services; we certainly want them to be developed in such a way that, where possible, they will pay their way; but that when we get to the point when we have the 'Ultimate of the services which do or which can be made to pay their way, they will still fall short of what we regard as the public need.

The noble Lord has told us before, and he has repeated the assurance to-day, that under this proposed new regime we must not conclude that all uneconomic services will be abolished. Then he goes on to say that it would not be right to continue these services where there is an alternative form of transport—that is, to continue uneconomic rail services where there is an alternative form of transport. If there were an adequate alternative form of transport, then I am sure that no one among my noble friends would disagree with that. Of course we do not want two forms of transport overlapping, each losing money.

In fact, the noble Lord may remember that on Second Reading I said that there would be nothing wrong in closing a second main line when there was already one main railway line doing the job adequately. That may be quite a good thing. In fact, a lot of this duplication has arisen out of the growth of the transport service under private enterprise. We have had competition, and now we find that those competitive forms cannot both continue to live. We have to decide whether only one should live. We would accept that, at least in principle: but at no time have the Government been able to give us an assurance that in those many other areas which my noble Leader referred to there will in fact be any public form of transport at all, and that as our great difficulty.

The noble Lord quoted the Select Committee as saying that the difficulty of deciding between the economically right and the socially desirable has led to the present difficult or impossible position on the railways. But that does not mean that we—or, indeed, the vast majority of people in this country—tare going to acquiesce in the total abandonment of all that is socially desirable unless it is also economically right, which is putting it the other way round. The noble Lord may say, "We have no intention of abandoning everything that is socially desirable in the field of trans-pout merely because it does not pay". He may tell us that, and I am quite sure he would believe it; but there is nothing in the Bill here which gives us any (as it were) statutory assurance on that point, and, it was precisely that point which my noble Leader was urging.

I would go so far with the noble Lord as to say that if all these words were written into the Bill, then it might well be the case that he could say, "We do not have a Bill at all. It would not do what we want". But surely he can find some way of giving us in the Bill that statutory assurance which we need: that provision will be made for those people who are living in sparsely-populated areas—not merely the classic ones of the Highlands of Scotland, the wilds of Wales or the remote parts of Cornwall, but other parts, even in the Home Counties, that we know quite well are too sparsely populated for us to visualise a local transport service, whether by road or by rail, which would be economically right.

No one in this House would suggest that those services are not socially desirable, and in many respects economically necessary; because if those services are taken from the countryside, or if they are pruned to the extent that they become grossly inadequate, then you are going still further to denude those areas, and it will become virtually impossible to carry on the industries, mainly agriculture, which are now carried on in those areas. For example, if we were thinking about re-populating the Highlands, we should have to think not only about transport services but also about housing and all kinds of other things. In the areas of which I am thinking we have the houses now, and, in the main, we have the services; but it will be a great tragedy if this further breaking up or drifting away of the transport services is continued.

While fully appreciating the noble Lord's difficulty about an Amendment of this kind, I think he ought to consider something which the country and the Government will have to face up to: that when the Railways Board is formed and starts performing it will in the fairly near future have to announce its plans as to the services which are going to be closed down. I do not think there is any question at all that when that announcement is made large parts of the country will find themselves without an adequate or reasonable transport service. They will perhaps find themselves without a transport service at all; and there will then be no power resting with the Government under this Bill to enable them to compel any of the constituent bodies set up by this Bill to provide those services, or to provide means for them to do so.

There will be only one solution, and that is one which the Government have not yet faced in public. They will have to say to the Boards, whether it be the Holding Company or the Railways Board, "We want these certain services to continue, and we will pay for them." At no time, so far as I am aware, has any Minister, and certainly no noble Lord during the passage of the Bill, said that. I feel, therefore, that we should have something more of a reply from the noble Lord than he has so far given us.


The noble Lord seems to know far more than I do about what is going to happen when the Railways Board starts to work. It might be the path of wisdom to wait and see what is going to happen, because otherwise we shall be guessing. The noble Lord is apt to paint a picture of a country denuded of railways. I would remind noble Lords that this Amendment refers to the Railways Board: it does not refer to the whole transport field.

I think we must remember that conditions are not static; they have changed very much in recent years. This Bill is designed to take that into account, and to lay down the kind of organisation which is necessary to-day. I think it would be wrong, for reasons I have explained, to lay upon the British Railways Board obligations which they may not be able to carry out, and which it may not be desirable for them to carry out. The situation has altered, and I think that in the circumstances of to-day these words are not right in this context.


I am obliged for the answer of the noble Lord, but he knows full well that this is very much a point

5.40 p.m.

LORD SHEPHERD moved, after subsection (2) to insert: ( ) The Railways Board shall co-operate with other Boards and other Nationalised Transport Undertakings, for ensuring that railway services provided by the Board are properly co-ordinated with services provided by the other Boards and undertakings to provide efficient services to the user.

The noble Lord said: I beg to move this Amendment. The Committee will notice that there are instructions to the Railways Board and the London Transport Board that they should co-operate to provide an adequate and properly coordinated service. But it is to be noticed with regard to the Railways Board that there is no provision for co-ordination of their services with the other Boards, in particular with the Docks Board. I have tried in this Amendment to find words which would stress the need for

of principle with us. Therefore the only thing I can suggest is that we record our view in the Lobby.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 26; Nat-Contents, 49.

the Railways Board to co-operate with other Boards and other nationalised transport undertakings, to ensure that the railway services provided by the Board will afford an efficient service to the user. I am sure that the Committee are of the view that we should use our assets and facilities to the maximum advantage and I think that the only way we can do that is to lay down in the Bill these requirements. I hope that if the Minister cannot accept this Amendment, at least he will be able to accept the spirit of it.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 31, at end insert the said subsection.—(Lord Shepherd)


This Amendment perhaps can be related to Amendment No. 49. Of course, it could be discussed separately, but I think that the noble Lord has made it clear that the principle is the same. This Amendment relates to the Railways Board, and No. 49 to the Docks Board, and both of them follow the language of the immediately preceding subsection of Clause 3, which provides that The Railways Board shall co-operate with the London Board for the purpose of ensuring that the railway services provided by the Railways Board in the London Passenger Transport Area are properly co-ordinated with the services provided by the London Board … I think that that is a reasonable requirement. Clause 3, in providing that the Railways and London Boards shall coordinate their activities and services, is dealing with two Boards which have a complete monopoly in the areas over which they have authority. The Railways Board has a monopoly of railway transport and the London Board has a virtual monopoly of all passenger transport in London.

