HC Deb 07 July 1919 vol 117 cc1429-30W

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the extra cost of running the railways of the country has been definitely ascertained; if so, whether the time has now arrived to allocate such extra cost proportionately over all branches of railway traffic instead of continuing the present system of exempting most goods from increased rates, whilst endeavouring to make up the deficiency by maintaining the present high passenger fares and continuing to withhold former concessions, whereby great hardship is caused to commercial travellers, also to boy scouts and similar institutions; and whether he will now consider the desirability of restoring the pre-war concessions hitherto granted to commercial travellers, boy scouts, and poor people journeying to holiday resorts, by readjusting the goods rates and passenger fares now in operation, so that the burden of extra cost of working may fall equally upon all users of the railways?


A statement of the receipts and expenditure of the British controlled railways in respect of railway working up to 31st December, 1918, together with an estimate of the increased cost of the working during the present year as compared with 1913, has been laid before Parliament (Cmd. 147). I am fully alive to the desirability of making arrangements to ensure that the extra cost of railway working may fall, as far as practicable, equally upon all users of the railways, but I fear that I cannot at present say more than that a recognition of this fact was among the reasons which led to the introduction of the Ways and Communications Bill.