The noble Lord hopes that we can at least accept the spirit of his Amendment, which seeks to introduce co-ordination outside London between the Railways, Docks and Waterways Boards. Of course we wish that the policies of all these undertakings shall be co-ordinated, both with regard to investment and with regard to traffic policy. If I may glance ahead, to the beginning of Clause 55, on page 55, the noble Lord will see that subsection (1) says: There shall be established in accordance with this section a Nationalised Transport Advisory Council for the purpose of advising the Minister on such questions relating to the co-ordination, or any other aspect, of the nationalised transport undertakings as the Minister may refer to the Council. I am advised that that would cover investment policy as well as traffic policy.

I think that in moving his Amendment the noble Lord was more particularly interested in traffic services, and if he will look at Clause 14 (1) (b), he will see there: … the Boards shall have power … to enter into agreements with the other Boards and with any subsidiary of any of the Boards or of the Holding Company, for the management, working, and use by one party to the agreement of works, land or other property belonging to the other party, and with respect to the rendering of services and the pooling of receipts or expenses,' I hope that the noble Lord will agree that these words do what he wishes to do by his Amendment. But they are associated with the previous paragraph, which refers to co-ordination, not with other Boards but with private haulage or dock services. Under paragraph (a) the Boards will have power: to enter into and carry out agreements with any person for the carrying on by that person, whether as agent for the Board or otherwise, of any of the activities which the Board may themselves carry on, Clause 3 (3) (f) also provides specially that the Railways Board shall have power: to enter into and carry out agreements—

  1. (i) with carriers outside Great Britain for the through carriage of goods …
  2. (ii) with any person engaged in coastal shipping for co-ordinating the activities of that person with those of the Board, and in particular for facilitating the through carriage of goods, … "
And this is repeated in respect of the London Board in Clause 10 (3) (g), using exactly the same language.

I hope the noble Lord will agree that these provisions, particularly in the two first paragraphs of Clause 14(1) fulfil the intention of his Amendment. From his speech, I think that they do exactly fulfil what he intended. I am sure that in putting down and arguing this Amendment he did not intend to imply that the Railways and Docks Boards should co-ordinate their activities in such a way as to divert and encourage traffic to and from British Transport Commission ports at the expense of the independent ports and independent road haulage. That is the reason why we have put these provisions in Clause 14, in juxtaposition to each other, so that it shall be quite clear that the intention is to give the Board powers to take the necessary measures of co-ordination both with private persons and with other Boards, as we think they ought to do.

If we were to insert a new paragraph in Clause 3, immediately after that, relating to the monopolistic Boards, it might give the impression to independent ports and transport operators that we were giving a kind of "loaded" duty to these Boards to co-operate with each other at the expense of the independent transport operators or private docks. That would create a great deal of hostility, and if by any chance it were incorporated in that sense, it would, in my submission, be contrary to the public interest. Therefore I hope your Lordships will agree that the provisions contained in Clause 14 and the other relevant clauses are adequate for the purposes which the noble Lord wishes to achieve.


I must say that I listened with a great deal of sympathy and gratitude to the first part of the noble Earl's speech. But his concluding words frankly made my back stiffen a little. If I gathered them aright, the noble Earl felt that the railways would be in a monopoly position. They may be in a monopoly position in the sense that the railways are running railways, but in their fight to obtain merchandise to carry, obviously they are not in a monopoly position in transport. However, it is too late in the evening for us to discuss these points. I will look carefully at the earlier remarks of the noble Earl to see whether they meet the point of my Amendment, and if I am not satisfied I can come back on the Report stage. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


On behalf of my noble friend Lord Lindgren I beg to move this Amendment. I think I can also speak to Amendments Nos. 32 and 33. In Clause 4—that, is the clause giving the Railways Board power to run road services—we have a peculiar mixture of powers granted to the Board. In the first instance the railways have the power to provide transport services by road for the carriage of goods which have been, or are to be, carried by rail or water by the Railways Board. Can the noble Lord tell me why it is that passengers also cannot be carried? We then have in the same subsection the carriage of goods where the railway service has been temporarily interrupted. I have got slightly confused here and I am sorry I cannot proceed further.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 35, leave out from beginning to ("to") in line 36.—(Lord Shepherd.)


I wonder whether I can help the noble Lord here. I quite agree with him that these Amendments are rather linked together, and I have found in my consideration of them—because it is going to fall to my lot to answer him—that they are rather confused. If the noble Lord does not mind, I think it might be better if we took them one by one. That would at any rate keep my mind more clear, because it will be necessary, if we are speaking to them all, to go plodding through from one to the next and then to the third. If the noble Lord and the Committee are agreeable, we might do it in that way.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4:

Railways Board's road services

4.—(1) Subject to this section, the Railways Board shall have power—

  1. (a) to provide transport services by road—
    1. (i) for the carriage of goods which have been or are to be carried by rail or water by the Railways Board, and
    2. (ii) for the carriage of goods where a railway service has been temporarily interrupted, and
    3. (iii) for the carriage of passengers where a railway service has been tem porarily interrupted, or has been discontinued,
    and to carry goods and passengers by those services;
  2. (b) to exercise the powers conferred by the Railway Road Transport Acts of 1928 (which relate to the provision of road transport services).

5.55 p.m.

LORD TEYNHAM moved, in subsection (1) (a) (iii), to leave out "or has been discontinued". The noble Lord said: I am sure we all wish to ensure that where a railway service is discontinued, for example in a remote area, alternative transport is made available. Clause 4 would enable the railway to run a bus service themselves without any reference, as I see it, to an established bus service. I think it is true to say that no newcomer to bus operation can expect to run an unremunerative service more cheaply than an established bus service, and the railways would almost certainly, I think, waste public money. I suggest that the running of a permanent bus service should be left to the professional bus operators who really understand the business. In cases where the railways consider that it is essential for the substitute bus service to run, surely it would be better for them, both financially and otherwise, to induce the local bus company to run it upon terms of indemnity.

I would point out that under the 1928 Road and Rail Partnership Agreements, as I see it, the railways at present have the right to insist on this method, and have in fact exercised this right upon a number of occasions. I would remind your Lordships that during the Second Reading of the Bill Her Majesty's Government made it plain that one of the fundamental ideas behind the Bill was that the railways should be left free for their set task of running railways, and should not be hampered by having to run other forms of transport. This Amendment still permits the railways to ensure that a substitute passenger road service is provided in special cases by arrangement with the local bus service on an indemnity basis, which I should say would be far cheaper than running a bus service themselves. In fact, under the present agreement the railways have been allowed to insist on a bus service being provided by a local company on an indemnity basis where a working agreement exists. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 31, leave out ("or has been discontinued").—(Lord Teynham.)


I should like to support my noble friend Lord Teynham. We heard yesterday, and we have heard again to-day, that it might not be only rural railway lines which ace discontinued. What would be the case if the railways were to provide bus services on their own for other main lines? My noble friend Lord Teynham has already said that we know it is the job of the railways to run their railways, and not to run the buses. This has been one of the difficulties, and I think we must make certain that, where lines are discontinued, the bus service is run by bus companies and, if necessary, with indemnity, as mentioned by my noble friend.


I wonder Whether noble Lords opposite would explain what is meant by "on an indemnity basis" or words to that effect? As I see it, the object of this clause is not to conifer any benefit on the railways, but to ensure that they carry out their duty to the public. In other words, where they find it necessary to discontinue a service in a given area, for the benefit of the public in that given area road services should be substituted. It is all very well to invite a local bus company to undertake this job, but What is there to compel them to take it if they do not want to; or, by definition, in such cases as those where there is a small amount of traffic needing public transport and where a bus company is not likely to see any great profit in it?

Moreover, a bus company, even if they took on the service, would provide services only at the times and in the quantities that they thought they could carry out without losing money. It appears to me that the object in this Bill, which is a perfectly proper one, is to ensure that the public have public transport at their disposal, and for my part I should be very reluctant to consent to any such deletion as is proposed in this paragraph.


I think we are all at one. We want to make certain that there is a substitute if the railway company is forced to withdraw its services. We want, in fact, what one might describe as a long-stop. The Bill provides as a long-stop the power of the railways to carry passengers as a direct operation of the railways. My noble friend is trying to delete that power from them in favour of other people because, being a practical bus-man himself, he knows that it is going to be far more expensive and uneconomic to operate a service to replace a disused railway line if the job is not done by the existing professional bus operators, whether State-owned or privately-owned.

As I see it, for passengers, if we want a long-stop we can have three different thoughts. First of all, we can put in the Bill as it stands that the railways can operate the service itself. If they did so it would mean setting up garages, depots and all sorts of things; and, as my noble friend has pointed out, the present General Manager of British Railways is very anxious that his people should concentrate on running railways and not buses. The second form of long-stop is where the railways have working agreements with bus companies—and they have them in many parts of the country—under which the bus company can be called upon to undertake a service provided the railway company indemnifies them for any loss they may incur. Thirdly, we could have the Holding Company's wholly-owned subsidiaries as a long-stop; and at an earlier stage in the Bill, yesterday, I suggested to Her Majesty's Government that it would be much more reassuring to the general public if, somewhere in the Bill, probably in Clause 29, it were written that the Minister has power to direct the Holding Company to instruct their wholly-owned subsidiaries to offer a service which is uneconomic but for the public good, with or without indemnity from the Minister or from the railway—I do not mind which.

In other words, there seem to be three different sorts of long-stop we can have. The first, the one written in the Bill, I believe to be entirely wrong. The second, the working agreement, is a partial and perhaps nearly complete solution, but it is not a complete solution because there must be parts of the country where these working agreements do not exist. I believe they should be buttressed and reinforced by the power to use the wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Holding Company.

That is all right about passengers, but when we come to goods, quite frankly I am a little puzzled by the Bill. I do not understand line 33 of page 5. Clause 4 says: … the Railways Board shall have power … where a railway service has been temporarily interrupted, or has been discontinued … to carry goods and passengers by those services. I do not know what that means. Does it mean that they visualise providing a service like a Swiss bus, with passengers sitting in a coach in front and goods in a trailer behind?

There clearly must be a long-stop for goods as well, and I am not aware whether there are any working agreements between railways and private road haulage undertakings. Nor am I aware how far the railways could call upon the Holding Company's wholly-owned goods subsidiaries to operate a goods service where a railway was withdrawn; and it seems to me that for goods, too, that long-stop of the Holding Company's wholly-owned subsidiaries will be necessary. But I think the first thing to do is to pass my noble friend's Amendment.


It seems to me that my noble friend's fears of what is going to happen are rather based on the provisions of this Bill enabling the Railways Board to provide bus services on the same kind of scale as the discontinued railway service. I think it would be reasonable to say that, if that were so, if that were what we were visualising, perhaps my noble friend's case would be rather more soundly based. It is not the intention of the power in subsection (1) (a) (iii) of Clause 4 that the Railways Board should do just that: that they should substitute a corresponding pattern of their own operated bus services for railway services which, for one reason or another, have (been discontinued.

One of the reasons why subsection (2) of that clause makes the exercise of the Railways Board's powers which it will inherit under the Railway Road Transport Acts, 1928, subject to the Minister's consent is because (my noble friend was perfectly right) our idea is that the job of the Railways Board shall be to run the railways and not indulge as general bus operators at large. That was, as I say, one reason for requiring the Minister's consent, because that is not the direction in which their minds should be occupied or their capital resources employed.

In the circumstances, it is expected, in the great majority of cases, that the alternative bus services where there have been rail closures 'will be provided by other operators, either on their own initiative or as a result of an approach from the Railways Board, resulting either in a voluntary service or perhaps in a working agreement; and a working agreement could, of course, be either with the Holding Company or with a private operator. Whatever happens in this case a road service licence has to be obtained, even if the Railways Board provide the service under the powers that they have, and the Traffic Commissioners would, of course, have regard to the bus services already being operated on or near the routes for which application had been made and would pay regard to the claims of other operators who could reasonably provide a similar service. Therefore, the power in the subsection I mentioned, subsection (1) (a) (iii), is no more than a capacity power intended to meet a situation where, for reason of cost or inability of other operators to provide alternative bus services at reasonable terms, the Railways Board might find it necessary or expedient to do so themselves.

It is true that under the Railway Road Transport Acts of 1928 there are sufficient powers for the Railways Board to run services of their own all over the place, subject, of course, only to licence. But as I have said they will not be able to exercise those powers without the consent of the Minister except in so far as they are able to do so by virtue of working agreements already made and in existence immediately before vesting date. Although those powers would be adequate, I would strongly advise your Lordships not to accept this Amendment and see this reserve power taken away from the railways, because, apart from weakening their position in any negotiations that they were called upon to do with bus operators to provide services, it is a reserve power that they very much need; and I think we should not be paying due attention to the opinions that have been expressed about the necessity to maintain bus services in the country if we did not let the Railways Board retain this power. Therefore I hope this Amendment will not be accepted and that that power may be retained.


First I should like to deal with the point raised by the Minister about the bargaining power of the Railways Board, which they might not have if this Amendment were accepted. I would say that the argument there is entirely unrealistic. If the Railways Board say, "All right, we will run a bus service ourselves", I believe the established bus operator with an organisation in being would surely call their bluff every time. I am a little unhappy, too, about the fact that under Clause 4, subsection (1) (b), the railways are given specific powers to run bus services. I should think that would have great bearing with the Traffic Commissioners, and with those powers it would be difficult for the Traffic Commissioners to resist an application for a licence. I do not propose to press this Amendment this evening. We all want to see that a bus service or some kind of transport service is provided in the event of the closing down of a railway service, but I am not at all convinced that this is the best way of doing it.

6.14 p.m.


In view of what my noble Mend has said, I wonder whether your Lordships will allow me to add a few words. While I was thinking of something else, I omitted, I am sorry to say, to answer a point which was brought up by my noble friend Lord Hawke. Although the powers under the 1928 Acts would be adequate, and while I agree that the concept of working agreements With the bus companies is particularly suited to the provision of buses on behalf of the Railways Board, I still think it right that this express power which my noble friend criticised should appear in the Bill. The reason is that in Clause 54 there is a duty on the Railways Board to give the public advance notice of the discontinuance of railway passenger services; and further, in Clause 56 the Railways Board have a duty to publish proposals for such closures together with particulars of any alternative road passenger services that will be available and any proposals that the Board may have for providing or augmenting such services. Therefore, I think it must be made quite clear on the face of the Bill.

Perhaps I am arguing that it is a little more valuable from the point of View of presentation than it is of actual fact, but I think that if there are to be these duties on the Board they ought to be seen to have the responsibility put upon them to carry them out. An old friend of Lord Hawke asked why there was no provision to provide goods services, and the reason for that is quite simply that while there has been a good deal of criticism and unease about the situation of bus services an the country, there has been none Whatsoever about any dearth of road haulage services. I feel convinced that if there is a demand for goods to go by road instead of rail, the road haulage industry is fully capable of meeting it.

In saying that, I should like to add one more small point, and that is that the railways Will be able to operate their collection and delivery services under the existing terms over larger distances where a railhead has closed down. They Will still be able to collect and deliver in their own transport goods which will have to be carried over a greater distance to the new railhead. I still think that this is the way the thing in fact should be done. I am sorry if my noble friend does not, and I will certainly pay attention to what he has said. I am glad that he does not intend to press his Amendment.


My noble friend has not answered a point. Perhaps I did not phrase my question in the way I should have done. Under sub-paragraph (ii), the Railways Board have power to provide road transport services for the carriage of goods where a railway service has been temporarily interrupted, and, under sub-paragraph (iii) for the carriage of passengers where a railway service has been temporarily interrupted, or has been discontinued, and then it goes on and to carry goods and passengers by those services". I do not understand what that means. It is laid down that they can carry goods in temporary interruption and they can carry passengers both in temporary interruption and permanent discontinuance. But why add in line 33 "and to carry goods and passengers by those services"?


I will explain it to my noble friend in, I hope, a few short and well chosen words. The services referred to in the line about which my noble friend complains are those mentioned in the line where paragraph (a) begins: "to provide transport services by road". It then specifies three sets of circumstances in which they may provide services, but none of those provisions actually gives them the power to carry goods or passengers, only to provide the services. That is what that last line is doing—giving them that power.


I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD TEYNHAM moved, in subsection (1), to add to paragraph (b): in relation to the carriage of goods and in relation to the carriage of passengers, the powers conferred by any of the sections in those Acts of which the marginal note is ' Working Agreements, etc.'

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is rather difficult to explain. I think it is true to say that Section 3 of the 1928 Act, which commences, The railways may provide, own, work and use road vehicles", et cetera, is still in force, although the large majority of the provisions of the 1928 Act were repealed by Section 122 of the Road Traffic Act, 1930. If the powers contained in Section 3 of the 1928 Act, which I have already mentioned, are wider than the powers contained in Clause 4 of this Bill I suggest that they are unnecessary and undesirable. I would suggest that the only section for the retention of which a case can be made at all is Section 11—that giving the railways power to enter into working agreements. I would say that, even here, it would seem that there is much to be said for a new and up-to-date clause. However, as the Government appear to insist upon a reference to the 1928 Acts, I suggest that the only powers thereunder to be specifically passed to the Railways Board under this clause should be as in this Amendment, which has accordingly been designed to deal with working agreements. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 36, after ("services") insert the said words.—(Lord Teynham.)


It seems to me, in effect, that acceptance of this Amendment would have a rather similar result to that of the noble Lord's previous Amendment; it merely seeks to attack from a different angle, so to speak. I do not wish in any detail to go over the arguments I employed before, but I must resist the Amendment for the same kind of reason that I used in respect of the last Amendment. If we are to confine the Railways Board to providing bus services only by means of working agreements, if they ate not to have the power, in the last resort, to provide services themselves, I think we shall be doing a disservice.

It was with some slight trepidation that I made my remarks about the bargaining power of the railways when they come to negotiate with other bus operators. The noble Lord immediately said that if the railways tried that sort of tactic they would have their bluff called at once. I should not have thought that that was true if it was important, as I think the noble Lord has told us, that the bus operators want a degree of protection, through the withdrawal of this power from the railways. I should not have thought they would have wanted to call the railways' bluff, because it is perfectly clear that it would not be a bluff, and that the railways could provide such services. But I do not want to enter into a detailed argument about that with my noble friend. I do, however, stick to my point that I think the railways' position would be weakened. I also think it would rather disturb the existing working agreements which, in the past, were freely negotiated between the railway and bus companies, having regard to the fact that the railways themselves had the power to run services.

I think, too, that the Amendment is unnecessary, in 'that the present exercise of the powers of the 1928 Act to run buses is effected through working agreements, and that under Clause 4 (2) as drafted the railways would be able to exercise the other powers only with the express consent of the Minister. Therefore I do not think that we should accept my noble friend's Amendment, which would, incidentally, raise rather difficult drafting problems.


Might I ask my noble friend this question: does what is in the Bill and what he has said mean that in this direction the Railways Board will have wider powers than exist at the moment?


No, it does not; I can say that quite firmly. It does no more than preserve the existing powers of the British Transport Commission, or it preserves the existing powers under the 1928 Acts which the Railways Board will inherit as an ultimate successor to the railway companies of the time. As I mentioned before, what is in the Bill—that they can run certain services—is merely to reimpose an obligation. It is a declaration as much as anything in connection with their duty to publish certain information in advance; and in point of fact they have nothing wider under the Bill than they have at present.


I do not intend to press this Amendment. I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.26 p.m.

LORD STONHAM moved to leave out subsection (2). The noble Lord said: On behalf of my noble friend Lord Lindgren, I beg to move Amendment No. 36. The two Amendments which have just been withdrawn have, in effect, sought to limit, or at least to confine, the power of the Railways Board to furnish passenger services, and to some extent goods services, by road. I was extremely glad that the Government did not feel able to accept those Amendments, because, in our view, the powers of the new Railways Board are far too circumscribed as it is; indeed, they will considerably limit the Board's ability to carry out the objective placed before them, of paying their way, taking one year with another.

The Amendment that I am now moving has precisely the opposite effect to that of the two preceding Amendments, in that we seek to remove subsection (2), which in our view severely and unnecessarily limits the powers of the Railways Board to carry passengers or goods by road. The noble Lord, Lord Chesham, has just assured us that the Railways Board will inherit the existing powers under the 1928 Act. Although they will inherit those powers, they will exercise them only if the Minister says so. That may be regarded by some as a good provision, but I think it is a bad one; because in any case it must involve delay, and it must limit the powers of the new Railways Board to a greater extent than the British Transport Commission's railways services are at present limited. I do not think that can be argued at all. The subsection expressly says that The Railways Board shall not in exercise of the powers conferred by the said Acts of 1928 without the consent of the Minister—

  1. (a) enter into any agreement … for the carnage of passengers by road, whether or not by way of varying an existing agreement, or
  2. (b) except in pursuance of an agreement under the said Acts (whether entered into before or after the passing of this Act) provide any service for the carriage of 967 passengers by road which was not being provided by the Commission immediately before the vesting date, or
  3. (c) carry any goods by road for hire or reward."

Time and again during our discussions we have visualised the fact that some railway services will cease. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Mills, advises me to wait and see; but even the greatest optimists feel that the line closures will continue. We know that they have already started, and almost anyone could mention places which are threatened as a result of proposals in local areas—proposals which are causing considerable disturbance. If it is the case that a satisfactory alternative exists in those areas, and is likely to be provided, then there is some justification for this limitation. But whether that is so or not, there surely is no sound reason why the railway company should not have the chance of providing an alternative.

It was argued by Lord Mills earlier this afternoon, I think quite fairly, that it was not right to assume that, because railway services in a particular area were uneconomic, bus services replacing them must necessarily also be uneconomic. Why should the Railways Board therefore not have the opportunity of providing a bus service, as an alternative to a rail service, if no bus service exists in the area to replace it? That is a point to which I should like the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, to reply when he answers my points.

Subsection (2) (c) says that without the consent of the Minister the Railways Board shall not "carry any goods by road for hire or reward." That is to say, in exercising the powers under the 1928 Act in regard to the carriage of goods for hire or reward, the Minister must be able to say, "Yes" or "No". We all know that many village stations have been closed. There is no shunting going on in these villages any more; it is all done at the junction, and any goods that are sent out to these villages from the main junction are sent by road vehicles belonging to British Railways. Quite obviously, that is a sensible arrangement, which surely must continue; indeed, I should have thought that it would expand. The noble Lord seems to be rather puzzled about the point I am trying to make, but let me quote an example.


I was not absolutely clear to which service the noble Lord was referring.


I was referring to subsection (2) (c). This is a part of the subsection which we propose to delete. Paragraph (c) prohibits the carriage of "any goods by road for hire or reward," in the Board's exercise of its powers under the 1928 Act, without the consent of the Minister. That is how the case stands at present; that is what we are proposing to delete.


I am sorry, but may I just get this clear? I wanted to know which services the noble Lord was complaining about—which services will not be able to be carried on any more.


I am not suggesting they will not be able to be carried on any more, but that they will not be able to be carried on without the consent of the Minister. At the moment I am speaking about the carriage of goods by road for hire or reward. The kind of case I am now putting exists at the moment in the town of Taunton, which is a fairly substantial railway junction. Over the last ten years or so the goods services in quite a number of local stations within a radius of seven or eight miles have been discontinued; the goods train no longer serves them. Any goods destined for those areas are off-loaded at Taunton and then delivered by goods vehicles. In other words, it is all part of the railway service. The noble Lord may say "Well, that is going to continue."


Yes; that is right.


I am sure we all agree that it is a very sound and sensible thing. My question is this. Assuming—and I think it is a fair assumption—that that kind of idea will be duplicated in many other centres where it does not yet exist, so that the railways will have to carry the goods comparatively short distances by road vehicles from the railhead, it obviously will be desirable that tlhey should be carried under the aegis of the Railways Board. Will that kind of road transport under the 1928 Act require the special consent of the Minister, or will the British Railways Board be able to carry it out without obtaining such consent? I should have thought that for the Board to have to obtain the Minister's consent for such a reorganisation, which is eminently sane, desirable and economical, would be quite absurd.

On the question, of road transport services which would be permissible under the 1928 Act, but which again, under the Bill as it stands, require the consent of the Minister for them to be performed, I think that here again the Railways Board should have discretion—power, as it were, without surveillance—to furnish road services in areas where the railway services are closing down and where there is no alternative form of transport. They are the two main questions that lie behind this Amendment, and I hope that the noble Lord will be able to give us an answer to them.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 37, leave out subsection (2).


In bringing forward these Amendments to widen the powers of the Railways Board, I think that the Opposition leave out of account one or two factors. First of all, in regard to passengers, in a great many cases the railway will, in effect, be competing with other State industries, because the Holding Company will own the shares of the greater part of the buses in the country and will have a half share in most of the rest. So that to encourage the railways to set up their own organisation to compete with something which is nearly State-held, would be most uneconomic. This policy of diversification at any price, in order to try to get something to set off against a railway loss, is one that I should not have expected a sound businessman like Lord Stonham to put forward. This is the taxpayer's capital that is going to be employed. If the railways have to buy buses or extra vehicles, it is our money they are going to use, and I hope that the Minister will be there to see that it is used properly. For that reason, I hope that this Amendment will be rejected.

6.40 p.m.


The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has raised some really interesting points here. I think we must revert straight away to the 1928 Acts. Those Acts, subject to certain considerations, roughly speaking empowered each of the main-line companies (later the British Transport Commission; now to become the Railways Board) to carry passengers and goods by road in any district to which access was afforded by its railway system. Then there are a certain number of prohibitions and so on. So that, in effect, they could either provide their own service, or enter into working agreements; and largely—almost entirely—they chose to enter into working agreements. Now those powers allow the railways to operate goods services.

The point of Clause 4 (2) (c), to which the noble Lord made reference—that they are not allowed to "carry any goods by road for hire or reward"—is to chip away, so to speak, that part of the 1928 Acts, because (I will come on to the reasons in a minute) it is not desirable that they should carry the goods. So far as passenger services are concerned, they can either, as I said, enter into working agreements with bus companies, or provide their own services. For the same reasons, we consider it much more preferable that they enter into working agreements, although they should still retain the power to provide their own services with the consent of the Minister, which we regard as an essential safeguard.

The reasons why goods are not to be carried, and passenger services are to be provided only with the Minister's consent, will, I regret to say, show what is probably a fairly deep political cleft between us. Noble Lords opposite have often explained that their ideal of running the system is by integration—that is the usual word—and therefore this is yet another Amendment in a string which has been designed to enable the Railways Board to go into business as operators of road services at large. They would be subject to a road service licence, but otherwise they could just go on when and where they wanted, without the Minister's consent. That is where we differ. The noble Lord and other noble Lords opposite think that that is the way to do it; we do not, and that is what the Bill is all about. We are trying to set up a Railways Board to run the railways, and not to act as general bus operators. I have said this before this afternoon, but I make no apology for making the point again: that they should not divert their attention and their capital resources into running buses, when their job is to run railways.

Leaving aside political considerations, I sometimes wonder whether noble Lords opposite truly do believe that the railway system, which is basically a nineteenth-century form of transport, can be brought up to date and modernised to serve the needs of the twentieth century. With the insistence, or persistence, I should say, with which they suggest that the railways should run almost everything else, as well as doing their own job, one would almost think that noble Lords opposite believed that, without road transport to lean on, the railways had hardly any hope of making a success of their system at all. Perhaps that is an unworthy view, but it is one that keeps coming into my mind when I hear noble Lords making their case.

Clauses 3 and 4 give the railways quite adequate powers for what they must do in the provision of services ancillary to or, in the last resort, in replacement of closed services. The noble Lord asked whether the delivery and collection services would go on, or whether they, too, would require the consent of the Minister. No, certainly not. The railway collection and delivery services—and I did mention the point earlier on—will continue as at present, and if there are not so many stations, and railheads are further apart, they will work and be able to work over wider distances. I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord will feel happier about that.

I have already made the point, on the previous Amendment, that the Railways Board should inherit the road transport powers from the 1928 Acts, in order to be able to provide a bus service where it is absolutely necessary. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, complained slightly that I had not, as it were, when answering my noble friend Lord Goschen on an earlier question, revealed that the powers were cut down by being made subject to the Minister's consent. I think that is what the noble Lord said. Of course, I did not think it was necessary to do so, because I was asked if the powers were wider; and that was the question I answered. Of course, the powers are not wider, and they are narrower only in that the consent of the Minister has to be obtained. I still think that that is a perfectly reasonable thing to happen, because, as we see it, we are trying to build up this Railways Board to run the railways. We think that the bus and road haulage activities are better under the Holding Company, where they can operate most efficiently. It would defeat the objects of the reorganisation for which we have been striving, and which have been fairly widely approved, if we were to give the Railways Board an unfettered power to provide bus services. But I do maintain that a fettered power—if your Lordships like to call it that—one subject to the Minister's consent, is necessary for them to be able, in the last resort, to supply what may be essential for the public.

Finally, therefore, I say to the noble Lord who asked me the direct question, "Can they supply buses in areas where there are none?", that subject to obtaining the Minister's consent—which is as much an insurance as anything else—and subject to their obtaining a road service licence, of course they can.


I am in this case sincerely grateful to the Minister for a most helpful reply. So far as the goods services or, as he more correctly described them, the delivery and collection services, are concerned, I think he has fully met my point, and, providing I did not misunderstand him, those particular services or their expansion as necessary will not require the especial consent of the Minister. I asked that, because in some areas it may well be—although I do not know—that they will have to go over a reasonable distance of ten or fifteen miles. I know that in some areas there is virtually no other collection and delivery service, and if the railways did not do it it would not be done at all. I think that was a satisfactory answer to that part of the Amendment.

On the other part with regard to passenger road services, I think there is something, at least, in what the noble Lord says, although I am sorry that I could not accept the strictures of the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, that our Amendment would allow the railways to compete with other State industries. I specifically said that we do not ask for a second service where one is already in existence, and I would not be such a bad business man, and I would not want the Government to be such bad business men, as to provide two services where there was already an efficient service in operation.

I must spend just a moment in answering the question which the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, posed to us when he said, "Do we really believe that the railway system can be brought up to date and can serve a 20th century purpose?" The answer is, "Yes, we do most sincerely believe that"—and I would say what I think the main function of the railways should be in the 20th century. It is, whether by the conveyance of passengers or of goods, to serve the country in those capacities over long distances, or over what are long distances in a small country like this, and that they should be fed by road passenger and road goods services. To a large extent, that is what I mean by "integration"; and I think it would be better both for the owners of goods and for passengers, and cheaper. I do not accept that the railways need road transport on which to lean if they are going to survive, but I think it is powerful common sense to try to arrange it so that both can play the part they are best fitted to play. It may not have helped anyone else, but this discussion has greatly helped me on these two points, and I thank the noble Lord for it. I would ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6:

Railways Boards power to provide hotels

6. The Railways Board shall have power to provide hotels in places where those using the railway services provided by the Board may require them, for use both by those and other persons, and shall have power to manage hotels, but the Board shall not exercise their power of managing hotels without the consent of the Minister.

6.52 p.m.


We now come to a rather remarkable clause in the Bill. When one considers the assets and the importance of the Railways Board, and also the importance and standing of the persons who we anticipate will be appointed to administer this Board—Dr. Beeching at £24,000 a year, and another gentleman at something in the region of £12,000—it seems, I would say, nearly an insult that the Minister should have felt it necessary to place in the Bill that, if the Railways Board felt that an hotel was necessary for the convenience of the passengers of such railway services, then they could provide that hotel but they could not manage it without coming to the Minister for permission. I should be grateful if the noble Lord would tell us why this provision was necessary. I should have thought, considering the duties, the responsibilities and the standing of the persons on whom the responsibility is based, that at least the Government could have said, "If you are to provide an hotel, then we can trust you to manage it efficiently". I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 7, line 8, leave out from ("hotels") to end of line 10.—(Lord Shepherd.)


This is rather an intricate subject, and it is not made any simpler by the fact that in the White Paper it was proposed that all the Transport Commission's present hotels should be transferred to the Holding Company. But since then we have reconsidered the matter and we have decided that the most efficient and profitable plan would be that all these hotels should be managed, not by the Holding Company but by an hotel company which is to be set up, as soon as this Bill is passed, by the present Transport Commission, and then later on, when the vesting date comes, that it should become a subsidiary of the Railways Board—that is to say, the Railways Board will own all the shares and receive any profits, and also, of course, if they choose to let to the hotel company the hotels they build, they will receive the rents. But we think it is better that the management should be by a specialised hotel management, and that they should not be directly managed by the Railways Board.

All that is provided for under Clause 33, which describes the "set-up" of the proposed hotel company. It does not mention specifically, I think, the word "building", but as an hotel company, of course, the power to build will be contained in their memorandum of association. What we contemplate is that normally the provision of new hotels and the management of all hotels shall be under this hotel company and not directly under the Railways Board.


They are under the Railways Board, are they not? They are ultimately responsible to the Railways Board?


Yes. The hotel company will be a subsidiary of the Railways Board. I think this is the only Amendment about hotels. There do not seem to have been set down any Amendments to Clause 33 at all; and since the last thing I want to do is to provoke or incite any of your Lordships to add to the 263 Amendments which are already on the Marshalled List, I shall immediately come to Clause 6, which provides for certain exceptions to this general policy. We admit that there may be exceptional circumstances which may make it desirable that the Railways Board and not the hotel company should build a new hotel. For instance, if at some time in the future a new hotel were required in connection with railway services, perhaps as part of the redevelopment of main-line termini in London, it might be desirable for the Railways Board to build it, not necessarily for the purpose of managing it but to enable it to be taken over, perhaps on lease, and run by the hotel company. Therefore, we give them this power specifically in Clause 6.

Then, with regard to management, although in general the intention of the Bill is that all the railway hotels are to be run by the hotel company, there might be unforeseen circumstances in which it would be convenient for some particular hotel to be directly managed by the Railways Board, and provision is therefore made in Clause 6 for such direct management. It is our whole intention that these things should be exceptional. We do not want to rule them out. But, of course, the only person who can clearly decide whether the situation is exceptional or not is the Minister. We do not think it is any reflection on the Railways Board, who are put there to manage railways and not to manage hotels, to say that the decision whether, in some exceptional circumstance, they ought to have some special power to manage or to provide some hotel, ought to rest with the Minister. That is the reason why these possible contingencies are provided for in Clause 6.

The noble Lord's Amendment would, of course, convert the exception into the rule. Clauses 6 and 33 would then give the Railways Board a general power, without the consent of the Minister, both to provide and to manage hotels, and they would therefore be really contradictory. The main purpose of the Bill is contained in Clause 33. We are including this Clause 6 because we wish to provide for these possible exceptions, which the noble Lord obviously agrees may sometimes arise. We want to make sure only that they do not become the rule. That is the reason for making the Minister's consent necessary.


Personally, I do not think that this provision which has been explained by the noble Earl is going to make very much actual difference to the running of British Railways' hotels at all: nor do I think his acceptance of my noble friend's Amendment would have made much difference. The only hotel that is owned by the Transport Commission for which there is not an absolutely 100 per cent. railway case is Gleneagles. I think that was built in order to persuade people to use the railways and arrive at Gleneagles. Every other railway hotel is an absolute railway need, and if anybody does not believe that, I advise him to try to get a bedroom at the Midland Hotel in Manchester, or at the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool, at any time when those cities are busy.

The point I should like to make on this Amendment is that really it is nonsense to have a private company under the direction of the Railways Board to run these hotels, because you are merely interposing another structure. The position from time immemorial has been that the hotels section of British Transport has been a separate section, and it has always been run by experts. When this new company is formed under British Transport it will be run by the same experts, by exactly the same people doing exactly the same jobs. Indeed, it is the nucleus of the present British Transport Hotels Services. They have their separate buying offices; they order their goods as British Transport Hotels Services. They are not waiting for a company to be formed; they are a completely separate unit now. Therefore, it will not make any difference really, except to add to the expense when they are formed into a company under the British Railways Services Board.

This particular clause and this particular arrangement has been thought up by someone who knows nothing whatever about the matter. The present hotels section is a development of the old Midland Railway hotels section, which was the best one of its kind when the vesting date in 1948 came along and they were all amalgamated. The nucleus is still there. Some of the same staff is still there. The arrangements are precisely the same, and when this change is made the only thing which will happen is that it will have the word "Limited" stamped at the end of the company style, and the other arrangements will go on.

But there is one exception, about which I should like to ask the noble Earl what is going to be done. At the present time, British Transport Hotels Services are also responsible for the dining cars. They do all the buying, and, in effect, therefore, the dining cars services are part of the hotels section in so far as the catering is concerned. If there is any doubt in the noble Earl's mind, I may say that certainly in so far as the buying is concerned they are part. Everything that is bought for the dining cars services is bought by the same section that buys for the hotels. What is going to be the position in the future? Are you going to set up another organisation, a separate buying organisation, for the dining cars? Is the organisation for the dining cars going to be separate from the hotels? Because if so, you are adding expense; you are adding another set of staff. If the answer to this question is "Yes", then judging from my experience, which goes back over some thirty-odd years, I would say that this was a very foolish step to take.


The answer to the noble Lord's specific question is that railway catering on the railways is being left to the Railways Board. He wanted information on a question of fact which I will gladly give him, but I hope he will not expect me at this time of night to pursue his arguments, the force of which I quite see, because I am not sure that they are vitally relevant to the Amendment.


We will certainly look at this point again. My noble friend spoke of Gleneagles. I like Gleneagles. Personally, I regret that its competitor railway failed to provide a similar hotel on the East coast of Scotland, and I am sure the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, will agree with me there.


There is one at Turnberry.


Well, I am still not happy. We have the position where the Board can build and possibly manage hotels, and the other hotels will be under an hotel company. If the Board is given the power to build hotels, even if it has the power to manage them, I cannot imagine it will in fact do so if we are going to pay the Board what we are proposing to pay them. This Board would be likely to say that they would manage two or three hotels, but the rest would be managed by the Hotels Board. However, we will look at this point again, and in the meantime I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 6 agreed to.


It might be convenient to the House if we adjourned the Committee at this stage. Therefore, I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved, That the House do now resume.—(Lord Mills.)

On Question, Motion agreed to, and House resumed accordingly.